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 FRONT PAGE - SEPTEMBER 15, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA
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CRIME

CHASE ENDS WITH COLLISION


A 15-year-old male allegedly stole a truck and led law enforcement officers on a chase up Hwy. 29 Thursday evening before colliding with a patrol car at the courthouse square in Danielsville. No one was injured in the incident.

Stolen pickup collides with police car
BY MARGIE RICHARDS
A juvenile in a stolen pickup collided with a patrol car on the courthouse square in Danielsville around 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, after leading deputies on a chase down Hwy. 29 from the Golden Pantry in Dogsboro.
The suspect allegedly stole the Toyota pick up truck from owner John Treadway while it was parked at the gas pumps. According to Treadway, he was inside the store at the time the truck was taken.
According to a press release issued by Chief Deputy Bill Strickland, deputies posted a watch for the truck and set up a road block.
The suspect drove recklessly past, leaving the road several times and striking one patrol car before reaching Danielsville, according to a Georgia State Patrol report.
Once in town the chase ended when another patrol car in the chase collided with the truck.
According to the sheriff's report, no injuries were sustained and minor damage was incurred to the patrol units.
The juvenile has been incarcerated in the area youth detention center in Athens on multiple charges.


BOC keeps lawsuit policy
BY ZACH MITCHAM
If a Madison County official wants to file suit against another county officer, he can still do it with the guarantee that his attorney's fees will be paid by county taxpayers.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to keep the county's current policy on legal expenditures, which allows a county official to file a lawsuit at the county's expense.
Commissioners Melvin Drake and Bruce Scogin voted to change the policy, while Bill Taylor, Nelson Nash and Patsy Pierce opposed the action.
Since taking the District 5 post this summer, Scogin has pushed for a change in the county's legal fee procedures. Scogin wanted the county to require majority approval from the commission - or a judge's order - before awarding attorney's fees on suits filed by county officials.
Scogin has said he feels the interests of taxpayers are not served under the current policy.
"For us to have an expense policy that allows us to sue and get our expenses paid is not in the interest of the county," said Scogin.
The District 5 commissioner believes the policy change would "effectively stop all those suits" between county officials.
Other commissioners say Scogin's proposal is not the solution to recent tensions. Board member Nelson Nash said adopting Scogin's proposal could tie the hands of a board member with a legitimate reason to file suit.
"I've never filed a lawsuit," said commissioner Nelson Nash. "But when it comes to protecting taxpayers, I don't want to rule it out."
Patsy Pierce agreed with commissioner Nash, stating that if she is acting to protect the public, she shouldn't have to fork out her own money on attorney's fees.
"If you're standing up for the people who elected you, do you have the right to take the action necessary?" Pierce asked Scogin, who replied that, under his proposal, the board would retain the right to take legal action with a majority vote.
Taylor said he saw "loopholes" in Scogin's plan that could affect defense of board members facing suits.
"I know we need changes, but this isn't the change we need," said Taylor.
County attorney John McArthur said both the current and the proposed legal fee policy protect board members who are targeted in a lawsuit related to their job.
RECENT LITIGATION
Three commissioners - Pierce, Ken Clark and Jack Fortson - sued county commission chairman Wesley Nash in 1997, claiming the chairman was abusing his power of office in several ways, basically leaving the board out of the decision-making on fiscal and personnel matters. A judge ruled in favor of the commissioners and that decision was upheld this year on appeal. Pierce recently filed a contempt order against Nash, claiming the chairman was failing to follow the judge's orders.


Bank owes back taxes after billing mixup
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Merchants and Farmers Bank owes Madison County an unspecified sum in back taxes after an apparent billing mixup.
While no dollar figure has been set on what the bank owes, commission chairman Wesley Nash, who refused to reveal the name of the bank during Monday's commissioners' meeting, told the board that the owed figure may be in the ballpark of $80,000 accumulated over 15 years.
According to county auditor Wayne Tamplin - of Treadwell, Tamplin and Company - Merchants and Farmers Bank owes the county an undetermined sum for taxes levied specifically on banks.
"It's a locally imposed tax (from banks) to city and county government," said Tamplin.
Tamplin said the bank owed a total of approximately $16,000 over the past three years, but that he could not confirm the figure offered by Nash in the meeting.
Tamplin said the bills for the tax have not been issued from the county to the bank over the years.
"It was an oversight on both parts (county and bank)," said Tamplin.
John Terrell, chairman of the board for Merchants and Farmers Bank, said he was "embarrassed" over what was an "honest mistake." He said the bank never paid the taxes because they never got a bill from the county.
"We haven't refused to pay any taxes," said Terrell. "We did not know we had to pay this."
Terrell said the bank would "do what we need to do" to make things right. The bank has, in fact, paid $7,019 for the tax for 1999.


Jim Patton named to BOE
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Comer's Jim Patton has been named to the District 4 seat of the Madison County Board of Education, filling the unexpired term of Beth Bolin, who resigned recently.
The post will be up for election again in November of next year.
Patton, who is not related to school board chairman Jimmy Patton, was the first of three candidates interviewed by the BOE Thursday. Mike Sales, who ran for the post against Bolin last November, and April Hitchcock Watson, both from Danielsville, also sought the position.
Board members Robert Haggard, Elaine Belfield and chairman Patton voted for Patton, while John Mason chose Sales.
Each candidate answered a number of questions about the state of the school system, how it's succeeding and how it can be improved.
Patton, whose son attends Madison County Middle School, said parents, in general, lack confidence in schools.
"There has been an eroding of confidence in public schools," said Patton. "That's evident with the explosion of home schooling. Parents don't have faith in our schools."
Patton, who operates a cabinet shop, said he wants to see technology emphasized in the schools, adding that he's pleased with his son's access to technology in Madison County schools.



The Madison County Journal - Danielsville, Georgia
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