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FRONT PAGE - SEPTEMBER 22, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GA

ENJOYING THE SUN

Brandon Varnes, 9, Carnesville, found a cool spot to soak up the sun at the Art in the Park festival Saturday. Arts and craft vendors filled Hurricane Shoals Park as visitors came to the annual event sponsored by the Tumbling Waters Society.


County agrees to PD office
But cost projected to be much less than judges' estimates
BY ANGELA GARY
The dilemma over how indigent defense is to be handled in Jackson County may be settled following a proposal from current public defender Donna Avans.
Avans, who had said she was not going to renew her contract when it expires in December, submitted a proposal to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners on how the services could be provided for $163,000 a year. BOC chairman Jerry Waddell says he agrees with the proposal and the county's Superior Court judges reportedly agreed to it as well.
The $163,000 budget will cover costs for a public defender, an assistant and a part-time receptionist and operating expenses. The office will be located in the county courthouse. Avans has also reportedly agreed to work for the newly created department.
"We had wanted to keep contracting," Waddell said. "But this is actually a little better of a deal for us than a contract because these people actually work for the county now...This is also about half of what we had anticipated having to pay."
The matter has been at the center of a controversy which has left the BOC and the Superior Court judges in the Piedmont Judicial Circuit at odds over how to proceed. This proposal is a compromise from what the Superior Court judges had requested. The judges had asked the BOC to form a new county department for public defense at a cost of $200,000 per year. The BOC, on the other hand, had wanted to continue to provide the services on a contract basis.
But Piedmont Judicial Circuit Superior Court judges said that would not meet new state guidelines. The judges were prepared to ask the Georgia Supreme Court to order that a potentially expensive appointed indigent defense system be established in Jackson County. That could have cost the county more than $300,000 per year, officials said.
"I deeply regret that the March 1999 changes to the state's indigent defense guidelines have created this difficulty for Jackson County," Judge T. Penn McWhorter wrote in a letter to the board. "However, those decisions were out of our hands and we are left with the difficult task of making Georgia's indigent defense system work for the people of Jackson County at a cost the people can afford."


Five city races on tap for Nov. 2
Three incumbent council members and one board of education member will face opposition in the Nov. 2 election.
In Hoschton, Post 4 incumbent David Healan and Post 6 incumbent Glenn Evans are both facing challengers. Rosemary Bagwell is running against Healan for the Post 4 seat and Gennoria Ree Bridgeman is pitted against Evans for the Post 6 seat. In Post 5, incumbent Ronald Holcomb is not seeking re-election. Those vying for that seat are Paul Turman and Sandy Fee Romer.
HOSCHTON CITY COUNCIL
Post 4-Incumbent David Healan and Rosemary Bagwell
Post 5-Paul Turman and Sandy Fee Romer
Post 6-Incumbent Glenn Evans and Gennoria Ree Bridgeman
In Jefferson, incumbent Jack Seabolt will face Jim Joiner for the Post 5 council seat. Incumbent Steve Kinney was the only one to qualify for Post 1 and incumbent C.D. Kidd III was the only one to qualify for the Post 5 seat.
JEFFERSON CITY COUNCIL
Post 1-Incumbent Steve Kinney
Post 3-Incumbent C.D. Kidd III
Post 5-Incumbent Jack Seabolt and Jim Joiner
As for the Commerce Board of Education, incumbent Lannie Pope will face challenger Kimberly Kamp. The incumbents were the only ones to qualify for the other two seats up for re-election. They include Bill Davis, District 3, and Steve Perry, District 4.
COMMERCE BOE
District 3-Bill Davis
District 4-Steve Perry
District 5-Incumbent Lannie Pope and Kimberly Kamp
Elections won't be necessary in three other towns and for the Jefferson BOE because only one candidate qualified for each post. Those to qualify for these posts include:
PENDERGRASS CITY COUNCIL
Mayor-Incumbent Mark Tolbert .
Post 2-Incumbent Joyce Wilkerson.
TALMO CITY COUNCIL
At-large-Incumbent Myra McEver.
At-large-Incumbent Dana Woods.
COMMERCE CITY COUNCIL
Mayor-Incumbent Charles Hardy
At-large-Incumbent Richard Massey.
Ward 3-Incumbent Sam Brown.
Ward 4-Incumbent Bob Sosebee.
There are no council seats up for re-election this year in Arcade, Braselton, Maysville and Nicholson.
JEFFERSON BOE
Post 1-Incumbent Horace Jackson.
Post 3-Incumbent Willie Hughey.
Post 5-Incumbent Guy Dean Benson.
There are no seats up for re-election on the county BOE.


State ends probe of JCCI taping
No wrongdoing found, but video of strip searches stopped
The Georgia Department of Corrections has closed its investigation into videotapes made of strip searches at the Jackson County Correctional Institute.
The department apparently found no wrongdoing on the part of warden Joe Dalton, but did tell him to stop videotaping inmate strip searches.
Federal guidelines allow strip searches for security reasons. The Georgia Department of Correction guidelines call for searches to be conducted in a manner which will avoid unnecessary force, embarrassment or indignity to inmates.


Bachtel: Jackson experiencing 'hellacious' growth
UGA professor tells chamber members to prepare for the future
A close look at statistical data for Jackson County presents an unflattering view, but the political and business leaders of the county need to know the truth.
So said Dr. Doug Bachtel, a University of Georgia professor who gathers, publishes and interprets such data, at a breakfast last Thursday sponsored by the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet Newspapers, Inc. Bachtel's discussion was the prelude to a series of breakfasts planned for 2000 to delve into the obstacles and issues facing the county over the next decade.
Delivered with wry humor, the data on population, economics, education and vital statistics presented a portrait of a county that must confront low wages, poverty, a lack of education, high rates of teen pregnancy and large numbers of unwed mothers - not exactly the kind of information a chamber of commerce would use to attract business and industry.
"You might not like what you hear, but the business community and the movers and shakers need to know this," said Bachtel.
Bachtel compared the data in each category to the corresponding number for Georgia. For example, he noted that from 1990 to 1998, Georgia's population grew by 18 percent. "In technical terms, that's hellacious growth," he said. During the same time, Jackson County's population grew by 25 percent, fueled by the growth in the Atlanta area, which is the second-fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.
Of that population surge, Bachtel said 77 percent of it moved in from elsewhere, principally the Atlanta area.
"These are CAVE people, citizens against virtually everything," Bachtel told the audience in the gymnasium at Galilee Christian Church. "They want to move into Jackson County and close the door behind them."
The numbers for Jackson County also showed what Bachtel called, "hardcore, rural poverty."
The county's $19,526 per capita income is just above that of Mississippi, which has the lowest per capita income in America.
"So there's some poverty problems you have to deal with, and that's a business issue," Bachtel said. "In 1990, 45 percent of the (adult) population did not have a high school education. The bad news is, nine years later, a lot of those people have become parents."
Only nine percent of Jackson County residents have a bachelor's degree or higher.
"From an economic development standpoint, if you have a small number of people with college degrees, that ain't good," Bachtel stated. "That's where the entrepreneurs come from. These are the risk-takers who start new businesses.
"The good news," he added, is that you have a low dropout rate (3.1 percent, less than half the Georgia average). Somebody's been working on that."
Bachtel's figures showed that 28 percent of the births in Jackson County are to unwed mothers, 25.2 percent of Caucasian births and 75 percent of African-American births. Interestingly, only 39.9 percent of births to unwed mothers are to teenagers, so a large number of older women are having children out of wedlock.
"That's amazing. I don't want anyone to say there's nothing to do at night in Commerce," Bachtel cracked.
The sociologist also commented that the county's retail trade accounts for more than 18 percent of employment, but only 10.9 percent of wages.
Among the miscellaneous figures Bachtel collected was the county's sale of lottery tickets for fiscal year 1997-98. Jackson County residents spent $7.1 million, which works out to $188.84 per man, woman and child. If the total spending is divided by the number of people 18 or older, the rate is $304.60 per person.
Bachtel suggested most of those tickets were bought by the less educated people.
"College-trained successful people don't play the lottery," he stated.
WHAT TO DO
Given that Jackson County faces these problems, what can it do to ameliorate them?
First, Bachtel said, the county needs to approve the two referendums on the ballot in November, one changing to a county manager form of government, and the other implementing a five-year special purpose local option sales tax.
Secondly, he said, the county needs to "build a coalition of people who can work together to solve problems." He added that organizers should not wait for volunteers, but go after people who need to be in the coalition "even if you have to drag them en kicking and screaming."
"Some of these things you have to address so when I come back in six or seven years the numbers will have improved," he concluded.
Asked what kind of growth he projected for Jackson County in the next 10 to 25 years, Bachtel
responded, "Hellacious."



The Jackson Herald - Jefferson, Georgia
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