ENJOYING THE SUN
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
experiencing 'hellacious' growth
UGA professor tells chamber members to prepare for
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
"College-trained successful people don't play the lottery,"
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,"
Asked what kind of growth he projected for Jackson County in
the next 10 to 25 years, Bachtel