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This week's Banks County News

This week's Banks County News

This week's Banks County News


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Members of the Banks County American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) were treated to lunch by local officials last week. Above, Banks County sheriff Charles Chapman discusses local issues with members in Veteran's Park in Homer.


BOE begins search for new superintendent
The search has begun. The Banks County Board of Education is seeking a new superintendent after accepting Dock Sisk's resignation of that post at a called meeting Thursday.
The board appointed assistant superintendent Debbie White as interim superintendent. Sisk will also stay on as a consultant for the school system until Nov. 5.
A separate search has also begun to find a part-time educator to help cover some of White's curriculum responsibilities, while she shares some of the burden.
Both decisions were met with opposition in 4-1 votes. Board chairman Don Shubert did not vote to accept Sisk's resignation.
"I don't think that this was the best thing for the school system," Shubert said. "His contract runs through the year, and he's nine months from retirement. I think something else could have been worked out."
Neal Brown voted against naming White as interim superintendent to maintain stability in the school system.
"I felt like we needed to look at someone outside of the system to put some new blood in the system," Brown said. "It's nothing personal against Ms. White. It's just she's doing a lot of things with curriculum and we need her concentrating on that."
The board was to have met with Russ Cook, the Educational Field Services director, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. to determine what kind of search the board wants to make.
"He'll come talk to us about our procedures," Shubert said. "He will talk to us about the various organizations that do searches."

Turning and Burning Festival set for Saturday
The annual Turning and Burning Festival at Hewell's Pottery in Gillsville has been set for Saturday, Oct. 2.
It will begin at daylight and last until 5 p.m. Activities include handmade pottery, wood kiln, clay-grinding, wood carving, blacksmithing, basket making, fresh produce, old-time tractors, horse rides, crafts, fresh mountain honey, knife-making, Civil War re-enactors, leather works by Johnny Ervin, gospel and country singing, threshing machine and local potters.
The pottery is located at 6035 Hwy. 52, Gillsville.

Hooper named to BJC Authority
Banks County Primary School principal Jimmy Hooper was elected to the BJC Medical Center Authority Monday night.
Hooper, who will fill the unexpired term of the late Jimmy Cochran, was selected over two other Banks County nominees, Willene Dyer and Danny Maxwell.
Hooper is also the son-in-law of Thomas Benton, one of the Commerce members of the authority. Benton offered to abstain from voting out of a possible conflict of interest, but administrator David Lawrence advised Benton that the hospital's legal counsel said there was no conflict of interest, since authority members receive no pay.
In other matters, the authority approved its strategic plan for the year. The plan calls for the institution to increase its market share, continue its recruitment of physicians, improve the professional image of its nursing staff and to recruit a new administrator for BJC Nursing Home.
Lawrence said the "bad PR" from the devastating summer inspection of the nursing home was to cause high turnover among nurses and certified nursing assistants.
"The real net effect of this was to run off some good folks," Lawrence stated.
Currently, the nursing facility has an interim administrator, Charlie Stills, and an interim director of nursing, Catherine Gillespie.
On a related matter, Lawrence announced that the facility filed a formal appeal of the report on the nursing home after hearing no response from an informal appeal.
Meanwhile, attempts to bring new doctors to the area continue.
Dr. Robert Marshburn, chief of staff, reported that the facility had hosted a general practitioner and his wife last week. Lawrence indicated that hospital officials would attend numerous recruiting fairs in Georgia and will bring a dozen doctors in for visits by the end of the year.
"Hopefully, things will go our way, but as everybody knows, doctors have a lot of opportunities," he said.
In other matters:
·Lawrence reported that during August the hospital had an average daily census of 9.5 patients.
·The authority voted to spend $115,076 for four new fetal heart monitors and equipment to network them.
·The authority voted to give emergency room courtesy staff privileges to Dr. Daniel B. Katz and Dr. Kamal Kabakibou; and to give courtesy staff privilege to Drs. Emad Uddin Ahmed of Athens and Dr. Kaleem Ahmed of Royston. Both are specialists in nephrology (treatment of the kidney and urinary tract) but are not related.
·At the request of the BJC Auxiliary, the authority approved a change in the auxiliary bylaws to remove references to gender.
Anna Chambers, president of the auxiliary, announced that the automatic doors her organization had purchased for the nursing facility for $7,550 had been installed and paid for.

Baldwin begins negotiations on private water system
Despite threats of a lawsuit and the loss of a customer who buys 75 percent of the water produced at its water plant, the Baldwin City Council voted to began contract negotiations to enter into a public/private partnership with AquaSource.
When contract terms are reached, the Texas company will take over the day-to-day operations of the water plant and waste water treatment plant for the city.
Before the vote was taken on Monday, Demorest Mayor Malcomb Hunnicutt, city engineer Bill Rogers and councilman Perry Hendrix expressed their displeasure at the possibility of Baldwin "divorcing" them.
"We've been married for 12 years to maintain and operate the (water) system and provide the service," said Hendrix, who also serves as president of the Habersham Water Authority. "It looks like this is an effort to sever that and make it a court fight. We don't have the money to pay the lawyers for this, nor do you."
Baldwin councilwoman Deloris Thomas mentioned setting another meeting with Demorest officials to further discuss the issue but the council then declined and decided to go forward with the privatization with or without the consent of Demorest officials.
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed said the council is just taking what belongs to the city
"Based on the advice from our attorney, we feel we have the legal right to exercise ownership of the water plant as the papers (contract) indicate," Reed said. "We are going to exercise ownership of the piece of real estate and plant that bear our name."
Under the 40-year contract, Baldwin holds title and recently took out a $2.6 million loan to pay for the newly renovated water plant while Demorest agreed to purchase 75 percent of the water and operate the water plant. Baldwin gets the other 25 percent.
Members from Demorest expressed concern about having their contracted share of the water available.
"There's a serious problem here," Hendrix said. "We do not plan to give up rights for 75 percent of the water or the operation of the plant."
Hunnicutt said Demorest has invested too much into the system.
"Do you know how much money we have invested in that water system and the water plant?," he asked. "We have over 4,000 customers we furnish. I don't see how you can think we are going to sit still and let this happen. No way."
One of the biggest customers in the city of Demorest is the Habersham Water Authority. Currently, Demorest is purchasing water from the plant at a wholesale rate of 80 cents per thousand gallons and selling it to the water authority at $2.20.
Baldwin officials contend that their only connection to the city of Demorest is the operation of the system and water rights, Demorest officials contend that they own the lines.
"You don't own the water lines," Rogers said. "Demorest owns them outright including the primary storage tank."
Reed said the original contract "plainly states" that the plant includes the lines to the pump station on J. Warren Road.
"That's what we're gonna stand on," he said. "Let the chips fall where they may."
Reed said Baldwin would be a "good provider" but would not commit on continuing to give Demorest 75 percent of the water rights.
"We've paid for 75 percent up to this time," he said. "Without that, you're going to be in big trouble. It is better to cooperate and go forward instead of putting a monkey wrench in it."
Then moments later, Hunnicutt said Demorest would not be purchasing water from the city of Baldwin if the deal is made with AquaSource.
"There's no way that you're gonna service Demorest," said Hunnicutt. "Do you think you can finance that plant and furnish the lines with the number of customers you have?"

The Banks County News - Homer, Georgia
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