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This week's Herald


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Mercedes, 3, Gary, 6, Aaron, 5, Jameson, three weeks, and Brandy Elliott are shown visiting with the clown at the annual meeting of Jackson Electric Membership Corporation Thursday night.

Commerce man shot in dispute
A Commerce man is in serious condition after being shot in the head Wednesday morning during a domestic dispute at a Magnolia Drive, Jefferson, residence.
The victim, Ellis Harper, 40, Commerce, was taken to an Athens hospital. He was in surgery as of press time Wednesday afternoon, according to Jefferson police chief Darren Glenn. A woman at the residence, Brenda Denise Williams, 30, was struck in the face and head with a gun and telephone. She was injured but refused treatment, according to Glenn.
Rufus Moon Jr., 64, Magnolia Drive, Jefferson, has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of battery in connection with the incident. Chief Glenn said further charges may be pending.

BOC to seek design bids for a new courthouse
Plans are moving forward on constructing a new courthouse in Jackson County, but not fast enough for at least one member of the citizens' committee looking into the matter.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed in a called meeting Thursday morning to seek bids for an architectural design for a courthouse. Tom Bryan, one of the seven members of the courthouse committee, berated the BOC for moving so slowly on the project and pointed out that the committee already has a bid for the design phase. But BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said that additional bids must be taken because of the amount of funds to be spent on the design.
"It's not right to delay it any further," said Bryan. "I'm disappointed that you aren't going to proceed any further right now."
Bryan said the courthouse committee should be dissolved because it had already done what it was ordered to do.
"If you want my file (on the courthouse), call me in one week," Bryan said. "If I don't hear from you, it's going in the landfill."
Judge David Motes, chairman of the courthouse committee, said he will provide files of bids the committee received and other paperwork on the project.
"I believe we're still making progress on the project," he said.
Steve Vaughn, Wachovia Bank, Atlanta, presented two proposals on possible financing for the proposed $12 million project - a lease purchase agreement through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia for a low interest note, or issuing bonds through the county industrial development authority or a newly created building authority.
Waddell suggested tax revenue from the planned Georgia Power plant in Center could be used to make the payments on the loan or bond.
"We'd be using a windfall to build this facility," he said. "I will not proceed until I know how I'm going to pay for it. I'm not going to raise taxes to do it."

Jailer charged with sexual misconduct
A jailer at the Jackson County Sheriff's Department has been charged with sexual assault against a prisoner.
Melvin Farr Sr., who is also a former police chief for the Arcade Police Department, was charged after reports on Sept. 14 from the victim. She said that between February and March of 1999, Farr had consentual sexual relations with her. The woman was incarcerated at the Jackson County Jail at the time of the alleged incidents. She didn't report the matter until September when she was arrested in another county. Farr was charged on Sept. 27 and fired from the sheriff's department.

Jackson County finishes 1998 in the black
A large jump in sales tax income put the Jackson County government above the $19 million mark in 1998 and helped the county finish the year in the black, according to a recently released audit.
Not including the fire districts, the county took in $5.06 million from property taxes last year, up eight percent from 1997. Another $507,000 came from fire district property taxes, and motor vehicle taxes brought in $658,000.
But the county also took in a whopping $8.18 million from both the regular sales tax and the special purpose local option sales tax. (Much of the SPLOST funds flow through to the county water authority and local city governments.) From all tax sources, the county garnered $1 million more in 1998 than it did in 1997.
In addition to tax income, the county also had income from various permits, fines, service charges and state and federal funds. Income from building permits fell in 1998 to $264,000 from $285,000 the year before, while fines levied by local courts also fell last year, dropping to $530,000 from $552,000 in 1997. In addition, income to the county recreation department from user fees fell to $80,000, down from $92,000, and fees to the county senior center fell to $154,800, down from $162,500 in 1997.
On the up side, state income for housing inmates at the Jackson County Correctional Institute jumped 14 percent, topping $866,000 last year. Services charges by the EMS also rose last year, as did recording fees in the clerk of court's office.
On the expense side, public safety departments continued to dominate county spending with the sheriff's department at $1.4 million, jail at $937,000, JCCI at 1.28 million and ambulance service at $1.12 million. The county's fire districts spent a combined $775,000 in 1998, down from $941,000 the year before, and the 911 center spent less in 1998, $628,000 compared to $740,000 in 1997.
The county had a significant outlay in 1998 for capital expenses at $3.3 million. A large part of that came from the sale of old road equipment and the financing of new equipment. The road department spent $1.35 million last year, down from $1.44 million the year before.
The county also paid $878,000 in debt service in 1998, up from $553,000 the year before.

Poultry smells nix subdivision
Doster Rd. request denied after chicken house owner objects
The aroma from chicken houses was strong enough to block a proposed 19-home subdivision last week.
The Jackson County Planning Commission apparently agreed with a local poultry operator who said the Doster Road area was "not a place for any kind of subdivision" because of the smell coming from area chicken houses.
Charlie Butts had asked to rezone property 19.027 acres at 631 - 651 Doster Road from A-2 to R-1 to construct 19 site-built home lots in his planned subdivision, Millberry Homes. Butts said he is aware of the nearby chicken houses and would notify all home buyers in advance of the smell.
But Willie Clark, who has lived on the adjacent property for 30 years and farmed on it for 27 years, said the location is not acceptable for a subdivision.
"This is definitely not a place for any kind of subdivision," he said. "If this is passed, I see a lot of problems down the road for a lot of people."
On another matter, the planning commission tabled a request from Jordan, Jones, and Goulding to rezone 90.38 acres on Savage Road from A-2 to R-1 to construct 52 site-built home lots. The matter was tabled until the developer gets more information on the availability of water.

Hybrid rocket test comes unhitched
A small weld at the base of an oxidizer tank failed to hold last week as a group from Jefferson attempted to launch a rocket with a hybrid motor in the Black Rock desert of Nevada.
When Hybrid Dynamics Aerospace Corporation attempted to launch the 25' rocket, the weld, which had been done on site to fix a small fracture, failed under the pressure at ignition. That caused a section joint to come apart, tossing the top part of the rocket up off the launch rail and onto the ground. With no oxidizer, the hybrid rocket motor stopped firing, a fact that the rocket builders said points out the safety of hybrid motor systems. Had a similar situation happened with a solid fuel motor, there would have been no way to shut it down.
Although HDAC leaders said it would have been possible to reassemble the rocket on site, the firm decided to bring the rocket back to its Jefferson workshop to do that and to make some other modifications to the design.
"We learned a lot from this," said Aloise McNichols, president and owner of HDAC.
Drew Prentice, vice president of research and development, said every aspect of the rocket's design would be evaluated and that another launch would be scheduled early in 2000.
HDAC plans to develop the hybrid motor system as the basis for a sounding rocket program. Photos & More.

The Jackson Herald - Jefferson, Georgia
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