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Legal conflict between county and schools unresolved
A power struggle between two Madison County government entities lingers on.
The Madison County Board of Education leaders want a judge to order county building inspectors to stay out of county schools, but Superior Court Judge Lindsay Tise postponed a decision on the matter indefinitely after a Tuesday hearing.
Tise said he reviewed briefs from attorneys for the county and the school system over the weekend and drafted an order, but he wanted to take time to consider the matter before issuing a ruling. He did not offer a time frame for that decision.
Superintendent Dennis Moore filed suit against the county government in August, claiming that a county building inspector didn't have the right to deny a permit for Jackson EMC to hook up electrical services to two mobile classroom units at Colbert Elementary.
A Madison County building inspector discovered improper connections in the electrical apparatus and wiring for the mobile classroom units. The school district received approval from the state fire marshal to occupy those units. The problems were corrected and Jackson EMC began providing power to the classrooms.
While the Colbert Elementary issue was resolved with the admission of students into the classrooms, school board attorney Lane Fitzpatrick maintains the county's inspection of schools undermines the authority of the school board.
"(The county) through its building inspection department, claims to have authority over the school district's building and construction activities," Fitzpatrick wrote in the suit.
Fitzpatrick argued that point again Tuesday, saying the Colbert incident was not the first clash between the two government bodies on building matters, maintaining that county inspections also interfered with the school system's progress on the new Hull-Sanford Elementary School.
Fitzpatrick said that if the superintendent didn't file the action against the county, Colbert Elementary School would have been stuck with kids with no classrooms in the first week of school.
The attorney added that neither the county nor the school board can tell the other government body what to do.
"We're our own little kingdom, so to speak, within the confines of Madison County," Fitzpatrick said. "...We are responsible for our own buildings."
Fitzpatrick asked that the county "recognize the state constitution and state law" that says the "board of education controls schools."
The attorneys found no Georgia cases between counties and school boards regarding building inspections, but Fitzpatrick said a case in Bibb County, in which schools were determined to be exempt from county zoning regulations, should apply to this suit, freeing the schools from county permit regulations.

Danielsville budget up 4 percent
No tax rate increase planned for city property owners
Danielsville officials gave the thumbs-up Monday to the 2000 budget - up four percent from this year's figure - but no tax rate increases are expected for city property owners.
The Danielsville City Council will set the tax rate, or millage rate, Thursday at 6 p.m. Last year's city property tax rate was 2.95.
Total revenues and expenditures for 2000 are set at $226,000, up from $217,010 in 1999. Major changes in revenue include $5,000 increases in funds from the beer and wine tax and the local option sales tax, as well as a $3,000 increase in money from garbage fees and a $2,500 raise in revenue from the franchise tax.
Major changes in expenditures include an $8,000 increase in general administrative costs. This includes a $3,000 raise in professional fees and a $2,400 increase in employee retirement. Utility expenses are up $2,500 with an increase in street light costs. Streets and maintenance expenses are down $4,000. Insurance expenses are also up $2,900.
The city's water budget is up from $190,300 in 1999 to $246,300 in 2000 due to a $50,000 increase in water/sewer sales. Major increases in water fund expenditures are $26,000 in the contingency fund, from $21,000 to $47,000, and an approximately $6,000 increase in salaries for city maintenance workers.
In other business Monday, the city council agreed not to appoint someone to fill the council seat vacated by Gayle Davis this summer. Mayor Glenn Cross said he felt an appointment should be made because the city charter calls for such action, but council members Laverne Watson, Nina Hitchcock and Kimsey Watson opposed appointing somebody, saying a special election should be held to fill the position. The group agreed to seek a change to the city charter to make elections the primary method of filling council vacancies.

Veronica Chandler works at her crafts as her constant companion, Snuffy, looks on. Chandler, who suffers from a rare disease, says Snuffy is never far from her side, whether it's lying in her lap, walking by her side or sitting on her craft table while she works.
Photo by Margie Richards


Local woman rises above a rare, debilitating disease by finding beauty and peace in each moment
Veronica Chandler sat on the porch swing early one morning after struggling through yet another sleepless night, watching a mother cat bathe each of her four kittens in turn.
Chandler, who lives in Madison County's Paoli community, remembers that as the mother got to the last one, the kitten began to struggle, resisting his mother's attentions and attempting to get away. Frustrated, his mother caught him, scolded him, held him down firmly, and proceeded to bathe him. She smiles as she remembers it.
"It was amazing to see the mother cat work with each of her kittens, and discipline the unruly one," she said.
It's moments like these that make Chandler realize what so many people miss in their day-to-day lives, including herself, until a debilitating illness forced her to slow down.
"I have time to look now and appreciate God's creation," Chandler said.
But she doesn't just look - she often takes simple objects from the world around her and sees in them something else altogether.
For example, a stone along the path to her creek may become the head of one of her "Hardhead Gang" dolls; a tree along her long driveway takes on the painted shape of a giraffe and a sturdy stick she picks up to walk with later becomes a cane with the painted head and crest of a cardinal.

The Madison County Journal - Danielsville, Georgia
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