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 FRONT PAGE - NOVEMBER 10, 1999 - COMMERCE, GA

NOTICE: Due to Veterans' Day, all of MainStreet's printed editions will be published today, Tuesday, November 9 instead of the normal Wednesday publication date.

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Gets His Face Painted

Chris Oliver, 11, left, sits absolutely still while Crystal Rainwater of the Commerce High School Future Community and Civic Leaders paints a tiger paw on his face. The activity was part of the Commerce Elementary School PTO Carnival Saturday afternoon.

COMMUNITY

New Year's Party Canceled
Number Of Y2K-Related Commitments Cause Commerce Business Association To Cancel Traditional Holiday Bash
Whether or not the Year 2000 computer problem disrupts life after midnight Dec. 31, it has had a major effect on how several hundred people will celebrate the arrival of the new year.
Y2K has caused the Commerce Area Business Association to cancel its annual New Year's party and dance.
Meeting last Wednesday for lunch at the Commerce Public Library, the CABA membership voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of its party and executive committees in canceling the event, which traditionally is the group's primary fund-raiser.
Susan McCorkle, who read the recommendation, said that due to "the prior commitments of many city businesses and long-time supporters, many people cannot come" Dec. 31.
Y2K is the main reason. Many offices will require workers to be on hand when the new year begins just in case there are Y2K problems.
"Most of the banks are even going to work the next day," noted member Keith Ariail.
"A lot of people have to be on call," agreed Rob Jordan, president, "in case something horrible happens. I know I'd much rather be at home than be at the civic center if the lights go out."
But McCorckle cited other reasons people had given for not attending the dance.
"Some parents feel that it's such a momentous time, they want to be home with their children," she said.
There was some sense that the era of CABA New Year's parties might be over.
"It may be like the golf tournaments for raising money. They've about run their course," noted Ariail. "We've been doing this several years. We may need to look at something else."


Local Man Helps Move Giant Pandas
When giant pandas Lun-Lun and Yang-Yang were brought from China to the Atlanta Zoo last Friday, John McEver of Commerce was part of the UPS party responsible for transporting them from Hartsfield International Airport to the zoo.
This was no normal delivery, says McEver, who has been with UPS more than 29 years.
It was more like a presidential visit. As the specially painted UPS aircraft made its landing at 9:33 Friday morning, it taxied through an arc of water from the Atlanta Fire Department toward a crowd of media from all over the United States ­ and even from China.
McEver was one of four drivers selected on the basis of seniority and accident-free records. He drew one of the two backup trucks provided to cover all possible contingencies. He scanned the bar code on the cage of one of the animals.
The pandas are on loan from China for 10 years, and the Atlanta Zoo hopes the two will breed as part of a reproduction research project. They are only the third pair of giant pandas in the United States.
The first person out of the airplane was the veterinarian who had gone to China to accompany the pandas to America.
"When he came off the plane, all the news media had to interview him," said McEver. "Then the pilot and co-pilot came off, and they interviewed him and so on down the line."
It was an hour before the four-truck party took off, and an Atlanta Police motorcade accompanied them for the 15-minute trip. It wasn't the first time the UPS group had made the trip. A dry run several days earlier was part of the schedule of preparations for the trip. Originally, the pickup had been planned for Oct. 8, then Oct. 28, but there were delays McEver said were attributed to the government of China.
"But China finally opened up and let us in," McEver commented.
At the zoo, officials got Lun-Lun out first, but she was reluctant to leave her cage after being in it 19 hours. Yang-Yang was more eager. The male quickly left the cage.
As soon as the pandas were unloaded and the two package cars quarantined and cleaned, the UPS crew left.
"It was a great feeling," McEver said. "I was proud to see all the fun people were having with it. It will be a great time for all the boys and girls to come to the zoo."


City Schools Vow To Bring Up PSAT, SAT Scores
By JANA ADAMS
Improving students' scores on the PSAT, SAT and Georgia High School Graduation Test is a top priority at Commerce High School this year.
Principal Donnie Drew and assistant principal Mary Evans named test score improvements as the number one major goal for the school at the Commerce Board of Education work session Thursday night. The other two of the top three goals for the year are increasing technology skills of teachers to integrate technology into the classrooms and promoting character education.
Test improvement has been a focus at CHS for the past few years, Drew said, listing a number of ways in which the faculty and administration have worked to raise scores. In the 1997-98 school year, an improvement committee was established; ninth and 10th graders took the PSAT, with scores analyzed so teachers could address weak areas; reading and vocabulary were emphasized; resource books were purchased and utilized; and a test improvement plan was created and curriculum correlated with it.
In 1998-99, CHS got a school improvement grant, which provided funding for SAT review classes. The school continued to emphasize vocabulary and PSAT interpretation.
This year, the faculty and staff have revised the test improvement plan and have planned SAT test-taking strategies classes. Counselor Elaine Roller will hold a PSAT interpretation session with parents and students, and she and faculty will also receive and analyze a PSAT answer summary. Vocabulary is a continuing emphasis and the SAT review classes are still under way.
This year and in the future, CHS will include test preparation into a ninth grade study skills class and teachers will include occasional questions on regular tests in the format of the SAT and PSAT to help students get used to that type of test-taking.
The faculty will also analyze standardized tests of eighth graders to determine what areas need to be emphasized in high school. Another emphasis will be on proper class selection for students beginning in ninth grade or as early as late middle school.
The school is also contemplating offering the ACT, as well as the SAT, with the test selected based on classes the students have taken and what their future plans are, Roller said.
Integrating brain-based activities into the curriculum - such as using soothing music, scents and water to set a calm mood and stimulate brain activity before testing - are also in the works, Evans said.
"We're committed to improving test scores," Drew said. "We are not satisfied with where the scores are."


Commerce Tax Rate To Be Slightly Higher
When Commerce residents get their 1999 property tax bills in the next few weeks, they'll find a slight increase in what they must pay.
Spurred by a seven percent increase in the cost of operating the Commerce City School System, the Commerce City Council voted unanimously Monday night to increase the ad valorem tax rate by a little over a quarter mill.
The official action is to advertise a tentative tax rate of 16.36 mills for the schools and one mill for city operations. Last year, the rate was 16.08 mills for the schools and one for the city.
"The four percent increase in the city tax digest was a little more than the increase the schools asked for," City Manager Clarence Bryant told the town council.
Each mill of taxes levied for the school system will bring in $98,421, for a total of $1,559,875, while the mill for city operations should bring in $98,373.
The city must advertise the proposed tax rates for two weeks, after which it can officially set the rate.
The city tax digest is $99,716,000, compared to $95,521,000 last year, Bryant said.

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