Isabel Edwards, Comer, (pictured left) and Rosemary Schatz, 4,
from Elbert County munch on apples as they watch runners preparing
for the Broad River Watershed Association's 5K run and fun walk
Saturday morning at Watson's Mill State Park.
New pay plan
on the table
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Madison County leaders are considering approximately $100,000
in raises next year for half of the county government work force,
an initial step in a developing a county pay system.
The proposed pay system would freeze the pay of half of the county's
government employees until underpaid county workers are brought
up to par. Meanwhile, a pay scale would be established with 16
pay brackets. Workers would be assigned to those pay brackets
based on their job qualifications and responsibilities.
The proposed raises may be taken out of the county's contingency
funds in the proposed 2000 budget. If the pay plan is adopted,
the contingency fund is expected to drop from $157,000 to $54,000.
The county commissioners, who will meet Nov. 15 to approve the
2000 budget and 1999 millage rate, discussed the pay plan during
budget talks Wednesday but took no final action.
However, the group agreed propose the plan to county department
heads and constitutional officers to get their input on the matter.
For years, employees have complained that they aren't properly
rewarded come pay time. And county commissioners admit that some
workers have been shortchanged since there is no set system of
pay in place.
They note that two employees who do the same work may not make
the same pay. In fact, employees with less seniority sometimes
make more than those doing the same work for a longer period
Establishing a wage system that balances pay with skills and
seniority has been a major focus of commissioners this year.
But it's been no easy task. The group disagreed months ago on
whether an outside agency should conduct a pay study for the
county, before finally agreeing to do the study in-house, with
personnel coordinator Connie Riley leading that project. Once
that study was done, a pay scale with 28 pay brackets fell through
as some department heads pushed for changes in proposed employee
The commissioners admit that there's no keeping everybody happy.
But they maintain that taking no action will only cause further
"If we don't do it (implement a pay plan), it's putting
off the ineviable," said commissioner Bruce Scogin.
Chairman Wesley Nash said the pay situation is "one of the
toughest things this board faces."
Kim Butler was named Madison County's new zoning adminstrator
Butler, who has lived in the county the past 15 years and worked
at the Madison County zoning office for the past two years, will
replace Lee Sutton, who will step down at the end of the year.
"I have some big shoes to fill," said Butler about
replacing Sutton. "He (Sutton) was my mentor."
The county commissioners approved the move following a 30-minute
Hull city council
concerned about rise in area crime
BY MARGIE RICHARDS
An increase in crime coupled with disappointment in the lack
of local law enforcement presence in the Hull area prompted a
discussion about some type of security for the town at Monday
night's meeting of the mayor and council. Shootings, public drinking,
public indecency, loud music, and littering were just some of
the problems cited by council members. Mayor B.W. Hutchins said
these problems, although spreading throughout the area, seem
to be centered around two mobile home parks which are only partly
within city limits.
"Many of the rental mobile homes in the area belong in the
county jurisdiction and we're stuck with the problems from them,"
The council discussed the possibility of hiring a night watchman
to patrol the city after dark, reporting any suspected problems
to sheriff's deputies. Such a person would not have the power
"We thought we had the problem fixed," Council woman
Rebecca Hutchins said, referring to a recent agreement with Madison
County sheriff Clayton Lowe for the use of city hall as a police
Most council members agreed that the precinct is not being used
very often by deputies, if at all.
Hull budget up
BY MARGIE RICHARDS
The city of Hull will see a two percent increase in its budget
for the year 2000.
The city council unanimously approved a budget at Mon. night's
council meeting in the amount of $36,450 in revenue and expenses,
up only slightly from the $35,767 amount set for 1999.
A new world
German student feels at home with
BY MARGIE RICHARDS
It's a long way from a Frankfurt Germany high school to a high
school in rural Georgia, but 17-year-old Meike Hanke has made
Hanke, who plans to be a stockbroker in her native country, is
a senior at Madison County High School this year as part of a
student exchange program sponsored by Youth for Understanding
International Exchange (YFU).
The McLocklin family of Comer found out about the exchange student
program when their daughter Kara, also 17, and a junior at MCHS
this year, applied for a scholarship to go to Japan through YFU
last summer. Although Kara didn't get to make the trip to Japan,
a representative of the agency asked Kara's mother, Patsy McLocklin,
if the family would be interested in hosting a high school student
from another country.
The McLocklins discussed it and agreed to enter the program on
a trial basis.
"We told them we would try it with a student for three months,"
It hasn't been quite three months since Meike arrived, but the
"trial" is already over.
"She's just like part of the family," McLocklin said
smiling. "It's a lot different than I expected and it's
been easier than I thought it would be."
Kara couldn't agree more. "She's like a sister," she
said. The two girls, in fact, bear a resemblance to each other
and have been mistaken for sisters.
"I like living with my family," Meike said, hugging
her 'American mom,' "they're very nice."
Meike said coming to the United States as an exchange student
has always been a dream of hers.
"A lot of my friends have come here (on the exchange program)
and they told me things about it," she said.
Meike said most jobs in Germany require employees to know English,
and although she took English classes, she knew coming to this
country would afford her lessons not only in language, but in
American culture and history, firsthand.
Meike arrived in Comer in August, not long before school began,
speaking limited English. This was a concern for the McLocklins,
who speak no German, but Meike has made great strides in learning
English and is now able to converse quite easily.
others are not.
Of course, there is the language, which causes Meike to have
to work a little harder to understand what's going on.
Kara, Meike says, has been a great help to her in settling in
her new school, taking her around the week before classes started
to meet her teachers and familiarize herself with her new surroundings.
Meike says senior sponsor Mrs. Karol Scarborough has also been
a great help to her.
"She always asked me how I'm doing and takes time to speak
with me after class about any problems I have or school work,"
Although she is a senior at MCHS this year and will graduate
with the Class of 2000, when she returns to Germany Meike will
still have two more grades to complete before finishing there.
Had she been in Germany this year, she would have been in the
eleventh grade, and German students are required to complete
13 grades in order to finish their high school education.
"We don't have a ceremony there, like here," Meike
said. So she is especially excited about all the activities surrounding
She doesn't have a driver's license - 18 is the legal driving
age in Germany - so Kara gives her a ride to school each day.
Meike said she rides her bike or takes the subway from her family's
apartment to school in Germany, as do most students.
Meike has made friends with a number of Kara's friends at school
and enjoys "hanging out" with them. For example, she
recently visited a haunted house with one of Kara's friends,
Meike's first such activity as Germany doesn't celebrate Halloween.
Though they don't have a Thanksgiving holiday either, although
they do have harvest celebrations.
Coming from the large city of Frankfurt to a small town like
Comer has in itself been an experience.
Meike said the kids at school dress the same, and like all teenagers,
she is enjoying shopping for clothes.
"The days at school are longer here," Meike said. "I'm
used to having more time for myself." Classes at her Frankfurt
school are usually over by 1:15 p.m.
McLocklin said Meike has found the schedules and social activities
of teenagers here hard to keep up with, as she and her German
peers don't spend so much time traveling to and from various
There is no lunchroom at her native school, where two - 10 minutes
break times are observed and snacks are brought from home.
THE EXCHANGE PROGRAM
Students are chosen for the program by being put through a rigorous
recruitment process including written essays, interviews and
According to Meike, 2,000 German students have been chosen as
exchange students from YFU and other organizations for this year.
Meike was one of only four chosen from her high school.
As for the McLocklins, they underwent a standard screening process
and were interviewed as to what their interests are and any country
preferences they might have. Afterwards, the family received
an information packet on Meike, along with a picture.
One of the biggest differences, overall, according to Meike,
is the food. She has cooked German dishes for the McLocklins
on several occasions, and says she is learning to like "American
Meike has taken several day trips with the McLocklins, including
going to South Carolina and the north Georgia mountains.
YFU provided all area exchange students with an orientation last
summer at Lake Hartwell and Meike will serve as a YFU volunteer
this weekend at the Fox theater in Atlanta.
Meike is also looking forward to the holiday season with her
Exchange students are not permitted to work, according to McLocklin,
but they are encouraged to participate in volunteer work and
Meike keeps in regular touch with her family, who she will not
see again until next July, after spending almost a full year
"She gets e-mail, phone calls and faxes from her family
and friends," McLocklin said, adding that her new family
will miss her very much when she returns home and hopes to keep
in touch with her from now on.