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FRONT PAGE - DECEMBER 8, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

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Kids' Photo deadline This Friday
The deadline for turning in photographs of children for MainStreet Newspapers' 33rd annual special Christmas kids section is this FRIDAY, DEC. 10 at 5PM. No photos will be accepted after this time.
Photographs of children ages 8 and under are featured free of charge in the special editions planned for the week of Christmas. The children must live in Banks, Madison or Jackson counties. The name, age, address and parent's name must be listed on the back of each photo.
Photos may be turned in at any of MainStreet's offices in Jefferson, Homer, Danielsville, Braselton or Commerce. They may also be mailed to: MainStreet Newspapers, P.O. Box 908, Jefferson, Ga., 30549.


LET IT SNOW

Despite the warm day, Hope Melton, 4, was happy to portray a snowman for the Miracle Years of Learning Float during the Comer Christmas Parade last Saturday.
Photo by Margie Richards
LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Bypass meeting set for Thurs.
Those concerned about how the proposed Danielsville bypass and Hwy. 29 road widening project may affect them may get more answers Thursday.
Department of Transportation officials will be on hand Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Madison County High School cafeteria to take questions from the public about a planned Hwy. 29 bypass of Danielsville.
The DOT reported in August that as many as 53 Madison County households and 11 commercial establishments may be forced to move to make way for the bypass and Hwy. 29 road-widening project slated for construction in 2006. That project is expected to cost approximately $30 million.
THE DOT PROPOSAL
The proposed highway will be four lanes, two lanes in each direction, divided by a 44-foot depressed grass median from Dogsboro to north of Danielsville.
In some areas along Hwy. 29, the proposed roadway will be moved to new locations to minimize impacts to historic and other environmental resources. The areas of new location begin at county road (CR) 238 or Joe Graham Road extending east of Hwy. 29 to approximately .3 miles north of CR 180/Ed Cole Rd. From this point, the alignment would cross existing Hwy. 29 and continue on new location paralleling approximately .2 miles northwest of existing Hwy. 29. The alignment would continue on new location to approximately .25 miles north of CR 228/Diamond Hill Rd. The alignment would then cross existing Hwy. 29 on new location to the east and return to Hwy. 29 at CR 411/Archer Rd.
Two alternatives are currently under consideration for bypassing Danielsville, a southern alternative and a northern alternative. The two bypass alternatives would begin at CR 221/Colbert Grove Church Road, and extend onto new location to the northwest or southeast of Danielsville. The northwest bypass of Danielsville would cross Hwy. 98 approximately 0.5 miles northwest of Hwy. 29 and Hwy. 98 intersection. The northwest bypass would return to existing Hwy. 29 at CR 88/lrwin Kirk Rd. and continue widening and improving Hwy. 29 on the west side to Hwy. 281. The southeast bypass of Danielsville would cross Hwy. 98 approximately .8 miles southeast of the Hwy. 29 and Hwy. 98 intersection. The southeast bypass would return to Hwy. 29 approximately .3 miles south of Hwy. 28.1.
Written statements will be accepted concerning this project until December 24. Those statements may be submitted to: Mr. David R. Studstill, P.E. State Environmental/Location Engineer 3993 Aviation Circle Atlanta, Georgia, 30336-1593

Pay in the Madison County BOC office source of tension
New salary plan to be discussed Monday
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Pay in the Madison County commissioners' office is the source of tensions in the county government. And again, the salary of county clerk/financial officer Morris Fortson is a major point of friction.
Fortson's pay was cut $13,000 in January. But that pay slash was overturned by the board shortly after Ken Clark's resignation from the county commission, a vacancy that left his political allies outnumbered at the commissioners' table on the issue.
Now the board is considering a pay plan that could raise Fortson's salary by $2,132 next year. Some say that's just not fair; others say his duties warrant an even bigger raise.
Commissioner Nelson Nash, who voted to return the $13,000 to Fortson earlier this year, said he doesn't think the clerk should get a hefty raise next year.
"I'm not voting for an $1,800 a year increase," said commissioner Nash, who also questioned the pay of other employees in the commissioners' office. "And I don't expect any other board member to vote for it."
He added: "I voted to double my salary and I've about been crucified for it. If we increase his (Fortson's) pay by some $2,000, yeah, I'm going to say something about it."
Chairman Wesley Nash has said that Fortson agreed to a smaller increase than he should get. Nash said that a salary study performed by the county commissioners' office revealed that Fortson's salary is far below that of workers in the same position in other counties of similar size. That's true not just for Fortson, but for several other employees in the county, Nash added.
Fortson's pay raise is actually the ninth highest proposed pay increase in the county government (see chart). Nash said Fortson's salary, as well as any other proposed pay increase in the county, can be "substantiated through the survey."
The chairman also pointed out Monday that the budget for the county commissioners' office is 17 percent lower than the previous administration. And he added that it would be around 25 percent lower without the pay increases the commissioners awarded themselves last year. He said the lower budget is from reducing the number of workers in the office.
"I'm eliminating jobs by hiring more qualified people," Nash said about the budget in his office.
The pay in the commissioners' office will likely be discussed Monday at the 6:30 p.m. BOC meeting in the government complex. The board is scheduled to receive input from other county officials on the latest proposed county pay plan.
The most recent plan would give all workers at least a two percent increase on their paychecks in 2000, with those workers deemed underpaid by the county pay study receiving a bigger boost until their pay reaches its proper level.
Officials expect bringing everybody into their appropriate pay range would cost the county $120,000 in 2000 and about $80,000 in 2001.
The commissioners' aim is to balance pay with tenure and responsibilities. As it is now, some employees make more money than others with the same duties, even though they have logged less time for the county.
But there's been no quick fix to the problem.
One complication is that the county's constitutional officers - such as the sheriff, the probate judge and clerk of court - may or may not choose to bring their employees under a pay plan.
That means that a constitutional officer, who chooses not to bring his employees under the county's plan, can set salaries as he sees fit. If this happens, then a uniform pay system is impossible. For example, a person doing a job in one department, may find that he receives better money under a constitutional officer for the same work.
So setting up a plan that is attractive to the constitutional officers is an aim of commissioners.
But pleasing everybody has proven impossible. And those on all sides of the issue have shown frustration.
District 5 commissioner Bruce Scogin said he is ready for action.
"I'm about ready to say 'no pay raises for anybody and let's go on with business as usual,'" said Scogin at the end of Monday's meeting. "I'm ready to go ahead (with a pay plan) or chuck it all."



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