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FRONT PAGE - DECEMBER 15, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GA

Search / Jackson Co. Sex Offender Registry

Holiday schedule given for paper
The Jackson Herald will be closed Friday, Dec. 24, in observance of the Christmas holiday.
The Herald office will also be closed Friday, Dec. 30, in observance of the New Year's holiday.



HELP ON THE WAY


More help is on the way to get the real estate records at the Jackson County courthouse up to date. The board of commissioners agreed Tuesday to provide funds for two temporary positions to handle the back log of real estate work. The BOC will provide these funds for eight months. Attorney Wanda David, who approached the BOC, along with Ronnie Hopkins, about the matter is shown to the right.

Lawyers appeal for help in clerk's office
BOC told backlog of filings creates liability problem
BY ANGELA GARY
Two Jefferson real estate attorneys appeared before the Jackson County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning to plead for some help in the clerk of court's office.
The BOC approved a request from Wanda David and Ronnie Hopkins to allocate funds for two temporary positions to help get rid of the backlog on real estate transactions in the clerk's office. Attorney Allen Lacey also sent the BOC a letter on the matter. David had asked for temporary help for six months, but clerk Reba Parks asked for help for a maximum of eight months.
"It has progressively been adding up," David said of the back-log. "It has been getting a little bit worse. We are not here saying anybody is doing anything (wrong). We just have a problem...You're opening the door for liability problems by not having these records in a fashion which we can live with. Not only do we (attorneys) have liabilities, you're (the county) looking at potential lawsuits."
The problems mentioned by David include the computer indexing of real estate transactions, which are six weeks behind; the printout of deed transactions, which only goes through Sept. 1; and the lag in getting deed receipts back to the attorneys. She also added that the cross indexing is one and a half years behind.
Hopkins pointed out that information attorneys give to clients who are interested in purchasing property is not up-to-date.
"People don't want to buy under those conditions," he said. "Banks don't want to lend under those conditions...The volume of work has just gotten tremendous...You've got an entire clerk's office who is working on these deeds and you've got all this other stuff that is going on too."
David suggested that the temporary help be used to do the "catch-up" work and not handle day-to-day duties.
"I don't think it is possible for her office to ever catch up," she said. "It's impossible. That is just a given...I'm asking you to give her two temps and regulate them to clean up the past so it frees up her current help to keep us up day-to-day."
Parks asked for an additional employee in her office at the recent BOC budget hearings but no action was taken. She pointed out at this week's meeting that real estate transactions have almost doubled in the past five years. In 1994, 7,543 real estate transactions were reported, while 14,425 have gone through the office so far this year.
"The help is basically the same-only one more person," Hopkins said. "That is a huge amount of difference."
BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said that traffic citations have decreased over the past five years and the employees who handled those duties could work in real estate. Parks said that these employees work with State Court and juvenile court.
"They are all busy," she said. "They just don't have time to do it."
Waddell also asked if the existing staff members handle some of the duties that Parks has to do in order to get caught up.
"We as commissioners want to help, but I don't see how we are going to solve the problem if you still have to look at every one of them," he said. "We still are not going to get caught up."
Waddell and Parks both agreed that at the end of the eight-month period, an outside consultant will do a time study on how many employees are needed for the department and to abide by their decision.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

BOC puts 6-month moratorium on new subdivisions
BY ANGELA GARY
New residential subdivision developments in Jackson County will come to a standstill for six months following a moratorium passed by the board of commissioners Tuesday night.
Commissioner Henry Robinson called for the six-month moratorium and BOC chairman Jerry Waddell voted in favor, while commissioner Pat Bell voted against it.
Bell said she couldn't vote for the moratorium because of all of the people in the county whose livelihood comes from development. She added that revisions need to be made to the county zoning ordinances, but that they could be done without a moratorium. She added that she hoped the measure didn't land the county in court for the six-month period.
In calling for the moratorium, Robinson said the commission needs to consider how "densely populated" it wants the county to become.
"We need to take another look at the sizes of lots allowed in various zoning designations," he said. "As part of preserving the rural character of Jackson County, we need to take another look at how densely populated we want Jackson County to become in the future."
Robinson also mentioned the county's efforts toward a county-run waste water treatment system.
"A waste water treatment system is essential to managing growth, attracting industry and preserving the rural character of Jackson County," he said. "Until we get the county-run waste water treatment system up and running, the interests of the public at large will be served by this temporary moratorium."
The moratorium is effective as of Tuesday night. Applications that have already been submitted for the January planning commission meeting will still be considered, but no new applications will be taken.
Robinson asked that county director of building and development David Clabo look into the fee charged for permits during the moratorium. He also asked that consideration be given to requiring that open space be placed in subdivisions.
Last month, the BOC put a six-month moratorium on planned unit development applications.


MES student allowed back after BOE vote
BY ADAM FOUCHE
Despite dissension from chairman Barry Cronic, the Jackson County Board of Education voted 4-1 Monday to allow a former Maysville Elementary School fifth grader, whose residency status had been questioned, to re-enroll at the school.
"Our records clearly show that Mrs. Smith [the student's mother] did falsify her address both in a written form and verbally to school officials," said superintendent Andy Byers. "She has never lived at the address she has listed on her statement."
According to a memo from MES principal Pat Miller to the BOE, an anonymous caller informed Miller on Nov. 1 that Ginger Smith was not living at the Jackson County address she had given at her daughter's school, but that she was living at an address in Banks County.
According to Jackson County school policy, "students who are not lawful residents of the Jackson County School District shall not be permitted to enroll in any Jackson County school." The policy also says that "circumvention of [the residency policy] by false statement of residency shall cause the student to be dismissed from the Jackson County School District immediately." On Nov. 3, the student was removed from MES.
Smith maintained her claims of residence at Deer Run Road.
"I've been honest and upfront," she said. "I have stayed at Deer Run."
Monday night, Smith presented pictures of her family in the house on Donahoo Road, apparently proving her residency. Board member Ed Tolbert also confirmed the family had spent at least one night in the house over the weekend.
BOE attorney Leonard Lewellen informed the board that if they ruled to allow the student re-admittance, then school policy states the student can stay enrolled at the school for the remainder of the school year even if her parents move out of the system.
"You must decide if its a subterfuge," he said.
Board member Tim Brooks made a motion to allow the student to return to MES.


Jefferson agrees to 300,000 gallons per day from Bear Creek
Move on water, sewage terms could mean more city-county cooperation
BY ANGELA GARY
In a move that could signal increased cooperation between two local governments, Jefferson leaders agreed Monday night to purchase 300,000 gallons of water per day from the Bear Creek regional reservoir. In return for that, county leaders have indicated they would support a permit application made by Jefferson to draw water from a proposed reservoir at Parks Creek. The county has also said it wants to have access to a percentage of any future Parks Creek water. The permit application is pending with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Jefferson also agreed Monday night to "swap" sewage capacity with the county, giving the county water and sewer authority access to sewage treatment at I-85 in return for access to sewage treatment from the county's newly acquired facility in Jefferson. The county recently got into the sewage treatment business by condemning the old Texfi plant on Hwy. 11 from a private sewage company.
Council member Steve Kinney called for the action after pointing out that the city only has until Dec. 20 to make a decision on how much water it will purchase from the reservoir. Kinney reported that the county had agreed to sell the city the water at a rate of $2.10 per 1,000 gallons for all water used and $1.10 per 1,000 gallons of water not used. The reservoir is expected to be completed by July 2001.
On a related matter, the council agreed that it would charge the county the same rate for any water it purchases from Parks Reservoir. City leaders said that if the project is permitted, it would take two to five years to build.
Kinney also recommended that the city give the county 100,000 gallons of sewage capacity at I-85 in exchange for 100,000 gallons of capacity at the Texfi plant.
The council gave city attorney Ronnie Hopkins the authority to work on a contract outlining these proposals to present to the county.


Another developer files suit against BOC
BY ANGELA GARY
Another lawsuit has been filed against the Jackson County Board of Commissioners over a zoning decision.
Millberry Homes Inc. filed the lawsuit last week over an October decision by the BOC to deny the rezoning of 19.027 acres on Doster Road. Developer Charlie Butts had asked the BOC to rezone the property from A-2 to R-1 to construct 19 site-built homes. The planning commission had recommended denial of the request.
The matter quickly became controversial due to the nearby location of poultry houses. Several area farmers attended the planning commission and BOC meetings to speak out against the development because of the fear that the new homeowners would complain about the poultry odor.
The legal action is the third zoning-related lawsuit that has been filed against the BOC this month. Earlier, Doug Elam of Buckhead Development filed a lawsuit against the county for not approving his request to get smaller lots in Mulberry Plantation, a planned unit development in West Jackson. Also in West Jackson, Millard Bowen of Simonton Road Partners has filed a lawsuit against the county over the denial of a request to rezone 123.66 acres on Wehunt Road from A-R to R-1 for a 119-lot subdivision.


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