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This week's Herald

This week's Herald

This week's Herald


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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.

Home for the holidays

The McEntee family of Hoschton is spending its first Christmas together this year. Jerri and Jack McEntee (back, L-R) adopted Oleg, Nick and Irina (front, L-R) from a Russian orphanage and brought them to their Jackson County home last spring. The family will spend Christmas at home before traveling to visit relatives and friends.
Photo by Jana Adams


Builders vow to fight subdivision moratorium
But Robinson says action will allow county time to develop plan for growth
Leaders of the Jackson County Builders Association said this week the group would fight a subdivision moratorium put in effect last week by the county government. In a statement release Wednesday, the group called the action "illegal," saying it "demonstrates a blatant disregard of Georgia law."
The JCBA said the action was illegal because no public notice or hearings were held before the moratorium was enacted.
"No hearing was held to debate the issue and no notice was provided that the moratorium was even being considered," stated the group's release.
"I don't think doing what they've done has accomplished anything," said David Healan, chairman of the JCBA and a member of the Jackson County Planning Commission. "I think it is unwarranted at this time."
Jackson County commissioner Henry Robinson, who made the motion to enact the moratorium, said Friday that the county needs some breathing space to develop policies to control the growth of residential developments.
Robinson told the board of directors of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce Friday that the moratorium buys the county some time.
"This gives us six months to do a lot of stuff," said Robinson.
Robinson said the county needs the time to get a handle on its new sewage treatment system, to reconsider the size of lots and the density of developments in the county, to come up with new costs charged for rezoning land for residential developments and to hire a "professional planner" to help in the county planning office.
Clearly, the density of developments is one of Robinson's major concerns.
"We had one developer who wanted 119 septic tanks on 120 acres," he said.
The spate of recent lawsuits were also on Robinson's mind.
"It looks like every time we do a rezoning, we get sued," the commissioner complained. "If we don't rezone, we get sued by the developer. If we do, the neighbors sue us."
Robinson also expressed concern over the proliferation of mobile homes in the county. In the first 10 months of 1999, some 29 percent of housing permits were mobile homes, he said, but that number soared to 50 percent in November.
"If we talk to 100 people in Jackson County, 90 percent of them will tell us we're growing too fast," Robinson said.

County pays $5,000 of private legal bill
Action connected to fight against Arcade landfill
Two Jackson County commissioners signed a $5,000 check earlier this month to help pay legal expenses incurred by a private group which fought a landfill that was attempting to locate in Arcade. But some have raised questions about the action, saying it was an illegal payment by a public agency to help cover private legal expenses.
Commissioners Pat Bell and Henry Robinson signed the Dec. 6 check made to the law firm Decker & Hallman of Atlanta for the case of Emmons vs. City of Arcade. The check went to pay a Nov. 30 invoice submitted by the firm for "legal services rendered by Decker & Hallman in representing Jackson County in the above referenced case." No billing hours are indicated on the invoice and the specifics of what was done for Jackson County were not outlined.
Jackson County attorney Lane Fitzpatrick said this week he was not involved in the $5,000 payment, an oversight that he indicated makes the payment illegal. For the payment to have been legal, Decker & Hallman would have had to submit the bill to him for work done on behalf of the county, said Fitzpatrick. If he had approved the expenses, the payment would have been legal, he said. Such an arrangement was done on an earlier payment of $25,000 made to Decker & Hallman by the county, he continued.
Bell said this week that the action was authorized at an April 14, 1998, board of commissioners meeting.
"We entered the case as a friend of the court and that is what we agreed to pay," she said. "It was approved prior to the case going to court...I think it is important that we did it because we made a commitment to do it. We were fighting the landfill and this was our part in fighting this landfill."
But the minutes of that 1998 meeting state that Robinson made a motion for "the county attorney to represent the board and get any assistance that he needs since it will be in the state Supreme Court." Robinson added that a limit of $5,000 be set on the assistance. Bell and Robinson voted in favor of the motion while chairman Jerry Waddell did not vote.
In the months since that action, members of the citizens' group CUB-JC, which led the anti-landfill effort, have been lobbying the commissioners for that $5,000 and other funds to help pay the group's legal expenses. In August of this year, members of CUB-JC appeared at a BOC meeting to request additional funds, up to $35,000 according to the minutes of that meeting. Waddell reportedly said at that meeting any payment for past legal services not directly connected to Jackson County would be illegal.
But in a Nov. 15 directive to executive assistant David Bohanan, Bell insisted that $5,000 be paid to CUB-JC and that she and Robinson would sign the check.
"I would like for the county to go ahead and pay the approved amount of $5,000 to CUB-JC to help cover legal expenses incurred in their fight against the Arcade landfill," states the memo. "This action was approved at an official meeting of the Board of Commissioners, and therefore, I see no reason for further delay in making this payment. If you will see to it that this check is prepared, myself and Mr. Robinson will endorse it."
Bohanan later signed off on having the check cut, noting that he would have Bell sign the memo for the record.


'Tis the season for... shoplifting
An out-of-town woman was robbed at gunpoint after an evening of shopping in the Banks Crossing area.
Thieves broke into four vehicles parked at area restaurants and stole money and merchandise.
And shoplifters have hit 15 Banks Crossing stores since the first of November, including five in the last week.
All of these crimes have been committed in the Banks Crossing area since Nov. 1. Law enforcement officers say it will only get worse as the Christmas holiday approaches. Shoplifting usually increases during the holiday period and officials in Banks and Jackson counties expect this year to be no different.
"It poses a problem for us," Jackson County sheriff Stan Evans said. "I'd like to have someone posted over there all the time but I have no manpower or resources to do that...That place has put a strain on our office."
In the past week, five shoplifting incidents have been reported at Tanger Factory Outlet Center. Details on these incidents are listed below.
On Thursday, Dec. 16, a deputy was called to Music for a Song in reference to a shoplifting incident. An employee of the store said a male had stuffed a box of CDs under his shirt and started toward the door. The man was charged with shoplifting.
On Wednesday, Dec. 15, a Jackson County deputy was called to Rue 21 by the store manager. She said one young female had a jacket and a shirt from the store in a bag from another store that she was carrying. A girl with her had a pair of blue jeans from the store rolled up in a shoe box from another store. The two women were charged with shoplifting.
On Tuesday, Dec. 14, a deputy was patrolling at Tanger Outlet Mall when he noticed an employee of Tommy Jeans motioning for him to stop. The store manager said that he had confronted a man as he left the store about a suspected shoplifting incident. The manager said the man pulled five jackets out of his jumpsuit, threw them on the floor and ran from the store. The officer patrolled the parking area but didn't spot the suspect.
On Saturday, Dec. 11, a deputy noticed a suspicious vehicle parked behind Polo Jeans. The deputy found three people in the car who had two new pairs of shoes. They didn't have receipts for the shoes and were charged with shoplifting.
Also on Dec. 11, a woman was charged with shoplifting after someone traveling through the parking lot told a deputy she had stuck a bag underneath a car. Suspected stolen merchandise from three stores was found in the bag.

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