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FRONT PAGE - DECEMBER 22, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

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Lending a hand


THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
One-year-old Trey Artis Hart was just one of many excited children who participated in the Helping Hands Christmas party last Saturday in Colbert. The children were allowed to pick out a number of Christmas toys.
Photo by Margie Richards

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Mahoney to serve as new planning board chairman
BY MARGIE RICHARDS
County planners elected a new chairman Tuesday while saying goodbye to three members who have completed their appointed terms on the zoning board.
Pat Mahoney, who has served on the board for the past two years, will replace Ralph Power as chairman.
"I appreciate your confidence in me," Mahoney said of her appointment. "We've had some tense meetings and strong differences of opinion and I feel that's helped make us strong."
Mahoney said she wants to work on updating the zoning ordinances.
"Fifteen years ago they were OK, but they are now across the board sorely out of date," she said.
Power, who was also scheduled to "roll off" the board at the end of this year, agreed to stay on as a board member and to serve as co-chairman.
"This is the best group I've been associated with," Power said of his time as chairman. "I think we've all learned a lot."
Gerry Burdette, Phil Munro and Jim Beals will be leaving the commission, although Beals has said he will stay on temporarily until a replacement for him is found.
It will be up to the board of commissioners to appoint someone to fill the three board vacancies. No one has as yet been appointed to the positions.
Planning commission members serve three-year terms, but may elect to stay on longer with the approval of the BOC.
Beals has served on the commission longer than any other current board member, joining the commission in early 1995.
Power joined the commission in August 1995; Burdette in January 1996 and Munro in December 1995.
"We're losing three valuable members of the commission," Mahoney said.
"They're going to be hard to replace," commission member Brenda Thompson agreed.

HOLIDAY SEASON

Madison County group helps make kids smile at Christmas
BY MARGIE RICHARDS
One-year-old Trey Hart probably won't remember last Saturday's Christmas party at Helping Hands or how he kissed and squeezed his new toys in delight.
But Faye Schmittou will. "He's such a darling," she said, smiling as she watched him.
Schmittou, 78, has run Helping Hands, a non-profit organization that collects and distributes clothing and toys to the needy families of Madison County, for the past 13 years.
"I'm happy because they're happy," Schmittou said, pointing to the children filing through the line, each with a "helper" to pick out one of hundreds of toys piled high on tables in the auditorium of the old Colbert Elementary School that Helping Hands calls home.
But she is quick to point out that she couldn't take on this project, which operates year round, alone.
A number of volunteers, ministers and churches have helped over the years. And there is always plenty for everyone to do.
Students and teachers from the FCCLA (Family Careers and Community Leaders of America), as well as members and volunteers of the 4-H Club, were on hand Saturday morning to help with the party and toy distribution. They also helped with snacks and sorting and stacking the toys prior to the party.
The party is limited each year to children under 12. And parents, while encouraged to attend with their children, are not allowed to walk through the "toy line."
According to Schmittou, this allows each child to freely select the toy of their choice.


Block earns 'A' with students
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Block scheduling is earning an "A" with Madison County High School students and parents.
High school principal Allen McCannon told the county school board Tuesday that the lengthier class periods introduced to the school at the beginning of last year have led to better student performance.
And he said a survey conducted by the school shows that a vast majority of students and parents are happy with the new system.
According to McCannon's four-page report to the board, 69 percent of high school students agreed that the block scheduling system had improved their chances of graduating on time. Only 15 percent of the student body and nine percent of parents gave the system an overall negative rating.
McCannon noted that last year 12 seniors were able to take a class second semester that they failed first semester and still graduate with their class on time.
Likewise, the percentage of AP tests passed by students improved dramatically last year, with 65 percent of students passing AP tests in 1998-99, compared to 38 percent in 1997-98.
Also, SAT and graduation test scores improved slightly last year, with college prep SAT scores up an average of 13 points.


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