Homer, Georgia

1999 IN REVIEW:
A look at Banks County's top news stories


Notable quotes from 1999

These are among some of the "quotes of the week" that topped the editorial page in 1999.
"I am excited about being the first woman even to serve on this committee. I expect it will be an exciting session. It always is when there is a new governor."
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson on being named the first woman in Georgia to be named chairman of a major House committee--Jan. 20, 1999
"I am constantly reminded of what a power profession I have chosen. Teachers have a tremendous impact on a child's life and on improving society. One of my favorite sayings is 'To teach is to touch lives forever.'"
Nancy Barrett, systemwide "Teacher of the Year"--Jan. 27, 1999
"This is a road that we need to build for economic growth. We need commercial and residential growth or people with 100 acres are not going to be able to live here because the taxes will be too high."
BOC chairman James Dumas on plans to build Industrial Road--March 3, 1999
"Our volunteers do more than deliver lunch. Our seniors also get a large portion of love and fellowship."
Banks County Senior Citizen's Center director Kathy Kennedy speaking on the need of volunteers for the "Meals On Wheels" program--March 17, 1999
"We are moving ahead to ensure that the people of Banks County are protected. We're gonna have contingency plans in place not to jeopardize their safety and make sure the transition into the millennium is smooth."
Banks County Board of Commission chairman James Dumas on work the county is doing to be sure that every department is "Y2K" compliant--March 31, 1999
"There have been times when I have not had two nickels to rub together. I would pray about it and ask the Lord if we should keep the center going or not. Then, I would go by the post office and find donations. You see, I'm just a worker and God is working through me."
Bonnie Hill on her volunteer work at the Garrison Civic Center--April 7, 1999
"As a taxpayer, if I had to pay more taxes and the county were able to respond medically or if there was an emergency, I wouldn't gripe about it. I think most people would be the same way. We're in a situation where we're held liable if we don't do it, and we're held liable if don't do it right."
Sheriff Charles Chapman during county budget hearings--April 14, 1999
"People come to the cities for a higher level of service. If the cities can't do that, they need to get out of the city business."
Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman James Dumas speaking at a meeting of county and city officials on House Bill 489--April 28, 1999
"We will be opening up a can of worms. We do it for them and we will have to do the same thing for every city. We could drop them and work on getting a station to cover the Gillsville and cover the Maysville area (with the Grove Level station)."
BOC member Ernest Rogers speaking on a potential agreement to provide fire protection to the Banks County side of the city limits of Maysville and two roads in unincorporated Gillsville--May 19, 1999
"We are the future. I believe that the world has always and will always need young people who care--people with vision, energy and compassion to make life better for all of us. What the world is looking for and needs, I believe, is the graduating students of the class of 1999."
BCHS valedictorian Sarah Stewart--June 9, 1999
"She has proven to be one of the most formidable leaders our county has ever been blessed with and has maintained a cooperative working relationship with city, county and state officials. Due to her many efforts, Banks County has really been put on the map and has grown like never before."
A comment from one of those who nominated Bonnie Johnson as the "Good Citizen" of the year for the Banks County Chamber of Commerce--July 14, 1999
"It is sad when we can put a man on the moon but two groups of adults don't sit down and work out what is in the best interest of a child."
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson on the termination of the school contract between Habersham and Banks counties--July 28, 1999
"Historically, we gain 30 or 40 a year (at the high school). Unless growth goes crazy, that school should last five or six years. It is designed to put a wing on both sides whenever necessary."
Superintendent Dock Sisk on the new high school--Aug. 25, 1999
"This is not a Tolar road. This is not a Seabolt road. It's a county road. Make your decision based on what is best for the county."
Ray Seabolt to the BOC on the debate over whether Charity Road is a private road or a county road--Sept. 1, 1999
"Before you dump, burn or bury, think about what your actions are doing to your grandchildren. We only have one earth and it is getting more crowded each day. If we don't take care of it now, our kids will remember."
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Ranger Winford Popphan--Sept. 8, 1999
"How can we rescind a program we never started?"
BOE member Len Dalton concerning the school system's day care center--Sept. 15, 1999
"After careful consideration, I have decided that it is evident that the board has lost confidence in my ability to lead this school system. I certainly respect that this is the case since I have spent my adult life working in the Banks County school system and previous years attending the system. Since I believe it is impossible to be an effective leader under these circumstances, I hereby tender my resignation and ask the board to accept it effective immediately."
Superintendent Dock Sisk in his letter of resignation--Sept. 22, 1999
"I don't think that this was the best thing for the school system. His contract runs through the year, and he's nine months from retirement. I think something else could have been worked out."
BOE chairman Don Shubert on his vote to not accept superintendent Dock Sisk's resignation--Sept. 29, 1999
"Call me and I will talk to you any time you want to talk. I will tell you everything I know that has happened in open session."
BOE member Len Dalton--Oct. 13, 1999
"We are looking to the future. We should be able to continue to grow for the next seven to 10 years with this expansion."
BOC chairman James Dumas on plans to expand the sewer system at Banks Crossing--Oct. 27, 1999
"In local elections, I don't think you have to say if you're a Republican or Democrat. If you've been here long enough, people in the county are going to know. It would keep you from having to run two campaigns."
BOC member Ernest Rogers--Nov. 10, 1999
"Domestic violence, substance abuse, emotional and mental abuse are taxing our placement resources. We are not keeping pace and need to find more foster families."
DFACS director Peggy Halski--Dec. 1, 1999
"I have reached a point in my life that I can no longer work for the current BOC and I believe the feeling is mutual. I feel like I'm at a standstill with the department and it's time for me to move on."
Banks County fire department head Dean Jackman in his letter or resignation to the board of commissioners--Dec. 15, 1999


1999 Roundup of Banks County Events

JANUARY
·Hundreds attended the funeral of Loy Williams, the Banks County firefighter killed in the arson of New Salem United Methodist Church. A "fireman's funeral" was held with a procession that included more than 100 fire trucks from throughout Georgia. Arsonists destroyed the church in a New Year's Eve blaze that brought firefighters from throughout Banks County and surrounding areas. A task force was formed to find the arsonists with a $15,000 reward offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction. New Salem congregation members pledged to rebuild their church.
·The Maysville Town Council approved a $301,300 budget, up one percent over last year.
·New board of directors members named for the Banks County Chamber of Commerce were: Bonnie Johnson, Brent Edwards, Dennis Robarge, Harold Ivey, Doug Cheek, Sherry Lewis and Ed Lindorme. Don Stewart is the new president and Gary Freeman the vice president.
·Harold Ivey was named as the new chairman of the Banks County Planning Commission. Gene McDuffie resigned last month as chairman.
·The final plat for a 27-lot subdivision was approved by the planning commission. Governor's Walk Subdivision will be located on Hwy. 59 and Chambers Road.
·The planning commission also approved rezoning requests for a bed and breakfast facility on Hwy. 51 and a flea market on Hwy. 441. The Banks County Board of Commissioners must take final action on the requests.
·Don Shubert was named to again serve as chairman of the Banks County Board of Education.
·The Banks County Board of Commissioners began plans to locate a memorial in honor of Loy Williams at the courthouse complex.
·The Baldwin City Council agreed to begin the search for a truck to provide garbage service to its citizens.
·The BOC discussed salary increases for 911 employees in a "work session" meeting. No action was taken, but they agreed to study the matter further.
·The Homer Town Council named eight citizens to serve on a zoning review committee. This is part of an effort to enact zoning in the city.
·The BOC agreed for the county zoning committee to begin meeting again to revamp the county's subdivision ordinance.
·Rep. Jeanette Jamieson was the first woman in Georgia to be named chairman of a major House committee. She was named chairman of the House education committee, a key spot in the state's legislative leadership.
·Banks County citizens got a first hand look at the proposed Homer bypass during a public information meeting with the Georgia Department of Transportation. Plans call for the project to begin in October.
·The City of Alto announced plans to spend $392,782 in 1999 to upgrade the town's water system.
·The BOC discussed placing a moratorium on subdivisions as they looked for a solution to a loophole in the ordinance which allows developers to bypass the regulations. No action was taken.
·The Development Authority of Banks County requested that Exit 54 at I-85 be zoned planned unit development. They forwarded the request to the BOC for action.
·The BOC discussed reactivating the Industrial Building Authority of Banks County. The group was formed in the early 1960s and used as a tool to help get business and industry to locate in Banks County.
·The Alto Town Council approved four percent raises for city employees.
·The Banks County Sheriff's Office was awarded a $168,940 grant through the Community Oriented Policing program.
·The Lula Town Council approved annexation requests from Lane Griffin and June Lawson.
·Nancy Barrett was named "Teacher of the Year" for the Banks County school system.
·The 40th annual "World's Largest Easter Egg Hunt" plans were left up in the air after some members of the Garrison family said they would no longer continue sponsoring the event.
·Representatives of the Cooperative Resource Center, a non-profit organization, appeared before the Baldwin City Council to discuss plans to locate low-income housing for the elderly and disabled people in the town.
FEBRUARY
·For the first time ever, a nurse was funded for the school system through the health department.
·Maysville Mayor Richard Presley opened the city council meeting by reading a statement on public conduct at meetings. He said they should be "orderly" with no profanity. A police officer was also present to remove anyone who refused to follow the guidelines.
·Plans for a new post office in Maysville were revealed at a meeting with representatives of the United States Postal Service.
·Banks County officials reported that Wal-Mart representatives were considering closing its Commerce store and opening a "super store" in Banks County.
·The board of commissioners set the criteria for accepting roads that were built prior to approval of the subdivision regulations.
·A 28-day moratorium was put in place on all land divisions in Banks County except for those that follow the subdivision regulations.
·The Banks County Board of Education selected Rance Gillespie to take over the reins as head football coach and athletic director. He will also teach social studies.
·Just three days after placing a moratorium on land divisions, the Banks County Board of Commissioners called a meeting to rescind it. BOC members had agreed that the moratorium would help to alleviate the problem of developers subdividing property and creating an "illegal" subdivision, but later found out that many other citizens would be hurt in the process.
·A developer was given the go-ahead to begin a 38-lot modular home subdivision in Lula. Barry Wikle plans to build a 26-lot subdivision on a 20-acre tract on Nachoochee Street.
·Shad Slocum has been named Environmental Health Specialist I at the Banks County Health Department. One focus of Slocum's job will be to conduct inspections at area eating establishments.
·A suspect in the New Salem United Methodist Church fire that destroyed the church and took the life of volunteer firefighter Loy Williams is in federal custody. Jay Scott Ballenger, 36, Yorktown, Ind., was charged with arson in seven church fires in Indiana. He reportedly confessed to 50 church fires across the southeast.
·After more than 22 years as director of the Banks County Senior Citizen's Center, Marguerite Dalton announced her retirement. Kathy Kennedy was named as the new director.
MARCH
·Mack Garrison announced that plans for the 40th annual Easter egg hunt in Banks County would be held. There were some doubts that the Garrison family tradition would continue after the family of the late Herbert Garrison announced that they would not participate.
·Maysville council member Scott Harper was named to serve on the town's fire board.
·Angela Edwards, a Banks County High School science teacher, had an article published in Science Teacher magazine.
·Alto was awarded a $378,782 loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority to finance the construction of replacements for deteriorated water mains.
·The Banks County Board of Commissioners sided with the majority of the people who attended its meeting and tabled any action on forming an environmental conservation district. The BOC agreed to hold a "work session" to discuss the issue further.
·Banks County High School principal Stephen Shouppe announced he would resign at the end of the school year due to health reasons.
·Thomas Gotts appeared before the Homer Town Council to outline his plans to build a personal care home in the city. He plans to put the 25-bed private facility on a 2.1 acre site on Timberlane Drive.
·Tony Vento was named the Banks County building inspector.
·The Baldwin City Council approved a $25 raise for council members and the mayor for each meeting they attend. The raise will begin in January 2000.
·Lula has been ordered by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to get rid of all of the muskrats tunneling around the town. The rodents have caused problems with the town's sewer pond. The EPD gave the city 90 days to correct the problem.
·An Athens company was awarded the contract to replace 21,000 feet of asbestos water lines in Alto. The council also approved a $27,000 bid for construction of a new playground in the lot adjacent to city hall.
·The Lula City Council continued to search for a source of water to be used for future development. Locating a new well in town and purchasing water from Hall County are among the options being considered.
·Charles Blair was reappointed as a member of the BJC Medical Authority.
·Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman James Dumas said the county was close to coming to an agreement with Jackson County on the payment of back sales tax revenue. Dumas said Banks would be paying Jackson approximately $340,000 in sales tax revenue that Banks Crossing businesses paid to the wrong county.
·Bill Sears was named as president of the Banks County Republican party.
·James T. Scroggs retired from the Maysville Post Office after 21 years of service.
·Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed suggested moving the county line and creating another attendance agreement so that Baldwin children do not have to be bused to Banks County schools next year. No action was taken on either suggestion, but he planned to pursue the issue.
·A group of Banks County leaders applied for a Family Connections grant.
APRIL
·The Maysville Town Council agreed to annex a two-acre piece of property into the city limits and zone it residential.
·Developers seeking to bring a 120-unit apartment complex to Banks Crossing withdrew their request until a later date. Cooperative Resource Center Inc. had made a request to rezone 11 acres of property on Hwy. 441 from General Commercial to Residential Multi-Family.
·Banks County received a $35,000 van to be used for public transportation.
·Banks County High School's newly-hired football coach and athletic director met with the board of education to tell them he was considering resigning due to misunderstandings that arose in hiring the athletic staff for next year.
·The board of commissioners approved an increase in the fee charged for issuing building permits.
·The Baldwin Town Council agreed that candidates in future elections will be named by districts instead of at-large.
·Jay Scott Ballenger, the suspect in the New Year's Eve fire that destroyed New Salem United Methodist Church and killed volunteer firefighter Loy Williams was formally indicted by a federal grand jury for several fires in Indiana.
·After months of speculation, Wal-Mart closed the deal on the purchase of a piece of property to build a "Super Center" store at Banks Crossing.
·After conflicts were swept aside, Rance Gillespie decided to stay on as Banks County High School's new football coach and athletic director.
·Fire chief Dean Jackman asked the board of commissioners to provide county funds for three part-time firefighters.
·Lula officials said they were close to completing a list of repairs to stay in compliance with the Georgia Protection Division requirements for its sewer plant.
·After days of rumors flying across the county that Banks County High School had received a bomb threat and that bombs had actually been found at the facility, school administrators did receive a bomb threat early Wednesday morning, April 28. Despite rumors to the contrary, this is the first bomb threat the school has received since the Littleton, Colo., tragedy where 13 students were killed by fellow students. No bombs were found at Banks County High School.
·In negotiations between Banks County leaders and officials from Maysville and Baldwin, the city representatives asked for county funding for road work. No action was taken, but the shared service agreements must be completed and signed off on before July 1.
·Banks County and Maysville officials continued to disagree over how fire protection would be handled in certain areas of the county. The biggest area of controversy is the area of land in Gillsville that Banks County has asked Maysville to cover.
·The Georgia Department of Transportation approved a contract to put in turning lanes at the new Banks County High School.
continued on page 7A
MAY
·Uniformed police officers will be placed in all four Banks County schools for the rest of the school year. That was the result of a series of emotional meetings held as parents told school leaders they feared for the safety of their children. The action came after a tense week at Banks County school where rumors led to an atmosphere of hysteria.
·Two members of the Banks County Board of Commissioners, Ernest Rogers and Pat Westmoreland, expressed interest in supporting Homer annexing Banks Crossing. This has been discussed, along with the option of consolidation, for some time now. No action has been taken, but the discussions are expected to continue.
·Four Baldwin firefighters were cited with letters of commendation and two received a "Medal of Valor" for their actions during a vehicle accident and brush fire on Hwy. 441 on April 17. They were: Gary Pollard, Matt Gregory, Mike Murray and Bryan Brown.
·Former Banks County High School student, teacher and coach Greg Banks was named assistant principal of the high school beginning next year.
·Banks County officials began gathering information from residents of Alexander, Riverbend, Hebron and Duncan Bridge roads to complete a water project.
·Baldwin approved a new policy to crack down on delinquent taxpayers.
·A grand opening celebration was held at the new Scales Creek Country Club in Homer.
·Janet Galloway was named director of the Banks County Senior Citizen's Center.
·Banks County was awarded a $53,108 state grant for a computer booking system for the county jail.
·By a 3-2 margin, the Baldwin Town Council voted to change the way elections are held in the city. In the past, the top five vote-getters have been elected to serve, but now candidates will qualify by posts and run against each other.
·A memorial in honor of firefighter Capt. Loy Williams was unveiled in an emotional ceremony at the front entrance of the county courthouse. Williams was killed while fighting a Dec. 31, 1998, blaze set by arsonists at New Salem United Methodist Church.
·The Banks County BOC increased the fee charged for building permits, rezonings, conditional use permits and variances.
·Bids for the new Banks County Health Department came in around $143,000 over budget. The county agreed to go back to the architect and low bidder to try to get the cost down.
·Banks County leaders learned the county wouldn't be able to receive any state grants or permits until a state-mandated watershed ordinance is passed.
·A study completed by Georgia Power pointed to four areas of future growth in the county-Banks Crossing; exit 54 at I-85 and Martin Bridge Road; inside the city limits of Homer where the Hwy. 441 bypass is planned; and a site on the railroad in Alto.
·The project to replace water lines in Alto moved forward, with plans to complete it by September.
·An effort began to form a "sales team" in Banks County to promote the area for economic development.
·A Banks County man, Floyd "Buster" McKinzie, was murdered during an argument over money. Timothy Todd Jackson, Commerce, was charged in the incident.
JUNE
·A groundbreaking ceremony was held at New Salem United Methodist Church, which was destroyed by arsonists in a Dec. 31, 1998, fire. The church raised and received contributions of $300,000.
·L.T. Moon, 71, and his son, Steve Moon, 49, both of Homer, were charged with hiring a hit man to have two neighbors killed.
·BOC members Ernest Rogers and Pat Westmoreland discussed starting the annexation process for the Banks Crossing area. Chairman James Dumas expressed reservations. No action was taken, but the discussions continued to be aired at BOC meetings.
·The BOC approved a bid to modify the water plant that could help to double the capacity. The cost is $483,000 and the modifications are expected to increase production from one million gallons a day to two million gallons per day.
·The county received a $28,000 state grant to purchase a microfilm camera and equipment to archive all public records. The county also received an $8,000 state grant for a playground at the recreation department.
·The BOC took an option to market 200 acres at Banks Crossing for industrial development.
·In a 3-2 vote, the Baldwin City Council decided not to tax its residents on the Banks County side. The Habersham County residents do pay property tax. The matter was discussed at several more meetings during the month, with some members of the council continuing to push for equal taxation of all city residents, regardless of which county they live in.
·Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed continued to push for city students to be allowed to attend Habersham schools. The problem is that the county line splits Baldwin Elementary School from many of the surrounding neighbors.
·A playground opened next to Alto City Hall in honor of the late Lee Cook, who served the city for almost 30 years as water superintendent.
·The Lula Town Council approved a $468,000 budget for next year.
·The Baldwin Town Council approved a $1 million budget for next year.
·The Baldwin Town Council agreed to seek state funds to locate a city park on Old Hwy. 23.
·Members of a student dance group from a town near Bethlehem spent time at New Salem United Methodist Church helping to rebuild the church. The group members said they were repaying United States missionaries for their years of service to the Middle East.
·Maysville's fire department will continue to cover unincorporated areas within five miles of the station after an agreement reached with the Banks County BOC.
JULY
·The Banks County Planning Commission approved new regulations for mobile homes older than seven years that are moved into the county. The regulations require these mobile homes to be inspected by the county building inspector.
·Bonnie Johnson was presented the "Good Citizen" award by the Banks County Chamber of Commerce.
·Banks County Middle School officials encouraged students to wear school uniforms next year.
·The Lula City Council approved a $17,000 paving project for Mill Street and Harris Drive.
·A group of Lula citizens appeared before the city council to ask for police protection. No action was taken.
·Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed was named to the Georgia Municipal Association board of directors.
·A new dress code was released for BCMS and BCHS which included several changes made by officials in order to "ensure and promote student safety and to foster school pride."
AUGUST
·Legislation prohibiting annexation across county lines without a county's permission was the latest scenario discussed by Banks County and Homer officials as a means to stop Commerce or Jackson County from annexing Banks Crossing.
·Baldwin city officials agreed to look into the feasibility of privatizing its sewer plant.
·Fort Hollingsworth was among the 21 winners of the Georgia Trust Historic Preservation Award.
·The Banks County BOE approved a $13.7 million budget.
·The City of Baldwin agreed to purchase a $190,504 fire engine.
·The state agreed to pick up the $1,300 tuition charge for each of the Baldwin children who live in Banks County and want to attend Baldwin Elementary School instead of being bused to Banks County schools. Rep. Jeanette Jamieson met with Gov. Roy Barnes on the matter and he agreed for the state to cover the tuition costs for the children. Mayor Mark Reed had worked toward resolving this problem for several months and approached Rep. Jamieson about it.
·The new Banks County High School facility opened its doors for the school year with 584 students enrolled. System wide, 2,225 students enrolled, which is up 92 students over last year.
·The Homer Town Council approved a $359,000 budget for next year.
·Maysville City Council member Kristy Cannon said she would resign her council seat as of Labor Day because of plan to move outside of the town.
·BJC Nursing Home began the appeal process to try to clear its name after a state report included negative statements about the facility and its patient care.
·The Baldwin Town Council set up a meeting with Aqua Source, Texas, on taking over its sewer system.
SEPTEMBER
·A debate continued over whether Charity Road is a private or public road. Some residents of the road want it to be county-maintained, while others argued that it is a private road. No action was take by the BOC with the members agreeing to look into the matter further. The BOC later ruled that it is a public road.
·In a 3-2 vote, the Baldwin Town Council voted against allowing a special referendum to give voters a chance to approve liquor sales by the drink in the November election.
·A day care program was put in place at Banks County Primary School for the children of all school system employees. The self-supporting program is open to all children ages 1 to 4 of school employees.
·Banks County and Homer officials signed off on a state-mandated shared services agreement. The document didn't change any policies already in place.
·Regions Bank was held up by armed robbers who got an undisclosed amount of cash.
·Parents and students appeared before the county BOE to complain about the new dress code.
·The Banks County Board of Education shut down the day care center at the primary school by refusing to take action approving the new program. It had already been opened before board action was taken, which apparently concerned the BOE. In a later meeting, the BOC approved the program.
·Dock Sisk resigned as school superintendent after serving more than 27 years. In his brief letter of resignation, Sisk said he felt the board did not support his leadership.
·James Dumas was named to serve on the board of directors for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia's group health benefits program.
·The BOE named Debbie White interim superintendent while a search is conducted for a replacement for Dock Sisk.
·Banks County Primary School principal Jimmy Hooper was named to serve on the BJC Medical Center Authority.
·The Baldwin Town Council began negotiations on a deal with Aqua Source to privatize the water system. Demorest officials threatened to sue Baldwin over the action.
OCTOBER
·The BOE met to discuss whether to hire a professional search company to find potential candidates or conduct the search themselves. Getting professional help will cost from $3,500 to $10,000 or more, according to officials. No decision was made.
·The Maysville Town Council agreed to hire Precision Planning to do a complete water and sewer analysis to give them suggestions on how to improve the water supply.
·The Maysville Town Council learned that it would be March before a special election can be held to fill the council seat held by Kristy Cannon, who resigned when she moved out of the city limits.
·The Banks County BOE accepted the resignation of special education director Carolyn Akins in a 3-2 vote.
·The BOC decided to create a new position for a public works director.
·Yvette Wiley was named Miss Homecoming at Banks County High School.
·The City of Demorest filed an injunction against the City of Baldwin to challenge its decision to enter into contract negotiations to privatize the town's water system.
·Two weather warning sirens were put up in Banks County. They were funded through a $28,000 state grant.
·The BOC agreed to take bids in January to expand the land application sewer system and increase capacity at Banks Crossing from 120,000 to 345,000 gallons per day.
NOVEMBER
·Elections were held in three Banks County towns. In Alto, Audrey Turner defeated incumbent Miriam Sosebee in a 27-8 vote. In Lula, Ward 5 incumbent Lamb Griffin was victorious over challenger Mordecai Wilson. In Baldwin, Kevin Gaddis came out on top in Post 1 over incumbent John Thomas.
·School food and nutrition director Melissa Mabry resigned.
·A retirement reception was held for superintendent Dock Sisk, who stepped down after 27 years working for the county school system.
·Banks County Farm Bureau officials announced plans to take bids on the construction of a new building.
·The Baldwin City Council decided after months of debate and controversy to tax the Banks County citizens residing in its city limits. The Habersham County residents already pay property taxes.
·Loy Williams, the Banks County firefighter killed in a church fire, was honored at a national ceremony.
·Angela Wood, the ex-girlfriend of Jay Scott Ballenger, the man charged with arson in the Dec. 31 fire that destroyed Salem United Methodist Church and claimed the life of Loy Williams, said she would testify against the suspect.
·A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to open a 2.63-mile section of Hwy. 441 from Caudell Road to English Road.
DECEMBER
·The Maysville Town Council approved an eight percent salary increase for its personnel.
·Plans were announced to build a new facility for the Banks County Department of Family and Children Services.
·The combined millage rate for the BOC and BOE was approved at 19.70. The BOE rate is 12.4, while the BOC rate is 7.
·The BOC increased the starting salary for new employees at the 911 department. The salary was increased to $8 an hour from $7 an hour.
·The BOE decided to handle the search for a new superintendent itself instead of paying an outside consultant to do the work.
·School drop-outs and family structure will be main concerns of the Family Connections program. The two concerns were the top ones listed on a community survey.
·Volunteers from area churches joined together to rebuild New Salem United Methodist Church.
·The attorney general's office refused to give an opinion on the Baldwin tax issue but town leaders have decided that Banks County residents inside the city will still pay property taxes.
·Dean Jackman resigned as the Banks County fire chief. In his letter of resignation, he said he can no longer work for the members of the BOC.
·Banks County officials appealed for applications from those interested in serving on the planning commission.
·Commissioners Ernest Rogers and Pat Westmoreland said they want to hire a new road department superintendent to replace Wayne Andrews, who they said could stay on as a motor grader operator.
·The Georgia Environmental Protection Division gave the City of Baldwin until Jan. 10 to hire a certified water operator.
·Elaine Sparks and Kevin Pope were charged with party to a crime in the home invasion at the home of Sam and Georgia Thurmond.
·After only three months of use, the new Banks County High School already has problems with its floors. The problems include the tile work on the gym floor and the main walkways being cracked and warped. The BOE asked the architect to look into correcting the problem.
·Bonnie Johnson was named to serve as president of the chamber of commerce next year.
·A Banks County jury found Bobby Wilbanks, Michael Kozachyn and Paul Kozachyn guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and burglary in the April 8 home invasion at the residence of Sam and Georgia Thurmond. Wilbanks was sentenced to life in prison without parole, while the Kozachyn brothers were sentenced to life plus 70 years.
·The Alto Town Council approved a raise for council members beginning Jan. 1. The mayor's salary will be raised from $65 to $100 and each council members will increase from $50 to $75 per month.
·The Alto Town Council approved a 5.9 millage rate, the same as last year.
·The state transportation board agreed to name State Route 15/U.S. 441 as the "M.E. Buster Garrison Bypass" in honor of the late former mayor of Homer.
Compiled by Angela Gary