Zoning, water and internal disputes. These
are among the issues city council members across Jackson County
dealt with this year. Arcade made a move to implement zoning,
while land use issues kept other councils busy as more growth
and development came to the county. Water and sewer expansions
were also planned in several towns, while other councils dealt
with personality and political conflicts. Pendergrass, Talmo
and Braselton city councils were also cited during the year for
not submitting an audit to the state as is required by law.
Details on the top news events from the nine
towns across the county during the year are as follows:
One of the biggest news stories out of Arcade
this year was the move to implement zoning in the town. Arcade
and Nicholson are the only two towns without zoning in Jackson
County. The council has unanimously agreed that it's time to
begin the process to bring zoning to Arcade. Public hearings
have not yet been held to get input from citizens, but the council
hopes to have zoning in place by the spring.
Lots of change has taken place in Arcade
in 1998 with a new council and mayor taking office. Hiring a
new attorney, Scott Tolbert, and passing a resolution opposing
the location of a landfill in the town were among the first items
of business. The council has continued throughout the year to
take action that would stop a private landfill from locating
in town. Tougher ordinances dealing with solid waste and a revamping
of the town's solid waste management act are among the action
taken to stop Bartram Environmental from locating a landfill
An unusual story Arcade leaders dealt with
during the year came in May when the city implemented a new cemetery
ordinance which left members of the First Pentecostal Oneness
Church of Arcade in limbo when a member of its church died and
they wanted to bury him at the church. A Superior Court judge
placed a restraining order against the city and ruled that the
man could be buried behind the church.
In Braselton, the big news in town has been
the opening of a new city hall in a historic home in town. From
early in the year, when city leaders were debating over which
door the public should use when entering the structure, to the
year's end, when an open house was held, the new town hall has
dominated the headlines.
Another big story in Braselton in 1998 came
in March when representatives from Mercedes-Freightliner Corporation,
the world's largest manufacturer of semi-trucks in the world,
met with the Braselton Town Council to announce plans to locate
a multi-million dollar dealership in the city. This project is
still in limbo with city officials continuing to express concern
about the development.
On a related matter, the Braselton council
agreed in October to table an appeal of a $112,000 fine against
Jackson Green Associates, the company trying to place a Mercedes-Freightliner
dealership in town. The penalty was assessed because of the company's
violation of the town's soil and sedimentation erosion ordinance.
Braselton also moved forward on a water extension
project during the year. The expansion, which includes installing
eight-inch main lines around the city, is expected to increase
water pressure and allow more customers to be able to hook onto
Also in 1998, Don Webster resigned from the
council with Dudley Ray being appointed to fill the vacant seat.
The completion of the new city hall highlighted
1998 for the government of Commerce. The city renovated the old
post office building, creating a 6,600-square-foot facility officials
say enables city employees to more efficiently serve the public.
The total project, including purchasing the building and the
extensive renovation, cost about $300,000. It was completed in
Also during 1998, the city continued work
toward upgrading its water plant. It finished a study to determine
if the plant could physically handle three million gallons of
water per day. That having been determined, the city plans to
phase in another $1.3 million in renovations during 1999 and
The gas department completed a new main to
serve Banks Crossing, while the electric department rebuilt a
city circuit on Hwy. 59 and the Jefferson Road. Water lines were
extended out the Jefferson Road to serve two new subdivisions,
and a line was looped from the Waterworks Road back to Hwy. 334.
Work also continued on the Streetscape project
downtown, the city built a new Scout hut in Willoughby Park,
and Councilman Bob Sosebee was sworn in as president of the Georgia
Financially, Commerce continued to build
its cash reserves and completed another fiscal year without having
to borrow money for operations.
In January, the city rededicated its public
safety complex in honor of a beloved fire chief, the late J.
Nolan Spear Jr. Also during the year, the council issued a moratorium
on billboards pending the creation of a new sign ordinance and
rejected a 500-unit mobile home community.
In the fall, Commerce was able to reduce
its property tax by 2.8 mills. That rate makes Commerce residents
the least taxed of any jurisdiction in the county for the second
In Hoschton, sewer problems at the Panther
Creek Subdivision continued to keep the city council looking
for answers. In January, engineer Don Harris presented a plan
to put a $195,000 gravity flow sewage system in the subdivision
to solve sewage problems. In April, the council agreed to apply
for a grant that would supplement the installation of the gravity
flow sewage system on the basis of a second community survey.
In other news during the year, the council
placed a moratorium in September on new subdivision developments
while the town's regulations were updated.
The council also agreed this year to hire
a building inspector to handle all permits and inspections inside
the city limits.
In Jefferson, the council continued to move
forward on a huge water expansion project. In March, the council
approved a $1.2 million water project along Jett Roberts Road
and Hog Mountain Road. The project, which is funded mostly through
grant money, will be used to connect existing water lines from
Hwy. 82 down Legg Road to Jett Roberts Road and from there to
a new water tank to be built along Hog Mountain Road.
Jefferson also held a referendum in 1998
on a city pouring license with it being defeated by only 10 votes.
Also during the year, the Jefferson council
approved a plan from the fire department to begin preliminary
plans for a second fire station and upgrades necessary for the
city to maintain its ISO 4 rating.
A continuing problem with a foul odor and
taste of the water led officials to shut down the system and
begin buying water from the county. The city drained three lakes
and flushed water lines in an attempt to correct the ongoing
In May, council member Ralph Sailors resigned
from the city council due to a Georgia law that prevents him
from serving on the council and working for the city. This move
left the council without a quorum since councilman Kevin Henderson
resigned earlier. Several new council members were named during
the year, including Kristy Cannon, Andy Martin and Jim Saville,
were named later in the year.
A disagreement between a member of the council
and members of the volunteer fire department also led to several
heated meetings in Maysville during the year. A controversy in
the town also caused conflicts with the annual Maysville Autumn
Leaf Festival and led to the fire department pulling its barbecue
from the annual celebration and holding a separate event.
On a related matter, a Maysville fire volunteer
was pressured to resign following a controversy, but no action
was taken. The board told those involved in the dispute to resolve
their difficulties. The fire district board had an internal squabble
over a dispute between the fire chief and a department volunteer.
Another dispute came later in the year when
a city employee accused a council member of "slander"
and threatened a lawsuit if it didn't stop.
Dealing with the problem of stray pets in
town caused headaches for the Maysville City Council throughout
the year. In March, the council agreed to take stray animals
to a clinic if residents catch and secure the animal for transport.
In October, the council loosened the reins on the proposed leash
law and agreed to target animals only when a complaint is filed.
Another major accomplishment during the year
was the approval of a water contract with Banks County. The council
worked for months ironing out the details for the agreement.
Nicholson leaders started the year off by
agreeing to draft a new charter during the year and discussing
whether to levy a property tax. No action was taken on either
mater, but both were discussed at several council meetings throughout
The council also took action during the year
to close the exercise room which had been located in a room of
the public library. It was closed due to its continuing expense
and lack of use.
The council also agreed during the year to
support the creation of Neighborhood Watch areas being formed
by the sheriff's department to help curtail "gang"
activity in the town.
In Pendergrass, three new council members
were named: Monk Tolbert, Sandy Beck and Joyce Wilkerson. A fourth
new council member is scheduled to take office in January.
In November, the council approved a $4,800
salary for its mayor, Mark Tolbert, although the move apparently
violated a state law that states a city council can't vote to
raise current salaries for itself or the mayor.
One of the top stories in Talmo was a request
for a beer license in February. The council agreed not to take
any action until surveying residents. In March, the council decided
not to hold a referendum on the sale of beer after the majority
of those responding to a survey said they were against the idea.
The survey was sent after a business owner requested the town
allow the sale of beer.
In other news, councilman Rob Joyce resigned
because he moved outside of the city limits. Dana Woods was appointed
to fill this seat.
1998 Top Town Stories of the Year