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2019: The year in Madison County news

There was no shortage of both good and bad news in Madison County over the final 12 months of the decade.

Here's a look back at some of the local stories in 2019:

JANUARY

•The Journal featured Toni Goodson, Comer, whose personal mission is to send a stuffed animal to every child in the foster care system from Madison, Elbert and Oglethorpe counties.

•The Journal featured Jennifer “Jenni” Barwell, a Madison County mom, who has experienced many days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with her children and now offers support to NICU moms.

•A body was discovered Jan. 8 in a wooded area near Jot Em Down Road and Bishop Carey Road, not far from the house of William “Kris” Avera, 39, who had been missing since Dec. 11.

•Patricia Mahoney was picked to replace Derek Doster on the Madison County Industrial Development and Building Authority.

•County commissioners approved pay increases for 28 employees. This action was included in the 2019 budget — with $120,000 set aside to address salary improvements. The group heard later from other employees who wondered why more workers weren’t afforded a bump in pay.

•A 20-year old Loganville man was transported to Piedmont Athens Regional after his 2005 green Ford Mustang failed to negotiate the roundabout at Madison County’s historic courthouse in Danielsville and jumped the curbing striking a tree and barely missing the Crawford W. Long statue, while destroying a stone bench and damaging the grass and roadway.

•State Representative Tom McCall was sworn into office from a hospital room following open heart surgery.

•The Madison County Library hosted a "Georgia Artists With DisAbilities" exhibit.

•Danielsivlle Mayor Todd Higdon announced that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has agreed to revise its proposed bridge replacement on Hwy. 29 South at the South Fork of the Broad River to include a temporary bridge/onsite detour that will allow traffic to continue to flow through Danielsville during construction.

•Amy Duncan, who has served as a Madison County 9-1-1 dispatcher for 15 years, took a wrong number at her house, but she recognized the woman was in distress and got her the help she needed.

•Pastor Terry Willoughby talked to a crowded Tabors Chapel sanctuary during the annual Madison County Pastors and Layman’s Fellowship celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

•Harlan Page Brown was sentenced by Judge Chris Phelps in Madison County Superior Court to serve 30 years, with the first 15 years to be served in confine- ment, for trafficking methamphetamine.

•Madison County Assistant Superintendent Bonnie Knight announced that she would leave her position June 30 to work with Foothills Education Charter High School

•The school board agreed to house all Pre-K classes together in a new Early Learning Center in 2019-2020 in Danielsville.

•Michael Baker was unanimously approved by county commissioners as a new member of the county board of assessors.

FEBRUARY

Neese-Sanford Volunteer Fire Department told the BOC about plans for a new fire station that they would pay for themselves, but they asked the county government to guarantee the loan for the facility so that banks would be on board with the project.

•Journal founder Frank Gillispie passed away at 78. In 1986, he pushed for a traffic light at the precarious spot in southern Madison County, embarking on a journalistic trek that would affect many lives.

•County commissioner Lee Allen again proposed that county voters get an opportunity to decide if they want Sunday alcohol sales in Madison County.

•The Madison County Board of Education held a day-long planning session with other local leaders.

•Ila Elementary School held a night “Under the Stars” pageant Feb. 12 for its special education students to show off their skills.

•It was standing room only at the board of education meeting as parents gathered for an informational meeting on the school system’s new Early Learning Center (ELC) for preschool students slated to open with the new school term in August.

•Joseph Christopher Cofer, 28, Hoschton, died in a single-vehicle accident in Madison County south of Danielsville.

•County commissioners voted 3-2 to put a Sunday sales referendum on a November ballot.

•Michael Paul Estes, 42, Hull, was charged with five counts of aggravated child molestation, four counts of aggravated sodomy, three counts of incest, one count of rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery.

MARCH

•Retiring Madison County 9-1-1 center pioneers David Camp and Ricky Hix were honored with plaques at a county commissioners’ meeting for leading the county’s emergency communications for over two decades.

•Renee Bonner tried to kill her elderly mother by pumping her full of morphine and other painkillers in June 2017. That’s what Judge Jeff Malcom ruled, finding the 65-year-old Madison County resident Bonner guilty of attempted murder and neglect to a disabled person.

•Madison County High School senior Madison Carey Lovelace and her English teacher, Dallas Cowne, were recognized as the school’s “Star Student” and “Star Teacher.”

•Danielsville officials dealt with multiple complaints from Sherwood Subdivision residents about road issues within the development due to heavy rains.

•Madison County sophomore Kayla McPherson was named the Gatorade “Georgia Basketball Player of the Year” for 2018-19.

•Madison County government officials assessed their own cyber security after the Jackson County government was forced to pay $460,000 in ransom to Internet hackers who secretly and anonymously infiltrated the government’s computer system and then locked it down, requiring a payment in Bitcoin, a cyber currency, for the county to get access to its own data.

•Michele Barrett was named the new Early Learning Center (ELC) Director at the March meeting of the Madison County Board of Education.

•No one was injured when a bus from Colbert Elementary School was hit by a vehicle on Hwy. 72 near Tranquility Mobile Home Park.

•County industrial authority members spoke at length March 20 about engineering work for a water pump station at the Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) plant off Hwy. 72.

•Madison County commissioners once again turned down a beer-and-wine license request for Kwik Chek at the corner of Hwy. 29 and Glenn Carrie Road in Hull.

•The county school board agreed to sell the old Colbert Elementary School to Learning Train Academy.

APRIL

•County commissioners heard a personal account of one parent’s mental health nightmare with her child and her ongoing quest to improve mental health treatment for Georgians.

•The City of Danielsville asked county commissioners to revise the division of special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) to “more fairly represent the infrastructure needs of its county seat.”

•County public works director Alan Lapczynski told commissioners that asphalt prices were up $9.70 a ton compared to the same time in 2018.

•Madison County 4-H in cooperation with local veterinarians held a series of rabies vaccine clinics at different locations.

•Burger King announced it was opening a store in Danielsville.

•Renee Bonner, 65, who was convicted in March for trying to kill Couch by overdosing her with morphine and other painkillers in June 2017, was sentenced to Judge Malcom in Madison County Superior Court to 10 years probation for attempted murder and another consecutive 10 years probation for neglect of a disabled person. She was also ordered to spend 60 days per sentence in jail, with credit for time served.

•Meghann Farmer, an educator from Forsyth County, was named the new elementary curriculum director by the Madison County board of education at its April meeting.

•Madison County Jim Perkins Award winners for 2019 were recognized by the school board. Those honored included Robin Jones Walker, Madison County High School; Pam Hall, Madison County Middle School; Rhonda Doster, Comer Elementary School; and Sherri Osborne, Colbert Elementary School.

•Madison County commissioners approved $1.3 million in road projects. The commissioners awarded a contract of $1,304,512 to Garrett Paving Company to resurface approximately 11 miles. The roads projects included Brickyard Road, $229,042; New Haven Church Road (considered in two sections), $572,702; Joe Graham Road, $66,623; Piedmont Road, $172,095; McGinnis Chandler Road, $131,622; Mize Road, $41,375; and Crawford Long Street, $91,053.

•Mail carrier Josh Toney narrowly escaped when his vehicle was swept away in a hole on Duncan Swindle Road during a flash flood.

MAY

•A van that ran out of gas near Clark Circle on Hwy. 29 South resulted in the arrest of three South Carolina men who were found to possess a credit card “skimmer” and numerous stolen mail items from multiple areas, including Madison County.

•Red Raider Theatre presented Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat May 2-4.

•Madison County fire officials sought a boost in revenues for volunteer departments through the sales tax renewal referendum in November.

•Robert B. Hunter of Hull has seen many things in his 99 years, including time in the Marine Corps during WWII. In May, he saw a special quilt made just for him, a “thank you” from Quilts of Valor for his service to the country.

•The Danielsville City Council approved the preliminary plats for two new subdivisions in the city.

•The Madison County Board of Education approved a 15-cent across-the-board raise for lunches for fiscal year 2020.

•The county industrial authority announced that Madison County water customers can now pay their monthly water bills online.

•Wendy Qiu and Ivana Ton-Nu were recognized as the valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2019.

•Madison County commissioners stayed with Cigna for health insurance coverage for county employees with a seven-percent premium hike.

•Michael Paul Estes, 42, pled guilty and was given two concurrent prison sentences of 25 years without the possibility of parole by Judge Jeff Malcom. He was also ordered to pay $10,000 in fines.

•An Athens man was murdered in the yard of a home on Woodale Street off Glenn Carrie Road in Hull. Fifty-two-year-old Samuel Jordan was pronounced dead on arrival at an Athens hospital.

JUNE

Madison County commissioners agreed to apply for a $300,000 matching grant from the Georgia Heritage Grant Program, which provides money for historic renovations, such as old county courthouses.

•County commissioners heard complaints from two local citizens, then later discussed potentially ending the long-standing “facilities use agreement” between Little League and the recreation department, putting youth baseball and softball under the supervision of county staff at the recreation department.

•Two Athens brothers were arrested for the murder of a man who was shot multiple times in the yard of a home on Woodale Street off of Glenn Carrie Road in Hull in the early morning hours of Sunday, May 26. Darrious Showers, 20, and Dykell Showers, 18, were each charged with one count of murder.

•Madison County mentors who had one of their mentees graduate in 2019 gathered to celebrate the important milestone.

•The Journal featured Comer’s Jubilee Partners, which celebrated its 40th year of existence. The Christian refugee welcoming center has taken in nearly 4,000 refugees.

•Board of education members recognized outgoing business operations assistant superintendent Bonnie Knight for her 12 years of service.

•The Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter (MOAS) canceled its contract with Oglethorpe County over funding issues. The two sides later resolved the matter with MOAS continuing to serve both Madison and Oglethorpe counties.

•The Journal wrote about the efforts by the City of Danielsville to upgrade its sewer pond, which serves the city residents, businesses, the county government and school system.

•Members of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors met with the county industrial authority, county commissioners and school board to discuss the need for someone to lead the Chamber.

•County commissioners voiced a desire to have the county elections board look at the number of polling precincts in the county.

•The board of commissioners approved the SPLOST allocation for the next six years: cities, $1,500,000; firefighting, $1,455,000; sheriff, $885,000; recreation, $365,000; E911, $905,000; EMS, $715,000; IDA, $1,620,000; old Courthouse, $50,000; roads, $5,455,000; coroner, $60,000; facilities acquisition and renovation, $190,000.

•County government leaders learned that anticipated county government revenues were $18.2 million for 2020 without any increase to the county’s tax rates. The gains come from an increase in the county’s tax digest (overall property value). One mill in 2018 was worth $689,700 this past year, but one mill in 2019 generated $764,447, a 10.8 percent increase in value.

•County industrial authority members discussed the possibility of deeding Seagraves Lake back to the Seagraves family.

JULY

•Madison County received a $150,000 in state grants to build an agricultural barn on land adjacent to the high school’s track field.

•The former Board of Education office located on Mary Ellen Court in Danielsville was sold to MDS-Madison, LLC who plans to build a regional Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) office on the site.

•Two Athens women were charged with robbing an Athens man who was murdered on Woodale Street in Hull over Memorial Day weekend. Jennifer Gober Hill, 43, and Shambreka Attrice Johnson, 25, were each charged with one count of robbery in connection to the case.

•City six-year SPLOST allocations were set at Carlton, $135,783; Colbert, $310,172; Comer, $591,057; Danielsville, $294,197; Hull, $103,834; and Ila, $177,052.

•County commissioners agreed to move forward with five new employee positions: an additional uniformed security guard for the courthouse at a projected cost of $27,875; an additional investigator for the district attorney’s office at a cost of $53,333; a part-time probate office position at a cost of $14,300; an additional civil deputy (in anticipation of a fourth superior court judge being added to the circuit) at a cost of about $45,000; an additional paramedic for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at a cost of $28,080 regular time and about $45,252 overtime pay (due to 24-hour shifts), an activity director for the senior center at a cost of approximately $24,000 and a new recreation department position at a cost of about $32,000. Commissioners also agreed to stick with a $15,000 donation to the Chamber of Commerce toward a $45,000 salary for a new director’s position.

•Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) plant in Colbert neared the beginning of operations. Gina Ward, told the industrial authority that the sound at her home was like a “constant low rumble” or a “dull roar.”

•The county recreation department board met with Little League board members July 16 to discuss how to move forward with softball and baseball programs at the recreation department.

•The Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter and Oglethorpe County continued to talk through their differences over yearly funding for the shelter’s operations.

•A multi-agency river rescue drill was held on the Broad River.

•Jarvis Torrence Mack, 45, was charged with aggravated sexual battery and two counts of child molestation.

•The Journal featured the Madison County Food Bank and its efforts to feed those in need in the county.

•Madison County School System Superintendent Michael Williams welcomed school staff members back to work after the summer break. Ila Elementary’s Amy Dobbs was named the Madison County School System “Teacher of the Year” and Natasha Walker, a parapro at Madison County High School, was named the “Support Person of the Year.”

•Tax rates remained steady, but an increase in the county digest (overall property values) led to 10 percent more local property tax revenue for the Madison County government in 2019.

AUGUST

•Madison County’s new Early Learning Center for pre-schoolers opened Aug. 2.

•James Marcus Long, 56, was charged with aggravated child molestation, child molestation, incest, rape and statutory rape. In a separate case, Amanda Rossi Estes, 40, of Hartwell, was arrested on charges of child molestation and cruelty to children (felony).

•State standardized testing results for the winter of 2018 and spring of 2019 showed that Madison County schools, for the most part, did better on the battery of tests than the overall state results.

•The school system, along with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, held an informational meeting on vaping in the Madison County High School cafeteria.

•Lois Elizabeth Sorrow was sentenced by Judge Lauren Watson to serve 30 years, with the first five years to be served in confinement and the remainder on probation, on charges of two counts of second degree burglary, six counts of theft by taking and one count of theft by deception.

•Madison County School District was ranked 20th best school district in the state for the 2019-2020 school by data compiler Niche.

•A hearing on the county tax rate Aug. 12 included discussion of Madison County’s financial history and its need for a larger commercial base to relieve the tax burden on property owners.

•Long-time Danielsville mayor Todd Higdon announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. Meanwhile, council member Michael Wideman announced that he would seek the post vacated by Higdon. Wideman later qualified unopposed for the mayor’s position.

•County industrial development authority (IDA) members talked about a wide range of issues at a 2020 budget meeting, including the need for finding serviceable wells in the county, the Georgia Renewable Power plant project, sales tax funding, and potentially moving industrial authority employees under county government benefits plans.

•The Journal featured Head Start, a program providing services to young children in Madison County.

•Marcus Jackson was indicted on charges stemming from a Sept. 13, 2018 wreck that took the life of 83-year-old Robert Edward Couch on Hwy. 98 in Madison County.

•Laura Minish and Tommy R. Appling both qualified to challenge Howard Threlkeld for a Comer City Council seat.

•County commissioners voted 4-0 not to renew a “facilities use agreement” with Little League. The vote followed a lengthy, and sometimes contentious, discussion about who should oversee youth baseball and softball in Madison County. County commissioners ultimately decided to move the programs from Little League to the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA).

SEPTEMBER

•The Rotary Club of Madison County announced plans to give local youth a new option for summer fun: a splash pad at the recreation department.

•The Journal featured Madison County “Teacher of the Year” Amy Dobbs of Ila Elementary School.

•Madison County District 1 Commissioner Lee Allen announced that he won’t seek re-election in 2020. However, Allen said he will complete his term, which ends Dec. 31, 2020.

•A threat posted on social media led to a lockdown and a day of rumors and fear at Madison County High School Sept. 9, though no weapons were found at the school.

•Danielsville City Council members encouraged residents to fill out next year’s 2020 U.S. Census.

•The Journal interviewed elections official Tracy Dean about preparations for the 2020 elections.

•James Phillip Seagraves was sentenced by Judge Chris Phelps to serve five years, with the first 95 days to be served in confinement and the remainder on probation and to pay a $500 fine on a charge of impersonating a police officer.

•Walter Wayne LeCroy, 20, Lexington, was charged with child molestation and statutory rape.

•The Madison County Journal launched a new website at MadisonJournalTODAY.com.

•The Lewis and Clark Circus performed at the Comer Fairgrounds.

•Benny Nathaniel Mize was sentenced by Judge Lauren A. Watson to serve 15 years in confinement, with the first five years to be suspended upon the successful completion of a residential treatment program, and pay a $1,500 fine on a charge of sale of methamphetamine.

•Miracle Armstrong was named the 2019 Madison County High School Homecoming Queen. Jakiah Hitchcock was named Madison County Homecoming Princess.

•Madison County High School announced its highest-ever graduation rate at 94.64 percent for the MCHS four-year cohort that graduated in the spring.

OCTOBER

•Ricardo Espinoza Arellano, 29, was charged with cruelty to children in the first degree, cruelty to children in the third degree, simply battery under the family violence act, DUI, open container violation and driving while unlicensed.

•Law enforcement and emergency response employees held a practice drill for school shootings.

• The Shiloh Community Volunteer Fire Department opened a new fire station, thanks to citizens’ donations and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds approved in 2014.

•Madison County’s new REACH scholars were recognized with a scholarship signing ceremony. The scholars, from the class of 2024, are Charlese Howard, Thaw Htoo, Erika Hull and Taylor Maxwell.

•Madison County Industrial Authority chairman Bruce Azevedo submitted a letter of resignation to county commission chairman John Scarborough Sept. 30. He cited organizational changes as the reason for his departure.

•The county school board got a breakdown on 2018 HOPE funds: Madison County had 557 HOPE scholarship recipients in 2018. They received $1.69 million in financial support from the state. Meanwhile, the county had 197 Pre-K students last year. The HOPE fund allocated $819,148 toward Pre-K services in the county in 2018.

•The Journal ran a lengthy article on Georgia Renewable Power’s new plant in Colbert and the burning of creosote-treated railroad ties as a fuel source.

•Franklin County residents who live near the GRP power plant in Carnesville attended the Madison County IDA meeting to learn about the GRP plant in Colbert.

•One of Carlton’s historic homes burned early Sunday, Oct. 20. And the blaze was investigated as suspicious.

•Danielsville officials called a meeting Oct. 18 with county, industrial authority and school representatives to ask, once again, for financial assistance with badly needed sewer infrastructure upgrades.

•Kevin Eugene Vaughn, of Belton, S.C., was sentenced by Judge Jeff Malcom to serve 20 years, with the first three years to be served in confinement and the remainder on probation and he was also ordered to pay $3,000 in fines on charges of two counts of identity fraud, financial transaction card theft, possession of a financial transaction card forgery device and giving false information to an officer.

•The Journal featured Madison County Coroner Julie Harrison.

•Madison County commissioners heard Oct. 28 from concerned neighbors of the new biomass power plant in Colbert. They are upset about emissions that could harm their health, possible water pollution and the loud noises coming from the plant.

•The manager for two new biomass power plants spoke with Mad- ison County Rotarians Oct. 25 about the new facilities.

•The Hull City Council dedicated its October business meeting to a discussion with Hull Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) members about issues funding for the Hull VFD.

NOVEMBER

•Andy Felt, a long-time Madison County science teacher and site administrator of Foothills Charter High School in Danielsville, was arrested on two charges of unlawful surveillance.

•Madison County schools fared well in the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), ranking third among the 13 Northeast Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) school districts.

•County commissioners agreed that more bunkhouse trailers used at emergency sites around the country can be stored at a property on Lem Edwards Road.

•Madison County’s one-cent sales tax for local improvements has been renewed for six more years. And the county voted to allow Sunday alcohol sales after the new year.

•Artie and Christy Kerns visited the Hull Volunteer Fire Department to meet with the firefighters who saved Artie’s life during a major heart attack on Oct. 26.

•A Madison County deputy was charged with murder following a domestic incident in Clarke County Nov. 10. Winford “Trey” Adams III, 32, was charged with murder after Benjamin Lloyd Cloer, 26, Athens, was found shot multiple times at the 6000 block of Old Jefferson Road. Cloer was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

•Superintendent Michael Williams told board of education members that the school system plans to develop ways to help inform parents and the community on the importance of participating in the upcoming 2020 Federal Census.

•“Child Safety Day” was held Nov. 16 at the Ila Volunteer Fire Department off Hwy. 98.

•Madison County Little League has a new home, Colbert Community Park. The organization has moved its operation from the county recreation facilities to two fields owned by the City of Colbert.

•An armed robbery was reported at Tiny Town convenience store off Hwy. 72 in Carlton at 10:18 p.m., Nov. 13.

•Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger visited Madison County, where he met with election board chairperson Tracy Dean, to discuss the implementation of new voting machines for 2020 elections.

•The industrial authority discussed past due water bills by GRP.

•A 5-month-old male has died from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident on Hwy. 98 Tuesday, Nov. 19. A 5-year-old female also suffered life-threatening in- juries. An 8-year-old boy was seriously injured and a 34-year-old Madison County resident, Tela Wood, was also injured in an accident that occurred shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday when Wood turned her 1998 4Runner in front of a 1998 Peterbilt truck.

•The City of Comer announced Michelle Strickland as the 2019 Comer Christmas Parade Grand Marshal.

•The Journal ran a “day-in-the-life” feature on Madison County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Jason Ring.

Madison County commissioners named Steven Singleton to the board of assessors. He replaced Lynn Hix.

•A Madison County woman who pulled into the path of a truck on Hwy. 98 in a wreck that killed her infant son and seriously injured her other two children, ages 5 and 8, was arrested on several charges, including homicide by vehicle in the first degree, two felony counts of serious injury by vehicle, misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI)/drugs and failure to yield the right of way.

DECEMBER

•County commissioners agreed that six more chicken houses can be placed on property adjoining 12 existing poultry units just off Hwy. 98 at the Madison/Jackson county line.

•Laura Minish was elected the new Comer District 3 city council member. She defeated Tommy R. Appling in a Dec. 3 runoff by a 28-25 vote.

•Two-term Danielsville Mayor Todd Higdon bid his farewells at the city council table, telling the group he was proud of them for what they have accomplished over the past eight years.

•A number of neighboring property owners of the new power plant in Colbert feel like their health and quality of life are being negatively impacted by Georgia Renewable Power’s decision to burn creosote-soaked railroad ties in its biomass facility. And a large crowd turned out Dec. 5 in the Madison County High School cafeteria to hear from a citizens group that is studying the issue.

•Citizens concerned about emissions and noise from the power plant in Colbert once again approached Madison County commissioners, asking that the group to stand up for those affected by the business.

•Madison County commissioners gave the green light to a three-percent cost-of-living wage increase for county employees, while also approving pay adjustments for 30 employees.

•Madison County 911 director Brenan Baird reported that many callers from Windstream land lines in Madison County can’t reach 911 due to a bad phone connection. Conversations are often unintelligible due to the static. It’s a Windstream problem, not a county issue. And it doesn’t occur on cell phones.

•County industrial authority director Frank Ginn reported that Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) is up-to-date on its water payments to the county.

•State environmental officials issued water runoff violations to power plants in Colbert and Carnesville, while mandating that corrective action be taken.

•Madison County resident Anna Strickland was named the new executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

•Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) missed the Dec. 20 deadline to pay its $1.65 million property tax bill to Madison County, but the company said the payment is on the way.

•The Madison County Clean Power Coalition (MCCPC) held its first regular monthly meeting at the Madison County Library and about 50 people attended.

•The Journal reported on a lawsuit in federal court that claims owners of Greenfuels Energy misrepresented the capabilities of their power plants while seeking foreign investment, then terminated those who pointed out the factual problems in their application for assistance in a federal foreign investment program.


News
Phone issues continue for 911

Madison County 911 Director Brenan Baird has been working for weeks with phone companies to try and clear up problems with poor reception on landline calls to the county 911 center.

The problems remain, but Baird said there is a temporary fix with cellular routers.

“In summation here's where we are: Our 911 lines are routed through our backup cellular router numbers,” wrote Baird in an email explaining the situation. “The 911 calls are coming in functionally at this moment after having been rerouted by Windstream. AT&T has gotten involved and identified a problem with their service connection with Windstream but they don’t have a location, specific diagnosis, or (estimated time) for repairs but they are at least working with Windstream to see whom the problem belongs to.”

The terrible reception has been a source of frustration for dispatchers, callers and Baird.

The director said Windstream has a problem transporting calls, which leaves dispatchers unable to call out from the 911 center to other land line customers, regardless of the carrier.

“They also have a problem with incoming calls here, the non-emergency lines frequently won't ring through to us, callers will get busy signals, invalid number messages, and empty air on the lines,” wrote Baird. “AT&T has a problem with the 911 transport/routing of calls to our center and only one of our three 911 trunk lines were working, so all the 911 calls were routed through our cell phone routers.”

Baird said Windstream, AT&T and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are all working on a resolution but do not have an estimated time on a resolution or a specific diagnosis.

“But for the moment, the system is working from an end user perspective,” wrote Baird. “If someone calls 9-1-1 now, we can respond appropriately.”


News
County receives GRP tax check

Madison County has received its 2019 property tax payment from Georgia Renewable Power (GRP), which opened a plant in Colbert in 2019.

“They paid in full,” said tax commissioner Lamar Dalton. “We were closed Tuesday, so it didn't get processed until Thursday.”

The tax bill was for $1,658,709. That money will be divided between the county government, school system and industrial authority for use in their 2020 budgets.