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Mize retires after serving over half a century

After more than half a century spent serving and protecting, Roger "Ken" Mize was honored by the Banks County Sheriff’s Office on his retirement at a reception on Jan. 30.

The retirement celebration was held in the Banks County High School Auditorium with a large group of family, fellow first responders, community members, friends and former students in attendance.

Mize, 79, was born in 1940 in Jackson County and started his law enforcement career in 1968. He worked with the Jefferson Police Department under former chief Albert Westmoreland, the Jackson County Correctional Institute as warden for one year, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office under former Sheriff Stan Evans and the Banks County Sheriff’s Office under the direction of former Sheriff Charles Chapman and current Sheriff Carlton Speed. During his time in law enforcement, Mize worked his way through the ranks of patrol, corrections and investigations.

Mize spent 26 years of his career with the BCSO. He spent over 30 years of his law enforcement career working with youth in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) and Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety (C.H.A.M.P.S.) programs.

During the program honoring Mize, the Banks County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard presented the colors and Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed’s daughter, Lauren Speed, a Banks County Middle School seventh grader, sang the National Anthem; Michael Boatwright, BCSO Honor Guard, led the Pledge of Allegiance; BCSO Chaplain Duane Eller gave the invocation; and BCSO Chief Deputy Shawn Wilson introduced Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed as the Master of Ceremonies.

“Ken Mize is a man that had a heart for the community he served,” Speed said.

“When you talk about Ken Mize, you talk about integrity," Speed said. "You talk about a man when he came in every day, he had a smile on his face. He walked around with a skip in his step and he never met a stranger. Every child at the Banks County School System knew Mr. Mize."

Speed said parents told him frequently how their children wanted to give Mize a fist bump or high five while he was directing traffic in the area of Banks County Primary School and Banks County Elementary School on Hwy. 51.

Former Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman and Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum spoke about Mize’s servant heart. “He was there for whatever you needed him to do,” Mangum said.

Mangum said she worked with Mize for 20-plus years and he was truly a man with a servant’s heart.

“He touches my heart," she added.

Magnum said she started working with Mize and his wife, Kathy, in 1985 and Mize stayed with the JCSO for 20-plus years.

“We, at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, were so honored and privileged to be able to work with Ken, because you knew he was going to be there in whatever you needed,” Mangum said. “All you had to do was ask Ken and he was going to be there.”

Chapman said having Mize in his role at the school was a “great relief off my mind.”

“All the students loved him to death,” Chapman said. “His heart was in his job.”

State Representative for District 28 Chris Erwin, who formerly served as superintendent of the Banks County School System, presented Georgia Legislature Resolution 998, registered at the Capitol on Jan. 30, honoring Mize. Erwin, praised Mize for his work with children over 26 years.

Part of the resolution read: "Whereas, his inspiring commitment to the welfare of others is an outstanding example of the positive effect law enforcement professionals have on the lives and well-being of others."

“I got blessed for 11 years here in Banks County as school superintendent to work with this gentleman and to see very day what he did in the lives of the children that he touched and the passion he had for teaching young people the difference in right and wrong, and then how to be safe, in the programs that he worked with,” Erwin said.

Erwin said Mize was a role model and had a calming effect as he walked the halls (at the schools), at the board meetings, at ballgames and other functions.

“Think about how many lives in a classroom for 26 years changed and think about how much better this community got because of the instruction that was taking place," he said. "It wouldn’t have occurred if you switched out every year with somebody different – wouldn’t have had the passion, wouldn’t have had the drive, wouldn’t have had the effect today that it’s having."

Bobby Banks, cousin to Mize, presented a commendation from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp recognizing Mize for his work with over 32,000 students in the D.A.R.E. program and over 1,400 in the C.H.A.M.P.S. program.

Sheriff Speed said, “Every student in the Banks County schools knew Ken Mize. They all recognized him”

During Sheriff Speed’s presentation to Mize of a shadow box constructed by Major Matt Allen of the BCSO, he announced that Mize was being ceremonially promoted to the rank of Major.

“He will retire as Major Ken Mize,” Speed said.

Mize said he loved his work with the youth in both D.A.R.E. and C.H.A.M.P.S. programs.

Mize said he was blessed in his career. He gave the credit for success in working with the students to his faith in God.

“I cannot complain one minute about the people that I worked for as far as the leadership that was in the departments that I was in,” Mize said. “I’m truthful, they were wonderful, wonderful kids. And it made me a wonderful person because I listened to them, I cried with them, I talked to them. Everything was so wonderful. I am so thankful today that I can say is has been good- it’s been a long journey, but it’s been good. I tried to do whatever I could to put a smile on their face."

That was a time to help the kids, Mize added, to do anything you could to lead them in the right direction.

In closing out the ceremony, Mize picked up his portable radio and signed off for the last time, saying, “I give you my last out of service and God bless all of you.”

Mize’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Mize, who works for the Banks County 911 dispatch answered that call.

“Major Mize, on behalf of Banks County Public Safety, we thank you for your years of service," she said. "You are a true man of God and you have been an asset to the Banks and Jackson County citizens. On behalf of 911 and, as your granddaughter, it was a true honor working alongside you…Thank you and we love you, Papa. Dispatch is clear. 873 is out of service on Jan. 30, 2020, at 7:33 p.m.”

Maysville votes not to proceed with nuisance property ordinance

The Maysville City Council voted Monday night not to move forward with adoption of regulations that would address property nuisances.

The Maysville Planning and Zoning Commission initiated an effort to request the city council adopt regulations regarding nuisance property.

After listening to a number of citizens from the crowd at the public hearing held Monday night speak in favor of the ordinance, and one citizen voicing opposition, the city council voted unanimously not to move forward with adoption of the proposed ordinance.

At a recent public hearing, the Maysville Planning and Zoning Commission approved recommendations for an ordinance that would require property owners to clean up dilapidated buildings and abandoned properties.

During a council work session held January 30, Mayor Richard Presley questioned how the planning and zoning commission proposes the city pay for improvements initiated by adoption of the regulations. Presley said a feasibility study has not been conducted by the board to determine what kind of money the city will be spending. If the nuisance ordinance was adopted and regulations were enforced, the city would ultimately be responsible for the upfront cost for demolition and improvements to bring certain properties up to code. The city would then have to take action against the property owner to re-coop the expense and this could take some time.

Presley said the city collected a little over $28,000 in property taxes last year.

“We struggle working a budget, to make that budget work with collecting no more taxes,” said Presley. “Everybody at this table would like to see a refurbishing of somewhat – but to put a burden on the people of the town, especially the elderly on a fixed income – I want some questions answered.”

Councilmember Kathleen Bush said the city’s priority at this time is to improve infrastructure such as paving streets and replacing an aging water system.

Banks County resident, Cliff Joliff said one of the visions the council approved in the city comprehensive plan is to have Maysville restored to a place where people want to come shop and eat and one of the items listed as ways to accomplish this is through nuisance and historic overlay regulations.

Joliff made reference to a downtown development authority and a historical committee that are no longer in existence. Joliff said these are two entities that could help the council with the nuisance and historic overlay issues.

Councilman Junior Hardy said he feels like the planning commission should present the council with a plan reflecting the location of lots in need of attention and a cost analysis for improvements.

During a public hearing held February 3, Maysville Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Vance Holifield agreed additional consideration will need to be given to the recommendations and how the city can pay for enforcing the ordinance, but the city needs to adopt some kind of regulations to require clean up of dilapidated buildings.

Holifield went on to say the 2018 comprehensive plan detailed specific areas and concerns regarding dilapidated and unsafe buildings. Holifield said the city is two years into the plan and no updates have been made and the proposed ordinance would address these issues.

Holifield said there are citizens willing to volunteer to help those property owners that were not financially or physically able to make improvements, but assistance from the city would also be required.

Trent Perry spoke in favor of the regulations. Perry, owner of a 164-year-old home, said he operates a business in his house and has more and more customers that are visiting his home. Perry said he would like for those customers to have the ability to drive to his property and not have to see some of the dilapidated and unsafe buildings along the way.

April Sutton, speaking on behalf of a group of citizens in support of the proposed nuisance ordinance, asked the council to adopt the regulations and encouraged citizens to come together as a community and work hand in hand with the city council to leave a legacy of community, prosperity and history for the next generation.

Quoting comments made by Mayor Presley prior to the recent city election, city resident Jenna Gray said Presley stated residential and industrial growth would be a top challenge for the council during the next 10 years and to be successful, the city would need a 10-year vision. Gray quoted Presley as saying five goals are needed in order to accomplish this vision. These goals include, creating a business-friendly environment to restore the economic potential of current businesses, protection of open spaces through conservation planning, preservation and celebration of Maysville’s small town heritage, redevelopment and improvement of the city infrastructure and last, development of community facilities to enhance quality of life for residents and visitors. Gray encouraged Presley to act upon his promises to preserve and restore Maysville.

Other citizens spoke of health hazards such as rodent and mosquito infestations, noting such issues can be handled by the health department through state health regulations.

One citizen spoke against the proposed regulations. Teri Trudnak said she is not in favor of raising property taxes to pay for improvements initiated by adoption of the nuisance regulations.

Councilman Scott Harper said, although something will eventually have to be done, now is not the time. Harper said there are people in the town that cannot pay their water bill and an additional property tax would be a burden to those citizens.

In the end, the council voted unanimously against adoption of nuisance regulations as presented by the planning commission.


The planning commission also recommends the city council approve a historical overlay district.

Holifield said the reason for recommendation of the historical overlay is because recent commercial construction in the city showed the lack of ability to direct building construction design.

The ordinance would create appropriate development and design guidelines to protect the historic appearance and character of the city. These regulations were not presented for consideration at this time in order for the board to receive additional citizen input.


In other business, Maysville resident, Laura White, is on a mission to make Maysville the next project for Home Town Takeover. Producers of a sequel to the original series, Home Town, are conducting a nationwide search for a community in need of restoration and revitalization. White encouraged citizens to go to the Hometown Takeover website and submit requests for Maysville to be considered for a makeover. If selected, the crew would be in the city for about six months, filming a minimum of six episodes. To qualify, a city must have a population of less than 40,000 people with buildings and homes that are in need of some TLC. White said this is one way to help with some of the dilapidated buildings and houses in the city.


Other action by the council included,

•acceptance of a bid of $2,403 from James Outz to tint windows in the City Hall building.

•approval of an increase from $35 to $40 for Jackson County Sheriff’s Office jail housing fees.

Wilkinson to run for 9th District Congressional seat

State Senator John Wilkinson recently announced that he plans to run for the 9th District Congressional seat. This election will be to replace Congressman Doug Collins, who has announced that he will be running for a seat in the United States Senate.

Sen. Wilkinson, who was elected to the State Senate in a special election in 2011 and has been re-elected to four additional terms, was raised on a small farm in Stephens County.

"Working with projects in 4-H and FFA, he learned the value of hard work, cooperation and responsibility at an early age," according to a news release. "Those values have stayed with him during his career in agriculture, education and politics. He has not missed a day of work during his eight years of service in the Senate."

A native of Toccoa and graduate of Stephens County High School, Wilkinson earned degrees in agriculture and education from the University of Georgia. He has experience as a classroom teacher and served on the State Agricultural Education staff for 26 years. He has served as State Advisor to the Georgia FFA Association, as well as the Georgia Young Farmer Association. He was recognized as the Outstanding Member of the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education in 2006. He and his wife Debbie have two children and five grandchildren. John and Debbie are active members of Tates Creek Baptist Church.

Senator Wilkinson has served as Chair of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee in the Senate for the past eight years. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee, as well as a member of the Natural Resources and the Environment, Appropriations and Rules Committees. He has served as Secretary of the Senate Majority Caucus for the past six years.

“This is a critical time for our country, and we need an experienced, conservative voice willing to stand up for the values that residents of North Georgia hold dear," said Wilkinson. “For the past eight years in Atlanta, I have fought to eliminate useless red tape and regulation of business, defended the sanctity of all life, and fought for our constitutional rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. I look forward to continuing that fight in Washington.”

The 9th Congressional District includes all of Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, White and parts of Clarke, Forsyth and Pickens counties.

To learn more about Senator John Wilkinson, visit www.VoteWilkinson.com.