Qualifying for 14 major local county elections and a slew of small district fire board elections opens March 2 (Monday.)
Qualifying will be held at the Gordon Street Center located at 441 Gordon Street in Jefferson, March 2 - March 6. Hours are Monday-Thursday from 8:30AM-4:30PM and Friday 8:30AM-12 noon.
Several candidates have announced they plan to qualify for election (see other stories.)
Jackson County will go to the polls at least three times in 2020:
• March 24 (early voting March 2-20) for the presidential preference primary. The focus of this balloting will be the selection of Democrat and Republican candidates for president. In addition, Hoschton will fill its seat for mayor and voters across the county will also determine the fate of a proposal to allow some older citizens to have more of a tax break from school property taxes.
• May 19 (early voting April 27-May 15) for local county office elections.
Those positions with qualifying fees are:
--Probate Judge $1,894
--State Court Judge $3,422
--Clerk of Court $1,894
--Tax Commissioner $1,894
--Magistrate Judge $1,894
--BOC chairman $450
--BOC District 1 $300
--BOC District 2 $300
--County BOE District 1 $36
-- County BOE District 4 $36
In addition, there are 26 posts to be filled on the county's 10 fire district boards and the Hoschton mayor's position.
• Nov. 3 (early voting Oct. 12-30) for the national and local General Election. Voting for president will top the ballot. Any local race that has both Democrat and Republican candidates will also be on the November ballot.
Jackson County Emergency Services is the top EMS department in the state of the Georgia.
Jackson County officials were at the state capitol last week to receive the state EMS Service of the Year Award, which county leaders say is a great honor considering how many private and governmental service agencies there are in the state.
“We are honored to receive this award," Jackson County EMS director Jason Baker stated. "I am equally honored to work side by side with some of the finest people in the state. We put our patients first here and every employee knows that's our number one priority. I would personally like to thank our county manager and the entire board of commissioners. Without their support, there is no way we could have accomplished this."
In 2019, the Jackson County Emergency Services department was very active. Among the accomplishments that led to the award were the following:
•In an attempt to save lives in a cardiac arrest situation, Jackson County taught CPR in schools, churches and around the community. The department issued over 300 CPR cards in 2019.
•The department developed a cardiac arrest committee that compiled data and researched ways to improve the success in cardiac arrests. The department developed new protocols and did extensive training on this. In 2019, the success rates soared, gaining the department national attention. EMS1 Magazine published an article citing the department’s success rate and outlined its progress protocols.
•The department hosted RESTART 2020 to share its new protocols with other services, with over 175 people from all over Northeast Georgia attending.
•Jackson County is taking part in a blood transfusion pilot program. The county is one of the few in the state to offer this. Every employee has trained on this and the long-term goal is to offer a better survival rate to traumatically-injured patients.
•With the opioid crisis in the country at an epidemic level, the department facilitated the purchase of Narcan for the fire and rescue services that had shown an interest. A representative was sent to the departments to assist with the training.
•With the amount of schools and large companies in the county, the department developed active shooter protocols. The department had 28 employees certified in Tactical Emergency Casualty Care. The department received a grant to purchase bullet-proof vests and helmets for the teams. The staff trained with local local enforcement personnel to be prepared in case the worst scenario should happen.
•After seeing the PTSD and suicide rates nationwide for first responders, the department implemented wellness workshops and offered free counseling to employees.
The Commerce Planning Commission granted two variances on lots in Carrington Place Feb. 24. About 30 residents of the subdivision attended the meeting – all opposed to the variances, but maybe more opposed to the builder, Adams Homes.
The variances will go to the March meeting of the Commerce City Council. The variances have five conditions on each one.
The meeting lasted 90 minutes, nearly all of it on the variances.
The conditions are that the “footprint” of the houses to be built are shown on the lot, each house much be at least 1,452 square feet, each house will have a two-car garage, each house will be one story and each have some brick, rock or stone on the front façade as others in the neighborhood do.
Chairman Joe Leffew opened the subject by saying he had heard from residents all kinds of stories about drainage and infrastructure problems. “A lot of animosity” existed among the property owners, he said, but the meeting Monday was just to deal with the variances.
He said Adams Homes, which owns the lots, has the right to build on them and could build a two-story house. Nearly all the property owners agreed they do not want two-story houses in the subdivision.
Leffew said the other choices were to build a smaller house on either lot – he said the zoning would allow for as small as 1,200 square feet or the commission could grant the variances.
Leffew said the small houses would lower property values around them. He emphasized he would choose to accept the variance and said, “but that’s just me.”
“Which of the three evils do you want,” one man asked rhetorically after Leffew repeated the three choices.
One lot was fairly straightforward and the parameters of the conditions were pretty quick to be agreed upon.
Melissa Cochran said the commission should table the request on the other lot and seek more information about the setbacks.
Jimbo Stephenson suggested the commission deal with both lots because he said regardless of the situation, a distance of 30 feet could be between two houses because one is farther from the property line than 15 feet and a variance would have to be granted or a two-story house would be built.
The commission accepted the same conditions as the first lot and granted the second variance.
Jimmy Nash, who did not speak until near the end of the meeting, said, “If we hadn’t been lied to so much, we probably wouldn’t be here.” He got lots of nods and grunts of agreement.
The second lot was going to be tabled because it is oddly shaped. Ron Silver, one of the property owners, commented, “That lot’s a crazy yard.” Leffew said the variance for that lot was a “little tougher.”
Cochran said the “lesser of many evils” were picked for the decisions.
Leffew commented, “I feel for you all. I have heard (about) so many problems from so many people.”
After the variances were granted, the planning commission quickly adopted a floodplain management plan that is an update of one the city had done several years ago. The floodplain plan was adopted with little discussion.
Two more roads in Jackson County are now designated as "no thru trucks" routes.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners recently voted to designate Woods Bridge Rd. and Thyatira-Brockton Rd. as off limits to trucks, except for local deliveries.
County manager Kevin Poe told the BOC that GPS navigation sites were directing traffic onto both roads as alternative routes, but that the roads were not constructed for heavy truck traffic.
A resident of Thyatira-Brockton Rd. had told the BOC on Feb. 3 about the problem with growing truck traffic and speeding along the road.
In other action on Feb. 17, the BOC approved:
• awarding a bid for vehicles to Jefferson Motor Company in the amount of $261,500. The vehicle purchases were put in the 2020 budget earlier by the board.
• authorized the creation of a special tax district for Master Oaks Subdivision.
• approved two commercial rezonings on Yarborough-Ridgeway Rd., Maysville, for a total of 4.1 acres to allow for the construction of a mini-storage facility.
• approved rezoning 4.5 acres at 1516 Pocket Rd., Braselton, from A-2 to A-R to subdivide for three houses.
• withdrawing a request for a change in conditions at 432 Rocquemore Rd., Athens.
Although the details are sketchy, it appears as if the International Trade Commission has ruled against SK Innovation in its fight with LG Chem over the misappropriation of trade secrets.
SK is building a massive $1.6 billion factory in Commerce to make electric vehicle batteries, primarily for Volkswagen's plant in Tennessee.
The ITC ruling is apparently preliminary, according to reports in the New York Times, and a final ruling won't be handed down until October. If upheld, the ruling could prevent SK from importing some parts it needs to manufacture its batteries in Commerce.
The NYT story goes on to say SK is considering building a second EV battery plant in Georgia to supply Ford vehicles.
The legal battle between SK and LG Chem over accusations of patent infringements and the theft of trade secrets is being fought in multiple courts both in the U.S. and South Korea.