WEATHER CAUSES WRECK
Lance, Jefferson, hydroplaned while traveling near "Adam's
curve" on Hwy. 129 south of Jefferson Tuesday afternoon.
The Jefferson Police Department said her car hit the guardrail.
She was injured and transported to an area hospital.
Firm ready to move on sewage plan
Water Wise will be the first private
sewage system in Jackson County
BY ANGELA GARY
The Water Wise corporation closed Tuesday on the purchase of the old Jefferson Mills sewage treatment facility on the Jefferson-Winder Hwy. The firm will be the first private sewage treatment facility in the county, a move that could have a deep impact on future growth in the county.
As a recycling facility, Water Wise's first move will be to develop sewerage facilities for the 1,500-home Mulberry Plantation golf community in West Jackson. Water Wise president Jerry Wickliffe said it will take 60 days to get the Mulberry project underway. West Jackson Middle School will be added on to the system within the next six months, he added.
The Mulberry project calls for the firm to collect and treat sewage from the development, then pump it back as water for the development's golf course.
Meanwhile, the firm continues to negotiate with the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority on a contract that would give the private firm a public utility status. That would allow the company to condemn land for their projects.
In May, the water authority balked at signing the agreement, wanting more time to study the implications of such a move. Although the company is "environment friendly" with its recycling system, it could potentially be a competitor with the water authority for unincorporated sewerage development in the county. So far, the authority has focused on providing water to unincorporated areas of Jackson County, but some talk has begun about also moving toward sewerage development in areas with high industrial growth potential.
In addition to the potential competition, there is a fear that the private firm could find a way to control growth in the county by where it lays its sewerage lines. But Wickliffe said such fears are unfounded.
"We won't make a decision based on where sewer goes," he said. "It will be based on where the zoning is...We're not here to promote uncontrolled zoning. We want to be a good neighbor."
Another fear is a question of what liability the county water authority would have if the firm someday went out of business. The fear is that the county would have to step in and operate the system, with or without the expertise to do so.
Water Wise plans to locate an office in Jefferson which will handle billing and other functions for the Jefferson plant. Renovations at the Jefferson facility will include an inside covered sewage plant, Wickliffe said.
Water Wise has been operating a similar system in Winder for six months. The company also has projects in Alabama, Florida and other areas of Georgia. The firm is headquartered in Alpharetta and has been in operation since 1898, with Wickliffe being the third generation in his family to head the company.
to death for murders
BY ANGELA GARY
A Walton County jury deliberated for a little more than one hour last week before recommending that Donnie Lance be sentenced to death for the brutal murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend.
Judge David Motes agreed with the recommendation and told Lance he would be taken to a state facility and electrocuted sometime between noon on Aug. 2-9. Lance has 30 days to file an appeal in the case, which would postpone his death sentence.
Lance's expression rarely changed during the seven-day trial held in Monroe. He continued to stare straight ahead as the district attorney read the death sentence penalty issued by the jury late last Wednesday evening.
"Mr. Lance, may God have mercy on your soul," the judge said before Lance was taken out of the courtroom.
Before the jury began its deliberations on the sentence, five family members gave emotional testimony on how their lives had changed since the murder of Joy Love Lance and Dwight "Butch" Wood Jr.
"There is no earthly way to tell you," Wood's mother, Estelle, said when district attorney Tim Madison asked her how her son's murder had impacted her life. "It changed everything. It took a piece of my heart and I can't get it back."
Mrs. Wood said that she had a relationship with her son that a lot of mothers aren't fortunate to have.
"There is an empty place at my table," she said through tears. "Sometimes, I go to my closet where I have some of his clothes just to smell him. I still wait for him to call. I still wait for him to drive by."
Wood's father, Dwight Sr., also spoke on the devastation he has experienced since the 1997 murder.
"I don't know if there are words to describe this unless you have been through it yourself," he said. "He was the only son I had. He was the youngest. He was the baby. He will always be the baby."
Wood's ex-wife, Towana, spoke on the impact the murder has had on their three children, Brandon, 18, Christy, 16, and Hannah, 7.
"They loved their daddy," she said. "It's really been hard for them. There has not been a night go by that my 7-year-old hasn't said, 'I miss my daddy.'"
Joy's mother, Shirley Love, also spoke to the jurors on how her life has changed since the murder.
"It's been so devastating," she said. "...My grief knows no bounds."
She also spoke on the special bond that her grandson, Jessie, had with his mother, and read two letters the boy had written about her.
Jackie Martin also spoke on the death of her sister and how her life had been impacted. She said her sister's 40th birthday would have been this year and they were not able to celebrate it. She also said that the retirement party she and her sister had planned for her father wasn't held.
"Christmas is the worst time," she said through her tears. "We always got together-all of our families. We've had the past two Christmases without her. Now we have to go to the grave to recognize Joy's birthday...I miss her so much. You have no idea."
District attorney Tim Madison also spoke to the jury in calling for a death penalty sentence. He called the acts committed by Lance "immoral" and showing "total disregard for another person's life." He also called the murders "pre-meditated" and "calculating."
"He (Lance) loved to control that woman and inflict pain on her," Madison said. "...When that verdict was read, you saw his face-no remorse, no sorrow. Nothing shown on that man's face. What kind of person shoots a man in the back? What kind of man beats a woman so that you cannot recognize her beautiful face? ...A coward.
"It took Donnie Lance five minutes to kill someone the way those two were murdered. It takes a lifetime of pain for the victims' family. They will never get over that...You (jurors) are going to have to go back in there and search your hearts. There is only one verdict that will stop the Donnie Lances of this world."
DEFENSE ATTORNEY SPEAKS
Lance's attorney, J. Richardson Brannon, also spoke to the jury and asked that the death penalty not be imposed. After telling the jurors that he disagreed with their decision, Brannon pointed out that Lance's sisters, father and children all love him.
"Death begets more death," he said. "It is a powerful thing to take someone's life. It will affect you forever. The life and death of Donnie Lance lies within your grasp...Don't let yourself be an arm of vengeance. Let yourself be an arm of understanding.
"Donnie's children will lose both parents by death. If our main goal is rehabilitation-we don't do it by executing people. Think about this long and hard before you eliminate someone."
HRC seeking more involvement from businesses, community
By Jana Adams
The Jackson County Human Resources Council spent Thursday morning meeting with state Family Connection coordinator Katie Crumley in evaluating and planning for the collaborative's future. Among the key needs noted were a Family Connection finance committee, an HRC nominating committee and more business and community participation.
The HRC has been intact eight years and has had only two chairmen in that time.
HRC members agreed to seek local finance experts to serve on the Family Connection finance committee, and chose Joe Booth, Henry Slocum, R.H. "Doc" McCreery and Janet Adams for the HRC's nominating committee.
The HRC's newly appointed public relations committee includes Betty Caton, Henry Slocum, Janet Fong and Stephanie Stempinski.
In an effort to generate more business and community interest in the HRC and its programs, the group agreed to seek input from businesses, people in geographically different locations in the county, the ministerial association, the juvenile justice department, law enforcement and ethnically diverse populations. Members also suggested that an HRC representative attend Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce meetings.
The HRC will not meet in July. It will resume regular meetings at 8:30 a.m. the fourth Thursday in August at the Gordon Street Center, Jefferson.
July 4 events set Sat. night
The annual Jefferson downtown Fourth of July celebration will be held Saturday, with children's games starting at 5:30 p.m.
A live band, Red Limousine, will offer a return performance at 8 p.m., and fireworks will be lit at dusk.
A dunking booth, children's train rides, face painting, balloons, ice cream, hot dogs and soft drinks will be among the other highlights of the evening.
The Fourth of July celebration is sponsored by the City of Jefferson and the Jefferson Area Business Association.
Mobile home subdivision gets thumbs-down from planners
BY ADAM FOUCHE
Hearing complaints of mobile home overcrowding and decreased property values, the Jackson County Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny Hugh Kinney's request to rezone property at 175 Carruth Road from A-2 to M-H.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will take final action on the matter when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 13, at the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
Kinney is proposing placing a 10-lot manufactured home subdivision on the property. Victor Stewart, speaking on behalf of several area residents, opposed the rezoning, citing lowered property values and an overwhelming number of mobile home parks in the area.
"We already have five mobile home parks within a mile radius of that area and we are becoming saturated with them," Stewart said. "It would be more of a benefit to the value of our property to not have a mobile home park there."
Stewart also raised concerns that the entrance to the park would be dangerously placed in a blind spot.
Kinney's original request was rezoning calling for a change from A-2 to R-1, according to the planning commission. Yet, Kinney changed his rezoning request to M-H because he thought the land would sell better. Area residents stated they would not object to the land being rezoned to R-1, but for that to happen, Kinney must go through the rezoning process again.
In other action Thursday, the planning commission:
·approved Elmer Hopper's request to rezone 11.78 acres at Old Pendergrass Road and Old Swimming Pool Road in Jefferson from A-2 to R-3. The 11.78-acre tract is part of a larger 110.61-acre tract outside of the Jefferson city limits. The commission approved Hopper's preliminary plat for Jefferson Walks Subdivision on the land, provided the Jefferson City Council approves his request to rezone the tract that is inside the city limits.
·approved Ray Vaughn's request to rezone 22.2 acres on Ednaville Road from A-2 to R-1 for a 16-lot subdivision.
·approved Bob Powell and Darrell Garner's request to rezone 14.5 acres at 541 Boone Road from A-2 to R-1 for a 13-lot subdivision.
·tabled Susan Strickland and Bob Wollaston's request for a conditional use permit to allow a private dirt road for a large lot subdivision on Lipscomb Lake Road. The commis-
mission tabled the request to give Strickland and Wollaston time to make all of the lots in the subdivision 10 acres. A new county ordinance will allow a private, unimproved road in a subdivision provided all of the lots are 10 acres or larger.
·approved Ronnie Richardson's request to rezone 4.39 acres at 416 West Jefferson Street,Hoschton, from A to R-3.
·approved the final plat for Kings Bridge Crossing at the intersection of New Kings Bridge Road and Old Kings Bridge Road. According to attorney Lane Fitzpatrick, the rezoning request for the property was initially denied by the BOC, at which time the property owner sued the county. The outcome of the suit mandated the rezoning request be approved with the condition of a limited number of driveways coming out of the subdivision.
·approved the preliminary plat for the Lea Meadows subdivision on Hwy. 124 West, Jefferson.
·tabled action on the preliminary plat for the Traditions at Whitaker Downs subdivision at 1717 McNeal Road. According to Fitzpatrick, an area resident filed suit after the BOC approved the rezoning of the property, which puts the rezoning on hold and halts any development on the property until a court decision is reached.
·approved the preliminary plat for Oakcrest Subdivision at Dickson Drive and Washington Street, Jefferson.
·tabled George Robert New Sr.'s request to subdivide property at 290 Kimberly Lane since no one involved with the project was present to speak on the plans.
·took no action on Richard Thompson's request to subdivide property at 400 Jackson Woods Road. According to Fitzpatrick, the request was not valid because the property is in a subdivision with a covenant against subdividing the property. He also added that a lot within a division must be at least five acres to be eligible for subdividing.
·tabled Dorthy Farley's request to subdivide property at 589 Nichols Road. Fitzpatrick said that since the property is within an existing subdivision, Farley must get written permission from the subdivision's developer before being allowed to subdivide the property.
·tabled an ammendment to the M-I zoning classification.
·approved a revision to section 5.5 and 5.51 of the Jackson County subdivision ordinance concerning final plat approvals. The revision allows building inspector David Clabo to review and then approve or deny final plats.
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