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Sewerage deal raises stink
County condemns old mill facility in a move to stop private firm; conflict of interest charges fly in fray
In a significant move last week, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted in an emergency meeting to condemn the Texfi mills sewerage treatment facility that had just been purchased in early July by a private firm, Water Wise, Inc. The action effectively halts Water Wise's efforts to get a water treatment permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority and the Jefferson City Council later voted to join in the condemnation action.
A hearing on the condemnation will be held August 6 at 9:30 a.m. in the Jackson County Courthouse. Commerce attorney Greg Perry has been named special master for the condemnation proceedings to decide what fair market value should be placed on the facility. Water Wise paid $1.3 million for the plant in early July.
In addition to that hearing, an August 5 meeting at the EPD office in Atlanta is scheduled to air concerns local officials have about Water Wise's dealings in the county.
Water Wise owner Jerry Wycliff said Tuesday he is considering fighting the condemnation action.
"I consider it an illegal taking," he said. "They (the county) could have bought the Texfi plant at any time. They never negotiated with Texfi or me about the plant."
Wycliff agreed that the county's move was a "reaction to the deal we worked out in Pendergrass."
"I think they just want to control everything that goes on in the county," he said of the county's reaction.
Chris Elrod, an attorney for Water Wise, expressed surprise and dismay at the county's move.
"They better get out their checkbook," he said. "It will be a lot more than $1.3 will be millions and millions of dollars. The folks of Jackson County better get ready for a property tax increase."
Get the full story in this week's edition of The Jackson Herald.


shooting causes wreck
An Athens man was critically injured Tuesday morning when he drove into the pathway of a tractor trailer after someone in another car shot at his vehicle.
Bob David Scott was traveling south on Hwy. 129 when the accident occurred. Someone driving alongside him reportedly began shooting at his vehicle, hitting the passenger in his car, Connie Wakefield, Athens, in the leg. She was treated at an Athens hospital and released. Scott remains in critical condition from injuries sustained in the wreck.
"A vehicle approached them, pulled along side them and numerous shots were fired at them striking the vehicle," said Jackson County Sheriff's Department investigator David Cochran. "At the intersection of Hwy. 129 and New King's Bridge Road, the Scott car traveled into the northbound lane striking a tractor trailer. We do have some suspects at this time that we are investigating."
Cochran said the interviews with the victims have been limited due to their injuries but they may have
known the people who were shooting at them.

Homes, property sales soar
Jackson County continued its pattern of rapid growth during the first six months of 1999 with new home construction climbing 73 percent over the first half of 1998. Most of those new homes, 258, came in unincorporated areas of Jackson County.
The new home permits in Jackson County topped several other Metro Atlanta exurb counties, including Carroll which had 267 permits during the first six months, Douglas, with 311 new home permits and Rockdale with 224 new home permits. But the numbers in Jackson County were far behind other Metro Atlanta counties, including Bartow at 559 new home permits, Coweta at 710, Fayette at 656, Henry at 1,453 and Paulding at 980.
Total construction values for the first six months of the year was also up, topping $59.5 million, up 61 percent over the same period last year. That pace is ahead of record construction values set in 1997 when $95.1 million in construction was done in Jackson County.
Property sales also grew during the first half of the year with $79.3 million changing hands compared to $56.6 million during the first six months of 1998.
Some 122 mobile home permits were also issued during the first half of 1999

The Jackson Herald - Jefferson, Georgia
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