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Water un-wise?
Pendergrass files motion to stop county condemnation of Water Wise Inc. facility by claiming the property really belongs to city
In an effort to derail efforts by the county to condemn a private waste water facility, the City of Pendergrass filed a court motion Friday opposing the county's condemnation, claiming that the property is actually owned by the town and not the private firm of Water Wise Inc.
The move is a bid by town leaders to halt the condemnation motion filed against Water Wise by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority and the City of Jefferson. A hearing on that condemnation is scheduled for Friday morning at 9:30 in the Jackson County courthouse.

With its motion to intervene in the condemnation, Pendergrass claims that a July 21 trust indenture between the town and Water Wise puts the old Texfi waste water facility under the ownership of the town and not the private firm. If the facility is owned by a municipality, it cannot be condemned by another government.
"I don't think they have any standing to intervene," said BOC chairman Jerry Waddell. "The council never met or voted on it."
Attorney Walter Harvey filed the motion on behalf of Pendergrass, but no public meeting of the Pendergrass City Council was held approving the action. Harvey is not the town's attorney of record and apparently filed the motion because the town's regular law firm, Tolbert & Elrod, also represents Water Wise in the matter.
Harvey said Tuesday that he had been hired by Pendergrass mayor Mark Tolbert to file the motion. He also said that he was told the council voted on the matter. Harvey said he doesn't know when the matter was voted on.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't have the minutes. I wasn't there when they voted on it, but they voted on it and they signed that bond indenture. My understanding is that there was a unanimous vote of the council ...My understanding is that they voted on this deal and it was a unanimous vote and they did the contract. I think it is pretty clear that the county knew it prior to their filing."
County attorney Lane Fitzpatrick said Pendergrass' motion to intervene in the matter is a "wrinkle," but doesn't change the county's position.
"As far as the county is concerned, it has not made any difference in them going forward with the condemnation," he said. "They still have the authority to go ahead."
But with its motion, Pendergrass leaders are tacitly admitting that the town's apparent deal with Water Wise was to get a municipal signature on a trust indenture so that the private firm could proceed with getting a state environmental permit to operate the Texfi waste water plant. County leaders had earlier alleged that Water Wise's deal with Pendergrass was a charade designed to get that signature and not to really build a sewage treatment facility in the town as promised. Pendergrass Mayor Mark Tolbert signed a trust indenture for Water Wise July 21, the day after a Pendergrass council meeting.
But a review of notes and minutes of that July 20 Pendergrass council meeting show that no mention was made about the town signing any trust indenture nor was there any discussion of the town having anything to do with the old Texfi facility.
A trust indenture is a guarantee by the town that if Water Wise goes out of business, the town will take over and run the facility. Such agreements are required by Georgia law any time a private company applies for a waste water permit from the state.
Meanwhile, Harvey also filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to stay the condemnation proceedings, saying the county had abused its power in the process.
In a related effort, officials from all sides of the issue will meet Thursday morning in Atlanta to discuss the issue with state environmental leaders. County officials say they oppose having the Texfi waste water permit transferred to Water Wise, in part because they don't want a private company deciding where and how sewerage is delivered in unincorporated areas of Jackson County. Sewerage access is a key piece of infrastructure that allows industrial, commercial and high density residential growth.
But in addition to those long-term concerns, county leaders are also incensed by how they believe the matter has been handled by Water Wise and Pendergrass officials. County leaders believe that Water Wise's dealings with Pendergrass came from insider considerations by the town's law firm and two of its elected officials. Attorney Scott Tolbert's firm, Tolbert & Elrod, represents both Pendergrass and Water Wise. In addition, Tolbert's father, Melvin "Monk" Tolbert, was Water Wise's real estate representative in the deal with Texfi and also serves on the Pendergrass City Council. Mark Tolbert, Scott Tolbert's brother, is mayor of Pendergrass and is the signee on the trust indenture. Mark Tolbert's wife, Jackie Tolbert, is an employee of Water Wise's Jefferson office.
County officials also fear that Scott Tolbert, in his position as state representative, has applied pressure at the state level to have the permit transferred to Water Wise against the wishes of the county's elected leadership.
"I hope it comes out that there is not any conflict of interest, but at this point, it looks like there is," said Waddell. "This is something the county will look into."
While Pendergrass' intervention in the matter has yet to be resolved, it does raise two other important issues. First, if the old Texfi plant really belongs to Pendergrass, then would the state EPD permit go to the town and not to Water Wise, Inc.? If that's the case, then Pendergrass may become liable for operating the facility with or without Water Wise.
Related to that is a question of service areas. If the Texfi facility does belong to Pendergrass, then the town may have just a pond with no customers, say county officials. Under HB 489, the county was split into service areas for basic services like sewerage and water. Any move by Pendergrass to run sewerage lines to the Texfi plant would run afoul of the HB 489 deal and could stop the town from making any use of the facility without the permission of both the City of Jefferson and the county water and sewer authority. Pendergrass currently has no water or sewer service area outlined in the HB 489 document.


Three charged with attempting to elude law enforcement officers
Three people were arrested by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department last week for fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement officers.
Those charged and other violations given to them are as follows:
·Lavon Yearby, 38, 202 Dogwood Apartments, Athens, also no proof of insurance and reckless driving.
·Winford Dean Bales, 34, 5230 Pond Fork Church Road, Pendergrass, also driving while license suspended or revoked, reckless driving, no proof of insurance and operation of a vehicle without a current plate.
·Kevin Bernard Bradley, 25, 314 Cedar Road, Winder, also reckless driving, speeding.
Others charged by the sheriff's department include:
·Edwin Henry Johncox Jr., 19, 310 Pleasant Acres Drive, Maysville, simple battery.
·Antonio Tovar Cortez, 25, 108 North Ridge Drive, Athens, no license and no proof of insurance.
·Timothy Scott Carter, 30, 2373 Brockton-Thyatira Road, Jefferson, parole violation.
·Troy Paul Kiley, 34, 678 Brockton Loop, Jefferson, bad checks.
·Ronald John Oliverio, 42, 324 South Main Street, Winterville, probation violation.
·Candido Jorge Onofre, 30, 1465 Hwy. 29, Athens, no license and driving unsafe or improperly equipped vehicle.
·Kevin Drake Wright, 31, 2950 Old Oakwood Road, Gainesville, failure to appear.
·Helena Dusty Lynn Laport, 17, 360 Heritage Heights Ave., Jefferson, driving while license suspended or revoked and windshield violation.
·Jeffrey Shane Reed, 28, 337 High Tower Trail, Jefferson, failure to appear.
·Randall Glenn Goss, 34, P.O. Box 844, Colbert, permitting unlicensed person to drive.
·Ron Allen Goss, 31, Rte. 2 Box 12, Colbert, driving while license suspended or revoked, alteration of license plate and windshield violation.
·Sheila Denise Maddox, 40, 134 Crowes Circle, Hoschton, simple battery.
·Michael William Perry, 43, 134 Crowes Circle, Hoschton, simple battery.
·James Gerald Strieker, 25, 165 Mary Collier Road, Athens, driving while license suspended or revoked.
·Gary Michael Tootle, 41, 24 Kelly Court, Braselton, failure to appear.
·Judy Angelina Robertson, 25, 485 North Washington Ave., Reidsville, N.C., speeding and no license.
·Thomas Roosevelt Lewis, 59, 9681 Davis Street, Braselton, child molestation and aggravated child molestation.
·Grady Ned Anderson II, 28, 165 Etheridge Road, Jefferson, simple battery.
Those charged by the Hoschton Police Department include:
·Terrell James Pittman, 17, 248 New Street, Hoschton, underage possession of alcohol.
Those charged by the Arcade Police Department were:
·Kawanis Lamonte Spearman, 22, 314 Mark Dodd Road, Jefferson, no proof of insurance, brake light violation and no license.
·J.B. Young, 46, 3984 Athens Hwy., Jefferson, speeding and driving while license suspended or revoked.
Those charged by the Commerce Police Department were:
·John Antrone Hitchcock, 19, 406 Benning Street, Athens, probation violation.
·Charles William Bales, 64, Rte. 2 Box 392, Ila, no proof of insurance and driving while license suspended or revoked.
·Kevin Hugh Massey, 25, 77 Hillwood Circle, Danielsville, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
·Roger Paul Hanley, 18, 126 College Ave., Commerce, criminal trespass to property and underage possession of alcohol.
·Tracy Elaine Saxton, 33, 1902 Groaning Rock Road, Commerce, theft by shoplifting.
Those charged by the Jefferson Police Department were:
·Christopher Robert Reed, 28, 959 A.C. Smith Road, Commerce, driving while license suspended or revoked and operation of a vehicle without a current plate.
·Kevin Lewis Reed, 23, 92 Brooks Drive #1, Nicholson, battery.
·Michael Tyrone Williamson, 34, Gordon Street, Jefferson, simple battery and criminal trespass.
·Dorothy Delores Roper, 36, 815 Harrison Square, Gainesville, carrying a concealed weapon.
·Ronald Lee Gibson, 33, 3637 Morris Field Road, Charlotte, N.C., carrying a concealed weapon, driving while license suspended or revoked, possession of firearm by a convicted felon and parole violation.
·John Howard Sorrells, 36, 89 Curry Street, Jefferson, possession of crack cocaine, obstruction or hindering a law enforcement officer, not keeping drugs in original container and drug transactions within 1,000 feet of government housing.

Seven cited for DUI charges
Seven people were charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUI) last week by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
Those cited and any additional charges filed against them are as follows:
·Daniel Eugene Greer, 34, 1053 Davenport Road, Braselton.
·Odis Lee Searcy, 42, 5617 Hwy. 52, Gillsville, also no head gear or eye protective device and no license.
·Ralph Lee Minter Jr., 39, Rte. 1 Box 303, Goshen, Va., also fleeing or attempting to elude police officer, driving on the wrong side of the road, obstruction or hindering law enforcement officers and driving while license suspended or revoked.
·Jacquelyn Dale Reid, 47, 5447 Nowhere Road, Athens.
·Cristal Shanease Shields, 29, 162 Oak Lane, Jefferson, also probation violation, giving a false name to law enforcement officer, no proof of insurance, safety belt violation, no license and failure to appear.
·David Christopher Lee Beck, 17, New Liberty Church Road, Braselton, also no license and reckless driving.
·Gerardo Ramirez, 30, Country Corners Mobile Home Park, Athens, also turning violation, no license and taillight violation.


Jefferson students to begin school Fri.
With the heat bearing down on North Georgia, it may not seem like time for school. But students in the Jefferson City School System will begin classes Friday in an unusually early start for that system.
Because of a new calender designed to get two additional weeks of instruction in before standardized testing in the spring, Jefferson is starting class earlier than in the past.
Reduced class sizes at the elementary school, a new middle school program and renovations at the high school are among some of the things students will find different as they begin class Friday.

For an in-depth look at what's new this year at Jefferson city schools, see this week's printed edition. A school calendar, bus routes, meal prices and bell schedule are also included in this special two-page feature.

Herald, News named state's top weekly newspapers
Jackson County's two newspapers were named last week as two of the state's top weekly papers in the Georgia Press Association's annual contest. The Jackson Herald won first place honors for general excellence in the large weekly newspaper division (over 7,000 circulation) while The Commerce News finished first in the small weekly newspaper division (under 4,000 circulation).
In addition, two other newspapers owned by the same parent firm tied for third place general excellence honors in the small weekly newspaper division - The Banks County News and The Madison County Journal. All four newspapers are owned by MainStreet Newspapers, Inc. Jefferson. Altogether, the four papers garnered 40 awards in the contest.
"We're extremely proud of the folks responsible for these honors," said publisher Herman Buffington. "Our goal is to publish quality community newspapers, and this is just another indication that we are reaching that mark."
The Herald won a total of 15 awards in the contest, including seven first-place honors. In addition to general excellence, The Herald placed first in community service, investigative reporting, lifestyle coverage, local news coverage, sports photograph, and spot news photograph. The Herald won five second-place honors in business coverage, editorial page, news photograph, newspaper promotion and spot news photograph. The Herald also won third place in headline writing, serious column and special issues.
"For a weekly, you really have the news covered," wrote one judge of The Herald. "Color and black and white photographs are sharp and compliement stories. I like that you have everything from crime to schools to churches and sports covered. I also liked the features on the 'friends' page."
The Commerce News won in eight categories, including five first-place awards. In addition to general excellence, The News took first place in editorial page, layout and design, religion coverage and spot news photograph. The News finished second in best sports section and feature writing and third in editorial writing.
The Banks County News, Homer, took nine awards, including a first place for community service, while The Madison County Journal, Danielsville, had eight awards, including first place for feature photograph, sports photograph, sports writing and sports section.

Photo contest plans set
Do you have a great photograph from your vacation? If so, share it with our readers and maybe win some money in the second annual Jackson Herald photo contest. The deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26.
Amateur photographers who live in Jackson County may send in their favorite travel or vacation photos taken this summer. Winning photographs will be published in a future issue of the newspaper.
There will be two categories: Scenic views and people. A first through third prize will be given in each category. The monetary awards will be: $50, first place; $35, second place; and $25, third place.
Photos must have been made during 1999. No more than one entry per photographer please. The name of the photographer, the date and location where it was made and the names of everyone in the photo should be included.
Photos should be mailed to: Photo Contest, The Jackson Herald, P.O. Box 908, Jefferson, Ga., 30549. They may also be dropped off at The Jackson Herald office in Jefferson. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the photos will be returned. Photos may also be picked up at The Jackson Herald office in Jefferson after the contest ends.

Tire manufacturer looking at Jefferson industrial park
A large company that manufactures tires for off-road vehicles is interested in buying a site in the Central Jackson Industrial Park for testing its tires.
Pepe Cummings told members of the Jackson County Industrial Authority about the prospect, which he said expressed interest in the site because its topography was favorable for testing motorcycle and ATV tires.
"I showed him around," Cummings said. "He really liked Central Jackson. He liked the elevation changes."
The company is being represented by a local real estate agent and is reportedly interested in a 5,000 square foot building for research and development, on a 20-acre site on which mountain bike, motorcycle and ATV tires could be tested.

Hoschton submits plans for new sewage system at Panther Creek
Proposed plans to be on display at city hall
By Jana Adams
Die-hard proponents of a new and functional sewage system for Panther Creek subdivision in Hoschton got their hands on plans Monday night that may finally bring an end to their three-year struggle with on-again, mostly off-again sewage services.
The subdivision residents present at the Hoschton City Council meeting listened closely as city engineer Don Harris told council members that a survey for a new gravity flow sewage system for Panther Creek has been completed and will be submitted Friday to the Environmental Protection Division and Rural Development Committee for final approval. After years of hearing complaints from the Panther Creek residents about sewage problems - and what seemed to be an unwillingness to claim responsibility for the problem from all sides, residents, city, county, builder, developer and state included - the Hoschton City Council applied for a grant to install a new system.

The Jackson Herald - Jefferson, Georgia
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