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January 10, 2002

Winter Storm 2002

Winter weather descends on county

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

People are often skeptical when they hear weather forecasts predicting snow and sleet because the experts are usually off by a mile. But that was not the case last week when a widely predicted winter storm barreled through Jefferson and Glascock counties in its trek across the south from Texas through Georgia and the Carolinas and into Virginia.

The approaching storm system brought the first snow, sleet and freezing rain during the day and evening hours Jan. 3. Nighttime temperatures experienced around Jefferson and Glascock remained in the upper 10s and lower 20s throughout the storm period and highs only in the lower 30s. During the period that concluded Jan. 4, areas in Jefferson County saw two to four inches of snow and mixed with sleet while Glascock received four to five inches.

A main feature of the winter storm was the countless limbs and trees that succumbed to the sleet and freezing rain that preceded Thursday's snow and the downed electric lines that caused power outages, primarily in the southern portion of Jefferson County. Jefferson Energy's Steve Talbott, citing information obtained from the company's communications center, said the cooperative responded to an estimated 507 customers who experienced outages. Though outages were experienced around the county, he said the main damage occurred on a line from Davisboro through Bartow and Wadley and on to Midville and Dellwood. The main culprits responsible to downed power lines were, as usual, pine trees.

Georgia Power's Tim Williams said his company experienced a similar set of circumstances with downed electric lines. Georgia Power had an estimated 400 customers without electricity during the winter storm, mostly in central and south Jefferson. Power to all customers was restored by 7 p.m. Thursday. Williams said customers were patient and understanding of the efforts of repair technicians in attempting to respond to the outages.

Both companies were able to respond quickly to the outages, securing additional repair crews from McDuffie and Richmond counties, where freezing rain and sleet did not prompt as many power outages.

During the winter storm law enforcement responded to a total of only 11 weather-related traffic accidents, none of which were serious in nature.

Not to be overlooked in the midst of ice laden trees and bridges and icicle covered power lines and gutters was the warmth flowing from fireplaces around Jefferson and Glascock counties, the picturesque postcard-like images that were evident in every direction and the sparkle in the eyes of the young of all ages as they built a snowman, tossed a snowball and watched with wonder as the familiar landscapes in their communities were transformed into a soft, frozen white.

National Weather Service forecaster Jim Noel in Peachtree City said Tuesday a repeat of last week's winter storm is not likely to occur any time soon. He said the area of east central Georgia is experiencing a milder weather pattern and that snow and sleet are not expected in the foreseeable future.

Advisory board will help determine future of landfill

Board's purpose is to provide input for possible futures for the county landfill

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The question of determining a course of action to prevent further monetary losses at Jefferson County's Subtitle D landfill moved closer to reality Jan. 2 with the agreement by commissioners to form an advisory committee composed of county residents and others to explore options for commissioners consideration. Each commissioner will submit of the name of one resident at the February work session.

"We went on record a few months ago," said Hobbs, "that we would establish a committee that will make recommendations and advise us as to how we can operate our landfill more efficiently. We said we were going to do it and I think we ought to do it. My recommendation is that each commissioner will appoint a person to this committee."

Hobbs said the purpose for forming the advisory committee is to provide input for commissioner's consideration in deciding what action would be taken regarding the facility's future. He said Dept. of Community Affairs (DCA) representative and landfill expert Randy Hartmann has agreed to serve on the committee to provide technical assistance on the issues encompassing possible solutions. Hobbs said county landfill staff would function as a resource to the committee.

Hartmann spoke with both commissioners and the Concerned Citizens of Jefferson County, Inc., last summer during the time when commissioners were addressing the financial problems at the facility and the possibility of selling it to private industry.

Commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 14 to cease any organized attempt to sell the landfill and to search other avenues so that the mounting costs of operating the facility might be addressed and resolved. County auditors reported for the past two years that costs at the Subtitle D landfill, opened January 1999, were continuing to exceed revenues at an increasing rate and that the commission might consider alternatives to address the problem.

Wrens and Wadley councils approve freeport exemptions

Cities' decisions contribute to a more competitive business environment

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The city councils in Wrens and Wadley recently made good on the wishes expressed by voters Sept. 18 by sending a small yet important signal to existing and perspective business manufacturers by expediting the removal of the longstanding Freeport tax.

"I am so excited that the citizens of Wadley and Wrens made the progressive choice to allow for a Freeport exemption," said Brad Day, Jefferson County's Ecomonic Developer and Chamber of Commerce President. "And for their city councils to determine what would be an appropriate level of Freeport tax exemption to provide industry for existing companies and for companies looking to relocate to our area. I'm equally enthusiastic about the city councils of both cities setting the Freeport exemption rate at 100 percent."

Day said both city councils had a range of options in setting the rate based on time and the percentage of the exemption. The option they exercised was to implement the exemption fully once the measure passed overwhelmingly in the Sept. 18 referendum.

"They had the choice of not implementing it at all," he said. "They had the choice of implementing it in varying degrees in 20 percent increments. They had the choice of implementing it over a number of years. But they took the courageous step of implementing it at 100 percent at their first city council meetings after the election."

Day said manufacturers pay numerous taxes in the communities where they are located. Freeport is an additional tax to those paid on property, buildings, equipment, vehicles, payroll and other taxes.

The significance of having a Freeport exemption rests with the fact that 80-90 percent of Georgia communities already have the exemption in place.

While the Freeport exemption alone will not generate new manufacturing enterprises, the adoption of the exemption by Wadley and Wrens, as well as all the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County, sends a positive signal to manufacturers that those areas are ready for development.

"Providing a 100 percent Freeport tax exemption says that the cities of Wadley andWrens and the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County are ready to do business with manufacturers," said Day. "It says we want to provide a favorable business climate. And Freeport is a symbol of a favorable business climate."

All in all, said Day, the Freeport exemption contributes to a more competitive business environment for our communities.

"What this means is that existing companies in Wrens and Wadley and companies contemplating coming here will have available to them a tax exemption in the Freeport tax area," he said. "What this does is that it makes Wadley and Wrens more attractive to industry than what they were before the citizens gave their city councils the power to provide the exemption."

To date, the only area in Jefferson County without a Freeport exemption is the City of Louisville.

"The former mayor and city council were receptive but had tabled Freeport," he said. "I am working with the new mayor and council. So we are optimistic that the City of Louisville will step up to the plate and make a similar decision."

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