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April 24, 2003 Issue

Talent shows...
There is no end to the talent in Jefferson County. That reality is evidenced in the six venues along Broad Street in Louisville April 18-22 as the county's own consortium of talent, The Art Guild, featured the work of 35 local artists. Guild President Lil Agel said she counted the guild's first downtown exhibition as a success.

Residents ask, what factors are controlling growth?

County 10-year comprehensive plan meetings on-going; next meeting will be May 1 at Chamber

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

How many Jefferson County residents would consider overall growth in the county from 2005-2015 and the variables affecting that growth a worthwhile topic of concern?

The determination of the multiple factors influencing that growth and the directions the county might take in addressing it is the ongoing task of a committee comprised of city and county employees, elected officials and residents countywide under the leadership of Augusta Regional Development Center (RDC) representatives Lori Sand and Nancy Campbell.

If Jefferson County does not produce an effective 10-year plan envisioning the overall outlook for the county through 2015, it will not be for the lack of effort by Sand and Campbell. Both are continuing with the process of assisting in the development of the 10-year Jefferson County Joint Comprehensive Plan that will cover a multitude of issues ranging from populations and land use to economic development and environmental concerns. Both have stressed the need for input from residents in developing the plan.

Currently in process of development is the inventory and fact-finding phase of the population and housing components of the 10-year plan. Other major components include historic and natural resources, community facilities, economic development, land use and a five-year Short Term Work Plan.

At the April 3 meeting, Sand, Campbell and committee members addressed ways to obtain accurate information on the county's population by accessing information from the census bureau, health department, school board, post office, tax office and other available methods such as the recent by Bartow. The recent Census Bureau-approved recount, initiated, conducted and submitted by Bartow after Census 2000 showed a population decrease to 223 residents, actually revealed an increase in population of more than 36 percent, or 304 residents.

Also discussed were ways to determine the current status of single-family housing, using census data, tax office records and other means. Significant during the inventory and fact-finding phase is the determination of the varying size of the dwellings and the extent of substandard housing in the county. It was suggested that information for determining and mapping the number of substandard housing units might be obtained from the local Family and Children's Services office, the county building inspector and other sources.

Once the inventory and fact-finding phase is completed for all components the committee will move into the goal-setting phase, followed by the formation of strategies and the development of the five-year Short Term Work Plan. Committee work and public meetings will continue in 2004. The completed plan is expected in June 2004. The adoption of the 10-year plan is required by Georgia Department of Community Affairs for local governments to be eligible to qualify for many federal and state grant programs and monies.

A majority of the 20 committee members were appointed while others volunteered following the initial public hearing Feb. 20. Committee members attending at the April 3 meeting included Leisa Hadden, Herman Baker, Donnie Rhodes, Robert Clements, George Rachels, Larry Hodges, Geary Davis and Brad Day.

The RDC representatives also held a public meeting with senior citizens at the Multipurpose Room in Louisville April 8 and another public meeting in Wrens April 22 at the library. The next scheduled public meeting will be May 5 at 7 p.m. at the Bartow Community Center. Sand recently told committee members that future meetings will be held at Jefferson County High School and, next school year at the county's elementary and middle schools. Obtaining input from a maximum number of county residents helps ensure that RDC and the committee develop a truly comprehensive plan, she said.

The next 10-year Comprehensive Plan committee meeting will be held May 1 at 7 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce office in Louisville.

New county public works director sought

Thomas Beckworth says his resignation was based on doctor's recommendations

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Jefferson County commissioners will soon be looking to find someone to fill a critical position within county government.

Having tendered his resignation as Public Works Director, Thomas Beckworth is in the final week of serving in the position that had responsibility for the roads department, county maintenance shop and many aspects of the operation of the landfill.

Beckworth said Monday his resignation was based on the recommendations of his health care providers. Commission Chairman Gardner Hobbs said Beckworth's experience and leadership had benefited the county.

"It is going to be difficult to replace Mr. Beckworth," said Hobbs. "It is hard to find a person of his stature and position. He has done an outstanding job."

The job position of Public Works Director was created early in the first quarter of 2003 to manage the county roads department, landfill and maintenance shop.

Beckworth had served for 22 months as Roads Superintendent and supervisor of the maintenance shop and had assumed increasing responsibility for various aspects of the landfill operation.

When the commission decided to create the position of Public Works Director, Beckworth moved into the position in which he had already been serving.

The position is effectively responsible for more than $2 million of the county's $9.1 million budget.

County administrator Paul Bryan said Monday that the position will be filled in accordance with the requirements of state law.

The position will be advertised, interviews will be conducted and the names of the three finalists for the job will be released to the public prior to the hiring decision.

Qualifications for the position include a bachelor's degree, a Certificate in Highway Technology, seven years experience or a combination thereof in road maintenance and construction. Desired qualification includes experience in shop management and landfill operations. The closing date for applicants is May 9.

Local artists featured at festival

Sandersville Technical College hosts its weekend-long arts festival

Special Report

In an effort to expose the citizens of rural middle Georgia to a host of cultural experiences Sandersville Technical College has organized one of the single largest cultural events in the area.

This weekend, April 25, 26, and 27, the school is sponsoring its first Fall Line Cultural Arts Festival which combines the work of both local and statewide visual, musical, performance, culinary and other artists.

The festival will be held on the college's Sandersville campus and will feature artists and crafters from all over Georgia and a few from out of state.

The festival kicks off Friday evening at 7 p.m. with a performance by the Davidson Fine Arts String Quartet.

On Saturday, the festival will run from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Activities include varieties of artisans selling and displaying their wares, art workshops for children, a military band, a student art show, bluegrass bands, local high school bands and choruses, jazz and blues bands and gospel groups.

In addition to the art displays and a varied list of musical entertainers, the college will also host a barbeque cook-off.

The art displays and vendor booths will be located inside the college while the food and music will be outdoors.

Admission is free to the public and the school invites those attending to bring chairs or blankets for the outdoor concerts.

For more information or show times call (478) 240-5166 or go to www.sandersvilletech.org

Rogers to oversee construction of law enforcement center

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The construction of the new county law enforcement center is expected to begin in May and Jefferson County commissioners have agreed to hire former county administrator James Rogers to oversee the project.

Commissioners agreed at an April 21 called meeting to give Chairman Gardner Hobbs authority to negotiate a salary with Rogers to function as project manager.

Hobbs said the position would be part-time at three days per week. Results of the negotiation are anticipated by April 28, in time for the beginning of the construction process.

Hobbs maintained that having a project manager on-site will benefit the county and prevent cost overruns.

"It's a matter of sound business practice," said Hobbs. "I've said from day one that we need somebody on site to represent this board."

County administrator Paul Bryan said it would be a responsible move for commissioners to hire Rogers because he has been involved with the project since its inception, has worked with architects and builders as plans were developed, attended product design meetings and has visited a number of facilities around the state.

"Someone else would not have the background knowledge about where and how the decisions about the project were made," Bryan said.

Hobbs added that Rogers had previous experience in supervising construction while employed by a company in Wrens.

Commissioners voted Feb. 19 to hire Tallahassee architects Clemons Rutherford & Associates (CRA), paving the way for the construction of the 128-bed facility adjacent to the Jefferson County Correctional Institute off US Highway 1 on the Louisville bypass.

Construction is anticipated to begin in May and is expected to require 11-12 months to complete.

The 40,409 square-foot center will consist of a jail pod and an administrative building.

Commissioners voted to spend $5.6 million on construction and an additional amount, not expected to exceed $100,000, for items such as desks, chairs and file cabinets. The only other expense approved by the board was a travel reimbursement for CRA that was not to exceed $5,000.

Discussions about the potential need for a project manager surfaced among commissioners at various law enforcement meetings during the past two years.

These occurred primarily during late 2002 and early 2003 when a different architect and builder were being considered.

Though funding for a project manager was not included in the February figures agreed upon by commissioners for the law enforcement center, Hobbs said the money to fund it would likely be available.

"If the revenue comes in as predicted, we will have enough money for the position," he said.

The law enforcement center project is being funded by a one-percent sales tax approved by voters in September 2001. Figures on money collected since early 2002 show that, barring a serious downturn in the local economy, the approximately $5.7 million needed should be collected prior to the five-year maximum collection period allowed by law.

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Last modified: April 23, 2003