Fire consumes eight acres
• Burning leaves can be dangerous this time of year
By Ben Nelms
What began early Sunday afternoon as a small pile of burning leaves and yard debris in a backyard on Braddy Road quickly got out of hand and moved rapidly into adjacent woods.
Though the flames consumed only eight acres, the combination of low humidity and wind would have easily resulted in much greater damage without the quick response of forestry rangers and volunteer firefighters from Wadley and Bartow. Firefighters responded to the location south of Coleman Chapel Road near the Johnson County line, using water, rakes and other equipment to subdue the flames while forestry bulldozers cut firebreaks to contain them.
Forestry Ranger Reggie Morgan said Monday that while current weather conditions favor burning off fields, residents should obtain the appropriate information pertaining to good burning practices. The majority of such fires that get out of control begin with a small pile of debris and younger residents unfamiliar with the techniques needed to keep the fire from spreading, he said.
"You've got to know what you're doing when burning in windy conditions," said Morgan. "Older residents with experience are usually more knowledgeable. But many younger people don't understand what can happen and how things can get out of control. They sometimes leave the fire unattended or think they have put it out only to have it spread and get out of hand."
Morgan suggested residents that would like information on good burning practices check with the Forestry Service at (478) 625-3319 or visit the Forestry Commission's website at www.gfc.state.ga.us/
Property obtained for new Wrens recreation fields
• The new 25-acre Rabun Park will be located on Quaker Road property donated by J.M. Huber Corporation
By Ben Nelms
The long wait for confirmation of the site of a new recreation park in Wrens came to an end Friday. Plans can now go forward to make Rabun Park a reality.
The park will be named for longtime Wrens Mayor J. J. "Juddy" Rabun. It will be located northeast of Wrens on a 25-acre parcel along Quaker Road, less than a mile west of SR 17. The land will be donated by J. M. Huber Corporation.
"The only way this was possible was through this very, very generous donation by J. M. Huber," said city administrator Donna Scott Johnson. "This will be a family oriented facility. We're going to target recreational opportunities for people of all ages."
She said the arrangement calls for a long-term lease on the property that will result in a donation to the city once improvements are made.
A significant benefit to the city is derived from the fact that the full $250,000 sum obtained last year from the Development Authority of Jefferson County for old park property adjacent to Glit can be used to outfit the new park, said Johnson.
Plans for the facility, nearly twice the size of the old recreation fields, include basic and proposed amenities. Phase 1 of the basic amenities include baseball fields and multipurpose fields for football and soccer.
Phase 2 will include tennis courts and a basketball court. Proposed amenities, cited by Johnson as Phase 3, include an on-site building with office space, storage and possibly a gym. Additional basketball courts elsewhere in the city are also envisioned.
Johnson said the city is currently applying for grants to increase the amount of money available for the various park projects and will be heavily dependent of grant funds to supplement the current $250,000 to fully outfit the facility.
"We are working with the Dept. of Community Affairs to have University of Georgia architecture landscape students do the conceptual plan," said Johnson. "We have this available to us beginning in May at no charge due to our Better Hometown designation. Once the renderings are completed we will have one or more public meetings to get input from citizens. During this time our engineer will complete the plans and put the project out to bid."
When the planning, design work and construction are finished the park will be something the community can be proud of, said Mayor Dollye Ward.
"We want a well planned and well organized facility that will be conducive to all kinds of recreational activities geared to future growth," said Ward. "The way to do this is to plan effectively and work to find the money we need."
Prior to site determination, the city polled children that used the old facility, questioning whether they walked to the fields or were dropped off by parents. The majority said they were transported to the fields by their parents, Johnson said.
Contacted Monday, Ward expressed her thanks to Wrens Middle School for its ongoing assistance in providing gym and ball field facilities for organized team sports since the time the old recreation fields were closed.
"We have been heavily dependent on the middle school during this time," she said. "We really appreciate their help and we hope they will continue to assist us in providing recreation opportunities while the new project is taking shape."
Ward said she was appreciative and excited over Huber's donation of property, expressing the hope that the park will be a focal point for recreational activities for Wrens and beyond.
"I want this to benefit everyone in north Jefferson County," said Ward. "Once completed, it will provide year-round recreational opportunities. It's a great way to serve the community."
Glascock working to redistrict before elections
• Map of proposed reapportionment available at the school board office
By Ben Nelms
Plans to fill the Glascock County school board seat of the late Danny Milburn have resulted in a proposed countywide district reapportionment after an uneven distribution of the voting population was discovered.
"District reapportionment stemmed from an investigation by the school system attorney during the process of appointing a qualified person to fill the unexpired term of deceased member Danny Milburn. Mr. Milburn represented the Edgehill District of the board," said Superintendent Jim Holton. "Our attorney reported the voting population was unevenly distributed among the education districts and, as a result, was in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Georgia Constitution.
"The board expressed concern over the responsibility to the community to reapportion the education districts in order to assure fair representation while abiding by state law. The board was previously unaware that unequal district apportionment existed and they desired to expedite the process."
A map of the proposed reapportionment located at the school board office shows geographical changes in each of the county's four districts. District 1 will lose areas on the south and west sides of the current boundaries and will gain territory to the northeast. The proposed boundaries include the north portion of Gibson. District 2 would lose some of the western portion of its current boundaries, including areas east of SR 171. District 3 would expand to the northeast of its current boundaries while District 4 would gain areas to the north, including the south portion of Gibson.
Three school board seats are up for election later this year as well as the special election to fill Milburn's unexpired term, said Holton. Representative Sistie Hudson recently submitted the proposed reapportionment to the General Assembly. If approved this session, the new district boundaries will be in effect for this year's election. If the decision is postponed until next session, the current lines will be observed, said Holton.
Regardless the outcome this year or next, Holton was quick to point out that residents voting places will remain the same despite any upcoming changes in district boundaries.
"This doesn't mean people will vote at a different precinct," he said. "They will continue to vote in the same precinct, as I understand it."
Events abound at Wrens Gourd Festival this weekend
By Regina Reagan
The annual Wrens Gourd Festival, coordinated by Wrens Better Home Town, is set and quickly approaching. On March 27 the festivities at the Wrens Middle School on Hwy 1 will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Those seven hours will be jammed packed with fun and exciting activities for people of all ages.
First for the younger generation, there will be several different kid rides including rock climbing. Around lunchtime there will be clowns added to the excitement. The clowns are a new attraction for the Wrens Gourd Festival and are expected to go over quite well.
For the slightly older and adult generations there will be many vendors around the walking track ranging from gourd vendors to jewelry vendors, to woodcraft vendors and as always there will be food vendors that will display a wide assortment of goodies and treats from which to choose.
There will be different contests including a tractor show, antique car show and motorcycle show. The different entries for these contests will be on display for everyone's viewing pleasures throughout the day. Also the gourd display winners, a contest for the businesses in Wrens, will be announced and receive cash prizes and the Gourd Pageant winners will be recognized.
And all this at no cover charge!
There are charges for some of the different events including the cow patty bingo. The cow patty bingo will begin at 2:00 p.m. A cow is released onto the football field and earns a lucky ticket holder a free prize. Tickets are $5 a piece. For more information contact any Kiwanis or Key club member or Donna Scott Johnson.
Other prizes include cash prize drawings at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.and 4 p.m. Tickets for these drawings will be sold two for a dollar the day of the Gourd Festival.
The fun doesn't stop there. Later on, from 8-11 p.m., there will be a Wrens Gourd Festival Sock Hop Dance in the middle school gym, sponsored by the Relay for Life teams. The Steel Justice Band will be performing an assortment of rock, country and beach music favorites. The price for tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. Tickets will be sold earlier that day at the Gourd Festival or they can be purchased at Wrens City Hall, Snow White Cleaners, Wrens Drug, Perfect Touch, Barrow & Prescott in Matthews, the State Farm office in Wrens or a Relay team member.
People of all ages are encouraged to attend for the whole day or even just for part of the day to share in the fun and show their support for the city and its plans.
"All of the money will go toward the downtown streetscape project which includes the veterans' area behind the post office," Johnson said.
The outlook is very good according to Johnson. "We've done more ads and outside promotions," she explained. Just a couple of examples include promotions in Southern Living and Guide to Georgia given out at the Georgia Welcome Center.