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Top Stories
January 13, 2005 Issue

To protect and serve...
Glascock County Probate Judge Denise Dallas swears in the county's newly elected Sheriff Dean Couch. Couch was sworn in last week. Couch faced incumbent Sheriff Bryan Bopp in a runoff election in November and walked away with 55.19 percent of the vote.












Other Top Stories
Magistrate judge goes full time
New solid waste plan in place
Tattoo regulations now in place

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Magistrate judge goes full time

Misty May says her caseload and hours have increased substantially since taking office in 2001

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

It was not argumentative but the difference of opinion was obvious. Glascock County commissioners and Magistrate Judge Misty May began and ended a discussion at the Jan. 7 meeting without agreement on May's decision to increase her hours and pay to full-time.

May began her statement by telling commissioners her caseload and hours worked had increased substantially since taking office in 2001.

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What began with a 20-hour per week caseload has developed into a 40-45 hours per week commitment to fulfill the responsibilities of her office, she said, with many of those hours occurring during nighttime hours and on weekends.

May said operating the office on a part time basis made it necessary in the past to reduce the hours of operation needed by attorneys and the public.

Her transition to fulltime status will mean the magistrate office will be open during regular business hours Monday through Friday.

The exchange between May and commissioners during much of the discussion was short of being heated but clearly one where frustration was evident.

A portion of the discussion revolved around the amount of fees generated by the magistrate office and cost of a salary increase to taxpayers.

Responding to questions by commissioners, May said that while the fees generated had increased, her office was not intended to function as a revenue-generating department of county government.

Commissioners said that May's intention to increase her hours, and consequently her salary, might have been handled with some notice prior to her recent election.

"I felt like you've been in office long enough to know if you needed to be fulltime," said Commissioner Jay Dixon. "I thought you might have considered informing the board during the budget process if you were going to make the position change to fulltime."

May said she was correct in taking the position fulltime, stating that making her office more accessible and accurately reflecting her fulltime workload by instituting a state-authorized salary increase was an appropriate measure.

May reminded commissioners that her budget for FY 2001-2004 included a full-time salary for the magistrate judge. She said the FY 2005 proposed budget she submitted also included a full time salary designation.

May said she was not aware that the designation in the 2005 budget was subsequently changed to a part-time status by commissioners prior to the final budget approval. She added that she requested prior to the qualifying period in April that qualifying fees for part-time and fulltime be included in case someone wanted to qualify as a fulltime magistrate.

"If there was a problem it might have been mentioned then," she said. "I wouldn't put myself up for criticism by not including it in my budget."

May currently receives a part-time salary of $14,993 with a mandated five-percent pay increase and lost of living adjustment.

May said her fulltime salary will increase to $31,969. Until now, May has been employed fulltime as a bookkeeper with a private firm. Though increasing her magistrate's salary according to state-sanctioned guidelines, May's decision will decrease her overall personal income she said.

Several residents at the meeting spoke on behalf of May and the volume of hours she works as magistrate judge.

A possible future action to save on expenditures would be the merging of the offices of the magistrate and probate judges, commissioners said.





New solid waste plan in place

Highlights include restrictions on new landfills and new sludge permits

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The stated objective of the group responsible for developing Jefferson County's plan for dealing with solid waste was accomplished last month. The centerpiece of the plan was the restriction of new landfills and new sludge permits throughout all but a small portion of the county.

Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs (DCA) signed off on the county's solid waste management plan, a measure that has been adopted by the county commission and each of Jefferson's municipalities.

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The main thrust of the plan centers on the prohibition of future landfills in Jefferson County. Also of interest to committee members was the regulation of biosolids in the county. The plan document includes a description of the waste disposal stream analysis, waste reduction, waste collection and waste disposal components, education and public involvement, land limitation and an implementation strategy. Goals and objectives are included for each of the key elements of the plan. Those components addressed watersheds, aquifer recharge areas, water service areas and future growth areas of the county with emphasis on future landfills and the use of biosolids for land application in lieu of fertilizer.

The topic that drew the greatest amount of conversation at the meeting was the group's desire to prevent corporate interests from establishing new landfills in Jefferson County. The group's position was bolstered by the recognition that some Georgia landfills are currently being filled with trash shipped in by truck and rail from New York, New Jersey and other Northeast states.

Meeting sporadically for more than a year, the group approved numerous restricted areas throughout the county that make establishing another landfill nearly impossible. The restricted areas include wetlands, groundwater and aquifer recharge areas, flood prone areas, groundwater high susceptibility areas and buffer areas around rivers. Other landfill restrictions include areas within a three-mile radius of National Historic sites and pending sites, areas within a two-mile radius of the airports in Wrens and Louisville, areas within two miles of the Ogeechee River and those areas within a one-mile of U.S. Highway 1, the Fall Line Freeway and the proposed scenic byway linking Louisville, Wadley and Bartow and historic markers. Once accounted for, the available land in the county where a landfill might be established was significantly less than 10 percent and could well be reduced further, Crosson said. The three small areas are located in the southern portion the county and are all in close proximity to wetlands areas.

Also included in the meeting was the agreement by the group to limit or prevent the use of sludge in areas of the county such as wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, flood prone areas and watersheds.

The language in the county's solid waste management plan is one way to make establishing a regional landfill much more difficult, said CSRA Rural Development Center Executive Director Andy Crosson. Such restrictions built into the plan can accomplish what a zoning ordinance could never do.

"If you want a landfill, you make a weak policy and if you don't want a landfill, you need a very stringent policy," said Crosson at the July 1 meeting.

Once completed, the solid waste management plan was submitted for DCA approval.





Tattoo regulations now in place

Past issues with unlicensed operators lead county to adopt regulations

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Past problems with tattoo operators providing services in Jefferson County without being licensed or conforming to standard practices resulted in the adoption in October of regulations governing those services by the Jefferson County Board of Health. Jefferson County commissioners approved the move Nov. 9.

County Heath Dept. Nurse Manager Janet Pilcher said last week that the department was contacted after incidents of unlicensed tattooing surfaced in Wrens.

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"We thought we needed to do something so we contacted other health department offices and got the information we needed to address this issue," she said.

Two past incidents involving tattooing in unlicensed settings in Wrens in recent times, with the equipment used in the first instance involving contaminated equipment, were the impetus for the health department's action.

"The complaints concerned non-sterile conditions and tattooing of underage kids," said Environmental Specialist III Belinda Sheram. "So the adoption of this document should address the problem with minor's making decisions to become involved with unlicensed and unprofessional settings where tattoos were being applied."

Jefferson County commissioners were requested to adopt a motion supporting the measure. They did so by a unanimous vote at the Nov. 9 regular session.

As adopted by both bodies, the rules and regulations governing tattoo artists, tattoo studios and body art businesses requires a $500 non-refundable permit fee to obtain a license from the health department when the permit application is filed, said Pilcher. Also required is a standard business license to operate the establishment. Violations of the regulations carry a misdemeanor charge.

The purpose of the regulation, Pilcher said, is to establish reasonable standards for individuals performing tattoo procedures, body art and for the facilities from which the procedures are provided to ensure the health and safety of anyone performing and receiving the services.

Regulations cover every aspect of the operation and service provision involved with the tattoo business. These include an 18 year-old age requirement for individuals receiving the service, numerous sanitation and infection control measures, certification and physical examination requirements for employees and operators, site requirements, inspection guidelines and enforcement and penalty considerations.


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