Schools raise money for relief efforts
By Jennifer Flowers
Adults are not the only local people working to support hurricane relief efforts.
At every school in Jefferson and Glascock counties, students are getting involved by collecting money and other items to donate to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Carver Elementary School in Wadley hopes to raise $500 by Sept. 16 through its fundraiser, "Nickels for New Orleans."
Glascock County Consolidated School is doing a Pennies from Heaven fundraiser. Sponsored by the school's chapters of the National Beta Club and the National Honor Society, the benefit had raised over $700 by Monday morning. Fundraising efforts through the program will not end until Oct. 7, so that everyone will have an opportunity to hear about the fundraiser and make a contribution.
"We've had various donations," said Terri Dudley, a teacher at GCCS. "People have just been donating whatever they can."
She mentioned that her own personal children, upon receiving their allowances, could think of nothing they'd rather do with their money than donate it to Pennies from Heaven.
Not only is the competition elementary school versus middle school versus high school, it is a contest amongst the classes within each of those age groups to have the greatest amount of money. The winning class in elementary school will win the chance to have a popcorn and movie day, while champions in the older age groups will get to have a pizza party. Second place winners will earn a candy bar and Coke party.
All of the prizes will be awarded before Thanksgiving holidays.
Nearly every club at Jefferson County High School is working to collect necessary items for the storm victims, including money. Future Educators of America is collecting school supplies, Skills USA is taking up dry goods, Key Club is gathering personal items, Future Business Leaders of America and Octagon are asking for water, FCCLA is getting together baby products and Entre Amigos is soliciting cash. Beta Club is also involved in collection efforts.
Louisville Academy students have been collecting designated items according to their grade. The items were those on the list put out by the 4-H center.
"Our children have done an excellent job of bringing in items," a coordinating teacher said. "They went way beyond the call of duty."
She also noted that an extra recess may be in store due to the children's outstanding participation.
Louisville Middle School is holding a drive for canned goods and other non-perishable food items in conjunction with the Red Cross.
"We're going to try to do as much as we can to help Katrina victims," said Assistant Principal Sheri Calhoun, an administrator.
She noted that most of the people at LMS are probably praying for the victims and their families, in addition to offering their tangible support in the form of collected goods.
Wrens Elementary School has placed jars in its front lobby for each grade to put in monetary donations. The grade that fills up its jar the quickest will win the contest.
WES is also using its stage as a place to collect and store the food and health supplies it accumulates.
Wrens Middle School is taking up money for the Red Cross.
One unique way they have been able to raise money was by allowing students to wear a hat to school for a fee of two dollars.
Educators at WMS have also been active in helping a family of storm victims living in the area. Many of the teachers worked together to prepare a spaghetti dinner for the family. They have also donated a number of other necessary items, including water.
The school had already raised $1800 as of Monday morning.
Fundraising efforts at local schools will continue for several weeks. Not only are local students participating in these fundraisers and item collections, they are persevering for extended time periods and putting the needs of others first.
Financial woes plague Wadley
• Financial statement shows the city water budget is $147,245 in the red
By Ben Roberts
With a negative balance of $147,245.58 in the city's Water and Sewer fund and only $140,139.87 in the General Fund as of July 31, the city of Wadley is already in the hole to the tune of $7,105.71.
When asked about the city's budget woes after Monday night's regular council meeting, councilman Izell Mack said confidently, "The city ain't broke."
The good news for taxpayers is that the council voted 4-0-1 to keep the city millage rate at 12 mils, vowing to reign in current spending practices before raising property taxes. Mack abstained from the vote, but did not say why.
"Under normal circumstances, our millage rate would be sufficient. We've had a lot of trouble in our water department…. Twelve mils should be sufficient," Councilman John Maye said before voting.
"We keep it where it is and trim somewhere else," city clerk Sallie Adams said when asked her opinion.
Just where such "trimming" should take place was the issue for the remainder of the night. Over the course of the nearly two-hour meeting, council members went back and forth arguing over questions of spending and whose responsibility it was to oversee certain parts of the city's business.
Albert Samples said the city was still spending entirely too much money on repairs to city vehicles each month and he questioned how much of the work was really necessary.
"We're being ripped off, bottom line," he said.
Discussion then turned to the fact that the city has unpaid jail bills to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office dating as far back as December of last year. When administrative staff was questioned as to how this happened, no one could explain.
Randall Jones said it was another example of proper procedures not being followed and someone not doing his or her job. Jones cited the recent development that numerous Wadley businesses were operating without business licensees, some for more than a year, as an example.
"Who is checking on business licenses and delinquent water bills?" he asked. "Somebody's got to take responsibility."
Mayor Baker said it had been the practice for a number of years that certain people would not have their water shut off if they did not pay their bill. He said he merely continued that tradition upon his coming to office.
"We're letting too many things slide. The city should be run like a business. Most businesses, if they were run like the city, they'd be bankrupt," Jones added.
Council members did reject requests to bump a Streets and Lanes Department employee from part-time to full-time and to hire a part-time clerk to help in the administrative office.
After Monday's meeting, Mack and Samples were both questioned about the combined $43,000 the two of them owed the city in outstanding Urban Development Action Grants (UDAG). According to city officials, Mack owes $13,400. His last payment to the city, in the amount of $200, was made in February of 2004. Samples owes significantly more - $30,200. His last payment of $301.04 was made in November of 2000.
Wadley business owner Russell Pate also owes $2,704.70 for an UDAG loan. He quit making payments after March of 2004 when he became aware that neither Mack nor Samples were paying on their loans any more.
Samples accused the city's Downtown Development Authority of owing for a UDAG loan also, but Adams said she was not aware of such a loan.
"I ain't going to discuss UDAG with you anymore after this. I offered to pay half a payment each month and they (city officials) laughed at me," Samples said, in explaining why he had not made a payment in nearly five years. "I'm retired; I'm on a fixed income."
When asked why they did not use the $200 a month each councilmember collected for their service to the city to pay their outstanding debts, Mack said simply, "That money is mine and I'm going to do what I want with it."
A moment later he used a different reason for not repaying the loan: "My government owes me … They owe me for slave restitution," said Mack, who is African-American.
Samples said he would push for an increase in that $200 monthly salary at next month's meeting.
The council spent about 20 minutes in closed session to discuss personnel. When they came back into regular session, they voted 3-0-2 to grant raises of less than $1 an hour to Detective David Way and Sgt. Wesley Lewis, both of the Wadley Police Department.
Mack and Samples both abstained from the vote.
News of high voltage lines shock Glascock residents
• 500 kilovolt power line will pass through Glascock County sometime in the next five years
By Faye Ellison
News of plans for a new high voltage power line scheduled to pass through the length of Glascock County has left some residents shocked.
Georgia Transmissions, which will run the line across the county, is owned and operated by the Electric Membership Corporations' of Georgia.
"Our job is to build the high power lines that bring the power to all of the EMCs across the state," Senior Public Relations Representative Jeannine Rispin said. "The Georgia electric grid is supported by a network of major high voltage transmission lines. These lines form the backbones of the system that serve both the EMCs and Georgia Power."
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With the help of Georgia Transmission the EMCs will put a 500 kilovolt line through parts of Glascock County. The line will begin at the Warthen Substation across the county, slightly north of Mitchell and Gibson and end at the Thomson Primary Substation.
Some citizens at Tuesday night's meeting felt that they were left in the dark about the new line. Citizens wanted to know how the new line would directly affect their lives as far as placing it on their property.
County Commissioners explained to the audience what they knew about the new line and showed a proposed map to residents.
County Commissioner Anthony Griswell asked residents to listen to Georgia Transmission's proposal before forming any opinions about the power line.
According to Rispin, the project was released to Georgia Transmission in December 2004 to begin looking at a study area.
"Most of this transmission system was built before 1980," Rispin said. "Georgia has experienced a lot of growth and that has placed an enormous strain on the current lines. It is time to build new lines to ensure the bulk remains stable.
"This is a project that is a part of a statewide effort to bolster the transmission grid in Georgia. There are quite a few large lines like this that will be built all over the state."
Rispin said that the line will supply power to much of east central Georgia. She did say that the company would rely on community input when factoring exactly where the line would go.
"We look at a lot of different factors, community input, existing and proposed land uses, environmental regulations, historic structures, rivers, streams and Indian settlements," Rispin explained on Thursday. "We do an analysis of the entire study area to try to find a route with minimum impact to the people and the environement."
Rispin said that the company has been in touch will elected officials throughout the areas that are affected. There were meetings in Warthen and Thomson in May, but Rispin assures residents there will be more.
"We are certainly available to talk to anybody or anyone that has questions," Rispin said. "We have held meetings and will be holding more meetings. We're regulated at the federal level to require us to hold meetings. We also have a state requirement to hold public meetings."
Also, property owners affected by the transmission line will be notified by certified mail.
"Right now we have folks that are contacting property owners for permission to survey on their property," she said. "We will be able to get on the property and determine where the centerlines will be. We then send out our environmental consultants and historic consultants to make sure the centerline will not make an impact. Once that is done, we will know where the centerline is."
The next step will be to contact those property owners and hold a meeting that will be advertised in the local newspapers.
"It will be the middle of next year when we nail down where the centerline will be," Rispin said. "We are still very early in the project. The project will not be completed until 2010."
The 500 kilovolt line that will run through Glascock County will look similar to a line in Warthen, but narrower. Currently Georgia Transmission is still in the process of designing the structure.
There will be easements of 150 total feet that will go 75 feet on either side of the line.
"There are easements," Rispin explained. "We will pay fair market value for the easements. We have state certified appraisers to work with property owners to reach an agreement on value."
Nines times out of 10, Rispin said an agreement can be made on property value. If not, eminent domain will come into play.
"We only use eminent domain as a last resort after every avenue has been exhausted," she said. "We cannot deny reliable electricity to a whole community. We will go to court and file condemnation on that owner. The only reason the law gives us the right to do that is that lives and livelihoods depend on power."
Rispin stated that the condemnation rate is very low.
"We have built hundreds of miles each year and we end up condemning less than 5 percent that we work with," she said.
Rispin explained that farming and other uses can take place on the easements, but not planting any timber. Houses or other structures can be placed next to the easement, but not on them.
Georgia Transmission encourages anyone with questions to call Rispin at 1-800-241-5374 ext. 7741.