Plans for science center develop
• Three months after all bids came in
over budget, tech center holds prebid
conference on next stage of process
By Carol McLeod
In an attempt to find a contractor
for the proposed Jefferson County
Health Sciences Center, a prebid
conference was held Jan. 10 at the
Jefferson County Technical Center of
Sandersville Technical College.
When the initial bid opening was
held in October of last year, all bids
were over budget.
The conference was a means by
which the architect for the project,
Benjamin Carter of Carter Watkins
Associates in Monroe, met with interested
contractors to clarify specifications
of the project.
Others present at the meeting
included Jefferson County Administrator
Paul Bryan, Jefferson County
Commission Chairman William
Rabun and the director of Jefferson
County Technical Center, Matt
“The bids came in too high, so
we made some adjustments in the
size of the building, a reduction, and
a change in some of the materials,
for example, wood instead of steel,”
Hodges and Bryan agreed the
conference went well.
“It went good,” Hodges said. “It
went very good. I’m just glad to
have it (the project) back on track.
It sounds like things are moving in
the right direction to getting a new
bid. We’re just very optimistic at
One situation that still needs finalization
is transfer of ownership from
the state to the county.
A bill for the state to deed the land
to the county is before the General
The bid opening is scheduled for
10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, at the
Jefferson County Commission Office. A bid accepted on that date will
be good for 60 days.
If the contractor has not begun
work within that time frame, the bid
Although, no one at the conference
knew the status of the bill, Bryan
and Hodges seemed confident the
bill would be approved within the
“What we do in most situations in
any kind of deed transaction, instead
of buying any property we lease it,”
“Technically, Jefferson County
will just be leasing the land for 20
years. After that, the property reverts
back to the state of Georgia. They
(the county) donated the land. In
order to get this facility built we had
to put it on property in the county. In
order to get the grant (for the building),
we had to go through Jefferson
closes Jan. 18
By Faye Ellison
The city of Louisville will hold
qualifications this week for those
wishing to run for the mayoral seat.
The late Byron Burt served as the
city’s mayor beginning in 2002 and
was re-elected in 2004. Burt also
served on the Louisville City Council
from 1991 until 2001. He suffered
from what doctors believed to be a
heart attack in October.
During his time as mayor, Burt was
at the helm of many projects involving
the Louisville Airport including
the runway extension, planning and
construction of the terminal building
and parallel taxiways. Before his
death, he was involved with a city
wastewater project, Louisville City
Administrator Don Rhodes said.
“Everyone was pleased with him,”
Rhodes said. “I think he was a wonderful
mayor and I enjoyed working
with him. It has been a real pleasure.
I am really going to miss him; we
talked just about every day.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Rickey Sapp is
currently filling in the position as
The qualification period for the
mayor position opened Tuesday, Jan.
16 at 8:30 a.m. and closes Thursday,
Jan. 18 at 4:30 p.m. The qualifying
fee is $50. Anyone wishing to qualify
must file a notice of candidacy in the
office of the city clerk at city hall.
The term of office will begin this
year and end Dec. 31, 2009.
The city of Louisville will hold a
special election on Tuesday, March
20, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at Louisville
The last day a person may register
and be eligible to vote in the special
election is Feb. 19.
By Carol McLeod
Besides increasing the number
of qualifying exemptions from five
to 12, the deadline for receiving
applications has been changed to
March 1. Previously, the deadline
was June 1.
“You can file year round,” said
Jenny Gordy, tax commissioner for
Jefferson County. “It’s just that the
cut off for the current year is March
1.” Gordy said being able to file
year round is new, too, although filing
after March 1 will apply to the
following year. To be eligible for
any of the exemptions, an individual
must own the property and live in the
Gordy pointed out that some of the
new exemptions may be misunderstood
For example, she said, the new one for senior citizens applies to state tax only and may not even amount to $10.
“If you take a $100,000 house,” Gordy said, “we tax on 40 percent value. So that’s $40,000. Suppose the elderly person already has the standard homestead exemption, which everyone who owns the property and lives in the home can receive.
“The standard homestead exemption in Jefferson County is $2,000 of value before taxes are calculated. Then the state gives the $8,000 of value off for the homeowner’s tax relief grant. So now we’re down to $30,000 of taxable value that’s left. Now you’re going to tax that value at the current millage rate, which is 26.12.”
Gordy explained the millage rate is made up of a quarter of a mill, which is .25 for the state; the county is 11.87; the school system is 13.25 and economic development is .75, or three-quarters of a mill.
“To figure your taxes on that value we have left,” she said, “those four total 26.12, which is what you’re going to multiply your taxable value by to get your tax amount on the property. To figure that out, you would multiply .02612, because the mill is based on 1,000.
“For every $1,000 of taxable value, it generates $26.12 of taxes. So when you multiply that $30,000 of value times the mill rate, you get that person’s tax bill.”
The total tax bill in this example on that person’s property is $783.60, she said.
“If you wanted to know what that person’s tax bill is for each levying authority, you could break that down and multiply the value by the separate amounts,” she said.
On the $30,000 taxable value of the $100,000 property, the state tax is .00025, according to the commissioner. “So the state tax is only $7.50,” Gordy said, adding that a person reading that particular exemption may believe a lot of money is involved.
“This is just one example of how some of the exemptions may confuse a taxpayer,” she said.
“We have the taxpayers brochure available to all taxpayers in the county,” Gordy said. “They’re available in the commissioners office, tax commissioners office and tax assessors office. They’re also mailed out to all new property owners.”
Anyone with questions about any of the new exemptions should call the tax commissioner’s office at 625-7736 or visit the office at the county courthouse in Louisville.
By Carol McLeod
He has a shy smile that lights up the room. When
he dips his head and looks you in the eye, you know
you have his full attention.
Ten-year-old Ethan Rachels is just like any other
kid. As the youngest of three children and the only son,
he’s spoiled not only by his parents but by his older
sisters. His family lavishes attention on the youngster
and he thrives on it.
A special needs child, Ethan was born with spina
bifida, a condition where part of the spinal cord is
outside the spinal column. So far, Ethan has had 17
major surgeries. As he grows, his mother explained,
his doctors have to operate to untangle nerves in his
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This past Thanksgiving, the Make-A-Wish Foundation
granted Ethan’s wish to go to Disney World in
Florida. He, his parents Heidi and Charles, and his two
sisters, Emily, 18, and Charly, 12, spent a week at a
resort owned by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“Having a child with special needs, vacations are
few and far between,” his mother said. “These people
provided everything. They even provided the gas to
drive down there.”
“We stayed at Give Kids the World in Kissimmee,
Fla.,” Heidi said. The resort houses 102 cottages so the
family was together and had their privacy.
One thing all three children agreed on was the ice cream parlor. From 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., every day, an ice cream shop on the Kissimmee site was open. The ice cream was free.
“He could eat ice cream anytime he wanted,” Heidi said. All three children’s eyes grew wide along with their smiles as they nodded at the memory.
“Two hundred people work there,” Charles said, adding it takes an additional 300 people who volunteer.
At Disney World, Ethan received a baseball style hat with a picture of the genii from Aladdin on it.
“Only Make-A-Wish kids get these hats,” Heidi said. Everywhere he went in the park, the hat identified Ethan as a Make-A-Wish child. Everything he wanted to do was free.
“These people were awesome to him,” Heidi said. Ethan went to several shows and met the casts afterward. He said his favorite part was meeting Lumiere, a character from Beauty and the Beast.
“Christmas comes every Thursday,” Charles said. “They make it snow.”
“We all got presents, too,” Emily said.
Back at home in Wadley, Ethan is just like any other fifth-grader. His favorite thing about school, he attends Thomas Jefferson Academy in Louisville, is his teacher, Amber Dowdy.
He likes watching football games and adores his horse, D. And just like any only son with two older sisters, he delights in being the center of attention and will readily admit they, like his parents, spoil him.