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August 5, 2010 Issue

Summer storm knocks out power
Polls open for runoff election Tuesday
Officials petition Atlanta on tax ratios
Students return to classes in area counties

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Summer storm knocks out power

By Bonnie K. Sargent
Apprentice

A storm early Tuesday evening, July 27, left more than 1,500 houses without power.

A representative for Ingles in Louisville said approximately 22 people were stuck inside after a power outage when the automatic doors would not open. Ingles was without power for only 20 minutes, but computers did not come back on until the next morning. The roadside sign for Ingles was damaged in the storm. One of the racks that hold buggies outside was ripped out of the ground but was not damaged. Several buggies were tossed about the parking lot by the wind, which reached 69 mph.

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A small amount of damage was done to Helen Clark Memorial Park in Louisville. Two sections of fence were damaged by falling limbs. City crews went out Wednesday morning to clean up the debris. The city was still awaiting estimates for some repairs.

Jefferson Energy said more than 50 of their customers were without power for two and a half hours. The outages occurred in the Jefferson County areas of Sand Valley Road, Zebina Road, U.S. Highway 1, Middleground Road and Twin Oaks Road.

“It wasn’t a lot at all,” said Steve Chalker, a Jefferson Energy representative. “We didn’t get hit as hard as maybe Georgia Power or some others.”

Jefferson Energy customers are encouraged to call 1-877-JEFFERSON or the local 706-547-2167 number if they are without power.

“Most of the time we do know if there’s an outage before people call. Technology allows us to get a notification if something is out,” said Chalker. “But, customers still need to call to make sure.”

A representative with Georgia Power said around 1,500 of their customers were without power for less than 30 minutes because of lightning.

“We’ve seen it a lot this week,” said Jeff Wilson, a representative with Georgia Power. “You get wind and it knocks down trees.”

Georgia Power has an outage hotline, 1-888-891-0938, which they encourage customers to call in the event of an outage.

“We want customers to call so we have a record,” said Wilson. “If it’s just your house, we wouldn’t know. Whether you think we know it or not.”




Polls open for runoff election Tuesday

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Although no county or city elected positions will be voted on Tuesday, Aug. 10, several federal, state and district positions will be.

Voters will be required to ask for either a republican or democratic ballot and must vote the same party as they did in the primary.

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Choices for the republicans include the nomination for attorney general, which is between Sam Olens and Preston W. Smith; for the nomination for commissioner of insurance, which is between Ralph T. Hudgens and Maria Sheffield; and the nomination for public service commission, which is between John Douglas and Tim Echols.

Additionally, republicans in Glascock County will choose a nominee for the U.S. representative for their district, District 12. Those candidates are Raymond McKinney and Carl Smith.

In the run for governor, Karen Handel, a republican, faced six opponents for her party’s nomination. She received only 34.1 percent of the votes and will therefore face the candidate with the second highest votes, which was Nathan Deal, who received 22.9 percent of the votes.

In the race for secretary of state, the democrats will choose between Gail Buckner, who received 35.1 percent and Georganna Sinkfield, who received 22.6 percent.

In the race for commissioner of insurance, Ralph T. Hudgens will face Maria Sheffield. Hudgens got 20.7 percent of the votes; while, Sheffield received 19.6.

In the race for U.S. representative for District 12, which includes both Glascock and Jefferson counties, republicans will choose between Raymond Mckinney, who received 42.6 percent of his party’s votes, and Carl Smith, who received 27.9 percent.

In order to avoid a runoff, a candidate in a primary must receive at least 50 percent plus one vote, an election official said.

Advance voting, which has already started, ends Friday, Aug. 6. Any registered voter interested in voting during this time, may do so but only at the Jefferson County’s registrar’s office at 302 East Broad St. in Louisville. The office will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and will not close for lunch.

The runoff will be held Tuesday, Aug. 10, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. All regular polling stations will be open.

Friday, Aug. 6, is also the last day to apply for an absentee ballot.

Glascock County’s advance voting will also end Friday, Aug. 6, at 5 p.m. Registered voters may vote during this time Glascock County Voter Registration Office at 676 West Main St. in Gibson. The office is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Regular polling stations in Glascock County will be open Tuesday, Aug. 10, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., she said.



Officials petition Atlanta on tax ratios

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Jefferson County’s chief appraiser, Katherine Perry, and other officials traveled to Atlanta Friday, July 23, to appeal the state’s decision that property taxes in the county are too low.

If the appeal had been unsuccessful, it could have resulted in a loss of state funding for the school system as well as a lower tax rate on public utilities.

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Every year, the Georgia Department of Audits performs what is called a sales ratio study, Perry said.

“It’s a statistical analysis of our tax digest based on sales. Because we’re a rural county, we don’t have a lot of sales,” she said, adding the department also does appraisals.

Perry said some of the appraisals by the DOA staff were not what Perry thought they should be.

“We have a difference of opinion on how much they took off for timber values and so some of the statistics didn’t fall out where we thought they should,” she said.

“I didn’t think they allowed enough adjustment for our local area. Based on their appraisals, they were saying that our commercial values were too low,” Perry said. “We appealed their results and they made some adjustments. That improved the results that came in.”

The county’s board of education and board of commissioners filed the appeal, Perry said.

“The assessors do not have an appeal right to the ratio study,” she said.

Besides Perry, Wanda Pierce from Perry’s office, county school board superintendent Molly Howard, school board comptroller Renee Weeks and county commission chairman William Rabun went to Atlanta to discuss the appeal.

“We carried some documentations and we had an adjustment made,” Perry said. “They approved some of the changes we had asked for.”

The next step would be to go to arbitration, which would be a decision made by the board of education and the commissioners, Perry said.

“We had a minimal goal and it was exceeded,” she said. “We more than exceeded our minimum hope.”

Perry said only part of the appeal was accepted.

“They didn’t accept all of it. They took out some of their observations. It’s called an observation; but, it could have been a sale or an appraisal,” she said.

Perry said the state’s department of revenue also uses these statistics. They were using the current statistics in their review of the county’s 2009 tax digest, she said.

The appraiser said the DOR used to do a digest review on every county annually. Because of budget issues, they now do a major review only every three years.

“So 2009 was a major review year, which made these statistics more important than they might have otherwise been. They’re important in any year but for our office it was more important,” Perry said.

Howard said the results of the appeals would benefit the county schools.

“For the school system, it translates into slightly more state funds,” she said. “It was very worthwhile and I’m just so appreciative and have the utmost respect for the staff in the chief appraiser’s office. They were so prepared.”

Rabun said the appeal brought the overall ratio closer to 40, which is the desired figure.

“We went up almost a point. Not quite,” he said. “You go below 37 percent and we take a big hit on utility taxes and that kind of stuff. We went up there and they made some adjustments and it helped us.”

“The overall ratio to begin with was 36.95,” Perry said. “It went to 37.61. We were much happier with that.”



Students return to classes in area counties

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Glascock County welcomed students to school Monday and Jefferson County will begin on Monday, Aug. 9, with an early release at 1 p.m.

While there are many changes each school year, one of the biggest for this year in Jefferson County School System will be the retirement of Carl Bethune, who has been replaced with Dr. Molly Howard as the school superintendent. Also a new principal has been hired for Jefferson County High School, Victor “Alan” Long, who served six years as principal of Southeast High School in Dalton.

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Dr. Howard said that the school system faces many state and federal mandates, which means accountability for the each child, but she asks that everyone participate in this mission.

“We want to make certain that every student is able to achieve his or her potential to the fullest,” she said. “Many things need to be in place to help us do that. One of those things is your assistance. We believe that the education of the children of the Jefferson County School System is a shared responsibility with both parents and students.

“While you have expectations for what the educational program will provide, we also have expectations about what will happen during the balance of your child’s day.”

The school system is also using ALERTNOW, which notifies parents in the event of an emergency or special event at the school. Because of this, parents are asked to keep numbers current in the school office.

Open House will be held on Thursday, Aug. 5, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the elementary schools and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the middle schools and high school.

The school day is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for elementary schools and the high school and 7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. for Louisville Middle and 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. for Wrens Middle.

Thomas Jefferson Academy expects around 225 students to come through their doors next week as their classes return.

The teachers’ first day will be Monday, Aug. 9, with students returning on Tuesday, Aug. 10, with dismissal at noon. The regular class day is from 8 a.m. to 2:36 p.m.

Thomas Jefferson Academy’s Open House will be held on Friday, Aug. 6, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.




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