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February 2, 2012 Issue

Glascock BOE votes to redraw district lines
Districts approved
Decals withheld if taxes unpaid
Organizers kickoff annual Relay For Life

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Glascock BOE votes to redraw district lines

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Glascock County Board of Education members voted Thursday, Jan. 19, to select one of the two maps given as options by the Georgia Office of Reapportionment to redraw the school board district lines.

Stats from the 2010 Census were reviewed by Glascock County Superintendent Jim Holton and Glascock County Chief Registrar Kathy Lyons, and showed that it would be necessary for the school board to move district lines because of population changes in the Mitchell and Edgehill districts.

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“The Mitchell district’s population has grown by 6.10 percent and the Edgehill district’s population has decreased by 9.48 percent,” Holton explained. “The Gibson and Mill districts were within statistical compliance.”

Holton said he notified the Board of Education attorney Corey Kirby.

“Mr. Kirby reviewed the census data and replied with a letter advising the board to redistrict based on the Voters Rights Act Legislation,” Holton said.

The reapportionment of districts is required in order to comply with the Constitutional requirement of “one person, one vote” and the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Once Holton received approval from the board to proceed with the redistricting process maintaining compliance with state and federal election guidelines, he contacted the Georgia Office of Reapportionment.

“I requested that redistricting map options be prepared which maintain the cores of our current districts and provide minimal changes necessary to achieve statistical compliance with state and federal guidelines,” Holton said. “Only slight redistricting changes were necessary. The proposed districts should remain very much as they were prior to the redistricting process. Current board members still reside in the districts from which they were elected.”

After school board members reviewed the plan and sought input from the community, the Board of Education said that the plan titled glassb11p2 best served the interest of the school district, the voters and the community, Holton said. This option made the fewest possible changes in the current district lines.

“An article describing the Board’s redistricting process was published in The Jefferson Reporter and large redistricting maps were displayed in the board room for approximately six weeks,” Holton explained.

“After the Board of Education approved the redistricting map which is in compliance with state and federal regulations, the approved map will be introduced into the Georgia Legislature for ratification.”

The Georgia Legislature will determine whether they accept the new districts and when the updated districts become effective for the county during the General Assembly.




Districts approved

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners approved the latest version of the redistricting for the county during its monthly meeting Wednesday, Jan. 11.

The county’s school board approved the redistricting plan during its monthly meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10.

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Dr. Molly Howard, the school board superintendent, said the vote was unanimous.

“I’m glad that we could maintain the same districts for the school board and county commissioners,” she said. “It will be much more consistent and easier for the voters.”

School board members and some of the county commissioners had traveled to Atlanta last month to discuss redistricting with the Secretary of State.

The districts in the county had to be redrawn because of the change in population as reflected in the 2010 Census.

In an interview last month, Mickey Moses, the county’s attorney, explained how the population shift affected the county’s districts.

“Gonice’s (Davis) district is a negative deviation of 8.91 percent,” Moses said. “Johnny’s (Davis) district is a negative deviation of 8.41 percent. Wayne’s (Davis) district is a deviation to a positive of 13.77 percent. Tommy’s (New) is a 3.5 percent positive deviation.”

In a called meeting last month, New said he would not approve the proposed redistricting plan discussed at that time.

That caused the commissioners and the school board members to travel back to Atlanta to find a different plan all could approve.

Now that this plan has been approved by the commission and the school board, the state legislators have to approve it. The next step after that is approval by the Justice Department.



Decals withheld if taxes unpaid

By Carol McLeod
Staff writer

Ask anyone and they’ll say, $100,000 is a lot of money. Especially in these economically difficult times.

That’s the reason Jefferson County Tax Commissioner Jenny Gordy has turned to a state law that allows her to withhold vehicle tag decals from citizens who have not paid their personal property mobile home taxes.

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“From 2006, which is the first year we put the solid waste fees on all of the tax bills of the county, it’s about $60,000 in solid waste fees that has not been paid,” she said in an interview earlier this month. Gordy said this amount is just for non-homestead mobile homes.

In addition, about $43,044.75 in taxes has not been paid on non-homestead mobile homes, she said. That is for the years 2006 through 2011. This figure does not include schools, state and cities tax figures, Gordy said.

Solid waste fees and tax bills for non-homestead mobile homes alone that are delinquent total about $103,000.

A state law that has been on the books since before Gordy has been in office allows a county tax commissioner to withhold vehicle registration for these types of delinquent taxes.

“I was aware of it; but, I wasn’t doing it,” she said about the law.

Gordy said that in February 2009 she attended training on ways to collect personal property taxes.

“So many in the class were doing it and said it was a very useful collection method,” she said.

The law doesn’t specify mobile homes, Gordy said.

“It says personal property. These mobile homes, non-homestead mobile homes, are personal property,” she said.

“This isn’t a new law. It’s been in place for many years. It’s a personal property law and relates to personal property,” she said.

“We sent letters about the vehicle tag decal not being issued if the personal property tax isn’t paid,” she said.

Gordy said there are 2,331 mobile homes in Jefferson County. Of those, 1,424 are not homesteaded. Of the 1,424, there are 475 that are delinquent from May of 2011, she said.

Gordy addressed the county commission during its January meeting several weeks ago.

“When a mobile home is not homestead to the property, the bill is for the mobile home only,” she said. The bill for the land goes to the landowner.“

"If you’re not living there, you can’t homestead the mobile home. You’ve got to be living in it, be the owner of record for the mobile home and the owner of record for the property in order to homestead it,” she said.

The same is true for a house; but, a house is considered real property.

“It’s not going anywhere,” she said.

Gordy said there is a 10 percent penalty if the bill is not paid by its due date.

“We send the bills out the first week in February with a May 1 due date. This is for non-homestead mobile homes,” she said.

“What has happened is a lot of these older mobile homes, the taxes might not be but $30 or $40. The solid waste fee is $100 a year. That’s added to the tax amount. Some people have quit paying their taxes. We’ve had a lot of people complain about it and say the home is not worth the amount due on the tax bill. But most people have stopped communicating with this office,” she said.

Gordy said tax commissioners statewide are doing what she is doing, refusing to issue vehicle tag decals for persons who have not paid their personal property taxes.

“I may have to look at selling the vehicles to collect the tax,” she told the commissioners.

Commission Chairman William Rabun said the commissioners would look into hiring someone to issue citations for mobile homes without their decals.

Gordy also said a lot of people who are paying their taxes are upset there are people who are not.

“They’re getting the same benefits as the people who are paying their taxes,” she said. “They get the same benefits from the landfill as people who pay their taxes.”

Gordy said the $100 charged for the landfill may sound like a lot but it is less than the cities charge for garbage pickup.

“It seems a little harsh to put a hold on the tag, which means the vehicle can’t be sold,” she said.

“People have children they have to get to school; they have jobs they have to get to. But when someone doesn’t pay their tax and they don’t respond to our letters, what do you do?”




Organizers kickoff annual Relay For Life

By Bonnie K. Sargent
Intern

The Jefferson County Relay For Life Committee held the kick-off celebration for the 2012 Jefferson County Relay For Life on Thursday, Jan. 19. Around 40 people attended the celebration.

Billy Valduga gave the welcoming remarks and introduced the event chair, Carmen Bennett.

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Bennett discussed last year’s Relay For Life. In 2011, 17 teams participated in the Relay For Life of Jefferson County. The Relay honored 217 cancer survivors and raised more than $70,000.

During the kick-off celebration, the top three teams from last year were recognized. The Wrens United Methodist Church team raised over $6,000. First State Bank and the KaMin Chalkwalkers teams each raised more than $9,000.

This year’s goal is to raise $68,800 and to honor 225 cancer survivors. The theme of this year’s Relay is, “Making Cancer Walk the Plank.”

Andi VanAirsdale, a staff partner with the American Cancer Society, also spoke to those present. VanAirsdale said last year was her very first Relay For Life and she did it in Jefferson County.

“We’ve been so fortunate to have a really hard-working, committed team,” she said. She said the committee has been working since the summer, planning this year’s Relay.

Committee member John Parish said he was grateful to the Board of Education and to Jefferson County High School for allowing them to hold the Relay For Life at the high school’s walking track.

He said the change would mean better security, better parking and plenty of electricity.

He also mentioned that the high school was getting a new sound system that would be available for the Relay For Life, adding that sound had always been a problem in the past.

Honorary Chair Bonnie Manning shared her story with those present. Manning teaches fifth grade at Thomas Jefferson Academy. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Manning said she looked up some statistics about breast cancer and found out that from 2001-2007, 91.4% of people who had been diagnosed with breast cancer were still alive. She said she wants that percentage to be at 100% by the time her grandchildren are her age.

“Relay is the only way to do that,” she said. “I want cancer to be a thing of the past for them.”

“I am a survivor and I will not go quietly into the night,” Manning said, to which the audience applauded. “I’ve still got places to go and people to see.”

Bennett took the stage again after Manning shared her story and told those present just how much volunteering and donations help in the quest to find a cure.

Bennett said over $130 million is spent each year on cancer research and a lot of that money is from the American Cancer Society. She said there are 46 researchers for the American Cancer Society who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Guest speaker Karen Lewis took the stage after Bennett. Lewis has been with the American Cancer Society for 30 years. She devoted herself to finding a cure after losing her father and two friends to cancer.

Lewis said she works in several different counties and after seeing how the high school students have joined the Relay for Life committee and made a difference, she has been encouraging other counties to utilize the high school students as well.

Lewis shared some of the recent developments in cancer research. She said there is a new PSA blood test that is used to diagnose prostate cancer at its earliest stages. She said prostate cancer is 99% curable if it is caught early enough. She said there are hopes that a similar blood test will soon be used to fight breast cancer as well.

“The American Cancer Society has been called the third most effective non-profit advocacy group in the United States,” Lewis said.

Another guest speaker was Jefferson County Superintendent Dr. Molly Howard. She spoke to the people about the importance of the Relay and how proud the Board of Education is to be able to help.

“It is a cause that hardly any family around hasn’t been touched by,” Howard said. “The magnitude of the commitment of the people in Jefferson County is a testament to the character of the people here.”

Howard then spoke to the high school students who have become members of this year’s Relay for Life committee.

“You have to take up the fight and take our place as leaders,” she said to them.

Closing remarks were made by Valduga who reiterated this year’s goal of raising $68,800 and honoring 225 cancer survivors.

This year’s Relay for Life is scheduled for May 4-5, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Jefferson County High School.







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