By Stephanie Johns
Newly elected State Senator Burt Jones visited Morgan County schools Tuesday morning. He shared that he is no stranger to the life of an educator: his mom was a principal and his dad was a superintendent.
During the first part of his visit he heard highlights of the Morgan County Charter School System and each of its five schools: primary, elementary, middle, high and CrossRoads.
Prior to the site visits, Jones met with principals, members of the Board of Education (BOE) and others to hear about the schools.
Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett said he was glad to offer Jones the opportunity to see the schools firsthand.
Bennett shared student demographics with those present: 3,300 students with about 50 percent on free or reduced lunch.
He said they strive for personalization of instruction with every student. Money helps this happen.
“We will work toward that, just not as rapidly,” Bennett said. He added that they had a $27 million budget this year but that over the past five years it has gone down significantly.
He noted that they are one of 16 charter school systems in the state.
“There’s not a lot of understanding of what a charter school system is,” Bennett said. “It’s flexibility with greater accountability.”
Jones asked how he liked the transition to a charter system.
“I like the flexibility,” Bennett said. “Accountability’s not a problem.”
By Stephanie Johns
Following a closed session Tuesday morning, the Morgan County Commission voted to appeal a decision by Ocmulgee Judicial District Superior Court Judge Hugh Wingfield.
In December Wingfield ruled in favor of one of several claims Christine May raised in her zoning lawsuit, but ruled in the county’s favor on the rest.
County attorney Christian Henry said that the end result is that May gets to keep renting out the house but she does not get damages or attorney fees.
“And our ordinance is not unconstitutional,” he said.
Morgan County Manager Michael Lamar said this all began when May rented out a house at Lake Oconee as a vacation rental. The county considered this a violation of their zoning ordinance.
County Planning Director Chuck Jarrell said that the county asked May to “cease and desist.”
“May lives out of state so catching up with her was somewhat difficult,” he said.
May in turn sued the county.
Jarrell added that May contended the house was only shared with family and friends.
“After investigations it was determined she was renting the house,” he said. “Under the ordinance, then and now, you have to live on the property as your primary residence.”
As to the details of those investigations, Jarrell said someone from his office would go and talk with the people who were in May’s house to gather information.
Henry said they videotaped someone at the house who said they were paying money to stay there and were not May’s family.
People in Jarrell’s office also found the house listed on rental websites with calendars indicating when it was booked.
Henry said the house was built in 2007. As soon as it was completed in 2008 they began getting complaints from neighbors.
By Stephanie Johns
Flu came to Morgan County a bit earlier this year, according to Kelly Malcom, office administrator at Madison Primary Care.
She said they started seeing flu cases beginning in November.
“This year it hit early,” she said. “Usually we don’t see flu cases until January, February.”
They have seen 75 cases of the flu so far. Malcom said that number includes both Type A and Type B flu strains.
Leah Ainslie, family nurse practitioner and county nurse manager at the Morgan County Health Department, shared information from Georgia’s weekly flu report.
“Georgia had widespread occurrences of sustained flu transmission,” she read. She added, “Basically, it’s everywhere.”
Malcom noted that once a person has the flu, they usually do not get it again during the same flu season.
Getting a flu shot has not kept some people from getting the flu, though.
“Some patients who’ve had the flu vaccine have ended up with the flu,” she said.
In spite of that, the Centers for Disease Control “continues to recommend influenza vaccination for people who have not yet been vaccinated this season,” according to www.cdc.gov/flu.
Ainslie explained that the flu shot does not make people sick.
“It’s a dead, killed virus,” she said. “It can’t happen.”
What can happen, she said, is that a person gets the shot and then, during the two weeks it takes for the shot to build up antibodies in the body, if the person comes in contact with someone who has the flu, they can get the flu but not from the vaccine.
Ainslie said there are three things people can do to prevent the flu.
First: get a flu shot.
By Stephanie Johns
The City of Bostwick made about $12,500 from its annual Cotton Gin Festival in November.
Councilwoman Angie Howard said they had 181 runners participate in the Gin Run.
“That’s double-plus numbers in the past,” she said.
She noted that she already has mailed out applications to vendors for this year’s festival.
Mayor John Bostwick thanked her for her work on the festival.
Bostwick reported that the demolition of the Bostwick Community Center is about half done.
He said they will cut off and cap the well behind the center. He shared that several people want the bricks and that he plans to chip off the concrete and stack the bricks.
As to the slab of the building, Bostwick said he and Councilman Damon Malcom have talked about leaving it, but they do not think that is a good idea. Council members agreed that the slab could go as it is included in the current demolition costs.
Howard asked about the possibility of saving the flagpole in front of the center. She reminded those present about a memorial they once talked about creating. That memorial would utilize the flagpole, she said.
Malcom said the flagpole needs to come down. Bostwick agreed and said if it breaks they can buy another.
Bostwick then said he had a lot of people wanting to do community service. He asked council members for suggestions as to what type of work they need done.
Howard suggested they paint the concrete at the dump, clean out and paint the well house, and work where the gazebo and picnic tables have been damaged. She added that there is trash in the Susie Agnes Hotel, which is where city hall is now, that could be removed.
City’s gas fund down from last year due to warmer weather
By Stephanie Johns
Madison’s assets exceeded its liabilities by almost $30.8 million while the city’s assets increased by almost $240,000, according to the audit report titled City of Madison, Georgia Management’s Discussion and Analysis.
The city’s actual total revenues for FY2012 stood at more than $3.7 million while actual total expenditures stood at almost $4.4 million, a difference of more than $635,000.
During their recent meeting, members of the Madison Audit Committee heard the audit report for Madison for FY2012, which ran July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012.
Wayne Tamplin, a partner at Treadwell, Tamplin & Co., said that the city has had another good operating year.
“It’s a good report,” he said.
Treadwell, Tamplin & Co. Audit Manager Carrie Wilkins, CPA, said that the city’s liquidity ratios have improved over the last year, up to 9.39 from 6.91.
Wilkins later said that “liquidity ratios” pertain to the amount of money available to pay off liabilities.
As to the city’s fund balance-to-expenditure ratio, Wilkins said that is down to 23 from 27.
The city’s gas fund is down somewhat from previous years, also. This is due to the warmer winter last year. The gas fund’s income stood at more than $151,000 for the year, a loss of more than $148,000.
Ex-officio member City Manager David Nunn agreed that the “abnormally warm” winter negatively impacted the city’s gas fund. He noted that the city has added some chicken farms, which should positively impact that fund.
Carolynn Norah Nunn, daughter of Amanda Wilson and Ben Nunn, was born Oct. 3, 2012. She’s a resident of Bostwick. photo by k. schiliro
Printed in the January 3, 2013 edition