By Patrick Yost
Capt. Chris Bish, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, called it “mind-boggling.”
On Tuesday, investigators with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office issued arrest warrants for two Morgan County men who allegedly stole three vehicles from the victims of an April 5 Sabrina Lane fire.
According to Bish, officers are searching for Freddie Labon, 27, Madison, and Arthur Binion, 51, Madison, after they allegedly orchestrated the theft of three cars from the lot of a Sabrina Lane house while one of its residents, who was in the fatal house fire, was attempting to recuperate in the hospital. Labon will be charged with one count of party to a crime and Binion will be charged with three counts of theft by deception.
The fire, which claimed the life of 70-year-old Jannie Jackson, also damaged two vehicles. Bish said on Thursday, April 11, while Jannie Jackson’s sister was still hospitalized with burns from the fire, she received a call from a neighbor that a tow truck had picked up two vehicles from the lot. A third vehicle was missing later, the neighbor reported.
Josephine Jackson contacted Morgan County authorities from her hospital bed and stated that she had not given anyone permission to move the vehicles.
Bish said that investigators located the three vehicles in a tow company impound lot on Flat Rock Road. He said investigations revealed that Labon and Binion had contacted the company and told them that they had three vehicles for sale for scrap. Bish said that the company allegedly paid Binion and Labon $850 for the three cars and removed them.
"These two individuals conjured up this scheme to deprive the ladies of these cars under these circumstances," he said. "One person has passed and one lady is suffering burns in the hospital."
photos by jesse walker
Printed in the April 18, 2013 edition.
By Stephanie Johns
The Madison City Council heard a request for surplus property from Monica Callahan, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
Callahan shared pictures of several pieces of property while reviewing the Urban Redevelopment Plan (URP).
The DDA has requested that the city designate the following properties as surplus: the old Christian car lot on Washington Street beside the Richter Cottage, the green space beside McDowell Warehouse, and a piece of property on Second Street next to the water plant.
Callahan said that the DDA wants the properties so they can put them back on the tax roll.
She told those present that she has been in contact with someone interested in redeveloping the McDowell Warehouse as well as the Walker Rose properties.
She noted that the city’s points of control for such redevelopments include zoning and planning for the properties.
Mayor Bruce Gilbert restated the issue for the council, “Is this surplus or not?”
He added that council members cannot look at concept plans for the properties and decide the answer to that question.
“You don’t know the plan,” he said. “You do know you’ll have input.”
Councilman Whitey Hunt said that people living in the current Walker Rose neighborhood had questions about projects.
Two of those residents – Mike and Mary Torino – spoke during this work session.
Mary said she was present because she was concerned about rumors she had heard and wanted to have a say.
Mike said he liked the current homes in the area but was concerned about the proposed housing, which Callahan described as fee simple patio homes. He noted that their property value has dropped 35 percent in recent years.
By Kathryn Schiliro
The school system’s operating fund ended last month with a higher-than-usual total, $4.2 million, largely due to “a function of timing.”
According to Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett at the school board meeting Monday, April 8, receipts totaled more than $2.55 million thanks to about $600,000 received from property taxes and $600,000 in an annual payment the system received from the state’s Forest Land Protection Act.
The Forest Land Protection Act is "an ad valorem tax exemption for property primarily used for the good faith subsistence or commercial production of trees, timber, or other wood and wood fiber products and excludes the entire value of any residence located on the property," according to etax.dor.ga.gov.
In addition, the system deposited a $2 million CD that matured last month.
With a beginning balance of near $1.9 million, then receipts of more than $2.55 million, the deposit of the $2 million CD and expenditures of more than $2.2 million, the operating fund ended the month with $4.2 million.
The school system's Education Local Option Sales Tax (ELOST) fund also got a boost from the state – to the tune of about $170,000 – the system's share of capital assets.
ELOST receipts for last month totaled near $310,000. With a beginning balance of near $3.7 million and expenditures of more than $213,000, the ELOST pot ended the month with near $4 million.
The greatest ELOST expense last month was $101,000 for projectors and computers – about $60,000 for projectors and $41,000 for computers – for the new classroom building at the high school.
By Kathryn Schiliro
The county Board of Education (BOE), with the backing of the Morgan County Elementary School (MCES) Governance Council, voted unanimously to hire 23-year education veteran Ty Snyder to replace retiring MCES principal, Jean Triplett, at the start of next school year.
The 12-member council, comprised of teachers, parents, administrators and community members, seemed to have the same idea as to their top candidate – Snyder – they expressed to the BOE Monday night, following the BOE’s closed session.
“We really think he (Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett) picked the best candidate,” council member Bill Mahoney said.
They had a “gut feeling” he was the right man for the job, and he came off as an “old hand” at education administration, council members told the BOE, one even comparing him to former Morgan County High School (MCHS) principal Dr. Mark Wilson and current MCHS principal Dr. Jim Malanowski. Following his walk through the school – the final four candidates were escorted through MCES as part of their final interview –council members told the BOE they had staff seeking them out to express their support for Snyder.
"Everyone there (on the governance council) saw it from a different angle," one council member said. "This person satisfied all those persons."
Currently in Dalton, Ga., Snyder has worked as the manager of two visitor centers for the Dalton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) since 2010. Prior to that he was principal of Dalton's Eastside Elementary School from 2008-2010 and assistant principal of Eastside Elementary School and North Whitfield Middle School from 2001-2008.
By Patrick Yost
A 70-year-old Morgan County woman died tragically in a house fire on Sabrina Lane last Friday.
According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, the body of Jannie Jackson was found near the front door of the structure fire at 1411 Sabrina Lane after Morgan County fire personnel extinguished the fire. Reports state that Jackson's sister, 68-year-old Josephine Jackson, suffered first- and second-degree burns on the face, forearms and chest in the fire and was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital. Reports state that the fire was reported at 2:48 p.m.
According to Capt. Chris Bish, Morgan County Sheriff's Office Investigations Division, Josephine Jackson told investigators Tuesday that she had placed a log in a fireplace and then exited the house to check on mail. Josephine Jackson told investigators that as she was walking back towards the house she noticed the house was on fire.
Josephine Jackson, reports state, contacted a neighbor and reported that the house was on fire and that she had last seen her sister near the front door attempting to extinguish the blaze. The neighbor also said that when Josephine Jackson came to his residence she, too, was on fire. The neighbor said he extinguished Josephine Jackson with water and applied cold washcloths to Josephine Jackson's burns.
The neighbor said when he arrived at the Jackson sisters' house, the structure was fully involved and the house was collapsing.
After the fire was extinguished, sheriff's office reports state, Jannie Jackson was located just inside the front door of her residence.
Bish said Josephine Jackson was scheduled to be released from Grady Memorial Hospital on Tuesday.