By Kathryn Schiliro
The Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) voted 4-1 Monday night to approve a school calendar for 2013-2014 that begins on Aug. 1.
BOE member Dave Belton was the one opposed vote.
The 180-day approved calendar, the first option presented by the Calendar Task Force – made up of about 20 invited parents, teachers, administrators and community members, “a good group of representative folks of the system,” Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett said, met three times – starts Aug. 1 with a fall break Oct. 7-11, week-long Thanksgiving break Nov. 25-29, winter holidays Dec. 23-Jan. 3, a winter break Feb. 18-21, a spring break April 21-25 and ends May 23.
This first, approved option was on the table for 60 days, beginning in January, according to system administration. The task force’s second option, on the table for 30 days, beginning last month, was different from option one in that it started Aug. 7, had a three-day Thanksgiving break and no winter break, but a long weekend March 13-14.
The gas station on the site of what will be a Steak ‘n Shake was torn down on Tuesday, March 19. Construction of the Eatonton Road restaurant should begin soon. photo by jesse walker
Printed in the March 21, 2013 edition
By Patrick Yost
Five people have been arrested and authorities are searching for a sixth man following a year-long drug initiative in the Green Meadows area of Madison.
And, according to Capt. Chris Bish, of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, the initial results are a small percentage of cases the office has already made.
“This is a large-scale initiative which is drug suppression in that particular area,” Bish said.
Lamar Brown, 33, Covington; Jimmy Lee Rivers, 34, Madison; Erica Williams, 21, Athens; David Lee Mathis, 31, Madison; and Kevin Massey, 34, Madison, have all been arrested and charged with one count each of sale of crack cocaine. A Morgan County Grand Jury indicted all five in early March, just days after their arrest. The grand jury also indicted Mandrell Love, 34, Madison, but Love has eluded authorities.
Bish said the initiative began in June, 2011 after the department received complaints from neighborhood residents regarding "open-air" drug sales in the area. The arrests came after authorities used undercover agents and confidential informants to allegedly make "hand-to-hand" drug buys in the area. "This is in response to complaints that we've received from citizens living in Green Meadows," Bish said.
The arrests, Bish said, are the completion of phase one of the operation but the operation continues. "It's ongoing. It's a multi-phase initiative."
"It was very open and prevalent and it's still going on," he said. "Quite frankly we made drug buys last week."
"We're not going to stop until it stops in there," he said.
Printed in the March 21, 2013 edition
By Kathryn Schiliro
Poignant following the traumatic events in Newtown, Conn., Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) conducted a safety audit in late January on all of the county’s schools and on the system’s central office in February. Results were shared with the county’s Board of Education (BOE) at Monday’s meeting.
GEMA's Anna Lumpkin, who conducted the annual audits, presented her findings to the BOE, making recommendations based on state norms as well as best practices nationwide.
One major recommendation from Lumpkin for all five of the county’s schools – this includes CrossRoads – was to fence perimeters and lock doors as much as possible.
“When a lot of these buildings were built, safety was not such an issue,” Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett said. “There was lots of glass. Fences were taken down 10 years ago because they made the school look like a prison.”
Other system-wide suggestions: better signage, both informational (“Drug-free and weapons-free zone,” “All visitors must report to office,” etc.) at the entrance of all schools; careful direction of where vehicles can and cannot be and reworking of traffic patterns; finetuning intercom systems; issuing identification cards to be worn on the person as well as one-time nametags – that include destinations – for visitors, obtained at the school’s office; terminating staff at the central office with law enforcement present; establishing family reunification sites for post-emergency meetings as well as media staging sites; locking all doors during class time; starting a numbering system for halls and classrooms rather than posting names on doors; and giving master copies of school keys to school resource officers, among other suggestions.
By Stephanie Johns
The Madison Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) denied a request, unanimously, to demolish the old Mapp-Gilmore Funeral Home located at 200 W. Washington St. Tuesday night. A larger-than-usual audience, about 60 people made their way to the lower courtroom of the Morgan County Courthouse to observe – and even offer their opinions before – the HPC vote.
Commissioner Richard Simpson made a motion to deny the request based on two criteria: the significance of the building and that the information provided didn’t demonstrate that demolition was necessary.
Applicant Kathi Russell, owner of the 200 W. Washington St. property as well as Madison Tea Room & Garden, plans to relocate her business to the Washington Street location.
Following the HPC’s vote on this motion, Russell said she does not know what her next step will be.
“We always look to the commission to give us advice,” she said. “We’re just going to continue to do that. We know we’re all on the same page.”
HPC Staff Ken Kocher later explained that Russell has the option of appealing the HPC’s request to the Madison mayor and council. He said she has 30 days to do that.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, the first to speak was HPC Chair Marti Russell, who informed those present about the HPC’s goal: maintaining the historic character of the district and its properties.
Kocher then shared background details about the applicant’s requests.