More News & Features
By Malin Dartnell
Welcome to summer in Madison: the skies are blue, flowers are blooming and music is playing for everyone to hear. Every year, Madison Main Street, along with the James Madison Inn & Conference Center, hosts a summer concert series "On the Green" behind Town 220. These concerts are free to the public and will be held the second and fourth Thursdays of June and July. Each concert features a different set of artists. The first concert, to be held Thursday, June 12, will feature local bluegrass/country artists Rambling Mountain and Emily Pritchett. The next concert, Thursday, June 26, will celebrate summer by highlighting summertime jazz artists.
The public is invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs, coolers and dinner or to reserve tables and chairs for eight through Ann Huff at the City Hall by calling (706) 342-1251, Ext 206. This event will be held at the new Town Park in the future, but for now, park behind Madison Hardware or at Madison Markets, and feel free to wander down the Round Bowl Springs pathway to the green behind Town 220. The concerts will begin just as the evening begins to cool off at 7 p.m. and will last until 9 p.m.
So, gather up your friends, your kids, a picnic basket and blanket and make plans to begin, or to continue, a summer tradition by attending the summer concert series on the green.
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Madison Downtown Development Authority members voted unanimously Tuesday to hire Watkins Builders to renovate the former Ponder Cottage in the new town park currently under construction.
The company’s bid of $280,000 for the cottage renovation, along with the highest set of scores from an interview process which rated such qualities as experience within the historic district, bid price, and current qualifications, led to the awarding of the contract. DDA officials hope that the total cost of the cottage renovation could come in at an even lower cost than was bid.
“We’re going to be working with that builder to [generate] some cost savings,” said city planning director Monica Callahan.
“The specs on this project…are high-end,” agreed DDA member Clifton Hanes. “There may be some value-engineering that can produce some cost savings along the way.”
Work on the cottage is expected to begin within the next month. Meanwhile, requests for proposals for the pavilion to be built in the park were released last Thursday, and those bids are due to the DDA by July 11. Downtown visitors could be parking on new pavement around the park within two weeks.
In otber park business, the DDA expects to open bids for financing packages for approximately $1.3 million before its next meeting on June 17. Five local banks were invited to bid on a funding mechanism for that part of the park that has not yet been covered by private donations and grant monies.
Following construction of the pavilion and renovation of the cottage, only a gazebo and final landscaping—including the town fountain—will await completion within the park.
By Jessica Blomquist
The Morgan County Planning and Development Commission is allowing members of the community to submit their opinions on growth in the county in regards to a new project underway.
On Thursday, June 5, Allison Moon, senior planner of the department, met with citizens at the Agricultural Land Use and Zoning Discussion Group meeting at 6 p.m. to introduce this new project and get feedback from attendees.
The Rural Design Guideline Project was created to help form a list of suggested guidelines for residential developments being built in the community, to keep in line with the county’s rural character.
The main purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to allow citizens of the county the ability to help define what is means to protect rural character.
“Some of the best suggestions I get are from citizens,” said Moon. To do this, Moon first sent planning department interns, Desiree Estabrook and Lindsey Kerr, both completing their Master’s degree in historic preservation at the University of Georgia, on a scavenger hunt around Morgan County. The two interns photographed small towns like Rutledge, Buckhead and Godfrey, scenic roadways like Fairplay Road, neighborhoods, farm pastures and more, to get a feel for what rural character might be.
By Patrick Yost
Lawns and gardens may be in for some relief, if a petition filed by the Madison Water Department to have Level 4 drought designation downgraded is successful.
According to Madison City Manager David Nunn, the city last Friday petitioned the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to lower the city’s water supply from Level 4 to Level 4B. Nunn said the EPD should respond to the petition in five working days.
The new designation would allow city water customers to irrigate lawns and gardens two days a week from midnight to 10 a.m. Currently no outdoor water use is allowed.
“We’re confident we’ll get to a Level 4B,” he said. The city has been under a Level 4 drought designation and a watering ban for the past eight months.
Nunn said he contacted the EPD after he learned that Greene and Jasper counties had been upgraded from Level 4 to Level 2, which allows for outdoor watering. Despite the petition, Nunn said the city continued to monitor its water sources with a close eye. “We’ve not come out of the drought but we’ve made headway. We are right on the edge.”
He also said he hoped city customers had learned that plants and lawns can survive with limited water.
“I hope that the drought and restrictions have shown that we don’t need as much water on our yards as we thought.”
By Kathryn Purcell
After allowing for time for public comment on the issue, the Morgan County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to adopt a policy that will allow out-of-county residents to attend Morgan County High School beginning with the 2008-2009 school year.
The policy, first visited at last month's Board of Education meeting, will allow for 25 to 30 non-resident students to enroll at the school, as the class of rising ninth graders is about 40 students fewer than in past school years while as many as 14 non-resident students, who enrolled at Morgan County High School during the previous open enrollment period closed three to four years ago, graduated last month.
Superintendent Stan DeJarnett told the Board that he'd only received one comment in the past month, from a Madison real estate agent concerned with the effect open enrollment would have on home sales in Morgan County as well as increasing the proposed tuition cost for non-resident students.
The tuition cost for non-resident students is determined by law, according to DeJarnett.
"Non-resident tuition is calculated as prescribed in Georgia law," DeJarnett said. "You take the previous year's local revenue, the money collected from local property taxes, deduct the five mil share and divide the remainder by the number of full-time equivalent students."
Based on that calculation, tuition for non-resident students will cost $2,635 per student per year.
"That's a good bit more than we've charged in the past, but...it's still a bargain," DeJarnett said.
Also in his report, DeJarnett informed the Board that the Morgan County Board of Commissioners asked for money for compensation of school resource officers.
Identification for Richter studio pictures needed
By Kathryn Purcell
Madison once had a portrait studio. It was housed on South Main Street, in the middle of the block that currently houses Ye Old Colonial.
Pieces of Madison's history, decades-old pictures from the former studio were bought years ago at a flea market by a man living somewhere in the northwestern United States, maybe Oregon or Washington.
Reading the "Richter Studio, Madison, Georgia" stamp on the back of one of his purchases, the man decided to speak with City of Madison officials, and eventually ended up in contact with local historian Marshall "Woody" Williams. He agreed to ship Williams the pictures.
"He agreed to send me the pictures, let me borrow them, copy them," Williams said. "I thought that was nice because he didn't know me from Adam's housecat."
Williams promptly took the pictures to the University of Georgia, where he copied them, before sending them back north. The pictures stayed in their negative form for years, until Williams' son printed them.
Further, around 1980 the block that formerly house the studio was re-zoned commercial, and the space once occupied by the studio was taken by Fulton Federal Bank, where Clifton Hanes was the manager.
“He and I did an archaeological dig on the house," Williams said. "We found the last plate (the picture of the Richter Studio building) up under the house."
Williams and the Morgan County Archives are asking for any Morgan Countian with information that would help to identify these Richter Studio pictures to contact the Archives, open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 706.343.6271.