BOE considering $26.5M-plus proposed budget: Could go to rollback rate of 18.213

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By Kathryn Schiliro Managing Editor Local school system administration expects the system will spend near $26.6 million in fiscal year (FY) 2014, an expenditure projection the county Board of Education (BOE) unanimously approved for advertisement at their meeting Monday night. This is a $494,000 decrease from last year’s budget of more than $27 million. BOE members commented on walking the fine line between cutting costs and maintaining a quality education for the county’s children. The overwhelming majority of the system’s costs go to direct instruction, which is primarily teachers’ and …

BOC tables zoo request

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By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer Members of the Morgan County Commission unanimously voted to table a request from Michael Vaden and Bill Killmer for conditional use for a zoo during their July 2 meeting. They will reconsider the request during their August meeting. The Meeting During the July meeting Vaden shared his experience with zoo animals, noting that he has “raised alligators to zebras” for the past 35 years. “This is what I’m about,” he said. “It’s my passion.” He said they plan to use the zoo to give back …

Commission OKs Sanford’s Madison development: Proposal now goes before Madison council for approval

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By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer Members of the Morgan County Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of changes to an existing Planned Residential District (PRD) in Madison that includes all properties in Town Walk Circle. Commissioner Scott Campbell, who serves on the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Depot Committee, recused himself. City Planner Bryce Jaeck explained that there have been three houses built and are occupied in this PRD. He noted that the changes to this PRD include modification of boundaries, density and type of units. Property owner Sandy Sanford said …

Man dies in bush hog accident: 80-year-old man struck and killed while mowing on incline

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By Patrick Yost Editor An 80-year-old Morgan County man died tragically last Friday while running a bush hog on McNair Lane. According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, George McNair, McNair Lane, Madison, was found dead by his wife at approximately 12:30 p.m. Reports state that McNair was using a tractor and bush hog at approximately 10 a.m. and when his wife, Eleanor Couture, checked on the man, she found him lying behind the bush hog. Reports state that McNair, apparently, had slid off the tractor while mowing near a …

City council writes off more than $185,000 in utilities

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By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer During their special called meeting last Friday morning, members of the Madison City Council voted to write off a total of $185,414.16 in utilities. Madison Finance Officer Karen Guinn said this amount represents uncollected money from part of 2010 through May of this year. The list includes terminated accounts, overdue 120 days, that are considered uncollectible. Most are rental accounts, some are businesses, she said. Last done in 2010, this list is “considerably less” than then. Guinn said: “It’s pretty good.” City Manager David Nunn …

Hospital projects increased revenue: Morgan Memorial’s now-approved FY14 budget totals $25 million

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By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer Members of the Morgan County Hospital Authority reviewed the fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget during the group’s June meeting. The proposed budget calls for more than $25 million in total gross patient revenue for Morgan Memorial Hospital (MMH). The hospital’s CFO, Courtney Moore, noted that the same number for FY2013 was more than $23 million. Of that $25 million, CEO Ralph Castillo said they expect to see about $12.7 million. Morgan County will contribute $600,000 to MMH for FY 2014, down $100,000 from the county’s …

Ye Olde Colonial closes Saturday

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By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer A downtown Madison staple, Ye Olde Colonial Restaurant will close its doors after 59 years this Saturday. Looking around the building, the smell of breakfast in the air, Manager Jimmy Cunningham, son of the restaurant’s founder, Joe, said the restaurant holds many more good memories than bad ones. Asked why the restaurant is closing now, Jimmy replied, “It’s just that time.” Jimmy said Joe had an Economy Auto store at the site where the restaurant now sits. Joe added a sandwich counter around 1953 or …

Elderly Bostwick man beaten and left: 70-year-old victim recovering in Athens hospital

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By Patrick Yost Editor Morgan County Sheriff’s Office investigators have identified suspects in a brutal attack that left a 70-year-old Bostwick man lying in a pool of blood. Thomas Gary Etris was found by a business partner on the floor of the carport at his Bostwick Highway home last Sunday at approximately 5 p.m. According to reports, Etris had been badly beaten and was unresponsive when authorities arrived. He was transported to Athens Regional Medical Center, said Capt. Chris Bish and is recovering from injuries that include a fractured eye socket …

City mixed-residential development to be vetted by Planning Commission

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By Kathryn Schiliro Managing Editor To receive the go-ahead for a new development, made of mixed residential units, in the Madison area known as Town Walk Circle and in the city’s West Washington Street Gateway, a change to the Planned Residential District (PRD) must be vetted by the county Planning Commission and approved by the Madison City Council. The PRD is located off of Fifth Street, near the historic Central of Georgia Depot, which the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is in the process of working to relocate and restore. …

Woman not driving in crash that killed her baby, boyfriend

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By Patrick Yost Editor A Morgan County woman whose 19-year-old boyfriend and 6-month-old son were killed in a May 10 I-20 crash was not driving the 1994 Honda at the time of the incident, Georgia State Patrol reports state. According to the results of a Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT) report, Edi Rodriquez was driving the Honda at the time of the fatal crash. Despite various media reports to the contrary at the time of the crash, the SCRT investigation found no evidence of racing during the crash. Rodriquez and …

Zoo in Morgan County?

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By Kathryn Schiliro Managing Editor You heard right: a zoo is being proposed for Morgan County. The county Planning Commission, this Thursday, will hear a proposal for both a text amendment allowing zoo facilities in the county as well as a proposal, submitted by Michael Vaden, 1021 River Farm Run, Madison, on Highway 83, south of the Williams Dairy, for a conditional use request allowing him to put a zoo on his 33.5-acre property, which currently houses his private aviary and taxidermy business for exotic animals as well as his …