Citizen website redesigned: Visit morgancountycitizen.com to see all the improvements to our online home

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Staff Reports The Morgan County Citizen, Madison and Morgan County’s weekly newspaper and leading source for hyperlocal information, has a completely revamped web presence. “Our printed newspaper enjoys a 70 percent market penetration and is bar none the leading newspaper in Morgan County, but what many people don’t realize is that the Citizen’s website is the largest of any business in our market area in terms of visits. In a given month, our site generates between 55,000 and 60,000 individual visits! That’s huge! Our new website expands our capabilities to …

Food distribution Town Hall meeting this Thursday, July 11

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  By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer The Madison Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Harvest of the Heart Garden (HHG) will hold a Town Hall meeting for Districts One and Five from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 11, at St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church, 847 Fifth St. City Planner Monica Callahan will provide an update about neighborhood investment projects while members of HHG will share information about their new food distribution center, to be located in the Gilmore house at 473 Burney St. The Madison City Council purchased the Gilmore house …

Commissioners approve church addition, extension of Madison Lakes agreement

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By Les Bessenger Intern At the Morgan County Commission meeting on July 2, a petition was made for the construction of an addition to the fellowship hall of Lake Oconee Baptist Church. The petition was brought forth by Milford Construction on behalf of Lake Oconee Church to ask for a conditional use permit to allow building the addition. The addition would be a 25-foot extension to the hall and used for food bank storage along with the possibility of it being additional classroom space later on. Senior Planner Tara Cooner …

County could save $30,000

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By Les Bessenger Intern The Morgan County Commissioners discussed the possibility of saving $30,000 in annual premiums by changing the liability coverage limit and deductible with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia – Interlocal Risk Management Agency. The liability limits would be decreased effective July 1 from $5 million to $2 million and the deductible would be increased from $2,500 to $5,000. According to County Manager Michael Lamar, “Five million in coverage was excessive when looking at other counties in Georgia. The average is $1 million. I felt comfortable moving …

Commissioners accept bid for tornado shelter

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By Les Bessenger Intern During the Commission meeting, a proposal was made for Morgan County, working with the City of Madison, to create a tornado shelter. According to County Manager Michael Lamar, the need for such safe rooms came following the tornados in the spring of 2011 when Deer Haven Mobile Home Park on East Washington Street toward the bypass became a federally declared disaster area. He said that Morgan County received a grant of $250,000 for the construction of the shelter, which will be able to fit 198 people. …

Nunnsense: All’s well that ends well

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By Nick Nunn James Nichols died of natural causes in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a couple of months ago at the age of 82. At the time of his death, his wife, Joann, was still in the house. Wrapped in a sheet. In a plastic storage bin. Behind a fake wall. And she had been missing since 1985. It isn’t clear in reports whether or not James Nichols, who originally reported her missing, was ever a suspect in the case, but the cops up in Poughkeepsie now have the smallest shred of …

Columnist: Our generals are gone

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By Fred Johnson Four battle-seasoned generals have been forced from the service by Barack Obama. The first to go was Gen. David McKiernan, the four-star who lead U.S. ground forces during the successful lightning Iraq invasion. He was asked to resign command of allied forces in Afghanistan just four months into Obama’s presidency in 2009. The second to go was Gen. Stanley McChrystal who replaced McKiernan in Afghanistan. He was fired shortly after the Rolling Stone magazine quoted him as saying he was “disappointed” after his first meeting with Mr. …

Visitor to Madison appalled by city’s lack of utilities debt collection

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To the Editor: I spent July Fourth weekend with family friends who live in Madison. The James Madison Inn distributes copies of your newspaper and I was horrified by the July 4 article “City council writes off more than $185,000 in utilities.”  I understand the reasoning behind writing off the Morgan County Rec Department’s unpaid utility bill of $61,905, but it is disgraceful that the city council chooses to ignore the debts of private sector (and for-profit) businesses such as the Madison Woods Mobile Home Park, the Red Roof Inn …

Commissioners table setback variance request for Buckhead pool, patio

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By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer Members of the Morgan County Commission unanimously voted to table a setback variance request from Candace Carlson and her clients, William and Renee Pritchard. The Pritchards want to build a home, a garage, and a pool on a lake lot located off of Apalachee Woods Trail in Buckhead. To do so based on the conceptual plans they currently have would require they put the kidney-shaped pool, patio, and pool paving in the rear setback of the property. Their preferred layout would require them to reduce …

Council OKs GMC move to Main: City, county LOST litigation moved to Sept.

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By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer Members of the Madison City Council approved a conditional use zoning request to allow Georgia Military College (GMC) to move into the old Citizen building located at 235 S. Main St. Councilman Joe DiLetto recused himself, noting that his wife works for the Conrads, who now own the Citizen building and are leasing it to GMC. City Planner Bryce Jaeck said the Morgan County Planning Commission didn’t seem to have any concerns about this application. He explained that the planning commission sent it to the …

Council adopts budget after losses in fiscal year 2013

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By Nick Nunn Staff Writer Last Thursday, the Rutledge City Council held their final meeting regarding the city’s budget for the fiscal year 2014, which the attending council members unanimously voted to adopt. The fiscal year 2014 budget reflects decreasing expectations regarding the general fund, whose budgeted incomes and expenditures largely did not meet the expectations of the 2013 budget. The 2013 budget for the general fund totaled more than $701,000, including more than $237,000 remaining in the fund balance from the previous year. Almost $435,000 was earned as income …

Joseph’s Coat in new home: Neighboring agencies Joseph’s Coat, Caring Place, Action, Inc. and Harvest of the Heart Garden work together to benefit people

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  By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer Joseph’s Coat is settling into its new home at 1140 Monticello Highway in Madison. The charitable location relocated there in January. An outreach of the Madison Episcopal Church of the Advent, Joseph’s Coat has been in business for years. Manager Sue Benefield said they offer name-brand clothing for the whole family as well as books, toys, and housewares. “It’s a very nice shopping experience because our clothing is sized and labeled with the price,” she said. Not only do they sell items at a …

Law Enforcement: July 11, 2013 edition

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Morgan County Sheriff’s Office On July 5 a disorderly conduct complaint was filed at an East Main Street, Rutledge location after a man reported observing a black male walking on East Main Street waving a pistol. According to reports, a deputy and Georgia State Patrol trooper responded to downtown Rutledge and confronted a black juvenile and white juvenile at the Gazebo. Reports state that a deputy located an air soft gun in the black male’s pants pocket. The weapon had been painted black including over the orange safety tip. Reports …

Peach season at CJ Orchards

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By Leila Dycus Intern Georgia may be known for its peaches, but in Morgan County, there is only one place to find the state’s offical fruit– that’s at CJ Orchards in Rutledge. “Morgan County used to be a big peach county back in the day, but it’s moved down a bit further south and that’s probably due to the weather,” said Jim Markley, the owner of CJ Orchards. Jim Markley, a grain seller who studied agriculture at Clemson, came to Rutledge in 1983 in hopes of starting a pecan farm. …

Biz Buzz: Ricardo’s Kouzzina open, H. Porkington’s offers breakfast

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By Dianne Lively Yost It’s happenin’ y’all! The wait is flat OVER! That’s right! Ricardo Casillas has opened his brand spankin’ new restaurant, Ricardo’s Kouzzina at 271 West Washington St., in Madison right across from Town Park (formerly the location of The Ice House restaurant)! Ricardo wanted me to tell all y’all that he’s hostin’ a “soft openin’” from now until July 15 while he waits for his liquor license to be finalized which should be very, very soon! In the meantime, we get to try out the new space …

Council considers rollback millage rate

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By Stephanie Johns Staff Writer Members of the Bostwick City Council discussed accepting the rollback millage rate during their July meeting. Mayor John Bostwick said if they accept the rollback rate of 1.47 mils it will bring in the same $10,010 in taxes that the current millage rate of 1.42 did. “I propose to set the rate at the rollback,” he said. “It’s what we’ve always done.” Council members voiced their agreement. Bostwick said they will set the millage rate on July 25. Bostwick then told the council that the …

Hey Coach! Dusty Sidwell, Defensive Coordinator

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By Nick Nunn Staff Writer James Dustin Sidwell was born on Feb. 8, 1986 in Athens, Ga., but attended Morgan County High School where he competed on the football and wrestling teams. Coach Sidwell was named an All-State linebacker during his senior year at MCHS, and he won two state championships in wrestling for his junior and senior years. After beginning college at Georgia Military College, Sidwell received his undergraduate degree in Special Education. Following his undergraduate work, Sidwell earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Grand Canyon College …

Touchdown Club to host golf tourney in memory of Cochran, Jr.

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By Nick Nunn Staff Writer The Morgan County Touchdown Club will hold this year’s golf tournament fundraiser in memory of Bill Cochran, Jr., which will take place at The Creek at Hard Labor beginning at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 19. A portion of the funds raised at the event will be dedicated to the Bill Cochran, Jr. Scholarship Fund. The scholarship goes to the best all-around member of the Bulldogs, with qualifications including skill, leadership, attitude, and participation. The remaining funds goes directly to the football program to help …

Dogs I have known

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By Alvin Richardson Ever since I can remember there have been one or two dogs hanging around the house. Some of them we owned, some owned us, and some were just passing through. I’ve loved most of them, raised a few, and even let one or two ride in the front seat of my truck. One thing I learned is that each possessed a unique set of personality traits, some of which were endearing, some that were irritating, and a few that were downright infuriating. Through it all there have …

Columnist graduates to a big girl bike

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By Cathy Best Nine years ago, I graduated from driving a moped to riding passenger on a Ducati Multistrata 1000 DS motorcycle with my husband. The moped is a Mother’s Day gift from my sons and husband; I take it on spins around the farm and throttle it up to run errands. In nice weather, my husband and I ride the moped, two-up, around town and on local back roads. Yes, it looks just as goofy as it sounds. Wave when you see us. Our family is deeply entrenched in …