November 28, 2015

Emerald Springs SignThe Newton County Planning Commission met last Tuesday night and recommended denial of a request for changes to the Stanton Springs master plan that would relocate and expand land designated for residential development. Read the article here:

Alan Verner, Chair of the JDA, got up and spoke FOR the rezoning so the sale could go through.  He made a troubling comment: “The long-term vision for Stanton Springs was a quality live-work-play development that would bring high-quality jobs and residential development. With Baxalta nearing completion, adequate housing for Baxalta employees is missing.”

So let us ask you Mr. Verner, what was all that talk about JOBS for the people in the 4 counties that were putting up all the money for this development and foregoing taxes for 10 years? This was such a great deal because it would mean jobs for our local people. If appears what many regular, every day citizens said all along is true– Baxter would bring in their own people and the local people would NOT be getting the jobs!

Alan Verner is an unelected person from Morgan County that sits on the JDA and speaks for the JDA as Chairman. He is pushing this sale and the developers will make money while the taxpayers lose money on the deal.


Based on what Bobby Bullard, of Bullard Land Planning said, it appears that is the future plan. He said, “We know without a doubt when all the facts are heard and all the approvals are achieved and we actually get out there and build Emerald Springs that this will be the premier residential development that fits perfectly with Baxalta, the premier development, which will unfold into Stanton Springs, the premier planned city that you all not only dreamed of but actually set into place many years ago.

What happens if Stanton Springs does become a city? Will it be able to bill the 4 counties just like the JDA does now? Think about this and don’t let the members of the JDA pooh-pooh this idea. It is absolutely possible.


The Contract is between JC Flex, LLC and the Joint Development Authority as Sellers and Chandler & Clarke LLC as Purchaser. Chandler & Clarke LLC is a new entity formed 10/29/15 according to the Secretary of State. We have been told Chandler is “the money man” and Clarke is the “developer.” (See more below on Kippy Clarke)

Why is JC Flex part of the same sale? Why aren’t there 2 different sales agreements when these are 2 different entities? People that have read the contract are very concerned that JDA will not be getting the proceeds for the 482.24 acres it owns, but instead the proceeds will be divided half and half between JDA and JC Flex, even though JC Flex only has 54.32 acres. Nothing in the contract spells out how the proceeds will be divided. Our JDA representatives would not deceive us like that, would they?

Read contract here.

The sale price for JDA’s part of the property is $3,284,270.   The cost per acre, that is kept up with by Wayne Tamplin, CPA for JDA, is now $13,569 per acre. 482.24 acres being sold by JDA x $13,569 = $6,543,515 cost. Taxpayers loss is $3,259,245 on land plus $1M that must be put in escrow to build the road into the project. A minimum loss of $4.2M.


JC Flex, LLC and TPA are interrelated. The agent for JC Flex is listed as Richard B. Bradshaw Jr. His name is on all the multiple LLC’s that have property in the 4 county development area. TPA will act as broker in this deal. Even though the contract does not state how much they will receive as commission, sources tell us the sales commission will not be waived and will be 7% of the sales price. That’s another $458,000 to add to the loss the taxpayers are taking or $4.7M.  (See item #12 of the contract.)

The contract states the closing will be on or before December 15, 2015.

If the re-zoning is approved by the Newton County BOC, the taxpayers in each of the 4 counties will lose 57% of their investment.


Plan before P&Z meeting: Yellow is residential. Also notice the gray “Municipal” area on the plan.


Plan after P&Z meetingnotice some residential (yellow) is gone and some residential (yellow) is replaced with town houses (orange) which will have 20 houses per acre instead of 3 per acre for residential. 4CDA.Plan.AfterP&Z
With these changes, shouldn’t the plan go back to P&Z again? Mr. Bullard has sent his new proposal to all the Newton County BOC in hopes they pass this on Tuesday, December 1, 2015.


The JDA owes money to the Bank of Madison, and this sale will be for “quick cash” to pay on that note.  Here is the bank note information as of 12/31/14:

4CDA.BOMNoteIt is questionable how much money is really needed. Newton County’s representatives, Keith Ellis and Mort Ewing, voiced concerned over this deal and said that the sale of timber could be used to pay on the note. The bank note can be renewed; which would seem to be a better alternative than taking a 57% loss ($4.7M loss) on the property. Property right along I-20 that is zoned commercial surely hasn’t lost 50% of its value –not while residential property values are going up according to the tax assessors in the 4 counties involved.

JDA members keep telling counties and citizens, wait until 2018 and money will be coming IN to the counties and our property taxes will go down. So, why can’t they wait until 2018 to make a better deal? Note: TPA buys land from JDA at a price of 10% over cost.


  • Would each of the JDA members sell their personal property for a 57% loss?
  • Is this sale acceptable because it is not their own property and loss of money?
  • Are they really looking out for the best interest of the taxpayers in the 4 counties?
  • Why not allow the BOC of each county to vote on this “deal” to see if it is acceptable?


Kippy Clarke is a developer that lives in a rented house in Jasper County.  He and Thomas Chandler formed Chandler & Clarke, LLC on 10/29/15 specifically for this deal.  Notice item #13 in the contract about who this agreement can be assigned to.

According to a 4/20/15 Covington News article, Kippy Clarke represents B & B Southside Holding Co., LLC, that is registered in Wyoming , but has the same address as Chandler & Brown LLC and Chandler & Clarke LLC– P. O. Box 555, Fayetteville, 30214, GA, USA.

According to a May Covington News article, “In other action, the council approved a special use permit application by developers Kippy Clarke and Chandler & Brown LLC to establish a nursing and residential continuing care facility off the Covington bypass. The special use designation was necessary for the high-end senior living center, Royal Hall.”

Robert Bullard also attended this meeting and answered questions. The land is still vacant and no activity has taken place for Royal Hall.


The Newton County Planning and Zoning voted to deny the changes to the master plan.   Now the Newton County BOC will meet December 1, 2015 to approve or deny the P&Z Board’s recommendation.

The only hope for the citizens that have put up so much money for so long into this development, is for Newton County BOC to vote against the zoning. If they do, the sale will not go through and it will keep the taxpayers from suffering huge, unnecessary losses.


If you like this newsletter, please forward to a friend and recommend they subscribe, too.

Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

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November 27, 2015

Behind closed doors

TWG must question the lack of meetings and items on the agenda in the past 3 months. September 21st, October 5th, and November 2nd are the only meetings that the BOC has had in the past 3 months. The 11/2/15 meeting had 2 “old business” items and 3 “new business” items. The next meeting is scheduled for 12/7/15. Very few items have been discussed recently, yet we all know business is being conducted.

Open meetings laws state that a quorum of commissioners can not meet together or it is considered a meeting. Last week 3 commissioners –Carl Pennamon, Gene Trammell, and Craig Salmon—were seen together in a local restaurant. Pennamon and Trammell left together, while Salmon stayed to talk with David Dyer, EDA director.

Maybe it was during one of these out-of-the-public-eye meetings that these commissioners decided to put out a “Grant Administrative Services Request for Qualifications.” This request for “Grant Administrative Services for a FY2016 CDBG Project” was never approved in a regular BOC meeting, yet it has been advertised in the local paper for the past 2 weeks.

On August 3rd the BOC approved the Grant Writing Firm of Allen-Smith Consulting without bids. (See THE BIDDING PROCESS ONLY MATTERS IF IT DOESN’T INVOLVE SOMEONE GENE TRAMMELL WANTS),   This was another deal that was made with an out-of-the-public-eye meeting between Pennamon, Trammell, Dyer, and a representative from Allen-Smith Consulting, and then pushed on the other BOC members, who were clearly out of the loop.

We want to be able to trust our Commissioners, but we can’t. They continue to meet and discuss issues in private and never bring them to the light of day.

The Request for Qualifications for Architectural Services—for the proposed Recreation Multipurpose Building that will also house the Senior Center– is also advertised in the paper. It was approved on 9/21/15 by the BOC.

This proposed building has been discussed out of the public eye. SPLOST was approved with $300,000 voted in for a multi-purpose building. However, Trammell and his cabal have bigger more expensive plans for this building –$300,000 + a $500,000 grant + “more money” per Comm. Pennamon. The taxpayers will then pay for more staff, more maintenance, more insurance, etc.

Both of these “Requests for Qualifications” are to be submitted by 5:00PM on 12/14/15. The ad does not state when these proposals will be opened or discussed by the BOC. We will just have to wait to see what is actually done in a public meeting—as required by Open Meetings Law—in awarding these contracts and letting the public have a say in the scope and cost of the project that is clearly more than what was approved in the SPLOST vote.


Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.


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November 26, 2015

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving as you gather with friends and family! Let’s remember we all have a lot to be thankful for.



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November 23, 2015

Questioning Man

A comment on the blog has brought up something for us all to think about, and we want to share it with you.

Think about this—Bear Creek Reservoir land in the south part of Newton County has gone up in value since it was purchased from the landowners. It’s gone up so much the people can’t afford to buy it back. But the commercial land of Stanton Springs, right along I-20 has gone down in value at the same time. Down so much it is now worth half of what we taxpayers paid for it.


Here is the blog comment.

Stinking it up says:

I do not understand this. Commercial land is valued higher than residential land. Why are they selling commercial property at farmland prices?

People had to sell their land to Newton County so they could spend millions of dollars on an ill-advised Bear Creek Reservoir project that is now dead. These same people cannot afford to buy their land back because they are told the land value increased since they sold it.

How come Stanton Springs area land decreased in value significantly, but the land in the Bear Creek Reservoir area increased in value?

Why is there no appraisal? Something is rotten and stinks to high heaven.

How is it all these “economic development plans” always cost the taxpayers money while the developers always make out like bandits?



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November 22, 2015

Staton Springs EntranceThis is serious folks. The JDA just voted 5-2 to sell land in the Stanton Springs development to a developer at a large loss—a loss of our tax money. This loss will be as much as $4,500,000 (yes, MILLION). Both Newton County representatives to the JDA voted against this proposal.

The land in question is situated in Newton County. However, Jasper County owns 10%, Morgan County owns 15%, and Walton and Newton County own 37.5% of this development. All 4 counties share costs and losses in these percentages as well, and have been putting money in this project year after year.

Stanton Springs is governed by a Joint Development Authority, JDA.  It is made up of two representatives from each of the four counties. Steve Jordan and Carl Pennamon are Jasper County’s representatives. They both voted “yes” to approve this deal, as did representatives from Walton and Morgan County.

Paraphrasing from a Newton County Commissioner in an email to his constituents about the deal:

The JDA met last Monday, November 16, 2015, to discuss and vote on this 1500 house project in question. The question at hand was whether to sell the land to the developers for their residential ambitions.   Both of our Newton reps spoke at length against the project and noted that the prominent developer involved, Kippy Clark, has had at least 50 tax liens placed against him over the years. 

The JDA voted 5-2 in favor of selling the land, wholly inside of Newton County and against the wishes of those representing this county.  Mort Ewing and Keith Ellis, Newton County’s JDA reps, voted against the sale for the project.

Concerns with the proposed sale & development

First, this plan does not go along with the original plan of Stanton Springs.

See original plan here—yellow denotes residential.

StantonSprings.OriginalPlanSecond, the people in the east part of Newton County do not want their area to become like the west side of Newton County with lots of congestion and the major complications such a housing development would bring.

Third, Newton County would be responsible for infrastructure outside of the development, including more police, fire, EMS, and schools if it comes to that; yet they would only get 37.5% of the taxes from the development.

The new plan makes changes in the master plan.  The development would be at the bottom of the Stanton Springs development.

See new plan here—yellow denotes new residential plan—see bottom, right of plat.


You can also see the entire proposal here

We got ripped off when the land was bought, now we are going to get ripped off again when the land is sold.

When the land for Stanton Springs was bought, appraisals were $4,000,000 lower than what was paid for the land. JDA attorney Tommy Craig said he thought it was worth $7M instead of $3M. We can only wonder why.

According to a report in the Newton Citizen, “Under the proposed contract, the price paid for developable land would be $8,000 per acre; the price for flood plain land would be $3,000 per acre. According to Ellis and Ewing, the cost basis value of the land was set at $13,569 per acre by accountant Wayne Tamplin. They also point out that the land has not been appraised.” In addition, the contract has “a requirement that the JDA contribute up to $1 million for a parkway into Stanton Springs” to serve the development.

There will be 481 acres of land owned by JDA sold and another 55 acres of land owned by TPA (JC Flex) sold in the deal. According to Ellis and Ewing, $7,705 per acre loss would be incurred by the taxpayers –who have put in all the money into this project. ($7705 x 481 ac = $3,705,105 loss on land plus $1,000,000 for road to land being sold = $4.7M loss)

The only hope to stop this bad deal for the taxpayers

The next Newton County Planning and Zoning meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7:00PM upstairs in the old court house.  They will vote to approve or deny the changes to the master plan.

The Newton County BOC will meet the next week to approve or disapprove the P&Z Board’s recommendation.

The only hope for the citizens that have put up so much money for so long into this development, is for Newton County BOC to vote against the zoning. If they do, the sale will not go through.


If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend.

Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.





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November 20, 2015

School Superintendent, Mike Newton, for the Board of Eduction (BOE) has issued “the Official Statement” to address citizens concerns.

Click Here to read the entire statement.

We are told in this statement to remember, the BOE DOES NOT INTERACT WITH YOU! You are encouraged to come and OBSERVE work conducted by the BOC, but they will not discuss personnel or problems at school.

BOE don't bother us
If BOE meetings are not for the purpose of interaction between concerned citizens and BOE members, than a procedure should be in place where a meeting can be scheduled for the BOE to interact with the citizens. Why can’t the Superintendent arrange for such a meeting to take place?

The statement also encourages parents to become more involved and discuss things with teachers and principals (as if this hasn’t been done).

BOE parent involveWe saw how that worked out when one parent did so. The child was harassed by the teacher.

Most of all the BOE EXPECTS teachers to refrain from instructional practices that “promote or defame any religion” or “promotes personal agendas in the classroom.”

BOE expects
But what is done about it when it does happen? Expecting and doing something about it when it occurs are two very different things. Mr. Newton claims that he and the BOE investigate allegations of unprofessional conduct promptly and professionally, but there is no evidence of this either publicly or privately as some of the complaints have continued for years. Is there an explicit policy in place for what happens if this behavior continues?

Here is a link to the Code of Ethics for Educators. Authority O.C.G.A. § 20-2-200; 20-2-981 through 20-2-984.5

 What options are there for concerned parents and taxpayers of Jasper County?

Parents, it is now up to you to document what goes on at your child’s school and what is said to your child and in your child’s classroom. You must document, in WRITING, who you contact, when you contact them, what is said. You must document everything in writing and add copies of papers, pictures, recordings, etc.

If things don’t change to reflect a respect for all students and their religious preference, to stop pushing lifestyle choices on students, to stop bullying students, or any other unprofessional conduct, then all the documentation can be submitted to State authorities.

Let us be clear—based on comments to the blog, telephone calls, emails, and facebook posts—these complaints are not about only one teacher or only one issue. Read the comments here and here.

Citizens and parents cannot defend a School Board that does not defend our children. Everyone is now waiting and watching. We urge anyone with information they wish to share now or in the future to send it to

These issues can not continue to be ignored or swept under the rug as they always have been. Get involved! Be aware of what is going on! Standing together, citizens can change things!



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November 19, 2015

On Tuesday, 11/17/15, approximately 100 people attended the BOE meeting. Many of those people wanted to speak; however, the BOE only allows 5 people to speak.

Mike Newton, Superintendent, explains the school boards rules –how many can speak and what they can say. These 2 or 3 pages of rules were posted on the door; however, no agenda of the meeting was posted on the door.

The BOC says they want to hear from people, But do they? The first speaker questions if the mission of the BOE is to silence those who dare to oppose what goes on in Jasper County Schools with theirpublic participation policy.”

Then a parent spoke who is concerned that his child was not moved out of a class she feels uncomfortable in. Not only that, but the administration told the teacher he complained and then kept the child in the class a week longer while she was bullied by the teacher.

The next speaker told the BOC that parents don’t want to know about personal lives of teachers; teachers need to stick to curriculum. He said, “Don’t pick on my kid; don’t persuade my kid. Don’t make crude comments about my religion.”  He handed each BOE member the State regulations—the Code of Ethics for Educators (505-6-.01)

Protect our children from abuse was the next speaker’s concern. He spoke of ugly attacks and teachers belittling our traditions and values. He asked, “Does BOE see this as verbal abuse toward child?”

The last speaker may be a little hard to hear, as she had a soft voice and the air conditioner had come on making some noise picked up by the video recorder. Her comments proved this “alledged” remark was reported by students who signed written statements verifying it happened. She also said teachers shouldn’t be able to mock any faith.

After the comments, Chair Shannon Barton was ready to move on with the regular agenda. Dr. Newton said they would take the comments under advisement and would be preparing a statement. This clip also pans the crowd to show how many people were there.

The BOE then went on with their business and made absolutely no comments and appeared to ignore the people attending and the issues brought up. One person in the back of the room could stand it no longer. She had waited about 20 minutes and then spoke out, “When are you going to respond to parent comments?” Chair Shannon Barton said it was their meeting and they would respond. The woman asked, “WHEN?” There was no answer. She continued, “Is this going to be swept under the rug like everything else?” BOE member Bobby Norris said, “This will not be swept under rug.”

The BOE then went about their business, with Superintendent Mike Newton taking charge of the meeting with the BOE members rarely, if ever, saying anything and never discussing any issue. The Superintendent was totally in charge and the BOE sat by listening from 6:20pm to approximately 7:40PM when the BOE went into Executive Session.

We will post a copy of the “statement addressing the citizens’ concerns” when we receive it.



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