August 22, 2016

The following ad appeared in The Monticello News this past week:

 EMS Driector Ad 8.18.16

 Does this mean that all the rumors about the BOC privatizing EMS is just that, rumors?  These rumors have been spreading throughout EMS for the past 3 weeks.

Does this mean that the BOC will actually hire someone qualifiedparamedic and fire certification”?  Does this mean that the Fire/EMS service will stay combined?

And, by the way, how is the ISO certification “problem-fixing” coming along?  We haven’t seen any clean up around the fire hydrants.



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August 20, 2016

Melissa Strozier


Melissa Strozier was an employee of Jasper County and worked at the Senior Center during the time these thefts took place.


From the Monticello News article:

 M. Strozier Agrees to Plea Deal for Theft

Susan Jacobs
 August 18, 2016

Just prior to noon on Tuesday, a pool of approximately 50 jurors were released from service by Judge Hugh Wingfield, III at the Jasper County Courthouse as Melissa Strozier, the defendant in the only jury trial on the docket, negotiated a plea deal with the District Attorney’s office for charges related to a theft by taking case.

Mrs. Strozier, represented by attorney Martin Fierman, was investigated and arrested in October 2015 for allegedly diverting funds through the Jasper County Care Corps. At the time of the investigation led by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, she worked for the organization which provides funds to citizens in need.

During a hearing to determine restitution following one witness testimony and a break for lunch, the defendant was sentenced to 90 days in a state probation detention center and the remainder of the 10 year sentence can be served on probation which shall terminate after five years if all conditions are met. 

Mrs. Strozier will also be required to pay restitution of $15,055 to the Jasper County Care Corps.



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August 19, 2016

When it was first announced in 2011, it was called Agape Hospice.  Now that it is finished, landscaped and ready for residents, it is called Monticello Personal Care Home.

Hospice Bldg 8.6.16

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mrs. Julie West last week, who gave me an update on the personal care home she will be managing.  She said they had all the licenses required and their first four (4) residents became occupants last Friday, August 12.

A personal care home is a welcome addition to Monticello.  Mrs. West said she planned to become involved in the community, especially in activities that she had a passion for, that of helping people.



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August 18, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016, another wedding took place at Bennett Cove.  According to Cecil Bennett, he does not charge for these weddings (or any event); he allows all these functions to take place out of the goodness of his heart. 

As you can see from this video, there are cars everywhere on the property for the wedding this past Sunday.

There are also signs on the highway making sure people get to the wedding.

Bennett Cove Wedding Sign 081416

Our BOC has talked for a YEAR about a “noise ordinance,” yet for some reason one has yet to be produced, and the current one is so “vague” that it isn’t enforced.  However, when the BOC wants to have an agreement to give money to JCWSA for 31 years, or sign off and have taxpayers indebted on a $1.8 million bond, those documents can be produced in a matter of DAYS!

Recently Mr. Bennett put a full page ad in the paper about Bennett Cove, stating he had paid for a “special use permit” in 2008.  There is no record of a public hearing, no legal ads in the paper for a public hearing, and no minutes from any meeting for a “special use permit” for Cecil Bennett, Bennett Cove, or a Bed & Breakfast in 2008.  During 2008 we had a P&Z Board that was totally on top of things, and something like this would not slip through the cracks.  Mr. Bennett needs to produce a copy of the legal ad or let us know when this hearing took place, because no one in P&Z can find anything about his “special use permit,” and we can not find it in the 2008 Monticello News legal ads.

The “friendly functions” at Bennett Cove that Mr. Bennett talks about in his ad were many, not one.  There have been repeated complaints of noise and zoning violation, with no citations ever issued for noise by the Sheriff’s department and, until recently, no zoning violations were cited. 

Here are some of the events that have taken place at Bennett Cove:

Bennett Cove Deer Festival

Bennett Cove Playboy mansion

These next 2 were cancelled on December 31, 2015, but then took place January 1, 2016.

Bennett Cove Free LiquorBennett Cove NYE Poster

Bennett Cove Netflix XX Jan16

Yes, the New Year’s Eve “drink til you faint” party was stopped, but another party was held the very next night, on New Year’s (January 1).  This party was not stopped by Mr. Bennett or law enforcement.

Mr. Bennett goes on in his ad to say, from now on, he and the Sheriff and the neighbors will decide the level of music at any functions.  What doesn’t he get about the fact ANY FUNCTION is a violation of the Jasper County Zoning codes/ordinances?  The question is, Commissioners and Sheriff Pope, why is this being allowed to continue?  And when is the “county noise ordinance” going to be updated and enforced?  Isn’t a year long enough to get something done?



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.

Posted in Code Enforcement, County, Planning & Zoning, Sheriff | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments


August 17, 2016

The Mosque issue was NOT on the meeting agenda.  However, Comm. John Douglas, whose district this area is in, had the mosque issued put on the agenda and moved to the first item on the agenda.  

NCBOC 081616

NCBOC 2 081616



 I attended the Newton County BOC meeting last night.  They hold their meetings in the courtroom, and it was packed to capacity.  In addition, people were still downstairs, and people were standing outside wanting to get in.  Most everyone was there about the proposed mosque and Islamic compound on Hwy 162 near County Line Rd.

The Mosque issue was NOT on the meeting agenda.  However, Comm. John Douglas, whose district this area is in, had the mosque issued put on the agenda and moved to the first item on the agenda.  He wanted to discuss the Newton County Zoning ordinance and the treatment of places of worship.  At this time in Newton County, there is no special zoning required or even notification to the public when a “place of worship” buys land and builds on the property.

Lloyd Kerr, County Manager, gave his report, which mostly was an “update” on the proposed mosque development.  He read a prepared  statement. Read statement here: 08.16.16MosqueStatement. Here are some of the things Mr. Kerr told the BOC:

  • The planning department met with an attorney about the sale in June 2015.
  • There was a 2nd meeting for staff and owners about use.
  • Zoning does not require public notice or public hearings on places of worship.
  • Said no one withheld any information the from public. 
  • No plans have been submitted, as of today, by applicant.
  • As a county, we do understand the concerns of a development of this size on surrounding neighbors.

Comm. Nancy Shultz asked about the cemetery involved.  Mr. Kerr said there had to be fencing around it and a minimum of 10 acres.  He also said there could be “Green burial”–no casket, no vault, no embalming; there could just be placement of the body in a grave, and said a cemetery had to be 150′ from a public water supply.

Comm. Douglas then asked about the following, which people had contacted him about:

Call to prayer–limit on noise—Mr. Kerr said a call to prayer is issued 5 times per day through public address system.  If it exceeds limits, and if someone files complaint, then the Sheriff would attend to that complaint and measure volume.

Congestion with school on Hwy 162—the transportation engineer would look at the project and determine what would have to be done.

Other concerns.–CUP–Conditional Use Permit—there would have to be 2 public hearings–but only for the School.

Comm. John Douglas then made the following comments.  He was opposed to excessive development, many times; this isn’t the first time.  He stated the different times.  He has tried to make a point to keep the district rural with low crime, lack of traffic and congestion.  This is what the people want that live there.  Then Comm. Douglas asked questions of Lloyd Kerr, who answered. 

  1. When did this project come to Zoning? June 2015.
  2. What was it called when it was brought to Zoning? Avery Community Church & Cemetery.
  3. Who brought it to us under that name? Attorney Phil Johnson brought it. 
  4. When did we learn this was not a community church? A week ago yesterday.  
  5. Who was at that meeting? The Engineer who was putting together the plan, called office the Wednesday before that. Last Monday the Zoning admin, the Engineer, the traffic engineer, landscape architect, fire chief, and buyer’s representative met.

Comm. Douglas continued with the following comments. As a BOC  we must ask if our procedures are sufficient for big campus places of worship.  “We have to have good planning practices for the  health, safety and welfare of Newton County residents.”

He then made a motion that there would be a moratorium and no application to be accepted for next 5 weeks for land permits, building permits, or anything for places of worship.  This moratorium would last until the 9/20/16 meeting; at that time they would consider new ordinances or extension of the moratorium.

Comm. Douglas also wanted to conduct public hearing and let people speak to them.  “We owe it to people to hear them,” he said.  In order to accommodate everyone and to insure everyone that wants to speak can be there, the motion was made to hold the public hearing at Sharp Stadium.  The hearing will start at 6:30PM on Monday  8/22/16.  Levie Maddox 2nd the motion and added that this needed to be publicized quickly to citizens.  He also suggested extending an invitation to the agent of buyer so they can see the “welcoming or not” of the people of Newton County.  This motion was passed 5-Ø.

 Monday, 8/22/16 at 6:30pm. Sharp Stadium. Public hearing on Mosque and compound on Hwy 162.



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.



Posted in Planning & Zoning | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


August 15, 2016

Newton Mosque


A few days ago, the Newton County Citizen posted an article about a proposed mosque and compound, including a school, cemetery, and housing on a 135-acre piece of land on Hwy 162 in Newton County. 

Needless to say, many people in that area are upset that they never knew about this, even though the plans have been on the drawing board, so to speak, since August 2015. 

Nonprofit plans to build mosque on Ga. Highway 162 in Newton County…mosquenewton/article_fb91a235-8e7c-5c2a-bb7a-fc436

In Newton County, a “church” does not have to have any rezoning requests submitted according to the article.  “Al Maad Al Islami Inc. has received administrative approval for construction of a place of worship, to be called Avery Community Church, on 135.168 acres located across Highway 162 from Avery Place subdivision. The property, located at the northwest intersection of County Line Road and Highway 162, is zoned agricultural residential and no rezoning is needed for construction of the house of worship or the cemetery.”

I spoke with Shane Sealy, P&Z Director for Jasper County, and asked him about the zoning for churches in Jasper County.  Proposed churches in the AG district of Jasper County must have a special use permit.  However, in other zoned districts of the county, no additional zoning, or notification to the public is required.

Tomorrow night, August 16 at 7:00PM, the Newton County BOC will hold a regular meeting, and the mosque development will be on the agenda.  People in Newton County are upset because they have been blindsided by this proposed development.  Other information about the owner from news reports is as follows:

“Since the organization was listed in court documents as doing business as Masjid At-Taqwa, a search of this term netted interesting results.  It just so happens that Masjid At-Taqwa has organizations/facilities in Texas; Brooklyn, NY; Connecticut, Michigan, the UK, Canada and New Zealand – the same as Mohammad Islam.  And, the Imam of Masjid At-Taqwa of New York happens to be Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted coconspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Siraj is also notorious for his advocacy of an Islamic State here in the United States.”

Other news articles about this issue:

Newton County, GA, Possibly Getting Islamic Compound – Freedom …

Reaction to mosque plan mostly critical | Local News | newtoncitizen …

Newton County neighborhood fights proposed mosque | WSB-TV

Newton County residents upset by mosque plans |



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.

Posted in Planning & Zoning | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments


August 12, 2016

Taxes up

By now you should have received your property tax bill.  Did your property taxes go up again?  Unless your property is in conservation, your taxes most likely went up—especially if you have a home in Jasper County. 

Even though you may pay your taxes in two (2) installments—September 20 and December 20, 2016—you do not have to pay your taxes in September.  As long as you pay your entire property tax bill by December 20, 2016, there is no penalty and no interest due.  This option gives you the opportunity to hold on to your own money for a few months longer instead of providing access to it by the Jasper County BOC and Jasper County School Board.

If you appealed your property tax assessment, the property tax bill you received does not reflect that appeal.  The Board of Assessors did not get out their appeal notices until a few days ago.  If you got a denial by the BOA, and plan to appeal your assessment further, you only owe 85% of the tax bill on December 20, unless your appeal is settled before then.

If your appeal was denied, it will automatically be sent to the Board of Equalization- a 3 person board made up of citizens- who will set up a day and time to hear your appeal.  You will get a notice from that board.  If you do not like their decision, you can appeal to the Jasper County Superior Court.

Prop Value Up

Your appeal can be based on “equalization”, meaning your property is not valued the same as similar properties.  You can also base your appeal on taxability and value.  If you think your value is too high, you need to find similar properties that are valued lower than your property and present those facts at your BOE hearing.


You can find all properties and do a search by value, square footage and/or year built at the BOA website.



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