Friday, December 31, 2010

Milton to consider intersection improvements study.

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Milton City Council will meet Wednesday to consider $95,000-worth of consulting services for intersection improvements at Hopewell Road and Cogburn Road.

The contract with Stantec Consulting Services includes all the design plans, right-of-way mapping and surveying necessary to proceed with the project. It also requires that the firm conduct two public information sessions on the proposal.

The City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 107. Council meetings are normally held the first and third Mondays of the month.

Some Milton residents to benefit from upgraded fire safety rating.

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Some Milton residents may get a break of up to 40 percent on their homeowners insurance this year, thanks to a new safety rating announced recently.

The Insurance Services Organization, an independent rating firm that serves the insurance industry, gave the city an improved safety rating of 4 based on its fire protection program.

This was the city's first evaluation since incorporating four years ago. Previously, it held north Fulton County's split Public Protection Classification rating of 4/9, meaning some areas of the city had exceptional fire protection while others were lacking.

The numbers are used for marketing, underwriting and establishing premiums for homeowners and commercial fire insurance. Those sections of Milton with the 9 rating, mostly in more rural areas, were charged more for insurance coverage.

A PPC of 1 represents an exemplary fire suppression program. A PPC of 10 indicates the area's fire suppression program does not meet ISO's minimum criteria.

Milton Fire Marshal Matt Marietta said the evaluation looked at everything from training to the pumping capacity of trucks. Inspectors even examined pre-planning of businesses to make sure the fire department knows where fire hydrants are located.

"We really feel we have a high-quality fire service," Marietta said. "We're very well trained, progressive and proactive. This gave us an opportunity to quantify that."

By way of comparison, Cobb County has a PPC of 3. Most of Gwinnett County is Class 4. Marietta has a PPC rating of 4, and Alpharetta has a Class 2 rating.

Milton Fire Chief Robert Edgar said the substantial jump in rating was due to a number of factors, including smarter allocation of resources and Milton's automatic aid agreement with neighboring Alpharetta.

For those previously under Fulton County's rating of 9, the savings are likely to be between 30 percent and 40 percent, said David Colmans, executive director of the nonprofit Georgia Insurance Information Service.

The owner of a $250,000 home would see standard rates for a year of coverage drop from $2,238 to $1,342 -- just over 40 percent, Colmans said.

"[That] improvement in fire rating class is rather unusual and speaks well of the Milton Fire Department's efforts," Colmans said.

The number puts Milton in the top 13 percent of cities in the state and top 17 percent nationally.

"This was a lot of work, and it feels great to have it pay off," said Edgar. "It really gives us our own Milton identity."

Milton's new rating from the ISO will become official May 1.

Statement from Senator-Elect Albers on Milton County.

ROSWELL (December 30, 2010) – Senator-Elect John Albers (R-Roswell) made the following statement today regarding Fulton County’s efforts to block re-creation of Milton County:

“Citizens should have the opportunity to vote for or against the re-creation of Milton County. The Fulton County government wants to prevent the legislature from allowing voters to decide this issue, and is using up to $110,000 of the taxpayer’s own money to fund their efforts by hiring lobbyists,” said Albers. “This is exactly the kind of government impudence and waste that has prompted the need for a new Milton County. Re-establishing Milton will create a system of local government that is more responsive to the needs of its citizens. The population growth in North Fulton has left residents paying for services they never use and without proper representation. In these uncertain economic times, we must be focused on making government more manageable and taxes lower.”

- Senator-Elect John Albers

Senator-Elect John Albers represents the 56th Senate District, which includes parts of North Fulton
County. He can be reached at 678.667.3656 or by email at

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bring One For The Chipper set for Jan. 2 in Milton.

Courtesy Neighbor Newspapers

The City of Milton and Milton Grows Green will once again offer Christmas tree recycling as part of Georgia’s “Bring One For The Chipper” program Jan. 2.

This year recyclers may take Christmas trees to three locations: Milton High School (use the Birmingham Highway entrance), King’s Ridge Christian School (use the Cogburn Road entrance) and Scottsdale Farms for assisted drop-off from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information or to volunteer, e-mail
In addition, Scottsdale Farms will accept Christmas trees during normal business hours through Dec. 31 and Jan. 2 through Jan. 9.

The business is awarding each Christmas tree recycler with one free latte.
Local Starbucks locations are also donating coffee, hot water and cups for hot chocolate Jan. 2 at the school drop off locations.

Organizers are hoping to see growth similar to last year’s Chipper effort.
In 2010, Milton residents brought 480 trees to be chipped, which represented a more than 50 percent increase over 2009.

More than 460 of them were used to make 70 cubic yards of free mulch spread over a former dump at Milton’s Birmingham Park. The remainder was sunk by local Boy Scouts into Lake Allatoona to create fish habitats.

This year’s mulch will be used at drop off site Kings Ridge Christian School and Crabapple Elementary School.

The Bring One for the Chipper program, in conjunction with Keep Georgia Beautiful, has recycled more than 4.8 million Christmas trees since the program’s launch.

Milton Grows Green coordinates the efforts of individual volunteers and community-based organizations through the efforts of its own members, including Milton residents, business partners and those with an interest in the environment.


HYA Spring Baseball registration extended to Jan. 15

$70 late fee waived until new date

MILTON, Ga., Dec. 29, 2010 -

Open registration for Hopewell Youth Association's (HYA) spring 2010 recreational baseball season has been extended to Jan. 15, meaning the normal $70 late fee will be waived until after that date, said organizers.

The previous deadline was Dec. 27, said Scott Stachowski, HYA Board Vice President.
"Since this date fell during the busy holiday season, we have decided to extend the deadline," he said. "Hopefully this will allow those that have been busy or traveling to register without having to pay the late fee."

To register online, click here or visit the HYA Web site, If you have any questions or need assistance, e-mail

Each phase of the registration is open to all ages. Assessment and uniform fittings are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22; practices begin Saturday, Feb. 6.

HYA, a longstanding, non-profit organization, schedules and programs the baseball activities at Milton's Bell Memorial Park through a joint agreement with the City of Milton. For more information about the programs, including a full schedule, visit the group's Web site at

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fulton hires lobbyists to counter Milton movement.

By Johnny Edwards
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Fulton County government has hired a team of lobbyists to protect its interests in the upcoming state legislative session, and top priority is blocking any attempt for the creation of Milton County or to shrink the powers of the commission.

According to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, County Manager Zachary Williams put seasoned lobbyist Mike Vaquer on the payroll at $68.75 per hour, in a deal not to exceed $110,000 through June. A list of Vaquer’s 2011 objectives has stopping Milton County legislation as goal No. 1 and “advocacy against legislative items opposed by the board” as goal No. 2.

Two other registered lobbyists, Michele Dunn and Keisha Carter, will be paid $3,000 per month for five months, Vaquer said, which would bring the county’s cost for state lobbying next year to $140,000.

Some Republican lawmakers are irked by the lobbyists’ stated mission and the use of public funds to pay for them. This runs counter to these legislators’ attempts to downsize what they view as a bloated bureaucracy that’s failed to rein in spending as new cities have taken over services.

House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey said he will reintroduce a resolution that would severely limit the commission’s reach through a constitutional amendment. One of several bills expected, this move would be considered an alternative to breaking off north Fulton, which includes Lindsey’s Buckhead territory.

If statewide voters approved, any government of a county more than 80 percent municipalized — Fulton being the sole qualifier — would perform only functions required by law or agreed to in intergovernmental contracts.

Paying lobbyists to derail the measure only proves his point, Lindsey said.

“As a taxpayer, I find it outrageous,” he said. “But unfortunately, I also find it par for the course for the commission.”

Public entities’ using lobbyists, however, has become standard throughout the state.

The State Board of Regents and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority use them. The City of Atlanta uses them. Before becoming a temporary employee, Vaquer was on Fulton County’s lobbying team for the past four years, he said, helping oppose Milton re-creation.

“Do you expect them to roll over and die in the political battle that’s going on?” said Bill Bozarth, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, a nonprofit lobby group advocating government accountability. “Given the assault that Fulton County is under, I’m not surprised that they’re doing what they can to protect their interests in this.”

In the past year, Atlanta had three contracts for state-level lobbying totaling $189,000 and six contracts for federal lobbying totaling $997,600, according to information provided by Intergovernmental Affairs Manager Megan Middleton.

DeKalb County last year spent $42,000 on the state level and $137,315 on the national level, said chief communications officer Burke Brennan. Gwinnett spent $126,610 on state lobbying and about $95,000 on federal, communications director Joe Sorenson said. Cobb Communications Director Robert Quigley said the county pays $120,000 per year for federal lobbying and zero for state, considering the latter one the purpose of membership in the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

When a request for the same information was made of Fulton’s communications office last week, a spokeswoman responded that the county has an annual contract with Virginia-based Alcade & Fay for $150,000 for federal lobbying, but on the state level it’s handled internally by the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Asked to confirm the financial arrangement with Vaquer revealed in documents, communications director Ericka Davis said an open records request was necessary.

Vaquer brings a conflict of interest to his new role, said outgoing commissioner Lynne Riley, who takes over House district seat 50 next year and will be Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones’ point person on Milton County. Riley said Vaquer is a registered lobbyist who owns his own business yet is now considered a county employee.

Commissioner Tom Lowe said the deal calls for Vaquer to work for Fulton exclusively. Vaquer, however, said he will do some work on behalf of Savannah-based Water Utility Management LLC that does not conflict with Fulton County.

Fulton had previously used a law firm in a lobbyist role on the state level, but couldn’t get four commission votes for a contract extension. Vaquer was hired by the county manager.

Vaquer heads The Vaquer Firm, which has offices in Savannah and Atlanta, and has previously lobbied on behalf of International Paper, the Georgia Restaurant Association and the Georgia Association of Taxing Officials.

At the Fulton commission’s last meeting he showed them a draft legislative package, and the board is expected to vote on directives next month. Milton County and Fulton reform are just a few of the issues they want monitored.

Other items on the tentative list include seeking counties besides Fulton and DeKalb to contribute to Grady Memorial Hospital, help pay for MARTA, legislation allowing areas to be de-annexed from cities as easily as they can be annexed, more funding for mental health services and equitable treatment under the Transportation Investment Act of 2010.

“We are anticipating it’s going to be a brutal year on all fronts,” Vaquer said.

Commissioner Emma Darnell said she sees nothing wrong with an elected body hiring lobbyists to carry out its will at the capital. She’s livid that the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable selected an executive committee this month and picked no one from the state’s most populous county. With Fulton treated in such a way, the county needs all the help it can get in the General Assembly, she said.

As for Milton County, a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment allowing previously merged counties to re-form by law can’t be held until 2012, in an even-year general election. But Republicans, just six bodies short of a two-thirds super majority in the House and two short of a super majority in the Senate, plan to reintroduce an enabling resolution next year and start building a case for a consolidated Atlanta-Fulton County government.

Opponents believe it would financially eviscerate the state’s main metropolitan engine.

“We believe Fulton County’s strength comes from the fact that it is one county,” Darnell said. “We believe that because we are diverse, that’s our strength.”

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Drunken driver sentenced to 51 years for killing baseball pitcher.

Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, 22, was beginning his first full season in the majors when he was killed in 2006.

NOTE: With speeding wrecks continuing to be the norm in Milton and council doing nothing to address the situation, we thought the following story might be of interest.


A convicted drunken driver was sentenced Wednesday to 51 years to life in prison for a crash that killed Los Angeles Angel pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others, the Orange County, California, district attorney said.

Andrew Thomas Gallo, 23, of San Gabriel, California, received the maximum sentence after a jury found him guilty in September of three felony counts of murder, felony drunken driving and two other felonies, according to District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and court spokeswoman Carole Levitzky.

Gallo had previously been convicted in San Bernardino County, California, for driving under the influence in 2006 and was on probation at the time of the April 2009 crash, the district attorney said.

Authorities say Gallo's blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he sped through a red light and crashed into a car.

Adenhart, 22, of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who was beginning his first full season in the majors, was killed. He had pitched just his fourth Major League game hours earlier.

The crash also killed Courtney Stewart, 20, a student and former cheerleader at California State University at Fullerton, and law student Henry Pearson, 25, who was working toward becoming a sports agent, authorities said.

A fourth victim, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, a former baseball player for the Cal State-Fullerton Titans, was critically injured and is now in stable condition, the prosecutor said.

"Before drinking, set up a plan to have a sober driver," Rackauckas said in a written statement. "If you make the decision to drink and drive, we will make the decision to charge you with vehicular manslaughter or murder and you may spend the rest of your life in prison. During this holiday season, think about the pain on the victims' families' faces before you drink and drive."

In addition to being drunk and on probation, Gallo was driving on a suspended driver's license when his minivan, going about 65 mph in a 35 mph zone, crashed into Adenhart's vehicle at 12:23 a.m. on April 9, 2009, authorities said. His license had been suspended because of a prior drunken driving conviction, the prosecutor said. Gallo's 21-year-old step-brother was a passenger in the minivan.

After the collision, Gallo fled on foot, but was arrested less than 30 minutes later about two miles away by Anaheim police officers, authorities said. Two hours after the crash, Gallo had a blood alcohol level of 0.19%, well above the legal limit of 0.08%, authorities said.

Is Herman Cain running for president?

By Bob Keefe
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON -- He dropped off most voters' radar screens after losing a 2004 bid to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate.

But conservative Atlanta radio show host Herman Cain has hardly forgotten about politics.

In fact, he may be running for president in 2012.

Cain, a Republican, said he is "one step closer" toward announcing a bid for president after the GOP's big sweep of the November midterm elections.

For now, Cain said he is putting out feelers and "prayerfully considering" a run, and he will make a decision sometime early next year.

"Right now I'm in the process of contacting people who are very enthusiastic about a campaign," Cain said. "Over the next few weeks, we'll be seeing if we can tap into the energy we saw [in November]," for a presidential bid.

f he does launch a long-shot campaign, Cain, 65, could be one of two Georgians vying for the White House in 2012. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also has indicated he's edging closer toward running for the Republican nomination for president.

Cain undoubtedly would be an underdog to Gingrich and other candidates. While he has a small army of dedicated followers and fans of his nightly radio show on Atlanta's WSB and he has landed speaking gigs at conservative events nationally, Cain is less than well-known nationally.

"It's kind of hard to imagine him doing anything beyond getting 1 or 2 percent of the vote," said Chris Grant, a political science professor at Mercer University in Macon.

Grant said Cain would most likely fare like past conservative presidential contenders such as Alan Keyes or Gary Bauer.

"They're candidates who really think they can probably win ... but they're not really positioned well enough to develop a national base needed in order to win," he said.

Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, is now in the business of stirring up conservative public opinion.

In addition to hosting his right-leaning radio show and penning a syndicated newspaper column, Cain is a regular at tea party movement events and also formed his own group called the "Intelligent Thinkers Movement."

Through his "Hermanator" political action committee, Cain and his followers support Republican and conservative candidates nationwide. Cain's "Hermanator" PAC took in nearly $169,000 since it was established in May, which it spent on various conservative congressional candidates and on travel and office expenses.

Even if he loses, running for president probably couldn't hurt Cain, Grant pointed out.

"As a very practical matter, this would increase his listenership, he'll gain national notoriety, and he'll set himself up to make national commentary on social and political issues," Grant said.

Cain's national notoriety hit a new high last April, when he joined conservative stars such as Sarah Palin, Gingrich, Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee as a speaker at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.

It was on stage at the conference where Cain, who lost to Johnny Isakson in the 2004 GOP Senate primary, dropped the first hint of his desire to run for president. Cain won 26.2 percent of the vote in that three-way primary in July 2004.

In the months that followed the conference, Cain traveled the country like an aspiring GOP candidate, speaking at more than 40 events sponsored by the tea party and other groups, including a "Take Back Our Government" rally in Iowa, a "Defending the American Dream" summit in Texas, and a "Right Nation" convention in Illinois.

Cain is a proponent of a Fair Tax plan that would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and replace federal income and corporate taxes with a national sales tax.

Retiring Republican U.S. Rep. John Linder of Lawrenceville, who helped formulate the Fair Tax idea, said he has known Cain for more than 20 years.

Linder said he would welcome a presidential candidate who supports the controversial tax plan. Yet the nine-term congressman said he has doubts about Cain's potential.

"He's a passionate speaker and has great energy, but it all comes down to whether you can raise enough money to get your message out," Linder said. "And I just don't know how much money Herman Cain can raise."

Cain said he isn't deterred.

"This ain't the first rodeo I've been to," he said. "You don't not go to the rodeo just because there are some tough broncos out there. That doesn't discourage me, and it doesn't discourage my team."

Cain, who has never held elected office, said he's not interested in running for anything other than president.

"I don't have enough years left to be a career-climbing politician," he said.

At the Republican leadership convention, Cain told the audience one of the factors driving his political ambitions.

In 2006, he was diagnosed with liver and colon cancer and given little chance to live. But since January 2007, he added, he's been cancer-free.

There are two reasons why, Cain told the audience.

First, "God said, ‘Not yet, Herman. You've got some work to do,' " he said.

Second, the nation's excellent health care system helped keep him alive, he said.

Then, taking a poke at the man whose office he'd like to have, Cain added that if national health care changes championed by President Barack Obama would've been in place when he was battling cancer, it "would've killed me."

"I'd be dead," Cain said.

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Vehicle Theft In Milton.

By Tim Enloe;

An Avensong resident notified the Milton Police Department on December 13th that their 99 Gold Nissan Altima with an estimated value of $3000 was stolen at approximately 1am.

A member of the family believed she heard motorcycle sounds later that morning. Milton Police Officer Collins reached out to local towing companies but no such vehicle had been impounded.

Both Officer Collins and Barry remain active on the case.

Gwinnett Tech Looking at Old Milton HS

by: Hatcher Hurd

BOE makes bold offer to woo Gwinnett Tech

December 22, 2010ATLANTA – In a Dec. 16 letter to Sharon J. Bartels, president of Gwinnett Technical College, Fulton County Superintendent of Schools Cindy Loe made a dynamic offer of a partnership with the Fulton Schools System.

Knowing Gwinnett Tech is looking for a place to expand in North Fulton, the Board of Education is prepared to offer all or part of the 40-acre site of the former Milton High School on Academy Street in Alpharetta (valued at $10 million) for Tech's North Fulton campus.

Bartels came to North Fulton this summer seeking such offers from the communities – in effect looking for ways to defray the cost of such a campus. Bartels had hoped for 100 acres, but the hope is the school could make do with 40 acres.

In return the BOE would like office space and classroom space in a no-cost, long-term lease arrangement. Loe also argues persuasively that a Gwinnett Tech would find a good fit with the BOE's Fulton Institute of Technology, a new initiative integrating the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"The Fulton Institute of Technology is a technical high school that fuses practical and virtual learning opportunities to create a technology-rich learning environment," Loe wrote.

The appeal of such a course of study would be to offer students the chance to be either college or career ready on graduation.
Co-locating with Gwinnett Tech would provide students a direct track into Tech's programs, and conversely, would create a convenient feeder system of students into Tech – a symbiotic relationship that could enhanced with dual enrollment classes much like Advanced Placement which gives students college credit for work done in high school.

With journeyman or apprentice relationships with technological courses such as Energy Systems, Digital Design Technology, Manufacturing and CISCO Systems, Fulton Institute students would already be dovetailing into courses Gwinnett Tech offers.

The BOE is studying plans for the demolition of old Milton and construction of a new facility. The BOE is offering to convey all property rights to Tech in return for it undertaking the costs of demolition and environmental mitigation.

Fulton Schools would also want the classrooms and office space in a new facility built by Gwinnett Tech and access to amenities as parking, public green space and other instructional space.

Preparatory to construction, the BOE would offer space in the existing facility to give Gwinnett Tech the chance to begin building a base of students in North Fulton at a "nominal cost" while the school designs and phases in construction of the new building.

Loe said the BOE's offer could be combined with other inducements both public and private that Gwinnett Tech is seeking to enable it to open a North Fulton campus.

The campus would be a plum for North Fulton, and Gwinnett Tech knows it. Likewise, North Fulton knows it is Tech's first choice for a site to expand its campus. Bartels, in making her pitch to North Fulton a few months earlier, said their evaluations show North Fulton would be a "student-rich" environment that would help it serve the highest number of Georgia residents.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cold Weather Horse Care Review.

Courtesy Liz Brown;

Winter has an icy grip on most of the United States, and with even sunny Florida facing record freezing temperatures, horse owners across the country need to keep a close eye on their herds to prevent cold-weather related ailments.

In cold weather, horse owners should be thinking, "water, water, water," said Jean T. Griffiths, extension horse specialist at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Water is essential for regulating body temperature, said Greg Meyer, extension educator for large animals at Ohio State University. "We typically think of keeping horses cool with water, but water is required for energy for keeping them warm as well."

If you don't have a water heater to prevent pails or tubs from freezing, Griffiths suggested bringing warm water from the house to keep water unfrozen for a longer period of time. Warmer water can also encourage horses to drink more. "Nobody in these temperatures would want to drink 32° water," Meyer said.

Horses will also need more hay as they expend more energy trying to keep warm. "You want to make sure they have plenty of hay, but remember you're going to need more water as you increase the amount of dry matter going through their GI tract to avoid colic and impaction," said Griffiths.

When frigid temperatures set in, many owners immediately pack their animals into barns and reach for blankets to help their horses ward off the chill, but in some cases these steps can do more harm than good. "Even though you're trying to be nice to horses by closing them up in buildings, a lot of barns might not have the best ventilation," said Meyer. "From a health perspective, the more you close animals in, the more likely that sickness can spread."

If you do keep your horses stabled, Meyer recommends improving ventilation by leaving a door or window that is out of the wind open. According to Griffiths, most horses will do well in a covered three sided shed, which allows them to get out of the wind. "Horses can deal with the cold, but they can't deal with the wind," she said.

As for blanketing, Karen Waite, equine extension specialist at Michigan State University, said often it's unwarranted. "Horses are pretty well designed to keep warm provided they have a full coat and a body condition score of five or higher," she explained.

If you do choose to blanket your horse, Waite recommended checking the blanket regularly for dampness. "If they get soaked through, hypothermia can become an issue," she said.

Meyer concluded, "This is all common sense stuff that we sometimes forget because we're trying to deal with the cold ourselves."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Trees Donated To Thousands Of Troops


MILTON, Ga. -- Every year, families gather around their Christmas tree to open gifts. For some families, a tree can be a gift in itself.

This year, thousands of U.S. military troops and their families will receive donated Christmas trees through a program called Trees For Troops.

"They're fighting for our freedom and the least we can do is buy a tree for a family," Brett Gerber told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh.

The Gerber family is among dozens of metro Atlanta families who come to Hunter's Tree Farm in Milton to buy a tree for service men and women.

Farm owner Gordon Hunter has been selling trees on his farm for 20 years. Five years ago, he began giving customers the option of donating them through Trees for Troops.

"My generation from the Vietnam War wasn't quite met with that much approval,” Hunter said. “So it's nice to give our veterans some real public approval of what they've been doing and their sacrifices."

The process starts with families picking out a tree and filling out a card. The cards are tied onto the trees like ornaments with personal messages of thanks. Workers then cut them, wrap them, and the trees are shipped to military bases or military families.
Hunter shipped his farm’s trees to Tampa’s Macdill Airforce Base on Dec. 6, but donations to the program can always be made at

This season, the program’s trees will reach about 20,000 troops.
"And I hope it brings a little smile on their face,” Hunter’s wife said.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How Santa's Sleigh Works.

Santa's antimatter propulsion unit allows him to travel faster than the speed of light.
Courtesy TLC
On Christmas Eve, millions of children around the world will settle uneasily into bed, hardly able to contain themselves. What vision could possibly dance through their heads, turning them into twitchy, restless insomniacs for just one night? Is it the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" or the sugarplums from Clement Clarke Moore's poem "The Night Before Christmas"? Can sugarplums really do such a thing?

Chances are the children are thinking about toys, Santa Claus and his team of reindeer -- if the children have been nice this year, jolly old St. Nick should be landing his sleigh on their roofs sometime late in the night.

Everyone has their own traditional image of Santa's sleigh, but could there be more to it than just a sled and a team of reindeer? Although­ no one may ever know for sure just how Santa operates, we at HowStuffWorks have what we think are the most logical explanations for how the big guy accomplishes all that he does: science and technology.

­Sure, demystifying Santa's modus operandi puts us at risk of getting nothing but coal in our stockings this year, but it's all for the noble pursuit of yuletide knowledge. After all, have you ever wondered how Santa's sleigh flies? What about the reindeer? And how does Santa fit all of those presents into one bag? In the next section, we'll look at the possible technology behind Santa's sleigh.

Sleigh Technology.

Courtesy TLC

Rustic on the outside and state-of-the-art on the inside, Santa's sleigh would have to be a marvel in engineering. These are the main parts of the sleigh that would be needed to get Santa across the world in one night.

The Sleigh's Interior

The front of the sleigh's dashboard would be dominated by Santa's own GPS navigator -- the elves would map out millions of destinations before Christmas Eve, just to make sure Santa doesn't miss anyone. The device would also have a built-in Naughty-or-Nice sensor that keeps Santa updated on children's activities. This is important, as even the most minor of naughty deeds committed within the last few hours of Dec. 24 can determine whether or not a child receives a shiny lump of coal.

A speedometer on the far left of the dashboard would allow Santa to monitor his flying speeds. On the far right would be a radio communicator -- Mrs. Claus sends broadcasts, and the elves update Santa with weather reports and toy inventory.

For in-flight entertainment, we'd like to the think that the elves would have installed an iPod dock -- perhaps even a red-and-green iPod, which would come with enough memory to play Christmas songs for the entire year through. There would also be a hot cocoa dispenser in the middle of the console, and fuel for the reindeer (in the form of carrots) in a compartment located on the left side of the sleigh.

Transdimensional Present Compartment (The Bag)

Ever wonder how Santa fits all of those presents into one bag? Think of a transdimensional present compartment in the form of a traditional gift sack, which would act as a portal between the sleigh and the North Pole. However, we'd also like to think that Santa may have harnessed the power of nanotechnology and found a way to miniaturize millions of presents into one large bag. But this information remains unconfirmed.

The Stardust Antimatter Propulsion Unit

What is antimatter? Is it some kind of magical substance Santa uses to power his sleigh?

Antimatter is the opposite of regular matter -- the mirror image of normal particles that make up everything we can see or touch. The big draw to antimatter is the amount of energy it helps create. When antimatter and matter come into contact, they annihilate each other -- breaking apart into tons of smaller particles -- and 100 percent of their masses convert into energy.

Although antimatter propulsion rockets are mainly used in science-fiction shows to allow spaceships to travel at warp speed, the possibility of designing one is very real -- NASA is currently developing one that would get us to Mars within a matter of weeks. [source: NASA]

Santa's would have to be way ahead of the game, however, and we'd like to imagine that he has his own custom Stardust Antimatter Rocket. It would be small enough to install in the back of his sleigh and fast enough to deliver every present to all good children across the globe. Of course, if the rocket ever malfunctions, the reindeer would be there to back Santa up. (Learn more about how Santa makes it around the world in one night.)

To learn more about Santa's reindeer and how they manage to fly, head over to the next page.

Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!

Courtesy TLC

Sleighs are large sleds or carriages used for transportation in colder climates -- they have two runners on the bottom instead of wheels, making it easier to barrel across snow and ice. With the aid of kinetic energy, a sleigh can easily travel downhill. But once it plateaus, it needs momentum to keep moving and navigate any steep terrain -- or in Santa's case, take flight. But what if the Stardust Antimatter Propulsion Unit malfunctions? Enter plan B: reindeer, the engines behind the sleigh.

What we know about these majestic creatures -- aside from their steady diet of carrots -- is that these particular reindeer would need wings to properly fly. Paolo Viscardi, a flight physiologist from the University of Leeds, suggests that Santa's reindeer would need a 33-foot-long wingspan in order take flight, and a sizeable team of reindeer would be required to lift Santa's sleigh [source: The Guardian]. An extra source of heat from the hot cocoa maker in the dashboard would send out hot air, acting like a thermal unit in a hot air balloon, giving the reindeer an extra lift that Viscardi recommends for optimal flying conditions.

According to the famous poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore -- and the disgruntled elf -- a team of reindeer drive Santa's sleigh. These are the reindeer we know of: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner/Donder, Blitzen and Rudolph.

Of course, the most widely recognized reindeer is Rudolph. Folklore has it that during a particularly foggy Christmas Eve one year, Santa was unable to fly his sleigh due to poor visibility. We've posited that Rudolph helped guide Santa's sleigh through the bad weather with his bioluminescent nose radiating a red light. (Learn more about why Rudolph's nose is red.)

In the next section, we'll look at the possibility of a secret training facility in the North Pole, where reindeer get ready for the big day.

North Pole Hideaway: Reindeer Training.

Courtesy TLC

Based on what we know about reindeer and science, we think that Santa would have to have a state-of-art training facility in order to get reindeer ready for the rigors of flight. A simple, idyllic barn in the middle of the Arctic would make an ideal facility for such activities.

A comfortably large stable would have enough room to provide fatigued reindeer with a place to sleep as well as contain equipment such as flight simulators, treadmills and steering practice platforms. Specially trained elves would be on-site to take care of the reindeer and guide them through their training exercises.

This is also where the elves would make any repairs or additions to Santa's sleigh when he needs a little something extra. The runners on the bottom of the sleigh, for example, would need to be examined pretty frequently. Since Santa lands on so many roofs on Christmas Eve, the elves would need to make sure the sleigh's landing equipment can handle a few scratches and dents.

And if Santa should need an immediate Christmas Eve repair, the head elf technician could climb through the transdimensional present compartment and fix the sleigh in mid-flight. We'd like to think that Santa has been greatly influenced by NASCAR, and that this procedure works very much like a NASCAR pit-stop.

Without his sleigh, Santa would have a tough time getting airborne the night before Christmas. Fortunately, elves, reindeer and technology could all be available for help, keeping St. Nick as jolly as possible.

Milk and cookies could help, too, of course. So don't forget to put those out.

Christmas Trees From Around The World / Part 3.


Many thanks to 'Steel Magnolia' for these wonderful pictures!

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Merry Christmas!

HYA Spring Baseball registration ends Dec. 27.


Open registration for Hopewell Youth Association’s (HYA) spring 2010 recreational baseball season will end Dec. 27. After that date, a $70 late fee will be added to any registration costs, said organizers.

“We want to make sure parents don’t let this opportunity slip through the cracks with all the hurry of the holidays,” said Cyndee Bonacci, Milton’s Parks and Recreation Director.

“There are still spots available, and we want to make sure everyone is aware of the late fee assessment.”

To register online, W&">click here or visit the HYA Web site, For more information, click here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's Christmas Time!

On A National Note...

Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Many thanks to our wonderful Fire Department for putting their lives on the line each and every day for our Milton Citizens.

Ex-cop among 2 firefighters killed in blaze.


Chicago’s worst firefighter tragedy in more than a decade claimed the lives of two firefighters Wednesday morning when the roof of an abandoned building with a history of code violations collapsed on top of them.

Edward Stringer, a 12-year veteran, and Corey Ankum, a former cop who’d joined the fire department little more than a year ago, were both fighting a fire inside the former

Sing Way Laundry at 1744 E. 75th Street, when the roof collapsed and trapped them and two other surviving firefighters. Fifteen other firefighters were injured in the 7 a.m. blaze, which broke out on the 100th anniversary of the 1910 Union Stockyards fire, the single greatest loss of big-city U.S. firefighters until the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The roof collapsed “without warning” as Stringer and Ankum searched the smoke-filled building for vagrants, Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff said.

Hoff — a third-generation firefighter whose own father was killed in the line of duty — was among the nearly 100 firefighters who responded to a Mayday call for the trapped men and furiously dug through the rubble in a desperate effort to rescue them.

Still covered in soot from the scene, he later refused to second-guess the decision to enter the one-story building, saying the firefighters followed proper procedure and were doing their jobs checking for vagrants who might have taken refuge there.

“We take no building as being vacant,” he said, as firefighters across the city mourned, “We do it cautiously but we go in and search for people that have tried to get out of the cold.”

The laundry had been abandoned for at least six years, had a “sagging roof” and an ongoing problem with squatters who might have started the blaze to keep warm, according to Robert Smart, who owns a car wash next-door.

The laundry’s owner, Chuck Dai, was sued by the city at least three times since 1987. The building was in foreclosure and was cited for 14 code violations in 2007, including citations that noted Dai’s failure to “maintain the roof in sound condition and repair” and to “maintain the building ... in a structurally safe and stable condition,” documents show.

Dai, who did not respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday, could now be sued or fined for failing to meet the terms of a consent decree signed last year that required him to sell the property or fix the problems by last month, according to city Building Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey.

For Stringer and Ankum’s anguished comrades, those were questions for another day.

Dozens of firefighters fought back tears as they lined the exit at Christ Medical Center’s emergency room to salute as the body of Ankum, 34, was brought out to be taken to the morgue. A near identical scene played out at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office after the remains of Stringer, 47, were brought from Northwestern Hospital in a dignified police and fire department convoy.

“We are all devastated,’’ said a fire department district commander, who was walking out of the medical examiner’s office carrying a Chicago flag that had been used to drape the remains of both firefighters and a red plastic bag filled with Stringer’s clothing.

Both Ankum, who worked out of the firehouse at 79th and South Chicago, and Stringer, who worked out of the firehouse at 63rd and Dorchester, were remembered for their courage, generosity and humor. Both men died of blunt trauma from falling timbers and debris, officials said.

“The brotherhood and camaraderie these firefighters share is incredible,” said Maurice Matthews, whose brother, firefighter Steven Ellerson, was injured trying to save Ankum.

Ellerson was inside the building when the roof collapsed, Matthews said. He heard Ankum’s cries for help, saw he was struggling to breathe and “took off his mask to give him some oxygen,” Matthews added.

But Ankum was trapped and couldn’t be freed, and Ellerson, whose eyesight was damaged in the ordeal, had to be removed by his fellow firefighters.

“He almost died trying to save his partner,” Matthews said, sobbing. “He’s distraught that he couldn’t save him.”

Ellerson remained at Christ hospital in good condition Wednesday evening, while an acting lieutenant who was also inside the building was in stable condition at Northwestern Hospital, officials said. Fifteen other firefighters — including some who were on the roof when it collapsed, suffered lesser injuries, fire department spokesman Larry Langford said.

The blaze, in a rear office at the building, had been contained when the firefighters entered the building to check for casualties, Hoff said. The age of the building and the weight of snow and ice on the roof may have contributed to the collapse, he said. A door at the rear of the property, perhaps used by the squatters, was open when firefighters arrived.

The tragedy is the worst single incident to befall Chicago firefighters since the 1998 deaths of Patrick King and Anthony Lockhart, who were also killed in a roof collapse. It prompted Mayor Daley, who employed Ankum’s wife as a personal secretary, to cut short a trip to New York and return to Chicago Wednesday night.

“I knew Corey Ankum and his family and I share in their loss today,’’ Daley said in a statement. “The deaths of Firefighters Stringer and Ankum are both a sad reminder of how much gratitude we owe our first responders and a tragedy for all Chicagoans.”

Those words were echoed by Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 president Tom Ryan, who was attending a ceremony to commemorate the 21 firefighters killed in the 1910 stockyard blaze when he got a call about Wednesday’s tragedy.

“No matter how prepared you are, no matter how much experience you have, a morning like this is something that takes you by surprise,” he said.

“There are families out there in our ranks whose lives will be changed forever, but they can take solace from knowing that their husbands, their fathers, their brothers are heroes, and their extended firefighter family will be with them as long as they need us.”

Retired firefighter Bill Cosgrove was among those marking the anniversary of the Union Stockyards fire with a gathering at the firefighters monument in the small park at Exchange and Peoria. The names of the firefighters who died a century ago were being read, a bell tolling for each one, he said.

“It was beyond disbelief,” Cosgrove, who lives in Tinley Park, said of the timing of Wednesday’s fire. “It broke most of the firemen down when we found out. We have a very sad day today.”

Bring One For The Chipper set for Jan. 2.


Get those lights off and stock up on tie downs, because Sunday, Jan. 2 the City of Milton and Milton Grows Green

(MGG) will once again offer Christmas tree recycling as part of Georgia's "Bring One For The Chipper" program.

This year recyclers may take Christmas trees to three locations: Milton High School (use the Birmingham Highway entrance), King's Ridge Christian School (use the Cogburn Road entrance) and Scottsdale Farms for assisted drop-off from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
here for more information.

Cogburn Road down to one lane Dec. 23.


The Milton Public Works Department will shut down the northbound lane of Cogburn Road near St. Francis High School for bridge repairs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 23. Traffic will be restricted to one lane. Please use caution while driving in the area.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Local teen honored by City Council.

Andrew Jeschke, seen here with his family, was honored by City Council Dec. 20.


Milton’s City Council honored Andrew Jeschke, an Alpharetta High School student, at its Dec. 20 meeting for his winning video entry into the Road to Safety Program recently launched by two residents.

The Road to Safety program, started by Protect Milton, Inc.’s Lisa Cauley and Access Milton’s Tim Enloe, seeks to educate, inform, and increase the awareness of the distractions and dangers teenagers face as new and inexperienced drivers -- with an ultimate goal of saving lives.

Jeschke submitted a two-minute video, which took the top spot and won him a full day of defensive driving at the Richard Petty Defensive Driving School at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Next year’s contest will include all high schools north of the Chattahoochee River, said Cauley.

AG1 Property Questioned Regarding Landscaper Uses.

By Tim Enloe;

City Manager Chris Lagerbloom placed a delimma before Milton City Council's feet at this past week's December 20th work session. That discussion involving whether to let landscaping companies establish themselves on agriculturally zoned / AG1 land.

As the debate rolled from the work session to the actual council meeting and after hearing from both residents and staff, council agreed to delay any adjustments until March of 2011.

Community Director Lynn Tully disclosed that such businesses first are required to meet the proper lot dimensions before anything further can be discussed. Questions from council covered everything from the time of business to storage and parking.

Residents such as Kim Horne spoke loud and clear; "Alpharetta and Roswell only allow C2 and L1 land for landscaping businesses, so why would Milton allow them?"

There were some suggestions by council members to insure older such businesses would be protected via a grandfather clause.

New Phone Fee Arrives For Some Residents.

A fee normally used to fund 911 operations has been approved by the Milton City Council. Milton Fire Marshal Matt Marietta relayed that 911 $1.50 charge will be added to the monthly phone bill to Voice Over Internet Prototocal services.

New Historic Appointment Takes Place.

Council member Tart appointed Veronica Buckman to the Historic Preservation Commission. Tart's decision was based on Mrs. Buckman's love for keeping small town history alive for future generations.

Thompson Road Has Water Runoff Issues.

Council approved a bill of $8,870.00 to address an erosion problem on Thompson Road. There was some concern that if not addressed in a timely fashion, the problems could increase and make the open road neighborhood impassable.

Milton Police Looking Out For It's Citizens.

By Tim Enloe;

Accidents & Road Closures Launch First Winter Weather of 2010.

Milton Captain Shawn McCarty and his officers had their hands full
addressing icy Milton roads during the December 16th drive home.

While numerous vehicles were abandoned to the road shoulders, a total of nine accidents and six road closures did occur. Some residents even made the tough decision to use leg power to get home.

Officers from the early shift were held over to help. Many thanks to the Milton Police and Fire Departments.

Sticky Fingers?

Milton Officer Kenan Gray answered a call involving missing jewelry among other things on December 7th by a Milton Resident. Unsure as to who the thief might be, the case is still open as of December 14th.

"I'm John Smith...I mean Fred Smith...I mean Fred Jones..."

Identity theft appears alive and well in Milton as police investigate a claim that three credit cards were stolen from a female resident with multiple charges on them.

Officer Stephen reported that the Lathenview court resident stated that she opened a Target debit card on December 7th. Not only did she receive the Target card a few weeks later, but a Toys R Us Card as well that she never applied for.
When all was said and done, a Best Buy card had been activated under her name as well.

A fraud alter was placed on her credit in addition to a credit report request to insure other cards had not been activated.

Officer Stephen was not done with dealing with theives yet, however.

It would turn out that a Dockbridge Way Milton resident recieved a call by Chevron claiming a $500 bill was past due. Thanks to his credit card companies, they had alerted him earlier about failed attempts to open accounts under his name. Once again, a fraud alert was put in place in addition to the purchase of monitoring service.

Next in line, Officer Kelly Collins helped a woman whose debit card was making the rounds at gas stations and coffee shops.

The last time the resident had the card in her possession was on Dec 7th. Thanks to her bank, she was notified of the unauthorized charges and contact the Milton Police Department.

Post Dec. 20 City Council meeting wrap-up.


Post Dec. 6 Council Meeting Wrap-Up

1. RZ10-06 - To Amend the City of Milton Zoning Ordinance, Section 64-1820, Landscaping Business, Plant Nursery or Garden Center with Indoor Retail Component. (Agenda Item No. 10-1300) (First Presentation on December 6, 2010) (Discussed at December 20, 2010 Special Called Work Session) (Presented by Lynn Tully, Community Development Director)
Motion to defer until the March 14 work session passed 7-0. Planning Commission will hear item at its Jan. 25 meeting.

2. RZ10-08 - To Amend the City of Milton Zoning Ordinance, Section 64-1, Definition for Landscaping Business. (Agenda Item No. 10-1301) (First Presentation on December 6, 2010) (Discussed at December 20, 2010 Special Called Work Session) (Presented by Lynn Tully, Community Development Director)
Motion to defer until the March 14 work session passed 7-0. Planning Commission will hear item at its Jan. 25 meeting. UNFINISHED BUSINESS 1. Approval of a Resolution of the Mayor and Council of the City of Milton, Georgia Regarding "9-1-1" Wireless Enhanced "9-1-1" Charges and Voice Over Internet Protocol. (Agenda Item No. 10-1302) (First Presentation on December 6, 2010) (Matt Marietta, Fire Marshal)
Approved 7-0

2. Approval of a Resolution to Transmit the City of Milton's Draft 2030 Comprehensive Plan: The Community Agenda to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the GA Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for their Sixty Day Review. (Agenda Item No. 10-1286) (Previously Introduced at November 1, 2010 Special Called Work Session) (First Presentation and Public Hearing at November 15, 2010 Regular Council Meeting) (Presented by Michele McIntosh-Ross, City Planner)Approved 7-0

1. Approval of a Resolution Amending Resolution No. 10-09-155 Appointing A Member To The Historic Preservation Commission For The City Of Milton By Appointing A Member For District 6. (Agenda Item No. 10-1316) (Presented by Councilmember Alan Tart)Appointee Veronica Buckman approved 7-0.

2. Approval of a Resolution to Approve the Highway 9 Design Guidelines. (Agenda Item No. 10-1317) (Presented by Lynn Tully, Community Development Director)Approved 7-0

3. Approval of a Resolution to Adopt the 2011 Zoning and Use Permit, Zoning Modification, Board of Zoning Appeals, Historic Preservation Commission and the City of Milton Design Review Board Schedules. (Agenda Item No. 10-1318) (Presented by Lynn Tully, Community Development Director)
Approved 7-0

Monday, December 20, 2010

Johns Creek reports 62 accidents from Wednesday's ice.

Courtesy Neighbor Newspapers

Update- Wednesday 10:30 a.m.: Johns Creek city spokeswoman Rosemary Taylor, the city of Johns Creek had a total of 62 accidents between 5 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

"Of those 62, five reported injuries," she said. "Victims were transported to Emory Johns Creek Hospital, but no incidents involved the need for transport to a trauma center."

In regard to filing accident reports, Taylor said for any incident that did not involve a call to 911 and a police officer reporting to the scene, the individual needs to complete a Personal Report of Accident form (SR 13) and then submit that to their insurance company.

That form can be downloaded from GDOT’s website, or be picked up from the Records Office of the Johns Creek Police Dept.

Taylor said there were a number of police staff who stayed past their normal shifts on Wednesday to help.

"They came in at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, and instead of leaving at 5 p.m., worked into the night," she said. "No extra Fire personnel were brought in, however, Fire Command Staff stayed on the scene, and the Battalion Chief operated out of the Emergency Operations Center."

Rural Metro Ambulance did bring in extra staff, however, which Taylor said was crucial to our overall response.

"Our 911 Communications Center (ChatComm) kept staff over past their 12-hour shifts," she said. "Our public safety professionals are always prepared. That’s what they’re trained to do. Likewise, our public works and roads personnel were proactively laying down salt and sand, starting around 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, before icing started to occur."

Taylor said the biggest challenge for police, emergency and public works staff in the field was navigating through the stopped traffic from accidents or rough patches of ice.

"This was particularly true for our public works staff with the salt/sand trucks. The demand for them was so great, with seriously iced roads in different parts of the city," she said. "We had to make sure that the roads into Emory Johns Creek Hospital were passable for ambulances, for just one example."

Update- Thursday 2:15 p.m.: According to Milton Police Captain Shawn McCarty, between 4 p.m. yesterday and 6 a.m. today the city had a total of nine reported accidents and four reported stranded motorists.

The captain said there were many other vehicles that were abandoned.

"I had to hold over four units from the day shift to assist last night and two night units stayed over into the shift today," he said. "I believe there were around six roads that we had to shut down during this weather."

City spokesman Jason Wright said accidents can be reported by going to City Hall between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. or by calling (678) 242-2570.

Horses And Fireworks Don't Mix.

Corky Findley pets Be a Sweet Lark in Plant City. To calm her two horses Monday night, Findley plans to have both of them in their stalls, with the lights on and the radio playing full blast.

Courtesy ANDREW MEACHAM, Times Staff Writer

New Year's Eve fireworks don't delight horse owners.

Explosions can startle a horse and lead to death, so owners are bracing for the holiday and lobbying for tougher laws.

WIMAUMA - Randy Arlington stood where his horse had collapsed after running through a fence on the night of July 4. He remembered what he said to his neighbor, whose fireworks shell had spooked a 30-year-old horse named Conan, who lay dead in a pasture.

"You killed my horse."

As he told the story, Arlington, 47, leaned his elbow on one of three new fence posts. He rested his mouth on his fist.

Linda Arlington, standing beside her husband, turned her head away. For a moment, neither could speak.

Now, the Arlingtons and other horse owners are bracing themselves for New Year's Eve fireworks. Some are pushing authorities to outlaw fireworks in rural areas.

The controversy has heated up in recent years as opposing sides complain about fireworks laws being too permissive or too restrictive.

In Hillsborough County, fireworks can be bought anywhere except Plant City just by signing a form. The form promises that the buyer will use fireworks only for agricultural purposes, such as frightening away birds.

When the first mortar shells explode on New Year's Eve, Corky Findley hopes she will be ready.

Findley and her husband, Duane, a retired military man, moved to Plant City 27 years ago to escape the city. In 1992, Findley was running hair clippers around the ears of her mare, Be a Sweet Lark, when firecrackers went off on an adjacent property.

To this day, Be a Sweet Lark resists the clippers.

Another horse of hers, one that is older and doesn't hear well, is far less bothered by noise. To calm her horses Monday night, she plans to have both of them in their stalls, with the lights on and the radio playing full blast.

The problem with loud noises and startling explosions, experts say, lies in a horse's genetic wiring. Horses' hearing is more than twice as sensitive as humans', said Jill McEwan, head of the Expert Equine Research Center in Illinois. They can hear the ultrasonic squeak of a bat. Their eyes can detect slight motions almost all the way around them.

When faced with a crisis, they run.

"Horses are children," McEwan said. "When they have a panic attack, there is no telling where they might go or what might happen to them. "

"They will run right through fences."

Conan and a mare, Dunnie, were best pals, Linda Arlington said. At 9:30 p.m. on July 4, the two were standing with two other horses when the rocket streaked overhead from a neighbor's yard and exploded into streams of colored sparks.

The horses bolted in opposite directions. As Arlington watched, Conan ran into a wire mesh fence. The horse fell down, got back up, and ran at the fence a second time. This time he tore it down, snapping three 4-inch posts. He suffered a heart attack and died.

The neighbor, whom the Arlingtons declined to name, apologized and promised not to set off any more fireworks, the couple said.

Recently, horse owners have taken their case to Tallahassee, where a state task force is studying fireworks, a growth industry nationwide.

Despite a welter of regulations since the Sept. 11 attacks and a decline in public displays, revenue from fireworks sales has more than doubled since 2000 to $900-million, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, a trade group.

The reason? Backyard fireworks displays, said association spokeswoman Julie Heckman.

Among the points the task force is expected to address: uneven regulations between state and local governments and among counties. When Pinellas toughened requirements to buy fireworks, requiring a permit from the Sheriff's Office, roadside vendors merely moved across the border to Hillsborough.

At State Road 674 and West Lake Road, a stand operated by contractor David "Taco" Sanchez didn't even offer the form for a fireworks sale to a reporter. Shaun Campbell, 23, who handles sales at the stand for Sanchez, said he had not heard of any such requirement.

"We are the people who keep you up all night celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve," said Campbell, a seasonal carnival worker from Pennsylvania.

"There's nothing about agricultural purposes."

A version of this story appears in some regional editions of the Times. Andrew Meacham can be reached at 661-2431 or

Per Your Request: Santa / Lighting Costs.


Earlier this month, received email and comment requests inquiring about the costs to hire both Santa as well as a company to light the Christmas Tree for the December 4th holiday event.

Thanks to Milton City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, we have recieved the following information:

"Santa Bill Brown Of Sugar Hill Georgia"
770 912 3051

3hrs Christmas In Crabapple: $300
2hrs Milton Tree Lighting: $200

Balance Due: $500


Christmas Decor / Accolade Pool & Spa

Tree Lighting: $1800

Balance Due: $1800


Totals of both:$2300.

Should you or someone you know have some questions, please email them to us at and we will be happy to reach out to the powers that be.