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January 24, 2002

Swearing in...

Changes of city administrations brought about in the November elections take shape this month with the swearing in of Wadley Mayor Herman Baker by John Murphy Jan. 2 during a ceremony at the Wadley Library and the swearing in of Byron Burt by Lenora Hutchinson Jan. 8 prior to the beginning of the city council meeting at Louisville City Hall.

Gibson hires new chief of police

After nearly two years with no members on police force, city hires chief

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

A decision by the Gibson City Council in late 2001 resulted in the hiring of the city's first police chief in nearly two years. Nine-year veteran officer Richard Peloquin began his tenure as Gibson Police Chief Jan. 1.

"We are glad he is on board," said Mayor Donald Kent. "He's well qualified, energetic and interested in getting the job done."

Peloquin said his selection as police chief provides him with the opportunity to serve the community. Two of his objectives are to work with Glascock County Consolidated School and to keep crime down.

"I want people to feel safe in their community," he said. "I am here for everyone, including the teenagers. I like the hospitality of the people here. They will work with you and do anything for you. And I feel the same way toward them."

Peloquin said two of the approaches he will use are Community Oriented Policing and Problem Oriented Policing. Both models are used nationwide to help safeguard communities by enhancing communication, reliance and positive physical interaction between citizens and law enforcement. Those models, as well as the overall efforts with the community and the school system, should provide the kind of police department the people can depend on, he said.

Peloquin served with Wrens Police since 1993 and worked part time with Glascock County Sheriff's Office during 1999. Prior to working in law enforcement, he served nine years in the Navy as an electronic warfare technician and with guard forces for nuclear weapons.

Kent said the council's decision to hire a police chief resulted from not being able to achieve satisfactory results in working out an arrangement with the county over the proposal two years ago to consolidate law enforcement countywide.

Fight in Louisville bar turns into stabbing incident

Three-inch stab wound treated at Jefferson Hospital

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

A Louisville man faces two charges in the Jan. 15 stabbing of another man at Roos Pool Hall on Broad Street.

Robert Chris Dalton, 32, was charged with simple battery and carrying a concealed weapon in the incident, according to Louisville Police Chief Jimmy Miller.

The stabbing followed words exchanged between the men while playing pool. During the exchange Dalton pulled two knives from his clothing and stabbed Louisville resident Ronnie Cunningham in the left shoulder. Dalton fled after stabbing Cunningham, witnesses said.

Cunningham was treated for a three-inch stab would and received five stitches before being released from Jefferson Hospital.

Dalton was arrested shortly after the incident and booked at Jefferson County jail.

Glascock commission issues back pay to former magistrate judge

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Glascock County commissioners accepted a recommendation from county attorney Samuel Fowler Jan. 9 to issue a payment of $1,087.50 to former Magistrate Judge Terry Usry for wages due him during his 1997-2000 tenure. Usry maintains the sum falls short of the $17,638.54 he believes he is owed.

County attorney Sammy Fowler informed commissioners of his recommendation by letter Dec. 6 and in person during the executive session portion of the January commission meeting. He cited Georgia law 15-10-23 in the determination that Usry is not due the entire sum he is demanding.

At issue was the number of hours per week Usry worked while serving as magistrate. In his Dec. 6 letter, Fowler said, "in order to receive this monthly income he would have had to maintain hourly time records and be able to document that he did in fact work 20 hours per week. It is my understanding that he did not."

Also citing state law and his own calculations, Fowler said Usry was entitled to an additional $217.50 for 1998 and $435 for 1999 and 2000 for a total of $1,087.50. Commission Chairman Thomas Chalker said Monday that the board decided during the executive session portion of the January meeting to pay Usry the amount Fowler recommended. The check was cut last week and is being routed to Usry through the attorneys, he said.

Representing Usry, attorney Shane Geeter in a Dec. 18 letter also referred to Georgia law 15-10-23(a)(3), saying that the law does not require that Judge Usry would have been responsible for maintaining hourly time records. Geeter, again referring to statue, said Usry would have to "certify" his hours rather than keeping a time sheet.

He said Usry did certify that he had not worked less than 20 hours per week.

"The fact that the statute only requires certification recognizes that Chief Magistrates are judges," said Geeter. "The suggestion that Chief Magistrates have to keep a time clock reduces the honor and dignity of the position of Chief Magistrate to being that of a check-out clerk at a grocery store."

Geeter said Usry performed the duties of Chief Magistrate during hours other than when his office in the courthouse was open, including through visits by citizens at his place of business, through telephone conversations after business hours and during on-call hours around the clock.

Thomas said Monday that based on Fowler's advise he believed it better that the commission reserve comment on the matter at this time.

Usry said Tuesday he had no comment except that he wants only what is owed him.

Gunlocks available from sheriff

Locks will be given away on a first-come basis

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

A nationwide effort to provide guns owners with free locks through Project Homesafe has made its way to Jefferson County. Sheriff Gary Hutchins said Friday that he has 250 locks available now on a first come first serve basis.

Project Homesafe, sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, was begun to promote safe firearm handling and storage practices for gun owners in order to reduce the risk of tragic accidents, especially among children. The program is based on developing local outreach efforts in partnership with local law enforcement by providing free safety kits to the public. The safety kit includes a gun lock and gun safety education material.

The lock system consists of a padlock and cable that can be used with revolvers and semi-automatic handguns, shotguns and bolt-action rifles. Hutchins said the locks should provide an extra measure of safety and security for gun owners.

"We have a lot of outdoorsmen in the county," he said. "The locks will help provide more security for their weapons and more peace of mind."

Hutchins said he currently has 250 locks available and expects to receive additional locks in the near future. Locks will be distributed on a first come first serve basis.

The primary function of the lock is to provide an effective barrier against young children accessing the firearm. Locks have been tested and cleared by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to perform the intended function. They are not intended to withstand forced entry using tools or other aggressive means.

Project Homesafe was adopted by the National Conference of Lieutenant Governor's in July to help diminish the risk of firearm-related injuries and deaths, often involving children, resulting from the unauthorized use of a loaded, unsecured firearm in the home.

Congress appropriated $5 million for the purchase and distribution of 3,000,000 gun locks throughout the United States by mid-2002. The grant is administered by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

Hutchins said those who want to obtain a gun lock should call the Sheriff's office at (478) 625-7538.

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Last modified: January 24, 2002