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April 18, 2002

Glascock County Sheriff Bryan Bopp examines the cash register from Usry's Diner found in the woods.

Diner burglary solved

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Three Dearing men were charged Friday in connection with the January burglary of Usry's Diner in Gibson. The cash register, cash box and more than $600 in checks were recovered by the Glascock County Sheriff's Office in the woods off Bastonville Road.

Robert Joel Sleister, 18, and Ralph Guemell Poole, 27, were charged with one count burglary and are being held at McDuffie County jail, according to Sheriff Bryan Bopp. Christopher Faron Alday, 21, was charged with one count of theft by receiving stolen property. Alday turned himself in to the Sheriff Monday.

Bopp said Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Dave Leonard was contacted by an individual who furnished information pertaining to the burglary. Interviews with suspects resulted in the arrests of Sleister and Poole and the disclosure of the approximate locations of the stolen items. A search of the location off Bastonville Road yielded the stolen cash register and cash box and the recovery of $620 in checks belonging to the restaurant. An undisclosed amount of cash reported at the time of the burglary was not located.

Bopp said the investigation revealed that Poole is married to a former employee at the diner and Sleister is the son of the former employee.

Restaurant owner Terry Usry said Monday that the two men had been in the restaurant on several occasions in the past. He said he was relieved that the case was solved and the checks recovered.

14-year-old Wadley cyclist struck by oncoming vehicle

Derrick Woods was struck by a car and thrown approximately 20 feet; now listed in good condition

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The condition of a 14 year-old Wadley boy has improved after he was injured Friday night when he rode his bicycle into the path of an oncoming vehicle on the Wadley bypass. The driver was not charged in the accident.

Derrick Woods had been riding his bicycle east on Lincoln Street shortly before 11 p.m.

He continued into oncoming traffic on the US Hwy 1 bypass, according to Wadley Police Lt. Gene Marsh.

Woods was struck by New York resident M. J. Sansonetti, Jr. who claimed to have swerved his Dodge Caravan into the left lane while attempting to avoid contact with the bicycle.

Upon impact Woods hit the windshield and was thrown approximately 20 feet in front of the vehicle.

The boy sustained facial fractures and a concussion and was initially listed in serious condition at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

His condition has been upgraded to good on Monday.

He was not wearing a bicycle helmet at the time of the accident.

EPD addresses county landfills

Officials share findings from recent inspections of both old and new sites

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

What started off looking like trouble for both of Jefferson County's landfills ended pretty well. Members of the county commission, the county's consulting engineering firm and the commission-appointed landfill committee met in Augusta April 11 with representatives of Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to address the findings of the agency's recent inspection of the facilities.

At issue were a number of violations found at the old landfill on Clarks Mills Road and at the new landfill on Mennonite Church Road. Augusta EPD Program Manager II Al Frazier began the meeting telling the Jefferson County group that, "They were not very good inspections, not very good results." He said potential existed at the old landfill to have a consent order and monetary penalties imposed. The new landfill received a failing score of 40 and the violations need to be addressed within 30 days, said Frazier. A score of 80 is required to be considered passing.

The meeting began to turn almost from the beginning, with county administrator James Rogers and consultant engineer Walter Sanders citing documentation that existed and work that was in process or had already been completed since the March 13 inspections. Some of the needed documentation was present in the county but the commission was unaware that it was required for the inspections. Also discovered at the meeting was that the EPD office in Atlanta was in possession of some portions of required documentation but EPD staff at the agency's new Augusta office were unaware of its existence. Those factors, the fact that the March 13 inspection was the first conducted by EPD since the landfill's January 1999 opening and the commission's willingness to correct all the violations brought both parties to an agreement.

By the end of the meeting EPD granted 60 days to correct the deficiencies at the old landfill rather than the 30 days stated in the letter and six months to remedy the violations at the new facility.

Frazier told the group that EPD wanted to try to build a relationship with the county at both facilities, citing the county's willingness to remedy the violations rather than taking the adversarial approach that some governments take. At the end of the meeting EPD Program Manager I Jeff Darley said the information gathered at the meeting showed that the county was really close to getting a certificate at the old landfill and that EPD wanted to help in that regard.

At a meeting of the commission Monday a plan was initiated to address the violations. A motion was adopted to identify and contract with a private party who can accomplish the required physical modifications at the old landfill.

Rogers, Sanders, Commissioner Isaiah Thomas and Landfill Operator Albert Padgett will devise recommendations to remedy all the violations within the six-month time frame as well as other issues at the new landfill.

The most costly and time-intensive of the violations is reworking the slope of the landfill cell that is currently in violation of the Design & Operation Plan that mandates, among other things, the vertical and horizontal limits of the cells and the permitted angular ratio.

The study group will also address the need to acquire one or more pieces of equipment, the need for additional training for prison camp guards who supervise inmates working at the new landfill and the need for a greater number of dependable inmates to work at both the landfill and the Roads Dept.

At the end of the meeting Commissioner Tommy New suggested that the commission explore the idea of shutting down the facility and installing a transfer station on the property so that trash would be hauled out of the county.

Mitchell hosts annual Springfest this weekend

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Every year the event gets bigger and more diverse, with crowds that can be measured only in multiples of 100.

This year's Mitchell Springfest 2002 should be no less of an occasion, with a variety of events, food and crafts for everyone during the celebration that begins Friday at 7 p.m. and ends Sunday afternoon.

"The festival will begin this year with a variety show and auction," said Festival Committee Secretary Mary Griswell.

"The local talent featured will include singing, dancing, comedy skits and a variety of musical instruments."

The events Saturday will include the annual parade at 11 a.m. followed by opening ceremonies and remarks from State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko and the dedication of the city's new street lights.

Saturday's events will also feature two performances by Stoney Gap Bluegrass Band, a pie judging contest and a bridal and evening gown fashion show by Wrens designer Leada Weatherford.

Events Saturday continue into the night with fireworks and a street dance with live music by Flashback.

Dance admission is $3 for singles and $5 for couples.

Sunday's events will begin at 11 a.m. with a community church service at the stage area.

The festival will end Sunday afternoon with drawings for a fishing boat and a handmade quilt.

High-speed chase ends near Wadley

Suspect eventually abandoned the car and fled on foot

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

A near collision with a Wadley Police vehicle early Saturday morning ended after a high-speed chase four miles south of Bartow after the driver abandoned the vehicle and fled into the woods at the intersection of US Hwy 319 and US Hwy 221.

Officers were patrolling in the vicinity of Foster Circle in Wadley at 2:21 a.m. when an oncoming vehicle almost crashed in them head-on, according to Lt. Gene Marsh.

The driver of the vehicle failed to stop, accelerating in speed and alluding officers in a pursuit that left the city and on to Coleman's Chapel Road at speeds in excess of 110 miles per hour.

After turning onto US Hwy 221 the driver abandoned the car where the highway dead ends into US Hwy 319 and ran into the woods.

Wadley Police were joined minutes later by two units from the Sheriff's office. Officers searched the woods but were unable to locate the driver.

During a search of the vehicle at the scene officers found what appeared to be a crack cocaine pipe under the front seat. Marsh said the vehicle's driver was known to police and that a citation for the offenses would be forthcoming.

The owner of the car told police she had loaned the car to the suspect to run errands.

The vehicle has been released to the owner.

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Last modified: April 17, 2002