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May 16, 2002

JCHS parent David Linder is accompanied by nearly two dozen students presenting a petition to the school board.

Parents and students request traffic light

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

In a show of support for their fallen friend, students from Jefferson County High School were present at the May 9 school board meeting to submit petition signatures requesting that a traffic light be installed at US Hwy 1 and Warrior Trail. The intersection was the scene of a two-car traffic accident May 3 that claimed the life of high school junior, Matthew Arrington.

The school board responded with a unanimous vote to a motion to assist in whatever way they could to facilitate the request.

Parent David Linder spoke for the group of nearly two-dozen students present for the board's monthly meeting. He addressed the board in a plea for the installation of a light that could help saves lives and presented officials with a petition containing 1,795 names of students and adults supporting the initiative.

"Please understand that it is not our sole intention to try to protect only our school students," Linder said, "but to protect everyone who travels this section of US 1 and those entering the highway from Warrior Trail as well as the officers directing traffic there."

Linder said the intent behind gathering the signatures is rooted in the hope that having a traffic light at the intersection will help prevent future pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, from being inflicted on individuals, families and communities.

"I am confident that all who have signed this petition so far and everyone who will sign as we continue would agree that the suffering of Matthew and his family and friends should not be inflicted on anyone else due to our lack of taking action," he said. "We may not be able to prevent this from ever happening again but we can certainly make this intersection less dangerous from what it is now."

Linder, responding to Chairman Jimmy Fleming's offer to assist the group, said that he did not know who to approach on the issue but asked that the school board use any local or state influence they had to help get a light installed.

The board voted unanimously on a proposal made by Belinda Sheram and the subsequent motion by Steve Norton to submit the completed petition to Georgia Department of Transportation, Rep. Jimmy Lord and Sen. Don Cheeks.

During his remarks to the board, Linder said his prior experience in emergency medical services left him wondering how Arrington could have entered the highway without seeing oncoming traffic. But on May 7 he gained the awareness of how such an event could have happened.

On that afternoon Linder sat at the same intersection, coming close to pulling out into an oncoming vehicle after having checked for traffic.

"I understand now how he could have pulled out without seeing someone coming," he said.

Banker seeks state office

Ronald Jackson

By Parish Howard

Jefferson County native Olin Ronald Jackson recently announced his plans to seek Georgia House of Representatives Post 103, the seat currently held by Rep. Jimmy Lord, as a Democratic candidate.

Qualifying for the position opens June 19.

The 103rd District, which includes all of Jefferson and Washington counties, and a portion of McDuffie County, is a result of the redistricting plan approved by the 2002 Georgia General Assembly.

Jackson, the Executive Vice President of First National Bank & Trust Co. in Louisville, is actively involved in farming and lives on the same farm near Bartow where he was born in 1943.

His primary concerns for the district involve education, agriculture and industrial development.

"With my experience and background, I believe I'll be able to offer a different approach to representation than the 103rd District has had," he said. "I feel like I will be able to represent the citizens of the 103rd District in a very equitable manner."

Jackson has served 18 years as a member and chairman of the Washington County Board of Education, a position he was initially appointed to April 1, 1980 by the Grand Jury.

He was elected chairman of the board by fellow members in November of that year. He also served as a member of the board of directors of the Georgia School Boards Association and as its treasurer.

A lifelong resident of Washington County, Jackson is a graduate of Washington County High School. He attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and is a graduate of the University of Georgia, the Georgia Banking School and Louisiana State University's School of Banking of the South.

He was employed by the Soil Conservation Service and the Farmers Home Administration before joining First National Bank in 1973.

Jackson is a member of the Sandersville United Methodist Church, the Louisville Kiwanis Club, the Washington County Cattleman's Association, Farm Bureau and a Gideon.

He has three children and five grandchildren.

Wrens appoints Willie Huntley as new councilman

Council wished to hold election, administrator said

By Parish Howard

The Wrens City Council voted three to two during a called meeting last week to appoint former councilman Willie Huntley to fill the seat vacated when Councilman Robert "Honk" Stephens died in February.

"Following Mr. Stephens' death we contacted the city attorney to find out what we needed to do to fill his position," City Administrator Donna Scott Johnson said. "We talked to the Secretary of State's office, the Attorney General and the legal counsel with the Georgia Municipal Association."

Mayor J.J. "Juddy" Rabun said at that time he believed the council would have to hold a special election, but after speaking with these authorities discovered otherwise.

"We knew there was something in the code about special elections," Johnson said, "but then we found out that it only applied if your city charter is silent on the issue. We found out that ours wasn't."

The city charter, which has not been changed since 1901 when the city was founded, says that "if, at any time, the office of the mayor or councilman shall become vacant by resignation, death or removal from said town, the remaining members of the town council shall select from among the eligible citizens of the town as a suitable person as the successor of the disqualified member."

Johnson said that the authorities consulted on the matter suggested that the position be filled within 45 days.

"Everyone, both the mayor and council, expressed a preference for an election, but we couldn't do that,"Johnson said. "We couldn't go against what our charter says."

For many years the city's elected officials had to go to the polls every year to get reelected, Rabun said.

"That's why the charter is set up for the appointment. According to what was in effect when the charter was written, an appointed councilman would have to run again at the end of the year anyway," Rabun said. "Now we have four year terms but we never adjusted the charter."

The mayor said that the city intends to change that part of the charter when the Georgia Legislature reconvenes next January.

The council held a special called meeting Tuesday, May 7 to discuss the appointment of a new councilmember.

Councilmembers Ceola Hannah and Erskine Lane voted to elect Huntley while Councilmembers Sydney McGahee and Dollye Ward voted for Ralph Jordan. Mayor Rabun's deciding vote put Huntley in place and he was planning to be sworn in during Tuesday's regular council meeting.

"It was an honor even to be considered for this position," Huntley said Monday. "I would like to thank the mayor and council for the appointment. I will do my best to work with the whole council as a team."

Huntley served two consecutive terms on the council in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A resident of Wrens since 1972, Huntley is a Mine Process Technician at J.M. Huber.

Local DOT's flower man recognized

Izell McGruder received the DOT District Two award in the 28th Annual Highway Wildflower Awards Program.

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Travelers along portions of the U.S. Hwy 1 bypass in Louisville have probably noticed a continuous bouquet of wildflowers during the spring months. The beauty they see is the handiwork of local DOT Highway Maintenance Foreman Izell McGruder and his team.

The fruits of their labor landed McGruder the DOT District Two award in the 28th Annual Highway Wildflower Awards Program April 9 in Gainesville. The awards luncheon recognizes outstanding DOT foremen who have contributed their time and talents to beautify state routes and interstates throughout Georgia.

"The hard work of our maintenance highway personnel like Izell make the wildflower program the success that it is," said DOT District Engineer Mike Thomas. "Izell is a dedicated employee and I am pleased he was honored this year in our district."

Wildflowers are most susceptible to weather conditions, McGruder said. Planting is done in late December to early January and, with favorable conditions, will bloom in March and last until late May. Planted this growing season along the Louisville bypass was a mixture containing dwarf cornflower, corn poppy, California poppy, plain coreopsis, lanceleaf coreopsis, black-eyed susan, ox-eyed daisy, perennial gaillardia, purple coneflower sulfur cosmos and baby blue eyes.

McGruder said the efforts to beautify highways with wildflowers are fitted in with his team's other responsibilities.

The ground preparation and frequent weed control provide a direct payoff that includes nearly every color in the spectrum and an indirect payoff that might motivate travelers to duplicate beautification efforts in their own communities.

"I just love seeing the wildflowers," he said. "It's beautification and road enhancement and it makes the city more attractive. And it really takes a team effort to get it done."

McGruder said he and his crew are planning a second planting this year beginning in July.

The Georgia Highway Wildflower Program began in 1974 as an effort of the Garden Club of Georgia, Inc. and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter to beautify Georgia's state highways.

The presence of wildflowers along roadways provides aesthetic value, reduces the expense of frequent mowing and decreases litter collection costs because people tend to litter less when wildflowers are present.

Relay for Life closing ceremonies rescheduled for May 22 at church

Awards will be given and final drawings for prizes will be held

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Rain, wind and lightning may have halted Jefferson County's Relay for Life fundraiser this year but it could thwart neither the yearlong efforts nor the outcome. Also undaunted will be the closing ceremonies scheduled for May 22.

Co-Chairpersons Karen Walden and Doug O'Steen told Relay captains at a May 7 meeting the most important aspect of the rained-out fundraiser was accomplished. It was to get the survivors together and celebrate life.

"The part I hate is that we missed getting out there and having fun through the night," said Walden, "but one of the keys in Jefferson County's success has been unity. In that way our efforts this year have been successful."

Closing ceremonies are scheduled May 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Wrens Baptist Church, O'Steen said Friday. The event will include the presentation of individual and team awards, the announcement of raffle winners and this year's monetary total. Area churches and the public are invited.

"We lost the income that would have been generated at the event through vendor sales," said O'Steen. "But when everything is said and done I think everybody will be surprised at the total."

He said since its inception eight years ago, Relay for Life fundraisers in Jefferson County have raised nearly three-quarters of a million dollars for the American Cancer Society.

"That really speaks for a county of 17,000 people to raise that much money," he said. "There are not many counties is this country that can say that. It speaks for the closeness in this county."

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