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June 20, 2002

Field and timber fire...

The Jefferson County Forestry Unit, along with Burke County Forestry and fire departments, responded Saturday to a fire one-half mile inside Burke County on SR 24 that consumed 260 acres of straw field and woodlands. The equipment fire began during a straw baling operation. Forester Reggie Morgan recommended having water-under-air-type fire extinguishers present when baling, combining or timber harvesting.

In honor of Betty Sue Walden

Rachel and Adam Walden (left) are two of the hundreds to turn out June 15 at the Wrens walking track for the Betty Sue Walden Music Celebration. Elaine Gay and Hugh Fleming keep the ice cream coming, just part of the food, games, fellowship and music that filled the occasion.

Plans for law enforcement center develop

• Phase two includes having the jail portion of the center laid out using two-man cells rather than four-man

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

County commissioners voted 4-0 on two motions June 10 to move forward with Phase 2 of the plans for construction of the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center on property adjacent to the prison camp and to explore the possibility of hiring a construction manager to oversee the county's interest in the project. The move came after commissioners approved Phase 1 of the design-build agreement with the facility's perspective contractor, Massee Builders, Inc., and architect Rusty McCall.

Phase 2 includes the decision to have the jail portion of the center be laid out using two-man cells rather than the other option of using four-man cells to house inmates. The board's decision to engage Massee and McCall to complete Phase 2 authorized the preparation of a Design Development Document to arrive at the structural, mechanical and electrical systems, material and other items essential to the project.

The Phase 1 schematic Design Studies provided commissioners with a look at a detailed diagram of the proposed layout of the law enforcement center, which will include a jail located behind the building housing administrative and other offices. Builder Mark Massee told commissioners the cost of the 41,318 square-foot facility and all the site preparation work would be approximately $6.25 million for the turnkey project. The builder's design cost equaling six percent was not included in the figure.

Massee and McCall told commissioners they would identify specific cost-reduction components in the project when presenting Phase 2 results for the board's consideration, in the event commissioners would like to reduce the total-project cost. They said the total cost of the project could be reduced by an estimated $600,000 off the total cost if the county provided some of the site preparation work such as grading, erosion control and installation of water and sewer lines. Items that could be moved into the facility such as office furniture, radios, kitchenware, utensils and supplies were not included in the total project cost, McCall said.

The law enforcement center's foundation, walls and ceilings would be constructed of concrete block with a brick façade. Concrete blocks will be filled with concrete and rebar, said McCall.

Acoustical tile ceilings would be used in the administrative building except for rooms, such as holding cells, where prisoners would be present. The 911 Center would be outfitted with a computer floor for needed cable and conduit access.

Behind the administrative building would be a 124-bed square-shaped jail pod comprised of eight wedged-shaped sections, all emanating from a central control tower. Seven of the eight sections in the 18,256 square-foot pod would contain two-person, tamper-proof stainless steel cells and a day area. Walk spaces behind cells would be provided for needed maintenance on toilet facilities inside the cells. The eighth section would function as an exercise area. Current requirements for housing inmates specify that individuals be housed according to classifications, including age, gender and whether the charge is a misdemeanor or felony.

Monitoring of inmates will be facilitated from a circular, open-view control tower in the center of the jail pod, where jailers will have an unobstructed 360-degree view of all sections. Cameras and monitors will be placed throughout the jail and holding areas and control systems for functions such as lock down can be controlled either from the control tower or from the administration building.

The 23,062-foot administration building will house Sheriff's administrative offices, booking, medical and visitation areas, the county 911 Center, the Magistrate Court offices with a multipurpose hearing room and several offices for rental by state law enforcement-affiliated agencies.

Jail personnel required to staff the new facility will include six or seven jailers in addition to the six jailers currently employed, according to Sheriff Gary Hutchins. Current state and federal requirements mandating inmate supervision, as well as other facility problems, are some of the issues that have kept the present jail from being able to be in compliance and more vulnerable to litigation.

Also adopted at the June 10 meeting was a motion made by Chairman Gardner Hobbs to explore the possibility of hiring a construction manager to oversee the project. Hobbs said the proposal was intended only to insure that the county had someone looking out for its specific interests. Massee and McCall said they welcomed such a move and would work with the individual in whatever way the county desired.

Massee said June 10 that Phase 2 should be completed in approximately 45-60 days. Once presented, commissioners will decide whether to continue with Massee and McCall or to search for another firm to build the facility.

Louisville plans for Civil War plaza

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The merger of the past and the future is one step closer to putting Louisville on the historic tourism map and increasing revenue for businesses in the city and Jefferson County.

The city council's May 14 decision to allocate $20,000 in matching funds to create a Civil War Plaza downtown and make signage changes to the intersection of SR 24 and Broad Street may be the first step toward capturing more than Gen. Sherman could have ever dreamed.

"These are ideas on some of the things we can do to make some improvements to downtown, some things to attract more tourists to the area," said council member Phil Polhill. "We feel like if we are going to progress and not digress we need to have some kind of plan."

He said a catalyst for the move is the city's upcoming participation as a site on the Georgia Heritage Trail's program marking Sherman's March to the Sea.

Representing the development authority, Lil Agel said the Development Authority of Jefferson County had applied for a $20,000 state grant requiring matching city funds for the project.

"The grant application will specifically deal with signage, the Civil War Heritage Plaza and the associated parking behind it," said Agel.

The project would include the installation of a Civil War Plaza to be located on the plot between Johnson Cleaners and First National Bank on Broad Street and new signage at the intersection of SR 24 and Broad Street indicating the historic significance of Louisville.

Also proposed at the intersection is the addition of some type of vegetation in the median. Parking for the Civil War Plaza would be provided on the east side of the plaza, behind Queensborough Insurance building on Mulberry Street.

The project is the first phase of the Historic Louisville initiative conceived to help rejuvenate the downtown business district and set the stage locally for Georgia's upcoming efforts to attract portions of existing historic tourism revenues to areas throughout the state.

Agel said other grants, both large and small, will be sought for projects involving Historic Louisville initiative. Mayor Byron Burt told council members the city's participation was appropriate and needed. Efforts promoting Louisville as Georgia's first Capitol might find their way beyond the boundaries of the city, he said.

"I think tourism is a growth industry for us," he said. "I'm excited that we are going to have signage and a memorial to attract tourists. I hope we can go ahead and get signage outside the area so that other members of the traveling public can see that Louisville is a historic city."

State law used to keep children off the streets after midnight

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Using a state law aimed at keeping children off the streets after midnight Louisville police have detained five juveniles since Memorial Day and have responded to only one theft call.

Enforcement of the law was stepped up after a number of Louisville residents brought concerns over thefts before city council last month.

Mayor Byron Burt told residents at the May council meeting that the Public Safety Committee would address their concerns. Within days the committee had met and an old state law applicable to citizens concerns was found by Police Chief Jimmy Miller.

The state law prohibits children under age 17 from being out alone between midnight and 5 a.m. loitering on streets in a public place. Miller said conversations with officials in the juvenile court system provided the assurance that incidents of violation will be addressed.

"The judge said he will address each case individually as needed," said Miller. "And he will place the conditions that he deems necessary on a case by case basis. He advised me to do what we need to do with the juveniles, charge them, bring them before him and he will address the issue."

The process Louisville Police employ includes detaining the child violating the after-hours law, bringing him to the police station and calling for a parent or legal guardian to pick up the child. Subsequently, the child will be scheduled to appear before the juvenile court judge.

Officers on patrol now alert children under age 17 during the hours of 11 p.m. to midnight that the state law will be enforced. Miller said the result so far is fewer children on the streets and only one case of theft from a resident's property.

One of the residents who initially brought concerns of child safety and property theft believes the city's approach is paying off. Though she and other residents originally proposed imposing a curfew, Ginger Caughey said Friday the action taken by the city is having a positive effect.

"I'm very satisfied with what the city is doing," said Caughey. "I think the enforcement of the law is wonderful and that this gives them something to fall back on. It will really help to keep the kids safe."

Citing the most visible deterrent to the presence of children on the streets after midnight, City Administrator Donnie Rhodes said it was the commitment of police officers as the front-line deterrent to those activities that makes the difference.

"In addition to the laws we have it is the officers out there at night that make the difference," said Rhodes. "They are the ones enforcing this. We appreciate what they have done so far and we hope they will continue this."

Rhodes and Miller said the city is committed to strictly enforcing the law to protect both children out after midnight and property owners who have been the victims of theft.

"The police department is going to enforce this law," said Miller. "All we ask is that the parents familiarize themselves with this law. Children cannot wander the streets between midnight and 5 a.m."

The News and Farmer P.O. Box 487 Louisville, GA 30434
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Last modified: June 19, 2002