Leroy Lewis reviews the recently published book "Cemeteries of Jefferson County" while leaning against a rock wall in Louisville's city cemetery.
List of county's graves compiled
• Leroy Lewis has been collecting information for the book for years
By Elizabeth Howard
Each grave tells a story and helps to carry on a legacy. Leroy Lewis and the Jefferson County Historical Society hope to keep alive the legacies and histories present in the cemeteries of Jefferson County.
Five years ago the Historical Society, led by Lewis, undertook the extensive task of locating and documenting the cemeteries and graves of Jefferson County.
Though Lewis began collecting information in the 60s and 70s while working on genealogies, it was only about five years ago that the Historical Society adopted this as a project. For Lewis, however, this project was 30 or 40 years in the making.
According to Lewis, the completed book Cemeteries of Jefferson County Georgia 1794-2000, compiled by Lewis and the Historical Society, is an effort "to make the information available for all those family historians and also to save the information."
Locating the innumerable cemeteries in and around Jefferson County was an arduous task.
The Historical Society placed a note in Jeanne and C.W. Stephens' column, "Ancestoring," asking for information on cemeteries in the county. Lewis also discovered countless cemeteries by talking to people.
Lewis heard from people who had found grave markers in a field, a few gravestones in the woods while hunting, and he even heard from a woman who remembered walking by a cemetery on the way to school when she was a child.
"We had a few cemeteries that had no markers," he said.
In some cases, he had to rely largely on information from family members of those buried.
Once Lewis learned of a cemetery, the next difficulty was in locating it.
Lewis fought heat and rain, mosquitoes and snakes to record the information that would be included in the book.
He was aided in his fieldwork by other historians, as well as Donna Smith Lamb and her students in the LIFE program of Jefferson County.
The information was entered into a database by John J. Gordy, III and Allison Gordy, and proofread each night by Lewis.
The cemeteries are alphabetized and include a location as well as global coordinates. Each grave entry includes as much reliable information as could be determined.
Most include a name, date of birth, date of death and any available information about relationships to others.
The book lists the cemeteries present in Jefferson County through the year 2000. For dates after that, Lewis hopes to create a database of information obtained from obituaries.
"We don't think we'll update the book," he said.
The book is actually an expansion of one compiled in 1979 and 1980 by Wrens High School teacher Carolyn Zeigler and her students. It was called Tombstoning and included 5,500 grave registrations.
"Much inspiration came to us from [Zeigler]," Lewis writes in the acknowledge-ments of his book.
"Their work was really a challenge to the Jefferson County Historical Society to update that work and extend the research to register all graves in Jefferson County."
Since publication, the Historical Society has sold 60 copies of the book, and hopes to sell the remaining 440 over the next several years.
Cemeteries of Jefferson County Georgia 1794-2000 is a hardback volume of over 650 pages.
It includes over 250 cemeteries and 19,600 graves. Also among its pages are photographs of county churches and cemeteries.
It is currently on sale for $50, plus $5 for shipping and handling.
Checks may be made payable to the Jefferson County Historical Society, P.O. Box 491, Louisville, GA 30434.
Qualifying closes in Jefferson County
• Most seats will be contested in this year's local primary
By Ben Nelms
The 2002 political season began officially last week with qualifying for the Aug. 20 primaries for seats on the Jefferson County Commission, Jefferson County Board of Education and Superior Court Judge for the Middle Judicial Circuit.
Challengers abound in four of the five races for county commission and school board seats. The outcome of the Jefferson County Democratic Primary will determine the representatives for Districts 1 and 3.
Incumbent Commissioner Wynder Smith will face challenger Gonice C. Davis in the District 1 race.
Voters in District 3 will find four names on the ballot at the Aug. 20 primary.
Incumbent Paul Boulineau will face challenges from David Hastings, Mary Will Mahoney and Sidney Norton.
Voters will also determine the outcome of two of the three school board seats up for election in the Jefferson County Board of Education Non-partisan Primary.
A three way race in District 1 will see incumbent Moses Cheatham face off against challengers Donald Hatcher and Larry "Bubba" McGraw. At-large school board incumbent Chairman Jimmy Fleming will face challenger Philip Michael Broomfield.
Incumbent Steve Norton was the only person to qualify in District 3.
The race for Superior Court Judge for the Middle Judicial Circuit will see incumbent Chief Judge Walter C. McMillan, Jr. face challenger State Court Judge Malcolm "Macky" Bryant.
Runoffs will be required in races where no individual receives at least 51 percent of the votes.
Probate Judge Q. L. Bryant, Jr. said Friday that one of the new electronic, touch screen voting machines will be on display in each precinct during the Aug. 20 primary for those who might want to view the new state-mandated machines.
The new voting machines will be used exclusively in the November general election.
Wadley woman assaulted, suspect caught
By Ben Nelms
A 20 year-old Wadley man was charged Monday with aggravated assault in a June 19 attack at the home of a 57 year-old Wadley woman. She was treated for neck and head injuries at MCG Hospital and released Saturday.
Robert Lee Reeves, Jr. was charged with one count of aggravated assault in the incident, according to a spokesman for the Sheriff's office. Reeves had been released from prison in March after serving time for attempted rape.
Though registered as a sex offender while incarcerated, Reeves had not yet registered in Jefferson County since moving to Wadley in early April.
The woman told investigators that Reeves entered her home through an open door between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. She said he grabbed her and began choking her. The woman reported that the struggle ended with her on the floor, possibly losing consciousness. She told investigators that she did not know if Reeves tried to rape her but thinks he did. Investigators said the woman had reportedly just gotten out of the shower when the attack occurred and was dressed only in a t-shirt and underwear. She was only partially clothed when she went next door to a relative's house to call 911 after apparently regaining consciousness.
Investigators attempted to interview the woman after the attack but could not do so because she experienced difficulty talking.
Investigators located Reeves through information supplied by informants. He was later identified by the woman in a photographic line-up. During a subsequent interview Reeves admitted to fighting with the woman and choking her but denied that he tried to rape her. He told investigators that the woman had let him in the house and that an argument began over money she owed him.
Investigators recovered the clothes worn by Reeves on June 19 and said he had sustained recent scratches. Reeves is being housed at Jefferson County jail. Investigators said additional charges are pending.
The investigation was conducted by investigators from the Sheriff's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Glascock County residents hold meetings to prepare for disaster
By Ben Nelms
Cities, counties and states nationwide since the events of 9/11 have responded to potential disruptions and catastrophes of all kinds by stepping up emergency management plans that would enable communities to deal with disasters and provide care for residents until outside assistance can arrive.
Public health and safety officials, elected officials and community residents met June 20 at the Little School in Gibson with District 6 Public Health officer Charles Reneau to begin discussions that will lead to a comprehensive plan to address the county's health and medical response in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.
The upcoming Health and Medical Services plan, designated as Emergency Support Function (ESF) #8, is a component of the county's overall Emergency Management Agency (EMA) plan that covers all aspects of reacting to and recovering from any form of disaster. Glascock County has a total of 17 Emergency Support Functions in addition to its basic plan.
The county's overall emergency management plan designates the Glascock County Health Department as the primary agency responsible for ESF #8. Reneau told the group that the plan's objective should be geared to having the community sustain itself for 72 hours until regional, state or federal agencies can respond on the ground.
In the event of a disaster within the county, ESF #8 can be activated either by local EMA Director Denise Dallas or Public Health Nurse Nona Lord.
"All we're planning for here is the initial stages of the response so that you can function until help arrives," he said. "The best thing I can tell you is to keep the plan simple."
Reneau suggested that community members and those involved with various aspects of disaster response be advised of the upcoming meeting at the Little School on July 11 at 7 p.m. He said community assistance will be needed to formulate the components that will make up the county's ESF #8 strategy.
Some portions of the eight categories included in the ESF #8 plan will be handled by District 6 Public Health, while other components will require action by one or more agencies within the county.
ESF #8 is comprised of eight categories, including health care management and treatment, fatality management (mortuary affairs), laboratory process, mental health, shelter support, communications (reports and health alerts), epidemiological investigations and environmental surety.
Development Authority approves projects
By Ben Nelms
The development of future industry in Jefferson County moved another step closer to fruition June 13 with a vote by members of the Development Authority of Jefferson County (DAJC) to proceed with projects that will impact enterprises in Wadley, Louisville and Wrens.
The first of three industrial properties considered by the authority involved the vote to purchase a site at the Shake Rag Industrial Park on US Highway 1 in Wadley. The 30-acre site, designated as Tract D, was purchased from Wadley business owner Wynder Smith for $15,000. The vote to purchase was subsequent to the recent approval by the Wadley City Council to rezone the property as industrial and following completion of the Phase 1 environmental, biological and archeological review. An additional five-acre tract, Tract B, was donated to the authority to serve as a future road into the industrial park.
"The Shake Rag Industrial Park property has been found to be a good industrial site," said economic developer Brad Day. "Upon recommendation, the authority voted to acquire the property. The purchase was made with money from the regular operating fund that comes to the development authority from the county commission."
The next step needed to bring the site closer to development will be to have the property graded and water and sewer installed. Day said the process should take approximately one year to bring the site to a marketable status. The development authority is currently seeking funding for those improvements.
On a recommendation from the recent study on enhancing economic development within Jefferson County, Day advised the development authority to purchase the 252-acre Louisville Airport Industrial Park property on the Louisville bypass. Georgia Tech researchers recommended that the county as a whole would benefit more if the authority sought to develop sites throughout the county but focused on the Louisville site. Researchers said the acquisition of industrial property for development as publicly owned sites was an urgent matter. The Louisville industrial park was recommended because of its central location and availability of utilities and other on-site improvements, the study said.
Day said DAJC voted to purchase the 252-acre site from Louisville Storage and Loan for $252,000. Authority members Ray Barrentine, Lee Woods and Ted Johnson both discussed and ultimately voted to acquire the property. The remaining four authority members did not participate either in the discussion or the vote to avoid any perceived or real conflict of interest, said Day.
"The property will be purchased with a loan to the development authority," he said. "Capital expenditures like these are often paid for over time. So we will be getting a below-market interest rate and we will pay off the loan from the general operating funds of the development authority."
The county's three banks may be invited to do a joint loan, depending on what is in the best interest of the authority, Day said. The relatively small business loan might be able to be handled by any of the banks.
Another measure approved by the board was the request for a $50,000 Rural Business Opportunities Grant for engineering services related to the future development of the industrial park.
"We're seeking funds to plan and do the engineering on the industrial park," said Day. "We are asking the federal government to bare some of that cost."
A third measure adopted by DAJC was the signing of a real estate option that would help facilitate the possible expansion of Glit, Inc. onto the adjacent 15-acre property that currently houses the city recreation fields. The Wrens City Council recently voted unanimously to turn the property over to the development authority for industrial expansion.
"We're about half way through negotiations with a company in Wrens to expand," he said. "We want to be prepared to make a deal if one comes about. The Wrens City Council has approved an option and now the development authority has approved an option to be given that land."
A condition of the option between the two bodies requires that the development authority use the land for an industrial purpose within one year. Another condition of the option provides the city with $250,000 to build a new recreation facility. Day said he hopes to access state grant monies to make the deal possible.
"The development authority cannot be given the property without the guaranteed donation to the City of Wrens of $250,000 and that money must go toward the construction of a new park," he said. "This is a worthy project, so the federal or state government will want to participate."
DAJC is currently pursuing a variety of state and federal grants that will impact economic development throughout the county.
In a related matter, DAJC will ask commissioners to approve an increase in the amount of public funds allocated to the authority. DAJC currently receives .73 mills through property taxes. An increase to 1 mil would help support the development authority's long-term expenses in economic development, said Day.