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August 29, 2002 Issue


Sophomore Jaguar quarterback Matt Otis hands off the ball to senior runningback Drew Battle during Friday's game against Curtis Baptist. The game kicked off the season of regularly scheduled games for all local high schools. Friday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m., the JCHS Warriors will host Burke County and the GCCS Panthers will host Lanier County.

Results of local elections reviewed

Runoffs in school board and commission races set for Sept. 10

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Voters made their wishes known last week as three of four local elections ended in either an upset or a runoff slated for Sept. 10.

In the contest for the District 1 seat on the Jefferson County Commission, incumbent Wynder Smith was defeated by challenger Gonice C. Davis, who received 567 votes compared to 513 votes for Smith. District 3 Commissioner Paul Boulineau had a second place showing and will face Sidney Norton in a runoff. Norton captured 283 votes while Boulineau received 267. Challengers Mary Will Mahoney took home 220 votes and David Hastings received 61 votes.

The nonpartisan District 1 race for Jefferson County School Board ended in a three-way split between incumbent Moses Cheatham, Donald Hatcher and Larry "Bubba" McGraw. A runoff next month will pit Hatcher, who received 365 votes Aug. 20, against McGraw, who received 349. Cheatham received 320 votes in the contest. The race for at-large school board chairman ended with incumbent Jimmy Fleming receiving 2,010 votes, or 66 percent, compared to 1,031 votes for challenger Phillip Broomfield. District 3 school board member Steve Norton ran unopposed.

The race for state Representative from the 103rd District between incumbent Jimmy Lord and challenger Olin Ronald Jackson ended in a victory for Lord, who captured a total of 57.8 percent of the vote in the three-county district. Lord received a total of 4,584 votes, including 1,704 votes in Jefferson County, 2,784 votes in Washington County and 96 votes in McDuffie County. Jackson received 1,186 votes in Jefferson, 2,072 votes in Washington and 91 in McDuffie.

Incumbent Walter C. McMillan demonstrated a clear win over challenger Malcom "Macky" Bryant in the race for Superior Court Judge of the Middle Judicial Circuit. McMillan received 8,105 votes, or 60.1 percent, compared to 5,374 votes, or 39.9 percent, for Bryant.

The race for the new 12th Congressional District had similar outcomes in Glascock and Jefferson counties. In Glascock, Republican Max Burns outpaced Barbara Dooley 157 votes to 64. In the Democratic primary Chuck Pardue received 129 votes compared to 12 votes for Charles "Champ" Walker, 10 votes for Denise Freeman and seven votes for Ben Allen. In Jefferson, Denise Freeman won the Democratic primary with 704 votes, while Chuck Pardue received 635 votes, Charles "Champ" Walker received 470 votes and 449 votes went to Ben Allen. In the Republican primary Max Burns received 300 votes compared to 216 to Barbara Dooley.

Wadley uses water account money

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

City of Wadley officials earlier this month found a way to issue paychecks and satisfy creditors. City records of transactions from the Water Improvement account in 2001 bring into question the propriety of some of the money spent by city officials during the previous administration.

At issue is a $200,000 portion of the $421,000 withdrawn from the water account in 2001 that was used to pay numerous city bills unrelated to the water and sewer department.

Mayor Herman Baker said Monday that the funds totaling nearly $185,000 transferred from the Water Improvement account to the General Fund in early August and used to pay the city's mid-August payroll and other accumulated bills was an appropriate move under FHA guidelines.

He said city auditor Garry Pittman advised him that the move should cover the amount of money owed the General Fund since that account had paid all the expenses of the $405,000 water department budget for the first seven months of the fiscal year.

"The General Fund was owed that money from the water account," said Baker. "That is because the general fund had paid all of the water account bills from January through early August."

The rules governing the two Farmers Home Administration (FHA) revenue bonds obtained by the city in prior years to upgrade the municipal water and sewer system state that all expenses generated by the water and sewer department, including salaries of department employees, can be paid out of that account.

Funds from the account can also be used to pay principle and interest, to create a Payment Reserve account and a Renewal and Extension Fund. Money from the account used to pay expenses other than those violate the rules governing the revenue bond, FHA officials said.

Finances in 2001
A search of city records for 2001 showed that city officials used restricted money from the Water Improvement Fund to meet financial obligations, moving $421,349.56 from that account into the General Fund account and leaving the water account with a balance of $50,757.31 on Dec. 31.

Aside from funds used to pay expenses required to run the water and sewer system, approximately $200,000 of water account money was also used to pay part or all of 10 city payrolls and to pay numerous city bills.

Copies of Water Improvement account checks signed by former Mayor pro tem Albert Samples and transferred into the General Fund account from June 7, 2001 through the last payroll of the year on January 3, 2002 totaled $229,594.24.

The late Mayor B.A. Johnson directed the withdrawal of another $191,755.32 from the account prior to his death between January and May.

The balance of the account listed on bank statements shows a January 1, 2001 balance of $79,848.60 and an ending balance December 31 of $50,757.31.

Water account records for the year show that the city deposited $407,566.88 collected from water and sewer customers during the period.

The total withdrawn from the account during the year and deposited in the General Fund was $421,349.56.

Though the use of water account funds for related expenses is customary, city officials used money from the account to pay a wide range of unrelated city bills.

Beginning in June 2001 and ending with the final 2001 payroll on January 3, 2002, water account funds, ranging from $9,473-20,485, paid for part or all of 10 city payrolls.

Payrolls normally average $20,000-21,000 with approximately 25 percent of the amount used to pay water and sewer department wages. Approximately $30,000 of city bills unrelated to the water and sewer department were paid last fall with money transferred from the Water Improvement account.

Other city debts paid from the account during 2001 included $11,303 for computers for city hall and the police department, a $6,064 payment for a limb chipper, $13,473 on the lease of two patrol cars, a $3,912 payment on the holding cell at the police department and $14,673 for medical insurance premiums and a reinstatement for all city employees.

Medical insurance had been cancelled for city employees last summer because the city did not meet its premium requirements.

Monies expended with funds transferred from the Water Improvement account into the General Fund in 2001 and used for purposes other than water and sewer-related expenses total approximately $200,000.

When contacted Monday Samples, who had not had an opportunity to review the documents, said he had no comment at this time.

When asked in a July 5, 2001 meeting about the city's worsening financial condition, Samples accurately stated that the situation with city finances did not happen overnight. As early as February 2001 Wadley was experiencing significant delinquencies to creditors and local governments.

Matters only got worse throughout the year. By year's end, city officials had exhausted nearly all available revenue generated from the $1.2 million budget, had spent an additional $200,000 in unrelated water account funds and left Baker with $206,000 in delinquent bills when he took office in early January 2002.

Meeting helps prepare locals for major disasters

County attempting to identify resources and form plans for natural and manmade disaster scenarios

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Everyone living in Jefferson County in 1999 remembers the mass of people moving through the area in an effort to flee the potential effects of Hurricane Floyd.

How would Jefferson County residents respond if an F-4 tornado struck Wrens and Matthews next spring, if the Ogeechee River flooded next summer and cut the county in half or if weaponized smallpox from the former Soviet stockpile was sprayed from an aircraft over portions of the county while in route from Augusta and Ft. Gordon to Warner Robins or Ft. Stewart?

The answer to those questions lies in the ability and the willingness of residents to identify their resources and develop a comprehensive disaster plan that can be implemented to respond to any natural or manmade threat. Through assistance provided by the District 6 Public Health service in Augusta, nearly 50 Jefferson County residents attended their first community preparedness meeting Aug. 19 designed to produce such a plan. Glascock County residents began that process June 20 and are moving toward the implementation of a plan specific to their communities.

State District 6 Public Health Director Frank Rumph and Bioterrorism Coordinator Charles Reneau, representing the 13-county district included in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA), attended the Aug. 19 meeting at Jefferson County High School. The information they provided was geared to begin a dialogue that will result in a comprehensive plan to address the local health and medical services effort required in a natural or manmade disaster.

"This is a very necessary, very important occasion," said Rumph. "Prior to 9/11 it was difficult to get anybody to listen. But I'm here to tell you that the potential is everywhere. Nobody is immune."

The primary emphasis of the first meeting was to familiarize the county with a template capable of generating a comprehensive, countywide plan for a health and medical services response to a disaster. Reneau said the plan, known as Emergency Support Function (ESF) #8, is one of 20 ESF components designated by Georgia Emergency Management Agency that should be in place in each county to respond to a disaster.

These functions comprise each county's Emergency Management Plan. The template for implementing ESF #8 is in place. Needed now is participation by agencies and individuals within the county to put it into action.

"This will be your plan and it will be specific to Jefferson County," Reneau said.

ESF #8 consists of categories that include Health Care, Fatality Management, Mental Health, Shelter Support, Communications, Environmental Surety, Laboratory Process and Epidemiological Investigations. Local professionals have been identified to head up the efforts of most of the categories.

Jefferson County Health Department Director Vicky Morgan asked that the faith community respond by providing leadership in the Mental Health category.

Reneau told the group that ESF #8 should be geared to having the community sustain itself for 72 hours until regional, state or federal agencies can respond on the ground.

He also provided an overview of the methods of dissemination, identification and treatment of biological agents such as anthrax, smallpox, tularemia, brucellosis and plague.

Louisville resident Jo Polhill provided information on the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile program, established to supply medications and medical equipment to populations in emergencies resulting from the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The meeting was attended by representatives from Jefferson County Commission office, Roads Dept., sheriff's office, marshal's office, local EMA office, coroner's office, prison work camp, transit system, library system, DFACS, JCHS police, state forestry service, media, churches and interested residents.

Though the meeting was well attended, Morgan and local EMA Director Faye McGahee said increased participation is needed from local governments, agencies, organizations and individuals countywide to more successfully develop and implement the plan and help ensure adequate health and medical services to residents throughout the county in a disaster.

The next ESF #8 meeting is scheduled Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. at Jefferson County High School.

Former teacher named PAGE president

By Elizabeth Howard

Preston Howard spent his first five years in the field of education in Jefferson County. In that time he worked with students and teachers and his daughter was a member of Jefferson County High School's first graduating class. Today this former Jefferson County educator and resident is president of the largest association for professional educators in Georgia.

In 1992 Howard entered the field of education after retiring from the United States Army. He became interested in education after his last assignment in the military, which involved training others enlisted in the Army.

"I got a lot of satisfaction out of that," Howard said. "I found I had a knack for getting my point across."

When Howard retired from the army, his wife was offered a position teaching at a church in Wrens. They bought a farm in Jefferson County and, in 1992, Howard began teaching at Wrens High School.

After three years in Wrens, he began teaching at the newly established Jefferson County High School. He taught for a total of five years in Jefferson County. During that time Howard was the CVAE coordinator (Coordinator of Vocational Academic Education) and taught world history, U.S. history, economics and citizenship.

In his first year teaching, Howard joined the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), of which he has been named the 2002-2003 president, as a means of obtaining liability insurance. He attended PAGE's fall conference in Savannah and was impressed by the association. He was made a member of the convention and membership committee.

"They just kept me involved and kept me involved," he said.

As a new teacher with little experience, Howard benefited from his membership in PAGE.

"When I first joined PAGE in 1992," Howard said, "I was a rookie teacher who didn't know all that I needed to know about educating students. There were a few teachers who very quietly helped me. Those veteran teachers knew what it took to be a good teacher. In hindsight, it is no surprise that they were PAGE members."

After leaving Jefferson County teacher who didn't know all that I needed to know about educating students. There were a few teachers who very quietly helped me. Those veteran teachers knew what it took to be a good teacher. In hindsight, it is no surprise that they were PAGE members."

After leaving Jefferson County High School, Howard moved to the Atlanta area where he joined the Marietta City Schools system. He began as the administrative assistant at Marietta High School. Two years later, he became principal of Marietta's alternative school. He is now the director of school operations in the Marietta City school system.

As PAGE president, Howard represents the organization at functions, such as PAGE day on Capitol Hill, legislative rallies and academic bowls. Howard also hopes to emphasize to teachers the importance of joining a professional organization.

"Now more than ever we need the voice of reason and educational expertise in the halls and chambers of the capitol," Howard said. "Now more than ever we need an association that will promote the best practices in education and provide support to educators across the state so that they may achieve their highest level of professional development and improve the academic development of all of our students. I believe that PAGE is that association."

With so much experience in the past few years, Howard has still not forgotten his time in Jefferson County.

"Jefferson County is the fondest memory in my heart as far as teaching," he said. "Somebody did a good job training me."

PAGE currently has 51,000 members. For more information visit the website at www.pageinc.org.

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