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October 10, 2002 Issue

And the band played on...
Jefferson County High School's marching band continues its tradition of excellence this year performing during every home game.

Louisville native takes over new campus

Matthew Hodges named instructional director

By Parish Howard

When the new Sandersville Technical College (STC) campus opens next to Jefferson County High School in January, Louisville native Matthew Hodges will be at the helm.

STC recently announced that Hodges has been appointed instructional director for the Jefferson County Center.

"I am very excited about coming back to Jefferson County," Hodges said. "I believe that Sandersville Technical College and Jefferson County are making great strides to bring quality higher education to the citizens of the county."

As instructional director his duties will include managing the center's five instructors and staff.

He said that he hopes to move into the facility in November when the construction is scheduled to be completed. A special registration for the center's welding, computer and certified nursing assistant classes is expected to be held in December with classes beginning Jan. 2.

Joint enrollment classes with Jefferson County High School, where high school students are able to get additional college credits, have been in place for several months using temporary buildings, Hodges said.

"Technical education is a vital part of today's economy and this center will bring great opportunities," Hodges said. "I look forward to being involved with each community and to giving the people of these communities an opportunity to enhance their career goals."

Hodges plans to graduate in December from Troy State University with a masters of education with emphasis in college administration.

He is married to Tammy, who is a family and consumer science teacher at Lakeside Middle School in Martinez. They have one son, 2 and a half-year-old Evans.

Hodges comes to STC from Augusta Technical College where he was Admissions/Recruitment Specialist 2000-2002, as well as the High School Recruiter, Student Activities Coordinator and Advisor for Student Government Association.

The son of Larry and Donnie Hodges, he is a 1992 graduate of Louisville High School and a 1996 graduate of Georgia Southern University with a bachelor's degree in sports management.

Investigation into missing man on-going

Search dogs now offer no alerts on a human presence at the search site

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The mass search at Rocky Comfort Creek for 66-year-old Louisville resident William "Bo Peep" Farrer came to a close Sept. 30. Yet the investigation continues with additional interviews being conducted by investigators, checks of his business and personal activities and, though the mass search ended, at the site where Farrer's boat was found.

"We are still going on with the investigation," said Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins. "People may not see it, but it's going on. We are continuing to run down leads and we are still searching the creek."

Hutchins said investigators from his office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) are continuing to interview Farrer's family, friends and business associates. Other avenues being investigated include, but are not limited to, personal and financial aspects of Farrer's life. Hutchins said the possibility of administering polygraphs exists if or when the test is warranted.

Search efforts along Rocky Comfort Creek between Clarks Mill Road and Grange Road have continued despite the termination of the mass search that extended over 18 days since Farrer's boat and pickup truck were found at a favorite fishing spot Sept. 13.

A cadaver dog and handler from the Tennessee Search and Rescue Dog Association joined a small group of searchers Sept. 30 as they made their way down stream to within approximately one mile from the steel bridge on Scootch Davis Road in Louisville. The dog offered no "alerts" to the presence of a human either at the primary search site or downstream.

Small groups of searchers continued to hunt for clues about Farrer's disappearance daily for the remainder of the week. The area of the search, conducted primarily in the creek and along its banks, included areas more than one-third mile upstream from where the boat was found to the SR 24 bridge in Louisville, close to where Rocky Comfort Creek merges with the Ogeechee River. No sign of Farrer was found.

Work at the primary search site continued through Oct. 4 to restore the environment where Rocky Comfort Creek was diverted so that area of the creek could be drained. Heavy equipment operators completed the task of filling in the 1,500-foot channel constructed to divert the creek and restoring the area on the west bank of the creek where the command post had been established. Permission to divert the creek was granted by Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Environmental Protection Agency.

The decision to divert the creek was made late last week after eight dive teams and two independent divers from as far away as Chattanooga and Brunswick and numerous local residents searching land and water were unable to locate any trace of Farrer.

Local heavy equipment owners, as well as those from Augusta and Savannah contributed machines and operators to construct the diversion. Even with such a first-magnitude task, no sign of Farrer or any of his belongings were evident once the water was drained from the creek and large portions of the west bank excavated.

The mass search effort was unparalleled in Jefferson County history. It followed the Sept. 13 discovery of Farrer's boat by one of the three people with a key to the gate at the Clarks Mill Road entrance to the property. Farrer was one of the three who held a key. The site was a favorite fishing spot. Found at the site was his fishing boat resting front-end down over a fallen tree in the creek with fishing rods, tackle, bait and his hat inside. His truck was also found at the site with keys and shotgun inside.

Friends began to converge at the site within an hour or two of the discovery of the boat and truck, frantically searching the water after having concluded that Farrer had suffered some type of accident or injury that apparently resulted in his drowning.

Hutchins said Monday the continuing investigation will examine every possibility that may help determine Farrer's whereabouts or the circumstances of his disappearance. He asked that anyone with information that may relate to the case contact the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office at (478) 625-7538.

Farrer search volunteer bitten by moccasin

Snake did not inject enough venom to make the bite life threatening

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The bite inflicted by a water moccasin last week to one of the people searching Rocky Comfort Creek for missing Louisville resident William "Bo Peep" Farrer turned out not to be life threatening.

He was treated and released that afternoon from University Hospital in Augusta. Physicians at University did not administer anti-venom, as he apparently did not receive enough venom from the bite to cause serious harm.

The trip to Augusta for the potential administration of anti-venom was made necessary due to the ongoing shortage of anti-venom for bites from rattlesnakes and water moccasins. The remaining anti-venom on hand at Jefferson Hospital would not have been enough had the bite at Rocky Comfort Creek warranted administering the serum.

The current situation with hospitals across America is that they are experiencing a nationwide shortage of anti-venom, said CEO Rita Culvern. At the time of last week's moccasin bite the hospital had only one vial of anti-venom remaining in stock. Though the amount of anti-venom required depends on the amount of venom injected by the snake, Culvern said a full dose of the serum is considered to consist of an average of four to six vials of anti-venom.

The shortage of anti-venom and shelf life restrictions have done nothing to help reduce the already expensive cost of the serum. One vial of anti-venom can cost patients as much as $1,700.

The anti-venom shortage has forced rural hospitals in the area to use a different strategy when bites from poisonous snakes are inflicted. Hospitals in the area attempt to keep one series of anti-venom on hand.

"Small hospitals have to approach this on a regional basis," said Culvern. "This is the way we've developed to help each other out."

Area's first public industrial park bought

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Following the recommendation earlier this year by the Georgia Tech Economic Development Institute, the purchase last week of the Louisville Airport Industrial Park (LAIP) by the Development Authority of Jefferson County (DAJC) became the county's first public industrial park property.

"As a county we have to become more competitive and having this industrial site is the first step in becoming more competitive," said economic developer Brad Day.

The 248-acre property, purchased for $248,000 from Louisville Storage and Loan, will serve as a dual-function industrial park.

A dual-purpose property, one section of the park will serve the expansion of local entrepreneurial interests while the other will provide space for the location of national or international firms wanting to locate in the area. The general layout of the park includes an area for small businesses on the north side of the site and an area for larger manufacturing firms on the park's south side. The idea of creating two parks in one was designed to meet a range of business needs, said Day.

"Encouraging the expansion of small to medium businesses that are home-grown is just as important as recruiting national and international companies with large manufacturing operations," he said.

With the purchase, LAIP has been placed on databases of industrial properties that are used by site selectors. The result, said Day, is that the property is now being marketed to industrial prospects around the world. Databases containing information of LAIP include Georgia Power Co., Jefferson Energy affiliated Georgia EMC, Georgia Dept. of Industry, Trade and Tourism.

"For industrial recruitment, a public industrial park is crucial," said Day. "If you don't have a public industrial park that has the proper infrastructure then you are not coming up on the radar of companies that want to locate plants in communities. Until you have public industrial parks with infrastructure then industrial recruitment is not feasible."

Provisions also exit for training of county residents that may be employed there.

"The Department of Technical and Adult Education through Sandersville Tech and their work training program called Quick Start has helped Thermo King in the past and would be available not only through their upcoming satellite campus but also on-site to help train new workers," said Day.

A $500,000 One Georgia Equity Grant was recently applied for to add service infrastructure. Results of the application should be known by year's end.

Funding to purchase the LAIP property was secured through a 10-year loan through Firstate Bank. Both Regions Bank and Firstate made offers associated with the DAJC's purchase of the property. Existing DAJC revenues will cover the cost of the loan payments.

The DAJC board voted earlier this year to proceed with the purchase as recommended by the Georgia Tech study. Board members Lee Woods, Ray Barrentine and Ted Johnson approved the purchase. Board members affiliated with First National Bank were not present for the discussion to purchase the property or the vote to acquire it in order to avoid any perceived conflict of interest associated with the former site owner, Louisville Storage and Loan, a company with common shareholders the Queensborough Company, the parent company of First National Bank. Additionally, First National did not offer a bid to finance the loan.

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