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October 17, 2002 Issue

At the fair...
Louisville Academy student Quindarius Beasley, 6-years-old, watches his uncle and other local and traveling men assemble the merry-go-round at the Louisville Lions Club Fair. The fair runs Oct. 15-19 at the Louisville fairgrounds. Admission is $1 for children, $2 for adults.

Reward offered by family for information on disappearance

By Ben Nelms

The unknown fate of Bill "Bo Peep" Farrer does not rest well with his brothers Ike and Joe and his sister Mary. The three decided last week to post a $1,000 reward to help provide the impetus for someone who may know the truth about their brother.

Offering a reward is more than simply the willingness to pay for knowledge, said Mary Farrer Baker. It is a way to help bring closure to the unknown fate of her brother.

"We really do need some kind of closure. He would want that, too," she said. "If there is someone out there that's been reluctant to say something or thinks they should just mind their own business, maybe this will help convince them to say something, whether it's good or bad."

Sixty-six-year-old "Bo Peep" Farrer has been missing since Sept. 12. His truck, keys and shotgun inside, were found at a favorite fishing spot on Rocky Comfort Creek. His boat was positioned over a fallen tree in the creek with fishing gear and his hat inside.

An unprecedented 18-day search that included numerous dive teams, cadaver dogs, countless volunteers and the damming and diverting of a portion of the creek produced no more clues to his whereabouts than were found the first day he was discovered missing.

Baker said not knowing what happened to her brother sometimes gives her the feeling that he may be alive, but that hope is thrust up against the reality that weeks have passed and still the family has no word of Farrer's fate.

"We really need to be able to go forward," she said. "I know $1,000 isn't a lot, but maybe it'll help us to know. Through the information someone out there may have, maybe it'll help give us a peace of mind we need so much."

The sentiments expressed by Mary mirror those of brothers Joe and Ike. Though there has been no shred of knowledge forthcoming about Bo Peep since mid-September, his siblings have also entertained the belief that their brother's fate could involve foul play. That belief, when it arises, stems from Farrer's habits and routines and the daily care provided for their mother.

"I really don't think Bill walked off," said Joe Farrer. "I really believe that somebody abducted him. He's not the kind of man to leave his mother. She was his first love and he would never leave her."

Law enforcement center construction plans moving along

Tentative figures showed the facility costing an estimated $6,625,000

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The decision by commissioners to accept or reject plans for the construction of the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center moved closer to reality Oct. 8 with the presentation of details of the project by architect Rusty McCall and builder Mark Massee.

McCall told commissioners he would provide the remainder of the final renderings and exact pricing information on the 41,318 square-foot center in two weeks. He also agreed to commissioners' request to supply information on possible measures that could help reduce the overall project cost. At the meeting, he provided commissioners with information showing a tentative cost of $6,625,000. That price exceeded the $6.5 million generated through one-percent sales tax revenue approved last year. Costs included all site work, fees and landscaping and irrigation for the location adjacent to Jefferson County Correctional Institute off US Highway 1 in Louisville.

McCall told commissioners they could reduce the project cost if the county could provide some of the work. Suggestions included savings of $647,000 if the county completes site work beyond five feet of the building and $70,000 if the county furnishes the landscaping and irrigation work. Addressing potential savings on the project, county administrator James Rogers said the county could perform most of the grading work at the site and perhaps some of the other required work, such as paving, installing storm drains and water and sewer lines.

Most all equipment and furnishings will be included in the price of the facility, mirroring the wishes of commissioners that the center be a turnkey project. Items such as desks, chairs, kitchen utensils and dishes, lockers, televisions, mattresses, pillows and blankets were not included in the project. Though not included in the project cost, the county recently leased a new state and federally required 911-system that will be relocated when the center is complete.

McCall told commissioners he would be prepared to submit the final cost for the proposed project in two weeks, adding that the $6.6 million figure was close to the final figure.

The center

The law enforcement center is planned to consist of a 23,062 square-foot administration building and an 18,256 square-foot jail pod. The administration building will include the sheriff's office, 911 center, magistrate judge's office and courtroom, kitchen, laundry, booking and visiting rooms, multipurpose/training room and office space tentatively set to house the state parole office under a long-term lease arrangement. Redundant controls for all secured areas throughout the administration building and jail pod can be managed by personnel in the secured control rooms of either building.

The 124-bed jail pod consists of a basically square shape with cells on two levels on each of the four sides and a control room in the center. Self-contained, two-person cells constructed of fabricated steel will be fitted into the jail pod. Also in the pod will be one dayroom for each of the four sections.

The physical layout enables one jailer and one rover to monitor all inmates on an ongoing basis. This familiar surveillance and control model, using a minimum number of personnel to monitor and control a maximum number of people, originated in 1787 when British Empirical philosopher Jeremy Bentham introduced his architectural rendering of the panopticon.

Though they have moaned over the prospect on several occasions in past months, commissioners were unable to avert the reality that additional jailers will be required to staff the new center.

The matter, which exists at the old jail and currently carries liability for the county, involves the way inmates are supervised. At issue is the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act that carries staffing requirements that are more stringent than in the past. The result is the need for seven additional beyond the five currently employed. Southern told commissioners that the same number of jailers would be required at the old jail to reduce the current liability.

Jefferson County voters approved the construction of the law enforcement center through a one-percent sales tax by an 8-1 margin in the Sept. 19, 2001 referendum.

The five-year revenue collection period for the $6.5 million approved by voters began Jan. 1, 2002.

Having been discussed for several years, commissioners had the issue placed on the ballot after becoming convinced that the multiple liability issues at the current jail would eventuate in an order by a federal judge to build a jail without taxpayers being able to control the price.

Commissioners interviewed three architectural firms in 2001 before deciding on McCall.

Confusion between commissioners and McCall in late 2001 and early 2002 over contract interpretations resulted in project delays that spanned several months.

Report did not reflect group's wishes

Controversies around landfill's future continue

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

A seeming certainty across America is the ease with which controversy can be generated over the collection and disposal of household and other forms of trash. The same held true recently in Jefferson County as the fate of the Subtitle D landfill on Mennonite Church Road was explored.

The final recommendations of the Jefferson County Landfill Assessment Committee Report were issued to commissioners Sept. 20. The report of the commission-appointed citizens committee was a continuation of that controversy, but with a twist. Committee members who attended the majority of meetings said the final report generated by committee chairman and Georgia Department of Community Affairs landfill expert Randy Hartmann did not follow the wishes of the group.

Hartmann maintained from the initial meetings that the charge was to make a range of recommendations for commissioners' considerations based on obtainable facts. The final options, the same as those offered by consulting engineering firm Chasman & Associates months earlier, were presented in several different places in the report. Options included continuing to operate the facility as it is now, reducing the intake and transferring most or all of county trash out of the county, temporarily ceasing operations, permanently ceasing operations and closing the landfill or operating it as a regional landfill.

In the report, Hartmann ended each of the recommendations with the committee's position. While three of the five options were not considered viable, the option to cease operations and close the landfill was considered most significant. Also cited was the committee's opposition to operating the facility as a regional landfill.

Members of the landfill committee voiced their disapproval of the way some of the figures were compiled and presented without their input prior to the finished product. Committee members saw the final report only two hours before it was presented to commissioners.

"(The report) was made under protest," said committee member Dollye Ward. "If Randy had put the recommendations in the order the committee wanted, it might have been okay. The committee feels like we need to close the landfill and that was not the top option."

The original Chasman options were listed in several places in the report. Only in Appendix I, entitled "Thoughts of Jefferson County's Landfill," was the resident's sentiment most closely stated, according to committee members.

Included in "Thoughts" was the permanent closure of the facility. Adding to that position, and in opposition to turning the facility over to others to operate, was the belief that "once management or ownership control is lost, Jefferson County is at the mercy of other parties whose interest will, quite probably, be bottom line profit and not the betterment of Jefferson County. Under no circumstances should the management or ownership of the Jefferson County landfill ever leave direct control of the governing authority."

Other members took exception to the final report given to commissioners. Throughout the process from April into September, Hartmann maintained he was following the directive of the commissioners while committee members continued asking for data they say was not provided.

"That report is totally Hartmann's with virtually no input from members of the committee," said committee Robert Clements. "It was supposed to be a citizens report but we can't agree with it. We asked repeatedly for information we needed but never received any of it. The only safe way out for the county is to close the landfill, get rid of the permit and let private haulers remove our trash."

In the end, even Robin Chasman and county representatives said some of the data supplied was not reliable. And even without the data, the options for the future of the landfill continue to generate an opaque set of problems with finances at the center.

The controversy began locally last year with commissioners' decision to sell the county's Subtitle D landfill in central Jefferson County. It continued after the board's September 2001 motion to forego the sale and explore other avenues to stop the financial loss. Exploration of the other avenues was sanctioned six months later with the appointment in February 2002 of a commissioner-nominated citizens committee, chaired by the board's insistence by Department of Community Affairs (DCA) landfill expert Randy Hartmann. The landfill committee met for the first time on April 1.

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