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October 31, 2002 Issue

Vicky Templeton straightens one of her favorite frights in her frontyard graveyard after Monday's storm.

They'll be lurking for you

Family's love of scares has grown into area fright-fest

By Elizabeth Howard

Frankenstein, Michael Myers, Jason, Freddie Kruger and the Wicked Witch of the West have come to Jefferson County for Halloween.

For the seventh year, Vicki Templeton, along with friends and family, has created a haunted house in her own front yard. In addition to the house, there is a graveyard set up in front, and a concession stand to the side.

What began seven years ago with just a graveyard has become a haunted house with about fifteen different rooms, and each year, Templeton adds new features.

The haunted house takes about three weeks to set up and 25 to 30 volunteers to run it.

Among this year's additions is a guillotine.

Other features include a witches' den, a doctor's lab complete with body bags, an electric chair and various other surprises. With black lights, strobe lights, loud music and sound effects, the haunted house stirs fear in the minds of even the bravest people.

"We love the reactions that we get out of a lot of people," said Templeton. "They try to run through the walls. Even the most composed become scared."

Over the years, turnout has been great.

"People come from as far as North Augusta and Aiken to Macon and Dublin," said Templeton. "People tell me it's better than anything they've ever been to in Augusta."

Last year they had 789 visitors to the haunted house, and just as many are expected this year.

The trail was open last week and will be open Halloween night from 6:30-10 p.m.

Admission is $3, but the graveyard can be viewed for free.

Kitchens charged with murder

Harry L. Kitchens of Glascock County accused of killing Thomson man with a pipe wrench during robbery

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

A Glascock County man is being held without bond in the Oct. 16 murder of 66 year-old Thomson resident Thomas Sammons.

Harry L. Kitchens Jr., 28, was charged with murder and robbery, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Mike Seigler. Kitchens was arrested Oct. 22 at McDuffie County jail subsequent to an interview with GBI and McDuffie County Sheriff's investigators. He is being held without bond.

Investigators said Sammons' death apparently resulted from being struck once in the head with a 12-inch pipe wrench. Kitchens moved Sammons' body to a bedroom in the rear of the residence and removed a shotgun and Sammons' wallet containing $63. Sammons' body was discovered later by a relative.

Sammons was a former Glascock County resident who apparently knew Kitchens and had possibly hired him in the past to do several odd jobs. It is not immediately known why Kitchens came to Sammons' residence on Oct. 16. Seigler said some family members believe Kitchens had showed up "out of the blue."

Seigler said Monday that evidence obtained by investigators led to the arrest after an interview at McDuffie jail. He said Kitchens had described himself as a laborer and was attempting to find employment during the time of the interviews with investigators.

"We had been talking with him on and off," he said. "He was arrested at the jail after an interview. There were a number of pieces of physical evidence that led us to believe that he was responsible for the murder."

Seigler said additional evidence is still being processed in the case.

Sammons operated a local trucking company. He lived at the residence with one of his daughters.

Property tax appeals should end this week

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The current appeals of by Jefferson County residents over tax notices that resulted from the property revaluation earlier this year are scheduled to end this week. They will be followed public hearings by the school board and county commission to set the millage rate before the tax digest is approved in Atlanta.

The Board of Tax Assessors heard 314 appeals that came from 10,068 property tax notices that were mailed, said Tax Assessor George Rachels. Nearly all appeals by property owners are due to their belief that their property has been valued too high.

The number of appeals represents approximately 3.1 percent of notices that were mailed.

The remainder of the appeals are scheduled to be completed this week he said.

A small number of the appeals, a total of 24 as of Oct. 25, have registered to go before the Board of Equalization to have their cases heard. Property owners may take their appeal to Superior Court if they disagree with the decision reached by the Board of Equalization.

Rachels said he would like to take the tax digest to Atlanta for approval by the end of November.

Prior to that happening the county's five-year tax history must be advertised and public hearings, three each by the school board and county commission, must be held and a millage rate established.

Once submitted in Atlanta, the tax digest should take no more than a few days to be approved. Tax bills will be mailed after the digest is approved.

The state requires that no more than five percent of tax notices be in question during a revaluation year in order to have the digest approved.

Though the county's 3.1 percent is well under that threshold, Rachels said he wanted to wait until as many as possible had been settled so that he could furnish the school board and commissioners with a more accurate figure of the county's worth.

Small and large tract agricultural land and residential property were revalued earlier this year.

Also revalued was the land on which both commercial and industrial structures are located but not the buildings themselves. Those buildings will be revalued next year, Rachels said.

New voting machines will be in place for Nov. 5 elections

By Parish Howard

The Nov. 5 election is days away and election officials are encouraging voters to familiarize themselves with Georgia's new electronic voting machines which are on display in both Jefferson and Glascock counties.

"I recommend that everyone who is planning on voting in the Nov. 5 election try to get out and find a machine in their area so that they can become familiar with it," said Glascock County Probate Judge Denise Dallas.

Machines will be available for review in the Glascock County courthouse until election day.

Dallas said the machines have been on display at the Glascock County Chamber of Commerce, the bank, at PTA meetings, at the senior citizens' center, at the Amoco service station, in local churches and other places.

"We've had them in numerous churches, the grocery stores, at most of the civic meetings, at the library and the fair," said Jefferson County Probate Judge Quillian Bryant. "We've had a good response to them."

Deputy Registrar Gigi Jones said that she has introduced nearly 600 local residents to the new voting system in the last few weeks.

"People seem to be real comfortable with it," she said. "Even the older people, the ones seemed a little intimidated that it is a computer, said 'Oh, is that all it is' when I showed it to them. It is really simple."

Jones said the machine is available at the probate judge's office if anyone would like to see it before the election.

Secretary of State Cathy Cox believes that Georgia is leading the nation in replacing its antiquated voting machines with new systems she feels are accurate, accessible and user friendly.

To make the process as simple as possible, the secretary of state's office has broken the new electronic voting procedure down into six steps.

Step One: Sign In
Poll workers will use the same sign-in procedure as they have in the past, but now they will hand voters an access card.

Step Two: Start
When it comes your time to vote step up to the machine and insert the voter access card into the slot on the lower right side of the screen. The card should be face up with arrow pointing towards the slot and should be pushed firmly until it clicks into place.

Step Three: Read Instructions
The first screen that will appear will be the instructions, read these carefully and then touch the screen where it says START to begin voting.

Step Four: Select Candidates & Questions
You will then make your selections by touching the box next to the candidates or questions. To change your vote, touch the box a second time, then make a new selection. You can touch NEXT to advance through the ballot or PREVIOUS to go back.

Step Five: Review Your Choices
When you are done the screen will show you a summary of your selections. Offices that have not been voted are displayed in red. To make a change, touch the specific box or touch REVIEW BALLOT to move back through the previous screens.

Step Six: Cast Ballot
When you are satisfied with all of your selections touch CAST BALLOT in the lower right of the screen. This will complete the voting process and the machine will automatically eject the card so that you may return it to the poll officials.

Voters will cast their ballots Tuesday

By Ben Nelms

The Nov. 5 general and nonpartisan election will see only two races decided with local implications.

The statewide races offer a range of seats that will be determined by voters along with six proposed constitutional amendments and five proposed referenda.

Glascock County and other 24th District voters will decide if incumbent Republican state Senator B. Joseph "Joey" Brush Jr. will stave off the challenge by Democratic candidate Anna Hargis.

Glascock and Jefferson County voters will cast votes to help determine the outcome of the race for U.S. Representative in the new 108th Congressional District of Georgia pitting Democrat Charles "Champ" Walker against Republican Max Burns.

Statewide races include Gov. Roy Barnes vying for another term against Republican challenger Sonny Purdue and Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic Sen. Max Cleland faces Republican Saxby Chambliss and Libertarian Claude "Sandy" Thomas.

Other statewide races include Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Insurance, State School Superintendent, Commissioner of Labor and two seats for Public Service Commissioner.

Also on the ballot are six proposed constitutional amendments and five proposed statewide referenda. These can be reviewed along with copies of the sample ballots on page 10 of this issue of The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter.

Local Glascock state Representative Helen G. "Sistie" Hudson, Jefferson County District 1 County Commissioner Gonice C. Davis and District 3 County Commissioner Sidney Norton, state Rep. Jimmy Lord and state Sen. Don Cheeks are all running unopposed.

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