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November 7, 2002 Issue

Cochran business owner Glenn Sawyer (at left) and project co-owner Wayne Nobles take time out for a conversation with Wynder Smith at the site of the Wadley Motor Lodge on the Wadley bypass.

Ground broken in Wadley for motel and dollar store

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The business landscape along the Wadley bypass is undergoing another change. This time it is the construction of the Wadley Motor Lodge and the Dollar General store.

Ground was broken in mid-October for the 26-room motel, according to co-owners Wayne Nobles and Sawyer's Enterprises, Inc. CEO Glenn Sawyer. Credit for the developing the project went to Wadley business owner Wynder Smith.

"We are excited to be here," said Sawyer. "We owe it to Wynder for talking with us and getting us here. He's the local man who sold us the land and provided tremendous support in every way possible."

The motel is located on the US Highway 1 bypass on property adjacent to the Shake Rag Express truck center. It will be positioned behind the 8,000 square-foot Dollar General store that will border the highway. Both projects have a tentative completion date in mid-January. Sawyer anticipated the need for four employees at the motel and eight at the Dollar General.

Smith said his dream for the 12-acre site located at US 1 and SR 78 took hold when Shake Rag opened. That dream, he said, is not complete.

"When I built Shake Rag, my dream was to develop this whole property so I kept making calls," he said. "I found Sawyer and made the land available. But this is not the end of the development. We're not going to stand still. I don't know what the next project is yet, but we have other things in mind for the rest of the property."

Sawyer said financing for the project was arranged with the assistance of Bank of Wadley President Edith Pundt. He and Nobles will operate the motel as owners but will be open-minded to the purchase of the motel property by a franchised motel company. Wadley's location along US Highway 1 and the upcoming widening projects hold promise for the area, said Sawyer.

Cochran-based Sawyer's Enterprises builds motels, restaurants and other retail buildings.

New jail may need additional funding

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Jefferson County commissioners decided Monday that the price tag for the county's new law enforcement center funded by a one-percent sales tax needs further scrutiny. They passed a motion to hear from two other architects and builders who will come prepared in two weeks to make an offer on the project.

The move was triggered by commissioner's dissatisfaction with the alternatives offered by architect Rusty McCall and builder Mark Massee at an Oct. 20 meeting. At that meeting, McCall and Massee presented figures and a counter proposal they said addressed commissioners position that the cost of the facility was too high. The plan originally offered by McCall included a 120-bed jail pod and an administration building housing the Sheriff's office, Magistrate Court office, 911-center and office space to be leased to the state parole department totaled $6,709,000. The cost for the facility, totaling 41,938 square-feet, did not cover items such as office furniture, kitchen utensils and dishes, lockers and parking lot lighting. The alternative plan, at a cost of $5,845,000, substituted a metal administration building in place of a concrete block structure and reduced the overall size by 5,000 square-feet. McCall told commissioners the cost could be further reduced by diminishing the number of cells in the jail pod, utilizing a number of four-man cells rather than the two-man cells approved by commissioners more than a year ago and by having the county assume responsibility for other aspects of the project.

Neither commissioners, Sheriff Gary Hutchins or Georgia Sheriff's Association representative John Southern reacted favorably to McCall's offer. The Oct. 20 meeting ended with Chairman Gardner Hobbs requesting that Southern study McCall's alternative proposal and report back to the commission.

Southern said Monday that the plans and alternatives McCall presented did not measure up to the expectations of either the board or the Sheriff.

"I think you know that when I left here the other day I was very upset," he said. "You had expressed your concerns to them and when they came back two weeks later I don't believe, in my opinion, that we were presented with an alternative. The plan they came back with started with the same number and they began to dance around it. Any savings involved us giving up something. I didn't hear one word about what they were prepared to give up to help this county."

Southern told commissioners he could arrange for two architects and builders to come prepared in two weeks to make an offer on the project. The board accepted his offer and the meeting ended with commissioners voting in that regard.

Sheriff Gary Hutchins was adamant in his statements at the Oct.20 meeting that the county had been backed into a corner.

In an uncustomary tone, the usually soft-spoken Sheriff expressed dissatisfaction with alternatives McCall and Massee had presented to the board, citing the same issues surfaced by Southern and commissioners.

The outcome of Monday 's meeting made it possible for commissioners to expand their options, he said. "I feel real good about this and what the commissioners agreed on by getting two other architects and contractors to come in and make it more competitive," said Hutchins.

"This will give us a range of figures to look at to build the center. I want this center for the people of Jefferson County and I want us to have the best we can get for the one-percent sales tax money that will be used to build it."

Kitchens voted Georgia's Coroner of the Year

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

In a field of 159 contenders, Glascock County Coroner Connie Kitchens stood out above the crowd. The service she provides for the residents of her county and her standing among her peers resulted in the announcement in September of her selection as Georgia's Coroner of the Year.

"I appreciate that they thought of me and selected me for this honor," said Kitchens. "I feel like the committee looked at what I did and how I did it. If you are going to do something, you should always be there whether it's a call, a class or a meeting, 24-hours per day, 365 days per year."

Richmond County Coroner Leroy Sims said nominees for Coroner of the Year are selected by a three-person committee composed of the three winners prior of the award. He said there were several coroners who wanted to have Kitchens nominated for the honor.

"She was well deserving of the recognition," said Sims. "She is as fine a lady and a coroner as it gets. I mean what I'm saying about Connie. I've never called on her when she wasn't ready to help. She is right up there with the best of them in the state."

Kitchens' has held her position for 14 years. She believes in providing the personal touch when dealing with families during the times of a loss of a family member.

"I try to do everything I can for a family at the time of their loss," she said.

Kitchens was quick to praise firefighters, deputies and first responders who consistently provide any assistance she might require. Also praised were the coroners whose careers have coincided with hers.

"I didn't know anything when I went in to the job," she said. "The other coroners took me in. If I needed help, all I had to do was call."

Kitchens said her selection was also an honor for Glascock County.

Such an honor within the ranks of the Georgia Coroner's Association is not a first for the county. Dep. Coroner Barbara Neal was selected Deputy coroner of the Year in 2001.

Contracts awarded for school renovations

By Ben Nelms

The bids came in and the contract was awarded. Visible in the coming weeks will be the initial stages of construction that will add more than 40,000 square feet of additions and renovations to four of Jefferson County's six public schools.

The $4.5 million contract for improvements at Carver Magnet/Theme Elementary School, Wrens Elementary School, Louisville Academy and Jefferson County High School was awarded to LPS Construction Company of Statesboro at an Oct. 30 meeting of the school board. Funded by an extended one-percent sales tax, the total contract amount was well below the $5.5 million figure that board members had previously budgeted when the projects were approved more than a year ago.

"I was real excited when I saw the bids come in," said Chairman Jimmy Fleming. "We are eager to get started and to have the improvements put in place for our students and their families."

The beginning phases of construction at all sites should begin in the coming weeks once pre-construction conferences are held, said architect Craig Buckley.

The expansion at Carver Elementary, by far the most extensive of the projects, will include a totally reconfigured look to the school.

The 21,600 square foot project will create six new classrooms, including music and dance rooms in keeping with the magnet/theme-oriented curriculum.

Other improvements include a new cafeteria with a performing arts area, a nursing clinic, roofing, asbestos and, most visible, a new fašade on the front of the school.

Wrens Elementary will have a new wing with 10 classrooms, including art, music and technology rooms, totaling12,600 square feet. Roofing is also included in the project.

Construction at 6,000 square foot Louisville Academy project will include six new classrooms, a nursing clinic, expansion of the cafeteria and roofing, replacement of carpet in the media center and offices, new marker boards and the old windows.

A smaller but needed improvement will be made at Jefferson County High School.

A 2,400 square foot chorus room and storage area will be added at the end of A-wing as well as some re-roofing.

A total of six construction companies submitted bids on the projects. Bids ranged from the low provided by LPS to a high of more than $6.1 million.

Buckley told board members that LPS, who recently built Grovetown Middle School,is a very competent company, adding that in several of the bids the board benefited from the lean times being experienced by some builders.

"I can 't give anything but high marks to (LPS 's)Terry Fletcher because he is straight-up," he said." What you had with these bids was the benefit of contractors who are hungry."

Voters last year approved the extension of the school board 's a one-percent sales tax to fund the improvement at the schools.

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