It's Santa Time!
Kids talk shop, mainly about the toy business, with the jolly old elf during Louisville's Christmas parade on Saturday.
Search for Farrer renewed at creek
• Divers returned to the waters of Rocky Comfort Creek Tuesday
By Ben Nelms
Back to the water
The search for Bill "Bo Peep" Farrer resumed early Sunday morning in the general area of Rocky Comfort Creek where the missing 66-year old Louisville resident's boat and truck were found abandoned Sept. 13 at his favorite fishing spot.
What began Tuesday as a land search in below-freezing temperatures nearly 10 weeks after the first search ended, turned into a water search once again with divers entering the waters of Rocky Comfort Tuesday afternoon.
Dive teams from Eatonton, Washington County and Tennessee Search and Rescue Dogs Association began what was described as a slow and meticulous process approximately one-quarter mile upstream from where Farrer's boat had been found abandoned.
Though the weather on land was in the 50s by Monday afternoon, the temperature of the water remained at 45-degrees.
The low temperature had prevented Washington county divers from searching Monday afternoon because the breathing regulators on their Scuba tanks would not function appropriately under 50-degrees.
A total of nine divers set out Tuesday using a process that moved with deliberation at a snail's pace, but one designed to maximize the results by using a precise methodology as they moved in grid-fashion along the bottom of the creek and documented everything.
No positive results of the dives were reported by press time Tuesday night.
The search was initially planned to be one focusing on the areas of land surrounding the original site where Farrer's boat and truck were found.
The plan was developed in concert with Sheriff Gary Hutchin's intention in October to focus the search on land once an exhaustive water search and the diverting of one-third mile of the creek in late September proved fruitless. The efforts of K-9 handlers and their three cadaver dogs this week brought the search back into the waters of Rocky Comfort Creek after dogs gave repeated indications, or alerts, of the scent of human remains in the water and immediately along the banks upstream for a distance of one-quarter mile. Bolstering the decision to bring in divers was a fuzzy infrared-camera image detected at the furthest alert point upstream, one that divers felt was sufficiently out of place to warrant further exploration.
"We brought the cadaver dogs back down here with the intention of doing a wider search on land," said Hutchins. "We checked the land and the water to see if there would be any alerts. Once the search started, we received alerts and they kept drawing us back to the water and to the area up above where Mr. Farrer's boat was found. If the alerts had been on land, we would be searching on land. But right now we are working on the alerts that the dogs have given us. And if we don't get any satisfaction with the results, we will come back at a later date and do a broader land search."
Efforts began Sunday morning in concert with the plan of conducting a land search. One of the dogs at the scene had been present for the September search while the other two were new to the site. Incident commander Tony Batten of Jesup-based Dogs South Search and Rescue and the other K-9 handlers placed one dog on the Clarks Mill Road side of Rocky Comfort, one dog on the Grange Road side and the third dog in a boat in the creek.
The dog covering the Clarks Mill Road side began at the landing Farrer used to launch his boat, working both along the creek and away from it, through swamp and woods. St. Petersburg, Florida, K-9 handler Lynn Parson took her dog Rudy back through the woods and across the dirt road that provides access to the landing. She continued across into the woods and worked her way down past where Farrer's boat was found. During the search Rudy registered only two alerts. One was at the edge of the creek, approximately 50-75 feet upstream from the landing Farrer used. The alert point was also in the immediate area where the north end of the creek was dammed up in late September so that it could be diverted and drained. The other alert offered by Rudy was 150-200 feet above the first, in the direction of the slough and some 10-15 feet from the creek bank. That alert might be attributed to the movement of animals in the area after coming in contact with human remains, Parson said.
On the Grange Road side of Rocky Comfort, Eatonton K-9 handler Jim Park worked his dog Fritz. As with Parsons' dog, the only alerts came in very close proximity to the water's edge. Parson later joined Park in a search of the pine trees further away from the creek. The dogs indicated no alerts.
With search teams on both sides of the creek, Dogs South handler Angela Batten, who along with Jacob Weaver had been present for the entire 18-day search in September, took her dog Zena and set out on the water. Zena began to alert on the scent of human remains in the area approximately 200 feet from where Farrer's boat had been found and approximately 50-75 feet from the landing he used. The alerts were also in close proximity of the north end of the area where the creek had been dammed and diverted in September. Following the scent, Zena continued to provide a number of alerts for a substantial distance upstream. The process was repeated with the other two cadaver dogs, with the result of pronounced agitation and numerous alerts. By the close of the search effort Sunday, all three dogs had given repeated indication of the scent of human remains and all three confirmed that the farthest location upstream was in the same approximate location, nearly one-quarter mile from where Farrer's boat had
been found Sept. 13.
An unexpected feature of the current search effort involves the numerous alerts by cadaver dogs to the scent of human remains flowing down to the original search site from one-quarter mile upstream, even though only two or three alerts out of the multitude of hits made in September involved the area close upstream from where Farrer's boat was found.
Parson and the Battens' explained that a number of factors could explain why a human scent was detected so abundantly along the areas upstream today and with a frequency far beyond the few alerts in some of the same areas during the September search. Current conditions can make the gases derived from organic compounds like putrescine and cadaverine, compounds present during decomposition, rise to the surface more quickly and thus increasing the likelihood of being detected further upstream than was the case during the September search, they said. Conditions such as the stage of decomposition of human remains, water temperature, air temperature, current speed and the present high water level of the creek come into play on Rocky Comfort Creek, forming a continuously changing scenario that has proven to be susceptible to change in a matter of hours.
Former preacher pleads guilty
• The Rev. Grady O. Kemp Sr., of Wadley, will be sentenced Jan. 14
By Parish Howard
The Rev. Grady Kemp Sr., a recent Wadley resident, faces between 11/2 and 3 years in a New York state prison after pleading guilty last week to sexual contact with his former stepdaughter.
The 65-year-old former New York preacher was facing a 10 to 20 year sentence on 14 sex-related charges when he entered a plea of not guilty in a Wayne County, New York, courtroom on Aug. 1 for the acts which allegedly occurred in Newark, NY, between 1994 and 2000, beginning when the girl was 9 years old.
Last week's changed plea came after a new agreement was made.
The District Attorney's office said that the agreement was offered at the request of the victim who did not wish to return to New York from Florida to testify in the case.
According to his ex-wife, Kemp retired as pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Lyons, NY, last year and moved to what they had planned as their retirement home near Wadley.
Wadley police arrested Kemp in July after he was indicted on the 14 charges.
Prosecutors claimed Kemp allegedly molested his stepdaughter hundreds of times while she was between the ages of 9 and 14.
In April, the now 16-year-old girl reportedly became very upset and disclosed the abuse after a family gathering in her new Florida home.
New York authorities began investigating Kemp last spring after receiving a videotaped interview with the victim and Florida police.
According to Newark area news agencies, in his confession, Kemp denied the victim's claim that he'd had intercourse with her.
Kemp is expected to be sentenced Jan. 14. While state parole officials usually require sex offenders to serve the maximum sentence, he could be released after 18 months.
Upon release from prison, whether or not he returns to Wadley, Kemp will have to register as a sex offender.
Resolution with Mennonite community reaffirmed
• Commissioners vote 4-1 to allow only local garbage at county landfill
By Ben Nelms
Jefferson County commissioners took a stand Dec. 10 to uphold the promise made several years ago that prohibits trash from outside the county from being dumped in the county landfill.
In the final move of his term, District 1 commissioner Wynder Smith made a motion to reaffirm the commission's 1996 resolution with the Mennonite community to take only local trash as a condition of establishing the landfill virtually in their backyard.
Prior to the motion Smith reviewed the process that led to the commission's 1996 resolutions with the Mennonite community and county residents and the public complaints over the past year and a half that stemmed from the commission's nearly complete silence on their intentions for the future of the site.
"We had people to come down and answer every question that was asked by the people of this county," Smith said. "The Mennonites and the citizens asked that no solid waste from outside Jefferson County be put in that landfill. And I think all of us agreed to do that. And I would like to make a motion that we reaffirm this resolution and put all this behind us and go forward and be positive."
The motion received a second from Commissioner Tommy New and a 4-1 vote followed after a brief discussion. Commissioners Smith, New, Thomas and Chairman Hobbs voted in favor of the motion. Commissioner Boulineau voted against it.
New, Thomas and Smith stated publicly at the November regular session that they would not support giving control of the landfill to any private company that would bring in outside trash, a move that would directly result in creating a regional landfill.
Their statements validated what had been only an implied agreement by the commission since the September 2001 unanimous vote to cease all organized attempts to sell the facility and to explore other avenues to stop the landfill's increasing financial loss.
Though commissioners' recent insistence that no vote to sell the landfill was ever made, the board nonetheless solicited the assistance of landfill consultant Randy Hartmann to help structure a Request For Proposal Public in late spring 2001 to sell that facility. The move came after initial bids were made to purchase the landfill.
Completion date for Fall Line Freeway in Wrens extended
By Ben Nelms
Jefferson County's road to the future continues to move closer to reality. The final three sections of the Fall Line Freeway are currently under construction and are mostly on schedule, though the project deadline for the section linking Wrens to Augusta was extended for 45 days.
The most visible portion of the highway under construction is the 10.527-mile section that links Wrens to the four-lane divided portion of US 1 in south Richmond County. The deadline for the $26 million project has recently been extended from Dec. 31, 2002 until Feb. 14, 2003. Georgia Dept. of Transportation officials said the construction deadline was extended 45 days to APAC-Georgia because the limits of the project were extended .7 miles to accomplish additional construction from US 1 toward SR 17 in Wrens.
The remaining sections of the Fall Line along SR 88 between Wrens and Sandersville consist of two projects. Construction on the 16.216-mile section from SR 296 to SR 171 began in Dec. 2001. As with other Fall Line projects, the $20 million effort includes reconstruction and realignment of the existing roadway to a four-lane divided highway. Also included is the construction of a bridge over Rocky Comfort Creek. Representatives of R. B. Baker Construction said the project seems to be on schedule with the Oct. 31, 2003 completion date.
Work on the remaining section of the Fall Line Freeway in Jefferson County, a 19.48-mile stretch from SR 171 to the Sandersville bypass, began in March. Representatives for Shepherd Construction Co. said work on the $22 million project is 29 percent complete and appears to be on schedule. The construction deadline for the project is June 30, 2004.
The Fall Line section on SR 88 from Wrens to SR 296 was the first project completed in Jefferson County. The four-mile section opened in 2000.
Once completed, the Fall Line Freeway will become the only east-west corridor through central Georgia. With a span of 215 miles, the Fall Line will link Augusta, Macon and Columbus.
Other road improvement projects under construction in the area are moving closer to completion. The Tobacco Road interchange on US 1 in Augusta is scheduled for completion this month and the deadline date for the Swainsboro bypass is June 2003.