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March 6, 2003 Issue


Accident victims in stable condition...
The outcome of an accident March 3 in front of Glit Manufacturing in Wrens is nothing short of miraculous. A Montrose man and a Wrens woman are listed in fair but stable condition at MCG Hospital after colliding. A semi driven by Shanda Avery as she entered Wrens struck the semi driven by Fred Lattimore as he began to pull out onto the roadway. The process of extricating Avery and removing the vehicles blocking the highway took nearly 10 hours. Police Chief David Hannah credited employees of Glit and Two State Construction for their invaluable assistance.


Louisville woman needs blood

Blood drive coming to Jefferson County to help Stephanie Bowles Loyal, a patient at MCG with AB positive blood

By Parish Howard
Editor

Stephanie Bowles Loyal needs blood. Her doctors, her husband, her parents, and especially her 10-month-old son, Dalton, all need her to get it.

The 29-year-old Louisville woman is in critical condition at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) following a head-on collision with a woman driving the wrong way on I-20 nearly two weeks ago.

"Stephanie has, well she has multiple problems," her mother, Barbara Bowles of Augusta said from the intensive care waiting room last week. "She has lost all but three feet of her small intestine and about half of her large intestine. She has already used over 100 pints of blood and platelets. Her arm is broken at the elbow, wrist and hand."

The third lumbar in her back was also broken in the accident, her mother said, and the doctors are planning to keep her sedated while they try to heal her injuries and deal with the many complications her injuries have caused.

Ms. Loyal's husband, W. Matthew "Matt" Loyal, 30, was also injured in the accident. According to Bowles, her daughter's husband suffered multiple fractures in his legs, but was expected to be released Tuesday.

Ms. Loyal had her fourth abdominal surgery on Monday, March 3 and the hospital's supply of her rare bloodtype is steadily being depleted.

Over the last two weeks Sheppard Blood Center in Augusta has been working with the Loyal family to build up the local blood supply.

"We've really had a good turn out for her," said Linda Walker, a recruitment specialist coordinator with Sheppard Community Blood Center. "As of today 209 people have already come in to give blood in her name. But we need more, we need all types."

Loyal's mother said her daughter is in particular need of her own type, AB+, which only about four percent of the population has.

"Although they've had a great turnout, Stephanie still desperately needs AB+ blood," her mother said Monday. "The doctors say she doesn't have the strength to keep getting O. They don't want to strain her system, so she needs an exact cross match and platelets. She's still in critical condition."

Walker has helped organize a blood drive in Jefferson County for March 12, from 2-7 p.m. in the parking lot in front of Jefferson Hospital in Louisville.

"This will be a chance for people from that area to come in and give blood in honor of Stephanie," Walker said. "The blood won't just be going to her, but it will serve as replacement in the blood bank that serves Jefferson County's Hospital as well as several in Augusta. It will be on the shelf for anyone who has an accident or needs it."

Walker said that she plans to have a card on hand that donors can sign for Loyal and her family.

The Accident

Bobby Bradford Jr., an officer with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department, and his girlfriend Jennifer Cornelius had been out to dinner with the Loyals that night.

It was the men's turn to be the designated drivers, Bowles said. Bradford was driving the vehicle ahead of the Loyals and saw the whole thing happen.

"Jennifer and I were talking and laughing when Jennifer started screaming 'Oh my God, Oh my God,'" Bradford said in his statement to the Richmond County Sheriff's Department. "I saw headlights coming straight at us in the inside lane."

What he said he saw was Langley's 2002 Ford Taurus moving at a steady speed, not slowing down or attempting to avoid a collision.

"I swerved into the outside lane to avoid the vehicle," Bradford said. "As it passed us going the wrong way, I looked into the left side mirror and saw the vehicle collide with Matt and Stephanie's vehicle."

He said he watched as the impact forced the back ends of both vehicles into the air. Bradford turned his truck around and ran to his friends. At that point he could tell Mr. Loyal was injured and while Ms. Loyal "appeared dazed and disoriented," she said she was alright.

"Matt told me that his legs were broken and he could feel the bones sticking out of his pants." Bradford said he continued talking to his friends, trying to determine the extents of their injuries.

He was still talking to them when his girlfriend began screaming.

"I was holding Matt's hand. I turned around and saw a tractor trailer coming straight at us in the inside lane," he said. "The tractor trailer swerved at the last minute very hard to the right causing (it) to jack-knife."

The leaning back end of the truck missed Bradford by about a foot and a half, but struck the rear of the Loyal's car.

His girlfriend had been standing on the passenger side of the Loyal's car, trying to get Ms. Loyal's door open.

The trailer's impact spun both wrecked cars around, crushing Cornelius between the two.

After placing his girlfriend out of further harm's way, Bradford then called in the accident.

According to Bowles, Cornelius was treated for fractures in her legs and released from the hospital on Thursday.

Donations

Ms. Loyal is going to need at least five additional surgeries on her abdomen, her mother said.

People with type O or with AB+ blood are urged to donate to replenish the hospital's blood supply. Blood can be donated in Ms. Loyal's honor at MCG's special donor room or through any of Sheppard Community Blood Center's sites or mobile units.

The Loyal family is also attempting to raise money to offset mounting medical bills and has set up a trust fund at Bank of America.

Donations can be made in the name of Stephanie Bowles Loyal (MCG) and mailed to J.W. and Barbara Bowles, 5045 Autumn Trail, Grovetown, Ga. 30813.

Regular updates on Ms. Loyal's condition are online at www.caringbridge.org/ga/stephanieloyal/.





EPD not sure what killed fish

Chemical culprits eliminated, but real reason for deaths still eludes scientists

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The best efforts of both state and independent labs to solve the mystery of what killed nearly all animal life mid-February in Johnson Pond in Wrens remain as much a mystery as it was the day it was discovered. Many thousands of dollars of testing eliminated hundreds of chemical culprits, yet resulted in a reckoning not unknown to scientists.

The fish kill was first discovered on the afternoon of Feb. 10 by Wrens city employees when they went to the pond to turn off the pump that had run through the weekend to bring up the water level.

Quickly evident was the pervasive nature of the incident that appeared by the end of the day to claim nearly all life in the 3.5-acre pond, including turtles, frogs, catfish, carp, bass and bream.

On-site tests Feb. 10 conducted by Georgia Environmental Protection Division and Fish Management, both agencies of Department of Natural Resources, verified that dissolved oxygen, pH level, temperature, conductivity and turbidity were all within normal limits. The findings led fish biologist Ed Betross to conclude that the fish kill did not stem from natural causes.

Test results from water samples collected by EPD revealed nothing that could account for the death of animal life in the pond. EPD personnel collected samples to test the pond's nutrient level for essential elements and compounds such as phosphorus and ammonia.

Additional samples were collected to test for the presence of a wide range of chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, Volatile Organic Compounds and Synthetic Volatile Organic Compounds.

Test results for nutrients were within the acceptable range, said Environmental Specialist Kavita Batra.

Test results for concentrations of the numerous chemicals revealed nothing unexpected for the pond, she said.

Results from the soil samples taken by an independent lab hired by the school system to test a variety of areas around the playground and construction site at Wrens Elementary School revealed nothing out of the ordinary, according to Whitaker Laboratory, Inc. representative Joseph Whitaker.

The school is located adjacent to the pond, positioned uphill from it at angles that increase from approximately five-degrees at the far end to approximately 30-degrees near the mid-section.

The soil samples were tested for approximately 200 chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides and volatile organic compounds used in manufacturing and industry.

Test results showed nothing other than acceptable levels of metals that occur naturally in the area, he said. Costs associated with tests performed by Whitaker were paid by the Jefferson County school system.

School Superintendent Carl Bethune said Tuesday he was thankful that everything checked out and that the school site was found to be clean and free of any contaminants.

EPD Program Manager I Jeff Darley said Monday the agency considers the issue closed at this point given the results of the significant number of samples tested. There does not appear to be a public health concern at the pond based on the analyses that have been done, he said.

Commenting on the probability of determining the causes of fish kills around the state that he has witnessed, Darley said test results in a large percentage of cases reveal natural causes as the reason for the kill, while another large percentage of cases remain inconclusive after testing is completed. Environmental causes, such as chemical spills, are found through testing to be the cause in a small percentage of cases, he said.

Johnson Pond has been in existence for decades. The pond is stocked by the city and is the location of Wrens' annual children's Wal-Mart-sponsored Fish Rodeo.





Citizens give input on the future of Jefferson County

Ten year plan hearings begin; topics include solid waste management

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

More than 50 Jefferson County residents participated Feb. 20 to provide input on issues that will face both them and their families over the next 10 years.

Public hearings at the courthouse on Solid Waste Management and the Jefferson County Joint Comprehensive Plan: 2015 were held by Regional Development Center Planning Director Lori Sand and Regional Planner Nancy Campbell.

Sand and Campbell recorded residents' input to be discussed in later meetings where an advisory committee composed of county elected officials, county and city employees and other residents will help formulate the plan that Sand will devise. Sand said Monday that she planned to continue the public input process at future meetings.

Solid waste plan

At the 6 p.m. Solid Waste Management hearing, a small but vocal group responded to Sand's call for input. Residents surfaced ideas and concerns that will be included in the county's Joint Comprehensive Plan. Residents' recommendations included the insistence that the landfill not be sold or put under different management that would necessitate the introduction of trash from outside the county to make the operation profitable. Other recommendations pertained to recycling when feasible and instituting a program making recycling mandatory, introducing a user fee and mining and reclaiming old landfill property around the county.

Also noted was the reference to what was described as a history of poor engineering at the Mennonite Church Road landfill and the call for commissioners to continue to honor previous resolutions that would keep Jefferson County free of outside trash.

Sand said recently that solid waste would be included in both public hearings to insure that all state-required aspects of the issue were appropriately accounted for.

10 year plan

The number of residents had increased to 50 by the time the 7 p.m. public hearing on the 10-year Joint Comprehensive Plan began. Included in the room were nine of the 17 advisory committee members who will be responsible for assisting Sand in developing the Jefferson County Plan. Once developed, the plan should guide the decision making of local governments for the next 10 years, she said.

"This is the very beginning of the plan," Sand told residents at the outset of the hearing. "We want to get information from you about what's happening and what's needed in Jefferson County."

She said the existing 10 year plan, set to be replaced in 2005, was the first such plan and was developed essentially from a template approach with little time or funding to assist in the development of the county and its cities.

The intent for the upcoming plan, she said, is to make it fit the realistic future needs of Jefferson County. Sand said the advisory committee should function as the liaison to county residents.

The major components designated for public comment and recommendation included Population, Natural Resources, Historic Resources, Economic Development, Housing, Community Facilities, Land Use and the five-year Short Term Work Program. Residents were given time to make recommendations on the majority of the components.

Concerning the numerous Natural and Historic Resources in the county, residents wanted to insure the viability of the underground acquifer recharge area and protect its potential degradation from landfill waste and sludge, ensure that waterways were maintained for recreation and fishing and that enforcement methods be put in place to accommodate an erosion and sediment control system.

Other recommendations in these areas included preserving downtown historic districts and sites throughout the county and intensifying efforts to bring historic tourism to the area. Also questioned was the possibility of acquiring grant monies for preservation of churches and private structures.

Economic Development recommendations by the group included the pursuit of "clean" industry into the area and the need to develop medical and service industries.

Other development potentials included attracting offshoot companies that will supply parts and materials for the upcoming Daimler Chrysler plant near Savannah. Those companies are expected to generate approximately 700 jobs in the area, according to former Gov. Roy Barnes in statements in late 2002.

Residents cited the need for development industry that could maximize the use of local raw materials such as timber and other agricultural products. Also cited was the importance of Ft. Gordon as a local employer and the need for its continued presence in the Central Savannah River Area.

Recommendations on Housing and Population drew fewer comments than those of the other components. Many at the meeting believed that housing and associated needs would be met as they occurred as the county increases in population in coming years.

Some residents said the county should closely examine idea of requiring larger lot sizes for subdivisions. The belief was based on the premise that large numbers of homes operating wells and septic systems in a relatively small area would eventually experience health-related issues due to their close proximity to each other because septic system contents would potentially leach into surrounding wells. A related suggestion involved a possible requirement that subdivisions maintain their own wastewater treatment system.

The Community Facilities component drew a wider range of recommendations than any of the components covered at the public hearing.

Future needs recommended included a vocational high school, a full-scale, operational recreational facility with satellites in Wrens, Wadley and Louisville, updated fire trucks and firefighting equipment, a birthing center, a safe-house and support system for victims of abuse, a Humane Society or animal control center and the need to study the feasibility of a countywide consolidation of public safety agencies. Also cited were the need to publicize the Jefferson County Arts Guild, devise a countywide festival and continue to promote the Bartow's live play production company, The Schoolhouse Players, that draw 75 percent of its audiences from outside the county.

Members of the public recommended that an additional task be included in the plan. That task should provide a mechanism for an annual check of compliance by the committee to insure compliance by the cities and the county.

Components not
addressed

Other issues relating to the Community Facilities component were not addressed because Sand said she believed she was losing some members of the audience due to the length of the meetings. These included transportation and the county's network of roads, the status of government buildings and issues surrounding solid waste and the environment. Also not available for public input due to time constraints were the Land Use component designed to create a new county map specifying parcels according to the eight classifications and the Short Term Work Program that represents a "plan within a plan" to address the budgeting and acquisition of needed items in the next five years.

Sand said those components unable to be covered at the public hearing would be addressed in upcoming advisory committee meetings and meetings designed to provide a continuation of the public input process.

One of the topics at the next meeting of the advisory committee, scheduled for March 6, will be to begin developing ways to get the public involved in that process, she said.

Nine of the 17 members of the committee attended the hearing on the Joint Comprehensive Plan. Committee member Edith Pundt responded to a question about additional members being added by suggesting that residents who wanted to participate either now or later should do so. Reggie Morgan, Geary Davis and Robert Clements volunteered after the meeting to serve on the committee.

Sand said the advisory committee will meet every one to two months to review updates on various portions of the plan and public workshops will be held periodically.

A draft of each section of the plan is anticipated by August and a public hearing will be held after the draft is complete.

Another public hearing is anticipated in early 2004 as is adoption of the plan by cities and the county.

The completed plan is expected in June 2004.

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