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June 12, 2003 Issue

Four and five-year-old start fire...
Firefighters from Louisville and Hillcrest fire departments battle a mid-afternoon blaze June 4 that engulf an abandoned house on Lampp Street in Louisville. The fire was said to be caused by two unattended children, ages four and five, that were playing inside the house with gasoline and a lighter, said Fire Marshal Alan Logue. No injuries were reported.

Despite drenching showers, Glascock County's cancer survivors decide to take their Victory Lap to prove that inclement weather can't dampen their spirits.

Rain doesn't dampen spirits at Relay

Glascock County Relay For Life raises $26,225.93 for cancer research

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Heavy rains moved over Gibson Friday. In its wake was the 4th Annual Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at Brassell Park. Though eventually called off due to weather conditions, nothing could detract from the spirit of America's #1 fundraising community for cancer research.

Children ran and played as if the rain pouring overhead did not even exist. The adults, too, undaunted by the ever-present liquid onslaught, continued with their annual Relay for Life fundraiser in celebration of the life and love for cancer survivors who call Glascock County their home.

Most of the nightlong events could not be held due to the weather. But when the event was called off shortly before 11 p.m. many of the estimated 300 still on hand heard the announcement that the yearlong fundraising effort had amassed $26,225.93 for cancer research, an amount equal to $10.26 for each resident of Glascock County.

"You just can't put our fire out," said Event Chairman Gwyn Couch, suffering from pneumonia but unwilling to miss the event. "The ground may have been soggy, but you can't quench the spirit of the Relay in Glascock County."

Though rain shortened, some of the evening's events did occur. Cancer survivors took their annual Victory Lap, individuals and groups sang and danced and the Glascock Youth Council Action Partners dedicated Brassell Park's new playground equipment.

Team Captain Coordinator Melissa Rogers praised the dedication and efforts of county residents who continue to make the Relay a signature event.

"It amazes me that as wet as this ground was, we had this turnout from the community to support this effort," she said. Even through the mass confusion we pulled together and had a good time."

The 2003 Team Spirit Award went to The Bethel Church believers. The award for most money raised went to Fellowship Baptist Church Lamplighters for the $6,740.53 the team contributed. Money raised by other teams included $2,684.40 by the Glascock County Consolidated School Panthers, $4,915 by The Bethel Believers, $5,825 by the Headhunters and $3,101 by the Sidewalk Gang.

Local supporters included Freddie Turner, Jim Holton, Torianna Fowler, City of Gibson, Thomas Chalker, Mitchell McGraw, Glascock County Board of Commissioners and Glascock County Road Department.

Corporate sponsors included Badcock Home Furniture, Mt. Zion church, Williams Farms, First City Bank of Gibson, Gibson Hardware, Usry Auto Parts & Garage, Inc., First State Bank, Country Lane Rentals, Gibson United Methodist Church, Kitchens Grocery, Gibson Church of God, Jefferson Energy Cooperative, G. Ben Turnipseed Engineers, Euphrates Baptist Church, Fellowship Baptist Church, Heritage Construction Group, Inc., Gibson Health and Rehabilitation Center, WPEH Radio and The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter.

Wadley agrees to file suit against delinquent loan holders.

More than $50,000 in UDAG loans owed largely by current and former council members

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The time appears to have come for the collection of what has become more than $50,000 in delinquent loans issued by the City of Wadley, owed largely by current and former city elected officials.

Delinquent money owed the city from past low-interest Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) business loans include more than $11,000 from council member Izell Mack and more than $29,000 from former council member and mayor pro-tem Albert Samples. The city council agreed Monday in executive session to pursue a course set in motion nearly a year ago to file suit to collect the funds. City-sponsored UDAG loans were designed to help start-up or expand small business.

A $15,000 business expansion loan made to Mack for Mack's Masonry Contractors in January 1998 carried a six percent interest rate and a term of 120 months with payments of $200 per month for the duration of the loan period, ending February 8, 2008.

The loan was made to purchase new equipment, to retain three employees and to hire two additional employees.

City records obtained under an open records request showed that Mack has a delinquent balance of $11,349.07 in principal and interest as of Feb. 21, 2003.

"My business just went bad, that's what happened," Mack said Tuesday, referencing his delinquencies and his repayment capabilities. "My city council salary is paying my UDAG loan. In my heart I really want more money in the UDAG account to loan for new businesses."

Samples was approved by the council in November 1992 for a $25,000 loan for his business, Albert's Garage, to purchase machinery and equipment and to hire two additional employees.

Terms called for payments of $287.04 per month for the first five years and $301.32 for the second five-year period, with a scheduled maturity date of Nov. 15, 2002. Interest rates for the two periods were four percent and six percent, respectively.

City records obtained under an Open Records request showed Samples currently owes $29,001.29 in past due principal and interest as of Dec. 31, 2002. Attempts to contact Samples at his residence Tuesday were unsuccessful.

A third delinquent account, a $14,000 loan to Brenda Mincey, Ideal Glover and Prince Lemons was taken in June 1993 to start up the Learn N Play children's center. Loan payment terms were structured at $141.74 beginning in June 1993 for five years at four percent interest and $148.80 at six percent interest beginning in June 1998. The scheduled maturity date was June 20, 2003. City records show that past due balance of $9,653.49 in principal and interest was owed as of Dec. 31, 2002. All loan payments to date have been made only by Mincey. Contacted Tuesday, Mincey said she had no comment on the decision at this time.

The previous city council addressed collections of delinquent UDAG payments in October 1999. At that time delinquencies from the same individuals totaled $19,286.86. Former city attorney Bobby Reeves told the council they were obligated to collect money due the city. Responding to instructions from the council, Reeves issued letters to all parties advising them that the collection process would be initiated. Discussion between council members at subsequent meetings resulted in apparent confusion concerning the council's original intent in generating the letter. No action was taken until the July 2002 after a new administration had taken office.

In July 2002 the next council, under Mayor Herman Baker, advised new city attorney John Murphy to initiate the collection suit process. Murphy said Tuesday the length of time involved to bring the process to its current stage was due to his not being comfortable with the accounting aspects of the balances due on the accounts. He asked the city to have city auditor Garry Pittman review all the account files and submit the actual balances due the city. Murphy received the completed packet in mid-May and reported the findings to the council June 9.

Federal UDAG grant awards were established through competitions from 1978-1989 to assist communities in stimulating economic development, employment and housing opportunities in distressed communities.

Wrens rec facility should be in place by spring of 2004

City is looking for a 25-30 acre parcel of land to house the new facility

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The goal of establishing new city recreational facilities in Wrens is expected to be met by spring 2004. Funding for the city's new facilities came after the city received $250,000 in return for deeding 15 acres to the county development authority for the expansion of Glit Manufacturing.

City Administrator Donna Johnson said the goal continues to be one where the city establishes improved facilities in a better location. As currently envisioned, the recreation complex will include specific areas for baseball, basketball and tennis. Plans include space for other types of recreation and leisure activities.

"The most important thing is that the kids get to play," said Johnson. "The mayor and city council are trying to make sure we have a quality recreation complex that will grow with us. They are all working together toward that goal."

Johnson said the city hopes to acquire a parcel of land 25-30 acres in size to house the new facility. The increased size of the complex would allow significantly more room for expansion and additional uses beyond what was possible at the former site, comprised of only 15 acres.

The current process that is anticipated to lead in spring 2004 to an open and functioning recreation complex is threefold. The first phase, now in progress, will determine possible locations that may be suitable, said Johnson. Once property is located and acquired, the design and engineering phase and construction phase can proceed. Though the entire complex may require a longer time to complete, she said the ball fields, at a minimum, should be ready for use next spring.

Patriots plan events in honor of Flag Day

By Elizabeth Howard

This Saturday Jefferson County will celebrate Flag Day with a blaze of events, beginning with a flag retirement program in Wrens and culminating at the Market House in Louisville where a military support rally will be held.

At 10:30 a.m., tattered flags will be put to rest at Wrens Memorial Cemetery in a joint venture by the American Legion Post 229 and the John Franklin Wren Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The ceremony will involve the appropriate means of retiring irreparable flags. The old, faded and unserviceable flags will be burned during Saturday's Flag Day ceremonies.

The program will also involve a history of the flag, the National Anthem, patriotic music and a reading by a member of the DAR.

Flag Day ceremonies will shift to Louisville Saturday evening when a military support rally will be held at the Market House at 7 p.m.

In addition to featuring two speakers and the Jones Grove Baptist Church choir, the program will involve recognition of Jefferson County's members of the military and Purple Heart recipients and the unveiling of the Purple Heart stamp.

Sheriff Gary Hutchins will speak on Homeland Security, focusing on the Fire Department, Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Walter Hannah of the Wrens Fire Department will speak on life in the military.

Military members from Jefferson County and Purple Heart recipients will be recognized at the ceremony. Thirteen recipients, two living, are known of in Jefferson County.

There will also be a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives in Iraq and Iran.

The program is being conducted by Jan Marsh of Louisville and her mother Geraldine Martin.

Martin sponsored a support rally and support group during a previous military conflict. At the time, Marsh was a military wife.

Now, Marsh is a military mother and has joined her mother in organizing a similar group.

When her son went to Afghanistan, she helped develop a support group.

Flag Day will bring with it an opportunity for all of Jefferson County to join with the American Legion, the DAR, Marsh and Martin and the military members from around the county and world in honor of the country's military service men and women.

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