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June 26, 2003 Issue

One serious barbecue...
Wrens and Stapleton firefighters look on as Jefferson Energy's Steve Talbott demonstrates the damage a high voltage arch can do to flesh, namely a raw chicken. The firemen have been touring local businesses and industries to get an idea of the layout in case they ever have a fire call to the site. In addition to Jefferson Energy, the firefighters have toured Georgia Tennessee, Glit Inc. and AirBalance/Mestek.

Wadley Inn ribbon cutting...
Elected officials from the City of Wadley, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and well wishers from around Jefferson County celebrate the Grand Opening of the Wadley Inn June 19. The project was conceived and brought to fruition by Shake Rag Express owner Wynder Smith.

Construction to begin on new jail

Initial work on new law enforcement center should begin in July

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The long wait for the construction of the taxpayer-funded Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center in Louisville is nearing an end. The project was anticipated to begin in May but was delayed so that a portion of the project could be re-bid.

County Project Representative James Rogers said Friday the initial work at the site should begin by mid-July. Work includes site preparation followed by laying concrete for the administration building and cell pod.

Commissioners announced at the June 10 regular session that the low bid for site preparation was $297,662 by Proctor Construction of Millen and $166,608, also by Proctor, for the concrete work. The announcement to accept bids for the two projects should occur within the next week with work beginning by mid-July.

Also at the June 10 meeting, commissioners decided to re-bid the portion of the project for the metal building and roof due to having received only one bid. Commissioners also decided to lower the requirement that the roof come with a 20-year warranty, opting instead for a 10-year warranty.

Construction of the administration building and jail pod is expected to require 11-12 months to complete. The facility, totaling 40,409 square-feet, will include the 128-bed cell pod positioned behind the administrative building that will house the sheriff's offices, magistrate offices and courtroom, E911 center, control room, multi-purpose room, booking and visiting areas and investigator's offices.

The $5.6 million site preparation and construction approved by commissioners includes an additional amount, not expected to exceed $100,000, for the purchase of items such as desks, chairs and file cabinets. The only other expense approved by the board was a travel reimbursement for a Tallahassee architectural firm CRA not to exceed $5,000.

The $5.7 million law enforcement center project is funded by a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) passed by voters overwhelmingly in September 2001. Collection began in January 2002 and has a maximum collection period of five years and a monetary ceiling of $6.5 million. Collections will cease when the first of either criterion is met.

Commissioners add day-time ambulance funding to budget

Also included is $188,000 toward old landfill cleanup

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Back to back meetings held June 19 by the Jefferson County Commission provided an update on the recommended FY 2003-2004 county budget and settled the question of the county's provision of commercial trash pick-up.

Commissioners held a sparsely attended public hearing on the FY 2003-2004 county budget at 9 a.m. The hearing came one week after a budget work session where the most of the questions concerning the upcoming budget were discussed.

One of the budget items presented to commissioners by county administrator Paul Bryan for the recommended budget included an arrangement with Rural Metro ambulance to provide a "day truck" with a two-person crew during the daytime hours Monday through Friday for $51,000. The day truck crew may provide Basic Life Support rather then Advanced Life Support.

The truck will likely be stationed in Wadley. Having the truck in place would address a shortage of ambulance service caused by transports out of the county and would, simultaneously, fulfill the need of being physically close to the citizens in South Jefferson County, said Bryan.

An ongoing concern of many south Jefferson residents in recent years has been the lack of an ambulance stationed in proximity to their communities.

Included in the FY 2003-2004 recommended budget was $188,000 to address the initial mitigation of the environmental problems associated with the old landfill on Clarks Mill Road in Louisville. Commissioners were told last year by consulting engineering firm QORE Property Sciences that addressing the issues surrounding the underground plume of trichlorthene and other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), more than the 50 acres in size, which is migrating off county property and has moved under Clarks Mill Road. Commissioners were told one year ago that mitigating the plume would likely cost "several hundreds of thousands of dollars and possibly more."

Bryan also told commissioners they could decrease the Coroner's budget by more than $4,000. He said much of the $5,000 allotted for the vehicle could be eliminated because Coroner Johnny Nelson had arranged for the purchase of a used state crime lab vehicle for $750. State budget cutbacks require that counties provide their own transport of bodies to the crime lab beginning July 1 rather than relying on the crime lab to provide the service.

At a called meeting prior to the budget hearing commissioners voted 3-1 to continue commercial trash pick-up for the 19 accounts currently being served, provided those businesses wish to continue the service.

Commissioner Tommy New made a motion to continue the service with an increase in price to $200 per month compared to the fee of $100 per month currently in place. The motion was seconded and passed by a vote of 3-1, with New, Commissioner Gonice Davis and Commissioner Isaiah Thomas voting for the measure and Chairman Gardner Hobbs voting against it. Hobbs said he felt the commission should stick to the original decision to discontinue the service made in May. Commissioner Sydney Norton was absent.

Commissioners voted last month to discontinue commercial pick-up as an overall cost saving measure but reconsidered the action after concerns were voiced by several business owners who received letters stating the county's intention.

Bryan said revenue earned by the county totaled $8.33 for each dumpster emptied. He also cited the condition of the county trash trucks and referenced the revenue from tonnage the county would receive regardless who hauled the trash, providing that the trash was brought to the county landfill.

Several business owners made alternate commitments to contract with Advanced Disposal Services or Sullivan Environmental between the time commissioners initially announced their decision and June 19 vote.

Also at the meeting, commissioners announced the hiring of Talmadge Chalker as the county's new Public Works Director and decided not to open the landfill on Saturday afternoons.

Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. on June 26 at the commission office to adopt the budget.

Newspaper recognized at annual convention

Special Report

The staff of The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter was recognized for excellence in several categories last week during the Georgia Press Association's Better Newspaper Contest Awards Banquet.

The newspaper received five awards, two first places and three third places, while competing against 63 weekly newspapers from across the state.

The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter, with a circulation of 5,100 competes with other weeklies with a circulation of 4,000 to 6,999.

The newspaper received first place in Local News Coverage.

"Solid, appealing design, good use of photos, good writing," the judges commented on the newspaper. "Thorough coverage of breaking news and attention to diverse community interests."

The newspaper also received first place for Religion Coverage.

"Good, strong stories with a personal touch," the judges said. "Good color pictures add to overall impression."

The staff was also recognized by receiving a third place for Lifestyle Coverage.

"Variety of local news events covered in an orderly and easy-to-follow presentation," the judges said. "Photos and layout enhance local news."

Staff writer Ben Nelms won an individual third place award for Investigative Reporting on a number of issues and Editor Parish Howard received a third place award for News Photograph.

"I am very proud of every member of our staff," Howard said. "Each and every person here cares deeply about the quality of the newspaper we produce. I believe it shows not in the awards we receive, but in the loyalty of our subscribers and that of the people who pick up copies of our paper off the racks every week."

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