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September 4, 2003 Issue

Ground is broken and construction of the expanded runway at Louisville airport has begun. The expansion for the long awaited project, anticipated to be complete sometime this winter, will increase the length of the runway to 5,000 from the current 3,500 feet.


Louisville Airport expansion begins

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The long awaited expansion of the runway at Louisville airport has begun. Once completed sometime this winter, the upgraded runway will easily accommodate nearly every corporate jet in the sky.

The Aug. 19 groundbreaking signaled the beginning of the final phase that will result in a runway near one mile long. Five years in the making, the expansion process began in 1999 and included hurdles such as an environmental impact study, surveys and appraisals and land acquisition. What remains is the construction project, anticipated to be complete this winter, said Mayor Byron Burt.

"It has been a long time in the planning process and I'm glad to see the construction phase of the expansion beginning," said Burt.

The runway length will be increased to 5,000 feet from the current 3,500 feet and runway width will increase from 75 feet currently to 100 feet.

Ground on either side of the runway will be cleared, leveled and cut grass will be maintained for a distance of 500 feet from the centerline. Also included in the project is the replacement and relocation of existing runway lights.

The expansion will pave the way for small business and private jet aircraft to take off and land in Louisville. Georgia Department of Transportation Aviation Manager Ed Ratigan told a group of local pilots and residents in an Aug. 30, 2001, transportation forum that the percentage of corporate jets able to access the airport at project completion will increase to 85-90 percent.

Contributions for the $2.2 million project included nearly $1.685 million from Georgia Department of Transportation and a 25 percent match from the city.

Beam's Contracting of Beech Island provided the lowest bid for the construction phase of the expansion. Beam's $1,404,936.32 bid was the lowest of five local and regional bidders.

Louisville airport is one of 27 airports throughout the state designated as regional airports in a statewide aviation plan devised in the mid-1990s.

The optimum length for runways at all regional airports is 5,500 feet. The topography at the Louisville airport prohibited expansion beyond 5,000 feet at this time due to the presence of a pond on the east side of the airport and the cost associated with such an expansion. The cost of such a project would be in excess of $2 million.





Sludge could come from Columbia County

In emergency meeting, chamber decides to oppose all sludge coming into county

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

A replay of history may be in the making in the fields of central Jefferson County.

The attempt by Columbia County and a local grower to obtain a permit to apply sludge to his fields on Horseshoe Road was met with opposition by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce during an emergency meeting August 29.

"The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce opposes any Columbia County proposal to dump sludge in Jefferson County. Sludge dumping hurts Jefferson County citizens, businesses and natural surroundings. The Chamber Board of Directors urges the Jefferson and Columbia Boards of Commissioners to oppose these dumping plans. The Chamber of Commerce encourages the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners to take the necessary legal steps to stop sludge from coming into Jefferson County."

Chamber President Brad Day read the statement to commissioners at the Tuesday work session, informing them of the chamber's position. Day later reiterated the chamber's view that the reference was only to sludge brought in from outside Jefferson County. He added that the chamber position included sludge already being land-applied anywhere in the county. Day said the intention of the chamber was simply to go on record as opposing the use of sludge on lands in Jefferson County.

"The chamber of commerce sees itself as one of the partners in protecting the reputation of the community," Day told commissioners. "Business drives the economy here and the chamber of commerce doesn't think that another county ought to be bringing its sludge in here, particularly Columbia County."

Hudson Grassing Co. co-owner Richard Hudson said Tuesday that his company's intention is to apply biosolids (sometimes referred to as sludge) from Columbia County's Water Pollution control plants on Hudson's Horseshoe Road property. The sludge would be used as fertilizer and would be land-applied on grass fields.

At issue is the sludge from the Reed Creek, Crawford Creek and Little River wastewater treatment plants in Columbia County. In order to apply sludge on land in Jefferson County, Columbia County will be required to obtain a permit from Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

In a letter to commissioners, Hudson said he had a problem with Day asserting that sludge hurts county citizens, businesses and natural surroundings since there is no scientific proof for the claim. He added that his business contributes significantly to the local economy, including spending approximately $160,000 annually with local businesses, the purchase of $1.2 million in equipment from farm equipment dealers and the investment in more the $1.5 million in property.

"The land application issue seems to be a sensitive issue with a few citizens of Jefferson County, but it is a legal, regulated process that occurs everyday all over the United States," the letter said. "As I said earlier, I have no problem with opposition from citizens and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, as long as they respect my right to conduct legal land application of biosolids in accordance with EPA regulations on my property. I came to Jefferson County to stay and to support this community, not to be a hindrance or a detriment."

A public meeting on the application of sludge to the Horseshoe Road property will be held Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse in Louisville.





Qualifying opens in several local elections

Three mayors and 12 council persons will be elected in the November elections

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

It may not be quite time for the 2004 general election but the political season is about to be in full swing in municipalities around Jefferson and Glascock counties.

The election Nov. 4 will determine the outcome of the expiring terms in mayoral races in three cities and a total of 12 city council seats across the two counties.

The qualifying period for all positions begins Sept. 8 and will continue through Sept. 12.

Gibson

Elections in Gibson include races for the expiring terms of the mayor and council seats occupied by Warren Pittman and Paul Hinton.

Stapleton

Positions up for election in Stapleton include the mayor and two council seats currently held by Paul Beckworth and Stephen Harden.

Wrens

The races in Wrens include positions for mayor and the council seats held by Ceola Hannah and Sidney McGahee.

Avera

Also in north Jefferson, Avera votes will decide the outcome of the two council seats currently held by Charles Padgett and Lisa Hadden.

Louisville

Louisville has two council seats this election cycle. Those seats are currently held by James Davis and Tom Watson.

Wadley

In Wadley, voters will decide on the seats currently held by Charles Lewis and Edith Pundt.





Commissioners choose contractor to clean up at old prison

Barrels and cans contained antifreeze, glazing compound, zinc chromate and other unidentifiable chemicals

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Work to dispose of hundreds of rusted, chemical-filled containers at the old prison on US Highway 1 in Louisville moved one step closer to completion last week.

The bill to taxpayers was more than double what the cleanup would have cost when Jefferson County commissioners said they would handle the problem three years ago.

Commissioners voted July 8 to authorize Foster Environmental of Augusta to conduct the clean up. County administrator Paul Bryan told commissioners last month that Foster would perform the packaging phase of the clean up at a price of $11,285.

In the project's second phase, Foster personnel filled 90 55-gallon drums with containers ranging from one-pint to 55-gallons. The bill for the disposal of the chemicals totaled $35,974.

Work remaining at the site includes testing the soil where the chemicals were stored and removing any contaminated soil. The remaining cost of the project, totaling $47,259 to date, should be minor, said Bryan.

Most of the containers were stacked either on wooden pallets or inside two old truck beds on the north side of the old prison. Numbering in the hundreds, the containers were believed to contain tar, paint and paint additives.

Verified at the site June 11 were containers labeled antifreeze coolant, glazing compound and zinc chromate. The rusted condition of the containers largely prohibited a clear identification of the contents.

Clearly evident was the chemical leaking onto the ground from several of the containers.

The issue first surfaced at the June 10 commission meeting when county Marshal Alan Wasden cited the existence of the containers while making the point that commissioners should live up to the same requirements of state law demanded of citizens. He said he had informed the board in April 2000 of the existence of the problem and had provided bids from two companies to clean up the site. The bids were approximately $20,000 for the project.

A check at the commission office June 11 confirmed that the board had been made aware of the problem and had voted to have the county perform the work rather than hiring an environmental clean up firm. But the work had never been done. That fact, said Wasden at the June 10 meeting, puts commissioners at odds with state law and with county residents who are also required to adhere to those laws.

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