Day leaving for Tallahassee
• After five years of service as economic developer and chamber president in Jefferson County, Brad Day has accepted a position in Tallahassee, Florida
By Ben Nelms
Well-known Georgia economic developer Bob Evans told Jefferson County commissioners in 1999 that they would do well to hire a professional economic developer to give the county a shot at a good future in development and industrial recruitment. Following his advice, commissioners hired Brad Day in January 2000 as the county's first professional economic developer. Now five years later, Day has accepted the position as economic developer for Tallahassee/Leon County, Florida.
As executive director of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Tallahassee/Leon County, Sue Dick said she welcomes Day's Jan. 10 arrival in the community. In securing the position Day beat out 60 other applicants with economic development experience.
"We're thrilled about Brad coming. We did a national search and Brad topped the list for a lot of reasons," she said. "He will help take us to the next level."
As for his leaving Jefferson County, Day's characteristic animation and humor was not lost on his assessment of his five years as economic developer.
"This job has been a lot of Divine intervention, a little bit of luck and a little bit of work," he said.
On a serious note, Day spoke of the industrial development challenges and successes Jefferson County has experienced in the past five years.
County unemployment was high and the Forstmann textile plant near Louisville had just closed after operating since 1962.
Though commissioners were advised by Evans to expect no industrial development results for at least three years after hiring a professional developer, 2000 ended with more than 100 jobs saved when the Wadley Shirt Company closed.
"During the first year we needed a quick success," said Day. "Landing Riverside was that success. It saved 125 jobs and that number grew to more than 150."
During 2000 and 2001, the Development Authority of Jefferson County (DAJC) began development of a strategic plan to attract outside industry and help expand existing industry, said Day. Many of the components of the plan were garnered through an exhaustive study compiled by Georgia Tech's Economic Development Institute (EDI). Also during that period, Day began negotiations with Glit Manufacturing, promoting the retention and expansion of the Wrens facility.
A downturn in the local economy came when the Johnny Cat plant in Wrens and Cadet in Louisville closed after being unable to compete with cheaper manufacturing costs offshore, said Day. Those closures were a reminder of the significant job loss when Forstmann closed its doors in January 1999, impacting several hundred jobs in Jefferson and surrounding counties.
Following EDI's recommendation, DAJC began a public/private endeavor at Shake Rag Industrial Park in Wadley and, in 2003, purchased 248 acres at Louisville Airport Industrial Park. Purchased at $1,000 per acre, one-quarter the market price, DAJC recently sold two small tracts at $7,500 per acre.
Day said his biggest success as economic developer was the eventual retention and expansion in late 2003 of Glit Microtron after several years of negotiation and planning. Adjacent to the company's facility is the DAJC-owned property with a 110,000 square-foot building leased by Glit for its distribution center. Along with the jobs saved, the expansion created another 150 jobs, he said.
With his departure for a new position at hand, Day reflected on the reception his family experienced on their arrival in Jefferson County and his view of what the county's economic future can hold.
"Coming here has been a wonderful opportunity. My family and I love Jefferson County," he said. "Through the efforts of the DAJC, we have raised the expectations here. Jefferson County can be what it wants to be."
At a Dec. 10 called meeting of the development authority, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Vice President Lillian E. Agel was named DAJC interim Executive Director beginning Jan. 10. She will serve in that capacity until a new economic developer is hired. Also at the meeting, DAJC board members took steps to assemble a search committee for a permanent replacement for Day's position as Executive Director and economic developer.
DAJC is a quasi-governmental entity receiving .75 mills of property taxes annually through the approval of the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.
Day came to Jefferson County from Gainesville, where he served as Vice President for Governmental and External Affairs with the Hall County Chamber of Commerce. Prior to his tenure in Jefferson and Hall counties, Day worked with Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts. He is a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Council. He graduated with B.A. from Brigham Young University in 1991 and from the University of Georgia in 1993 with a Master of Public Administration.
Eight-year-old shot in back
• Grandfather accidentally shot him after having fired .22 pistol in celebration of New Year's Eve
By Faye Ellison
A night meant for a new beginning was brought to a halt after an accidental shooting New Year's Eve.
According to police reports, Leroy Mitchell, 65, of Wadley had been firing a .22 revolver in the air to celebrate the new year.
Mitchell allegedly thought the gun was empty when he reentered Peach Village's apartment 12.
According to Wadley Police Chief Paul Jordan, a bullet must have still been lodged in the chamber when Mitchell pulled the trigger "clicking" the firing mechanism.
The gun went off discharging a bullet which struck an 8-year-old boy, believed to be Mitchell's grandson, in the back, Jordan said.
Wadley Police received the call around 12:17 a.m. and responded to the child's grandmother's residence.
Rural Metro Supervisor Mike Bennett said the child was taken to Medical College of Georgia (MCG) in Augusta through a rolling road block with help from Jefferson and Richmond counties sheriff's departments.
When he arrived at the hospital the boy was stable, alert and conscious according to Bennett. He went through trauma one and was moved to the MCG children's medical center where he was placed in ICU.
The boy was treated for the bullet wound which pentrated his inner right lung. Jordan said the boy seems to be in good condition and recovering from the injury.
"We called up there yesterday morning and he is doing great," said Bennett. "The paramedics' care was excellent."
Though the shooting is still under investigation, Mitchell is currently being charged with discharging a gun within the city limits.
Bennett said that the mother of the child was not there during the accident, but was there when EMS arrived.
According to Jordan, accidental shootings like these are not all that uncommon.
"I heard of a shooting in Bulloch County on the same night," said Jordan. "Sometimes they are common and sometimes they are not."
"This is just a tragic accident, which is why we gave out gun locks. This is the purpose. I encourage parents to take this opportunity to put the safety locks on and secure weapons."
Rutland's termination overturned
• Commission votes 2-1 to overturn Recreation Director's termination
By Ben Nelms
The November termination of Jefferson County Recreation Department Director Charles Rutland was overturned Dec. 29 by a 2-1 vote of the county commission. Fired by county administrator Paul Bryan for using his position to conduct personal business and make a personal profit, the commission disregarded the recommendation of hearing officer Mickey Moses, who presided at the Dec. 9 appeal hearing and subsequently upheld Bryan's actions.
Rutland was placed on administrative leave on Nov. 9 and later terminated regarding what Bryan called discrepancies with the money received by selling concessions at several county-sponsored sports events. In his report to commissioners and in response to the evidence submitted by Bryan and testimony by Bryan and Rutland, Moses concluded that Rutland "suspended the county's longstanding policy of selling concessions by the department at the department's facility on Highway 17 and at the old football field in Louisville" and "began purchasing these commissarial items, i.e., soft drinks, candy bars, crackers, etc., with his own money and selling them for profit at the two above-named facilities."
Submitted by Bryan as evidence at the hearing was Rutland's apparent reason for altering the county's policy, contained in his Nov. 10 letter to Bryan. In that letter Rutland said, "After being unable to get any funds from the Recreation Department account to pay softball officials, and invoices for merchandise received because Ms. Lamb was in the hospital, I made the decision to purchase items to be used in the concession stand using my own personal money. The idea was to use the profit for miscellaneous needs in recreation (provide refreshments for salesmen, provide snacks for officials in soccer, softball and football and provide snacks for student workers). There was never a thought of personal gain. The concession stand was open for approximately three softball games and one football game." During the hearing, Rutland added that he had decided to cut back on selling drinks and snacks because the department was "not making any money."
Called into question at the hearing and later addressed in Moses' recommendation was a different explanation made by Rutland pertaining to the use of the profit made from concession sales. In a Nov. 15 letter to Bryan, Rutland said he disagreed with Bryan's termination action and stated, "The profit made in the concession stand was used for a cookout for football teams, cheerleaders, coaches, parents and workers on Nov. 6."
In his recommendation to commissioners, Moses said, "Mr. Rutland has never provided an accounting of the monies he had spent for these items and the amount for which they were sold. He did state, at the personnel hearing, that, after all was said and done, they had $64 left over, which implies that there was a $64 profit. There is no way for this to be disputed since there are not receipts and no accounting of these items."
Responding to questions by his attorney Ben Allen, Rutland said he had put "$64 and change" in his pocket from the concession sales. During questions posed by Moses and Allen, Rutland was asked why the money was not turned in.
Rutland said he had never been given an opportunity to turn it in, nor had he been asked for it.
Bryan provided documentation indicating that Rutland understood the county's reimbursement process. Included in the documentation was a Nov. 8 mileage reimbursement for $209.16, a Nov. 4 receipt for $10.30 for drinks from Hadden's IGA in Wrens, a Nov. 4 receipt for $12.90 for bread from Merita Bakery in Brunswick and a Nov. 5 receipt for $1.93 for buns from Sam's Club in Augusta. Those receipts appeared to indicate expenditures used for the cookout.
In his written recommendation to commissioners, Moses summarized his recommendation by stating: "It is undisputed from Mr. Rutland and from his own testimony that there is still a minimum of $21 gain by Mr. Rutland from using County facilities, County workers, all contrary to the laws of Georgia and policies of Jefferson County. The use of County property in order to gain for profit, however small, cannot be tolerated. There is no difference in the actions of Mr. Rutland than an employee stealing five gallons of gasoline or an employee stealing a load of gravel. Therefore, the undersigned finds that Mr. Bryan's action was appropriate in the termination of Mr. Rutland."
Covered under the county's old personnel policy, Rutland had the right to appeal Bryan's decision. Based upon that appeal, county attorney was designated as the hearing officer. Moses had 15 days to make a recommendation to commissioners who, in turn, had seven days to make a decision. At the Dec. 29 commission meeting, only outgoing Chairman Gardner Hobbs, Commissioner Gonice Davis and Commissioner Tommy New were present. Hobbs called for a motion on the matter once the board reviewed the appeals case and Moses' recommendation to uphold Rutland's termination. After a brief silence, Hobbs again called for a motion. Davis made a motion to reject Moses' recommendation and Hobbs seconded the motion. Without discussion, Davis and Hobbs voted in favor of the motion while New voted against it. The vote effectively reinstated Rutland as director of the recreation department.
The reference in Moses' summary to there being no difference in Rutland's action and those of a county employee stealing five gallons of gasoline or another county employee stealing a load of gravel was significant. Former E-911 Director James Cox was fired by Bryan in 2003 for stealing five gallons of gasoline from the county gas tank at the prison camp. Another county employee was fired by Bryan after stealing gravel belonging to the county.
Under the county's recently adopted personnel policy, future appeal or grievance outcomes will be decided by a Appeal and Grievance Board consisting of at least one representative from the board of commissioners, elected officials and department managers.