Mock disaster drills local emergency response
• Thermo King tests readiness along with county departments
By Faye Ellison
In a recent mock disaster drill Thermo King and Jefferson County Emergency Response Teams had a chance to test their proficiency in dealing with a chemical spill.
Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Facilities Manager David Kolb and Safety and Health Coordinator Connie Burt of Thermo King, where the drill was held, worked closely with Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Lamar Baxley to put the drill's goals into action.
Thermo King went to Baxley with the idea of having a mock drill. He thought it was a good idea, because not only would it help Thermo King prepare, it would also help Jefferson County departments earn their certification.
The exercise included a simulated sulfuric acid spill and fire, which according to Kolb was exaggerated to involve more in the drill.
In reality the sulfuric acid, which is used at Thermo King in the waste water treatment system, would cause very little harm. It is the most hazardous of the materials at Thermo King. The main reason it can be hazardous is that the plant has it in bulk on site.
Kolb and Baxley said they tested for preparedness on all different levels from the building being evacuated, the emergency teams' response and traffic conditions.
"It went real well. I was very pleased," Baxley said. "We are real satisfied. Some mistakes were made, but we all learned a lot."
Another key factor in the drill going smoothly was the participation from the emergency departments countywide.
"We had participation from all over the county," Baxley said. "I thought the response time was real good from all departments in the county."
Next week there will be a round table discussion to discuss areas that both Kolb and Baxley think need improvement and those that went according to plan.
"In a real situation we would have to reassess some things," Baxley said. "And there were several things we need a little more training on, but other than that everything went real well."
Baxley said he would like to do another mock drill next year and will start planning and working on it soon.
Kolb said that the building was cleared quickly during the drill and he is happy with the outcome.
"Our procedures went exceptionally well," Kolb said. "We had the building cleared and people identified within 12 minutes. We couldn't have asked for a better outcome.
"This was an exceptionally worthwhile learning experience for all the parties involved and we do appreciate all the people involved in the activity."
After the discussion on June 16 about the drill, Kolb said they will know their mistakes.
"After next Thursday, we will have a report to correct, if any, mistakes," Kolb said.
Former sheriff Zollie Compton remembered
• Zollie Compton, who served as Jefferson County's sheriff for 32 years, died Friday
By Parish Howard
When I was growing up, if somebody said anything about law enforcement, my first thought was Zollie Compton," Sheriff Gary Hutchins said of his predecessor Monday, the day before Compton's funeral.
Zollie R. Compton Sr. served Jefferson County as sheriff for 32 years and was 83-years-old when he passed away Friday, June 10, from heart and lung complications. A group gathered Monday night to pay their respects to his family and Tuesday at funeral services at Louisville City Cemetery.
Compton served as sheriff until 1992, when he decided to step down. Hutchins took office in 1993.
"Mr. Zollie was a legend across the state," Hutchins said. "All of our older sheriffs knew him. He was a man of his word and if you went to him and told him you needed help, he'd do all he could to help you."
Originally from Alabama, Compton was a resident of Louisville for 58 years, but shortly before his death he had returned home.
Wrens Police Chief David Hannah attributes his introduction to law enforcement to Compton.
"I was working in the grocery business at the time," Hannah said. "This was when they still fed the prisoners fat back, potatoes and bread. He'd come in to Hadden's to get the groceries and we used to cut up. Well, one day he asks me if I'd like to come to work for him."
That was in 1988.
"He loved law enforcement," Hannah said. "I loved to go out with him manhunts, after a prisoner escaped. He was a true hound; he had this sense of tracking, of knowing where that person would be. It was amazing. If he said this guy was going to be in this vicinity, that's where he'd be."
Hannah also remembers Compton as a zealous Georgia Tech fan, a fair and honest leader, a loving husband and father.
"He was as fine a man as I ever knew in my life," said Herbie Brett, another of Compton's deputies. "He had the respect of the people in this county and he enforced the law."
Alan Wasden, yet another of Compton's officers, sums up his memories of the former sheriff in a letter in this week's edition. In it he says that Compton was loved by some, hated by some and feared by some, but respected by all.
"I'm sure a lot of people have different opinions of him, but he always treated me real well," Hannah said. "He'd speak his piece when he saw something he didn't agree with. But he always treated everybody fair, even his prisoners. And he stood up for his men."
Hannah remembers getting a call from Compton when he was named Wrens police chief.
"He told me to keep up the good work," Hannah said. "He told me there'd be times I was going to have it coming at me from every direction but just to go on and do the job I set out to do. I learned a lot from Mr. Compton and the other deputies back then. We all did."
Compton was a member of the Louisville United Methodist Church, a U.S. Army World War II veteran who saw combat on D-Day at Omaha Beach, a Shriner and a Mason.
Survivors include his wife, Annie Ruth Arrington Compton; his son and daughter-in-law, Zollie Craig Compton Jr. and Christine Compton; four brothers, George Compton, Billy Compton, Robert Compton and Luther Compton; three sisters, Audrey Eiland, Helen Moulton and Sarah Russell; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
SPLOST funds would provide over $3 million for development
• Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to approve or reject the three-part SPLOST
By Ben Roberts
(Editor's Note: Next Tuesday, June 21, the citizens of Jefferson County will vote whether or not to extend the current one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. This story is the last of a three-part series detailing how the funds will be dispersed and spent among the three project areas of economic development, recreation and fire and rescue.)
Next Tuesday's vote to either extend or end Jefferson County's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) will effect the future of Tom Jordan's job as much as anyone in the county.
As Jefferson County's professional economic developer, Jordan's responsibilities are two-fold: retain and seek to expand the county's current industries and attempt to recruit new industries to locate within the county. The passage of the SPLOST extension for another five years should make those two tasks less difficult for Jordan.
If the referendum passes, the Development Authority of Jefferson County (DAJC) will receive $3,399,746 to purchase land for industrial parks in the north and south ends of the county, as well as begin infrastructure needs such as roads and water and sewer lines to those properties.
Depending on the cost of such projects, the DAJC would also like to construct what's commonly known as a "spec building" to those in economic development, at the Louisville Industrial Park. A spec building is a basic, several-thousand square foot structure ready for purchase or rent by a prospective industry enabling that company to be that much closer to production.
Jordan explained that while the county currently has industrial land available in Louisville, it has only a small portion available in Wadley and none in Wrens. The small amount of land in Wadley also lacks roadways and does not yet have water or sewer running to the property. Jordan said such incentives are necessary in today's process of recruiting business and industry.
"Industry prospects are looking for land that is considered 'site ready,' meaning it's got the necessary infrastructure and it's ready for an industry to move in and begin construction. In recruiting, time is critical and having already acquired the land and having the necessary infrastructure keeps us from being behind in the game," Jordan said.
Jordan said that while land is readily available throughout the county, it must meet certain criteria for an industry's needs, such as the availability of power, natural gas, rail lines, as well as basic infrastructure. The closer a site is to having these needs implemented, the better that site looks to a prospective industry.
A man fond of analogies, Jordan says the process is not unlike surfing. "You want to be on the front of the wave, otherwise you end up having to paddle like crazy to catch it."
Bill Easterlin, chairman of the DAJC, echoed Jordan's thoughts.
"What we're hoping to do is acquire the assets necessary for attracting business and industry to our community and getting those assets in place. The idea is to have that site ready for clients when they come to look at a piece of property," he said.
Jordan is also quick to point out that the entire $10.5 million referendum will ultimately prove beneficial to the county's economic development. Jordan said the increased fire and safety capabilities as well as more and improved recreation opportunities make a community more saleable to industry prospects.
"To think about economic development we've got to look at quality of life components," he said. "We're actually competing to attract people, looking for ways to bring new money into the county. This SPLOST vote is about creating things to draw people to Jefferson County."
In a 2004 Corporate Survey by Area Development, recreational opportunities was ranked eighth among quality of life factors industry leaders consider when looking at site locations. The list also included low crime rate, health facilities, ratings of public schools, housing availability and cost, proximity to colleges and cultural opportunities.
"It's like the question of the chicken verses the egg. If you get the people here, the manufacturing will eventually come and the presence of the manufacturing will bring more people," Jordan said.
Currently, the DAJC receives three-quarters of a mill from the county for operating costs and projects. Jordan said that portion of the millage is not enough to cover the costs of the proposed projects without a substantial increase.
The SPLOST referendum will only give voters the choice of continuing the special tax for another five years by voting "yes" or ending it in December of this year by voting "no." The projects have already been chosen and approved by the county commission; neither the projects themselves nor their monetary amounts can be changed.
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce will hold its final SPLOST informational meeting tonight, June 16, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Wrens Community House.
County voters overwhelmingly approved the existing one-cent SPLOST in September 2001. Collections began in January 2002 and are expected to continue through December of this year, when the total collections will reach their ceiling of $6.5 million. If renewed, this next round of SPLOST would continue uninterrupted for another five years or until the $10.5 million is collected.
Glascock landfill could go on HSI list
• Consultant says placing landfill on state's Hazardous Site Inventory list could expedite its closure
By Faye Ellison
Glascock County Commissioners voted Tuesday night to apply to place the landfill on the state's Hazardous Site Inventory (HSI) List.
The landfill, which was on its way to closure in 1995, has been a financial burden on the county. In April County Landfill Consultant Charlie Armentrout came before Commissioners explaining that tests conducted over the past several years have detected the presence of both mercury and dichloroethene in a total of six of the 13 test wells at the county's now unused landfill causing the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to require the county to prepare a Contamination Assessment and Corrective Measures Plan.
Commissioner Anthony "Ant" Griswell said steps to close the county's landfill began in 1992. Armentrout replied, if they had found no contaminates in the first five years after petitioning the landfill's closure, it would have closed.
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Armentrout said that the required assessment should pin point the extent of the contamination of mercury, which is a metal, and the dichloroethene, which is a solvent, in the landfill. Without the study it is impossible to determine the levels of these contaminates in the soil, bedrock and groundwater, as well as how wide and deep they appear.
Commissioners tabled the issue until Tuesday night's June meeting.
The cost of the assessment comes to between $30-$35,000, but have not been included in this year's budget.
Armentrout and Griswell went to Atlanta May 3 to meet with EPD to see if there was any way to help the county with the bill.
"They were very sensitive to the issue that Glascock County is rural and very small," said Armentrout.
"They were real cordial and I felt it was a real good meeting," added Griswell. "They want you to say what you do and do what you say."
At that meeting, Armentrout brought up the idea of putting Glascock County's landfill on the HSI List and he said EPD asked if he were sure they were not already on it.
Armentrout came back before the Commissioners to explain his plans for the county's landfill if they approved. The plan includes putting the site on the HSI List, which according to Armentrout does not really have any negative sides as far as they are concerned.
On the other hand, Armentrout pointed out, that if a private landowner was put on the HSI List, it could spell trouble.
The biggest benefit Glascock County would see from being on the HSI List is the fact that the county will have a promise for a reimbursement of the money spent on the assessment and possible future cleanup projects. The EPD also said they may reimburse some of the monies already spent on the landfill, Armentrout said.
Though Armentrout is not sure where the contaminates originated, he said that mercury could be found in the byproducts of manufacturing plants and dichloroethene can be found in drycleaning establishments. However, since he is unfamiliar with Glascock County's history, Armentrout said he had no idea of their possible origin.
Armentrout said that with the assessment, the county has to submit a schedule to determine how long the assessment will take.
As of now Armentrout said the current schedule gives the county at least one and a half years, but he may extend it up to two years.
"We need to give ourselves plenty of time," Armentrout said. "I may even stretch the schedule out further. I can work with the chairman on that."
Glascock County will remain on the HSI List until the contamination is cleaned up or cleared naturally. Armentrout said the extent of the contamination is extremely small.
"We are being faced with having to do the assessment whether or not we are on the list," Armentrout said. "The best situation is to be in a position where the money is at least promised to be reimbursed. The best I can offer is the promise of reimbursement."
The commission questioned whether it would be better to get on the HSI List after the next scheduled test in July. They wondered if there might be a chance that the contamination had cleared.
Armentrout stated that it would be in the best interest of the county to get on the list as soon as possible.
"We won't wake up in the morning and find that the tooth fairy has come," Commissioner Johnny Crutchfield said. "That won't happen."
After the boards approval to be added to the HSI List and to go ahead with the assessment, Armentrout gave a projection of being possibly completed by December 2006.