Traffic stops turn into a number of arrests
• Other stops take drugs and thousands in cash off the street
By Faye Ellison
Several law enforcement agencies were a part of a chase during a road check on Friday, July 8, on Highway 80 and County Line Road at the Glascock and Warren county lines.
Gaynor Newsome, 58, of Warren County, turned around in the middle of the road when he noticed law enforcement vehicles at the intersection that night, according to a state trooper.
"He took off and we tried to initiate a traffic stop and he just didn't stop," said State Trooper Cabe with the Thomson Post. "He went back west on County Line Road, then turned onto a dirt road, Log Cabin Road."
After making contact with two vehicles, one a patrol vehicle of Glascock County's Chief Deputy John "J.J." Cooper which he left disabled, Trooper Cabe said Newsome almost ran over him.
After the five minute pursuit, officers arrested Newsome charging him with fleeing an officer, DUI, several traffic charges and weapons charges because of the three assault rifles he had in his vehicle, according to Trooper Cabe. Officers also seized a number of other guns and knives that were in the vehicle.
That was not the only excitement at the road check that lasted from about 7 p.m. to midnight.
According to Chief Deputy Cooper, officers netted about $3,000 in cash, about 20 grams of crack cocaine, less than a gram of powder cocaine, 39 grams of marijuana, an 1985 Chevrolet pickup, a 1993 Infinity J30 and three assault rifles. The two vehicles were seized for drug trafficking. Some scales and other drug related objects were also obtained.
During the stop officers arrested Carlton Brown, 22, of Norcross, for possession of cocaine; Paul Coleman, 32, of Gibson, for possession of marijuana and possession of drug related objects; Jonathan Haney, 28, of Lawrenceville, for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; Shanzie Johnson, 25, of Duluth, for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug related objects; Trice Lumbers, 24, of Lawrenceville, for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; Rodney Mathis, 23, of Lawrenceville, for possession of marijuana; Quantrievus Mobley, 24, of Warrenton, for possession of cocaine; and Draius White, 22, of Norcross, for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
The Glascock County Sheriff's Department was assisted by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Jefferson County K-9 Unit, Wrens Police Department, Wrens K-9 Unit, Department of Motor Vehicle Safety, McDuffie County Sheriff's Department, Richmond County Sheriff's Department and Georgia State Patrol.
Glascock County Sheriff Dean Couch said it is one of the best and productive road blocks the county has seen in a long time.
"I appreciate the effort from all the other agencies involved," Couch said. "I plan to continue working with all the surrounding counties and municipalities."
And the war against drugs in and coming into Glascock County will not cease anytime soon, according to Sheriff Couch.
"I plan to continue to combat the drug situation in Glascock County," he said. "I emphasize that I will not tolerate any illegal drugs of any kind in the county. I am proud of this department and my officers. We will continue to move forward."
Father and son electrocuted while working on Wrens farm
• Randy Gay Sr. killed in fatal accident
By Parish Howard
The cause of an apparent electrocution that killed Wrens-area farmer Randy Gay Sr. Tuesday morning was still being investigated Tuesday evening.
According to reports, Gay was working on an irrigation unit's pivot when the accident occured.
His son, Randy Gay Jr., was on the scene and was reportedly injured trying to assist his father.
Gay Jr. drove his father into town to Dr. James Ford's office where both were transported to Jefferson County Hospital by ambulance.
Jefferson County EMS Director Mike Bennett said that the call came into 911 at 8:30 a.m. and that when units arrived at the scene CPR was in process on Gay Sr.
"We took over patient care and proceeded enroute to Jefferson Hospital," Bennett said. "Jr. said that he had found his father on the ground and when he approached him felt a tingling sensation before being knocked to the ground himself. He said he guessed they had gotten tangled up in a 480 three phase line. A few minutes later he was able to load his father into the vehicle and drive him into town."
The ambulance arrived at Jefferson Hopital at 8:53 a.m.
Gay Sr. was prounouced dead a short time later. Gay Jr. was admitted for oberservation for complications from electric shock. As of Tuesday evening he was in stable condition, alert and conscious.
Gay Sr. was a member of Wrens Baptist Church where he has served as a deacon and was presently a member of the nominating committee.
He was the son of Oliver and Martha Gay of Wrens.
Survivors include his wife Sharon, and son, Randy Jr.
The funeral arrangements were not complete as of Tuesday evening, but plans were in place for a visitation at Wrens Baptist Church Wednesday evening from 6-8 p.m. and a funeral service at the church at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
Complaints filed on police chief
• Officer accusing chief has filed suit against the city in the past for being passed over for the chief's position
By Parish Howard
The city of Wrens is looking into a list of complaints made against Police Chief David Hannah by a lieutenant in his department.
Lt. Willie Nelson turned in the handwritten complaints in June to the city attorney's office alleging policy violations and crimes ranging from misuse of equipment and supplies to extortion, bribery, negligence, sexual harassment and violation of his oath as a public officer. In all, Nelson's unsigned document lists more than 20 complaints.
Chief Hannah, who also serves as district traffic enforcement coordinator for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, said that he would rather not comment on the complaints while the city is investigating their merit.
He did say that since information about the claims has appeared in other newspapers he has received a number of calls from people all over the state offering their support.
City Administrator Donna Scott Johnson and City Attorney Chris Dube both confirmed that the city is indeed "looking into the complaints" but preferred not to comment on them at this time.
Both Johnson and Dube said that to their knowledge, there have not been any other complaints filed about either of these officers over the last several years.
However, in December of 2003 the city's insurance carrier settled a lawsuit out of court filed by Nelson involving EEOC discrimination claims going back to 1998.
Documents involved in the suit, obtained last year under the Georgia Open Records Law, indicated that Nelson had alleged discrimination on the basis of race resulting from a decision by the city council that denied Nelson a promotion to acting police chief.
Former officer Harold Usry was appointed as acting-chief in March 1999. According to court documents, Nelson filed a second discrimination charge in November 1999, alleging that he was denied a pay raise in August 1999 in retaliation for filing the 1998 charge. In August of 2001 Nelson filed a third discrimination charge, claiming that a one-percent pay increase he received based on job performance, was less than sufficient compared to that received by some other city employees.
Throughout the proceedings the city expressly denied any liability in the case.
Of the $76,244.56 out-of-court settlement, Nelson personally received $23,090, with around 70 percent of the total going to his attorneys.
Nelson was promoted to Lieutenant effective the date of the settlement.
Former Police Chief Usry turned in his resignation in March 2001 and Hannah was appointed chief May 11, 2001.
EPD seeks information on sludge
• EPD expects to hear local issues with land application at July 28 meeting/hearing at JCHS
By Parish Howard
Sure, sewage smells, but the issue of spreading Columbia County's treated biosolid waste on Jefferson County fields has wrinkled quite a number of local noses.
In response to the stink and the issues a number of local citizens have raised regarding the land application of sludge on hay fields owned by Hudson Grassing Co. outside Louisville, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and Columbia County will be holding a meeting and public hearing at Jefferson County High School Thursday, July 28 at 7 and 8 p.m. to elicit public comment.
According to Jeff Larson, Manager of the Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement Program for EPD's Watershed Protection Branch, the meeting and hearing concern modifications to the Columbia County biosolid application plan.
In the 7 p.m. meeting residents will hear short presentation by EPD and Columbia County representatives on the sludge management plan and the permitting process. Then the audience members will be given an opportunity to ask questions.
"Hopefully we'll be able to address most of the public's concerns regarding the permit at that time," Larson said.
During the 8 p.m. hearing residents will be able to publicly comment on the proposed permit modification and have their comments transcribed for the record.
"We have already taken certain knowledge into account," Larson said. "This hearing is for the public to bring any additional information they have. After this meeting we will take all the pertinent information together, look at the permit, and see if there is adequate protection for the environment."
Larson said the public meeting and hearing will be confined to water quality issues and the hearing will not consider land use or zoning issues.
Anyone wishing to make statements in the hearing is asked to register upon arrival. Oral statements will be limited to five minutes, but Larson said that written comments are welcomed.
Written comments be received by Aug. 4 and sent to: Director, Environmental Protection Division, Department of Natural Resources, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, S.E., Floyd Towers East, Atlanta,Georgia 30334.
Larson said EPD is taking the public's concern over the site into account and claimed that a number of restrictions included in the permit are based on these concerns and the fact that the site is located over an aquifer recharge area.
"This is kind of a new idea for sludge sites," Larson said. "Usually when you are applying sludge in agronomic rates there is no reason to be concerned."
According to Larson and Mark Beebe, an EPD representative who has worked more closely with the "nuts and bolts" of the permit itself, this permit is unique in its requirement of six ground-water monitoring wells, a 25 percent reduction in the application rates and other conservative additions.
The permit also calls for isolating sludge on certain fields from certain wastewater treatment plants.
There are four facilities in Columbia County where the sludge is produced, and they are making sure that these sites will be sectioned off, so that sludge from one area will not be mixing with that from another, Beebe said. This way it can always be traced back to the initial processing site.
According to Beebe, EPD has already met with the Jefferson County commission to go over the details of this plan.
A number of residents, organizations and civic groups have spoken out in opposition to sludge applications in Jefferson County as well as to this permit in particular.
The Sludge Itself
Some cite the fact that this farm on Horseshoe Road sits atop an aquifer recharge area that supplies ground water to the southern counties of Georgia and the northern part of Florida. Others site court cases involving sludge sites all over the country where people claim to have been negatively impacted by these applications.
"Some people oppose this stuff just because they don't want it around, but we believe there are pretty strong technical reasons for opposing it," said Chandra Brown, spokesman for the Ogeechee-Canoochee River Keepers.
Her issues with the permit involve the site itself and the aquifer recharge area, a lack of information of what has been in the sludge that has already been applied to the sites from Richmond County's treatment plants, and a lack of testing for pathogens that she believes could still exist in treated human waste.
"I don't know anything about how often this stuff is being tested at the plant itself, before it ever leaves to come to Jefferson County," Brown said. "Another issue is why would the people here want this here? It's a risk to their drinking water and streams. We believe the community should come out to this meeting and show their concern."
The County's Chamber of Commerce opposes sludge for a different reason.
"Sludge is not good for business in Jefferson County," said Lil Agel, the county's chamber director. "It does not serve our businesses well for our county to be perceived as a receptacle for someone else's waste."
When the issue arose several years ago with Augusta-Richmond County' sludge application permit for the Horseshoe Road property, the chamber issued a letter in opposition to it.
"The chamber's position has not changed," Agel said. "One of our natural resources in Jefferson County is our water, for industry, recreation, farm usage and so on. Clean water is becoming more and more a commodity across the state of Georgia. It's a resource we don't want damaged."
She went on to say that the chamber's job is to represent the concerns of its membership and that her membership is concerned about sludge.
Hudson Grassing Co. is not currently a member of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, she added.
According to Beebe, sludge management plans were created to reuse this waste and extend the lives of landfills where it takes up space and produces gases.
He said that there are currently about 140 communities across the state that have some sort of sludge application program.
"We are always asking people to reuse and recycle," Beebe said. "Without land applying sludge, our landfills are going to fill up that much quicker. Why not instead use it for a biological benefit."
Farmers like the Hudsons use treated sludge as a nitrogen supplement and application rates depend on the area's soil and the crop that's being grown there.
Richard Hudson of Hudson Grassing Co. said that all of their sludge is being applied to hay, the vast majority of which is used for erosion control programs mostly on highway projects.
"Programs like this are adding to the topsoil," Beebe said. "They're helping to establish better soil."
Many of the complaints four years ago involved the Augusta Richmond County sludge and then-pending court cases involving its alleged contamination.
Some of those issues may be resolved as Hudson says that all but one field of the 500 acre Horseshoe Road tract should be replaced by Columbia County's sludge.
"This is the kind of sludge you want," Beebe said. "Columbia County's sludge is mostly residential and so it has lower levels of metals and it takes less to pretreat it."
All sludge that is slated to be land applied is treated down to meet federal and state regulations, Larson said.
AYP results in: Three schools fall short
• JCHS and both middle schools are on "needs improvement" list
By Ben Roberts
The Georgia Department of Education released its 2004-2005 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for all schools in the state two weeks ago and of Jefferson County's six public schools, three did not meet AYP standards.
Jefferson County High School (JCHS), Louisville Middle School (LMS) and Wrens Middle School (WMS) all fell short of the state's goal for measured improvement, resulting in their failing to make AYP for the 04-05 school year.
That failure means LMS and WMS will remain on the state’s Needs Improvement list for another year. Since WMS did meet AYP last year, they would have been removed from the list had they met the standards again this year.
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Louisville Academy, Wrens Elementary and Carver Elementary in Wadley all met or exceeded the AYP standards. With that accomplishment, Louisville Academy and Wrens Elementary each continued their status as a Title 1 Distinguished School by making AYP for the sixth and fourth years in a row, respectively. This is Carver’s second consecutive year making AYP.
Donnie E. Hodges, assistant superintendent for Jefferson County Schools, explained that proficiency for elementary and middle school students is determined by their performance on the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) in reading, English language arts and mathematics. Of the 18 areas assessed for AYP in grades three through eight, Jefferson County improved in 15 of those areas. The only areas lacking improvements were 4th grade math, 6th grade English and 6th grade math.
The state’s standards were raised this year and those standards will continue to rise each year until 2014 when every school is supposed to reach 100-percent compliance. Hodges said that if the state had not raised the bar this year, WMS would have met AYP again.
WMS had only one category, students with disabilities (SWD), which did not meet the state’s guidelines, although it was for both math and English. The percentage of students who fell short of the benchmark was so small, one more student passing could have meant WMS would have met AYP, Hodges said.
LMS’s category of SWD also fell short in math and English. The categories of black students and the economically disadvantaged also fell short in math.
On the high school level, academic performance is judged by the 11th grade’s performance on the Georgia High School Graduation Test in English language arts and mathematics. At JCHS, the student groups of the black and the economically disadvantaged both failed to meet the standards of the math section.
Although AYP has been in place in Georgia for many years, it did not become an official standard used to rate a school or school system’s performance until 2002 when President Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law. The federal legislation requires that all groups of students must be proficient in the three areas of study in order for a school to achieve AYP.
Hodges echoed critics across the nation of No Child Left Behind who say the law uses complicated methods to come up with such a simple label as “pass” or “fail.” In order to meet AYP goals, every category of students in a school were expected to meet or exceed the percentages set by the state. Schools missing the target by any one group of students did not make AYP.
Hodges also pointed out that often times a student can count against a school by being part of more than one category, as in black students who also fall into the economically disadvantaged group as well.
Critics have also blasted the fact that SWD must be tested on their appropriate age or grade level, not to their current level of capability regardless of how severe those disabilities might be. Hodges explained that currently SWD who meet a number of criteria are eligible for a Special Education diploma, however for AYP purposes, that student is considered a dropout who failed to earn a high school diploma. Hodges said that while she understands the goal is to push children to achieve more, she thinks such measures can be counterproductive if the goal is unrealistic.
Superintendent Carl Bethune said that despite missing the mark on AYP, he was proud of the work done by Jefferson County students, teachers and administrators and said he was certain the system would continue to move forward.
“We are particularly proud of the dramatic improvements we made in so many areas. I believe that these accomplishments reflect the dedication and hard work of our teachers and school administrators,” he said. “We believe we have the goals and programs in place to support all students in our school system. We are committed to providing every student with the best education possible.”