The magic of Harry Potter comes to Louisville
• Local library wins first autographed edition of J.K. Rowling's newest Harry Potter book in Georgia, plans special unveiling Aug. 26
By Jennifer Flowers
The Jefferson County Library has some exciting news for local Harry Potter fans.
It is the only library in the state, one of only fifty in the country, to receive a signed copy of British author J. K. Rowling's latest book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
It all started earlier this year when Scholastic, the global children's publishing and media company, announced its nationwide public library sweepstakes. The grand prize was a trip to New York and an author-signed copy of the book.
Charlotte Rogers, Director of the Jefferson County Library System, was notified about the contest by some people from the state library system.
To enter, all she had to do was send in her name and address.
This put the libraries of Jefferson County among the 9,000 public libraries nationwide that entered the sweepstakes for a chance to win the book.
One out of more than 9,000 does not make for very good odds.
However, because the response to the contest was so overwhelming, Scholastic announced the addition of 49 prizes.
The chance of winning increased.
Author J. K. Rowling agreed to sign 49 bookplates to be placed inside special library-bound editions of her new book and presented to one public library sweepstakes participant from each of the 49 states other than the one in which the grand prize winner is located.
Rogers was unaware of the additional prizes. Therefore, it came as a great shock to her when she was notified that she was a winner.
"I guess I just said, 'Oh, you're kidding!'" she laughed when asked about her initial response to the news.
Rowling's last book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was the fastest-selling book in history. Released on June 21, 2003, it sold 5 million copies in the first 24 hours.
A little over 2 years later, the Harry Potter phenomenon, topped off by that event, inspired the unprecedented initial printing of 10.8 million copies of the sixth book in the series.
Even at Louisville's own Book Worm, many customers placed advanced orders for the book and are still stopping by to purchase their copies.
Owner Margaret Newberry noted that the Harry Potter series seems to have a following of people of all ages.
What is it about the books that attracts so many readers?
Fifth-grader Cody Turner thinks that adults may read the books because they see how much kids like them. He said, "They're exciting to read and you learn from them."
While the most obvious readers of Harry Potter are elementary and middle school kids, the books also draw the attention of high school and college students, as well as adults.
Kaye Blackmon, who is a senior at Jefferson County High School, has an idea about why the books are loved by so many different people. "The themes of the books, like love, friendship, loyalty and strength, relate to all people," she said. Kaye treasures the books because they provide a way for her to relax when life becomes stressful.
As a student at Mercer University, Rachel Stephens also enjoys reading the books. She thinks that they appeal to people of all ages because they remind older people of their lives as children and children of the world in which they are currently living. Rachel said, "I like them because of the personal connection you get with the characters in the books, their thoughts and feelings."
In some families, members of different age groups have an interest in the series.
One example is the Studdard family of Wrens.
Amelia, who is preparing to head off to college, said of the series, "It's wholesome reading." She finds the books to be entertaining and lacking in the violence that many television programs contain.
Her sister Rebecca is a high school student. She feels that the stories are so popular because they are very detailed. "I can really relate to the characters and all the stuff that goes on between them," Rebecca said.
The youngest girl, Robin, is in middle school. When asked about what attracted her to the books, she said, "The characters almost seem real." She feels that a lot of people read the books because they are interesting and keep you guessing until the end.
Even in our small area, there is a great variety of people who take pleasure in reading the books.
It seems that each person who enjoys the series cites a different reason for his or her interest in Harry Potter.
Gender, age and lifestyle have little effect on the public's attraction to the books.
Some people find that they are the sole Rowling admirers in their families, while others are joined in their love of the series by all of their family members.
It is obvious that there is no typical Harry Potter fan.
Typical or atypical, all Potter fans are invited to attend the presentation of the signed book.
A Scholastic representative will present the book on August 25 at 4 p.m. at the Louisville Public Library.
Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes in the spirit of Harry Potter fanaticism for the event.
Wrens police chief cleared
• City votes to put Lt. Willie Nelson, the officer who turned in the written complaint alleging extortion, bribery and sexual harassment, on administrative leave
By Parish Howard
The Wrens City Council announced Tuesday that recent allegations against Police Chief David Hannah “are wholly without merit.”
The council then voted unanimously to put Lt. Willie Nelson, author of the complaints, on paid administrative leave until they could investigate the extent of the disruptions these complaints may have caused in the city’s police department.
“No evidence to support theft by extortion, bribery, violation of oath, or sexual harassment (were found),” Mayor Dollye Ward said after a brief closed meeting last week. “It has come to the council’s attention that there exist disruptions in the police department as a result of Lt. Nelson’s meritless allegations.”
Councilmember Ceola Hannah made the motion to put Lt. Nelson on leave, with pay, for seven days while the city administrator investigates the extent of these disruptions. The motion was seconded by Willie Huntley and carried on a unanimous vote.
“Instead of working on mere rumor and conjecture, the city will conduct an investigation into the effect Lt. Nelson’s complaints have had on the police department as a whole,” Ward said.
In June, Lt. Nelson turned in a hand-written list of more than 20 complaints against Chief Hannah alleging policy violations and crimes.
Both City Administrator Donna Scott Johnson and City Attorney Chris Dube said that to their knowledge, there have not been any other official complaints filed against either officer 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 chief.
Nelson was promoted to lieutenant effective the date of the settlement.
Hannah was appointed chief in May of 2001 and currently also serves as district traffic enforcement coordinator for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
The city administrator is in the process of conducting an investigation into the effect the complaints have had on the department as a whole and the city currently plans to hold a called meeting Wednesday, Aug. 17, to determine if further action is required.
Unsupervised trusty caught breaking motor down to sell
By Ben Roberts
An inmate from the Jefferson County prison has been charged with theft after leaving an unsupervised work detail to dismantle an engine for its parts.
Anthony Emilio Barba, 39, an inmate currently being held at the Jefferson County Correctional Institute (JCCI) was arrested last Wednesday, Aug. 10, and charged with one count of burglary and one count of theft by taking.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) investigators, Barba, who was left unsupervised to cut grass at the Jefferson County courthouse, left that detail on two occasions in an attempt to take parts from a confiscated racing engine being stored in a shed behind the old county jail.
Barba denied breaking into the normally locked shed on July 28 and Aug. 4, but did admit to removing parts of that engine and then smuggling them to the Jefferson County Road Department shop. Barba then hid the various parts, valued at $3,000, scattered around the shop area.
JCCI Warden William Evans was unavailable for comment Tuesday, and Deputy Warden Mark Williamson declined to comment, citing Georgia Department of Corrections regulations regarding the release of inmate information.
The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter was unable to determine the type of crime and the length of Barba’s original sentence at press time.
Jefferson County Administrator Paul Bryan explained it is not uncommon for “trusties” to work labor details for the county where they are not in a supervisor’s direct sight at all times.
Former teacher charged with stalking a recent high school graduate
By Parish Howard
A former high school teacher and area-preacher was charged with stalking a recent Jefferson County High School graduate last week.
Before a pre-warrant hearing Thursday morning Robert Scott Pope, 39, of Wrens, did not admit to any guilt but acknowledged that there was probable cause to issue a warrant for his arrest on the charge of misdemeanor stalking.
State Court Solicitor Mickey Moses, who would prosecute the case if it were taken to state court, and Pope’s attorney John Markwalter agreed that if Pope meets the special conditions of his $5,000 bond, then he will not serve any time and the arrest could possibly be expunged from his record.
The conditions include seeking psychological counseling, an order not to leave the state for any reason except business and to “stay away, absolutely, directly or indirectly, by person and telephone,” from the girl.
According to an incident report filed with the Louisville Police Department on Aug. 3, the girl complained about two specific instances in which Pope allegedly approached her in Louisville. In each instance she claimed he told her he loved and missed her. It also references “numerous messages sent by different people from Scott” since March 31 when her father allegedly told him to “not have any kind of contact” with her.
“This problem cannot go away if Scott will not leave me alone,” the girl wrote in her report.
This week both plaintiff and defendant are expected to go before Judge Kathy Palmer in Superior Court to determine if there is sufficient evidence to issue a stalking temporary protective order which could prohibit Pope from contacting the plaintiff, her mother, or any of her siblings for the next six months to a year.
According to officials in the Magistrate’s office, if such an order is issued and then broken, or if Pope were to break the conditions of his current bond, he would then face felony aggravated stalking charges.
Pope resigned from a teaching position at JCHS Jan. 7 after allegations arose of an improper relationship with the girl, who was a senior at that time but not one of his students.
Pope taught at the school for 10 years, and in that time had received no other complaints nor disciplinary action, officials said. Locally, he has been a widely respected educator and minister.
Six juveniles charged with vandalizing school
By Ben Roberts
Six juveniles, ranging in age from 8 to 16, have been charged with various counts of burglary and theft by taking for their roles in several break-ins and acts of vandalism at Thomas Jefferson Academy in Louisville.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators say that as many as eight juveniles participated in a number of incidents between the early morning hours of July 28 and August 4. During that time, property was damaged and various items were taken, including sporting equipment, trophies, tools and electronics. The group even got a $6,000 finishing mower stuck in a small ravine in an apparent attempt to remove it from school grounds.
Investigators say the majority of stolen items have been recovered and the boys have been sent to the Sandersville Youth Detention Center.
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