Into the waters
• Stellaville church restores historic baptismal pool
By Faye Ellison
Deep in Jefferson County, there are bubbling springs along Brushy Creek that have brought many closer in their walks with God.
On a lonesome road in Stellaville lies Ways Baptist Church. Down the hill from the church's doors is a seldom-walked path to the stone and cement baptismal pool.
During the summer months several parishioners took it upon themselves to make the defunct pool a place where they and the future of Jefferson County can be baptized.
According to a church deacon, Leon Zeigler, the church was having trouble keeping water in the pool.
The pool dates back to 1878 where Noah Oliphant, Judson W. Oliphant, Thomas Swan, Olin Brown, John Way, Needham Green, William Smith, Carrie Way, Catherine Way and Emma Waddle were the first to be baptized in the cold water.
In the church minutes, the church resolved that in September 1877, they would construct a pool for baptism and also to fix up the spring. J.T. Jordan and J.N. Oliphant were appointed to the baptismal pool committee.
Tony Schneider is one of the current church members who has worked diligently to mend the pool's leaks. The original wall that faces the road, is made of stones native to Stellaville.
Other walls have been patched with bricks and concrete.
No matter how many times the walls were fixed throughout the years, they never lasted long.
Schneider said they had tried to fix the pool with cement, but they had no luck in the process.
But then a miracle came from north Georgia.
"Mike Jones had one of his clients from Conyers, Georgia, to come and look at the pool," Schneider said. "They drilled holes in the pool and stabilized it from behind with some type of foam."
The cost of the project to the church: Nothing. It was a gift that was surely priceless to its members.
"They did it out of the kindness of their hearts," he said. "They came down here and we were blessed."
Schneider said it took them about half a day to do what people at the church had been trying to do for years. In addition to fixing the pool, they also put another shed over the well. Workers also did some rock work on the creek side of the pool and added a little bit more soil behind the wall.
According to church member John Dukes, the last people to be baptized at the pool before Sunday were in the 1970's.
In the 1950's there was still a bath house that stood next to the pool. Now surrounding the pool are trees, rocks and clear water from Brushy Creek.
On Sunday, Debra Baker and Josh McNair were baptized in the cool spring water after the church service.
Josh, son of Vince and Anita McNair, is a 12-year-old student at Wrens Middle School.
His family has been members of the church for much of their lives and his.
"We've always gone to church there," Anita said. "He has been raised at Ways."
Josh was a little anxious about the baptizing ceremony on Sunday, but it has been on his heart for some time now.
"He was excited and a little nervous too," his mother said. "It was something he had been thinking about for a while."
Debra, who has lived in Zebina for the past five years, found a church that was a perfect fit for her walk with God. She has attended Ways Baptist Church for the past three to four years.
"I just love the people, the atmosphere and everything there," Debra said. "I love that it is a historical church and I just wanted Jesus as my savior."
Debra is the mother-in-law of Tony, who helped revitalize the baptismal pool.
Though she was worried about the cool water, her husband Aubry measured the temperature which was a refreshing 62 degrees.
"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," Debra said. "My husband carried a thermometer down there and it was only 62 degrees."
Members of the church believe that those baptized in the pool will remain Christians for the rest of their lives.
Don't write off contaminated sites
• County, cities seek federal dollars to evaluate polluted properties
By Ben Roberts
Jefferson County and at least three of its municipalities could get a total of $1.2 million to determine if they have polluted properties in their boundaries.
Louisville, Wadley, Stapleton and the county have each agreed to pursue grant funds ranging from $200,000 to $400,000 to locate potentially contaminated sites, referred to as "Brownfields."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines Brownfields as properties whose expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. Sites can include dry cleaners, gas stations, wood treatment plants, chemical manufacturers and storage, paint shops, truck terminals and railroads.
Linda Grijalva, of the CSRA Regional Development Center (RDC), who is assisting with the grant process, says one of RDC's current goals is to eliminate slum and blight and the transformation of Brownfields into usable property does just that.
"Many of these properties are in prime development areas such as downtown or business districts, but potential developers don't want to risk the liability or deal with the cost of cleaning up these sites," Grijalva said.
Government entities may apply for up to $400,000 in "assessment" grants, which would pay for private researchers to determine what properties might qualify for Brownfield status. There are two separate assessment grants at $200,000 each. One is for hazardous materials and the other for petroleum contamination. Government bodies may apply for one of the two or both.
Jefferson County and Wadley have decided to apply for both, while the city of Louisville will apply for a community-wide assessment grant for petroleum contamination.
Stapleton will apply for a site-specific assessment of a particular piece of property for possible hazardous material pollution.
While there are no matching funds required to be put up by the county or cities, RDC will charge $2,500 to write each of the grants.
Should one of the governments be awarded an assessment grant, RDC could charge up to $10,000 to administer the grant if the governing body chooses them to do so.
Cleanup grants are also available should a site qualify for Brownfield status; however, current property owners would not be eligible for those funds. Instead, a new owner, developer or government organization would have to be applying for the grants in hopes of planned or future development. The cleanup grants would also require matching funds.
Lil Agel, Executive Director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, says the grants are a first step for alleviating blighted areas and the possibility for potential economic development.
"Changes in the laws have made it easier for someone to come in and buy these properties without fear of being liable or responsible for contamination or pollution that they had absolutely nothing to do with," she said. "The idea is for a developer with the means to reuse this property, coming in, free of any liability, and cleaning the property up so that it can be turned into a viable business that generates income for its owners and tax dollars for the community."
11-year-old girl comes to her grandmother's aid in Louisville
• Jordan Dixon found her grandmother unconscious, in a puddle of blood
By Parish Howard
When 11-year-old Jordan Dixon got off the bus last Monday and started walking to her grandmother's house, she had no idea the afternoon would be any different from any other.
"I went in the house and hear something like…mmmmmm," Jordan said. "So I ran in the back and found her."
Her grandmother, 72-year-old Mary Lou Jordan, was lying unconscious in a pool of blood on her bathroom floor.
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She called her cousin, her aunt and her mom and went back to stay with her grandmother while they waited for the ambulance.
"The minutes seemed to go by so slow," Jordan said. "I just kept thinking I need to keep her alert, but she kept blacking out. I told myself I didn't need to try to move her because I couldn't stop the blood and didn't want to make it worse."
Her 14-year-old cousin was one of the first to arrive. Knowing their grandmother is diabetic, they decided she must be going into shock and needed sugar.
"We wanted to give her a piece of candy but we couldn't get her to open her mouth," Jordan said.
It was not long before the EMT's arrived.
"I didn't cry while it was happening," Jordan said Friday, sitting with her grandmother and mother in the den, just down the hall from where the accident occurred earlier in the week. "It wasn't until afterward, when I really started thinking about it, that I started to cry."
She was crying when her mother arrived.
"I don't remember anything much," Ms. Jordan said Friday, just five days after the ordeal. "When I was in the ambulance, I came to for a minute, looked out and saw the children there. It was like looking through a screen, but I threw up my hand to them. Then I was out again."
Once her blood sugar levels were gotten under control she was treated for the cut on her leg, received stitches and later a cast when it was determined that she had "cracked" her ankle.
Elaine Dixon, Jordan's mother, said that she has always known that her mother and daughter share a special bond, and she believes this experience has only strengthened it.
"They're so much alike," Ms. Dixon said. "She has a lot of my mother's ways. They're very close. A lot of times I think she'd rather be over here with her than outside playing."
"I see her pretty much every day and days I don't see her, I call," Jordan said.
They watch television together, play with her grandmother's dolls or sit on the porch and talk about school and Jordan's friends.
"I'm very proud of her," Ms. Dixon said and later added, "Jordan made the right decisions in order to get the help my mom needed, thus saving her life. The courage and maturity that was displayed by Jordan on Monday, Aug. 21, 2005, will never be forgotten."
Ms. Dixon said the EMTs told her daughter that she did the right thing, getting help and trying to keep her grandmother alert like she did.
"My sweet little angel, my granddaughter saved me," Ms. Jordan said. "I could have bled to death right there. Oh, there was so much blood. But God used her."
Ms. Jordan is at home again and recovering from her fall and Jordan continues to make her regular visits and calls.
"I would like to say a special thanks to the paramedics, Ms. Beth Williford of DFACS-who contacted Auntie Anne so swiftly, Ofc. D. Graham of Washington State Prison (Control Room Officer), my dad-Eddie Sr., my uncle George Cunningham and my little cousin Cortland Cunningham who came as soon as I called him," Jordan Dixon said. "Thank you, Jesus, for my grandmother!"