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October 19, 2006 Issue

Louisville mayor is remembered
Murder suspect charged with molesting child
Glascock woman airlifted
Snake bite victim still recovering

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Louisville mayor is remembered

• Byron Burt died Wednesday afternoon of heart condition

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

The City of Louisville lost a beloved mayor Wednesday afternoon, after he suffered what doctors believed to be a heart attack.

According to City Administrator Don Rhodes, Louisville Mayor Byron Burt, 60, had suffered some heart problems in the past, but was working to improve his health. The Athens native moved to Louisville in 1969 and was self-employed as an aerial applicator.


“We spoke about [his heart condition] several months ago and he said he was feeling good and thought things were looking good,” Rhodes said.

Before becoming Mayor in 2002 and being most recently re-elected in 2004, Burt served on the Louisville City Council from 1991 until 2001.

During his time as mayor, Burt was at the helm of many projects involving the Louisville Airport including the runway extension, planning and construction of the terminal building and parallel taxiways. Most recently he was involved with a city wastewater project.

“Everyone was pleased with him,” Rhodes said. “I think he was a wonderful mayor and I enjoyed working with him. It has been a real pleasure.

I am really going to miss him; we talked just about every day.”

Rhodes went on to say that he knew Burt was extremely devoted to his church, the Louisville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

He had served as an elder and vicemoderator of the Session. He was the chairman of church's Music Committee and Evangelism and Outreach Committee.

Church member Stephanie Blumer said he also played the piano and organ for the church occasionally. “He was really into music,” she said. “He was also quite a movie buff.

He was a respected church leader and active in all aspects of the church.” Rhodes said that Burt was on the Board of Directors for the CSRA Regional Development Cooperation.

He was part of the local Muckrunners and made one of the group’s first trips down the Ogeechee River from Louisville to Savannah. He was also involved with The Schoolhouse Players.

Burt is survived by his wife Connie Pritchett Burt of Louisville; one son Major Joel E. Burt of Troy, Ill.; one daughter Bonnie B. Jolley of Noraml, Illi.; his mother Mildred Saxon Burt of Winterville; one brother Dennis M. Burt of Anderson, S.C.; one sister Crystal B. Gabriel of Jasper; three grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

His funeral was held Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Louisville ARP Church with the Rev. Will Anderson officiating.

Interment followed in the Louisville City Cemetery.

Rhodes said that Mayor Pro-tem Ricky Sapp will step in as interim mayor. On Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 5 p.m. the council will meet to appoint a new mayor pro-tem.

Rhodes went on to say that he believed the special election to fill the mayor’s seat will be in March.

Murder suspect charged with molesting child

• Johnny Hicks faces additional felony charges to those from the August double murder

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on Friday charged Johnny Hicks, 39, of Bartow, on child molestation charges. Hicks had previously been arrested Sept. 22 on two counts of murder.

In that case, Hicks is being held for the murder of his wife, Lashonda Nichole Hicks, 34, and his mother-in-law, 51-year-old Carole Ann Thomas.


A spokesman for the sheriff’s office said Hicks may have some traffic charges stemming from a wreck that occurred Sept. 22 during the pursuit that resulted in Hicks’ capture.

The spokesman said he was unsure what those traffic charges would be.

The child molestation reportedly occurred within the last year.

Upon being interviewed by law enforcement officers regarding this new charge, Hicks would make no comment, the spokesman said.

Glascock woman airlifted

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

A Glascock County woman had to be flown to Augusta after suffering serious injuries in a wreck Monday, Oct. 16.

Julia Ann Morgan, 78, of Gibson was traveling west on Chalker Road in a burgundy 2002 Cadillac Escalade around 11:20 a.m. when she ran off the north edge of the roadway, according to Trooper Alan Williams of the Georgia State Patrol Thomson Post.


“She panicked and snatched the wheel to come back on the road and it caused her to lose control,” Trooper Williams said Tuesday. “She came back across the road onto the south shoulder.

Then she re-entered the roadway when she began to rotate and overturn.”

Morgan's vehicle came to a stop in a ditch located in front of the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Chalker, where she was found pinned under the overturned SUV.

When rescue units arrived on the scene, Morgan was conscience and complaining of pain in her back. Rescue workers lifted the vehicle back onto its side before removing Morgan from the ditch.

Mrs. Jeffrey Chalker was said to be a partial witness.

“Mrs. Chalker didn’t witness the entire wreck, but saw the vehicle come to rest on the lawn,” Trooper Williams said. “She thought she saw the vehicle overturn two times.” Morgan was flown by helicopter to the Medical College of Georgia, where she is still a patient, according to Trooper Williams.

Snake bite victim still recovering

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Elvin Williford's “pleasure trip” to Rocky Comfort Creek had barely begun on Saturday, Sept. 16, when it turned into a life-or-death situation. “I rode down to Rocky Comfort Creek just to take a look at the creek,” he said. “I only planned to spend a few minutes there.”

No sooner than he stepped out of the cab of his pick-up truck, he realized he better get right back in.


“All I know is I ran over the snake with the front tires of the truck, not knowing he was in the grass,” Williford said. “I guess I pulled up just enough that when I put my foot in the grass it bit me. It was already mad and angry.”

At the time of the bite, Williford said it took him a moment to realize that it was a snake bite that was causing the sharp pain in his foot.

The snake had bitten him between one and three times below his ankle.

Williford said he could not determine the number of bites because of the swelling and discoloration.

“My two dogs were riding with me in the cab,” Williford explained.

“When I opened the door, they jumped out of the truck over me and the snake. When I finally looked down, I saw about 12 inches of the snake's tail.

“When I realized that it was a snake that bit me, I backed out and called my dogs. I drove into Gibson to the Jet store and told the girls inside to call 911.”

Williford said the pain may not be the worst he has ever felt, but that it had to be the most unusual.

“It was burning and stinging and turning black and blue at the same time,” he said. “The first bite felt like a knife went straight to the bone. With the poison going into the leg, it felt like stinging fire. It just wouldn’t quit stinging. It was really bleeding a lot too. I didn’t think a snake bite bled that much.”

Though he broke out in heavy sweats about 45 minutes after the snake bit him, Williford said he never passed out. After calling 911, he waited for the first responders to arrive.

“Mike Lyons picked me up in the ambulance,” Williford said. “On Highway 80 and Countyline Road we met another ambulance with EMTs. They started to check my vital signs and ran IVs until the helicopter came to pick me up.”

He was flown to the Medical College of Georgia. Doctors said because of the bite and location, that Williford’s injuries were not that serious. The snake bit him below the ankle and because of his body frame, he did not have much flesh in that area.

“I had to stay three days in the hospital,” he said. “They had to give me eight anti-venin snake bite platelets. I went in that Saturday and they said I would be able to go home the next day. I swelled up to my hips and waistline on the whole right side.”

Williford had to keep his leg elevated, take an antibiotic for the snake bite and pain medicine. Now after three weeks, he still has to wear a compression stocking and still has some swelling and redness around his ankle.

“Just because of my bite (people) are more alert of where (snakes) can be,” Williford said. “Everybody has told me that they have been alert for rattlesnakes. People are coming and telling me stories that they have killed rattlesnakes.”

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