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December 14, 2006 Issue

Hospital names new CEO
Man leads officers on chase through downtown Louisville
Student overdoses at school

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Hospital names new CEO

• Heyward "Sonny" Wells III will be taking Rita Culvern's place as Jefferson Hospital's CEO in May

By Parish Howard

Jefferson Hospital’s Authority announced Monday that Moxley-area native Heyward “Sonny” Wells III will be returning to the area to take the reins from Rita Culvern as the hospital’s new chief executive officer when she retires at the end of April.

“I can’t tell you how happy we are to be home,” Wells told those gathered for the announcement. “And I’m not talking about returning to the state or region, we’re coming home.”


Culvern said that this decision has been more than a year and a half in the making.

The authority formed a search committee made up of Ray Davis, Ted Johnson, Bill Easterlin and Betty Smith, who narrowed their candidate first to seven and then finally to two before reaching their decision.

“They were extremely professional,” Culvern said. “We had some really classy and very well qualified candidates. Sonny just blew them away.”

Wells, who was born in the old Louisville Hospital, grew up in the Moxley area and says that doctors Polhill and Revell were big influences on his decision to explore the healthcare field.

He graduated from Thomas Jefferson Academy in 1986, received his BA in psychology and business from Augusta College in 1991 and went to work that same year at Humana, which quickly became Doctors Hospital.

He started there as a patient care technician on the psychiatric ward, but soon moved into administration. For two years, while working full time, he spent every weekend at the Georgia Institute of Technology getting his masters in management.

He comes to Jefferson County from his most recent position as vice president of development and productivity with Hospital Corporation of America in the Carolina Market. In this position since March of 2005 he has been responsible for government and industry relations, physician recruitment and sales, physician contracting, real estate development, property management, marketing, public relations and productivity.

He served as a member of a six person team responsible for four hospitals in the Charleston area.

Before he had first heard about the opening in Louisville, he and his wife had already been talking about a possible career change.

“The track I was on with HCA was very corporate in nature,” Wells said. “I had already told my wife that I would like to be closer to the people I was working with, closer to the people I was helping. The corporate track I was on was not going to let that happen.”

The position in Louisville opened at the perfect time.

Not only was it just what he wanted, it was at home, and close to his wife’s who grew up in Hephzibah.

Jan. 8, he will be with the hospital full time and his family will follow as they take care of personal business in Charleston.

“You know how I feel about this community and this hospital,” Culvern said. “I told you I wouldn’t leave until I had a replacement I knew I could be proud of, and I am.

“We have someone with the passion and care for this place in mind, and the knowledge it will take to lead this hospital. He is a godly man and absolutely the right person for this position.

“And I am so happy that I can hand it over with the financial situation well in order and the facilities in the best shape they have ever been in.”

Wells said that he was very impressed with the obvious care that had been taken with the hospital and the dedication of its staff.

“Living here, I think we sometimes don’t realize what a success story we have in Jefferson Hospital,” said Authority Chairman Ray Davis.

“You’ve got a great hospital here,” Wells said. “I couldn’t ask for a better Christmas present than coming home.”

Man leads officers on chase through downtown Louisville

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Three suspected shoplifters found that having the latest fashions costs a lot more than they were willing to pay. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, Louisville Police officers and a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy took down a man running shirtless through the streets of downtown Louisville before noon.

Eugene Griffin, John Nair and Shamikia Amelia Herdon, all of Waynesboro, were charged with theft by shoplifting.


Louisville Police Officer Jonathan Berry said he was patrolling Broad Street when the district region manager of Citi Trends came outside of the store and said he thought he had three possible shoplifters inside.

“He (district manager) wanted me to walk in and patrol the store,” Officer Berry explained. “When I walked in, the manager pointed at the subjects.”

At that time, Officer Berry said he began to walk around the store talking with other customers, but out of the corner of his eye, he could see the suspects giving sign language with their hands and eyes. Officer Berry then approached, Griffin, one of the subjects in question.

“I walked up to one of the suspects and saw he had on a lot of clothes,” Officer Berry said. “I could see where he had a lot of stuff tucked down in there. I asked him if it was really that cold outside because he had on all of those clothes. He said, ‘Yeah, its real cold out there.’ I told him that I was outside and I didn’t need to wear all of those clothes.”

Griffin then began to strip away layer after layer of clothing, which he was using to aid in his shoplifting. Berry said he believes that once the suspects saw him enter the store, they began to put some of the stolen items back. “He pulled down one pair of sweat pants and I saw a sleeve hanging out,” Officer Berry continued. “Then he pulled down another pair of pants. He was wearing three pairs. So I pulled a coat out of his pants with a price tag on it.”

When Officer Berry was pulling the child’s coat out, the suspect decided to run.

“As I was pulling it out he pushed me and took off running,” Berry said. “I reached out to grab him and I grabbed him by his coat and ripped the coat off of him. I was chasing him around the store, while he was knocking over racks. He jumped over an item of clothes, then I tackled him to the ground. One of the other subjects told me to get off of him and that I had no reason to be on him.”

As Officer Berry’s attention focused on Nair, telling him to stand back and he was also under arrest, the half-naked shoplifter jumped up and ran out of the store. Then Sergeant Carl Gibbons picked up the chase as Griffin ran down Mulberry Street in front of The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter office and down beside the dentist. Sergeant Gibbons said he chased Griffin towards Queensborough National Bank and Trust before finally catching him as he slipped in a white car parked in front of Citi Trends.

The vehicle Griffin was in belonged to the man who had driven all three suspects rode to Louisville from Waynesboro with.

“He was sitting there waiting on them to come out of the store,” Officer Berry said. “He had no idea they were stealing anything. We knocked on the window for the driver to get out of the car. He gave us the keys. We unlocked the doors and took the suspect down and handcuffed him.”

Officer Berry said the apprehension of the suspect was successful with the help of Jefferson County Sheriff Deputy Michael Dallas, Councilman James Davis and other concerned citizens.

Griffin, 23 was also charged with felony obstruction of an officer. Nair, 22, was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. Officer Berry said Nair had a pair of brass knuckles and a cutting knife in his pocket. Herndon, 26, is the only one of the three who had posted bond by Thursday.

Student overdoses at school

• Student who gave girls anti-hyperactivity medication now faces multiple felonies; subsequent search of school turns up no additional drugs

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Three students at Jefferson County High School found themselves answering to investigators, school officials and parents after taking the prescription drug Adderrall, with one of the three suffering from an overdose.

The distributor who was a male, gave two female students the medication


According to information from JCHS Principal Dr. Molly Howard and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Investigator Clark Hiebert, the drug is prescribed for adults and children with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity. Hiebert said Adderrall is a schedule II drug. “If someone has the medical problem it slows them down,” Hiebert said.

“For someone who does not have the medical problem it speeds them up. It gives them an ultimate high. It is an amphetamine drug. It is the same schedule as cocaine.”Dr. Howard said in an interview Friday that the student who brought the prescription medication to school took it from a family member. “There was an argument among the students,” Dr. Howard said. “Some students were angry that he had given the other students the medication. The other children began to tell us what happened.” Dr. Howard said that all the students were ninth graders and juveniles.

The two female students who were given the prescription drug from the distributor were sent to Louisville Hospital.

“One student was sent to the Medical College of Georgia for further observation,” Dr. Howard said. “Both have been sent back home and appear to be doing fine.” The male student who distributed the medication has been turned over to the juvenile authorities and is no longer in school.

Dr. Howard said he is still in the juvenile process, but he will go before a student tribunal when no longer in custody. Dr. Howard said actions against the other two females have not been determined concerning them taking the medication.

The investigation is still ongoing, Hiebert said.

“I think they pretty much learned their lesson,” Howard added. Hiebert said the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was called by fficials at the school stating that someone had given a student a drug. “Before the deputy had arrived, they had to call the ambulance because one student was hallucinating,”

Hiebert said. “It appeared that she was out of control and that something serious was happening. Her face was beginning to twist, like she was convulsing. Her tongue was rolling in her mouth and was trying to lick like she had a dry cotton mouth feeling. She said she couldn’t think about her work and she didn’t know what was happening to her.”

The 25 milligram Adderralls were time released. Hiebert said at one point the female student seemed to only get worse.

Dr. John Blumer at Jefferson Hospital wanted the student monitored a lot closer than what they were able to handle. She was sent to the ICU at the Medical College of Georgia, Hiebert said.

“While there she lost movement in her arms and legs for a moment and they thought she had become paralyzed,” Hiebert said. “According to the doctor, she will return to normal. She has been released. The other girl was brought to the emergency room and examined, but they didn’t have to pump her stomach out as they did the first one. She did not have any where close to the same symptoms.”

The students had consumed around six pills between the three. When asked about how much the students had taken, the male said the girl who was later sent to the Medical College of Georgia had taken three pills, while the male and the other female had taken only one. All of those pills were consumed orally.

The students also crushed up another pill and mixed it in with regular tobacco in a cigarette, which Hiebert said is called a blunt. The three students smoked the blunt and had another blunt ready to be smoked, which Hiebert said was later located.

The male distributor is still in custody and faces three counts of distribution of a schedule II drug, which is a felony.

“Adderrall is just one of the amphetamine drugs being used among the prescription drugs,” Hiebert said. “It is just one of about any that have amphetamine content that are causing problems on the streets. In the schools, they are having quite a few more problems with prescription drugs. They have become not as easy to charge someone with because they have their prescription bottles.”

Dr. Howard added that school officials have not heard of any other cases at the high school involving prescription drugs.

“A student is not even to have Tylenol on their person,” Dr. Howard said. “They have to turn it in to the nurse in the clinic.”

“This is probably one of the more severe scares the school has experienced in some time, as far as the last 10 years,” Hiebert said.

Friday morning, the Sheriff's Office conducted a search of the school, where Dr. Howard said no drugs were found. She said the school planned to do more and with the holiday break coming and a combination of other things, the school and law enforcement officials moved the date up.

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