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February 15, 2007 Issue

Officer outraged over animals
Relay for Life kicks off fund-raisers
Airport terminal open

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Officer outraged over animals

• Jimmy Kitchens found three abandoned dogs this week including a puppy which apparently died of exposure

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

She seemed to be sleeping, as if, if you reached out to pet her, she’d stir and lick your hand. Perhaps, she’d wag her tail.

But by the time Jimmy Kitchens, Jefferson County’s code enforcement officer, found her, this puppy, possibly a Jack Russell terrier, was already dead. Kitchens sees abandoned pets all the time, but this time was a little different.

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This time, the animal was left in a closed pet carrier in plain sight by a busy highway.

“This is the first time I’ve seen something like this,” he said, referring to the fact that the puppy was left behind in a pet carrier. He said every week is different; but, this week he has found three other dogs, all alive. “One puppy, eaten up with mange, had been put out at the dumpsite in Wadley. I took him to the vet for treatment.

They told me if they can treat the puppy, they will try to place him for adoption,” Kitchens said. “Then I found a Chinese pug on Gus Perdue Road in Wrens. Someone had called and said they had this dog that had showed up at their house. They thought someone would come looking for it but no one had. I picked up the dog and realized it’s blind. I’m hoping it wandered off and the owner will call.” Kitchens said a friend of his is looking after the pug until the owner can be found. Kitchens said later the pug was taken to an area vet. “She had dry eyes and that’s fixed,” Kitchens said, adding he was glad to know the pug wasn’t blind after all. “Big Peach radio station was kind enough to make some announcements about the pug.

Her owners can call the station,” he said. “The other one was a white bird dog behind Fred’s in Louisville. She didn’t look to be very old, a year to two years old, maybe. She was scared of people, like she might have been abused.

"She seemed to have almost starved. I had to use cookies to bribe her into the truck. I took her to the clinic but they don’t seem to have much hope for her.”

Kitchens said he was going about his routine last Wednesday, Feb. 7, when he saw something that caught his attention.

“I was making rounds on Hwy 17 heading towards Thomson to check on the dumpsite for illegal dumping,” Kitchens said. “I noticed a car pull over on the side of the road near Jefferson EMC. So I pulled over to see if they needed help. I realized later, from the way they pulled over, they had noticed the carrier and stopped to see about it. When I got out of my truck, I saw it, too.”

Kitchens said he approached the carrier, which he said was in excellent condition.

“You could see her head under two towels that were placed with her. It was as if she had gotten underneath them trying to stay warm.” Kitchens pulled the towels away to check on the puppy.

By this time, the two men, whom Kitchens said are not suspected of any wrongdoing, left.

“They didn’t want to see anymore,” Kitchens said, but he had to. “That’s my job.”

Kitchens, who described himself as a strict yet fair man, admitted to a soft spot for animals and children. “It was heartbreaking,” he said, obviously upset.

“In my heart I can’t help but believe that this puppy was alive when she was put out. If she were dead already, whoever did this would have just dropped her off at the dumpster, which is about a mile or less away, and kept the carrier.”

The condition of the carrier leads him to believe this was not an accident. “The carrier did not fall off the back of a truck or anything like that. Someone deliberately dropped her off and left her,” he said.

“I can’t help but believe that somebody set her out thinking someone would give her a good home. Why else would they have left her in that carrier and with those towels in an obvious effort to keep her warm?”

Kitchens followed standard protocol, he said, making sure the puppy was buried.

Kitchens said the puppy seemed to have been in good health. “Her fur was soft and long – it wasn’t matted. She wasn’t thin or anything to indicate she starved. I think she froze to death.”

Kitchens said he would like to find out the true circumstances of the puppy’s death.

“If someone came forward and said they saw someone drop off this animal carrier, the person who did this would be prosecuted,” he said. Kitchens said he took a picture so people could see what he sees.

“I would like to think people would see this picture and think about what happened to this puppy. Whoever left her where she was found, left her in an obvious place, where the carrier could be easily seen. They left two large towels with her. They looked like beach towels. That seemed to me they wanted her to stay warm.”

Kitchens said the puppy and carrier were left at the entrance to an access road into a field, about 10 feet from the side of the highway. He said the owners seemed to have thought someone would see her and pick her up. And someone did; but, not in time.

Editor's Note: At press time Kitchens reported the owner had claimed the pug.



Relay for Life kicks off fund-raisers

By Parish Howard
Editor

With the annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life's local event less than three months off, a whole new set of event chairs and representatives are gearing up the fundraising for the community's 12th event.

"We're really excited," new event co-chair Chris Dube said Tuesday. "It is really amazing to realize how much goes into organizing this event every year."

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And Jefferson County's Relay has received national recognition for its fundraising, having raised over $100,000 a year for the last 10 years.

"We have quite a task before us," Dube said. "But we're looking forward to it."

The local organizers held their kickoff meeting in January, announcing their theme and goals for this year and introducing their new event co-chairs, Dube and Vicky McDonald.

"This year we're hoping to raise more than $100,000 net," McDonald said. "Our goals include $15,000 from corporate sponsors. We want to raise 18 teams and have more than 150 survivors walk in the opening lap. Last year we had 122 and we want to beat that this year."

McDonald said that while she did not have the statistics on hand, they are showing that fundraising events like the relay are making a difference in cancer survival rates.

"We are slowly but surely winging this fight," she said. "The survival rates are getting better and better. We're starting to see a turn. The whole goal is to increase the number of survivors and do away with cancer."

Jefferson County's 2007 event's theme is "Rolling Out the Red Carpet for a Cure."

"Each team will choose a famous movie and dress as the characters from it," Dube said.

Teams will decorate their tents and plan other events around their movie theme.

There are currently 9 teams registered, but the chairs encourage any other business or group out there who is thinking of forming a team to join them.

"We want more people involved at all levels," McDonald said. "We need more teams, more corporate sponsors, volunteers for the day of the event, everything. If you want to help, just let me or Chris know and we'll get you involved."

Having lost a couple of highly involved teams, the chairs have reorganized some of sponsorship levels to encourage more involvement.

"We have ratcheted down the corporate sponsor levels this year hoping that more small businesses can take part," Dube said.

New levels include Relay Partners at $500, Corporate Partners at $1,000, Corporate Partners Plus at $1,500 and Presenting Sponsor at $2,500. Each level brings with it certain sponsorships and perks such as free hats and t-shirts.

The first team captain meeting will be this Thursday, Feb. 15, at 5:30 p.m. at the Dutch House in Wrens and will be held every month from now until the May 4-5 event.

Other meetings will be held March 15, at 6 p.m. at the Towne Scoop, April 19 at 6 p.m. at Jefferson Hospital and May 1 at 5:30 p.m. at Peggy's Restaurant.

This year's major event is scheduled for May 4, beginning at 6 p.m. and running through May 5 at 11 a.m. at the walking track in Wrens.

Cancer survivor Virginia Garrett has been working behind the scenes on past Relays for years.

She said that volunteers are needed to help decorate the survivor tent and main stage, help with the survivor registration and reception, luminaries, t-shirts, advocacy and education.

"The American Cancer Society Jefferson County Relay For Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and one day cancer will be eliminated," McDonald said.

Anyone looking for more information on any area relay events or to volunteer is encouraged to contact Vicky McDonald at (706) 547-0713 or Virginia Garrett at (706) 547-2559 or (706) 547-2408.



Airport terminal open

• Open House for public Sunday, Feb. 18, from 2-4:30 p.m.

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

As you turn down Byron Burt Road, fittingly renamed from Airport Road, you see the late mayor's vision beside a row of runways, a vision and pet project of his now becoming a reality.

“I remember it was said that Byron lived here at the airport,” Interim Mayor Ricky Sapp said Friday. “He drove down the road that leads to the airport just about every day, many times a day. “I truly hate he is not here to see this, but his family is here. He was on the council for 16 years and mayor for five. It was his vision to see the airport grow.” Friday, many city, county and state officials and local pilots met at the new airport terminal to celebrate the dedication of a mayor and his staff to give Louisville a top notch front door to the city. The dedication of the new terminal building and other improvements at the airport began at 11 a.m.

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“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” Executive Director of One Georgia Authority Nancy Cobb said. “Now you are able to present them with a beautiful front door.”

“We are indebted to Nancy Cobb, who was instrumental in helping us to get the improvements here,” City Administrator Don Rhodes said Friday. “Now we are fortunate to have this beautiful facility. If it were not for her and others at OneGeorgia, this building would not be here today.”

The original airport was built in the summer of 1966, according to Jack Joiner with the Georgia Department of Transportation Aviation Programs. The original airport was no more than 3,500 feet, that was built for $157,000. Joiner said in the 1990’s Governor Zell Miller came up with a plan to develop rural airports and Louisville was one of the places selected.

This included extending the runways, which were completed in 2004.

Before the completion of the runways, the Louisville City Council also had a vision of what the expansion and modernization of the airport could mean for the community.

“About 10 years ago, we council members sat down and decided to spend a good bit of money on a master layout airport plan,” Sapp said. “Now we sit in this room and see how wonderful it is to have such an airport.”

Sapp said at the dedication, that money had stood the city’s way of making in the additions to the airport they knew they needed, but with the help of Miller’s initiative, OneGeorgia and the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Program, these people and authorities helped to get the ball rolling for the city of Louisville.

“These are all projects that we had wanted and planned for several years,” City Administrator Rhodes said Monday. “We think it means a lot. Council has been very supportive of improvements at the airport. We think that eventually that it is going to mean something as far as industrial growth in our county.”

Jefferson County Development Authority Executive Director Tom Jordan sees this vision along with the city council members. Since the completion of the new terminal building and parallel taxiways in December 2006 which was funded by OneGeorgia, Jordan said he has already been able to bring in a business prospect at the airport.

“We are investigating ways to market the airport,” Jordan said. “The economic development arena is very competitive here in rural Georgia. The airport is a key part to that. The Development Authority would like to express its gratitude because we know it took a number of partners including the city of Louisville and Byron.”

But this is not the end of improvements and updating the airport. The city of Louisville and the state of Georgia are working to make sure the community has a top-notch, technologically advanced facility.

In the spring, there are plans to add a self-service depot, where pilots including locals ones can pump their own fuel. Joiner with the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Aviation Program also said that along with the work on the fuel facility, the FAA has shown interest in putting a satellite system here at the airport. This would allow planes to land even in inclement weather instead of visiting a neighboring facility first.

Development Authority Executive Director Jordan said the time prospective businesses might spend in the community is very precious and he wants Louisville to have the same chance than a neighboring county that may have more advances at their airport.

“This airport was constructed with prayers being answered,” Rhodes said.




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