to get $600K
• City expects to see construction
completed over the next two years
By Jessica Newberry
Within several years, Louisville
should be the newest recipient of an
extreme makeover, thanks to what
has become known as the Streetscape
Although the project has been in
the works for several years, Mayor
Rita Culvern is very supportive of
the plans to revitalize the downtown
“This project is a much-needed
freshening for the city, and I am
very excited to be in office to see
Louisville shine,” said Culvern. “It
will really bring out its character and
The city of Louisville and the
Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce
began developing a project
for downtown improvements approximately
3 years ago and applied
for funding with the help of the CSRA
Regional Development Council.
The city was notified in the
fall of 2006 that they were to receive
$500,000 in funding for the
Streetscape Project as a part of
Georgia’s Transportation Enhancement
As specified by
TE, the local match must provide at
least 20 percent of the total project
cost. The city of Louisville will
contribute $125,000, most of which
is designated for the preliminary engineering
“This is basically a revitalization
project for the downtown area, and it
will greatly improve its appearance,”
said city administrator Don Rhodes.
“We are hoping that this will bring
additional business to Louisville,
and it should definitely bring more
Louisville’s Streetscape project
will focus on the downtown area on
both sides of Broad Street.
include work on existing
medians and construction of a new,
narrow median at the north end of
downtown. Crosswalks will be added
at the Market House and at each end
of the street to make the entire area
more accessible for pedestrians.
“We are also planning to
remove the raised step area
that begins at the post office
and make the east side of the
street handicap accessible,”
New sidewalks on both
sides of the street, landscaping
and new sections of brick
pavement are also included in
the Streetscape plans, but the
existing tree planters in the median
and the brick walkways
on the median’s perimeter will
Louisville’s TE project
will soon be put out for bids
according to state regulations.
The project’s extensive timeline
can be attributed to the
required approval from the
Department of Transportation,
according to Rhodes.
“We hope to start work in
the next 60 days, but our progress
depends on approval from
the state,” he said.
Although the initial TE
funding will cover much of
the project, the city is applying
for additional funding to give
the downtown area a complete
The TE Program was created
by the Intermodal Surface
Transportation Efficiency Act
As a part of the Federal
Aid Highway Program, TE
provides funding for projects
including facilities for pedestrians
and bicycles, scenic or
historic highway programs,
historic preservation and scenic
for his staff
By Carol McLeod
Jefferson County Chief Tax Assessor
George Rachels requested the
county commission review salaries
for his department.
In the June meeting
of the commission, Rachels told
the commissioners that the county
pays to train assessors only to have
them leave for the same work in other
counties because the pay is higher.
“They’d asked for raises based on
another county in our area making that
much money,” said Jefferson County
Administrator Paul Bryan.
“I did the
research and that county was paying
more than we were on all positions.
confirmed that the tax assessor’s office was paid about $2 (more); across
the board they were paying more than
what we were.
This county’s digest
was approximately a little more than
three times greater than ours.
already placed a 3 percent increase
in the budget for all employees to
address the inflation issue caused by
gas prices and food prices.
we could not see increasing one department
(additionally) and not other
Bryan said that although he sympathizes
with Rachels, he feels the
commissioners’ hands are tied.
“That happens in all departments,”
Bryan said of employees
receiving training and then accepting
jobs elsewhere. “It is critical in
his department I will be the first to
acknowledge. But that is no different
than the sheriff’s office or the correctional
Bryan said about three years ago
the commission adopted a step-ingrade
pay system developed by the
University of Georgia Carl Vinson
Institute of Government in order to
maintain the parity and equity for all
Civilian follows enlisted son to Iraq
• She wanted to share her son's
experiences, to understand,
and that desire led her to Iraq
By Carol McLeod
Paula Jackson wanted to be
where her son had been, to see
what he had seen and to sit in a chair
where he had sat.
She hoped this
would help her understand what her
son, Paul Hamrick, had experienced
Even now, three years later, she’s
not certain why that chair meant so
much, why, as she says, she became
She knows only
that it held significance and hoped
it would bring her some closure to
the time her son spent as an American
solider in Iraq and the time she
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“When he came home, he showed
me pictures,” Jackson said. “He was
a tanker. So I thought, you know,
OK, my kid’s in this tank.”
Hamrick was in the 3rd Infantry
Division and at the beginning
of the war their entrance into Iraq
was covered extensively by CNN
and other news outlets. Jackson said
she was glued to the TV.
“They kept talking about the 3rd
ID,” she said. “To get away from
the TV, I started cross stitching this
Jackson said she kept the volume
on the TV up but stayed in another
room. She couldn’t watch the news,
but she had to listen.
“I had this view of my driveway
and I played this game that Paul was
going to come home any minute.
God, it was awful,” she said.
When Hamrick came home, he
showed Jackson pictures from his
time in Iraq.
That was when she discovered
her son had not gone from Kuwait
into Baghdad inside a tank but on
the top of a truck, manning a 50-
caliber machine gun with only a
helmet and a flack jacket for protection.
“They had no
metal plates in
“My son found
some pieces of
metal that he
duct taped to
his flack jacket
and that’s how
he went to
they gave those
guys one bottle
of water each
for three days.
And that was
one bottle of
water to drink,
wash or shave
finally made it
they took one
Everything was so lavish in there. I
couldn’t believe the things this man
had. There was this huge chair in
It was made of gold,
silver and marble. That was the
first place where my son got to sit
down. And he sat down and prayed
in that chair. And for some reason,
I wanted to go and sit in that chair.
I was obsessed with it.”
Jackson said the opportunity
came for her to go to Iraq as an
employee of a government contractor,
“They were asking for volunteers,”
she said. “And I thought if
I went over there maybe I could
see what he had seen and try to
understand what had happened
over there. Because he was different
when he came back.”
Jackson said her son had always
been a happy go lucky kid.
“When he got back from that
place,” she said, “he was totally
her bags and
got ready to
go. Then she
had to tell her
“I told him
that I needed
to go for that
reason, so I
some kind of
he had gone
said. “And he
begged me, he
go to that
told him, ‘It’s
going to be OK. You guys got it
ready for me. I’m going to go find
that chair that you sat in.’”
Jackson went to Iraq as logistics
support for General Dynamics,
flying from Kuwait on
a C-130 with the British military,
having fl own into Kuwait on an
Air Force jet.
“I was in Kuwait for about three weeks,” she said, working on another program, a communications system for the Kuwaitis.
When she landed in Iraq, she said she was the only civilian on the flight and the only American. She had three duffle bags and a brief case. No one came to meet her, she said. All the British soldiers left for their own assignments.
“It’s 140 degrees outside. After about two hours of sitting by sandbags, not knowing what I was going to do, these special ops guys pulled up. So I’m sitting there trying to not be seen, when one of the guys came up to me and said, ‘Young lady, are you lost?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I think so.’”
He asked where she needed to go and she told him General Dynamics at Camp Victory.
Jackson said he told her they would take her and she asked, “Is that thing bullet proof?”
When he said it was, she accepted the ride.
“The building was a concrete, cinder block building,” she said of her destination. “Shot to hell. I could lie in my cot and see the two checkpoints at Baghdad highway. There was a sniper position on top of my roof.”
She became accustomed to eating fast. “You know, when you’re over there, you don’t want to spend too much time at the mess hall because it’s a target. So you eat really fast. Even now, I still do that.”
The only bathrooms were Port-o-lets, Jackson said. The weather was 140 degrees. “It was horrible. I got so tired of seeing blue skies; I never want to see another blue sky again. No clouds, not once did it rain.”
She said she had placed a box over one window in the room where her cot was. There was another window and a door in the room.
“I had no privacy,” she said. “The American military had set up anti-tank mines 400 meters away from us. One night, I saw the box float towards me. Then it was like all hell broke loose. The glass came flying all over me. I just had one cut, that box saved me.”
Even her 15 years in the Army didn’t quite prepare her for her time in Iraq.
“It got so I could listen and I could tell which (rounds) were going out and which ones were coming in,” she said. During the six months she was there, she filled orders for equipment to go out to different units.
“I’d have to box it up. Sometimes, I’d have to take it out to the units. So I had a Chevy pickup, just a regular old Chevy pickup. I’d load it up with my stuff and take it out to the units. They had different supply points where units would come in and pick up supplies. I’d leave Camp Victory and I’d tell the guards at the gate if you don’t see me in about 45 minutes, you come look for me. OK?”
She said she got accustomed to the mortars. “By the time you knew they were coming, it was too late to do anything,” she said.
“I found out where that chair was and everybody told me they’re never going to let you in that palace and I was thinking, ‘Somebody’s going to let me sit in that chair,’” Jackson said.
“So I got up early one Sunday morning and I went over to that palace and there were maybe two privates standing in this like guardhouse. I had a picture of Paul sitting in that chair and I had my ID with me.”
She said she showed the picture to the privates and told them her story.
“I said, ‘Do you think you can help me?’ and they said, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll get you in that chair.’ They took me up to this other guard, a spec 4 (E-4), and they kind of explained and I told the spec 4 my story and he said, ‘I’ll take you to the chair.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’
“All around these palaces were these huge moats. There was a tree I recognized from a picture Paul had and I said, ‘Take my picture with this tree,’ and they did.
“So then we got up to the palace door and I took a deep breath and we walked in and there was that chair. I didn’t know whether to cry and I just sat in that chair and held my picture of Paul in that chair and the guy took my picture. I don’t know why I was so obsessed with that chair. I guess because it was where Paul first got to sit down and pray.”
Her son was still in the Army when she returned to Georgia. He was stationed at Fort Stewart in Hinesville.
“He came to see me,” she said. “I think more about not what I went through when I was there; it seems so minute compared to what he went through. That’s what I think about the most – is what he went through. He was in country nine months.” They both got back to the United States on the same day, one year apart.
She said she believes her experience in Iraq has really changed her. She gets upset, she said, when people don’t do their jobs. “And when people don’t treat each other right. You know, when you’ve been over there, what can somebody do to you?
“They forget what state our country’s in and what our young men and women are doing over there. Yet we take time to poke fun at each other and make jokes. What’s really bad, you know people don’t know what you’ve been through and they say things that just shouldn’t be said. I don’t know how to explain that feeling.”
She said this perspective is something that comes from her time in Iraq.
Her son has completed his Army commitment and is in college.