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July 5, 2007 Issue

New budget rises 10 percent
Man shot in attempted robbery in Louisville
Sheriff reports three arrests in ATV thefts
High-flying fourth Fire in the sky

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New budget rises 10 percent

• Grants help Jefferson County make needed repairs and additions to the community

By Jessica Newberry
Intern

Jefferson County will see a 10.5 percent increase in the FY 2007- 2008 budget mainly due to revenue produced by grants.

The $12.456 million budget was adopted by Jefferson County commissioners on Monday, June 25, who allocating $1.382 million more to county operations than in last year’s budget of $11.273 million.

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Significant expenses for the upcoming year include $500,000 to re-stripe county roads and $200,000 to repair the courthouse roof.

A three percent pay raise for all county employees will total $187,000, and $91,000 is allotted for construction of the Sandersville Technical College Health Science facility.

“The commission was successful in developing this budget to maintain the current millage rate and to utilize a minimum amount in the growth of the digest,” said county administrator Paul Bryan.

The county’s Highway Safety grant plays a significant role in supplementing taxpayers’ money as it will provide $500,000 of the county’s revenue this year. The funds will be used to re-stripe county roads.

“The department of transportation’s philosophy has changed from building new roads to preserving existing ones to maintain a safe driving environment for citizens,” Bryan said.

Grant funds will also add an estimated $91,000 to the budget for continued work on the Sandersville Tech Health Sciences facility at the Louisville campus.

“The cost of construction was larger than the grant, so we have contacted John Barrow and other state legislators to assist with funding,” Bryan said.

Other budget categories have shown decreases in revenue including that of the Jefferson County Jail for housing inmates.

Although operation costs have increased from $1.162 million to $1.258 million, estimated revenue from housing federal inmates has decreased by 50 percent from $492,750 to $246,375.

“In accordance with a meeting with the U.S. Marshal, we are to anticipate about half the number of federal inmates we had last year,” said Bryan, attributing this change to other counties’ proximities to the federal court system.

Other changes for this year’s budget include a 22 percent or $55,000 increase for the Tax Commissioner’s office for one new employee and a computer program that will allow citizens to view and pay taxes online.

The Jefferson County Recreation Department will also have the new position of administrative director to assist the athletic director.

This will increase the recreation budget by $97,000 or 50 percent and is in anticipation of future growth of the department, according to Bryan.

Despite the increases over last year’s budget, Bryan said that the commissioners continue to look for alternative revenue sources to minimize dependence on the ad valorem tax.

“We maintain payment for service so citizens won’t be continually taxed for services they don’t use,” he said.

“We try to find grants and other sources of revenue outside of tax collection to provide services to citizens.”

According to Jefferson County Tax Assessor George Rachels, property assessment notices were mailed Friday, June 29.

Taxpayers have 45 days or until Friday, Aug. 13, to appeal the assessed values.



Man shot in attempted robbery in Louisville

• Another person was left injured after suspects went on spree

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Two area men were left in the hospital after two individuals attempted to rob them and several others early Monday morning in Louisville.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Clark Hiebert reported around noon on Monday that two armed individuals approached multiple citizens.

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Hiebert said a log truck driver was parked in the Jet Food Store parking lot at the corner of U.S. Highway 1 and state Highway 24 Monday morning when two men approached the truck on both sides in an attempt to rob Randall Pederson of Wadley.

“They tried to get the trucker out of the truck to rob him,” Hiebert said. “He wouldn’t get out so the men left. He saw them and was able to get a description.

“The logger saw them standing by the Jet with pistols in their hands. He cranked up to leave when he saw them running and then he backed back into the Jet.”

The suspects did not stop there. Jerome Carr of Louisville was stopping at the parking lot to throw out trash, according to Hiebert, when the duo stopped him.

“The logger saw Gerome drive up behind him,” Hiebert explained. “He went to throw out trash and he turned around and had two guns in his face. One of the suspects recognized him and said they wouldn’t rob him because he knew him.”

The two suspects then left the Wrens Quarter area to head to downtown Louisville near the Louisville Police Department where they found their next victim.

“They went to the residence of Kenneth Heath by the police station,” Hiebert said. “Kenneth was not there, but his brother was. His brother ended up tussling with a suspect and two or three shots went off. The brother was shot two times.” After leaving the Heath residence, the suspects traveled to the Isaac Thompson residence, according to Hiebert.

“He was not at home, but two girls and a younger boy were,” Hiebert said. “They tried to rob them of their dope and money. They pistol whipped the younger boy pretty bad and put him in the hospital.”

Hiebert said investigators intend on making arrests in the attempted robberies.



Sheriff reports three arrests in ATV thefts

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

A Gibson man and two others have been linked to a string of ATV robberies in the Glascock County area during June.

Glascock County Sheriff Dean Couch said Ashton Ralph Neal, 19, of Gibson has been charged in two thefts of four-wheelers in Gibson.

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Neal was taken into custody June 25, after an investigation into two reports filed at the Glascock County Sheriff’s Office.

Larry Ellis of Beechtree Acres Road in Gibson reported his son’s, Ronnie Ellis, red 2001 Honda fourwheeler stolen on Friday, June 15.

According to the initial report, the elder Ellis said his son’s four-wheeler was located under the carport on the west end of his home.

Ellis told officers the last time he saw the four-wheeler was the previous day. The report also indicates that a forced entry to obtain the four-wheeler was made after the suspect cut the fence in the northeast corner of the yard.

Not even a week later, Chad Downs of Old Mitchell Road in Gibson reported the theft of his yellow 2000 Honda four-wheeler on Wednesday, June 20. Downs told the responding officer that his four-wheeler was sitting by the back porch hooked to a utility trailer the night before.

“When he woke up on Wednesday morning, the trailer had been unhooked and the ATV was gone,” Department of Natural Resources Ranger Brian Adams said in the report.

“The footprints indicated that two subjects entered the yard and pushed the ATV out of the yard, through the ditch onto Friendship Road, across Old Mitchell Road and down Friendship Road another 300 feet. You could see where a truck was sitting in the road and the ATV was loaded onto it.”

After investigating the thefts, Neal was arrested along with two other individuals.

Meagan Ryan Sanders, 17, of Bartow has been charged with theft by taking. Couch said Sanders admitted to being with Neal when he stole the four-wheeler from the Downs residence. Sanders was taken into custody June 27.

Dusty Allan Bland, 24, of Gibson purchased the Ellis’ four-wheeler from Neal. Bland was charged with theft by receiving stolen property. Bland was taken into custody at the same time as Neal on June 25.

Ranger Brian Adams went to the Bland residence on Pine Road on June 25 after receiving information that the Ellis fourwheeler was there with a missing VIN number.

“I went to the residence and talked with Crystal Bland,” Adams said in the report.

“She stated that she did not know about any missing VIN numbers on the ATVs.

She then gave consent to look at the four ATVs sitting in the yard.

“The red Honda Foreman was sitting at the front porch came back stolen from Beechtree Acres on the 15th day of June.

At this time I called Mrs. Bland’s husband at work and asked him if he would meet me at his residence. Dusty Bland and Ashton Neal arrived at the house together.”

Downs’ four-wheeler was recovered after a Washington County man, who said he did not know the ATV was stolen, returned it to the Glascock County Sheriff’s Office.

Neal was charged with two counts of theft by taking and one count of possessing equipment with an altered serial number.

Couch said that the investigation is ongoing with the help of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and more arrests are forthcoming. While searching the Bland residence, another small four-wheeler was recovered.

“There was a small Red Cat fourwheeler that was recovered,” Couch said.

“The serial numbers have been removed and we are still trying to find out who owns it.”

Couch asked that anyone with information on the recovered ATVs contact the Glascock County Sheriff’s Office.



High-flying fourth Fire in the sky

Though the weather threatened to dampen the Louisville Lions Club's fireworks show at the Jefferson County Recreation Department ballfield Saturday, children, young and old, were able to enjoy the night's display of fire and lights that they hold each year.

Louisville radio station WPEH provided patriotic music to accompany the fireworks, while the Louisville Fire Department offered hot dogs, hamburgers and refreshments to attendees. Also on hand was the Ogeechee River Band providing musical fare.




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