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July 19, 2007 Issue

Technology assists officers
AYP results
Storm Damage

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Technology assists officers

• Sheriff's deputy trained in homeland security equipment

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Last month, an officer with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office traveled to New Orleans to train on the use of a device called a thermal image camera.

More than 700 people from throughout the United States attended the event.

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Expenses were covered with a grant from the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Fiscal Year 2006 Commercial

Equipment Direct Assistance Program, or CEDAP.

“CEDAP helps meet the equipment needs of smaller jurisdictions and eligible metropolitan areas by providing communications interoperability, information sharing, chemical detection, sensors, personal protective equipment, and other devices. Training and technical assistance are provided at the time technologies are delivered and transferred under the program to ensure recipients will be able to use awarded systems and devices fully and correctly,” according to an agency press release.

The officer, Lt. Robert Chalker, said the grant paid for the training, the device and his expenses during training.

“It’s a thermal image camera, a hand-held unit,” he said. “Homeland security issued 700 at $20,000 apiece. Plus they paid for the motel, air travel and training.”

According to the press release, the individuals selected to receive the grants that provided the devices and paid for the training competed with more than 7,000 organizations for one of only 2,001 such grants. “Since its inception in Fiscal Year 2005, more than $69.7 million in equipment and equipment training has been awarded through CEDAP to law enforcement agencies, fire and other emergency responders,” the press release stated.

The device allows the operator, or thermographer, to detect people and other warm-blooded creatures through obstacles, like building walls, smoke or in darkness. The device also indicates objects that could be weapons, in pockets or behind someone’s back, Chalker said.

“I found out that I had to be certified in order to testify,” he said. “If you use it for evidentiary purposes, like finding marijuana in somebody’s attic, you have to be a certified thermographer.”

Currently, Chalker is the only law enforcement officer in the sheriff’s department who is certified, according to Sheriff Gary Hutchins.

“Homeland Security offered that (the training and the equipment) as a package at no cost to the taxpayers,” Hutchins said. “As time goes on, we’ll have other people certified.”

The sheriff said the device can be used for a variety of tasks.

One example, according to the sheriff, is to help locate people lost in the woods. “It’s not just for use in crime detection,” he said. “A lot of big cities already have this. It’s a good thing that rural communities can get this through these grants. We’re lucky to have it.”

Earlier in the year, the sheriff’s office received a $90,000 grant from Homeland Security to outfit most of the office’s cars with laptop computers that allow the officers access to the databases of the Georgia Crime Information Center, or GCIC, and the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, while on the road.

“We are able to access GCIC and NCIC files, run tags, drivers’ licenses,” Chalker said, adding that those officers who are certified to do so can also look for items that have been reported as stolen.

“We can pull up files of anybody in jail or who’s been in jail since we opened the new jail,” said Sgt. Clay Neal of the Sheriff’s Office. The computers additionally let the law enforcement officers file their reports while still in the field, Neal said. All road patrol cars and investigators have the computers.

This grant also paid for two servers housed at the sheriff’s office. The connections are through Verizon Wireless Internet service, Chalker said. “We do have to pay for that,” he said.



AYP results:

Middle schools come off needs improvement list

• Jefferson County High School and Glascock Consolidated missed qualifying in one category each

By Jessica Newberry
Intern

The Georgia Department of Education has released Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for the 2006-2007 school year.

Five of Jefferson County’s six schools made AYP with Jefferson County High School (JCHS) failing to meet the academic performance portion of the ratings.

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Glascock County Consolidated School also did not make AYP this year because of academic performance that was below state requirements.

Making AYP

Developed by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the AYP ratings system is part of President George Bush’s movement to improve public education.

Under its guidelines, a school must meet requirements in three areas: test participation, academic performance and the second indicator of attendance for elementary and middle schools and graduation rate for high schools.

For test participation, No Child Left Behind requires that at least 95 percent of the school’s eligible students must take statewide AYP tests.

Students in grades three through eight must take Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) in reading, English language arts and mathematics.

AYP performance for high school students is determined by the 11 grade Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) in English language arts and mathematics.

Required passing rates for the 2006-2007 CRCT were 66.7 percent for reading/language arts and 68.3 percent for mathematics.

AYP performance requirements for 2006-2007 GHSGT were 84.7 percent for language arts and 68.6 percent for mathematics.

Second indicator requirements were an absentee rate of less than 15 percent for elementary and middle schools and a graduation rate of at least 65 percent for high schools.

Glascock County

For the first time in four years, Glascock County Consolidated School (GCCS) did not make AYP. GCCS met AYP for academic performance in CRCT reading/language arts and mathematics in the general education category as well as subgroups for white, black and economically disadvantaged students.

Although the average for all students for the two tests was 85 percent and 73.4 percent respectively, the students with disabilities subgroup did not meet AYP standards for either test.

Glascock County students made AYP in academic performance on the GHSGT in language studies and mathematics with overall passing rates of 93.3 percent in language arts and 70 percent in mathematics.

All areas of the school met the test participation requirements as well as second indicator attendance and graduation rate requirements.

Absentee rates for GCCS showed 6.9 percent of students missing more than 15 days.

The school’s graduation rate was 65.9 percent compared to the state average of 71.1 percent.

“Despite not making AYP for the 2006-2007 school year, I feel that our school system has made considerable progress during recent years,” said Glascock County Superintendent Jim Holton.

“Our teachers and other school staff as well as parents and the community have worked hard to meet the needs of all of our students.

I believe we will continue to make great strides in improving the education of the children of Glascock County.”

Jefferson County

Five of the county’s six schools met AYP for 2006-2007.

Each of the three elementary schools has been named a Title I Distinguished School.

Louisville Elementary has made AYP for eight consecutive years, Wrens Elementary for six, and Carver Elementary for four years in a row.

Louisville Elementary students had 83.9 percent and 81.3 percent passing rates for CRCT language arts and mathematics respectively.

The absentee rate for the school year showed 0.7 percent of students missing more than 15 days.

Wrens Elementary showed CRCT passing rates of 76.3 percent and 78 percent on language arts and mathematics tests and an absentee rate of 5.4 percent.

Carver Elementary met AYP with a 79.8 percent passing rate in CRCT language arts and an 82.7 percent passing rate in CRCT mathematics.

The school’s absentee rate was 3.4 percent.

Both Louisville Middle School and Wrens Middle School made AYP for the second consecutive year, removing them from the Needs Improvement List.

Louisville Middle students had an 83.5 percent passing rate for CRCT language arts and a 70.4 percent passing rate for CRCT mathematics.

The absentee rate for the 2006-2007 year was 9.7 percent.

Wrens Middle School made AYP with 87.1 percent of all students passing CRCT language arts and 78 percent passing mathematics.

The school’s absentee rate was 2.4 percent.

“We are particularly proud that both middle schools are no longer on the Needs Improvement List and that all three elementary schools are Title I Distinguished Schools,” said Jefferson County Superintendent Carl Bethune.

Jefferson County High School (JCHS) did not make AYP because GHSGT scores did not meet the state requirements.

Language arts and mathematics scores were below required levels in the black and economically disadvantaged subgroups with 75.4 percent and 54 percent average passing rates for all students, respectively.

The Georgia Department of Education is continuing to raise the required AYP passing rates for GHSGT and CRCT until 2014 when all students will be expected to meet standards.

JCHS had a graduation rate of 68.1 percent for the 2006-2007 school year and has received national recognition for its achievements in this area, according to Bethune. It is one of five high schools in the state representing Georgia in the Successful Practices Network, a non-profit educational group funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The high school graduation rate is remarkable in that we have increased the number of required units to graduate from 24 to 28 in order to increase rigor and expectations of our students,” said Bethune.

“All of these accomplishments reflect the dedication and hard work of our teachers, support staff and school administrators.

We are committed to providing every student the best education possible.”



Storm Damage

Storm tears through county

• Marjorie Adams was home when the trees fell around her

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Wednesday afternoon, Jefferson County residents faced off with nature when a summer storm caused widespread damage across the area.

The storm entered Jefferson County sometime in the late afternoon with rain, hail, thunder and lightning.

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Many county residents were left to contend with the storm and the destruction it left in its path. One Jefferson County residence was felt in the wrath of the storm with two trees falling in its yard, one in the front and one in the back, almost crushing her house.

Marjorie Adams witnessed first hand how quickly the weather changed.

“It surprised her, she had heard the jet planes earlier in the day and then she said the weather just changed so quickly and she heard the hail,” a relative said of Adams’ experience.

“It was dark as night and then she heard the sound.

She ran to the middle of the house and the next thing she knew the trees were falling.”

The sound Adams’ said she heard was believed to be a microburst that caused the damage to her property.

A microburst is generally a vertical wind that comes down towards the ground and then goes outward away from the storm.

A tornado has wind in its center that is going up and it gets cool and spirals back down, causing the circular motion.

The relative said there was evidence of where the wind shot out horizontally near the damaged trees.

Many of the yard items Adams had were still in the same place, even a bird feeder located by one of the downed trees.

The relative said the storm left the summer kitchen on Adams’s house damaged by the pecan tree in the backyard.

The oak tree in the front yard was hollow and the friend said it broke away easier, falling away from the house.

“I’m just praising the Lord that he protected me and protected my house, even if it is a bit damaged,” Adams said in a statement Thursday.

According to her insurance agent, Adams’s house only suffered minor damage, compared to what would have happened if a couple of key things did not come into play.

The agent said the slant of the roof and an old telephone pole used for a radio antenna by her late husband stopped a large portion of the tree from landing directly on top of her home, saving her home from the brunt of the damage.

Many people from Wrens Baptist Church and around the community stopped to check on Adams in the days following the storm and they said she was very appreciative of the assistance given by those that helped.

Steve Chalker from Jefferson Energy said Adams was not the only resident to suffer from the storm.

“Around 3:30 p.m. we started getting reports of outages,” he said. “The number of customers without power peaked at about 3,000.

We immediately dispatched crews to start working on restoration efforts.

We had a lot of outages in the Stapleton area and some up towards Richmond County.”

Chalker said the outages were due to lightning and wind, but all were restored between 9 and 10 p.m.




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