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December 6, 2007 Issue

Drugs and guns taken in arrest
Firefighters teach residents fire safety
Area schools receive district-wide accreditation

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Drugs and guns taken in arrest

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A Gibson man was arrested Friday, Nov. 30, at his residence after a search of his home produced what is expected to test positive as marijuana along with five firearms. The man, 54-year-old Franklin Akers, was on probation having been convicted of possession with intent to distribute, a felony. As such, it is illegal for him to possess firearms.

According to the incident report from the Glascock County Sheriff’s office, the search last week was conducted by Akers' probation officer, a sheriff’s deputy, a Richmond County officer, a Wrens officer and canines. One of the dogs alerted on an antique ice box in the kitchen area. Approximately 12 ounces of suspected marijuana was found packed in multiple bags containing about an ounce each, apparently packaged for individual sale.

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Additional bags of what field tested positive as marijuana were found inside another refrigerator in the kitchen. Besides the drugs and firearms, a variety of ammunition was found and removed from the premises. The report states Akers admitted the marijuana was his after he was read his Miranda rights by an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

He was taken into custody on a probation violation and transported to McDuffie County jail for further investigation. According to Glascock County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Kelley, the amount of marijuana seized is estimated at a half pound.

“We haven’t had it weighed or tested yet,” Kelley said. “It will be sent off today (Tuesday, Dec. 4) to be tested and weighed. It will be a felony. It will be possession with intent to distribute.”

Kelley said the street value of the drugs is estimated to be between $800 and $1,000. “In order for it to be a felony, the weight must be more than an ounce,” he said. “There were nine bigger bags, probably about the size of someone’s fist and probably five smaller bags, a little bigger than the size of a person’s thumb.”



Firefighters teach residents fire safety

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

On Friday, Nov. 30, representatives of area fire departments demonstrated fire prevention techniques to residents at Brooksfield Apartments in Louisville.

Chester Johnson, assistant chief of the Louisville Fire Department, along with Lt. James Davis, also of LFD, and Nathan Norton, a volunteer with Hillcrest Fire Department, showed a film, talked with the residents and assisted the residents in using fire extinguishers.

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According to the film, “Senior Fire Safety” with Jonathan Winters, the risk of seniors dying in a home fire is twice the national average, smoking materials are the number one cause of a home fire and most fatal fires start when people are sleeping.

The film also advised people to have at least two ways out of every room, never smoke in bed or when drowsy and have a working smoke detector outside every sleeping area. The detectors should be tested regularly and the batteries changed twice a year.

After the film was shown, Norton put on his fireman’s gear, including his air tank and helmet, to familiarize the residents with how a firefighter looks and sounds. Johnson asked the residents to think about how the firefighter looks as Norton crawled on the floor around the room. Johnson told the group the firefighters would normally be on the floor, trying to stay beneath the smoke, and usually knock items over while trying to find occupants during a fire. Johnson said these demonstrations lower anxiety or fear of the firefighter.

“We’ve been doing that for several years now and we call that the friendly firefighter’s drill,” Johnson said. “That drill is basically designed to reduce the fear factor and let the homeowners know what we look like when we come inside their home.”

Other tips given during the demonstration included not overheating grease on the stove, turning off the stove to answer the door or phone, not wearing loose clothing while cooking and ensuring all smoking materials are out before placing them in the trash.

“We have a response time of five minutes anywhere in the county,” Johnson said. “So we have a good response time but a lot can happen in five minutes.”

Johnson also said everyone should keep a class ABC fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen. For small fires, you can use baking soda, but never use water to put out a kitchen fire.

A fire extinguisher with an ABC rating means the device will work against fires of ordinary combustibles, such as wood or paper; flammable liquids, such as cooking oils and grease, and electrical fires, Johnson said.

Smokers should be provided with large, deep ashtrays and the cigarette butts should be dowsed with water to make sure they are not still burning.

Another part of the demonstration had one resident blindfolded, spun around and then she was asked to crawl on the floor as she would do during a fire and find the door. Johnson said this simulates how people really feel during a fire. Many times, they are disoriented and frightened.

He said, if possible, do not use a cell phone to call the fire department as cell phones do not register an address at the dispatch center. Use a neighbor’s phone, he said.

“Get out and stay out,” he said. “Do not go back in to get anything. Everyone should have a plan and everyone should get out.”

Johnson said the fire department offers such programs by request.

“Anybody can ask for that kind of training,” he said. “This year we’re expecting it (fires) to be up because of the drought and because of the cost of fuel. People who wouldn’t normally be using electrical space heaters start using them. That’s why we concentrate on fire prevention safety, this year with foster parents. We always do the schools, the Department of Family and Children Services office and other similar facilities. Anyone who’s interested in that type of training, public or private, can request it from Louisville Fire Department.”

Johnson said the department presented this program to Old Capitol Inn staff and residents in October. “We enjoy doing it and the people seem to enjoy it and we try to make it as entertaining as possible,” he said.

Johnson added that the fire departments have a program geared toward juvenile fire setters.

“That type of person needs to be directed to that program,” he said. “All kids are curious. The juvenile fire setter program really teaches them the rights and wrongs of using fire, the proper use of fire and it doesn’t scare them.”

Parents who are interested in having their children participate in this type of program should call the city fire department. It’s not necessary to wait until your child has caused a problem, Johnson said.



Area schools receive district-wide accreditation

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The Jefferson County school system received notification Monday, Dec. 3, that they have districtwide accreditation, according to school assistant superintendent, Donnie Hodges.

An oral review was presented to the school board in a called meeting held Wednesday, Nov. 7, recommending Jefferson County receive districtwide accreditation. The recommendation was sent to the Georgia Department of Education for a formal decision, which arrived Monday.

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The exit report for the oral review was presented by Dr. Mike Griffin, chairman of the five-member Quality Assurance Review Team. The team, Griffin said, interviewed 205 people over two days.

“It was two full days,” he said. “It would be remiss if I did not say your hospitality has been superb.”

Griffin told the board that everyone they met treated them as a partner in the process.

“We have a lot of stake in the well-being of children,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where they’re located.”

Griffin commended the school board for undertaking districtwide accreditation. Currently, each school is accredited on its own, without affecting or being affected by the accreditation status of the other schools.

With districtwide accreditation, all schools in the system must have accreditation for the system to be accredited.

“What this means is you either are or you aren’t,” Griffin said. “It is a system’s approach to accreditation. It is part of the SACS protocol that we never leave a system without making recommendations.”

SACS or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the agency responsible for granting accreditation for 11 states, including Georgia.

Bethune said the reason for transitioning to the districtwide accreditation was to give the system more unity. “It gives us a one school, one mission (approach),” he said.

The Oral Exit Report commended the county’s school system for being a School Board of Distinction, as well as for having a well developed, implemented and communicated vision; three Title 1 distinguished schools; developing curriculum maps and pacing guides used by all teachers to ensure a guaranteed viable curriculum; transparency of how the board operates and in the system’s management of fiscal and material resources.

Additionally, the Quality Assurance Review Team recommended Jefferson County Public School System increase opportunities for additional stakeholder participation in the development and implementation of the district and school level improvement plans, develop consistent measurable objectives to determine the status of goal attainment in the districtwide school improvement plan, school district needs to implement a plan to monitor the six schools for compliance, ensure the alignment of the budgeting process with the continuous improvement plan, create a succession program to ensure an ongoing leadership pool, continue to update and integrate technology in order to support postsecondary ready students.

Griffin said strengths of the school system include community support, a positive relationship with the school board, continuity of leadership and a strong evaluation process.

Griffin also identified the county’s limitations as poverty, funding, geography and diminishing economic development.




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