Four-lane closer to county line
By Faye Ellison
In a move to connect more cities in the state of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Transportation has moved closer to a starting date on the Jefferson County side of the proposed widening of U.S. Highway 1.
Drivers crossing the Emanuel and Jefferson counties line can see the removal of trees and other debris in order to make room for the paving of the proposed four-lane highway.
In March 2006, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced their intentions to widen U.S. Highway 1 starting at the south end of the Wadley bypass and ending at State Route 88 in Wrens.
At the time, the Department held a public information open house to inform citizens of Jefferson County to plans for the widening of the road.
In 2007, land was secured by DOT to begin the construction. Utilities will have to be relocated and some houses and/or businesses as well.
The complete cost of the entire corridor is $743,400,000, but the section where clearing and widening is about to begin in the south of Wadley will cost $19,697,210 for 6.629 miles, according to DOT District Communication Officer Cissy McNure.
The funding that comes from state coffers will cover the widening of U.S. Highway 1 from the south end of the Wadley bypass to the current four lane of the bypass on the north end. The contract for the work was awarded to Gary’s Grading and Pipeline.
This portion of the widening is planned to be completed by December 2009.
The U.S. Highway 1 corridor is a part of the Governor’s Road Improvement Program (GRIP). It was one of the original 14 corridors included in the program when it was initiated in 1989.
“GRIP is a system of proposed economic developmental highways in Georgia,” McNure said.
McNure said the purposes of GRIP include:
-Connectivity in rural Georgia. GRIP will connect 95 percent of Georgia cities with a population of 2,500 or more to the Interstate System and ensure that 98 percent of all areas in the state will be within 20 miles of a four-lane road.
-Provide opportunities for growth. Several studies have provided evidence that GRIP fosters economic development.
-Provide effective and efficient transportation for the growing state population.
The last road improvements to U.S. Highway 1 was the widening of the road from Wrens to Augusta in the late 1990s and 2000s.
U.S. 1 Highway stretches throughout Georgia from U.S. 441 in Habersham County and extends to the Florida state line at Folkston, Everett added. The corridor is approximately 331 miles in length. As of now, 133 miles or 40 percent of the corridor is open to traffic or under construction.
The roadway will be divided into four different segments of U.S. 1 construction, DOT said in March 2006. DOT said that each section should take two years or more to construct depending on the length and that two or more sections may be under construction at the same time.
Jefferson County supports Obama, Glascock McCain in recent primary
By Carol McLeod
The voter turnout for Jefferson County’s presidential primary held Tuesday, Feb. 5, was about 40 percent, according to information from the probate court.
Out of a total of 8,989 registered voters in the county, only 3,606 or 40.12 percent, voted that day. Of those, 289 were absentee ballots.
The polling station at Stapleton Crossroads had the highest turnout, with 46.22 percent. The lowest turnout was Louisville, with 33.33 percent.
On the democratic side of the campaign, the clear choice was Barack Obama with 1,598 votes, or 69.24 percent. Hillary Clinton was next with 624 votes, or 27.04 percent.
John Edwards received 41 votes, Joe Biden 15, Dennis J. Kucinich 12, Bill Richardson nine, Mike Gravel five and Chris Dodd four.
For the republicans, John McCain was the preferred candidate, receiving 573 votes, or 45.66 percent. Mike Huckabee was next in line, receiving 480 votes, or 38.25 percent. Mitt Romney received 159, Ron Paul 24, Fred Thompson nine, Rudy Giuliani five, Alan Keyes four and Duncan Hunter one. Tom Tancredo received no votes.
The total number of people voting for republicans in Jefferson County’s primary is 1,255. The total who voted for democrats is 2,308.
There is a count of 43 votes not counted in the primary.
“Those were absentee ballots that didn’t come in,” said Judge Q. L. Bryant of the probate court. Bryant said the machine that issues the absentee ballots to be mailed out to voters counts those ballots that are issued. If ballots are not returned within the time required, they cannot be counted.
Last Tuesday, registered voters went out to vote in the presidential primaries to decide a candidate for the republican and democratic parties.
In Glascock County 37 percent or 597 of the 1,607 registered voters cast a ballot during the election.
In the republican ring, John McCain received 41.75 percent or 167 votes of the total 400 votes, while his closest competitor was Mike Huckabee who received 35 percent or 140 votes. Though Mitt Romney dropped out of the race the next day, he received 81 or 20.25 percent of the votes. Ron Paul received 5, Fred Thompson 4, Rudy Guiliani and both Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo received 0.
Former first lady Hillary Clinton received the most of the 197 democratic votes with 138 or 10.05 percent. Political newcomer Senator Barack Obama received 40 votes or 20.30 percent. John Edwards, who ran in 2004, received 15 votes or 7.61 percent. Bill Richardson received 2 votes, both Dennis J. Kucinich and Chris Dodd received 1 each, while Joe Biden and Mike Gravel received 0.
Others running for political office this year include many seats in Glascock County partisan and non-partisan.
Candidates may qualify with the county chairperson of the respective political parties beginning on April 28 at 9 a.m. until May 2. Qualifying will close at 5 p.m. each day except for May 2 when qualifying will end at noon.
Candidates may qualify with the Glascock County Probate Judge/Election Superintendent for nonpartisan offices beginning at 9 p.m. on June 23 and closing at noon on June 27.
Non partisan offices include Glascock County Board of Education members and the seat for Probate/Magistrate Judge.
Seats up for grabs this year include all Commission seats currently held by Chairman Anthony Griswell, Joe Dixon and Johnny Crutchfield, County Treasurer which is filled by Audrey Chalker, Tax Commissioner filled by Sharon Lyons, Sheriff filled by Dean Couch, Clerk of Court filled by Carla Stephens and Coroner filled by Connie Jackson.
Voters will go to the polls on July 15 to decide in several of these partisan races which candidate will fill the seat, but if a republican candidate and democratic candidate are running, the decision will be made on Nov. 4.
Non-partisan seats up for election are those of Board of Education members John F. Raley, Michael Gilmer and James Moore. Also up for election is the seat of probate/magistrate judge which was voted to be combined. Current magistrate judge is Misty May, while Denise Dallas holds the seat for probate judge.
Area road checks end in 12 arrests
By Carol McLeod
Local law enforcement officers from a variety of agencies participated in a series of road checks throughout Louisville Friday, Feb. 8, from about 5:30 p.m. until close to midnight.
Officers from the Georgia State Patrol, Louisville Police Department, Wadley Police Department, Richmond County K-9 unit, Wrens Police Department and Jefferson County’s Sheriff’s Office were on hand at several known trouble spots.
“It’s not a one-time thing,” said Sheriff Gary Hutchins of Jefferson County. “I think people in the neighborhoods where we went deserve something better. A better way of life in the neighborhood without that illegal activity going on.”
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Besides Hutchins, several police chiefs were also on hand, including Louisville Chief of Police Jimmy Miller, Wrens Police Chief David Hannah and Wadley Chief of Police Paul Jordan.
Clay Neal, who is not only the Bartow Chief of Police but also a deputy with the sheriff’s office, was also involved in the road checks.
“It’s great to be a part of something like this,” Neal said. “We want to be out in the community, protecting our citizens. That’s our job and we take it seriously.”
Hutchins said this type of action on the part of local enforcement agencies will continue and not just in Louisville.
“The people want us out there,” he said. “We’re all working together. With the help of everybody, we’re trying to deter criminal activity.”
Two Jefferson County K-9s and their handlers were also at the checkpoints.
Many residents offered their drivers licenses to be checked and heard a polite response from an officer.
“Have a good night. Be careful,” one officer was heard to say many times.
But other motorists did not fare so well.
One K-9, Sarge, alerted on a vehicle containing two adults, three children and a tiny amount of cocaine residue. Deputy Gene Marsh, the dog’s handler, said Sarge, a Belgian Mallinois, has been trained to recognize marijuana, crystal meth, heroine, crack cocaine and cocaine, among other substances.
Clark Hiebert, an investigator with the sheriff’s office, field tested the substance found in a straw, identifying the residue as cocaine.
“If it had been more than residue, we’d have taken all of them to the station and had them all strip searched,” he said.
In another case, a man who had been drinking was given a sobriety tests. “He didn’t blow high enough (to get arrested),” Neal said, adding the man’s alcohol level was high enough he couldn’t be allowed to drive.
“If he’d been in a wreck, the limit is lower,” Neal explained.
The man walked to a relative’s house and brought back someone who could drive his truck for him.
The agencies arrested 12 people that night, including five for DUI, two for possession of cocaine and one for possession of marijuana.
Several individuals had no insurance. One man had an outstanding bench warrant.
“The main thing is to make an impression,” Hutchins said.
“The agencies within this county are going to continue to come together in a united effort in all areas of this county to combat the drugs and the other illegal activities that are going on in this community,” said Louisville’s Chief Miller. “So beware. We will be back.”
The sheriff said law enforcement will continue working together throughout the county to deter crime.
“Whatever it takes,” he said.