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October 9, 2008 Issue

Judge Misty May responds to counts
Crackdown
Country's financial crisis will be felt here
Glascock school recognized

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Judge Misty May responds to counts

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Glascock County Magistrate Judge Misty May recently responded to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission after it filed a notice of formal proceedings against the judge.

May was publicly reprimanded last year by the Judicial Qualification Commission after an investigation that was prompted by a complaint filed against her because of findings in a 2005 audit by Jones, Jones, Davis and Associates.

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A second complaint was lodged against May which led to the current investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission. May will face the commission to determine if she is guilty of five separate counts of violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, willful misconduct or other conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

“Judge May emphatically denies the other allegations,” May’s attorney Shane M. Geeter said, reporting her denial against all of the counts.

In count one, May denies the allegations that she violated Canons 2 and 3, after it was alleged that she repeatedly failed to perform the administrative duties of her judicial office by her failure to make timely bank deposits of monies received by the Magistrate Court and when she failed to make bank deposits that resulted in an overdrawn draft on the bank account for the Magistrate Court of Glascock County.

“Judge May further shows that she made bank deposits on a timely basis,” May’s response states. “Judge May further shows that due to her meeting her responsibilities to the public she at times made deposits after 2 p.m. and further shows that the Magistrate Court never issued checks that were ultimately dishonored.”

In count two, it was alleged that May repeatedly failed to file mandated reports with the Georgia Superior Court Clerk’s Cooperative Authority, the Magistrate Retirement Fund, Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund, and Sheriffs’ Retirement Fund of Georgia, which she denies.

“Judge May further shows that she made all mandated reports with Georgia Superior Court Clerk’s Cooperative Authority, Magistrate Retirement Fund, Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund, and Sheriffs’ Retirement Fund of Georgia and made the required disbursements to those agencies,” the response states.

In the third count, May was alleged to have repeatedly failed to file mandated reports and make payments to the governing authority of Glascock County.

“Judge May denies the allegations,” the response states. “Judge May further shows that she made all mandated reports to the governing authority of Glascock County, Georgia, and made the required disbursements to the county.”

In the fourth count, it was alleged that May repeatedly failed to make payments to the Glascock County Sheriff’s Office.

Through reports that May submitted to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, she denies that she failed to make the payments.

The final count alleges that on July 19, 2007, May notified a deputy with the Glascock County Sheriff’s Office that she had personally witnessed alleged drug activity in her community and she reported what she believed to be a crime, thereafter called and then met with the deputy to whom she made the report to discuss the crime and thereafter wrongfully issued and signed a search warrant for the vehicle involved in the alleged crime knowing that she was a material witness to the crime.

“Count five of notice alleges, without giving dates or details, that Judge May issued a search warrant regarding a crime she allegedly witnessed,” Geeter said. “That is not true. The notice gives no names, dates, places, times, case numbers or any other details from which one can determine what it is claiming. Judge May denies issuing any search warrant in cases in which she would be a witness.”

JQC Executive Director Cheryl F. Custer said in September that a trial date will be set for May after she turns in her answers from the five counts.

“There will be a hearing to determine if she violated the special judicial ethics code that all judges are to follow,” Custer said. “Recommendations will be made coming out of a hearing by the Supreme Court of Georgia which are up to and including removal forever from office. These cases are very rare, but extremely serious,” she said. “There are 1,800 judges in the state of Georgia and it is very rare for the commission to file charges.”

Custer said at that time that May is one of two judges who are currently facing charges.

“I do not know who is pushing these allegations, but the timing of the allegations, during the election campaign season, gives a false impression to the voters,” Geeter said. “I know the Glascock County voters want to decide the election based upon accurate information.”



Crackdown

By By Leila Borders
Staff Writer

Pants sagging low in Wrens? Soon, that could land you in the place where the trend started - jail.

At the Wrens city council meeting on Sept. 9, the council commissioned attorney Christopher Dube to draft an ordinance that would make the style of wearing pants below the waist, often showing significant amounts of the wearer’s undergarments, illegal.

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The style, now associated with hip-hop music and culture, began in prisons. With no belts allowed and clothing sometimes several sizes too big, many prisoners’ pants sagged below their waists. Adopted by rappers in the early ‘90s, the style had become a part of mainstream culture by 1995 and has remained a popular—if controversial—style of dress.

Across the nation, the controversy over the style has moved from the streets to the legislature. Last year, the towns of Delcambre and Mansfield, La., both successfully passed city ordinances levying fines of as much as $500 or a six-month jail sentence for wearing pants below the waistline.

Other attempts at statewide legislation against the style in Virginia and Louisiana failed.

Wrens began looking into the ordinance after a police incident in Waynesboro prompted that town to contemplate outlawing the trend.

At the recent meeting, Wrens council members questioned Dube about the problems the ordinance would face should it be passed.

The main issue surrounding ordinances like this one is the possibility that the law could be challenged as unconstitutional. Were the ordinance challenged, the court system would use two criteria to determine if it violates the U.S. Constitution. First, they would examine the message being put forth by the style of dress. Then, the court would determine if that message is the message that is actually received by third parties viewing the style.

Responding to questions concerning who would be responsible for upholding and enforcing the ordinance, Dube said it would be enforced locally within the city court system and the juvenile court system. He also said the city would set the fines or other punishments for violating the ordinance and that the ordinance would need to state an actual length from the hipline that pants can be legally worn.

Council member Willie Huntley asked if parents would be responsible for fines given to their children who have violated the ordinance. Dube said the ordinance would not hold parents responsible. He expects that the ordinance would give parents a new tool to encourage their children to abandon the sagging pants style.

When asked about how difficult enforcement of the new ordinance would be, Police Chief David Hannah said, “It will be a challenge to start with.”

Dube said he expected the law would be enforced primarily among those persons already causing trouble.

“We’re not going to have a designated ‘sagging-pants’ officer,” he said.

Support for the ordinance came from all sides of the council.

“I hate to see the saggy pants,” Huntley said.

Mayor Lester Hadden commented that the ordinance would give the police chief room to enforce a more appropriate dress.

The council plans to review the drafted ordinance at the next council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 14.



Country's financial crisis will be felt here

By Leila Borders
Staff Writer

The financial crisis that set world stock markets reeling and officials rushing to create the infamous $700 billion bail-out plan has done little to the economy of Jefferson County, according to local bankers Bill Easterlin and Joe Gore.

The presidents of Queensborough Bank and Trust and First State Bank, respectively, Easterlin and Gore assure citizens that, while the effects of the crisis will be seen indirectly in the community, business is continuing as normal in the local banking industry.

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“The crisis is real,” said Easterlin. He explained that the cost of money, meaning the interest rate on money lent, influences economic activity, the higher the cost of money, the lower the economic activity. In September, when large investment banks like Lehmann Brothers collapsed, the companies that held money became less likely to lend to other companies and raised interest rates on the loans that were made. As the economy was already slowing down, this change in the cost of borrowing has the potential to cause an economic nosedive.

At the center of the crisis is the housing market and its record numbers of foreclosures. The money tied in these host of mortgages has essentially become frozen, leaving banks unable to use it to lend back and forth. The $700 billion bail-out plan buys these troubled assets from the institutions that hold them, thereby freeing this money to be used for lending and providing the market with some liquidity. This plan, according to Easterlin, is a necessary one.

“Confidence must come back to the markets,” he said. The leaders of the plan are attempting to restore that confidence and encourage the markets to calm down, he said. Hopes are once the market has calmed, the consumer’s desire to hold onto his or her money will diminish and the economy will rebound.

“This economy is driven by the consumer. The consumer has to have the confidence that their job is safe, that their home value won’t decline. Then, they will be more likely to go out on the weekends and spend money instead of staying home and hope things don’t get worse. Then, we will see improvement,” said Easterlin.

While the markets swing up and down and Washington officials rush to implement plans to stabilize them, Jefferson County’s economy seems to remain steady.

Gore was especially encouraged by the FDIC’s recent decision to raise its insurance coverage limits from $100,000 to $250,000.

“People were surprised at how much coverage they had even before the increase,” he said.

The credit freeze that seems to be encompassing the nation is not affecting lending in Jefferson County, according to both bankers.

“We are still making mortgage loans,” Gore said. “If somebody needs something today, we can take care of them,” he said.

Both bankers encourage their clients and anyone in the community with questions to call them.

“Knowledge is power. The people need to know that their local banks are the first places to go,” said Gore. He can be reached at First State’s main office in Wrens at (706) 547-6502. Easterlin can be reached at Queensborough’s main office in Louisville at (478) 625-2000.

“Events have occurred at an unusually fast pace,” said Gore. Both bankers attributed this quickness in part to the 24-hour nature of the media. They said the news travels so fast that the markets do not have time to react.

“When people do not understand what is going on, they tend to hold their money closer,” said Easterlin.

Both bankers are eager to reassure their clients and the community that business is continuing as normal in Jefferson County.

“Turn off CNN. Call us,” said Easterlin.

“We’ll be happy to talk,” Gore agreed.



Glascock school recognized

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Glascock County Consolidated School has been recently recognized as part of the Georgia Superintendent’s Distinguished Achievement Awards Program.

The awards are designed to honor schools that have scored the highest level or made the greatest improvement in performance on the state curriculum exams, which are the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), the End of Course Tests (EOCT), the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) and the state writing assessments.

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“It is so important to acknowledge the achievement and progress of our schools,” State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said. “These awards are just a token of our appreciation for the hard work that goes into teaching and supporting students every day. Congratulations to all the winners.”

Ten schools were honored in each subject area and grade that had the greatest improvement in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards.

Ten schools were also honored in each subject area and grade that had the highest percentage of students score in the exceeds category.

“The Glascock County Board of Education has provided an environment that is conducive to learning which includes hiring highly qualified, motivated teachers,” Glascock County Superintendent Jim Holton said.

“Glascock County teachers are committed to providing the highest quality education available to our students in order that they may be able to compete after graduation at technical college, traditional college and in the work place.”

Holton said that while Glascock County Consolidated School continues to make improvement in many areas, the Georgia Department of Education recently identified the school as having ranked eighth in the state in sixth grade CRCT math improvement, 10th in the state in physical science EOCT improvement and first in the state in Algebra I EOCT improvement.

“Congratulations to students, teachers, parents and everyone who played a role in this success,” Holton said. “The fact that we are in the top 10 in three different areas says a lot about our teachers and the work they are doing. Good things are happening at GCCS.”




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