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January 29, 2009 Issue

Wrens dispatch to change hands
One killed in wreck
Officials talk about their goals for the coming year

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Wrens dispatch to change hands

By Leila Borders
Staff writer

Calling for help in Wrens may mean learning a new number this spring. The city is set to relinquish its 24-hour emergency dispatch service to the county’s 9-1-1 dispatch in early April, meaning 9-1-1 will be the primary number a citizen can call for police or fire. This move is expected to save the city money, but the effects on staff cuts and the replacement of ailing communication towers are yet to be determined.

At the last regularly-scheduled city council meeting, on Tuesday, Jan. 13, Mayor Lester Hadden amended the meeting’s agenda to include a proposal from the county concerning the city’s 9-1-1 dispatch operations. When it came time to discuss this new item, an immediate motion was made and passed to table discussion until a further date.

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“We are not in a position to make a decision on this,” said Hadden.

However, just over a week later at a called council meeting on Jan. 21, the city council deemed themselves in a position and made the decision to turn over their city-run dispatch service to the county’s central dispatch located in Louisville.

According to William Rabun, Jefferson County Board of Commissioners chairman, the county already handles 85 percent of Wrens’ emergency calls, and the county’s 9-1-1 dispatch currently covers the cities of Louisville, Bartow, Wadley and Stapleton. Adding Wrens will involve a modification of the county dispatch’s consoles costing $2,425, of which the city will pay half. Rabun also said the county’s service can handle the city’s addition without hiring additional staff.

“They have all the technology to make it work. It’s amazing,” said Ceola Hannah, Wrens councilwoman, of a visit to the county’s dispatch center. Hannah viewed the dispatch facility and had the opportunity to talk with the sheriff and dispatch employees.

Currently, the city of Wrens employs two full-time and two part-time dispatch staff members. According to Arty Thrift, city administrator, these staff members will remain employed through the transition to the county, which could take up to four months.

“We’re going to keep our operation up and running indefinitely, but especially during daytime hours,” said Hadden.

As part of the deal between city and county, the city will be responsible for advertising the change and letting citizens know what is happening.

The county is responsible for communications tower improvements or replacements as needed. The North end communications antenna sits on top of an old water tower that was damaged in a tornado last year.

The city planned to take down the water tower and put up a new communications tower at a cost of almost $110,000.

Though the city will still be charged with removing the water tower, the county will now be responsible for erecting a new communications tower.

Also, the council discussed the importance of citizens having 9-1-1 signs displaying their house numbers for the assistance of emergency providers.

“This is just part of the county and the city operating more efficiently,” said Thrift.

The move had already been approved by the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners at the time of Wrens’ called council meeting. Erskine Lane, councilmember, made the motion to accept the proposal and Wayne Favors seconded it. The council voted unanimously in favor of the motion with the exception of Tomesenia Jackson who was not present. The 9-1-1 change is expected to go into effect at the beginning of April this year.

Parish Howard contributed to the reporting in this article.




One killed in wreck

By Carol McLeod
Staff writer

A Mitsubishi trying to pass a group of cars hit another car in the oncoming lane Thursday, Jan. 22, about 3:09 p.m.

The accident resulted in the death of a passenger in the second car, a Chevrolet Cavalier. The passenger, identified as 47-year-old Alice Lane of Wrens, was not wearing her seat belt and was thrown from the car, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

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The accident occurred at US Highway 1 and Campground Road about 1.5 miles south of Wrens, a spokesman with the GSP said.

The spokesman said the Mitsubishi was going south on US Highway 1 when the driver attempted to pass a group of cars going in the same direction. The vehicle struck the Cavalier, which was traveling north on US Highway 1, at an angle, causing the vehicle to flip and ejecting Lane.

An eyewitness driving the car immediately behind the Cavalier described what she saw.

“There was a line of traffic in both directions and there was a car directly in front of me, the car that got hit. A lady pulled out from the line of traffic that was coming from Wrens,” the eyewitness said.

“As soon as I saw her pull out I knew there was no way she had enough time to go around the cars in front of her and get back in line. There just wasn’t room nor time. I pulled off the road. The lady in front of me was trying to pull off the road but she did not have time. So the lady hit her in the door. One of the ladies was immediately thrown from the car in front of me and the car flew. It was just like a toy. It was unreal.

“The lady that was driving the car that hit her then tried to pull back over into the right lane and clipped the front end of a black car that was in the lane coming from Wrens.

Then she lost control of her car and she went spinning and ended up down the road on the shoulder, turned in the opposite direction.”

The witness said she called 911 as soon as she got off the road.

“It happened in an instant. It didn’t take 30 seconds to take place. There were several cars in front of her that she was trying to pass. It was so fast. As soon as she pulled out, she was right there. There was no time for anybody to react,” the witness said.

The GSP’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is still investigating the accident, a spokesman with the SCPT said. The investigation could take up to six months, she said.

Lane was traveling in a car driven by her sister, Lavern Tucker. Tucker was one of two people entrapped in their vehicles when emergency personnel arrived on the scene. The other person, Maleria Cantre, who was driving the Mitsubishi was trapped in her vehicle.

Cantre, 21, was traveling in a car with two children, ages 11 months and 7 years, and an unnamed adult. The adult arrived later at Jefferson Hospital in a private vehicle, was treated and released, a spokesman with the hospital stated. Cantre’s hometown was not known as of press time on Tuesday.

The third car was being driven by Lynn Rogers, 36, from Wrens, according to law enforcement.

Tucker, Cantre, the two children and Rogers were transported by ground to the emergency room at Jefferson Hospital in Louisville.

Carl Wagster, the Jefferson County EMS director, said at least two of the cars involved rolled during the accident.

Six individuals with injuries were transported to the hospital by ambulance, Wagster said. A seventh person arrived at the hospital later by private vehicle.

“Everybody went to Louisville first,” he said. “I originally called for three helicopters. They could only send one but it could transport two (patients) at the same time.”

Wagster said it was 3:07 p.m. when they were dispatched to the accident site.

“Once I arrived on the scene, I evaluated the situation and decided to call for multiple helicopters due to the nature of the injuries. I contacted the hospital and they enacted their disaster plan. When we pulled up, they had everything ready,” he said.

Wagster said Lane was already having trouble.

“We tried to do what we could, but we couldn’t get her back,” Wagster said. “We transported her and worked with her to revive her and carry her to the hospital.”

The two who were later transferred by helicopter were the worst, he said. “They had multiple fractures.”

At the hospital in Louisville, staff was getting ready to receive six patients.

“We already had a code in progress with a patient that had arrested and one other admission that was sick but not life-threatening and one transfer, who was not exactly critical but none of them were clinic patients. They all were requiring emergency care,” said Teresa Salter, the hospital’s chief nursing officer.

“The staff was busy with the other patients,” said Leigh Davis, the ER nurse manager.

Davis then contacted the backup physician and notified administration so a Code Green could be activated, which is the hospital’s term for enacting its disaster plan.

“Our staff got to work,” she said. “Everybody knows what that means when we get the call overhead. Everyone has a specific job.”

The 11-month-old was stabilized and transferred with no major injuries. The 7-year-old was stabilized with some minor abrasions to the face, she said. Because of their ages and the type of accident, the children were sent to MCG as part of medical protocol and were to be monitored for 24 hours, she said.

Salter said one of the adults was not critical.

“She was stabilized and transferred to be checked out by the Trauma Center for further evaluation,” she said. “Another had bilateral leg fractures, some leg and ankle fractures and injury to her arm but we don’t know the extent of it.”

Salter said there was swelling to the arm and a closed head injury.

“Of course, all of them came immobilized,” Davis said. “Another had a spine board and a collar, injuries to her back, questionable fractures and also some renal (kidney) contusions.”

Heyward Wells, the hospital’s CEO, said Dr. J. B. Polhill, who was in the clinic, was notified as was Dr. Brandy Gheesling, Dr. Suraj Sukumaran, Dr. Lisa Council and Jennifer Tanner.

“All reported,” Wells said. Dr. Clarence Flanigan was on duty in the ER, he said.

“It was about five o’clock when AirMed flew away and the ground transfer was 6:30 p.m.,” Wells said. “From the time we called the Code Green, we had the physicians here within 10 to 15 minutes. About 15 nurses reported for duty. All that happened within 20 minutes.”

“The coordination between EMS and Jefferson Hospital was excellent,” Wells said. “It’s really the hearts of the people. It’s just the professionalism of the people (that’s) amazing.”

The county’s EMS director, Carl Wagster, agreed.

“The resources were available to at least try to stabilize these patients and then transport them to the Trauma Center,” Wagster said.

“We had a bystander who was a respiratory therapist with University Hospital. He was with one of the people who had been injured and, in fact, rode in the ambulance, leaving his car at the scene. And I was impressed with that,” he said. “I don’t know what was going on at the hospital when the wreck went down. They had to organize everything in the ER to get it ready for us. That was a major undertaking at the least.”

Tucker was transferred to MCG and had been discharged as of Monday, Jan. 27. Cantre had been treated and released by 1:36 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 23, a spokesman with MCG said.



Officials talk about their goals for the coming year

By By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

With each new year, comes new ideas, goals and resolutions not only within ourselves, but these are looked at by government officials as well as they make decisions that involve the community.

Especially with the decrease in jobs and hurting economy, many are looking for a way to balance the budget, while continuing to provide services necessary for the area.

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Here are what a few officials hope to achieve:

“My goal for 2009 is to provide the citizens of Louisville with the best of services at a reasonable cost.”
Don Rhodes
Louisville City Administrator

“Lead the county in a unified approach to create an atmosphere for economic development, job creation and enhancement of the quality of life for our employees.”
William Rabun
Jefferson Co Comm Chairman

“Glascock County Consolidated School faculty and staff have been and are currently working to align our curriculum to meet the state standards and benchmarks while providing our students with opportunities for exploration and innovation. Hopefully these efforts will be realized in our students’ performance and in the successes of our graduates. The school system begins the process of developing a concise, prioritized improvement plan each year by examining previous year’s student performance data on state and local assessments to make data-driven decisions with the goals of improving student achievement and preparing our children to lead and succeed in an uncertain world. Impending budget constraints are forcing school systems to operate on a more stringent budget than ever. Even with the imminent budget cuts, the Glascock County School System will continue to make every effort to provide quality instructional programs to our students through the availability of a 21st century learning environment and exceptional educators. Hopefully our state and national leaders will see the wisdom in providing sufficient funding in order to serve our children properly.”
Jim Holton
Glascock School Super.

“I will continue to serve the citizens of Glascock County as Sheriff. Each and every one of the citizens in our community is valued and important and I am proud to assist them in any way I can. I will also continue to fight the war on drugs to preserve the future of our county.”
Dean Couch
Glascock Sheriff

“Everything’s in such bad financial shape now, I’d like us see the goal for the city and everywhere to make the city better and law enforcement get better throughout the county. Make sure everyone has a safe and good year. Right now we’re going through a lot of loopholes but hope to grow stronger and get better throughout the year.”
David Hannah
Wrens Police Chief

“Our goal this year is to balance our budget. The second is to search for a way to increase revenue.”
Lester Hadden
Wrens Mayor

“I want to try to find ways to survive the economic conditions that have come down from national level to state level to local level. We need to use money as wisely as possible and promote team work in every department and in the community as much as possible.”
Anthony Griswell
Glascock Co Chairman

“What I would like to see happen in 2009 is that we hire a full time principal investigator and increase our staff to better be able to protect our citizens. If we can accomplish those two things, I think we can be moving forward.”
Jimmy Miller
Louisville Police Chief

“We want to continue to improve our facilities. Wrens Elementary School will be completed by September/October. Also produce a balanced budget while still providing for all learners to reach their potential. We would like to increase the percent of students and staff that exceed required performance levels and monitor the implementation of the District Strategic SACS Plan. We continue to review and update district policies to make certain that they are current and legally compliant. And engage the entire community to focus on improving student achievement and effectively capture the variety of voices and viewpoints from the area.”
Carl Bethune
Jefferson Co Super.




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