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April 23, 2009 Issue

Louisville P.D. hires investigator
Qualifying opens for probate judge seat
A Passion to Teach
Tornadoes confirmed

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Louisville P.D. hires investigator

By Carol McLeod
Staff writer

Teddy Jackson left Thomson and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, retiring after 28 years; but, he didn’t leave law enforcement behind.

Jackson joined the Louisville Police Department as an investigator, beginning Monday, March 16.


“We have needed an investigator for some time now,” said LPD Chief Jimmy Miller.

“He is already a great asset to this police department,” Miller said.

Jackson is the first full time investigator the city’s police department has had.

Jackson traveled the state working under cover for his first three years with the GBI, he said. He worked under cover in metro Atlanta.

“From ’85 until ’88, I worked out of the Statesboro office, the regional office there,” he said. “From the beginning of ’88 to the end of ’88, I worked out of the regional office in Savannah. That was the regional drug enforcement office.”

Jackson transferred to Thomson in 1989 where he worked until February 2008, when he retired.

The investigator said he will work on any cases that happen within the city that require investigation beyond the normal routine of a uniformed officer.

“Last week, a local mother reported her daughter missing. Once I got the report, within four and a half hours, I had located her in Atlanta. A lot of what I will do is follow up on incident reports the officers do,” he said.

Jackson said he will also be assisting owners of dilapidated housing realize the hazards abandoned property can pose like providing space for drug activity.

Qualifying opens for probate judge seat

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Qualifying begins Wednesday, April 29, at 9 a.m. and ends Friday, May 1, at noon for the position of Jefferson County Judge of Probate Court, which was left vacant by the death of Q.L. Bryant. Bryant died last month and had served the county as Probate Judge and Election Superintendent for almost 50 years.

Individuals interested in qualifying for the position must file with the deputy clerk in the county’s probate court during the qualifying period.


The filing fee for this position is $1,392.25, which is 3 percent of the annual base salary of $46,408.38.

The term is four years and will end Dec. 31, 2012.

A special election for this position is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16. This is a countywide election. Normal polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. that Tuesday.

Anyone who is not registered but would like to vote in this election must register by Monday, May 18, at 5 p.m., said Chandrel Evans, the county’s registrar.

Evans said dates for advanced voting and early voting will be established after the qualifying period has ended.

A Passion to Teach

By Kate Agel

Mendy Cole, first grade teacher at Wrens Elementary, is the Jefferson County Teacher of the Year for the 2008-2009 term.

Cole, a resident of Gibson, originally from Thomson, is married to her self-proclaimed high school sweetheart, Guy Cole. They have five children, four sons and one daughter, ages 14, 11, 9, 7 and 4.


Cole has been teaching for 10 years, eight of which have been at WES. She said that she has wanted to be a teacher since she was in the first grade. She was inspired to become an educator because of the teachers she had as a child.

Currently, Cole stays very busy. In addition to teaching and taking care of her large family, including an ailing mother, Cole is working toward getting her master’s degree from Augusta State University, participates on the WES team for Relay for Life and teaches children’s church every Sunday at Mill Creek Baptist.

“I feel like I am everywhere,” she said with a smile.

Though Cole teaches her first graders every subject, she said her favorite to teach is reading.

“Their personality comes out through reading—you get to see them. You get to see who they are,” she said.

“You do whatever it takes to get a child to learn, songs, plays, games. We do all of it,” Cole said, and described a hands-on approach to teaching, saying that teachers should hold themselves accountable for what a child learns in their class.

“We’re responsible for what these children get and what they don’t,” she said. “To be a good teacher, you need to have a passion. You have to want it for them.”

Concerning her award as Jefferson County Teacher of the Year, Cole considers herself no better than many of the teachers within the school system.

“I am a representation of the people I am fortunate enough to work with. I was just the lucky one who got chosen,” she said, “Most of us eat, sleep and dream teaching. This school (WES), these people, our community; we’re a team and we act that way. This job requires so much from us that we have to.”

Cole said her favorite part about teaching is making a difference in her students’ lives.

“I’m one more advocate for them. I’m their biggest fan and they know that, not by what I say, but by my actions. I am here for them,” she said.

Cole expressed her passion for her students and what she hopes to do for them in the classroom every day. Helping each student individually is her main goal and said that she, like many of the teachers on her team at WES, never rests.

“You won’t walk up and down these hallways and see teachers just sitting at their desks,” she said, also portraying herself as a teacher who is constantly moving from desk to desk helping all her students.

“It’s about each and every one of these children. I want them, when they think about me, to go, ‘She loved me,’” Cole said.

Linda Merritt-JCHS
Jefferson County High School’s Teacher of the Year, Linda Merritt, was born and raised in Stapleton and graduated from Augusta State University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

She is married with two children, Ashton and Beau.

For 14 years, Merritt worked in retail as a visual merchandiser, but was motivated to switch her career to teaching.

“I had a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people and connect with the human spirit,” she said.

Merritt taught art at WES for five years before moving to JCHS where she has been teaching for the past three years. She teaches art classes ranging from introductory drawing classes, to Advanced Placement art.

“The arts serve as a vehicle through which I can model character,” said Merritt. “Everybody can. Through art, students are able to see that they can.

“I look forward to the challenge of learning how to connect with all the different personalities.” Merritt said, adding that she hopes to foster creativity in each child.

Lonnie Ledger-WMS
Lonnie Ledger is a Jefferson County native, born in Bartow. He attended The University of Georgia, majored in animal science, and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. Ledger is married to Gail Ledger and they have two children, Kaitlin and Jarrett.

Ledger started looking for a change in careers and decided to become a teacher because of his time spent with young people volunteer coaching for his children’s recreation sports. He began teaching at LMS, and taught there for one and a half years before moving to WMS, where he has been teaching math and some science for the past six years.

“I love having the opportunity to show kids what is out there. Being a positive role model is a lot of pressure—but it’s very fulfilling,” he said.

Ledger takes part in many of the extra curricular activities at Louisville Middle School as the athletic director, assistant coach for the football team and head coach for the soccer team.

Ledger gives credit for being recognized as Teacher of the Year to his fellow colleagues and the administrators of WMS, saying simply “I am a member of a great team.”

He also strives to adhere to his school’s motto, “Whatever it takes,” by stretching himself to full capacity.

Kimberly Martin-LMS
Louisville Middle School’s Teacher of the Year is Kimberly Martin. She majored in political Science at Augusta State, graduated in 2002, and then achieved her masters degree from Walden University.

She worked in the corporate world and was additionally coaching little league sports when she realized that she wanted to be in a position to positively affect young people, and made the switch to teaching seventh grade language arts.

“Even when I wasn’t teaching professionally, I was teaching, as well as learning,” she said. “My ability to admit that no one is perfect and that everybody can teach is what sets me apart from other teachers.

“I allow my students to believe that there is no one right path to success. Just take pride in yourself and what you do.”

Martin, originally from McDuffie County, is married to Bruce Martin and together they have six daughters.

Rachel McTier-LA
Rachel McTier has taught third grade for four years at Louisville Academy. She is a native of Louisville, and graduated from GCSU in 2005 with a degree in early childhood education.

McTier said she has always wanted to be a teacher, cemented by her pre-college experience working in nurseries and participating in the teacher cadet program at JCHS.

She said that she was further influenced by her mother, a teacher, and many other family members who have been involved in the school system.

McTier teaches every subject to her students, but says her favorite subject to teach is math.

“I’m stronger in it, and I think there are so many ways to have fun with learning it,” she said. She uses songs like the “Multiplication Rap” to help her students learn numbers, and takes pleasure in watching them apply her fun techniques throughout the year.

“I’m inspired from bits and pieces of all my past teachers, especially the ones who I felt really enjoyed being there,” McTier said.

McTier said that she tries to add a fresh outlook on teaching, using ideas directly from college, and tries to incorporate technology with her teaching so that her students will be comfortable utilizing it.

Miranda Moore-CES
Carver Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for the 2008-2009 term is Miranda Moore.

Moore graduated from Georgia Southern University with a B.S. in health sciences and later received her teaching certificate from Augusta State. She is a second grade teacher, and though she teaches all subjects, said she enjoys most teaching math.

Moore credits her desire to be a teacher to her first job following college. She worked as a counselor at a youth development center for girls.

“I realized that believing in yourself and striving to do your best in school and life starts at an early age. Children must be encouraged,” she said.

Moore has the philosophy that every student has the ability to learn and be successful.

“As individuals, we require different accommodations to meet our individual needs, and the same concept applies to the classroom,” she said.

Moore’s said that she believes hard work deserves rewards, and said that she tries to make learning fun by applying review games in which the students participate on teams. She also encourages her students to draw pictures, use music, verbalize answers, and collaborate with partners.

“I provide opportunities for my students to see that there are various strategies for completing tasks,” Moore said.

“I love being among children and receiving all the love that they have to give. I enjoy imparting knowledge into their lives, and journeying to different places through reading and writing.”

Moore, a resident of Wadley, was born and raised in Jefferson County. She is married to Harold Moore Jr. and they have two sons, Christian and Caleb.

Moore also participates in Carver’s after-school program and serves on the American Education Week and Test Booster Committee.

Tornadoes confirmed

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Strong storms passing through the area on the evening of April 10 and even later into the night left many citizens wondering if some areas in Jefferson and Glascock counties had suffered the same fate as other areas affected by tornadoes last year.

The National Weather service issued a statement late last week confirming that brief tornados did, in fact, affect areas in Gibson and northern Jefferson County.


“There was isolated damage from a possible brief tornado near Logue Avenue in Gibson,” the report stated.

The report places the damage at midnight on April 11.

“(An) outbuilding destroyed and porch ripped off house,” the report stated. “Four trees (were) down. No damage to surrounding areas.”

The National Weather Service also gave confirmation to the damage suffered around Harts Grove Baptist Church, three miles northeast of Stapleton, around 12:15 a.m. on April 11.

“Likely tornado touched down near Highway 80 and Highway 296 at Harts Grove Baptist Church,” the report said. “Part of roof and brick siding and chimney from church removed. Tipped over several granite headstones in adjacent cemetery. Numerous trees downed along three-quarter mile track east of church.”

Steve Nelson, a science and operations officer with The National Weather Service, said it was not a matter of whether there was an actual tornado now, but a matter of its speed and timing.

“This part of our coverage area was under a tornado warning at the time that this storm struck,” Nelson confirmed. “It was simultaneous as the time tornados were hitting in Americus. We know when it occurred, now we need to estimate wind speed and when it began and ended.”

However, the service was not able to confirm the tornado damage last week because of a lack of knowledge of the storm’s damage to the area. With the help of reports made by the two counties’ emergency directors, the National Weather Service were able to confirm the twisters. Nelson also said that at the time the radar did show rotations in the area.

“Some damage is minor and may have not made the news,” he said. “Sometimes it hits in an unpopulated area (such as the wooded Bethel Church Road area). Now we know more, because we did not have this technology to detect them 10 years ago. The Doplar system resolution has been greatly improved over the past 15 years and we can see things in greater detail than before. We are now issuing more warnings than before. We work on our end a little harder now to see if it is a tornado. We want to show equal treatment to each area.”

Nelson pointed out that some scientists and skeptics attribute changes to the climate and other factors to cause more tornadoes and even hurricanes, but said the number of tornadoes has remained consistent and that the technology used to spot and decipher the storms is much stronger.

Counting on officials and emergency management agencies and even citizens to report sightings of tornadoes and other aggressive weather is key to solving some of nature’s mysteries.

“People can call the sheriff’s offices or a 911 center,” Nelson said. “If there is damage to property, we usually hear about it, but sometimes it doesn’t get through.”

The National Weather Service asks citizens to call 1-866-763-4466 to report severe weather.

“This line is only for severe weather reports,” Nelson said. “This line is recorded, like a monitored voice mail type system. We listen to the reports when they come in, if urgent, then we will pick up the phone and talk to the person. It could be anything, damage, hail or even strong winds enough to blow tree limbs down. If people are out in the country we want every report, though sometimes in big cities it is redundant.”

The reports made by citizens and officials help to issue warnings and the use of the radars as well.

“Just because radar shows rotations, sometimes we don’t get reports,” he said.

Nelson said a team will conduct a brief survey of the area on Wednesday, April 22, to update the National Weather Service’s initial report for the area.

“We come anytime, especially if the media is interested or the emergency manager contacts us,” Nelson said. “We usually wait until daylight so we can make an assessment.”

Looking at the trees that have been uprooted or blown over, structural damage and other factors play a role in deciding if a tornado did in fact touch down. Nelson said they use photos of examples of the damage to determine the speed, path and time frame.

“We then can assign a rating,” he explained. “We can tell the difference between a tornado and anything else. Damage is damage, it doesn’t matter what cause it.”

The normal tornado season continues through the winter and spring months and begins to taper off around the end of May, Nelson said.

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