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July 16, 2009 Issue

Arson attempted at courthouse
Current probate clerk elected judge
Michael Lewis Day proclaimed
Teens face felony charges

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Arson attempted at courthouse

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Investigators say two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Louisville sometime between close of business Friday, July 10, and when the courthouse opened Monday, July 13.

Although, the devices started a fire, the fire burned only a small amount of ground and caused minimal damage, investigators said.

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“We are working with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Louisville Police Department,” Wayne Whitaker, a spokesman for Georgia’s Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, said Tuesday.

Whitaker would not release additional information as the case is still being investigated.

A source close to the investigation said by the time officials were notified Monday and had arrived on the scene, the fire had been out some time.

“It was completely cooled off,” the source said.

“First degree arson is a felony and I imagine that is what they’re going to call this,” Whitaker said.

The spokesman said there is an arson hotline where anyone with information may call.

“Callers can choose to remain anonymous,” he said. “Rewards are given of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an arsonist.”

Jefferson County Administrator Paul Bryan said his office would ensure all county buildings are properly lit at night and would be asking for more frequent patrols of the area.

The number to the arson hotline is 1-800-282-5804.



Current probate clerk elected judge

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Asholyn Lampp of Bartow, the current Chief Deputy Clerk of the Probate Court, has won the seat for probate judge in a runoff Tuesday, July 14, against Marnique Oliver of Louisville, a lawyer and partner in private practice.

The race, which was close in at least two precincts and split down the middle in one, resulted in 1,514 votes or 56.43 percent for Lampp and 1,169 votes or 43.57 percent for Oliver.

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Of the 581 absentee, early and advance votes, 427 were for Lampp and 154 were for Oliver. In Avera, 86 votes went to Lampp and nine went to Oliver. Bartow’s voters split down the middle. Of the 142 people who voted, 71 or half went to each candidate.

In Louisville, 602 people voted with Lampp receiving 304 votes and Oliver receiving 298.

In Matthews, 76 of the 98 votes went to Lampp while Oliver received 22.

In Stapleton, Lampp received 83 votes. Oliver received 35.

In Stapleton Crossroads, Lampp received 41 votes. Oliver received 54.

In Wadley, Lampp received 183 votes. Oliver received 286.

In Wrens, Lampp received 243. Oliver received 240.

According to Chandrel Evans, the county’s registrar, 10,555 citizens were eligible to vote in the runoff. Only 2,683 or about 25.42 percent, voted.

The term of office for probate judge is four years but because the previous judge, Q.L. Bryant, died in office in March, Lampp will fulfill the remainder of his term, which will end Dec. 31, 2012.



Michael Lewis Day proclaimed

By Sabrina Littleton
Intern

Honoring a man Louisville Mayor Rita Culvern called, “a musical genius and a community blessing,” Culvern proclaimed Saturday, July 11, 2009, “Michael L. Lewis Day.”

Lewis, assistant principal at Louisville Academy, has been the music director of the Metro Mass Choir since its beginning 10 years ago.

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Saturday night, the choir presented a concert at Stone Springfield AME Church in Stapleton. During the performance, which also highlighted singer Dorothy Norwood, Deborah Bynes Jones introduced the mayor, whose proclamation surprised Lewis.

Lewis later said he had noticed Culvern prior to the performance.

“I even asked Rita (Culvern), ‘What are you doing here?’ and she said, ‘I go to church, too,’” he said.

“I got teary eyed,” he said of hearing the mayor make the presentation and read the proclamation.

“I didn’t want to cry,” he said.

Culvern opened her remarks Saturday by saying how she felt when Jones asked her to proclaim that day in honor of Lewis.

“I was delighted to comply. Not only is Michael a gift to our community through his musical talent, school leadership and civic spirit, he is my friend,” Culvern said.

The mayor talked about Lewis’ 26 years working in education.

“Michael’s school is less than a half block from my house and my grandchildren are students under his able guidance. It has been my pleasure to observe Michael in his leadership role at Louisville Academy. This is Michael’s professional job and one that he worked toward by advancing his education to the level of Ph.D. He is to be commended for his dedication in overseeing the education of our greatest treasure – our children.

“Michael has never said no to any request this mayor has made of him. He has recently agreed to serve on a city wide committee to assist our police department in facilitating a large grant to improve their technology.

“It is my pleasure to now read to you the proclamation officially proclaiming this ‘Michael L. Lewis Day.’”

While keeping her efforts a secret, Jones managed to compile a yearbook of the Metro Mass Choir that spans its 10-year history as well as a CD containing a history of Lewis’ life.

After reading her proclamation, Culvern presented it, the yearbook and the CD to Lewis.

“Michael you have touched hundreds of lives through your music – both in instrument and voice – not all the members of the choir past and present could provide pictures, but they all send their love to you on this special day. This book exemplifies the focus of the choir: praise of God; fellowship; diverse membership that crosses lines across the entire CSRA. And last of all it is my pleasure to present this CD to you that is really a history of Michael Lewis’ life as an individual, a son, a teacher, a school administrator, a musical genius and a community blessing. Thank you, Michael, for all you do for us and congratulations on your special day,” Culvern said.

Lewis has been teaching at East Georgia College for about 10 years, having taught at Georgia Military College before that. He also served as a church choir director in Richmond County before moving back to Jefferson County.

“I knew Deborah (Jones) was planning something,” Lewis said. Jones had asked every member of the 100 people in the Metro Mass Choir for a picture for the yearbook but would not say why she wanted them.

Lewis has said he will continue with the choir but this will probably be the last year they ask a professional recording artist to perform during the summer concert.

The choir usually has two events, its summer concert and a performance during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. program.

Although Lewis had been in charge of the music for the King program before, the choir has been performing during that program for about six or seven years, Lewis said.

Lewis said his involvement in the choir has been for the people who come to listen.

“I do it for the community,” he said.

“People said they’re so thankful,” he said about not charging admission to the choir’s performances, adding that there are people who want to attend the performance but would not be able to afford to pay a fee.

“I might be cheating somebody out of a blessing,” he said.

Lewis said he lives his life trying to help others and mentioned a hymn, “If I can help somebody.”

The lyrics include, “If I can help somebody, as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody, with a word or song, if I can show somebody, how they’re traveling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain.”

“I think about that hymn all the time,” Lewis said.



Teens face felony charges

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Five teenagers face felony charges after entering an auto to steal two purses containing money and other items.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Clark Hiebert reported that five black males ranging from 14 to 17 years of age were arrested and charged in an incident involving a theft from a local church youth night on Saturday, June 27.

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“The church was having a program for the young people,” Hiebert explained. “They were showing movies and giving them something to eat.”

Hiebert said it was reported that the five males came to the church event, received something to eat and then began to walk around the vehicles in the parking lot.

“Two of them took the pocketbooks from the vehicle, while the others looked in vehicles for other items,” Hiebert said.

The victim reported that two pocketbooks were stolen from her 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan that contained a Nintendo game system, $750 in cash, six credit cards with limits of $1,000 or more, a banking savings book, six gift cards varying in value from $25 to $50, two nursing licenses, social security cards, health cards and a license.

Hiebert said the credit card theft alone would count for five felonies, since the value of the credit cards was over $1,000. Entering an auto is also a felony, and stealing any money valued at $500 or more is a felony.

“Three witnesses saw the young men and gave the deputies all five names,” Hiebert said. “The witnesses said they saw all five running shortly after taking the pocketbooks out of the vehicle.”

The victim told the investigators that she had gone to her van prior to the theft and did not lock the van.

Hiebert said they received a break in the case when Lt. Carl Gibbons with the Louisville Police Department contacted him on June 29 to inform him that four of the teenagers had been arrested for stealing from Another Fashion, previously the Papa’s Pizza building.

“Lt. Gibbons said that one purchased an outfit with a $100 bill, while another stole clothes and ran out of the store,” Hiebert noted. “The owners called the Police Department and all four were apprehended. Another one had a $100, $10, $5 and $1 bill in his pocket. He then said that they may have been involved in the theft on June 27.”

The names of the teens matched those that were given on the June 27 theft and all four were transported to the Jefferson County Jail.

“That evening, Freddy Hill and I interviewed the four,” Hiebert said. “At first all four denied any knowledge to do with the theft from the vehicle. But after continued interrogation, one admitted to being a part of it.”

One of the four took officers to where he said the items were thrown after the theft, at first it was the wrong location, but Hiebert said the teen later took Deputy Hill and Deputy Michael Dallas to another spot where the two pocketbooks, four credit cards and numerous other items were recovered.

It was later learned that the money spent and recovered on June 29 were in fact the same money stolen from one of the pocketbooks.

Willie Reese IV had possession of one of the bills and one juvenile had possession. Reese IV and three juveniles were brought in for the Another Fashion theft.

After looking at the teenagers’ residences, no other items were recovered. Still missing are two credit cards, $500, the Nintendo system and three games.

Hiebert said Reese IV, Johnny Reese Jr. and three juveniles, all of Louisville, were charged in the June 27 theft. Reese Jr., who was arrested on July 1, and one of the juveniles were arrested and charged in the theft of the purses along with seven other felonies. Reese IV and the other two juveniles were arrested and charged with seven felony counts of theft and party to a crime.

Reese IV and the juveniles were also charged by the city in the Another Fashion theft.

Reese IV and one juvenile were charged with five counts of theft by taking for each credit card, two of the cards had the same account number, one count of theft by taking for the money and one count of entering an auto, which are all felonies.

Reese Jr. and the other two juveniles were all charged with the same offenses but as a party to the crime.

As of last week, both Reese IV and Reese Jr. were still being held at the jail, while one juvenile was still at the Youth Detention Center in Sandersville.

“We are told that some of these same boys are allegedly involved with breaking windows at the bus shop, while some were allegedly involved in numerous other offenses as juveniles,” Hiebert said. “This group has been a problem in our community, primarily in the Wrens Quarters area, but now they are trying to expand their area or looking for things to steal.

“The more we learn about the case, the more charges have been filed which began as early as June 29. We will be bringing additional charges. Their ages range from 14 to 17 years old and some don’t even look to be as old as what they are.”

Hiebert asks the community to contact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at (478) 625-7538 with any other information on the crimes. He also asks that citizens contact the Sheriff’s Office or Police Department if anyone sees them around a residence, vehicle, parking lot or walking late at night.

“They will probably save someone’s property from being stolen,” he said.




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