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August 6, 2009 Issue

Former Forstmann employees sought
Jefferson County students return to class next week
Back to Class
Sheriff’s office warns of thefts

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Former Forstmann employees sought

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writers

A Savannah law firm is hoping to help former workers of Forstmann with any health problems they may have been afflicted with during their time of employment at the plant.

Forstmann closed in 1999, but some former workers and their family and friends have told The Eichholz Law Firm, P.C. of health problems they suffer because of their employment at the former textile finishing plant.

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Benjamin Eichholz of the firm said they are currently taking claims based on the diagnosis of asbestosis or mesotheleoma.

“We have two or three from Fortsmann that are clients,” Eichholz confirmed. “We will be making claims on behalf of those.

“If you are suffering from an asbestos related disease such as asbestosis or mesotheleoma then you should consult an attorney to determine whether you may be entitled to compensation.”

Eichholz explained that once the clients have a definitive diagnosis and documentation of their employment, a claim will be filed against Fortsmann.

Originally home to a broadcloth manufacturing facility and then a textile finishing plant, the 400-acre tract is equipped with 146,000 square feet of industrial space that was constructed in 1962 and run by J. P. Stevens. The $4.5 million waste water treatment facility, constructed on the site by J.P. Stevens in 1983, exceeds the capacity of all of Jefferson County’s water treatment systems combined at a daily capacity of 4 million gallons.

Forstmann & Company purchased the plant in 1985 and operated it until January 1999 when the company closed it, filing for bankruptcy later in the year. Flint Logistics purchased the property in 2001 for $202,000.

Over the years, the discovery of asbestos in the facility in addition to water and soil contamination has earned the Forstmann site a place on the Hazardous Site Inventory (HSI).

Flint Logistics said before that the property had received more than $1 million in environmental remediation.

Flint’s efforts to correct the site’s problems include having all asbestos containing material (ACM) removed from the plant and installing four new test wells. More than 100 tons of soil has also been taken from the site to a hazardous waste landfill after Westberry claims silos containing lint from Forstmann’s wool-dying process began leaking rain water that had mixed with the lint.

A study of the plant found significant amounts of confirmed and suspected ACM in floor tiles, roof insulation, corrugated exterior siding and insulation on pipes and boilers throughout the plant.

Former Louisville resident Richard Sellars said back in 2001 that he worked at the plant, initially operated by J.P Stevens and later by Forstmann. He said he worked in the shipping/receiving department and as a laborer from 1972 until 1990. Sellars was diagnosed in 2000 as having asbestosis.

Those wishing to file a claim against Forstmann may do so by calling the Eichholz Law Firm, P.C. at (800) 665-2131.



Jefferson County students return to class next week

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Jefferson County public and private students will return to the classroom next week for another year filled with learning and new experiences.

The Jefferson County Public School System will resume classes on Monday, Aug. 10, while private school Thomas Jefferson Academy’s first day will be Tuesday, Aug. 11.

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Jefferson County public schools

The Jefferson County School System has a projected enrollment of 3,096 students who will attend the six schools in the county. Carver Elementary expects 306, Louisville Academy 574, Wrens Elementary 612, Louisville Middle 343, Wrens Middle 288 and Jefferson County High School 973. The schools will also welcome a total 476 faculty and staff.

Open house will be held at all schools in the system on Thursday, Aug. 6 from 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

While preparing for the upcoming school year, Jefferson County Board of Education Superintendent Carl Bethune said each new school year they are preparing students for the future.

“We are working hard to prepare our students for readiness in life after high school in an ever changing society and economy,” Bethune said. “Our objective is to graduate students ready for any postsecondary option. Jefferson County students are facing a whole new set of challenges with changing economics, science and technology, health and security issues and demographics. To meet the challenge of global competence for our students, our school system is dedicated to ensuring excellence in our instructional programs.”

Bethune pointed out that while for the past four years, math has been a focus in grades six through 12, now they are including grades three through five as well because of the new Georgia Performance Standards.

“Skills are no longer taught in isolation, and teachers are expected to encourage students to reason mathematically, to evaluate mathematical arguments, both formally and informally,” Bethune explained. “They are expected to use the language of mathematics to communicate ideas and information precisely and to make connections among mathematical topics and to other disciplines.”

Because of this, Bethune said that all six schools are now offering math support classes.

“Students will have support classes which offer remedial or enrichment depending on the needs of each student,” he said. “Even though we find ourselves in very difficult financial times, we must not lose sight of the vision of our school system. We cannot compromise what is needed to make our students postsecondary ready. They must be prepared for a global, technological workplace. It is critical that we keep communication open and ongoing with our community in this effort.”

Thomas Jefferson Academy

Thomas Jefferson Academy expects 230 students to return to their campus this year. Students will be released at noon on the first day, Aug. 11, but school will resume its regular schedule on Wednesday, Aug. 12. School begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 2:35 p.m.

Open house will be held on Friday, Aug. 7, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for all grades and pre-K classes. All parents and students are encouraged to attend.

Changes that returning students, faculty and staff will see include Assistant Headmistress Cathy Tiner, who is also the school’s counselor, and the beginning of a K-3 program.

School officials said that the K-3 program is for children who will turn 3 years old after Oct. 1.

“We are changing our curriculum by upgrading what we have,” a school official said.

Some computer classes are being moved down to lower grades to help high school students meet the stringent graduation requirements.

“We are trying to push some of the high school classes into the middle school, so it just kind of trickles down from there,” an official said. “We are doing this to be more aggressive with our students’ education.”

Also kindergarten will have a new reading series, with some of the former kindergarten material moving down into K-4 and K-4 material moving into K-3.

Thomas Jefferson is still accepting applications for programs, while only 25 students are allowed in each class, all classes have yet to be filled, but some are close.

For more information, contact the school at (478) 625-8861.



Back to Class

Glascock County kindergarten teacher Jenna Kitchens helps her new students on the first day of school. Students in Glascock County returned to school on Monday, Aug. 3. Jefferson County schools begin next week.

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Sheriff’s office warns of thefts

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

An investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office warns citizens to take precautions about leaving items in their yards.

“Over the last three months we’ve had a rash of thefts involving four-wheelers or ATVs, lawn mowers, utility trailers, things of that nature, from people’s yards in the middle of the night,” he said.

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Lt. Robert Chalker, the investigator, said most of these thefts have happened while people are home asleep and have occurred all over the county.

Chalker said he is personally investigating about nine cases.

One of the difficulties, Chalker said, is that although four-wheelers have vehicle identification numbers, those numbers are not tracked the way the VINs on automobiles are.

“They’re hard to recover because you don’t have tags; you don’t have titles; you don’t have the yearly government maintenance things like you would have with a car,” he said.

The VINs on four-wheelers aren’t registered with any government agency and therefore aren’t reregistered the way cars and trucks are.

“They don’t get scrutinized by an agency,” Chalker said.

If the owner has a record of the VIN on a stolen four-wheeler, that number is entered into a computer database so if an officer has reason to check a four-wheeler’s VIN, that number will identify the four-wheeler as stolen, he said.

Chalker said VINs are checked only if an officer has a reason to suspect the vehicle may be stolen.

“We can’t just go into someone’s yard and start checking the VINs on their four-wheeler,” Chalker said. “We have to have probable cause or permission.”

Chalker said the law makes allowances for people who buy property without realizing it’s stolen; however, a buyer could face charges if he should have known the property was stolen.

“There are people out there who are buying stolen property. There are people who’re buying these stolen four-wheelers, lawn mowers and trailers. And they are buying these items at very good prices or they probably wouldn’t be buying them. They’re buying a $6,000 four-wheeler for $1,000, which is a very good deal – if it isn’t stolen,” Chalker said.

The investigator said in the past people who have bought stolen property haven’t always been charged.

“As long as the person who bought stolen property cooperated with us and gave the property back we have not charged that person with receiving stolen property. But now it’s getting out of hand.

“If you buy stolen property that you knew or should have known was stolen, then you are going to be charged with theft by receiving stolen property,” he said.

“That’s very important because that’s what the law says. You either know or you should have known it was stolen,” Chalker said.

He stressed that buyers do not have to know the item has been stolen. If the buyer should have realized the item might have been stolen, the buyer can be prosecuted for receiving stolen property, he said.

“That’s the only deterrent available to keep people from stealing property like this, if there’s not a market available for them to sell it. In other words, if people would quit buying stolen stuff, people would stop stealing stuff,” Chalker said.

The investigator said receiving stolen property that is valued at $500 or more is a felony. A person could serve one to 10 years if convicted and may be assessed a fine.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is people have got to stop buying stolen property,” he said.

“Sooner or later we’re going to catch these people who are stealing these items. Nine times out of 10, they’re going to tell us where they disposed of the items, who they sold the property to or where they disposed of it. When we locate these thieves, who by the way are not geniuses because of the evidence they’re leaving behind, when we catch them, they’re going to tell us where they took the property and who the people were who bought it. If those people knew or should have known the item was stolen, they’re going to be prosecuted. They’re also going to be out of the money they paid for the items,” Chalker said.

The investigator said he thinks most of the incidents are related and have occurred all over Jefferson County.

“It’s happening all over the state. These are hot items, almost untraceable items. There are no databases that regulate ownership,” he said.

Chalker also has advice for owners.

“One thing that people do not realize is that normally their homeowners’ insurance does not cover an ATV that is stolen out of their yard. Most people think that it is. So everybody who owns an ATV needs to check with their insurance agent to see if these items are covered by their current policy. Most of the time, they are not.

“Keep a record of the ATV’s VIN and have it readily available. Take photographs of the item and any marks or changes made that make it look different from another one just like it. Check on it daily.”

Chalker said some owners ride their ATVs only on the weekends and may keep them in a shed or somewhere not readily observable every day. In those cases, the theft could have occurred days or weeks before it’s discovered.

“Any item someone is suspicious of should contact us immediately. We’ll be glad to come out, get the numbers off of it and check the VIN against the items reported as stolen nationwide,” he said.

Chalker said citizens should call the JCSO at 478-625-7538 or their local police department.

“Any person who has the intent of returning a stolen item to the owner will not be charged. They’ll be in good shape. It’s the ones we have to hunt down who are going to have a bad day. We’re going to start prosecuting people who are buying stolen property, that’s the bottom line,” he said.




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