SPLOST meeting Thursday
By Carol McLeod
The current SPLOST for Jefferson County ends in 2010.
Funds raised from the 1-cent sales tax have been used by the county and each of the five cities in the county to purchase fire trucks and recreation equipment for the community.
Elected officials with the cities and county are scheduled to meet in Louisville Thursday, Sept. 24 at the Library in Louisville at 6 p.m., to discuss having a referendum for a SPLOST beginning in 2011.
Although the meeting will be open to the public, officials have said there will not be time allotted for public input.
Paul Bryan, the county’s administrator, said the meeting will be to provide information about the SPLOST process to the officials.
The current SPLOST has allowed the county and cities to purchase recreation equipment as well as fire trucks.
Avera Mayor Tommy Sheppard said the fire trucks his city was able to purchase with SPLOST funds helped everyone in the city’s fire district.
Sheppard said there would have been no way the city would have been able to buy playground equipment for the city’s park.
“We couldn’t have done it,” he said.
In Bartow, the council has not finalized plans for their recreation area but the funds allocated for that purpose are in a savings account drawing interest, a city official said.
“Without this money, we would not be able to even consider building a recreation area,” the official said. “At the end of everything, it’s supposed to be $183,000. As of June 1, we’ve collected $128,000. There’s no way we would have had that kind of money otherwise.”
An official in Louisville feels the same.
“I think it’s very important,” he said about the SPLOSTs. “Especially in looking at some of the capital needs for the cities and the county. I think it’s going to be more important in years to come because of the cuts in the state budget and the money coming from the federal government, too.”
Edie Pundt, the mayor pro tem of Wadley, said she thinks SPLOST is a fair way for cities and counties to raise needed money.
“It’s one of the various ways of getting (things) paid for, through the 1 cents, because everybody that uses it pays for it. That’s a very small amount of money for each person, rather than having a tax. It’s a wonderful way to get things done that we need to get done. For instance, the recreation for the young folks. The cities individually couldn’t pay for that if it weren’t for the SPLOST. Cities are having a hard time. That’s a fair and equitable way for us to get things done for the county and the city,” she said.
Pundt said everyone who passes through the area and buys gas or something to eat contributes to the SPLOST.
“I think the fire department, the fire trucks, that was just a wonderful thing to spend the money on,” she said.
“The recreation department, as far as that’s concerned, we could not renovate the gym or do the things that are necessary there without the SPLOST money,” she said.
The meeting Thursday will be held to lay the groundwork for an upcoming SPLOST, the official with Louisville said.
“There’s a process you need to go through. There has to be a hearing but the county and the cities need to discuss everything. That way, when they do have a public hearing, they can answer any questions or address any concerns from the public about the upcoming SPLOST and what it will do for them,” he said.
“This is an upcoming SPLOST that will be on the referendum next year, 2010, and then it will go into effect 2011. You start early on this because you have to have so many public hearings. It’s done by referendum. Everything that’s going to be included in the SPLOST has to be on the referendum. The county is having this meeting so the cities can discuss their needs.
“You have to have a plan first. So when you do have the public hearings you have something to present to the public. I’m glad to see them getting everyone together so that everyone will have some input as to what their needs are as far as SPLOST funds,” he said, adding only certain things are allowed to be purchased with SPLOST funds.
“SPLOST proceeds can only be used to fund capital outlay projects – major projects which are of a permanent, long-lived nature such as land and structures,” he said, adding this includes roads, bridges, streets, police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, garbage trucks and other major equipment.
Cry Out America!
Citizens of Glascock and Jefferson counties gathered at their courthouses to remember 9-11 for Cry Out America. Speakers included many government and church officials.
Judge sends Swan’s case to grand jury
By Carol McLeod
A man who shot another man fleeing law enforcement officers faced Superior Court Judge Bobby Reeves in a preliminary hearing Friday, Sept. 18.
Andrew Newton Swan Sr., 56, of Wrens had been charged with aggravated assault in an incident that occurred Saturday, June 27, near Stellaville.
A Jefferson County deputy was patrolling in the area and saw a vehicle illegally passing other motorists, an investigator with the JCSO said at the time.
The driver, 24-year-old Brian Santana Lane of Louisville, did not immediately stop for the deputy and a chase ensued.
The investigator said at the time that the chase lasted about five minutes and speeds reached more than 100 mph.
Lane stopped near the intersection of Quaker Road and Campground Road approximately 3 miles east of Wrens. Lane left his vehicle and ran though a wooded area. The deputy arrived and detained a female passenger who was still in the vehicle, a spokesman with JCSO said.
Swan was tending his livestock near the scene where the vehicle stopped. Swan had heard the siren and saw Lane climb over his fence and run across a pasture.
Swan tried to stop Lane by chasing him with an all-terrain vehicle and firing several warning shots.
A final shot hit Lane causing a wound to the back of the head and an exit wound from the lower jaw.
The JCSO spokesman said at the time the charge was made against Swan because it was not a self-defense issue.
“Swan didn’t know if (Lane) was wanted for traffic offenses or if he was wanted for something else. He didn’t know,” the spokesman said.
Jefferson County District Attorney Hayward Altman said Friday, Sept. 18, said the officer who investigated the incident and the officer who first responded to the scene testified during the hearing.
“Judge Bobby Reeves bound the case over to the grand jury,” Altman said. The grand jury will decide whether the case will go to trial.
Altman said he does not know when Swan’s case will go to the grand jury.
“That will depend on when we get the report from the GBI,” he said.
Payton sentenced to 20 years in shooting
By Carol McLeod
A man charged in a shooting incident that occurred on Dec. 2, 2007, was sentenced Friday, Sept. 18, in Jefferson County Superior Court, the district attorney’s office said last week.
William Henry Payton III was 17 at the time of the shooting and was out on bond on a murder charge in Washington County.
Washington County Sheriff Thomas Smith said at the time of the Jefferson County shooting that there are certain conditions for denying bond and Smith did not meet those conditions.
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Even so, Smith said he opposed Payton’s bond.
“I didn’t think he needed to be on the street,” Smith said at that time.
A condition of Payton’s bond was for him to stay out of Washington County. At the time of the Jefferson County shooting, Payton had been staying with a relative in Wadley.
The Jefferson County victim was shot at least twice at his residence outside Wadley city limits.
Payton was arrested later that day and charged with several crimes, including armed robbery.
Jefferson County District Attorney Hayward Altman said Friday Superior Court Judge Bobby Reeves sentenced Payton to 20 years on the armed robbery charge.
“He’ll have to serve every single day of that 20 years,” Altman said. “In other words, he got 20 years without parole. By statute, he has to serve every single day of that 20 years.
“He got 30 years on the criminal attempt to commit murder. Of that 30 years, it’s 20 years to serve plus 10 on probation, concurrent with that 20 years for the armed robbery.”
Altman said Reeves further sentenced Payton to 20 years for burglary, to be served on probation, 20 years for aggravated assault and five years for possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Some of the sentence will be in prison with the rest spent on probation. Some of the sentence will cover more than one crime.
“The sum total is he’s going to serve 20 years in prison and 35 years on probation,” Altman said, adding no fine was given.
Since Washington County is in the same judicial circuit as Jefferson County, Altman’s office will be handling the murder case against Payton there, Altman said.
The district attorney said the circumstances of that case do not meet the requirements for the death penalty.
“Tony May, the assistant district attorney who handled the case, did an excellent job,” Altman said.