Opposition to consolidation stated
By Carol McLeod
In its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Jefferson County Board of Education heard from several citizens about the proposed middle school consolidation, which includes adding a wing to the county’s high school to accommodate seventh and eighth graders. The plan will place sixth graders in the different elementary schools and eliminate the middle schools.
This is one of several ideas the school board is considering in an effort to reduce costs. The county’s school board superintendent, Carl Bethune, has said the recent reductions from state funds as well as a consistent drop in attendance in recent years are the main reasons for this proposal.
The board had set aside time for several citizens to address their concerns about the proposed consolidation. The first to speak was Wrens Mayor Lester Hadden.
After expressing his appreciation to the board and the school system staff for the job they do, Hadden asked Bethune if the consolidation plan was basically for financial reasons. Bethune said it was.
Hadden suggested the board consider a 1-cent sales tax and then said, “We do not need to close our schools.
“People do not build houses where there are no schools.”
Hadden said businesses do not open in areas where there are no schools.
The mayor said the county is too large to close the schools and said when he became mayor of Wrens the city had a $9 million debt.
He said if he’d laid off every city employee, it would not have helped. He asked the board to consider if consolidation would make things better or worse.
Hadden said many citizens shop in WalMart.
“Everybody wants to shop there but WalMart doesn’t want to build a store in Jefferson County, so we go outside the county and spend our money at WalMart,” he said.
“We should spend our money here, for the stores that pay taxes here and hire people to work who live here,” he said. “Let’s spend our money at home.
“Look at your neighbor and see if he’s eating as good as you. Let’s look out for each other.”
Another citizen who addressed the board was Jennifer Chance.
“I am very opposed to consolidating the middle schools,” she said.
“We have been told this is for financial reasons; but, we have not been given any proof that this will improve the financial situation. This is not the best decision for our children,” Chance said.
“I certainly thank y’all for your comments,” said the board’s chairman, Jimmy Fleming.
“I assure you we will give it all the consideration we can,” he said.
The board also approved their consent agenda, which included an off campus request for the JCHS band students to compete at the annual band festival at the University of Georgia in January.
The board approved the financial report for November.
Bethune said currently there is about $4 million in the board’s fund equity.
“We are in good financial condition,” he said.
Bethune presented the nutrition report for the board’s review.
“For the year, we’re doing real well,” he said, adding there are three freezers, which he called big-ticket items, need to be replaced.
The board approved a calendar change, giving students another day for their Christmas holidays. Students return to school on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Bethune told the board he expected more furlough days to be announced by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
The superintendent said the system is down 44 students from where enrollment was this time last year.
“Our numbers are getting smaller,” he said, adding the school system’s overall enrollment has decreased by 800 students in the past 15 years.
Bethune took the opportunity to address one of the issues raised by Mayor Hadden and said 1-cent sales tax cannot be spent for salaries, an area where budget cuts would mean a reduction in teachers and staff.
“That’s the law,” he said. “That’s not a school board decision.”
Bethune also pointed out the school system gets very little money from lottery funds.
“We do not get one red cent for K through 12 from lottery,” he said, adding those funds support pre-K and HOPE scholarships.
Jefferson County’s school system does have pre-K in the schools and gets lottery money for that program but only for pre-K, he said.
The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m.
Gibson woman arrested in Harlem meth bust
By Valerie Rowell
Columbia County Bureau
Seven people were arrested Wednesday after police searched a Harlem-area home and found a methamphetamine lab.
After a month-long investigation, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators searched a home on the 3800 block of Gordon Highway at about 5 p.m. The people involved were selling and making methamphetamine in the home, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
Investigators found products used to make meth inside one of the rooms. The products were secured and removed safely. Prescription drugs and marijuana also were seized.
Gregory Antoney Butts, 38, of Mahala Lane in Harlem; Cassandra Flakes Johnson, 39, Hinton-Wilson Road in Harlem; and Kelly Shavonne Appling, 28, Lincolnton Highway in Thomson, were charged with the manufacturing methamphetamine with intent to distribute; manufacturing/delivering/administering/sale/possession of a controlled substance; and possession of Schedule II, III and IV drugs. Angela Marie Glisson, 41, Max Road in Harlem; Joseph Randall McCorkle, 34, Gordon Highway in Harlem; and Shannon Mae Myrick, 30, Burster Circle, Gibson, were charged with two counts of manufacturing/delivering/administering/sale/possession of a controlled substance, and possession of marijuana and Schedule II, III and IV drugs. All are being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond, according to jail records.
Anthony Franklin Bazemore, 28, Wildlife Court in Grovetown, was charged with possession of marijuana and was being held Dec. 10 on a $1,600 bond, according to jail records.
Louisville on parade....
The Louisville Lions Club held its annual Christmas parade in downtown this past Saturday. Residents lined the downtown streets, braving chilly winds and drizzling rain to take part in the holiday festivities.
Rachels retires as chief appraiser
By Sabrina Littleton
After 33 years of service, Jefferson County Chief Appraiser George Rachels is retiring the first week of January.
Rachels is responsible for office work and producing a tax digest for the office’s field work, he said. This digest is a compilation of all property in Jefferson County.
When state laws change, the tax assessment office must adapt to the new laws, Rachels said.
This page has been accessed times.
Rachels has also served on the county’s board of tax assessors, which is an appointed position. Rachels was first appointed to the board of assessors in 1977 and became certified in 1978. In anticipation of his retirement, Rachels was not reappointed when his last term expired, said Paul Bryan, the county’s administrator.
The current chairman is Dr. Curtis Hunter, who is also an assistant superintendent with the county’s board of education.
Rachels graduated from Wadley High School in 1955 and opened Rachels Machine & Fabrication in Wadley in 1962.
Rachels and his wife, Sue, have four sons, Vic and Charles of Wadley, George of Bartow and Bryan of Grovetown. They have a daughter, Sarah Beth, who lives in New York.
Vic, Charles and George now operate Rachels Machine & Fabrication.
“They took over when I came into the assessors office,” Rachels said.
Rachels plans to travel during his retirement.
Rachels and his wife, Sue, will have their 50th wedding anniversary in March. They plan to go to Australia and New Zealand, he said.