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March 11, 2010 Issue

Children find stolen firearms
Quality service equals committed customers
Wadley fires police chief, mayor rehires him

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Children find stolen firearms

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

These weapons, some of which were loaded, were initially found by some young, school-age children who were waiting on a school bus, Lt. David McVey, an investigator with the Wadley Police Department, said this week.

McVey said the weapons included a .22-caliber rifle and a .243-caliber rifle and weapons between those ranges. There were also a couple of shot guns, he said.

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“The handgun itself is a replica,” he said. “It’s not a real gun.”

McVey said the children had started playing in a wooded area while they were waiting on their bus. When they discovered the firearms, they told their mother who called the WPD station.

McVey said the weapons were matched with descriptions of weapons stolen from a Wadley residence in January and will be returned to their owner.

The weapons were recovered the morning of Friday, March 5, he said.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” the investigator said about children finding loaded weapons.

“This is a prime example of never knowing what your kids will find,” he said. “Parents should talk to their children; if they ever find a firearm to leave it alone and notify an adult.”

The theft is still under investigation, McVey said.




Quality service equals committed customers

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

As many things change in today’s world, one “mom and pop” store in Gibson has pretty much stayed the same.

Besides the addition of some space and the change of a name, Clover Farm to Kitchens’ Grocery, Don and Geneva Kitchens have continued to serve Glascock County as did his parents, Felts and Sue Kitchens, before him.

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This Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 11-13, the family will celebrate 50 years at the Gibson landmark. Since February 1960, when Don was just a ninth grader, his family has been providing the community with their southern hospitality, customer service and signature meats.

The store did change hands from Felts and Sue, to Don and Geneva. In 1982, after Don and Geneva were married, she said they came back to Gibson to carry on the new family tradition.

One thing that does keep the customers coming back is the stability of knowing that Kitchens has continually served the residents of Glascock County for half a century as other stores have come and gone in Gibson.

“People have been coming here for years,” Geneva said. “Some people still shop here now as their parents did. And many of our older customers appreciate this small business being here in the county.”

With hand cut-to-order meats, Kitchens’ has one of the most talked about meat departments in the area.

“Everything is hand-cut,” Geneva said. “Or you can place a special order if you would like a steak or something to be a certain thickness.”

Customers from nearby Jefferson and Washington counties visit the meat department at the store, as well as a couple, Geneva said, who comes to the store about once a month from North Augusta, S.C., to fill their grocery list.

Geneva also pointed out that the store’s customer base was built without ever selling alcohol or lottery tickets.

“We appreciate our customers,” Geneva said. “If not for our customers, we wouldn’t be here.”

“These years have been a challenge as in every business,” Don said. “But God has always provided for us. Also we could not have been there these years without the support of our customers, and we appreciate each one and their continued support.”

Though there are other supermarkets and retailers that offer some of the same things as Kitchens’ nearby, they hope customers will be able to enjoy the convenience of location in the future after they retire.

“We are hoping to retire next year,” Don said. “But we hope someone would buy it and continue to run this store here in Gibson.”



Wadley fires police chief, mayor rehires him

Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

After several months of dispute over the city’s police department, Wadley city council voted 3-2 to rehire all the city’s police officers except Police Chief Wesley Lewis and Sgt. Ricky Worman during a council meeting Monday, March 8.

Mayor Herman Baker rehired both men the following day.

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Lewis confirmed the rehiring in an interview Tuesday.

“I’ve been on the job all day,” he said.

The city council, which can overturn the mayor’s hiring and firing decisions, has scheduled a called meeting for Thursday, March 11, at 4 p.m. at city hall. This meeting is open to the public.

For years, the city’s policy has been to rehire city employees at the beginning of each calendar year. In January’s meeting, council voted to rehire all employees but defer rehiring the police officers until after city council could meet with them.

During a called meeting last month, council voted 3-2 against rehiring the police officers and Lewis. The mayor then issued an executive order rehiring the officers.

The city’s attorney, John Murphy, who had not been present during the called meeting, said in a later interview the city council could overturn the mayor’s executive order.

In Monday night’s meeting, Murphy said the city’s charter gives the mayor the authority to hire and fire employees with council approval. Citizens packed the city council meeting room, some having to stand outside in the hallway.

Councilman Albert Samples made a motion to overturn the mayor’s order. The motion was seconded and passed 3-2, with Samples and council members Dorothy Strowbridge and Izell Mack voting for the motion.

Council members Edie Pundt and John Maye voted against the motion.

“So, tomorrow, we don’t have a police department,” said one of the citizens present at the meeting.

Samples said that was not the intent of the motion.

“Unless you all rehire the police tomorrow, you’ll leave the city unprotected,” Murphy advised the council.

Murphy and Samples discussed the issue further, with Murphy asking Samples if he wanted to ask that his motion be reconsidered.

Samples asked to amend the motion to rehire everyone but Lewis and Worman. The motion was seconded and passed by Samples, Mack and Strowbridge, with Pundt and Maye voting against the motion.

The meeting had begun with a discussion over approval of the minutes from the last meeting.

Samples said there was an error in the minutes. A notation had been made that indicated the mayor vetoed the vote against rehiring the police department during last month’s called meeting.

A correction was made but Samples, Strowbridge and Mack refused to approve the amended minutes.

“State law requires you have minutes,” Murphy said.

After a brief discussion between Strowbridge and Murphy, Samples said, “We’ll do the minutes later, too.”

The minutes were approved later in the meeting without further amendments.

Several citizens had asked to speak during the council meeting.

One citizen said he had come to the mayor several times and was met with arrogance.

“I think the honorable thing for you to do, Mr. Mayor, is to resign,” the citizen said.

Another citizen said he had asked to see some city documents and said he discovered there were two council members who were behind on their taxes.

He said Strowbridge owed $3,800 and was four years behind. Samples, he said owed $300 in taxes and that was five years behind.

The citizen also said Samples had a UDAG debt of $17,000 since July, 2000, that had not been repaid.

Urban Development Action Grants are made to eligible cities who then make low interest loans to area businesses.

Strowbridge said she had not known for sometime about her debt.

“My husband was responsible for paying that,” she said, adding she had already made arrangement to pay it.

Samples responded by saying he was not going to discuss the issue.

“I don’t have to answer to you,” he said.

A third citizen who spoke addressed the question of the mayor’s integrity, adding she had worked with the mayor and he is a good man.

“Anybody with any sense knows what’s going on,” she said.

She said the police force is the best police force the city has ever had.

Then she addressed the issue of council members disagreeing over the city’s charter and having to address issues with the city’s attorney.

“You sit here and do not know the charter,” she said. “You should know the rules and regulations of this town.”

Another citizen asked about his request for a business license.

“That’s been settled,” the mayor said, adding there had to be a change in the zoning in order for the man to have a business in the location he wants.

Samples said there was a new law that allows business and residential zones to integrate.

He made a motion, seconded by Mack, to provide the man with a license the next day.

“I don’t think you can do that,” Pundt said. “You have to have a hearing.”

“Each city has to abide by its own zoning,” Murphy said. “I’ll be glad to reconsider it. You can entertain a motion to rezone.”

“We went through this last year,” the mayor said.

“Let us know what we have to do,” Pundt said to Murphy.

In other news, the council approved paving Bell Street, the Georgia Client Council adopting Martin Luther King Boulevard, a SPLOST budget for 2011, Georgia Cities Week Resolution for April 18 through April 21 and April 21 as Clean-up Day. They also discussed a Red Flag Policy and listened to an update on the oxidation pond.

City Clerk Sallie Adams said the Georgia Client Council, a non-profit agency, would need permission from the city to adopt MLK Boulevard and this is something they do in other cities. After approval, the agency would be eligible to apply for grants to help maintain the street.

The current Special Projects Local Option Sales Tax expires this year. In order to have a referendum prepared and approved in time to be held in July, the specifics have to be approved by the state this month.

The city’s request in order will be for infrastructure, recreation, city hall, police department and development.

The Red Flag Policy is a requirement by the Federal Trade Commission to help protect private information of citizens, Murphy said. Copies were to be made for each council member to study and vote on at the next meeting.

The mayor told council the city is working with the EPD to address concerns they have regarding the city’s oxidation pond.

“I met with EPD in Augusta,” Baker said. “So they’re working with us.”

The next regular meeting of Wadley’s city council is scheduled for Monday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. at city hall.




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