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April 22, 2010 Issue

Census return rates improve
It’s a Blast
Sheriff urges caution
Washington County coal plant receives final permits

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Census return rates improve

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The Census Bureau announced more people have returned their census forms than in 2000.

As of Friday, April 16, at 5 p.m., the national average of those returns was 69 percent. Georgia’s was 66 percent.

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Jefferson County, whose rates were 45 percent during the last census held in 2000, was at 72 percent.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of Jefferson County for responding to the Census Data collection mail-outs,” the county’s administrator, Paul Bryan, said Monday.

“Everyone has got to remember that only through an accurate census count can we ensure we receive proportionate representation and the funding we are due from state and federal sources,” he said.

Locally, Louisville’s returns were at 74 percent, Wadley’s at 63 percent, Bartow’s at 79 percent, Wrens’ at 69 percent, Stapleton’s at 71 percent and Avera at 75 percent.

Glascock County’s percentage of returns as of Friday was 75 percent, an increase over 2000’s rate of 62 percent.

In Mitchell, returns are at 69 percent. Gibson’s is 76 percent and Edgehill’s is 78 percent.

In nearby counties, Burke County was at 67 percent, Jenkins County was at 62 percent and Washington County was at 68 percent.

Monday, April 19, was the last day that the Question Assistant Centers and the Be Counted sites were open.

The Census Bureau stated a census taker will visit the homes of those who have not returned a form. There could be up to six visits.

For each unsuccessful visit, the census taker will leave a door hanger with a phone number on it for people to call and schedule a visit.

Some citizens have said they have received more than one census form.

Henry Armstrong III, a partnership specialist with the Census Bureau, said Tuesday there is no need for citizens to complete a second form.

“Hold on to the form. You don’t have to fill it out and send it back,” he said, adding that applies to only those people who have already completed and returned a form.

“Give it to the enumerator, if one stops by,” he said. “Show the enumerator that this is my second form or third form.”

Armstrong said there are some areas the bureau has determined to be hard to reach or hard to count areas. In those places, people may receive duplicate forms. If an enumerator has not stopped by before July 1, Armstrong said people may discard duplicate forms.

The bureau has stated every 1 percent increase in the national mail participation rate can save taxpayers $85 million.

“It costs just 42 cents for people to mail back their form compared to $57 for census takers to visit each home,” the bureau stated in a press release.




It’s a Blast

By Jared Stepp
Apprentice

The city of Louisville will hold its fourth annual Buzzard Blast at Helen Clark Memorial Park on Saturday, April 24. Festival admission is free. Admission to hear the Ogeechee River Band at 7:30 p.m. will be $5.

The event will begin with a 5K run, as well as a children’s fun run from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

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Co-chair of the Buzzard Blast Billy Valduga said the 5K is organized by the hospital foundation, whom the Buzzard Blast partnered with in 2008. “They’re really trying to promote wellness,” said Valduga.

Children participating in the fun run can sign up the day of the event.

The winner will receive a T-shirt.

The 5K Road Race will start at Jefferson Hospital and end near the park. Fifty people are currently signed up for the event. Runners can show up the day of the event and run, but will not receive a T-shirt. First place will be awarded for different age brackets.

After the races, vendors will be throughout the park, children will have access to the play area and various entertainers will be performing on the stage. There will also be a visit from the State Fire Marshal’s Fire Safety House.

The children’s inflatable play area will have a double slide, bounce house and obstacle course. An inflatable called The Wrecking Ball will be available for older kids.

Vendors will be selling various food items like funnel cakes, hot dogs, barbecue and ice cream. They will also be selling arts and crafts like artworks, jewelry, homemade pillows.

The Jefferson County High School ROTC Color Guard will perform at 9 a.m., followed by local dance performers at 9:15 a.m., Stephanie’s Dance Explosion at 10:15 a.m., Louisville United Methodist Church band, Risen, at 10:45 a.m., Cross Community Church Band at 11:15 a.m., The Front Porch Blues Band at noon, Christian Comedian Lanny Moody at 1 p.m., The Benny Brinson Gospel Choir at 2 p.m., Wrens Middle School band and JCHS Concert Band at 3 p.m., and a special evening show after the festival closes. At 7:30 p.m. The Ogeechee River Band will perform. Food and beverage will be available at the concert.

“It’s nice to have a place like Helen Clark Park to have an event like this,” Valduga said. “We really get a true community spirit with the involvement of local merchants, talent and people of community volunteering and helping to organize. It also gives us an opportunity to showcase our community to those who live outside of Jefferson County.”

Civilians of Louisville might have noticed decorated buzzards around town the past few weeks.

“We decided to sell wooden buzzards to different businesses in order to generate more awareness,” Valduga said. “Each participating business decorated them with their own business flair and style.”

He spoke with Matt Hodges at Sandersville Technical College, who spoke with David Earl about getting Earl’s students to make plain wooden buzzards. The buzzards will be showcased at the Buzzard Blast. Louisville Mayor Larry Morgan will judge and award first place to one of the businesses’ for its buzzard.

“It’s like the Georgia bulldogs people have displayed around Athens,” Valduga said. He said he hoped it would be a team building thing for the businesses.

Valduga encourages citizens to check out the Buzzard Blast website, www.buzzardblast.com as well as becoming a fan of the Buzzard Blast on Facebook.

He also thanked all the people who worked with him to make the Buzzard Blast possible including Susan Polhill, stage events; Becky Harrison, co chair, Wendy Davis, vendors; Stephanie Hibberts, graphic artist; Laura Wheeler, children’s area; and all other volunteers.

Valduga said money collected at the Buzzard Blast goes to the Louisville Downtown Development Association. All the money is used with matching funds for local businesses and building owners.

Valduga said $10,000 have been raised from the past three years, adding he hopes to see that number continue to increase.



Sheriff urges caution

Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins said Monday that residents throughout the county should be extra cautious because of several recent burglaries in the county.

“We want to alert the people about this and ask that they watch out for each other’s property,” he said.

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Lt. Robert Chalker with the JCSO is investigating the burglaries and said Tuesday the most recent burglary occurred Monday in Stapleton.

“The rest of the burglaries are also in the north end of the county,” Chalker said. “I feel like they’re connected.”

The investigator said the crimes are residential burglaries where a person or persons have broken into homes.

“They are taking guns, electronics; trashing the houses, dumping everything out of drawers, flipping over mattresses,” he said.

Chalker said the burglaries so far have occurred during daylight hours when no one is home.

“Probably, the burglars are knocking on the front door to see if anyone’s home. If someone answers, the burglars probably make up some excuse for coming to the home. They may say they’re lost or need directions somewhere. Something like that,” he said.

“I know that I’ve got four (burglaries) that I feel confident are connected,” he said. “We need to make sure everyone has the serial numbers of your guns and electronics, anything with a serial number on it, they need to have it written down and put it in a secure place, away from where the items are.”

Chalker said people should not hesitate to call law enforcement whenever a suspicious person comes to their home.

“If someone knocks on your door and seems suspicious call your local police station or the sheriff’s office,” he said.

“It doesn’t hurt to call us and let us know. All the police agencies are working together on this, so call your local agency, for anything suspicious or out of order. If there are vehicles at your neighbor’s house that aren’t supposed to be there, call. Get as much information as you can without endangering yourself,” he said.




Washington County coal plant receives final permits

Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division this month issued final permits for Plant Washington, which will be a coal-fired energy plant in Washington County, Power4Georgians announced in a statement.

Several environmental groups have protested the plant in the past and continue to have concerns.

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Chandra Brown with the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, one such organization, said in an email that the group will be reviewing these permits.

Brown said they will be working with Georgians for Smart Energy, independent experts and attorneys at GreenLaw and Southern Environmental Law Center.

“We have 30 days from the time the final permits were issued to file an appeal of the permits,” she stated.

In its statement, Power4Georgians said based on public comments and in accordance with EPD requirements, significant modifications to air and water standards were made to achieve the permits.

The permits issued by EPD for Plant Washington are a Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit for air quality, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for water discharge, a groundwater withdrawal permit, a surface water withdrawal permit and a notice of site suitability for the solid waste handling facility, Power4Georgians stated.

“We made significant and positive changes in our application to make our permits among the very best, if not the best, in the country,” Dean Alford, a spokesman for Power4Georgians stated.

"We responded to suggestions raised with regard to air and water and now have exceptional standards that far exceed the strictest federal regulations for protection of human health and the environment,” he said.

Alford also said Plant Washington’s overall emissions profile will be among the lowest that has ever been proposed for a coal-fired power plant in the United States.

Fall-Line Alliance for a Clean Environment, another group opposed to construction of the plant, had a booth at the Mitchell Springfest held Saturday, April 17.

They handed out literature and spoke with visitors to their booth about the plant.

A sign at the booth read, “Say No to Plant Washington.”

Pat Daniel, a volunteer with FACE, said she’s been involved with the group for about two and a half years.

“We’re just trying to educate people about the harmful effects of coal,” Daniel said.

“The thing that bothers me the most is that only a few from Jefferson County have really gotten involved with this and they’re the ones who will receive more of the pollution than other areas,” she said, adding the pollution from such plants can travel up to 60 miles and the wind from the proposed site usually blows toward Jefferson County.

“We’re not against jobs. We’re concerned about future generations. It’s not about just now,” Schyler Reynolds, the director of FACE, said.




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