Lightning strikes bank
By Jared Stepp
A bolt of lightning hit an air-conditioning unit at Queensborough National Bank and Trust branch on Hwy 1 in Louisville on Monday, July 12.
At 1 p.m., customer Mac McMinus was making a payment in the bank’s drive through when he saw smoke coming down from the bank’s ceiling. He said he heard women yelling from inside, prompting him to call Jefferson County 911.
“There was smoke coming down from the ceiling, but there didn’t appear to be any fire,” McMinus said.
The Louisville Fire Department, Louisville Police Department, and Gold Cross E.M.S. all responded immediately.
Lamar Baxley, the Louisville Fire Chief, said the bank was completely evacuated while they were there for an hour and a half. At first it was undetermined what had actually been hit. Further investigation revealed lightning had struck the air handling system on the AC unit, causing large amounts of smoke to pour out. The bank re-opened one and a half hours later.
Pat Darden, human resources director for Queensborough, said the employees went home 30 minutes earlier than usual because of the lack of circulation of the smoke.
“It was overwhelming,” she said. “But it was not completely smoke filled. There was no permanent damage to building but we’re going to have to replace the AC unit.”
She said the employees have since returned to work, using fans to stay cool until a new AC unit can be installed.
Baxley gave advice on the safest way to act during a storm.
“If they have any problems, first of all, they need to notify us. Stay away from electrical appliances and stay indoors, out of the weather.”
Paddling on by
By Jared Stepp
Louisville resident Charles Lewis and his wife Susanne paddled 82 miles on Northeast Georgia’s Broad and Savannah rivers as part of the Georgia River Network’s Paddle Georgia 2010.
The pair participated in different workshops and tours about the wildlife and coastal region of Georgia along with more than 300 other paddlers.
Lewis said this was his sixth time on the trip and was his wife’s fourth. He and his wife used separate canoes and camped inside schools where they stopped at the end of each day.
“Some people camped in tents outside but others stayed in the school. We were usually camping in the schools. First in Emanuel College then in Elbert County High School. The last two nights were in Greenbrier High School.”
A bus system was used to transport the paddlers back to camp. Safety boaters were on the river to help direct the large amount of people. Paddlers stopped after three or four hours to take a quick lunch and then head back to the rapids, amassing 14 to 15 miles per day.
“Generally around six (p.m.) we would take our canoes out,” Lewis said. Evening programs would began when the paddlers got back to the campsites.
“We would have programs about Indian lore, wildlife, rivers, the threatening of endangered species and would have botanist and wildlife specialists,” he said. After the programs, they would turn in at 10 p.m.
According to a Paddle Georgia’s press release, other than canoeing and kayaking, the events included educational programs on the rivers’ cultural and natural history, tours of facilities and historic sites located along the river, nightly games and entertainment, and a research program in which participants helped collect chemical and biological data to give an idea of the current health of the Broad and Savannah to researchers.
Age is not a problem on Paddle Georgia, Lewis said.
“The youngest on the river was 7 years old and the oldest was 80,” Lewis said. “A lot of families do it; younger kids are in canoes with their parents.”
The very first day was Lewis’ favorite.
“There were four sets of rapids the first day, north of the fall line. There’s really pretty rocky terrain. The water was quite cool up there. It was the prettiest paddle day to me,” Lewis said.
He saw many birds and wildlife on the trip, including a bald eagle, but his favorite sight was the foxes.
“There was a mother fox with two kits, the size of a sheltie dog. They were playing along the bank, having a tail-chase,” Lewis said. “Five or six of us would just stop and watch them.
“I would encourage anyone who likes nature and outdoors to give it a try next year. Not a whole lot of people like to get out and do something that involves using muscles. I think it’s a lot of fun to see nature and parts of Georgia they don’t see and never realize how beautiful it is.”
The next Paddle Georgia will be on Oconee River, starting in Athens and going through Milledgeville and Dublin. Lewis said he would absolutely be at the next Paddle Georgia.
The trip serves as a fundraiser for the Georgia River Network and local watershed groups, including the Broad River Watershed Association and Savannah Riverkeeper. For more information on Paddle Georgia, visit www.garivers.org.
Polls will be open on Tuesday election
By Carol McLeod
A general primary election has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 20. Qualifying ended in April.
The Jefferson County commission seats available are those in District Three and District One.
In the District Three race, Charles “Wayne” Davis and David Hastings have qualified. District One’s current commissioner, Gonice Davis, is the only person who qualified for that race.
A total of 14 people qualified for the governor’s job. The republican candidates are Jeff Chapman, Nathan Deal, Karen Handel, Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, John Oxendine and Otis Putnam. The democratic candidates are Thurbert Baker, Roy Barnes, Bill Bolton, Carl Camon, Randal Mangham, DuBose Porter and David Poythress.
In the lieutenant governor’s primary, the republican candidate is L.S. “Casey” Cagle, the incumbent. The democrats are Tricia Carpenter McCracken and Carol Porter.
In the race for US senator, there is no republican opponent for the incumbent, Johnny Isakson. The democratic candidates are R.J. Hadley and Michael “Mike” Thurmond, the current commissioner of labor.
Brian Kemp, who was appointed secretary of state, was sworn into office in January. He was appointed when the previous secretary, Karen Handle, resigned. Handle is running for governor.
Kemp has qualified for secretary of state and will face only one republican opponent in the primary, Doug MacGinnitie.
There are five democratic candidates, Gail Buckner, Gary Horlacher, Michael Mills, Angela “Miss Angela” Moore and Georganna Sinkfield.
In the race for attorney general, the republican candidates are Sam Olens, Preston W. Smith and Max Wood. The democratic candidates are Ken Hodges and Rob Teilhet. The incumbent, Thurbert Baker, is running for governor.
For state school superintendent, the republican candidates are John D. Barge and Richard Woods. The democrats in this race are Beth Farokhi, Joe Martin and Brian Westlake. The incumbent, Kathy Cox, had qualified but has since officially withdrawn, said the county’s registrar, Chandrel Evans.
Evans said she had received an email notifying her of Cox’s withdrawal Wednesday, June 2.
Nine republicans qualified for the position of insurance commissioner. They are Dennis Cain, Rick Collum, Seth Harp, Ralph T. Hudgens, Tom Knox, John Mamalakis, Stephen Dale Northington, Gerry Purcell and Maria Sheffield. The democratic candidate is Mary Squires. The incumbent, John Oxendine, has qualified as a gubernatorial candidate.
In the race for the commissioner of agriculture, Gary Black and Darwin Carter, both republicans, qualified. The only democrat to qualify was J.B. Powell.
Two republicans, Mark Butler and Melvin Everson, have qualified in the commissioner of labor race. The democrats who qualified are Terry Coleman and Darryl Hicks.
In the race for the member seat on the public service commission, republican qualifiers are B. Joseph “Joey” Brush, John Douglas, Tim Echols and Jeff May. The only democratic to qualify is Keith Moffett. This position will be for the District 2 seat.
In the race for the U.S. representative for District 12, four republicans and two democrats have qualified. The republicans are Michael Horner, Raymond McKinney, Jeanne Seaver and Carl Smith. The democrats in this race are John Barrow, the incumbent, and Regina D. Thomas.
Republican Jesse Stone is the only qualifier for the seat of state senator of District 23.
Only one candidate qualified in the race for state representative for District 142. He is Mack Jackson, the incumbent.
Jefferson County Administrator Paul Bryan said Monday, June 7, he had received notification that day from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division stating the office had no objections to the SPLOST. This will be on the ballot for the July election at that time.
The primary will decide which democrat and which republican will face each other in the general election in November.
Officials review benefits of SPLOST
By Carol McLeod
As Jefferson County voters decide to pass or defeat the Special Projects Local Option Sales Tax referendum, the current SPLOST nears its end.
Although revenue from this SPLOST has fallen short of expectations, the funds have allowed the county and its cities to purchase needed vehicles and equipment for the fire departments as well as recreation facilities and equipment.
Avera City Clerk Amy Hadden said the city has a new playground at the park, repaired the walking track, replaced old swings, repainted the metal swing sets and seesaws and installed some signs that list rules and regulations of the park.
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“A new fence was installed around the new playground area. Some picnic tables were bought,” she said, adding the park has a new basketball goal, two new picnic tables and a bench.
“The council has stated they want to wait until the end of the SPLOST to see where the money can be best spent,” Hadden said.
Tommy Sheppard, the city’s mayor, is also the assistant chief for the city’s fire department.
“The SPLOST helped Avera to be able to afford the playground equipment for the recreation area. Otherwise, we would have never been able to get that. We did a lot of repair to our old equipment for the older kids. We also used some SPLOST money for some much needed improvements to our old equipment,” Sheppard said.
A volunteer with the fire department for more than 30 years, he said the fire trucks are a major asset.
“The fire department has benefited tremendously from the purchase of the new tanker and engine in providing us with better fire protection to our citizens and fire district,” he said.
Bartow’s City Manager Susan Scarboro said the city has as yet spent SPLOST money only on the design of a new park.
“We’re going to use land already belonging to the city,” she said. The fire department used SPLOST funds to purchase a pumper and a tanker.
“It’s meant an awful lot to our fire department,” said Billy Neal, a Bartow city councilman and the city’s fire chief.
“We got a lot of equipment. We got a pumper and a tanker and we also got the money for the park, which we haven’t completed yet,” he said.
“We wouldn’t have got anything for the fire department because the town couldn’t afford it and the county sure couldn’t. It just helped out the city of Bartow 100 percent,” Neal said.
“The new one, if it passes, will go to the water and sewer system; we just have some lines that break sometimes that lose a lot of water. It just helps out all the way around,” he said.
“One of the main things that happened, we got some money for recreation that was spent for playground equipment at Helen Clark Memorial Park,” said Don Rhodes, Louisville’s city administrator.
“I think that’s meant a lot to the citizens of Louisville and the surrounding area. The other things that the funds were used for was to buy two new fire trucks, which have greatly benefited our fire department. The last time the city of Louisville was able to get a new fire truck was in 1976 or somewhere around there and that fire truck was funded by revenue sharing.”
Paul Beckworth, Stapleton’s mayor pro tem, said SPLOST has really helped the community.
“As a whole, it’s meant a lot to us. It’s let us acquire a new city hall. That’s how we bought and paid for it,” he said.
Beckworth said the new city hall is more becoming than the previous one and is better for the town and citizens, adding there is more room for meetings.
“It’s helped us with our park. It helped us maintain and acquire some things. It’s been a blessing for a small town that’s been strapped for funds. It’s helped us acquire equipment that the town has desperately needed over the years. It’s a fair tax that everyone pays; even people coming in from other areas pay it,” he said.
Tony Kelly, Stapleton’s fire chief, said the city used SPLOST funds to buy a tanker that holds 3,000 gallons of water and one fire engine.
“Our last new (vehicle) was in 1969. So we didn’t have anything really reliable,” he said. “We’ve got them fully equipped. So we have equipment we never had before. Having that 3,000 gallons of water has really helped. We just had an ISO inspection and thanks to this equipment we’re hoping the city’s ISO rating is going to go down. If that rating goes down, it will help property owners lower their fire insurance,” Kelly said.
Wadley City Clerk Sallie Adams said the city still has some funds for recreation and is in the process of taking bids for the gym.
“We rehabbed the dugout and the concession stand,” she said.
Wadley Mayor Herman Baker said the city also has built a walking track, has a new score clock at the baseball field, put in a press box in the park and the football field and bought a commercial lawn mower.
Baker said the city is in the process of rebidding the tennis courts, as well. He said the current SPLOST was tremendous.
“It saved us,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything without it.”
Wrens City Administrator Arty Thrift and Wrens Mayor Lester Hadden both said the current SPLOST has helped the city.
“We constructed a recreation facility where the Family Y is. We purchased two new fire trucks for the fire department,” Thrift said. The mayor said the city has a brand new gym that is 22,000 square feet, a new football field, soccer field and baseball field. The SPLOST funds were spent on the building, Thrift said.
Hadden said the city sold property where the recreation department had been and used that for the ball fields and fence.
Jefferson County Administrator Paul Bryan said the two fire and emergency response vehicles each community bought with SPLOST funds provides a much needed service throughout the entire county.
“This would not have been possible without the SPLOST,” he said.
“The money for economic development has provided the ability to purchase land for the development of an industrial park. The purchase of this land is being enhanced by the construction of a spec building and the infrastructure of water to this facility. We now have a marketable park adjoining the rail system that we did not previously have,” Bryan said.
Lamar Baxley, the chief of the Louisville Fire Department as well as the county’s Emergency Management Agency director, said it would be a plus for the 1-percent sales tax to continue.
“If we don’t get this passed, we’re not going to be able to progress and grow,” he said of the referendum.