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September 9, 2010 Issue

Wind takes fire into nearby fields
Police warn citizens of vehicle break-ins in Louisville

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Wind takes fire into nearby fields

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

What was supposed to be a controlled burn on Mennonite Church Road Friday afternoon, turned into raging fire, fueled by the windy day.

Hillcrest Fire Department Fire Chief Dave Beachy said at around the same time the controlled burn was lit, wind began to wreak havoc on a cut corn field. The burning began at around 3:20 p.m.


“They were burning residue on a corn field,” Georgia Forestry Commission Ranger Shane Barrow said. “I believe it burned about 84 acres and the permit issued was intended to burn under 100 acres.”

“About the time they lit the controlled burn, the wind came up strong,” Beachy added. “It started another corn field on fire that had recently been cut. With the wind behind it, it became a strong fire.”

Thick gray and black smoke covered Mennonite Church Road as the wind blew the fire across Rowland Road upwards towards the main road. Traffic was rerouted back to Clarks Mill Road and Highway 296 to help motorists reach their destination safely.

Beachy said the Forestry Commission tried to plow a break to stop the fire, but the break was jumped by the fire. Local fire departments sprayed water on the outsides of the fire, but the head of the fire moved towards the main road was harder to stop.

“Another person that was of tremendous help to bring the fire under control, was the farmer’s teenage daughter, Jessica Schneider, who was at home,” Beachy said. “She cranked up the two irrigation pivots to help put out the fire. The head of the fire was so intense and smoky, you couldn’t even see to get to it.”

The fire was called controlled at 4:05 p.m. and most units had left the roadside field by 5:15 p.m.

“People have to call us and let us know that they are burning,” Barrow said of the Forestry Commission’s role in prescribed or controlled burnings. “Anytime season crops start coming off, we begin to get many calls for agriculture burns during the spring and fall. This is not uncommon, as far as that the fire got out hand the other day. It was a high fire danger day and the humidity was low.”

Beachy added that the field that was burned adjacent to the planned burn was not planned on being burned by the farmer.

“They did finish burning the corner off of what we put out,” he said.

Beachy said Fire Departments responding included Hillcrest, Louisville, Avera and Wrens, as well as the Forestry Commission.

“I was right in there when it began, really just a couple of miles away from it,” he said. “As soon as I saw the smoke, I called for more help. There was no way just us and the Forestry Commission could handle it. It took a team effort to bring it under control and I would like to thank all the units that came out to help.”


By Casey Sullivan

Like most environmental non-profit organizations, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper depends on various grants for some of its funding.

The organization received one such grant last year through the State’s GAP (Grants for Artist Projects) Program which gave the Riverkeeper the option of organizing a photo contest.


This idea was in keeping with the goals and mission of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, “To protect, preserve and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River Basin.”?

“The opportunity provided documentation of both the conditions of the river and the fact that people are actually using it,” says Dianna Wedincamp, Program Director of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

The overwhelming response of entries for the photo contest proves how dependent so many people are on these waterways.

Ms. Wedincamp added, “Every river needs protecting no matter what.”

Not only does the Ogeechee River and its major tributary, the Canoochee River, provide both recreation and startling beauty for adventurers and photographers alike; but these blackwater river basins are also important natural resources, supplying drinking water to thousands of Eastern Georgia residents.

The Photo Contest was advertised online to amateur photographers ages 12 and older through the Riverkeeper’s extensive website.

Complete with tips on how to take the best picture, the website also directed applicants to enter the competition and upload their digital images.

Photographs were then gathered from Feb. 8, through April 1,with the intention of showcasing and announcing the winners of the contest at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival on April 8, at the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro.

The goals of the Film Festival were in keeping with the missions of the Riverkeeper, “Whether it’s a struggle for environmental justice, information on renewable energy or an educational table about endangered species, the films expose people to forward-thinking ideas and global awareness.”

The response to the photo contest was encouraging for the organizers of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

“It’s something we are hoping to make an annual event,” Wedincamp said.

She remembers pictures pouring in of rivers and streams, creeks and coasts, of fishermen and families wading under ancient cypress trees. She was relieved that a group of Georgia Southern University Art Students volunteered to take the difficult task of judging the selection.

The first place winner of the Ogeechee River Basin 2010 Photo Contest was Jerry Newsome of Statesboro. The image depicts his grandchildren, hand-in-hand, leaping from a sand bar into tea-colored water. These photos come to Louisville after exhibiting at East Georgia College in Swainsboro, and will go on to local galleries in Middle and Eastern Georgia with the aim to spread awareness and appreciation for preservation of these essential waterways.

This special exhibit will open at The Fire House Gallery on Wednesday, September 8. The photos will be on display through Sunday, Sept. 19. Gallery Hours are Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.. We invite you to come and share in experiencing the wonder of the Ogeechee River Basin.

Police warn citizens of vehicle break-ins in Louisville

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

An investigator with the Louisville Police Department said Tuesday, Sept. 7, that citizens should use caution when leaving items in unattended vehicles.

“In the last 30 days, we’ve had an alarming number of vehicle break-ins wherein the parties are removing pocketbooks and purses from the vehicles,” Lt. Teddy Jackson said.


Jackson said police are urging citizens to not leave valuables in their vehicles, especially if the items can be plainly seen from outside the vehicle.

The investigator said the incidents have taken place during the day and night and throughout Louisville.

“It’s not limited to one specific part of town. It’s all over,” he said.

Jackson said Monday, Sept. 6, about 8:30 p.m. a woman was coming out of her home and saw a black male in her vehicle. He ran away before she could notice any other details. She had left her car unlocked, Jackson said.

He said this has been the only incident so far where someone has seen a person actually in the vehicle.

“Or even in the area when the vehicle was broken into,” he said.

The investigator said the break-ins seem to be random.

“They’re using any type of rocks they can find on the ground,” Jackson said, adding in some cases the vehicles had been left unlocked.

One citizen who complained about her purse being stolen said she left her car to go inside her home for only a few moments. When she returned, her purse had been taken. Jackson said in that case, the woman had left her car unlocked.

“We just want people to be aware of the situation,” Jackson said.

The investigator said he would advise anyone to never leave personal items in an unattended vehicle, especially when the vehicle is unlocked and the items are in plain sight.

“When you do these types of things, you’re leaving all of your personal things for someone to use or sell for someone else to use,” he said.

Jackson said that although purses have been taken in the majority of break-ins so far, there have been some instances where nothing was taken.

“We haven’t found any common denominator so far. The only thing that links them is the pocketbooks. The majority of the vehicles have had purses,” he said.

“Should anyone have information regarding these incidents or the person or persons who may be committing these crimes, please contact the police department at 478-625-8897. All information will remain confidential,” Jackson said.

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