Train cars derailed in Midville
By Carol McLeod
Families have been allowed home in Midville, Burke County Chief Deputy James Hollingsworth said in an interview Tuesday, Nov. 23.
“As of 2 o’clock today, we have opened up Highway 17 and let people return to their homes,” he said.
Because of a railcar derailment that occurred Sunday, Nov. 22, officials evacuated families in 27 homes that night.
Susan Terpay, a spokesman with Norfolk Southern Railway, said in an interview the derailment of 38 cars happened shortly after 5 p.m. The train had 90 railcars.
“The train was carrying some hazardous material cars,” Terpay said. No injuries have been reported, she said.
Terpay said at 5 p.m. Monday that five of the derailed cars had been rerailed. All 38 cars had either been rerailed or moved to the side of the track, she said on Tuesday about 2:30 p.m.
Terpay had said on Monday work to rerail or move the cars would continue overnight.
“The next step will be to repair those tracks because often tracks are damaged in a derailment,” she said.
Terpay said three of the cars that derailed carried hazardous material. There was a release of chemicals, she said.
“One of those cars was an empty chlorine car. There was a hairline fracture in the car. We applied a patch over that fracture,” she said, adding that was done Monday.
Terpay said that although the car was empty, there was still residue in it.
“So there’s still some chlorine that is in the car. So we’re going to pump that chlorine. It is a process where we turn that chlorine into bleach,” she said. Two other chemicals were also released, she said.
“The first one is sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate. That is the base ingredient in Oxyclean. It’s an oxidizer. It’s kind of a powdery dust. That was released. We actually pick it up off the ground and restore the soil,” she said.
The third material is methyl ethyl ketone, she said.
“That is like airplane glue. It’s used to make airplane glue and it’s flammable. That is a liquid and we are pumping that out of the railcar into another tank. We’re just pumping the remaining liquid out of the railcar,” she said.
Terpay said the Burke County Sheriff’s Department had evacuated the homes within a 1/4 mile radius of the derailment as a precaution.
Norfolk Southern Railway set up a claims center at the Midville Community Center at 196 Kilpatrick St. in Midville,” she said.
“We opened that today (Monday) and it’s going to be opened until 8 p.m. tonight. It will open again in the morning at 8 a.m. and be open until 8 p.m. People who were evacuated from their homes can come to that center to be reimbursed for costs associated with their evacuation,” she said.
On Tuesday, Terpay said the center will be closed Thursday but will reopen Friday, Nov. 26, from noon until 8 p.m. People who want to be reimbursed will need to bring receipts, she said.
People who cannot come to the center can call 800-230-7049.
“They can also get information from that number,” Terpay said.
Terpay said 19 cars were carrying salt.
“From the air, it may look like a white substance,” she said. “What fell on the ground will be vacuumed up.”
Terpay said the company will replace the soil with whatever was there before the contamination, dirt or gravel. The company is working with the EPD and EPA during this process, she said.
Terpay said there are some cars that cannot be uprighted and moved.
“Some of those rail cars cannot be repaired and they’re going to be scrapped,” she said. They will be left on the right-of-way until then, she said.
Terpay said about half of the damaged track had been repaired as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and she expected the rest of the track to be repaired by Wednesday.
Terpay said there is no risk to the community.
“We understand people may have concerns about returning to their homes,” she said Tuesday, adding flyers from Norfolk Southern will be placed at each of the 27 homes. The flyers explain that the air and water is safe but citizens should still keep away from the actual accident/work zone or other still-restricted areas.
“We apologize to the families for the inconvenience during the holidays. We’re committed to handling the needs of the community through our claims center,” she said.
Terpay said she wanted to acknowledge the work done by the Burke County emergency workers as well as all other emergency responders.
Hollingsworth said he appreciated the help the city received from the Emanuel County EMA.
“When it first occurred, Richmond County brought down their Haz Mat equipment Sunday night and brought some of their people. Richmond County Fire Chief Howard Willis came down here himself,” Hollingsworth said.
“The cause of the derailment is still under investigation,” Terpay said.
Man shoots half-brother with sawed-off shotgun
By Carol McLeod
Bond was set Tuesday in a case where a Jefferson County man has been charged in shooting another man with a sawed-off shotgun.
Deputies arrested Timothy Shane Gantt, 36, of Louisville and charged him in a shooting that injured Gantt’s half-brother, Damion Scott Ward, 28, also of Louisville.
Lt. Robert Chalker, an investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday, Nov. 22, that the county’s 9-1-1 center received a call for assistance at a residence near Louisville Saturday, Nov. 20, about 10:15 p.m. in reference to a person being shot.
“Deputies from JCSO and EMS personnel from Gold Cross responded,” Chalker said in a statement.
Deputies found Ward suffering from gun shot wounds to his legs and hand, Chalker stated.
“He was transported by ambulance to an awaiting medical helicopter and flown to the Medical College of Georgia Trauma Center in Augusta,” he said.
Chalker stated Gantt was taken into custody at the scene without incident and held for investigation.
“Investigators recovered a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun that is believed to be the weapon used during the shooting,” he said.
Chalker said Gantt was formally charged Monday, Nov. 22, with one count of aggravated assault, one count of possession of a sawed-off shotgun and one count of possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Gantt had his first appearance hearing before Jefferson County Magistrate Lenora Hutchinson Tuesday, Nov. 23. Hutchinson set bond at $10,000 for each charge.
On Tuesday, Chalker said Ward is still at MCG and is in critical but stable condition.
“All of the charges are felonies,” the officer said, adding the motive for the shooting is still unclear.
“I have not been able to interview the victim because of medical reasons,” he said.
“According to Georgia law, a shotgun barrel must be over 18 inches in length and the overall length of the weapon must be over 26 inches in length. There are exceptions to the law that allow police and certain specially licensed civilians to possess sawed-off or short shotgun and/or rifles, but Gantt did not fall under any of those exceptions,” Chalker said.
Fallen WWII Heroes honored
By Faye Ellison
This wall and these gates were erected in grateful and loving memory of four sons of Louisville who gave their lives in the Second World War.”
Such simple words for the heroic circumstances that surround them. Those four sons, Phillips Abbot Jr., John Joseph Cofer, Robert Northington Hardeman III and Augustine Patterson Little, are remembered in bronze, never to be forgotten for what they gave both the town of Louisville and the rest of the world.
“After World War II in 1947, a family here in Louisville, Francis and Phillips Abbot, gave to the city of Louisville, the brick wall that goes around the city cemetery, which was smaller at that time, and they gave the city a bronze plaque that from 1947 until some months ago, was always at the front entrance, which is the walk in entrance of the cemetery,” said Louise Abbot, sister to Hardeman. “This bronze plaque was given in memory of those four men, who all lived in Louisville, all attended the Presbyterian Church and who were all killed in action in World War II. There were other men killed in World War II and those names are on a granite marker in front of the Courthouse.”
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Abbot represented the Air Force, Cofer the Navy, Hardeman the Marines and Little the Army.
Cofer was killed first in 1942, while Hardeman and Abbot followed in July 1944 and Little in August 1944. The news of the four young men’s death spread over the town.
“John was killed first in 1942, he was killed at sea,” Louise remembered. “The other three were killed in action in the summer during July and August 1944. Can you imagine a small town, already thinking about John’s loss of life, then within a two month period, this town was devastated by these three deaths?”
For their sacrifice, a little piece of freedom was forever claimed for America. And through the years, while their names may have begun to fade in the memories of their the new generations of Louisvillians, the injustice that has met their memory is long from being forgotten.
With the help of Louise, Louisville City Administrator Don Rhodes and Louisville City Mayor Larry Morgan, hopefully now no one can take away what this simple reminder of what they meant to Louisville, America and the rest of the world that was fighting to protect its way of life.
“The way Larry got involved is also a fairly dramatic story,” Louise explained. “I, like most people at various times, have had a reason to drive past the cemetery, for many, many years I would show people who knew me my brother’s name and tell them his story.
“Last summer, I was riding by one day and I passed the cemetery and front entrance and stopped my car and sat there for a minute, the plaque is gone. I went back and got out of the car and went to the place it had been and could see it had been torn away. It had been vandalized. It had been there from 1947 until early 2010. I thought, could there possibly be some reason someone had removed it. It meant a great deal to many for many reasons, this was my only brother. So I went to Don Rhodes and asked if there was some reason why the bronze plaque had been removed. I told him, ‘It’s gone.’”
Louise said Rhodes then explained to her that people have been stealing various kinds of metal to sell.
“I was broken hearted and terribly upset,” Louise recounted. “I talked to somebody who was related to Phillips Abbot and they said we would just replace it. That is what we decided to do.”
The loss of this plaque and the freedom and sacrifice it stood for, really touched her. While the bronze may not be worth much, the lives it remembers meant a great deal to her and all who knew the men. A miracle came her way shortly after calling Rhodes.
“The next day, Don called me and said, ‘Guess what? One of our workers found the plaque just thrown in the cemetery,’” Louise said in a broken voice. “I was really outraged, that they gave their lives in the service of this country, that anybody, that read that dishonor them. I was very distressed about it. All of my friends and family knew. I have five children and I called all five. How could someone throw it away like trash? I think maybe they thought they could sell it or if they did it as a prank and threw it away, at least they didn’t throw it in a trash can somewhere.”
Rhodes had something in mind for Louise when he called her.
“Don said, ‘Let’s wait until we can find some way to do this so this will never happen again,’” Louise said. “He conferred with Larry Morgan, and finally our mayor came up with the idea, that although it had deep screws that go in, it could still be pried away. Larry saw this through and found a brick mason.”
“After learning about all of this, I decided we needed to make a regular monument out of this instead of a plaque on a post,” Morgan said. “It is historical to start with and I just felt like it was important for that to be known. This is proof, that we are all real people and care about each other. The people in France cared that the Americans were there.”
Morgan said with the help of the county, a brick pillar was built, with the plaque cemented forever surrounded by concrete and brick.
“Thanks to them they got it built,” Morgan said. “It’s nothing fancy, but the plaque was screwed to the brick. It was finished about mid-summer. I took it on as one of my projects. It is important because it is the history of Louisville and it ties all of these people together.”
“Now there is a brick pillar, slanted at the top, with the bronze plaque cemented in it,” Louise explained. “You see this very well done, old brick pillar and know you can stand there and read this plaque. Thank goodness this cemetery worker called Don Rhodes. This plaque was found and saved and I hope that it is permanently there. In a way this is a story worth being told, in a way I have told a lot of people, but to destroy this for everyone would be a terrible thing. I can’t imagine a complete lack of respect for something.”
For those who remember, those who have learned and those who just do not know about the history of Jefferson County during those times, Louise recounted some of the important instances that brought the community and country together during World War II.
“I think that there were so many men from every single town in Jefferson County who didn’t wait to be drafted,” Louise said. “They went to war against Germany, Japan and Italy, immediately after Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941. I doubt that this country, maybe not since the American Revolution, had it been this united. There was a tremendous sense of unity over the country and in Jefferson County and in this town. Everybody did what they could. People bought war bonds, even when the depression had left Jefferson County economically hurt. A number of Louisville people went to work in ship yards in Brunswick, where they built liberty ships and more.”
During that time, Louise said everything was rationed.
“Everything had its ration books,” Louise said. “Everything was rationed. Sugar, shoes, gas. When you were out of coupons, you had to do without. I think children and certainly adults, were intensely aware of what was going on. Families would gather around the radio to get the latest news of war. President Roosevelt gave a regular broadcast. People couldn’t wait to get the newspaper. A great deal was written in The News and Farmer about the war. The columns and editorials were remarkable. They were full of news of servicemen. Anytime one came home, his picture was on the front page and there was information about him.
“We were very united in our patriotism, even with the invasion of Normandy. People went to church early that morning. We went to church to pray for success of the invasion. I do remember getting up at 3 a.m. and going to church at 11 or 12 years old. All the churches were open for prayer services. I suspect that it was widespread.”
Not only was the city there to support troops, Louisville citizens were also there to support each other during the loss of a military loved one.
“It was devastating for my family,” Louise sighed about her brother’s death. “We were heartbroken and grief stricken. The news about my brother being killed on July 2, did not reach my parents until July 23, early on a Sunday morning with a telegram saying he was killed in action. The news reached not only my family, but all over town. The people of Louisville flocked to our home in Louisville, where my mother and I were visiting from Brunswick with my grandmother. So many people told me how heartbroken they were. Just two weeks later Phillips Abbott Jr. was missing in action and not long after confirmed he was killed in France.”
“Every family was affected just the way you think they would be. There was a constant dread if someone from the armed services arrived with a telegraph. People lived in suspense, if a letter didn’t come or there were long intervals. Everybody lived in dread that this would be true for their family. That dread became a reality for my family. People go on living. Of that I am very sure, but certainly my parents and my whole family always had a great sense of loss and sorrow.”