Community helps guide educators
By Carol McLeod
About 127 people attended a meeting Monday night to help the Jefferson County Board of Education develop a strategic plan for the next three to five years.
Dr. Donnie Hodges, an assistant superintendent, said that number included the facilitators
“Ninety people signed in,” she said. “Students participated but didn’t sign in.”
Hodges said they had hoped for a larger crowd.
Jimmy Fleming, the board chairman, opened the meeting and said, “This is an important process for our school system and for our children.”
He thanked everyone for attending and introduced the other board members.
Tony Arasi, director of professional development with the Georgia School Boards Association, presented some information to the audience and said, “We’ve been very impressed with some of the things your school system is doing.”
Arasi said the process that started Monday night is probably going to take four to five months.
He told the group five things that need to be considered are, “Who are we?” “Where are we now?” “Where do we want to go?” “How will we know when we’ve arrived?” and “How will we plan to get there?”
He said discussing a plan to get where the community wants helps the school improvement plans.
“We’re going to convene a planning team,” he said, adding the goal is for about 25 people to participate in this, half coming from the general community and half from the education sector.
Then there will be an action team made of education staff, he said.
“It’s really important that you keep the board in the loop,” Arasi said.
“I want to commend your district,” he said. “Your district is SACS accredited and not every district has that.”
The next speaker was Dr. Molly Howard, the county’s school board superintendent.
Howard thanked the audience for attending and said this will be about a six-month process.
She referenced a diagram that had been shown with different lines going in all directions.
“We’re too small and it’s a complete waste of time for us to be that fragmented,” she said.
She talked about the cost of education and the cuts in funding from state and federal sources.
“Our resources are more precious then they’ve ever been,” she said.
Howard told the audience since fiscal year 2009, the county school system has lost 34 positions, most of which were teachers.
She said that had been handled through attrition and when someone retired or left a position, they were not replaced.
The audience was divided into groups to discuss what people wanted to preserve about the school system and what they wanted to change. That information was collected and will be reviewed.
An online survey has been placed on the school system’s website at www.jefferson.k12.ga.us and will be available through Feb. 15, Hodges said. It was posted Tuesday.
“We’ve already had 75 people answer the survey,” she said Tuesday about 10:17 a.m.
Another important aspect of the meeting was student participation, Hodges said.
“It really helps,” she said of having students at the meeting.
“We really need to listen to them. It’s very valuable to hear their perspective. I heard that in several groups, how impressed they were with the students. They divided out among the groups, which is what we wanted,” Hodges said.
Hodges said paper copies of the survey are available in the schools for anyone who wants to drop by and pick up one.
“And there are Spanish ones as well,” she said. “It’s very quick. It does not take very long. It is very simple and quick to take.”
Hodges said the more people who are involved, the better the outcome will be.
“We really want their input,” she said. “Certainly parents, but business owners as well.”
Hodges said the next step is the planning teams, which will meet in March.
“The more input we have the more valuable it will be for the system and for the county,” she said.
“I was very pleased with the turn out last night,” Howard said in a statement Tuesday.
“This is just the first step in the process we will follow for developing our school system’s strategic plan,” she said.
Howard said the meeting allowed the school system to collect important information on aspects of the system the community wants to keep as well as things they want worked on or changed.
“Everything that was recorded last night from the discussion groups will be studied in depth by the planning committee that will convene for a two-day study session in late March,” she said.
Deputies take driving training
By Carol McLeod
All of the Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies attended a driving school held at the old armory in Louisville last month, said Robert Yonchak, the safety coordinator for the county.
After the class, the officers received further training in a driving simulator, he said.
Lt. Garry McCord, a training officer with JCSO, coordinated the training.
Yonchak said the county’s insurance company makes the training available.
“This gives everybody the opportunity to promote safe driving habits in all types of situations, like emergencies and bad weather,” he said.
“It’s for police officers. We’ll do the county fire departments later. It usually takes about six to eight months from the time you put in the request to get it. I think they have two units that travel the state,” he said.
The training involved three hours of class work and 30 minutes of driving time, Yonchak said.
Yonchak said the officers are given points towards maintaining their POST certification.
The training is offered through the county’s insurance company, Local Government Risk Management, and does not cost the county anything, he said.
“It’s a way to provide the officers with a tool to enhance their safety while on the job,” Yonchak said.
One of the officers who took the training said this is similar to training offered several years ago.
“Same class, just updated,” said Lt. Robert Chalker, an investigator with the JCSO.
“It’s informative. It’s cool. I wish I had one at home,” he said of the simulator.
“It does make you think about the obstacles and other people’s reactions. It’s more of a defensive simulator,” Chalker said.
David Trotter, the training instructor, said the top simulated speed in the machine is about 140 mph.
Chalker said he thought he got up to 114 mph.
“It’s good at measuring reaction times,” he said. “The reactions of other drivers. In other words, you don’t ever know what to expect from another driver. You don’t ever know. Sometimes they pull over to the right; sometimes they pull over to the left; sometimes they just sit there.
“It makes you expect the unexpected, which is reality.”
“The simulator allows a driver to be put into everyday driving and emergency response situations without actually being out on the road and in their vehicle,” stated a press release Trotter provided.
The Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association financially supported the program because of the unique and high risk driving situations that local government employees, specifically law enforcement and public safety personnel may be involved with on a daily basis, the release stated.
Sgt. Mike Patton, a deputy with JCSO, completed the training.
“You definitely have to pay attention to your surroundings and what other people are doing in their car,” he said.
“You always have to look out for the other guy. It will kind of wake you up. Sometimes we get too complacent with our driving. You know, we spend most of our time driving and we get too complacent with it. I think it’s good the county does this and we do it every two years,” Patton said.
Classes designed to help business owners
By Carol McLeod
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce is presenting three classes to help local business owners.
The first class begins Monday, Feb. 7, and will be held at the civic room at Fosters in Louisville from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. each Monday, with the last session on March 7. The class, “Maximum Retail,” will help business owners refine all areas of a retail business.
Topics of this class are, “Know Your Customer,” “Sales and Service Enhancement,” “Loss Prevention and Security,” “Profit Enhancement” and “Online Retailing and Summary.”
Deadline to register for this class is Friday, Feb. 4. The class is $25 per person.
This course is especially geared toward retail businesses.
The second class is a two-hour workshop entitled, “Continual Process Improvement.” It is designed as an overview of continual improvement in industries. It is especially designed for the manufacturing industry but would be of benefit to anyone who might be interested. Elliot Price, from Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, will conduct the workshop.
Topics of this class are, “Strategy for Improvement,” “Managing Change,” “Realizing Improvement Opportunities” and “Measuring for Success.”
The deadline to register for this class is Wednesday, March 16. The workshop will be held at the civic room at Fosters and will be from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. There is no cost for this workshop.
The third class is called, “Maximum Money,” and is designed for any business person who wants to learn more about managing money. The topics for this class are, “Money 101,” “Understanding Financial Statements,” “Improving Cash Flow and Boosting Profits,” “Managing by the Numbers” and “Developing a Strategic Financial Focus.”
This class will also be held at the civic room at Fosters and will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 10 a.m. each Monday from April 18 through May 16. The fee for this class is $25 per person.
Both five-week courses will be taught by an instructor with the UGA Small Business Development Center.
Membership in the chamber is not required to participate in either class or workshop.
“I hope people will take advantage of this,” said Lil Easterlin, the chamber’s executive director. “I’ve made this as cheap as I can make it.”
Easterlin said the SBDC has a series of about five classes they offer.
“So I picked two that I thought would be important to the largest majority of our chamber membership and the things that the chamber specifically looks to,” she said.
“The chamber has a particular interest in supporting the downtown associations. That’s where your smaller retail shops are. I thought those topics that are offered in retail would be of interest to the retail owners. And also it would give those retail owners an opportunity to ask other professionals questions that they may not otherwise have a chance to ask,” she said.
Student late for school hits 106 mph
By Carol McLeod
An 18-year-old high school student led a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy on a chase Wednesday, Jan. 26, about 7:45 a.m.
The student, identified as Ricardo Quarterman from Stapleton, was on his way to school when Sgt. Mike Patton, a JCSO traffic enforcement officer, checked his speed at 106 mph on Highway 1.
“He was headed towards the high school,” Patton said in an interview.
“He told me the reason he was running is because he was late for school. He had three juveniles with him,” the deputy said.
“After he seen me turn around, he got into the left hand in order to turn on Twin Oaks Road, where he hit two mailboxes. He ran off into the ditch and hit two mailboxes. He went up to Campground Road, which is not but about 100 yards. He came up on Campground Road and I lost him,” Patton said.
“I called other units to help me. We were searching the area when he was found at Highway 80 and Paradise Road. He come up to the stop sign. I got out of the vehicle and detained all four of them until other officers arrived on the scene,” he said.
Patton said the three juveniles were taken to the county jail where they were released to their parents.
“No charges were filed on them,” he said.
Officers charged Quarterman with speeding, violation of vehicles to drive on right side of roadway, passing in a no passing zone, failure to stop for stop sign, leaving scene of accident, fleeing or attempting to elude police officers and reckless driving.
All of the charges are misdemeanors, Patton said.
Man caught with crack and Ecstasy near school
By Carol McLeod
Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 32-year-old Devin Munro Lowery of Louisville Friday, Jan. 28, about 5:57 p.m. and charged him with possession of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of school property with intent to distribute, possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of Ecstasy with intent to distribute.
Lt. Clark Hiebert, an investigator with JCSO, said Monday, Jan. 31, all three charges are felonies.
“He was stopped and once he was stopped there was 42 suspected Ecstasy pills,” Hiebert said. Ecstasy is also known as MDMA, the investigator said.
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“He also had approximately three to four grams of suspected crack cocaine on his person,” Hiebert said.