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April 7, 2011 Issue

Store to close after robbery
Art close to the Heart
Local census data still being gathered

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Store to close after robbery

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A gunman dressed in black did more than rob Box Office Videos in Louisville Thursday, March 31. He convinced the owners, Billy and Loretta Samples, it was time to throw in the towel.

Authorities say the Jefferson County 911 Center received a call from a clerk at the store on Middleground Road at noon on that Thursday.

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The clerk said the business had been robbed and described the assailant as being a tall male wearing all black with a stocking cap over his head, a black hoodie type jacket, glasses and gloves. The clerk said the man was carrying a handgun.

The clerk told officials the man left on foot in a southerly direction.

“Officers from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Louisville Police Department immediately set up a perimeter covering a city block,” stated Lt. Robert Chalker, an investigator with the JCSO, in a press release.

“As officers searched a wooded area inside the perimeter, several pieces of evidence were located as was a suspect who was attempting to hide. As officers approached the suspect, he attempted to elude officers by running on foot, but was apprehended after a brief struggle,” Chalker stated.

The suspect was arrested, treated for minor cuts at the Jefferson Hospital Emergency Room and transported to the Jefferson County Jail where he was interviewed by investigators, Chalker stated.

“Based on statements given by the suspect, evidence obtained from the wooded area and the suspects person, along with witness statements, investigators charged 26-year-old Cecil Jerrod Reynolds Jr. of Bartow with two counts of armed robbery and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of certain crimes,” he said.

Chalker said Reynolds was charged with two counts on each offense because there were two victims robbed.

“The victims were not only robbed of business monies, but also of personal monies. An undisclosed amount of cash was stolen during the robbery and is believed to have been recovered during the investigation,” the investigator said.

Chalker said at press time it had not yet been established how much money was stolen and he did not know if Reynolds had cash on him before the robberies occurred.

Billy Samples, one of the owners of the store, said Monday he and his wife are planning to close the store.

“We’re going to maintain the car wash and the storage buildings,” he said, talking about two other businesses they own near the store.

Samples said they will depend on their storage customers to mail their payments until other arrangements have been made.

He hopes to sell the inventory from the store and lease the building to someone who will continue to operate a video store.

He said he hopes whoever rents the building will either accept payments for them or will let them set up a drop box.

“Hadn’t really rented (any) movies since it happened,” he said.

Samples said they’re just waiting on people to return the movies that are still out before closing the store.

“We’ve had several people call interested in renting the building,” he said, adding they hate to close.

“We’ve enjoyed it all this time, going on 23 years,” he said.

When asked if they had made their decision because of the robbery, Samples said it was.

“Basically, that’s the reason,” he said. “We’re just not going to do that anymore.”

Anyone interested in talking with the Samples about buying their inventory or renting the building may call either of the Samples at 478-625-8056.




Art close to the Heart

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Since the spring of 2003, as nature blooms, so have the arts in Jefferson County. From photography, painting, sculpture and music, the mixture of colors and even sound bring a new birth to downtown Louisville.

Making that happen locally is the Arts Guild of Jefferson County. Since its inception and its incorporation in August 2002, the Arts Guild has provided an outlet for local artists to show their work, as well as learn more about their craft.

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Next week, what they have discovered over the past year will be displayed like flower blossoms, springing up all over downtown in various venues over three days. The first downtown spring art show was held in 2003. Next week, April 15-17, the Arts Guild will hold its ninth such event.

In the beginning, Arts Guild Exhibit Chairman Lil Easterlin said the idea came from local artist Sam Morgan to hold an exhibition of local artists’ work.

“He came to me when I first moved back,” Easterlin said. “I couldn’t believe we had that many artists here. I told him, ‘If you get me 12 artists’ work, I’ll get you a show.’

“The first show opened at the Magnolia House and we had 30 artists’ work, with some older pieces, but all from Jefferson County. At that time we put down a clipboard to begin the Arts Guild.”

Easterlin said the Arts Guild began in February or March of 2002, and was incorporated in August of that year. The first spring show in downtown was quite a feat to begin with as well. Before The Fire House Gallery opened, all of the exhibit was located in downtown buildings that were given for use by the owners at no cost.

“We began by using empty buildings in downtown Louisville,” Easterlin explained. “We paid to turn on the electricity, we painted, we cleaned, washed windows and did whatever else it took to get ready.

“We build portable display panels to hang artwork. In that first year, we used six locations, and dependent upon the amount of artwork we had, we would use those same buildings in the years to follow.”

Since the opening of the Fire House Gallery, the spring show allows select members of the Arts Guild to have a piece of their work on display in the art gallery for more than the three days. The artwork at the Fire House Gallery will be on display until the following Sunday. Other locations will include The Gatherings and the Pearling Building/H&R Block building, which will only have artwork until Sunday, April 17.

The opening reception for the Spring Exhibit will be held on Friday, April 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. The Fire House Gallery will have work on display until April 24, Monday through Friday noon to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"Visitors can begin anywhere, we are just using the Fire House Gallery space,” Easterlin said. “All buildings will have refreshments and artwork in them. There will be a pay point at one centralized location. Arts Guild members will be in each location all night long.”

“All the artists will have at least one piece in the Fire House Gallery, and those will stay up until next weekend. Other artwork in other areas will be there Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon.”

Other entertainment will include singer/songwriter Betsy Franck of Athens, who writes much of her own music. She will play a mixture of originals and favorites on her acoustic guitar, accompanied by a fellow musician.

While some work will be available for sale, Easterlin said not all work on display will be, but those pieces will show the type of work each artist is capable of or has been commissioned to do.

“This is not necessarily a sale, but it is a true exhibit,” she said.

In the past the Arts Guild did not received funds from the sales, but this year it will receive a 10 percent commission.

“It is a very modest commission,” Easterlin added.

Throughout the year, the Arts Guild is preparing artists and extending their craft.

“The Arts Guild is a true example of grass roots community arts,” Easterlin said. “People here enjoy and learn, while producing art. And the public is always excited to see friends’ and neighbors’ work. We have always had a good turnout each night and this has been a very good thing for the community.”

At the opening reception, usually 200 to 300 patrons and artists alike descend on downtown to get a glimpse at each artists’ work.

“We always sell a lot of artwork quickly on Friday night,” she said. “It is amazing how supportive our community is. The pieces that sell are often of local scenes and images.”

Since its inception, the Arts Guild of Jefferson County has branched out to include members from the Atlanta area, Richmond, Glascock, Emanuel, Burke and Washington counties.

“We’ve branched out quite a bit,” Easterlin laughed. “Right now we are at about 40 to 50 members, but we have a lot of supporters, too. We have expanded to two shows, run art camps, give art lessons and we have begun the Market Place at Twisted Sisters.”

Easterlin said there were so many photographers that a secondary branch of the Arts Guild began because members felt photographers needed their own time and space. They have also begun Music in the Parks with the first show in the latter part of last year.

“The biggest issue we face is creating money,” she said. “By nature of what we present, we don’t have a ticket location. You don’t have to buy a ticket to see artwork or listen to the music in the parks.”

While new members, artists and even those who are not, are welcome, anyone 18 years or older with a $25 a year membership fee, those who would like to donate to the Arts Guild may send a check payable to The Arts Guild, C/O Lil Easterlin, P.O. Box 630, Louisville, GA 30434, or pass it along to Guild Treasurer Tom Watson. Those wanting to become members may contact Easterlin, Guild President Donna Borders or other Arts Guild members.

“One of the things we work on constantly is getting people who are interested in artwork to keep stretching themselves,” Easterlin said. “Mary Reynolds has helped to increase techniques with monthly workshops and we have people from the Augusta area come, too. Mary has done a great job with that.”

Parking for the spring show is wherever parking is allowed. The Arts Guild has full access to the Queensborough parking, also parking across from The News and Farmer/The Jefferson Reporter and the parking lot by the courthouse.

“We have a great partnership with the city of Louisville,” Easterlin said. “We make sure everybody is prepared. We let downtown businesses know about the exhibit and they will stay open later so people can shop.

“We hope people will continue to come out and support this local group and see artwork produced from this area, not just this county.”

Future events will be Music in the Park, with two upcoming dates. The first event will be held in Bartow on April 30 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Refreshments will be available for sale, as well as fish dinners by a local church.

The artist playing will be The Back Porch Blues Band, which includes John Mole of Louisville, Wayne Walker of Sandersville and Luther Gravitt of Norwood. Their band plays a variety of music ranging from blues, rock and roll, bluegrass, gospel and even a few funny songs they like to play.

On May 14 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the 1960s will be back in Louisville at Helen Clark Memorial Park with the reunited Orient Express, an original band from Louisville in the late ‘60s. Members include Joe Polhill, Louisville Mayor Larry Morgan, Pete Love and newcomer Wade Watkins. Refreshments will be available for sale.

There is no admission at either event, but the public is encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and even a little picnic for the event.




Local census data still being gathered

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

With so many people across the country being victimized by cons and scams, it’s understandable why area residents may be worried by strangers coming to their home asking personal questions.

One such resident said a woman came to her home, said she was a Census worker and asked questions.

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“(She) asked all kinds of questions, like how much money we make, how many children we have and where they went to school, private or public,” the citizen said.

Another resident said she had received a notice in the mail saying she was selected for a more in-depth census interview and someone would be coming to her home to interview her.

Brianna Kayi, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, said in an interview Friday, April 1, that workers are still conducting interviews. The bureau conducts more than 150 surveys, she said.

“Most of them are required by law,” she said, adding congress decides the questions listed on the American Communities Survey.

Surveys are continuing, she said.

“Some of them are yearly. Some of them are every five years,” she said. “The ACS is quite lengthy.”

Kayi said this survey focuses on people and their households.

People who receive them should take a look at the form.

“It explains why you were selected, that you’re legally obligated to answer the questions,” she said.

Several local law enforcement officers said people should not hesitate to verify the identify of any person asking for personal information.

“If they don’t trust that person is a Census worker, ask for their ID before they give out any information,” said Wadley Chief of Police Wesley Lewis.

“Get the tag number from the car when they leave. Call the number in Atlanta to verify that person,” he said.

David Leonard, an investigator with the Wrens Police Department, agreed.

“I think it would be a terrific idea that anytime people think there’s a reason to be suspicious that they call their local police department or the agency the person claims to represent,” he said.

Lt. Robert Chalker, an investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said any citizen should feel free to contact a local law enforcement agency.

“Don’t hesitate to call us, we’ll come out there to check them out. Be glad to,” he said.

Kayi said anyone approached by a person who says he or she is from the Census Bureau can call the regional office in Atlanta at 404-730-3832 to verify the person is a Census worker.




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