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August 4, 2011 Issue

Thank you, Tom
IGA staff catch shoplifter in grocery store
Louisville passes new policy manual
City losing last commercial gas customer

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Thank you, Tom

By Bonnie K. Sargent
Apprentice

“The first time we saw all of this it was just a big cornfield,” Pat Browne said about what is now the Jefferson County Recreation Department in Louisville.

Pat’s husband, Tom Browne, was the first director of the recreation department and they both worked hard to get it started.

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“We saw that field and he said ‘That’s where everything is going to be. Just you wait,’” said Pat.

Tom was the director of the recreation department from 1976 until he retired in March of 2004.

At the annual fireworks show in Louisville on July 4, it was announced that the large baseball field would be named after Tom. The sign on the field was unveiled by his wife and his granddaughter Allissa Lewis, who lives in Ohio.

Tom said they got a federal grant to start work on the recreation department back in the 1970s.

The field was the first one they developed. It was the first fenced, lighted field in the county.

“The county really got behind it and the city,” he said. “And we were very fortunate to get a few really prominent citizens to volunteer as coaches.”

Tom said they got civic clubs to sponsor team uniforms and other expenses. He said there are pictures of the first few teams on the wall of the concession stand at the field.

Tom said they started having a ball game every night and eventually they added two more fields, the Punk Tarver Field and the Tommy New Field. He said those nights when they played, the parking spaces were filled.

“That was back before the parking lot was paved,” said Pat. “There was red clay everywhere, people would track it into their houses and it got all over the uniforms.”

Tom said back then they were also using the gym and tennis courts at Louisville Academy. They updated the floor of the gym and the lighting. They used the Louisville Academy football field for games.

“We tried to use every facility we could in the county,” said Tom. “Before long we had a full, year-round program.”

Tom said they started in Louisville first and it spread to facilities in Wadley and Wrens. He said all three cities would come together to play on whatever fields were available.

Tom said he is extremely grateful to see that the program is continuing. He said the department just finished a new gym and they are building more.

Tom said he was very pleased that Gene Cunningham was able to come and work and is carrying on. Cunningham is the current athletic director at the Jefferson County Recreation Department.

“The more support he gets the more he can do,” said Tom.

Cunningham said he thought it was a good idea to name the baseball field after Tom, since he was the first director. He said the big baseball field was the only one that didn’t have a name yet and he decided to name it after Tom.

Tom and Pat have four children who are now grown. Pat said three of their children grew up playing at the recreation department field.

Pat was a teacher at Louisville High School and then Louisville Middle School, until she retired in 2004.

“Between the two of us, we really touched the lives of all of the children in this part of the county,” said Pat. “And we’re thankful for that.”

“This is proof of what can happen when a community comes together to build a facility that is usable for youth and for adults,” said Tom.

Paul Bryan, the county’s administrator, said he had not had the opportunity to work with Tom as he was hired about the time Tom retired.

“I always heard great things about him and his ability to develop the base of the recreation activities that we have in our community today,” Bryan said.

Gonice Davis, a Jefferson County commissioner, said he enjoyed working with Tom.

“I’m glad the field was named after him,” Davis said. “It will keep his name in the spotlight in recreation for the things he has done for the community.”




IGA staff catch shoplifter in grocery store

By Carol McLeod
Staff writer

Two men trying to shoplift cartons of cigarettes Monday morning got more than they bargained for when they chose Hadden’s IGA.

An eyewitness said three men had come into the store on Peachtree Street in Louisville about 8:15 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1.

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One of the men jumped behind a counter and grabbed cartons of cigarettes and packages of cigarillos and hid them around the store, she said.

The eyewitness said the men left without buying anything but returned about 15 minutes later, which aroused suspicion.

“Two employees saw them putting something in their pants. After that, they were called out about it,” she said, adding that’s when the men tried to run.

“One of them got out of the store and then the manager locked the doors,” she said.

One employee and the store manager caught the other man.

The eyewitness said the man kept hitting the employee and the manager.

“They were just basically trying to hold him until the police got there. One of the employees had a choke hold on one of the suspects,” she said.

The eyewitness said she called the police and they arrived in fewer than 10 minutes.

“As soon as I called them, they came right up,” she said. “It was awful. I was petrified.”

The eyewitness said when the men realized they had been seen they ran to the meat department and threw down some of the items they had taken.

“They were just kind of running around throwing cigarettes down so they wouldn’t get caught with them,” she said.

There were three suspects, one of whom police detained and charges are pending.




Louisville passes new policy manual

By Bonnie K. Sargent
Apprentice

During its July council meeting, the Louisville City Council adopted a new Police Policy and Procedures Manual.

City Administrator Don Rhodes said in an interview after the meeting that the new manual had nothing to do with a police brutality case, which had also been mentioned in the council meeting.

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“This has been in the works now for at least a year and a half, maybe more,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes said they were given the money to revise the manual when they received a Community-Oriented Policing Services grant. The city first applied for the COPS grant in 2008. The grant amounted to around $650,000, some of which went to revising the manual.

Rhodes said the money is also used for communications equipment, computer networking, surveillance systems, digital in-car cameras, generators and records management software.

He said they have also been working on a tornado warning system, community crime incidents mapping and a live scan palm-scanner, which has not been purchased yet. He said they have about a year left with the grant.

The new manual is approximately 365 pages long. According to Rhodes, the old manual was probably fewer than 100 pages. Rhodes said it has probably been 20 years since the manual was last updated.

“You could operate under it as a police department; but, there were some sections that needed to be updated,” Rhodes said.

“Compared to the old one it’s something we’ve needed for a long time,” said Louisville Police Chief Jimmy Miller.

Rhodes said the new manual started with a model from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. He said Miller made some revisions to it. Miller said he included several things that were not covered in the old manual, including a social network policy, a policy on racial profiling and a policy on video recording in patrol cars and on officers.

Miller said they also added a chapter on investigations, because of an investigator’s position that was created this year.

“Those things weren’t covered in the old manual,” Miller said.

The new manual contains 21 chapters that cover general provisions, agency goals, organization and administration, training, conduct, discipline, appeals and grievances, uniform and dress code, arrest, search and seizure, firearms, use of force, operation of police vehicles, evidence and property, records and information management.

It will also include communications, patrol function, investigative function, biased-based policing, body armor, internet and social networking policy and mobile video recording.

The mission statement adopted in the manual states “We vow to protect and serve our entire community by using effective and proven standards of national excellence, with a positive and progressive attitude in every aspect of our public service. The end result is a police department the City of Louisville will be proud to call its own.”

Miller said the new manual has not yet been implemented, but they are working on it.

“It will give them something to look at that will allow them to conduct themselves accordingly,” Miller said. “It will give them a set of rules so they know what they can do, what they can’t do and what they are expected to do.”




City losing last commercial gas customer

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Since the announcement July 12 that Thermo King would close its doors in Jefferson County, many citizens and officials have wondered what impact it will make on the city of Louisville and the rest of the county.

The Ingersoll Rand owned company has been in the county since the 1960s, and come June of next year, 235 people will be without jobs on which they have come to depend. One hundred seventy-nine of those jobs will be from staff who live in Jefferson County.

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According to Ingersoll Rand, about one-third of the workers are eligible to retire and the rest can apply for other jobs within the corporation, while they move production from Jefferson County to a plant in Hastings, Neb., which will expand.

Though the tax base for the company goes to the county, the city of Louisville will also be hit financially because of the closure.

“They were probably about 20 percent of our natural gas sales,” City Administrator Don Rhodes said.

That 20 percent means up to $200,000 in lost income to help pay the natural gas bill for the city of Louisville. Rhodes explained that the city’s natural gas contract is paying for the amount of space in the pipeline in order to transport the gas to area citizens and businesses.

The city of Louisville is only three years into its current 10 year contract with the Municipal Gas Authority. All the gas sent to municipalities is pooled, so the cities pay only for the space it takes to deliver gas.

As for renegotiating the contract, while Rhodes said sometimes it can happen, he seriously doubts it will happen in this case.

“The city will pay more for the price of the gas,” Rhodes said, adding that explaining the gas situation is complicated. “The customers will not be affected and will not have to pay more. In other words, when we start budgeting at the end of the year, we will have to budget for the loss of the gas customer then and there.”

Thermo King was the city’s biggest natural gas customer and with the loss of that income and the loss of jobs, the city is facing a double blow.

“This is a blow to the city and county,” Rhodes affirmed. “We really weren’t expecting this. The people that live here in the city will lose their jobs, and we have quite a few that live in the city.”

Rhodes said the city did not have a contract with Thermo King for natural gas. He said instead of passing the expense on to other customers in the city by raising natural gas prices or the millage rate, the city is looking to cut expenses in other ways.

“We really hate to see Thermo King go,” Rhodes said. “They have been a real good corporate citizen. They are a part of our community and we have certainly enjoyed working with all the people we work with out there. We often work with people in the office to make sure we have gas available for them.”

Rhodes did note that the city gets some natural gas from the Gulf, but a lot more is coming from the coal seam gas in Alabama.

“That’s the new way a lot of the cities and industries are getting gas,” he said.

The process is called hydraulic fracturing, or often called fracking, which initiates and subsequently propagates a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid as the source of energy. A wellbore is drilled into reservoir rock formations to increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas.

“It’s a way of getting gas that we have in the United States, and don’t have problems you have getting gas from the Gulf, with the problems from hurricanes and shutting down wells. It is a lot of gas they have found in the last three years. It is the reason natural gas is at a very reasonable price,” he said.






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