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August 11, 2011 Issue

Industries give city deadline
First day jitters
GBI releases report on brutality investigation

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Industries give city deadline

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Four businesses in Wadley have given notice of their intent to file suit against the city if it does not attempt to discuss a resolution by Friday.

In a letter dated Aug. 3, Bill Keogh, an Augusta attorney representing the businesses, stated that he understood from a meeting held two weeks ago that the city council would not be using the city attorney to address a disagreement regarding the city’s Freeport tax exemption.


“If there is no identified lawyer or agent to discuss the matter with, we will unfortunately have no choice other than to go ahead and file suit by the end of next week,” the letter states.

Keogh represents Fulghum Industries, Cooper Machine, Battle Lumber and Rachels Machine & Fabrication.

Representatives of these businesses have been discussing the city’s Freeport tax exemption with the city council for several months without a resolution.

The basis for the discussion is a Freeport tax exemption passed by referendum in the city about 10 years ago.

The referendum gave the businesses a tax exemption for certain items manufactured but not shipped out to customers.

The businesses have been paying their taxes and approached the city several months ago regarding either a credit on future tax bills or receiving a repayment. The overpayment is about $190,000.

City records show the amounts owed to the companies to recompense three years of overpayments are $133,883.10 to Battle Lumber, $3,093.23 to Cooper Machine, $53,783.50 to Fulghum Industries and $3,210.85 to Rachels Machine and Fabrication. Keogh’s figures matched these amounts.

Three of the city council members, Izell Mack, Albert Samples and Dorothy Strowbridge, have stated they do not believe the city has enacted the exemption, that paperwork was not properly handled.

In the July meeting, Keogh told the council the referendum was held in 2001. He said referendums are different.

“The people are the ones who approved it,” he said.

Keogh said the attorney general has given the opinion that it doesn’t stop going into effect because of a technicality. He said usually in this type of case, they usually sue.

In previous meetings, city attorney John Murphy has advised the city to pay the money to the businesses or offer a credit, to work something out with them.

In Monday’s council meeting, Aug. 8, the council voted to hire the Kirby firm to represent the city in this matter.

In Keogh’s letter, he stated, “Please keep in mind that interest is running on this claim as a matter of law, and at today’s rates I calculate that the claims continue to increase by over $1,000 a month since the time of demand.”

Keogh also stated if the deadline passes, he will seek a recovery of all reasonable costs and expenses, including legal expenses and fees associated with the case.

“In these economically competitive times, it is our sincere hope that these institutions will not need to bring a lawsuit to recover what the law clearly provides is owed to them,” his letter states.

“To state the least, I believe that such a step could induce one or more of them to consider relocating to a community that values the jobs and tax base they bring. As we have all unfortunately seen with the loss of Thermo King, we live in a very mobile world,” he stated.

First day jitters

Tabitha Padgett soothes tears and kisses her twin boys, Easton and Caleb Pittman, goodbye on their first day of kindergarten Monday at GCCS. A Carver Elementary student tears up and clings to mom. Corey Stone gives son Tydarius one last hug before leaving him with his Wrens Elementary pre-K teachers. Little Lexi Mitchell bury’s her head in mom Sandi Mitchell’s arm. A Carver Elementary mom dries tears. Brian Shelton gives his son, Landon, one last hug before class begins.


GBI releases report on brutality investigation

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has completed an investigation into charges of police brutality, which had been made against two Louisville police officers last month.

Louisville City Council suspended the officers, Elliott Kline and James Boatright, with pay during the council’s meeting in July.


Louisville Police Chief Jimmy Miller requested the GBI conduct an investigation into the allegations once a formal complaint had been received.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred in June on a corner of Broad Street in Louisville.

James Ivery, the president of the Jefferson County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said last month that he has been involved in a charge of police brutality by a Louisville citizen.

Ivery said the citizen, 28-year-old Christopher L. Walden, had been grabbed by two LPD officers. The officers hand cuffed him and committed police brutality and used excessive force upon Walden who was not resisting, Ivery said.

A copy of the police report obtained by The News and Farmer / The Jefferson Reporter states the man was charged with possession of marijuana, less than an ounce, second offense; and obstruction of law enforcement officer, with violence, which is a felony.

The report states that a juvenile had identified the man as someone who had sold three juveniles fire crackers. Walden told officers he didn’t have any firecrackers and attempted to walk away from the officers, the report states.

“While doing so, he removed something from his pants pocket and tossed it towards the patrol car. Officers grabbed (him) by the wrist in an attempt to detain him and he swung in an attempt to strike the officers,” the report states, adding the man was arrested after a brief struggle.

GBI Special Agent in Charge Mike Ayers said his office began its involvement July 7.

The GBI turned their file over to the district attorney’s office Friday, Aug. 5.

District Attorney Hayward Altman said Monday he had received the file and asked for a copy to be made. Altman will review the file and decide whether the officers committed any acts that warrant criminal charges, he said.

In an interview last week, prior to the release of the report, Altman discussed the procedure to be followed.

Altman said Miller followed correct protocol in making a request to the GBI for an independent investigation into the charges of police brutality.

“At this point, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is doing an independent investigation, which will be reported directly to me. Upon receipt of the report, I will make a determination as to what action, if any, is necessary to take. Chief Miller, the GBI and our office take seriously any allegation of any misconduct by any law enforcement officer or agency. The difficulty that takes place in these investigations is getting the cooperation necessary from the public to do a thorough job,” he said.

“In this particular instance, we’re having difficulty in getting people to be forthcoming,” Altman said.

“The GBI are following up on any information provided to them; but, sometimes it’s frustrating when people do not cooperate. Chief Jimmy Miller has done an excellent job in asking for the investigation. The Louisville Police Department has been cooperating with providing information to the GBI and I hope everyone else will do so also. It is extremely important for the citizens of Jefferson County,” he said.

“We’re having difficulty, it’s my understanding there’s difficulty in locating alleged eye witnesses to the event and obtaining their cooperation,” he said.

Ayers said last week they were in the process of finalizing the report.

“Certainly anybody who has information on this, we encourage them to come forward,” Ayers said. “We would like to talk with anyone with credible information.”

Ayers said even after the report has been forwarded to the district attorney, the GBI would still forward additional information to Altman.

On Tuesday, Altman said he had a work copy of the report made so he can make notes.

“I actually had them make a copy, a work copy, for me so I can carefully review it and break it down and compare statements so that I could make a legitimate determination after a thorough reading of the file,” he said Tuesday.

“I don’t want anybody to think that I’m just giving it a cursory examination,” he said, adding it may take him anywhere from three to four days up to a week to finish his review of the GBI’s report.

The district attorney said he had started reviewing the file Tuesday.

“There are two CDs to review and about 200 to 300 pages to read,” he said.

“Everybody needs to understand that I’m reviewing it to determine whether or not any type of criminal prosecution against the officers should occur. Any other administrative review would have to be done by the police department itself,” he said.

Miller will not get a copy of the GBI’s report until Altman is finished, the district attorney said.

Ayers said anyone with information about this incident should contact him at the Thomson GBI office at 706-595-2575.

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