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August 25, 2011 Issue

Three shot outside Wadley area club
DAJC pursues industry, deals getting close
New district would mean local changes
County sets millage rate

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Three shot outside Wadley area club

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Jefferson County deputies are still looking for a suspect in a shooting that occurred Sunday, Aug. 21, about 2 a.m. at Lincoln Park Club on Lincoln Park Road outside the city limits of Wadley.

The suspect shot three men, aged 32, 25 and 22.

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Two of the men were reportedly shot in the buttocks and one in the side, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said on Sunday.

The spokesman said investigators plan to interview the victims, all of whom have been admitted to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

The suspect additionally shot into a car with three females inside, none of whom were hurt.

Family members of the suspect told officers he would turn himself in Monday but had not done so as of press time Tuesday, the spokesman said.

Two of the victims were flown to MCG from the scene. The third went to Jefferson Hospital on his own or was driven there and was later taken by ground ambulance to MCG, said Jefferson County EMS Director Carl Wagster.

The sheriff’s spokesman said investigators have interviewed witnesses and people who have spoken with witnesses.

All three who were shot are allegedly related to the suspect, the spokesman said.

“We have not made an arrest; but, we do have a suspect that we’re looking for,” he said. “We have been told by family members of the suspect that he is in hiding.”

The suspect is from the Wadley area, the spokesman said.



“We have no reason to believe he was hurt. We did see him on video at a store in the county after the shooting and he did not appear to be hurt at all,” he said.

“The shooter also shot in a car which had three females in it. They were ducking the bullets. I don’t know if the shooter thought one of the guys he was trying to shoot had gotten in the car, I don’t know. He shot through the back window as if he was trying to shoot somebody in the car. The bullet went all the way through the window,” the spokesman said.

No one in the car was hurt, he said.




DAJC pursues industry, deals getting close

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

In a public meeting Thursday, Aug. 18, the Development Authority of Jefferson County announced there are two business prospects close to signing an agreement to locate plants in the county.

One business, which would employ approximately 60 people, is considering a location at the Kings Mill Industrial Park near Wrens; and, the other business is considering a site outside Wadley, executive director Tom Jordan said.

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“They are far enough along that we can call them prospects,” said Bill Easterlin, the board’s chairman.

The first company, which is also being courted by South Carolina, is waiting for an Air Quality Permit from the EPD before moving forward with their plans, Jordan said.

In order to provide the infrastructure needed for the industry, Allen-Smith Consulting Group has been contracted to write several grants.

The grants will be used to fund road, sewer, gas system, water and rail improvements.

Allen-Smith will be applying for a $1,040,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration and a $500,000 grant from OneGeorgia Authority for road improvements, a $500,000 grant from the state’s Employment Incentive Program for sewer improvements and a $735,000 grant from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority for water improvements.

The DAJC will be responsible for about $2,193,000, Jordan said. All of these funds will be used to improve the site at the Kings Mill Industrial Park.

The company planning to locate a plant at that site will invest about $120 million, he said.

In addition to the site itself, residents who get their water from the city of Wrens are also expected to benefit from the project’s water improvements.

“The question here is do we have the funds to do this and we do,” Easterlin said. “We are able to meet these commitments.”

Jordan said in an interview Monday the funds the authority will use will come from SPLOST, tax revenue from the three-quarters of a mill in the county’s millage rate and from lease payments from other DAJC properties.

Jordan said the authority will be using funds generated from both the 2005 and the 2010 SPLOSTs.

“We try not to get into a position of spending it before we get it; but, it could include the current SPLOST,” he said. “Our plan is to not commit the 2010 funds until we actually have collected them.”

Jordan said the costs for the improvements are based on projections from their engineers.

“The projects haven’t been bid yet,” he said. “Sometimes they come in above and sometimes they come in below projections. They’re the best estimates.”

Jordan said the estimates are from engineers accustomed to the type of work planned for the industrial park.

“They understand the design cost and construction cost and everything that goes into it,” he said.

Jordan said the company will process kaolin and will be using the best available technology to reduce emissions.

Easterlin told the authority he and Jordan had gone to Atlanta the day before to meet with the company’s president and the CFO, as well as Jefferson County’s legislative delegation, Sen. Jesse Stone and Rep. Mack Jackson.

“It was a good meeting,” Easterlin said. “They’re committed to doing this,” he said of the company officials.

“This is a start up company,” Easterlin said.

Edie Pundt, a member of the authority, said Georgia has the third largest clay deposits.

“This is the best quality,” Easterlin said.

Authority member Rita Culvern said, “The best quality is in Jefferson County.”

“The demand is growing,” Easterlin said. “We’re not going to shut anyone down by any means.”

Jordan said the company will not be in direct competition with other companies in the county.

“The product that this company will be producing will compete against the Chinese imports coming into the country now and not a similar manufacturer,” Jordan said.

He said this project was not typical.

“It came on rather rapidly,” he said, adding each project is unique.

Jordan said the project is not contingent on the grants.

“We’ve worked that out with the company. If we can’t get grants, the next choice will be loans,” he said.

“The fact is that the grants are not tied to each other. If one is not awarded that doesn’t preclude the others from awarding. We would just have to pursue loans and other sources for that expenditure,” he said.

The second company, which is looking at the Wadley Bartow Industrial Park is a biomass renewable energy project, Jordan said.

It’s a $53 million project, he said.

Jordan said the representative of that company would be in Jefferson County within the next two weeks.

He also said there is potential of having other industries co-locate in order to use the steam that will be a by-product of the biomass company.




New district would mean local changes

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Current Georgia lawmakers recently revealed the newly drawn maps for the state’s Congressional, House and Senate districts. Redrawing the state’s legislative and congressional districts happens at least once every 10 years after the release of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Redistricting is important to elected officials as a minor change in district lines has the potential to sway an election, or in this year’s case give a greater Republican stronghold on the state of Georgia, which has not happened since Democrats led the state during redistricting. Republicans currently hold every statewide office and the majority in the state’s House, Senate and Congress.

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It is also important to voters because depending upon how the lines are redrawn during the redistricting process, it can increase their community’s influence or decrease it.

After looking at all three proposed maps, there will be changes for the possibility of representation from all forms of elected government.

A loss of population in the southern part of the state moved district lines, but a gain in population in north Georgia created a new 14th district.

Georgia’s Congress has an 8-5 Republican majority, but with the proposed redistricting, it could increase to 10-4, if Barrow loses in southeast Georgia and the new northeast Georgia district goes Republican as expected.

Congressman John Barrow who currently holds the seat for District 12, which includes Jefferson and Glascock counties, will again have to move to just to stay in the 12th, but will no longer cover the two-county area.

Barrow moved from Athens to Savannah to stay in District 12 years ago. In 2005, Barrow made a narrow victory as a conservative Democrat in the new district.

The current 12th district includes part of Richmond, part of Chatham, part of Baldwin, Taliaferro, Hancock, Warren, Washington, Johnson, Treutlen, Montgomery, Toombs, Tattnall, Evans, Emanuel, Candler, Bulloch, Effingham, Jenkins, Screven, Burke, Glascock and Jefferson counties.

And for now, it seems that Barrow is making plans to stay in the newly created 12th District.

“I look forward to getting to know the new constituents drawn in to Georgia’s 12th District, and building on the friendships I’ve formed with folks who still call the 12th District home,” Barrow said, adding, “This isn’t the first time the folks in Atlanta have put politics above the interests of the people I represent… and I doubt it will be the last.? But I’ve always believed that working hard for the people trumps politics every time.”

If he decided to stay in Savannah, he would have to run against Jack Kingston in District 1. District 12, which is currently 45 percent black, would be 36 percent black, and will also include new territories, like Laurens, Wheeler, Telfair, Jeff Davis, Appling, and Coffee counties, in which Barrow will have to establish himself.

Jefferson and Glascock counties will be in District 10, which is currently held by republican Dr. Paul C. Broun Jr., who was elected in 2007. Broun is appointed to the House Homeland Security Committee, the House Committee on Natural Resources and currently serves as Chairman of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee for the House Science and Technology Committee.

He grew up in Athens, graduated from the University of Georgia, served in the U.S. Armed Forces and is a doctor who makes full-time house calls. His father was a state senator for 38 years.

The proposed District 10 includes part of Gwinnett, part of Newton, part of Henry, part of Clarke, part of Columbia, Barrow, Walton, Butts, Jasper, Morgan, Oconee, Greene, Oglethorpe, Putnam, Baldwin, Hancock, Taliaferro, Wilkes, Lincoln, McDuffie, Warren, Washington, Johnson, Glascock and Jefferson counties.

Maps are subject to the federal Voting Rights Act, which helps to protect black voters. Gov. Nathan Deal said he believes the maps are fair and will be approved by federal courts and the Justice Department.

“I think they represent as nearly as possible the communities of interest across the state,” Deal said. “I think the map satisfies the Voting Rights Act requirements very well.”

Deal noted that black voters in southwest Georgia had gains which he said is a move in the right direction.

As for the state’s redistricted Senate map, which is waiting to be accepted by Deal after the House voted 104-56 in approval, the Senate debated approved the House’s newly redrawn map as well.

Republicans say that the new maps meet constitutional standards, while Democrats say it diminishes the voice of minority voters, adding that the new maps are aimed to create a Republican supermajority and will hinder voters at the polls in choosing their candidates. One Georgia senator even went as far as to say that it would resegregate the state.

For the House, Jefferson County is currently represented by democrat Mack Jackson in District 142, while Glascock County is covered by democrat Sistie Hudson in District 124.

Jackson covers part of Burke, part of Emanuel, part of Johnson, Jefferson and Washington counties. Hudson covers part of Putnam, Glascock, Hancock, McDuffie, Taliaferro and Warren counties.

The proposed House map puts most of Jefferson County, except for the southern portion which include Bartow and Wadley, into District 127, along with an eastern portion of Richmond County. The current representative of 127th is Gloria Frazier, and is the only current seat holder in the proposed district.

The southern portion of Jefferson County and all of Glascock County will be in District 128. This will pit democrats Hudson and Jackson against each other in the upcoming election. The 128th will also include part of Johnson, part of McDuffie, Washington, Hancock and Warren counties.

For the Senate map, Glascock County is currently in District 24 and Jefferson County is District 23. The proposed Senate map will put both counties in the same district, 23. District 24 is currently represented by republican Bill Jackson and covers part of Elbert, Wilkes, Lincoln, McDuffie, Columbia and Glascock counties. District 23 is represented by republican Jesse Stone and covers part of Richmond, part of Wilkinson, part of Emanuel, Washington, Jefferson, Burke, Jenkins and Screven counties.

The newly created 23rd district will include part of Emanuel, part of Richmond, part of Columbia, McDuffie, Warren, Glascock, Jefferson, Johnson, Burke, Jenkins and Screven counties. Stone and Jackson will both be eligible to run in the proposed 23rd district.

The state has to submit all maps to the Department of Justice for pre-clearance by Oct. 1. Georgia is one of nine states that must get any change to voting or election law approved by the federal government, as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.




County sets millage rate

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

In a called meeting Friday, Aug. 19, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners set the county’s millage rate for 12.75 mills with .75 being designated for the county’s development authority.

The state also assesses a quarter of a mill; and, the county’s school board set its millage rate at 13.798 mills, which the commissioners voted to accept.

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The LOST Rollback this year is 2.62, which when subtracted provides the county’s net rate of 12.75.

The total millage rate for the county for 2011 is 26.798. Last year’s total millage rate for the county was 26.764.

Jefferson County School Superintendent Dr. Molly Howard said in an interview Tuesday the school system has drastically reduced its budget over the last several years.

“We’ve done everything in our power to keep costs down,” Howard said. “We’ve lost staff. Almost 90 percent of our budget’s in personnel.”

The superintendent said the school system has resorted to furloughing staff for the first time.

“This is the first year that we’ve had to use furlough days and reduce the teachers’ work calendar,” Howard said.

“Because we have cut everything else. We’ve lost approximately 32 staff. We haven’t had to fire anybody or lay anybody off; but, as people leave, we’re not replacing anybody, which creates larger class sizes. We’ve done our best to keep from reducing student days. Our administrators will be taking five furlough days while other staff will face three days,” she said.

Howard said she thought the change is 34-thousands of a mill.

Last year’s rate for the county’s board of education was 13.764.

Howard said this does not generate the amount that we are going to lose due to the reduction of the loss in the tax digest.

Paul Bryan, the county’s administrator, said the county’s millage rate stayed the same.

Bryan said projections for revenue will be about $180,000 less than last year, which corresponds to the reduction in the budget from last year.

“The only reason a taxpayer should see a change in his or her tax bill this year is if the assessed value of their property changed, up or down from what it was last year,” Bryan said.




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