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September 29, 2011 Issue

Wrens police chief resigns
Local property sales ratio meets standard
Welcome to Jefferson County!
Louisville ISO rate lowered

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Wrens police chief resigns

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

After 18 years with the City of Wrens, going on 12 as Chief of Police, David Hannah has resigned.

Hannah turned in his letter of resignation Thursday, Sept. 22.

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The letter to the mayor and council simply reads, “I would like to resign my position as Police Chief at the City of Wrens. I appreciate the opportunity and I have enjoyed my years here but at this time I need to tender my resignation effective immediately.”

In a conversation Thursday afternoon, Hannah mentioned his health in regards to his resignation.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the people of Wrens, all of its citizens,” Hannah said. “It was an honor to work with them.”

In a Friday called meeting, the council accepted Hannah’s resignation.

“We’re going to miss Chief Hannah at the City of Wrens,” said City Administrator Arty Thrift. “We appreciate his years of service and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. That goes for the mayor and council, all of us.”

Hannah first came to work for the city March 26, 1993 as a patrol officer, Thrift said.

“He talked to the mayor and me and said he had a decision to make,” Thrift said. “The resignation was effective immediately.”

Thrift added that he expected Hannah to help the city with the transition.

“I’ll still be around,” Hannah said Thursday afternoon. “I’ve spoken with all of the officers and told them to continue doing a good job for the citizens of Wrens. It’s the citizens that come first no matter what.”

Hannah said that for now he will retain his position as Traffic Enforcement Network Coordinator for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for East Central Georgia.

Through his role as coordinator, Hannah has received several grants that have added $15,000 a year into the district, $7,500 a year for the district and $7,500 a year for the coordinator’s department, all of which is used to purchase traffic enforcement materials and equipment.

Hannah said his annual safety fair, planned for this Saturday at Flat Rock Baptist Church in Matthews is still on as scheduled. It is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

Jim Votaw, the assistant chief, will be in charge of the Wrens Police Department and serving as acting chief, Thrift said.

During the called meeting Friday, the council also gave permission to begin advertising to fill the chief’s vacated position.

Applications are being accepted through Friday, Oct. 14.

“The police chief manages and supervises the daily operations of the police department and its employees,” the approved ad reads. “The person hired will also be responsible for budgeting of department expenses. The position requires a level of competency commonly associated with a baccalaureate degree in a related field or experience sufficient to understand the diverse functions of the position.”




Local property sales ratio meets standard

Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

In a Jefferson County Commissioners meeting last month, County Administrator Paul Bryan told the commissioners the sales ratio is 40 percent.

“This is the first year since I’ve been here that it is 40 percent, as it should be,” he said.

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Bryan asked the commissioners to consider a contract with Pictometry International Corp in Atlanta. The company would be doing a flyover on Jefferson County for the tax assessor’s office, Bryan said.

The first year’s cost would be $19,513.23, with a cost of $12,863.23 for the second and third years, he said.

Katherine Perry, the county’s chief appraiser, said in an interview, her office’s current aerial photography is from a flight that was done in the spring of 2006.

“A company made an offer to us for a package that was feasible in our current budget crunch with an excellent product,” she said, adding aerial photography is an important aid in their work.

“Current photography helps identify ground and building changes that we may not be aware of, such as new construction and timber harvests,” she said. “This is a very large county; and, we need all the aid available to get our job done as well as possible.”

The county commissioners approved the contract.

Perry said the Georgia Department of Revenue has statistics they use to judge the county’s digest.

“They get those statistics from the sales ratio study that is performed by the Georgia Department of Audits,” she said, adding the study is performed every year.

“We have a major review year every three years,” Perry said.

“We appealed this ratio study last year and improved it some; but, it was still under 38 percent. The overall ratio was under 38 percent,” she said.

Perry said the department of revenue will accept studies between 36 percent and 44 percent.

“If we fall in that range, that’s acceptable. But for our public utilities to be billed at 40 percent, it has to fall between 38 and 42,” she said.

“This result was very supportive of the reval that was performed. A lot of people think our values have plummeted like in other parts of the country; but, that didn’t happened here. That is mostly in larger, urban areas. Their markets have dramatically inflated and they lost some of that inflation. We never experienced that dramatic inflation to begin with, not like in urban areas,” Perry said.

“The statistics, they were just beautiful. The public utilities will be billed at 40 percent. Last year, on the 2010 digest, the two separate utility companies appealed the assessment notices that we sent, which were at a 40-percent ratio,” she said.

The chief assessor said the state has to provide the public utility values.

“The state public utility equalization ratio was 37.6,” she said. “We sent the notices at 40 percent anticipating that the 2010 ratio study would prove to be 40 percent. So those appeals will be resolved at the 40 percent ratio on 2010.”

Perry said the 2010 digest is based on 2009 sales.

“The Department of Audits’ ratio is always a year behind,” she said.

Perry said the sales ratio study is the state’s way of determining if the assessor’s office is assessing property in a fair and uniform way.

“If we are outside the guidelines, we can lose money; and, if we are further outside those guidelines we can be penalized, which we have been in the past,” she said. “I appreciate all the efforts everybody made to get us to this point. My staff really did do a good job.”

Perry said her office has 30 days to appeal the sales ratio study; but, they did not appeal this year. The study came in July 15, she said.

“We have nothing that we need to appeal. Everything came out beautiful. Everything was beautiful,” she said.




Welcome to Jefferson County!

By Carol McLeod

In a world where people are consumed with information and news, the Fire House Gallery has media of all forms on its mind, and plans to get it out to visitors and citizens of Jefferson County alike.

The Gallery, along with guidance from the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the Louisville Downtown Development Authority and the Friends of Historic Louisville Board, has opened The Jefferson County Information Center, located at 107 West Broad Street in downtown Louisville.

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The Information Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“My role is managing the new center,” Friends Community Design Fellow Casey Sullivan said.

She will also receive support from Friends Fellows, Philip Muller and Jordan Pilgrim, as well as Friends President Helen Aikman.

“We will be bringing information to citizens and visitors, as well as offering designing services through the Jefferson County Information Center,” Sullivan explained. “The Information Center part is not just for people in our community, but also for visitors and anyone that would like to come in.”

Sullivan said they have display walls and brochure racks with different events currently happening or that will happen in the future, with key information like how to get there and what it will cost. Acrylic panels will hold announcements and images of attractions, and the panels will highlight the county’s scenic roads and attractions, and offer Blackbird Coffee from Milledgeville at $.50 a cup.

“We even have things that are going to happen in October,” Sullivan said. “You name it, we are continually collecting and sharing information with everyone that lives in the county and visitors. We get our information from the newspaper, area businesses and we get it from WPEH. They help us out a lot, too, and put commercials on the radio for us.”

Sullivan said that Friends of Historic Louisville, the Chamber and Louisville Development Authority came up with the idea for the center.

“There wasn’t a place in the county like this, there wasn’t an information center,” she said. “People would go to the Chamber or city hall, but that is not what their primary function is, and the Friends wanted to create a place for that purpose.

“We already have people doing graphic design at the Gallery, so it is definitely art centered. As far as the design expertise, we could already handle that, and we wanted to bring it to other organizations that need it in the county.”

For the designs, Sullivan said she, Aikman, Muller and Pilgrim, work together as a team and are consultants for different organizations, businesses and individuals.

“So if people need business cards, brochures, posters, logos, publicity materials, we invite them to Louisville or go anywhere else in Jefferson County to work with them on designs to get set up for printers.”

Sullivan said while they are a design studio, they are not a printing facility, but hope to move towards screen printing and fine arts printmaking abilities.

“A lot of people have called about the design studio and events just ‘cause they heard me on the radio,” Sullivan chimed. “We are starting to hear about it and people are talking about it.”

To contact the Information Center or Sullivan, call (478) 206-5978, visit jeffersoncountygeorgiainfo.org, or email jeffersoncountygeorgiainfor@gmail.com or fhgcaseysullivan@gmail.com. Sullivan said to also look for them on Facebook soon.



Louisville ISO rate lowered

By Carol McLeod

Louisville Fire Chief Lamar Baxley said recently his office had been notified of a reduction in the city’s ISO rating, from a 5 to a 4.

“We got notification on Sept. 1,” Baxley said.

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“The letter is dated Aug. 29, is when they sent it out,” he said.

The fire chief said that, although a formal announcement has not been made during a city council meeting, he has notified the mayor, council and the city administrator, Don Rhodes.

“The effective date of it will be Dec. 1, 2011,” Baxley said.

“We’re definitely happy,” Rhodes said about the reduction.

“It’s going to benefit the citizens. It may not be a big benefit as far as their insurance premiums,” he said.

Rhodes and Baxley said any reduction in a fire rating by ISO should mean home owners and business owners effected by the rating should see a reduction of some sort in their insurance premiums.

“It means the fire protection in Louisville is better,” Rhodes said.

“Because of the equipment and vehicles that have replaced the older trucks and equipment the citizens have better protection and probably the response time will be reduced,” he said.

“It would depend on the type of the house; but, it should help lower the insurance ratings, what they pay on that. But it should help them in some reduction in what their premiums would be,” Baxley said.

The chief said ISO does not inspect at any specific regular intervals or schedule.

“You have to request one for them to come in and do it,” he said.

“They went through training records, water flow, pumps, equipment, manpower, response time, how many personnel respond to calls. They looked at our automatic aid agreements with other departments, too.

“The 1-percent sales tax that was voted in, that helped to get our equipment. That helped everybody in the county. That was a big plus for us,” he said.

“All of the volunteers and our full time firemen made that possible,” Rhodes said.

“The new ISO rating was made possible by the hard work by the volunteers and the full time firemen. A special thanks would go to the chief for his work on that ISO rating,” the administrator said.

Rhodes said a formal announcement is scheduled for the city’s council meeting in October.

The last time the city had an ISO inspection was in the early 1990s, Rhodes said. At that time, the city’s ISO rating went from a 6 to a 5, Baxley said.

Billy Valduga, an insurance agent with State Farm in Louisville, said homeowners in the city should see some type of rate reduction in their homeowner’s insurance, adding the change in rating should also effect business owners.

“What this means to the typical property owner? Basically, when ISO gets everything over to the state of Georgia, the protection class will be decreased from a 5 to a 4 which ultimately means a lowering of premiums for homeowners,” he said in an interview Tuesday, Sept. 20.

“The insurance companies work off these ISO protection classes. They are rated 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest rating for that area and 10 being the highest, premium wise,” he said.

“It should drive down the cost of the premium, depending on several factors,” Valduga said.

“The first one being the kind of structure, a brick house, a frame house. If you have a commercial building, you might have a metal building, a block building. All those are going to play into a long list,” he said.

Other factors include if the property owner has discounts such as a multi-line discount or an alarm system discount.

“It’s really difficult to put an exact number on how much the decrease will be,” he said.

Valduga said when a property owner will see the effect on his premium might vary.

"Depending how quickly it goes through the department of insurance, it might be the next policy renewal,” he said.

Valduga said anyone with questions should contact his insurance agent.

“I do want to recognize Chief Baxley, Don Rhodes and the city council in getting the new fire station, the equipment in order to really help out everybody in fire protection and as an end result, insurance rates,” he said.

Anyone with questions should contact his insurance agent.




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