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November 17, 2011 Issue

Body pulled from Bartow-area pond
Fire at Wrens plant...
Wadley raises millage rate

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Body pulled from Bartow-area pond

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Hours after a man was reported missing and his boat was found capsized, divers from Burke County located the man’s body in Salters Pond outside the city limits of Bartow about 9:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10.

The man was identified as Keith Branden Morris, 40, from Sandersville.

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Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Fay McGahee said Saturday an autopsy performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed the man died by drowning.

Jefferson County Sheriff Hutchins had said Thursday the man could not swim and did not have a life jacket. Fishing lines were found hanging from the boat.

A passerby noticed the boat and called authorities around 1:15 p.m.

Law enforcement responded to the area, which is located on Highway 319 North.

Two officers rowed out to check around the boat, Sgt. Barrow Walden said. Walden was one of three investigators with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on the scene, along with Hutchins and JCSO Maj. Charlie Gibbons.

Several people stopped to talk with the sheriff and Gibbons. One man said he had seen alligators in the pond, one of which was about 8 feet long.

Another eyewitness said he was headed to Augusta on the highway and saw the man out in his boat fishing about 1:15 p.m.

Officials requested assistance from a dive team from Burke County and one from McDuffie County. Walden contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Fay McGahee transported the body to the GBI in Atlanta Thursday night, Walden said.

Divers from McDuffie County used an underwater camera to look in the murky water for the body.

Hutchins said the man’s body was found about 15 feet from the boat.

“We were having problems with ID because he was in another man’s truck,” Hutchins said. “There wasn’t any ID on him.”

The sheriff said a warden identified the body. Morris worked at Johnson State Prison in Johnson County.

McGahee said the medical examiner with the GBI ruled the manner of death as an accident.

A crew with Gold Cross EMS had been standing by in case the divers needed medical care.

Maj. Carl Wagster, the county’s EMS director, said all of the divers were OK.

“They did an outstanding job,” he said. “It was impressive. It was a big deal to find that man in that murky water and in the dark.”




Fire at Wrens plant...

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Firefighters work to control a blaze that broke out at Glit Inc., a manufacturing plant in Wrens Saturday afternoon. According to Wrens Fire Department records, a security officer at the plant discovered 15-foot flames in an oven within the building around 3 p.m. Firefighters discovered that an industrial oven had caught fire. Along with firefighters from Stapleton, Avera and Matthews, the Wrens department extinguished the oven fire and cut a hole in the oven’s chute. They checked the roof and building for fire spread but did not find any. Wrens Fire Chief Larry Cheely said that he was proud of the professionalism and speed showed by the firefighters who worked the incident.

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Wadley raises millage rate

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

In the midst of a heated discussion Monday, Nov. 14, Wadley City Council voted to increase the city’s millage rate 1 mill, bringing the city’s rate to 15 mills.

Councilwoman Dorothy Strowbridge said she did not feel this was the time to increase taxes.

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“I am not for raising taxes,” she said.

“We are going to have a shortfall in our budget; and, the reason for that is the Freeport,” Councilman Albert Samples said, referring to a Freeport exemption local industries have in Wadley. The exemption is applied to certain inventory and lowers the amount of taxes paid by those industries.

Wadley is in the process of negotiating with several industries in the city that have not been receiving their exemptions.

“We had a little investigation on it,” Samples said, adding the city’s stance is that it owes about $36,000 to the industries.

“The only thing we have in Wadley to generate revenue is taxes,” Samples said.

“I was against raising taxes; but, it’s got to come from some place,” he said. “Or we have to cut services or lay people off. The citizens voted it in.”

Samples said the citizens could vote the Freeport tax out in another referendum.

“We don’t have to vote it out,” Strowbridge said. “We want to keep our industries here.”

Strowbridge said the amount of the exemption could vary.

“It could be 20 percent, 40 percent, 60 percent. It doesn’t have to be 100 percent,” she said.

Strowbridge pointed out the city has $75,000 in delinquent taxes due from property owners.

After some discussion, Samples said, “I am going to make the motion for the 1 mill. If we vote the Freeport out, we can rescind it.”

Councilman Izell Mack made the motion, which Samples seconded. The motion passed with Mack, Samples and Councilwoman Edie Pundt voting for it. Strowbridge voted against the motion. Councilman John Maye was absent from the meeting.

Wadley City Clerk Sallie Adams said in an interview Tuesday she expects to be able to mail out the tax bills sometime this month.

“Probably the last of the month,” she said.

The law requires taxpayers to be given at least 60 days to pay their tax bills.

Adams said taxpayers will have 60 days from the date of the bill.

“If they go out on the 15th, it will be due the 15th of January,” she said. “If it’s the 30th, it will be due the 30th of January.”

Adams said the extra mill is expected to generate about $43,000. Last year’s revenue from taxes was $415,400, she said, bringing the 2012 revenue to $458,400.




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