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December 15, 2011 Issue

Wadley agrees to pay businesses
Jefferson County leaders discuss possible district lines
Glascock’s Proposed Districts Reviewed
Power plant would burn 80 percent wood, 20 percent TDF

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Wadley agrees to pay businesses

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

After months of arguing over whether the money was owed, Wadley city council unanimously approved payment to three businesses as reimbursement for not giving them a Freeport exemption.

The total so far approved comes to $36,874.11. “Can you pay this tomorrow?” asked Councilman Albert Samples.

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“I can’t pay it tomorrow; but, I can pay it by the end of the month,” City Clerk Sallie Adams said.

Negotions continue with Battle Lumber over the $133,883.10 it initially said it has paid over the last three years.

Voters in the city passed a referendum about 10 years ago granting the Freeport exemption. The exemption was not given by the city nor asked for by the businesses until last year.

The exemption allows certain items in inventory to not be counted for taxation purposes. However, the businesses have been paying their taxes without the exemption.

The industries, Cooper Machine, Rachels Machine & Fabrication, Fulghum Industries and Battle Lumber, have been discussing the overpayment with the city without agreement and recently began legal action.

The payment will be made to Cooper Machine in the amount of $2,137.03, Rachels Machine & Fabrication for $2,121.59 and Fulghum Industries for $32,615.59, Adams said.

This is just for 2008 and 2009 for the taxes that should have been deducted under the Freeport exemption, she said.

In other news:

After an executive session, city council voted 4 to 1 to approve Wadley Police Chief Wesley Lewis’ recommendation to place Wadley Patrolman Kertray Angel Mangual, 34, on administrative leave with pay.

Mangual was arrested last week and charged with family violence battery. The charge stems from an incident in Wrens involving his girlfriend who was also arrested on the same charge.

Because Mangual is a police officer, the incident is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

City Attorney John Murphy said a vote was needed to approve the chief’s request that Mangual be put on paid administrative leave and one-year employee probation with the condition that he not violate any laws or policies.

Council member Dorothy Strowbridge cast the sole dissenting vote and said, “I am opposed.”

After the meeting, Lewis said he placed Mangual on leave last Wednesday and turned in the paperwork to the city.

The patrolman’s status will remain until the investigation is concluded. His return to work depends on the outcome, Lewis said.

The chief said last week the law prohibits anyone convicted of family violence from carrying a weapon, which would make Mangual unable to perform his duties.




Jefferson County leaders discuss possible district lines

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Members of Jefferson County’s school board along with members of the county’s board of commissioners traveled to Atlanta Wednesday, Dec. 7, to discuss redistricting.

Mickey Moses, the county’s solicitor, discussed how the shifts in population effect the commissioners’ districts.

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“Gonice’s (Davis) district is a negative deviation of 8.91 percent,” Moses said. “Johnny’s (Davis) district is a negative deviation of 8.41 percent. Wayne’s (Davis) district is a deviation to a positive of 13.77 percent. Tommy’s (New) is a 3.5 percent positive deviation.”

“If you move one line, it affects everybody’s line,” he said.

Moses said the redistricting is required because of the results of the most recent census.

“The population has grown in the northern end and has shrunk in the southern end. Every time you have a census you have to get reorganized. Sometimes it stays the same. It varies from district to district,” he said.

“The districts have got to be pretty close in population,” Moses said.

The census shows a population in the county of 16,930, he said. In order to make each of the county’s districts even, that figure is divided by four, the number of districts in the county.

“About 4,233 persons per district as a result of the population shifts,” Moses said.

The attorney said he thinks the northern district now has 4,816 people and District 1 has 3,856.

“You’ve got to get them within tolerance otherwise you’re violating the one-man one-vote rule,” he said. “Nothing’s going to work out to 4,233, but within the tolerance of everybody being close to equal.”

Moses said that although the commissioners and school board members will be going to Atlanta together, that’s not required.

He said it’s hoped the school board and commissioners will agree on the districts.

Dr. Molly Howard, the county’s school system superintendent, said on Monday she’s not sure yet how the districts will change.

“It’s not a done deal,” Howard said, adding the trip went very well.

Howard said a representative with the state will be sending a proposal for the board to review.

“I have not received anything from her yet,” Howard said.

“She was going to email it to us so that we could look at it for study,” she said, adding the next step is for the legislators to approve it.

“Then it goes to the justice department for approval,” Howard said.







Glascock’s Proposed Districts Reviewed.

With the 2010 Census, comes changes to state elected positions, as well as locally elected seats in Glascock County.

Currently, the Glascock Board of Education is looking at two options as to where the districts will be for board members in the coming year, while the Glascock County Board of Commissioners will not have to redistrict. Commission Chairman Ant Griswell did say that they are looking at staggering terms.

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Glascock County Superintendent Jim Holton said that after reviewing information from the Glascock County Chief Registrar Kathy Lyons, it will be necessary for the school board to move district lines because of population changes in the Mitchell and Edgehill districts.

“The Mitchell district’s population has grown by 6.10 percent and the Edgehill district’s population has decreased by 9.48 percent,” Holton explained. “The Gibson and Mill districts were within statistical compliance.”

Holton said he notified the Board of Education attorney Corey Kirby.

“Mr. Kirby reviewed the census data and replied with a letter advising the board to redistrict based on the Voters Rights Act Legislation,” Holton said.

Once Holton received approval from the board to proceed with the redistricting process maintaining compliance with state and federal election guidelines, he contacted the Georgia Office of Reapportionment.

“I requested that redistricting map options be prepared which maintain the cores of our current districts and provide minimal changes necessary to achieve statistical compliance with state and federal guidelines,” Holton said. “Only slight redistricting changes were necessary. The proposed districts should remain very much as they were prior to the redistricting process. Current board members still reside in the districts from which they were elected.”

Holton said last week that the school board plans to approve one of the two options given by the Georgia Office of Reapportionment in January.

“After the Board of Education approves a redistricting map which is in compliance with state and federal regulations, the approved map will be introduced into the Georgia Legislature for ratification,” Holton explained.

The Georgia Legislature will determine when the updated districts become effective for the county.

Both proposed redistricted maps are available for viewing at the Glascock County Board of Education office on Railroad Street in Gibson.

For Glascock County Commissioners, Griswell said that redistricting was not needed because all three commissioners run county-wide.

“We have kind of a unique situation,” Griswell said. “We are probably one of the very few, if not the only, counties that you run in a district, but everyone in the county is voting for you.”

Griswell said at the November meeting, commissioners discussed how to stagger their terms.

“The voters may like to have a clean sweep,” Griswell said, addressing an election, “but it is not in the county’s best interest. Somebody needs to be there that knows how things have to operate. You don’t know what it is like until you are in the game.”

Griswell said commissioners are still in discussion for trying to find the best end result for citizens.

“For the next election, someone will have to take a two-year term, while the other two commissioners will have four-year terms,” he said. “We are looking at all the possibilities, as to what will serve the citizens of Glascock County the best. We will make a decision between now and January because we have to come up with some solutions.”

Griswell said any changes will have to go up for approval through the state legislature’s general assembly beginning shortly after the new year.




Power plant would burn 80 percent wood, 20 percent TDF

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

Rick Cashatt, the man behind North Star Renewable Energy and the 20 MW co-generation power plant proposed for the Wadley area industrial park, has spent the last several weeks doing his best to answer every question put to him.

Last month, in a single day, he met with three different groups of individuals who have shown either interest, concern or outright disapproval for his plant and its site.

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Since then he has been collecting answers and responses to concerns that have been expressed in letters to Georgia EPD about the plant’s pending air quality control permit.

Monday he spoke to the Wadley Lions Club and then later, the city council.

“When you boil it down,” Cashatt said Monday afternon during a break between his two meetings, “it comes down to belief. Do people believe that we are going to do what we say we’re going to do?”

As an engineer he is used to dealing with hard numbers and says he certainly intends to meet the emission numbers required by EPD.

He says he wants the community to have all the answers.

“If the community isn’t behind these projects, they don’t get built,” Cashatt has said.

Air Quality Concerns
So far, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has received eight letters expressing concerns regarding the proposed plant.

Eric Cornwell, program manager of EPD’s Air Protection Branch Stationary Source Permitting Program, said these letters express concerns over a number of issues, like dioxins, but largely deal with the plant’s proposed use of tire-derived fuel. Others, he said, addressed more general health concerns.

“There’s a lot of information from a lot of sources regarding tire-derived fuel (TDF),” Cornwell said. “The EPA has a website explaining a lot about this fuel source. I wish more people would get information from EPA itself and consider it as well when forming their opinion of this fuel.”

Louis Zeller on behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League recently asked the state to restart the permit process for the proposed plant and asked for a public hearing to be held before EPD moves on the requested air quality permit.

“Burning used tires to generate electric power is problematic, unreliable and results in high levels of air pollution,” said Zeller, the League’s science director.

In his letter to EPD he said that even with pollution controls, the power plant’s smokestack emissions would include hydrocarbons, dioxins and fine particles that can carry toxins deep into the lungs.

The letter also suggested that there would be an environmental justice issue if the state were to permit a facility that emits excessive levels of toxic air pollution into a community that has higher rates of poverty and a greater percentage of black residents than the rest of the county.

Diana Wedincamp, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, said her organization is most concerned with mercury emissions and water withdrawal.

“We have the permit application and are reviewing it,” Cornwell said.

Answering concerns
The key to making this plant profitable, Cashatt says, is in the fuel mix.

He believes that the combination of 80 percent wood (mostly chippings from tree tops, thinnings and low-value woods) and 20 percent tire derived fuel (old tires that have had at least 95 percent of the metal removed and are then chipped into small pieces) is just right for this project.

“Why not use all wood?” Cashatt said. “Well, (in that situation) 30 percent of all biomass in a furnace is wasted because it takes 30 percent of your fuel just to dry out the wood in the boiler. TDF burns at 15,000 BTUs per pound.”

By using this amount of TDF the fire in the boiler burns hotter, therefore needing less wood and, he says, burning more efficiently.

“We’ve found that by adding the TDF and increasing the heat, we produce less of the bad emissions,” Cashatt said. “Our studies show there is less nitrous oxide, less greenhouse gasses, less landfill space and fewer trees consumed. It burns hotter and so you have a more complete combustion.”

The dioxins some are concerned about, Cashatt said, are largely released from burning wood, not necessarily tires.

Cornwell said that dioxins are related to the amount of chlorine and fluoride in the fuel.

“By adding the TDF, we burn almost 50 percent less wood,” Cashatt said. “The dioxins levels are so low, they’re almost too low to measure.”

The only compound that appears to go up by adding TDF, Cashatt said, is sulfur dioxide.

“You have to scrub it properly,” he said. “When people think of tires burning, they’re thinking of a tire or a pile of tires they’ve seen and all that black smoke that rises up. That’s an uncontrolled burn. That’s not what happens in a boiler. You won’t see anything like that coming out of our chimney.”

As far as the Riverkeeper’s concern over mercury emissions, Cashatt says they have nothing to worry about, that those emissions will be negligible.

“What happens if I exceed the levels set by EPD?” Cashatt said. “Then I’m fined. And if EPD finds that I exceeded their levels and did it willfully and with intent, like for financial reasons, then I go to jail. I don’t want to go to jail.”

Some 40 percent of the cost of the boiler is spent on pollution control measures, he said.

“We are spending quite a bit of our capital trying to do what we are required to do,” Cashatt said.

What’s next
The air permit is in its 30-day notice period, Cashatt said.

“I expect to hear something in the next two to three weeks,” he said. “A public hearing has been requested and I’m thinking that will probably be held sometime in January.”

Cornwell said if the application meets EPD’s requirements he hopes to have a draft of the permit ready by late January. A public hearing would then be scheduled.

“It will be conducted by EPD,” Cornwell said. “We will hold it as close to the facility as we can. The hearing will be a two-step process, beginning with a Q and A session beginning around 6:30. We will hear from both North Star and concerned citizens. At this time we will try to answer any questions about the air quality control issues. Then we will hold the hearing itself where we accept formal public comment for the record. We won’t respond to these comments, that’s for the Q and A. EPD will only respond to air quality issues, but it is common to have all comments made and entered into the record on other aspects of the proposed plant.”

EPD will then consider the concerns brought forward and determine whether Cashatt’s proposed plant will meet the requirements set by the federal EPA and if other requirements should be set.

“Hopefully by the end of February we will know if we have met all the requirements,” Cashatt said.

And, he hopes, have answered all the citizens’ questions and concerns as well.




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