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January 19, 2012 Issue

Former county leader passes away at 93
Clerk fights back
Riverkeeper intends to sue company if solution not found
Relay to be moved to high school

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Former county leader passes away at 93

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Jefferson County lost an influential member of its community on Monday, Jan. 16. Former County Commissioner Ozzie Hannah passed away at 93 in Augusta at the VA Medical Center.

Hannah was the county’s first African-American commissioner, first being elected into the newly created District II in 1985.

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“I served with him the whole time he was on the board,” Commissioner Tommy New reminiced.

New said that at the time, Hannah’s district served Wrens Quarters up to Wrens and half of Matthews. Around 1985, the state changed the county to have four districts and a chairman-at-large.

At the time Hannah was elected, he served with New, Ralph Kennedy, Sydney Norton and Chairman Red Buchannan.

“Ozzie was instrumental in getting the first grant for Wrens Quarters to put in water and sewage and to pave the streets,” New said. “Ozzie really is the grandfather of the renovations and what’s been done over the years in Wrens Quarters.”

His service as a commissioner ended on Dec. 31, 2000.

“Ozzie was a pleasure to work with,” New said.

Hannah grew up in Jefferson County and was the son of the late Mark Hannah and Jane Odie Smith Hannah. He was married to the late Willie Lee Sinquefield Hannah.

He served on the Trustee Board at Sand Valley AME Church, where he had attended since his youth. He was also a veteran of the United States Army, was owner of Lakeview Variety Store and part-owner of B&H Construction Company, and a member of the NAACP.

Survivors include his children, Marcellus (Chartain) Hannah of Louisville, Kenneth (Sharon) Hannah of Atlanta, and Pamela (Charles) Oliphant of Wrens; sister, Maggie Jane Walden of Philadelphia, Pa.; sister-in-law, Eunice Hannah of Louisville; grandchildren, Kenyatta Hannah of Alabama, Charles Oliphant Jr. of Columbia, S.C., Sheleria Boyd, Marcellus Hannah II, Krystavia Hannah and Cristiane Hannah of Louisville; friend, Alberta Loyd of Louisville; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

His funeral will be held on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, at 11 a.m. at Sand Valley AME Church and Cemetery.




Clerk fights back

Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Quick thinking and a baseball bat put an end to a robber’s intentions against a store in McDuffie County Sunday; but, it was a pair of baggy pants that finally tripped him when he fled officers in Wrens.

A 22-year-old Wrens man had a run of bad luck when he tried robbing the Happy Valley store at 4211 Wrens Highway in Thomson about 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

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The man, identified as Terrence Antoine Beasley, entered the store located about 3 miles from the Warren County-McDuffie County line and asked for a canned soda, said McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall Tuesday.

When the clerk opened the register to complete the transaction, Beasley grabbed money out of the cash drawer while reaching under his shirt at the waistband, Marshall said.

That is when the offender’s trouble began – the clerk shut the drawer on Beasley’s hand.

“After that, the offender was able to just grab the whole cash register from the counter,” Marshall said.

At this point, the clerk got a small baseball bat from the counter area and began swinging at the offender, Marshall said.

“The offender dropped the cash drawer and fled the store. 911 was called at that time by the clerk,” he said.

“After that was done, a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) was put out by 911 describing the vehicle and the tag. A tag number was given at that time,” Marshall said.

The suspect was stopped in Jefferson County by Jefferson County deputies and Wrens police officers.

Wrens Police Chief Garry McCord said when the call went out on the radio, Wrens police officers Cpl. Eddie Gibbons and Officer John Wasson responded to the call.

“They went towards Highway 17 and waited for the suspect vehicle,” he said. “Once the suspect vehicle showed up, they did a traffic stop.”

McCord said the driver was a 16-year-old juvenile, whose name has not been released because of his age.

The chief said officers began talking to the two men who were in the vehicle.

Once they got the driver out, had handcuffed him and were holding him for McDuffie County, they attempted to take the passenger into custody.

Officers noticed the passenger, identified as 22-year-old Terrence Antoine Beasley of Wrens, begin reaching under his seat, McCord said.

“When the officers noticed he kept reaching beneath the seat, they drew their pistols and told him to get out of the vehicle,” he said. “They got him out; but, when they attempted to handcuff him, he struck one of the officers to get away and took off toward the tree line.

“He got to the tree line and because of his sagging pants, he tripped and fell down. Officers instructed him to stay down, roll over onto his stomach and put his hands behind his back. He failed to comply. He was Tasered. After he was Tasered, he was handcuffed and turned over to McDuffie County who had arrived on the scene by that time,” the chief said.

Marshall said a pistol was located beneath the seat where Beasley had been reaching. The sheriff said during his interview he did not know if the pistol was loaded.

“It makes no difference whether it was loaded or not,” he said. “We assume it’s loaded.”

McDuffie County has charged both men with armed robbery, Marshall said.

McCord said charges against the adult are pending.

Marshall said deputies from his office came to Wrens and transported the men back to McDuffie County.

“Some good work by Jefferson County being aware of the BOLO and stopping the vehicle. We appreciate that,” Marshall said.



Riverkeeper intends to sue company if solution not found

By Bonnie K. Sargent
Intern

On Thursday, Jan. 12, Savannah Riverkeeper filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue KaMin, LLC for illegal filling of wetlands and failure to properly permit ongoing cleanup operations.

The filing of this notice is part of an ongoing investigation lasting more than three months, looking into a major fish kill in October that killed thousands of fish in Brier and Reedy Creeks, and the more recent kaolin slurry spill into Reedy Creek that occurred in early January. The spill was caused by a pipe failure near the Highway 17 bridge over Reedy Creek. More than 600 tons of kaolin slurry was estimated to have spilled into the creek.

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“Our investigation has shown Reedy Creek and its surrounding wetlands were heavily impacted with this over 670 tons of kaolin slurry, and it is our intention to ensure that remediation activities are done in a proper fashion,” said Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus. “The wetland areas serve as the kidneys of the water system, and failure to properly remediate the damages done to these areas will not only continue to harm the wetlands themselves, but all of the water flowing downstream.”

As of Monday, Jan. 16, the Riverkeeper had not received a response from KaMin in regards to the notice.

Bonitatibus said that last week, workers from KaMin were attempting to clean up the river but were not doing it properly. She said they were using pipes to suck the kaolin off the bottom of the river and were trying to filter it out.

“They were probably doing more harm than good, stirring all the stuff back up,” she said.

Bonitatibus said at this point they are not sure what the remediation of the creeks will involve. She said there are several inches of kaolin clay sitting on top of what was once a fully functioning system and it has destroyed the food chain.

“But trying to find the fastest solution and get it done as fast as possible is definitely not the thing to do,” she said

KaMin Vice President Doug Carter said the company has been and is continuing to work diligently at the site of the spill to remove as much of the kaolin as possible.

“In addition we have used our intake pumps on Reedy Creek to pull as much of the water as our permits will permit into our plant for processing and subsequent release,” Carter said. “This is an ongoing process that has worked effectively to capture the kaolin.”

Bonitatibus said at this point they do not know what caused the break in the pipe that caused the kaolin spill.

Carter said the investigation into the break is still ongoing, however it is likely that damage to the pipeline corrosion barrier occurred when a third party installed a utility line and damaged the outside covering of the pipe. He said this damage likely led to accelerated exterior corrosion of the pipe causing the failure.

Carter said KaMin is investigating other sections of the pipeline where it appears similar damage could have been done. The pipe is out of commission while the investigation into the rupture continues. Carter said the pipe was originally installed in 1988 and would normally have a lifespan of about 40 years.

Bonitatibus said the results of tests done in regards to the October fish kill led them to believe the incident was related to a discharge pipe belonging to KaMin. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division reported that the cause of the fish kill was related to a drop in pH. The Riverkeeper said in October that the characteristics of the fish kill indicated poisoning by aluminum sulfate, which is used as a coagulant in kaolin mining and sewage treatment. However, the October incident is not specifically mentioned in the notice of intent to file suit.

The notice states that KaMin is in violation of the Clean Water Act as a result of the serious and ongoing unpermitted discharges from its kaolin mine or plant. The Clean Water Act was passed by Congress in 1972 to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. To achieve this objective, the act prohibits the discharge of any pollutants into the waters of the United States except in accordance with permits issued under the act. The act includes dredged soil, rock, dirt and sand, among other materials, as pollutants.

It is also stated in the notice that if within 60 days KaMin does not provide a complete remedy for the legal violations arising out of the illegal filling of waters of the United States, Savannah Riverkeeper intends to file a citizen suit in the United States District Court against KaMin for ongoing violations of the Clean Water Act, seeking an injunction compelling KaMin to comply with the Act, a complete remedy for the existing violations, and civil penalties of $37,500 per day for each day of violation, plus costs of litigation, including attorney and expert witness fees.

Bonitatibus said that any money won in the suit if it does go to court will be used for the remediation of the waterways. Savannah Riverkeeper is a nonprofit organization with more than 700 members, including people who use the river for fishing and recreation. The notice states that the activities at this site have negatively impacted the Savannah River basin by harming aquatic species’ habitat and important wetlands and discouraging recreational use of the creeks affected.

In order to remedy the violations of the Clean Water Act, the notice states that KaMin must restore the wetlands to their pre-fill conditions, and must provide mitigation for the temporal loss of functions and values that these waters suffered since the fill began. It also states that any remedial action will likely require a Section 404 permit from the Corps of Engineers.

The Riverkeeper said this permit will give them permission to work in the wetlands, alter the flow of water and do what needs to be done. She said as far as they can tell, KaMin did not have such a permit when they began remediation last week.

Carter said since the time of the pipeline rupture on Dec. 31, 2011, KaMin has been actively working with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to monitor and mitigate any impact on the local ecosystems and the water quality in Reedy and Brier Creeks

“Our information is being shared with these organizations on a regular basis.” Carter said.

The Riverkeeper said that they do not want to have to go to court.

“We aren’t saying here is a notice, we’ll see you in court in 60 days, we are notifying them that they have 60 days to come up with an appropriate solution to the problem and if not, then we will see them in court in 60 days,” she said.

Bonitatibus said the decision to send a notice of intent to file suit is not something the Riverkeeper decided to move forward with on a whim, but is something the citizens are asking for. She said it is the organization’s job to speak for the citizens and give them a voice in the clean up and restoration process.

The company and the government have not made any responses to the citizens concerning either incident, she said, and we are here to say that is not okay.

“The data collected to date indicates that the pipeline rupture has had no significant impact on the local ecosystem and has not affected the water quality for any downstream use,” said Carter. “We regret this incident occurred and are working diligently to minimize its impact on our community and the environment. The safety of our employees and our commitment to the local communities and the environment where our employees live and work remain our number one priorities. We remain focused on this issue until it is fully resolved to the reasonable satisfaction of all stakeholders.”




Relay to be moved to high school

By Bonnie K. Sargent
Intern

The Relay For Life of Jefferson County Planning Committee will hold a Kick-Off Celebration for the 2012 effort Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. at Jefferson County High School in Louisville.

The kick-off event will be a night of fun and games, celebration and remembrance, and will provide an opportunity for community members to learn more about the Relay For Life, including how to join or form a team.

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A community-based event, Relay For Life allows participants to celebrate victories over cancer, remember lives lost to cancer and fight back against the disease with the fellowship of their community.

In 2011, 17 teams participated in the Relay For Life of Jefferson County. The Relay honored 217 cancer survivors and raised more than $70,000.

This year’s Relay is scheduled for May 4 through May 5, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Jefferson County High School.

This year’s theme will be “Making Cancer Walk the Plank.”

Andi VanAirsdale, a staff partner with the American Cancer Society, said the committee decided to change the location of this year’s Relay For Life after JCHS Principal Alan Long offered to let them use the track.

She said the committee discussed it carefully before making the decision, going over the benefits of the change which included better security and that electricity would be provided.

Another major factor was the new sound system the school is getting. VanAirsdale said the team captains from previous years filled out surveys and sound was a really big problem for them, not being able to hear when events were beginning.

“We’ve gotten great feedback,” VanAirsdale said about the change. “Everybody I’ve talked to seems really positive about it.”

VanAirsdale said the principal told the committee people they could drive down to the track and they could drive golf carts on the track.

Carmen Bennett is the chair for this year’s Relay For Life committee. VanAirsdale said they have several new committee members, including a lot of younger people.

“One of the coolest things is the high school students on the committee,” she said. “They have added so much.

“Everyone is really excited,” she said. “We want everyone to come out and have a good time.”






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