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April 12, 2012 Issue

Warnings offered
County hires new EMA director
Environmental group opposes plant

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Warnings offered

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

“After school, Mathew, and his friends, Renea Shelton and Morgan Neal, decided to go buy some beer with a fake I.D. and go out cruising while texting their friends about a big party that night. What seemed as an afternoon of fun, turned into a tragic event for everyone involved.” Though this is just a narration of what could happen when someone drinks and drives, students, teachers and even some parents got to see first-hand the effect drinking and driving could have on someone’s life on Thursday, March 29, at the 2012 Ghost Out at Glascock County Consolidated School. The Ghost Out is a mock accident that warns of the dangers of driving while intoxicated or while preoccupied.

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“Every two years we do this before prom for the junior and seniors at the high school,” Glascock County Deputy Jeremy Kelley said, adding that students in ninth through 12th grades participate and witness the event. “This is the start of the season when more kids are out driving. We also begin to see more use of alcohol by people who are underage during spring break and the summer.”

This year the driver of the mock accident was Mathew Usry. Officer pretended to arrest him at the scene of the fake crash and charge him with vehicular homicide in the first degree and driving under the influence. In the dramatization, Morgan Neal was flown to an area hospital, and Renea Shelton was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Ghost Out dramatizes what could happen during an accident.

“Trying to stop yourself from hitting the dashboard, windshield or keeping yourself from being thrown from a vehicle traveling at only 30 miles per hour is the equivalent of taking a headfirst leap off a three story building,” the narrator read that day.

Statistics show that approximately every 30 minutes a person is killed because of drinking and driving. Some deaths were the result of alcohol usage, but even more die because of injuries sustained from not wearing a seatbelt. Kelley said they also discussed driving while texting, which has had a large increase in the number of deaths and serious injuries.

This particular accident is the result of a driver losing control of the vehicle and striking a fixed object with the side and front end of the car.

“We want to show the kids what the consequences are for making the choice to drink and drive, or even getting into the vehicle with someone who has been drinking,” Deputy Kelley said. “The kids don’t get to see what we see in the middle of the night or day at a drunk driving accident. This way we put it right in their face.

“They see the penalties and consequences of the choice they make. If we save one life from what we we’ve done, it is well worth every minute we put into it.”

Sponsors and participants include the Glascock County Sheriff’s Office, the Gibson-Glascock County Fire Department, Glascock County First Responders, Glascock County EMA, Georgia State Patrol, McDuffie County EMS, McDuffie County 911, LifeNet Helicopter Services, Glascock County Consolidated School, Glascock County Board of Education, Glascock County Coroner’s Office and Sheppard’s Funeral Home. Other sponsors include Thiele, Jefferson Energy and Farm Bureau Agent Gwynn Couch.




County hires new EMA director

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

James “Jim” Anderson will begin his job as Jefferson County’s EMA/E911 director Monday, April 16, county administrator Adam Mestres said Tuesday.

Anderson’s beginning salary will be $50,000, Mestres said, adding there will be a review after six months.

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Mestres said in this position, Anderson will have use of a county vehicle, a cell phone and will have an office at the 911 center and an office at the old armory that will be available to use during emergencies.

Use of the office at the old armory will depend on the complexity of the emergency, Mestres said.

Anderson currently resides in Glennville but will be moving to the county as a requirement of his position, which is a typical requirement for positions of this type, he said.

Anderson currently owns Southeast Georgia Training Consultants in Glennville. Among his responsibilities are development and delivery of fire rescue, EMS and law enforcement training programs. He has been at this position since January 2009.

“I was looking for a position in emergency management,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re moving up there; but, I’m still close to the grandkids and family.”

Anderson started in fire service while in the US Air Force, where he spent six years, being discharged as an E-4 or sergeant.

He said he chose to be in a firefighter as his whole family was in fire service.

After training, he spent about three years in England, he said, spending his last two years of service in Charleston, S.C.

Anderson has more than 30 years experience related to law enforcement, fire suppression and pre-hospital emergency care as a paramedic, he states in his cover letter to the county commission.

He was the emergency services director and fire chief of Bryan County from April 2004 through August 2011.

His current certifications include Georgia Certified Emergency Manager, First Class Firefighter and Georgia Certified Firefighter 1.

He also holds certifications in National Board On Fire Service Professional Qualifications as Instructor 1, Instructor 2, Arson Investigator and Fire Evaluator.

He is attending West Georgia College and plans to complete a bachelor’s degree in fire science.

“We had an interview panel of five,” Mestres said, adding his office received more than 60 resumes.

“We narrowed it down to eight. It was unanimous from the interview panel that Jim would be best suited for the position,” he said.

“That was the consensus of the interview panel. The commission voted unanimously,” Mestres said.

“I’m looking forward to coming to Jefferson County,” Anderson said. “My wife and I are moving there; and, we’re going to make Jefferson County our home.

“I’m going to do the best I can for the citizens.”




Environmental group opposes plant

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

About 30 people attended a forum Thursday, April 5, at the community auditorium in Wadley to hear information from a local group opposing the biomass plant proposed at the Wadley-Bartow Industrial Park.

The company, Jefferson North Star, is currently awaiting an air quality permit from the Environmental Protection Agency before moving forward with construction.

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Citizens opposing the plant have formed an organization, Jefferson Environmental Defense Initiative (JEDI), which sponsored the forum.

Speakers at the meeting included Dr. Michael Noll, a professor from Valdosta State University; Louis Zeller, science director from the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League; and Dr. William Sammons, a pediatrician.

“At first, it sounds good,” Noll said. “Energy and jobs.”

Noll said there is an enormous amount of health risks involved in this type of energy production.

“At the end of the day, you do not want to trade someone’s health for a job,” he said.

Noll said he has worked in the Valdosta area, as well as other areas, to fight against plants similar to the one proposed for the Wadley-Bartow Industrial Park.

He said the plant in Valdosta had been considered a done deal but it became a dead deal.

“Yes,” he said in answer to a citizen’s question. “The biomass plant was defeated.”

Zeller said in areas where there have been incinerators, those fell out of favor because of water and air pollutants.

“To use those products for energy is a negative impact,” he said.

He said there should have been a financial feasibility study because of the revenue bond.

“The more we look at this project, it fails to meet the muster,” he said.

A citizen asked if the county’s development authority had applied for grants for this project.

“As far as I know, they’re waiting for permits before submitting grants,” Wadley City Councilmember Dorothy Strowbridge said.

Charles Lewis, a member of JEDI and the emcee, thanked Strowbridge for attending the meeting and said other elected officials as well as development authority members had been invited; but, no one else from those groups were present.

Sammons said that regardless of whether they had applied for grants, they are going to need to do so.

During a PowerPoint presentation, Sammons said, “This is not clean power. There’s no longer any reason to debate the fact this is very, very dirty power. This is going to be dirty power; and, this is going to be very, very costly power.”

Sammons said that although proponents of the plant have stated the industry will bring jobs to the community, those jobs will be in health care, caring for those who become sick because of the pollution from the plant.

“There’ll be many jobs; but, I don’t know that they’ll be productive for the community,” he said.

Sammons said the plant will not be applying the best controls.

“There’s been an ongoing debate for about 13 years now at EPA if there’s any safe amount of exposure,” he said, adding that even an infinitesimal amount of Dioxin stays in an adult’s body for seven years.

“It’s a very, very, very toxic chemical,” he said. “This is dirty. It’s dirty compared to coal, natural gas.”

Sammons said a concern is particulates, especially what he called ultrafines.

“What you need to understand about ultrafines, it’s the number not mass is what counts. They’re very small. There are a lot of them; and, you’re going to breathe them in,” he said.

Sammons said exposure to PM 2.4 and smaller can lead to premature labor, increase of autism and an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Biomass combustion is not a solution,” he said in his PowerPoint. “Biomass combustion is dirtier than coal, not carbon neutral and not economically viable without subsidies.”

Lewis said JEDI plans a follow-up forum but hasn’t set a date. He said the website www.jeffersonedi.com has a 20-minute video by Sammons and a link to Zeller’s site.

“Michael (Noll) stopped the Valdosta plant,” Sammons said. “You can stop this. Let elected officials know this isn’t acceptable.”

Last month EPD air permit officials held a meeting and public hearing in which they discussed the federal air emission guidelines regarding NorthStar Jefferson’s pending permit. In that hearing, these officials said that it appears that the plant’s emissions will be well below those guidelines.

It’s findings on the permits are expected in the coming weeks.







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