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April 19, 2012 Issue

Overturned truck closes road...
Wadley working towards new city hall
Officers raid two Louisville residences, seize drugs
Electric co-op celebrates 75 years

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Overturned truck closes road...

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Highway 296 near Stone Springfield AME Church was closed at either side because of a wreck involving an 18-wheeler late Tuesday morning. Georgia State Patrol Senior Trooper Stan Powell said a call came into the GSP about 11:30 a.m. The driver, identified as 39-year-old Grayson Leroy Lampp from Soperton, ran off the road on the right side and after returning to the roadway the truck landed on its right side and skidded 62 feet, Powell said. “He went completely off the right side of the roadway,” the trooper said. Diesel along the skid on the roadway could indicate the fuel tank was compromised, he said. “It may have been ruptured,” Powell said, adding it might be only a slight rupture.

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“You’d expect more diesel,” he said. The trooper said the accident is still under investigation. Charges against the driver would depend on the cause of the accident, Powell said. One of the tires under the trailer had blown. One of the first officers to arrive on the scene said Lampp had already gotten out of the cab of the vehicle and tried to stand. “He was injured pretty bad,” the officer said. Lampp was taken by ground to Jefferson Hospital and was expected to be airlifted to Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta. Maj. Carl Wagster, EMS director for Jefferson County, said Lampp had severe lacerations. “He went through the windshield and sustained a lot of trauma. Possible facial fracture, a lot of lacerations, a dislocated shoulder,” Wagster said.




Wadley working towards new city hall

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The City of Wadley held a public hearing last month regarding the building of a new city hall.

Carol DeLoach with the CSRA Regional Commission said the city is seeking a loan for $694,000 to help with the costs of building a new facility.

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The current city hall has water damage and mold, she said.

“The floor is compromised. The ceiling is compromised,” DeLoach said.

The plan involves the site of the multipurpose building and calls for the building to be gutted, renovated and have an addition.

“The new facility will duplicate all the space that is here,” she said. “Office space, council chambers. The council chambers will be used for municipal court.”

There will be space for public works and a conference room.

The addition will cross the park entrance, which will be rerouted, DeLoach said.

“There will still be paved access to the park,” she said.

Wadley city clerk Sallie Adams said there will be separate access into the council chamber so members and the public won’t have to go through city hall as they do now.

“It is a process,” DeLoach said. “It has an application process. We have all but one of the criteria met. We need one more document. Because it’s a government entity and federal funds you have to explore other options.”

We need one more document. Because it’s a government entity and federal funds you have to explore other options.”

DeLoach said other options the city had to explore included local, municipal and private funds.

“You’ve got to be in that classification of folks, not sitting on $1 million,” she said. “Not able for private funding but able to repay the loan; and, Wadley meets all those. It is well positioned to apply for this funding.”

Mayor Herman Baker said there will be a space the public can use like the community room.

Council discussed the city hall Monday night, during a called meeting.

Adams said the vote for the city hall was last year.

“You borrow the whole amount,” she said, adding the loan is to be repaid from SPLOST funds.

“SPLOST is going to pay a portion of it,” she said. Adams said about $300,000 will come from SPLOST.

Council member Dorothy Strowbridge said she would like to see work done to the old school.

“The building is an historical building,” she said and suggested the city look into getting a grant to renovate the building.

“It could even be used for the city hall,” she said, adding it would cost a lot less than the approximately $700,000 the city plans to borrow.

“We can look into rehabbing the school; but, the city hall’s been decided,” Baker said. Adams then explained the vote was taken last year.

“Go ahead and look into rehabbing the school,” the mayor said. “The only thing we’re having up there now is the GED class.”

Strowbridge said she would look into it and get back with the mayor.




Officers raid two Louisville residences, seize drugs

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Cooperation between the Louisville Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office netted three arrests, and has taken several ounces of drugs off of the city’s streets.

Ruff charged
On Wednesday, April 11, law enforcement served a search warrant at 401 Mill Street from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

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“In the last year, it had become known that Anthony Ruff was selling marijuana,” Sheriff’s Office Investigator Clark Hiebert said.

Hiebert said that Ruff, 27, of Louisville was arrested last year by the Wadley Police Department and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, for which he was currently on bond.

“Probably about a week prior, we heard that he was selling marijuana again and in large amounts,” Hiebert divulged. “He had graduated to selling these large amounts of marijuana and that is when we decided to get together with the Louisville Police Department and pay him a visit.”

Hiebert said when officers arrived at the Mill Street residence, Ruff was not at home.

“We talked to his fiancé and she said he was out,” Hiebert added.

Other law enforcement officers had left the home, while Hiebert stayed behind.

“I was going to stay in there till he came home,” he said. “When he came in, I identified myself and had already found the marijuana before he got there.” Once officers talked with Ruff, he led them to the rest of the drugs. The suspected marijuana totaled six ounces. Ruff was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He has been before the magistrate judge, where he was denied bond because he was already out on bond for the same offense.

Along with the marijuana that was seized, $769 was also seized.

“Possession with intent is a felony,” Hiebert explained. “Dependent on the grade of marijuana, those six ounces could bring anywhere up to $12,000, but I am are not sure of the quality.”

Couple charged
A young Louisville couple have been under surveillance for quite some time stemming from reports of them selling cocaine, which began while they were living in Rufus Wren Subdivision.

In July, Clifford Outler, 27, and his girlfriend, Theondra Cooper, 22, moved to his mother’s house at 505 Nina Lane in Louisville.

“Since they moved in with his mother, we continued to receive reports that they were selling cocaine,” Hiebert said. “Officers at both departments were receiving complaints about the activity going on at their residence.”

On Friday, April 13, between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., officers were headed to the residence to execute a search warrant, but before making it to the Nina Lane home, officers stopped Outler and Cooper in a car. They were taken to the residence where law enforcement executed the warrant at the house.

“We had both of them where we could watch them at all times while we searched,” Hiebert reassured. “When we searched, we found a large amount of suspected crack cocaine in two locations in the house. We also found three electronic scales that had residue that was used to weigh the drugs.”

More than an ounce of suspected crack cocaine was recovered as well as $336 that was seized.

“More than an ounce of cocaine is trafficking,” Hiebert explained. “The weight is what changes the type of charge. If it is less than an ounce, it would be possession with intent to distribute. Any amount of cocaine is a felony.”

The couple told Hiebert that they were not able to cook cocaine to make crack cocaine, but bought it already in the crack cocaine form. Both were charged with trafficking crack cocaine. The street value of the drugs found was approximately $5,000.

Outler and Cooper have both gone before the magistrate judge where they were denied bond. The couple will have to appeal for a bond hearing in Superior Court.

“The best thing about these raids is the cooperation between the city and county to get drugs off of the street,” Hiebert said. “Because of city’s and county’s cooperation, these raids were successful.”




Electric co-op celebrates 75 years

By Bonnie K. Sargent
Intern

It started with three people, an idea and a contract for $75,000 and grew into something that changed the lives of thousands.

Seventy-five years ago, James Polhill, Judge Rufus Price and Virginia Price felt that an electricity cooperation was needed in the Jefferson County area, according to media representative Steve Chalker, with Jefferson Energy. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt had created the Rural Electrification Administration some years before, which led to the Rural Electrification Act. Out of the act, the Electric Membership Cooperatives were formed.

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Polhill and the two Prices knew there was money available to start an electric cooperative. They applied for the money through the REA and were denied. As the story goes, said Chalker, Virginia Price knew Eleanor Roosevelt personally, so she picked up the phone and called her. She told the president’s wife that they wanted to start a co-op and had been told there were no more funds available for the year. Then, according to the story, Eleanor Roosevelt invited the three of them to have dinner at the White House with the president, the REA administrator and herself.

“Out of that dinner, the REA man decided they did have some money they could provide them to start a co-op,” said Chalker. “And that’s how Jefferson Energy was created, although back then it was called something else.”

Jefferson Energy was originally known as Jefferson County Electric Membership Cooperation. The name would change several times before it became Jefferson Energy in the late 1990s. The final name change came about when the company decided to try and expand its services to include natural gas, pagers, home security, internet service and satellite internet, said Chalker, some of which they still offer today.

According to archived copies of The News and Farmer found at the Jefferson County Courthouse, the idea of a cooperative electric company was first discussed at a meeting at the courthouse in 1937. The goal of the company was to bring electricity to rural Jefferson County and parts of Glascock and Washington counties. The idea was met with much enthusiasm and a survey of the territory was promptly made. A plat of the proposed project, together with a loan application, was then personally presented to the REA in Washington, D.C.

In July of 1937, the project was approved in its entirety, but only $75,000 of the $183,000 applied for could be allocated at the time. The rest of the funds would be provided after the beginning of 1938. The company received $75,000 and a contract for the first 75 miles, which were slated for letting on Dec. 17, 1937. It was hoped that the lines would be completed and energized by April 1, 1938, but Jefferson County did not have electricity until May 5, 1938.

It was hoped that the lines would be completed and energized by April 1, 1938, but Jefferson County did not have electricity until May 5, 1938.

“The first REA loan built the first 75 miles of line that we have in Jefferson County,” said Chalker. “It would be about 10 times that now to do that much.”

The News and Farmer officially announced it to the public on Feb. 3, 1938, with a headline across the top of the paper that stated, “Rural Electric Lines Assured in County.” Construction of the 75 miles of line would begin on Feb. 7. Citizens were encouraged to pay the $5 membership fee and wire their homes for electricity.

On March 10, 1938, it was announced that 93 miles would be built instead of the original 75. At the end of that month, the REA approved 96 miles of line to be built.

On May 5, 1938, it was announced that the lines had been completed and the first 26 miles had been energized. Rural Jefferson County had electricity for the first time.

One Jefferson County citizen, Carolyn Zeigler, 79, recalls how having electricity changed the lives of people.

“Well you didn’t have to go to bed so early,” Zeigler said. “And you could enjoy the radio. We learned everything from the radio. We all learned our history and World War II, for real, from the radio.”

Some parts of Jefferson County still did not have electricity until about a decade later. Local historian Leroy Lewis has lived in Jefferson County most of his life and said where he lived, they did not have electricity until 1948. Lewis grew up just north of Wrens on Highway 221, near Reedy and Brier creeks.

“I went through all of my school years without electricity,” said Lewis. “In the evening time you had light by kerosene lamps. If you were reading, studying or writing an assignment you had to be positioned right under the lamp so you could see.

“When electricity came it was a whole new world in the evening. You could have adequate light in all rooms at the flip of the switch. It was very exciting.”

In the years since then, Jefferson Energy has grown to serve 11 different counties, Jefferson, McDuffie, Burke, Emanuel, Glascock, Columbia, Jenkins, Johnson, Richmond, Warren and Washington. The company now has just less than 4,000 miles of power lines and serves almost 30,000 members in the 11-county area.

“We’ve grown quite a bit since those early days,” said Chalker. “We operate at about 105 employees. We have four offices; but, we still operate with the same cooperative business model as we were founded on.”

Chalker explained that the cooperative business model means members pay a membership fee to join the cooperative and they own the co-op. Members have a vote and every year they can go to a meeting and hear the financial details of the co-op. They have the power to elect board members and can talk to the board members because the board members represent the membership. Members can also bring their thoughts, ideas and concerns to staff members at Jefferson Energy to be addressed.

Chalker said that being an electric cooperation means the company is non-profit.

“Anything above and beyond operating cost of the co-op goes back to our members,” said Chalker, explaining that the excess is returned in the form of capital credits. “That’s one of the unique things about the co-op.”

Chalker said one of the main concerns the cooperation has is power supply.

“Power supply is going to become more and more of an issue in the future because we live in such an electric world,” said Chalker. “Phone chargers, computers, big-screen TVs, electric cars…

“Affordable power is always our goal. We want to make sure we position ourselves to be able to have the power that people need, meet the demand and we always try to keep it as affordable as possible.”

The company’s main goals have always been affordability, reliability, and to be efficient, safe and provide great service.

“We feel that we do that now,” he said. “There is someone here 24/7.”

There is always someone at the office to answer customer calls, mainly for outages. Jefferson Energy has the latest technology, which reports back as soon as an outage occurs.

“Most of the time we know before a customer calls that there is an outage,” Chalker said.

The company has crews on call in each of its areas every day of the week, to serve its members as best it can.

“That’s our goal, to just continually improve our service, whether it’s through a process or new technology, that sort of thing, and we certainly strive to do that,” he said.

The weather plays a large part in what the company does, which goes back to the need for power supply. In the summertime, when everyone is running air conditioners, there is a large demand for electricity.

“That’s not just here, that’s nationwide,” said Chalker. “An obstacle that we have as an industry is the power supply, that’s a huge thing.”

According to Chalker, getting permits to build new power plants is a lengthy process that can be very difficult because so many people oppose various types of fuel.

“Whether it’s coal or nuclear, you’re always going to have opposition,” he said. “Fact of the matter is, as an industry we have got to build power plants and invest in power plants so that, not just five years from now but 20 years or 30 years from now, we will have adequate power supply.

“You can’t just look at a few years out. These new units going on at Plant Vogtle, that’s very important. It is very important to increase that capacity.”

A visit to the main branch office of Jefferson Energy, located on Highway 17 in Wrens, allows a look inside the history room. The room was originally built as a display room for products featured by Jefferson Energy, such as home security and water heaters.

“But it never really made it to that point,” said Chalker.

A few years ago, Jefferson Energy representatives decided to turn the room into a tour of electrification. The room is filled with old appliances, such as an old toaster, an iron, a refrigerator, a washing machine and an old Singer sewing machine. All of the items are authentic and were donated to Jefferson Energy for the display room.

There is even an old home-front with a porch, which Chalker said was built by some of the people at Jefferson Energy. The wood used to build the porch and the display stands came from an old farmhouse that was once across the road from the Jefferson Energy office. A local artist from Augusta did four paintings that are on display in the room.

“When EMC programs started, they wanted people to have a two plug-in outlet and a light bulb,” Chalker said, indicating a bare bulb that hangs from the ceiling in the room. “And that was a big thing because before then it was all kerosene lanterns and woodstoves.”

“We always had a drop cord in the middle of the room,” recalled Zeigler. “And we were thrilled to death to have that drop cord.”

“They got electricity and people thought it would change the life of the farmer,” said Chalker. “And it did.”

Electricity also changed the life of the farm wife. Prior to electricity, the farm wife was virtually chained to the woodstove and a pot of boiling water for everything she wanted to do.

Zeigler can still remember her mother’s first electric washing machine, similar to the one displayed in the history room at Jefferson Energy.

“I was probably in the second or third grade when we got it,” she said. “It had a huge tub, with two rollers on top encased in some metal. The two rollers allowed you to pick up clothing in the tub, shake it out, turn on the rollers and they would press the water out of the clothing as you fed it through the rollers.

“The first thing you had to learn was to watch when you were pushing the wet clothing. I didn’t watch, I was too busy looking at the other side to see it coming out and it rolled my arm up in it,” Zeigler said with a laugh. “My mother had to detach the thing so I wouldn’t end up getting sucked all the way in it.”

Even being able to listen to a radio was as big a deal to them as the internet is now, as far as getting and finding information, Chalker said.

Lewis said even before electricity his family had a battery-operated radio.

“Everyone gathered around in the evenings and we all listened to it,” he said. “We had news programs and Kate Smith had a program where she sang patriotic songs. We got our news from there, too, during World War II. I had three brothers in the Navy at the time so having that radio to get that instant news was very important. When it came news time, you really listened.”

Having a radio was especially important for farmers.

“Before the radio we only had the newspaper but the information was very delayed by the time you got the paper out in the country,” said Lewis. “With the radio, our weather came right out of Augusta. We knew if it was going to rain tomorrow or storm and we could plan our farm work accordingly.”

“The whole point of this room is to let people see what life was like 75 years ago, in those early days of electricity,” Chalker said of the history room.

Chalker said the cooperation would love to grow and get new members, like any company wants. Unfortunately, he said, with the economy like it is, there is not a lot of growth.

“People are cutting back and rightly so,” he said. “Maybe folks aren’t necessarily building that new house like they might have, but that’s fine. We’re going to be here and we’re going to serve the members that we have as best that we can.”







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