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August 16, 2012 Issue

Two stores robbed in Wrens
Rabid raccoon killed near Wrens
Beloved coach, educator dies
Runoffs will be Aug. 21

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Two stores robbed in Wrens

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A man law enforcement has identified as a suspect in two early morning robberies in Wrens is in custody.

The man is believed to have robbed the Sprint Store about midnight Tuesday morning and Jet Store number 16 on Highway 1 in Wrens about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.


The man was identified as Edward Carl Newsome, 44, from the Wrens and Louisville areas.

"Everybody calls him Carl Newsome,” said Wrens Police Chief Garry McCord.

Pat Morgan, assistant special agent in charge of the Thomson office of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said the GBI received a call about midnight to the robbery that occurred at the Sprint.

“We responded to assist the Wrens Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “We were able to capture a picture of a suspect on their surveillance cameras. We conducted some interviews of some witnesses. They processed the scene.”

Morgan said the GBI agent who responded, Special Agent Tony Williamson, was on his way home when the GBI received a call about the second robbery.

“We received a call from Investigator (Barrow) Walden of the sheriff’s office a little before 7 o’clock this morning saying that there had been another robbery at the Jet Store,” he said.

“They said the offender was on foot in the area. At that point, I contacted the agent who had responded earlier. Shortly after his arrival, they informed us they had a suspect in custody,” Morgan said.

McCord said officers were able to obtain surveillance tapes to help identify Newsome as the robber.

“Witnesses came forward also and told us who he was,” McCord said.

“The first time, we had witnesses who described his appearance and were able to tell us his general direction of travel after the robbery. We had a whole lot of help from the public,” he said.

The chief said Newsome did not use a weapon.

“It was a strong armed robbery,” McCord said.

“The suspect was 6 foot 2, the women were about 5 feet tall so basically he just wrapped his hands around their necks. He told them what he wanted done and they complied with him,” he said.

There was one woman employee, a cashier, at each of the stores, McCord said.

“They were shaken up, but otherwise not injured. Cash was taken from the registers in both locations. The cashiers opened the registers and he took the money that was inside,” the chief said.

McCord said the quick arrest was because of the hard work from the deputies with the JCSO, the agent with the GBI and the Wrens police.

“And a lot of help from the public,” McCord said. “We caught him after he had gotten away. We went to his residence. Barrow Walden was able to pinpoint his location. We were able to get him in the car. He was hiding in the closet.”

According to Walden, Newsome is being charged with two counts of aggravated assault with intent to rob and two counts robbery by intimidation. He is also being charged with felony theft by taking in a separate case originating in the Louisville area.

“I really want to thank the members of the public who stepped forward and assisted in this arrest,” Walden said. “It is encouraging when people stick together to address criminal activity in their communities. Of course any information given will be kept in the strictest confidence to protect those who cooperate with law enforcement working to fight crime in your neighborhoods.”

Rabid raccoon killed near Wrens

By Parish Howard

Local health safety officials have confirmed Jefferson County’s first case of rabies in two and half years.

According to Environmental Health Specialist Mike Standiford, a pet dog was exposed when it fought with a rabid raccoon that had wandered into a residential yard July 31.


On Aug. 3, testing confirmed the raccoon carried the virus.

“The dog’s vaccination had expired and it had to be euthanized,” Sandiford said. “Our advice to everyone is to keep your vaccinations current on all domestic animals. Should anyone or their animals encounter a wild or stray animal, then we recommend you contact your local health department as quickly as possible.”

The raccoon was killed by the dog and its owners in the Gene Howard Road and Fire Tower Road area near Wrens.

Sandiford said that in his two and a half years with the local health department, this is his first positive case of rabies in Jefferson County.

“I also cover Warren and Glascock counties,” Sandiford said. “I think that in less populated counties, the fewer opportunities there are for people to come in contact with rabid animals. For instance in Columbia County we have a lot more confirmed cases, but that’s probably because there are so many more people there.”

Raccoons are the number one vector for the rabies virus, Sandiford said, but it is also carried by common animals such a skunks, bats, dogs, coyotes and foxes.

Copper’s story
The dog, Copper, a Mountain Feist and Jack Russell mix, belonged to Keith Pittman’s six year old grandson.

“He was a squirrel dog and we live in the woods,” Pittman said. “It ran all over, but always came when we called. He was really well trained.”

Pittman said that in one month’s time this summer, Copper alerted the family to the presence of five different snakes in their yard. Three of which turned out to be cottonmouth moccasins.

“His barks were different when there was something like that there,” Pittman said. “He let us know they were there, but he was smart enough to stay away from them.”

But July 31 was different.

It was around 6 p.m. when Pittman said he heard Copper “raising cain” in the yard. That’s when he discovered the dog barking at something under his truck.

“He wouldn’t leave it alone,” Pittman said. “It was a pretty big coon and it was hissing and making this shrill cry. It was acting real defensive, but with the dog barking like that it would be.”

Pittman said that normally, when Copper was chasing squirrels or deer or snakes, the family could call him and he would come right away.

“But he wouldn’t leave this coon alone no matter what we did,” Pittman said. “I think he knew something was wrong with it. Every time it tried to run off he would run it back under the truck.”

Pittman said he eventually got in the truck to move it so his son could shoot the animal, but as soon as he backed it up Copper was on it.

“I’ve always heard not to let your dog fight with a big raccoon like that because they’ll tear a dog all up,” Pittman said. “Well, when we got the dog off of it my son shot it in the back. There was blood all over him (Copper). We bathed him good and we didn’t find not a cut on him anywhere, but it had that coon’s blood all in its mouth.”

Pittman contacted the health department that day and later spoke to a veterinarian he knew through his work as a state-employed meat inspector.

“She’s a really good vet and she told me that the law has gotten tough in cases like this,” Pittman said. “Now you have to put them in a cage inside another cage and you can’t let them out to run or anything. And you have to keep them that way for six months. And, she told me that with all that blood in his mouth, he was likely to come down with rabies anyway.”

And so he made the hard decision to have Copper put down.

“I really believe that he was protecting this family,” Pittman said. “My wife had my grandson at vacation Bible school that night and when they got in they would have parked right there. That coon could have been on them before anyone knew it. He really was a great dog.”

What to do
“Most people have this image in their head of an angry, aggressive animal foaming at the mouth,” Standiford said. “They don’t all look like Old Yeller. Animals with rabies can also act kind of dumb or will stumble around.”

In cases like this one, an animal-to-animal exposure where the wild animal was determined to have the virus, the domestic animal, if it’s vaccinations are current, can be held for observation for 45 days to determine whether or not it has been exposed, Standiford explained. In animal-to-human bite cases involving wild animals, if the animal cannot be found, then treatment is usually begun immediately.

“If the attacking animal cannot be safely contained or restrained and needs to be euthanized, caution should be taken not to damage the animal’s head,” Sandiford said. “Microscopic examination of the brain tissue is the only way to test for the rabies virus.”

The virus is not known to be spread from shared drinking bowls or food dishes, he added.

“The rabies virus doesn’t survive well outside of the body. It dies in seconds when exposed to air,” Standiford said. “It moves from one live animal to another live animal. It doesn’t lie dormant. So basically we see it travel through blood and body fluids like saliva.”

Most exposures are from bites, however when a person or animal is scratched by a rabies carrier, it is also considered an exposure, he said.

Standiford said that anyone who has a physical encounter with a stray or wild animal that is acting strangely, such as a normally nocturnal animal out in the daylight, should contact their local health department.

He added that while he does handle rabies cases, he is not an animal control expert and if someone needs assistance dealing with an dangerous animal that they cannot contain, they should call their local law enforcement.

Jefferson County’s Health Department can be contacted at (478) 625-3716.

Beloved coach, educator dies

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

The community lost a longstanding pillar on Monday unexpectedly. William Blake Freeman, known as “Chief” or “Prof” to so many in Jefferson County and beyond, died Aug. 13 at University Hospital after suffering from a blood clot.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Aug. 18, at noon at Pierce Grove Baptist Church, Bartow. Visitation is expected to be held on Friday, Aug. 17, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Davis Funeral Home, 605 Second Street, Louisville.


“I want to thank the community for their overwhelming support and love shown to him and his family,” wife, Glenda Freeman, said. “We live in a very special community.”

He was born and raised in Atlanta, along with four brothers and three sisters, raised by his mother.

“He was raised by their single mother who taught them their core values of honesty, integrity, respect for others, helping others and a strong belief in God,” former educator Isaiah Thomas remembered.

Thomas worked with Freeman as a fellow teacher and coach.

“He taught and coached at Wadley High School and Louisville High School, and was an assistant principal and coach at Jefferson County High School,” Thomas said.

He joined the Reed Street/Paradise Baptist Church, Atlanta, at an early age and was a member during his teenage years, leaving only to pursue a career in education outside of the Atlanta area. In Bartow, he was currently a member of Pierce Grove Baptist Church, where he was a member of the Deacon Board, secretary of the Deacon Board, an adult Sunday school teacher, Bible study teacher and adult Vacation Bible School teacher.

Freeman graduated from the Atlanta Public School System and Morehouse College, Atlanta, with a major in mathematics education and a minor in physics. He also studied at Pennsylvania State, Georgia Southern University and Georgia State University.

For more than 45 years, Freeman worked in education, with most of the span right here in Jefferson County for more than 35 years. He also worked in Fulton, Greene and Burke counties.

“His professional duties included teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal, and he was a role model and ‘father’ to thousands of students, for some it is an honor still bestowed upon him today,” Thomas said.

Freeman has received numerous awards and forms of recognition, which includes the following STAR teacher, Teacher of the Year, Coach of the Year more than 10 times, Distinguished Coach of the Year, Most Outstanding Coach of the Year, Coach of 500 wins, VOCA Appreciation Award, Adult Literacy Appreciation, Louisville-Wadley Optimist Club Appreciation Award, South All-State, All-Star Game 1984 and Outstanding Service-Georgia PTA.

In 2006, Freeman retired as assistant principal at Jefferson County High School. Since then, his wife said he enjoyed his retirement vacationing to California, San Diego, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tenn., Washington, D.C., Tijuana, Mexico, one trip to the Holy Land and a trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom with his granddaughter, Winnie.

Survivors include his wife, Glenda Flournoy Freeman; daughter, Tauwanda Freeman; granddaughter, Winnie Patrice Freeman; children, Jennifer Freeman, Jeffery Freeman, and Derrick Patterson; his adopted son, Charles Moore Jr.; godson, Omar Bennett; sisters, Ozzie B. Quarterman and Johnnie M. Hairston; a niece reared as a sister, Miriam Cost; sisters-in-law Luella Styles, Willie M. Morris, Elaine Flournoy, Carolyn L. Flournoy and Sharon F. Moore; brothers-in-law, Clarence C. (Beaulah) Brown, Harvey (Zelma) Flournoy, Ronnie Flournoy, Johnnie Flournoy and Gregory (Karen) Flournoy; aunts, Ezra Flournoy, Maggie Knowles and Annie B. Hall; and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Runoffs will be Aug. 21

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

After the July 31 general primary, two runoffs will need to be held in Jefferson County for the seats of clerk of superior court and tax commissioner, both on the democratic ballot. The two candidates, who received the most votes, but not more than half, will be on the ballot.

In the clerk of superior court race, Anne Durden received 1,985 votes or 47.07 percent, followed by Amy Wilcher Howard with 1,352 votes or 32.06 percent. The pair will now face each other in the runoff.


In the tax commissioner race, Nancy W. McGraw received 2,144 votes or 48.69 percent followed by John Brent Dye with 1,337 votes or 30.37 percent. The pair will now face each other in the runoff.

The runoff election will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 21 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all eight precincts, Avera, Bartow, Louisville, Matthews, Stapleton, Stapleton Crossroads, Wadley and Wrens.

Advance voting for the two seats will be held until Aug. 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Board of Elections Office, 415 Green Street, Louisville.

Since advance voting began, Jefferson County Election Superintendent Susan Gray said people have been coming out to cast ballots.

“We had 107 on Monday and it has been pretty steady today,” she said Tuesday. “For a runoff, that is pretty good.

Gray said absentee ballots will be mailed to all voters who requested an absentee ballot for the July 31 general primary. Absentee ballots are available upon request at the Board of Election office until Friday, Aug. 17 for those who did not request one for the general primary.

Those who voted on the republican ballot in the July 31 general primary will not be able to vote in the runoff.

“What you vote for in the primary, you have to vote for in the runoff,” Gray said.

Those who did not vote in the July 31 general primary may vote in the runoff though, Gray added.

All voters will need identification, which may include a Georgia’s driver’s license, even if it is expired; a voter identification card; a valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of the state; a valid United State passport ID; a valid United State military photo ID; or a valid tribal photo ID.

Voter identification cards may be obtained at the Board of Elections Office for Jefferson County residents.

To obtain a voter identification card, citizens must have a photo identity document or approved non-photo identity document that includes full legal name and date of birth; documentation showing the voter’s date of birth; evidence that he applicant is a registered Georgia voter; and documentation showing the applicant’s name and residential address.

For more information, call (478) 625-8357.

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