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September 13, 2012 Issue

Communities On My Mind
Thermo King guards charged
Work should improve Wadley water

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Communities On My Mind

By Philip Muller

What are the biggest obstacles that Louisville faces today? What are your hopes for the future of Louisville and Jefferson County? Those questions may seem simple at first, but they were enough to prompt a whirlwind of constructive conversation among Louisville residents during a late July meeting at The Fire House Gallery.

The participating group of about 15 individuals offered a varied sampling of perspectives from young and old within our town and included middle school and college students, nurses, local political leaders, teachers and artists.


After a long discussion these participants realized that they may not see eye to eye on the particulars, but they certainly agree that issues of faith, our youth, the economy, the arts and our environment are crucial to Louisville’s future.

These issues would soon come to life on a community mural that was to be created with Louisville’s past and present in mind. What has now become the “Louisville Mural Project” began as a small idea by Milledgeville artist and Georgia College and State University associate professor of art, Valerie Aranda.

A year earlier, in August 2011, The Fire House Gallery first talked with Aranda, a muralist, about the possibility of exhibiting at the Gallery and about the type of work she might share. Having completed dozens of murals with communities around the country, Aranda had some ideas, but she needed help from locals who actually lived in Louisville.

“What are the people like?” Aranda asked early on.

She wanted to have a sense of who Louisville is.

Aranda eventually visited Louisville on three separate occasions in preparation for the mural painting, talking with Gallery Fellows Casey Sullivan and Philip Muller about what form the mural might take and how the community might be involved in its conception and execution. In all of Aranda’s work, whether she is painting something more personal or organizing a large team of people to complete a mural, she is always focused on the community as a whole.

Aranda first began painting murals while she was living in Arizona and continued painting in graduate school at the University of California, San Diego. Whether she is doing personal work or organizing dozens of people to create a mural, Aranda concentrates on addressing the social and economic issues that minorities and small communities struggle with, and the issues that unite them.

These themes have been explored through a series of paintings of female role models, paintings addressing the struggles of the Latino community in America, and numerous murals at schools and civic organizations that have each addressed issues specific to those communities. While her murals often showcase people who actually helped work on the painting, they are even more about helping those volunteers speak to their entire community.

In her latest mural at The Fire House Gallery, titled “Communities On My Mind,” Aranda made it a priority not to simply paint a mural, but to teach those who participated about the history of murals in America and their importance in reaching out to others.

At that July meeting, she led participants through a process of visualizing their ideas by writing them and moving them around on the wall and then creating sketches of their ideas. With the help of several GCSU students, Aranda took participants’ sketches and ideas back to Milledgeville where she and her students composed them into a scene they felt best represented the issues that had been discussed.

The following Saturday, Aranda returned from Milledgeville with two enthusiastic student assistants and a pair of very large canvases to be painted by our Louisville team. Over the course of the day, ideas were debated and landmarks were rearranged into an honest but hopeful vision of Louisville’s past and future.

Apart from her work on the Louisville Mural Project this summer, Aranda also travelled to Argentina for two weeks to engage in a cultural exchange of techniques including painting and basket making with local artisans and community leaders in the city of Salta.

She found her interactions with the people there very inspiring and on returning to Georgia, began working on what she calls “portable murals” celebrating the people she met. Aranda paints her portable murals on large canvases, approaching these as if she were painting directly onto fixed walls, though she does not yet have a permanent destination for the work. It is the artist’s aim to find permanent homes for both murals depicting Salta, Argentina and Louisville, so they can be enjoyed for generations.

To see the Louisville Mural and several other remarkable community murals Aranda will feature in her exhibit, come to The Fire House Gallery on Saturday, Sept. 15 for the opening reception from7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aranda’s exhibit, “Communities On My Mind,” will be on display at The Fire House Gallery from Sept. 12 through Oct. 13.

Thermo King guards charged

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Two men responsible for providing security to their employer instead have been selling the business’ property.

The men, identified as Glen Stafford, 44, of Wadley and Roderick Demond Lewis, 36, of Waynesboro, were arrested last month and charged with theft by taking in the scheme that began more than a year ago.


Lt. Clark Hiebert, an investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said the two men were security guards at Thermo King.

Hiebert said Stafford was the head security officer. He was arrested Monday, Aug. 6. Lewis was arrested Thursday, Aug. 9.

“Initially we were called to Thermo King,” Hiebert said. “They had some video where some items were loaded up on vehicles inside the gate. I mean inside the gate it’s supposed to be a secured gate where only someone with authority gains entrance.

“On numerous occasions, employees and former employees were coming through the gate; and, items were being loaded on their vehicles. At that time, Thermo King management and law enforcement were not aware of who all was involved and how they were involved.”

Hiebert said an investigation continued.

“Security personnel were selling items to employees and former employees and maybe even individuals on the street and claiming management had sold the good items and left them to sell the other items,” the lieutenant said.

This was not true, but was what the security personnel were telling the employees and former employees, he said.

Hiebert said some of the items were being sold for more than what Thermo King had sold similar items for during employee sales.

“A large number of items have been recovered,” he said.

Hiebert said he spoke with the district attorney.

“The DA’s opinion was the security officers, being security officers for Thermo King and telling the employees and former employees they had been given approval to sell the items, the employees and former employees were not going to be prosecuted,” Hiebert said, adding he had spoken with attorneys from Ingersoll Rand, the parent company of Thermo King.

“This was the same opinion from the Ingersoll Rand attorneys. The ones they wanted prosecuted were the security personnel who were involved in selling the items,” Hiebert said.

The investigator said the cost to replace the items would be about $20,000.

“The amount they actually received was about $3,500 based on our information. Actual value might be around $5,500,” Hiebert said, pointing out the cost to replace an item is usually higher than the actual value.

Hiebert said the thefts began sometime around May of 2011, about the time the company’s management announced the plant’s closing.

Work should improve Wadley water

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A loan from Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) is allowing the city of Wadley to build a new chlorine contact chamber at the city’s water pollution control plant.

The loan, in the amount of $117,000, was awarded several months ago and will finance not only the new chamber but also a new feed system and a sodium hypochlorite chemical feed system to provide disinfection, GEFA stated in a recent press release.


“In addition to the public’s health and safety, these projects are critical to a community’s economic growth and prosperity,” said Kevin Clark, the executive director of GEFA.

G. Ben Turnipseed in Augusta is the engineering company overseeing the project for the city. John McClellan is a project manager with the company.

“There were six bidders,” McClellan said Wednesday, Sept. 5. “The low bid was $116,638.”

That bid was from L& L Utilities from Dublin.

McClellan said the highest bid was from E & D Contracting Services from Savannah.

“(Their bid) was $23,308.30,” he said. “Most of them kind of grouped in the middle of those two numbers. Three were in the $150,000 to $170,000 range.”

McClellan said his recommendation to the city was to accept the low bid, which the city did.

The notice to proceed date was Aug. 31, he said.

McClellan said he thought there would not be any major change orders.

“I think we’re passed that point right now,” he said. “Because they’ve already poured the slabs. The slabs for both structures have been poured. So I think we’re passed the point of any major change order items.”

McClellan said if the subsoils or soils had been in poor condition, there may have been some change orders, but they were fine.

The project manager said there is an allotted amount of time for the project. Oct. 29 is the expected completion date, he said.

The company has a building inspector, Danny Cason, on site.

Kyle Edenfield said the reason for the project is to comply with a consent order with EPD for fecal coliform.

Edenfield is a water/waste water operator with JT Environmental Service in Locust Grove. JT Environmental Service is the company contracted with the city of Wadley to handle the city’s waste water system.

“In a nutshell, it’s going to make the water cleaner,” Edenfield said in a recent interview. “It’s going to be a whole lot better. The city will be back in compliance with EPD.”

On Friday, Sept. 7, a three-man crew was working at the contact chamber while Cason observed.

“What they’re doing now is tying rebar,” Cason said. “Then they’ll pour concrete around the rebar and make a wall.”

The rebar makes the wall stronger, he said.

The city will pay 3.13 percent interest on the 10-year loan of $117,000, GEFA stated in its press release. Cities and counties interested in more information regarding the Georgia Fund should visit www.gefa.org or call 404-584-1000. Eligible projects include water and sewer lines, treatment plants, pumping stations and well.

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Last modified: September 13, 2012