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January 24, 2013 Issue

County celebrates MLK Day
Councilman arrested on drug charges
Benefit payments will be electronic

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County celebrates MLK Day

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

“This ain’t a black thing or a white thing,” said Bobby Adams. “It’s a wrong or a right thing.”

Adams, president of the Jefferson County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was speaking to citizens Saturday, Jan. 19, on the courthouse grounds in Louisville. The group gathered for a program after a parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The parade left from Louisville Academy and traveled along Peachtree and Broad streets before ending at the courthouse.

King was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta and helped found the SCLC in 1957.

Cynthia Cuyler said Jefferson County’s chapter of the SCLC holds an annual parade and program in King’s honor every January. Cuyler is the group’s executive secretary.

Adams said Louisville Police Chief Jimmy Miller helped him.

“He came and asked me, ‘What can I do for you?’ “We need these police just like they need us,” Adams said.

“They get threats just like we get threats. If your son’s selling dope, your son’s doing wrong, your daughter, you can’t get mad at them (police),” he said. “Some things we bring on ourselves.”

Adams told the audience, “You got to reach the time when you got to make a choice.

“Our kids need to see us out here. They need to see their daddies, their grandmamas,” he said. “You’re mad with the teachers and you know he’s not right when you send him (to school).”

Adams told the audience to start visiting the sheriff and talk to him.

He said parents should teach their children they don’t have to play sports to be successful.

“They can be scientists, doctors,” he said.

Wadley Councilmember Dorothy Strowbridge told the group, “We have a part in this.”

She said, “Strive for the best. Don’t let nothing stop you. We have work to do. We should teach our kids to dream so big that they can’t do it by themselves.

“(I’m) glad to be a part of this occasion.”

About Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins and Maj. Charles Gibbons of the JCSO, Cuyler said, “These men have a hard job to do. It takes everybody. We want you to be a part of this,” she said to the audience.

"Whenever we ask them to do something for us, they’re always supporting us,” she said.

“Our problem today is we’ve got children having children,” Hutchins said. “We’ve got to support these people.

“Time has changed. It ain’t the world, it’s people.”

Hutchins encouraged the audience to have a vision like King’s.

“Let’s get a vision,” he said. “A vision for the future.”

He said, “Get that education.”

He told the audience about a program that helps inmates at the jail get their GED, a high school equivalency diploma. He said no one who has completed the program has returned to jail.

“You need me and I need you,” he said.

“Take back your children,” Gibbons said. “We got choices in our life to make.”

He said all of his sons are grown; and, they don’t tell him what to do.

Anyone who says there haven’t been changes in Jefferson County is not telling the truth, Gibbons said.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes,” he said.

“If I support you, you support me. If you hit me, I’ll hit you. If you shake my hand, I’ll shake your hand. If you hug me, I’ll hug you.

“Dr. Martin Luther King paid a terrible price for us.”

He said he was a little disturbed there weren’t more people present.

“(We’re) genuinely concerned about the people in Jefferson County,” he said. “There’s a lot of people working on your behalf.”

Mitchell McGraw, the county’s commission chairman, said he wants Jefferson County to be the best county in the state of Georgia.

He encouraged the audience to thank law enforcement officers. Of King, he said, “He’s one of the few people I know of who made a difference. I salute and I honor Dr. Martin Luther King.”

He promised to bring more people to the program next year and asked everyone else to do the same.

Councilman arrested on drug charges

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Wrens Councilman Herman Wright, 42, was arrested Wednesday, Jan. 16, and charged with several felonies, including three counts of sale or distribution of controlled substance.

“We’ve had information about him selling for quite some time,” said Lt. Clark Hiebert, an investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.


“Herman Wright had allegedly been selling pills to different individuals in Wrens,” Hiebert said Monday.

“He was approached by an undercover operative of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on four occasions. On three occasions an undercover operative did purchase prescription pills. On one occasion, an undercover operative purchased 20 alleged Percocet 5s, on the second occasion purchased 20 Percocet 5s. On the third occasion, purchased 40 alleged Hydrocodone 10,” Hiebert said.

The investigator said the undercover operative had started making the purchases around Jan. 1.

“After the last purchase, which was the day Wright was arrested, Wednesday, Jan. 16, when an undercover operative purchased the 40 alleged Hydrocodone 10s, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office along with the Wrens PD arrested him. We went to the house, searched his residence and found pill bottles without the labels on them. Wright did admit he had been buying pills off the street and reselling them. He did acknowledge he had been selling them to other people for some time,” Hiebert said.

The investigator said three firearms were found at the residence, including a .22 rifle that had been reported stolen in 1999 by the Wrens Police Department.

Also at the residence were prescription bottles with the label off. Three different types of pills were in the prescription bottles, Hiebert said.

“He was charged with three counts of sale or distribution of controlled substance. He was charged with one count of theft by receiving stolen property. That’s where he had that stolen .22 rifle in his possession. He’s also charged with three counts of possession a weapon during the commission of a crime. All of which are felony charges,” he said.

Hiebert said Wright had made bond, which had been set at a total of $25,000 according to records from the jail.

Wright has been a Wrens city councilman since a special election in March 2011. He has served on the public safety committee, among other committees.

He was just named the president of the Wrens Neighborhood Watch.

Wrens Police Chief Garry McCord said the arrest was the result of two to three months of work on the part of the JCSO and his department.

“I hope this will instill more confidence in the citizens of Wrens that the police department will continue working hand-in-hand with the sheriff’s office and any and all law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Benefit payments will be electronic

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Millions of Americans still receiving paper checks for Social Security and other federal benefits have less than two months to switch to electronic payments, including those who receive those type of payments locally.

The Treasury Department published a final rule in December 2010 to gradually phase out paper checks for federal benefit payments.


In an effort to cut spending, federal officials began retiring paper checks in favor of direct deposits and prepaid Direct Express debit cards in May 2011, according to the United States Treasury Department. Since then, the department has required all new recipients of payments from federal benefits programs, including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income disability, Veterans Affairs and government pension plans, to sign-up for electronic payments through direct deposit or Direct Express. It set a March 1 deadline for all other recipients to do the same.

Roughly 93 percent of payments are now being made electronically nationwide. But about 5 million checks are still mailed each month, representing an additional $4.6 million in monthly costs since each mailed check costs 92 cents more than a direct deposit transfer, Treasury officials said. The agency said if it did not push for the switch to electronic transfers it would cost taxpayers another $1 billion over the next 10 years.

The Treasury Department is now urging the remaining check recipients to switch before the March 1 deadline. The department has partnered with more than 1,800 local, regional and national banks, credit unions, social service agencies and community groups to get the word out through mailings, public service announcements and its website.

Treasury Department official Walt Henderson said anyone who fails to make the change will still receive paper checks, but will be the target of more aggressive communication efforts, such as additional mailings.

“We won’t interrupt their payment, but we will be communicating with them in a more personal direct way,” Henderson said. “After March 1, they are not in compliance.”

Electronic payments are safer than paper checks, Henderson said. In 2011, more than 440,000 Social Security checks were reported lost or stolen, while $70 million worth of checks were fraudulently endorsed. Henderson did say that exceptions would be granted in rare circumstances.

“It’s just really the best way to receive your payment,” Henderson said.

Still, electronic payments come with their own fraud concerns. The Treasury Department is asking the public to be aware of fraud as well, especially with an increasing number of identity thefts causing senior citizens’ benefit payments to be redirected to different bank accounts using a stolen Social Security number.

To prevent fraud, officials recommend that seniors never provide personal information to unsolicited callers and always check with a local Social Security Administration Office if contacted by someone claiming to be an administration employee.

“The government won’t call you asking for information,” Henderson said.

To report suspicious activity, contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. To sign up for benefits, recipients can visit www.GoDirect.org, call a toll-free helpline at 1-800-333-1795 or speak with their local bank or credit union representative.

Recipients must have their Social Security or claim number, 12-digital federal benefit check number and the amount of their most recent federal benefit check. For direct deposit, recipients also will need their financial institution’s routing transit number (often found on a personal check), account number and account type (checking or saving). There are no sign-up fees or monthly fees to receive benefits electronically through Direct Express.

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