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February 7, 2013 Issue

Historical designs used for Louisville Academy
Judge asks for security upgrade at courthouse

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Historical designs used for Louisville Academy

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Architects were asked to keep Lousiville Academy’s rich history part of the plans for what will be the county’s most state-of-the-art facility.

Work has already begun clearing the way for the new school on the site of the 1921 academy, in the lot next to the elementary school’s current location.

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Louisville Academy was chartered in 1784 by the General Assembly and in 1786, the General Assembly set aside 196 acres of land to establish and support the school, but the first building was not erected until 1796.

Louisville Academy was one of 10 land grant academies set up in the state, with Athens becoming the University of Georgia, and Louisville Academy being a feeder high school for UGA.

“It has been in continuous operation since then,” longtime Principal Hulet Kitterman said. “Louisville Academy is one of the last three original academies left in the state.”

Another is Richmond Academy. Louisville resident and Louisville Academy graduate Louise Abbot said she remembers the old Victorian architecture of the building that used to sit in front of Louisville’s City Cemetery.

“Louisville Academy for a long time, was a beautiful Victorian wooden structure,” Abbot remembered. “It had fascinating architecture. Both of my parents went through that school and graduated from that school. And the school graduated so many students who went on to earn their PhDs.”

She recalls one professor she said was particularly loved by the community. Professor Will Farmer, a Harvard graduate, would meet once a week with students at the school to read classical literature and poetry, at a time when Greek and Latin were still taught as part of the curriculum.

“Professor Farmer would read from Shakespeare, Milton and other great writers,” Abbot said. “He was a superb reader and held them spellbound.”

According to Abbot, Prof. Farmer later left Louisville Academy for Richmond Academy, where he worked during the early 20th century flu pandemic. A bronze marker was later placed in an Augusta Museum to honor him.

According to historical records, Louisville Academy became a district school in 1921 when bonds were sold to build the building that once housed the school. It was moved to where the archway is located today and later was lost in a fire. At that time, the last of the original land grant acres were sold and the proceeds applied to the cost of the academy then being built. This is where the old two-story school sat, and where the new school will be built.

Over the last two months the old school board building that housed SHIPS for Youth, Inc., and the old gym were torn down to make way for the new facility.

“They will be putting the new building on the footsteps of the old building that went up in the 1920s,” Kitterman explained.

The community’s school saw parents, educators and students work hard in the 1930s and 1940s to build a gymnasium.

“It was an effort on the part of the town’s people and parents,” Abbot said. “Students helped in various ways and with lots of fundraisers. People reached deep into their pockets and gave money. I am sure civic clubs helped and the usual sources to help raise the money.”

“These parents and children raised the money to build the gym,” Kitterman added. “It was not paid for out of taxpayers’ money. That is why there was an emotional outpouring about tearing down the gym.”

In 1970, the last class graduated from the Louisville Academy high school before integration, which began a process of adding other buildings to the 1950s building that used to house the high school where Louisville Academy is now. The original building which sits behind the school’s office and houses fourth and fifth graders, as well as art classes, was built in the 1950s. It became an elementary school for the 1970-1971 school year.

“All the rest of the buildings were added on with time,” Jefferson County Superintendent Dr. Molly Howard said in a previous interview. “The state has a problem with the children even going across the road to the gym. There have been so many new requirements over time.

“That original building has steps, and we can’t have those inside without a ramp. We couldn’t even make it handicap accessible without spending a lot of money and it still would not be that good. We also have a lot of electrical problems with the old 1950s building and it can’t handle the technology.”

The actual school building construction has begun. The state told school officials they would assist the school system up to $3.1 million to build a new structure.

“We will decide on what part of the existing Louisville Academy we will use closer to time when the school is built,” Dr. Howard said. “Portions of it we will use, possibly for professional learning or staff development.”

Dr. Howard wanted the community to know that the school system does not intend to leave the current building vacant as an eyesore to the town.

“Currently we don’t have a place for a large crowd if we need training for the teachers and staff,” she said.

Phase II of the construction, which will include the new Louisville Academy building was not bid on until January. Dr. Howard said they plan to have the school open and ready to be moved in by December 2013.

“I think that the whole community will be proud of the design,” Dr. Howard said. “We want this to be built with the integrity of the Louisville Academy that sat on that very footprint, and it will be designed with some of those architectural details. It will be an addition to the Louisville community and benefit the children who will go to school in it.”

The school currently employees 70 and has an enrollment of 560 for Pre-K through fifth grade.

“It will be a two-story building, with the younger children downstairs and third through fifth upstairs,” Kitterman said. “The gym and lunchroom will be downstairs and the media center will be upstairs. There will be a stage for performances in the cafeteria.”

Kitterman began working at Louisville Academy in January 1976 and became principal of the school in 1996. She feels that Jefferson County has a gem of a school, with its students, educators, parents and history.

“I think one of the things unique, almost without exception, is that every employee lives in Jefferson County, except two,” Kitterman said. “This truly makes it a community school. This is a school where children’s parents and grandparents attended.

“I think that makes it a really good school and different from other schools that I see around the state. You’re immediately accessible to the public. Everywhere you go, you are seen as a teacher, so you are held accountable not just while you are in school. We have that community spirit where everybody is accountable for everybody.”

Dr. Howard said preliminary drawings are still at the board office and citizens are welcome to take a look.




Judge asks for security upgrade at courthouse

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Security in the Jefferson County Courthouse needs attention, so says Chief Superior Court Judge Kathy S. Palmer in a letter to the county’s commissioners.

The letter, dated last month, states a courthouse security assessment and plan was completed in 2005.


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“Many of the required security measures have never been implemented nor have the recommendations had any follow up,” Palmer wrote, stating specifically the plan recommended panic buttons for the tax commission and clerk of court offices.

“These have not been installed and should be considered as immediate needs,” she stated.

Palmer further wrote that courthouse security continues to be a top priority for state and local governments.

“I encourage you to fully implement the current plan with recommendations that will ensure the safety of the courthouse employees and the public,” she said.

“While courthouse security is an expensive undertaking, there is no dollar value to be placed on the lives of those working in and using the courthouse. Judge (Bobby) Reeves and I are happy to work with you on a new assessment and would like to make some recommendations as that assessment is developed,” she wrote.

Palmer’s letter was discussed during the commissioners’ January meeting.

Commissioners also discussed an upcoming change in the way fines will be paid. Although a specific date has not been set for the transition, at some point in the next few months, fines will be accepted at the clerk’s office inside the courthouse rather than at the county’s law enforcement center. Anne Durden, the clerk of court, said the details still need to be finalized.

“The courthouse needs to be a priority,” Commissioner Gonice Davis said.

There has been discussion about whether some of the upgrades could be paid using SPLOST funds; although, no salaries could be. Any officers working a security detail would have to be POST certified and would have to be paid other than from SPLOST funds.

“There’s going to have to be some modifications made to the courthouse,” County Attorney Mickey Moses told the commissioners.

He said most every courthouse has a deputy during business hours and a screening process while court is in session.

“I suggest we sit down with the sheriff and clerk of court,” Commissioner Tommy New said. “Pick you a committee and come back with a recommendation.”

His motion passed.

“The U.S. Marshals had a Marshal who came down to work with us to review our courthouse and offer suggestions on improving security,” Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins said. “He told us where our weaknesses were at the courthouse and where we could improve our security. We have been implementing some security measures already. We’re going to be doing some more in the clerk’s office.”

The sheriff said a committee was formed consisting of some courthouse employees, commissioners and him. The committee has already had at least one meeting.

Hutchins said any officer working at the courthouse would have to be POST certified and would come under the sheriff’s authority.

Currently, deputies rotate on two-hour shifts throughout the day.

“We don’t have the manpower to keep on doing this; but, we’ve got to hire somebody to come and fill this position,” Hutchins said. “We’re going to be looking at ways to supplement the security measures we already have in court. There’s going to have to be some inconvenience to provide the security.”

Clerk of Court Durden said the security at the courthouse is for everyone.

“It’s not just for me; it’s for everyone who works here and everyone who visits here,” she said. “Any other courthouse you go to has some sort of security in place.”

She said it may be something new for Jefferson County.

“We’re not breaking ground,” she said. “Actually we need to catch up.

“I’m glad to have a deputy here; and, I’m glad for the public to know that. It makes for a safer environment for us all.”







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