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February 14, 2013 Issue

Downtown construction continues
Our lucky stars
County considers layoffs

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Downtown construction continues

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Hazards and inconveniences to pedestrians in Wadley will be around for a few additional weeks.

The eyesore the downtown area has become has hit a snag. A change order approved during a called meeting last week will add 45 days to the streetscape project that began late last year.


The cost of the change order will be $9,516.25.

The initial cost was more than $16,000, Ryan Thompson told the council last week in a called meeting.

Thompson is a landscape architect with Thomas and Hutton, the engineering firm overseeing the project.

“Originally in the contract, we were going to have to relocate two hydrants within the project,” Thompson said Tuesday. “The decision was made to not relocate them.”

This dropped the cost of the original bid amount by $3,038 and translated into a savings over the cost of the change order.

Thompson said there are four junction boxes connecting storm drainage pipes. They were located underground and were not known to exist prior to the beginning of the project.

“A lot of times, there will be a manhole cover on top of them,” Thompson said. “DOT agreed to use their maintenance forces to rebuild some of those boxes.”

“They were still operating drainage boxes,” said John Giordano, a civil engineer with Thomas and Hutton.

Wadley Mayor Herman Baker said the crew also found a tank underground.

Thompson said DOT was contacted and they removed the tank, which was still intact and had oil in it.

The change order also provides for the contractor to return the driveway at Gunn Drugs to its former condition. The project had called for a bump-out, or small circular area that juts out into the road. The purpose of these is to reduce the road exposure to pedestrians when they cross the street from that point.

“Where will the money come from?” Councilman Albert Samples asked the city clerk, Sallie Adams.

“I have to pull it out of contracts,” she said.

Samples made a motion to approve the change order; and, the motion passed.

The main part of the project will be paid for with funding from a DOT grant.

“It was rebid once or twice because the bids went over,” Adams said, adding this is one thing that held up the work.

Mike Shepard, the project manager for the contractor, E & D Contracting Service in Savannah, said the project began in December.

“There are some drain improvements,” he said. The streetscape calls for putting in some sidewalks, extending the sides and widening them.

“And it’s going to have a brick paver band, which is a decorative feature,” he said. There will be some landscaping with shrubs planted along the street.

“Georgia Power has a contract with the city; and, they’re going to put in some ornamental light poles in conjunction with what we’re doing.”

Currently, the contractor is doing storm drainage work with the hope to be pouring the sidewalk soon, he said.

Shepard addressed the delays saying there have been some unforeseen things that weren’t in the plans or in the specs.

“But nothing really major,” he said. “They had some layouts of the drainage boxes and when we uncovered the dirt we discovered some of the boxes wouldn’t fit as specified due to the proximity of the curb. Basically, some tweaking of the original plan.”

Shepard said the work is coming along.

“We’re on schedule. It got extended out some, while they worked out some drainage issues. The completion date is April 15 and we hope to be out of there before then,” he said.

Wadley Police Chief Wesley Lewis said the only thing closed around the police station is the handicapped ramp.

“Our sidewalk is open,” he said. The ramp has been closed since the work started.

“We haven’t had any complaints about people not having access into the station,” he said.

“We understand that our customers are being inconvenienced but hope they will be patient,” said Tesie Bowles, the branch manager for Queensborough Bank & Trust in Wadley.

“We will have a safer and more appealing sidewalk when the project is completed,” she said.

Citizens and some business owners see things differently

One citizen who lives in Louisville but visits Wadley about twice a week said the construction areas are a mess.

“There’s a bump into the road in front of Dr. Perez’s office and in front of the bank. I think that’s dangerous,” she said, adding it’s better now than it had been.

“It’s taking too long,” she said.

“It could have been organized a whole lot better,” said a citizen who lives just outside Wadley’s city limits.

“They could have done a section at a time,” she said.

Russell Pate, owner of Burke Loan Company at 11 N. Main St., is smack dab in the middle of the work.

“We have a lot of old people in Wadley,” he said. “There’s nowhere for them to walk except the street. They had one lady to fall going into the bank.”

He said the curb going from the sidewalk to the street is too high.

The man at the construction areas who said he was the subcontractor refused to speak with The News and Farmer about the construction work or any problems he might have found during the work.

Our lucky stars

From Staff Reports

STAR students in Jefferson County were recently announced for Jefferson County High School and Thomas Jefferson Academy. Matthew Miller is the STAR student for Jefferson County High School and Seth Stephen Evans is the STAR student for Thomas Jefferson Academy.

During the annual STAR Student Banquet held Monday, Feb. 11, it was announced that Miller was picked as the STAR student for the county.


Miller is a resident of Evans and the son of Neal Miller and Jean Miller. Miller picked language arts teacher Patricia Easterlin, who teaches at Jefferson County High School, as his STAR teacher.

“I chose Mrs. Easterlin because she goes beyond the normal expectations of a teacher,” Miller said. “She truly cares about the success of her students, both inside and outside of school.”

Evans is a resident of Bartow and the son of Dr. Sam and Dr. Kristine Evans. Evans chose Amber Dowdy as his STAR teacher.

“I chose her because she has always been a great teacher,” Evans said. “She cares about the students and is willing to go the extra mile to help all students to achieve the most that they possibly can. Also, she has a set of ethics in the classroom that she goes by, and she sticks to what she believes no matter what.”

Both students cited their parents as influences in becoming a STAR student and a success in the classroom.

“I had motivation from my parents and siblings who also received this honor,” Miller said.

“My parents influenced me and encouraged me to be the best person that I could be,” Evans added. “I knew I had the ability to become STAR student, therefore, I expected it of myself.”

The biggest support and influence given to Miller was from his parents.

“My parents have influenced me the most by setting extremely high standards and encouraging me to meet them,” he said.

Evans was given backing from his parents, as well as Cathy Tiner and his teachers at Thomas Jefferson.

"My parents, Mrs. Cathy Tiner and teachers have supported me through the encouragement that they have given me for always pushing me to work to my full potential,” he said.

Both Miller and Evans felt they were aided in school by the community in Jefferson County, saying that the small town atmosphere makes their learning environments better.

“I love the small/medium sized school atmosphere,” Miller said. “The teachers are able to develop relationships as well as keep a sense of purpose.”

“At Thomas Jefferson Academy, we have a personal atmosphere in which it’s more like a family and not just school,” Evans added. “Everyone is willing to help each other, and all of the teachers and faculty really care for the students.”

Both boys saw that it was important for students and future STARs to know how important it is to work hard towards any goals that they may have in life.

“What you get out of life depends directly on what you put in,” Miller replied. “Anyone can succeed if they want to, but the focal point is how badly you want it.”

“Always do your best and never slack off through high school,” Evans said.

At JCHS Miller participates(ed) in Key Club, Beta Club and the math team. He is also the guitarist in a church band, and is involved in missions and likes to stay outdoors.

At TJA Evans participates(ed) in Key Club, Beta Club, one act play, literary, football, basketball, track and tennis. He is also a youth assistant at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, and has worked at Sandersville Vet Clinic and Gardner Farms outside of school.

County considers layoffs

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Jefferson County commissioners discussed the possibility of layoffs last week in a work session.

“Our fund balance has been deteriorating for the past three years,” said Commissioner Wayne Davis. “We’re going to be short.”


The commissioner said it might be time to look at layoffs.

“I’m not going to vote to raise the millage rate,” he said. “I’ll tell you right now, I am not going to do it.”

He brought up the fact the commissioners had been discussing acquiring equipment and pointed out that will be paid for with funds from SPLOST.

He mentioned the change made at the state level in the so-called birthday tax, the tax levied on personal property such as vehicles. No one yet knows how that will affect the county, he said.

“Some departments are heavy,” he said.

“We’re in different days and different times,” said Commission Chairman Mitchell McGraw.

“We know we’re going to have less than we had last year. In the next meeting or two we need to look at each department,” McGraw said, adding he didn’t know if the answer is in layoffs or furloughs.

“The money’s not coming in,” he said.

Jefferson County Administrator Adam Mestres said it is not a case of overspending.

He said there was nothing specific discussed during the budget meetings in June and mentioned constitutional officers who are mandated by the state but whose budget is paid for by the county.

“Bring the constitutional officers to the table then. We can’t do nothing but ask them,” said Commissioner Gonice Davis.

Mestres said payments by the state for forest land is two years behind, adding the state owes the county $110,000 for 2011.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve come to this point,” said Commissioner Johnny Davis. He said the state is reforming the court system and juvenile courts.

“The county is going to have to pay for this,” he said.

The commissioners had just attended a conference in Atlanta.

“The governor gave us a little bit of hope but that’s not helping us here,” Johnny Davis said of the conference, adding a speaker mentioned proposed federal cuts.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said. “It is now time for everybody to come to the table. It’s not pretty.”

“When the budget is set, the department heads need to realize they have to stay within the budget,” Wayne Davis said.

McGraw said, “Let this be top priority.”

Johnny Davis suggested forming a partnership with the cities for when they need to get goods and services.

“Over the course of the next month, the commission and I are going to sit down and review the budget with a close eye and determine where cuts are needed. I expect the issue to be discussed in the March work session,” Mestres said Tuesday.

“It’s understood that we’re working on a barebones budget; but, unfortunately, the budget always fluctuates and sometimes additional cuts are needed,” he said.

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