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February 21, 2013 Issue

Car struck multiple times
Seven busted for pot sales
County votes to close senior center

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Car struck multiple times

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Two adults and one child were sent to Georgia Health Sciences University on Monday after a four car crash on Highway 1 near Wasden Realty resulted in their injuries.

All the details are still not clear in the Feb. 18 accident from officers with the Georgia State Patrol. A 1995 burgundy Lincoln, 2006 white Ford, 2001 white Freightliner and 2003 burgundy Chevrolet were involved in the accident.


The Lincoln was driven by Samantha Vega-Cruz of Wrens, and also contained another adult passenger and one child passenger. The Ford was driven by David Souers of Harlem, the Freightliner was driven by Luther Bowles of Louisville and the Chevrolet was driven by Rebecca Atkinson of Stapleton.

The report from the GSP Swainsboro Post is still not complete and only a basic description of the crash was available.

A spokesperson with GSP said that Vega-Cruz was waiting for southbound traffic to pass before making a left turn into a private driveway. Souers was traveling north behind Vega-Cruz when he skidded 59 feet and then continued to travel for 47 feet attempting to go around Vega-Cruz on the right side.

“The left front of Souers’ vehicle struck the rear of the vehicle driven by Vega-Cruz,” the spokesperson said.

Souers then traveled 59 feet after impact, while Vega-Cruz was propelled 55 feet into the southbound lane in oncoming traffic.

Bowles was traveling south on Highway 1 when he attempted to make an evasive maneuver onto the west shoulder. The right side tires of Bowles’s Freightliner traveled 98 feet on the west shoulder, then the left front of Bowles’s vehicle struck the front of Vega-Cruz’s vehicle in the southbound lane.

The impact caused Vega-Cruz’s vehicle to rotate counterclockwise, traveling 43 feet coming to a final rest in the northbound lane. Bowles traveled for 60 feet on the west shoulder where he struck a mailbox, and continued to travel 56 feet going back onto the roadway before traveling another 29 feet across both lanes, with his vehicle’s tire striking the left rear bumper of Atkinson’s Chevrolet.

Atkinson told officers that she came to a stop when she realized Souers was going to hit the vehicle driven by Vega-Cruz.

EMS Director Maj. Carl Wagster said that two adults were flown to Georgia Health Sciences University and one 5-year-old was taken by ground.

“Both adults received a lot of trauma,” Maj. Wagster said.

As of press time, it was unclear what injuries the victims sustained or if there would be any charges in the accident.

Seven busted for pot sales

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Wadley Chief of Police Wesley Lewis said this week his department arrested a total of seven people for drug-related activity over the past weekend.

“We had three locations that we served search warrants on,” Lewis said Monday, Feb. 18.


“This was after a couple of months when people had been complaining about drug activity at those locations. So we did a couple of undercover buys from those different locations that we served the search warrants on this past weekend,” he said.

Marijuana was found at all three locations but only a felony amount at one location, Lewis said.

The chief said there was one location where no one was home; but, Lewis said he expects the suspect, Cornell Hill, to turn himself in to police.

“We got over a pound of marijuana at each of two locations and a hand gun from each of those two locations. At one of those locations, the handgun was stolen,” Lewis said.

The chief said at the location where he was when the warrant was served, one subject ran out the back door.

“He ran towards the woods,” Lewis said. “He was Tazed.”

Lewis said at the location where no one was home, the search warrant was executed.

“No one has to be home for a search warrant to be executed,” Lewis said, adding this was one of the locations where a pound of marijuana was found.

“They can make some money off a pound of marijuana. These are felonies,” he said.

The chief said some of the marijuana found over the weekend was packaged for sale.

“Some of it was in one complete bag, like it had just come in; and, we had a few thousand dollars in cash at one location,” he said.

The search warrants were served at the same time.

Officers arrested Hubert Brown, 69, of Wadley. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of cocaine.

Also arrested were:

• Jawasky Jerrell Hall, 22, of Wadley and charged with possession and use of drug-related objects, Superior Court probation warrant and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute;

• Demectric Jamil Hill, 23, of Wadley and charged with possession and use of drug-related objects and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute;

• Quennell Terrell Hill, 21, of Wadley and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession and use of drug-related objects, possession of firearm or knife while trying to commit crimes and theft by receiving stolen property;

• Famando Shion Price, 26, of Wadley and charged with possession of marijuana, possession and use of drug-related objects and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute;

• Amanda M Robinson, 53, of Wadley and charged with possession of cocaine, possession and use of drug-related objects and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; and

• Rosalynn Robinson, 35, of Wadley and charged with possession and use of drug-related objects and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Lewis said he was unsure of the current street value of the marijuana found.

County votes to close senior center

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

In a move that seemed to stun the citizens present, Jefferson County Commissioners voted unanimously last week to close the county’s senior center.

The county administrator, Adam Mestres, said the county has lost two funding sources, totaling approximately $58,000.


In a program similar to Meals on Wheels, GA Foods provided food to the county to be delivered to seniors who were unable to physically come to the center for a meal.

The senior center ordered the meals, packaged them and the transit system delivered them. The county was paid $1 for each meal delivered in this way.

Mestres said the transition between this and having GA Foods deliver the meals themselves was seamless.

“There was nobody that went hungry,” he said in an interview.

Mestres said there had been some issues with this program.

“We’ve tried to work through these issues,” he said, adding the revenue to the center from this program was about $26,500 a year.

“That is a revenue line that has been cut,” he said during the commission meeting.

The administrator said the county additionally lost about $37,000 for the senior center effective Feb. 1. The source of that funding was the CSRA Regional Commission.

Mestres said these two losses are more than half the revenue the county has to operate the center.

Commissioner Wayne Davis said with the budget being very tight, he made a motion he said he regrets, to close the center and terminate the two employees effective Thursday, Feb. 28.

“It’s a very tough decision to make a second to this motion,” said Commissioner Johnny Davis.

“It’s not a good decision; it’s not one I’m very proud of,” he said.

“This is very near and dear to me,” said Commissioner Tommy New.

“To all of us,” Johnny Davis said.

“Well, I’m different, Johnny,” New responded. “I’m a senior citizen.”

New said when the center started more than 30 years ago, it was realized then the county would not be able to continue without outside funding.

“By far, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” he said.

The motion passed unanimously.

At the end of the meeting, during the public comments, one citizen asked the commission as a whole to go back to the senior center decision and revisit it.

“They really need it,” he said of the seniors.

In an interview last week, Mestres said the budget for the senior center was $110,469 for fiscal year 2013.

“That’s the entire cost,” he said.

The estimated revenue from the Regional Commission was $37,000; although, Mestres said the commission had allocated $43,106.

“The actual figure received is based on participation,” Mestres said. The county was responsible for only about 37 percent of the costs.

Mestres has said it might be possible for the funding from the commission to be reinstated at some time in the future. If that happens, the senior center could possibly reopen.

The facility has been available for rent by the public, he said. That will continue.

Under the Open Records Act The News and Farmer / The Jefferson Reporter has obtained copies of the letter from GA Foods and two letters from Andy Crosson, director of the CSRA Regional Commission, that addressed the programs and loss of funding. The letters were addressed to Mestres.

The letter from John Harrison, the southeast manager with GA Foods, was dated Jan. 17.

In his letter, Harrison stated, “Regrettably, the CCSP/Source requirements are not a good fit for the Jefferson transportation’s current mandate of transporting seniors and delivering meals in the Medicaid Waiver program.”

The letters from Crosson point to specific deficiencies in the management of the center.

In his letter dated Jan. 8, Crosson stated they had completed a focus monitor for the center.

Crosson said this “is completed for the purpose of reviewing just those items found to be deficient on the annual monitor. Normally this monitor is conducted with the benefit of reviewing the corrective action plan submitted in advance thereby allowing us to consider expected completion dates and potential delays to completion. However, Jefferson County failed to submit a corrective action plan even after repeated reminders by the monitor and one-on-one discussion with the center director, Marie Swint.”

Crosson noted in his letter that some of the items had been corrected and were found to be in compliance.

“However, of great concern are those items which remain unaddressed and pose either a safety risk to the seniors or a severe breach of compliance with established state and federal guidelines,” he stated.

Some of the deficiencies Crosson listed were a failure to address missing participants in the emergency management plan; failure to conduct an annual tornado drill; failure to have the heating system checked annually; failure to train staff in proper use of the fire extinguisher; and failure to establish policies and procedures to address incidents or accidents involving staff, volunteers or participants.

“Because of the serious nature and continued neglect to correct these deficiencies, the CSRA Regional Commission is serving notice of suspension of funding for the Senior Nutrition Program effective Feb. 1, 2013, until such a time as the issues have been corrected and solid managerial and safety measures are in place,” Crosson stated.

In his second letter, dated Feb. 11, Crosson wrote, “Based on repeated monitoring visits, I am gravely concerned with the existing senior center manager. Under her leadership, the Jefferson County Senior Center ranks in the lowest tier of CSRA AAA recognized nutrition sites. To date, there are many administrative problems established in the center that remain unaddressed. … As a result, I must inform you and the county commission that the CSRA Regional Commission has lost confidence in your senior center’s administrator’s management capacity. I strongly encourage you and the county commission to immediately evaluate potential risks to the health and safety of your seniors while at the center.”

Mestres said he and Jefferson County Commission Chairman Mitchell McGraw personally went to the center the morning after the vote to close the center and spoke with the staff and seniors personally.

When contacted, Swint said she preferred to not comment at this time.

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