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April 25, 2013 Issue

To save a life
Anderson made county fire chief
Three qualify for Wrens seat

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To save a life

By Faye Ellison
Staff writer

Many organizations came together on Thursday, April 18, to bring awareness to students at Thomas Jefferson Academy of the dangers of drinking and driving with Ghost Out, a mock accident held every other year the week before prom.

“More than 3,000 teenagers die every year in drunk driving accidents,” Louisville Assistant Fire Chief Chester Johnson read. “The rate of alcohol related car accidents is higher for drivers between the ages of 16 to 20 than it is for adults over the age of 21. Like in this scenario, drunk drivers engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, failure to wear their seatbelts, running red lights and underestimating their ability to drive.”


The story began to unfold Thursday morning, with Johnson as the narrator, to a group of students from sixth through 12th grades. In the story, the students’ peers were involved in an accident related to drinking and driving. Chandler Hadden was driving, while he had his friends Anna Yonchak, Seth Evans and Michael Bridges riding along with him leaving an after-prom party.

“Everyone had been drinking but had to be home that night,” Johnson read. “In a rush to get home, Chandler was nominated to drive. Even though he drank the least amount of alcohol of the group, his driving was still impaired, causing him to speed.”

Hadden was distracted by Evans and Bridges, who were riding in the backseat.

“As he turned around to see what was going on, he ran a red light,” Johnson explained. “Realizing he did so, he slammed on brakes in the middle of the intersection causing his car to be hit on the passenger side by an oncoming truck.”

After rescue services and law enforcement get to the scene of the mock accident, it is discovered that Evans has been killed upon impact, and Yonchak needs serious medical care, while Bridges and Hadden both survive because they were wearing their seatbelts.

School officials say they have heard similar true stories too many times, and want to do what they can to protect their students. That is why they choose to try and prevent the situation through educational programs like Ghost Out.

“We want to bring awareness to the hazards and consequences of drinking and driving, especially during week of the prom,” Assistant Headmaster Cathy Tiner said.

TJA received help from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Coroner Edward James, Taylor Funeral Home, Louisville Fire Department, Louisville Volunteer Fire Department, Louisville Police Department, Heritage Hill Fire Department, Georgia State Patrol, Jefferson County EMS, Gold Star Ambulance and Jefferson County 911, while Louisville Mayor Larry Morgan and City Administrator Ricky Sapp were also on hand.

The vehicle for the mock accident was provided by William Hadden, while the event was coordinated by Sheriff Gary Hutchins, Johnson, Fire Chief Lamar Baxley and Robert Yonchak at the school’s request.

Students also got to view the rollover simulator with the help of Roy Bowe of the University of Georgia. The simulator was presented to grades third through 12th.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute in partnership with the Governor’s Highway Safety provide the simulator.

“Car crashes are the number one killer of people in every age group from 1 to 34,” Tiner said. “Seatbelt use remains a serious safety concern as two out of every three fatalities in Georgia involve unsecured occupants.”

The GTIPI’s rollover simulator was donated to The University of Georgia by Ford Motor Company and was designed by Gober Brothers of Dawsonville. The simulator demonstrates the importance of wearing safety belts. After two years of development, it made its debut as Georgia’s first rollover simulator on May 9, 1998, at the Bill Elliot Racing Museum.

“It simulates one of the most deadly motor vehicle crashes, a rollover,” Tiner said.

Anderson made county fire chief

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Jefferson County commissioners voted last month to give the county’s EMA/911 director something else to do. He’s now the county’s fire chief.

Jim Anderson became the EMA/911 director last year after Adam Mestres who previously held that position became the county’s administrator.


Mestres said Anderson will not get a raise and said this move formally creates a county fire department.

Previously, the county’s two departments, Hillcrest and Matthews fire departments, were supported by the county but operated under separate organization numbers.

These numbers identify the fire departments and created a problem when they applied for grants.

“They basically were competing against each other,” Anderson said, adding now the departments are combined officially he can use statistics from both departments and apply for one grant for the county.

“This is a great thing from what I see,” said Dave Beachy.

Beachy was the fire chief at Hillcrest Fire Department before the move. He and Tommy Brown, who was Matthews’ fire chief, are now considered district fire chiefs.

“I’m a strong believer in teamwork,” Beachy said. “The more we can pull together and unite our efforts, the better able we are to serve our community. Mr. Anderson is well qualified to be our county chief. He’s got the experience and knowledge we need.”

Experience and knowledge are things Anderson brings to the position.

He is a veteran of the Air Force where he was a member of the fire protection team. He has more than 15 years of experience as a training officer with Glennville Volunteer Fire Department and was the emergency service director and fire chief in Bryan County for eight years.

He holds instructor certifications in basic firefighter, POST instructor general, POST instructor emergency medical, Georgia Emergency Management HAZMAT Awareness and Georgia EMS instructor level 1.

His certifications include first class fire fighter, Georgia certified firefighter 1, national board on fire service professional qualifications, instructor 1, instructor 2, arson investigator and fire evaluator.

During the March commission meeting, Mestres said this move is formalizing the county departments. The county has been fully funding both and will continue to do so.

“This affects federal funding,” Anderson said.

The commission voted to combine the departments with Anderson as the chief, effective immediately.

Brown, the Matthews district chief, said this move changes little.

“Really, as far as I’m concerned, it’s no change at all,” he said during an interview. “I will still make decisions that concern my department.”

Three qualify for Wrens seat

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Three men have qualified for the Wrens city council seat left vacant when Herman Wright resigned this past January after an arrest.

The men are Jimmy Bennett, David Hastings and Melvin L. Farmer. Besides paying a $72 qualifying fee, candidates have to be older than 18 and have been a resident of Wrens for at least one year.


The position, which expires Dec. 31 this year, pays $200 a month.

The special election will be held in Wrens Tuesday, June 18, said the city’s elections superintendent, Janee Hodge.

“Whoever gets the highest number of votes will go in to Mr. Wright’s seat immediately,” she said. “Our council meetings are the first Tuesday of each month. The work session is the week before on Thursdays.”

Hodge said the candidate who wins the election will be sworn in by Wrens Mayor Lester Hadden.

To qualify to vote in the election, eligible citizens of Wrens must be registered by May 20.

“We have the forms people need to fill out and send to Atlanta,” Hodge said.

Interested citizens should pick up the form from city hall, complete it and have it mailed no later than May 20.

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