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February 26, 2015 Issue

Hold ‘em, Fold ‘em...
Chief named in suit
Wadley to investigate allegations
School lowers temp to manage heating costs

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Hold ‘em, Fold ‘em...


Jefferson County residents have a great time with Casino Night at Foster’s Saturday, Feb. 21, and raise money for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, too. Doors opened at 6 p.m. Tables were open at 7 p.m. and closed at 10 p.m. “We don’t have a final tally on the amount; but, we feel like it was a very successful night for the chamber,” said Lil Easterlin, the chamber’s director. The money raised will go to help pay for leadership training, classes, workshops and other chamber programs. This is the second year the chamber has held a Casino Night; and, Easterlin said she thinks this may become an annual event. “That’s a decision for the board to make,” she added. Although participation was about the same as last year’s, Easterlin said there was an increase in funds raised.

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Chief named in suit

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A former employee has accused Wadley Police Chief Wesley Lewis of assault and battery; discriminatory conduct; creating a hostile working environment; and retaliatory conduct.

Jessica C. Brown, a former Wadley police officer, states in a complaint filed last month in Jefferson County Superior Court she was the subject of gender- and race based harassment by Lewis that included loud profanity and other abusive language, which she states began when she started working with the department.

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The complaint states in November 2013 Lewis “became especially agitated and began yelling at her (Brown) and physically attacking her. He tried to take her keys and then snatched her duty weapon that was strapped in her holster.”

The complaint states Brown reported the incident to Lewis’ superiors.

Then, in December 2013, the complaint states Lewis became loud, aggressive and abusive toward Brown. At one point, he reportedly grabbed the back of Brown’s neck and started shaking it. The complaint states further Lewis told Brown, “Your problem is you never been put in your place by a man.”

After this, Brown’s complaint states Lewis began to increase his harassment and intimidation of her.

“The constant harassment became a pervasive condition of her employment. On Feb. 17, 2014, (Brown) filed a grievance against Lewis pursuant to the City of Wadley personnel policies,” the complaint states.

In February 2014, Brown was hospitalized for stress the complaint says, attributing this hospitalization to “the harassment she was receiving.”

The complaint states Lewis “effectively discharged” Brown on March 14, 2014. Lewis sent two officers to obtain Brown’s patrol car. Lewis changed the door locks on Brown’s office and had another employee clean out Brown’s office and drop off Brown’s personal property at her house.

Brown’s complaint was filed against Lewis, as an individual and in his official capacity; Wadley Police Department; the City of Wadley; Wadley Mayor Harold Moore; and each member of the city council, Izell Mack, Kendrick McBride, Beth Moore, John Maye and Albert Samples.

Brown’s complaint asks for restitution; and compensatory and punitive damages.

Brown’s attorney, Mike Brown of Augusta, said this week he had no comment on the case.

Rich Daniels, Wadley’s city attorney, also said this week he had no comment about the suit. Daniels has 30 days from Jan. 26, the date the complaint was filed, to respond.




Wadley to investigate allegations

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

In a called meeting Friday, Feb. 20, the city council voted on the council’s response to allegations against the city’s police chief, Wesley Lewis.

Jessica Brown, a former police officer who worked for the city’s police department, has filed a complaint in Jefferson County Superior Court stating Lewis committed assault and battery against her and created a hostile work environment, among other charges.

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Although council discussion about legal matters may be held in an executive session closed to the public, all decisions must be made in public. One councilman made a motion for an internal investigation into the charges with the committee being made up of city administrative consultant, Lamar Faircloth, and city clerk, Sallie Adams.

“This is only for this incident,” the councilman added.

“I’m not going to vote,” Councilman Izell Mack said. “Chief didn’t do nothing.”

Mack said an internal investigation shows a lack of respect for Lewis.

“Councilman Mack, I understand where you’re coming from; and, I hope it turns out like you want,” City Attorney Rich Daniels said, adding the only other option to an internal investigation would be an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“Well, turn it over to them. They lie, too,” Mack said. “I’m not going to agree with none of it.”

Councilman John Maye made a motion for an internal investigation to proceed; however, the motion failed for lack of a second.

At this point, Councilman Beth Moore, who had been absent, arrived. Wadley Mayor Harold Moore highlighted the discussion so far and asked for another motion.

This time, a motion for the internal investigation was made, seconded and passed, with Mack and Councilman Albert Samples voting against the motion.

Brown’s complaint names not only Lewis but the police department, the city, each councilman and the mayor as defendants. They have 30 days from the filing date, Jan. 26, to respond.




School lowers temp to manage heating costs

By
Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Last week, temperatures inside Jefferson County High School were a little cooler than usual because of something Jefferson Energy calls its Load Management Program.

“We monitor it very closely so the temperature in a classroom does not go below 64 degrees. When the load management period is over, we go back to our normal operating procedures. We can make a change in just a few minutes,” said Jefferson County School Superintendent Dr. Molly Howard this week Howard said a system controls the school’s temperature with settings that in winter are lower during the night.

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“Just like you do at your home,” she said, adding the system is set to raise the temperature again in the morning.

“The parameters are set to not go up past 74,” she said. “This particular time they asked us to be on load management from 6 am. to 10 a.m. We have two options, that’s light and heat. What we do is we keep the temperature to a maximum temperature during the night. The system in the large areas is turned off. Through our controls we can monitor our classrooms, any room.”

Howard said if the temperature in any room falls below 64 degrees, the controls are adjusted to increase the temperature.

“On Thursday, there were some classrooms that got down to 64, but none below. On Friday, nothing got below 68,” she said.

Howard said using the load management program is part of the partnership the school system has with Jefferson Energy.

“The Load Management Program is a tool designed to provide our large commercial and industrial members, including schools, the opportunity to conserve energy and experience savings on future energy bills. When demand is high, like in times of extreme heat or cold, we provide a courtesy call to let those members know they can save money by conserving energy where possible. The choice to reduce energy usage and how to do so is up to those individual members,” said Steve Chalker, director of public relations with Jefferson Energy.

“We do try to cooperate with them,” Howard said. “Our utility costs will be set for the year based on our use during peak hours.

“Our controls allow us to monitor every classroom, the big common areas, gymnasiums. If it had gotten below 64, our maintenance man would have turned those areas back on. Our main concern is for the safety of our students and staff,” Howard said.

This is the first winter the school was asked to participate in load management, the superintendent said, adding it was because of the extreme temperatures experienced locally. The other public schools in the county use another electricity company.

“We certainly have no shortage of electricity,” Chalker said.

“Our power supply contracts are solid and our system is solid. Jefferson Energy is proud to partner with Jefferson County High School and we appreciate their efforts to conserve energy, which not only saves on their energy costs, but can save costs for all Jefferson Energy members as well. With a secure power supply, a solid distribution system and dedicated employees, we will continue our mission to provide reliable and affordable electricity to all our valued members now and in the future,” Chalker said.

“Our primary concern is for our students’ and staff’s wellbeing,” Howard said.

“However we also have to consider other citizens in the county who may be using the same utility; and, we want to make economically sound decisions for ourselves as well as for other customers,” she said.

The superintendent said she received a few telephone calls about the lower temperatures in the school from concerned parents.

“When I explained what we do and how we monitor the temperatures, the parents I spoke with seemed to understand,” she said.

“I wish there were a way to better communicate the complexity surrounding load management and how it does impact us financially. But it’s rather complex. We want parents, students and teachers to know we monitor it moment-to-moment so we can maintain as much comfort as possible,” Howard said.







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