Thursday, January 18, 2018

THOMASTON-UPSON SCHOOLS CLOSED AGAIN FRIDAY

THOMASTON-UPSON COUNTY SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED AGAIN FRIDAY, TEACHERS AND STAFF REPORT AT 10AM. SOME SECONDARY ROADS STILL ARE ICY.

GA. DOT EMPLOYEE FROM THOMASTON KILLED BY A TRAIN

AN EMPLOYEE OF THE THIRD DISTRICT GA. DOT OFFICE IN THOMASTON WAS KILLED THURSDAY MORNING WHEN HIS TRUCK WAS STRUCK BY A TRAIN IN MORELAND IN COWETA COUNTY.

ACCORDING TO THE GA. STATE PATROL---THE VICTIM—60 YEAR OLD CAREY BYRON ELLERBEE OF THOMASTON WAS ATTEMPTING TO CROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS ON JOHNSON PLACE AND SOUTH RAILROAD STREET WHEN HIS DUMP TRUCK WAS HIT BY A TRAIN AND DRAGGED SEVERAL HUNDRED YARDS BEFORE COMING TO A STOP.

ELLERBEE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE—THE SOLE OCCUPANT OF THE TRUCK—AND NO ONE ELSE WAS HURT IN THE ACCIDENT. COWETA FIRE RESCUE WORKED TO STOP A FUEL LEAK IN THE ENGINE OF THE TRAIN FOLLOWING THE WRECK.

THE CAUSE OF THE WRECK IS UNKNOWN BUT COWETA OFFICIALS SAID ELLERBEE HAD BEEN ON THE JOB ALL NIGHT CLEARING ROADS SO AUTHORITIES ARE WONDERING WHETHER FATIQUE PLAYED A ROLE IN THE ACCIDENT.

THERE ARE NO RAILROAD CROSSING SIGNS WHERE THE ACCIDENT TOOK PLACE.


A NEIGHBOR WHO LIVES NEAR-BY TOLD REPORTERS HER WHOLE HOUSE SHOOK—LIKE A BOMB WENT OFF—WHEN THE TRAIN HIT THE DUMP TRUCK.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

TWO YEAR OLD TODDLER FOUND DECEASED

THOMASTON POLICE CHIEF MIKE RICHARDSON SAYS THE BODY OF A TWO YEAR OLD TODDLER HAS BEEN SENT TO THE GBI CRIME LAB FOR AUTOPSY AFTER THE CHILD WAS FOUND DEAD IN ITS BED EARLY SATURDAY ON NORTH MAIN STREET.

THE CHILD'S GRANDMOTHER, WHO HAS CUSTODY, FOUND THE CHILD, CALLED 911 AND FIRST RESPONDERS FOUND IT WAS NOT BREATHING. THE CHILD HAD BEEN ILL WITH A FEVER, THE CHIEF TOLD US.


CHIEF RICHARDSON WOULD NOT SPECULATE ON THE CAUSE OF DEATH BUT TOLD ZOOM NEWS FOUL PLAY PROBABLY IS NOT INVOLVED.

WILL BECKETT RETURN AS INTERIM COUNTY MANAGER?

FORMER CITY OF THOMASTON INTERIM CITY MANAGER BILLY BECKETT MET WITH THE UPSON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS TUESDAY AND PRESENTED THE BOARD WITH A CONCEPT PLAN FOR A COUNTY MANAGER SEARCH FOR UPSON COUNTY---COUNTY MANAGER JIM WHEELESS RESIGNED RECENTLY OVER HEALTH ISSUES.

BUT THOSE DISCUSSIONS WENT FURTHER AND BECKETT WAS ASKED BY COMMISSIONER FRANK SPRAGGINS IF HE WOULD CONSIDER AN OFFER TO BE INTERM COUNTY MANAGER—AND BECKETT SAID HE WOULD.

AFTER HE DEPARTED--THE COMMISSIONERS VOTED UNANIMOUSLY TO ALLOW CHAIRMAN NORMAN ALLEN TO NEGOTIATE TERMS WITH BECKETT TO SEE IF SOMETHING COULD WORK OUT.

BECKETT WHO HAS OVER 35 YEARS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE IN CITIES AND COUNTIES AROUND GEORGIA—WAS INTERIM CITY MANAGER FOR THE CITY OF THOMASTON FOR ABOUT 4 MONTHS STARTING IN EARLY 2016—WORKING ABOUT 20 HOURS A WEEK.

HE TOLD THE UPSON COMMISSIONERS HE IS RETIRED AND WILL NOT WORK FRIDAYS AND HE'S GOING TO JAPAN FOR TWO WEEKS IN APRIL TO CONDUCT A COACHES CLINIC FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL OFFICIALS AS PER HIS ASSOCIATION WITH THE ACC AS A CAREER OFFICIAL.


THE COMMISSIONERS EXPRESSED SOME DOUBTS THEY COULD DEVOTE THE TIME NEEDED TO DO ALL THE LEGWORK IF TAKES TO SECURE APPLICATIONS FOR THE COUNTY MANAGER POST. BECKETT WAS A BIG HELP TO THE THOMASTON CITY COUNCIL IN ITS SEARCH FOR A CITY MANAGER—RUSSELL THOMPSON.

HEART AND SOUL COMING NEXT WEEK

NEXT WEEK WILL BE A BIG ONE FOR THOMASTON AND UPSON COUNTY—MEMBERS OF THE ORTON FAMILY FOUNDATION OF COLORADO WILL BE IN TOWN FOR A WEEK OF EVENTS RELATED TO THE FOUNDATION'S COMMUNITY HEART AND SOUL PROGRAM.

HEART AND SOUL IS A COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MODEL THAT BUILDS STRONGER, HEALTHIER AND MORE ECOMICALLY VIBRANT SMALL CITIES AND TOWNS—AND THOMASTON AND UPSON COUNTY THE FIRST SELECTED IN THE STATE OF GA.--A RESIDENT-DRIVEN MODEL THAT MAKES POSITIVE CHANGE.

JENNIFER ROGERS WILL BE ON LOAN FROM THE CLERK OF COURT'S OFFICE TO SERVE AS DIRECTOR.


TO LEARN MORE ABOUT IT , THE WEBSITE IS ORTON . ORG.

Friday, January 12, 2018

THOMASTON CITY COUNCIL AGENDA 1/16/18

CITY OF THOMASTON
MEETING OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL - AGENDA
January 16, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
City-County Meeting Room, Main Floor, R. E. Lee Building

A. Opening of Meeting and Call to Order with Prayer / Pledge of Allegiance.

B. 2018 Oath of Office – Councilmember Ryan Tucker - District 3

C. Approval of Minutes of January 2, 2018.

D. Public Comment and Announcements.

1.   Patrick Comiskey – 225 R Street.

2. Jerry McDonald – 221 N Street.

E. City Attorney’s Report.

1. Ante-Litem Notice – Chelsey Richardson.

F. Assistant City Clerk’s Report.

G. City Engineer’s Report.

H. City Manager’s Report.

1. Discussion of IT Network Administrator Position.
I. Other Business.

J. Executive Session.

K. Adjournment.

WRECK DOWNTOWN THOMASTON FRIDAY PM

THOMASTON POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENT RESPONDED---ONE PERSON INJURED AND TRANSPORTED TO THE E.R. AFTER A TWO VEHICLE COLLISION AT THE SOUTH CENTER/EAST LEE STREET INTERSECTION—FRIDAY AFTERNOON.


ZOOM NEWS WAS TOLD THE BLACK FEMALE DRIVER OF A FORD EXPLORER WAS TRANSPORTED BY EMS. THE OTHER CAR INVOLVED WAS A TOYOTA .

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A BILL IN THE GEN. ASSEMBLY REQUIRES INSTANT REPLAY

STATE REPRESENTATIVE PATTY BENTLEY OF TAYLOR COUNTY HAS INTRODUCED A BILL IN THE LEGISLATURE TO REQUIRE INSTANT REPLAY IN HIGH SCHOOL PLAYOFF FOOTBALL GAMES.

PEACH COUNTY HIGH CLAIMS A BLOWN-CALL IN THE CALHOUN GAME COST IT THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE BENZ DOME.

DR. ROBIN HINES—EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE THOMASTON-BASED GA. HIGH SCHOOL ASSOCIATION -- SAYS THERE'S PROBLEMS WITH IT—IT WOULD EXPENSIVE AND THAT MONEY WOULD HAVE TO COME FROM SOMEWHERE.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

UPSON COMMISSION CHAIRMAN ON CO MANAGERS RETIREMENT

During the Commissioners’ meeting on January 9th, 2018 the Board received a letter of resignation from our County Manager, Mr. Jim Wheeless. Following a brief discussion in executive session the Board voted to accept Mr. Wheeless’ letter announcing his retirement from his duties as the Upson’s County Manager effective immediately.

The reason for Mr. Wheeless’ retirement is to continue to focus on some challenging health related issues. Jim assumed the responsibilities as our county manager in December 2012 and has served admirably. We support Jim’s desire to focus on his recovery and wish him the very best in his retirement. We pray for his speedy recovery and look forward to his continued involvement in our community.

The Board Chairman will continue to provide the county’s executive functions and our County Clerk, Mrs. Jessica Jones, will continue to assist the Board with the day to day administration of the county.

The Board will immediately begin the process to fill the county manager position. The commissioners expect to fill this position in a timely manner while appreciating the importance of making sure we have the right person at the helm of our county government.

Norman Allen

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDER FROM D.A. COKER'S OFFICE

The Spalding County District Attorney’s Office prepared to try Johnny Johnson for the murder of Ms. Joanne Redding. Jury Selection concluded in the afternoon of January 8, 2018. After jury selection, the defendant entered a guilty plea to the charge of Malice Murder and was sentenced to Life in Prison. Assistant District Attorney Donna Gopaul was the lead prosecutor on the case, and Chief Assistant District Attorney, Marie Broder, was the second prosecutor for the State.

Johnson pled guilty to shooting the victim multiple times in a neighbor’s home. Ms. Redding’s cousin, daughter, and son spoke at the plea. The right side of the courtroom was full of family members.

“Ms. Joanne was a caring, loving woman who was loved very much by her family,” District Attorney Coker said. “She will be greatly missed. This resolution cannot bring her back, but we hope it will bring justice and a sense of peace. Domestic violence crimes, such as this one, destroy families. We will continue to zealously prosecute those violent offenders who commit such terrible crimes. I am proud of my office and law enforcement, and what they accomplished yesterday in court.”

Thursday, January 4, 2018

D.A. COKER HAS RELEASED A 2017 OFFICE REVIEW

Griffin Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney’s Office 2017 Year in Review 

Note from Ben Coker, Your District Attorney 

This time of year is always a time to reflect on our accomplishments, learn from our mistakes, and plan for the future. 2017 was certainly an eventful year for me and my staff. As your newly elected District Attorney, I set many goals for myself and my offices. Some of those goals were to eliminate a backlog that existed, fully staff each of my offices, and resolve some of the older cases that needed trials. I am happy to report to you that we have met those goals. We drastically reduced the backlog, each office is fully staffed, and we tried multiple older cases that needed resolution.

This review is simply a snapshot of our year. If you want more information about any of the cases or events in this newsletter, please visit my website at www.dagriffincircuit.org or my Facebook page, @gjcdistrictattorney. This year has not been easy. These tasks, along with my other goals, have tested the resolve of my staff; however, they never wavered. I am eternally grateful to them. These monumental undertakings required us, as a circuit, to become a team. We are not just an Upson Office, a Pike Office, a Spalding Office, and a Fayette Office. We are the Griffin Judicial Circuit. 2018 will bring about new challenges, and we will continue to work on the backlog. We will try the hard cases, tackle the difficult problems, stare down evil, and we will do it all with integrity.

Thank you for your trust in me. I never take it for granted. Your safety is always in my mind. Thank you for the wonderful first year. To the year of 2018, we say, bring it on!

Courtroom Review:

Michael Bowman Convicted of Malice Murder and Sentenced to Life Without Parole

Michael Bowman was convicted after a two week trial of Malice Murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Bowman was convicted of shooting Griffin Police Department Officer Kevin Jordan multiple times in the back in Spalding County. District Attorney Coker tried the case along with Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder, and Assistant District Attorney Dan Hiatt.

Bill Moore, Jr. and Todd Jones Retried and Convicted of Malice Murder and Sentenced to Life without Parole 

Moore and Jones were convicted after a week long trial for the brutal murder of Kevin Harmon in Spalding County. The defendants took the victim to an abandoned lot in the early morning hours of February 14, 2011, stabbed Harmon multiple times and beat him with a baseball bat after robbing him. District Attorney Coker and Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder tried the case. The case was a retrial after a new trial was granted. A co-defendant, Cody Tuggle, was not granted a new trial. His conviction stands.

Kashif Mohammed Convicted of Home Invasion and Robbery and Sentenced to Life in Prison 

Mohammed was convicted after a week long trial in Upson County for entering the home of two victims, holding them at gunpoint, tying them up, and stealing guns and money from the home. District Attorney Coker and Assistant District Attorney Mark Irvin tried the case.

Thomas Zerbarini Sentenced to Life for Aggravated Child Molestation 

Thomas Zerbarini was convicted on Friday, December 15th, of Aggravated Child Molestation, two counts of Child Molestation, Incest, and Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes. Assistant District Attorney Dan Hiatt and Deputy Chief District Attorney Warren Sellers with the Fayette County District Attorney’s Office tried the case.

David Lee Stewart Guilty of Aggravated Child Molestation

Stewart entered a guilty plea in Pike County after evidence was presented at a trial. He was sentenced to Life with 25 years to serve. Assistant District Attorney Michael Rogers handled the case.

Kristopher Cawthon Convicted of Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adult

A Fayette County Jury found Cawthon guilty of Exploitation and he was sentenced to 20 years with the first 7 to serve in prison. Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Warren Sellers tried the case.

Royce Robinson to Serve Life in Prison after Kidnapping Conviction 

Assistant District Attorneys Kate Lenhard and Morgan Kendrick tried Robinson for kidnapping his estranged wife, beating her, and strangling her. A Spalding County jury convicted him of Kidnapping with Bodily Injury, False Imprisonment, and Battery.

Quasha Nicole Harris Convicted of Multiple Counts and Sentenced to 30 Years with 15 to Serve in Prison 

Harris was convicted of Felony Obstruction of a Police Officer, Felony Theft by Shoplifting, Identity Fraud, Forgery in the 2nd Degree, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Fleeing and Attempting to Elude, and Driving while License Suspended. Assistant District Attorney Michele McCutcheon tried the case for the State.

Timothy Allen Convicted of Kidnapping and Aggravated Assault 

Assistant District Attorneys Donna GoPaul and Kate Lenhard tried Allen over the course of three days. A Spalding County jury convicted him of Kidnapping his ex girlfriend, placing a gun to her head, strangling her, and beating her. Allen was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Cary Wilson Convicted of Aggravated Assault and Sentenced to 20 years in prison

A Spalding Jury convicted Wilson for stomping on the face of a man at Kevin’s Corner in Griffin. Assistant District Attorney Canon Snow and Assistant District Attorney Donna GoPaul tried the case.

Ruby Coursey Sentenced to Life after Guilty Plea for Murder 

Coursey pled guilty to abandoning a paraplegic in a wooded area of Upson County in freezing temperatures. The victim died from exposure.

ADA’s Argued in both Appellate Courts

Fayette County ADA, Christy Jindra, argued in front of the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Upson County ADA, Ashton Fallin presented an argument in front of the Georgia Supreme Court.

Johntavis Bailey Pleas Guilty to Smash and Grab Burglary 

Bailey pled guilty to burglarizing the Simply Mac in Peachtree City. He was sentenced to 25 years with 20 to be served in prison.

Former Spalding County Captain Entered Blind Guilty Plea 

David Gibson entered a non-negotiated guilty plea and was sentenced to 10 years with the first 3 to be served in prison.

Cornelius Henderson Pleas to Voluntary Manslaughter 

Henderson pled guilty to shooting and killing Demarkis Williams in Spalding County and was sentenced to 20 years with 15 years to serve.

Reginald Lews Blackmon Receives 40 Year Sentence for Trafficking Methamphetamine. 

An Upson County Jury found Blackmon guilty of possessing over 50 grams of methamphetamine. Assistant District Attorney Michael Rogers tried the case.

William Bradford Sentenced to 41 serve 21 Years in Prison for Armed Robbery

Bradford pled guilty to robbing the PNC Bank in Fayetteville.

Marcia Annette Demarcus Pled Guilty to Homicide by Vehicle in the First Degree 

Demarcus pled guilty for killing a 16 year old girl with her car while being under the influence of drugs. She was sentenced to 30 years with the first 15 to be spent in prison.

RICO Defendants Entered Pleas 

Multiple defendants charged with RICO in Spalding County cases that were 3-4 years old entered guilty pleas. Each of those cases have now been resolved. Each of the main players received over 10 years in prison and are banished from the circuit. Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder handled the cases.

THOMASTON CITY COUNCIL APPROVES ESG CONTRACT

THE THOMASTON CITY COUNCIL HAS APPROVED A 1.9% INCREASE IN THE CONTRACT WITH E.S.G. THE WATER/WASTE WATER OPERATOR FOR 2018. AS PER THE CONTRACT IT WILL TOTAL $2.5 MILLION THIS YEAR.

ALSO AT TUESDAY'S MEETING ANNUAL APPOINTMENTS--=-ALL REAPPOINTMENTS.

ATTORNEY—JOEL BENTLEY, AUDITOR—DRIVER AND ADAMS, CITY PROSECUTOR MARK IRVIN OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGE—DAVID FOWLER, ASSISTANT CITY CLERK GAIL HAMMOCK.


FOLLOWING AN EXECUTIVE SESSION COUNCIL APPROVED A PAY RAISE FOR MS. HAMMOCK—ACTION REQUIRED TO BOOST HER PAY WITH OTHER CITY EMPLOYEES AS PART OF THE SALARY AND CLASSIFICATION STUDY.