More News & Features
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Madison city council members voted unanimously Monday night to allow animal control officer Cindy Weiman to begin a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program to control a growing feral cat issue in the city. Weiman estimated at the regular meeting that the city could have as many as 500 feral cats roaming the streets at night.
“They’re all outside at night, unattended,” said Weiman. TNR, said Weiman, slowly reduces the feral cat population by trapping the cats, spaying or neutering them, and them releasing them back into the neighborhood in which they were captured.
“Often, someone is feeding these cats,” said Weiman. And people who feed stray cats are often resistant to city efforts to trap those cats on their property because they believe that the cats will be euthanized. But under a TNR program, the cats are neutered, then returned to the community. TNR is a widely-recognized, humane alternative to euthanasia.
“It’s worked well in other communities,” said Weiman. The city will authorize Weiman to spend up to $5,000 to begin the program; organizers may also solicit private donations. “For the nuisance that [feral cats] cause, I think this is a good investment in any economy,” said City Manager David Nunn. TNR spokesperson Carolee McKay was also present at the meeting to answer questions about the program, which is expected to be run with help and support from the local Humane Society.
“The immediate effect of TNR is…the reduction of the number of [feral] cats in a colony,” due to spaying and neutering, said McKay. Cats returned to a colony are no longer reproductive; young kittens that are found in a colony are removed for socialization and adoption whenever possible.
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Morgan County Chief Appraiser Chuck Anglin came to the Madison City Council’s regular Monday meeting to report on tax assessment trends within the city.
Due to a state-wide property tax freeze which will begin affecting Morgan County next year, property taxes will not go up until 2013 at the earliest.
They may go down, as currently mandated by state law—Georgia House Bill 143—but they cannot increase except in cases of new construction or divisions of property.
“You should expect a worst-case scenario,” said Anglin to Madison council members.
In 2008, the county was in the middle of a full re-evaluation.
Because of this, the property tax freeze will likely only affect Morgan County for two years instead of the three years specified by the state legislation.
Still, Anglin said that it is the general opinion of the Georgia Assessment Officials that the legislation is only a stop-gap measure, put in place while the state weighs its long-term options.
“[The legislation] could be renewed,” said Anglin. “Or this could be a temporary plan while the state comes up with a new program.”
In any case, the city—and the county, and the school board—should not be looking to boosts in income from climbing property taxes anytime soon, said Anglin.
By Patrick Yost
A more than 12 hour manhunt using helicopters and a local law enforcement ended with a suspect turning himself in at the parking lot of Madison’s Tractor supply last Thursday.
Jerry Sherome Baines, 29, Nashville, N.C., surrendered to a Morgan County Sheriff’s deputy at approximately 3 a.m. Baines, according to Georgia State Patrol Trooper Blake Swicord, had arranged the surrender through his girlfriend.
Baines was wanted by the Georgia State Patrol after he allegedly fled a traffic stop on Interstate 20. According to Swicord, a 2003 Suzuki XL7 Baines was driving east on Interstate 20 was stopped by troopers for a cracked windshield violation and a failure to maintain lane charge.
During the stop, Swicord said, Baines and passenger Shawn Tyrone Thomas, 37, Rocky Mountain, N.C., gave conflicting accounts of their travel plans. The vehicle was stopped at the 116 mile marker, approximately two miles east of the Madison 114 exit.
Swicord said after troopers had questioned the two men, Baines agreed to allow authorities to search the vehicle. Officers located approximately three kilograms of suspected cocaine in a compartment under the passenger’s seat, 32 ounces of suspected crack cocaine and a small amount of suspected marijuana in Baines’ pants pocket. As a trooper attempted to handcuff Baines, Swicord said, the suspect fled.
A taser weapon malfunctioned, reports state, and Baines was able to flee over an interstate fence and into a wooded area between Bethany Road and the Eatonton Highway. Thomas was handcuffed and contained at the scene of the traffic stop.
By Chantel O'Neal
The county has been on the hunt for a new fire coordinator, since the retirement of the previous coordinator Jerry Couch. Of the dozens of applicants vying for the position, one stood out above the rest – Andy Garner.
“I’ve been a certified firefighter since 1991,” Garner said in a telephone interview. “So that’s 18 years of volunteer fire service experience.”
In his nearly two decades of work in fire services, Garner has spent four years with the Morgan County Fire Department.
Additionally, he is a certified arson investigator, fire inspector and paramedic.
For the past 13 years, Garner has also worked full-time for the state of Georgia in a law enforcement capacity.
“I’m in the process of working out my two weeks notice to take the position with the county,” Garner said. His first official day on the job will be Monday, August 3.
The review committee that made the decision consisted of County Manager Michael Lamar, County Commissioner Ellen Warren, County Planning & Development Director and volunteer Fire Chief Chuck Jarrell, and County Clerk Jane Laseter.
After evaluating between 30 and 40 applications, the committee held two rounds of interviews, meeting with nine candidates the first time and three the second.
The entire process ended two weeks ago, and Garner was offered the job on Tuesday, July 7 at approximately 5:30 p.m.
Morgan County Superior Court held criminal court hearings last week. The following cases were adjudicated in court.
• Charlie Worrell, 56, Madison pled guilty to one count possession of cocaine. He was sentenced to two years probation and fined $500.
• Patrick Williams, 38, Covington pled nolle prosequi to four counts of theft by receiving. Documents state that charges against Williams could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
• Jawaski Lamont Pounds, 29, Eatonton, pled guilty to one count giving a false name to an officer. He was sentenced to 12 months probation and was fined $500.
• Anthony Thomas Crawford, 31, Waynesboro pled guilty to one count possession of marijuana and one count driving while license suspended. He received a fie year sentence on count one and a 12 month sentence on count two, to be served on probation after serving 48 hours in jail. He was fined $1,500 and ordered to pay $750 to the drug fund.
• Keith J. Generette, 53, Stone Mountain pled guilty to one count forgery. He was sentenced to five years probation and fined $1,000.
• Bashun A. Carter Jr., 20, Madison pled guilty on one count false imprisonment, one count battery, one count simple battery, one count criminal trespass and one count interference with a 911 call. He was sentenced to seven years probation and ordered to serve three to 12 months of intensive probation, was fined $1,000 and ordered to complete a domestic violence intervention program and was ordered to have no violent contact with the victim.
By Amanda Vernon
At this month's meeting of the Morgan County Board of Elections, the three members in attendance, chairman John Milliken, George Holt and Avery Jackson, met to discuss purges from the voter registration list, future hearing times, and a new location for this year's Madison-East Precinct voting.
The board discussed the hearings for the creation of a new West Road precinct. The new area will be located in the southwest part of Morgan County and will be separated from the Clack's Chapel precinct. Holt proposed that the hearings should be held at the fire station on West Road. The Board agreed that the meeting should be held on Tuesday, August 11 at 6:30 p.m. The board also discussed the location of elections in next year for the Madison-East precinct. According to a letter to the board from Bobby Howington, elections supervisor, the Morgan County librarian had contacted him concerned about the ability of the library to serve as a voting site in this year's elections as a result of renovations.
“I would propose that we move the Madison-East Precinct to the Morgan County Board of Education Meeting Room,” said Howington. The other possibility discussed by the board was the Morgan County Recreation Department gym, but this location was dismissed because it was not handicap accessible. Holt remarked that there could be parking problems at the BOE Meeting Room, but was reassured and moved to make a formal question to the BOE.
The board also reviewed this year's annual budget; although the 2009 budget was approved for $185,889, an upward move from 2008's $133,400 budget, the expenses to date only totaled $110,924. Next year's budget was reported to have been approved for $138,521.