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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
May 2, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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May 2, 2018

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Page 6B May 2, 2018 porter By Richard Dumas Monroe County Commissioners met for two hours on April 11 to discuss potential projects for the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), which is slated tobe voted upon in November, and came up with a wishlist of over $40 million in projects. Monroe County manger Anita Buice told commissioners that the county is on pace to receive about $20 million in collections from its current SPLOST, which. began in January 2014 and runs through 2019. Buice, who said the county's SPLOST proceeds are closely tied to coal purchases by Georgia Power, said the projected collections are about $5 million less than was initially expected when projects were selected. Buice said that means that 2014 SPLOST projects that have not yet been bonded will not be cov- ered under the current SPLOST. Previously bonded projects include: the county's new 9-1-1 radio system, the county's head- quarters fire station, the county convention center, purchased in 2015, and upcoming expansion to the county recreation depart- ment. She said non-bonded proj- ects include: road paving, some road department equipment and addl"tional emergency vehicles. Monroe County finance direc- tor Ashley Wooley said any 2014 projects that exceed the amount received by the current SPLOST, such as the radio system that was overbudget by about $154,000, will have to be paid for by other county sources, such as the gen- eral fund. Monroe County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy A1 Shackleford, who was present at the April 11 meeting, said the sheriff's office can't go through 2019 without getting new patrol vehides. Shackleford estimated the sher- iff's office needs six to seven new vehicles annually, saying there are currently seven or eight vehicles being used by deputies that have well in excess of 300,000 miles on them. Shackleford said the sheriff's office is converting its fleet from Dodge Chargers to Ford Explorers and said each new vehicle costs about $33,000. Shackleford said he is also seeking grant assistance for new vehicles through the Georgia Govemor's Office of Highway Safety and also intends to ask Monroe County Schools to buy at least one new vehicle for the system's school resource officers. Shackleford said, "We are very conscious about monies and how we can do things better for less but still accomplish what we need to do and what our vision and our mission statement is and what we're supposed to do as a county sheriff's office" District I commissioner Larry Evans, who has served as a commissioner for 30 years, said Monroe County commissioners have never neglected the sheriff's office when it comes to spending. He noted raises given last year to newer deputies and said Monroe County's sheriff's office's upper level staff members are compen- sated as well or better than most surrounding counties. District 4 commissioner George Emami, who has been in office less than six months, said ensuring the safety of both deputies and county citizens should be the county's top priority. Emami said he wants more specific data showing where Monroe County compares to other sheriff's offices in terms of number of deputies and vehicles. Based on estimates, com- missioners projected the total proceeds collected for the 2020 SPLOST at about $23.2 million. If all parties agree to keeping the same percentage split of the proceeds, Monroe County would stand to take in 83 percent, or about $19.3 million, of the total earnings from the next SPLOST with the cities of Forsyth and Culloden receiving the rest. Despite the $19.3 million esti- mate, commissioners determined about $40 million in project costs for the next SPLOST, including an estimated $10 million for a new government judidal building to house all county judicial services in the same location. Buice said the current proposal calls for the new judicial building to be built behind the county administra- tion building. She said Monroe County Superior Court Judge Tommy Wilson has suggested the building's total cost could even range as high as $20 million. Monroe County commission chairman Greg Tapley sa d of the $20 million asking price: "That sounds high to me. What kind of a building does he (Wilson) want to build?" Evans said a decade ago Wilson asked commissioners for a new courthouse with a price tag of $38 million. Evans said commission- ers instead completed the renova- tions on the existing courthouse at a price of $1.2 million. Tapley then proposed asking the city of Forsyth to go in on a joint project for the new judicial building. Other proposed SPLOST amounts included: $5.3 million for county flre/EMS, $6 million for the county road depart- ment, $7 million in water system enhancements and $10 million to complete upgrades to the recreation department. Emami also requested that $3 million be included for internet infrastruc- ture enhancements. Development Authority of Monroe County director Bo Gregol3; who was present at the April 11 meeting, also urged com- missioners to include $3 million in We next SPLOST to be used for land acquisition at the request of the Authority. Gregory also asked commissioners to include $250,000 annually in its regular budget for Authority operations. INCIDENTS Continued from 5B Male suspect shop- lifts clothing from Forsyth Tractor Supply store At about 1:59 p.m. on April 16, Sgt. David Asbell of the Forsyth Police Department went to the Tractor Sup- ply store on East Main St. about a theft. The male store manager showed Asbell a surveillance video of a white male stealing clothing from the store. The store manager said the suspect was about 5'8 had a goatee and was dressed in blue jeans and a white shirt. The suspect, who left the store with a stack of dothing without stopping to pay for it, was seen on video leaving in a shiny, black Toyota Tundra with the tag display covered. Forsyth officer inspects suspicious package found on railroad tracks At about 7:24 p.m. on April 19, Cp1. Wade Kendrick of the Forsyth Police Depart- ment went to Bemer Avenue about a suspicious package. Forsyth firefighters told Kendrick they were notified about a package laying on the railroad tracks near East Main Street and Railroad Avenue. Kendrick saw a white, I x 2-foot package lay- ing propped up on one side of the tracks that appeared to have been placed there intentionally Kendrick in- spected the package and did not find any wires around it, but he requested a thermal imaging camera from the Forsyth Fire Department. The camera determined the package did not have any hot spots, but he put a plate carrier vest over the top of the package in case it was an explosive. Kendrick then studied the package further and determined it was sim- ply styrofoam wrapped in plastic. He then removed the package from the tracks and notified Norfolk Southern Railroad of the discovery. Deputies discover Ecstasy tablets on female passenger, reveals pot in bra An 18-year-old black College Park woman was arrested and charged with Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act and possession of marijuana after a traffic stop on 1-75 South on April 17. At about 8:08 p.m Sgt. Willie Brown saw a white 1998 Mazda MPV van traveling 89 mph in a 70 mph zone on 1-75 South near mile marker 191. Brown determined the Van had four occupants, indud- ing a male driver, two male passengers and a female passenger. Brown then is- sued the driver a speeding ticket and allowed the group to leave. Moments later, dis- patchers notified Brown that the female passenger was re- ported missing out of Fulton County on Nov. 15. Brown then stopped the van a sec- ond time at mile marker 188, and Sgt. Kemeyan Colvard smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the van. Deputies then searched the occupants, and Cpl. John Thompson found in the female passenger's possession a small plastic baggie of marijuana and a clear green tube containing seven small blue pills and three white pills, which were suspected Ecstasy and Alpra- zolam tablets. The female passenger also removed a small mason jar containing marijuana from her bra area. The passenger confirmed the drugs belonged to her, and she was taken to the Monroe County Jail. Driver arrested after deputies find brandy bottle in 5UV during stop A 39-year-old white Port Orange, Fla. woman was arrested and charged with DUI after a traffic stop on 1-75 South on April 17. At about 10:22 p.m CpL John Thompson saw a white Ford Explorer with an Arkansas tag following too closely behind a tractor trailer in the far right lane and failing to maintain its lane on 1-75 South near mile marker 188. Xhompson then stopped the SUV on the Exit 187 off ramp and smelleda strong odor of alcohol coming from inside the SUE. Thompson shined his light at the female driver through the pas- senger side window, but she didn't notice and continued looking out the driver's side window. Thompson then knocked on the window and saw the driver's eyes were bloodshot and watery and also noticed a nearly empty bottle of E&J brandy on the passenger side floorboard. The driver, who said she did not have her license on her, then gave a false name while saying she had consumed alcohol earlier in the day before taking a four-and-a-half-hour nap. The driver then failed several field sobriety tests and tested positive for alcohol on a field breath test. Thompson then inventoried the vehicle and found the driver's cell phone and purse. He then found inside her wallet an Arkansas ID card that revealed the driver's real identity. Dis- patchers then determined the driver's license was sus- pended, and she was wanted out of four different Arkan- sas jurisdictions. Thompson then took the driver to the Monroe County Jail, where she tested positive for nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol on a state breath test. The driver was also charged with following too closely, failure to maintain lane, an open container violation and gMng a false name and date of birth. Culloden teenager arrested after throwing bottle at vehicle on April 18 A 17-year-old white Culloden woman was ar- rested and charged with disorderly conduct after she allegedly threw a glass bottle at an Acura driver in afit of road rage on Hwy. 74 on April 18. At about 7:45 p.m Cpl. Thomas Haskins met with a Hawkinsville man, who was an off-duty Hous- ton County deputy, who said he was driving his white 2002 Acura TL westbound on Hw :. 74 when a red 2008 GMC Canyon passed him. The man said as the Canyon passed his vehicle, a female passenger in the Canyon threw a glass bottle out of the window at him. He said the bottle hit his driver's side window and left a scratch. He said his window was half- way rolled down at the time, and the bottle nearly came through the window and hit him. The man said he fol- lowed the Canyon on Hwy. 74, recording its license plate and calling 9-1-1. The man said a dispatcher ordered him to head back eastbound and return to the scene of the incident at which point the Canyon followed his Acura for a while before turning off onto Oxford Road. Haskins then called the Canyon's male owner, who said his 17-year-old son drives the Canyon. Haskins then called the owner's son, who said the Acura kept braking in front of him at which point he passed the Acura. The owner's son said his girl- friend threw a glass bottle out of his vehicle window and hit the driver side win- dow of the Canyon. Haskins then called the girlfriend who first denied anything had happened before later admitting to throwing the bottle. The girlfriend said she immediately regretted her decision to throw it before revealing her whereabouts. Haskins then went to a Pine Grove Church home and arrested the girlfriend before taking her to the Monroe County Jail. Hephzibah driver, passenger charged with intent to sell drugs in 1-75 stop A 19-year-old black Hephzibah man and an 18-year-old black Louisville man were each arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute after a traffic stop on 1-75 South on April 19. At about 1:11 a.m Cpl Thomas Haskins and Cpl. Wade Kendrick of the Forsyth Police Department saw a gray 2016 Dodge Charger with very dark window tint traveling on 1-75 South near mile marker 186. The male driver was visibly shaking when Haskins stopped the car, and Haskins smelled a strong odor of raw marijua- na coming from inside the car. The driver first denied having any marijuana in the car before later admi ng to having "three zips" of mari- juana inside a book bag on the back seat. Haskins asked the driver if he was refer- ring to three ounces, and he replied, "Yes." Haskins then searched the car and found a large plastic bag with plastic wrap on its exterior. Inside the plastic bag was a large amount of marijuana as well as several empty plastic bags. Both the driver and a male passenger were taken to the Monroe County Jail. The driver, the 19-year-old, was also charged with a win- dow tint violation. Haskins later weighed the marijuana and determined it was 5.4 ounces. Ellenwood woman arrested for DUI on 1-75 South after leaving strip dub A 35-year-old black Ellen- wood woman was arrested and charged with DUI (per se) after a traffic stop on 1-75 South on April 19. At about 3:09 a.m Cpl. Thomas Haskins saw a black 2014 Mercedes-Benz C300 with a busted front passenger side headlight failing to maintain its lane on 1-75 South near mile marker 190. The female driver smelled strongly of al- cohol and perfume that ap- peared as though it had just been sprayed. The driver, whose eyes were red and glossy and whose speech was slurred, admitted to having consumed two mar- garitas at a friend's house. The driver said she was headed to Stockbridge and Forest Park, and Haskins told her she was headed the wrong direction. The driver then became argumenta- tive and said Stockbridge was only three or four exits away. Toe driver then failed several field sobriety tests and tested a high positive for alcohol on a field breath test. The driver then changed her story and said she had just consumed alcohol about 20 minutes earlierat a strip club. Haskins asked the driver why she had said she was at a friend's house, and she said she was drinking alcohol at a friend's house prior t0 going to the strip club. Haskins then inspected the vehicle and saw there was significant damage to its front right side that ap- peared to stem from hitting a concrete object. He then asked the driver about the damage, and she denied her vehide was damaged at all. Haskins then took the driver to the Monroe County Jail, where she tested positive for more than two times the legal limit of alcohol on a state breath test. The driver was also charged with failure to maintain lane, violation of headlight requirements and violation of minimum speed requirements. Deputies discover handgun connected to Macon crinms in stop on Hwy. 87 A 25-year-old black Ma- con man was arrested and charged with speeding and a window tint violation after a traffic stop on 87 on April 16. At about 4:45 p.m Dep. Cody Maples saw a red 2015 Chevrolet Camaro with dark window tint tray- cling 90 mph in a 55 mph zone on Hwy. 87 near Dixie Drive. Maples also saw the car was following too dosely behind a tractor-trailer and appeared to be trying to pass on a double yellow line. Maples smelled a strong odor of marijuana com- ing from the car, and the male driver said he didn't know he was driving so fast. The driver said he was in a hurry because he had just left work and needed to use the bathroom. Maples then asked the driver about his dark window tint, and the driver said he had been stopped because of it before but had never gotten in trouble. The driver then admitted to having smoked a marijuana joint inside his car earlier that morning and admitted to having a small knife in his right pocket. The driver agreed to allow Maples to search his car and said he only smoked marijuana to "deal with all of the bulls--- at work." Maples noticed the pas- senger glove compartment was locked and saw the driver trying to conceal his keys in his left hand. After the driver reluctantly gave Maples his keys, Maples opened the glove compart- ment and found a Ruger 9 mm. handgun. Dispatchers notified Maples the gun was reported stolen out of Bibb County and was connected to several murders and aggravated assaults. Maples asked the driver why he was in possession of the gun, and the driver said he didn't know why it came back stolen, saying he had had it for a long time. Maples then found inside the car several Crown Royal baggies that smelled of marijuana. Maples then took the gun as evidence and transported the driver to the Monroe County Jail. At about 6:05 p.m:, Maples met with Bibb County Inv. Carlos Stokes who said the gun was not technically stolen but had been sought in connec- tion with several crimes in Bibb County. Stokes, who took possession of the gun, said he intended to notify a judge about taking the driver into Bibb County custody due to violation of bond conditions for being in possession of the gun. At about 3 p.m. on April 17, Maples saw the driver remainedin the Monroe County Jail and contacted Stokes about it. Stokes said he was still trying to obtain a warrant to keep the driver in jail, but Monroe County assistant district attomey Steven Ouzts told Maples he needed to release the driver if Stokes could not come through with a war- rant. Stokes told Maples he needed 30 more minutes, but when he still had not gotten a warrant by 4 p.m the driver was released from Monroe County jail custody.