Morning News Briefs for 4-21-17

| April 21, 2017
The Valdosta Police Department is hosting the first Community Forum of 2017 on Thursday, May 4th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Church of the Nazarene located at 4434 North Forrest Street Extension in Valdosta. All community members and leaders in South Georgia are invited.  The department started the quarterly forums in 2013 with the local civil rights groups to include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 2014, the forums were expanded to all members of the public to include members of civil rights groups. The purposes of the forums are multi-faceted:
·         Discuss any concerns the community may have with the Valdosta Police Department
·         Discuss concerns regarding the issues in the United States between law enforcement and the community to include recent incidents
·         Discuss crime issues in Valdosta to include crime prevention efforts
·         To provide the community with better access to the Chief of Police and his command staff
·         To share ideas with the department in areas to include police/community relations and crime prevention
The Chief will also discuss where the department stands in areas to include citizen complaints, use of force, vehicle pursuits, crime/traffic enforcement, and the current status of crime in Valdosta.

The friends of Reed Bingham State Park and the Watershed Coalition invite you to come and paddle a canoe or kayak in the fifth annual BIG Little River Paddle Race on Saturday, April 29, 2017.This year the lunch included afterwards will be grilled at the park, and there will be a silent auction. This family friendly event takes participants 3 miles down a scenic section of the River from Red Roberts Landing at to the park boat ramp on the Colquitt side of the lake.  Although called a race, paddlers may also participate at their own pace.  Registration is from 8-9 a.m. and the start of the river trip is at Red Roberts landing, a boat ramp at Rountree Bridge.  To get there from I-75 take exit 41 and turn in front of Horse Creek Winery and follow Rountree Bridge road about 4.8 miles to the bridge.  For registration and rental fees, vehicle parking charges and to make reservations go to or the office at Reed Bingham State Park.  Call 229 392-5513.

On Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 08:30am the Valdosta Police Department will be hosting the entrance examination for the position of Police Officer at the City Hall Annex. This the first stage of the hiring process.  Doors will open at 830am and will be locked at 9am with no further entry.  Please bring identification and $15.00 cash for the test scoring fee.  This test is a mandatory part of the hiring process and cannot be rescheduled. This is an open test and is available to anyone who is interested in becoming a police officer. It is not required to have previously submitted an application.  If you show up for the test but have not completed an application, you will be asked to complete one on the day of the test.  If you cannot make the test, and you completed an application, your application will be placed on file for a period of six (6) months and we will invite you to any further testing dates within the 6 month period (if any).  If anyone has questions, please contact Lieutenant Adam Bembry 229-293-3107 or Captain Kari Williams 229-293-3099

Attention all business owners the President of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce Myrna Ballard announces the Innovation Summit coming to the area. The goals of this initiative include the attraction and growth of new businesses. The chamber also seeks to expose business leadership to creative and innovative ways of examining operational practices and future customers. David Peterson author, technology company founder and international speaker is coming on May 9th for to present his half-day program designede to help companies and their executives to “think about how they think” and educates on how to incorporate creativity and innovation into organizations. For a complete list of the programs and presenters go to or call betty Morgan at 229-247-8100.
In addition to Peterson, the program includes nationally recognized experts Lee Wetherington (Hahira, GA) and TedTalk veteran and author Kent Gustavson (College Station, PA). The program also features compelling content from sales expert Jerry Federico (Waco, TX), Cachet Prescott (Valdosta, GA) and Estel Powell (Valdosta, GA).  To register on-line visit or call Betty Morgan at 229-247-8100 ext.234

The GBI reports that an investigation of a Worth County sheriff’s deputy has begun. The officer was a part of the drug search team at the county high school last week. The random search involved the use of a K-9 Unit and pat-downs in the presence of administrators. As many as 30 complaints were filed by parents against the sheriff’s department charging that the civil rights of their children were violated. No drugs were found at the school. According to the sheriff, the deputy in question was overly intrusive during the pat-down search.

The former sheriff of Miller County is back in the news. Agents with the GBI have arrested Shane Rathel after new warrants were issued charging him with 16 counts of felony theft by taking and one count of violation of his oath of office. The investigation into Rathel’s activities has been ongoing. He turned himself in to the authorities and was booked at the jail. The current allegations involve money stolen from the sheriff’s department; the previous charges involved the sale of stolen guns. Scott Worsley is the new Miller County Sheriff elect.

36-year-old Emmanuel Saint Fleur was arrested driving a stolen truck, which was first spotted by officers at the Agricultural Inspection station near Live Oak. He was wanted in connection to a Florida murder. The alleged shooting of the two victims was caused by a domestic dispute. Saint Fleur is being held in the Madison County Jail while awaiting extradition to Miami-Dade County. Florida’s Department of Agriculture reports Saint Fleur admitted to officers that he shot two people and then stole the truck in Fort Lauderdale.

Georgia’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since the beginning of the Great Recession. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent last month, down from 5.3 percent in February; the Georgia Department of Labor reported that the last time the rate was that low was December 2007, as the economic downturn was starting to take effect.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the complaint in federal court in Georgia on behalf of five civil rights and voting rights organizations. It claims Georgia law cuts off voter registration for federal run-off elections two months earlier than guaranteed under federal law. The group cites this example; the committee said in the coming June runoff for the 6th Congressional District anyone who had not registered to vote in March cannot register to participate in the June runoff. The suit says that Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act requires states to allow anyone to vote in a federal election if they register at least 30 days before that election. Georgia, however, allows people register at least 30 days before an election, but does not allow a person to vote in the runoff if they had not registered in time for the primary. The state is accused of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote.
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