Public safety headquarters, academies among top stories in emergency services
by Jessica Loeding
Dec 30, 2012 | 2335 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Emergency Services
Mouldings Unlimited on Highway 411 in White was destroyed by fire in August. The fire was fought by the Bartow County Fire Department, city of Cartersville and firefighting units from Cherokee and Gordon counties. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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As with most other years, Bartow County saw its share of news from the world of emergency services.

There were homicides, including two within the city of Cartersville in the final months of the year. Cartersville also was the site of a midday armed robbery in May that left one injured.

In the judicial world, several cases captured headlines, with 18-year-old Jerry Jerome Kilgore receiving life plus 205 years following his conviction on 23 counts, including rape.

But for all the bad news from the world of crime and court, several of the highlights were positive stories for both the community and the ones who serve. Here’s a look at the top five stories from 2012.

Safety first

Making the permanent move in early December, Cartersville Fire Department and Cartersville Police Department have taken up residence in their 50-year home in the new public safety headquarters at 195 Cassville Road.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-designed facility, which sits on about 3.5 acres, moved fire administration operations and Station 1 from 19 N. Erwin St. and the existing police station from 178 W. Main St. The two-story, 55,000-square-foot building also is designed to include a miniature museum, commemorating the fire and police departments, while housing memorabilia and the 1918 fire truck. Began more than two years ago, the multimillion dollar project was paid for with 2007 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Jim Croft, president of Croft & Associates, the architectural firm for the project, said the greatest challenge in designing the building was catering to the needs of two departments that have two different purposes.

“Because this is a complicated building from a design standpoint ... You have two departments using the building really in two different ways and so there’s a lot of complexity here. But because the chiefs knew what they needed and what they were looking for ... we have a successful design,” he said.

In addition to the headquarters, CFD moved crews into a new station 4, located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive near U.S. Highway 41. That facility, built on less than 1 acre, also opened earlier this month.

Thirteen new firefighters joined the ranks of CFD in September, adding the additional manpower needed for the addition of station 4. Cartersville received approval for the new positions in 2011.

A lesson in the law

Educating the public on the ins and outs of law enforcement was a priority for local agencies.

In May, Cartersville Police Department held a four-week training class for citizens. Hosted at the West Main Street location, the academy covered a variety of topics, including what the requirements were to be an officer to use of force and the television-versus-reality concept.

“Policing Cartersville isn’t just policing Cartersville, it’s policing the globe,” Chief Tommy Culpepper said. “We have to be prepared and we constantly look to improve.”

For the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, the return of the citizens’ law enforcement academy after a four-year absence was about informing the public of the department’s operations and perhaps reaping the benefits of that education.

“See, I’ve said in the past that, you know, out here on the road I’ve got 10 to 12 officers a night. That’s 20 to 24 sets of eyes. There’s 100,000-something people in this county,” Sheriff Clark Millsap said at the academy’s return. “This, I hope, will bring them to where they want to get involved because you fall into that old stigma, ‘I don’t want to get involved,’ and they’ll turn a blind eye to it. When if they had just picked up the phone and said, ‘Hey, such and such and so and so, and I know that’s just happened.’ If they saw a dope deal go down or if they saw something they thought might fixing to be happening and they just [thought], ‘I saw that when I was in that class.’ Call 911.

“... The more calls we get the more we can help slow down crime in this county. People will get involved.”

Held over the course of 10 weeks, the academy offered an in-depth look at the BCSO and provided firearms and CPR training to participants. The academy will return for another session in April.

Adairsville Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert Jones, also hosted an academy for the city’s residents, setting many of the same goals as those sessions hosted by CPD and the BCSO.

Mix-up in names leads to resignation, retirement

A “mistake” within the Adairsville Police Department in May, which was connected to a shooting in Floyd County, led to the departure of two APD employees in June.

An administrative assistant and senior officer filed a warrant under an alias used by a convicted felon. The name was that of the man’s brother, who was not a convicted felon and subsequently was shot in an incident in Floyd County.

Both the assistant and officer left the department, through resignation and retirement, respectively, in June following the discovery of the error in May.

“This was a mistake, a serious mistake, but it was a mistake,” Jones said in June. “… It wasn’t like they pulled some random [name]. Criminal histories come out with the name at the top and all the aliases. It was nothing malicious.”

In the weeks that followed, residents of the city created a stir at city council meetings concerning the incident and the officer’s departure.

White manufacturer burns

An Aug. 17 blaze consumed Mouldings Unlimited, a wood trim moulding manufacturer, on Highway 411 in White.

The cause had not been determined by mid-December, according to Bartow County Fire Marshal Bryan Cox.

Witnesses had reported explosions around the time of the fire, which occurred just after midnight. Bartow County Fire Department Battalion Chief Bryan Keeling said gas and propane cylinders inside the building could have been the source of the explosions.

The department experienced problems with water volume during the fire, which forced the department to curtail operations while battling the blaze.

Constructed in the early 1960s, the building had previously housed a carpet facility and yard business. Reid and Brenda Dunn purchased the property in early 1998 when the yarn facility closed.

The Dunns had been out of town at the time of the fire.

In December, Toyo Tires presented BCFD with the funds necessary to purchase high-diameter hoses for the three stations that would respond to a fire at the White facility. The donation was prompted by the problems encountered in the Mouldings Unlimited blaze.

Kingston PD finds stability after tumultuous period

There had been talk of dissolving the Kingston Police Department in the first half of 2012 as a means of saving money. That matter was capped by the sudden resignation of then-chief Billy Pickett in June.

In the months that followed Pickett’s departure, KPD has been in the hands of a 23-year-old. Clay Patterson was named chief after several months as interim police chief.

Patterson spent the second half of the year organizing a department that had seen six different leaders since 2010.

“The first thing I was hit with was the evidence. ... I can’t tell you how far back it was in disarray from,” Patterson said earlier this year, although he estimated the room had not been cleaned up since about 2005.

In addition, Patterson has installed a security system and began revising the department’s standard operating procedure.

He has added a reserve officer and acquired a new Dodge Charger for the department. The new chief also brought the department into the social media world, launching the Kingston Police Department Facebook page this month.

The efforts to stabilize and secure Kingston are what Patterson hopes the community sees.

“At the end of the day, every day, I feel like things are getting accomplished.”