Demotions, promotions planned for Richmond County Sheriff's Office after Richard Roundtree takes office

A top administrator in the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is targeted for demotion after Sheriff-elect Richard Roundtree takes office in January.


Roundtree notified Col. Gary Powell via e-mail that he will be reduced to the rank of captain.

Powell, who has been with the sheriff’s office for 35 years, said he has no problem with the demotion.

“I’ve always known my job is a political appointment,” he said. “I’m glad to have a job.”

He stands to lose as much as $20,000 a year in pay.

Lt. Robert Partain in the narcotics division is said to be the new colonel, and Bill Probus, a deputy at the training range, is rumored to be promoted to captain.

Word is also out that Lewis Blanchard, who aligned himself with Round­tree after he defeated Capt. Scott Peebles in a Democratic primary runoff, will be hired and given the rank of captain. Some folks predict he’ll be in charge of a new volunteer deputy program.

Blanchard and Round­tree are so cozy that they went to Las Vegas together with several others the weekend after Thanksgiv­ing. If Roundtree was gambling, you have to wonder how he could afford it, seeing as how he owed federal tax liens that were paid off only months before qualifying. He didn’t pay a state tax lien until after he qualified.

Peebles – who endorsed Roundtree after the runoff and soured a lot of people who had supported him with big bucks and big parties – is expected to remain as captain in criminal investigations.


ANOTHER FIRST AND PROBABLY NOT THE LAST: In addition to becoming Rich­mond County’s first black sheriff, Roundtree just might be Georgia’s first sheriff to hold a black-tie inaugural ball – or any ball at all. Someone suggested he might even be the first sheriff in the United States to do so.

Terry Norris, the executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, said he’d not heard of a sheriff having an inaugural ball.

“There may have been some, but I don’t know about them,” he said. “We’ve had over 200 elected sheriffs go through our training. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but generally speaking, the sheriffs aren’t so ceremonial. They are truly the blue-collar workers of the state.”

Roundtree raised a lot of eyebrows when he arrived to announce his run for sheriff in a stretch limousine with a driver wearing white gloves. Now he’s alienated some of his supporters by charging $125 per single ticket or $250 a couple to attend his ball.

One quoted in a Metro Courier newspaper article said he felt that Roundtree had turned his back on the people who worked to get him elected by pricing the tickets so high. Several people surveyed by the newspaper suggested a less costly celebration open to everyone.

But somebody’s got to pay for the limo and band.


POLITICAL PUNDITS: The results of Tuesday’s runoff between white incumbent District 1 Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken and his black challenger, Bill Fennoy, will set the political agenda for the foreseeable future.

As everybody knows – but still obligatory to explain in case you just rode into town – a win by Fennoy would restore the black-white racial balance to 5-5 and usher in a whole new era of abstaining.

Aitken and Fennoy say they’re campaigning hard and expect to win, but we all know they both can’t.

“I feel great about it,” Aitken said. “When you look at the results of the four-way race in the general election and the diversity of the people working with me, I’m very optimistic.”

Aitken received 39.7 percent of the votes cast in the District 1 race in November to Fennoy’s 29.91 percent.

“I feel very optimistic,” Fen­noy said. “I think people are going to come out and vote and decide who they want to represent them for the next four years.”

That’s a foregone conclusion.


RUNNING MEN: The 12th Congres­sional District race in 2014 bodes to be crowded on the Republican side.

Rick Allen, who lost to Lee Anderson in a Republican primary runoff, said he’s certainly looking at running despite being $500,000 in debt from this year’s election.

“God owns everything,” he said. “I’m just a steward passing through. I knew I was going to have to put some money in. I had no idea I would have to put that much.”

Wright McLeod said he’s thinking about running again.

“Very much so,” he said.

He said he presumes that Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow has every intention of running for U.S. Senate against Republican Sax­by Chambliss or running for governor against Republican Nathan Deal. If he does, I’ll vote for him because Deal and the Georgia Board of Regents GRUed the new university and Augusta.

Anderson said he probably would run again in 2014.

“I’ll look at it toward the first of the year,” he said.


I CAN’T SEE A SINGLE STORM CLOUD IN THE SKY: But I sure can smell the rain tax.

The commission is ex­-pected to approve implementing the first stages of the tax Wednesday. Proponents claim it’s not a tax but a fee that will be set later when they figure out the size of each rooftop, parking lot and driveway and how much their owners must pay to remedy flooding and drainage problems.

Oh well, that’s what you get when you build a city on a swamp.

DéJà VU EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK: When you get old, every new person you see reminds you of somebody else you know, and everything reminds you of the past.

For example, officials broke ground for the $76.5 million education building at Georgia Health Sciences University last week. University of Georgia radio announcer Loran Smith came to town for it, and Mayor Deke Copenhaver had a video made of Smith squinting into the sun and saying how much he liked Augusta.

When my first husband, Ken Cooper, and I lived on College Station Road in Athens oh so long ago, Smith and his wife, Myrna, often came over for cookouts and would bring us frozen butterbeans from Wrights­ville. Myrna and I would ride bicycles around the neighborhood while the men drank beer and tended the fire. Loran still looks good, which is no surprise. He always did.

A more solemn event last week, which I mention only to make the point about what age does to you, involved four people getting cut outside a Broad Street bar downtown called Club Rehab – an oxymoron if I ever heard one. They said on the news that police were investigating, which reminded me of the late, great newspaper editor Archie McKay who said that to say or write, “Police are investigating” was not news.

“If the police weren’t investigating, that would be news,” he’d growl. So we had to call the sheriff again and try to wheedle a shred of news – something, anything.

Another thing that happened in Augusta last week that triggered a memory was a story about residents of Maxwell House apartments circulating a petition to stop the hourly ringing of bells at nearby Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

I might have told you about that before. I’ll have to check to see. I wouldn’t want to keep repeating the same story over and over because that’s what really old people do.