Worker's widow will get health insurance

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Columbia County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to continue providing health insurance to the family of a slain water utility employee.

Columbia County Probate Judge Pat Hardaway administers the oath of office to new District 4 Commissioner Bill Morris. He was sworn in Tuesday afternoon. His wife, Lillie, holds the Bible.   Barry Paschal/Staff
Barry Paschal/Staff
Columbia County Probate Judge Pat Hardaway administers the oath of office to new District 4 Commissioner Bill Morris. He was sworn in Tuesday afternoon. His wife, Lillie, holds the Bible.

Raymond Lee, 38, a wastewater utility manager and 14-year county employee, was shot and killed April 1 after an argument at Reed Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant with private truck driver Thomas Eugene Bradford, who is being held without bond while awaiting trial on a murder charge.

The decision will allow Lee's widow, Karin, to continue to purchase health insurance at an employee rate for herself and her three children until at least 2013, when the agreement can be renewed, County Administrator Steve Szablewski said.

"This has never happened before," Szablewski said. "We've never had an employee murdered on the job before."

Tuesday's meeting was the first since Feb. 1 with all commission seats filled, as newly elected District 4 Commissioner Bill Morris was sworn in at the Evans Government Center before the meeting.

In what officials have called the closest election in nearly 30 years, Morris defeated Vernon Thomas Sr. by just 23 votes in the special election runoff April 12.

Thomas asked for a recount, but the results still showed Morris winning 1,077 votes to 1,054. Six votes failed to register because of voter error.

Morris will complete the term of Scott Dean, who won a second term in November but resigned Feb. 2 after his indictment that day on child molestation charges.

A court date has not been set for Dean, who has pleaded innocent to the charges involving one of the daughters he and his wife adopted from Guatemala.

Several commissioners noted that this was their first session with all five members in nearly three months.

"We've been off-balance," District 3 Commissioner Charles Allen said. "Now we're balanced."

During the meeting, commissioners allocated about $1.1 million in leftover 1 percent sales tax dollars. The money is what remained in unspent sales taxes from 2006 to 2010. Commissioners will spend:

- $100,000 on a kennel for the sheriff's office canine unit

- $300,000 on renovations to the three Health Department locations in Evans, Appling and Grovetown for use as office spaces

- $25,000 for office space renovations at Savannah Rapids Pavilion

- $25,000 for warehouse security cameras

- $90,000 for a Riverside Recycling Center

- $60,000 on software to manage building contracts and bids.

The rest of the money -- about $500,000 -- will be placed into discretionary funds for commissioners to allocate for capital improvement projects of their choosing with full commission approval.

Commissioners also approved the commercial rezoning of nearly two acres on Blanchard Road to allow construction of a Kendrick Paint and Body shop near Washington Road.

Comments (46) Add comment
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LBenedict
2
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LBenedict 04/26/11 - 08:53 pm
0
0
"$25,000 for a warehouse

"$25,000 for a warehouse security cameras". What is a warehouse security cameras?

lovelylululady
0
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lovelylululady 04/26/11 - 09:34 pm
0
0
She should not just be

She should not just be allowed to purchase it - the county should pay for it!

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/26/11 - 09:37 pm
0
0
Szablewski said. "We've never

Szablewski said. "We've never had an employee murdered on the job before."

It's already been determined the shooting was murder?

Chillen
17
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Chillen 04/26/11 - 10:10 pm
0
0
He was killed at work. They

He was killed at work. They should definitely allow her to continue to get the health insurance at the same rate - at least until her kids are 18.

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/26/11 - 10:13 pm
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I agree she should be able to

I agree she should be able to get the insurance. Not only should the kids be able to get it, but I'd think it would be fair to give her insurance for life, too. There was a Columbia County Sheriff's Deputy killed a few years ago. I wonder how this matter was handled with him?

735
Points
Barry Paschal 04/26/11 - 10:34 pm
0
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Szablewski mentioned that:

Szablewski mentioned that: the deputy was retired military and didn't use county insurance. As for the length of time they're allowing the insurance, he said they can only go to 2013 because the law doesn't allow them to bind future commissions. The next group will have to renew the agreement.

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/26/11 - 11:02 pm
0
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Barry, thanks for the info.

Barry, thanks for the info. By the way, if Szablewski is going to start passing judgment on pending trials at official Commission meetings exactly where does he draw the line? I wonder if Szablewski ever said at a Commission meeting something like, "We've never had a Commissioner child molestor before." How would that fly?

fatboyhog
2025
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fatboyhog 04/26/11 - 11:36 pm
0
0
Yeah, Riverman, the charge of

Yeah, Riverman, the charge of "murder" pretty much suggests that it was, in fact, a murder.

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/26/11 - 11:40 pm
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Fattyboyhog, fine. I believe

Fattyboyhog, fine. I believe we can all express our opinions of guilt or innocence of pending trials, but I don't believe a public official should at a governmental meeting. Further, this trial is going to be tricky if what I've heard on the radio and read is accurate. By the way, do you think he should comment on the situation with Dean?

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 04/27/11 - 04:15 am
0
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It is great for Columbia

It is great for Columbia County that Bill Morris is now on the commission.

They certainly should allow her the insurance, it simply is the right thing to do.

Deputies killed in the line of duty get $100,000.00 from the state and as Barry said, he was not on county insurance.

$100,000.00 for a new kennel to house a few dogs for the Sheriff's Office....Really??? I am a big supporter of law enforcement and the CCSO but this money could certainly be better spent.

Riverman1, in all fairness to Szablewski, he simply stated an employee was murdered on the job, which by definition, he was. He did not say any paticular individual was guilty of murder or discuss anyone who had been charged, etc. His comment is fair, acurate and acceptable in this case although I do see your point. The comparison between commenting on Dean is not acurate because he did not comment on anyone acused of anything.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 04/27/11 - 05:04 am
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Asitis...I agree...$100K

Asitis...I agree...$100K spent on dog kennels is a bit much.

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/27/11 - 08:54 am
0
0
Asitis said, "Riverman1, in

Asitis said, "Riverman1, in all fairness to Szablewski, he simply stated an employee was murdered on the job, which by definition, he was. He did not say any paticular individual was guilty of murder or discuss anyone who had been charged, etc. His comment is fair, acurate and acceptable in this case although I do see your point. The comparison between commenting on Dean is not acurate because he did not comment on anyone acused of anything."

Murder is the illegal act of killing someone. The trial of the person who killed this unfortunate man will determine whether it was murder or something else. As I said, I don't mind the public voicing their opinions on the upcoming trial, but I do have a problem with a public official stating a conclusion at an official government meeting. He could have used the word "killed" and it would have been perfectly acceptable.

This trial is going to have lots of legal problems from what I've heard discussed. There are issues here and it's entirely possible this shooter will not be found guilty of "murder." Szablewski was being presumptuous in a way that may be brought up in court as proof the man can't obtain a fair trial, etc..

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/27/11 - 05:33 pm
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Momknowsbest, welcome to the

Momknowsbest, welcome to the comments section. But keep in mind, flattery will get you nowhere with me.

What do you mean nothing that has been broadcast is the truth?

But you are exactly right in that I'm working from what I heard on the radio. The commentator had apparently been talking with law enforcement and people who worked there. Then there were the newspaper articles.

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/27/11 - 05:49 pm
0
0
Momknowsbest, you claim you

Momknowsbest, you claim you have inside information about what happened. Let's try this. I'll present the way I heard and read the incident occurred and if I'm wrong you correct me. Once we agree on what happened, I'll explain the issues as a lawyer friend explained to me.

Bradford's truck had too much waste and wasn't covered properly. Lee confronted him and told him he couldn't leave the yard that way. Bradford said he would leave anyway. Lee got in front of him and blocked his exit. Bradford drove the truck forward, but stopped. Bradford said he would dump the sludge right where he was. Lee jumped on the truck and tried to pull the man from the truck during which time a physical confrontation ensued in the truck that carried over to the ground. Bradford pushed Lee back and shot him, fatally injuring him. Agree? Or does something need to be changed in the scenario?

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 04/27/11 - 05:57 pm
0
0
Where did that information

Where did that information come from?

momknowsbest
0
Points
momknowsbest 04/27/11 - 06:15 pm
0
0
Sorry not gonna play that

Sorry not gonna play that game. It is none of your business. I just wanted to leave a comment for you and everyone else on her to let ya'll know the character of Raymond Lee, which is hard working Husband, devoted father, nonconfrontational, had no enemies, big heart, would help out a friend anytime no questions asked, did everything for his Wife and kids... His Wife and friends are reading your comments and they are hurtful so just leave it alone and go find another article to comment on.

Riverman1
87510
Points
Riverman1 04/27/11 - 06:21 pm
0
0
Momknowsbest, I'm sure

Momknowsbest, I'm sure everything you say about Mr. Lee is true. From all I've heard he was a great guy. His family has my deepest sympathy. Like I said, it's a shame when any type confrontation between hardworking people causes one to use a gun. This case is going to be dissected in every way in the courts so be prepared to hear more.

I tried to present the incident the way I've heard it being as objective as I can. Now it could be more information is available that will come out later that could affect the trial either way.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 04/27/11 - 06:20 pm
0
0
I don't necessarily agree

I don't necessarily agree with Riverman, but I can see how a pursuasive attorney can manipulate the story and turn murder into a lesser charge. I think it all depends on how the information is presented to the jury and how they interprate it. My condolences to the family.

Riverman1
87510
Points
Riverman1 04/27/11 - 06:29 pm
0
0
Patty-P, there's nothing to

Patty-P, there's nothing to agree or disagree with me about. I haven't given my view on the matter except to say there are issues IF it is as I presented it. I described the scenario as I heard it. If that's not right, then someone correct it. I'll listen.

ddawg202
0
Points
ddawg202 04/27/11 - 06:59 pm
0
0
Riverman1, as the widow's

Riverman1, as the widow's best friend, all I can say is don't believe everything you read or hear in the media. I do know what happened and also know what the murderer himself has said. Raymond Lee, one of the most wonderful men I have ever known, was murdered in cold blood and his murderer will spend the rest of his natural life in prison where he belongs. I just truly hope Karen doesn't read the stuff you are writing, I'm sorry I had to read it!!!

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 04/27/11 - 07:05 pm
0
0
Riverman...you stated that

Riverman...you stated that 'It's already been determined the shooting was murder?'...I was partial to the fact that the man hasn't been tried for the charge, and in a case like this the information presented can be tricky. However, I don't find any wrong in Szablewski's statement: "We've never had an employee murdered on the job before."
You followed the news just like he did I'm sure. The headlines that I read said he was murdered and that Bradford was charged with murder:
http://chronicle.augusta.com/latest-news/2011-04-01/shooting-columbia-co...

http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/12609238/article-Authorities--Man-c...

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/27/11 - 07:59 pm
0
0
Patty-P, I read the headlines

Patty-P, I read the headlines of both those articles. Neither one said the man was murdered. Why did you think differently? The Columbia County News Times correctly said he was killed. "Worker is killed in plant shooting"

The Marietta Daily (where did that come from?) said
"Authorities: Man charged in death of plant worker"

Murder is the illegal killing of someone and whether it occurred or not will be determined by the court. The county administrator was in err to pronounce it murder at an official county commission meeting. He should retract his statement.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 04/27/11 - 08:02 pm
0
0
If you read into the story it

If you read into the story it clearly states that Bradford was charged with murder.

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/27/11 - 08:03 pm
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Ddawg, I truly understand

Ddawg, I truly understand your grief and I am sorry about the whole matter. Legal questions are not easy for the survivors. Again, he was a fine man and the thing should have never escalated. Like I said, evidence could surface that completely changes the outcome of this case.

Riverman1
87510
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Riverman1 04/27/11 - 08:04 pm
0
0
Patty-P, he is charged with

Patty-P, he is charged with murder is absolutely true, but he has not been convicted of murder. That's the whole point of this conversation.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 04/27/11 - 09:08 pm
0
0
Riverman...I think we are

Riverman...I think we are misinterpreting each others viewpoints. I understand the difference between charged and convicted. From a legal standpoint, the commissioner could have worded it differently. I understand your point.

Riverman1
87510
Points
Riverman1 04/28/11 - 11:14 am
0
0
What is really a shame is

What is really a shame is that Bradford brought a gun into this matter after they started fighting. That was truly wrong even if Lee started the fight. They could have thrown a few punches at each other, rolled around on the ground, got up and shook hands. Lee would still be alive. Bradford will have that with him forever.

However, I'm still waiting for someone to correct the scenario I heard and posted above. Because if that's the way it happened, I doubt Bradford will be found guilty of murder or even tried for murder.

Bringing a gun into play was a foolish act. This was not a criminal trying to pull him out of the truck, they were both working people who probably knew each other from past loads the truck driver had picked up. Tempers were hot. Bradford should have either fought back with his fists or called the police. Shooting Lee was a crying shame.

Blue in Red State
0
Points
Blue in Red State 04/28/11 - 01:08 pm
0
0
I think the $100k is a

I think the $100k is a reasonable amount to spend for animals who lay their life on the line for a place to sleep & food to eat. Given the weather here, it needs to be temperature controlled and, in addition, with county growth will come additional dogs. Personally, I would like to see them use some of the money to have better street signs on some of the streets in the county as well as fix some of the roads.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 04/28/11 - 01:36 pm
0
0
Riverman, what makes you

Riverman, what makes you think he won't be convicted of murder?

davidel
0
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davidel 04/29/11 - 12:42 am
0
0
Riverman, you are trying to

Riverman, you are trying to argue semantics regarding whether Raymond was murdered or not. I know you probably think you have some point, but you don't. The FACT that Raymond was shot and by who has not been disputed. The FACT that it was an illegal shooting is a given. What are you really trying to say? Raymond was MURDERED, regardless of what the courts end up charging his MURDERER with. The only reason his murder should be called "killed" is if he died in another way other than by the intentional shooting of a co-worker. Raymond's murderer knew exactly what he was doing when he went to his truck, got his gun, pointed it at Raymond's chest, and then pulled the trigger. That is MURDER! Go find yourself some other point to argue about, this one you lose.

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