Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

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

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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.

Comments (49) Add comment
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Conservative Man
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Conservative Man 12/02/12 - 04:38 pm
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Interesting story....

...about the District 1 race....on a different story published in the AC about "donations trickle in"...Bill Lockett is quoted as saying that the rumor that he's supporting Aitken is "a blatant lie".....

Heard from very reputable sources that "operatives" ARE telling black voters just such a thing....my understanding is that Lockett is endorsing nobody.....and is livid about this....

Sounds like a classic case of political "dirty tricks"....but if true it might say more about how close Aitken's supporters feel the race is....

No matter the motive, I think it's pretty "low-life" to misrepresent someone else's political position in a race as important to the future of the county as this one..
But hey politics is a "blood sport" right?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/02/12 - 08:48 pm
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I find it very interesting

I find it very interesting that the same people who attacked me and others for pointing out Scott Peebles' connections with Lewis Blanchard (and others) are now slamming Roundtree for taking the Vegas trip with Blanchard.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 12/03/12 - 09:19 am
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Riverman1...

Scott is not black and Roundtree in...get it?

SON of Scoob
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SON of Scoob 12/03/12 - 09:51 am
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In Trouble

Roundtree will get in trouble soon enough. He will not be a long term Sheriff.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/03/12 - 09:55 am
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Brad said, "Scott is not

Brad said, "Scott is not black and Roundtree in...get it?"

Ha, well Roundtree is IN and IS black to have fun with your typo. Yep, I get your point.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 12/03/12 - 06:17 pm
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Someone on the Roundtree team

Someone on the Roundtree team once said the election couldn't be bought. But you definitely can buy yourself a spot at the RCSO. Don't even have to have law enforcement experience. Oh, for the love of money.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 12/03/12 - 08:02 pm
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Patty-P

Who is going on the RCSO with no experience? If you have some scoop tell it please...

Patty-P
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Patty-P 12/03/12 - 08:32 pm
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You tell me Brad. How does

You tell me Brad. How does one get promoted to Captain so easily? Experience in law enforcement? If so, is it enough to come in straight off the street as a Captain?

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 12/03/12 - 09:58 pm
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Patty-P

You mean Lewis Blanchard? He has been a cop for over 20 years.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 12/04/12 - 05:40 am
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The last time being when?

The last time being when? Per the Chronicle...Blanchard, ...a public safety officer for the Columbia County School System and as a reserve deputy for the sheriff's office. I have no qualms against the man at all. Just thinking that people work their way up through the ranks is all. Surprised Roundtree would use this form of promotion.

rational thought trumps emotion
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rational thought trumps emotion 12/04/12 - 12:20 pm
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Patty

Patty, as a deputy, many are very happy for the positive changes on the way with Roundtree as Sheriff – at least give the man 6 months or a year to prove himself. As for the two officers in the article, Probus has great credentials, taught me and many others at the police academy, was a Captain in another agency before coming back to the RCSO and has greatly improved the training range since his arrival. We desperately need more training options and with his credentials, certification and experience in these areas, it will be a great improvement. Same goes for Blanchard, he is a Lieutenant in another agency that he has worked with for the past 3 years and also has extensive training and certifications from the State, FBI as well as law enforcement command college. He is a certified Criminal Interdiction Officer through the National Criminal Enforcement Association which is something RCSO needs. If you speak with any LEO that has worked or trained with either of these men, you would know that they are both more than qualified for any position.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 12/04/12 - 03:27 pm
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Perhaps I'm thinking of a

Perhaps I'm thinking of a different person altogether. The person I'm thinking about has minimal law enforcement experience. If I'm wrong thank you for correcting me. All in all, I wish for the best but am curious to see where people will go with the talk thus far. As I stated earlier, I think the inauguration thing is way over the top and very much unnecessary. Not sure what to think of the trip to Vegas. Would be nice to hear more about the plans on dealing with crime/murders/burglars/juvenile delinquency.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/04/12 - 06:01 pm
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As far as I know, Blanchard

As far as I know, Blanchard was the Lakeside school cop in the Columbia County System which is far different than the Richmond County School Law Enforcement System before he bought the club. Plus, he did some reserve duty up in a rural county on weekends now and then that I forget the name of (Taliaferro?). I'm surprised Brad would characterize Blanchard's law enforcement service as 20 years. It could be technically correct, but it's not what most would mean.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/04/12 - 06:02 pm
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Some in the media are saying

Some in the media are saying it's not clear that Roundtree took the Vegas trip with the person in question. Can we have a clarification? I'd bet lots on this. I believe Sylvia always has good info.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/04/12 - 06:15 pm
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Is anyone saying Sylvia

Is anyone saying Sylvia presented false info? I'm hearing Roundtree was in Sheriff's school and couldn't have possibly have gone. I doubt that's the truth with weekends being free. Let's clarify since we had a zillion comments from those supporting Blanchard for the primary race. Did Blanchard and Roundtree go to Vegas together or not? Easy question.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/04/12 - 06:25 pm
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Sometimes with Augusta

Sometimes with Augusta politics, you have to feel like Kate Middleton, done and then with lots of hyperemesis gravidarum.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 12/04/12 - 06:53 pm
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Crawfordville Ga

I think the population of that area is about 600.....can't get too excited about that.....
Nice quaint town though....they still make movies there.....maybe he was in a movie...

I forget the name of (Taliaferro?).

Riverman1
79333
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Riverman1 12/04/12 - 06:56 pm
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Now, I'm hearing Blanchard

Now, I'm hearing Blanchard will not be paid in his position. Anyone want to bet on this?

seenitB4
81343
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seenitB4 12/04/12 - 07:00 pm
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Straight line to Sheriffs Office

What What What....not get paid.....is someone playing with you .....LOL

gee ...with that I'll go ......funny though...

Riverman1
79333
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Riverman1 12/05/12 - 05:51 am
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Suddenly Everyone Loves Tree

Heck, I thought Lewis Blanchard was an "event organizer," but now I'm hearing he's been a law enforcement officer for 20 years. Austin said Blanchard wore a uniform when he was in high school. Maybe he also ordered a badge and handcuffs out of the back of a comic book along with the x-ray vision glasses. I guess the 20 years started with all that.

How many people are in the Taliaferro Sheriff's Office? He's worked part time there for three years as a deputy and made lieutenant? That's who will be made a captain in the RCSO if Sylvia is right.

There seems to be some doubt about whether Roundtree and Blanchard went to Vegas together or not. Let's clarify. Did they go? Who paid for the trip? That's taxable. Other gifts are taxable, too. Let's also check with Roundtree to see if Sylvia is right about Blanchard being made a captain with the RCSO.

I specifically and personally told Tree to be careful after he won. I also know a friend of his at RCSO also warned him. He's off to a bad start. Tree, don't forget the Waynesboro black officers and THEIR support of Peebles...if you know what I mean.

Riverman1
79333
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Riverman1 12/05/12 - 05:49 am
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RationalThought

Rational Thought, nice to see you posting again. I really don't know how some compartmentalize their comments according to who wins? You'll have to teach me how to do that one day.

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