Originally created 08/07/99

Official wants cooling-off period



ELBERTON, Ga. -- An Elbert County commissioner who must have a sheriff's deputy escort him whenever he enters the commission office says he hopes it will soothe strained relations between himself and other county officials.

"I think it's time for a cooling-off period," Commissioner Tommy Allgood said.

Superior Court Judge Lindsay Tise issued a restraining order this week limiting Mr. Allgood's stays at the commission offices to no more than an hour, and requiring that he have an escort for those visits for 30 days.

Judge Tise's order came after Mr. Allgood was charged with simple assault in a pushing incident at a meeting at the county's offices.

The order requires him to notify the sheriff's office and Commission Chairwoman Sallie Hood 24 hours before he visits the offices. If he needs to communicate with county employees, he must do so through the deputy.

Other commissioners sought the restraining order.

"I think there are some hard feelings and my being out of the office most of the day will let people deal with those feelings," Mr. Allgood said Thursday.

Police in Elberton, about 30 miles east of Athens, said Mr. Allgood sprained County Clerk Phyllis Thompson's wrist last week when he tried to push open the door to a closed meeting and Ms. Thompson grabbed the door knob to keep him out.

Police Chief Mark Welsh said Ms. Hood, Ms. Thompson and an employee of the tax assessor's office were discussing a "personal issue" and had told Mr. Allgood they didn't want to be disturbed. The women told Mr. Allgood the discussion had nothing to do with him, Chief Welsh said.

Mr. Allgood has requested a jury trial on the simple assault charge.

In December 1998, Mr. Allgood filed a simple assault charge against then-Commissioner Jim Gulley. Allgood was not a commissioner at the time.

Mr. Allgood had attended a December commission meeting and had gotten into an argument with Mr. Gulley at the end of the meeting, according to a report from the sheriff's department.

The two men were separated, but resumed their argument outside the commission chamber and Mr. Gulley hit Mr. Allgood, according to the report.

At the trial on the misdemeanor charge, an Elbert County jury ruled that Mr. Gulley was not guilty of assault because Mr. Allgood had used fighting words, Mr. Allgood said.

Mr. Allgood would later win the District 2 seat on the county commission. Mr. Gulley did not run for re-electionin District 4, and Gerald Marchant won the seat.