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Sludge in Jefferson County, Georgia

September 10, 2008

A sitting State Senator, Don Cheeks, purchased property in Jefferson County Georgia in the early 1990's and immediately sought a permit to spread sludge on the property. When he was exposed by the Jefferson County Attorney, Cheeks promptly sold the Jefferson County property to his crony, Ronnie Hudson, a grassing contractor.

From day one Cheeks applied pressure on the City of Augusta, Ga. to approve his application for Hudson to haul and spread the sludge on the above noted Jefferson County property despite the fact that Ga. EPD had cited the City of Augusta numerous times for falsifying the sludge samples from the Messerly Treatment plant submitted for testing for pathogeens, etc.(This was addressed in the Augusta Chronicle).

A City of Augusta employee eventually admitted to the falsification of the samples. Despite an extended battle by Jefferson County Concerned Citizens(JCCC) led by Kay Heilig, Ga. EPD approved Cheeks/Hudson's application to apply the sludge in Jefferson County. All this occurred after the sludge had been placed on farms of Boyce (Burke Co. Ga.) and McElmurray (Richmond Co. Ga.). Both Boyce and McElmurray won lawsuits regarding the sludge killing their cows and ruining pasture/cropland.

I personally witnessed the spreading of the sludge on a pasture on Zebina Rd. near Wrens, Ga. on dates preceding the first publicized sludge permit in Jefferson Co. Ga. I was employed by the City of Augusta/Richmond County Public Works Engineering from September 1991 through August 2004 after being employed by GaDOT Engineering from September1956 through May 1991.

It was common knowledge among City/County employees that the sewage from the industrial entities was being mixed with the residential sewage and that is where the heavy metals in the sewage originated. I believe some of these industrial entities may still be producing sewage containing heavy metals.

The most recent sewage application permit was issued to Columbia County Ga. to send all their sewage, originally being sent to their landfill, to Jefferson Co. This was a result of Columbia Co. Ga. closing their landfill and apparently Columbia Co. officials opted not to apply for a permit to spread sludge in their own county. Our county officials apparently have either been bought off or scared off by the powers that be in the State of Georgia, possibly including Governor Sonny Perdue, who welcomed Ex-senator Cheeks with open arms when Cheeks decided to leave the Democrat Party and become a Republican. Perdue probably owed Cheeks for that reason. Fortunately Cheeks lost his bid for re-election.

Cheeks came to my office in Augusta in 1994 and tried to get me fired because I was raising issues with Grassing Contractor Ronnie Hudson working on Augusta/Richmond County construction projects. The problem I had with Mr. Hudson is he had been banned from doing any work on Georgia DOT projects because he was charging GaDOT for materials he did not use in the work on GaDOT projects and GaDOT had money in most Richmond Co./Augusta road projects.I was instructed to stop "harrassing " Mr. Hudson/Mr. Cheeks because Senator Cheeks "does a lot for Richmond Co." Ex-senator Cheeks owned property that GaDOT needed for rights-of-way to improve Wheeler Rd. in Augusta. He came to my Public Works department head and told him that he (Cheeks) wanted his (Cheeks) son-in-law to do the appraisal work on the Wheeler Rd. R/W acquisition. The Department head instructed our (Augusta/Richmond Co.) R/W personnel to hire Mr. Cheeks son-in-law. This same son-in-law is currently facing charges in Richmond Co. in a case of using insider information (obviously Cheeks) to acquire property at an extremely low price and selling it to Ga-DOT as a part of wetlands mitigation.

Robert L. Clements, 2031 Clements Daniel Rd. Louisville, Ga. 30434, Phone: 478-625-7175