Effingham commissioner says tiny Oliver a speed trap | savannahnow.com
Effingham Commissioner Says Tiny Oliver A Speed Trap
Official puts up sign warning of speed trap in Screven County town townburgh.
Posted: July 16, 2010 - 12:18am
By DeAnn Komanecky -- 912-826-1290
Effingham County Commissioner Jeff Utley took a page from former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox's rule book this week.
The District 3 commissioner erected a warning sign on private property along Ga. 17 North near Egypt that a speed trap lies just across the county line.
"If Lester Maddox can do it, so can I," Utley said.
Maddox made the Long County town of Ludowici infamous in 1970 by erecting two large billboards warning motorists of "speed traps and clip-joints" in the small town. Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol actually guarded the sign to keep Ludowici residents from causing it damage.
Utley and Planning and Zoning Board member Jasper Lee claim the tiny town of Oliver - population 253 - harbors a ticket-happy police department. Oliver, in Screven County, lies within spitting distance of the Effingham County line.
"I've had a lot of people complaining to me," Utley said. "This has been going on for a good while."
Lee said he's been ticketed unfairly - and so have a number of other people he says have called him.
"I was ticketed for 56 mph in a 35 zone when I was making a 90-degree left turn," Lee said. "How could that be?"
Lee said that $375 ticket helped motivate him to raise money for two signs, which cost about $250 each.
Utley and Lee plan to place a second sign along Oliver-Kildare Road.
Oliver Police Chief Pat Kile said calling his town a speed trap sounds like sour grapes to him.
"I heard a commissioner put that sign up," Kile said. "I guess he could have gotten a ticket and is mad."
Utley wasn't ticketed, but his son Chris was.
"He stopped me a mile and half inside Effingham County," Chris Utley said. "The officer didn't even turn on his lights until he got right behind me (inside the Effingham County line)."
Chris Utley said the officer first ticketed him for improper lane use on a road - without painted lines.
Utley said he was also handcuffed, given a breath analysis test and field-sobriety tests he passed and taken to the Oliver Police Department.
Utley started with a $375 fine he said, that was in the end changed to a window-tinting violation that cost about $100.
Kile said Oliver has ample signs to alert motorists of reduced speed limits.
"We have a 45 mph (zone) ahead sign, two 45 mph signs and two 35 mph signs," Kile said.
Oliver is less than one square mile in area and signs are posted on Ga. 17 and Ga. 24.
The chief said his department writes less than one ticket per day per officer and their presence on the street shouldn't be a surprise to an Effingham commissioner, or anyone else.
"We don't hide," Kile said. "We always sit in the same spot. I can't help it if he's an idiot."