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Filed 06/28/2006 Updated after 4PM for next day...
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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News 

  • Explosion damages Bremen, Georgia Motel
  • Guns stolen in weekend burglary
  • Former Cherokee County Task Force Commander Indicted
  • Piedmont to join tax holiday


Explosion damages Bremen, Georgia Motel 

Part of a two-story Bremen Georgia motel collapsed after an explosion this morning, and a maintenance worker was feared trapped in the rubble, authorities said.  Investigators said it appeared to have been a gas explosion that rattled the 73-room Quality Inn & Suites shortly near 9a.m. eastern time this morning, collapsing the roof over a corner of rooms and dumping debris on cars parked below.

Most of the motel's occupants had checked out by then, and only three or four people were inside at the time of the blast according to  Bremen Police Capt. Richard Harrison.  He said all of the motel's guests were accounted for, but a motel maintenance worker was missing and feared to be trapped in the collapsed corner of the building.  The motel is near Interstate 20 and about 10 miles east of the Alabama border.  The explosion could be heard at least two miles away. Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commission John Oxendine said the cause of the explosion is under investigation.


Guns stolen in weekend burglary 

Calhoun county sheriffs deputies Monday recovered  two antique shotguns and an two rifles, including an assault rifle from a creek.  According to officials, the guns were part of close to 90 guns taken in the weekend burglary of a home on Oak Grove road.  Authorities said that burglars made off with a variety of shotguns, rifles and handguns including several small assault rifles.  Local pawn shops have been alerted to be on the lookout for the weapons and police have been provided with the serial numbers of all of the stolen guns.  A neighbor told deputies that the suspects fled in a white Toyota Celica. 


Former Cherokee County Task Force Commander Indicted 

41 year old Joey Hester, of Leesburg, was terminated from his job as the task force commander with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department in 2004.  Hester was arrested Monday on charges of theft and ethics violations which allege he used his position for personal gain.  Hester turned himself in Monday morning at the Cherokee County Jail and was released on a $10,000 bond.

Hester was charged in a Cherokee County grand jury indictment, which was signed by an assistant attorney general.  The FBI conducted the investigation over a two-year period, according to Hester's attorney, Tom King.

The FBI apparently has not filed charges against Hester and provided the attorney general's office with the information obtained in the investigation.

Hester was charged with first-degree theft for checks drawn on the Cherokee County Narcotics account at a Cherokee County bank, according to the indictment. The checks allegedly totaled $2,500 or more, according to the indictment.  Hester also was charged with 15 counts of using his former position for personal gain, which are felonies that come under the ethics law. As commander of the task force, the indictment alleges, Hester intentionally used the position for personal gain and allegedly wrote checks drawn on the narcotics division's account and kept the money. The amount of the checks ranges from $250 to $600, according to the indictment.  King would not give specific details about the charges, but said Hester did nothing wrong.



Piedmont to join tax holiday 

The Piedmont mayor and city council voted Monday night to participate in the sales tax holiday approved by the legislature earlier this year.   The city will remove city sales taxes from qualified items during the first weekend in August.  In other action Monday night,  the council put the final touches on their independence day celebration this Saturday.   The celebration will get underway at 10 am Saturday at the Clyde H. Pike Civic Center.  The day will include a tribute to America’s servicemen as well as a free lunch and entertainment including fire truck rides as well as a number of activities for the kids including a 33 foot water slide.  The event is being hailed as Piedmont’s tribute to freedom.  Alabama 810 will be broadcasting from the celebration this Saturday afternoon.

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