The Commerce News
June 6, 2001
Grimes: A Good Cop And A Friend
I have both personal and professional reasons for missing Commerce
Police Chief George Grimes.
For starters, he was the easiest law enforcement official I've
ever had to work with. And were he alive to argue, he might differ,
but I considered him a friend.
Grimes printed a weekly list of arrests and incidents, which
naturally made my job a lot easier, and he faxed it to my office
every Tuesday morning. I'd go over the printout and usually call
back for information relating to one or more items on the printout.
And while every now and then I'd stumble across an omission
or he would I never had the feeling that anything was deliberately
The chief was accessible; if I wanted to talk about a specific
incident or about crime in general, he was open and interested.
Or polite enough to pretend to be.
That attitude trickled down to his department. His investigators
often help me understand how an arrest unfolded or about the
details of a particular incident. Officers and patrolmen are
polite and professional and on the rare occasions where we're
trying to do our jobs at the same time, they allow me to do mine.
That is fairly rare. Deputies, Troopers and even rescue personnel
often feel it is part of their job description to keep photographers
away from an accident or crime scene, particularly if the victim
is someone they know or if the victim's family is present. Grimes
understood that we have our jobs to do too; I appreciated that.
His own job could be difficult and frustrating. No one this side
of city manager Clarence Bryant knows just how much administrative
work is involved in running a police department. Grimes didn't
always keep his officers happy, but it seemed to me that he made
decisions with the public's interest in mind.
He worked well with other agencies, from the Jackson County Sheriff's
Department to the MANS unit to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Unlike some officers who resent intrusion from other departments,
Grimes was willing to accept investigative help from wherever
it might come.
That is maturity with which Commerce has not always been blessed.
We've had a police chief or two in the past who were more concerned
with being in charge than with solving problems. Grimes was willing
to share any credit with other agencies, and when his own officers
performed some extraordinary bit of police work, he was happy
to point that out.
Grimes was not a super cop. He was a good cop, though, one who
cared about his community, who enjoyed (for the most part) his
work here and one who earned the respect of the people he served.
He is one of the people who made a difference in Commerce merely
by doing his job the way it was supposed to be done.
Now the city must find another police chief, a job that will
be up to Bryant. When the new chief comes on board, he'll find
a police department that is professional, folks who not only
know their jobs but are also well suited to perform them. That
is part of Grimes' legacy.
The Jackson Herald
June 6, 2001
of good manners
Although the primary focus of the planned Fifth Grade Academy
at Jefferson Elementary School next year will be in increased
academic instruction, another program set for the fifth graders
also merits community support.
In addition to the academics, JES leaders also plan to include
an etiquette program in the curriculum. The program, titled "Perfectly
Polished," was begun in Clarke County 17 years ago by Debra
Lassiter and Cindy Haygood. It has since spread to a number of
counties in North Georgia, but has been slow in taking root here
in Jackson County.
That may be changing, however, with the advent of the program
at JES. It is no secret that many business leaders complain not
about the lack of technical skills from those they hire, but
rather about the lack of personal and people skills.
This new program is designed to begin the process of teaching
young people some of the basic skills they will need to know
in life as well as in school. And while fifth graders are a long
way from entering the workforce, it's never too early to teach
children how to behave in public settings.
That may not seem important to some adults, especially those
who themselves have a lack of knowledge in how to behave. Indeed,
the boorish behavior by some adults in public is the very reason
we have so many children who lack common courtesy and manners.
But what we're talking about here is more than just knowing which
fork to use with the salad at dinner - as our children go out
into the world, it is not just their technical abilities that
will determine their fate in life, but also their personal skills.
We hope this program at JES will be just the beginning of a countywide
focus on raising the standards of our children's behavior and
And who knows, if we're able to do that, then maybe we could
start a class on good manners for some of our public officials.
Jackson County Opinion Index
The Jackson Herald
June 6, 2001
Passing of James and Carloss stirs memories
In life, and in death, there is often a bittersweet irony that
transcends the moment. Such was the case last Friday night when
Jefferson lost two of its retired businessmen and leading citizens
who died in the same hospital just hours apart.
Both John James and Charles "Chuck" Carloss had contributed
much to their community over the years, but not in ways that
often made headlines. As far as I know, neither man ever held
a public office. If their photos were in the newspaper, it was
in connection with some civic project that they were working
on, not for politics.
But the irony of their passing on the same night came from a
key connection that had tied them together in life - both men
had owned and operated the old Western Auto Store in downtown
Jefferson. Mr. James operated it for some 22 years before selling
to Mr. Carloss in the mid-1970s.
Like so many family-owned businesses, the old store eventually
gave way to a changing business climate and is now just a memory
for long-time residents. Located next to the old Herald office
downtown, the store was one of my childhood hangouts, its wooden
floors creaking as people wandered in and out to buy anything
from a bolt to a bicycle.
That era seems long ago now. It was a time when Jefferson had
little downtown traffic. (That's hard to believe today, I know.)
As a kid, I could wander across the street to the old Marlow's
Cafe for an after-school snack, or if I was really lucky, around
the corner to Owen Webb's for a chili dog. If there were a couple
of nickels left over, I'd stop by Joe Baxter's store and get
some baseball cards, many of which were years out of date and
might have been valuable to collectors, if only I'd known what
I was looking at.
But wherever my downtown wanderings took me, it usually included
a stop in the old Western Auto to ramble around. The building
was sandwiched between the newspaper office and Jefferson Drugs
(which at the time had an old-fashioned soda fountain that also
saw a fair share of my after-school business). Even when I was
supposed to be working around the newspaper office, the lure
of that store was always more interesting.
The other thing that seemed to unite these two men was a love
of sports. Mr. Carloss would often get tickets to the Falcons
games during the fall and many times on a Sunday afternoon following
church, hauled me and his oldest son down to Atlanta to watch
a game. I'm sure I saw my first live professional sports game
with the Carlosses.
Back when the Peach Bowl first began, the attendance was so poor
that the organizers had a deal with area Lions Clubs to buy tickets.
Several times, Mr. James invited me to attend those games with
him. I vividly remember shivering in the midst of a blinding
snowstorm at one of those Peach Bowl games and Mr. James sitting
there calmly, unfazed by the fact that we could barely see the
playing field. At another Peach Bowl, it rained buckets and the
field was a sloppy, muddy mess. If the inclement weather bothered
Mr. James, it never showed.
For a young kid, of course, going to a pro sports event or a
bowl game was a huge thrill. It was the gentle kindness of both
these men that gave me those opportunities for which I will always
In the years that followed the closing of the Western Auto Store,
The Herald purchased the building and eventually we put a united
façade that incorporated what had been two buildings.
Today, the part which was originally the Western Auto Store serves
as offices, pre-press production and our newsroom - a typical
My office is in this part as well, sitting in about the same
location as the desk and small office occupied for two decades
by Mr. James and later, Mr. Carloss.
When others come into this building, they will only see a newspaper
office. But in my mind's eye, I still see bicycles and bolts,
hardware and lawnmowers - and Mr. James or Mr. Carloss sitting
where I type these words.
People pass on in life, but it is the memories of their kindnesses,
large and small, which keep alive the immortal, unbroken chain
we call humanity.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
June 6, 2001
Death A Loss To Commerce
Those who are familiar with Commerce's government and its police
department know that Commerce lost a valuable asset when Police
Chief George Grimes died last Friday.
Grimes was not universally loved no police chief is
but as Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. notes, he bought professionalism
to a department that sorely needed it. The nature of his job
meant dealing with the seamy side of the population, but Grimes
never lost sight of the fact that all people deserve respect.
He represented the city well, maintained his sense of humor and
was well-liked and well-respected for his service here.
Few people realize what it is like to be chief of police. Even
in a small town like Commerce, the chief administers a $1 million
budget with 20 or more staff members. The time spent with personnel
matters and paperwork make the chief more of an administrator
than a lawman, and not too many people are able to make the transition.
Grimes did, and while the department did not operate trouble-free,
Grimes had the best-run police department in this town's history.
The length of his tenure as police chief almost 14 years
is a testimony to the job he was doing managing one of
the city's biggest and most expensive departments. George Grimes
was competent and effective and Commerce is better off for the
time he spent here.