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City Notebook
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Tybee oil cleanup continues

As we go to press, the U.S. Coast Guard continues to oversee the cleanup of a nasty oil spill off Tybee Island that exceeded original estimates.

“We’re continuing to send out assessment teams as we did through the weekend,” Petty Officer Jamie Bigelow told Connect this past Monday. “There’s a light sheen offshore, but nothing as heavy as what we were seeing before. The thicker bulk has been cleaned up, and we’ve had skimmers out there as well as people cleaning up the beaches.”

The tanker Fortune Epoch began seeping oil on Wednesday, Nov. 17, about ten miles off Tybee. By the time cleanup efforts commenced a day later, there were concerns that a sizeable portion of the ship’s 37,000 gallon cargo had spilled.

The chief danger from the spill now is to wildlife on the beach and salt marsh.

“We're concentrating on wildlife heavily today,” he says. “We’re searching for oiled wildlife, and receiving reports from the public of oiled wildlife.”

Bigelow says the Coast Guard has contracted with the nonprofit group Tri-State Bird Rescue to oversee the rehabilitation process for wildlife that has come in contact with the spill.

“They’re probably the foremost experts in oiled bird rehabilitation on the entire eastern coast, if not the whole United States,” Bigelow says.

He says it’s premature to say when the cleanup will be finished.

“We’ll be there ‘til the job's done. We’ll continue to send out assessment teams. We’ve got an overflight scheduled today, weather pending,” he says.

“Right now we’re seeing light at end of the tunnel. I say that cautiously, because of course we’ll continue to gather information as we get it and as the public contributes.”

Bigelow says that while the Coast Guard is actively seeking public input, they are not looking for cleanup volunteers at this time. Instead, he says if people see oiled wildlife, they should call the cleanup command post at 652-4181.

Bigelow has one more important message for residents:

“Please do not try to catch the birds. It only stresses them even more. We have experts who are trained to retrieve those animals.”

Are city playgrounds unsafe?

As part of its Playground Safety Campaign, a group called the Keenan’s Kids Foundation says that of 16 Savannah playgrounds it examined, 15 “were found to be unsafe, with dead tree limbs, exposed electrical wires and sharp edges” among the problems.

On average, the Foundation says, one child dies every month due to a playground-related injury. “Falls onto insufficient surface materials are the number one cause of non-fatal injuries in playgrounds, and 8 out of 16 Savannah parks surveyed lacked sufficient surfacing materials,” says a Foundation report.

“Not only is safety a responsibility of government, but also civic and neighborhood associations,” says Don Keenan, founder of the group. “We’re hopeful that Savannah can see how easy playground safety can be and respond to the call.”

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13-year-old causes crash

Savannah Police Traffic officers are investigating a wreck this past Sunday afternoon that was “the apparent fault of a 13-year-old driver in possession of a stolen vehicle,” a spokesman says.

The crash claimed the life of a four-year-old in another car, Janeya Mitchell.

At about 5 p.m., a ’96 Buick Century, driven by Donald Adam Mitchell, age 13, of a Waters Avenue address, was traveling north on Paulsen Street when he ran the stop sign at Gwinnett Street and collided with a westbound ’99 Geo Metro driven by LaTonya D. Smalls, age 33.

The Buick Century “struck the curb and tipped over on its side.” Witnesses helped to right the vehicle. The 13-year-old driver then exited the vehicle and fled on foot. He was arrested a short time later on Waters Avenue.

The occupants of the Geo, including Janeya Mitchell, were taken to Memorial Health. Janeya never regained consciousness.

Mitchell faces charges of Possession of Stolen Auto, Leaving the Scene of a Serious Accident and a probation violation for an earlier robbery.


Melaver gets greener

Melaver, Inc., a locally-based real estate developer, has created a “green officer” position, a spokesperson says.

As Sustainability Associate, Tommy Linstroth will “develop, incorporate and improve upon Melaver's existing progressive building practices.”

“It’s unique for a private firm to aspire to create a sustainable organization and community,” says Linstroth. “My position simply reaffirms Melaver's commitment to progressive development.”

Linstroth will help further the firm's commitment to the U.S. Green Building's Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Melaver currently has 14 employees, including Linstroth, 15 associates and five outside vendors/consultants who are LEED-accredited.

Quilts help kids in need

In conjunction with Colonial Quilts, the Windsor Forest High School chapter of The National Honor Society will donate some homemade quilts to local police.

Police will use the blankets to help ease the trauma suffered by children who are displaced when their parents are injured or arrested.

“No one quilt is made the same. Each quilt goes through the hands of at least two individuals, embedding a personalized stitch of care in each seam,” says one student involved in the project.