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Badge and Bar: Commissioner of DJJ appointed to state council
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Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles has been selected by Gov. Nathan Deal to be chairman of the Georgia State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision.

Niles, of Gainesville, called the appointment a “blessing.”

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve Georgia in an approach that’s going to be looking at the way we receive kids into our care from other states and the way we send kids from our state to other states,” Niles said.

Niles will represent the state in working with the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, a body that supervises the transfer of juvenile offenders across state lines. Main goals of the council are building connections for other state agencies to work with Georgia’s departments.

“It will enhance our public safety, so that the juveniles that are coming in, we’ll know more about who they are, what kind of background they have and a network of sharing information with our local law enforcement,” Niles said.

Other states, when sending juveniles to Georgia, were previously not required to notify the state of their transfer. Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice will then be given both the “authority and duty to supervise those incoming juveniles,” according to a Department of Juvenile Justice release.

“It will improve our lines of communication with the juvenile courts, so that the courts will be able to maintain jurisdiction over those juveniles and juvenile offenders that reside out of state and transferred from our state to other states,” Niles said.

Pretrial meeting set for man indicted in shooting

The Gainesville man accused of shooting another man at a soccer game last year will have a pretrial conference Friday.

Saul Merdez Castillo, 41, was indicted in the slaying of Silverio Acosta, 46, at a Tadmore Park soccer game on June 16, 2013, In a July 2013 indictment,

Castillo was charged with aggravated assault, malice murder, felony murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime.

Judge Kathlene Gosselin is presiding over the case.

Hall showing its strength for injured firefighters

In another show of support and solidarity for the three injured Hall County firefighters, the county’s fire services will be hosting a cookout Saturday to benefit the firefighters’ relief fund.

Will Griffin, Stephen Jackson and TJ Elliott, now dubbed the “Tower Trio,” fell 44 feet in a ladder truck training exercise, leading to surgeries and rehabilitation. Residents and other groups have donated to a Hall County Community Credit Union fund in their names. Donations are at almost $24,000 as of Wednesday evening. The families affected by the incident have withdrawn some of the fund, but the total keeps growing.

Lanier Village Estates, a retirement community in North Hall, raised more than $10,000 in a boot fundraiser. Around $7,000 of the collected funds is already in the bank, Augie DeAugustinis said, with $3,000 more to be donated within the next week.

As a high-rise retirement community, Lanier Village Estates pushed heavily for the purchase of a ladder truck to serve North Hall, DeAugustinis said.

On Saturday, hamburger and hotdog plates will be sold for $5 to benefit the firefighters. The “Hall County Strong” cookout will be at the Lowe’s of Gainesville, 1514 Skelton Road, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Nick Watson covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: