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Ask the Times: Eternal flame costs city $420 a year
The eternal flame burns in Roosvelt Square in downtown Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

How much does it cost annually for the natural gas to keep the flame burning and who is paying for it?
The city of Gainesville pays for the eternal flame and it costs $420 a year, according to the city’s communications and tourism director, Catiel Felts.

The flame was donated Nov. 11, 1969, by the Eugene Brown Post 521 and Paul E. Bolding Post 7 of the American Legion.

The purpose, Legionnaires said, is to pay homage “to all who sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom and to do so in a manner which would reflect the total unselfishness of the organization,” according to a 1969 article in the The Times.

With The Sporting Goods Store Who Shall Not Be Named going in the mall at the far end of Penneys, what is going to happen to the carousel and the food court?
Kirsten Boettcher, marketing manager at Lakeshore Mall, said plans for the carousel and food court are still up in the air.

She said the mall is working with some of the current food vendors to find space for them elsewhere in the mall. She couldn’t confirm any details about plans for the carousel.

“We’re working to preserve as many amenities as possible,” she said.

In the video of the incident that led to the firing of the young jailer this week, who is the older deputy who comes in and kicks the inmates in the head when they are lying shackled in the floor? Was he also fired?
The other man involved in that Dec. 22, 2010, incident shown in the video was Capt. Mark Bandy, who was suspended for one day for unbecoming conduct.

That incident began when an unruly inmate, Devonta Wise, was locked down for his conduct, according to an internal affairs report.

His brother, Mautious Wise, was in the same cell block and yelled at officers when he saw what was happening with his brother. He also was “kicking his door in protest.”

Dustin Charlton — the jailer fired this week after an incident Sept. 8 in which he struck an inmate’s head with his hand — went to Mautious Wise’s cell during that December incident and noticed that another inmate, Russell Green, “was not supposed to be in the cell with Wise,” according to an article that ran in a July 2011 edition of The Times.

He asked Green to leave the cell, which Green refused to do. Green ended up running by Charlton as Wise “got into a physical altercation with Charlton,” according to the report.

“As a result of the altercation ... Officer Charlton’s mouth was busted and bleeding,” the report stated. “After Mautious Wise was handcuffed and secured, Officer Charlton struck Wise with his fist on or about Wise’s face.”

Later, Bandy was told what was happening, “arriving at the time the inmates were all secured and on the floor,” the report states. “Capt. Bandy went by each inmate and tapped each on their heads with his foot.”

He told internal affairs that “this (action) was to get their attention and let them know we do not tolerate this type of behavior in the Hall County jail.”

Bandy, in reflecting on the incident later, told The Times last July that he wished he had “assessed the situation a little bit better.”

“I would have gotten more information before I went in there (with the inmates) and probably would have not reacted like that,” he said.

The Times has filed an open records request to obtain the video and documents related to the most recent incident.

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