Technology saving time in Grantville


Grantville Relief Clerk Lynn Basham logs on to a website so she can process utility bill checks electronically. 

It is more than 17 miles from downtown Grantville to downtown Newnan.

Since Grantville is not the county seat — and since the south Coweta town is a city without a bank — some business has to be transacted in Newnan. Travel time alone can amount to nearly an hour.

Grantville’s city government, however, is using computers and new applications of technology to make those miles melt away, eliminate trips and improve efficiency.

This week the Grantville City Council approved spending more than $6,000 to purchase equipment that will enable the police department to use a visual warrant system. Police Chief Doug Jordan said the process involves computer terminals in the city and in the magistrate court.

Emails will be exchanged so an officer will know a magistrate is available. The officer and the judge will then communicate via the computer about the need for a warrant. Paperwork will be signed in both Newnan and Grantville, and the officer will then have the warrant he needs to proceed with his investigation.

It will all be accomplished in a few minutes — and without a trip to Newnan.

Because the officers “can talk by video link to a magistrate to get warrants,” the system will be a money saver, Mayor Jim Sells said.

The process will also have another positive factor. “We keep our officers here — where we need them,” Sells said.

Coweta County Chief Magistrate Jim Stripling “is really pushing for us to get this,” Sells said. “He’s already talked to the people who are over it.”

The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and the Newnan Police Department already use the visual warrant program. While the system is helpful to all agencies, there are extra incentives for Grantville because of its distance from the court offices in the Coweta County Justice Center on Greenville Street just south of the downtown business district.

“When I was hired as an investigator here, a warrant would take half a day. This can be done in a few minutes,” Jordan said. Lt. Scott Wilson of the Grantville Police Department said the visual warrant process will also cut down on department overtime — an ongoing concern for city officials.

Sells has asked Jordan for an update on how the process is working in a couple of months.

The clerk’s office has been using technology in processing checks since 2010. Grantville is the only municipality in Coweta County that sells its citizens water, electricity and natural gas, and many residents pay their utility bills with a check.

In the past, a police officer ferried a bank deposit to Newnan every day. Now that checks are scanned, there is a trip to BB&T in Newnan only “a couple of times a week,” Sells said.

Relief Clerk Lynn Basham was processing checks on Thursday afternoon. She said she logs on to a bank website, runs the checks through a scanner and then lists them to create the deposit. When she presses the “capture complete” button, the deposit is in the city’s account at BB&T.

The website will flash a message if one of the checks does not scan clearly. Once the process is done, paper checks are stored in the town vault.

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