News from Banks County...

APRIL 16, 2003


Banks County
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OPINIONS
Rochelle Beckstine

Off to a
not-so-roaring start
On the first sunny weekend following days of seemingly non-stop rain, I prepared for the first grass cutting of the season. I had filled the lawn mower and weedeater with gas the day before. Grungy clothes, baseball cap, sunglasses – weekend lawn warrior, I was ready to go.

Phillip Sartain
A dinner fit for Sonny
You might not know it, but the greatest mystery in the world has nothing to do with Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman or the Egyptian pyramids.


SPORTS

Record Breakers
Though the Leopards’ season hasn’t gone exactly as they hoped, they still have reason to celebrate.
Banks (6-10) broke the school’s season win record with their sixth victory of the season last week, a 2-1 win over AAAA Madison County.
“It felt good,” coach Mike Townson said. “It’s good to be a part of something like this.”


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY

Former Jefferson Mayor Byrd Bruce Dies Thursday
Byrd Martin Bruce, 73, former mayor of Jefferson, died Thursday, April 10, 2003, at his residence following an extended illness.

County grading on Darnell Rd.
Meetings to display plans set
County leaders have reportedly decided to make grading and road work for a new courthouse site the top priority and have been clearing a large swath of land at the site over the last week.

1,000-acre Terry Farm under negotiation
Crossroads Homes wants to provide ‘system built’ homes
By Jana Adams
Crossroads Homes is seeking an agreement with the would-be developer of Terry Farm to put up about 900 “system built” homes on the 1,000-acre South Jackson property.

Grocery chain seeks local distribution center
A grocery store chain will locate a distribution center in Jefferson if a rezoning request for the project is approved.

Council Expresses Frustration With Junked Cars, Yards
Maybe the spring cleaning urge has hit, but members of the Commerce City Council spent a good portion of Monday night's hour-long meeting lamenting the quantity of junked cars, unkempt yards, illegal signs and trash to be found along the city's streets.

Area churches plan Holy Week events
The following is a list of some of the Easter activities planned around Jackson County this week. For a complete list of all nearby Easter events, see the church news section.

Aaron Tippin To Headline City Lights Festival Concert
Country music stars Aaron Tippin and T. Graham Brown have rescued the seventh annual City Lights Concert.
Tippin, a 44-year-old, whose big hit "Where the Eagle Flies," is being re-released to feed the sentiments of a nation at war, agreed last week to be the headliner in the June 20 festival at the Commerce High School football field. Brown, whose family lives on a farm near Commerce, came on later in the week.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Lone Stars
The love of Madison County can stretch for many years — and over many states.
Mary Love Berryman and Jeanne Arguelles are both Texas residents, but both are Madison County, Georgia, history enthusiasts who maintain websites about this county.

New principal expected to be hired Tuesday
The replacement for outgoing Madison County High School principal Robert Adams is expected be named at the county school board meeting Tuesday night.

Trial for woman accused of killing infant son set for May 5
The trial of a woman accused of killing her infant son is set for May 5 in Madison County Superior Court, according to the district attorney’s office.

Three new Hull council members sworn in Monday
All the seats were filled at Monday night’s council meeting at Hull city hall for the first time in over a year, with three new members joining Mayor B.W. Hutchins and his wife, councilwoman Becky Hutchins, at the table for Monday night’s regular business meeting.

Colbert man reports being kidnapped at gunpoint
A Colbert man was allegedly kidnapped at gun point by three men in the parking lot of Ingles grocery store on Hwy. 29 South last Friday afternoon.

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READY TO GO

Christopher Holly, Gillsville, is shown in the Kuwait Desert as the troops prepared for the onset of the Iraq war. He is a former employee of the Banks County Sheriff’s Office.

Behind the lines
A Banks County woman was able to get a glimpse of her husband’s life in the Kuwait Desert prior to the war.
Darlene Holly, Gillsville, said her husband, CPL Christopher Holly, sent her two rolls of film that were taken while he was living in a camp in the Kuwait Desert prior to the beginning of the war.
The photographs depict some of the activities of the soldiers leading up to the war, along with snapshots from some of their free time, including a lizard they caught and a homemade swimming pool. In one photo, Holly is shown in his bed with a gas mask on and photographs of his children in the background. He now has the photos in a plastic bag taped inside his helmet.
“When we got the film, I was so excited I could hardly wait to get them developed,” she said. “Of course, they made me cry. I was both happy and sad. I was happy he was OK but sad that he was so far away and that he was so close to the real danger. He wrote to warn me the photos of him wearing gas masks were just drills. He always stresses to me how safe he is and that they are all OK and that I shouldn’t worry. I carry the photos everywhere I go. That way, he’s with me.”
Holly is a member of the 8th ESB Charlie Company with the 1st MEF in DETAINMENT B serving in Iraq. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., before leaving for Kuwait. He worked at the Banks County Sheriff’s Office before re-enlisting two years ago.
Holly left for Kuwait on Jan. 13. He is a combat engineer and makes roads and bridges.
“We had to take him to a drop off point on the base,” his wife recalls of the day he left. “The families were told ahead of time to say good-bye at home as this was supposed to be a quick process. We have three children, so it was tough.”
She said he knew during his Christmas leave that he would be deployed in January, but he didn’t tell her then because he wanted the family to have a happy holiday.
“I knew in my heart anyway,” she said.
She said the 24 hours before he left were “kind of like a dream.”
“I was just waiting to wake up,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever done anything harder in my life than watch him walk away that night.”
She said she received a phone call the next week from the command officer stating that he had made it to Kuwait safely. She and the children stayed at Camp Lejeune for two weeks after that but are now back home in Gillsville. The couple has three children, Katie, 10, Casey, 2, and Austin, 13 months.
“The children and I stayed in Camp Lejuene for almost two weeks alone,” she said. “We had a lot of things to do so we were busy but the fear and sadness were almost overwhelming.”
She said when she received the first three letters from her husband, she was so happy to hear from him that she cried.
In the first letter, he wrote of how he had been in the United States longer than she had thought but wasn’t allowed to call home and how sick he was on the plane ride.
“The good part of his letter was that he had seen the sun rise as he left Cherry Point, set going over the ocean somewhere, rise as he landed in Kuwait and set again before bedtime all within a 24-hour period,” she said. “He sent love and said he was fine and we would be too.”
After that, she said the family received a letter almost every day.
“We have letters dated every day up to March 22. She has also received several phone calls from him.
“His spirit is high,” she said. “He misses the kids...He really misses being able to call home. He’s never been out of contact with the kids before. Our baby had to have surgery after he left. The Red Cross send him a message saying everything was fine after it was over. By mail, he told me it took 10 days to get to him.”
She said some of his experiences that he has shared is having bath time only three times a week and then from a mobile bath truck.
“They got hot morning meals and evening meals and had MRE’s for lunch,” she said. “They had a sausage link, bacon strip and a patty of meat for breakfast. None of this was pork so needless to say they weren’t having regular food. The eggs were powder. At night, they have a choice of meat that is chicken or fish, most of the time. He says you can’t tell the difference and as long as he doesn’t find out that it’s camel or goat he’ll keep eating it. It’s been very cold at night then warms some in the daytime.”
Mrs. Holly said her husband “believes in the reason we are there.”
“He had rather be there now than think our children could ever have to be,” she said. “The troops hear a lot about the protesters and it really bothers them. They are the reason the protesters are allowed to protest in the first place. I feel our guys deserve the respect from the people they are protecting. People should write to the folks in powerful places and vote for folks that they believe will carry out their wishes for government. Protesting, I feel, should be done at election time not while we have our fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and other loved ones fighting to protect us.”
This is the first time Holly has been deployed for more than 30 days. He went to Florida to work on the Naval Base in Jacksonville, Fla., in February 2002 but was gone only 14 days. One summer, he had a 30-day training exercise on base but could call home every day.
Mrs. Holly said her family and friends have been very supportive while her husband is in Iraq and has helped her cope.
“Without my family I could not survive,” she said. “I am so grateful for all of my support network. I talk to other wives every day and to the command officer at least once a week. That way, we have any news available.”
She said it has also been hard on the children.
“Casey is Daddy’s little girl in the worse way,” she said. “She doesn’t understand why he won’t come home from work...Chris is a wonderful father, husband and person. Everyone who knows him sees that.”


Jackson EMC to supply power to new middle school
The Banks County Board of Education has chosen Jackson EMC as the power supplier for its new middle school.
The BOE sought bids and accepted presentations from Jackson EMC and Georgia Power.
Monday after a presentation from Jackson EMC, the BOE chose the company to supply power.
Jackson EMC proposed a rate cheaper than Georgia Power’s (3.7 cents compared to 3.81 cents). The company also suggested the BOE select a cheaper, lower wattage outdoor lighting system for the parking lot.
Jackson EMC proposed a 12-light, 400-watt system that will cost the school board $17.25 each per month. Georgia Power had recommended a 1,000-watt system at a $38.26 per light monthly charge.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the BOE:
•approved the retirement of the following: Anne Moon, BCPS; Martha Crane, BCMS; and Danny Mason, BCUES/BCMS.
•approved the following resignations: Donna Reed, BCPS principal; Dana San U, BCPS; Andrea Burns, BCPS; Krystal Williams, BCPS; Cynthia Rentz, BCUES; Pam Weaver, BCUES; Charles Kelly, BCMS; Chris Colwell, BCMS; Kim Chosewood, BCMS; Jeannelle Carlisle, ESOL teacher; Sheldonia Bessent, BCMS; Joby Scroggs, BCHS; and Lisa Ofik, BCHS.
•approved the following transfers: Cynthia Brown from kindergarten to first grade; Heather Nicholson from kindergarten to first grade; Denise Bodevin, first grade to ESOL; Paula Bond, fourth grade to BCMS/BCUES media specialist; and Dana Boling, BCHS special education to BCPS special ed.
•approved the list of personnel and assignments for the 2003-04 school year. Only one new teacher was hired. Tim Bragg will take a spot vacated by Joby Scroggs at the high school (see sports section for separate story).
•approved the following extra curricular assignments and supplements: Laurie Allen, one act play, $300; Cary Paulk, academic team, $400; Leslie Sorrow, yearbook sponsor, $900; Angie Bowen and Tiffani Thomas, middle school yearbook sponsor, $200 each; Dennis Frady, band director, $3,000, 11 months; April Loggins and Donnie Bennett, high school counselor, $1,400 each, 11 months; Scott Wheatley, agriculture, $1,500, extended day; Nan Throneberry, home economics, $1,000, extended day (contingent upon funding); and Kathy Cobb, extended day (contingent upon funding). The flag corp ($500) and majorette ($250) positions remain vacant.
•approved the coaching positions and supplements (see seperate story in sports).
•approved Donna Ott as an alternative education paraprofessional at BCMS.
•approved the following substitute teachers: Kenneth James Baker, Wendy S. Baum, Amy Boisclair, Carol E. Carter, Patricia A. Hill, Tammy L. Jackson, Matthew P. Phillips, Danielle Stapp and Amanda D. Townson.
•approved the following substitute cafeteria workers: Mary Juanita Mintz, Betty Ann Rucker, Helen Eldora Mabry and Annette Ashworth.
•adopted a Scott Foresman English book for kindergarten through fifth grade and a Prentice Hall Literature book for grades six through eight.
•approved a promotion and retention policy for grades three, five and eight.
•approved job descriptions for reading specialist and instructional supervisor positions.
•approved the following facilities use requests: the 4-H club to use the BCMS cafeteria on June 10 for a parent meeting; BCMS parents to hold a dance in the BCMS gym on April 25 to help sponsor students to attend the National Leaders Conference; Leggs Hanes Bali to use the BCHS auditorium on April 26 for a battle of the bands contest to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network; and Banks County Family Connection to use the BCHS auditorium on May 1 for teen heath fair.
•approved the following field trip requests BCMS and BCHS Y-Club to attend the Christian Life Conference in Toccoa on May 2-4, and BCHS CBI class to visit the Roosevelt Institute in Warm Springs on May 14-16.
•approved the following project requests: BCES to sell refreshments at field day; BCES PTO to hold a raffle to help purchase agenda books and student handbooks; BCHS Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) to host a beauty pageant on May 3 to raise monty for the FBLA nationals; and BCHS band to sell donuts to raise money to attend the 2003 Liberty Bowl.
•approved an $8,902,705 contract with Charles Black Construction for the new middle school.
•approved a contract with Ronald A. Mesimer to supervise the implementation of a new financial accounting process at a cost of about $5,000.
•learned that of the 1,186 applicants sent out about the open superintendent position, 23 applicants had responded.
•learned that additional paving will begin soon at the BCHS agriculture barn. Charles Black Construction will do the paving at cost.
•learned that Thompson Road might not become through street from the Old Hwy. 441 to the new Hwy. 441 bypass as originally planned. If not, superintendent Deborah White said the school would have to do a private driveway cut off of the new Hwy. 441 to get access to the new middle school. In either case, she said access to the school would not be a problem.



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44th annual Easter egg hunt ahead April 20
The Garrison family’s 44th annual Easter egg hunt will be held Sunday, April 20, at the home of Mack Garrison Jr. on Lula Road, GA 51 West in Homer.
The egg hunt will begin at 2 p.m. and will include 100,000 individually wrapped candy eggs and 100 prize eggs. Prizes include a choice of live rabbits, stuffed rabbits or Easter baskets.
There is no charge for the Easter egg hunt and no age limit. The event will be held rain or shine.
For more information, call 1-800-346-6225 or 677-3126.


Elderly woman robbed at
gunpoint in her Maysville home
Two Maysville brothers remain in the Banks County Jail this week on charges they broke into an elderly woman’s home and robbed her with a pellet gun.
Billy Allen Hudgins, 23, and Joseph Scott Turner, 18, both of Maysville, have been charged with armed robbery in connection with the crime. In addition, Hudgins also faces a probation violation charge. They have both been denied bond.
Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman said the two men admitted to entering an 82-year-old Homer Street woman’s home in Maysville Friday morning. The woman was not injured but was visibly shaken.
“She had been scared to the point of shaking,” Chapman said. “I’m sure there was great mental anguish that she went through because of this.”
Chapman said Hudgins and Turner allegedly cut the phone lines outside the house and then broke out a window in the back door and went into the home where the woman was alone and sleeping.
Once inside, the men allegedly went into the woman’s bedroom and awakened her from her sleep, ordering her not to look at them. Chapman said the men told investigators they had intentions of tying up the woman with a phone cord but later changed their mind. He also said they admitted to having a chrome pellet gun with them during the robbery.
Chapman said they took just over $100 from the woman’s purse and then left the home, giving the woman instructions not to come out of her bedroom.
About 30 minutes later, Chapman said the woman thought it was safe for her to come out of her room. She went into the hall and one of the assailants was standing next to the back door. Chapman said the man ordered the woman back into her bedroom.
He added that one of the men had left a jacket at the home during the robbery and had returned to get it when the woman walked out of the room.
A long while later, the woman finally came out of her room and went to a neighbor’s home to call 911.
Chapman said deputies responded and found tracks in the grass outside her back door. At that time, a K-9 unit was brought in from Lee Arrendale State Prison.
A tracking dog followed a scent trail from the back of the home, down a bank and across a road to a building behind a house.
Chapman said officers could hear noise coming from inside the building and upon investigating it, they found Turner and Hudgins inside. Both were taken into custody at that time for questioning.
Upon further investigation on the scene, the sheriff said deputies obtained a bag that had been buried behind the building. Inside were two masks, two pairs of gloves, a cap and a chrome pellet gun that Chapman said “looked like a real handgun.”
Several yards away, Chapman said officers also found four different holes in the ground. In each of the holes was one boot, four in all. A shoe print from the scene of the crime matched the pattern on one of the boots, the sheriff said.
Deputies also recovered $121 in cash hidden behind a sofa inside the building.
Chapman said investigators believe the two had robbed the woman in order to get enough money to pay one of the suspect’s probation charges. He also said the two had allegedly watched the house for several days and planned the robbery.
“This is a very, very serious charge and it’s a very serious crime for two perpetrators such as these to enter the home of an elderly person by way of forcing their way in to rob them of what little money they have,” Chapman said. “I’m glad the subjects were able to be apprehended as quickly as possible and charges lodged against them for this terrible crime.”
Chapman added that he was pleased with the work of his deputies and other law enforcement officials to quickly arrest the two suspects.