Jessica Gravitt, 7, of Lula and Briana
Crawford, 4, of Buford cool off with a friendly water fight at
the Banks County Festival held over the weekend.
One suspect in custody
following armed robbery at Homer Regions Bank
A Nicholson teenager has been arrested and charged with armed
robbery at Regions Bank in Homer.
Daniel Gaines, 17, was captured
as he ran down Trotter Street in Homer with a bag containing
an undisclosed amount of money, according to Banks County sheriff
A second subject is being sought in connection with the robbery,
although a warrant had not been issued as of Wednesday morning.
Banks County deputies are also investigating a bomb threat at
the middle school which could be linked to the armed robbery.
"We feel like that was used as a diversion to get us up
to the middle school," explained Chapman.
It was just before 1 p.m. on Tuesday when two white males entered
the bank wearing ski masks and carrying handguns. They went to
the teller and demanded money. One of the suspects yelled "I
will shoot you," according to witnesses. Once a paper bag
was filled with cash, the suspects fled the scene on foot, Chapman
Minutes later, the suspects were spotted running down Trotter
Street. That is when deputy Lisa Worley jumped out of her vehicle
and began pursuing Gaines on foot.
"I got out of the vehicle, drew my weapon and put him on
the ground," Worley explained. "I told him to drop
everything and put his hands where I could see them."
Once on the ground, Gaines was held until sergeant Rodney Watts
arrived and cuffed the suspect.
The canine unit from Lee Arrendale State Prison was called to
the scene and a search was made of the area for the second suspect,
but he was not found. A small gray car was seen speeding off
near the American Legion building shortly after the incident,
according to Chapman. A blue bank bag that was also taken in
the robbery was found empty late Tuesday afternoon on Grove Level
The incident is under investigation by the Banks County Sheriff's
Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Bureau
Qualifying under way through Friday in cities
Two people have qualified so far for city council seats in Baldwin
and in Lula.
In Baldwin, Post 1 incumbent John Thomas and Post 3 incumbent
Mitchell Gailey have qualified for re-election. As of Tuesday
afternoon, no one had qualifyied for Post 2, which is currently
held by Jeff Bohannon.
The fee is $25 and candidates have until 4:30 on Friday to qualify.
In Lula, incumbent Lamb Griffin and challenger Mordecai Wilson
have qualified in Ward 5. No one has qualified in Ward 1, currently
held by Randy Worley, or Ward 4, currently held by Perry Bridgeman.
The fee is $18 and candidates had until 4:30 on Wednesday to
Qualifying began in the city of Alto on Wednesday. Seats up for
grabs include Mayor Jack King; Post 1, Tim Tankersley; Post 2,
Carolyn Cabe; Post 3, Miriam Sosebee; and Post 4, vacant.
Candidates have until Friday at 4:30 to qualify in Alto. Candidates
may qualify at the city halls.
Banks BOE gets
tough grades from citizens
BY DREW BRANTLEY
For many parents and students in the Banks County school system,
new regulations and a new school year have not spelled out quite
as easily as A-B-C.
At last Thursday's work session and again at Monday night's regular
Banks County Board of Education meeting, citizens crowded the
meeting room, keeping board members and administrators at the
chalkboard for more than two hours each night.
Complaints ranged from equipping special education classrooms
to scheduling for teachers and students, as well as the system's
new dress code and book bag regulations.
Banks County High School seniors Bree Whitlock and Eugene Campbell
started off Monday night's meeting by questioning why an academic
elective Human Anatomy class had been dropped two weeks into
the semester because only 14 people had enrolled.
"We were told that teachers were needed to teach other classes,"
Whitlock said. "But there were three other classes with
fewer than 15 students. If we've got six (high school) teachers
coming back and forth to the middle school, it seems to boil
down to the fact that we need more teachers."
BCHS principal Jan Bertrang said an increase of 50 students after
the start of the school year forced a change in the schedule.
"Today we have right at 600 students," Bertrang said.
"When we made the master schedule, we had 558 students.
It broke my heart to (drop the human anatomy class), but we had
to move teachers around. We have only one physics class offered
and several students needed that to get their academic diploma.
There was no way we could add 50 students to the schedule and
not make some changes."
Whitlock said that eight members of her now-defunct class needed
a science elective to get an academic degree with distinction.
Bertrang said that although other classes, such as psychology
could be taken to meet the distinction quota in science, she
would make including Human Anatomy a priority for the second
semester. She added that course may be blocked for two hours
in the second term for a full semester's credit.
BCHS student Haley Crumley weighed in with a complaint over the
dress code, which spawned discussion for the next hour of the
"Last week, I had my shirt tucked in with a belt on. No
shorts, no sleeveless shirts, just like this. What's wrong with
this?" H. Crumley asked, showing off her outfit. "Nothing?
I got detention."
Students' first violation of the dress code warrants detention
during fastbreak, a brief free time that follows second period.
Parents and other students riddled the board with questions about
how the new regulations keep weapons out.
"I understand your whole point of this being an issue of
safety," parent Traci Alexander said. "But you're not
addressing it as a safety issue. You're playing fashion patrol
in the hallways. You're stopping children and jerking their shirts
up and saying, 'can I see your belt?' It's ridiculous."
Other parents wanted to know what making students wear belts
did to improve safety.
"Who gives you the right to say that he has to wear a belt
to start with," Kenny Crumley said. "A belt could be
one of the worst weapons there. I don't see where it's anybody's
privilege to tell my kid or nobody else that he's got to wear
a belt to school as long as his britches are up where they should
More issues were raised over the requirement to use mesh book
bags this year.
"From the length of this room you can't tell a mesh book
bag from any other one," K. Crumley said. "If you want
to hide anything in there, you can. And you didn't think about
the parents with a lot of kids that had to go out and buy them
expensive book bags. That wasn't right. I don't care what you
say, that wasn't right to make them take on that burden. They
get free lunches but then have to go out and pay $30 and $40
apiece for these stupid book bags that they already had good
ones from the year before. I don't agree with that."
Parent Susan Creasy said that forcing her to buy mesh book bags
has put an avoidable burden on her.
"I have always bought more expensive waterproof book bags,"
Creasy said. "When my kids get off the bus they have to
walk half a mile to my house. I can't protect their school books,
their homework, their projects - anything that would normally
be in that waterproof book bag that I would prefer to purchase.
I don't think I should be held accountable for damage done to
school property when it's being transported in the book bag that
I'm being told I have to buy for my children."
Campbell said all the new regulations have taken the emphasis
"I've loved my whole high school experience, I don't think
there's been too many dull moments," Campbell said. "But
this year everybody's worrying about little things that don't
matter instead of focusing on what kids are going to do after
they leave the system."
Bertrang said a meeting on the dress code would be set up in
the next few weeks.
"We'll put our plans on a meeting to re-evaluate the dress
code along with the grade reports which will be sent home in
a couple of weeks," Bertrang said.
Band director Becky Smith also came before the board Thursday
to ask that her schedule be shifted to give her more concentrated
planning time. Of her 69 minutes of planning, 17 come before
school starts, and a 30-minute block includes her lunch and travel
time from the new high school to the middle school.
Assistant superintendent Debbie White said Monday that some temporary
arrangements had been made to free up some time for Smith.
White added that several teachers have similar or more stringent
binds on their planning time. She added that more efforts would
be made to relax schedules next semester.
Parent Tammy Harrison spoke to the board Thursday about how her
son's special education classroom not being equipped with computer
and other media technology.
Special education director Carolyne Aikens said that a computer
had been put in the classroom and would share software with another
classroom until other programs were needed.
Aikens added that the department would be purchasing 11 computers
for special education classrooms in all four schools from federal
money, which had been allocated for supplies.
"I gave the teachers a choice, and they elected to use their
supply money for new computers," Aikens said. "They
said they would spend money out of their own pockets for supplies
if they had to."
Another parent asked why audio textbooks had not been delivered
for her son to use that had been requested before school started.
The check stub and fax confirmation were produced at Thursday's
work session which showed the order had been placed Aug. 17.
The books were delivered to the school Monday, according to superintendent