It’s nearly time for the old Scottish poem set to a traditional folk tune. “Auld Lang Syne” is the familiar song belted out when the clock strikes midnight, marking the end of one year and the beginning of another.
So here’s a look back at the past year of local news, a recap of what happened in Madison County in 2013:
•Commissioners approve board of elections: Madison County commissioners approved a resolution for a three-member county board of elections and registration that will take office in 2014, replacing the position of elections superintendent held by Cody Cross, who also serves as probate judge.
•BOC shoots down beer and wine license by a 3-2 vote: The BOC voted 3-2 to deny a beer and wine license for the appeal for Amir, Inc. (dba Kwik Chek). Commissioners Jim Escoe and Mike Youngblood voted against the denial.
•With lawsuit threatened, BOC backs off denial of beer and wine application: Madison County commissioners reversed an earlier decision and granted a beer and wine license to Kwik-Chek in Hull. The board voted 4-1 to approve the license, with commissioner Stanley Thomas providing the lone “no.”
•Wilkes named BOE chairman: The Madison County Board of Education began its first meeting of the year by voting for board member Greg Wilkes to serve as board chairman and board member Robert Hooper to serve as vice-chairman.
•Danielsville amends future city council terms: Danielsville council members voted unanimously to implement several changes to their city’s charter, including increasing council member terms from two to four years.
•Tremier talks about faith during MLK celebration: Madison County pastor William Tremier stood at the podium at Waggoners Grove Baptist Church holding a dumbbell in his hands. He urged those on hand for the ninth-annual Madison County Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration to “lay aside every weight” and to put their concerns in Jesus’ hands.
•District attorney’s main office to be in Danielsville: Madison County commissioners agreed to an arrangement with recently elected DA Parks White for use of one of the county-owned buildings in the former Lakeview Business Park off Rock Quarry Road, which is located just off Hwy. 29.
•Conservation use change now in effect: As of Jan. 1, any person seeking a new “conservation use” contract or renewing a 10-year conservation arrangement must pay taxes on two acres that will be taxed at residential value.
•Collins talks guns, health care, debt with Chamber: Newly elected U.S. Congressman Doug Collins spoke about a variety of issues at the Ila Restaurant with Madison County Chamber of Commerce members, including gun control, the national debt and health care reform.
•Local family among those pushing ‘Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Act’: The Journal featured the Palmer family, whose children Ryleigh and Isaac, both have hearing disabilities. Like many other families, the Palmers have had trouble getting insurance companies to cover hearing devices, which run many thousands of dollars and are vital to the children.
•Woman charged with stealing from MC Little League: Deborah Renee Seagraves, 47, Winterville, was charged with one count of theft by taking for allegedly stealing $6,625 checks written to “cash” from the Madison County Little League.
•County food stamp benefits up 500% over the past decade: Madison County food stamp benefits have risen by over 500 percent over the past decade, from just under $2 million in benefits in 2003 to nearly $11 million last year.
•BOC approves amusement machine ordinance: Madison County commissioners approved new guidelines on gaming establishments in the county. The ordinance is intended to prohibit businesses from breaking state gaming laws “by using advances in electronic, mechanical and computer technology to allow customers to gamble using veiled schemes.”
•Leaders seek input about park resident: Madison County commissioners discussed what could be done to find a new day-time home for an elderly man who spends his days, and frequently nights, at Madison Memorial Park by the county government complex.
•MCHS student suffers severe burn: A birthday party for a 17-year-old Madison County teen turned tragic Saturday night when she was badly burned from a bonfire on Fowler Freeman Road.
•Settlement reached in bonding agency’s suit against sheriff: A settlement agreement of $20,000 has been reached in a suit filed by a local bonding company against Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas.
•County 9-1-1 upgrades approved: Madison County’s 9-1-1 dispatch service will soon be able to operate remotely, if a tornado, fire or other disaster wipes out the main office in Danielsville.
•Felt, Cowne recognized at Chamber breakfast: Caitlin Felt was recognized as Madison County’s “Star Student” for 2013 at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce breakfast in the boardroom of the old county courthouse in Danielsville.
•BOC hears sales tax request from local VFDs: A spokesman for 11 local volunteer fire departments presented a request for $1.2 million in sales tax money for fire and rescue services through the 2014 SPLOST.
•Park resident has new home: The man who has long spent days and some nights in Madison Memorial Park in Danielsville has a new home at his niece’s house.
•BOC chooses new Madison Co. road head: Acting road department director Alan Lapczynski, who has served as the long-time county building and grounds director, was named the permanent head of the road department.
•Colbert couple faces felony meth charges: A Colbert couple — John Ferman Lee Dembeck and Mary Dembeck
— was arrested on felony drug trafficking charges.
•Dove, mayors discuss Nov. sales tax referendum: Madison County commission chairman Anthony Dove met with mayors of the county’s six municipalities in his office to discuss potential sales tax funds for each city if voters renew SPLOST in November. (The cities ultimately were allotted $1.5 million in sales tax funds over six years.)
•Shiloh VFD celebrates 50 years of serving the community: It was 50 years ago this year when three men in the Shiloh community – Ellis Nash, Broden Holloway and the late Albert Carey – put their heads together to form an all-volunteer fire department.
•Madison County student severely attacked by pit bull: A 9-year-old boy mauled by a pit bull in a Clarke County neighborhood is a student in a Madison County school.
•New complex set to open: The Journal reported that the new recreation department soccer complex was set to open April 20.
•Senior center director to retire: Joe Dudley has decided its time to spend more time with his family and maybe play a little golf. The Madison County Senior Center director announced his retirement effective April 30.
•Ag day held: Madison County held its annual “Ag Day” celebration March 30 to highlight the services of farmers in the community.
•Madison Co. BOC asked to upgrade county landmark: Commissioners heard a request to tag some sales tax money for the renovation of the upstairs of the historic county courthouse in Danielsville.
•Crouse, Drake switch coaching roles at MCHS: Steve Crouse and Tim Drake announced they were switching roles. Drake will serve as the new Red Raider boys’ basketball coach in 2013-14, while Crouse will be his assistant.
•MOAS celebrates 10 years of service: The Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter celebrated 10 years of service to the two counties in 2013.
•Schools face $2 million cut: Madison County schools learned that they would take a $2 million cut in “equalization” funds from the state for the 2013-14 school year.
•School system to purchase police dogs: The Madison County Board of Education voted 4-1 to purchase police dogs for the middle and high school.
•Kids charged in vandalism: Three juvenile boys between the ages of 14 and 15 were arrested for allegedly vandalizing the Madison County recreation department
•D’ville mayor makes case for more sales tax funds for city’s water, sewer system: Danielsville Mayor Todd Higdon says people will not want to come to the county seat if the bathrooms at its restaurants carry a sewage smell. The mayor warned of such scenarios if Danielsville doesn’t upgrade its aging water and sewer systems.
•Danielsville runner recalls the Boston Marathan bombing: Virginia Brooks of Danielsville spoke to the Journal about her experience in the Boston terrorist attack: “At first we thought – patriotic cannon fire, or something – but then we heard people yelling ‘a bomb, a bomb’ and knew it was something bad,”
•Sheriff’s office to get 4 vehicles: Madison County commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of four vehicles for the sheriff’s office
•Madison County’s 15th Relay held: Madison County held its annual Relay for Life to fight cancer at the recreation department.
•Long-time Madison Co. piano teacher reflects on five decades of teaching: Sueleata Sorrells held a piano recital for her last group of students, ending a 53-year career teaching piano lessons to children in her home.
•Brent Russell signs with the Bears: Madison County’s Brent Russell signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears.
•$1.1 million road contract approved: The board of commissioners approved a contract with Pittman Construction for $1,149,600 to handle road resurfacing projects on Sanford Road, Blacks Creek Church Road, Madison Oaks Drive, Adams-Duncan Road, Sorrow Patterson Road and Colbert Danielsville Road.
•Madison Co. now home base for DA: Madison County is now the home base for the Northern Judicial Circuit’s new district attorney. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in May.
•BOC forms committee to study project options: Madison County commissioners agreed to form a committee to study possible expansion of the county jail.
•Local schools above state, regional averages in new CCRPI assessments: The Madison County school system exceeded the state average in 2011-12 in the new College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI).
•D’ville police chief resigns: Officer Matt Pilkington resigned from his position as the Danielsville chief.
•BOC chairman suspends clerk, HR director amid surveillance investigation: Madison County BOC chairman Anthony Dove suspended county clerk Linda Cox and human resources director Donna Sisk in May. He said he wasn’t comfortable with the role the Sisk had in investigating to fellow employees in the BOC office with assistance from the sheriff’s office. And he said he didn’t feel Cox had informed him in a timely manner about an open records request from the sheriff’s office regarding a BOC employee.
•Local leaders discuss potential jail additions: With the current jail steadily full, Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas proposed to double the capacity of the county’s inmate detention facility. (The county is now moving forward with a plan to add 32 beds — not 64 as initially proposed).
•Ford Carey, 95, reflects on life, WWII service: Army veteran and Purple Heart receipient Ford Carey still dreams about the time he spent fighting in Italy during World War II. He was featured in The Journal in May.
•County gov’t to have new HR director, clerk: County commission chairman Anthony Dove notified both Donna Sisk and Linda Cox that they will no longer serve as HR director and county clerk.
•JEMC to build new office in county: Jackson EMC announced plans to move its Madison County office from Hwy. 106 to a new office on Hwy. 29.
•Hunter files suit against McCannon, school system: Veronica Hunter, a Madison County school administrator, filed a discrimination suit against school superintendent Dr. Allen McCannon and the school system saying she was discriminated against when she wasn’t hired as principal at Madison County Middle School.
•School board declines McCannon’s resignation: Madison County School Superintendent Dr. Allen McCannon submitted his resignation to the board of education May 28, but the school board unanimously voted against the move.
•Clerk transferred; HR director fired: Madison County clerk Linda Cox will move from the county commission office in Danielsville to the public defender’s office in Royston. And county human resources director Donna Sisk has been fired.
•Officer seriously injured in wreck: Danielsville police officer Henry Hicks, 66, was hospitalized following a one-vehicle wreck on Hwy. 174 on May 30.
•Comer man drowns in the Broad River: A Comer man drowned Saturday while swimming in the Broad River off David’s Home Church Road. Douglas Parham, 42, was pronounced deceased by coroner Julie Phillips after paramedics were unable to revive him.
•City of Danielsville stops the bleeding on water: The City of Danielsville has finally stopped losing money on its water department, according to the town’s newly released 2012 audit report.
•Man found dead off Rock Quarry Road: A Madison County resident and road department employee was found deceased in a vehicle off Rock Quarry Road the morning of June 6. Charles Richard “Rick” Barber, 61, Danielsville, died of natural causes in his vehicle, according to the Georgia State Patrol.
•Expansion continues: MCHS renovations will increase school’s size by 45 percent: The high school is in the middle of a major renovation project, which will ultimately increase the school’s size by 45 percent, from 135,285 square feet to 195,986 square feet.
•Fortson denied bond following fatal wreck: A Danielsville man was denied bond after he was charged with first-degree vehicular homicide following a head-on crash on Friendship Church Road. Alex Clay Fortson, 51, was also charged with DUI, causing serious injury by motor vehicle, hit and run (leaving the scene of an accident) and weaving over the roadway. The wreck claimed the life of Roy O’Barr, 25, of Toccoa, who was driving a mid-1960s model Ford Fairlane.
•Tuggle to serve as Colbert parade grand marshal: Bennie Tuggle, of Colbert, says he was surprised when he received the news that he’d been named Grand Marshal for this year’s Colbert July 4th parade.
•Brenan Baird named D’ville police chief: Athens-Clarke County police officer and former Madison County Sheriff’s candidate Brenan Baird has been named Danielsville’s new police chief.
•BOC finalizes SPLOST allocation: County commissioners approved the following breakdown for the 2014 SPLOST: roads, $6,487,500; cities, $1,500,000; IDA, $1,422,500; VFD, $1,033,333; EMS, $755,833; Sheriff, 681,667; E-911, $153,000; Rec department, $227,500; Transfer station, $84,167; Old courthouse, $42,000.
•Wooten named new county clerk: Rhonda Wooten has been named the new county clerk for the Madison County Board of Commissioners.
•Tyner looks for new ideas, resources to help seniors: New Senior Center Director Kelsey Tyner is on a mission – to make the Madison County community more aware of all that the Eloise McCurley – Madison County Senior Center has to offer.
•Bulla named Hull-Sanford principal: Donna Bulla is the new principal of Hull-Sanford Elementary School. The assistant principal was promoted to the school’s top spot by the Madison County School Board.
•No tax increase planned by BOC: County commissioners agree to move forward with the tax rate approval process without any mention of an increase.
•Comer to have pre-K program: Comer Elementary School has been awarded a pre-K program the upcoming school year.
•Next school year shorter than standard: School leaders said the 2013-2014 Madison County school year would be 10 days shorter than standard.
•Madison County woman survives July 3 incident: Donna Jordan survived a lightning strike in Colbert as she and her family returned from a vacation in Florida.
•State to D’ville: No radar for 60 days: The city of Danielsville couldn’t use radar for 60 days. The suspension followed an investigation that was launched after city attorney Dale Perry and the city council notified the state of possible radar use infractions by former part-time officer Cliff Moody.
•Wet summer takes a toll on local roads: Flash floods put a beating on local roads, with Madison County’s 21-person road crew working overtime to repair washed out culverts and other water-related problems.
•Sheriff’s office seeking position to oversee sex offenders: The Madison County Sheriff’s Office must keep tabs on all registered sex offenders in the county. The BOC agreed to allow the sheriff to have a position solely dedicated to keeping up with Madison County sex offenders.
•Ila Elementary has highest CRCT scores: Ila Elementary School led the five county elementary schools in the CRCT this past school year among third and fifth graders.
•County digest remains steady: Madison County’s tax digest — overall property value — remained relatively steady this year.
•BOC turns down proposed event hall on Neese-Commerce Road: A special event facility cannot be constructed near the intersection of Hwy. 106 and Neese-Commerce Road.
•Jackson EMC selects construction company: Jackson EMC has selected Garrard Construction Group of Duluth to build its new Neese District office complex, with construction scheduled to begin in mid-to-late August.
•First Citizens to close Ila branch: First Citizens Bank announced that it would close its branch in Ila in November.
•Carlton woman without a pulse revived: Lavonia Turner me at the Comer Volunteer Fire Department with the first responders and paramedics who save her life July 8.
•Danielsville radar permit reinstated: Danielsville’s police department regained its ability to use speed detection devices last week, after a 60-day suspension by the Department of Public Safety was lifted following an appeal hearing.
•BRWA seeks to establish ‘water trail’ Those aiming to protect the Broad River would like to see improved access to the waterway. Meanwhile, they seek to promote the river as a tourism destination. And they asked county commissioners to be on board with the effort.
•BOC expresses dismay with water charges: Madison County commissioners expressed confusion and dismay over escalating bills at the county jail for water/sewer services provided by the City of Danielsville.
•Madison Co. hosts three-county check on sex crime convicts: Madison County Sheriff’s Office hosted a multi-county checkup on registered sex offenders. Officials from the U.S. Marshal Service, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, the Misdemeanor and Felony Probation Office, the Georgia Department of Corrections and the Franklin and Oglethorpe County sheriff’s departments split up into teams to hit households of known sex offenders in surprise visits.
•Croya, Higdon to run for D’ville mayor’s seat: Former mayor Philip Croya qualified to run against current mayor Todd Higdon for the mayor’s seat in November.
•Colbert selected for ‘Feed My School for a Week’: Colbert Elementary was one of the five schools selected across the state to participate in the second “Feed My School for a Week” program sponsored by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Education.
•Woman charged in 2012 death of Franklin Co. man: A Danielsville woman was charged in the death of a Franklin County man in a three-vehicle accident on Hwy. 29 North last year. Jesscia Abby Resmondo, 32, was charged with one count each of homicide by vehicle in the second degree (felony) and following too closely. Arthur White, 74, died at the scene of the wreck on Hwy. 29 North at Irvin Kirk Road, which happened on March 1, 2012, around 1 p.m.
•New regional charter high school gives students a second chance: The Journal featured Mountain Education Charter High School (MEC),
a new regional charter school in Bowman, designed to help more students earn a high school diploma.
•MCHS AP scores top state, national averages: Madison County’s top students have significantly improved their “advanced placement” (AP) test scores over the past five years, with local students now topping the state and national averages.
•Inmate found dead in county jail: A Madison County inmate was found dead in his cell early Sunday morning in an apparent suicide.
Charles Edward Crapps, 29, Loganville, was found hanging from a bed sheet in a single-person lock-down cell at the Madison County Jail by a detention officer doing routine checks at roughly 3:30 a.m.
•31-year-old Athens man dies in accident: Edwin Juarez-Alpizar, 18, Athens, was charged with homicide by vehicle after an on Garnett Ward Road that claimed the life of a back-seat passenger in his car, Danny Ceniceros, 31.
•Man gets 15 years for molestation: A Madison County man was sentenced recently in Madison County Superior Court to 15 years in prison for child molestation. Daniel Thomas Forrester, 21, 144 Pine Street, Danielsville, was convicted of molesting two females under the age of 16 in July 2012.
•‘Support Person of the Year’ Nurse recognized for work at DES: Danielsville Elementary School nurse Donna Perry was named the county school system’s “Support Person of the Year.”
•Madison, Elbert line a ‘no go’: Madison and Elbert County officials applied for a $10 million grant from the Governor’s Water Fund to pay for a water line from Elbert County Madico Park, but leaders learned that the state isn’t awarding money for the project anytime soon.
•Cindy Jones, ‘Teacher of the Year,’ finds parallels between the farm, classroom: Ag instructor Cindy Jones, a teacher since 2005, was chosen by her peers as Madison County School System’s “Teacher of the Year.”
•Two killed in Oct. 9 wrecks: Two people were killed in separate Madison County accidents Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 9. Those losing their lives on local roads last week were Thomas Daniel, 51, of Lavonia, who died in a single-car accident on Hwy. 106 near Adams-Clarke Road; and Harley Kane Thomason, 24, Bowman, who died in a three-vehicle accident on Hwy. 172 about three miles north of Hwy. 98.
•Man gets 10 years for molestation: A Carlton man was recently sentenced in Madison County Superior Court to 10 years in prison for child molestation. John Paul Blocker, 59, 364 Broad River Road, was convicted for molesting a child under 16 and sentenced to 10 years confinement, 10 years probation and was fined $1,350. He was also sentenced to 10 years probation for second degree cruelty to a child under the age of 18.
•Two men injured in Comer tire explosion: Volunteer firemen Randy Wilson and Charlie Burroughs were injured after responding to a vehicle fire on Hwy. 72. After the fire had been extinguished, a tire blew up, injuring both.
•Local couple donates 10 life-saving devices to county: An anonymous Madison County couple donated 10 Phillips automated external defibrillators (AED) to the county government and schools.
•Man dies in Friday morning house fire: An elderly Madison County man died Friday morning in a house fire. James Drake was killed in a fire at his Watson Mill Road home near the Gospel Barn around 8:30 a.m.
•Pulliam honored at BOC meeting: Lucy Viola Moon Pulliam, who turned 101 in October, was honored with a proclamation in her honor at the Madison County Board of Commissioners meeting.
•SPLOST passes Tues.: Madison County voters overwhelmingly approved renewal of the one-cent special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) Nov. 5. A total of 1,082 county voters (80.27 percent) cast a “Yes” for renewing the one-cent tax for county improvements, while 266 (19.7 percent) voted “No.”
•MCHS softball team finishes third in state: The Madison County softball team finished the 2013 with a third-place finish at state, a region title and a school-best 36-4 record in coach Doug Kesler’s final year.
•Higdon re-elected as D’ville mayor: Incumbent Todd Higdon beat challenger and former mayor Philip Croya handily by a vote of 81 to 22 to remain mayor of Danielsville.
•Ag academy officially named: The Madison County Board of Education voted to name the high school’s new college and career academy “Broad River College and Career Academy: Agriculture, Academics, Industry.”
•Home destroyed by fire: A home on Horace Elnut Circle near the Madison/Clarke/Jackson county line was destroyed by fire Tuesday, Nov. 12.
•Man killed in Foote McClellan Road accident: An Athens man died in a single-vehicle accident on Foote McClellan Road around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 13. Jeffrey Green, 23, died when he lost control of his east-bound vehicle, left the roadway and overturned, with the vehicle striking a tree.
•County students work with MOAS dogs each week: The Journal featured members of Madison County 4-H and volunteers with Pawsitive K-9 Training who work with a group of animal shelter dogs each week.
•Madison County surpasses state avg. on writing test: Madison County High School exceeded the state average on the recent Georgia High School Writing Test, with 95-percent of the school’s first-time test takers passing.
•Firemen recall explosion, offer thanks to community: Randy Wilson and Charlie Burroughs, volunteer firemen who were injured in an October tire explosion in Comer, talked with The Journal about the incident and how thankful they were for the support they received afterwards.
•Cannons named grand marshals of Comer parade: Harry and Ruth Cannon were selected as the 2013 City of Comer Christmas Parade Grand Marshals.
•Bill’s Bar-B-Que to close after 30 years: Bill’s Bar-B-Que, located at the corner of Hwy. 29 South and Fortson Store Road, announced that it will serve up its last plate of pulled pork sandwiches, stew and chicken mull Saturday, Dec. 28.
•Walt’s Place temporarily closed due to fire: Walt’s Place Restaurant in Danielsville announced it would be closed for few weeks after a Thanksgiving Day fire caused damage to the building.
•County employees to receive one-time pay increase: County commissioners approved by a 4-1 vote — with John Pethel providing the lone “No” — a “one-time cost of living adjustment,” or “bonus,” for county employees of $900 before taxes for full-time employees. Half-time employees received $450.
•MCHS grad rates up: School officials announced that Madison County’s 2013 four-year graduation rate was 78.1 percent; up from 74.39 percent in 2012. The state average is 71.5, meaning Madison County is 6.6 percent above state average.
•County may require salesmen to register before going door to door: An ordinance may soon be passed requiring door-to-door salesmen to register with the county before visiting local homes. County commissioners discussed the possibility with the sheriff during a budget meeting.
•Colbert man charged in drug bust: Law officers seized 160 plants, along with approximately 65 bags of marijuana, seven long guns, three pistols, an unknown quantity of methamphetamine and pills after executing a search warrant at Long Branch Road home. Tad Wingate, 47, faced multiple drug charges.
•County to establish elections website: Madison County commissioners approved the creation of a website dedicated to informing voters about elections and the election process.
•Teachers, administrators talk to lawmakers about how cuts have affected Madison Co.: Madison County teachers and administrators spoke with local legislators in Danielsville about how funding cuts from the state are affecting students and teachers.
•Man killed in motorcycle accident: An Oconee County man was killed in a two-vehicle accident on Lem Edwards Road Dec. 10. William Wilmot, 58, Watkinsville, died after the Honda motorcycle he was riding was struck by a truck driven by Angela Sorrow of Colbert at approximately 3:09 p.m.
•Madison Co. Food Bank director says toy donations never higher: Madison County Food Bank director Bobbie Rooker said citizens turned out in force in 2013 to offer more toy donations for local needy children than she’s seen as director.
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