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News
One hurt in fight at Winder-Barrow High School

Two female students fought in a hallway at Winder-Barrow High School Thursday, Sept. 5, and one suffered a fractured skull, setting off a social media frenzy over the incidents.

Both of the girls were suspended, according to the Barrow County School System. Suspension for fighting is automatic under the system's code of conduct, superintendent Chris McMichael said.

The girl who was injured, identified by her mother as Iris Narens was taken to an Atlanta hospital and later released. She is recovering at home. The other student's name was not made available.

The Barrow County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. Sheriff Jud Smith told an Atlanta television station Tuesday night that investigators had determined that Narens was the aggressor. He said by email that 15 to 20 students may have seen the incident.

The incident began about 11 a.m. Sept. 5 after Narens corrected the other student’s math work. The two argued about the work after the class and the fight started.

In a news release about 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, the sheriff’s office said it wanted to “correct inaccurate information given on some news media outlets and social media sites.”

The release said the fight started at 11:12 a.m. and the “school resource officer was on scene within minutes.” It said Narens “was treated by trained medical professionals" at the school at about 11:15 a.m.

Smith said Tuesday that "professionals" were the school RN and the "head football trainer who is an EMT." He added the heat trainer has had "extensive" training with head injuries and "is recognized as one of the best trainers" in the state "based on the numerous certifications he has received for dealing with young people with trauma of any kind."

Chrisalena Pringle, Narens' mother, took her to a hospital and then to another hospital about 2:20 p.m.

Pringle told Atlanta TV stations she was not satisfied with the way the incident was treated. 

“She couldn’t walk, she couldn’t really talk, her eyes were fluttering,” Pringle said.

“Sheriff’s office personnel were not aware of a partial video of the incident until hours after the incident actually occurred,” the release said.

The sheriff said Tuesday that “there is no evidence” that the incident involved bullying.

McMichael said the incident became “more than a fight” because of posts on social media.

As of Tuesday, no charges had been filed, but by Tuesday night, Smith had told the Atlanta station that investigators had determined Narens was the aggressor and the other student was defending herself during the altercation. 

"This is a very unfortunate incident. We do not condone fighting or any type of violence in our schools or the recording of incidents, and we work actively to prevent it," school system officials said in a separate news release. "We were glad to learn that our student is now home recovering. Violence, in whatever form it takes, has significant consequences and is never the answer to interpersonal conflict."

Scott Thompson contributed to this story.


Photo by Ron Bridgeman 

A large crowd of city and county officials and contractors celebrate the "dedication" of the synthetic turf field at Apalachee High School on Wednesday, Sept. 4. Cutting the ribbon was not simple since the "tape" was more elaborate than normal. The AHS band played for the beginning of the ceremony. The group gathered at the 50-yard line on top of the AHS logo.


News
Winder DDA moves toward new DFCS building

The Winder Downtown Development Authority, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, took the first step toward a new Division of Family and Children Services building near the current Social Security Administration facility.

The DDA, meeting in a called session, unanimously agreed to start a process that would allow the agency to own the building in 15 years.

Paperwork will involve creating a second non-profit corporation, which will have the same membership and officers as the DDA, to hold title to the building.

The new facility will be managed by the Forum Group, which has constructed similar facilities all over the state, John Stell, Winder's city attorney, said.

The building will be leased to the state. All the indebtedness of the new facility will be the responsibility of the Forum Group, DDA members were told.

About $7 million in bonds are expected to be sold to pay for the structure and that debt will be paid through the lease payments.

The DDA has discussed the financing of the building for the past few months.

Chris Maddox, the chairman of the DDA, said the agency has wanted its own money for some time. Acting as the bond seller and creating the separate board will provide that money — but 15 years in the future.

Stell told the agency the new facility would replace the “conglomeration” of space now occupied by DFCS in Winder.

The new board will be the Winder Lay’s Drive Corporation.

The DDA is expected to approve several documents to set up that corporation and to approve the construction of a new facility at its October meeting.

Stell told the DDA that the arrangement is “a pretty safe project” because every county in the state has a DFCS office.


Chris McMichael, superintendent of Barrow County schools, speaks at the dedication of the synthetic field at Apalachee High School. At right are Lynn Stevens, chair of the Barrow County Board of Education, and Pat Graham, chair of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners.


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Dan Magee, director, Barrow County Leisure Services, talks Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Apalachee High School synthetic turf field. Magee was one of the promoters of the shared facility between the school and recreation department.


News
Four qualify for Statham special election

Four candidates qualified Sept. 3-5 for the special city council election in Statham. The election, to fill the seat vacated by Eddie Jackson, who is running for mayor, will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the same time as the city’s general election.

Qualifying for the race were Steve Boughton, a retired banker; Tammy Crawley, who attended nearly every council meeting before going back to work; Scott Penn, a paramedic in Jackson County; and Timothy Baldwin Terilli.

Terilli did not respond to a phone message.

Boughton, who has lived in Winder and Statham since 2018, said he was in banking for about 40 years. Most of that was in Ohio and North Carolina. He retired as a vice president.

Boughton said he “probably” has managed “hundreds of municipal bond issues.

He said his background in municipal finance could help the city council.

Boughton said he is a member of Winder First United Methodist Church and is a graduate of Ohio State University.

He has run for office before. He said he selected the special election because it is for two years.

“I’m not looking to do this the rest of my life,” Boughton said.

Crawley is the assistant produce manager of a Dollar General store in Athens.

She also has been a finance manager for a furniture store and a district manager for a chain of convenience stores. She also has experience in medical transcription and has worked in banking.

She graduated from high school in 1986.

Crawley said she started attending council meetings because “I met a group of people that were victimized by (police officer) Marc Lofton.”

She added that she believes citizens “have lost faith in the city.”

Crawley said, “If it is important to citizens, it should be important to the council.”

She said she picked the special election because she is impressed with Gary Venable, who is running unopposed for a council seat.

Finishing city audits and having more police visibility are important issues, she said.

Penn said he has been a paramedic for 15 years. He said he has experience with public service, but none as a politician.

He has lived in Statham about two years. He grew up in Thomaston, Penn said.

“One of my biggest issues,” Penn said is ethics.

He mentioned the closed-door sessions of city council and the “wrongdoing” by law enforcement officers.

He said he had talked with his wife about qualifying for a council seat and “I didn’t do it” for the general election. When the special election qualifying came around, he did it, he said.


News
Barrow Briefs for Sept. 11

'Next Gen Ag' event set

The City of Auburn will host a "Next Gen Ag" conference, dedicated to discussions and presentations on agriculture and technology, to be held from 3-7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, at the Perry Rainey Center, 16 College St., Auburn.

"With the growing interest in regenerative farming, urban ag, technology, sustainability and the potential for commercialization, this market segment is seeing a lot of new opportunities for job growth in the region," organizers said in a news release. "As more interest and demand has come to Auburn through current and new residents moving in, the city has put together a conversation that would be of use to students (FFA chapters and extensions) and local farmers that would bring them all together under one banner."

Participants can learn about land use, tax credits, financing opportunities and connect with thought leaders in the industry and "establish valuable contacts," according to the release.

To register and for additional information on the schedule of events, go to https://www.eventeny.com/events/NextGenAg-297/.

Pet adoption drive

Barrow County Animal Control is holding a pet adoption drive for the Barrow County Veterans Resource Center through Oct. 31.

Drop off any five items from the following list and adopt an animal for $10:

•soup

•macaroni and cheese

•baked beans

•cereal

•fruit cups

•canned meat

•canned ravioli

•other non-perishable food items.

All donations go directly to the veterans resource center to provide for local veterans in need.

Fall GED orientation dates

The following GED orientations are scheduled at the Wimberly Center for Community Development, 163 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Winder:

•6 p.m., Sept. 17

•10 a.m., Sept. 25

•6 p.m., Oct. 1

•10 a.m., Oct. 9

•6 p.m., Oct. 15

•10 a.m., Oct. 23

•6 p.m., Oct. 29

•10 a.m., Nov. 6

•6 p.m.., Nov. 12

•10 a.m., Nov. 20

•6 p.m., Dec. 3

•10 a.m., Dec. 11

•6 p.m., Dec. 17

For more information, call 770-531-3361.

Barrow County Out of the Darkness Walk

First Christian Church of Winder will host the Barrow County Out of Darkness Walk from 9-10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at Winder-Barrow High School.

The walk is intended to raise awareness of and raise funds for suicide prevention.

Registration begins at 8 a.m.

If you or your business would like to partner with other individuals to raise awareness and funds to support the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, call the church at 770-867-9056 for more information.

Adventure Bags Jeep and Motorcycle Ride scheduled

Adventure Bags, Inc. will hold its eighth annual Jeep and Motorcycle Ride on Sunday, Sept. 29, at Cycle World of Athens, 4225 Atlanta Hwy., Bogart.

Registration begins at 10 a.m. and is $25 per bike and $5 per passenger. Lunch will be provided after the ride for all participants.

Proceeds will benefit Adventure Bags, an Auburn nonprofit that provides bookbags and other school supplies and essential items to children in crisis throughout the state.

The group is still seeking business sponsors for the event. Contact Misty Manus at 678-425-0316 or adventurebagsincdonations@gmail.com for more information.

Barrow Clarke Oconee Heart Walk set

Barrow, Clarke and Oconee counties will be participating in the Barrow Clarke Oconee Heart Walk through the American Heart Association on Friday, Oct. 25, at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500A Hog Mountain Rd., Watkinsville.

The walk brings together the community as walk teams and survivors of heart illness seek to raise awareness of and raise funds for combating heart disease and stroke.

This is the first year Barrow County has participated with Clarke and Oconee counties.

Activities will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the walk will begin at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, go to www.ClarkeOconeeHeartWalk.org.