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The Journal
Weekly Newspaper covering Marion, Schley, Chattahoochee, Webster, and Stewart Counties.
71 Webb Lane, Buena Vista, GA 31803 • Phone & Fax: 229-649-6397 • Email: tjournal@windstream.net

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Summaries of Top Stories are below.
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New school to bring international students to Marion County

   January 14, 2015: When it opened in 1975, Tri County High School brought students from three different counties together. Now, the campus is poised to bring people together from all over the world when it re-opens as the second location of The Crenshaw School.
   Brenda Crenshaw is a longtime educator who founded The Crenshaw School in Gotha, Florida (the Orlando area) 16 years ago. Now, she is partnering with Terry Nie, a Chinese businessman/educator, to open a second private school in Buena Vista.
   Nie said the general opinion held now in China is that American education is the best in the world. Thus, many Chinese students attend colleges in America. However, the culture shock and language barrier often proves challenging. Therefore, he wanted to help start a private elementary-high school where Chinese students could come and live and study in America prior to their college years, studying alongside young Americans and getting exposed to the culture.
   * Note: The Journal recently spoke with Mrs. Crenshaw and she verified that while the school missed its ambitious goal of opening in 2015, they have done much work on the facilities and they plan to open in 2016. Stay "tuned" to the newspaper for updates.

Schley School System ranked No. 7 in state on CCRPR 'Report Card'
   January 28, 2015: The Schley County School System ranked No. 7 in the state on the 2014 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), which was recently released by the Georgia Department of Education. In addition to the No. 7 overall ranking, the Schley County District was ranked No. 1 at the elementary school level. Schley County also ranked No. 7 in the state at the middle school (district) level.
   "It's very impressive," said Superintendent Adam Hathaway. "The six school districts above us are in very affluent areas. We're also the only school near the top that is south of the Metro Atlanta area."
   The CCRPI score is based on a wide variety of factors, including test scores, attendance rates, progress rates of the students, achievement gaps between different types of students, and even how various ethnic groups perform.

The Lighter Side

Tyson closes Buena Vista plant
   April 1, 2015: Buena Vista officially learned that it was losing one of its largest employers in late March 2015 when Tyson Foods announced it planned to completely shut down its Buena Vista poultry plant at the end of May 2015.
   The closing did away with 190 local jobs and came less than a year after Tyson eliminated one of the shifts at the plant, which resulted in the loss of 150 local jobs, so the total job loss due to the closing of the plant is around 340.
   According to the company, the Buena Vista closure was due to a combination of factors including changing product needs, the age of the facility, and the prohibitive cost of its renovation. The loss of the poultry plant affects the local economy in a number of ways. The most obvious is in the loss of local jobs, but it will also mean less money being paid to the local government for services – especially water, as Tyson is the city's largest water customer.

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Historic Westville to shut down in Lumpkin
   December 9, 2015: Plans to relocate Historic Westville from Lumpkin to Columbus appear to be picking up speed, as its officials recently announced that they have raised nearly three-quarters of the $7 million sought to make the move and that the site will close later this month. Their press release about the status of fundraising had a celebratory tone, but many locals do not share the feeling.
   If the 30 or so historic buildings that form the "living history museum" leave Lumpkin, so will the "heart and soul" of the village, according to many Lumpkin residents and natives who poured their own "hearts and souls" into establishing it. They have protested and petitioned to no avail.
   In addition to Stewart County residents doing so much as volunteers to get the site set-up and going, the opponents of the move say the families who donated the buildings did so with the belief that they would remain in Lumpkin. They also say they believe that the relocation is being done in an effort to turn the site into a "money maker" rather than remain true to its purpose of educating the public about life in the 1850s in rural Georgia.
   They wonder why a major fundraiser isn't first done to better promote and operate Westville at its current location before making such a huge decision to move it.

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Walmart opens market in Ellaville
   January 15, 2015: Walmart opened a "Neighborhood Market" in Ellaville with a special ribbon cutting ceremony on January 7, 2015. The store offers a full line of groceries including meats and produce. Household and hardware items are available as well as health and beauty supplies. Customers can order things online and pick them up in the store. Cigarettes, lottery tickets and check cashing are available at the Site-to-Store counter at the front of the store. The market also has gasoline pumps and a pharmacy.

Stewart BOE to close high school building and operate only 1 school
    July 15, 2015: A big change is on the horizon for the Stewart County School System, which plans to close the current high school building and move to a single location for students in all grades. The system is also moving back to a five-day school week.
   Stewart County had only 522 students last year (135 high school, 108 middle school, 279 elementary) and officials have decided that it would be best to downsize and house all grades in a single location. Plans are to use local sales tax revenue along with money from the state to go toward expanding the elementary school (which will be converted to a K-12 school).
   The Board of Education wants to add a wing with around 12 classrooms onto the current elementary school and also build a gymnasium at that location. They hope to break ground on the project next spring and then open it as a K-12 school at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

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Men arrested after robbing Buena Vista store at gunpoint in broad daylight
   December 9, 2015: Two masked men robbed Wells and Welch Department Store in downtown Buena Vista by gunpoint in broad daylight. Not only did they rob the store just before noon, they did so while it was full of customers. The brazen act by the criminals had the owners – and everyone who heard about it – shaking their heads in disbelief that such an event could happen in their small town.
   The good news is that the alleged armed robbers got a good scare, as Mr. Welch fired a shot over their heads while they were fleeing toward their car, and then were soon captured and are now behind bars in the Marion County Jail after a brief car chase in nearby Taylor County.
   Damien Lamar Davis, 25, of 3580 Dunhill Drive, Columbus (formerly of Buena Vista), and Cedric Bernard Davis, 28, of 211 East 6th Avenue, Buena Vista both face local charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Armed robbery suspect escapes from Marion Jail
  December 22, 2015: An accused armed robber escaped from the Marion County Jail and avoided capture, despite a massive manhunt that included men, vehicles, planes, helicopters, and dogs from many agencies.
   Damien Lamar Davis, 25, of Columbus (formerly of Buena Vista) escaped due to a jailer failing to follow standard policies and procedures, as well as direct instructions not to allow him out of his cell, according to Marion County Sheriff Derrell Neal.

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Marion gets $497,245 loan for new well and water treatment plant
   January 28, 2015: Marion County was awarded a $497,245 Georgia Fund loan by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) board of directors. The loan will finance constructing a new 1 million gallon per day water supply well and associated treatment facility in north Marion County, adjacent to the county's raw water storage facility on Blueville Road.
   "We looked at a variety of options to provide more water to North Marion County and the new well option rated out best," said Commission Chairman George Neal. "Because of the location of the new well it will greatly reduce the distance that we have to pump water and this will allow for less stress on our existing water infrastructure. Our number one goal is to provide safe and reliable water service in Marion County."
   Relocating the county's primary raw water source from the existing wells south of Buena Vista to a well adjacent to the county's existing storage tanks will reduce the energy required to fill the county's storage tank and also allow it to be filled faster. This will provide more reliable water service to customers and generate significant energy cost savings through reduction in pumping costs.
   * Related Story from August 2015 – Marion residents grow frustrated with water leaks and outages: The Marion County Water Department had a tough month or so in the summer of 2015, as leaks had to be repaired in eight areas over the last 40 days. Of course water customers are affected each time, so it's also been frustrating for many local families.

Schley Co. High wins State Baseball Championship
   May 20, 2015: The Schley County High School baseball program has been consistently fielding quality teams, winning region titles, and making the state playoffs for more than a decade, but a state championship had always eluded the talented teams – until 2015.
   The Wildcats made school history by winning the team's first baseball state championship last May. Good pitching, good defense, timely hitting, and doing the "little things" like bunting to move runners over all played key roles in the historic season. But there have been other Wildcat teams that were good at those things, too, so what was it that pushed this year's squad from contender to champion?
   "We're just a family out there," is how Blake Howell, junior, explained it.
   The Wildcats will enter 2016 as the team-to-beat, as the "family" only lost one player to graduation in 2015.

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Pasaquan Preservation Society Honored
  October 7, 2015: The ongoing restoration of "Pasaquan", the home of the late Eddie Owens Martin (aka 'St. EOM'), has been big news for a while in Buena Vista/Marion County, with state tourism professionals predicting it will soon start attracting many visitors and be a boon to the local economy. The focus on the current work by professional artists/restorers with a huge financial backing from the Kohler Foundation often overshadows the three decades of dedication by a group of volunteers who kept the site alive when it wasn't attracting much attention and was in danger of falling into disrepair.
   That group – the Pasaquan Preservation Society – got its due in October 2015 at a special Awards Ceremony held in the State Capitol. The Society was the recipient of the prestigious 2015 Governor's Award for the Arts & Humanities.
   While not all were able to attend the award ceremony, the most recent members of the Pasaquan Preservation Society Board are: Bond and Meg Anderson of Parrott, John and Penny Rogers of Buena Vista, Ben Pike of Columbus, Will Polk of Decatur, Mac Moye of Lumpkin, Annie Moye of Smyrna, Burton Wight of Buena Vista, Walker Williams of Buena Vista, Joe Sanders of Columbus, Fred and Cathy Fussell of Columbus, Steve White of Buena Vista, Terri Yoho of Kohler, Wisconsin, Kevin Brown of Buena Vista, Michael McFalls of Columbus, Lauren Cantrell of Atlanta, and John Lupold of Columbus.
   Pasaquan will re-open on a regular basis once restoration is complete, sometime in 2016.

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Stewart Co. Library Board removes City of Lumpkin
   June 10, 2015: For many years Stewart County was the smallest and most rural county in the state to have two libraries. That changed in September of 2009 – 5 1/2 years ago – when the Lumpkin Public Library closed its doors due to toxic mold growing as the result of a leaky roof.
   Now another door has closed, removing the possibility of the library reopening as part of the Chattahoochee Valley Library System (CVLS), which it had been a part of for many years. The Regional Library Board voted to affirm the vote taken recently by the local library board to officially remove the Lumpkin Library from the system.
   The City of Lumpkin had not made its annual payment to either the CVLS ($2,803) or to the Stewart County Library Board ($700) for either of the last two fiscal years. In losing the relationship with the CVLS, the City of Lumpkin lost a great deal. While the city was contributing a total of $3,503 for the operation of the Lumpkin Library, it was receiving $130,573 from the regional library system. So, the city's portion of annual funding was less than 3%.
   The City of Lumpkin has approached the Kinchafoonee Library System, which operates libraries in Terrell, Webster, Randolph, Quitman, Clay, and Calhoun counties, but since the state's funding formula for libraries now provides little incentive for regional systems to take on new counties, that option does not appear to be very realistic.

Young BV business is shipping products across the globe
   December 9, 2015: Tom and Charitie Fuller, owners of Armegeddon Gear in Buena Vista, hosted an open house to give the community some insight into their business and thank their employees. The company makes high-quality sewn products related to the shooting industry and in three short years has grown into a million dollar small-town business that is making products locally and shipping them to customers across the globe.
   Mr. Fuller told those at the open house that while Armageddon Gear does a lot of sewing, it's far more than a "sewing factory" as it has been described. It is a specific brand of high-quality sewn goods – like rifle slings, suppressor covers, and other accessories – for the gun industry. To emphasize the focus on quality, their slogan is "Pray You'll Never Need Gear This Good".

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New Supermarket to open in Buena Vista
   April 8, 2015: A special Ground Breaking Ceremony was held in April 2015 for the highly anticipated construction of a new grocery store and plaza in Buena Vista. "Supermarket" is probably a better term than "grocery store" for the future "Eagle Food Store", which will be 15,600-square feet. The store is being built on Highway 41 just north of the Buena Vista city limits (just past J&R Quickstop).
   A separate "plaza" will be built adjacent to the grocery store. It will be 15,000 square feet (broken into eight units, 25x75-feet each) and will be available for other businesses to move into. One space has already been committed to by the operator of the "Big Chick" in Talbotton, who plans to open a similar type restaurant in the plaza.
   The project is being done by Dixie Discount, Cuthbert, Inc., which also operates the Piggly Wiggly stores in nearby Richland and Cuthbert.
   * Update: A sewer line expansion that is needed for the location is currently under way and the store is expected to open in February 2016.

Schley Superintendent outlines school expansion plan
   October 28, 2015: Schley School Superintendent Adam Hathaway presented the approved plan to add a wing onto the Elementary School for the Pre-K and first grade students that currently are at the old Palmer School mostly in temporary buildings. 
   The new wing will have 14 classrooms and be paid for by state funds and Schley County SPLOST funds. Another approved project is the improvement of the baseball and softball complex.
   "I applaud the past administration for conserving funds as we have a 40% reserve when the state only requires 10%," Hathaway said. "It is important to use the money we have generated in a responsible way that will be good for our kids."

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11-year-old shoots 8-year-old
   February 4, 2015: Marion County Sheriff Derrell Neal is asking all local gun owners to review how they store their weapons after an 11-year-old boy accidentally shot and seriously injured his 8-year-old cousin with a pistol that he picked up in a local home.
   "A lot people in our community have guns for protection and for sport and there is nothing wrong with that, but everyone needs to make sure they keep their weapons away from children," said Sheriff Neal. "If you have guns in your home, please take a look at how you are storing them and make sure kids don't have access to them. This incident could have turned out a lot worse."
   The 8-year-old victim was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Columbus after the shooting. The children involved had ridden the bus to another home in north Marion County for someone to watch them on the day of the accident. According to the report from the Sheriff's Office, the man let the kids play in his bedroom on a treadmill while he was in another room. There was a .410 double barrel Cobray pistol (which shoots .410 shot-shells and is commonly referred to as a "snake gun") on the nightstand beside the bed.
   The older boy said he thought it was a toy pistol and started playing with it. He accidentally shot the 8-year-old, who had wounds on his left hand and left shoulder area.

Marion wins 6th straight region football title
   November 4, 2015: A large contingent of "Eagle Nation" travelled to Butler last Friday evening to watch the Marion County High football team attempt to clinch its sixth straight region championship. They were not disappointed. Not only did the Eagles throttle the Taylor County Vikings in a 54-12 blowout to win another region title, but the victory also propelled the team to the No. 1 state ranking.
   As if that weren't enough, senior superstar Lorenzo Smothers turned in one of the most impressive performances of his highlight-filled "career." Smothers scored five touchdowns – three running, one catching, and one on a punt return.
   * Note: The Eagles went on to advance to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs before falling to Commerce 20-7.

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Marion BOE approves $1/2 million project
   February 4, 2015: The Marion County Board of Education finalized plans to repair and renovate the community's only auditorium using approximately $500,000 of insurance money received after the tragic accident of 2013, which destroyed much of the old school on Burkhalter Avenue in Buena Vista.
   In June of 2013, Rosa Byse, 59, of Ideal sped through town and rammed into the school just to the left of the entrance to the lobby in front of the auditorium. Volunteer firefighter Dwight Stubbs rescued a 3-year-old child from the overturned car, which was partially inside the building. The driver was also pulled out of the car, but died at the scene. In addition to that tragedy, the car went up in flames, destroyed the portion of the building to the left side of the lobby/auditorium and greatly damaged the rest of that wing.
   The Board of Education received approximately $1.4 million in the insurance settlement, but decided not to rebuild the portion of the building that was destroyed. That portion had been used to store various items, including the Marion County Middle/High School Performance Academy's costumes and some musical instruments and sound equipment.
   The BOE decided not to rebuild the portion that was destroyed, opting to use much of the insurance settlement for other projects, including expanding the cafeteria at L.K. Moss Elementary School and making other renovations there.
   However, they believe that the auditorium is important enough to the community to repair. A new auditorium would have added at least $5 million to the price tag of the recently constructed new middle/high school, so one was not included. The school uses a stage in the cafeteria for various programs and the elementary school uses a stage in its gym. While both can hold large crowds, it is more difficult for people to see and hear in those settings.
   * Update: The restored auditorium hosted a Christmas Concert by the Marion Co. Performance Academy in December 2015.

Local murder suspect arrested in Missouri
   July 22, 2015: A man suspected of murdering his housemate in Stewart County was unable to outrun the "long arm of the law" and was arrested in Missouri. James Eggleston, 71, was arrested in a hotel room in Wentzville, Mo. on July 16 in connection with the murder of Lumpkin resident Richard Byrd, 69, with whom he reportedly lived with.
   Mr. Byrd had reportedly been ordered by the court to vacate the residence, which is located at 340 Hall Road, Lumpkin (in a rural area of Stewart County and around a mile off the road). He had not been heard from and when authorities visited the home to check on the morning of Tuesday, July 14, he was found dead. He had apparently been killed with a sharp-edged weapon.

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Preston teen wins another state championship
   February 25, 2015: Ryan Landreth of Preston ended his high school wrestling career the same way he started it – by being the best in the state. The Southland Academy senior recently won his second Georgia Independent State Association (GISA) state championship, this time in the 145-pound class. He had won the state title in the 106-pound class as a freshman back in 2012.
   This year, Landreth finished the season with a total record of 20-2. His performance at the State Championship Meet was nothing short of dominating, as he pinned all four of his opponents.
   In addition to his state championship wins in his freshman and senior seasons, Landreth advanced all the way to the title match and finished as a runner-up in both his sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior, he made it all the way to the title match in spite of wrestling with a full torn rotator cuff from a football injury.
   Ryan Landreth is the son of Clint and Amy Landreth of Preston, and the grandson of David and Brenda Murphy of Americus, and Billy and Brenda Landreth of Richland.

State Election Board finally holds hearing on 2012 Marion Election Complaint
   March 18, 2015: It took more than two and a half years, but the State Election Board has finally cleared the cloud hanging over the July 2012 Primary Election in Marion County in which longtime Sheriff Horace Snider was defeated by current Sheriff Derrell Neal.
   Neal received 73.8% of votes to win the July 2012 Democratic Primary over Snider by a margin of 1,012 votes (1,567 to 555). In August of 2012 former Deputy Kyle Snider filed a complaint that included 14 allegations of wrongdoing in that election. On March 12, 2015, the State Election Board voted unanimously to dismiss all 14 allegations during a hearing held in the Professional Licensing Building in Macon.
   After a lengthy investigation, the State Elections Board was presented with a summary of preliminary conclusions from Investigator Glenn Archie. The summary recommended the outright dismissal of 13 of the 14 allegations. The summary also noted one potential violation, which the State Election Board was asked to review and rule upon. After review, it too was dismissed.

New hotel is windfall for Cusseta
  December 22, 2015:  The recent opening of a hotel on Fort Benning is beginning to pay dividends to Chattahoochee County and may soon make it easier to retain and attract employees for the local government, as well as promote the community to tourists and potential investors.
   A "Rest Easy" hotel was recently built at 7350 Ingerson Road, Fort Benning (across from the movie theater "on post"). The location is actually inside the boundaries of Chattahoochee County, so the Unified Government of Cusseta-Chattahoochee is receiving a five percent hotel/motel fee paid by those who stay at the hotel.
   The county received approximately $17,000 from the hotel's first month of operation and $19,000 from the second month. While it is too early to say for sure what the average monthly revenue will be over the course of the year, Chattahoochee County officials are optimistic that it will remain in that range or possibly be higher. If it wound up averaging $18,000 per month it would bring in $216,000 per year.
   According to Cusseta-Chattahoochee County Manager Thomas Weaver, county commissioners are looking at a 3%/2% split of the funds. Under the proposal, the county government would use three percent of the revenue to offer health insurance to its employees. This would be a big development, as county employees currently receive no such offer on benefits.
   The other two percent is proposed to support efforts of tourism and marketing carried out by the Cusseta-Chattahoochee County Chamber of Commerce.

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Marion Water Superintendent dies in motorcycle accident
   September 2, 2015: A Cusseta resident who played an important role in Marion County died on August 28 in a motorcycle accident. Woodroe "Woody" Weaver, 59, was riding a 2005 Yamaha motorcycle and had an accident at Georgia Highway 26 where it intersects with Firetower Road and Flem Smith Road.
   Mr. Weaver became the superintendent of the Marion County Water Department in 2013 and had received much praise from county officials for how he not only held together an aging water system and offered advise on improvements, but also for how he treated customers.
   Prior to joining the Marion County Water Department, Mr. Weaver served as the water and wastewater director for Cusseta-Chattahoochee County for nine years. He was also a retired U.S. Navy veteran.

ChattCo High wins 6th straight Academic Decathlon State Championship
   March 11, 2015: The Chattahoochee County High School Academic Decathlon team traveled to Gwinnett County to compete in the State Competition at Berkmar High School. This was the school's 8th year competing at state competition.  The Chattco Team won Second Runner Up in Division 2 Schools and won the State Championship in the Small School Division. Chattco's final team ranking placed them 7th place overall in the state of Georgia.
   The team collectively brought home a total of 27 medals. Several team members won individual medals in the rigorous two-day competition. Team members included: Honors Division - Natalie Brown, Benjamin Edwards, Kayla Medina; Scholastic Division: Joshua Edwards, Caelynn Clemens, Danielle Edwards; Varsity Division - Dustin Chandler, Tyler Walton, Benjamin Coryell. Sarita Hollomon-Griggs was the coach.

The Lighter Side

Lumpkin Mayor defends actions after his arrest
   April 29, 2015: Lumpkin Mayor Charles Gibson defended his actions after being arrested for misdemeanor obstruction. His arrest was made after he allegedly told the city's interim clerk, Niya Williams, not to stop her car when a Lumpkin police officer attempted to pull her over for running a stop sign. Instead, he advised her to continue driving until more officers were present.
   Williams did just that, finally stopping about eight or nine miles outside of the Lumpkin city limits, according to Stewart County Sheriff Larry Jones. By that time the Lumpkin officer's pursuit had been joined by two vehicles from the Stewart County Sheriff's Office and one from the Chattahoochee County Sheriff's Office. Williams was reportedly hostile to officers when she finally stopped her car, ignoring commands to exit the vehicle while talking on her phone.
   Williams was charged with running a stop sign and attempting to elude law enforcement officers, according to Sheriff Jones.
   According to Mayor Gibson, the clerk had made a verbal complaint about Lumpkin Police Officer Jonathan Jackson the evening before the incident, stating that he had "strongly harassed her" and that she was "very concerned about driving home."

Buena Vista man wins $800,000
   April 8, 2015: One employee of Tyson didn't have to worry about how to pay the bills while the company was preparing to close its Buena Vista plant last spring. A Buena Vista resident won $800,000 on a scratch-off lottery ticket at Buena Vista Foods (USA Gas), according to Khalid Room. He said he sold the man, who asked that the store not release his name, the ticket on Saturday, April 4. The only details Room would divulge are that it was a local man who works at the Tyson plant.

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Ellaville Park Project nears completion, but city fires contractor for sidewalks
   September 23, 2015: The City of Ellaville is looking forward to enjoying the massive park renovations, but it took a while to get everything sorted out. The park project itself was relatively smooth, but the city wound up firing the contractor who was handling the new sidewalks.
   "We are very excited about the park coming to completion and hope that everyone will love it," City Manager Lynne McChargue said. "The Streetscape project that includes the sidewalks surrounding the park has no completion date at this time. Due to legal conflict with the GDOT contractor this project is taking much more time than originally planned."
   McChargue went on to say that the city was not able to come to an agreement with the GDOT contractor and the contract was terminated after being discussed in executive session at the September Council meeting. City officials asked citizens for patience and said they are confident the overall project will be worthwhile.

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Marijuana and Meth bust in Marion
  September 9, 2015: The Marion County Sheriff's Office won a battle in the ongoing local drug war with the seizure of a multitude of marijuana plants and methamphetamine.
   The Sheriff's Office, assisted by the Drug Task Force, executed a search warrant at 144 Azalea Lane, Box Springs (north Marion County), which is the residence of 37-year-old Anthony Eugene Jacobs III.
   Law officers conducted a search of the residence and property. The search led to the discovery of 34 marijuana plants, valued at approximately $24,800, as well as a quantity of methamphetamine ("meth"), numerous firearms, weighing scales, bags often used for the packaging of illegal drugs heading to the "market", and smoking devices.

Chattahoochee opening school-based health clinic
   July 29, 2015: The Chattahoochee County School System is opening a school based health clinic at Chattahoochee County Education Center, which houses the Elementary School, as well as a Day Care for children as young as 6-weeks-old.
   While its common practice for schools in Georgia to have school nurses (and Chattahoochee will still have those), the health clinic offers an advanced form of health care. It will be operated by Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Krista Cassel of Southwest Georgia Health Care, which also operates the Cusseta Medical Center. As a nurse practitioner, Cassel is trained and licensed to provide most standard health care, including diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medicine. In a nutshell, she is qualified to be a child's primary care provider.
  The school-based clinic is not only new to Chattahoochee County, but also to the state, as it is only the second such clinic in Georgia. (The only other one is in Albany.) The only cost to the school system is the space the clinic uses in the building. The clinic is located inside the elementary school in a room that also has two small examination rooms. The clinic is being operated through Southwest Georgia Health Care and the care provided will be paid for just as it would in any other similar medical facility (insurance, etc.).

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EPD shuts down Buena Vista landfill/dumpster
   July 15, 2015: People who drove through Buena Vista in July 2015 noticed many piles of limbs, leaves, and yard debris lining the streets. That's because the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) shut down the city's inert landfill (location for dumping biodegradable/non-hazardous waste), leaving the Street Department nowhere to dispose of such items.
   The EPD investigated a complaint about the "dump" and ordered it to be closed. The landfill is located on Putville Street (the street near Dent Hardware) and is also the location of a dumpster the city has kept on the site to allow citizens to dispose of household garbage. The messy condition of the dumpster, which often also had trash on the ground around it, is actually what led to the closing of the landfill.
   A citizen who lives near the area presented a complaint and a petition to City Council in January 2015, asking for the city to build a fence around the area to keep trash from blowing out into the neighborhood. Then, believing her concerns were being ignored, she contacted the EPD, which said the city didn't even have a permit to operate the landfill and ordered it closed. There was some confusion over whether a permit might have been issued many years ago, but nonetheless the site was closed and remains closed.

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Ellaville goes without power for 21 hours
   April 29, 2015: At six in the evening of Saturday, April 25, Adam Wall, Electrical Superintendent for the City of Ellaville, got a call from E-911. The power was out citywide.  Wall investigated at the major substation on Ebenezer Road and found that the power transformer had been severely damaged by lightening.
   MEAG Power is the source of electricity for the City and they work together with Georgia Power and Georgia Transmissions in situations such as this to solve the problem. A temporary power transformer was put in place and will provide power until a new transformer can be installed. 
   The power was off for a total of 21 hours from Saturday evening until Sunday afternoon at 3:18.

Chattahoochee Co. gets College and Career Academy Grant
   September 9, 2015: Chattahoochee County Middle/High School was the site of an important regional meeting, as local school officials met with state officials, business leaders, and representatives of higher education to discuss the possibility of forming a regional College and Career Academy.
   The highlight of the event was the presentation of a $10,000 grant to the Chattahoochee County School System from the Technical College System of Georgia and AT&T to help pay for the research and application process of potentially starting such a program at Chattahoochee County Middle/High School.
   It's still a long way from coming to pass, but the grant will allow local leaders to explore the possibility and get the ball rolling. They will get guidance from Thomas Suddreth, the director of Georgia's Ford Next Generation Learning. That process will take close to a year and next September (2016) they can decide if they want to officially apply to establish an academy.
   If an academy were formed, it would likely be regional (also serving Marion, Stewart, and Webster counties). Therefore, school officials from those counties were also at last Thursday's presentation to learn more about the possibility.

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Tazewell Baptist rises from the ashes
   June 17, 2015: Tazewell Baptist Church was totally destroyed by fire over a year ago – on March 15, 2014, but the building began to rise from the ashes in the summer of 2015, thanks in large part to "Carpenters for Christ."
   Since the church building burned down, members had attended other local churches, worshipped in open-air meetings, and made use of a temporary sanctuary in the form of a mobile office. The congregation was obviously in need of a new building. They never lost sight of this mission to rebuild the historic church, which was founded in 1837 in Tazewell, which at that time was the county seat of Marion County.

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Schley BOE loses chairman, gains member, hires new principal
   June 24, 2015: Two announcements highlighted the Schley County School Board meeting in June 2015. The first was the resignation of Board of Education Chairman Maria Cloer, who will teach at Southland Academy in Americus.
   The second announcement was the choice of a new high school principal to take the place of Jim Langley, who is moving to work in the Board of Education Office as Curriculum and Human Resource Director. The new principal is Todd West, who is coming from Quitman County High School where he served as assistant principal. 
   Also, Clifton Aldridge will replace Joan Perkins on the School Board. Perkins has retired from her long tenure representing District 2.

Nature Center Pavilion dedicated at MCMHS
   October 28, 2015: The Marion County Chamber of Commerce held a special Dedication Ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Nature Center Pavilion at Marion County Middle-High School, which has already become a very useful addition to the campus.
   The 60x38-foot mostly open-air structure also has restrooms and storage space. It was designed as a "hub" for the Nature Center/School Forestry Program, but quickly became the center of a wide variety of activities, from band practice to cross country competitions.
   The project got its start in the mind of longtime active citizen Sam Rigdon, former School Board member, retired forester, and longtime board member of the Pine Mountain Soil & Water Conservation District (PMSWC). Rigdon's two main volunteer partners – Ransom Briggs and Gene Rosinbaum – were also honored during the dedication. The duo worked on and supervised the construction of the pavilion.

Ellaville gets $372,865 for water system
   September 16, 2015: The Ellaville City Council celebrated receiving a big grant in September of 2015. The city received a Community Development Block Grant for $372,865 to use for the water system. It will pay for a pipeline to run from the Schley County Water System to the east side of the Ellaville system. The water will dump into the city system and be treated before being delivered to city customers. It also pays for equipment to drop the pressure down to the city's level and for other improvements to the water treatment plant.

Marion Co. Middle/High to get new principal
  November 10, 2015: Marion County Middle/High School will have a new principal next year. That's one of several changes in administration approved recently by the Board of Education. MCMHS Principal Glenn Tidwell will finish out the current school year, but will then receive a promotion to assistant superintendent on July 1, 2016. The school system currently does not have an assistant superintendent.
   Tidwell is in his 17th year as the county's middle/high school principal, going back to the Tri-County High era. A new principal-in-waiting has not been named yet.

Marion places 3rd at State XC Championship
   The Marion County High School cross country program made history in 2015 at the GHSA Cross Country State Championship in Carrollton. The Lady Eagles became the first Marion County cross country team to win a state trophy (third place). Senior Katherine Ta also became the first Marion runner to earn an individual medal, and the boys' team competed in the State Meet for the first time since the current MCHS school was built.

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