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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
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December 26, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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December 26, 2018 Page 7A it orter YEAR IN REVIEW Continued from Front June 27 Monroe County historian and former chief appraiser Jane Newton died at the age of 85. The Monroe County genealogy room was named for Newton, whose husband Sonny ran a Monroe County dairy farm. A Forsyth man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he was convicted of assaulting a Forsyth woman in her home. Billy Jones Jr. received the stiffest possible sentence from Judge Bill Fears after he was found guilty of aggravated assault for trying to choke the victim, Melinda Talmadge, in her home in October 2017. July4 The Monroe County Board of Education began a $1.7 million renovation of the BOE cen- tral office building on Brooklyn Avenue that was the original site of Mary Persons High School Longtime Monroe County school system employee Albert Fidds retired after 54 years of working in the transportation department. The 6'6" Fidds started out in 1964 as a substitute bus driver before moving his way up to assistant shop foreman and eventually to fleet manager. luty 11 A Forsyth man somehow avoided injury after his 2008 Honda Accord was hit by a train on Tift College Drive. Kanaiyalal Patel told Forsyth police he didn't hear the train's horn nor see the train coming as he crossed the tracks. A Colorado man was charged after he and a female accomplice were found stealing mail out of mailboxes on Pate Road just as several area residents reported someone trying to open credit cards in their names. Following a high- speed chase, Monroe County Dep. Cody Maples arrested Philips Kalu, 31, for the thefts and then turned the case over to federal authorities. July 18 An Ohio woman sued the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for more than $320,000 in punitive damages, saying she was beaten in the Monroe County Jail by former Sgt. William Jackson in 2016. Jackson previously resigned and liter pied guilty to using excessive force against the woman, Micka Martin, after she allegedly tried to headbutt and spit on him. Two Forsyth drivers and a 10-month-old baby were killed in a violent head-on collision on Hw~ 83 North near Jeffrey Way. A north- bound blue Nissan Altima, driven by Carole Foster, 24, collided with a southbound Chevy Avalanche, driven by Howard Zach, 50, killing both drivers at the scene and severely injuring Fosters baby, W~dliam Foster, who died several days liter at an Atlanta-area hospital. My25 Macon real estate man Dale Washburn is dected to replace the retiring Allen Peake to represent southem Monroe County in the legis- lature in a sizable runoff win over Gary Bechtel. In a hotly-debated decision, Monroe County commissioners voted 3-2 to indude $700,000 for intemet ~cmre enhancements in the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The final figure was less than half of what District 4 commissioner George Emami, who has championed the county's intemet ser- vice expansion, initially requested Aug,1 Monroe County Schools dosed the Hubbard Middle School campus and moved approxi- mately 285 sixth graders to the Banks Stephens Middle School campus after mold made it unsafe to use part of the Hubbard Middle cam- pus. When the systen~s maintenance crew went to dean the Hubbard Middle building after the July 4th break, they discovered that mildew and water damage was widespread due to heavy summer rains. The Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) dear cut huge swaths of trees alongside 1-75 and other state highways in a more than $1.3 million project. DOT officials said the proj- ect began after statistics showed that trees were the leading cause of death for drivers who hit fixed objects on Georgia highways. Aug. 8 A Forsyth man was arrested and charged with killing his girlfriend outside of his Jones Court home. Raymond Chambliss, 64, who was indicted later the same month by a Monroe County grand jur~ was accused of shooting with a pistol his girlfriend Tonia Herring, 49, who was found bleeding and unresponsive in his yard, following a domestic dispute. The Forsyth zoning board gave initial approv- al to owners Jason and Holly Connell for a new Volume Chevrolet dealership on North Lee Street. The ConneUs, who are Monroe County residents who also own a Volume location in Barnesville, are expected to open their Forsyth business by late spring 2019. Aug. 15 While Macon-Bibb County commission- ers prepared for a significant tax hike, Monroe County property owners learned they wouldn't have to pay higher property taxes in 2018 after Monroe County commissioners decided not to raise the millage. Meanwhile, the Monroe County Board of Education rolled back its prop- erty tax, eliminating the need for public hearings on the tax. Monroe County farmer James Vaughn was named one of nine finalists for the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastem Farmer of the Year award. Vaughn, who rec.eived Georgia Farmer of the Year honors in the spring, was lauded for taking his 650-acre pine tree planta- tion and converting it over a 10-year period into productive pastures where he raises forages for his beef cattle. AUg. 22 The Mary Persons Bulldogs football team blanked Gainesville 42-0 at Dan Pitts Stadium for the progr~'s 600th win in a season opener that was halted at halftime due to rain. MP, which scored 35 points in the first quarter alone, became the 16th program in Georgia High School Association (GHSA) history to reach the 600-win mark. Forsyth played host to the first annual week- long American Clown Academy camp at Camp Kaleo. The American Clown Academy, now owned by Monroe County natives Lee and Rebecca Andrews, partnered with Monroe County Schools to bring its Big Top Show to the Fine Arts Center, and camp instructors included downs with decades of experience including several members of the International Clown Hall of Fame. AUg. 29 A Monroe County deputy was fired and will face criminal charges after a High Falls woman he arrested for DUI in July allegedly recorded him trying to proposition her in exchange for dropping her criminal charges. Dep. William Miller, who was later arrested after a Georgia Bureau of Investigatiun (GBI) inquiry, was fired as he arrived at work after the complainant, Ashlie Roberts, shared audio on her cell phone of the incident. Forsyth got a Piggly Wiggly grocery store for the first time in 18 years after the local Freshway converted to the popular Piggly Wiggly brand. Owned by Iackson-based/ones Petroleum, the store dosed for nearly a week before re-opening as Piggly Wiggly with a new deli, a new bakery and more national brands than ever before. Sept. 5 A Monroe County deputy was bailed as a hero for hdping talk a troubled teemge girl out of jumping off the Rumble Road bndge onto 1-75. Sgt. Kirk Seckinger persuadecthe suicidal 18-year-old not to end her life and.'nsured she was taken to Macon's Coliseum H6pital for mental hEtreatment. A Monroe Cotmty jury convicted on 10 fdony counts a former Jackson police officer who fabricated a story of being shot by a black man while she patrolled a neighborhood in 2016. Judge Tommy Wilson sentenced Sherry Hall to 15 years in prison following a trial that was moved to Monroe from Butts County due to heightened publicity. Sept. 12 A young Forsyth mother who lost her Marine husband in a military plane crash in 2017 received a new mortgage-free home on Unionville Road. Sarah Beth Schaaff, the widow of the late CpL Collin Schaaff, was the first Gold Star family member to get a fully-furnished, two-story home by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The Mary Persons Bulldogs football squad burned up the scoreboard in a 58-21 taming of the Lover Lions at Dan Pitts Stadium. MP senior quarterback J.T. Hartage led the wa~; passing for a single-game school record 301 yards and two touchdowns in an unexpectedly easy win over a quality non-conference oppo- nent. Sept. 19 A Georgia-based homemade ice cream and candy company told Forsyth council members of their desire to buy the old city hall building on Jackson Street to open a new location in Forsyth. Scoops' representatives, who opened their first ice cream shop in Madison more than 15 years ago, later reached an agreement with the city, and Scoops is expected to open in spring 2019. The City of Forsyth and local churches stepped up to help evacuees from Hurricane Florence, mostly from South Carolina and North Carolina, as the massive storm made landfall, flooding parts of the Atlantic coast. The storm reached Middle Georgia almost exactly a year after Hurricane Irma brought Florida evacuees to Forsyth-area motels and shdters. Sept. 26 About 50 friends and family members of Mary Persons sophomore Amari Jefferson gath- ered at Dan Pitts Stadium to show support for his fight with kidney disease. Jefferson's family asked the public to test to determine if anyone is a match for a kidney transplant for Jefferson, an MP football player who has been battling a rare condition called nephrotic syndrome since lite 2017. A South Carolina man who attacked a Forsyth Tractor Supply employee trying to stop him from stealing a utility vehide was sentenced' to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty in Monroe County Superior Court. Antron Smith, who was captured on the same day the crime occurred on Jan. 19, 2017, revealed the name of his previously unknown accomplice, Michad Smith, as part ofhis plea deal. Oct. 3 Mary Persons senior Taylor Jordan learned she received a perfect 36 composite score on the national ACT test, making her one of just a couple thousand perfect testers nationally out of several million students who took the exam. Jordan, the daughter of Tanya W'dliams and Jeff Jordan, said she is considering attending any one of a number of prestigious universities induding Georgetown. Georgia Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods brought Hubbard Elementary School its STEM (Science, Technolog~ Engineering, Math) certification banner while congratulat- ing the students, staff and administration on achieving the recognition. Led by principal Jay Johnston, Hubbard became the 37th Georgia dementary school to receive STEM certification. Oct. 10 A IS-year-old Mary Persons student was arrested after a handgun was found in his book bag during a drug sweep of the school by Monroe County deputies. Monroe County Commissioners hired for- mer Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) rep- resentative Landon Sparks as the county's new recreation director. Sparks, a 1997 Mary Persons alum, replaced Keith Edge, who resigned in June to take a new job in the Monroe County tax assessors' office after a five-year stint as rec director. Oct. 17 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams made her first visit to Forsyth as her l~'t37s nominee in a speech in front of a packed sanctuary at St. James Baptist Church. Abrams' ar~ral in Forsyth came about a week after a . Washington Post story reported Forsyth coun- cilman John Howard was urging Abrams' cam- paign to stop in his hometown. The video poker machines at the Falls View Market in High Falls were locked after the store's manager was arrested and charged with operating a commercial gambling operation at the store. Monroe County authorities said N'fleshikumar Patti, of Locust Grove, was caught iUegaUy paying cash winnings on video poker machines during an undercover sting. Oct. 24 A.Forsyth woman died when she pulled out in front of a vehicle at the intersection of Tingle Road and High Falls Road. Heather Harden, 44, was headed west on Tingle Road in her Pontiac Grand Prix when she ran the stop sign at High Falls Road and was T-boned by a northbound leep Cherokee. Universal Television rented out the Monroe County Courthouse for a day in November to film a scene for a new TV series, '~Mnazing Stories." The show will air on the Apple TV streaming service. Oct. 31 Monroe County deputies shot and killed a High Falls woman who had a history of mental illness and was pointing a gun at deputies that turned out to be a CO2 pistol Christy Stiles, 42, was shot in her Martha Lane home after four deputies, who were all later deared of wrong- doing by the Georgia Bureau of investigation (GBI), responded to a long and desperate 9-1-1 call. Mary Persons senior Kendall Gantt was named the schoors first-ever Homecoming King, receiving his crown at halftime of MP'S 40-3 home victory over Perry. Joining Gantt at midfidd was Homecoming Queen Destiny Middleton, who later signed a scholarship to play college softball at North Carolina. Nov. 7 About 150 Monroe Countians greeted Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp when hi~ bus tour stopped at the Monroe County Courthouse square six days prior to the dection. The City of Forsyth agreed to buy the for- mer Big Star property on East Main Street for $350,000 as a location for a new city hall. Nov. 14 After a two-and-a-half hour public hearing, Monroe County Commissioners allowed a cattle process'rag facility/shughterhouse to be built on Hw~ 42 South despite the objections of about 75 nearby residents. Commissioners granted the applicant, Joseph Egloff, a conditional use vari- ance in agriculture enabling him to operate the fadlity on a 60-acre tract that formerly housed the W'tlson dairy The Mary Persons competition cheerleading squad achieved its highest-ever state finish, plic- ing third at the AAAA state f~mmpionship meet in Columbus. The Cheer Dogs, coached by Kyte Ward, bettered their previous best-ever finish of fifth, set in 2017, finishing behind only four points behind champion Cartersville and three points behind second-place Denmark. Nov. 21 The City of Forsyth will add a dog park and other amenities after Forsyth and Monroe County reached an agreement for the county to return land adjacent to Country Club Park to the city for recreation. Discussions about the over 15-acre parcel continued for several years with the county urging the city to build a dog park within nine months. A 19-year-old U.S. Army private killed in an auto accident on his way to his grandfather's funeral was buried in Forsyth with full military honors. Private First Class Logan Jackson, who was buried next to his grandfather at Fairview United Methodist Church, was leaving Fort Bragg, N.C. when he was killed in a one-car accident. Nov. 28 A Macon woman sued Monroe County and a drug-testiug company after she was jailed for three months in 2017 for having what turned out to be cotton candy and not meth. Dasha Fincher filed a dvil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court, saying her bond was set at $1 million after she was arrested when what Monroe County deputies erroneously thought were drugs were found in a car stopped on Hw~ 41 South on New Year's Eve 2016. The previously undefeated Mary Persons Bulldogs football team~ historic run came to an end in the quarterfinals of the AAAA state pliyoffs when visiting Marist came from behind in the fourth quarter to down MP 10-7 It was one of the most disappointing defeats ever at Dan Pitts Stadium. MP's offense, which entered the contest averaging 49 points per game, was limited to just a single touchdown in wet, windy conditions. Dec. 5 Monroe County dected its first non-Bittick as sheriff in nearly six decades as Brad Freeman edged Lawson Bit-tick by a 4,016 (56 percent) to 3,101 (44 percent) margin. Freeman, who has worked at the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for more than 30 years, defeated Bittick, the son of former sheriff John Cary Bitticlq in a run-off e ection. The Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce hdd its annual night holiday parade under dear skies with Santa and Mrs. Claus making an appearance at the end. The parade's theme was "Christmas in the South" as the Davis Plumb'rag float won the award for Best in Show and the Hubbard Elementary float took home the Most Creative award. Dec. 12 After capturing a fourth straight Region 2-AAAA title in 2018, the Mary Persons Bulldogs football squad swept nearly all of the major postseason awards, as selected by the region's coaches. Among the MP award winners were: head coach Brian Nelson (Coach of the Year), quarterback J.T. Hartage (Pliyer of the Year), running back Quen Wilson (Offensive Player of the Year) and safety Desmond Williams (Defensive Player of the Year). Two men got life in prison and a third got 15 years to serve after they pied guilty in Monroe County Superior Court to the December 2016 armed robberies of the Marathon station on Johnstonville Road and the C&B Store on Hwy. 41 North in Lamar County. Deontavious White, 27, of Jenkinshurg, and Emmanud Johnson, 33, of Jackson, were both sentenced to life in prison while Demarcio Stodghill, the getaway driver, received a 15-year prison sentence. Dec. 19 The Hospi'tal Authority of Monroe County selected a building contractor for $3.6 million in renovations to Monroe County Hospital (MCH), particularly its emergency room, that are expected to begin in early 2019. Perry-based Parrish Construction Group won the bid, and Macon-based SP Design Group will serve as the architectural firm for the project. A Monroe County couple bought popular Forsyth eatery Jon~'s on Johnston, which dosed in November, and re-opened the restaurant after making some renovations. The new owners, Eric and Laurie Thomag who moved to High Falls three years ago and have a decade's worth of experience in the restaurant industry, prom- ised fast service daffy and pizza by the slice.