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Looking back at 2008

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2008



- Dennis Trudeau stepped down after 20 years as Grovetown mayor, with George James as successor.

- Preston Blanchard, 57, the owner and operator of Carter-Blanchard Office Supply Inc. since 1980 and a former publisher of The Columbia County News-Times, died after a two-year battle with cancer.

- The Columbia County Health Department and local volunteer physicians started a free Harlem/Grovetown clinic near Grovetown.

- Construction started on the county's new fire-training facility on Columbia Road.

- Herbert Homes Inc. President Mark Herbert gave more than 54 acres of land to Grovetown to extend the Trails at Euchee Creek.

- The Harlem Woman's Club named Doris Belcher its Citizen of the Year.

- The Harlem Department of Public Safety hired Chuck Meadows as assistant chief.

- Garrett Black was named the athletic director at Greenbrier High School.

- Brian Smith was named Greenbrier High's new head football coach.


- Two Lakeside High School graduates, Jessica Fulmer, 21, and Melissa Eustice, 20, died in a car wreck while returning to Georgia Southern University from Atlanta. Jamie Lynn Carter, 22, also died in the crash.

- Grovetown City Councilman David Daughtry, 54, died from complications with diabetes.

- Zaxby's restaurant franchisee George Deuhring took home the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award.

- Pat Bourke, the executive director of Julie's House Inc., bought a Columbia County house to shelter homeless women and their children.

- Columbia County commissioners voted unanimously to build an up to $2 million facility to house a new Georgia State Patrol post on Chamblin Road.

- County officials recognized Linda Lindley as the 2007 Columbia County Employee of the Year.

- The Columbia County Commission approved a new landing site for Gold Cross/AirMed helicopters on Wheeler Road.


- Martinez native Ryan Clark was honored with the Robert P. Connelly Medal by Kiwanis International for his selfless actions. Clark was one of 30 students and staffers who died in the Virginia Tech shootings April 17, 2007, after he heard a disturbance in the hallway of his dormitory and went to help.

- An EF-1 tornado hit Appling near Pollard's Corner, damaging roads, homes and power lines, but leaving residents unharmed.

- Rory Partin, 30, of Martinez, died after wrecking his motorcycle at a 600-cc Superstock Novice race at the Roebling Road Race Track near Savannah.

- John J. Branton filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the sheriff's office after Lonnie D. Turner, 37, Branton's wife; Margaret Patricia Branton, 63, Turner's mother; and Turner's unborn child were killed June 4, 2006, during a car chase at Washington Road and Bobby Jones Expressway. Tiara Maria Smith and Nebula McNeely, who struck Turner's car while running from law enforcement on shoplifting charges, were both sentenced to life in prison.

- Harlem City Council announced that a Head Start/Columbia County Community Connection building to be constructed at the Harlem City Park will be named in honor of Mary E. Sanders. Sanders, a former member of the school board, is the county's only black elected official since Reconstruction.

- Former Columbia County Planning Commission Chairwoman Deanne Hall announced her intention to run for a county commission seat. She was defeated in the Republican primary by Charles Allen.

- Trey Allen announced he was running for the District 2 commission seat to replace the retiring Tommy Mercer. He ran unopposed.

- John Graham was named the 2008 Volunteer of the Year by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream.

- Michele Sherman, the principal of Greenbrier Elementary School, was named as the county's new director of elementary student learning.

- Dana Bull was named Greenbrier High's girls basketball coach.

- Lakeside High School coach Randy Hill resigned to take over as assistant football coach, head wrestling coach and head girls soccer coach at East Jackson High School in Commerce, Ga.


- Lakeside High School graduates Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley, of Lady Antebellum, performed at the Columbia County Amphitheater alongside band member Hillary Scott. The concert was part of the Music Evolution Series. The group later performed a surprise concert at Lakeside High.

- Leila Havird, a founder of Augusta Christian Schools, died at age 87.

- Alexis Noelle Colohan-Cannon Haworth, a 2005 Lakeside High School graduate, died April 6 after a head-on collision in St. Mary's, Ga.

- Columbia County Community Connection announced the formation of the Ryan Clark Community Service Award. The award recognizes youths active in community service.

- Jeremy David Love, 33, of Grovetown, committed suicide by hanging himself with a bedsheet while being held in the Grovetown Department of Public Safety jail.

- Former District 4 County Commissioner Lee Anderson resigned to run against Brett McGuire for the District 117 state House seat. Rep. Barry Fleming chose not to run for the seat so he could launch a campaign against Paul Broun for the District 10 U.S. House seat. McGuire and Fleming lost in the Republican primary.

- Scott Dean resigned as mayor of Harlem and announced his intention to seek Anderson's commission seat. He defeated David Payne in a special election.

- Bobby Culpepper, owner of Culpepper Ford dealership in Thomson, announced his candidacy for the Harlem mayoral seat vacated by Scott Dean. He won after running unopposed.

- Teacher Lee Benedict announced he would challenge state Rep. Ben Harbin for his Georgia House seat. Harbin won by a landslide.

- Barry Davis and Theoplis Knight qualified to run for a seat on the Grovetown City Council to fill the unexpired term of David Daughtry. Davis won in a special election.

- Grovetown Department of Public Safety opened its second fire station next to the Grovetown Senior Center on West Robinson Avenue.

- The Harlem High School baseball team won the Region 3-AAA title.

- The Greenbrier High School girls track and field team earned the Region 3-AAAA title.


- Superior Court Judge Duncan Wheale rescinded the sentence he had imposed on William Archer Stulb, 23, in December 2005 after a jury found Stulb guilty of statutory rape. His sentence was later changed under the First Offender Act and he was released from probation. Weeks later, Stulb was jailed after he was accused of molesting an 11-year-old Augusta girl during a trip to Sea Island, Ga., in June.

- Keith Dewayne Lowe, 30, of Augusta, shot his ex-girlfriend, Anita Faye Reed, then himself in the parking lot of Academy Sports and Outdoors in Evans. Reed was shot twice, but survived. Lowe died.

- Nebula Denise McNeely, of Augusta, the second of two woman indicted in a fatal 2006 crash, was sentenced to life in prison May 8 after she was found guilty of two counts of murder, feticide, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, cruelty to children, fleeing and attempting to elude police and misdemeanor shoplifting.

- Augusta Christian Schools dedicated the Christen Renfro Memorial Garden. Christen was a 16-year-old Augusta Christian sophomore when she died on her way to school in a single-vehicle crash in January 2004.

- A small airplane, flown by Charles Hugh Denaney, of Martinez, made an emergency landing on a beach at Trade Winds Marina on May 4.

- Construction started on the Columbia County Humane Society's low-cost spay and neuter clinic on Columbia Road.

- Bobby Culpepper was sworn in as Harlem mayor.

- The Columbia County school board announced Judy Holton as principal of Greenbrier Elementary.

- Sermaster Dozier, 20, of Augusta, drowned at Thurmond Lake.

- Olvin Interiano, 27, of Beech Island, drowned at the lake on Memorial Day.


- The Columbia County Commission approved a $56.7 million budget. It did not require a property tax rate increase.

- The Columbia County Development Authority Executive Director Zack Daffin announced he was leaving the post in mid-July.

- Edtwon Jamar Jackson, 22, of Thomson, drowned in the Lake Springs recreation area at Clarks Hill.

- Phyllis Means, the director of elementary student learning for Columbia County schools, retired after 40 years as an educator.

- Columbia County's first Wal-Mart on Bobby Jones Expressway held a grand reopening ceremony as a Super Center.

- Harlem Baptist Church officials broke ground on a new building to replace the church's youth building.

- The Rev. Roger Vest left Harlem United Methodist Church after six years as its pastor.


- John Milledge Elementary School teacher Christian Giles died after she was hit by a sport utility vehicle while walking her dogs on Mullikin Road.

- U.S. Rep. Paul Broun defeated state Rep. Barry Fleming to retain the 10th Congressional District seat in the Republican primary.

- Lee Anderson defeated Brett McGuire for the state House District 117 seat.

- Ben Harbin defeated Lee Benedict for the state House District 118 seat.

- Charles Allen defeated Deanne Hall for the Columbia County Commission District 3 seat.

- Scott Dean defeated David Payne for the Columbia County Commission District 4 seat

- Barry Davis defeated Theo Knight for a Grovetown City Council seat.

- Forrest Griffin, a 1997 Evans High School graduate, won the light heavyweight title in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Las Vegas. Griffin lost in his first title defense in December.

- Grovetown city officials voted to increase millage from 4.64 to 5.64.

- Jonathan Tyler Thomas, 9, of Augusta, drowned while at the West Dam recreation area of the lake.

- Members of the Harlem City Council issued the city's first license to sell beer and wine by the drink.

- Alicia Renee Driggers, 41, of Tarrytown, Ga., died July 20 after a golf car wreck in Winfield.

- A coyote killed by farmhands in Appling tested positive for rabies, marking the first case in county history.

- Jim Tau, Lakeside High School's band director, replaced Randy Hill as the school's wrestling coach.

- Grovetown purchased an 80,000-square-foot church on Robinson Avenue to house the city's new courthouse.

- Scott Winkler and fellow Olympians and Paralympians met President Bush at the White House.

- Control of the county's Convention and Visitor's Bureau was relinquished by Columbia County Commission.


- Stallings Island Middle School opened.

- A rising Lakeside High School freshman, Richard Mixon, 14, died after accidentally shooting himself at his Martinez home.

- Reese Hoffa, a Lakeside High School graduate and shot putter, came in seventh place at the 2008 Olympics.

- The lake was expected to hit its lowest level since 2002.

- Linda Joesbury retired from her position as director of Columbia County Family and Children Services.

- Columbia County Planning Commission approved a preliminary plat for a new Wal-Mart shopping center near Grovetown.

- Terry Antwan Ramsey, 40, of Augusta, was arrested and charged in the shooting death of Richard Paprocki, 36, of the 300 block of Avery Landing in Martinez. The incident occurred at Ramsey's home.

- Vernon Ashley, 36, of Martinez was killed in a head-on collision on Hereford Farm Road after he drove into oncoming traffic.

- Chabad Lubavitch of Augusta, Ga., Inc., purchased a parcel of land on Old Furys Ferry Road for $291,000 to add a Jewish educational center in Columbia County.

- Construction for a three-story children's ministry building at Abilene Baptist Church broke ground.


- Authorities arrested Willie Bernard Butler, 19; Martin Holmes, 17; Karnbi Octavious Young, 19; Patrick Booker, 19; and a 14-year-old boy. They were charged with the shooting death of 33-year-old Ricky Gibson of Grovetown.

- Grovetown resident Scott Winkler finished fifth place in the Paralympics in Beijing, China.

- A federal grand jury in Savannah indicted Daniel Webster Carson, Harlem's director of Public Works, on 11 counts alleging he violated the Clean Water Act.

- County Commissioner Scott Dean and his wife, Renee, welcomed five new members of their family into their Harlem home. Marlin, 15; Silda, 14; Sindy, 11; Mimi, 6; and Byron, 4; were adopted from an orphanage in Guatemala.

- The owner of Cleve Edmunds' Bar-B-Que, Robert Cleveland "Cleve" Edmunds, 73, died.

- Benfort Hendricks, 41, of Orlando, Fla., was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by six year's probation, for a 2006 wreck that killed his father-in-law.

- Harry Bacheller was named Augusta Prep's first football coach.

- Plans for an expanded IGA store in Harlem were put on hold while city officials worked out details of the plans with supermarket officials.

- Lt. Drew Murdock and firefighter Jamie Atkins were named Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue's 2007-08 Firefighter and Volunteer of the Year, respectively.

- Evans High School chemistry teacher Jill Harrell was awarded the Denise L. Creech Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher Award by the Savannah River Section of the American Chemical Society.

- Lakeside High School's football coach, Jody Grooms, returned to the sideline after a suspension for running an illegal play during the final regular-season game of 2007.


- State Rep. Ben Harbin pleaded guilty to reckless driving, ending a DUI case that started May 2007 after a late-night car crash in Atlanta.

- Columbia County sheriff's Investigator Brooke Renai Kelly was charged with nine counts of first-degree forgery and violation of oath by a public officer after she was accused of forging victims' names on numerous damaged-property complaints and theft cases.

- Bel Air Elementary School teacher Michele Rigsby was named Columbia County Teacher of the Year. Jane Roupe, of Cedar Ridge Elementary School, was named Media Specialist of the Year.

- After the death of pedestrian Christian Giles, the county commission approved a $109,000 bid to build a sidewalk on Mullikin Road.

- Former county school board member James "Jimmy" de Xavier Camak V died at the age of 76.

- Edwin Sanchez, 44, of Hephzibah, died after a five-vehicle wreck at Washington and Halali Farm roads.

- Walter Davis, Steve Boyd, Larry Mize, Frances Barrett Swartz and Cortland Lowe were the first inductees to the Augusta Prep Sports Hall of Fame.

- Longtime Harlem Middle School football coach Benjie Moore coached his final game for the Bulldogs. He intends to retire next year.

- The Augusta Prep girls cross country team won the GISA state championship.

- The Evans High softball team won the Region 3-AAAA championship.

- The Greenbrier High softball team won its 13th consecutive region title. The same month, the volleyball team won the Region 2-AAAAA title.

- The Augusta Prep boys soccer team won a region title.

- Todd Glover resigned as the director of Management Services. The division was eliminated and the duties divvied up amongst other county departments.

- Jeff Browning retired as director of Planning and Development. County officials are planning to fold that division into Building and Commercial Services.

- The county planning commission approved a plan to build a Publix supermarket at the corner of Washington Road and William Few Parkway.

- Jones Creek Investors LLC bought the Jones Creek Golf Club.

- During a police search of Evans High School, junior football player Wes Ivie admitted having a rifle in his vehicle. Though he was not charged by police, a school system hearing officer sentenced him to finish the semester in alternative school and he was banned from playing football for the remainder of the season.


- Rep. Paul Broun made national headlines after calling Barack Obama a Marxist during a luncheon of the Martinez-Evans Rotary Club.

- County voters narrowly passed a renewal of an $180 million 1-cent sales tax, but soundly defeated an $18 bond referendum for a natatorium and tennis complex.

- Harlem voters passed ballot questions asking for Sunday alcohol sales and allowing the city to sell liquor licenses. Political newcomer Melonie Dappie failed to unseat incumbents Tom Blalock or Robin Root in the city council race.

- Though finishing the regular season undefeated, the Evans High football team lost in the first round of state playoffs.

- Harlem High student Brandon McLamb, 15, was arrested on a charge that he raped an 8-year-old girl.

- A mistrial was declared for Brandon Christopher Newman, 26, who was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide after a May 2007 wreck that killed his brother and a female passenger.

- Douglas Wayne Toney, 35, of Lincolnton, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for concealing the death of another and drug charges. He was implicated in the 1992 fatal shooting of Faxton Lamar Powell Jr., whose body was found in Pumpkin Center.

- The Columbia County Development Authority named Troy Post, of Bessemer, Ala., as its choice for its new executive director.

- Because of state budget cuts, the county commission approved a 2.6 percent reduction in the county budget, saving more than $1.26 million.

- After a lengthy closure, the Grovetown nonprofit service organization United We Care reopened.


- After 44 years with the county, Roads and Bridges Manager Charles Norris retired.

- Thieves stole a safe from Grovetown City Hall containing about $1,000 and bill payments from area residents. Police offered a $1,000 reward.

- The Columbia County school board removed a rule allowing spanking in schools. School officials said administrators long ago abandoned spanking as a discipline option.

- Grovetown City Council defeated a measure that would have restricted the age of incoming mobile homes to 5 years or less.

- Rodney Holder and Todd Booker were named Grovetown High's head football coach and athletic director.

- Veteran County Commissioners Diane Ford and Tom Mercer attended their final commission meeting.


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