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Peka signs to become Lady Pacer

While she was looking to play softball somewhere, 2015 Evans High graduate Samantha Peka was trying to take care of her scholastic future first.

She did both Friday in a ceremony at her house, signing to play softball for Division II University of South Carolina Aiken.

“They have a very strong academic program and I wanted look past softball as well,” Peka said. “From what I’ve heard it’s a young team. It’ll be nice to go somewhere and be able to help. The coach has an awesome program over there.”

Peka plans to major in psychology and branch out.
“I’ll either do sports psychology with it or I’ll double major and do criminology as well,” Peka said.

She joins a squad led by Jerry Snyder that went 22-17 in 2015. She met Snyder while she was at the school for another reason.

“I was invited to their honors program, so I went up and they were playing a game and I was like I might as well knock out two birds with one stone,” Peka said. “I went for it and talked to him about it and he (Snyder) said just e-mail me some stuff and send me some videos so I knocked both of them out.”

After starting high school in Grovetown, Peka joined the Lady Knights her junior year. Evans coach Colette Cassedy thought it was a plus that Peka came her way.
“With rezoning, she was a bonus for our program,” said Cassedy, adding that Peka called her own games in 2015.

Catching for the Lady Knights, the team went 41-24 in her two years behind the plate. She earned 2015 All-Region 2-AAAAA Second Team honors while batting .354 as the team went 24-11.

While handling Lady Knights’ pitchers, that’s not necessarily where she’ll end up with the Lady Pacers.

“For my travel ball team I would play outfield, shortstop, third, second, wherever coach said go,” She said. “Hopefully I can show that I’m a team player and that I can earn some spots. But if not I will still bust my butt and try to work for it. That’s all I can do.”

Categories: Local

Peka signs to become Lady Pacer

While she was looking to play softball somewhere, 2015 Evans High graduate Samantha Peka was trying to take care of her scholastic future first.

She did both Friday in a ceremony at her house, signing to play softball for Division II University of South Carolina Aiken.

“They have a very strong academic program and I wanted look past softball as well,” Peka said. “From what I’ve heard it’s a young team. It’ll be nice to go somewhere and be able to help. The coach has an awesome program over there.”

Peka plans to major in psychology and branch out.
“I’ll either do sports psychology with it or I’ll double major and do criminology as well,” Peka said.

She joins a squad led by Jerry Snyder that went 22-17 in 2015. She met Snyder while she was at the school for another reason.

“I was invited to their honors program, so I went up and they were playing a game and I was like I might as well knock out two birds with one stone,” Peka said. “I went for it and talked to him about it and he (Snyder) said just e-mail me some stuff and send me some videos so I knocked both of them out.”

After starting high school in Grovetown, Peka joined the Lady Knights her junior year. Evans coach Colette Cassedy thought it was a plus that Peka came her way.
“With rezoning, she was a bonus for our program,” said Cassedy, adding that Peka called her own games in 2015.

Catching for the Lady Knights, the team went 41-24 in her two years behind the plate. She earned 2015 All-Region 2-AAAAA Second Team honors while batting .354 as the team went 24-11.

While handling Lady Knights’ pitchers, that’s not necessarily where she’ll end up with the Lady Pacers.

“For my travel ball team I would play outfield, shortstop, third, second, wherever coach said go,” She said. “Hopefully I can show that I’m a team player and that I can earn some spots. But if not I will still bust my butt and try to work for it. That’s all I can do.”

Categories: Local

MELL Nationals fall short in comeback bid

 

The Martinez-Evans Little League Nationals just didn’t have one final comeback in them.

In the 9/10 District 6 All Star championship game at Crawford Creek Park Friday night, the Nationals trailed Elbert County 7-0 after the first inning. The teams played evenly the rest of the way with Elbert County taking the title, 12-5.

It was a long week of baseball for the Nationals. They started Sunday, June 21 with a 26-0 win over Lincoln County and beat Oglethorpe on Monday before being sent to the losers’ bracket on Tuesday by Elbert County, falling 10-2. The Nationals fought their way into the championship round with a 21-13 win over Washington-Wilkes on Thursday, a game in which they trailed 6-1 after the first inning.

In the game against Washington-Wilkes, the Nationals worked 18 walks and banged out 13 hits while manager Sam Carter utilized five different pitchers.

During the week, Carter started using terms like intestinal fortitude and moxie and he thought his team embodied those terms Friday night.

“I was happy that that’s what I saw tonight,” said Carter. “They tried to battle back. Again, at 9 and 10 it gets a little hard, but they they made me proud to the extent that they didn’t give up.”

The Nationals scored four of their five runs in the final two innings after Elbert County starter Lawson Adams reached his 75-pitch limit in the fourth inning. The Nationals made things happen when they put the ball in play, but Adams worked the outside corner to perfection and got 10 of his 12 outs via strikeout.

Elbert County got four hits off MELL starter Evan Norton in the decisive first inning, but he was hindered by his defense that committed two errors behind him. Ater that, Norton scattered three more hits while allowing three more runs, including two in the fourth inning as the defense made three more errors.

Once Adams left, MELL started applying pressure. In the fifth inning, Michael Bates walked leading off and Evan Eveker singled right behind him before Gage Daniel was hit by a pitch. A Norton walk brought home a run as did Hayden Revile’s groundout.

In the sixth, Bates, who took over pitching duties in the fourth inning, doubled home a run and scored on Eveker’s groundout.

Carter thought scoring runs might be hard to come by coming in.

“I knew they were going to go the distance with their two aces,” Carter said. “The second guy was a little bit off tonight, just as good as the first.”

In the end, Carter likes what the future might hold for the players.

“The league is alive and well,” Carter said. “We have a great group of 9 and 10 year olds. They probably hit the ball as good as anyone has in some time. We’re going to be great, we’re going to be good.”

Categories: Local

MELL Nationals fall short in comeback bid

 

The Martinez-Evans Little League Nationals just didn’t have one final comeback in them.

In the 9/10 District 6 All Star championship game at Crawford Creek Park Friday night, the Nationals trailed Elbert County 7-0 after the first inning. The teams played evenly the rest of the way with Elbert County taking the title, 12-5.

It was a long week of baseball for the Nationals. They started Sunday, June 21 with a 26-0 win over Lincoln County and beat Oglethorpe on Monday before being sent to the losers’ bracket on Tuesday by Elbert County, falling 10-2. The Nationals fought their way into the championship round with a 21-13 win over Washington-Wilkes on Thursday, a game in which they trailed 6-1 after the first inning.

In the game against Washington-Wilkes, the Nationals worked 18 walks and banged out 13 hits while manager Sam Carter utilized five different pitchers.

During the week, Carter started using terms like intestinal fortitude and moxie and he thought his team embodied those terms Friday night.

“I was happy that that’s what I saw tonight,” said Carter. “They tried to battle back. Again, at 9 and 10 it gets a little hard, but they they made me proud to the extent that they didn’t give up.”

The Nationals scored four of their five runs in the final two innings after Elbert County starter Lawson Adams reached his 75-pitch limit in the fourth inning. The Nationals made things happen when they put the ball in play, but Adams worked the outside corner to perfection and got 10 of his 12 outs via strikeout.

Elbert County got four hits off MELL starter Evan Norton in the decisive first inning, but he was hindered by his defense that committed two errors behind him. Ater that, Norton scattered three more hits while allowing three more runs, including two in the fourth inning as the defense made three more errors.

Once Adams left, MELL started applying pressure. In the fifth inning, Michael Bates walked leading off and Evan Eveker singled right behind him before Gage Daniel was hit by a pitch. A Norton walk brought home a run as did Hayden Revile’s groundout.

In the sixth, Bates, who took over pitching duties in the fourth inning, doubled home a run and scored on Eveker’s groundout.

Carter thought scoring runs might be hard to come by coming in.

“I knew they were going to go the distance with their two aces,” Carter said. “The second guy was a little bit off tonight, just as good as the first.”

In the end, Carter likes what the future might hold for the players.

“The league is alive and well,” Carter said. “We have a great group of 9 and 10 year olds. They probably hit the ball as good as anyone has in some time. We’re going to be great, we’re going to be good.”

Categories: Local

Deaf Disc Golf National Championship held in Appling

 

New champions were crowned at the end of the Deaf Disc Golf National Championship on Saturday.

Held at the International Disc Golf Center in Appling and sanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association, 90 players representing 27 states and two countries competed for the title of champion in several different categories.

In a men’s open field that included a four-time and a three-time national champion, Fletch Kuehne from Washington, D.C., scalded the field with a 23-under-par, beating his nearest competitor by 10 shots.

In the women’s open. Melissa Montgomery (Austin, Texas) unseated defending champion Brandie Aguado, finishing at 69-over-par while Aguado was third at 98-over.

Locally, Dain Sivak from Augusta competed in the masters division, coming in third after finishing even for the tournament.

Categories: Local

Deaf Disc Golf National Championship held in Appling

 

New champions were crowned at the end of the Deaf Disc Golf National Championship on Saturday.

Held at the International Disc Golf Center in Appling and sanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association, 90 players representing 27 states and two countries competed for the title of champion in several different categories.

In a men’s open field that included a four-time and a three-time national champion, Fletch Kuehne from Washington, D.C., scalded the field with a 23-under-par, beating his nearest competitor by 10 shots.

In the women’s open. Melissa Montgomery (Austin, Texas) unseated defending champion Brandie Aguado, finishing at 69-over-par while Aguado was third at 98-over.

Locally, Dain Sivak from Augusta competed in the masters division, coming in third after finishing even for the tournament.

Categories: Local

Volunteer Spotlight: Jane Cashin

Jane Cashin can’t remember how long she has been a Casa volunteer. CASA is the arm of child enrichment that works in the field to evaluate cases of child neglect and abuse for the court.

Cashin stands out for her longevity in a field in which volunteers typically last only two or three years. She volunteered with the agency in Illinois before she moved here 18 years ago.

Casa Program Director Dawn Charleston-Green said, “Miss Jane is a different breed (of volunteer) altogether. If the child moves and she has built up a relationship, she will go to where the child is.”

Cashin has been traveling to Atlanta frequently to check on a mentally handicapped child who was placed in a foster home there about 15 years ago.

“I check on her and talk to the foster mother every month and keep up with her medications because she has seizures daily,” said Cashin. “I make sure she gets what ever she needs.”

This long-term commitment is what makes Cashin stand out.

Recently a teenager who was adopted many years ago wanted to make contact with her birth mother.

“Miss Jane had the knowledge of the situation that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise,” stated Charleston-Green. “I’ve only been here five years so I had no knowledge of the case.”

Cashin eventually traveled to Maryland at her own expense to evaluate the current situation before agreeing to provide the contact information to the adoptee.

Juvenile Court Judge Douglas Flanagan credits the Casa volunteers for providing an invaluable resource. He has the Casa reports printed on red paper so he can go right to them when reviewing a large case file during a court hearing.

“Could I do it without them? The answer is no,” said Flanagan. “What I’d be doing is making decisions with only half the necessary evidence.”

“I can’t travel to the house and spend the time necessary to get to know the child,” stated Flanagan. ”I can’t go to the foster home or review medical history in order to make recommendations on what is best for the child.”

“Every time we have a hearing Casa is there right up front, not in the back, because I want to see them and I want to hear them,” continued Flanagan.

Sometimes the job can be dangerous.

“When I was in Illinois I was attacked in the courthouse,” said Cashin. “Of course there were guards there to keep us separated.”

“Most times you may start out with a family that is a little belligerent but in the end they become friends because they see that you are really trying to help,” said Cashin.

Cashin is quick to point out one of the greatest rewards of the job. “It’s always wonderful to go to an adoption ceremony because then they don’t need you anymore.”

Categories: Local

Volunteer Spotlight: Jane Cashin

Jane Cashin can’t remember how long she has been a Casa volunteer. CASA is the arm of child enrichment that works in the field to evaluate cases of child neglect and abuse for the court.

Cashin stands out for her longevity in a field in which volunteers typically last only two or three years. She volunteered with the agency in Illinois before she moved here 18 years ago.

Casa Program Director Dawn Charleston-Green said, “Miss Jane is a different breed (of volunteer) altogether. If the child moves and she has built up a relationship, she will go to where the child is.”

Cashin has been traveling to Atlanta frequently to check on a mentally handicapped child who was placed in a foster home there about 15 years ago.

“I check on her and talk to the foster mother every month and keep up with her medications because she has seizures daily,” said Cashin. “I make sure she gets what ever she needs.”

This long-term commitment is what makes Cashin stand out.

Recently a teenager who was adopted many years ago wanted to make contact with her birth mother.

“Miss Jane had the knowledge of the situation that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise,” stated Charleston-Green. “I’ve only been here five years so I had no knowledge of the case.”

Cashin eventually traveled to Maryland at her own expense to evaluate the current situation before agreeing to provide the contact information to the adoptee.

Juvenile Court Judge Douglas Flanagan credits the Casa volunteers for providing an invaluable resource. He has the Casa reports printed on red paper so he can go right to them when reviewing a large case file during a court hearing.

“Could I do it without them? The answer is no,” said Flanagan. “What I’d be doing is making decisions with only half the necessary evidence.”

“I can’t travel to the house and spend the time necessary to get to know the child,” stated Flanagan. ”I can’t go to the foster home or review medical history in order to make recommendations on what is best for the child.”

“Every time we have a hearing Casa is there right up front, not in the back, because I want to see them and I want to hear them,” continued Flanagan.

Sometimes the job can be dangerous.

“When I was in Illinois I was attacked in the courthouse,” said Cashin. “Of course there were guards there to keep us separated.”

“Most times you may start out with a family that is a little belligerent but in the end they become friends because they see that you are really trying to help,” said Cashin.

Cashin is quick to point out one of the greatest rewards of the job. “It’s always wonderful to go to an adoption ceremony because then they don’t need you anymore.”

Categories: Local

Mega Millions - 06/30/2015

Georgia Lottery - Wed, 7/1/2015 12:00 AM
11-17-34-43-50 Mega Ball: 15 Megaplier: 4X Estimated Jackpot: $84 Million
Categories: Local

Fantasy 5 - 06/30/2015

Georgia Lottery - Wed, 7/1/2015 12:00 AM
02-06-21-30-31 Estimated Jackpot: $100,000
Categories: Local

Jumbo Bucks Lotto - 06/29/2015

Georgia Lottery - Tue, 6/30/2015 12:00 AM
12-13-29-30-41-45 Estimated Jackpot: $4,000,000
Categories: Local

Fantasy 5 - 06/29/2015

Georgia Lottery - Tue, 6/30/2015 12:00 AM
12-28-29-33-38 Estimated Jackpot: $279,000
Categories: Local

Fantasy 5 - 06/28/2015

Georgia Lottery - Mon, 6/29/2015 12:00 AM
06-14-15-19-35 Estimated Jackpot: $190,000
Categories: Local

Police Blotter, June 28, 2015

Business owner arrested, again

The former owner of an electronics repair business charged with stealing from customers last year was arrested again.

Perry Clark Bower, 55, the former owner of Electric Medic in Martinez, pled guilty to 38 of 76 misdemeanor theft by taking charges and two counts of damaging a public utility in March. He was sentenced to seven years probation and ordered to repay $16,625.

He was accused by people who stated he took monetary deposits, but never made repairs and sometimes didn’t return electronics.

Bower was arrested on June 21 accused of theft. A Martinez man called authorities on June 19 stating he’d let Bower live in a camper in his back yard, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident report. The man said he noticed a hunting box and a trailer hitch missing from the home. When he moved Bower from the camper into his home, the man said he found the items in the camper.

– From staff reports

The following accounts were taken from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident reports:

Tablet missing after teen scam

A couple who was being kind to a young man and woman said they were robbed early Tuesday.

The 79-year-old Martinez woman said a young man and woman, who appeared to be teenagers, came to her house at about 8:40 a.m. asking to use a phone because they were locked out of her grandmother’s house. The husband stayed outside while the wife went inside with the couple.

The girl unplugged the woman’s tablet so she could plug in her own phone. She said the couple asked to use the bathroom, so she let them use the one in the master bedroom.

After they used the bathroom, the couple wanted to leave. A few minutes after they left, the woman said she noticed her tablet missing.

When she told her husband, he discovered two crisp $100 bills were missing. They immediately called authorities.

Deputies went to the home the couple described up the street and spoke to a woman. She said she was house-sitting for her grandmother and younger, sister and sister’s boyfriend.

She said they came into the house at about 9 a.m. with a white tablet, a cellphone and some cords. Deputies were not able to immediately find the couple.

Empty homes vandalized

The owners of two homes told authorities June 22 that their homes were broken into and damaged.

A man said he bought a home on Forest Court in Martinez as an investment. He discovered that between June 1 andJune 22, someone pried the handle off the rear door and got into the house. The vandals spray-painted black paint on the inside walls and on several windows. They also moved the stove, electrical panel, water heater in the garage and went under the house looking for copper wire and plumbing.

The man said copper items were stolen before he bought the home and he had it all replaced with PVC piping and aluminum wire. The vandals damaged the back deck and other rooms throughout the home.

A local builder also called deputies June 22 after he discovered someone vandalized a home under construction. An owner of PDH Builders Inc. said someone spray-painted graffiti on the garage door of a home near Blanchard Woods Park in Evans. The graffiti included the word, “Blood,” and other possible gang symbols.

Categories: Local

Police Blotter, June 28, 2015

Business owner arrested, again

The former owner of an electronics repair business charged with stealing from customers last year was arrested again.

Perry Clark Bower, 55, the former owner of Electric Medic in Martinez, pled guilty to 38 of 76 misdemeanor theft by taking charges and two counts of damaging a public utility in March. He was sentenced to seven years probation and ordered to repay $16,625.

He was accused by people who stated he took monetary deposits, but never made repairs and sometimes didn’t return electronics.

Bower was arrested on June 21 accused of theft. A Martinez man called authorities on June 19 stating he’d let Bower live in a camper in his back yard, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident report. The man said he noticed a hunting box and a trailer hitch missing from the home. When he moved Bower from the camper into his home, the man said he found the items in the camper.

– From staff reports

The following accounts were taken from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident reports:

Tablet missing after teen scam

A couple who was being kind to a young man and woman said they were robbed early Tuesday.

The 79-year-old Martinez woman said a young man and woman, who appeared to be teenagers, came to her house at about 8:40 a.m. asking to use a phone because they were locked out of her grandmother’s house. The husband stayed outside while the wife went inside with the couple.

The girl unplugged the woman’s tablet so she could plug in her own phone. She said the couple asked to use the bathroom, so she let them use the one in the master bedroom.

After they used the bathroom, the couple wanted to leave. A few minutes after they left, the woman said she noticed her tablet missing.

When she told her husband, he discovered two crisp $100 bills were missing. They immediately called authorities.

Deputies went to the home the couple described up the street and spoke to a woman. She said she was house-sitting for her grandmother and younger, sister and sister’s boyfriend.

She said they came into the house at about 9 a.m. with a white tablet, a cellphone and some cords. Deputies were not able to immediately find the couple.

Empty homes vandalized

The owners of two homes told authorities June 22 that their homes were broken into and damaged.

A man said he bought a home on Forest Court in Martinez as an investment. He discovered that between June 1 andJune 22, someone pried the handle off the rear door and got into the house. The vandals spray-painted black paint on the inside walls and on several windows. They also moved the stove, electrical panel, water heater in the garage and went under the house looking for copper wire and plumbing.

The man said copper items were stolen before he bought the home and he had it all replaced with PVC piping and aluminum wire. The vandals damaged the back deck and other rooms throughout the home.

A local builder also called deputies June 22 after he discovered someone vandalized a home under construction. An owner of PDH Builders Inc. said someone spray-painted graffiti on the garage door of a home near Blanchard Woods Park in Evans. The graffiti included the word, “Blood,” and other possible gang symbols.

Categories: Local

Columbia County school board votes down charter school petition to start up proposed Columbia County School for the Arts

Columbia County school board members voted unanimously Tuesday to deny a charter school petition to the group behind the proposed Columbia County School for the Arts.

The denial is the second in two years for the proposed charter school, which planned to offer a curriculum infused with arts and foreign language instruction that would eventually serve children from kindergarten through high school. The group’s petition can still be approved by the state Charter School Commission, which will hold hearings on the petitions next month in Atlanta.

If approved, the group has plans to construct a school on property near Blanchard Woods Park in Evans and open in 2016 for about 700 children in kindergarten though eighth grade, adding another grade each successive year.

System Superintendent Sandra Carraway told board members Tuesday that after a review of the school’s 200-page petition by a 10-member panel of school system administrators, educators and other experts, she could not recommend approving the charter application.

“Most importantly to the committee, the petition lacked academic rigor and sufficient demonstration that they could or would be increasing student achievement,” Carraway said.

Georgia law requires that startup charter schools must increase student achievement through academic and organizational innovation, and the committee found that was lacking.

The committee also found problems with the charter school’s fiscal soundness and plan to maintain a high-quality school for the length of the charter term, she said. Carraway also said there were issues with the school’s “structure of governance” and that the “potential for conflict of interests” continue to exist in the makeup of the leadership and governing board.

“The petition provides no innovative or flexible learning model not already being provided to through the school system and no evidence of increased student achievement, particularly given in comparison to our school system and the high academic achievement of our students,” Carraway said before recommending the petition be denied.

The board voted 4-0 to deny the petition, with vice chairwoman Roxanne Whitaker absent.

Board chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said she could appreciate the group’s effort and that in another school system the petition might have succeeded.

“I think in any other county or school system in Georgia, their recommendation might be strong, that they could offer a better program than other school systems offer,” she said. “But when you look at it item by item with what the Columbia County school system offers to the children of this community, I don’t see that it meets the same standards.”

After the meeting, Todd Shafer, one of the founding members and possible future head of the proposed school, said the board’s decision was not unexpected.

“I’m very disappointed that this 10-member committee, for whatever reason, never called us to come in and answer questions, like the state commission will, and have an interview with us,” he said.

“The next step is going to the state commission next month for our interview and then in late August we will know the answer.”

Carraway said the panel didn’t see a need to interview the charter school leadership because the petition had all the information needed to make a recommendation to the school board.

“There really is nothing that’s not included in the petition that has to be asked or answered,” she said. “It covers all of the areas important to the workings of the school, and for that reason there were no questions left to be answered.”

School for the Arts board member Steven Uhles said the weaknesses that the county’s committee pointed out could actually prove helpful in preparing for the group’s presentation to the state.

“I thought those were all, in fact issues that we had answers for,” Uhles said. “They did not call us and they did not ask those questions, but the state will and we will be able to respond on the state level.”

Uhles said he thought there was a misconception at work in that most charter schools are proposed in counties where the schools are failing to show student achievement, but such schools also can benefit students in systems where that is not the case, such as Columbia County.

“There’s sort of a disconnect between the reason this charter school is trying to happen here as opposed to another county,” he said. “They haven’t failed any students, we just feel like there are students out there that would benefit in a way they are not in this school. Different kids learn in different ways.”

Retired Richmond County teacher Anne Handley echoed Uhles’ sentiments after the board vote. Handley, who taught for more than 20 years at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School – which ranks consistently among the top public schools in the nation – said an arts-infused education model is lacking in Columbia
County.

“We had to fight with Richmond County, too, but it is proven it works,” she said. “Every kid doesn’t think the same way and just because they say they incorporate arts, they may offer arts programs, but that is not incorporating the arts.”

Handley hopes the charter school will be approved because it will benefit children like her granddaughter, Eliza Stull, who is entering fifth grade in August.

“The kids who think that way have to be educated that way,” she said.

Categories: Local

Columbia County school board votes down charter school petition to start up proposed Columbia County School for the Arts

Columbia County school board members voted unanimously Tuesday to deny a charter school petition to the group behind the proposed Columbia County School for the Arts.

The denial is the second in two years for the proposed charter school, which planned to offer a curriculum infused with arts and foreign language instruction that would eventually serve children from kindergarten through high school. The group’s petition can still be approved by the state Charter School Commission, which will hold hearings on the petitions next month in Atlanta.

If approved, the group has plans to construct a school on property near Blanchard Woods Park in Evans and open in 2016 for about 700 children in kindergarten though eighth grade, adding another grade each successive year.

System Superintendent Sandra Carraway told board members Tuesday that after a review of the school’s 200-page petition by a 10-member panel of school system administrators, educators and other experts, she could not recommend approving the charter application.

“Most importantly to the committee, the petition lacked academic rigor and sufficient demonstration that they could or would be increasing student achievement,” Carraway said.

Georgia law requires that startup charter schools must increase student achievement through academic and organizational innovation, and the committee found that was lacking.

The committee also found problems with the charter school’s fiscal soundness and plan to maintain a high-quality school for the length of the charter term, she said. Carraway also said there were issues with the school’s “structure of governance” and that the “potential for conflict of interests” continue to exist in the makeup of the leadership and governing board.

“The petition provides no innovative or flexible learning model not already being provided to through the school system and no evidence of increased student achievement, particularly given in comparison to our school system and the high academic achievement of our students,” Carraway said before recommending the petition be denied.

The board voted 4-0 to deny the petition, with vice chairwoman Roxanne Whitaker absent.

Board chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said she could appreciate the group’s effort and that in another school system the petition might have succeeded.

“I think in any other county or school system in Georgia, their recommendation might be strong, that they could offer a better program than other school systems offer,” she said. “But when you look at it item by item with what the Columbia County school system offers to the children of this community, I don’t see that it meets the same standards.”

After the meeting, Todd Shafer, one of the founding members and possible future head of the proposed school, said the board’s decision was not unexpected.

“I’m very disappointed that this 10-member committee, for whatever reason, never called us to come in and answer questions, like the state commission will, and have an interview with us,” he said.

“The next step is going to the state commission next month for our interview and then in late August we will know the answer.”

Carraway said the panel didn’t see a need to interview the charter school leadership because the petition had all the information needed to make a recommendation to the school board.

“There really is nothing that’s not included in the petition that has to be asked or answered,” she said. “It covers all of the areas important to the workings of the school, and for that reason there were no questions left to be answered.”

School for the Arts board member Steven Uhles said the weaknesses that the county’s committee pointed out could actually prove helpful in preparing for the group’s presentation to the state.

“I thought those were all, in fact issues that we had answers for,” Uhles said. “They did not call us and they did not ask those questions, but the state will and we will be able to respond on the state level.”

Uhles said he thought there was a misconception at work in that most charter schools are proposed in counties where the schools are failing to show student achievement, but such schools also can benefit students in systems where that is not the case, such as Columbia County.

“There’s sort of a disconnect between the reason this charter school is trying to happen here as opposed to another county,” he said. “They haven’t failed any students, we just feel like there are students out there that would benefit in a way they are not in this school. Different kids learn in different ways.”

Retired Richmond County teacher Anne Handley echoed Uhles’ sentiments after the board vote. Handley, who taught for more than 20 years at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School – which ranks consistently among the top public schools in the nation – said an arts-infused education model is lacking in Columbia
County.

“We had to fight with Richmond County, too, but it is proven it works,” she said. “Every kid doesn’t think the same way and just because they say they incorporate arts, they may offer arts programs, but that is not incorporating the arts.”

Handley hopes the charter school will be approved because it will benefit children like her granddaughter, Eliza Stull, who is entering fifth grade in August.

“The kids who think that way have to be educated that way,” she said.

Categories: Local

Grovetown names Wheatley as permanent police chief

The word interim was removed from Scott Wheatley’s job title with the Grovetown Department of Public Safety.

City officials named Wheatley, who served as the interim director of the department, as its permanent leader on Thursday.

“It’s exciting,” Wheatley said.

Wheatley was named to lead the department temporarily on April 28 after former Chief Gary Jones was terminated.

Mayor George James said that the interviewing panel chose Wheatley out of those who applied for the position and the city council members agreed.

“Scott has been with the city quite a while, held about every position in that department,” James said. “He’s well-versed there.”

James described Wheatley, nearly a 16-year veteran of the department, as loyal, level-headed and calm and one who knows the department procedures and policies well. He’s confident Wheatley will conduct department business in a professional manner.

“I can depend on Scott,” James said.

Wheatley has said he’s willing to serve in whatever capacity is needed.

It’s not the first time city officials called on Wheatley in tough times. He also served as interim director for about three months after former Director Gary Owens resigned on Aug. 22. He applied for the position after Owens left and was a front-runner for the position before Jones, who was chief of police in Harlem at the time, was hired.

Wheatley started working for the Grovetown department in July 1999 as a jailer. He’s spent time in most department positions including dispatcher, firefighter, road patrol officer, road patrol sergeant and investigations. He was also a deputy coroner for Richmond County.

Wheatley said he doesn’t have plans to make a lot of changes immediately. Instead, he said he’ll continue running daily operations and see where some improvements can be made.

“We’d like to see the department grow and add some more manpower eventually, down the road,” Wheatley said. “We’d like to create a training division one day. Stuff like that.”

Categories: Local

Grovetown names Wheatley as permanent police chief

The word interim was removed from Scott Wheatley’s job title with the Grovetown Department of Public Safety.

City officials named Wheatley, who served as the interim director of the department, as its permanent leader on Thursday.

“It’s exciting,” Wheatley said.

Wheatley was named to lead the department temporarily on April 28 after former Chief Gary Jones was terminated.

Mayor George James said that the interviewing panel chose Wheatley out of those who applied for the position and the city council members agreed.

“Scott has been with the city quite a while, held about every position in that department,” James said. “He’s well-versed there.”

James described Wheatley, nearly a 16-year veteran of the department, as loyal, level-headed and calm and one who knows the department procedures and policies well. He’s confident Wheatley will conduct department business in a professional manner.

“I can depend on Scott,” James said.

Wheatley has said he’s willing to serve in whatever capacity is needed.

It’s not the first time city officials called on Wheatley in tough times. He also served as interim director for about three months after former Director Gary Owens resigned on Aug. 22. He applied for the position after Owens left and was a front-runner for the position before Jones, who was chief of police in Harlem at the time, was hired.

Wheatley started working for the Grovetown department in July 1999 as a jailer. He’s spent time in most department positions including dispatcher, firefighter, road patrol officer, road patrol sergeant and investigations. He was also a deputy coroner for Richmond County.

Wheatley said he doesn’t have plans to make a lot of changes immediately. Instead, he said he’ll continue running daily operations and see where some improvements can be made.

“We’d like to see the department grow and add some more manpower eventually, down the road,” Wheatley said. “We’d like to create a training division one day. Stuff like that.”

Categories: Local

Summer school students will hopefully decrease

Nearly 800 Columbia County students enrolled in classes this summer.

School system officials expect that number to decrease as students take advantage of the newly-approved seven-period day.

“It is our hope and expectation that the seven-period day will cause summer school to be less of a necessity,” Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway said. “It is our expectation that as years go by, fewer and fewer students will need to take summer school because of the seven-period day.

Carraway said she thinks that the change from a six-period to a seven-period day, which was approved in the spring of 2014, will offer students a way to make up required courses, take classes to get ahead or enroll in electives or courses in areas of interest while staying on track to graduate.

Carraway said students simply didn’t have much of a chance to use the extra period this year.

“Being that this was the first year and also that it was implemented late last spring, students didn’t have as many options for course work as they will in the future,” she said.

Summer school classes began on June 1 with 660 high school students and 127 middle-schoolers enrolled in a total of 1,394 courses. That is 59 more students enrolled in summer school than 2014, but the number fluctuated from as low as 728 last year to 869 in 2011.

This coming year, Carraway said the study skills class, designed as extra time to focus on areas of
difficulty, will be expanded.

Because they are given prescribed course work as opposed to an open study hall, it also allows the students to recover credits required for graduation.

The last day of summer school classes and
graduation is slated for July 10.

Categories: Local
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