Columbia County commissioners Tuesday rejected a developer’s request to turn a failed professional park in Evans into townhomes.
With a unanimous vote, commissioners turned down the rezoning of the site on Furys Ferry Road next to Oakbrook subdivision that would have allowed developer Joe Todd to build 26 townhomes.
“It just doesn’t seem compatible” with neighboring homes, said County Commission Chairman Ron Cross.
Earlier, Oakbrook resident Scott Kirchhoff spoke on behalf of more than a dozen neighbors at the meeting, worrying that the rezoning could hurt their homes’ value and increase traffic problems by forcing more U-turns on divided Furys Ferry Road.
In response to a question from Cross during Todd’s presentation, the developer wouldn’t rule out renting the townhomes. That prompted Kirchhoff to note the potential profit likely would increase the number of rentals, making the project more akin to apartments.
“Apartments definitely hurt home values,” Kirchhoff said.
The site is owned by the bank that took it from the previous developer in foreclosure when the professional development failed to make any sales. Todd said earlier his agreement to purchase the property was contingent on the rezoning.
Three kayakers survived being sucked through the Augusta Canal Headgates Tuesday afternoon.
Three kayaks – one with an instructor and the other two with a man and his wife – were paddling near Savannah Rapids Pavilion when they were sucked through the gates that channel the Savannah River into the canal.
Terry Anthony, an Augusta Utlities employee working at the Lock and Dam, said she saw the kayakers and tried to direct them away, but the current carried them through the headgates.
“There were three kayaks,” said Anthony. “He (the instructor) was already coming out through and he said they wouldn’t paddle.”
After calling 911, Anthony chased the kayaks down the canal and helped drag the woman, who was clinging to her kayak, to the shore 150 yards past the headgates just in front of the pedestrian bridge.
The woman complained of shoulder pain and was transported by ambulance to the hospital, accompanied by her husband.
The names of those involved were not available.
The last day of school in Columbia County had greater significance this year for five county schools, and it was the last day of Charles Nagle’s class visits as the boss.
As the retiring school superintendent left his house Tuesday morning, Nagle’s wife told him, “have a wonderful last, last day,” he said. He spent most of that day visiting county schools “trying to feel the love,” he said.
“I’ve realized that rather than being over-emotional because it’s the end, I realized how blessed I am to have chosen this profession,” Nagle said. “Hopefully, I’ve been a positive influence on a few lives.”
Emotions ran the gamut across the county, especially for four of the county’s schools that are packing up to move – and Bel Air Elementary, which officially closed.
Bel Air’s population will be distributed to the new, larger Evans and Martinez elementary schools, and Martinez will occupy Bel Air’s campus next year as its school is built. Bel Air’s campus likely will be sold after Martinez students move back to their campus.
“We’re trying to focus on fun, not sad,” Bel Air teacher Joy Hoover said Tuesday as she signed yearbooks for students. “It’s a sad day, too.”
Teachers gathered on the front lawn to sing through tears as the last bus carrying students pulled away. The sing-a-long ended in a group hug.
First-grader Christina Medina, 7, will be attending second grade at the new Evans Elementary School next year.
“I’m sad that I’m leaving here,” Christina said as she enjoyed the last few moments on the Bel Air playground with her friends. “But I’m glad I’m going to the new school.”
In addition to those moves, the Columbia County Alternative School will relocate to the vacant Evans Elementary.
“It’s so bittersweet, but it’s definitely exciting,” said Ja’Net Bishop, the alternative school principal. “We’re so looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great opportunity to have our students in a centralized location.”
They’re also eagerly anticipating amenities that other schools take for granted.
“We’ll have a lunchroom and a gym,” Bishop exclaimed. “In January 2015 we’ll be celebrating our 20th anniversary, so for us to have a cafeteria and gym after nearly 20 years in existence, we just feel so blessed and fortunate.”
Columbia Middle School Principal Steven Cummings also is looking forward to his school’s move to its new campus on William Few Parkway.
“A lot of teachers were very sentimental, a lot of them have been here a very long time,” Cummings said. “To be leaving this building is kind of emotional and at the same time kind of exciting.”
The year has featured “a culimination of a lot of ‘lasts,’” Cummings said – including the last cafeteria lunch as the lunchroom closed to become the school’s staging area for its move.
“We’ve packed the entire cafeteria,” he said. “We’ve sectioned everything off by grade level and teachers have boxed up seemingly everything they’ve ever owned.”
The moves now will begin in earnest.
“It’s going to be an interesting summer,” said Bishop, whose office temporarily will be the media center at Evans Elementary until the new Evans Elementary building opens nearby. “A lot of jumping around with all the transitions going on in Columbia County schools.”
While staffers are awaiting their new buildings, Nagle said he’s just looking forward to being an outsider.
“I’ve been trying to be extremely nice to those two principals (where his grandchildren attend school) so they’ll open their doors and greet me when they see me,” he joked.
He also said he “can’t wait for the first day of school,” so he can call the central office and rub it in that he’s sitting on his porch drinking coffee and reading the paper.
“I’m going to have some enjoyable moments,” he said.
Several people were recently indicted by a Columbia County Grand Jury.
Christopher Joseph San Miguel, 27, of Evans, was indicted on a charge of vehicular homicide in connection to a March 2 wreck that killed Alaina Kensinger, 28, of Martinez, according to court documents released Friday.
Kensinger was a passenger in San Miguel’s vehicle at about 4:30 a.m. when he is believed to have fallen asleep. The vehicle drifted off the road, turned sideways, hit a guardrail, then a metal sign pole. San Miguel’s blood alcohol concentration was .165 at the time.
San Miguel was arrested March 28 and was released from the Columbia County Detention Center the same day after posting a $13,400 bond, according to jail records.
The Grand Jury also indicted former 4-H worker Jennifer Gayle Davenport, 26, who is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.
Davenport was indicted on aggravated sexual battery and aggravated child molestation.
She was arrested April 1 after the girl’s mother discovered Davenport had been in a sexual relationship with the teen. The teen told her mother she and Davenport had oral sex and shared sexually explicit text messages.
Davenport, who was a 4-H program assistant until three weeks before her arrest, was released from the jail April 6 after posting a $25,000 bond.
Two former Columbia County sheriff’s deputies also were indicted.
Former Staff Sgt. David Ronald Kitchens was charged with computer theft and violating the oath of the public officer. Kitchens was arrested March 5 after he was accused of soliciting business for personal injury attorneys and using sheriff’s office computers to print accident reports for private citizens and attorneys.
He was fired Feb. 25 and was released from the jail after posting a $10,000 bond, according to jail records.
Former sheriff’s office jailer Kester Henry Dozier was indicted on charges of violating the oath of a public officer and crossing guard lines with prohibited items.
He arrested Feb. 19 for delivering prohibited items including food, books and cell phones to inmates in the jail.
Richmond County Sheriff’s Office motorcycle deputy Alton Creech died Friday afternoon from injuries he sustained in an off-duty motorcycle crash Thursday.
Creech died at the Georgia Regents Medical Center at about 4:15 p.m., according to Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins
Creech, 32, was off duty and was approaching the Belair Road westbound exit on his Harley-Davidson about 5:15 p.m. when he hit the back of a 1999 Toyota Camry, said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.
He was airlifted to the Creech, 32, was airlifted to the hospital.
Skid marks from Creech’s motorcycle, stretching 90 feet, showed he tried to stop before striking the Toyota, Morris said.
The driver of the Camry, Rex Reed, 25, of Martinez, was uninjured, Morris said.
In 2010, Creech won the title of “top shot” in a sheriff’s office shooting competition for the third consecutive year, which was a first for the agency.
A Martinez man was sentenced to prison Friday after he pled guilty to assaulting a sheriff’s deputy and several women.
Javantroi Perez Walden, 34, pled guilty to seven counts of sexual battery, simple battery, driving under the influence, fleeing and attempting to elude and obstruction at a hearing in Evans as part of a negotiated plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office.
Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Craig sentenced Walden to 10 years in prison followed by two years probation. He also fined Walden $1,500.
“I am deeply ashamed, humiliated and embarrassed by my actions last year,” Walden said.
Walden was charged with several counts including obstruction, fleeing, driving under the influence and sexual battery in connection to a Dec. 23 when he punched a deputy in the throat and crashed a patrol car in brief chase. A deputy caught Walden running out of the Evans Walmart store, where he grabbed a female shopper’s breast.
Walden is accused of grabbing breasts of female shoppers at the Walmart stores in Evans and Martinez on Dec. 19 and 22.
Since July, Walden has been charged with groping at least four women in Walmart stores and a teenager at Sonic.
Walden’s attorney, P.J. Campanaro said Walden began drinking after his divorce, which led to the incidents.
“I think things just basically fell apart for him,” she said.
Walden was arrested Dec. 23 and has been held in the Columbia County Detention Center since without bond.
A motorcyclist has been critically injured in a rush-hour crash on Interstate 20 Thursday afternoon.
The single-vehicle crash occurred just after 5 p.m., and Columbia County emergency responders are shutting down part of the west-bound traffic lanes approaching Belair Road. Traffic has been backed up as far as to Bobby Jones Expressway.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
Two Interstate 20 rest areas in Columbia County will be closed for a few days next week as preparations begin for construction of a roundabout at Pumpkin Center.
The rest areas on I-20 near the McDuffie County line will be closed Tuesday through Thursday to allow crews to relocate a sewer main associated with the planned traffic circle at the intersection of Appling-Harlem Road and Wrightsboro Road, according to Harlem City Manager Jason Rizner.
A force sewer main owned by the city of Harlem serves the rest areas and is in the Georgia Department of Transportation right-of-way. It will be relocated during the closure, according to Rizner. A city-owned water line was relocated from the right-of-way last week.
The project includes replacing the four-way stop at Pumpkin Center with a traffic circle.
The roundabout will extend 0.36 miles, according to the DOT. It will include two lanes at a width of 11 to 15 feet, sidewalks, curb and gutter, and splitter islands on each of the four approaches. It also will have a truck apron and a central island, and will be lighted.
Columbia County’s school board members postponed a decision to increase taxes at their Tuesday meeting.
They will revisit the issue May 28, when they are expected to decide whether to raise taxes, approve other ways to balance next school year’s budget, or both.
Superintendent Charles Nagle told board members they need to find $4.6 million to balance the $178 million budget. Nagle recommended a one-mill tax increase that would generate about $4 million. The increase would cost taxpayers about $40 per year per $100,000 in home value, Nagle said.
“We’re at a point that unless we do something different to bring in revenue, we’re not going to be able to continue,” Nagle said.
Nagle presented several other options to make up small parts of the budget deficit, including contracting out custodial services, reducing paraprofessionals and contingency positions, increasing class sizes and eliminating middle and high school extracurricular activities.
School Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said she supports the tax increase because the public demands a good education system.
Board member Mike Sleeper suggested the board consider furloughing employees, which would save about $750,000 per day while schools close. He also recommended the board revisit the issue of outsourcing janitorial services.
“It’s something I think that has to be considered,” Sleeper said, adding that before he votes to raise taxes, “I want to say we’ve done everything and then some.”
Board members Roxanne Whitaker didn’t like the idea of furloughs, stating that teachers have endured enough cuts and most haven’t seen a raise in years.
“They probably do the most important job in this country,” Whitaker said.
The board cancelled a budget meeting slated for May 21, and instead will meet at 4 p.m. on May 28 before the regularly scheduled school board meeting. They are expected to take action at that session.
Despite a theft that threatened to derail their efforts, Augusta Preparatory Day School has been named the state winner in an aluminum can recycling contest.
Prep students collected more pounds of cans per student than any other school in Georgia, giving them the win in the third annual Great American Can Roundup.
The announcement comes just weeks after hundreds of pounds of cans that had been collected by Augusta Prep’s Middle School were stolen from an off-campus storage site. Within just a few days after that incident was made public, the community responded and helped Augusta Prep again collect hundreds of pounds of cans.
“Good always wins,” Prep’s Middle School Head, Melody McRee, told Prep students gathered at the school. “Sometimes the road to victory is bumpy and has a lot of distractions, but right always comes out on top.”
Augusta Prep’s collection of cans weighed in at 1,763 pounds, meaning approximately 61,700 cans were collected as part of the school’s drive. As part of receiving the top honor in the state, Augusta Prep will now receive $1,000 that the school plans to invest back into its recycling program.
A nearly $2 million renovation project is underway to turn a vacant Evans storefront into a Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Earlier in May, Columbia County Development Services issued a building permit to Walmart for $1.9 million for renovations at the former Food Lion in the Village at Furys Ferry shopping center on the corner of Furys Ferry and Evans-to-Locks roads. That grocer, in addition to two other Food Lions in Columbia County, closed more than a year ago.
“They’re putting some money in that investment,” Columbia County Development Services Director Richard Harmon said. “It’s a fairly new concept for them and they want it to work.”
Neighborhood markets are smaller than a traditional Walmart Supercenter, which is about 182,000 square feet. The stores, averaging about 38,000 square feet, offer grocery items, household supplies, health and beauty products and a pharmacy.
Work on the store’s interior began last week, Harmon said. A fence has been erected in the shopping center’s parking lot, shielding the store from plain view.
Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz was unable Tuesday to provide a time frame for when the store might open, but Harmon said that plans indicate the project could take about 90 days.
“The problem is that they’re so different when we are using an existing structure,” Wertz said of estimating the store’s opening. “It’s not as predictable.”
The construction of a new neighborhood market typically takes less than year, he said.
On average, the stores employ about 95 people.
The bulk of construction will be confined to inside the 35,000-square-foot building.
“Most grocery stores have their coolers and refrigerants along walls,” Harmon said. “They’re putting a lot of their stuff in the center, so they’re having to cut the floor, put in more plumbing. It’s a lot of labor.”
This is Walmart’s first neighborhood market in the metro Augusta area.
“People will shop that store and they know that,” Harmon said.
A second neighborhood market store is planned on 15th Street and Walton Way in Augusta, though details for the project aren’t firm, Wertz said.
If you want to see where Georgia Regents University is headed, look to the west.
Georgia Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby told a Columbia County Chamber of Commerce breakfast audience Wednesday morning that the University of Alabama-Birmingham provides a model for growing Augusta’s consolidated universities into an “honest-to-goodness research facility” with statewide reach.
“This is a great place in a great part of the state, and it’s going to be even greater with the things we’re going to do,” Huckaby said – but he acknowledged the challenge of trying to greatly increase the number of college graduates statewide to the level that future economic development will demand.
Speaking during the chamber’s annual Post-Legislative Breakfast, and following comments from members of the local legislative delegation, Huckaby said he agreed in 2011 to leave the legislature to serve as chancellor after assurances that Gov. Nathan Deal was prepared to shake up the state’s higher education system.
“If he had said no, if he had said he wanted to take it slow, I would have said I wasn’t interested,” Huckaby said.
Since taking over as chancellor, Huckaby said he’s had to fight the competing perceptions of residents that secondary education is too costly, in contrast to the business community clamoring for better-prepared workers. Along the way, he’s battled efforts to protect the status quo.
“Everybody talks about change, they embrace the concept of change, but that’s for you – not for me,” Huckaby said. “We want to keep things just the way they are. We’re comfortable with where we are. But that’s a recipe for disaster.”
To that end, he defended GRU President Ricardo Azziz as a “change agent” hired for a research university that, unlike highly rated UAB, lagged in nationwide comparisons.
“We hired the president that’s a change agent,” Huckaby said. “Change agents turn over sacred cows. I’m turning over sacred cows as chancellor; some people like it, some people don’t.”
Those who don’t are vocal in their criticism, he said.
“Being president of a college and university in this day in time is not an easy job,” Huckaby said. “It’s at least 24/7, you’re always on call. ... And you have to be willing, particularly in public higher education to realize that everybody, every parent, every student, knows how to do your job better than you do.”
In 2014, the Greenbrier boys soccer team will have a new head coach.
Chip Warren made the Wolfpack’s soccer banquet more eventful than usual Monday night, announcing he would not be returning for his 15th season.
“I just felt like it was time, I want to spend a little bit more time with my family,” said Warren, who will remain at Greenbrier to teach health and physical education. “I only got a couple of more years to retirement so it felt like it was a good situation to cut ties.”
Michael Harris, the Wolfpack’s senior captain didn’t see it coming.
“It surprised me,” said Harris, the 2013 Region 2-AAAAA player of the year. “Personally, I liked him a lot and on the field he was a respected coach. It didn’t matter how old you were, if you were good, he played you.”
It didn’t take long for players from Warren’s past to reach out, including former Wolfpack Reed Norton, a standout rising sophomore at Georgia Southern University.
“He loved all of us,” said Norton. “Each and every player he had he loved us. You can’t really say that about most coaches.”
Hearing from old players was special for Warren.
”It makes you think you might have touched their lives a little bit, that’s what we’re in the business for,” said Warren.
From 2000 to 2013, the 50-year-old Warren amassed a 211-54-12 record. The Wolfpack won eight region championships and advanced to the state’s round of eight each season from 2005 to 2012, including an appearance in the 2012 state championship game and final four appearances in 2006 and 2007.
“Chip has given a lot to Greenbrier High School and our soccer program, especially the last 14 years,” said athletic director Garrett Black. “What Chip has done is he’s taken our boys soccer program to a different level. We are a state power now in soccer. I truly believe the Greenbrier High School soccer job is the premier soccer job in the CSRA because of what Chip Warren has done.”
The Wolfpack were 10-6-3 in 2013 and the majority of the varsity roster was dismissed late in the season after an incident with alcohol and synthetic marijuana.
“Everything that happens, happens for a reason,” Warren said. “Did this speed up my retirement? Possibly, but who can tell. I thought about it last year, you evaluate it at the end of every year...I thought I’d get reacquainted with my life a little bit. It was just time.”
The chancellor of the Georgia Board of Regents will be the speaker for the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday, and organizers are hoping recent GRU controversies don’t overshadow his visit.
Henry “Hank” Huckaby, entering his second year as chancellor of the state’s 31 public colleges and universities, is instead expected to discuss issues of higher education relevant to the chamber’s business-minded members, said the chamber’s president and CEO, Tammy Shepherd.
Similar to previous formats for the chamber sessions, which precede and follow up all Georgia legislative sessions, Huckaby will be joined by members of the county’s legislative delegation, who are expected to deliver brief remarks regarding the recently ended legislative session.
Because Huckaby is the speaker, however, questions from the audience might be screened.
“The only thing we might do is take questions on note cards, and then go through them that way,” Shepherd said. “My biggest concern, with it being the chancellor, we don’t want it to turn into a bashing of anything or questions getting out of hand.”
The troublesome questions, she said, could be those regarding the controversial Georgia Regents University name for the merged campuses of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University. Recent concerns also have been raised by the discovery that GRU spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on renovations to President Ricardo Azziz’s university-owned home without first getting the required approval from the regents.
That’s not why Huckaby was invited to speak, Shepherd said.
“This is really about what can we expect for the economic development side or the impact the whole Georgia Regents University would have on Augusta, from both campuses,” Shepherd said. “What’s going on with other universities in our state, from growth and development. ... That’s the thing we think would be most important to our membership.”
Admission to the breakfast, which begins at 7 a.m., is free to chamber members, $20 to non-members. Reservations are needed by noon Monday, May 13, by calling (706) 651-0018.
JONESBORO, Ga. — The pressure of playing the match to decide a state title might overwhelm many high school players. Lakeside’s Anneliese Leahy seemed to embrace it.
With the Class AAAAA championship match against Starr’s Mill tied at 2, the outcome was put squarely on the shoulders of Leahy. She rose to the occasion and helped the Panthers win their first state tennis championship, 3-2, on Saturday at the Clayton County International Park Tennis Center.
“I didn’t know it would come down to me,” Leahy said “When it did, I knew I had to win for my team. I wanted to do it for our team.”
Lakeside’s Kayla Hergott won the No. 1 singles match against Erin Egoroff, 6-4, 6-1. Starr’s Mill evened the score when Rachael Williams beat Taylor Richards 6-0, 6-0.
Starr’s Mill won No. 1 doubles when Kailey Inhulsen and Shannon McKillip beat Sara Hess and Alexis Ellis 6-2, 6-2. But Lakeside tied the match when the No. 2 team of Brittany McLeod and Katie Burton beat Samantha Curtis and Cassidy Sparkman 7-5, 6-4.
That left Leahy and Emily Shull as the center of attention. The two had split the first two sets, Shull winning 6-2 and Leahy winning 7-6. The winner-take-all final game drew a large crowd from those still at the park. Leahy wound up breaking Shull’s serve, winning the third set 6-4 on a double fault.
“I’m still on Cloud Nine right now,” Leahy said.
The win was a nice send-off for coach Miranda Whitmire, who is leaving the program after four years. The Panthers had never gotten past the Elite 8 and Whitmire expected a difficult match based on a 3-2 loss suffered to Starr’s Mill earlier this season.
“And that match went to a third-set tiebreaker,” Whitmire said. “So I knew we had a chance.”
When the final game rested on Leahy, the coach had some simple instructions.
“I told her there wasn’t any pressure on her,” Whitmire said. “I just told her to play like she’d always done and she’d pull it out.”
The finals was the first time that Lakeside had been tested in the playoffs. The team beat Richmond Hill 5-0 in the first round and followed with 3-0 victories over Lee County, Glynn Academy and Allatoona.
“I woke up before my alarm went off this morning and thought about what it would be like to win the state championship,” Hergott said. “This is very exciting.”
Columbia Industrial Boulevard in Evans could be closed for about a month once construction starts on the extension of River Watch Parkway.
The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to discuss that detour and other details of the parkway’s extension during an open house set for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 at the Evans Government Center Auditorium, according to an announcement from the DOT.
The parkway extension will use Old Petersburg Road and Old Evans Road as it extends from Baston Road to connect with Washington Road at Towne Center Drive. During construction, which hasn’t yet been scheduled, Columbia Industrial Boulevard – which runs between Old Evans Road and Evans-to-Locks Road – will be closed at Old Evans.
Construction on that portion of the parkway will include a “flyover” bridge crossing the railroad tracks.
The open house will provide maps of the project and an opportunity for residents to offer comments to DOT representatives. It won’t include a formal presentation, the DOT announcement stated.
Comments may also be sent to Glenn Bowman, P.E., State Environmental Administrator, Georgia DOT, 600 West Peachtree Street NW, 16th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30308. The deadline for comments is May 24.
After the open house, meeting handouts will be available at http://www.dot.ga.gov/informationcenter/publicinformation/Pages/PublicOutreach.aspx; select Riverwatch Parkway Information from the drop-down menu.
Part roast, part career eulogy, a retirement reception Thursday for Columbia County school Superintendent Charles Nagle was mostly in fun.
Coworkers, friends, family members and community leaders gathered at Be My Guest Catering and Events in Evans for a sendoff session for Nagle, who steps down this summer after serving as superintendent since 2007.
“He hates attention,” said his successor, Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway. “But he’s going to get it today.”
A succession of speakers, ranging from school board members to Nagle’s three daughters, offered respectful comments about his 37 years in education and took gentle digs at his professional and personal life.
Regina Buccafusco recalled that she became board chairwoman the same year Nagle replaced Tommy Price and said at first they often were at odds – but learned to work together.
“It was bigger than a marriage,” Buccafusco said. “We were stuck with each other. We started out as colleagues, but along the way we became friends.”
The board’s longest-serving member, Roxanne Whitaker, read the acrostic she’d created using the name “Charlie,” with the letters representing such character traits as “compassion,” “humility” and “integrity.”
She also noted Nagle’s penchant for outspokenness. “If you don’t want Charlie to tell you the truth, don’t ask him,” she said.
A humorous highlight came from Nagle’s daughters, who called themselves “his three greatest fans” and joined forces to share what it meant to attend schools where their father worked. That included such indignities as strictly following dress codes, having a future husband sent to in-school suspension and knowing someone else always would be named student of the month.
“When your dad is a teacher, coach, athletic director, principal and superintendent, you know he is the smartest, toughest, fairest, loving man that has molded you into being the best you can be,” said daughter Lindsey Albright.
In addition to the praise and gentle ribbing, Nagle received a crystal Coca-Cola bottle from Gwen Phillips of longtime school sponsor Augusta Coca-Cola, proclamations from the state Senate and House, and a gift from the system’s principals.
He also received a new harmonica from Blue Ridge Elementary teacher and Lakeside High soccer coach Dave Morgan, who performed on the harmonica before coaxing Nagle to join him to play.
Nagle joked that he took up the harmonica as a Boy Scout, but learned only one song – the theme from Bonanza. He’d really wanted to play saxophone and once tried out for his high school’s band director for a part in the marching band.
“I didn’t even get through half an audition before he asked, ‘Don’t you like sports?’ ” Nagle said.
Thanking the gathered friends and colleagues, Nagle paraphrased poet Robert Frost.
“Some people are willing to work; some people are willing to let them,” he deadpanned. “I’m ready to let them.”
“I’m stronger for my relationship with every one of you,” he said. “I hope this community knows how much I love them, and how much it’s been part of our lives.”
Grovetown’s annual spring festival that was rained out last month is rescheduled for Saturday.
The 11th annual Grovetown Heritage Festival, originally scheduled for April 24, will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Liberty Park Community Center at Newmantown Road. Admission is free.
It will be the second year the festival is held at the community center instead of spread out at several locations along Robinson Avenue, city Community Events Coordinator Jennifer Evans said.
“It’s better to have it all together,” Evans said. “We’re trying to promote a sense of community and it is easier to do that if you don’t have to walk four or five places to do things.”
The festival will include live entertainment from the Firehouse Band and the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band. Evans expects 30 to 40 arts, crafts and food vendors and businesses to be selling their wares including candles, jewelry, beauty products and children’s clothing.
“We’ve got a bunch of different stuff,” Evans said.
There also will be children’s activities including inflatables and games. A bicycle rodeo will feature an obstacle course, races for youths and demonstrations on bicycle safety.
In a raffle that has become a festival tradition, someone will win a free golf car. The giveaway is at 2 p.m. and anyone interested can pick up a free wristband to enter. The winner must be present to claim the golf car.
The festival also includes an antique car show. Admission is free and prizes will be awarded. Registration runs 8-9 a.m. for cars and trucks at least 25 years old.
Hot-air balloon rides, originally planned for event, couldn’t be rescheduled, she said.
For more information, contact Evans at (706) 860-7691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robinson Avenue in Grovetown was shut down for about two hours this morning as authorities investigated a suspicious package.
Grovetown Department of Public Safety Director Gary Owens said someone reported a suspicious package near a picnic table at the park next to the Grovetown City Hall at about 10:40 a.m. Owens said officers shut down the road and created a perimeter around a plastic sandwich bag containing a granular substance and what appeared to be an empty extract bottle.
“There was no immediate threat to residents,” Owens said. “There have been no reports of any threats.”
Columbia County Fire Rescue’s Hazardous Materials Response Team and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad were called to make sure the substance weren’t biological or explosive. After deeming there was no immediate threat, the teams contained the bag containing the still unknown substance and bottle and will dispose of it, Owens said.
“This day and age, at this time in the United States, you can’t be too careful,” Owens said. “I’m very fortunate that I live in a community that has a well of resources that is just amazing.”