Derek Poole held the ball of soft fur in his practiced hands, carefully examining its every aspect – length and consistency of the coat, the shape of the body and the broad head and the length and symmetry of the long ears – before making a pronouncement.
“This is my No. 1. That’s an excellent rabbit,” said Poole, referring to the white American fuzzy lops rabbit in one of several cages lining the judge’s table before him.
Poole, 43, was one of several certified American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) judges brought in from across the country to share his expertise at the fifth annual Augusta Masters of Rabbits and Cavies on the Green Show at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion on Saturday.
The event, sponsored by CSRA Rabbit Breeders Association and the Columbia County 4-H Rabbit Club, is the largest regional rabbit show of its kind and the largest such event sponsored by a 4-H Club in the nation, according to Columbia County 4-H Rabbit Club volunteer and show organizer Marguerite Creekmore.
Creekmore said the show has more than 550 rabbits, representing 25 different breeds and also 85 cavies, more commonly known as Guinea pigs, entered in numerous categories throughout the day.
Most of the 4-H Club members entered in the youth category were from Georgia, including clubs in DeKalb and Burke counties, but in the “open” class, which included adults and children, many participants had traveled many miles and long hours for the show.
“We have people from as far away as Michigan, Texas and Florida,” Creekmore said.
Poole was among the out-of-towners. He lives in Rochester, N.Y., where he operates a literacy foundation and an antiques business, but many weekends he is out judging rabbit shows.
“I fly all over the world to judge shows,” he said, explaining that he was one of about 250 certified ARBA judges worldwide whose services are always in demand. “We travel as much as we want to work. I like to do about 20 shows a year.”
Rabbit shows might seem a bit obscure to the uninitiated, but Poole said the number of people who breed and show purebred rabbits is a more than most people realize.
This is his fifth year as a judge, but he has been involved in the world of rabbit shows for 35 years. Each year he tries to make it to the ARBA national convention, which will be held this year in San Diego.
“There will be somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 rabbits there,” he said.
The county 4-H Club held its first small rabbit show in 2011, and since then it has grown into a major event. Savannah Rapids Pavilion was packed wall-to-wall Saturday with all manner of bunnies and cavies stacked in colorful cages, while parents and children weaved through the warren of activity, hauling their pets to the judging table each time a new category was announced over the loudspeakers.
Pam Cox, a 4-H Club parent and volunteer, said the first time she went to a rabbit show she was bowled over by the enormity of the event.
“I thought, ‘What in the world exactly is going on here?’”
She got introduced to rabbit shows when her son Matthew got involved through 4-H. “It’s all his fault,” she joked.
Now, her 12-year-old daughter Rachel is the one competing. Saturday she brought along two cavies and a charcoal gray lionhead rabbit named Daisy, who came away with a first place showing.
The rabbits might have been more numerous, but the cavy owners were no less passionate.
Clarissa Dollar, 12, watched nervously while ARBA judge Travis Finkle and Jennifer Green, who was in training to become a judge, repeatedly examined and discussed their observations on which of 10 different cavies would be judged best of show.
Dollar was rooting for, P.J., a her Teddy cavy with a cream-colored body and jet black head.
“He’s named P.J. because his dad is Pongo, so Pongo Jr.,” she explained.
Minutes later, Clarissa was overwhelmed with joy as P.J. was announced as champion of the day.
The homeschooled seventh-grader from Newnan, Ga., said she is involved in 4-H in Coweta County, but she came to the show as an independent participant.
“My 4-H club will not allow cavies and I am determined to make them accept them,” she said.
Nearby sat Jimmy Crowder, 50, a veteran breeder of cavies and recognized authority at the show. Crowder, of Douglasville, Ga., downplayed his 14 years of experience, however.
“There are some people who have been doing this 30 or 40 years, so at 14 years I’m still new,” he said. “I’m still learning something at every show.”
Organizers behind what would be Columbia County’s first charter school announced changes Monday as they plan their third attempt to seek state approval.
The Columbia County School for the Arts announced it will be submitting its petition to the State Charter Schools Commission this spring under a new name: SAIL (School for Arts-Infused Learning).
Steven Uhles, a spokesman for the SAIL charter school board, said the new name reflects changes in the group’s approach, which will include a statewide attendance zone, meaning that children from any Georgia county will be eligible to enroll. The change follows the enrollment approach of other charter schools, including the Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics in Hephzibah, which opened in fall 2015.
“We looked and we saw a lot of other charter schools were doing this, and we considered the counties around us,” Uhles said. “We did see that there was probably a demand for a school like this in McDuffie, Lincoln and Richmond counties.”
Uhles said much of the charter organization remains the same, although some board positions have changed, including a new chairwoman, Kristy Zgol.
Todd Shafer, the former Martinez Elementary School teacher who spearheaded the effort to bring an “arts-infused” charter school to Columbia County, has stepped aside to serve in an advisory role, he said.
“This is the board stepping forward and taking the reins of the project,” Uhles said.
The previous two times the school has submitted charters, their petitions were rejected by the county Board of Education and by the State Charter Commission. The most recent denial came in August, when the charter commission staff cited seven areas in their petition where the group
• The academic program lacked substantial plans for implementation.
• Lack of an adequate teacher recruitment plan
• The governing board failed to demonstrate clear understanding of its role.
• Doubts about proposed partnerships with community organizations
• No sufficient plan for special education
• Concerns about the board’s ability to secure financing
• Lack of understanding for the purchasing process
Uhles said the group is working to address each issue in the new petition, but there could be things that state regulators didn’t point out that also need work. He said the group is determined to succeed this time.
“What we discovered last time is that while we will work to address those things, the best thing we can do is put forward the strongest charter possible,” he said.
Because the school will have a statewide attendance zone, the charter petition will be presented this year to the local school board as “information only,” Uhles said. The state commission will have exclusive authority to approve the charter, he said.
The new school, if approved, will be open to students in kindergarten through seventh grades, and it will add another grade each subsequent year until it reaches its goal as “a full K-12 public charter school,” the announcement said.
Uhles said that although the group had an option on land for a proposed campus, the school location is “up in the air” while the board explores its options.
Uhles said the school’s board plans to hold public forums detailing the petition process, student admittance criteria and enrollment procedures in the near future.
For more information, parents can visit facebook.com/schoolforartsinfusedlearning.
The following accounts were taken from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident reports:
Man’s ID stolen on Facebook
A Grovetown man told deputies Friday that a man interested in buying a firearm stole his personal information through Facebook.
The 41-year-old man said that on Dec. 8, he received a suspicious post on Facebook from someone who was interested in a buying a firearm from him. The stranger asked for the man to show proof of his identity before he’d do business. So the man sent an image of his drivers license. The potential buyer then stopped communicating with the man.
A few days later, the man said he discovered that someone created a fake Facebook profile using his picture, name and personal information to sell guns online.
On Jan. 16, the man received a suspicious letter which listed him as the sender. The letter contained a typed request for a bank loan from Augusta Metro Credit Union, which
was supposedly from him and included a fake signature. The letter, which was originally mailed in December, was returned because of an incorrect address for the bank.
Church credit card stolen
The financial director of an Evans church said Friday that someone stole the pastor’s church credit card from her office.
She said that someone went into her office at Journey Church on Hardy McManus Road between Jan. 21 and Thursday and stole a church credit card named to the pastor. She said the thief activated the card using the last four digits of the pastor’s Social Security number and used it at a night club in Augusta.
When she contacted the pastor, he said he didn’t have the card and was very concerned that his Social Security number was used. The financial director believes the thief got the information from files in her church office.
An Evans man called authorities Friday after discovering that trespassers damaged and burned his gardening containers.
The 75-year-old man said he put at least three FarmDaddy self-watering gardening containers in the woods near the backyard on Nov. 26. He returned and found them missing. On Friday, the man found one of the containers broken and thrown into a creek. Two others appeared to have been burned.
The man said two male juveniles that appear to be teens have been trespassing on the property. He couldn’t give a detailed description because he only saw them from a distance. Deputies saw several juveniles walking past the home, but said they haven’t been on the property and doesn’t know who has been.
Man avoids scam
A Harlem man told deputies Friday that he narrowly escaped a scam to steal his money by someone posing as his friend.
The man said he received an e-mail from a friend on Jan. 27 about a way to make money. After he responded to the e-mail, the man said he began receiving text messages about how to turn $550 into $70,000. He provided his “friend” with his full name, date of birth and said he wouldn’t have $550 until early February.
While waiting until he had the money, the man said his friend contacted him and said his e-mail had been hacked. The man never sent any money.
A Grovetown woman said Saturday that someone stole a trailer full of furniture form her property.
The 68-year-old woman said the trailer was parked next to a large storage building on the back side of her property about 100 yards from the main house and out of view from the street. The only access to the property is through a main gate.
The padlock that had to be cut or broken to hitch the trailer was missing. A large truck or van would be needed to pull the trailer because is was full of furniture and other items when it was stolen.
A Grovetown woman called authorities Friday after she said someone hijacked her computer and demanded money.
The 73-year-old woman said she was working on her computer at about 9 a.m. Jan. 26 when the screen suddenly went black. A few minutes later, she received a phone call from a man telling her she needed to pay him if she wanted to use her computer again. The man withdrew $179.99 from her bank account.
During a second phone call, the caller demanded the woman send money to him in China. When she tried to send the money through Western Union, the transaction wouldn’t go through. So she sent $720 to Sen Yang in China using MoneyGram.
Man sees trespasser
A Grovetown man said Friday that he saw a man trespassing on his property.
The 29-year-old man said he heard his outdoor grills opening and closing at about 2 a.m. When he looked outside, he saw a man standing near the fence looking at the sky. When he attempted to confront the trespasser, he jumped the fence and ran away.
Columbia County residents now have an easy, online way to find out about those Public Hearing signs often seen on roadsides.
The county launched an interactive Notification of Public Hearings system on Jan. 25. The system allows citizens to find out key information about land use requests and public hearings county-wide.
“The best thing about it is I think it is easily understood and easily navigable,” said county Planning Director Andrew Strickland. “It’s easy to get in it and find the information you need.”
The user-friendly application is maintained through the county’s GIS and Planning department. It displays all current information for property parcels that are subject to planning and zoning changes. If a resident sees a Public Hearing sign, they can go online and get the important information about that parcel.
The information includes the request that was filed, public hearing dates, what actions have been or will be taken, zoning applications and full staff reports.
Strickland said his office gets numerous calls requesting information for parcels under review for planning and zoning changes.
“It really gives all the information that we would normally give anyone who calls,” Strickland said. “It just puts it out there so it is freely available. Of course, people can still call us directly. We’ll be happy to talk to them. This is just another avenue.”
Strickland said he hopes that the information will help get more residents involved in the process.
“It’s been in development for a while,” Strickland said. “This is something that’s been a little while coming.”
The system includes a tutorial video and a printable step-by-step use guide.
The smartphone app, tutorial and user guide are available on the county Web sitecolumbiacountyga.gov. Click on the Notification of Public GHearings Map hyperlink under Latest News or go directly to the system at columbiagagis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=d508fb6d5b9b49f4bd00cb586da2b1ca.
Columbia County authorities are warning residents of two ongoing scams involving government agencies.
The IRS and local authorities have received numerous reports of a phone scam where callers identify themselves as IRS agents attempting to get people to pay a fine immediately threatening with arrest or revocation of a driver license if the fine isn’t paid, according to information released from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Sometimes, the scammers give follow-up calls posing as local authorities or the state motor vehicle division.
The scammer’s story varies sometimes claiming that a person owes money or pretends to be with the IRS trying to steal money or identities.
“Most legitimate government agencies will not demand immediate payment in the form of green dot cars or money orders,” sheriff’s Capt. Andy Shedd said. “Be very cautious if this happens.”
The scammers often use fake names and IRS badge numbers using common names. They may be able to recite the last four digits of the person’s Social Security number.
They are often able to hack the IRS toll-free line to show up the caller ID and they may send bogus e-mails to support the fake calls.
If someone calls claiming to be with the IRS, residents should call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 to confirm if any back taxes are owed. Authorities recommend hanging up immediately and reporting the call totreasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml. If you are unsure if you owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 to confirm if any back taxes are owed.
Others looking to scam residents are claiming to be with the Census Bureau and ask for personal information.
“Most legitimate government agencies will not ask you for person information like your date of birth or Social Security number over the phone,” according to Shedd.
“Be very leery about giving any personal information to anyone. Once things like passwords or account numbers are given out, it’s hard to stop someone from accessing your accounts and stealing from you.”
The Census Bureau never asks for your full Social Security number, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party, your full bank account or credit card numbers or your mother’s maiden name.
If someone visits your home to complete a survey, always check for a valid U.S. Census Bureau identification badge. For further confirmation, residents can call the bureau at (800) 923-8282.
Mail, calls or e-mails can be verified through the regional offices that can be found by visitingcensus.gov.
Morris Publishing Group on Tuesday announced Steve Crawford will step down as publisher of The Columbia County News-Times effective Feb. 12.
Crawford, who has headed the community-focused news and information source since July 2013, is leaving to take a position in his family-owned real estate venture, which operates in the Augusta metro area.
“It has been a great pleasure getting to know the people of Columbia County and covering the issues and personalities that make it a great place to live,” Crawford said. “The News-Times plays an important role in this community and I will miss being a part of that public service.”
Morris Publishing has owned the News-Times since 1998.
Stephen Wade, general manager of The Augusta Chronicle, the Morris-owned property overseeing the News-Times’ management and production, said Crawford’s replacement will be tasked with continuing an enhancement program that launched in October with the News-Times’ delivery as a standalone print product.
Wade said improvements in the coming weeks and months will enable the News-Times to deliver news and information through digital and traditional print channels more quickly and comprehensively.
“We’ve made some strategic decisions to make the News-Times a better reflection of this very important part of our market,” Wade said. “Columbia County deserves its own identity, and the News-Times should be a positive reflection of that.”
Wade said a replacement search for Crawford already is underway.
Crawford held several reporting and editing jobs at The Chronicle during the past two decades, including several years in its Columbia County Bureau.
“I appreciate everything he has done for the News-Times and his dedication to the craft throughout the years,” Wade said. “He will be missed.”
The following accounts were taken from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident reports:
Man barges into home
A man was arrested Wednesday after a woman said he barged into her home.
An Appling 19-year-old said she was home with her sister at about 7:45 p.m., when she heard a loud banging on the door and went to see who it was. As she neared the door, the man opened it and barged in toward she and her sister. The teen asked him to leave multiple times, but he refused.
Fearing for their safety, the teen said she and her sister went to the kitchen and got a knife. The man asked if any men were home and how old they were. The girls immediately called 911. While she was on the phone with authorities, the man went to the front porch.
When deputies arrived, they found the man, who appeared to be highly intoxicated, stumbling in the front yard and reeking of alcohol. He nearly fell several times, so the deputy asked him to sit on the porch steps. He told deputies that he knew the girls and they had let him into the home.
The teen said she wanted to press charges for barging into their home and refusing to leave. He was charged with criminal trespass.
Wedding ring stolen online
An Evans woman said Wednesday that someone scammed her online and stole her wedding ring.
The 40-year-old woman said she posted her wedding ring for sale on www.eBay.com on Monday. The next day, a potential buyer expressed interest. He asked for the woman’s cellphone number so he could get more details on the ring. He then asked for the woman’s e-mail address and Paypal account number so he could transfer funds to pay for the ring.
Within two hours, the woman said she received what she believed was an official e-mail from PayPal stating the money was received and would be held until receiving confirmation the ring had shipped. The woman immediately shipped the ring to the name and address listed in the e-mail.
On Wednesday, the woman received an e-mail from PayPal stating that her account was overpaid and that she needed to send a $1,750 MoneyGram to another person. The woman became suspicious, contacted PayPal and was told the company would never asked customers to do that or send out such e-mails.
The owner of a Harlem business called authorities Wednesday after someone posing as a deputy called asking about a terminated employee.
The owner of a moving and car hauling business said she received a call at about 3:30 p.m. from a woman who identified herself as Dep. Morgan.
The caller said she was calling on behalf of a former employee that the owner had terminated earlier that day.
The caller asked if the former employee was getting paid.
The owner asked the caller if she was with Columbia or Richmond County. After hesitating, the caller said Columbia County. There is no Dep. Morgan employed at the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
When she called the number back, the owner said a man answered with “Hello,” then hung up.
Shoplifter hits coin store
A Martinez coin store owner told deputies Monday that a shoplifter made away with some coins.
An owner of Clein’s Rare Coins said that between 12:30 and 1 p.m. on Jan. 22, a woman came into the store and walked around looking at coins, but never purchased any. He said the woman has been in the store previously, but has never bought anything.
On Monday, the owner said he checked the inventory and noticed that 280 quarters, worth $92.75, and 40 Mexican pesos, valued at $200, were missing. He review store surveillance video footage and saw the woman stealing the coins.
Woman found passed out in Martinez car lot
A Martinez car lot employee called authorities Monday after finding a woman passed out in a car on the lot.
An employee of Gerald Jones Honda said he found a woman sleeping inside
a green Mazda 3 at about 10:30 p.m.
She was unresponsive and unconscious.
It took several attempts to wake the woman, who said she dropped off her white Toyota for service earlier in the
She said she didn’t remember getting into the Mazda.
The woman told deputies her name and date of birth, but had no identification or keys for her vehicle. The vehicle was found on the lot, but no one could find the keys.
Deputies transported the woman to a hospital for an evaluation. They also called her husband, who said she has episodes when she sometimes passes out.
Dog scared would-be burglar in Harlem
A Harlem woman said her barking dog scared away a potential intruder Monday morning.
The 38-year-old woman said she was home at about 10 a.m., when she said someone turned the back door knob attempting to get inside. She also saw a shadow of a person at the back door window. He dog barked and the shadow disappeared.
Deputies searched the area, but were unable to find anyone suspicious or prints, marks or evidence on the property.
Gary L. Lambert to Mikael Nersesyan and Natalya Nersesyan, 157 McBride Road, $293,000.
James Cleon Lucas to Adam Sherzai, 4442 Peregrine Place, $178,000.
Donald G. Turnbull to Ronnie J. Sikes and Christen S. Sikes, 407 Wade Plantation Drive, $245,000.
Blackstone Development Co. LLC to B.E.C. Custom Homes & Development Co. Inc., parcel ID 081270, $115,000.
B.E.C. Custom Homes & Development Inc. to Michael S. Newhouse and Ashley A. Newhouse, 914 Kestrel Drive, $430,000.
Euchee Forest LLC to Ivey Residential LLC, 4053 Ellington Drive, $45,000.
Ivey Residential LLC to Kawanis B. Collier and Betty Ann Collier, 3402 Amberley Drive, $254,160.
First Choice Homebuilders LLC to Phillip Tyson Ramsey and Deborah E. Ramsey, 418 Buxton Lane, $357,400.
Robby L. Rosell to Fox Creek Associates LLC, parcel ID 078503, $401,728.
Rhodes Farm LLC to First Choice Home Builders LLC, 6518 River Bluff Trail, $70,000.
North Star Home Builders LLC to Richard J. Nasser, 406 Tugaloo Court, $339,900.
IDK Homes Inc. to Terry A. Halmstad Sr. and Vickie D. Halmstad, parcel ID 0601108, $278,950.
Dennis F. Coke to James Ray Hall and Suzanne P. Hall as trustees of the Hall Family Trust dated July 21, 2014, parcel ID 065A652, $213,000.
Lewiston Few Partners LLC to Sara L. Taylor, parcel ID 061A031, $170,000.
McClure Investments LLC to Jeffrey Eric Fowler and Magnolia Macarayo Fowler, parcel ID 019026C, $44,900.
Rhodes Farm LLC to Aileen M. Clark and John K. Clark,
Thomas J. Deves to Miguel Perez-Martinez and Laura Perez-Martinez, parcel ID 066150, $315,000.
Christopher R. Salas to David R. Rhee, parcel ID 052308, $135,000.
Charles Edward Jones II to David B. Neuman, parcel ID 052607, $167,500.
Glynn S. Bruker to Park Ridge Builders Inc., parcel ID 0681120, $42,000.
Park Ridge Builders Inc. to Lucas A. Wilder and Nikki R. Wilder, parcel ID 0681109, $227,500.
Marshalline N. Ansley Burgin
to Washington Road Self Storage
LLC, 4776 Washington Road, $400,000.
Walter C. Cheng to Joshua A. Hunt, 151 S. Belair Road, $110,000.
Richard Yzaguirre to Jeffery E. Florian and Tracey D. Florian, 827 Willow Lake, $320,000.
Pierwood Construction Co. to
Earl James Phillips and Eulonda Phillips, 736 Oakwood Court, $212,000.
Brittney Finch to Terrance Wilson, 3072 Parkridge Drive, $230,000.
Regis Development Co. to Bill Beazley Homes Inc., parcel ID 067920, $290,000.
Bill Beazley Homes Inc. to Sarah J. Linnane, 748 Neville St., $169,900.
Brian K. Fennema to Randall K. Atchison, 1115 Highmoor Lane, $215,000.
Crawford Creek Homebuilders LLC to Zachary C. McCabe and April Lynn McCabe, 438 Riley Lane, $199,900.
Ivey Residential LLC to Michael F. Hurd and Judith A. Hurd, 3404 Amberley Drive, $265,230.
Christine E. Dron to Christopher P. Rogers, 793 Watermark Drive, $234,170.
Medallion Construction Co. Inc. to Ellen K. Healey and James K. Healey, parcel ID 0601109, $299,900.
Whispering Pines of Evans LLC to Medallion Construction Co. Inc., a portion of parcel ID 059138C, $222,000.
Thomas R. Millering to Danny B. Elrod Jr., parcel ID 066757, $82,500.
Brandon S. Rutherford to Benjamin Ghann, parcel ID 073N045, $80,000.
Brandon Ray Harper to J. Brooke Kunstbeck and John P. Kunstbeck, a portion of parcel ID 015054, $325,450.
Katherine M. Criscenti to Christine M. Osborne, parcel ID 069357, $145,000.
Christopher Chapman Murphey and Phillip Austin Murphey as executors of the estate of Ann C. Murphey to Robert S. Clifton, parcel ID 072A141, $215,000.
Marvin Vanover to Randi Lassiter, parcel ID 081C013, $142,000.
Metro Homesites LLC to Keystone Homes Inc., parcel ID 0612092, $37,000.
Metro Homesites LLC to Keystone Homes Inc., parcel ID 0612017, $37,000.
Metro Homesites LLC to Keystone Homes Inc., parcel ID 0612069, $37,000.
Jose M. Leon to Troy R. Adams, 1082 Rivershyre Drive, $229,000.
Bakers Group LLC to JJ & Z Builders LLC, 918 Erika Lane, $29,000.
Bakers Group LLC to JJ & Z Builders LLC, 916 Erika Lane, $29,000.
Bakers Group LLC to JJ & Z Builders LLC, 914 Erika Lane, $29,000.
Bakers Group LLC to JJ & Z Builders LLC, 300 Erika Lane, $29,000.
Bakers Group LLC to JJ & Z Builders LLC, 902 Erika Lane, $29,000.
Terry Michael Kromka Jr. and Melissa Dawn Smith applied for a marriage license on Jan. 15, 2016, and were married Jan. 20, 2016, in Evans.
J. Cruz Peralta and Deisy Mineira Garcia Campos applied for a marriage license on Jan. 20, 2016, and were married Jan. 20, 2016, in Augusta.
Jorge Eduardo Chavez-Escalara and Rebecca Angelica Reyes applied for a marriage license on Dec. 15, 2015, and were married Jan. 9, 2016, in Grovetown.
David Gerald Barnes Jr. and Jordan Marie Welch applied for a marriage license on Dec. 28, 2015, and were married Jan. 16, 2016, in Evans.
Shaun Christopher Moseley and Lacy Danielle Thurmond applied for a marriage license on Jan. 21, 2016, and were married Jan. 21, 2016, in
Edward Parker Henerey Cudd Jr. and Victoria Peyton Montgomery applied for a marriage license on Jan. 15, 2016, and were married Jan. 19, 2016, in
Jalen Dante Craig and Carmen Elisa O’Bryant applied for a marriage license on Jan. 11, 2016, and were married Jan. 11, 2016, in Augusta.
John Ray Holland III and Elizabeth Anne Nelson applied for a marriage license on Jan. 21, 2016, and were married Jan. 21, 2016, in Evans.
Brian Chandler Appel and Joanna Ruth Erion applied for a marriage license on Jan. 21, 2016, and were married Jan. 21, 2016, in Evans.
Jonathan Delane Gregory and Suzanna Leogrande Marie Yana applied for a marriage license on Oct. 30, 2015, and were married Jan. 8, 2016, in Grovetown.
Christopher Lee Rockefeller and Shannon Marie Waege applied for a marriage license on Dec. 28, 2016, and were married Jan. 22, 2016, in Evans.
Mark Anthony Robinson and Randu Ann Blackburn applied for a marriage license on Jan. 13, 2016, and were married Jan. 21, 2016, in
Craig Wesley Loven and Christina Lee Waller Morton applied for a marriage license on Jan. 12, 2016, and were married Jan. 23, 2016, in Harlem.
Kelly Ann LaFauci and Anthony Clifford LaFauci, Jan. 13, 2016.
Larry Debarge Jackson and Kendra Shanice Brown, Jan. 11, 2016.
John J. Walker Jr. and Brittany Nicole Walker, Dec. 17, 2015.
Jeffery P. Holt and Lawana W. Holt, Jan. 15, 2016.
Shannon Powell and Matt Powell, Dec. 10, 2015.
Amy Sypolt and Brian Sypolt, Jan. 13, 2016.
Jennifer Veal Odland and Damen Matthew Odland, Jan. 12, 2016.
Martha C. James and Roderick J. James, Jan. 14, 2016.
Michael Johnson and Ashton Cozart Johnson, Jan. 4, 2016.
Denise Baker and William James Blake Baker Jr., Jan. 7, 2016.
Patti Jo Throne and Roger Austin Throne, Jan. 15, 2016.
Stephen J. Awe and Kanlaya Awe, Jan. 14, 2016.
Grovetown girls coach Jaime Echols tries to limit the amount of time his team practices this time of year. With the Lady Warriors playing in the region (and likely) state tournaments in the coming weeks, he wants to keep them as fresh as possible.
Echols tries to limit practice time to between 80 and 90 minutes. Good luck telling that to his players.
“We went over two hours (Thursday night), because no one wanted to leave,” he said. “It’s just a close-knit group of kids. They love playing together. They love playing basketball. I just roll the ball out there and try to stay out of the way a little bit.”
When Grovetown took care of business Friday night at Lakeside, 72-16, Echols had little to say his players. After all, they knew what to do.
“Our kids are motivated,” Echols said. “It’s not about who you’re playing. It’s about how you’re playing. I told the kids before the kids whether they’re playing Lakeside or the Lakers, the scoreboard is irrelevant. You play to your standard.”
With the victory, Grovetown (23-1, 8-1 Region 2A-AAAAA) put itself in position to take the No. 1 seed in the subregion when it plays host to Evans on Tuesday night. The Lady Warriors, who lead Cross Creek by a game in the subregion, play host to the region tournament the following week.
Against Lakeside (8-13, 0-9), Grovetown used a soft full-court press to force the issue. The Lady Warriors capitalized on multiple turnovers in the first half and built a 36-8 lead at intermission.
Destiny Marshall led Grovetown with 25 points, scoring 13 points in the first half. She added six baskets in the third quarter. Ayana Collins added 13 points, while Kwajelin Farrar 12.
Caroline Johnson led the Lady Panthers with six points.
Grovetown won its sixth consecutive contest after dropping its only game of the year, Jan. 9, at Cross Creek. Echols said the defeat has helped his team refocus.
“You hate to say that a loss is a good thing, but it has rejuvenated us,” he said. “We’ve played six games since the loss and they’ve been our best six games yet. Our best practices have been every practice since since the loss. So for whatever reason – and nothing was said – but it has sparked our kids.”
Damien Postell is busy these days trying to fill out his coaching staff and plan for the summer.
Hired Tuesday as the second head coach in the history of Grovetown High School, Postell said he’s planning to lean on his experience to help build the Warriors into a playoff team.
The 36-year-old Postell coached for another set of Warriors – Jefferson County – when that squad once played a 7-on-7 camp in Hoover, Ala., against some of the nation’s best teams and players. One of those players they faced? Julio Jones.
“What I learned at Jefferson County is we needed to compete against the best,” Postell said. “Going up against some of the top teams in the country is important. It’s good to go up against kids like that.”
Postell takes over for Rodney Holder, who stepped down in November. Grovetown is 29-41 in seven seasons of existence, including a 5-5 campaign last season that included wins over country rivals Evans, Greenbrier and Harlem.
Postell served the past three seasons as Holder’s defensive coordinator. In Postell’s first season in 2013, the Warriors allowed 44.7 points per game. Grovetown gave up 33.6 per contest the following season. In 2015, the Warriors’ defensive scoring average fell to 25.8.
“We’ve improved each year on defense,” Postell said. “We’ve just got to get the offense going.”
Postell knows plenty about offense. He grew up just outside of Jacksonville, Fla., playing running back for Baldwin High School. A Florida Gators fan, he ultimately chose to play college football at Auburn. After his freshman season in 1998, he switched in spring practice from running back to safety. Postell helped the Tigers reach the Southeastern Conference Championship game in 2000.
For the past 12 years, Postell has worked as a high school teacher and a coach. After a stint at Jefferson County, he went to Jenkins County in 2012 when he first became a defensive coordinator and helped the Eagles go 6-4.
After three seasons at Grovetown, Postell was one of 61 people who applied for the head coaching position. Marty Jackson, Grovetown’s athletic director, said after going through the hiring process everyone knew Postell was their man.
“The search was extensive. We felt like we had to open things up because it’s a big job. Probably the best job in our area,” Jackson said. “He kind of rose to the
Postell, whose wife, Meika, is a teacher at Grovetown, said making the playoffs for the first time in school history is a major goal. He said the Warriors have 105 players in the program, a number that may grow a little. He said he’s trying to get all the players to start lifting weights, if they aren’t already lifting.
Postell said he also wants his players to remember the meaning behind the acronym, WARRIORS: winning, attitude,respect, responsibility, incomparable, opportunistic, remarkable and student-athlete.
“We’re just trying to build that winning attitude on the field and in life,” he said.
The brother of a man at the center of an investigation into Richmond County officers’ possible use of illegal steroids was sentenced Thursday after he threatened an investigator.
Cameron “Ryan” Paquette, 35, pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor simple battery at the courthouse in Evans as part of a negotiated plea agreement with the district attorney’s office.
Superior Court Judge Michael Annis sentenced Paquette to 24 months probation, per the agreement, and ordered him to have no contact with the victims or their families and not to possess a firearm during the term of his probation.
Paquette, whose brother Brandon was at the center of an investigation into illegal steroid use by deputies, was arrested on Oct. 23, 2014, on two counts of making terroristic threats and was initially held without bond. After more than 40 days in the Columbia County Detention Center, a judge granted Paquette a $20,000 bond. He wore an ankle monitor for 11 months.
Paquette is accused of threatening, to a third party and to a Richmond County sheriff’s investigator, to rape the investigator’s wife before bashing in his head. Paquette believed the investigator was part of the investigation of his brother.
The investigator and his wife attended the hearing. “I understand the risks (of the job), but I still don’t take these threats lightly,” the investigator said at the hearing. “I take it very seriously.”
Scott Connell, Paquette’s attorney, said that his client was angry and simply shot off at the mouth and can be “hot-headed at times.” He said Paquette never took steps to follow through on the threats and never made contact with the family he threatened, even though he and the investigator have known each other more than 15 years.
“He just felt like he’d been betrayed by a friend,” Connell said. “And he reacted how he reacted.”
Discussing Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church and State, by Robert Boston; 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, The Book Tavern, second floor, 936 Broad St.; copies available; (706) 826-1940, amunitedcsra.org/bookclub
Time out Luncheon
Lunchtime fellowship ministry; 11:50 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 4; First Baptist Church of Evans, 515 N. Belair Rd.; $6; those who live and work in the neighboring community are invited to come for food, company and a work of inspiration; menu includes spaghetti and meatballs, garden salad, Texas toast and dessert; please make reservations by calling the church office (706) 863-1228 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon on Feb. 3rd
Artists’ Guild of Columbia County Children’s Drawing and Painting, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Thursdays in February and Thursdays, March 3, 10, 24 and 31; the Church of Our Savior, 4227 Columbia Road, Martinez; $80 per four-week session plus $45 supply fee; for ages 8-12; artistguildcc.org
Therapy dog testing
International Organization Therapy Dog Testing; 5:30 p.m. first Friday of the month; Brandon Wilde, 4275 Owens Rd.; registration required; (706) 863-3737
Lucy Craft Laney Museum Heritage Gala, Saturday, Feb. 6, Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, 2 10th St.; reception 6 p.m., dinner seating 7 p.m.; Dr. Bobby Donaldson, speaker; dinner, live music; formal attire/black tie; $75, reservations required; (706) 724-3576, lucycraftlaneymuseum.com
Johnny Peers and his Muttville Comix, doors open at 6:30 p.m., show 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd.; $29.50, ages 11 and younger $12.50; (706) 726-0366, augustaamusements.com
RWC Monthly Meeting
CSRA Republican Women’s Club montly meeting; 6 p.m. Feb. 15; Jones Creek Golf Club, 777 Jones Creek Dr.; social and dinner 6-7 p.m.; business meeting 7 p.m.; guest speaker Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle; reservations required; (706) 860-5830
Precint Mass Meetings
Columbia County Republican Party: Precint Mass Meetings; 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20; election of delegates and alternate delegates to the Columbia County Republican Party Convention; all Columbia County residents who are legally registered to vote on or before Feb. 1, 2016, and believe in the principles of the Republican Party are urged to participate in this process; Registration will open at 9 a.m. for all precincts; for more information, email Chairman Michael Wiltse, email@example.com.
Chamber Before Hours
Columbia County Chamber Before Hours; 7:45 a.m. Feb. 23; Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, 1000 Business Blvd.; breakfast and networking 7:45-8:15 a.m., program 8:15-9 a.m.; free for members, $20 first time visitors; www.columbiacountychamber.com
Band on the Run The McCartney Years, doors 6:30 p.m., show 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd.; $45; (706) 726-0366, augustaamusements.com
Symphony Orchestra Augusta: A Prism Saxophone Quartet; 7:30 p.m. March 5; Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd.; $20; soaugusta.org
Henry Gross One Hit Wanderer, doors 6:30 p.m., show 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 18, Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd.; $43; (706) 726-0366, augustaamusements.com
Futurist Adam Trent
6:30 p.m. April 16; Jabez Hardin Performing Arts Center, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd.; $40; doors open 6:30 p.m., show strts 7:30 p.m.; augustaamusements.com
6:30-10:30 p.m. Saturdays, Ballroom Dance Center, 525 Grand Slam Drive, off Evans to Locks Road; dance lessons 6:30-7:30 p.m., dance 7:30-10:30 p.m.; refreshments; Augusta Christian Singles; $8 members, $10 others; (762) 233-1978, christiandances.org
Financial assistance for qualifying Grovetown residents’ eyeglasses; Grovetown Lions Club Eyeglass Program, P.O. Box 248, Grovetown, GA 30813
First Saturday every month; doors open 7:30 p.m., bell time 8 p.m., Patriots Park Gymnasium, 5445 Columbia Road, Grovetown; $10 front row, $7 general admission, 5 and younger free; flatlineprowrestling.com
4:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Mindbody Stress Reduction Programs, 4210 Columbia Road Suite 4A, Martinez; Mindfulness and Expansive Meditations; experience deeper awareness and stress reduction through guided meditations; $15, $5 students with ID; (706) 496-3935, mindbodystressreduction.com
11 a.m. first Saturdays; The Women’s Veterans Club; $24 per year; April Starks (706) 868-5601
6:30 p.m. third Mondays, Georgia Military College, 115 Davis Road; CSRA Writers Group; free, open to the public; for a critique, bring eight copies of up to 10 pages of work (double-spaced); (706) 836-7315
MOMS Club of Augusta meets 10 a.m. first Wednesdays; includes Augusta, Martinez, North Augusta; e-mail for location; membership@momsclubofaugustaorg, momsclubaugusta.org
A Lewiston Elementary School pupil was honored Jan. 26 as the winner of the Columbia County Historical Society’s annual “Why I Love Columbia County” essay contest. Second-grader Sophia Packer was recognized for her achievement at the regular meeting of the Columbia County Board of Education.
Below is her essay in
“What makes Columbia County Special?”
“I think Columbia County is special because there are stores near houses, so that you don’t have to drive so far. There are schools that give you education. There are nice homes that people live in all over Columbia County. There are many parks that people like to go to. Not a lot of these places were here a long time ago. Most of these places were farms or just land. I am glad I live in Columbia County for the second grade, in this school, and that I got a chance to write all this today. I think Columbia County is special. I love Columbia County. I love Columbia County so much, when I move I will be sad.”
Harlem officials approved a contract Monday that would eliminate Harlem Department of Public Safety dispatchers as a cost-saving measure in the face of an impending revenue decrease.
Members of the Harlem City Council approved a contact to allow the 911 dispatch center, operated by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, to provide dispatch services for emergency personnel including city fire and police, according to City Manager Jason Rizner.
“It’s primarily a financial decision,” Rizner said.
The city is facing a sharp decline in local option sales tax revenue at the end of 2017. LOST provides more than a quarter of the city’s estimated $2.5 million annual budget.
City officials are trying to prepare for that by trimming costs wherever possible and raising the tax millage rates last year.
“It’s certainly a substantial step in that direction,” Rizner said. “I think council has tried to do things to prepare for that.”
The four full-time and one part-time dispatchers employed by the city will be laid-off with what Rizner hopes will be a severance package. He said he’s still working out the details of the contract and transition.
The change-over is expected to take place before the summer.
The lower personnel costs and contact with the sheriff’s office is expected to save $100,000-$120,000 a year.
But Rizner said the city also plans to purchase the digital radio system recently purchased by the Grovetown Department of Public Safety and in use by the sheriff’s office, Columbia County Fire Department and Gold Cross Emergency Medical Service.
“It’ll be a considerable expense for us,” Rizner said. It’s sort of a one-time major purchase. We should be good on the radio side of things for about 10 years or so.”
At the meeting, city officials also approved the second and final reading of an ordinance that will allow body art businesses in certain areas of the city.
They approved a 90-day moratorium on the businesses in October until an ordinance regulating them could be written. City officials have said they are not opposed to tattoo and body piercing businesses, but didn’t think such businesses were appropriate for the historic downtown area, which will soon be home to a new library.
The approved ordinance allows body art businesses in areas zoned B-2 and B-3. That would allow the businesses in those areas on the east side of town along East Milledgeville Road near It’s a Man’s Place and West Milledgeville Road near the Family Dollar and Attic Treasures.