Bridge of Quiet Courage: Late county commissioner Walter Curtis Butler, Jr. honored with bridge over Interstate 20Submitted by editor on Fri, 07/16/2010 - 15:57.
Story and Photos by Patrick Yost
At the same moment the black cloth covering the sign designating the U.S. 441 bridge over Interstate 20 as the Walter Curtis Butler Jr. Memorial Bridge fell so did the tears on Laura Butler’s face.
Under the glare of police car blue lights at the bridge ceremony, Laura Butler wept. It was a moving moment and one born out of the more than year–long efforts to have her husband’s accomplishments recognized. The more than 200 people at the dedication, including a wide host of local and state officials, cheered.
“My heart is overjoyed that the work Walter did in Morgan County is not in vain,” Laura said.
The memorial was made possible by a city of Madison resolution, approved in January, 2010, that called for the naming of the bridge in Walter Curtis Butler, Jr.’s honor.
Walter Curtis Butler, Jr. died August,1 2008 after suffering with lung cancer.
He was the first African–American voted to public office in Morgan County when he won a seat in 1982 on the Morgan County Board of Commissioners that he would not relinquish until his death. He also served as president of the Georgia NAACP for many years and founded the Morgan County Branch, NAACP where he served as president or vice president for decades.
At the bridge ceremony, the Rev. W.J. Reid remarked that the memorial will stand as a remembrance for generations to come. “His name will be observed and kept in the minds of people for years to come.”
By Matt Rogers I Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Old friends and family gather around to retell the story of one woman Hallie Sims, who just turned 100 years old on June 15. Her caretaker, her nephew, a neighbor of 20 years and a great friend of 50 years weave together the memories that Hallie has collected throughout the century of her life.
Her caretaker, Felicia Hyman, discusses how Sims is a sweet lady, and even at 100 years old, she doesn't want anyone's help because she feels deep down that she doesn't need it.
“She doesn't want you to do anything for her,” Hyman said.
Hyman and Sims read passages from the Bible together everyday. Their fingertips go from end to end of the rows of verses from Genesis; their eyes follow. They read aloud together simultaneously.
“I gotta come to a prayer house,” Hyman said.
The drone of the air conditioning window unit draws out a mundane, static mood, shattered as Sims draws in a breath and releases a cadence of beautiful singing like the sweet melody chirped by a mockingbird at sunrise.
“I can hear her singing everyday,” said Evelyn Terrell, Sims' neighbor of 20 years.
According to Sims’ nephew, Leroy Moore’s birth certificate, his birthday is July 4. However, Sims has adamantly stated for years that his actual birthday is July 14.
“They probably forgot to put the one,” Moore recollects Sims saying. “I know when you was born because I saw you.”
At 100 years old, Sims finds it hard to remember everything she has done in her life.
“You get old and just forget,” Sims said.
There is one prayer—she remembered every word, pause and point of inflection. She knew that prayer.
by Kathryn Schiliro
photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Through the tinted windows of his Morgan County Sheriff's Office-issued police car, Cpl. Todd Poteet keeps vigil over the county.
Now, for the most part, his passengers are criminals, those who have broken the law.
But mere months ago, Staff Sgt. Todd Poteet was in Afghanistan, on a 10-month tour of duty that began in 2009 and lasted into 2010. In this, his third tour in the Middle East with the Army National Guard—he took part in two tours in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, a combined 14 months—he acted as a team leader for Personal Security Detail (PSD), responsible for safely shuttling dignitaries and world leaders—people like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai—from one place to another and back, whether that be across town or across the country.
As PSD team leader, Poteet's job began with a brief. He would then relay that information to his staff and from there, PSD planning could begin.
Routes and times coordinated.
Weapons systems prepared.
Proper amounts of ammunition, food and supplies gathered.
Vehicles, properly maintained, now ready.
The PSD would then load up, dignitary in tow, and begin the initial leg of the round trip.
Poteet ran more than 250 missions in Afghanistan, and all of them were considered "combat missions."
Why? "Anything that puts you in hostile territory," Poteet said of what defines such a mission.
• • •
Poteet was mobilized as part of the National Guard's 48th Brigade in early 2009, slated for Operation Enduring Freedom, the War in Afghanistan. He let Sgt. Roland and Sheriff Robert Markley know of his pending deployment as soon as he found out.
Among the things rolling into Madison Monday morning—dark clouds, thunder, and near 500 motorcycles.
A Memorial Day tradition, the Ride for America, a police-escorted motorcycle ride that begins in Monroe and makes its way to Madison, brought an additional roughly 800 to 1,000 people to Madison's Town Park for the city's annual Memorial Day ceremony, sponsored by Calvin George Post 37 of the American Legion.
Lights flashing and sirens blaring, cars from varying county sheriff's offices and the Georgia State Patrol led the ride, followed by Military Police Humvees, a makeshift train and hundreds of motorcycles. Guided by representatives of the City of Madison and local law enforcement, the motorcyclists parked their bikes and, row upon row, the line started at the Madison Artists Guild's cottage-corner of Town Park and stretched down one side of the park and around the corner, taking up two of the rectangular park's four sides.
Parked, the leather-clad drivers and their passengers joined the hundreds of local residents, many in varying forms of red, white and blue or military-oriented attire, already gathered in the park to pay homage to the nation's servicemen and servicewomen, both living and dead.
Around 1,500 people crowded the park.
Jessica Miller, the granddaughter of the late Gary Lemonds, original organizer of the Ride for America who passed away last year, sang the National Anthem as the Colorguard presented flags. Following a prayer by American Legion Post Commander Jim NeSmith, Madison Mayor Bruce Gilbert spoke of the sacrifice of military men and women.
"Our country did not become this wonderful place to live in by accident," Gilbert said.
He went on to quote General George S. Patton, "'It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.'"
Printed in the May 20, 2010 edition.
Printed in the April 22, 201 edition.