A LICENSE TO REMEMBER

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Georgia State Patrol honors widow with a special gift. In 1979, Georgia State Patrolman Keith Sewell was killed in a car accident while responding to a call about a motorcycle gang riot in Greene County. His widow, June Wallace, and son Brian Sewell, were presented with a very special gift this Tuesday to honor Keithís memory: An original Georgia State Patrol license plate bearing Keith Sewellís badge number, #401, which has been retired since his death. Retired Master Trooper Truman Boyle happen to come across the long-lost tag on Ebay …

Dog left in car dies

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By Patrick Yost editor The Madison Police Department is seeking a felony aggravated cruelty to animals warrant against a woman who allegedly let a Mastiff dog sit in an enclosed Ford Ranger for several hours before succumbing to heat–related injuries. According to Sgt. Scott Pitocchelli, Madison Police Department, investigators are seeking the warrant against Chasity Perry, 36, Watkinsville for actions allegedly leading to the death of the dog. Pitocchelli said a concerned citizen contacted Morgan County Dispatch at noon on Wednesday, September 27 regarding a Mastiff inside a Ford Ranger …

Board breathes new life into safari project

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By Tia  Lynn Ivey managing editor The Georgia Safari Conservation Park is back on track. The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved three requests from The Georgia Safari Conservation Park, hoping the long-awaited project will pick up the pace and finally come to fruition. Commissioner Philip Von Hanstein abstained from the votes, citing a conflict of interest since he is an adjacent property owner. The Georgia Safari Conservation Park filed applications for a conditional use renewal, a zoning map amendment, and a variance request to waive the 18-month time …

Graduation focus ‘paying off’ high school stats show

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By Tia Lynn Ivey managing  editor The Morgan County Charter School System announced this week that the graduation rate for the Class of 2017 came in at 91.8 percent. According to school officials, there haven’t been any new policies put in place to improve graduate rates, but a renewed focus in recent years to guide students across the graduation finish line. “The efforts of the students, teachers, and staff of the Morgan County School System are paying off, “ said Superintendent James Woodard. “We have a focus on ensuring that …

Internet initiative ‘fantastic opportunity’

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By Tia  Lynn Ivey managing editor The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) announced a statewide initiative to improve broadband access and telecommunications. According to the GDOT, better broadband and telecommunication services are becoming increasingly necessary for economic development, quality of life, and academic achievement among Georgia students. “Increasingly, the world is dependent on high-speed internet and reliable cell phone service. But many throughout Georgia rely on spotty or inconsistent cellular and slow internet,” said Natalie Dale, a public relations official for GDOT. “Better days may be ahead as Georgia DOT …

Toxicology report key in death ruling

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By Patrick Yost editor Authorities are waiting for the results of a state medical examiner autopsy before they release the cause of death for a Madison man who died in the height of Hurricane Irma. According to Sgt. Scott Pitocchelli, Tyrone Williams, 46, of Madison, died sometime between 11:45 p.m. on Sept. 11, and 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 12. Pitochelli said Williams’ shirtless and shoeless body was found in the backyard of an East Washington Street residence. Williams had last been seen, witnesses told officers, around 11:30 p.m. inside an …

BOC to seek $21 million SPLOST

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By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) further discussed how to go about pursuing the next SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales) referendum and introducing a new sales tax called TSPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), which will be placed on the ballot sometime next year. The BOC will propose the next SPLOST to be an estimated $21 million, down about $5 million from the current $26 million SPLOST. During the last work session on Tuesday, Sept. 19, The BOC came to …

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No place to go, man allegedly robs store, turns self in to have a room

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By Patrick Yost editor A Madison man allegedly committed a strong–arm robbery at the Golden Pantry Thursday night, got high and later turned himself in because “he had nowhere to go.” According to Madison Police Department reports, Calvin Wade, 34, allegedly entered the Golden Pantry at approximately 10:20 p.m. While purchasing some Swisher Sweet cigars, he told the female clerk “let me get those $20s” referring to cash in the drawer. The clerk told officers that she thought Wade was joking until he said “You think I’m playing?” and reached …

Authority breaks ground on hospital

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By Tia  Lynn Ivey managing editor At long last, construction is beginning on the new $35 million hospital building for Morgan Memorial Hospital (MMH). On Tuesday, Sept. 19, hospital officials, elected officials, state officials and community leaders gathered at the site on Lions Club Road in Madison, to commemorate the event with a groundbreaking ceremony. “It’s a great day in Morgan County as we come together,” said Ralph Castillo, CEO of MMH. Castillo thanked the hospital authority, auxillary, hospital employees, medical staff, and all the governmental and elected officials who …

Laura Butler passes

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By Tia  Lynn Ivey managing editor Morgan County is mourning the loss of another faithful community leader this week with the passing of Laura Butler, the president of the Morgan County branch of the NAACP. “Laura Butler was such a great person because she believed in serving people,”  said Morgan County Board of Commissioners Chairman Donald Harris. “You know, Jesus said the greatest among you must become a servant and she truly followed that. She spent most of her life trying to make this community a better place… She was …

Daycare closing affects families

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By Tia  Lynn Ivey managing editor A local daycare, Daystar Christian Childcare in Madison, has declared bankruptcy and is set to close this coming Friday, Sept. 22 leaving dozens of families without children care until the facility can reopen under new ownership. Owner Christi Greene issued a letter about two weeks ago to parents last week informing them of the daycare’s closing. “It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that I will be closing Daystar effective September 22, 2017,” wrote Greene. “I have pursued every option …

STORM SLAMS MORGAN

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By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor Hurricane Irma tore through Morgan County this week, causing widespread power outages and damage to power lines, trees, and properties throughout the county. Officials warned residents ahead of the storm to stay indoors and off the roads due to the dangerous conditions Irma would bring. “Hurricane Irma is a life-threatening weather event,” said Gwen Ruark, director of Morgan County’s Emergency Management Department. After the storm passed, thousands of residents were left without power. “The effects of Hurricane Irma were felt in Morgan County early …

Child attacks teacher

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By Patrick Yost editor An 11–year–old Morgan County Middle School student was arrested on September 5 after he allegedly beat a para–pro so severely that she had to be treated at Morgan Memorial Hospital. Reports state that the male student also allegedly attempted to attack an administrator and fought with a Morgan County Sheriff’s deputy, at one point, reports state, the student tried to grab the officers service pistol. According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, at approximately 10:30 a.m., a deputy was called to the school to speak with …

Cops use Facebook to nab suspect

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By Patrick Yost editor Police have always relied on various security surveillance to help capture the image of subjects. But, says Capt. Chris Bish, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, they have now found a new and apparently fast way to identify suspects in criminal activity. Just ask Joshua Garrison Shelton, 23, of Monroe. One day after authorities received security camera images from a gas drive at the River Store on Greensboro Highway, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office shared the image on its NIXLE alert system, Twitter account and Facebook. “Within 15 …

County considers crackdown

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By Tia  Lynn Ivey managing editor The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) is considering cracking down on event facility requests. A litany of complaints in recent years has prompted the BOC to consider revising the county’s event facility ordinance. As requests for event facilities in the county have risen, so has the backlash from surrounding neighbors worried about traffic, drunk-driving, noise, and light pollution. The main complaint, according to Chuck Jarrell, county planning director, was the allowance of groups of 50 or less to gather without permit. “I have …

Hospital touts financial record

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By Tia  Lynn Ivey managing editor The Morgan Memorial Hospital (MMH) officials delivered their annual report to the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, touting three years of financial gains and anticipating a prosperous future. MMH CEO Ralph Castillo stressed the hospital’s economic impact on the local community. “Right now, we have a $10.5 million economic impact, in the first year with the new building, that jumps up to $14.3 million. “It’s a pretty impressive return on the investment,” said Castillo. “This is also the third year in a row we …

Shoplifting charge leads to three arrested on drug charges

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By Patrick Yost editor An alleged shoplifting at Madison’s Tractor Supply led to three individuals being charged with felony drug charges. According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, Avery Lee Long, 25, Rutledge was arrested on August 29 and charged with two counts of possession of narcotics and one misdemeanor count of shoplifting. The driver of a Chevy Uplander in which Long was a passenger, Jason Harvey Harp, 43, Madison was also charged with possession of cocaine. A woman identified as Long’s girlfriend, Ashley Marie Harp, 25, Rutledge was also …

Competiton heats up for 2017 race

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By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor The face of Madison’s city leadership could be changing this November, as new candidates flood the races to challenge incumbents. Both Robert Lanier and Kathi Russell, owner of the Madison Tea Room, have qualified with the Morgan County Board of Elections to run for Mayor of Madison against incumbent Fred Perriman. Perriman is hoping to have a chance to finish what he started here in Madison. “There are quite a few things I’d like to see completed during my next term if reelected,” said …

Vigil held at Town Park

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By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor The sound of hymns amidst soft candlelight could be heard Saturday evening in Town Park. About 30 people showed up for a candlelight vigil in response to the violence perpetrated by white supremacists during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month. “We are a group of concerned citizens of Morgan County, Georgia, holding a peaceful candlelight vigil in a show of solidarity with the community of Charlottesville, Virginia,” said Terry Reeves of Rutledge, who orchestrated the event. “The family of Heather Heyer, other …

‘Stay firm’

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By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor The Morgan County Republican Party hosted the annual Founders Day event last week, which featured keynote speakers Republican Congressman Jody Hice, Georgia Senator Burt Jones, State Representative Dave Belton, and Republican candidate for Georgia Governor Hunter Hill. Each of the speakers addressed issues currently being tackled both on a statewide and national level. Congressman Hice implored Republicans to hold fast and continue pushing Republican representatives to enact President Donald Trump’s agenda, including building a border wall between America and Mexico, repealing and replacing “Obamacare,” …