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Belton backs county vote

Staff Written Front Page, News

Managing Editor  State Representative Dave Belton is backing a controversial vote of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners to take over the appointment process of the county’s election board. The vote caused an upset at last Tuesday county commissioner meeting, with attendees denied the opportunity to issue public comments prior to the vote.  Amidst groans, in a 3-to-1 vote, the county commissioners voted to appoint all future members of the county election board, taking away the role of the local Republican and Democratic parties in the process. The appointment process …

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Buckhead next epicenter of development?

Staff Written Buckhead News, Front Page, News

By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  A controversial proposal currently being considered would nearly double the size of the Town of Buckhead and create a new zoning district that would allow for massive residential and commercial developments.  On Tuesday evening, the Morgan County Planning Commission considered three separate, but related, proposals from five land owners, seeking to annex .68 square miles into the Town of Buckhead, pass a new text amendment to create a new Interstate Mixed Use zoning district, and to rezone the annexed land in that new zoning …

Movies come back to Madison

Staff Written Community, Front Page

By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  Y’allywood returns to Madison this week with a film production setting up shop at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center. The coronavirus pandemic has slammed the brakes on most entertainment projects in 2020, but the film industry is slowly tapping the accelerator, ramping up movie and television productions in Georgia once again.  The latest film project to come through Madison comes from Storyteller Studios, of Newnan, Ga., called Forgotten. The production crew has set up camp at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center and the movie is filming …

$10k grant jump starts food pantry

Staff Written Community, Front Page

By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  The new food pantry in Madison is asking the community for financial help to keep providing this crucial service for families in need as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the state.  That Madison-Morgan Community Food Pantry is weekly food pantry out of the original Middle School, located on Pearl Street in Madison, to gather, assemble and distribute grocery boxes for families in need every Saturday morning. The food pantry was born out of the Morgan County Ministers Union’s grocery giveaway ministry, which …

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Plant seeks OK by GEDP

Staff Written Front Page, News

By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing editor  Monitoring ethylene oxide emissions has been on the forefront of Georgia’s radar for over a year, after a firestorm of criticism was levied again Georgia companies using the carcinogenic gas, including Becton Dickinson (BD), which operates plants in Covington and Madison. Last year, the Covington plant was temporarily shutdown while an investigation into emission levels was conducted and the company entered into a consent agreement to make several technological  changes and upgrades.  This week, BD and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD) released statements …

Democrats bemoan BOC election vote

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By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  Partisan tensions flared at Tuesday night’s Morgan County Board of Commissioners meeting. Local Democrats accused commissioners of making corrupt “backroom deals” and denying the citizens their right to be heard before a vote on how members of the Board of Elections and Registration (BOER) are selected.  Much to the chagrin of the local Democratic party, they will no longer have a say on who sits on the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration (BOER),  From now on, county commissioners will appoint all members …

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Paper ballots back in court

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By Patrick Yost Editor  Georgia’s voting system has garnered national scrutiny since the 2018 Midterm Election, with critics accusing old and new voting machines of posing security risks, vote count inconsistencies and constitutional violations.  Paper ballot advocates are headed to federal court this Thursday, Sept. 10 to argue against Georgia’s new $120,000 voting system, which is comprised of Dominion Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting machines and to advocate for more voter protection, paper ballot backups and election oversight.  “The State’s intended use of the Dominion BMD system in upcoming elections …

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COVID-19 cases eclipse 400 in Morgan County

Staff Written Front Page, News

By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  Morgan County is up to 440 reported coronavirus cases as of press time on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Morgan County has only reported two coronavirus-related deaths, but hospitalizations are on the rise, coming in at 32 total hospitalizations.  Statewide, The Georgia Department of Public Health reported 1,595 new cases just on Tuesday, Sept. 8 by 3 p.m. The agency also reported 26 new deaths and 51 new hospitalizations for the day.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, Georgia has …

Grocery giveaway grows into food pantry

Staff Written Community, Front Page

By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  What began as a one-time grocery giveaway has evolved into a blossoming food ministry. The Morgan County Ministers Union is opening up a food pantry out of the old middle school on Pearl Street in Madison.  The Madison-Morgan Community Food Pantry will serve as a non-profit organization to ensure local families can put food on the table during these unprecedented times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has wrought widespread financial hardship due to lay-offs and shutdowns.   The Morgan County Ministers Union, along with other local churches and …

Downtown Madison gets new business

Staff Written Front Page, News

By Dianne Lively Yost Staff Nestled on the corner of South Main Street and West Washington Street in downtown Madison is a striking new retail destination that exclusively focuses on men’s fashion.  T.J. Bishop’s Men’s Shop, which opened last Thursday, exudes masculinity and style from its curated brands and personalized customer service to the meticulously restored and designed interior.  The shop has a spacious, fluid and comfortable feel complete with leather chairs, an Oriental rug and large-screen television tuned to the golf channel. Beautiful shelving and antique tables are carefully …

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Rep. Belton: ‘I hope everyone wears a mask’

Staff Written Front Page, News

By Tia Lynn Managing Editor  The annual State of Morgan forum was held virtually last week to give local citizens an update on the developments of Morgan County from various local and state leaders. State Representative Dave Belton was this year’s keynote speaker, giving key updates on happenings across the state in the areas of education, business development, the state’s budget, and measures taken to handle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  Belton praised Morgan Medical Center’s response to the pandemic and Morgan County choosing to reopen schools. Belton noted the state …

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Threats over kids noise lead to arrest

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By Patrick Yost Editor  An 81-year-old Madison man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after he allegedly threatened a family at Cracker Barrel because of a crying child. According to Madison Police Department reports, Joe Frank Jordan was arrested at his Apalachee Road residence after officers and Cracker Barrel employees identified Jordan and a truck he had driven to the restaurant. Reports allege that at approximately 10 a.m. Jordan approached a man with two children at the restaurant. One of the children was crying, reports state. “Can your kids …

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School quarantine number rises

Staff Written Front Page, News

By Tia Lynn Ivey Editor  A total of 165 Morgan County students, across all four schools, have been sent home to quarantine after being exposed at school to COVID-19, the highly contagious coronavirus. Since school reopened on Aug. 6, a total of 21 students and seven staff members have tested positive for coronavirus.  According to school officials, everyone who has come into “close contact” with infected individuals have been sent home to quarantine for two weeks. Close contact is defined as coming within six feet of an infected person for …

Closest available ICU bed in South Carolina for Madison man with Covid

Staff Written Front Page, News

Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  A Madison man with a severe case of COVID-19 was transferred out of state—all the way to a hospital in Columbia, S.C.—during the wee hours of the night on Aug. 6 due to ICU bed shortages across Georgia at the time.  Tony Atwater, 53, is currently on a ventilator fighting for his life more than 150 miles away from his family and home in Madison.  According to his wife, Felicia Atwater, Tony was admitted to Morgan Medical Center in Madison for the second time on …

CARI closing doors

Staff Written Front Page, News

Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  Companion Animal Rescue, Inc. (CARI) announced this week that the non-profit organization aiming to place rescued animals in forever homes is closing down. The last of CARI’s dogs, Remi, was adopted and now just Lolita, a loveable formerly stray cat who is now house-trained, is the last CARI animal in need of a home.  Founded by Donna Prior and Ellen Warren in 2004, thousands of animals, from cats and dogs to sometimes more exotic animals like horses, donkeys, and emus, have been rescued, kept safe, and …

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More than 100 local students told to quarantine

Staff Written Front Page, News

By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  All four of Morgan County’s public schools have now been impacted by the coronavirus, with new confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and staff and more than 100 students sent home to quarantine due to exposure.  In an effort to keep students, families, and the community as a whole, abreast to unfolding coronavirus cases in schools, the Morgan County School System has added a daily update report to the school system’s website.  “We want to be as transparent and as forthright as we possibly can,” …

City Enacts Mask Mandate

Staff Written Front Page, News

Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  Masks are now mandatory in public buildings in the city of Madison. The Madison Mayor and City Council met Wednesday morning, Aug. 19 to discuss and vote on the citywide mask mandate. The move comes on the heels of Governor Brian Kemp’s new executive order, signed on August 15, concerning the coronavirus pandemic. While the order stops short of introducing a statewide mask mandate, the order allows certain Georgia cities and counties the ability to mandate masks to be worn in public.   Governor Kemp had previously …

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Georgia now leads nation in coronavirus spread, says Harvard, Ga Tech. studies

Staff Written Front Page, News

By Patrick Yost Editor  The first COVID-19 death has been reported in Morgan County by the Georgia Department of Public Health this week as confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise in the county and across the state of Georgia.  While coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Morgan County, the reported death toll remained at zero until this week. COVID-19 is the highly contagious and potentially lethal upper-respiratory coronavirus currently sweeping  across the state, country and most of the world.  The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) has not …

Rickard to face Morgan charges

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By Tia Lynn Ivey Managing Editor  Ryan Rickard, the former assistant principal of Morgan County High School, is currently jailed in Morgan County, still facing charges of rape, sexual assault, and sexual battery against minors.  He was booked last Friday, Aug. 7 at the Morgan County Detention Center after being transferred from the Walton County Jail. Rickard is being held at the Morgan County jailhouse as he awaits to stand trial for some of the charges against him, four counts of sexual assault against a student in Morgan County. He …

Sheriff’s Office makes arrests in rash of car break-ins

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By Patrick Yost Editor  The Monday arrest of three Hephzibah men, officials hope, may have been an important beginning to stopping a recent spate of vehicle break-ins in Morgan County. According to Lt. Brandon Sellers, Investigations Division, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, three suspects were arrested without incident after officials used information gleaned from a vehicle license reader system recently installed in the Morgan Estates subdivision. Sellers said the system was able to capture the license tag of a white Nissan Altima entering the subdivision at 11:09 a.m. on July 30. …