David Josey spent six hours on a cross in front of the Apostolic Church of the Lord Jesus outside of Bartow last week before swapping places with Mark Pennington, who portrayed a Roman soldier earlier in the day.
Bartow church shares vision of Easter
By Parish Howard
Bartow native David Josey wanted to do something special for Easter, something that would direct strangers' attentions to his idea of what the holiday is really about.
So, for six hours on Good Friday, he hung from a cross on Highway 221 in front of The Apostolic Church of the Lord Jesus. From his perspective, and that of the church members who joined him, either kneeling at the foot of the living crucifix, relieving him on the cross, or portraying a Roman soldier prodding him with a sword, the vision they created did just what they had intended.
First of all, people noticed.
"There was a bus of prisoners that drove by a few times," Violet Josey, David's aunt said from her seat at her nephew's feet. "They slowed down real slow and looked. A lot of people were doing that."
Around 10 a.m. a car with Florida plates, headed north pulled into the church's parking lot. A lady got out and walked her young son over to the cross.
"He must have been about 4 years old," Violet Josey said. "He was so little and he looked so sad. She told him 'See, it's not a statue. I told you that it's real. Now, tell him you're sorry.'"
That's when Violet Josey said that she and Jenny Pennington, the other church member dressed in robes and seated at the foot of the cross, started crying.
"She told him to look at us," Violet Josey said. "She told him that we were weeping for Jesus. We were really crying because it was what she was saying, what she was teaching him that was so powerful."
The mother and son stayed there by the cross talking for 15 minutes or so, David Josey said.
"He just looked so sad," he said. "I wanted to tell him I was ok. I really didn't feel very worthy."
Throughout the day other people saw them there on the lawn, saw the image they created, felt its message.
Some slowed down, or turned around and drove back by. Some honked their horns. Others stopped. Other parents brought their children.
About midway through the day Mark Pennington, who played the soldier prodding David's side, swapped places with him.
Early Sunday morning Pennington, dressed again in the Jesus costume, stood above a tomb on the church's front lawn as the arisen Christ.
The images they portrayed Friday and Sunday, were the culmination of a month's worth of skits the church had performed throughout March.
"It began the first Sunday of the month with Jesus' triumphant entry," the church's pastor, Vina Mae Josey said. "Then we had the passover supper with the washing of the Jesus's feet and then the garden scene and betrayal."
The church has acted out these scenes for several years, but this was the first time they attempted to portray the crucifixion.
"A couple of weeks ago I was driving by and usually I pull off up there," David Josey pointed towards Bartow. "For some reason I drove on down and when I drove by the church I saw the nativity scene still out front and thought about the tomb and the crucifixion and had this image in my head.
"I told my wife, Jenny, about it and she talked to my aunt and it kind of just grew from there."
He said that he wanted to focus people's attention back on the cross, on Jesus, and what the Easter holiday is really all about.
"Around a month ago I had a dream," Violet Josey said. "I saw David out here, on the cross like this. I thought about it but didn't tell anybody. Then, when David's wife told me about his idea I told her about the dream."
They were impressed with the way it turned out, with the support of other church members who joined them throughout the day.
Standing up there on the cross, balancing on the tiny platform, David Josey said that the experience of it, of being up there, was very different than what he had expected.
"Your shoulders get tired," he said. "And I'm getting sunburned. But, you know, it's hard to explain. There's no way to imagine what He went through, what Jesus did for us."
Mark Pennington, still dressed as the soldier, his sword still pressed into the bloody ribs above him just looked up and said "Nobody else would have."
Discussions begin on future of landfill
• Residents from around county serve on board which will make recommendations
By Ben Nelms
The initial phase of a process designed to provide recommendations on the future of the Jefferson County landfill began Monday with the first meeting of the landfill assessment committee.
Residents from around the county were selected by commissioners to work with Department of Community Affairs (DCA) staff to study the options and make suggestions to bring to the board.
The commission arranged for DCA's Office of Environment Management Director Randy Hartmann to offer technical assistance and provide a tentative format for discussion and study topics that will lead to recommendations for commissioners to consider as they determine the future of the facility.
Now in its fourth year of operation, the landfill continues to require increasing subsidies from taxpayers beyond its allotted budget.
Committee members agreed with suggestions to conduct a landfill efficiency study and to research solid waste collection methods, both inside the county and at other targeted facilities in the area.
The group also agreed to study various funding mechanisms associated with generating revenue at the facility and possible recycling and waste reduction options.
A proposed process for developing recommendations included an inventory and evaluation of the existing solid waste management system and the identification and formulation of applicable efficiency recommendations, followed by a report to commissioners.
If requested by commissioners, the committee would also identify options and work with the commission to establish goals for a solid waste management system and prepare an implementation plan.
At Hartmann's advice the committee agreed that meetings should be open and the public should be encouraged to attend.
"We need to take the correct pulse of the public as we move forward with this," he said.
Hartmann proposed a tentative goal of June to have the study completed. Group members said interim recommendations to commissioners might also be advisable given the upcoming fiscal year budget process that will likely be completed prior to July 1.
Hartmann and several committee members visited the landfill following the Monday meeting.
Committee members at the meeting included Charlie Evans, Kay Heilig, Shirley Thompson Pierce, Ceola Hannah substituting for Dollye Ward and Robert Clements.
Landfill committee meetings will be held every other Thursday beginning April 11 at 7 p.m. at the commission office on Broad Street in Louisville.
Wadley retires 2001 debts
• City hires Carl Wagster to fill city administrator's long vacant position
By Ben Nelms
Herman Baker was not a flamboyant presence while campaigning last year, but the soft-spoken, newly elected Mayor of Wadley is making good on his promise to help turn the tide on the city's financial problems and unite the community.
Baker announced at the March city council meeting that the city has retired its outstanding debts from 2001, totaling $207,388. At the meeting, the council also voted 5-0 to hire former county ambulance director Carl Wagster to serve as city administrator effective March 12.
"I think there is a difference now," Baker said Friday. "My efforts were to get the community working together and to be united. I have seen this unity in the cooperation and understanding I've received. I explained that my concern is the city. I believe we are going to work this thing out and we will become the kind of community that we need to be."
Tentative plans to address the city's financial crisis and hire a city administrator were discussed last summer by the previous administration but were not implemented.
Baker said hiring an administrator was critical in the process of bringing the city to a better financial posture. It was not a matter of hiring an administrator who would be "thrown to the wolves" but rather to have someone to work on a daily basis in concert with the mayor in an operational capacity to conduct the city's business by being aware of the needs and responding appropriately, Baker said.
Baker and Wagster said eliminating past debt has a greater effect than merely seeing financial obligations met. It is also a matter of the city council responding to an intangible need within the community.
"It's a matter of pride in this community," said Wagster. "It shows that Mayor Baker and the city council are working in a forward-looking way to bring pride to the community. It was a substantial amount of money that has been generated to overcome a deficit of great magnitude. The council should be commended for what has been accomplished in such a short time."
Wagster said the council is working on the city budget to determine how far 2002 city revenues will stretch and whether the city will need to borrow money to meet expenses through the end of the year.
"We are trying to see where we need to scrutinize the budget so we can go forward with it for the future," said Wagster. "Every department, every avenue to save money will be looked at, and then we'll decide at that point what we need to do for the city in terms of securing outside funds."
Wagster said he hoped to have the budget ready for presentation to the council in the next 30-40 days.
Baker said the city does not currently have plans to bring back the five city employees whose jobs were affected in the past nine months by the city's financial problems. The first responsibility is to adequately address all the issues involving the city with the employees currently in place.
"We are going to go as long as we can with the personnel we have now. We're going to stretch every dollar we can to see if that can help us and then, when we get to the point where we can't stretch anymore, we will look at our options."
Baker believes the city's current efforts have already made a difference in an atmosphere where the lines between tangible and intangible results are often blurred. The real thing at stake is Wadley itself, he said.
"I think it saves the city's name," said Baker. "That was my primary concern. I was trying to unite the community and make it possible for us to be able to get credit again if we need it."
Organizers proud of response to art show
• Collection will be displayed in Swainsboro gallery next year
By Parish Howard
One week after the show closed, after the paintings and drawings were taken from their easles and the iron and wood sculptures were carefully removed from their places, local residents were still talking about them.
Sam Morgan, coordinator of March 22-24 display of Jefferson County artworks, called the public's response "phenomenal."
"It far surpassed what we'd imagined," he said Friday, a week after the show opened he was still amazed at the number of local residents who visited the show. "We estimate there were more than 250 people there Friday night and 800-plus over the entire weekend."
Some faces he saw Friday, he saw again on Saturday and Sunday when they could spend more time perusing the paintings, sculpture and other works of art.
"I've received so many calls from people expressing their enjoyment and appreciation for the show," Morgan said. "I believe they were impressed not only by the high degrees of talent they saw, but also by the wide diversity of work we had gathered."
In all, the show included 218 pieces of work by 31 artists.
"This really was a great show," said Neal Kalmanson, professor of art at East Georgia College in Swainsboro. "There are all sorts of things...such a variety. Everything from three-dimensional art to the paintings and drawings. It's really an enjoyable show."
Morgan said that Kalmanson, one of the people responsible for procuring exhibits for the Emanuel County Arts Council's Kalmanson Gallery, came to the Jefferson County show with hopes of finding one or two artists who may be interested in displaying their work in the gallery.
Once he saw it, Kalmanson said he was interested in the whole show, in all the pieces by Jefferson County artists who are still producing work.
"I think it would be great to take the show, as a whole, for the people of Emmanuel County to see what the people of Jefferson County are doing, to see the work they are producing," he said.
Currently, he is scheduling the Jefferson County artwork for display May of 2003.
"There has also been some interest shown in possibly forming an arts council and art guild right here in Jefferson County," Morgan said. "Everything is still just being discussed right now. Nothing is solid, but there is interest."
During the three-day show 22 people signed a form saying they were interested in forming a local art guild.
"This show was a major coming-out for a lot of artists," Morgan said. "They are excited about what they saw."
He hopes that the show can serve as a spring board, a jumping off place, a beginning for the artists of Jefferson County.
He and others envision a council that could help provide incentives for local artists, organize shows and really be an organizing entity for an arts movement. He sees the place for a guild, including both artists and citizens who are interested in the arts, that can help expose people to different mediums and opportunities for artistic expression. He sees a place where artists can push each other to go beyond their limits, to continue to create.
"People keep asking when we are going to do it again, and please can it be soon," Morgan said. "They were hungry for it, for something like this."
The next step, he said, is to form an art guild, to get all the artists together to begin talking over their ideas.
While Morgan is not sure if this was the first exhibit of its kind in the county, he feels fairly certain that it won't be the last.