During a Veteran's Day ceremony held Monday in Wrens local Legionaire Walter "Pete" Dukes (left picture) places an arrangement in front of a newly dedicated flag that will be flown over the Wrens Cemetery. (right picture) Ft. Gordon's Col. Joseph S. Yavorsky places the memorial wreath on the courthouse grounds in Gibson after addressing the group of more than 50 people gathered for the Veteran's Memorial Service. See more photos from local Veterans' Day events on page 8A.
Wrens man kills self after threatening neighboring business
• Homer L. Brooks, 83, was a former Wrens police chief
By Ben Nelms
Tragedy struck late Saturday morning when a Wrens resident took his life after threatening two people at gunpoint at a business adjacent to his home.
Eighty-three-year-old former Wrens Police Chief Homer L. Brooks died as a result of a self-inflicted gun shot wound from a large caliber handgun.
The incident occurred in the back yard area of his residence on US Highway 1 outside the Wrens city limit and was witnessed by his son, according to Sheriff's investigators.
The suicide came immediately after Brooks returned from an altercation at the Freedom Mobile Home dealership located adjacent to his home.
While at the dealership he threatened employees of WKXC-99 radio who were there to do a live remote broadcast.
Brooks allegedly came onto the property and approached WKXC employees Anna Gaillance and Terry Gentry, who had just begun playing music after setting up for the remote broadcast.
According to statements made to investigators, Brooks began yelling and screaming obscenities at them while pulling a handgun from his right pants pocket.
According to the police report, he pointed the gun at them, his hand visibly shaking, and said, "Am I going to have to kill somebody?"
Gentry told officers he then apologized to Brooks and turned to go to the vehicle to turn off the music. Both Gentry and Gaillance said Brooks followed Gentry to the vehicle, continuing to curse and threaten him, pointing the gun at him even after the music had been silenced.
Officers believe Brooks left in short order, returning to his yard next door where his son was working on a vehicle in the back yard.
The son told investigators his father started to go into the house but stopped, saying, "I'm through with them."
His son was attempting to get him calmed down when Brooks repeated the statement and shot himself with the .357 handgun.
Freedom owner Jim Evans said Tuesday he was at a loss to explain the incident. He said the music was set at a relatively low volume and had been turned on only minutes before Brooks arrived.
Evans said Brooks came onto the property in an enraged state, what he described as uncharacteristic for the neighbor he had known and visited on several occasions since opening the dealership in April.
"I'd never seen him like that before," said Evans. "He was always so well-mannered. I thought we were friends."
Wrens Police Chief David Hannah said that officers were on their way to the scene in response to a 911 call referencing the threats when he heard that a shot had been fired. Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies arrived minutes later to take over the incident's investigation.
Election results examined
By Ben Nelms
Though only two races with local impact in Jefferson and Glascock counties were decided in last week's general election, two regional and statewide races altered Georgia's political landscape.
Republican Max Burns defeated Democrat Charles "Champ" Walker in the race for the newly created 12th US Congressional District. Jefferson and Glascock lie in the geographical center of the new district that spans a strip of counties from Athens to Augusta to Savannah. Voters in Jefferson and Glascock supported Burns bid with 55.02 percent and 86.90 percent, respectively. Only the Wadley and Stapleton Crossroads precincts in Jefferson County favored Walker. Results District-wide gave the victory to Burns with 55.2 percent of the vote.
Glascock voters closely mirrored voters in the 24th District Senate race pitting Democrat Anna Hargis against Republican B. Joseph Brush, Jr. The Republican finished well ahead with Glascock voters with 69.34 percent of the vote and district-wide with 73.4 percent.
A surprise to some was the Nov. 8 announcement by state Sen. Don Cheeks that he will switch his affiliation and will join the Georgia Republican Party. Cheeks said Monday that his loyalty has always been to the people and not to a party. The decision was based on a number of factors, including the reality that his election victories as a Democrat have come in a district that is 70 percent Republican.
"My district is one of the heaviest Republican districts in the state," said Cheeks. "I could not continue to win if Republicans weren't voting for me."
Also included in the decision were the considerations that he favored the positions of the Republican candidates in a number of other races and that the Democratic Party sought to give him opposition, he said.
Statewide races for governor and US Senator produced effects that resonated nationwide. Georgia voters shocked pundits Nov. 5 when they elected challenger Sonny Perdue as the state's first Republican governor in 132 years. Perdue was the solid favorite in Glascock, capturing 68.13 percent of the vote. Jefferson County voters favored Gov. Roy Barnes with 55.69 percent of ballots cast, though Perdue captured the majority of votes in the Matthews, Stapleton and Avera precincts. Perdue won statewide with 51.4 percent of the vote compared to 46.2 for Barnes.
The race for the open seat in the US Senate was also relinquished to the Republican candidate. Challenger Saxby Chambliss defeated incumbent Max Cleland statewide by a margin of 52.8 percent to 45.9 percent. Locally, all Glascock precincts approved Chambliss with 64.35 percent of the vote. Jefferson voters preferred Cleland, giving him 58.11 percent of the vote. Only voters in the Avera, Stapleton and Matthews precincts favored Chambliss.
Local electors voted largely the same as voters statewide when considering the six constitutional amendments and five statewide referenda on the ballot. The amendments included the requirement that certain candidates who default on federal, state or local taxes be ineligible to hold public office, the establishment of a community redevelopment tax incentive programs for blighted property, the reclassification of properties containing hazardous waste to encourage cleanup, the refusal to reclassify and reassign the ad valorem tax on commercial dockside facilities and support of a dog and cat sterilization program. Items where local voters mirrored those statewide included adjusting the homestead exemption threshold for persons age 62 or older when paying school ad valorem taxes, exempting payment of certain ad valorem taxes by spouses of military personnel killed during a conflict.
Voters in Jefferson, Glascock and statewide differed in their opinions on one amendment and two referenda. Jefferson County voters supported the reclassification of low-income building projects while a majority of voters in Glascock and statewide opposed the measure. Voters in Glascock and statewide also opposed granting certain historic properties housing medical museums or societies exemption from ad valorem taxes, while Jefferson voters by a margin of 50.38 percent to 49.62 percent favored the move.
Jefferson County NAACP holds annual meeting
By Ben Nelms
Thirty-five years have passed since the founding of the Jefferson County Branch of the NAACP. President Lee Shellman said the importance of the organization to the community will be felt at the annual banquet Nov. 16.
Featured at the banquet will be former Jefferson County resident and Wrens High School graduate Dr. Franklin Evans.
"We look for a person who can say something that will help the people here in Jefferson County," said Shellman. "We felt like Dr. Evans would be someone who can fill that role."
Evans was awarded a doctorate in Higher Education Administration in 1994 from Georgia State University. He obtained Education Specialist degrees in Curriculum and Instruction in 1988, an M.S. in Middle Childhood Education in 1987 and holds bachelors degrees in Journalism and Entomology/Biology.
Evans' diverse work history includes positions as a medical entomologist for the Centers for Disease Control, a television reporter, flight attendant, science teacher, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, university professor and assistant dean. His professional affiliations include the National Alliance of Black Educators, National Education Association, Southern Regional Council on Educational Administration, National Association of African American Studies, American Educational Research Association and NAACP.
The importance of the role of the Jefferson County Branch in advocating for the community cannot be understated, said Shellman. The mission of the organization, both for the current membership and for all county residents, remains as vital today as it was at its founding 35 years ago, he said. At the core of that mission is the desire to make better life for all the residents of Jefferson County through efforts such as voter registration, education and participation.
"Our overall mission is to make things better for people," said Shellman. "We can do this by electing people who will work hard for all the people in the county, especially with our schools so that our children can get a good education."
The Jefferson County Branch Annual Banquet will be held Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in the commons area at Jefferson County High School. Tickets are $12 for individuals and $22 for couples and can be obtained in advance by contacting any NAACP member.