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January 30, 2003 Issue




Counting the Days...
Thomas Jefferson Academy prekindergarteners count out 100 cereal hoops as they slide them onto necklaces on the 100th day of school. Other students celebrated by doing 100 jumping jacks and other counting exercises.


Shotgun wielding robbers caught

Two charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault and criminal intent in attempted robbery of convenience store

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

Two Wadley men face multiple charges after a failed late night armed robbery attempt Jan. 22 at the Jet convenience store on the Wadley bypass.

Jermichael Strowbridge, 18, was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault and criminal intent to commit the offense of armed robbery, according to a spokesman for the sheriff's office. Anthony Brown, 16, faces identical charges in the incident. Investigators said Brown was charged as an adult due to a prior conviction of a sex crime and is currently serving a 10-year probation relating to the conviction. Charges are pending on a 16 year-old male who initially acted as a lookout in the incident.

The attempted robbery occurred shortly before midnight Jan. 24 at the Jet convenience store at the intersection of US Highway 1 and SR 78 on the Wadley bypass.

Strowbridge and Brown entered the Jet after leaving the juvenile near a wooded area behind the store acting as a lookout.

Brown brandished a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun while Strowbridge forced the clerk behind the counter to the cash register, investigators said.

Standing in front of the counter, Brown pointed the shotgun at the clerk and began yelling at her to open the register.

Though he had no weapon, Strowbridge held his fist to the clerk's neck as if it were a weapon, also demanding that she produce the contents of the register.

Investigators said the clerk was nervous and was unable to open the cash register.

Brown and Strowbridge fled the store after the clerk was unable to open the register.

Wadley police and sheriff's deputies and investigators worked through the night and the following day, ultimately locating the two men based on images caught on the store's video tapes and on information provided by the clerk who believed she recognized Strowbridge.

After speaking with an individual at Strowbridge's residence, officers learned that the man had arrived at the residence with another male subsequent to the time of the attempted robbery and had changed clothes.

Officers found a set of clothes used in the attempted robbery in a washing machine and located a pair of shoes outside the residence.

Strowbridge was subsequently located and admitted his participation in the attempted robbery.

Another officer located and interviewed Brown as he approached Strowbridge's residence on foot.

After questioning Brown, he admitted taking part in the incident and showed officers where he had hidden the shotgun and the clothes used in the attempted robbery. The items were located approximately three blocks from the Jet store.

Investigators later located the 16 year-old male who acted as lookout for Strowbridge and Brown. The juvenile got cold feet and left his position behind the Jet store, investigators said. He had removed the outer layer of black clothing and hidden them under a car in the neighborhood.

The shotgun used in the armed robbery attempt had been stolen in a Wadley burglary two weeks prior to the incident. Based on information provided by Brown, officers found a 30-30 rifle, also taken in the burglary, at the residence of the juvenile in his bedroom. Charges on the juvenile are pending, investigators said.

The sheriff's spokesman said the district attorney would be asking for a minimum sentence of 10 years for Strowbridge and Brown with the expectation that both would be required to serve the majority of the time prior to parole.





2003's fight against cancer begins

Organizers and teams are raising money for Relay events

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

They are at it again.

There may well be a host of counties in Georgia and across America that can match the intent of Jefferson and Glascock counties' participation in the American Cancer Society's annual Relay for Life fundraiser, but very few can match the outcome.

The annual Relay event is somewhat deceiving because it is actually the final event in a process that began almost as soon as the previous Relay ended.

Both Couch and O'Steen acknowledged the real emphasis and outcome built into the annual Relay event in their respective counties. They said that the event actually is a vehicle to celebrate cancer survivors and their lives.

A second aspect of the event is to simply have fun. The event itself is the culmination of the yearlong fundraising effort and serves as a time to unwind and fellowship with family, friends and visitors.

O'Steen and Couch stressed that regardless the amount of money raised, the celebration of life is the real objective.

In its ninth year, the Jefferson County Relay for Life will repeat its theme from 2002, "The Spirit of the USA is to Relay."

The decision to keep the same theme stemmed from the cancellation last year as a result of personal tragedies and a severe lightning storm at the beginning of the event, said O'Steen.

Jefferson County placed #8 in the nation last year for counties with a population of 15,000-20,000 and has placed in the top 10 for the past five years.

Jefferson County teams to date include Disciples for Life, First National Bank, First State Bank, Glendale Nursing Home, Glit, J. M. Huber, Matthews Community and Friends, Regions Bank, Wrens Elementary Schoolhouse Rockers, Walden United Methodist Church, Wrens United Methodist Church, Friends for Life, Ingles, Jefferson County High School Beta Club, Heritage of Old Capital and new teams from Jefferson Energy and Keysville Nursing Home.

Keeping with their standard, Glascock County teams elect to determine their themes individually.

Glascock began its participation only three years ago, but their entry into Relay fundraising shattered national per capita records.

The county of little more than 2,500 people placed #1 in the nation for each of the three years in per capita fundraising.

The 2003 Glascock County teams include the Headhunters, Fellowship Baptist Church, Bethel Methodist Church, Glascock County Consolidated School Panthers and the Sidewalk Gang.

Couch said Glascock is working on securing a couple of new teams for this year's event. Both counties are currently working on corporate sponsorships.

Commitments for corporate sponsorships are not due for a few more weeks.

O'Steen and Couch requested that those interested in participating either as a team or corporate sponsor contact the appropriate Relay staff in their county.

O'Steen, Karen Walden and Renae Borum are the co-chairs in Jefferson County. Couch and team captain coordinator Melissa Rogers are the contacts in Glascock County.

The Jefferson County Relay will be held May 2 &3 at the walking track adjacent to Wrens Middle School.

The Glascock Relay at Brassell Park will be held June 6 & 7. The first captains' meeting will be held Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at the community house.






Herbert Anderson displays Only In America, the book he wrote chronicling his life growing up poor and becoming a successful local businessman.


500,000 in circulation

Wrens author Herbert Anderson's book Only In America has been a blessing to more than he ever dreamed

By Elizabeth Howard
Apprentice

Herbert Anderson has given his books and his love to countless individuals and has touched the lives of prisoners, preachers and people of all walks of life.

In just six years, Anderson has given away over 500,000 copies of his book, Only in America, Rags-Riches-Heartbreak-Love.

Only in America chronicles Anderson's life from his childhood as one of many children in a poor family to his adulthood as a successful businessman, while illustrating his success in the face of adversity and his immense love for people.

Anderson's wife Mahala encouraged him to write this book to tell his story.

"I had heard him tell a lot of his childhood," she said, "and I said well you should just write it down."

Anderson began writing it down in 1993 and he completed his book three or four years later.

He began giving away copies of Only in America, his second published work, Jan. 18, 1997. Six years later, there are over 500,000 copies in circulation.

The Andersons have given books to Christian and private schools, Georgia Sheriffs' Youth Homes, Inc., Georgia Baptist Children's Homes and Family Ministries, Inc., Paine College, Salvation Army facilities, Youth Challenge Academy, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Gordon and Augusta State University's book store. The books have also been given to personal care and nursing homes, Boys' and Girls' Clubs in Georgia and South Carolina and juvenile prisons in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

They have also given books to individuals who have placed them in libraries or used them in Sunday School classes.

"That just amazes us," Anderson said of the widespread presence of his book.

While they hoped the book would be beneficial to others, their continued prayer is that "it will be helpful and encouraging to all who read it," the Andersons had no idea that the book would have the widespread impact it has had since its 1997 publication.

The books have made their way to all fifty states, the District of Columbia and at least 18 foreign countries, and they have touched the lives of many different people.

"The book has just opened up a new world to us," Anderson said. "It just blesses our heart."

Countless readers would probably say the same thing about having read the book. Anderson has received innumerable letters from individuals expressing the impact it has had on their lives.

The letters have come from schools in Jefferson County, youth detention centers across Georgia and churches and homes across the nation. People of widely varying ages and backgrounds have all responded to Anderson's message that "with the Lord's help and in this great country, almost all things are possible."

In their letters, Anderson's readers express their appreciation for the book, request additional copies and tell him about their lives. He has even been asked to call strangers and offer comfort in times of need.

"People can just sense the love he has," Mrs. Anderson said.

Only in America is a profound expression of Anderson's love for people. One friend from Athens expressed this in a letter to Anderson.

"Several things impressed me but mostly the love that one feels in reading it," she wrote of the book. "I personally admire you for that gift as much or more than any of it."

Countless individuals have responded to Anderson's love and reached out to him.

One 16-year-old boy in a Youth Detention Center wrote to Anderson about the impact the book had on his life.

"I believe in Jesus Christ, but there has been times to where I would give up," he wrote. "However, after I read that book, I decided to just keep holding on. I go through a lot of peer pressure...and at times I feel I am the only one in this world. My mother passed away April of '97 and things has been rough. My father, I never knew him cause he was not there when I was born, so it is just me now...I would like to keep in touch with you and maybe meet you one day."

A 14-year-old in Augusta's Youth Detention Center reached out to Anderson as well.

"Your book has made me realize how much I need Jesus Christ in my life," his letter began. "I am only 14 and just lost my grandmother because her husband shot and killed her. It is really hard sometimes and I don't know who to take me problems to...Thank you. Write back if you want to."

Anderson has visited numerous juvenile prisons and detention centers and has spoken with the young people there.

"I never talk with them about what they've done," he said. "I talk about what they can do."

Anderson has been an inspiration to many individuals in many walks of life.

In a homemade card, one Wrens Middle School student wrote, "Only in America can you find a friend like you!"

Anderson has been a friend to many and his book has been an inspiration to individuals all over the world.

The book is available from Herbert Anderson free of charge, including postage. To request a copy call (706) 547-2117 or write 413 Russell St., Wrens, GA 30833.

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