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November 13, 2003 Issue

Stephanie, Matt and Dalton Loyal pose in front of the house they are raffling because of the Feb. 22 accident that nearly cost Stephanie her life.

Loyals selling home to raise money

Before the accident the Loyals spent nearly a year remodeling home

By Parish Howard

For months Matt and Stephanie Loyal poured every weekend and spare hour into the old green house, tucked into the pecan and fruit trees at 5774 Georgia Highway 24 East of Louisville. It was their home and Stephanie's grandmother's before theirs.

They painted and remodeled room after room, had professionals come in to re-roof and carpet the house where they planned to raise their son. It was where the Loyals brought their newborn son Dalton 18 months ago when he first came home from the hospital.

After the accident, the February head-on collision on I-20 that shredded her intestines, broke her back and tore the main artery feeding her lower body, the house was the place Stephanie dreamed of going for the 86 days she spent in another hospital, fighting for her life.

The green house in the trees is their home and they want to practically give it away to one lucky person for as little as $100 at a public drawing in December.


Because they have to.

"We decided a raffle would be the best way to go," Stephanie said last week from her mother's house, her family's new home. "It really is a nice home and we want somebody to get it who can move in and enjoy it. We can't do that now. We don't want it to just sit there."

Having accumulated more than $800,000 in medical bills over the last eight months and more than 14 surgeries, the Loyals have been holding their lives together with prayers and faith. But, the housepayment, coupled with the loss of Stephanie's income and new dependance on others, not to mention the monthly stack of bills, these new expenses have become too much, she says.

They have closed in her parents garage and moved in there to cut down on the bills and so that Stephanie can have someone around while Matt is at work to help with the day-to-day tasks, like picking up Dalton or changing his diaper, tasks that her injuries prevent her from doing now.

"That's the hardest thing really," she said, "the time I've missed with my son. It's hard to see him crying and not be able to pick him up. When he sees me now, he sees a mangled person."

Dalton is still too young to understand all that has happened and just what it means.

The wreck cost her 90 percent of her small intestine and half of her colon, and since that is where one's body absorbs nutrients from food, she has to eat eight times a day or more to make sure that her body gets what it needs.

"Everyone is different and their bodies absorb food on different schedules," she explains. "My body could adapt and then it might not. We are just waiting to see."

It means time and more surgeries and more prayers.

She already knows of at least three surgeries her doctors are planning for the coming months, with more likely to come over the years.

Doctors are suggesting that it may be two years before Stephanie can function without constant care.

Matt has gone back to work and is dealing with his injuries as best he can.

His right heel was crushed, fractures in both feet, a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg. He now has a steel rod running from knee to ankle, screws and pins in his feet.

The family thanked many people from the community who have written and called offering to help.

A Wadley women's club held a benefit concert and fundraiser on Oct. 24 that raised $2,500.

Donations were made by Budweiser, Coke, FritoLay, Lance and Tom's and three bands played until midnight.

"The turnout was pretty good," Matt said. "We saw a lot of people we hadn't seen in a long time. We really appreciated it."

Currently, the largest fundraiser planned involves the tickets they are selling on the house.

They say they are hoping to raise at least $70,000, enough to pay off what they owe on the home and cover closing costs for whoever wins it.

"If we raise a little more than that then we hope to help whoever wins it with this year's taxes," said Barbara Bowles, Stephanie's mother. "We'd love to have a family in the house for Christmas."

Any more money they raise will go to help the Loyals pay their mounting medical bills, she said.

The drawing is scheduled for Dec. 6.

The 1,872 sq. ft. home, sitting on 1.6 acres outside of Louisville, has been appraised at $84,000 and was remodeled in 2002 with a new roof, carpet, tile and appliances.

It has three bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, an eat-in kitchen, sunroom, dining room, family room, Florida room and laundry. The two working fireplaces have new sets of gas logs in each. The property includes a three-car garage and large concrete storage building /pumphouse.

Stephanie said that community businesses and individuals have also helped arrange for a number of other prizes worth about $100 each.

Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket for the house is advised to either call the Loyals at (706) 860-5660 or visit www.stephanieloyal.com where one can see photographs of the house, join a web ring and find links to other sites including a journal kept while Stephanie was in the hospital earlier this year.

Wrens man appeals property assessment

Jury partially reverses property assessment on Jerry Dowdy's residential property

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

In a seldom-used challenge in Jefferson County Superior Court Monday, the jury partially reversed the assessment of residential property owned by Wrens resident Jerry Dowdy.

Dowdy exercised his right to have his case heard in court after his appeals to the Board of Assessors and the Board of Equalization failed to lower the price of his property based on the assessment notice. Though Dowdy had a private expert appraisal listing the residence at $345,000, he left court with jurors having agreed that the value of his property should be decreased from its $398,000 assessed value to a modified value of $373,000.

"I think the jury made a proper decision based on the evidence," said attorney Dalton Dowdy.

Certified Appraiser Charlie Lewis testified that Dowdy's property had been appraised correctly and that the appraisal conformed to accepted practices. Explaining the process, Lewis said he checked every sale in Jefferson County for the past 12 months to determine the number of similar properties to best evaluate the value of Dowdy's property. Finding none comparable, he checked property sales in Washington, Burke, McDuffie, Glascock and Warren counties but still found no comparable sales. Still finding no comparable sales, Lewis journeyed to Columbia County where he was able to use four of the six recent home sales to help determine the value of Dowdy's home. To make a comparable assessment, adjustments were made for the location of the home, lot price, build date, square footage and other price indicators such as fencing, swimming pool, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and proximity to private recreation facilities.

Lewis said another tool used by appraisers to locate comparable property are trade publications such as the Crumpton Report.

During his visit to the residence, Lewis said he spent more than an hour taking note of the specifics of the premises. He told jurors he placed the value of the 1990 dwelling, consisting of 5,343 square feet and situated on 2.1 acres, at $398,000.

The process for appealing the assessed value of any property is threefold, according to Tax Assessor George Rachels. The first step calls for appealing directly to the Board of Assessors within 45 days in writing after receiving the assessment notice. If the property owner appeals the decision, the case is heard by the Board of Equalization within 15-20 days. If still not satisfied, the property owner can take the case to Superior Court.

Drug dealer tracked, caught

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

He eluded arrest for more than two weeks on charges relating to the distribution of methamphetamine, but on Oct. 29 Darrell McZilkey was arrested on Usry Mill Road in Glascock County.

Glascock County Sheriff Bryan Bopp maintained since an Oct. 16 chase through Columbia and Glascock counties and the subsequent raid of his residence that the elusive McZilkey would be brought in. And on Oct. 29, it happened.

McZilkey was spotted near Avera by Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies at approximately 2:00 a.m. He made his approach on SR 102, turned right in Avera and entered Glascock County on Usry Mill Road.

Jefferson County deputies followed and pulled him over approximately one mile inside Glascock County.

Arriving at the scene from the other direction was Bopp and Glascock deputies, who had been working the area along SR 102 inside Glascock.

McZilkey was arrested and later bonded out on a $25,000 cash bond. He faces charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute stemming from a raid of his Lampp Road residence on Oct. 16. Discovered at his residence were approximately one and one-half pounds of suspected marijuana, several grams of suspected methamphetamine and numerous items of drug paraphernalia.

The Oct. 16 search of McZilkey's residence occurred after he became involved in a car chase with Columbia County deputies. McZilkey fled into Glascock County where he eventually eluded Glascock and Columbia law enforcement. McZilkey's girlfriend, 21 year-old Evans resident Ryan McCoy was arrested and charged the following day.

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Last modified: November 12, 2003