Three rescued on river
• Winterville man and two sons misjudged the time it would take to traverse a portion of the Ogeechee
By Ben Nelms
What ended with sighs of relief, laughter and hugs on the banks of the Ogeechee River last week could well have been a different story. And for a father and his two sons, the day's canoe trip became an unexpected adventure.
Winterville resident Dan Wallace and his sons, 12 year-old Sam and five year-old Joseph were in the area visiting Wallace's mother, Wrightsville resident Mildred Smith. The three decided to spend the afternoon July 22 on a canoe trip along the Ogeechee. They put in at the U.S. Highway 1 landing around noon, Wallace explained. He had arranged to meet Smith around 5 p.m. at the SR 78 landing near the Burke County line.
As does the river, plans for the trip went south after problems arose at a number of locations between U.S. 1 and SR 78. It seemed as if they hit snags every 50 feet in some places south of McCroan's Bridge, Wallace said.
Smith arrived at the SR 78 Bridge at the prearranged time. She decided to call the sheriff's office when 7 p.m. came and there was no sign of Wallace and his boys. Deputy Barrow Walden and off-duty deputy and Wadley firefighter T. J. Moore heard the call and responded. Moore and Walden put in at the SR 78 Bridge and traveled north until they came upon the Wallaces'. Along the way Walden and Moore found themselves in a similar predicament as the ones they searched for, having to pull their boat over fallen trees and the other obstacles the river presented.
Long after dark the deputies and the family made their way south to the bridge where Smith and the others involved in the search effort were waiting. What might have become a long night for a determined parent who met unexpected obstacles in an afternoon trip down the river with his kids came to a thankful conclusion.
"It was a heck of a thing," Wallace said once he and his boys reached the SR 78 Bridge. "I'm glad to have met these two gentlemen. They did a great job and were very supportive of the kids."
Standing next to the Ogeechee River after the incident concluded and the Wallace family departed, Walden said he and Moore found the Wallaces exhausted and happy to see help arrive. They had no cell phone and had no way of contacting anyone for assistance, he said.
"We went up the river about five miles from Highway 78. The water was low and the river was in bad shape," said Walden. "I'm just glad everybody is all right and that I got the opportunity to help someone."
Moore was off duty when he heard the call. He got his boat and went to the SR 78 landing where other law enforcement and emergency management personnel were assembling. When Moore and Walden reached the Wallace family, they found them sitting in their canoe, said Moore.
They first transferred Joseph and Sam to the rescue boat then pulled the canoe over a log in the river and proceeded downstream to rendezvous with Smith and the searchers.
Being familiar with the river, Moore had no illusions that, on occasion, the scenic Ogeechee that attracts so many people can pose severe problems caused by snakebite, alligators or trying to walk out and getting lost.
"I've been on the river a lot of times and I know it can be dangerous, but they were in overall good shape when we found them" Moore said. "I went down there because I know the river and I knew they needed help."
Like many other waterways in the state, the Ogeechee River presents many obstacles, even potential dangers, which bear keeping in mind when traversing its path through east central Georgia.
Rescue personnel advise that people be aware of low water conditions during dry periods and that precautions such as adequate supplies for emergencies, including bringing a cell phone on the trip, be taken.
Counties boast a 50 percent turnout at polls
• Get the precinct by precinct break down on this year's primary
By Ben Nelms
Approximately 50 percent of registered voters in Jefferson and Glascock counties turned out for the July 20 primaries. The result in the contested races was victories for a mix of incumbents and challengers.
In the Jefferson County Democratic Primary, commission Chairman Gardner Hobbs was defeated by William Rabun while county Coroner Johnny Nelson was defeated by Edward James. Also in Jefferson, incumbent Sheriff Gary Hutchins defeated challenger Alan Wasden.
In Glascock County's contested races incumbent Mitchell/Edgehill District commissioner Thomas Chalker was defeated by challenger Anthony "Ant" Griswell and Glascock County Board of Education incumbent John Raley was defeated by Michael May in the board's Gibson race. Incumbent Sheriff Bryan Bopp defeated challengers Cary Deal and Larry Blair in the Democratic primary with more than 50 percent of the vote, paving the way for a November contest with Republican and Independent challengers. In the race for the Board of Education's At-Large seat that included James Moore, Tracy Bopp and Diana Rabun Reese, none of the candidates received the minimum to avoid a runoff. The runoff election will be held August 10.
The stats in Jefferson
The details of the contested races are listed below by the county, contest, district, the number of votes and percentage of votes received. The number of votes received in a specific race might not equal the total number of electors voting due to which primary was voted in and because not every elector voted for every candidate.
A total of 3,913 of Jefferson County's 8,688 registered voters, or 47.64 percent, went to the polls July 20. In the contested races of the Democratic primary, voters gave challenger William Rabun the victory over commission Chairman Gardner Hobbs with a total of 2,161 (or 55 percent) votes to 1,761 (or 45 percent). Incumbent Coroner Johnny Nelson received a total of 1,564 (or 39 percent) compared to 2,411 votes (or 55 percent) for challenger Edward James. Sheriff Gary Hutchins defeated challenger Alan Wasden 2,806 votes to 1,268 (or 69 percent to 31 percent).
Total votes for the specific districts in Jefferson County include the absentee votes for those districts. In the Stapleton precinct, 44.44 percent of the 432 registered voters went to the polls. Voters favored Rabun with 122 votes (or 66.67 percent) to 61 votes (or 33.33 percent) for Hobbs in the race for commission chairman. James received 143 votes (or 78.14 percent) to Nelson's 40 votes, representing 21.86 percent. And in Stapleton, Hutchins received 129 votes (or 69.73 percent) of precinct votes to Wasden's 56 votes (or 30.27 percent).
In the Avera precinct, 61.31 percent of the 274 registered voters made their choice at the primaries. Rabun received 115 votes (or 74.68 percent) to Hobbs' 39 votes (or 25.32 percent). James took 137 votes (or 86.71 percent) compared to Nelson's 21 votes (or 13.29 percent). Hutchins received 121 votes (or 75.16 percent) while Wasden received 40 votes (or 24.84 percent).
In the Matthews precinct, 44.31 percent of the 483 registered went to the polls. Rabun took 61.96 percent of the vote with 114 votes while Hobbs took 38.04 percent with 70 votes. James received 149 votes (or 77.20 percent) while Nelson got 44 votes (or 22.80 percent) and Hutchins received
110 votes (or 58.20 percent) to Wasden's 79 votes (or 41.80 percent).
A total of 36.53 percent of the 1,782 registers voters in the Wadley precinct turned out for the primaries. Rabun squeaked by Hobbs, receiving 276 votes (or 51.49 percent) compared to 260 votes (or 48.51 percent). Similar results were seen in the coroner's race, with James receiving 280 votes (or 50.45 percent) to Nelson's 275 votes (or 49.55 percent). In the sheriff's race, Hutchins took 408 votes (or 71.08 percent) while Wasden got 166 votes (or 28.92 percent).
The races for commission chairman and coroner were also close in the Louisville precinct as 43.70 percent of the 2,975 registered voters turned out. Rabun received 594 votes (or 51.70 percent) compared to 555 votes (or 48.30) percent for Hobbs. James won the precinct by 44 votes, receiving 596 votes (or 51.92 percent) to Nelson's 552 (or 48.08 percent). And in Louisville, Hutchins received 807 votes (or 67.64 percent) to 386 votes (or 32.36 percent) for Wasden.
In Wrens, 51.39 percent of the precinct's 1,946 voters went to the polls. Hobbs received 457 votes (or 51.18 percent) to Rabun's 436 votes (or 48.82 percent) while James took 570 votes (or 62.23 percent) to Nelson's 346 (or 37.77). Hutchins amassed 630 votes (or 68.55 percent) while Wasden came away with 289 votes (or 31.45 percent).
In the Bartow precinct, 42.48 percent of the 452 voters went to the polls. Rabun took 98 votes (or 62.42 percent) while Hobbs received 59 votes (or 37.58 percent). James took 101 votes (or 64.33) compared to 56 votes (or 35.67 percent) for Nelson. Hutchins also won big in Bartow with 129 votes (or 71.67 percent) compared to 51 votes (or 28.33 percent) for Wasden.
And in the Stapleton Crossroads precinct, 56.98 percent of the 344 registered voters participated in the primaries. Rabun and Hobbs were nearly evenly split, with Rabun taking 87 votes (or 51.18 percent) and Hobbs receiving 83 votes (or 48.82 percent). James took 92 votes (or 53.80 percent) while Nelson received 79 votes (or 46.20 percent). Hutchins won the precinct handily with 131 votes (or 77.06 percent) compared to Wasden's 39 votes (or 22.94 percent).
A total of 949 of Glascock's 1,567 registered voters, or 60.56 percent, participated in the primaries. In the contested races voters chose Democratic challenger Anthony "Ant" Griswell over incumbent Democrat Thomas Chalker in the Mitchell/Edgehill District commission race. Griswell received 494 of the 762 votes cast (or 64.82 percent) compared to 268 votes (or 35.17 percent) for Chalker. In the race for the school board's Gibson seat, challenger Michael May received 430 (or 50.41 percent) of the 853 votes cast to narrowly defeat incumbent John Raley, who received 423 votes (or 49.59 percent). Sheriff Bryan Bopp won against two challengers and avoided a runoff by receiving 407 votes (or 52.18 percent) of the 780 votes cast. Democratic challengers were Larry Blair, who received 59 votes (or .075 percent) and Cary Deal who received 314 votes (or 40.64 percent). And in the school board's At-Large seat, an August 10 runoff election will be required. Candidates included Tracy Bopp, who received 210 (or 24.47 percent) of the 858 votes cast, while James Moore received 357 votes (or 41.61 percent) and Diana Rabun Reese received 291 (or 33.92). The runoff election will be between Moore and Reese.
In Glascock, the 174 absentee votes are listed as a separate precinct. Absentee voters cast 94 votes (or 62.67 percent) for Griswell and 56 votes (or 37.33 percent) for Chalker in the commission race and 79 votes (or 52.67 percent) for May in the Gibson District school board race compared to 71 votes (or 47.33 percent) for Raley. In the three-way Democratic race for sheriff, Bopp received 64 votes (or 42.95 percent) compared to 71 votes (or 47.65 percent) for Deal and 14 votes (or 9.4 percent) for Blair. In the At-Large school board race, Moore received 69 votes (or 43.67 percent), Bopp took 38 votes (or 24.05 percent) and Reese received 50 votes (or 31.65 percent).
In the Mill precinct, 262 of the 547 registered voters went to the polls. Griswell got 118 votes (or 61.14 percent) compared to Chalker with 38.86 percent, or 75 votes. May received 127 votes (or 53.59 percent) compared to 110 votes (or 46.41 percent) for Raley. In the three-way sheriff's race, Bopp took 125 votes (or 60.68 percent) compared to 66 votes (or 32.04 percent) for Deal and 15 votes (or 7.28 percent) for Blair. In the At-Large school board race, Reese received 95 votes (or 39.42 percent), Moore took 83 votes (or 34.44 percent) and Bopp took 63 votes (or 26.14 percent).
Sixty-eight registered voters out of 113 in the Edgehill precinct cast their vote. Griswell received 33 votes (or 55.93 percent) compared to Chalker's 26 (or 44.07 percent). May beat Raley with 37 votes (or 60.66 percent) to 24 votes (or 39.34 percent). In the sheriff's race, Deal received 33 votes (or 55.93 percent), Bopp took 24 votes (or 40.68 percent) and Blair got two votes (or 3.39 percent). The At-Large school board race showed Reese with 29 votes (or 49.15 percent), Moore with 17 votes (or 28.81 percent) and Bopp with 13 votes (or 22.03 percent).
In Mitchell, 184 of 336 registered voters turned out. Griswell took 132 votes (or 85.16 percent) while Chalker received 23 votes (or 14.84 percent). Raley came away with 86 votes (or 52.44 percent) while May received 78 votes (or 47.56 percent). For sheriff, Bopp got 98 votes (or 64.47 percent), Deal took 43 votes (or 28.29 percent) and Blair received 11 votes (or 7.24 percent). The three-way school board race resulted in Moore capturing 64 votes (or 39.51 percent), Reese with 56 votes (or 34.57 percent) and Bopp with 42 votes (or 25.93 percent).
And in the Gibson precinct, 261 out of 571 registered made their choices known at the primaries. Griswell won 117 votes (or 57.07 percent) while Chalker took 88 votes (or 42.93 percent). Raley received 132 votes (or 54.77 percent) while May got 109 votes (or 45.23 percent). For sheriff, Deal received 101 votes (or 47.20 percent), Bopp took 96 votes (or 44.86 percent) and Blair received 17 votes (or 7.94 percent). And in the At-Large school board race, Moore received 124 votes (or 51.88 percent), Reese took 61 votes (or 25.52 percent) and Bopp received 54 votes (or 22.59 percent).
Glascock voters will determine which commissioner serves as chairman in the November general election.
Four local races will be decided in the November general election. Glascock County races include the Mill District commission seat featuring incumbent Democrat Johnny Crutchfield and Republican D'Ann Simpson and the sheriff's race between incumbent Democrat Bryan Bopp, Republican James Stephens and Independent Dean Couch. Jefferson County races include the District 2 commission contest between Democrat Johnny Davis and Republican Ben Benson and the District 4 commission race between incumbent Democrat Tommy New and Republican John Lewis.