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August 23, 2007 Issue

Train cuts loaded trailer in half
Howard among finalists
Search for body continues

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Train cuts loaded trailer in half


• No one seriously injured, but Bartow is bathed in health and beauty items

By Parish Howard

"I heard the air brakes on the truck and looked up to see boxes and debris flying down the street," said Mel Kirk, a secretary at Bryant's Inc. located a street's width from the train tracks that pass through the center of Bartow.

"All I could think was somebody's got to be dead."


However, no one was injured Monday afternoon when a Norfolk Southern train ripped a J.B. Hunt trailer in half and scattered its contents, health and beauty and personal hygiene items all over downtown Bartow.

Kirk said that she ran out of the building and saw the hundreds of boxes in the street.

She said she then ran to the cab of the truck which was still attached to the demolished front end of trailer where the driver appeared to be uninjured.

According to the TFC Danny Peebles with the Swainsboro Office of the Georgia State Patrol, the driver of the J.B. Hunt truck was on Depot Street, where the traffic was detoured while DOT does road work at the intersection of US 319 and US221.
TFC Peebles places the accident at around 2:26 p.m. and said the truck driver will be cited with failure to yield to oncoming train.

The impact ripped the trailer in half just a couple of yards behind the tractor.

Shortly after the accident, a piece of the wall of the trailer as well as several boxes of batteries, shampoo and other items remained stuck to the front of the engine.
TFC Peebles said law enforcement remained on the scene until after 9 p.m. when a local wrecker service was cleaning up the debris.

The accident attracted a crowd of onlookers and several times officers had to warn pedestrians that anyone caught taking items would be arrested and charged with looting the scene of the accident.

Representatives with Sutton's Garage of Stapleton, who was in charge of the cleanup, said they worked at the scene until 6 a.m. the next morning and then returned to spend most of Tuesday there.

They collected the spilled items and as of Tuesday afternoon were awaiting word from Proctor and Gamble, who at that time planned to reclaim the items.

"A few seconds earlier and the train would have hit the tractor," TFC Peebles said.

"We were very lucky there were no injuries in the vehicles and that there wasn't anyone out in front of the buildings there by the railroad tracks."

Howard among finalists

• Dr. Molly Howard could be the next NASSP National Principal of the Year

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

It was announced recently that Jefferson County High School Principal Dr. Molly Howard is one of the top three finalists in the 2008 MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) National High School Principal of the Year search.

“I certainly feel honored, but I feel mostly validated in the work that the faculty and staff and students have done at Jefferson County High School,” Dr. Howard said Monday.


“It is the work they have done that has helped me reach this level of recognition. I can lead the work, but I don’t do the work.”

Dr. Howard was chosen as Principal of the Year for the state of Georgia earlier this year and also received a similar distinction in 1990 when she was named the Teacher of the Year for the state.

For the last 30 years, she has shared her desire for the community to have one heart and one hope for the future of Jefferson County, starting with its children.

Dr. Howard taught students with intellectual disabilities at Wrens High School for 15 years before becoming the Director of the Center for Students with Emotional Behavior Disorders in Midville, which is now Riverquest. The center served seven counties. Dr. Howard served those counties for five years.

Dr. Howard has been at the helm of Jefferson County High School since 1995, the year in which the two county high schools, Louisville High School and Wrens High School, were closed and consolidated to form the new high school located between the two cities.

“Arriving during this very traumatic event in the community forced Howard to work even harder to assure residents that the change would be a good one,” Shana Kemp, a spokesperson for the NASSP, said. “She and her dedicated staff have managed to change the culture of learning in the school, setting higher expectations and eliminating all lower level course.”

All students now begin taking college preparatory level English, math, science and social studies.

Dr. Howard, along with one other principal from Georgia, and four more from across the country were interviewed Monday, Aug. 13 in Washington, D.C. by a panel of judges seeking to name one middle level and one high school principal as the National Principals of the Year.

“The search began in early 2007 as each state principal’s association selected its state Principal of the Year,” Kemp said. “From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists.”

The trip to Washington, D.C., gave Dr. Howard the chance to meet her peers who are also vying for the award.

“It was wonderful to be around such able and capable administrators and principals and hear about the work that they do,” she said. “It was professionally stimulating, but quite grueling.”

Dr. Howard went through several interview processes including one press interview to see how she dealt with the media; a professional interview about the reform movements that are sweeping the country and whether they have been implemented in her school; and a presentation to evaluate her presentation skills.

“It felt more like my oral examination for my masters or like I was defending my dissertation for my doctorate,” Dr. Howard said.

The six finalists each receive a $1,500 grant. The two national award winners will receive an additional grant of $3,500. The grants are used to promote the advancement of learning opportunities for students or other related investments such as capital improvements, the purchase of technology-related equipment, or funding specific educational programs.

The winner will be announced in September.

Search for body continues

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

The hustle and bustle beside a Keysville bridge on Swamp Road last Wednesday, Aug. 15, had many citizens wondering what the group of investigators were looking for.

With tape going across Brier Creek Bridge earlier that morning, it was confirmed by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office that they were searching for evidence in relation to a 1998 case.


Allegedly, investigators decided to search the bridge in Burke County after receiving a tip.

Though the Sheriff’s Office did not confirm what case, many have speculated that it involved the body of William “Al” Hamilton, the manager of Augusta dance club the Discoteque, who disappeared after leaving work in August of 1998.

It was said that firefighters put out a fire at his home later that morning, where evidence showed that Hamilton was killed in his house, but his body was never found.

The ex-husband of Hamilton’s girlfriend Rodney Richardson, 32, was convicted the following year for felony murder, first-degree arson, armed robbery, burglary and theft in the slaying and is currently serving two life sentences plus 50 years in state prison.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Richmond County and Burke County Sheriff’s Offices searched the area using a backhoe.

The Sheriff’s Office said it did plan to return to the area with more equipment in the coming weeks.

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