Returning soldier surprises daughter
By Parish Howard
Kristen knew her daddy was coming home soon, but when he walked into her Wrens Elementary class last week, it took her a second to recognize him.
“Daddy,” she squeaked as she jumped out of her desk and ran to him.
Tim Etterling, a staff sergeant in the United States Army, has been in Afghanistan and Friday was the first time he had seen his 10-year-old daughter in six months.
“We tried to surprise her,” SSG Etterling said, his camouflaged arm draped around his little girl’s shoulders. “She’s a smart girl and not easy to trick. But I think we got her this time.”
In just the last six months her hair has grown, he said and she seems taller, easier to put into a playful headlock.
“I knew he was coming back in August or September, that’s what he told me in his letter, but I didn’t know when,” Kristen said looking up at him. “I was surprised. I felt like I was going to cry but I held it.”
She said she planned to spend the next few days of his two-week leave playing board games like Trouble and Boggle and just “hanging out.”
“We’re stoked,” her father said. “We just want to keep it simple and relax. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”
Before leaving to spend the weekend together with family in Snellville, SSG Etterling and his wife, Erica, took some time to talk to Kristen’s classmates about where he has been and what he has been doing.
He talked about the desert and mountains where he is stationed and what life is like there for the natives of the area as well as the soldiers who live there.
One of Kristen’s classmates asked if she could go there.
“It would be a nice place for you to see, but you wouldn’t want to live there right now,” he told her. He explained that the Taliban does not allow girls like her and Kristen to go to school there.
He told them about Army food, sleeping on the ground and the poisonous snakes, scorpions and huge hairy camel spiders that will chase and jump at you.
“Everything bad that you can think of in a desert, it’s there,” he told them. “They are like 200 years behind anything we know. There’s only one paved road in the country and there are still shepherds with goats everywhere.”
SSG Etterling said that during his years of service he has spent time in Iraq, Haiti and the Republic of Georgia, but this is the first time he has been away since having his daughter.
“It puts a different twist on things when you have a little one back home,” he said. “You see little kids over there running around and playing. The boys going to school while the girls stay at home because of the Taliban’s restrictions.”
He is only home for a few days before he has to start preparing to return to the desert.
Etterling said he expects to be there until March or April-ish.
“That’s long on the –ish,” he said.
In the meantime he writes letters and he has called Kristen a couple of times, but his base is so remote that they do not have the Internet available there yet. His mission involves developing the administrative infrastructure in the Afghan’s own army.
“The Taliban operates like a gang,” Etterling said. “We aren’t going to be the ones to get them out of there. What we are doing is helping the Afghan people see that the Taliban isn’t giving them anything, they aren’t helping them, just threatening and hurting. Eventually, we’re going to be gone and it’s going to be the people who live there who decide they have had enough and throw the Taliban out.”
In the meantime they store up their hugs, kisses and memories, treasures for him to take back, reminders of why he serves.
Glascock bank sold to man who is looking for renter
By Faye Ellison
The citizens of Glascock County may be one step closer to having a bank back in their community. Gibson native Bill Kent, son of Pope and Cloise Kent, placed the winning bid for the bank building, formerly occupied by First City Bank, with one stipulation from the FDIC, another bank must occupy the space.
Kent, who currently lives in Cherokee County, said he was born and raised in Gibson and still visits his parents every week at their residence located across from the bank building.
“Of course, I had been reading about the bank closing in the paper,” Kent explained of his interest in purchasing the building. “And I happened to be there the week the FDIC closed it. I asked an employee how to bid on the building, they told me and I placed my bid. I wanted to do something to help my community. I feel like it is still my community and my town and I would like to fix it up very nice for the town.”
According to County Commission Chairman Anthony Griswell, there were many citizens and others outside of the community interested in the property, including himself.
“I had even considered, as Ant Griswell, placing a bid to obtain the bank so we would have one again in Glascock County,” Griswell said. “There were several people bidding on this.”
Kent said another bidder, Donald Kent, gave him the information he had collected of banks who may be interested in opening a bank in Gibson.
“For the community and people wondering, I am actively trying to find a bank to move in,” Kent said. “I met with one bank last week and I am supposed to meet with two this week. I want to try to get the bank the majority of the people like and want to deal with. It may not happen that way, but I am trying.”
Kent said he has met with Citizens Bank of Washington County and contacted George D. Warthen Bank in Sandersville as well. Kent said George D. Warthen Bank was not interested. He does plan to talk to another bank in Thomson and Queensborough National Bank and Trust, with whom he said many people in the community were very pleased with the way they came in to help the citizens after First City Bank’s closure.
Commissioner Griswell said the news of the bank being bought by Kent is welcomed and he as well as the county government will help in any way to obtain a renter.
“This has been a long drawn out process with the FDIC in readying the bank for a buyer,” Griswell said. “I’m just so pleased that they finally made a move to where somebody could buy it. There were several bidders. I am looking forward to being one step closer to getting our bank back in Glascock County, so our people will have access to banking. Whoever Mr. Kent rents the bank to, I, as well as the Commission and all elected officials will support whole heartedly.”
Griswell said that the county currently banks with Queensborough National Bank and Trust and First Citizens Bank in Warrenton.
Kent said he is open to any ideas from citizens or businesses in the county to have the bank open as soon as possible. Those with ideas may contact him at (770) 547-5300.
“I am trying very hard to please the people as fast as possible,” he said.
EPD issues permits for Plant Washington
By Carol McLeod
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has issued draft permits for Plant Washington, POWER4Georgians announced in a press release Tuesday, Aug. 25.
Plant Washington is a coal-fired power plant that will be located near Sandersville in Washington County. POWER4Georgians is a group of Georgia EMCs working to develop Plant Washington. Jefferson Energy Cooperative is not a member of the organization.
“The EPD issued a variety of draft permitting documents related to the 1,600-acre energy facility, including what are considered to be the four primary permits for the plant: the surface water withdrawal permit, the groundwater withdrawal permit, the water discharge permit and the air permit,” the press release stated.
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The permit applications were filed with the EPD in January 2008.
“This is an important step in the development of this power plant, which is critical to making sure that affordable and reliable power continues to be available to the citizens of Georgia,” said Dean Alford, a spokesperson for POWER4Georgians, in the press release.
Alford said the draft permits are a positive indication that Plant Washington is moving forward.
Alford said the jobs created during the construction of the plant will be a tremendous benefit to Washington County and the surrounding area.
“These jobs are part of a more than $2 billion investment in providing affordable energy, which is critical to a productive, competitive state economy,” he said, adding that when the plant becomes operational it could help attract new industry and jobs to Georgia.
The press release stated Plant Washington will be one of the cleanest coal-fired power plants in the country, generating enough electricity to meet the needs of about 500,000 households.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Aug. 25, Alford said now the permits have been issued, the EPD will hold a public meeting.
“Based on our application for Plant Washington, (the state) is basically now giving the public the opportunity to comment on what we hope is a permit to build Plant Washington,” Alford said.
“The significant part of this is that it is a continuation of the process to build Plant Washington,” he said.
Alford said the public will have 60 days to offer comment on the draft permits.
“Following the state’s response to the public’s comments, a final permit will be issued,” he said.
“There will be a public meeting in Sandersville on (Tuesday) Oct. 6 and then there will be a public hearing on (Tuesday) Oct. 20,” Alford said, adding the meeting is open to the public.
“Or they can contact the Environmental Protection Division and obtain their address and send them letters or whatever they may want to do,” he said, adding, “These are the Environmental Protection Division’s meetings.”
Alford said the project is on schedule; although, construction has not yet started.
“Nothing can happen on the site until all the permits have been issued,” he said.
Members of at least two conservation groups have held meetings about the plant, insisting there are real environmental issues involved.
Justine Thompson, executive director of Green Law, and Chandra Brown, a river keeper and executive director of Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper, presented information about the plant in Louisville several months ago.
In an email received by The News and Farmer Tuesday, Aug. 25, Thompson said, “While I had heard rumors that the draft permit would be issuing soon, I was actually surprised that it did. Yesterday (Monday, Aug. 24) Georgia Tech released a study that we do not need coal plants and the Santee Cooper coal project in South Carolina was cancelled, with the company conceding that it was not a good investment.
“With coal plants literally dropping like flies, I am stunned this proposal is still moving forward.”
Jac Capp, the chief of the air protection branch for Georgia EPD, said last week that he will be at both EPD sponsored events, the public hearing and the public meeting, in Sandersville.
Both meetings are scheduled to be held at the Ridge Road Elementary School and will begin at 6 p.m., he said, adding public notices about the events will appear in the Sandersville newspaper.
“The (Oct. 6) meeting is the opportunity for people to ask questions,” Capp said.
“The meeting and the hearing have been scheduled to being at 6 p.m. and we have not announced an end time,” he said, adding that any interested party will be allowed to speak.
Capp said during the meeting EPD representatives will simply ask for people to raise their hands.
“We will go around the room and take as many questions as time permits,” he said.
Capp said at the hearing people who want to speak will be asked to sign a list.
“We would read off the names,” he said.
Capp said issuance of the permits means two things.
“Primarily, number one, it means that draft permits are available for public comment and that’s an important step in the process,” he said. “The other thing that it signifies is that EPD had reviewed the applications and our review concludes that they would be in compliance with all the rules and regulations.”
Capp said other EPD representatives will be on hand at the public meeting in order to answer questions.