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Top Stories
November 8, 2012 Issue

Take a ride on The Christmas Bus
Glas Co carries Romney, Jeff Co carries Obama
Helicopter used to search for burglar
Carver Principal Dr. Johnson remembered

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Take a ride on The Christmas Bus

Special Report

The Christmas Bus by Robert Inman, the November production by The Schoolhouse Players, is a heart-warming musical that will lift spirits and ready everyone for the Christmas season.

Miz Frump, director of the Peaceful Valley Orphanage, is planning what she believes will be the most special Christmas ever for her kids. She’s borrowed an old bus and arranged for each child to spend Christmas with a family in the area.


The only problem is that she hasn’t told the “busybodies” on the orphanage board of trustees who believe Frump has gotten too old and soft to handle the rowdy kids. It’s an adventurous ride, culminating in a Christmas even more special than Frump could have ever imagined.

Mary Mancin and Paige Washington are directing this endearing story with a varied cast from Bartow, Louisville, Sandersville, Millen, Wadley and Swainsboro.

“Several members of the cast are making their debut and are definitely ‘holding their own’ alongside The Schoolhouse Players veterans,” Mancin said. “We are very impressed with their talent and thrilled to introduce them to our audience.”

Multi-talented Carol Long plays Miz Frump; two of her grandchildren Manning Bennett and Tomelia Barrett join her on the stage as orphan children. Miz Frump’s other orphans are Mallory Upton, Sam Walters, Emmanuel Danford, Mary Will Hodges and the Whitt family trio of Amy, Anna Grace and Allison.

The “busybodies” are played by Mary Sue Rachels, Rosie Burge and Heather Williams. Charles Lewis, Rebecca Raines, Jessica Stickle and Vic Rachels also bring their talents to the production. This Christmas musical would not be possible without the musical expertise and accompaniment of Dwain Little, John Mole and Roger Burge.

Twisted Sisters on Broad Street in Louisville is the sponsor for this production. Sponsorship allows this regional performing arts group to stage entertainment that few small town theaters can achieve. The support of local businesses helps make it possible for The Schoolhouse Players to bring quality plays to this area.

The Best Little Playhouse in Georgia will perform The Christmas Bus, which opens this Friday. The six performances are Nov. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees on Nov. 11 and 18 at 3 p.m. For more information or reservations, call 478-364-3340 or email theschoolhouseplayers@yahoo.com. Individual tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Prepaid groups of 12 or more are discounted $1 per ticket.

The Schoolhouse Players’ website is www.theschoolhouseplayers.org. Plays planned for 2013 are on the site. Season tickets for 2013 will be available for purchase at performances of The Christmas Bus.

The Schoolhouse Players invite everyone to support your local favorite actors and musicians and enjoy this Christmas musical that will touch hearts.

Glas Co carries Romney, Jeff Co carries Obama

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Voters turned out in droves in both Glascock and Jefferson counties for the general election held Tuesday, Nov. 6. Many local races were decided in Jefferson County in the July primaries, many local races in Glascock County were decided in this election.

Appearing on ballots in both counties is two proposed constitutional amendments. The first is House Resolution No. 1162 which asked if the Constitution of Georgia should be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?


The second is Senate Resolution No. 84 which which asked if the Constitution of Georgia should be amended to provide for a reduction in the state’s operating costs by allowing the General Assembly to authorize certain state agencies to enter into multiyear rental agreements?

Jefferson County
Of the 9,806 registered voters, 7,314 cast ballots.

On the national level, Barack Obama carried Jefferson County with 4,238 votes and had Mitt Romney with 2,992.

The only local election that appeared on ballots, was in District 4 for the county commission seat currently held by democrat H.G. Tommy New who received 1,006 votes, against independent Russell Stephen Logue who received 481.

House Resolution No. 1162 did not pass with a vote of 3,916 no and 2,807 yes.

Senate Resolution No. 84 did pass with a vote of 3,239 yes and 2,985 no.

Glascock County
Of the 1,856 registered voters, 1,346 cast ballots.

In the presidential election, Romney carried Glascock County with 1,135 votes and Obama had 176.

In Glascock County, there were several local elections, placing all women in the three county commission seats.

In the Gibson District for county commissioner, incumbent democrat Mike Neal lost with 545 to to republican Lori Boyen’s 719.

In the commissioner seat for the Mitchell/Edgehill District, democrat Audrey H. Chalker won with 649 votes to republican Danny A. Cantrell Jr. who had 603 votes. Chalker also won the commission chair with 706 votes to Neal’s 528 votes.

Also in the commission seat for the Mill District, incumbent democrat Wayne Williford lost, receiving 610 votes, while republican Barbara Hadden received 639.

The seat for sheriff was decided with incumbent democrat Dean Couch beating republican candidate with 879 votes to Brian Pritchett who had 444.

House Resolution No. 1162 did not pass with a vote of 645 no and 554 yes. Senate Resolution No. 84 did pass with a vote of 604 yes and 516 no.

Helicopter used to search for burglar

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Law enforcement officers ended a five-hour manhunt in the woods north of Wrens Monday night.

Six agencies assisted the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in the search for a man suspected in a burglary, Sgt. Barrow Walden said Tuesday.


Walden, an investigator with the JCSO, said a call came in about 5:21 p.m. Monday.

“We received a report of a burglary,” he said. The incident occurred outside the city limits of Wrens on Highway 1.

“The suspect had fled into woods behind the residence. We were able to establish a perimeter.”

Walden said officers set up a boundary on Highway 221, Highway 1, Farm Lane Road and Ellis Cemetery Road.

“Those four roads create a square,” he said. “One of the residents came home while the suspect was in the home. Subsequently, the suspect fled.

“Nobody was hurt,” Walden said. Officers recovered the items that had been taken from the residence.

“We began looking for the suspect in the wooded area. We used a tracking dog from Thomson Police Department and also had assistance from the Georgia State Patrol with their helicopter,” he said.

Gordy Wright, a public information officer with the GSP, said the helicopter had come from the GSP hangar in Perry.

“The helicopter was in the area for about an hour last night assisting the county with the search,” Wright said Tuesday. “It was in the area of 221 and Airport Road.”

Walden said besides the GSP helicopter and the Thomson Police Department K9 Unit, officers with the Wrens Police Department, the Georgia DNR and Stapleton Police Department helped the JSCO conduct the search.

“Wrens Fire Department also helped with lighting,” he said.

Walden said citizens should be careful and avoid contact with suspicious individuals.

“In their day-to-day travels, we encourage citizens to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity. Try to be as vigilant as possible. If you see something or someone suspicious, don’t confront the person. Stay safe; but, if possible note the location of the suspicious activity, the suspect’s direction of travel, description of the suspect and any vehicle used and contact your local police department, the sheriff’s office or dial 911.”

Officers ended the search about 11 p.m. without locating the suspect, he said.

Carver Principal Dr. Johnson remembered

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Students, teachers, faculty and staff at Carver Elementary are in disbelief this week, as their longstanding leader and mentor, Dr. Shawn Maria Johnson, the school’s principal, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 4.

“The whole educational community of all six schools came together to support the faculty, staff and students at Carver upon learning of her death yesterday,” Jefferson County School Superintendent Dr. Molly Howard and longtime friend said Tuesday. “Everyone that I spoke to was in disbelief. Several of the children still asked if I said she died. They just couldn’t imagine it or believe it. It was a lot of tears, and a lot of people loving and supporting each other through their tears. It was a very tender, touching and loving environment all day long yesterday.”


Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Fay McGahee said he was called to her residence in Louisville at 8:38 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, where Dr. Johnson, 53, had passed away from natural causes.

“It was sometime Sunday,” McGahee said Monday. “She lived alone and she didn’t show up for school this morning. So someone called the house. There was no answer. Someone went to the house and the house was locked. They had to break in. That’s when they found her.”

McGahee also said that Dr. Johnson did not go to church on Sunday, which was unusual for her and that is why it is believed at this time she passed away on Sunday.

“I don’t know if she was not able to go yesterday,” McGahee divulged. “She had quite a few medical problems. We’re not going to do an autopsy because of the medical problems. I did consult with the medical examiner’s office.”

Dr. Howard said she tried to explain to the students what had happened to Dr. Johnson early Monday morning.

“I told them that instead of coming to school this morning, Dr. Johnson went to heaven,” she said solemnly. “I told them she will always live in their hearts, and the best thing they could do was be the best they could be in life. I told them when they walk across that stage to receive their diplomas, she would be so proud of them and smiling down on them from heaven.”

Dr. Johnson was a 1976 graduate of Cheraw High School in Cheraw, S.C. She received her BA in elementary education in 1980 at Benedict College in Columbia S.C., as well as her masters of education in early childhood/child development in 1988 from South Carolina State College, Orangeburg, S.C., her Ed.S. in education administration in 1994 from South Carolina State, and her Ed.D. in educational administration in 1998 from South Carolina State.

She began as a third grade teacher at Carver in 1981. She continued as a part-time third grade teacher and as part-time assistant principal at Carver in 1985, until 1991, when she became assistant principal at Wrens Elementary. Dr. Johnson returned to Carver as the assistant principal in 1998 and became the school’s principal in 1999, which is the position she currently held.

“Dr. Johnson was a true advocate for children,” Dr. Howard said. “You didn’t’ have to talk to her long before you recognized that and realized that. Children always came first with her and she made no excuses for that. On no uncertain terms, she let everyone at the school know they were there for the children and staff, and they were to always put children first. She served children in Jefferson County well, and kept up with them long after they graduated. Dr. Johnson still stayed in touch with children. She would always let them know when she was proud of them.”

But Dr. Johnson’s impact was not only felt on the educational level, she had left a legacy in the city of Wadley for so many that she taught and worked with in bettering the community.

Police Chief Wesley Lewis said just two weeks ago, he had been at the school when his phone rang.

“I said, ‘Hey, Baby,’ and she (Dr. Johnson) said, ‘It better be Hope,’” referring to Lewis’ wife.

The chief said he put his wife on the speaker phone so Dr. Johnson would know for certain who the caller was.

Lewis said when he ended the call, Dr. Johnson said, “Who am I to question the chief of police?”

“And I said she could do anything she wanted; because, I respected her,” the chief said. “She knew all the kids’ names; and, she’d never forget a name. She wouldn’t forget the parents’ names either; because, she taught most of them.”

Lewis told of how his wife remembered being in kindergarten and Dr. Johnson was there.

“She was there when I started policing in Wadley; and, that was in 1997,” he said. “She loved those kids. Everybody respected Dr. Johnson.”

Chief Lewis even talked of Dr. Johnson driving her PT Cruiser to see her mother in South Carolina.

“She said, ‘Everybody will pass me, but I’ll get there,’” he laughed.

City Clerk Sallie Adams said Dr. Johnson was very friendly and outgoing.

“She worked with the Christmas parade last year,” Adams said. “She would help with the announcements; and, she said she would do it again this year.”

Adams said Dr. Johnson was very involved in her church.

“She was the assistant principal when I moved here in 1989,” Adams continued. “She was a very nice person, very nice person. She was a funny person. She was a real outgoing person, yet down to earth. You know some people when they reach the top, they forget about people on the bottom. She made you feel good whatever level you were on.”

Dr. Howard said Monday that Carver had counselors, teachers and other faculty to assist the students and teachers because of Dr. Johnson’s passing.

“I met with different groups of students later that day in grades kindergarten through fifth, and we also had different types of grief counseling activities for the students,” Dr. Howard said. “At the end of the day, I did an all-call on the intercom to let parents know that we had met with students and informed students about her passing.”

A memorial service is planned to be held in Carver Elementary lunchroom on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 5 p.m. There will be a candlelight ceremony held in the parking lot in front of the school after the memorial service.

“The decision was made to have it at Carver so we could bring her back to her school community,” Dr. Howard explained. “Carver was her school community and we wanted to make it accessible to her full community. We hope that parents, students, former students and community members, as well as the whole educational community, will pay their respects to Dr. Johnson and participate in the service.”

Dr. Johnson’s mother, Pearlen Auston, and her sister, Sheryl Johnson, will come to the service and are expected in Jefferson County Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Local arrangements are being handled by Davis Funeral Home, Louisville.

Dr. Howard also said that Carver Assistant Principal Tiffany Pitts would be the acting principal until the Board of Education makes a decision for the school’s new principal.

“I was so impressed with the leadership of Miss Pitts and her teaching staff as they worked through their own shock, grief and disbelief, to support the students and that is what Dr. Johnson would have wanted,” Dr. Howard said.

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