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June 27, 2013 Issue

Born to fly
Shooting officially gang related
New Wadley city hall opens doors

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Born to fly

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

You’d never know he’s afraid of heights, not once you’ve seen Blythe Dant in charge of an airplane flying high above the ground. In the pilot’s chair, he’s as confident and happy as anyone could be.

He smiles and laughs and talks easily about the flight and the plane.

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At 20, he’s accomplished something others his age experience only in dreams. Flying has been his passion all his life.

“I’ve been interesting in flying since I came out of the womb,” he said. “I actually started flying when I was 11. That’s when I first started logging my flight training. I had been flying several times with several people.”

He comes by his passion honestly – his grandfather was Leroy Dant.

“He was one of the pioneers who kind of got Wrens (airport) on its feet,” Dant said of Leroy. “There were some builders out there and he was one of those builders.”

Dant said Ray Trenter and Ralph Powell were two of the other builders.

“I’m not sure who the rest of them were,” he said. “My grandfather also was a corporate pilot. He flew for Smile Gas, Boardman Oil Company as well as the Ledbetter brothers.”

Dant’s grandfather died in 2002.

Sid Brown, president of a local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), talked about Dant and a scholarship he received from the EAA.

“The club wanted to put into place a scholarship that was in honor of Al Patton who was one of our charter members,” Brown said. The club’s home is in Blythe. They rent a hangar at the Wrens airport.

Brown said Patton, who is still active in the club, was a pilot in the military.

“He flew in the Marines,” Brown said. “He designed a couple of airplanes himself.”

Patton was inducted in the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005.

Brown said the EAA Chapter 172 awards the scholarship in conjunction with Augusta Aviation, located at Daniel Field in Augusta.

The scholarship was first given about 2006 or 2007, Brown said. “The scholarship is worth about $3,500.”

Dant said he has been attending the air show in Augusta, Boshears Skyfest, for as long as he can remember.

“It was through that air show that I heard about the scholarship. The one I received is through the EAA,” he said, referring to Brown’s chapter 172.

“It was they who actually sponsored my scholarship. It wasn’t a traditional scholarship. It was to a flight school. It was to a specific flight school in Augusta at Daniel Field,” he said. The business name of the school is Augusta Aviation.

Dant said the scholarship is for anyone 15 to 18, living anywhere in the CSRA.

“As long as you can get to Augusta to get to Augusta Aviation and commit at least one day a week to train,” he said.

The training is for two hours and at your own pace, Dant said.

“The more you can fly and the more you can study at home the faster you can get it done,” he said.

Dant said he applied online and wrote an essay as to why he wanted to be a pilot and submitted it to Augusta Aviation. The application and essay were reviewed by a panel that included Patton and then Dant had a face-to-face interview.

“The flight school is continuous through the early career. The particular scholarship I got sponsored me through my first solo, until I flew by myself,” Dant said.

“I received the scholarship in October 2007; and, I soloed April 4, 2009,” he said.

The law requires you to be at least 16 before flying an airplane by yourself, Dant said. He didn’t wait long.

“It was two days after my 16th birthday,” he said.

Dant said he had been a member of the EAA before starting college in August 2011. He attends Middle Georgia State College in Eastman. He is working on a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration focusing on flight management.

“I love it. I absolutely love it,” he said.

When he’s home from school, he works for Augusta Aviation as a line serviceman. He said he is about to begin training to be a charter pilot for them.

“I’m eating it up. I cannot wait. I’m chomping at the bit,” he said. “When I got my private pilot’s license I was 18. It was April 30, 2011.”

Right now, Dant is single and living with his parents, Rick and Mary Dant, on the weekends and in the summer. They live in Harlem.

He said he is very fortunate to have the job he has and for the company where he works.

“I also work sometimes as a tour pilot,” he said. “We have two aerial tours that we do, mostly to Clark’s Hill and back.”

Dant said he usually flies out by the line of the river and comes back over Evans and Martinez.

The first step in achieving his dream was a private pilot’s license.

“Just like a regular driver’s license,” he said. “You can fly yourself and you can fly passengers; but, you cannot do it for hire.”

With an instrument rating, you can fly passengers and you can fly yourself in bad weather.

“But it’s still not for hire,” he said.

Next is commercial/single engine license.

“That basically means you can now make money flying, you can fly for hire,” he said. After that, it’s the pilot’s preference.

“After I got my commercial, I got my certified flight instructor,” he said, adding this allows him to teach other people to fly. “I was 19.”

When asked how much fun is it teaching other people to fly, he said, “I love it.

“There’s a big feeling of satisfaction when you teach someone to fly and you can see their progress. I received my CFI (certified flying instructor) on Feb. 28 of this year. I turned 20 on April 2.”

He said there is nothing else he enjoys as much as flying.

“There’s no way. It is a passion,” he said.

“Neither one of my brothers is as interested as I am but they are interested in it. I’m slowly but surely teaching them. I’m actually teaching them how to fly. My oldest brother, Wes, will be 28 in July. The middle brother, Tanner, turned 25 in March,” Dant said. His brothers live in Grovetown.

“After I received my CFI, I also received my multi-engine commercial pilot’s license. I can fly airplanes with more than one engine for hire. That would be something like a Piper Navajo or a Beech Craft King Air,” he said, adding those are twin-engine, eight-seat airplanes.

“There’s never been a time when I’ve not been interested in flying,” he said.




Shooting officially gang related

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Authorities have released the name of a 12th suspect wanted in the gang-related murder of Kenneth Quarterman Jr., 23, of Augusta and in the shooting of 25-year-old Charles Lewis Brown III of Wrens.

On Monday, June 24, District Attorney Hayward Altman said the 12th suspect is Darryus Sergio Jackson, 22, of Wadley.

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Quarterman and Brown were shot in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 16, on 5th Street in Louisville. Quarterman was taken to Georgia Regents University, formerly MCG, in Augusta Sunday where he was later pronounced dead.

Brown was taken to Jefferson Hospital where he was treated and released.

Both men had been shot in the head. Brown also had received a gunshot wound to his hand.

Initially, warrants were issued for the arrest of 10 men and one woman. Last week, six of those had been arrested and taken into custody. Within days, another three suspects were in custody. Friday, a 12th warrant was issued but authorities withheld Jackson’s name until this week.

As of press time Tuesday, two other suspects besides Jackson were still at large.

Those two are Octavius Desmond “Tay Tay” Hickson and Dalonte Jerrod “Big J” “Blac [sic] Boss” Tarver.

Altman said during a press conference last week, the shootings were gang related.

Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins called the shootings a tragedy.

“This is something that is new to us,” Hutchins said. “Every individual in the gang will be prosecuted. Every individual who knows about a crime being committed will be prosecuted.”

“The investigation is still ongoing,” Altman said Monday, adding that it will become clearer what took place during what authorities have called a drive-by shooting. Altman said he could not discuss details of an ongoing investigation.

Of the most recent three taken into custody, Hutchins said two walked in to the Law Enforcement Center and one was located in Louisville and arrested.

The nine in custody are Barrington Jermaine “AJ” “Rude Bei” Allen, Ivey Lamar Elam, Rajonte Romelle “Row” McGruder, Dontavius Tramez “T” Meadows, Jason Robert “Jay Will” Williams, Jayrin Anthony “Webbie” Williams, Lafayell Deshon “Smooch” Williams, Damien Vashoul “Bam” Simpkins and Shinique L. “Nik” Flournoy.

These individuals have each been charged with murder.

Altman said there are other charges pending, including charges related to the injuries sustained by Brown.

Some of the charges may include aggravated assault charges, weapons charges and gang-related charges, the DA said.

Altman said all of the suspects were living in Augusta at the time of the shooting but at least some have ties to Jefferson County.

Altman has credited officers and investigators with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Louisville Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Richmond County Sheriff’s Office with a lot of hard and intense work.

“This is a very serious case,” he said. “Everybody involved has done a very good job. I’d like to express my gratitude.”

Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan with the GBI post in Thomson is asking for anyone with any information to contact one of the agencies involved in the investigation.

To contact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, call 478-625-7538 and ask for Lt. Robert Chalker. Contact the GBI at 706-595-2575 and ask for SAC Pat Morgan. Contact the Louisville Police Department at 478-625-8897 and ask for Chief Jimmy Miller. Contact the district attorney at 478-237-7846 and ask for Hayward Altman.

“We’re not used to this; and, we’re not going to put up with it,” Hutchins said.




New Wadley city hall opens doors

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Wadley Mayor Herman Baker cut the ribbon before the doors of a long-awaited building that became the new city hall Friday, June 14.

Baker said the two white rocking chairs on the porch were donated by the contractor.


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“We appreciate you being here with us today,” he told those gathered to witness the ribbon cutting and tour the new facility.

Sen. Jesse Stone (R-23) said it was good to be in Wadley.

“This is a facility that I’ve been waiting to see,” he said. “Thank you for inviting me here today.”

Superior Court Judge Bobby Reeves said, “Wadley has been very good to me.”

He explained he had been a municipal judge in Wadley and then the city attorney.

“This is a great day for me. Congratulations on such a wonderful facility.”

City council members thanked the citizens for coming and welcomed everyone to the city.

Wadley City Clerk Sallie Adams who has been working tirelessly for a new city hall for some time thanked God, the mayor and city council.

“Without their support, we couldn’t have gotten this done,” she said.

Adams said the completion of the building shows if people come together and work together they can accomplish many projects.

The new city hall features an outside deposit for people to use when paying their water bills after hours, as well as microphones and a sound system in the council chamber.







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