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2012: A year of hope, help and horror

By Kay S. Pedrotti A high school football team that nearly brought a state title to Lamar County, the loss of an iconic 30-year-old restaurant, several successful community events to meet needs of our citizens, accolades for students and others, watching the economy slowly climb up ‘“ if ‘good news, bad news’ defined any year, it was 2012. Some of the more tragic events included the deaths of two young girls, Hailey Power and Anna Hambrick, in a home fire, and the murder of beloved taxi driver John Dixson. Also bringing tears to many were the deaths of leading citizens including Tommy Gasses, Gene Hardwick and Eloise Dorsey. Several new businesses opened downtown and Piedmont Green Power was nearly operational at the end of December, but the chamber of commerce led by Julia Anne Ridgeway suffered from turnovers. Just after being named an outstanding citizen, Amanda Rose resigned as president and Emily Johns was hired. Johns left abruptly in fall and the search for a replacement continues. It was a year of honoring the military ‘“ besides the usual tributes for fallen heroes, Lamar County Primary School, where their children attend, honored U.S. Army sergeants LeRoy and Romonica Hunter on leave from Afghanistan. The Herald Gazette garnered Better Newspaper honors at the Southeastern Newspapers Convention, first place in local news coverage and a first place in photo essay for Walter Geiger for tornado coverage. Trojan football coach Jason Strickland resigned and was replaced by Franklin Stephens, who led the team to the state semi-finals. The Lighthouse restaurant burned and was a total loss. Coowner Stephen Brehaut was arrested for and confessed to arson in the incident. In a freak accident on I-75, more than 10 high-dollar polo ponies were injured when the trailer carrying them collided with a passenger car. Local animal and equine rescue personnel and veterinarians assisted and only one horse was killed. Locals including Keith Morris were helped with fund-raisers, reflecting the ‘come together’ spirit seen after the 2011 tornado. Our institute of higher learning changed its name to Gordon State College, installed Dr. Max Burns as president and placed third in the NJCAA baseball World Series in Colorado. Sheriff Larry Waller did not run for re-election and a three-way race between Joe Buice, Frank Usher and Brad White ended with White a clear winner. Two kidnapped teen girls were returned safely, convicted murderers sought new trials, shootings and burglaries resulted in arrests and the court system continued busily. The best thing in the courts: Magistrate judge William Thomas, re-elected for another term, celebrated the 500th wedding ceremony performed in his tenure. A complete year-in-review features is found in the 1.1.2013 print edition of The Herald-Gazette

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