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2017: The year in review

Lamar entered 2017 in desperate need of precipitation with groundwater levels at near record lows and Barnesville residents under Level 1 drought restrictions. The dry spell lasted only a few days into the year and by December the area had experienced rain from multiple tropical storm systems and even snowfall. Aside from the weather, Barnesville would take on a new name, play host to A-list actors, hold serious debate over historic cemeteries and revel in our collective history. Our annual full Year in Review is contained in the 12.26.17 print edition of The Herald Gazette. A synopsis follows inside this post. January: 2017 started with groundwater levels at severe lows. Thankfully, enough rain would fall by Jan. 6 to end several months of drought conditions. Joshua James Cox was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Donald Terrell Clark. It took a jury less than two hours to deliver the verdict. Several Lamar County residents attended the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. Christopher Deraney’s seat at the inauguration was inside the Secret Service security corridor. February: Douglas Matthews was named chief of the Lamar County fire department. Matthews served and had trained under the late fire chief Steve Andrews for more than a decade. Barnesville lost Walgreen’s, which ceased operations on Feb. 28. News also came that Zaxby’s would soon open a location at the corner of Veterans Parkway and Roberta Drive. March: Pre-construction began for the new Lamar County High School. Groundbreaking is still expected in the spring of 2018. A special ceremony and memorial unveiling was held at station one to honor the legacy of late fire chief Steve Andrews. April: Christopher Deraney was hired as the new director of the chamber of commerce. The Board of Regents voted to raise tuition for all University System of Georgia schools by two percent including Gordon State College. May: Barnesville started a Greenwood Cemetery project to add nearly 500 grave spaces. A Redbone couple survived a terrifying home invasion in which their Golden Retriever was shot and killed. The gun the assailant had taken from the home jammed after the dog was shot, allowing the couple and a farm hand to escape. Christopher JOrdanf aces a host of charge in the case. His mental competency to stand trial is being determined. June: The Lamar County commission held a public hearing after the city of Barnesville requested the relocation of about 103 graves from long-neglected Wadsworth Cemetery to Greenwood Cemetery. The county commission voted 3-2 on July 13 to allow the relocation to make room for industrial expansion. Appeals remain bogged down in court and no graves have been moved. Barnesville became the fictional town of Wind Gap, Mo. as filming of the upcoming HBO series ‘˜Sharp Objects’ began downtown. July: Bobbie Jo Sumner was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 2013 hit and run death of GSC nursing student Alexandra Noelle Desir. The school board voted unanimously to approve new start times for each school. August: The county commission voted to reduce a one-mill property tax increase by half a mill. The commissioners were then tasked with cutting $225,000 from an already prepared budget. Barnesville was left in 95 percent darkness for several minutes during a vast solar eclipse. September: The community was largely brought to a standstill as the remnants of Hurricane Irma downed dozens of trees, caused widespread power outages and brought torrential rains. Residents of Aldora Mill Village were told to vacate their homes by July 1, 2018 due to infrastructure issues. The homes will be sold and relocated. October: It was announced that, after nearly 50 years of service, city manage Kenny Roberts would retire in February, 2018. Lamar and Sandra Bunn were charged with obstruction in connection with the 1983 cold case murder of Timothy Coggins in Saplding County. A jury was unable to deliver a verdict in the murder trial of David McGuire who was charged with shooting his mother to death in her Liz Acres Road home. November: Continental Tire announced plans to spend $9 million on Aldora Mills, adding 106 new jobs by 2019. The first ever Greenwood Cemetery Tour was a hit, with more than 300 attendees. The sold out event saw local citizens portraying their ancestors in an effort to raise money for the cemetery restoration. The special Sesquicentennial Edition of The Herald Gazette was published Nov. 21 and featured four sections full of local history with historic accounts and photos. December: Dollar Tree confirmed plans to open a new store in the old Walgreen’s location. Chamber of Commerce executive director, Christopher Deraney, purchased DB’s Pizzeria in downtown Barnesville. He will take over operations on Jan. 2, 2018. Debbie Adamson, who operated the restaurant for nearly 10 years, shut it down Dec. 23. She is going to work for the Department of Corrections.

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