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A storm of news in 2011

The year 2011 will long be remembered in Barnesville as the one when the worst natural disaster in the county’s history hit hard in the early hours of April 28 — an ESF3 level tornado that took two lives and destroyed more than 100 homes and buildings. The cleanup after the storm that killed Paul and Ellen Gunter on Grove Street is still being done. Some families have rebuilt but others have simply abandoned the sites where their trauma occurred. Gordon College also made the news repeatedly: Dr. Max Burns was named new president; two new four-year degree programs, English and history, were added; and about 300 nursing students moved into a new $12 million Nursing and Health Services Building. Economic hard times were felt here, with record numbers of foreclosed properties — but only 18 wound up on the auction block for unpaid taxes. The prerelease center here was closed by the Department of Corrections; Jordan Lumber experienced a temporary shutdown and Carter’s Drugs became part of Hines Pharmacy. Local governments struggled with money problems. The county water authority, facing a debt crisis, worked with Barnesville and Lamar County for a final agreement that gave the city control of the water system and responsibility for the debt and put the recreation department and library in the county’s hands. The county tax digest dropped by some $46 million from 2010. The county hired Bob Zellner as its new county administrator. Crime and punishment continued, with Jennifer Clark given life plus 60 years for the slaying of her husband Donald, and Teresa Burousas convicted for the death of her husband Jimmy ‘Buzz’ Burousas. Three other downtown killings are still being adjudicated, including the home invasion death of a Gordon College student. Memorials to honor the fallen in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York were held here by the Woodmen of the World and First Baptist Church of Barnesville. The successful Barbecue and Blues, the ‘best ever’ Buggy Days and an emphasis on ‘shopping locally’ highlighted renewed interest in Barnesville businesses. Norfolk Southern began track work on the rails from Barnesville through Milner. Last but not least, the march of the Lamar County Trojan football team to the state playoffs has to rank very high on the excitement scale. The team gave LCCHS its best record ever, 12-1, losing by two points to Appling County in the quarterfinals.

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