Looking Back At 2017 In Bryan County

A lot happened in Bryan County during 2017. A new mayor was elected in Richmond Hill; Pembroke finally got a look at its namesake; a plane crash in north Bryan County claimed three lives; Richmond Hill High athletics had a banner year; a total solar eclipse that wasn’t, and much more.

 

Below you will find recaps of many , but certainly not all, of the highlights of 2017. The date beneath each is the day the entire story was published on www.bryancountynow.com.

Jimmy Burnsed retires from public service

Mention the economic development and government of Bryan County over the last decade-plus and for most the name Jimmy Burnsed will come to mind. At midnight Dec. 31 Burnsed officially ended 12 years as chairman of the Bryan County Board of Commissioners.

Jan. 1

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Wildcat wrestlers first at area duals

Richmond Hill beat Effingham County 48-28 in the championship match to win the Region 2-6A Dual Meet Tournament. Richmond Hill and Effingham qualify for the State Dual Tournament set for Jan 12-14 in Macon.

Jan. 8

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Jury awards $15 million in Bryan County crash settlement

Megan Richards, one of two survivors of a 2015 crash in Bryan County that took lives of five Georgia Southern University nursing students, was awarded $15 million in damages by a Bryan County jury, according to the AJC.

The students were killed in the early morning of April 22, 2015, when the 2012 Peterbuilt rear-ended their cars on Interstate 16.

Jan. 21

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Fort McAllister erosion shored up

During the Civil War, the Union Navy took numerous shots at Fort McAllister guarding the mouth of the Ogeechee River but was unable to inflict any long-term serious damage to the structure. However, recently a different enemy took aim at crumbling the 150-plus-year-old earthen fortress — Mother Nature. …

But just as it did when the Union gun boats fired on it during the Civil War, it appears Fort McAllister has once again survived an attack.

Feb. 8

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Ga. Supreme Court hears Richmond Hill wrongful death case

The Georgia Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Richmond Hill and Richmond Hill Police Department Det. Doug Sahlberg.

The suit, filed by attorney Carl Varnedoe on behalf of Laura Lane Maia on Feb. 11, 2013, alleges that Sahlbeg allowed his daughter, a classmate of Maia’s daughter Sydney Sanders, to view photographs of injuries Sanders had inflicted upon herself during a Feb. 14, 2011, suicide attempt. That, according to the lawsuit, led to the photos being revealed to others, including Sanders’ classmates, and ultimately Sanders’ decision to take her own life on April 5, 2011, at the age of 14.

Feb. 8

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Richmond Hill band students win All-State honors

Six Richmond Hill High School band members have been named to the Georgia high school All-State Band.

Earning the honor were Sarah Quayle, Brenden Diggs, Peter Sullivan, Daniel Kim, Alejandra Gonzalez and Grace Cantele.

Feb. 20

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Evans settles in as new Bryan County extension agent

Something Bryan County had gone 10 years without is no longer missing. Richard Evans began work on Jan. 1 of this year as the Bryan County extension agent.

Contrary to the humorous image of extension agent Hank Kimball portrayed by Alvy Moore on the 1960s and 1970s TV sitcom “Green Acres,” extension agents are knowledgeable and well-versed in many fields.

March 26

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Wildcats battling for region baseball title

Baseball people will tell you there are a lot of ways to score from third base. Give them 10 minutes and they’ll come up with 10 variables on how to plate a run.

Richmond Hill came up with an 11th variable and it proved to be the winning run in a 6-4 win over Glynn Academy at Wildcat Field, in the opening game of a three-game series that will very likely decide the Region 2AAAAAA championship.

Deadlocked 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning in a game that was an emotional roller coaster from the beginning, the Wildcats scored on a missed third strike that hit the umpire’s face mask and bounced away from Red Terrors catcher Carter Hutchinson.

April 11

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Pembroke police officers promoted

Chief of Police Randy Alexander announced the promotion of two officers during the Pembroke City Council meeting; Kelly Price and Eric McElveen.

“It is not every day I get to promote somebody, I have been a chief now 12 years and I can count on my one hand the number of people I have promoted,” Alexander said.

Redskins play well but fall in soccer playoffs

Bryan County’s boys soccer team lost the game, but in many ways it won the war.

The Redskins dropped a 2-0 decision to Glenn Hills in the opening round of the GHSA Class AA state tournament, but Coach Roman Czerwinski couldn’t have been more pleased with his team.

April 27

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Taylor Wilson named Most Dedicated Athlete

Championships, whether they be team or individual, are not served up on a platter by room service.

Championships come with a price. They involve discipline, hard work, sacrifice and dedication to achieving the goal.

Richmond Hill wrestler Taylor Wilson, who became the school’s first state champion when he won the 182-pound title in the GHSA Class 6A state meet while posting a 46-3 record, invokes all of those qualities.

May 10

2016-2017 - Banner year for Richmond Hill High athletics

When the Richmond Hill High School 4 x 400-meter relay team of Sam James, Rakim Gonzalez, Demond Fleming and Jacob Hedgepeth crossed the finish line in first place at the Class AAAAAA state track meet earlier this month, the Wildcats’ boys team was guaranteed no worse than second in the state overall – the best any Wildcat team has placed in state competition since RHHS basketball teams coached by Jimmy Hires were winning state championships in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

However, athletic success at the school was not limited to just one team this year. All 13 teams fielded by the school qualified for the state playoffs. And while RHHS does compete in a five-team region from which four teams or individuals qualify for state competition, more than half the Wildcat teams reached at least the top eight in the state. Besides boys track, wrestling was third and boys cross country fourth. Baseball, along with boys and girls soccer, reached the Elite 8. Softball and girls cross country won region titles.

May 25

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Richmond Hill council passes new zoning ordinance

While to the naked eye the city of Richmond Hill probably doesn’t look much different today than it did 10 days ago, if one were to look at the city’s official zoning map, it would be easy to notice a difference. A 3-0 vote by the city council June 6 created the changes.

June 15

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Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler inducted into government hall of fame

The Georgia Municipal Association inducted Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler into the Municipal Government Hall of Fame at the association’s annual convention in Savannah on June 26.

The Hall of Fame designation, awarded to only three public servants annually, honors municipal officials who exemplify the best in public service, and who, throughout their careers, have made extraordinary contributions to their communities and Georgia’s cities.

June 27

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Thousands come to Richmond Hill to celebrate Independence Day

If 8-year-old Damon Wells is any judge, the city of Richmond Hill knows how to throw a party.

The youngster was one of thousands who turned out to J.F. Gregory Park to help the United States celebrate its 241st birthday.

July 3

South Bryan woman to run for House

South Bryan County resident Lisa Ring, 49, has declared her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives, 1st Congressional District of Georgia seat.

July 9

Pembroke icons pass away with hours of each other

Earlier this month two Pembroke icons passed from this life within hours of one another.

Robert “Bob” and Virginia Quattlebaum had been married for more than 66 years and during that time left an indelible mark on the city of Pembroke.

July 26

E-commerce company to open fulfillment center in Bryan County

The Development Authority of Bryan County announced that the Lincoln, Neb., company VMInnovations will locate a 419,000-square-foot e-commerce fulfillment center in the Interstate Centre II industrial park in Black Creek.

The project represents over $19 million in investment in the community, and the company has committed to employ 50 people within five years.

July 27

Town hall meeting elicits varying viewpoints

U.S. Representative for the 1st District of Georgia Buddy Carter, along with several staff members, hosted nine town hall meetings recently; one of them, at the Bryan County Administration Building in south Bryan County on Aug. 10 ….

By the time the meeting ended some 90 minutes later, Carter had fielded questions and listened to comments on a variety of subjects including health care, term limits, changes that might come to local military establishments, revising the tax code, U.S. relations with Cuba, if he supported President Trump, veterans’ affairs, what were perceived as sexist comments made by the representative, insurance and more.

Aug. 15

Mario Mincey leads football Redskins into season

Mario Mincey did not apply for the head football coaching position at Bryan County High School, but when the call came, he could not say no to people he loved and cared about.

It was a three-ring circus this spring at Bryan County as Allan Cartwright resigned, two other coaches, including former coach Mark Wilson, were hired and then resigned.

Aug. 17

Richmond Hill Farmers Market to close at end of month

What began with an idea that sprouted in 2010 with some folks having coffee and then blossomed into a reality the following year will soon be no more – at least for the time being. Citing a dwindling number of both vendors and patrons Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler announced during the city council’s regularly scheduled meeting that the Richmond Hill Farmers Market would close at the end of the month. Previously the market has been open Tuesday afternoons March through October each year.

Aug. 16

Coastal Electric and Richmond Hill agree to bury power lines

A unanimous vote from the Richmond Hill City Council during its Aug. 15 regularly scheduled meeting helped ensure that power lines and poles will soon no longer be seen alongside Ga. 144 in the city from Timber Trail to Port Royal Road.

Aug 16

Skies to turn dark early Monday afternoon

It has been close to 50 years since the sky turned dark during the day in Bryan County. On March 7, 1970, a total solar eclipse was visible across much of North America, including southeast Georgia. Carly Simon, arguably, referred to the same solar eclipse in her song “You’re So Vain” when she sang, “then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.”

For local residents to see the next solar eclipse, there will be no need to fly to the Canadian Maritimes or anywhere else; all they will need to do is step outside next Monday afternoon. Beginning around 1 p.m., the path of a solar eclipse, that will have begun at dawn in the Aleutian Islands, then made landfall on the Pacific coast of Oregon a little after noon EST, will cross just north of Bryan County before it ends in the Atlantic Ocean at sunset.

Aug. 19

Growth: how much is too much discussed at forum

This week marked the official kickoff of the update of Bryan County Comprehensive Land Use Plan and offered a first of many opportunities during a forum at the Bryan County Administrative Complex near Richmond Hill Aug. 14 to let local people tell their county officials the way they want to see future county growth proceed.

After several recent raucous meetings in the commissioner’s chambers, this one was calm and gave many a chance to voice their opinions.

Aug 18

Will the widening of Ga. 144 in Bryan County be delayed again

Could the widening of a portion of Ga. 144 in south Bryan County be delayed again? The answer is uncertain at this time but the the project that was expected to begin in mid-2018 does not appear on a draft of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program for FY 2018-2021.

STIP is Georgia’s four-year transportation and capital improvements program which lists federally funded transportation projects that are located outside Metropolitan Planning Organization boundaries.

Aug. 24

Two Savannah residents among three killed in Bryan County plane crash

A plane crash in a heavily wooded area of north Bryan County killed three people.

The single-engine Beech Bonanza en route from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to Cobb County disappeared from radar about 9:30 a.m., prompting the FAA to contact Bryan County Emergency Services regarding the possibility of a downed aircraft. But finding the plane took some time.

Aug 28

No election in Bryan County this November

Since all candidates on the ballot are running unopposed, no election will be held in Richmond Hill this fall. The Freeport Exemption tax referendum scheduled to be on the ballot will be moved to the March 2018 ballot.

During the August qualifying period, mayoral candidate Russ Carpenter, incumbent council member Johnny Murphy (Post 1) and political newcomer Tara Baraniak (Post 2) were the only candidates to file their qualifying papers and pay the fees required to be placed on the ballot.

Sept. 1

Bryan County ‘dodged a big bullet’ officials say

The feeling from officials in Bryan County is that while Hurricane Irma created some inconvenience for businesses and residents, it was nothing close to the scale of what Hurricane Matthew left behind almost a year ago.

“I can see daylight,” said Freddy Howell, emergency services director. “Right now we are just trying to get everybody back safely and figuring out how we will get all the debris people are cleaning up removed.”

Sept. 12

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Rabid cat found in Richmond Hill

A feral cat in Richmond Hill has tested positive for rabies.

The cat, which was captured behind Clyde’s Market at the corner of U.S. 17 and Ga. 144, bit one person and scratched another before being captured on Sept. 12, Skip Youmans, Bryan County Health Department environmental health specialist, said. Both individuals are receiving medical treatment.

Sept. 14

Image of Pembroke’s namesake unveiled

Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook had a smile on her face at the Sept. 18 city council meeting that was almost as wide as Main Street.

The mayor said neither she, nor anyone else in the city, had any idea what its namesake, Pembroke Williams, looked like, and it wasn’t until his ancestors just happened to walk into city hall recently that the mystery would finally be solved.

Sept. 22

Bryan County accused of having too many voters

The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit organization out of Plainfield, Ind., has included Bryan County along with 247 other counties in the nation on a list of jurisdictions they say have more registered voters than adult residents in the county.

According to the PILF, registered voters in Bryan County for the 2016 election equaled 101 percent of the adults in the county of voting age.

Sept. 26

Richmond Hill looking to expand by 5,000 acres

The city of Richmond Hill began a process that ultimately could dramatically increase the size of the city, when the city council voted to approve an application of annexation filed by Raydient Places + Properties LLC for 5,013 acres of land currently in unincorporated Bryan County.

Raydient Places + Properties parent company is Rayonier Inc. The lands managed by Raydient have been determined to have a higher and better use than timber operations, due to their special features, locations and other aspects, such as excellent road frontage. These properties are ideal for outdoor recreation, homesteads and investments, according to raydientplaces.com.

Oct. 17

Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival draws thousands

Before you reached the entrance gate to the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival in Richmond Hill’s J.F. Gregory Park, the aroma of frying shrimp and other seafood filled the air.

The three-day south Bryan County event drew thousands over the weekend for not only seafood, but also carnival midway rides, arts and crafts and entertainment featuring headliner 38-Special, followed by fireworks.

Oct. 21

John Melcher named Bryan County Schools Teacher of the Year

The Bryan County School District Teachers of the Year for 2017-2018 were recognized during the Board of Education’s meeting Oct. 26 at Bryan County High School.

Richmond Hill Middle School connections teacher John Melcher was named the district-wide Teacher of the Year.

Oct. 27

Wildcat female JROTC Raiders team wins state title

The Richmond Hill High School female JROTC Raider team captured the state Raider championship at Spalding High School in Griffin, Ga. on Oct. 28. Pictured are the team members with the trophies they won at the competition.

Overall, in addition to winning the championship, the girls placed in five out of six events. The boys placed in two out of six. The win marks the third time the RHHS female Raider team has brought home the state title.

Oct. 31

SPLOST passes for fifth time in Bryan County

In Bryan County, less than 5 percent of the 22,346 eligible voters cast ballots, but they were enough to renew the special purpose local option sales tax for the fifth time.

Nov. 7

Cross country Wildcats third at state meet

Led by junior Jalen Murray’s All-State performance, the Richmond Hill High School boys cross country team placed third overall at the Class AAAAAA meet in Carrollton.

Nov. 7

Wildcat cheerleaders are region champs

For the third time this season, the Richmond Hill High School Competition Cheerleaders won first place at a competition. This one was little bit more special though, as it was the Region 2AAAAAA competition at West Laurens High School. Now the team is on its way to the State Championships at the Columbus Civic Center.

Nov. 8

RHMS’s Bennett named Assistant Principal of the Year

Richmond Hill Middle School Assistant Principal Elizabeth Bennett was named the state-wide Assistant Principal of the Year by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals.

Nov. 16

Changes coming to football Wildcats

It was deflating the way Richmond Hill’s football season ended: three straight losses culminated by a 29-21 loss at Lee County in the opening round of the Georgia High School Association Class 6A state playoffs.

After knocking off Glynn County, 12-7, the Wildcats (7-3) were unbeaten and one win away from winning the Region championship, and found themselves ranked for the first time since 1996. That was the year of Richmond Hill’s only region championship.

With a chance to make history, Richmond Hill instead lost to Brunswick and followed by losing to Effingham County, which made it a No. 4 seed going on the road to play Lee County, a No. 1 seed.

Coach Matt LeZotte, who said he spent the weekend decompressing, admitted it was a tough way to end a season, but he also knows you build a program brick-by-brick, and he and his staff are slowly but surely laying the bricks.

Nov. 14

Resident seeks Georgia State School Superintendent position

Bryan County resident and past president of the Nation Parent Teachers Association, Otha Thornton, is seeking another education-related position. This time Thornton, a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, who currently serves as contractor for the Department of Defense and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as an education advocate, is running for the job of Georgia state school superintendent.

Nov. 17

Richmond Hill police officer promoted

Melony Carter pinned the rank of sergeant on her husband, Paul, an eight-year Richmond Hill policeman, during a promotion ceremony Nov. 21 that took place during the city council meeting

Dec. 1

Al Butler out as Bryan County High softball coach

Bryan County High School will have a new softball coach next season.

Al Butler, who led the team for the past nine seasons, said he was told Dec. 4 that the school wanted to go in a different direction.

Dec. 11

Bryan County passes impact fee ordinance

Mike Vaquer told the Bryan County Commissioners at their monthly meeting Dec. 12 that they were putting the cart before the horse.

Vaquer, a government affairs consultant for the Home Builders Association of Greater Savannah, which includes Bryan County, told the commissioners that the impact fee ordinance, which will assess a fee on each residential building permit issued in unincorporated Bryan County, was not ready to be considered by the commissioners, as all the legal requirements necessary to pass the ordinance had not been met ….

Commissioner (Brad) Brookshire made the motion to adopt the impact fee ordinance and the matter was approved unanimously.

Dec. 21

Wildcat’s Jalen Murray named Boys Runner of the Year

Richmond Hill had an early indication this season that junior Jalen Murray was going to be special.

It was the middle of August, the heat of the summer. Murray, who had worked his way up from junior varsity to the No. 4 runner in his first year on the team in 2016, posted a time of 16 minutes and 8 seconds for a 3-mile run.

Dec. 28

Abram Scott named new Bryan County High football coach

Bryan County School’s Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Student Services Trey Robertson announced Dec. 26 that Abram Scott had been named as Bryan County High School’s new head football coach.

Dec. 27

Levi Sybert boys cross country coach of the year

Each summer, as a prologue to the fall cross country season, Richmond Hill coach Levi Sybert cooks up an overnight trip for his boys and girls teams.

Call it a team-bonding exercise, as well as a lot of exercise. Sybert has had his charges (all voluntarily) camp out on Jekyll Island and run the beach between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Dec. 29

Source : http://savannahnow.com/bryan-county-now/2018-01-05/looking-back-2017-bryan-county

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