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City Government, Athletic Success Top The News In 2019

Jan. 2
In a look back at 2018, the City of Hazlehurst battling financial difficulties and highly successful high school sports programs were two of the highlights of the news during 2018. Wanda and Ken hurley were the grand marshalls at the Snipesville New Year’s Day Parade.
Jan. 9
While only one item was on the agenda at a called meeting of the Hazlehurst City Council, the time it took to discuss it clocked in at nearly two hours. The council met to talk about last-minute lease options on the former medical office of Dr. Sidney P. Johnson, a building the city recently purchased after Johnson’s retirement. The council decided to walk away from a handshake agreement to lease the building to a medical company.
While Mayor Bayne Stone called the agreement a “handshake” or “verbal” agreement, the mayor had, in fact, signed documents agreeing to rent the building as did the chief operating officer of the medical service company. No other members of the council nor anyone at city hall was aware of the documents.
Juanita Rozier was named grand marshall of the MLK Parade.
Jan. 16
School Superintendent Dr. Stan Rentz announced that he would retire at the end of the school year.
The Jeff Davis High School Band members Abby Toler, Shelby Kerns, and Shelby Kertz were accepted to the Georgia All-State Honor Band at the Classic Center in Athens.
The first County Commission meeting of the new year began with disagreement as Vice-Chairman Ricky Crosby was elected the new chairman on a 3-2 vote. Commissioner James Benjamin motioned to appoint Crosby chairman, new Commissioner Vann Wooten seconded and Crosby called for the vote without allowing any discussion of the motion. Commissioners Hank Hobbs and Brad Crews opposed the motion.
Jan. 23
Former Jeff Davis County Commissioner James Dockery Tate of Snipesville died Jan. 13 at his residence at the age of 90.
One of the first orders of business during a work session of the Hazlehurst City Council was to authorize Mayor Bayne Stone to formally sign a three-year lease contract with Jeff Davis Hospital to rent the building that previously housed Dr. Sidney P. Johnson’s medical practice.
Jeff Davis Sheriff Preston Bohannon announced that 15 drug-related arrests were made in Jeff Davis County during a drug sweep.
Jan. 30
In an effort to improve public safety and lower homeowners’ fire insurance rates, the Jeff Davis County Commission had three new rural fire stations built. But that improved safety and lowered fire insurance rates would not be realized if Fire Chief Charles Wasdin couldn’t overcome the problem he was having signing up volunteer firefighters to serve with those new stations.
Teachers of the Year were Cindy Corbitt, representing Jeff Davis High School; Shannon Evans, representing Jeff Davis Primary School; Angela Carter, representing Jeff Davis Pre-K; Tina King, representing Jeff Davis Middle School; and 2019 System-wide Teacher of the Year, Denise Haley, representing Jeff Davis Elementary School.
The 2017-18 Jeff Davis High basketball team was recognized for winning the 2017 Region 2-AA championship, the school’s first region basketball title in 60 years. The 1958 team was the last team to win a region championship trophy.
The City of Hazlehurst was awarded a $4,337,000 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority board of directors to finance the installation of an elevated water storage tank, groundwater well, and water lines.
Feb. 6
The Hazlehurst Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation charged three men with felony murder in connection with the 2014 deaths of Javonnie Mondrae Chambers and his mother, Mary L. Chambers. Gerald Jermaine Wright, 41, was served with his warrant at Baker Correctional Institution in Sanderson, Fla. Robert Benjamin Brown, 35, was served with his warrant at J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, S.C. And Brandon Dante Hardaman, 31, was taken into custody by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Shelby Kerns and Shelby Kertz secured positions in the highest honor band at the SEUS Honor Band Clinic at Troy University. Kerns placed first in a solo competition. She performed a solo with Troy piano professor, Dr. Hui-Ting Yang, at the honor band concert and received a standing ovation from the audience.
Jeff Davis High’s baseball team opened its 2019 season.
Feb. 13
The search for the next Superintendent of the Jeff Davis County School System got underway. The Board held its first planning session with representatives of King-Cooper and Associates, a Georgia firm that assisted the Board with the search.
The Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Chamber of Commerce kicked off the JD Forward Leadership Academy last month with a team building and leadership retreat facilitated by Georgia EMC.
The JD Forward Class of 2019 participants were Daniel Alejo (Arising Industries), Doug Alexander (Jeff Davis Middle School), Rory Chaney (Hazlehurst Main Street), Mike Coleman (SunOne Logistics), Noemi Garcia (student at Valdosta State University), Kayla Herndon (Altamaha Bank & Trust), Matt King (Jeff Davis County Trash Pickup), Sonya Miller (Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Chamber of Commerce), Jim Moore (Bank of Hazlehurst), Eric Smith (Georgia Power), and Cody White (Hazlehurst Municipal Airport).
Feb. 20
Violence against law enforcement officers were features of two indictments handed down by the September Term Jeff Davis County Grand Jury.
Jeff Davis Elementary School Counselor Roxie Crosby brought four students to the Board of Education meeting to explain the school’s 7 Mindsets project to brighten up the Hazlehurst downtown area as part of the Be The Light Mindset.
Feb. 27
During a work session of the Hazlehurst City Council, Mayor Bayne Stone and Stanley Sellers, who owns Yellow Jacket Car Wash at the intersection of North Williams Street and Highway 341, fell into a sometimes heated exchange over issues related to a 2016 drainage agreement signed by both the city and Sellers. Jeff Davis County was hit with a rash of traffic accidents, including one accident seriously injuring Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Deputy David Lacey. GHSA hosted a new competition for cheerleading called Game Day at Putnam County High School. JDH Spirit Cheerleaders placed 3rd in the competition. Members of the squad were front row, Pailey Williams, Aiyana Cooper, Ariana Harmon, Na’Stacia Boyer, Mariah Foskey, Kailee Revell, Keiana Littleton. Middle row, Camdyn Nail, Kylie Eason, Hailey Williams, Dalathia Black, Maci Graham, Taylor Waldon, Annslee Manning, Jada Taylor. Back row, Coach Beth Davis, Kyra Barnhill, Faith Allday, Amara Mims, Alexis Stewart, McKenlee Herndon, Cammie Humphrey, Andrea McDermott, and Coach Sarah Beth Swain.
March 6
During a rare joint meeting of the Hazlehurst City Council and Jeff Davis County Commissioners, Mayor Bayne Stone, as lead spokesman for the group, spurred all of the officials to begin the process of developing a collaborative and coordinated plan to add to and refurbish the city’s outdated and antiquated water system. Jeff Davis County 4-H member Chanleigh Underwood won her third Master 4-H status.
March 13
The Jeff Davis County Board of Education met with members of the Band Boosters and approved the $39,500 bid from Southeast Pipe for improvements needed at the concession stand at the football field.
The Jeff Davis Substance Abuse Coalition (JDSAC), founded in August 2018, through a federal grant awarded to the Jeff Davis County Board of Health and Share Health Southeast Georgia, was working to set the tone in fighting Opioid Use Disorder in Jeff Davis County. The coalition grew to 23 active partners.
Winning awards at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner were Citizen of the Year Dottie Reagin, Entrepreneur of the Year Bo Reese, Industry of the Year Beasley Forest Products, Lifetime Achievement Award Buddy Spann, Small Business of t he Year Village Pizza, and STAR Student and Teach Uziel Rios and Dustin Allen.
March 27
A Notice of Violation (NOV) from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division Coastal Division took center stage for meetings of the Hazlehurst City Council. The NOV contained a number of safety violations on the Gill Street, Baxley Highway, and Odom Street water systems as well as the wastewater treatment plant and other infrastructure locations throughout the city
Bill Hawthorne and Beth Stevenson of the Coastal District Environmental Protection Division (EPD) met with the Council to discuss the NOV and reviewed a response letter from the city detailing a correction plan.
The Jeff Davis County Commission agreed to get estimates on the cost of fixing up The Big House and explore the possibility of moving the Chamber of Commerce and Joint Development Authority offices into the building to bring those two organizations and the Board of Tourism under the same roof.
April 3
Eighteen people applied to become the next school superintendent of Jeff Davis County Schools.
Jeff Davis County’s new farmers market was under construction at the recreation site on the Baxley Highway, funded by a USDA grant through the Jeff Davis County Commission.
JDHS Freshman Bryce Williams competed in FCCLA Creed Speaking and Interpretation at the FCCLA State Conference and placed second in State, winning $75 for her expertise.
Jeff Davis High School junior Ja’Queze Kirby was named the AJC Class AA Player of the Year after being named First Team All-State as a sophomore.
Community leaders gathered with seniors at Jeff Davis High School for “Lunch with Leaders.” The event was sponsored by the Jeff Davis Rotary Club along with the Joint Development Authority of Jeff Davis County and the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Chamber of Commerce.
April 10
Housed on the first floor of Daniel McLaughlin Therrell High School, Harleston’s Heart is more than a pantry. It is a continuation of the legacy of beloved social worker Rodney Harleston, who lost his battle to cancer Nov. 9, 2018. Harleston was a native of Hazlehurst.
Shelby Kertz, John Graham, and Shelby Kerns attended Region Honor Band at Houston County High School. In the 9/10 grade Region band, Kertz played 2nd chair flute and Graham played 1st chair bassoon. Kerns played 1st chair flute in the 11/12 grade Region band.
Jeff Davis County 4-H member Chanleigh Underwood was honored during the Georgia Farm Bureau Evening of Champions March 29 in Macon. She was recognized for winning the Grand Champion Market Gilt Award at the 2019 Georgia Junior National Livestock Show Feb. 23 in Perry. State Rep. Dominic LaRiccia of Douglas, who represents a portion of Jeff Davis County in the Georgia House of Representatives, made Fox Cable News Network for his confrontation with Women’s Rights Activist and actress Alyssa Milano in the State Capitol.
April 17
The Jeff Davis County Board of Education unanimously selected Jeff Davis High Principal Chris Roppe as the sole finalist for Superintendent of Schools to replace Dr. Stan Rentz who was to retire at the end of the school year.
The Jeff Davis High School Region Champion girls tennis team, for the fifth straight year, consisted of MaKenzie Gardner, Rita Chu, Abigail Hernandez, Morgan McEachin, Kalli Wilkes, Morgan Cox, Mai Thai, Hailey Beach, Madison McEachin, Denise Williamson and coaches Mary Katherine Kemp, Allen Mims and Shane Cox.
Members of the Region 2-AA Boys Champion Jeff Davis High tennis team were Cam Lewis, Lem Miller, Oscar Mayorga, Peter Tran, Tate Lambert, Ivan Chu, John Graham and coaches Mary Katherine Kemp, Allen Mims and Shane Cox.
Members of the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Fire Rescue gave their fellow firefighter a tribute at the funeral of Travis Richard (Ricky) Steverson who died April 8. Ladder trucks formed an archway near Wainright-Parlor Funeral Home where Mr. Steverson’s funeral was held. The archway was topped by an American Flag and Mr. Steverson’s casket was transported for burial on the City of Hazlehurst’s Engine No. 1 under the archway.
The Jeff Davis County Board of Education recognized JDHS Baseball Coach Paul Glass for achieving his 400th victory in the Yellow Jacket baseball program. Jeff Davis High’s girls soccer team advanced to the State Playoff for the first time in school history.
April 24
Jeff Davis High’s baseball team entered the 2019 Georgia High School Association State Playoffs with a 22-4 record. The Jackets won their second Region 2-AA Championship in the last three years. The City Council offered lengthy discussions on updating the cemetery ordinance to focus more on providing small lots for cremains at both city cemeteries. Cremains, a relatively new word coming about in the mid-20th century, are defined as the ashes of a person’s cremated remains.
Jeff Davis High’s girls tennis team advanced to the Elite 8.
May 1
For the 6th straight time the Jeff Davis Lady Yellow Jackets won the Region track meet.
The Joint Development Authority of Jeff Davis County, Hazlehurst, and Denton announced a significant capital investment in the community by Silicon Ranch Corporation, the U.S. solar platform for Shell and one of America’s largest independent solar power producers. The financial commitment exceeds $75 million and will fund two new solar plants in Hazlehurst and Snipesville.
Jeff Davis High sports teams won four Region 2-AA titles in the spring and seven teams earned berths in the state playoffs, with the boys and girls track teams almost assuredly bringing that total to nine at the sectional track meet. “That’s something to be very proud of, for sure,” Athletic Director Roger Metts said. “It’s a testament to the coaches and the time and effort they’ve put in, and to the kids for the time and effort they’ve put in, too.” May 8
At an April 30 called meeting, the Jeff Davis County Board of Education made it official, unanimously approving Chris Roppe as the new School Superintendent to replace retiring Superintendent Dr. Stan Rentz.
Jeff Davis High’s Keiana Littleton was one of 10 girls who qualified in sectionals for Class AA State Track Meet in Rome. Nine Jacket boys also qualified.
Jeff Davis High’s baseball team was stretched to the limit by Fitzgerald in the second round of the state baseball playoffs and earned a berth to the quarterfinals against Chattanooga.
Eric Griffin announced his candidacy for Mayor of Hazlehurst in the Nov. 5, 2019, city election. May 15
John Bloodworth announced his intention to see re-election to the Hazlehurst City Council’s Ward 4 commission seat.
Hazlehurst Mayor Bayne Stone announced his intention for reelection. Jeff Davis Sheriff Preston Bohannon has announced that 16 drug-related arrests were made as a result of drug investigations, intense drug suppression efforts by investigators and deputies.
May 22
Karli Paige Williams was the Valedictorian and Allison Michelle Herrington the Salutatorian of the JDHS Class of 2019.
Hazlehurst Police Officer Macy Deen assisted in an emergency baby delivery in Hazlehurst.
David Miller, an Army veteran and owner of Because He Lives Ministries, was named the keynote speaker for the Memorial Day Ceremony.
The ACLU of Georgia sent a letter asking the Jeff Davis County Board of Elections to reopen a polling location in the Hazlehurst Precinct, a predominantly black precinct.
May 29
Jeff Davis High rode the 4-hit, shutout pitching of Garrison Miles to its second Class AA State Championship in three years with a 2-0 win over Rockmart High School at Luther Williams Field in Macon.
A Vancouver based family investment group acquired all controlling interests in the European operations of Propex Operating Company, LLC, and renamed the company Propex Furnishing Solutions.”
Keiana Littleton signed a scholarship to run track at Voorhies College in Denmark, S.C.
Kayla Diaz signed a scholarship to play soccer at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.
June 5
An unusually dry month in May left Jeff Davis County’s landscape exceedingly dry and prone to fires. The Hazlehurst and Jeff Davis County Fire Departments, and the Jeff Davis County Forestry Unit verified that fact as they joined forces to combat 17 fires in a week, mostly brush fires.
The Jeff Davis County Commission took over control of the Jeff Davis Fairgrounds from the Jeff Davis Fair Association. McLendon Enterprises Inc. announced it would close US 23/State Route (SR) 19/ Hollingsworth Boulevard to thru-traffic, allowing construction of an overpass bridge over the existing Norfolk-Southern Railroad Crossing in Jeff Davis County. Rickey Phillips announced he would seek the office of Hazlehurst Ward 4 City Council in the November election. Jeff Davis play-by-play announcer Jim Sewell received the Georgia Dugout Club’s Outstanding Broadcaster Award for his 14 years of announcing Jeff Davis High School baseball games.
Georgia Dugout Preview Magazine named Jeff Davis High Head Coach Paul Glass and junior shortstop Britt Metts as the Class 2A Coach of the Year and Player of the Year after the Yellow Jackets won the 2019 Class 2A Baseball Championship. Metts, junior catcher Colby Marchant and junior outfielder/pitcher Caleb Leggett were named to the Georgia Dugout Preview Class AA First Team All State. Junior pitcher/second baseman Garrison Miles drew an Honorable Mention All State honor.
June 12
Jeff Davis High School’s football program planned the 2nd Annual Legends Gala. Names to be added to the Jeff Davis High School Football Hall of Fame were 1950-60s – E.M. Wilkes III; 1970s — Bobby Varnadoe; 1980s — Connell Swain; 1990s — Mondrae Chambers; 2000s — L.J. Stegall; and Supporter — Claude Cook. The Rev. Allen Hartsfield was appointed pastor of Hazlehurst First United Methodist Church by Bishop Robert Lawson Bryan.
June 19
Two escaped inmates weree recaptured after they assaulted two jailers and took off. Officers quickly captured one of them, but the second inmate was missing overnight. The inmates, identified as Christopher Thomas Hatton and Joshua Eason, overpowered the jailers when the jailer unlocked a door. One of the the jailers had to be hospitalized overnight in Savannah.
Nathan “Nate” Jared Saunders, 10 years old, attended the Junior Beta Convention in Oklahoma City, Okla., where he won the Elementary Beta National Championship in 4th Grade Science.
In their March, 2019, meeting the Jeff Davis County Commissioners adopted a Code of Conduct for themselves and those attending meetings. A new code of conduct was implemented for the first time in the County Commissioners’ June regular meeting.
Dr. Angela Battle announced plans to leave her Hazlehurst Pediatrics effective July 1 after 12 years of service in Hazlehurst.
The 1890s Homestead at the Jeff Davis Fairgrounds was a topic of conversation at a Jeff Davis County Commission meeting as Rory Chaney of Hazlehurst and Carla Chaney of Douglas expressed their desires to have the facility restored and moved to Towns Bluff Park.
June 26 During a workshop of the Hazlehurst City Council, Police Chief Ken Williams explained that he had spoken with Blue Line Solutions of Chattanooga to place photo speed enforcements in the school zones.
Googes’ was named the first Chamber Small Business of the Quarter sponsored by Renasant Bank.
The city-owned Twisted Pine Golf Course was on the city’s agenda myriad times since the city took over the course from the county several years ago, primarily because it continually loses money — $100,000 a year.
July 2
At a called City Council meeting, Mayor Bayne Stone wanted to talk about the city’s audit but Council Members Eric Griffin and John Ramay pointed out that, at a called meeting, the subject matter had to stick with the agenda announced to the public before the meeting. To not do so would be a violation of the open meetings law.
Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) was named to the University of Georgia’s “40 Under 40” Class of 2019 by the UGA Alumni Association.
July 10
The Jeff Davis Recreation Department’s 14 and under boys baseball team captured the 2019 Georgia Recreation and Parks Association State Championship. Members of the team were Tucker Rigdon, Holden Ellis, Sammy Barragan, Jude Worthington, Ethan Picanso, Kamden Munsayac, Gage Folk, Payton Disharoon, Carter Mullis, Cason Clance, Alex Mason, Tre Rea, and Coaches Justin Beecher and Sammy Beecher.
The overpass construction on Larry Contos Blvd., aka The Bypass, was affecting traffic all over Hazlehurst. With the bypass closed to through traffic, vehicles have been rerouted to Cromartie and Tallahassee streets for north-south traffic. And Jefferson and Jarman street traffic increased significantly also as motorists follow the detours to get through Hazlehurst.
A call from a citizen with loved ones buried at the City of Hazlehurst’s cemetery on the Lumber City Highway spurred the Ledger to take a trip to the cemetery to see for ourselves. The cemetery needed work …. lots of it.
July 17
Jeff Davis County native Kolby Brown and his Lumber City Drug Store co-worker Denise Summerlin went through a harrowing experience as Brown’s store was robbed at gunpoint of money and drugs, primarily opioids.
Jeff Davis County was a community in mourning following the tragic vehicle accident that took the life of Jeff Davis High rising senior Jordan Christopher Bavaro.
The cooling system at the Jeff Davis County Courthouse had been a headache for the County Commission for some time as the antiquated cooling tower had intermittent problems for years. Those problems came to a head and, as a result, the courthouse had been without a cooling system for weeks. Court sessions had been cancelled and employees worked in uncomfortably warm offices.
The Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (GACCE) announced Andrea Taylor of Hazlehurst was among their newest Georgia Certified Chamber Executives at the 2019 Executive Leadership Conference held at the Jekyll Island Club Resort in Jekyll Island.
July 24
The City Council had its hands full as they discussed myriad issues relating to Hazlehurst Water World, the city’s public splash pad. Mayor Bayne Stone and each council member had received a letter from an unnamed local resident who complained of, among other things, children fighting, pushing and hurting one another. More recently, other patrons have complained of overflowing trashcans and garbage thrown on the ground instead of in the trashcans.
Over the past few months, City of Hazlehurst water customers had been experiencing periodic problems with discolored water. Water Treatment Superintendent O.P. Hall said the city and state agencies had been working to determine the cause of the problem and develop ways to alleviate it.
The Jeff Davis Midget girls won the 2019 GRPA state championship, the group’s sixth straight state title. Team members were Bentlee Metts, Maggie Spell, Jenna Miles, Laniyah Vann, Laisha Hernandez, Payton Thigpen, Kelsey Parlor, Analese Poole, Kalleigh Sellers and Ella Wood. Coaches were Herk Miles and Tracy Rowell.
July 31
With Hazlehurst Mayor Bayne Stone overseeing the work, Hazlehurst’s landmark oak tree was trimmed of its limbs that stretched over Coffee Street at its intersection with Miller Street.
Former Hazlehurst resident and Jeff Davis High graduate Joseph Handsome received his air worthiness certificate from the FAA for his amateur built airplane he built in his garage in Charlotte, N.C.
The All Star Weekend was another successful annual event for the 15th year.
August 7
The Trump administration made payments to 43 farming operations in Jeff Davis County to offset farm losses due to President Donald Trump’s tariff war with China.
Attorney General Chris Carr warned Georgians about the con known as “spoofing.”
The Jeff Davis High softball and cross country teams were set to open their 2019 seasons.
August 14
Diane Bass Leggett and Johnny Miles announced they would be candidates for the Ward 3 post on the Hazlehurst City Council.
Jeff Davis County Schools Director of Technology Kelly McLoon and Instructional Technology Specialist Tammy Girtman gave the school board updates on three areas of new technology.
The March Term, 2019, Jeff Davis County Grand Jury returned 7-count indictments against Robert Benjamin Brown and Brandon Dante Hardaman for the 2014 shooting death of Mondra Chambers and his mother Mary Chambers in Hazlehurst.
Workers began installation of the new traffic lights at the intersection of Coffee Street and Miller Street next to Dairy Queen in Hazlehurst.
August 21 Among the highlights of a city council work session, Fire Chief Charles Wasdin presided over a pinning ceremony in which Fire Department Captains Dustin Hutto and Martin Lewis were both promoted to deputy chief.
Makinzee Ashmore, an 11-year-old sixth grade member of the Jeff Davis Middle School softball team, threw out the first pitch at the first Lady Jacket varsity home game of the season
The Yellow Jacket football team opened its preseason with a scrimmage against Appling County.
August 28
Qualifying to run for mayor were incumbent Bayne Stone and Ward 3 Commissioner Eric Griffin. Qualifying for Griffin’s spot on the council, were Diane Leggett and Johnny Miles. And qualifying for the Ward 4 position were incumbent John Bloodworth and challenger Rickey Phillips. The Georgia State Election Board voted unanimously to bind the 2015 City of Hazlehurst vote-buying case to the Georgia Attorney General’s office for investigation. The case involved the November, 2015, Hazlehurst mayoral contest between incumbent Mayor Jack Cole and former Mayor Bayne Stone.
Team Captain Bradley Owens carried the No. 58 jersey of the late Jordan Bavaro to the coin toss in Friday’s Jeff Davis football opener. Bavaro, who would have been a senior on the team, died during the summer in a car accident. Other captains were Britt Metts, Christian Ray and Cedric King.
September 4
JD Forward Leadership Academy graduates were Matt King, Daniel Alejo, Noemi Garcia, Rory Chaney, Doug Alexander, Cody White, Mike Coleman, Kayla Herndon, Eric Smith and Jim Moore.
Jeff Davis County Workforce Development Board Members Keith Carter, Ashley McPherson Googe, Ramona Thurman, and Dr. Hank Hobbs, attended the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Workforce Development Board Training Retreat. Fram began to experience engineering issues soon after they began the processing of pellets in 2013 at the Hazlehurst plant. Fram Renewable Fuels concluded its agreement with Astec Industries to spend over $40 million on upgrade of its Hazlehurst Wood Pellets plant.
September 11
The months-long saga of running larger water lines to Beasley Forest Products on U.S. Highway 221 once again took center stage at a city council meeting.
The Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis community welcomed Dr. Anand Dave as the community’s newest physician at the Jeff Davis Wound Care Clinic.
Dr. Kirk Munsayac attended the Board of Education meeting and rekindled an old concern among the medical community about parents sending sick children to school, leading to the spread of the illnesses among other children.
Hazlehurst Police Chief Ken Williams said doctors expect the victim in a Wednesday morning shooting in Hazlehurst to make a complete recovery. September 18
Kurt Davis, Vice President and COO of Beasley Timber, was sworn in Aug. 15 as a new board member of Coastal Pines Technical College.
A Jeff Davis County jury found Christopher Trai McCall of Hazlehurst guilty of violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, sale of methamphetamine, in a Sept. 9 trial at the Jeff Davis County Courthouse. September 25
The Hazlehurst City Council heard from Lois Hutchinson, the daughter of the late Louise Baisden, who is buried at Hazlehurst Memorial Cemetery, who asked that the council uphold the contract she and other grave site owners signed or do away with it.
Homecoming Queen candidates were Lori Ann Breedlove, Dafne Valdelamar, Maci Kight, Hannah Dubberly, Lindezy Rowland, Cherie Simmons and Taylor Walsh.
A good crowd was on hand for the Teen Maze program held at Jeff Davis Middle School.
October 2
Taylor Walsh was crowned the 2019 JDHS Homecoming Queen. Cheri Simmons was first runnerup for the honor and Maci Kight was second runnerup.
The county commission agreed to help the City of Hazlehurst finance the expansion of water lines to Beasley Forest Products
The spotlight of a meeting at Twisted Pine Golf Course was on education. Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the meeting was well attended as the crowd enjoyed lunch, presentations by Jeff Davis School Superintendent Chris Roppe, Joint Development Authority Executive Director Andrea Taylor, Regional Workforce Development Director Keith Dixon and Coastal Pines Technical College President Dr. Glenn Deibert.
The entire state had been suffering drought problems of various degrees, especially in north Georgia. But, as a view from the Uvalda Bridge north of Hazlehurst, the Altamaha River is vivid evidence that the lack of rainfall is having a serious effect on south Georgia as well.
October 9
Chad Hofstadter of Hofstadter and Associates engineering fund in Macon detailed to the county commission the road improvement work that had been done in the county over the past five years, a total of 73.32 miles of resurfacing.
The Jeff Davis County Board of Elections proposed to reopen the former polling site for the Ocmulgee II Precinct, located at the Jeff Davis County Fire Station on Kirkland Still Road. Jeff Davis High’s softball team swept Screven County 9-1 and 8-0 to advance to the second round of the GHSA State Softball Tournament. October 16
The Jeff Davis County Commission made two major decisions toward unifying the efforts of the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Chamber of Commerce and the Jeff Davis County Board of Tourism. They gave permission to move the chamber and development authority offices into the county owned Big House along with the tourism office and agreed to split the proceeds from the 5% hotel/motel tax, giving 3% to tourism and 2% to the chamber.
The Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Chamber of Commerce and the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center planned to host a Lunch & Learn dedicated to the topic of Time Management.
October 23
The continuing drama of the City’s project to build a new waterline to Beasley Forest Products took yet another odd twist at the monthly meeting of the Hazlehurst City Council. The newest wrinkle came when Commission Eric Griffin said he had noticed 12-inch pipe at the City’s wastewater treatment plant, the same size pipe with which the new waterline was being built. Mayor Bayne Stone had awarded the work to J. Hiers Company of Baxley without the approval of the council.
Eighty-eight-year-old William Pierce Jr. was still in prison after being convicted in 1971 of the murder of Mrs. Homer (Helen) Hutchinson Wilcox of Jeff Davis County.
The Jeff Davis Board of Health was awarded a one million dollar grant to be dispersed over the next three years. The goal of the grant was to kickstart a strategic plan for prevention, recovery and treatment of those affected by substance use/opioid use disorder.
Jeff Davis High’s softball team was headed to the Elite Eight state softball finals in Columbus.
October 30
The City of Hazlehurst’s annual audit, prepared by Henderson and Godbee, LLP, Certified Public Accountants of Valdosta, revealed that while expenditures were budgeted to be $3,238,000, the actual expenditures were $4,010,000. Two things jumped out at the auditors: excessive cost overruns in the airport expansion project and high capital projects costs.
Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan appointed Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) to serve as a member of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority Overview Committee.
Jeff Davis High’s girls cross country team won its fourth straight Region 2-AA championship as sophomore Zoie Marchant won her second straight region individual championship.
November 6
In a light voter turnout, Bayne Stone was reelected Mayor of Hazlehurst over challenger Eric Griffin by a 305-208 vote. In the Ward 3 Commissioner race, Diane Leggett outpolled Johnny Miles 69-51 and in the Ward 4 Commissioner race, incumbent John Bloodworth defeated challenger Rickey Phillips 100-51. Only 517 of the registered voters in the city cast ballots, which was 23.52% of the registered voters.
A spot in the Georgia High School State Football Playoffs was on the line for Jeff Davis High in Metter where the Yellow Jackets were to take on the Tigers. The Yellow Jackets were 7-2 and shocked area football fans with a 21-14 win over Swainsboro the previous week.
Rains fell heavily for a few minutes during the Boo Bash in downtown Hazlehurst. But it didn’t stop the children from collecting candy and enjoying the festivities. And it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of those that enjoyed the evening of family fun.
November 13
Much of the Board of Education meeting was spent hearing an update on the School Nutrition Program by Director Janice Conley.
Senior running back Jashaun Kirby was named the 912 Sports Player of the Week for his performance against Swainsboro. The weather was perfect for the annual Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by the Jeff Davis County Veterans Association. The event focused on women veterans and Debra O’Neal, a U.S. Navy veteran who is an officer with the Georgia Department of Veteran Services office in Lyons, was the keynote speaker.
November 20
The Jeff Davis County Grand Jury indicted Manuel Gonzalez on a charge of homicide by vehicle in the first degree in connection with the Nov. 24, 2018, death of Willie Bratcher of Hazlehurst. A large group of students, family, coaches, fans and well-wishers assembled in the Jeff Davis High School auditorium to watch four players sign to play collegiate sports next year. Lexie Crosby signed to swim at Berry College in Rome, Ga.; Ja’Quez Kirby will play basketball next year at Murray State in Murray, Ky.; Caleb Leggett and Britt Metts will play baseball at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla.
The National Council for Agricultural Education named former JDHS ag teacher Dr. James Woodard the Director of Agricultural Education, FFA Board Chair and National FFA Advisor.
Commissioners Brad Crews and Hank Hobbs saw it coming. At the October meeting of the Jeff Davis County Board of Commissioners, Crews and Hobbs had reservations about granting pay increases for the Tax Assessors Office employees, pointing out that no other county employees had gotten pay increases, except the road department which had been promised a pay raise the previous year. Crews’ and Hobbs’ reservations proved prophetic as, at the November meeting, Clerk of Court Julie Wilkinson came before the board and asked that her department’s budget be amended to add $10,000 to increase the pay of her deputy clerks.
November 26
Henry Grant Gainer, Chairman of the Joint Development Authority of Jeff Davis County, Hazlehurst, and Denton, was named the 2019 Volunteer of the Year by the Georgia Economic Developers Association.
Beasley Flooring Products and Mohawk Industries entered into a letter of intent pursuant to which Beasley Flooring will purchase the Melbourne, Ark., flooring manufacturing operations of Mohawk Industries.
The Hazlehurst City Council denied a request to allow mobile homes to be placed on Jefferson Street within city limits.
Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) announced the City of Hazlehurst has been awarded a contract to fund the remarking, crack seal and overlay of Hazlehurst Airport’s runway as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 Airport Aid Program. The contract award is worth over $94,000.
December 4
The Jeff Davis High School Wrestling Team hosted the 13th Annual Yellow Jacket Duals where 32 varsity teams competed, making it the largest tournament to date for the JDHS wrestling program as well as making the tournament one of the largest dual tournaments in the state.
Workers had made a lot of progress on construction of Hazlehurst’s new overpass on Larry Contos Blvd., known as the bypass. But there is still a lot of work yet to be done. Work on the $6.35 million project began in June and the estimated time of completion is July or August, 2020.
December 11
Ricky Ursrey, longtime employee of Satilla Rural Electric Membership Corporation, was named the Grand Marshal for the 2019 Chamber Christmas Parade.
Nathan “Nate” Jared Saunders did it again! Nate, the reigning State and National Champion in Elementary Beta 4th Grade Science, returned to Savannah Dec. 3 and won State Champion again for 5th Grade Science.
The City of Hazlehurst was one of six organizations awarded grants by the U.S. Department of Justice to fund a broad variety of crime-fighting initiatives.
Jeff Davis Sheriff Preston Bohannon announced that 12 drug-related arrests were made in Jeff Davis County.
December 18
Thousands of people enjoyed Hazlehurst Main Street’s Hazlehurst Hallmark Christmas and the the Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade.
The Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Chamber of Commerce was seeking nominees for its annual awards for small business, industry, citizen or entrepreneur.
December 23
The Hazlehurst City Council bid farewell to Ward 3 Councilman Eric Griffin, who served in the elected post for the past 8 years.

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