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Join us in reflecting on stories of 2009
Year in review
1225 year in review
Allen Singer came from New York to surprise his son, Spc. Matthew Singer, who was among the last of the 4th BCT soldiers to return from Iraq. Seventy-seven soldiers were welcomed home in January during a ceremony at Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field. - photo by Courier file photo
As 2009 comes to a close, the Courier put together a year in review through front page stories. The dates listed are the date the Courier printed the stories, not the date on which the events occurred. The following is a review of January and February news stories.

Jan. 2
The slow economy did not slow work of developers. Construction continued despite economic woes and developer Matt Sigman said that a slow economic environment often proves the opportune time for development.
“If you can do it, right now land is cheap, construction is cheap, material cost is cheap,” Sigman said.

Jan. 4

After serving 14 months in Iraq, the last of Fort Stewart’s 4th Brigade Combat Team returned. Thirty days ahead of schedule, their return was a pleasant surprise to many. The final 77 soldiers of 4th Brigade were welcomed at Cottrell Field by the division’s commander, Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo.
“Tonight, all you need to know is that these folks behind me are incredibly proud of you and the job you have done,” said Cucolo

Jan. 7
Liberty County launched its rehabilitation program as an alternative to jail for drug offenders, said Atlantic Superior Judge Jay Stewart. If pleading guilty for drug-related charges, the program would provide support group access and drug counseling, plus the option for vocational training.

Jan. 9
Local shrimpers struggled in hard economic times. Fluctuating gas prices and tough import competition made for a rough previous year for anyone in the shrimp business.
“People just aren’t spending money like they used to,” said seafood vendor, Joey Lawler.

Jan. 11
As lawmakers prepared for the 2009 General Assembly, they faced many of the same issues they face each year; education, healthcare, traffic. What was different about this assembly was the struggling economy. Sen. Eric Johnson said people on the coast were feeling the hit more than those in the Atlanta area.

Jan. 14
Flora Troha, who may have been Liberty County’s oldest resident died at age 106. Troha was, to those who knew her, a loving, generous, godly woman. The mother of 11 children, 10 boys and one girl, family members said she loved them all the same.

Jan. 21

Barak Obama became the 44th president of the United States. Members of one Liberty County family were so excited they traveled to Washington, D.C., to see the inauguration in person.
“You’ll really feel the effect 20-30 years down the road, the aftermath,” said Renee Charlton Brown, who brought her two children along to witness the historic event. “The older they get the more they’ll appreciate the experience.”

Jan. 23
Liberty County experienced rapidly changing temperatures, varying from sub-freezing to 60 degrees in one day. Pam Knox, the assistant state climatologist, said it was just that kind of year, but blamed the temperature changes on an air current coming from the south.

Jan. 25
Held at gun point, two men and a woman from the Rye Patch area of Long county were assaulted, then robbed by four people. Kyle Jene Segwick, 19, Jessica Chisholm, 18, Matthew Blake McMillian, 26, and a 16-year-old boy were charged for the crime.

Jan. 28
Midway Middle School established its new resource officer, making it the last of all Liberty County middle and high schools to do so. Liberty County Sheriff Office Cpl. Gary Richardson was named school resource officer after training and planning, on the parts of LCSO and Midway Middle School.
“One thing I want people to understand is that this is already a great school,” Richardson said. “We are being proactive to ensure it stays that way.”

Wild hogs were becoming an issue for the Liberty county Development Authority. Citing extensive field and road damage, regional supervisor for game management for the department of Natural Resources office in Brunswick David Mixon said the hogs were a real problem. Authority members were considering opening the 3,590 acres of Tradeport West to hog hunting, in hopes of reducing the risk.

Jan. 30
Fort Stewart officers and non-commissioned officers gathered to say farewell to Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane, one of the 3rd Infantry Division’s long-time leaders.
“More than 50,000 soldiers have passed [through this division] that you have mentored,” said 2nd Brigade Col. Charles Sexton to Sgt. Maj. Berhane, “and more than 150,000 family members have been touched by your care. I will truly miss you.”

Feb. 1
The NAACP pushed for former Liberty Count Tax Commissioner Carolyn Brown’s parole as she served her 30-year sentence for racketeering and two counts of theft by conversion.
“We believe that when the U.S. Justice Department investigates the case, it will reflect there is a truly criminal spirit in Liberty County,” said Edward Dubose, NAACP state conference president.

For the first time in seven years, Fort Stewart held the Expert Infantry Badge Competition. Approximately 250 soldiers were estimated to compete for the EIB, and Spc. Nicholas Edwards expected that around 50 percent would actually earn badges. According to Sgt. First Class Terry Upchurch, many units could not properly execute an EIB during the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which explains the seven year gap.

Feb. 6

Three people were injured in a Ludowici fire that apparently was started by a space heater. Victims Lucy DeLoach, her granddaughter Nicole DeLoach and her nephew Janante Champman, were identified by Glenn Allen, spokesman for the Georgia state Fire Commissioner. Firefighters responded at 1 a.m. and arrived to see a mobile home engulfed in flames. The woman sustained burns on 20 percent of her body and was listed as serious condition. Her granddaughter received minor burns, and her nephew cut his arm while breaking out of a window.

Staff and volunteers at the Liberty Humane Shelter organized the first Redneck Polar Bear Plunge. Participants could donate to slide into the icy water or decline the plunge and donate anyway. The event raised $700 for the shelter, according to shelter president, Sandra Fye.

Feb. 11
Gov. Sonny Perdue awarded Liberty County only $91, 753 for construction projects from the annual School Construction Bond Package, which topped $318 million. Upcoming plans for Liberty County schools, including a new middle school with costs of more than $30 million by itself, state funds fell short.

Feb. 13

Daytime burglaries, like the one experienced by Crystal Vasquez, where belongings ranging from a widescreen TV to vegetable oil were stolen from her home, were happening frequently. According to Liberty County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Keith Moran, these daytime burglary numbers were high.

Feb. 25
The Liberty county Board of Education was questioned by the county grand jury about its spending habits. The concern was based on a lack of progress, despite a large amount of spending.
“We started thinking, why are they spending so much and taking so long,” Terry Satterfield, grand jury foreman, said.

Feb. 27
Liberty County gun sales and applications for licenses jumped at the start of 2009. Thirty-one people applied for licenses in January 2008. In January 2009, that number more than tripled, to 102. Some suspect the increase in gun sales is due to the rise in burglaries.
“I know we sold guns to at least five people on Saturday who had been broken into,” said Trey Dixon or Mission Essentials. “A gun isn’t the definite answer, but it’s always good to have for protection.”

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