As 2009 comes to a close, the Courier put together the year in review through front page stories from 2009 newspapers. 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 May and June news stories.
Fort Stewart welcomed the first of 12,000 soldiers from 41st Brigade Combat Team of the
Oregon National Guard. Members of the 188th Infantry BCT trained the soldiers in preparation for a summer deployment to Iraq.
Fort Stewart received the Army Community Excellence Award. City officials are inviting Army officials and representatives from surrounding cities for a steak-dinner reception, in celebration of Fort Stewart’s success.
“This is the fourth time they received the award, but not in a row,” said Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas. “They received it three years in a row and then had to wait until they were eligible again [installations can only win three years in a row]. The first time they were eligible again, they got it.”
Volunteers from Liberty County raised $142,000 in the Liberty Relay for Life event.
“This is my brother, this one is my sister, this one for my granddaddy … and this one is my husband,” said Diane Cooke, pointing to her assortment of badges. “I lost them all to cancer.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke at a public forum in Ludowici, warning that oil prices were going to go back up in price.
“And they’re going to go up dramatically,” Vilsack said.
The Liberty County Consolidated Planning Commission unanimously recommended rezoning more than 10,000 acres of unincorporated Liberty County for mixed-use development. Plans to create up 7,800 residential units, along with commercial and industrial units, south of Riceboro’s Retreat Road were agreed upon by Plum Creek, which requested the rezoning.
Budget cuts coming from the state forced the DNR to reduce the hours at Fort Morris Historic Site in Sunbury, along with many others. The 39 percent reduction in state funds resulted in a short week schedule at Fort Morris.
“Starting July 1, our site will only be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” John Reed, a ranger at Fort Morris said.
The Department of Defense formally announced that fifth brigade combat team would not be coming to Fort Stewart. After planning and promises in Hinesville and Liberty County, many were disappointed.
“We are highly disappointed that we are not getting the brigade, based on the fact of the private investments that the community has made to get that brigade here,” Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said.
The 10,000 acre rezoning project for development in Riceboro was tabled after Hampton Island Preserve manager Ron Leventhal vowed a lawsuit. Leventhal manages a $200 million development that neighbors where the proposed new development would go.
“We believe it’s a taking. It undermines our values,” Leventhal said.
Hinesville committed to paying for a fourth of the total costs to build and maintain the new Armstrong Atlantic State University Liberty Center. City Manager Billy Edwards said that the exact amount the city would pay was still undetermined, but would range from $160,000-$200,000 per year.
Criterion-referenced competency test scores were up for Liberty County schools.
“CRCT test scores Liberty County elementary and middle school students improved in 30 of 31 grade level comparison areas from spring 2008 to spring 2009 with one slight decrease in sixth grade reading,” said Sandy Jones, director of curriculum and professional learning for the Liberty County school system.
The progress for the middle school on post continued as planned, despite the news that a fifth brigade would no longer be coming to Fort Stewart.
“There’s going to be an inevitable increase in Liberty County,” Dave Smith, Fort Stewart liaison to the school system, said. “For Stewart is going to be growing… Close to 4,000 soldiers are coming in the next three years.”
Gov. Sunny Perdue spoke at Savannah Technical College as part of the Business and Housing Expo, one of many statewide visits to help restore confidence in Georgia’s economy.
“We can’t predict when this economic rainstorm is going to stop, but, folks, it’s time to get in ourselves and our communities and build that core structure,” Perdue said.
Hinesville added a $4 technology fee for citations. Breaking the law got even more expensive. The funds from this additional fee were to go toward an electronic filing system for city court.
The Armstrong Atlantic State University questioned if they could continue with a new campus project after Liberty County commissioners decided to pull its funding. Backing out of the partnership because they felt campus/library project was too costly and uncertain, county commissioners left AASU in a tough spot.
An additional station for emergency medical services was approved. The station, planned for Walthourville, would house another ambulance and make for faster response times in west Liberty County.
“I think the general feeling in the finance meeting was this is something good, something we need to do,” Hospital Authority Chairman John Long said. “It’s a matter of financing to fund it.”
A shooting, resulting in the death of David Anthony Jones Jr., 28, took place in Tapco Mobile Home Park. Police found Jones suffering from three gunshot wounds. Just over a week later, all suspects had been arrested.
Liberty County and Hinesville officials gathered to mourn the deaths of John “Jay” Smiley. Smiley, a deputy for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, who died unexpectedly from a heart attack, and Deputy John Glandon, who died the same week after a long battling cancer.
Todd Long, a Hinesville native, was appointed director of planning for the Georgia Department of Transportation by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
“Todd’s qualifications and knowledge of the DOT planning process make him the perfect candidate to take on this new role,” Perdue said.