As 2010 comes to a close, the Courier is taking a look back at this past year’s headlines. The dates listed are the dates on which the Courier published the stories, not when the events occurred. These following stories were splashed across the front page in April, May, June and July 2010.
• The Hinesville City Council, after properly advertising its intent to retake a vote on raising the mayor and council members’ salaries, voted to increase the salaries. District 5 council member Kenneth Shaw was the only council member to vote against the raises. (Editor’s note: After follow-up stories were printed in the Courier and increasingly vocal public opposition was heard, a vote was later
taken to decrease the amount of the raises.)
• Burglars stole decorated bras on display at the Mills House. The bras were part of a Team Suzie Q fundraiser for breast cancer. Team members planned to run in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Savannah on April 17.
• Erica Brennan was found guilty in the scalding death of her 8-year old stepdaughter Sarah Harris. Assistant District Attorney Presley Smith told jurors the scalding water burned 75-80 percent of the child’s body and later resulted in her death on July 15, 2007.The jury of seven women and five men took approximately two hours to deliver the verdict after two days of testimony. The defense said Brennan could not have scalded Harris without burning her hands and brought in witnesses to testify the hot-water heater in Brennan’s home was not working properly at the time. Brennan’s soldier husband formerly stationed at Fort Stewart was deployed to Iraq when the incident occurred.
• Two 3rd ID soldiers from Fort Stewart deployed to Iraq were killed when insurgents attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. The fallen soldiers, 1st Lt. Robert Collins, 24, of Tyrone, and Pfc. William Blount, 21, of Petal, Miss., were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
• The Hinesville City Council pledged to set aside 75 percent of any brigade remediation funds it received from the federal government to pay down the debt on its water reclamation facility. The facility was built to accommodate growth anticipated prior to the cancellation of an additional brigade at Fort Stewart. Hinesville applied for $28 million in remediation from the Office of Economic Adjustment.
• The U.S. Army dismissed for misconduct a soldier who allegedly threatened fellow troops through a rap song. Spc. Marc Hall avoided criminal charges and lost military benefits earned over his four years of service.
• A request to delay Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich’s court martial by almost a year was granted. Bozicevich was charged with two counts of pre-meditated murder in the deaths of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and Sgt. Wesley Durbin. All three were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID. Bozicevich allegedly shot his fellow troops on Sept. 14, 2008, while deployed to a base south of Baghdad, Iraq. The court martial will begin on Feb. 7, 2011.
• The city of Riceboro received a $7.4 million USDA rural development grant and loan to expand its wastewater treatment service to more than 200 residents formerly on septic.
• Sam Roberts, 88, was found dead in his Isle of Wight home after firefighters extinguished a structure fire that began just before 2 a.m. "When units from the Midway and Eastern District and Riceboro arrived, they encountered flames and heavy smoke coming from the home," said Liberty County Fire Coordinator James Ashdown.
• Representatives from 15 Liberty County governments, agencies and organizations gathered on Jekyll Island for a planning workshop, held annually. Officials presented updates on current projects and discussed goals for the decade.
• Community leaders from across Liberty County met for the yearly planning workshop on Jekyll Island. They focused on setting, prioritizing and identifying ways to accomplish goals for the next 10 years. The top four goals selected were water/sewer service, community improvement projects, economic development and quality growth.
• Last minute candidates for local and state races qualified for the general election before qualifying ended on April 30. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston ran against challenger Oscar Harris II of Screven. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson faced opponents R.J. Hadley and Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mike Thurmond. Republican State Sen. Buddy Carter ran against newcomer Carry Smith, a Democrat.
• Richard Geiger was sentenced to life plus five years after being found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime in the death of his girlfriend, Rosie Smith, on March 6, 2007.
• The Liberty County Development Authority received $823,000 in federal grant money from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help construct water and sewer lines, roadways and reclaimed water facilities to support Firth Rixson’s new 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at Tradeport East.
• Several high-ranking Iraqi officials toured Fort Stewart. Brig. Gen. Thomas Vandal, deputy commanding general-support, escorted his Iraqi and Kurdish counterparts who were eager to see U.S. soldiers in action on their home turf and learn more about American Army operations.
• Former Heisman trophy winner, University of Georgia and NFL football player Herschel Walker spoke about mental illness to a group of soldiers at Winn Army Community Hospital. Heisman frankly discussed his own mental illness and how he overcame dissociative identity disorder.
• Elvin Mosely, an Alzheimer’s patient who was missing for almost a week, was found dead in Ellabell. Shortly after one of Mosely’s sons found his father’s Toyota Highlander on a muddy road in North Bryan County, a search party discovered the body of 82-year-old Mosely.
A Walthourville home was fired on and a sleeping child was missed by inches. Liberty County Sheriff’s Det. Brian Barnes told the Courier the shooting happened just before 2 a.m. in the 100 block of Sabreena Circle. A mother and her two toddlers were asleep in the home when someone fired five times with a 9 mm automatic handgun, Barnes said.
• A local Hinesville man won $500,000 from an instant-win Monopoly ticket. Phillips Lambert bought the winning ticket at Clyde’s Market on the corner of Highway 84 and Airport Road. The 31-year old was a temporary civilian employee at Fort Stewart.
• Nearly 800 graduating seniors from Bradwell Institute, Liberty County High School and Long County High School received their diplomas during area commencements.
• A Liberty County worker was killed when a co-worker accidentally ran him over with a county dump truck at a construction site near the corner of Highway 84 and Fraser Drive in Hinesville. The lot was the site for a new Department of Family and Children Services building.
• The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs [VA] announced a lease was signed for a community outpatient clinic in Brunswick but that a proposed clinic to be located in Hinesville would be many months away.
• Liberty County Sheriff J. Don Martin dies surrounded by family and friends. Hospice was called in after Martin was diagnosed with sepsis. He was 70. Martin had sustained severe physical injuries from a wreck in December 2009.
• The late Don Martin’s wife, Polly Martin, is appointed interim sheriff by Liberty County Probate Judge Nancy Aspinwall. Polly Martin headed the sheriff’s department until a new sheriff was elected in November 2010.
• The Liberty County branch of the NAACP rallied on the steps of the Liberty County courthouse, asking the city of Hinesville to disband its Crime Suppression Unit based on allegations of racial profiling.
• Liberty County Chief Deputy Keith Moran announces his intent to run for sheriff in November’s special election. "I feel in my heart that Sheriff Martin would want me to continue [his] work," Moran told the Courier. "We had some additional works and projects that we wanted to complete."
Hinesville’s old city hall was demolished in preparation for a new building to be constructed on the site during the next 18 months. The new 48,000-square foot, three story city hall should be completed in November of December 2011, said Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards. The project, funded by SPLOST dollars and a loan, will cost about $7 million, Edwards said. Choate Construction of Savannah was hired to build the new city hall.
• Police search for a missing Hinesville woman. Savannah Smith, 22, was reported missing when she did not show for work at the Colleseum Sports Bar and Grill.
• Liberty County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Keith Moran withdraws his candidacy from the special election for sheriff. Moran commented he could better serve the public as chief deputy.
• Authorities would not release the identity of human remains found in west Liberty County. During the same time frame police in Atlanta arrested Liberty County man Maurice Newsome in connection to the disappearance of Savannah Smith.
• The son and grandson of former Liberty County sheriffs, Steve Sikes enters the race for Liberty County sheriff. Sike’s grandfather, Paul Sikes, became sheriff in 1937 and served for 22 years. His father, Robert "Bobby" Vernon Sikes was elected in 1960 and served for 28 years.
• A 1-year old Long County boy drowned in a bucket of water. Long County Sheriff’s Office Chief Investigator Nickey Anderson told the Courier Tymerious Shaw was pronounced dead after efforts to revive him failed.
• A Long County Sheriff’s Office deputy was arrested for allegedly setting fire to his own home. LCSO Deputy Robert Parker was charged with arson in the first degree, insurance fraud and violation of the oath of office.
• A Hinesville toddler, Dakarai Thompkins, 23 months old, was taken by Lifestar to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah after being struck by a hit-and-run driver. The child was hit by a vehicle allegedly driven by Dyshawn Davis, 19, of Hinesville. The little boy died less than three days later.
• Midway woman Faye Parr was robbed at gunpoint at a Heritage Bank ATM. The armed robbery was caught on the bank’s surveillance camera.
• Citing a lack of funds and an opportunity to re-evaluate its sustainability, portions of the LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation were closed.
• Officials identify human remains found near Juanita Road in Liberty County as that of missing Hinesville woman Savannah Smith. Smith, 22, previously had not been seen since June 8. Within a week of confirming the body as that of Smith, Smith’s boyfriend, Maurice Newsome, 21, was charged with murder in her death.
• A Hinesville man was killed in Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit. Staff Sgt. Sheldon Tate was assigned to the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
• Travis Williams was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, three counts of cruelty to children in the second degree and two counts of contributing to the deprivation of a child for his involvement in the September 2008 death of his 7-month-old daughter, Syikiria Williams, in Hinesville.
• A rodent infestation forces Liberty County Voter Registration and Manna House to leave their Commerce Street locations in downtown Hinesville to temporary locations on Memorial Drive.