This is the fifth installment in a multi-part series. It includes stories from the Bryan County News from Sept.-mid Oct. 2007.
Sept. 1- Bryan County’s SAT scores rank among the state’s best, according to data released by the College Board’s annual SAT report for 2007. Bryan County’s SAT scores for the period were in the top 15 percent in Georgia. Bryan County High School’s average SAT score was 1355; Richmond Hill High School’s average score was 1519.
- U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson announces the Bryan County Fire Department will receive $1 million in a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Bryan County Emergency Services Director Jim Anderson said the money will go toward a new radio system which will enable county firefighters to better communicate with public safety agencies from Effingham and Chatham counties.
- Bryan County Family Connection forms a group to seek $500,000 in federal grant money to combat underage alcohol and drug use.- Richmond Hill incumbent city councilmen Billy Albritton and Jimmy Hires, along with challengers Van Hunter, Marilyn Hodges, Kevin Artz and Darryl Peterman qualify for the race for a pair of city council seats. Pembroke incumbent council members Elijah Lewis Jr., Johnny Miller Sr., Ernest Hamilton and Joey Burnsed qualify along with mayor Judy Cook. Challengers Angela Reed, Tiffany McCoy Walraven, Tony Greeson and Douglas Kangeter also qualify to run for city council seats. The county is also set to vote on a special local option sales tax (SPLOST) for education.
September 5 – The Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper environmental group thinks something fishy is going on a ribbon of water near Mill Creek north of Pembroke and believes county officials should do a better job of protecting it. The county maintains the water is actually a manmade ditch and isn’t protected by buffers, and the Environmental Protection Division backs the county’s claim.
- Ellabell man Willie Bacon is arrested Sept. 1 for allegedly trying to point a gun at a Pembroke police officer during a fight.
- Heavy Labor Day weekend rains flood roads, low-lying areas. It also helps ease the county’s drought situation.
Sept. 8 – County commissioners wrangle with development issues during a meeting, and specifically expressed concern over three issues – including the planned annexation of 266 acres by Richmond Hill for a development that calls for 690 homes – or 2.6 homes per acre.
- County commissioners approve the FY 2008 budget. The $16.6 million budget includes a bump in the millage rate of half a mill and a $25 fire service tax increase, both measures aimed at making up a budget shortfall caused by the new homestead exemptions.
- Richmond Hill City Manager Mike Melton tells council members that not one home in the city flooded during the recent heavy rains.
- The band Midnight Clear begins making waves on CBS’s Early Show. The band is from Bloomingdale, but band member Brant French’s girlfriend Judith Mock lives in Ellabell.
Sept. 12 – Pembroke teen Tam Duc Le, 17, is charged with three counts of first degree vehicular homicide for the March deaths of Heather Arthur, 15, Melissa Arthur, 17, and Laura Cobb, 16. The three girls were the passengers in a car Le was driving on Hwy. 119 north of Bryan County High School, where all four teens attended school. Le reportedly lost control of his car, which crossed the center line and collided with a pickup. The driver of the pickup was treated and released the next day. The girls were killed. Le was seriously injured and spent five weeks in a coma after the crash.
- Tidal Construction Company, Inc. begins flying a huge flag over Richmond Hill.
- Pembroke’s new community center is starting to take shape, according to Clerk of Works Ricky McCoy.
Sept. 15 – The state Board of Education change the graduation rules for high school seniors. The changes include eliminating tiered diplomas and more focus on math, English, social studies and science classes.
- Le is released from Bryan County Jail after his mother posts a $91,400 bond.
- Plans for a possible bike and pedestrian trail are discussed at the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center meeting.
- It turns out Joey Burnsed, who was running for reelection as the third district councilman in Pembroke, no longer lives in his district after he moved a block over. Burnsed said he used the city’s map and thought he would stay in the same district when he moved. He is disqualified. Officials blame it on a glitch.
Sept. 19 – Army Maj. Dexter Brewer tells Richmond Hill Rotarians the war in Iraq is a "struggle of good versus evil." Brewer said he believes most Americans have no grasp on what is happening. "We’re not a nation at war. Only the military’s at war," he said. "Everybody’s just as interested in Hollywood and Disneyland. There’s no sacrifice."
- A committee is formed to study impact fees which could help offset the cost of future development on taxpayers. Committee members are appointed by county commissioners and includes developer Johnny Murphy; builder Fred Gassaway, heating and air conditioning contractor Jimmy McClelland; Pembroke Telephone Company’s Paul Boyette; retired timber businessman Carlton Gill and business owner Larry Garrett Sr.
- Sterling Links, a new golf course and part of Richmond Hill Plantation, is previewed. It will open in 2008, according to General Manager Clint Murphy.
- The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announces a proposed amendment to Georgia’s rules for water quality that would give the state power to change local water quality standards. The point is to help enhance existing water quality, prevent pollution and maintain or improve state waters, DNR said, noting it will also help protect public health and the conservation of fish and wildlife.
Sept. 22 – Richmond Hill officials hear from a consultant and architect regarding the proposed conference center in J.F. Gregory Park.
- The Bryan County News announces changes to the Community portion of its website geared to make it more user friendly and attractive.
- Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch tells local media the U.S. is winning the war in Iraq.
- Richmond Hill residents such as Mickey and Betsy Collins and their 4-year-old daughter Janie help bring attention to Downs Syndrome through the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Support Group, which meets every fourth Tuesday of the month at different locations in the area.
- The United Way holds its fundraising kickoff for North Bryan. It was the first official kickoff held in North Bryan.
Sept. 26 – The Georgia Municipal Association calls House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s GREAT proposal to end property taxes and replace them by ending sales tax exemptions the "not-so GREAT plan."
- Richmond Hill High student Emily Martin is reportedly in intensive care after a Sept. 22 crash in Savannah.
- Bryan County’s Comprehensive Plan takes another step closer to reality after finalizing a vision statement and starting their second meeting looking to create ways to deal with issues such as growth and development.
- The Pembroke Police Department received $4,000 in prize money at the Governor’s Challenge Awards ceremony in Atlanta after finishing first in police department’s their size. It’s the third year in a row PPD has finished first in the contest thanks to programs geared toward youth.
- Richmond Hill businesses band together to fight diabetes.
- Developer Johnny Murphy seeks rezoning of nearly 400 acres of land near the intersection of Hwy. 144 and Spur 144 for a mixed use development.
Sept. 29 – Local school officials join the GREAT tax debate by expressing their concern over Richardson’s House Resolution 900. GREAT stands for "Georgia Repealing Every Ad Valorem Tax." BoE Member Mary Warnell said the plan is changing too much and no one knows how local systems will be funded if they lose the power to tax.
- A threatened lawsuit against Richmond Hill by developer Ellis Skinner is apparently avoided after the two sides reach a comprise over a rezoning issue.
- Arts on the Coast celebrates its second anniversary. The group is looking toward a bright future, president Barbara Estes said.
Oct. 3 – A new Bryan County Middle School program hopes to promote and reinforce good behavior.
- The Bryan County Development Authority holds a daylong workshop in Richmond Hill to talk about priorities, goals and the latest tax digest.
- The Richmond Hill Garden Club’s annual Pumpkin Patch is set for Oct. 6. The club’s biggest fundraiser attracts thousands to J.F. Gregory Park.
- Richmond Hill Fire Chief Vernon Rushing said his department is staying busy and undergoing changes as the city grows.
- The Good Ol Boys still have room for hole sponsors with a month left before the annual Santa Scramble golf tournament to raise funds for the Bryan County Children’s Fund.
Oct. 6 The new Bryan County Recreation Department athletic fields get closer to completion, Rec Director Pratt Lockwood tells county commissioners.
- Richmond Hill resident Steve Croy is named Georgia’s finance chairman for presidential candidate Fred Thomson. John Reynolds and Jimmy Burnsed are the co-chairs.
Oct. 10 – SPLOST supporters explain why they think county voters should support another penny sales tax for education. "The main thing the community needs to know is that this is not a new tax, this is a continuation of the past SPLOST," said Wynell Purcell, the North Bryan Co-Chair of Bryan County Citizens for Education SPLOST Three.
- Authorities say a 48-year-old Midway man died after suffering an apparent heart attack while driving his truck south on Hwy. 17 in Bryan County on Oct. 9. The man’s name was not released Tuesday.
- Pembroke announces plans to bump up its millage rate by .929 mills to offset a budget shortfall caused by the new homestead exemptions.
- Grandmother Betty Braddy applauds the school system’s bus monitoring program, which has adults riding on buses to help make sure kids behave.
- Groveland residents David and Melissa Shuman are left homeless by an Oct. 8 fire.
- The Richmond Hill Garden Club’s annual Pumpkin Patch proves to be the biggest yet.
More in Wednesday’s Bryan County News.