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Highs, lows shape 2012 in Bryan Co.
Pembroke Mayor Mary Warnell talks with former Mayor Judy Cook after being sworn-in at the beginning of 2012. - photo by File photo

Our look back on 2012 in Bryan County continues as we review stories filled with happiness, celebration, heartbreak, tragedy and more. But whether good or bad, the community rallied together to show its true caring colors.
This is the second in a multi-part look back at the year we’re leaving behind. Stories are listed in no particular order.

Beasley/Newman family fire
The Ellabell community was rocked in early November when a house fire claimed the lives of two young children and severely injured the three family members that survived.
Gavin Dale Newman, 3, and his brother, Randal “Ivan” Newman III, 4, were killed in the Nov. 9 fire, while their mother, Crystal Beasley, 23, father, Randal Newman Jr., 33, and brother, Aden Wells, 6, suffered heavy smoke inhalation and burns.
The state fire marshal ruled that day the blaze was accidental.
“The investigation revealed the fire originated in the living room area of the home and was caused by an electrical space heater being placed too close to combustible materials,” the release stated.
The family’s story reached farther than Ellabell in the days and weeks following the tragedy. Many residents banded together to host a fundraiser to help the family with funeral costs for the two boys, as well as helping the family get back on their feet.
Celeste Morris organized within a matter of days a fundraiser in Pembroke for the family that helped raise more than $3,000. Morris, who did not know the family, said she received calls not just from surrounding towns like Bloomingdale and Rincon, but also from other states, including Illinois, Texas and Florida. Morris said she even received a call from someone in Australia who offered to help.
Memorial funds were also established for the family, and the Richmond Hill-based Galbreath and Sons also pledged to help by raffling off a brand new heating and air-conditioning system.
“It’s just one of those things, it was working on my dad’s heart,” Steven Galbreath said of his father, the company’s owner. “Seeing those two kids lost in a fire was pretty rough, so my dad wanted to do something.”

Pembroke’s new mayor
January 2012 brought a new face to the top post in the city of Pembroke for the first time in 12 years when Mary Warnell was sworn in as the second female mayor for the city after former Mayor Judy Cook stepped down in retirement.
Cook served the city as mayor for more than a decade but began working for the city in the mid 1970s. She began her career in government in the city clerk’s office then, and eventually took over as the city clerk until 1994, when she retired.
Warnell took over the reins and has since enjoyed her time in office. In February, she said, “Working with the people here in Pembroke has been exciting, with the staff here. I’ve enjoyed this and I’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time. I hope they see I’m interested in what they’re doing and in their work.”
Warnell said in a letter to the city residents in December she is excited about 2013, and looks forward to continuing her service as mayor.

Read more in the Jan. 2 edition of the News.

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