The 108th Cavalry, the Calhoun-based Georgia National Guard unit, deployed to Afghanistan early in 2009.
As the unit prepared to leave Calhoun, First Sgt. David Green called out the names of the soldiers of Headquarters Troop of the 108th Cavalry and one by one, they answered.
The soldiers, standing in platoon formation in the Calhoun armory on the morning of March 3, answered Green’s roll call.
Some called out a crisp “Here, first sergeant!” Others answered, “Here, Top!” Still others shouted out “Elbow deep!”
After roll was taken Tuesday morning, the formation was dismissed and the soldiers joined their families for hugs and goodbyes before boarding two charter buses that would carry them to Camp Shelby, Miss., for one final month of training before deploying to Afghanistan.
The buses, escorted by Calhoun Police, Gordon County Sheriff’s deputies, local EMS personnel and a group of Patriot Guard riders, left the armory shortly after 8 a.m.
The unit trained in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana before leaving for its one-year deployment in Afghanistan, where its mission is to train Afghan military and security personnel.
The New Echota and Resaca Battlefield Overlay Districts drew mixed reactions from local resi-dents when the county held town hall meetings early this year.
Some said they did not want to be told what they could and could not do with property they own. Others voiced support for the proposal, which, if implemented, would hold some future development in the two areas to stricter standards.
Paige Hatley of Mactec, the consulting firm handling the proposals, explained during a Feb. 26 town hall meeting that an overlay district constitutes a special purpose zoning classification “but doesn't change” the base zoning of properties that fall within the New Echota and Resaca Battle-field areas.
The two proposed districts are part of the Gordon County Comprehensive Plan adopted in late 2007, she said. This is a 20-year plan designed to help guide growth and development throughout the county by recommending appropriate land use and development patterns.
The proximity of the two areas to the interstate, she said, could eventually lead to “development pressures.” She said having an overlay district in place will protect “gateways” like the Interstate 75 interchanges from “incompatible development,” and will help preserve the integrity of the nearby historic sites.
Commissioners voted May 19 to adopt the overlay districts.
Gordon County saw its share of flooding as 75.52 inches of rain fell in 2009, according to the National Weather Service.*
Among the more notable storms were the one that broke loose two planes at the airport and the one that some say produced funnel clouds.
A storm that blew through April 10 cut power in the city of Calhoun and in many residential areas throughout the county. Between 25 and 30 roads were closed due to storm damage, and some residents reported seeing funnel clouds.
Another powerful storm that hit Aug. 11 caused two planes, both Cessna 172s to break free of their moorings and collide with one another at Tom B. David Airport.
* This was the inch-count as of Dec. 30.
Servant. Leader. Passionate. Those were the themes of First Sgt. John Blair’s funeral July 1 at Trinity Baptist Church in Calhoun. Hundreds of family, friends, soldiers, airmen, deputies and law enforcement filled the sanctuary, balcony, and lobby to pay homage to a man described as a man passionate about his family, his friends, and his country. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart at the service.
Blair, a member of the 108th Cavalry, was killed in Afghanistan on June 20.
“He believed in leading by example, leading from the front and that’s how he died,” said Therrell Goswick, former Calhoun City Police Chief and retired Command Sergeant Major. His voice broke as he called Blair his “adopted son” and spoke about his work with the Georgia Army National Guard’s Counter Drug Unit.
The funeral procession went through downtown Calhoun where a giant American flag hung be-tween two fire trucks in front of the courthouse. People lined the street, hands over hearts as the funeral procession, more than a mile long, went by on its way to the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, where Blair was interred.
Seth Sharp, of Adairsville, was killed July 2 as the Marines began Operation Strike of the Sword, a push to take the Helmand Valley back from the Taliban. He was serving in Company E of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines.
Sharp joined the Marines at 17 and had previously served in Iraq. He was 20 when he was killed in Afghanistan, where he arrived only six weeks before his death, his uncle Shane Rogers said.
Sharp attended Adairsville High School where he played football, but left school early to join the Marines, his uncle said.
“Seth is in a better place now,” said State Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cartersville. “We are all the beneficiaries of his service.”
Sharp’s funeral took place July 11 at Northpoint Church in Adairsville.
Resaca police department disbanded
The Resaca City Council voted to close its police department and contract with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Department this year.
The debate caused Mayor Pro-Tem Jimmy Brown and councilman Al Rosier to boycott Resaca’s regular meetings for several months in protest. The two men refused to come to meeting from June until August. Rosier was not re-elected in November’s election.
The decision was made final Oct. 6 when the county board of commissioners accepted an agreement with Resaca that would allow the city to allow Resaca to have an officer from the sheriff’s office on patrol in the city from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days per week. By contracting with the sheriff’s department, the city was able to keep its SPLOST funding.
The department started in 2003.
Crime Resaca murder
A Gordon County man's step-daughter was charged in his death following a shooting March 23 in the Resaca community.
Archie Lynn DeFoor, 47, of 1071 Resaca-Nicklesville Road, was found dead of gunshot wounds after deputies responded to a 911 call from the residence, Sheriff Mitch Ralston said.
The girl's mother was treated and released from Gordon Hospital, according to Gordon County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Robert Paris.
Deputies questioned two other family members at the scene and found the weapon believed to have been used in the shooting during a search of the home.
After questioning the witnesses at the scene, detectives arrested DeFoor's step-daughter, Alison Mary Gresham, 16, and charged her with DeFoor's murder.
Calhoun Police arrested Kevin West, 44, of Gilmer County, in connection with the Nov. 2 robbery of Georgia Bank & Trust, 135 W.C. Bryant Parkway.
According to the Calhoun Police:
West was arrested by Calhoun Detectives assisted by the U.S. Marshal Southeastern Task Force, Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, and Dalton Police Department at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, near Dalton.
The investigation began after a white male (later identified as Kevin West) entered the bank around 3:55 p.m. Nov. 2, produced a handgun and demanded money.
The suspect left the bank on foot with an undisclosed amount of currency.
Detectives followed leads across several North Georgia counties over the next week before tracking and subsequently arresting West in Whitfield County.
West was charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Bobby Spears, 39, of 28 Melody Lane NW, Rome, was killed in a head-on collision that resulted in Spears being ejected from his vehicle during a police chase that started in Calhoun and ended in Ranger.
According to the Gordon County Sheriff's Office:
A Calhoun policeman attempted to stop a vehicle in the city around 5:30 p.m. Nov. 17, but the driver drove off, leading the officer on a chase through the city
The suspect subsequently left the roadway and drove across Fain Cemetery.
Deputy sheriffs and state troopers joined the pursuit as it headed eastward toward Ranger.
Spears ultimately drove his vehicle into the deputy's car and then lost control, crossing into the path of an oncoming truck and camper.
Residential property values generally increased throughout the county this year after McCormick and Associates completed its three-year 100 percent reevaluation of agricultural, commercial and residential properties.
Gordon County Commissioners heard from a large group of concerned taxpayers during several of their meetings.
About 60 property owners showed up at the Aug. 3 meeting hoping to talk to the commissioners about the adjusted property appraisals they recently received.
Most of the citizens in attendance were concerned the higher assessments they received as a result of the recently-completed county-wide 100 percent reevaluation would mean higher property taxes.
County officials secured several extension deadlines, but did not submit a digest to the state until Dec. 10 because of the large number of tax appeals.
According to Chief Tax Assessor, Wayne Walters, the county cannot submit a digest until property assessment appeals dip below five percent of the 26,000 parcels in the county.
After the initial assessments were mailed in July, the county received more than 2,300 appeals, Walters said.
Surgery helps cancer survivor put on a new face
Local cancer survivor, Donnie Fritts, underwent the final surgeries, giving him a nose, palette, and lip.
Fritts was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ameloblastic Carcinoma in December 2002. The cancer developed into three stage four tumors on his face. Discovery Health began working on a documentary about his journey.
Surgery in August 2003 left him without a nose, top lip, upper palate, forehead, facial tissue and bone and part of his brain.
He had more than 20 surgeries over the course of seven years.
Gordon County Sheriff’s deputies, and other emergency personnel responded to the third school bomb threat in a week Thursday morning, Dec. 17.
Sonoraville High School was put on lock down, and the students were evacuated to the gym until a full sweep of the building could be conducted.
According to Gordon County Sheriff’s Department public information’s office Chief Robert Paris, the building was clear.
The two previous threats took place at Sonoraville Middle School Dec. 15 and Gordon Central High School Dec. 10.
The bomb threats not only cost the students instructional time, they cost county taxpayers thou-sands of dollars.
The threat at Gordon Central High School alone cost the county more than $20,000, according to Paris.
“Those numbers are based on the salaries of teacher’s alone; that doesn’t include emergency workers,” Paris said.
Ralston said there was no reason to believe the threats were anything more than a prank.
“These certainly are not organized, but we are taking them seriously,” he said.
The recession Shaw plant closing
Shaw Industries closed a yarn plant in Calhoun, putting 393 people out of work.
Shaw announced March 24 that it would close its spun yarn facility at 355 S. Industrial Blvd. in Calhoun, known as Plant No. 7, as well as a filament yarn plant in Valdosta.
In all, about 600 employees were affected, the company said in a statement.
The company blamed the closings on declining demand in many spun yarn- and filament yarn-based product categories, “including carpet and other flooring products.”
It added, “The housing sector is experiencing unprecedented difficulties, which impacts consumer demand…reduced demand necessitates that Shaw adjust and balance its production with changing customer preferences.”
Shaw recently announced it will retool Plant No. 7 and has plans to reopen it, bringing back about 200 jobs..
Discount clothing chain Goody's Family Clothing began liquidating its stores in January as the retailer becomes one of the year's first victims of the worsening economy.
The move, which came less than four months after the privately held retailer emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, affected the Knoxville, Tenn.-based chain's 287 stores scattered throughout 20 Midwestern and Southern states, said Cathy Hershcopf, a partner at Cooley Godward Kronish LLP.
Goody's stores in Calhoun, Rome and Cartersville all closed.
In September, Stage Stores, Inc. announced their newest retail location at 486 Hwy 53 East in Calhoun, originally slated to be called Peebles would open under the “Goody’s” nameplate.
Since acquiring the Goody’s name, it seemed natural to open “new” Goody’s stores in communities where the Goody’s name is already well-known, company officials said.
Many other local businesses experienced slowdowns and layoffs, and the county’s unemployment rate hit double-digits.