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Top Stories of 2009

Five of the top 10 stories of 2009 ran in last week's McDuffie Mirror. Here are the other five:

6.

Voters OK Sunday sales of liquor by the drink

By BILLY W. HOBBS

Staff Writer

City of Thomson voters went to the polls on Tuesday, March 17, and approved of restaurants selling liquor by the drink on Sundays.

A total of 279 voters cast ballots in the special election with 170 or 60.93 percent voters approving of the measure, while 109 voters or 39.07 percent opposed the idea.

Phyllis Wheeler, city/county elections director, said the light turnout of voters was expected since there was only one issue on the ballot.

One of the city's busiest precincts was Thomson City Hall. There, 97 voters cast ballots. Of that number, 74 of them favored the idea, while the other 23 expressed opposition.

7.

Marshall named president of state Sheriff's Association

By BILLY W. HOBBS

Staff Writer

McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall was elected president of the Georgia Sheriff's Association during a special ceremony held at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation near Greensboro on Thursday, July 23.

Sheriff Marshall, who has served as the chief law enforcement officer of the county since 1992, is the first black lawman in the state's history to hold the highest office within the sheriff's association.

More than 200 people -- many of them sheriffs from counties throughout Georgia -- attended the banquet.

"I am humbled and honored to be elected as president of the Georgia Sheriff's Association," Sheriff Marshall said during his acceptance speech. "Being president of this association is not about Logan Marshall. It is about the kids of this state -- not only the ones that are in youth homes that we care for, but the ones that are in our counties not being cared for."

As the new president of the sheriff's association, Sheriff Marshall urged all sheriffs in the state to get behind him in supporting the sheriff's association youth homes even more so than they have done in the past.

8.

Samuels convicted, sentenced in death of Thomson woman

By BILLY W. HOBBS

Staff Writer

Toombs Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge Roger W. Dunaway Jr. deliberated about two hours before returning a verdict of guilty against Dannie Lee Samuels on Aug. 20 in the strangulation of Barbara Hefner at her home near Thomson on March 6, 2004.

The 34-year-old Mr. Samuels had been slated to stand trial and was facing the death penalty had he not opted to have his fate decided by Judge Dunaway in a bench trial. As a result of Mr. Samuels agreeing to have a bench trial and waiving one by a jury, the death penalty was removed as a form of punishment.

Ms. Hefner, who had been Mr. Samuels' supervisor at Augusta Coating Company in Thomson, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

During the trial, it was revealed that Ms. Hefner had been sexually assaulted and murdered inside her White Oak Road home. Her body later was taken from her home, placed in a car and then dumped into Folly Lake, off Stagecoach Road in McDuffie County.

9.

Labor of Love: Thomson man shows his wife how much he cares

By BILLY W. HOBBS

Staff Writer

William Newsome continues to pound the streets of downtown Thomson, searching for aluminum cans that he can turn into money.

He needs the money so his wife can get the medicine she needs to stay alive.

The story generated more than a dozen telephone calls to the newspaper after it appeared on the front page of the Thursday, Oct. 15 edition.

Callers wanted to know how they could get Mr. Newsome cans they had been saving or to make donations to the couple.

It was one of the most highly-read stories of the year in The McDuffie Mirror.

"It might be a little hard sometimes, depending on the weather, but it's an honest way of making the extra money needed to buy the medicine my wife has got to have," Mr. Newsome said during the interview. "I'd do anything for her."

It matters not how hot or cold it gets, Mr. Newsome, who is retired from the Georgia Department of Transportation, can be seen collecting cans from various businesses almost daily.

10.

Teacher resigns amid conduct investigation

By BILLY W. HOBBS

Staff Writer

Philip Bradley Pirkle, former popular band director at Thomson Middle School, resigned his position with the McDuffie County Board of Education less than two weeks before the start of the 2009-2010 school year.

His decision came amid an ongoing criminal investigation by agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

School Superintendent Jim LeBrun confirmed the resignation of Mr. Pirkle during an interview in July. The newspaper was the first media to break the story, which generated news stories on several Augusta television and radio stations.

Mr. Pirkle, who still lives in Thomson, has never been indicted by a grand jury or arrested for any crime connected to the probe still under way by the GBI.

In early July, Mr. Pirkle became the focus of an investigation following a report to local authorities that he had been involved with a 14-year-old girl through a social Internet site in the summer, court records reveal.

As of Monday, the GBI probe was continuing, authorities said.



Web posted on Thursday, January 07, 2010













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