Best of 2013: Honorable Mentions
December 31, 2013 09:36 PM | 2103 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While top stories made the top headlines in the Cherokee Tribune in 2013, there were a number of other important news articles that deserve a mention among the lead stories of the year.

►Residents upset over crematorium plan

Residents in the Macedonia community fought a passionate fight against Bart Williams’ plans to build a crematorium in their backyard.

Williams, owner of Macedonia Memorial Park, was asking Cherokee County to rezone land on East Cherokee Drive to build a crematorium, but the neighbors near the planned development were worried it could pose a significant risk to public health.

The Cherokee Planning Commission narrowly approved his request in early June, as residents shouted out in disapproval against the board.

The Board of Commissioners then shot Williams’ plans down in June as crowd of about 200 people looked on. As the meeting ended, the crowd roared with applause in thanking the board for stopping the plans, which Williams had strongly denied would pose a health risk.

►Nelson requires gun ownership

The tiny city of Nelson hit headlines across the nation when the city council passed a law requiring all heads of household to own a gun.

The council passed the Family Protection Ordinance in April, copied from a law passed in Kennesaw in the early 1980s.

The law loosely required gun ownership in the city of about 1,300. City officials and the town’s one police officer said all along that it would never be enforced, but was meant as a crime deterrent.

Whether the law was intended to be enforced or not didn’t much matter to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which filed suit against Nelson, along with city resident Lamar Kellett. The lawsuit alleged that because the text of the ordinance didn’t specifically say it wouldn’t be enforced, it could be.

Nelson settled the suit by agreeing to explicitly state within the law that it was never intended to be enforced.

►Former Atlanta Brave charged with drug possession

Famed former Atlanta Braves player Otis Nixon was arrested on Interstate 575 in May after police said they found crack on him.

Nixon, the Braves center-fielder known for his speed and steady glove, was charged with felony possession of cocaine when a Cherokee County deputy allegedly found more than a few rocks of crack cocaine on him, in his truck and in the patrol car after he was arrested.

According to police records, Nixon said the crack and pipes found belonged to his son, who often left such items around. He later pleaded not guilty, court records show.

►Woodstock K-9 dies of heatstroke

A Woodstock police dog died of heatstroke June 17, after being left in its handler’s patrol car outside his Jasper home for several hours.

K-9 Spartacus was well-loved in Woodstock, and Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said he was “near rock star status” in the city.

The dog was handled by Officer Chad Berry, who was fined $325 and charged by Pickens County for cruelty to animals in the incident.

Berry wept during a memorial service given by the police department for K-9 Spartacus on Aug. 9, after carrying the police dog’s ashes into the service.

Berry was reassigned to the traffic enforcement unit, suspended without pay for 10 days and received a $6,000 pay cut after the K-9’s death.

►Cherokee’s first fire training center opens

Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services celebrated the opening of phase one of the county’s first ever training center on Dec. 10.

The $5 million, state-of-the-art facility features a multi-level burn building, four-story training tower and simulated fire station.

Cherokee Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Tim Cavender said the training center will lead to more training, better service and savings in travel costs for the county firefighters.

Phase two of the training center, which will include additions of an administrative building and classrooms, is expected to be completed by mid-2014, Cavender said.

The training center is located in Holly Springs, on 14.5 acres that were formerly owned by Pikes Nursery.

►Etowah students charged in sex act

Two Etowah High School students were charged with public indecency by school district police after they engaged in sex acts in the school cafeteria during lunch Oct. 10.

The students were arrested on a misdemeanor charge, taken to a juvenile justice detention center and were later released to their parents, school district spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said.

According to Jacoby, a female student made a sexual offer to a male student during lunch. The male told administrators he thought it was a joke and stopped the female.

►Nelson councilwoman charge with shoplifting from Wal-Mart

Nelson City Councilwoman Edith Portillo was arrested July 23 and charged with shoplifting.

Police said Portillo had loaded up on $200 worth of merchandise at Wal-Mart in Canton and then left without paying. Portillo strongly denied the allegations and said she planned to fight the charges.

According to the Canton Police Department, detectives used video surveillance to lead to Portillo.

Portillo was accused of stealing two solar lights, a canister set, a dish mat and two Lego sets.

She later said none of the items sounded familiar to her.

On Nov. 5, Portillo lost a bid for re-election.

►Carjacking left one suspect dead

In what police called a botched carjacking Aug. 22, one suspected accomplice was found shot to death in a crashed car on Highway 92, as law enforcement officials searched for and apprehended four others suspected to be involved in the incident.

Jumar Greer, 19, of Acworth, and Maurice Perkins, 20, of Gary, Ind., were indicted in the incident by a Cherokee County grand jury in December on seven charges each, including felony murder, kidnapping and armed robbery, court records show.

According to the indictment, they were accused of causing the death of Andre Rodriguez, 27, of Acworth, who police said was the driver of the 2011 Dodge Charger stolen from Justin Humphries, 19, also of Acworth.

►Play N Trade site of armed robbery and arson

The owner of the Play N Trade video game store in Woodstock was left with second- and third-degree burns on Sept. 29, after his business was the target in what police called an armed robbery that ended with the store engulfed in flames.

The store at 2990 Eagle Drive in Woodstock was badly damaged by flames, smoke and water in the incident. The incident happened just 15 minutes before the store was scheduled to open that day.

►Replacement E.T. Booth opens

More than 1,500 students attended school at the new 223,856-square-foot E.T. Booth Middle School building in 2013, built to replace the 32-year-old previous school building.

The replacement E.T. Booth Middle School was finished in July, and was equipped with state-of-the-art technology for students and faculty, including 1,100 student laptops, wireless Internet access in each classroom and a fully loaded media center.

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