Attracting moviemakers to Putnam County

Candice Scott, far left, talks with local officials, from left, Putnam Development Authority Board Member Ed Waggoner and Director Terry Schwindler; Eatonton-Putnam Chamber of Commerce Tommy Cook; PDA Board Members Joshua Daniel and Chairman Bill Sharp; Ryan Castillo, photographer and Tytan CEO Jim Stone; and Putnam County Clerk Lynn Butterworth, about the film industry. The group met with state economic development officials from the Georgia film office Jan. 11 at Centergy One in Atlanta.

Location, location, location; that’s what representatives from the Putnam Development Authority, Eatonton-Putnam Chamber of Commerce and Tytan Pictures learned was needed in the film industry during a recent visit to the state economic department’s entertainment division.

As Eatonton, Putnam County and all of Georgia, begin to tap into the film industry, the PDA contacted GDEcD film specialists for suggestions about how local officials can attract film producers to Putnam County as well as prepare to accommodate what was once a predominantly west coast industry.

According to Craig Dominey, Camera Ready Program Manager and Senior Location Specialist, Georgia’s film commission was founded in the 70s by then-governor and former President Jimmy Carter – making it the oldest in the world.


Public speaks on combining schools

A Putnam County resident stands and speaks in the crowded Putnam County Board of Education meeting room Tuesday night.

An estimated 70 people attended a public hearing at the Putnam County Board of Education Tuesday night to discuss with school officials a previously recommended proposal to close two school buildings and replace them with a newly-built single facility. One fact seemed to hang in the air throughout the meeting – the unknown details.

“In the current climate, the absence of specific answers leads people to believe the worst scenario,” BOE Chairman Dr. Steve Weiner said afterwards. “Because we can’t give specifics, they believe we are hiding something; but there isn’t a conspiracy. Until we can get these specifics, that concern will not go away.”


Georgia Power must pay back customers

ATLANTA, January 16, 2018 – The Georgia Public Service Commission (Commission) today unanimously ordered Georgia Power Company to refund its customers $43.6 million. The refunds are the result of the Company earning above its Commission approved return on equity (ROE) for calendar year 2016 under terms of the Commission’s order in the 2013 Georgia Power rate case in Docket 36989. The exact amount per customer and the date of the refunds will be determined in a later filing.  
Background: The final Commission Order in Docket 36989 provided that rates would be set using a 10.95% return on equity (“ROE”) with an earnings dead band between 10.00% and 12.00% retail ROE.  Retail earnings above 12.0% ROE are shared, with two thirds being directly refunded to customers, allocated on a percentage basis to all customer groups including Real Time Pricing incremental usage, and the remaining one-third retained by Georgia Power Company. 


Schools, Court, others closed Wednesday due to snow

All Putnam County Schools are closed Wednesday, Jan. 17, Superintendent Eric Arena announced Tuesday night at 8 p.m.

State Court at the Putnam County Courthouse also is closed, Judge Michael Gailey announced at 4 a.m. Wednesday. Per Judge Gailey, all jurors and witnesses who were supposed to report this morning, (Wednesday, Jan. 17) will now report at 9 a.m. on Friday (Jan. 19). Jurors and witnesses who were scheduled to report tomorrow morning (Thursday, Jan. 18) will report at 9 a.m. as originally scheduled. 

Alll Putnam County government offices and Eatonton City Hall also are closed Wednesday, Jan. 17, according to officials. 


U.S. Marshals ask Georgians' help in finding man for double homicide

Arroyo 11 minutes before the murders at a gas station in Newport News, Va.

Arroyo in 2015

Arroyo at Walmart in Pooler, Ga. the day after the murders.

Suspect Fled to Georgia Immediately After Murders

Special to The Eatonton Messenger from the USMS

NORFOLK, Va. – U.S. Marshals are asking for the public’s assistance in tracking down a man charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend and her father in front of their children. Amos Jacob Arroyo, 32, has been on the run since July 2017.

Around 6:15 p.m. July 30, Newport News police responded to reports of a shooting at a trailer on York River Lane. Patricia Joseph and her father Jessie Barnes were killed as a result of the shooting. Joseph is Arroyo’s ex-girlfriend and is the mother of their two children who were present in the trailer at the time of the murders.


Putnam waste disposal to increase as county is offered curbside service

By Shannon Sneed

First advising the county would soon see a possible $118,000 yearly increase in waste disposal charges, Jarrod Lovett, district manager for Advanced Disposal, offered Putnam County Commissioners the opportunity to “get out of the trash business” Dec. 1 with an offer to provide curbside service.

“We could provide a trashcan for every single house in this county for about $789,000 per year,” Lovett offered. “Keep in mind, you are spending $1.173 million and you’re going up to about $1.291 million with the increase.”

Explaining why the company was asking for the increase, Lovett said the charge was a reimbursement for dumping fees incurred after the closing of Putnam Bottoms landfill last summer.


Causey found guilty of murder; sentenced to life without parole

Frank Don Causey was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Dec. 2, 2016, murder of Lydia Ivanditti in her Eatonton home. The murderer was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Alison T. Burleson in Putnam County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon.

The trial lasted seven days, but the jury deliberated only 50 minutes to find Causey guilty on all three charges – malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault.

The sentencing came immediately after dismissing the jury around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. Eleven of the 14 jurors (including the two alternates) remained in the courtroom to hear the sentencing. 

Attornies for the state and defense rested their cases Tuesday, and closing arguments began Wednesday.

Please look at next week's edition (Nov. 23) of The Eatonton Messenger for more detailed coverage and photographs. 


Smith Communications acquires The Jones County News

Pictured in front of The Jones County News office are, from left, A. Mark Smith Sr., president & CEO; Josh Lurie, executive editor; Debbie Lurie-Smith, managing editor; and Matt Smith, general manager.

Photo by MARK SMITH JR./Staff

Smith Communications President and CEO A. Mark Smith Sr. announced the acquisition of The Jones County News Oct. 13, increasing the footprint of its community newspaper division.

The Jones County News has received numerous Georgia Press Association awards, including second place in General Excellent earlier this year.

The newspaper was owned by Josh Lurie and Debbie Lurie-Smith for 11 years. Both are staying involved in the business.

Lurie said keeping community journalism alive is imperative.

“This move is the best way to secure the future of The Jones County News and its role as a watchdog for our community,” he said. “The readers will notice little change, except for growth.”

Lurie said the advertising sales effort, which provides about 85 percent of a newspaper’s revenue, will provide financial stability for the future and more opportunities to tell the community’s story.


Graduation Rates By Lynn Hobbs

Graduation rates were released by the Georgia Department of Education Sept. 27, revealing all school systems in Georgia’s Lake Country exceeded the state average. “Georgia’s high school graduation rate has increased for the fifth straight year, from 79.4 percent in 2016 to 80.6 percent in 2017,” according to the media release. Putnam and Morgan counties, both of which are charter systems, are two of the 50 districts in the state to top 90 percent. Morgan County’s rate is 91.8 percent, and Putnam’s is 90.7. Morgan County School Superintendent Dr. James Woodard said he was “very excited” about Morgan’s rate. “The efforts of the students, teachers and staff of the Morgan County School System are paying off,” Woodard said in an email. “We have a focus on ensuring that all students graduate with a diploma.


County goes on a spending spree with DATE funds buying vehicles and building gyms By Shannon Sneed

The Putnam County Animal Control truck was purchased by the county using DATE funds. The message on the tailgate is one interpretation of drug education, according to county officials.

After a few years of rolling over drug abuse treatment funds, Putnam County officials were able to collect enough money to use the special revenues to purchase one or more vehicles in 2015. According to budget reports from the past few years, nearly $76,000 allotted by the state of Georgia specifically for Drug Abuse Treatment and Education (DATE) was spent on vehicles, while $38,000 was used to buy small equipment. Nearly $15,000 was spent on ground services and another $7,000 on program supplies. Out of the $130,000 collected from those drug and alcohol related fines, $7,000 was spent on education that year. A year later, another $35,900 was budgeted for small equipment. The interest rates for those years totaled $2,352, enough money to buy nearly 50 signs similar to the one purchased with DATE funds and placed at the Uncle Remus Golf Course reading “Weed Free Golf Course.” After a recently adopted budget showed the DATE funds were also being used to pay for a wellness center proj


Subscribe to RSS - News