Fire destroys home; woman badly burned; closest fireplug dead

The Eatonton house at 505 N. Jefferson Ave. is engulfed by a massive fireballearly Tuesday morning. (Contributed photo.)


By Lynn Hobbs / Staff

EATONTON -- An Eatonton woman owes her life to her visiting sister and Eatonton police after they rescued her from a burning house, family members said, noting the family’s dog, Mella, perished in the fire.

Lila Fowler and her daughters Wendy Royal and Shannon Minchey were asleep in the house at 505 N. Jefferson Ave. when Minchey said “cracking” sounds woke her up shortly before 4 a.m. Seeing the front porch was in flames, Minchey ...


Trump tops Clinton by more than 2 to 1 margin in Putnam

Putnam County Poll Watcher Larry Hone adds voting totals Tuesday evening to a board set up in front of the Putnam GOP headquartes -- the Adams and Ford law firm. (Photo by Don Richeson.)

Click on link below for a related Messenger Election Day in Putnam County photo gallery:

By Don Richeson / Staff

EATONTON -- Republican Donald Trump was the top Putnam County vote getter in the Nov. 8 presidential election, surpassing Democrat Hillary Clinton by a more than 2 to 1 margin in Putnam.


Fire destroys Eatonton home, critically burns woman

EATONTON -- A fire destroyed an Eatonton family's home at 505 N. Jefferson Ave. early this morning. Three women were in the house sleeping at the time, according to family members. Two were unharmed and one, who had a cast on her leg, was rushed to Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta. The family’s dog perished in the fire. 

Check back for more on this developing story and be sure to pick up a copy of The Messenger's Nov. 10 print edition for a detailed story and big photo package.


Putnam election official predicts big total voter turnout

Putnam County Board of Elections and Registration Supervisor Lynne Laseter, seated, left, confers with advanced clerks Martha Ray and Emory Turner. (Photo by Don Richeson.)




Georgia Benjamin-Smith, seated, an advanced assistant manager with the Putnam Board of Elections and Registration, hands a just-voted sticker Monday to Brenda Folsom at the Putnam County Administration Building. (Photo by Don Richeson.)



By Don Richeson / Staff

EATONTON -- Elections featuring a presidential contest tend to draw more voters than most and in Putnam County, the 2016 Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump race is on track to do just that. More than a quarter of Putnam's 13,939 registered voters had already voted as of Saturday -- 3,100 had cast ballots in early voting and 392 had already voted using absentee ballots. That's according to Putnam County Board of Elections and Registration Supervisor Lynne Laseter.

"I think we'll definitely rival the 2012 voting totals, if not have even more," Laseter said Monday. "This election has a lot of hype that is fueling everyone to come out and vote." Aside from the presidential race, there are a number of other important local races and amendment questions.


PCHS to host big cheer competition Saturday, Nov. 5

Putnam County's competition cheer squad includes, front, from left, Riley Holloway, Jasmine Waters, Marissa Salster, Morgan Roberts, Mackenzie Harris, Scarlett Stevens; and back, same order, Assistant Coach Melissa Burke, Claire Buckner, Mikayla Lollis, Abbie Neese, Macey Harrison, Selah Kadlec, Jania Sanders, Samantha Rawls, Kelsi Shell, Miranda Salster and Head Coach April Smith. (Contributed photo.)



By Dave Brown / Staff

PUTNAM COUNTY -- Putnam County High School will host the GHSA East Metro region cheering competition 11 a.m. this Saturday, Nov. 5. Doors will open for spectators at 9 a.m.

According to Putnam Competitive Cheering Coach April Smith, “The routines in competitive cheerleading are 2½ minutes of music-pumping dance and quickly executed cheerleading stunts mixed with gymnastic moves. Cheerleaders will be scored on their routine, which includes jumps, tumbling, partner stunts, pyramids, dance, cheer/chant, creativity, formations/transitions and showmanship.”

Putnam County Competition Cheerleaders have enjoyed an undefeated season this year and the squad is looking to defend its region title and keep its crown.


'Goosebumps' starts at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 on courthouse lawn


Eatonton Main Street will show “Goosebumps” on a big screen on the Putnam County Courthouse lawn at 7 p.m. today, Friday, Oct. 28. (The time was listed incorrectly in The Messenger's Oct. 27 print edition.) Movies in the Briar Patch is free and open to all. Bring your own chair or blanket, and movie refreshments are available for purchase. For information, call 706-749-9150 or visit


Legislators field Putnam crowd's road, Internet questions

Those answering questions at the annual Legislative Breakfast Tuesday morning include, from left, State Rep. Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville,  Georgia Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Public Affairs David Raynor, State Rep. Trey Rhodes, R-Greensboro, State Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, staff member Carolyn Dallas, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson  (R-Dist. 6) staff member Daniela Perry, Georgia Department of Transportation’s Frank Childs Jr. and Michael Lee, Secretary of State Brian Kemp staff member Josh Waters and Department of Labor representative Ethel Wynn. (Photo bt Lynn Hobbs.)


By Lynn Hobbs / Staff

EATONTON -- Ten legislators and state department representatives addressed everything from road conditions and election security to high speed Internet at the Eatonton-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Breakfast Tuesday morning.

“This is the first time in seven years they really said something,” Eatonton resident Tom Rosseter opined afterwards. “Usually they just say who they are and what they do; but this time they told how their department affects us here in Putnam County. More people should attend these so they can figure out what’s going on.”

About 60 people attended the breakfast, conducted in the reception hall of the Plaza Arts Center. The representatives they chatted with and questioned included:

>> State Rep. Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville.


Georgia Power's Eatonton office closing for good Oct. 20

If you want to chat with Melba Price, the friendly lady behind the glassed off area in Georgia Power's Eatonton office, you'd better hurry. The office is closing for good Oct. 20. (Photo by Lynn Hobbs.)

By Lynn Hobbs / Staff

EATONTON -- The Georgia Power customer service office in Eatonton is closing for good, Thursday, Oct. 20, along with about 100 other low-traffic locations around the state. But other payment options are available, Local Manager Lynward Lindsey said, noting Walmart, Ingles and Piggly Wiggly are designated authorized payment locations.

Customer Service Representative Melba Price, who has handled Eatonton customers’ payments and payment arrangements for eight years is being transferred to the Macon office. A Georgia Power employee for 17 years, Price said she is not looking forward to the transfer because the Eatonton folk have become like family.

“I know more about everybody here than they know about themselves,” Price said from behind the payment window. Indeed, as customers walk in to pay their bills, Price greets them by name and already is typing their address into her computer before they have a chance to speak.


Historic landmark Lake Sinclair smokestack toppled Saturday morning

As dust billows from its tip, the Putnam County landmark lone remaining Plant Harlee Branch smokestack, erected in 1978, cracks in half as it topples safely into a designated zone on to plant property off U.S. 441 not long after daybreak Saturday. (Photo by Casey Parrish.)

By Casey Parrish / Staff

LAKE SINCLAIR -- Georgia Power toppled the 1,001-foot Plant Harlee Branch smokestack with a single explosive blast at 8 a.m. Saturday. Large sprayers began dousing the area with water 30 minutes prior to explosion was set to take place in an attempt to minimize the spread of dust and debris. The water pressure gradually grew stronger, reaching its peak at the time of the explosion. Citizens from the surrounding area gathered to watch the the smokestack fall from the edges of an "exclusion zone," while authorities monitored the event.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Oct. 20 print edition of The Eatonton Messenger for more on the historic toppling.


Smokestack demolition now set for Oct. 15

Among the top-50 tallest smokestacks worldwide, Plant Branch's dwarfs a boat out on Lake Sinclair last week just to the left of its base. No boats will be allowed in the area this Saturday morning, when an explosion is planned to topple the Putnam County landmark. U.S. 441, at right of photo, will be closed for about 15 minutes around the time of the explosion. (Photo by Don Richeson.)

This is a map of the "exclusion zone" being used in connection with Sunday's smokestack demolition.

This picture of Plant Branch, posted on Facebook by Tom Hatchett, is circa 1975. The plant's original exterior color was aquamarine blue and there were five smokestacks. The nearby U.S. 441 bridge was just two lanes and had no guardrails.
Attachments area


By Don Richeson / Staff

LAKE SINCLAIR -- The on again, off again demolition of the Plant Harlee Branch smokestack is on again. It is now set for sometime between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 15, authorities announced Wednesday after The Messenger had gone to press. Despite the five-hour long period set aside for the demolition, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said, "If all goes well it will happen soon after 8 a.m."

The toppling of the iconic, towering south Putnam County structure was canceled twice by officials with Georgia Power, who still control the smokestack site. It was originally set for two different times this past weekend, but in each case was canceled just hours before the scheduled demolition time.


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