October 20, 2020

The Heard Citizen’s Top 16 Good News Stories of 2016

(Franklin) — With the arrival of the year 2017, the Heard Citizen takes a look back at the best good news stories we reported on locally during the year 2016.

This list was comprised based on several factors including number of views, comments, and shares not only at our website but also on our facebook page.

We hope our readers enjoy this look back and we at HeardCitizen.com look forward to covering the best good news stories of 2017 in the coming months. You may click on the links provided to read more about each story as it was originally posted.

Happy New Year to all of our loyal readers and sponsors! Thank you all for another great year!

Top 16 Good News Stories of 2016

12321505_10153625074282462_3390183322000715046_n#1   Mounted Search Team Recovers Missing Man

A Heard County man lost in the woods along with his dog for almost two full days in late March was reunited with his family thanks to the efforts of several local law enforcement agencies and the vital help of a volunteer search and rescue organization. The West Georgia Mounted Search and Rescue team located the missing 63-year-old man close to his home near the Centralhatchee community. The near 45-hour long search consisted of foot searches, blood hounds, a helicopter, and thermal image equipment. The photo above was captured during the rescue by Debbie O’Neal of the Times-Journal.

#2   Inspiring comeback evolves into huge accolade for Ally Harris

The comeback of a Heard County High School Lady Brave outfielder received an exclamation point when Ally Harris was named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) All-State First Team in softball. The prestigious award followed up several other postseason accolades for the determined senior including her being named as the Region 5-AA Offensive Player of the Year. Harris battled back to earn a college softball scholarship after she was temporarily paralyzed during a bout with Guillain-Barré syndrome in 2014. Ally’s story earned the No. 9 slot on the same list last year.

#3  Hardee’s Biscuit Maker Wins Regional Competition

Alma FeatureAlma Van Vorst from the Franklin Hardee’s restaurant turned up the kitchen heat and beat out all the other bakers in both her district and regional competitions during the spring, and as a result she headed to St. Louis, Missouri where she placed third in the 2016 Hardee’s Biscuit Baker Challenge, an internal competition where Hardee’s seeks to find and honor their top biscuit baker. The local biscuit connoisseur competed at the Hardee’s headquarters against some of the top biscuit bakers in the entire company for the coveted title. Alma was the first biscuit baker from her district or region to advance this far in the national competition.

#4   Unforgettable Moment: Hometown hero shines at WCWS

Cali HRIn early June, the Florida State Seminoles softball team bowed out at the Women’s College World Series, but not before freshman shortstop and hometown hero Cali Harrod provided one of the most unforgettable moments in Heard County history in front of a national television audience. With all eyes from Ephesus and Heard County glued to their televisions, Cali delivered one of the most exciting at bats of the 2016 WCWS when she blasted a three run bomb to tie the game at 7-7 in the top of the seventh inning. The Seminoles twice battled back from multi-run deficits against Auburn to force extra innings before falling to the Tigers, 8-7, in eight innings to end their run at a National title.

#5  #FranklinFighter: Courageous 4-month-old baby battles through 10 major surgeries

A Heard County infant boy made headlines after battling through 10 major brain and spinal surgeries because of severe birth defects during his first four months of life. Baby Kamdyn spent his first weeks of life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and as of today, has yet to stay a full week at home without having to return to the hospital. Despite the tremendous pain and difficulty he has already gone through, Baby Kamdyn continues to fight hard and has been quite an inspiration to the Heard County social media community.

 #6  Stephens’ walk-off magic sends Lady Braves back to Columbus!

Senior HCHS softball player Hannah Stephens delivered a clutch walk-off extra inning base hit to score senior Aspen Barker and end a scintillating Sweet 16 series versus Bleckley County in late October with a 4-3 win to send the Lady Braves back to Columbus for a fifth consecutive season. It was the second straight game the Lady Braves had to claw back from a multiple run deficit to the visiting Lady Royals and the second straight playoff series that the hometown girls bounced back from a game one loss.

#7   UGA student’s heartfelt speech about Heard County

Erica H FeatureBy far our most viewed submission/opinion piece of  2016 came from UGA student Ms. Erica Hendrix, who shared with our readers a speech she delivered for one of her college courses about Heard County. Erica is 20 years old and graduated from Heard High School in 2014. “People dream of getting away from this small town, but for me it wasn’t the feeling of wanting to get away that made me leave. I had worked my whole life to make the grades and meet the requirements to get into college, specifically UGA. My community is the one who helped support me to get here,” said Hendrix in her speech.

#8   Unique education initiative targets ‘Baby Braves’

The Heard County School system launched an innovative new public school program in 2016 aimed at reaching the youngest people in the county well before they reach official school age. The Early Childhood Outreach Initiative (ECHO) less formally known as the ‘Baby Brave’ program is seeking to reach out to not only babies and children ages 0-3 but also to unborn babies still in the womb. School system leaders hope to become a part of the earliest years in a child’s development in order to help prepare not only future Heard County students but their parents as well. The new program has already received state media attention with coverage by the AJC in December.

#9  Tristan Brown wins prestigious Positive Athlete Award

A 2016 graduate of Heard County High School was been named a Georgia Positive Athlete Award winner. Senior Tristan Brown was one of only 30 student athletes to receive the statewide honor sponsored by Positive Athlete Georgia, a subsidiary of Celebrate Positive LLC, which promotes the benefits of positivity to young athletes around the world. The third annual Georgia Positive Athlete Awards ceremony was presented in June by The College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-a Fan Experience. Tristan was selected as the baseball honoree for the entire state of Georgia.

#10  Three local teens rescued from Tennessee River after boat overturns at fishing tournament

Three young local fisherman were thankful for being rescued from a harrowing experience in the Tennessee River in the spring. Anthony Jones, C.J. Bradfield, and Jacob Holcombe were lucky to be alive after their fishing boat capsized in the Tennessee River near Decatur, Alabama. The trio of 2015 HHS graduates had traveled to Alabama to compete in their first big fishing event. Their boat capsized in the rough waters, throwing the teens and all their equipment in the water. They were able to climb on the boat and yell for help, and three hours later, it came in the form of two fellow fisherman from Alabama, Joey Tuner and Patrick Slappey.

#11   HHS grads complete cross-country road trip

IMG_1094Some Heard County High School Class of 2016 honor graduates celebrated their achievements by embarking on a 7,000 mile plus cross-country road trip soon after they completed commencement exercises on May 20. Valedictorian Hannah Rogers, Salutatorian Jaime Conlan, and fellow honor grads Brian Hill and Riley Curbow had been planning the journey for about a year. The foursome, close friends since they were freshman at HHS, traveled for about two weeks covering over 7,000 miles in Jaime’s 2011 Hyundai Sonata enjoying numerous adventures along the way.

#12   Lady Champs! Braves Capture Region 5-AA Title in Overtime Thriller

A gutsy performance and never-say-die attitude propelled the Lady Braves’ varsity basketball team to a scintillating 43-42 overtime win at Manchester in February at the Region 5-AA Women’s Championship game. The Lady Braves fought hard and never surrendered despite trailing the defending 5-AA champion Lady Angels several times in the very physical game. It was a nice redemptive moment for a Lady Brave squad that had lost seven straight games to their region rivals including two losses during the regular season and a region title game loss the prior season.

#13   Town of Centralhatchee dedicates spectacular Veterans Memorial

A large crowd gathered on a cool and breezy Saturday morning in November to witness the dedication of the new Veterans Memorial at Centralhatchee Park. The one hour program on Veteran’s Day weekend featured several guest speakers, the Heard High School band, and the POW/MIA Honor Guard of the American Legion, Department of Georgia. The beautiful memorial is located in the middle of the city park and in addition to a monument features a sitting area, flags, and engraved benches honoring those who served in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines.

#14   New local Go-Kart Track races to the finish line

In business news, a new Go-Kart race track opened in early August near the Centralhatchee community. The very first day races at the 1/5 mile oval dirt track took place on Saturday, August 6 and the owner of the track, Terri Thomaston was excited to see she and her husband’s dream come true.

#15  Local second-grader inspires ‘Pink Out’ day to raise cancer awareness

Riley FeatureIn the fall, a second grader at Heard County Elementary school presented an idea recently to have a ‘Pink Out’ day to raise cancer awareness at her school. Ms. Riley Shelnutt presented the idea to HCES principal Paul Mixon and he officially declared Monday, October 31 as Pink Out day and the response was tremendous. Riley asked that her fellow students wear as much pink as possible that day and to bring their change to fill pink Halloween candy buckets.

#16 Middle Braves Capture 2015-2016 RESA Championship

The Heard County Middle School Academic Bowl team captured the 2015-2016 West Georgia RESA District Academic Bowl Championship in the spring of 2016. The final and deciding meet took place at Arnall Middle School in Newnan. The West Georgia RESA Champion was determined through aggregate scoring four meets. The team was coached by Lou Ann Hood and Melissa Googe.

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