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Heroin, meth-trafficking arrest
• Several other people are arrested on methamphetamine charges in unrelated incidents.

Jonathan Taylor Johnson

A Calhoun man is in jail, accused of trafficking in heroin and methamphetamine, after a deputy with Gordon County Sheriff's Office stopped his truck on Wednesday near the intersection of Red Bud Road and Warrior Path.

According to GCSO and jail records: Jonathan Taylor Johnson, 41, of 100 Thomas St., Calhoun, was charged with manufacture/sell/dispense/distribute of heroin, manufacture/sell/dispense/distribute of methamphetamine, and trafficking in illegal drugs.

A Gordon County deputy stopped Johnson at about 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning and a search of the suspect's pickup truck turned up drugs with an estimated street value of more than $5,000.

Johnson remained in jail on Thursday pending bond.

That arrest was one of several that occurred in the area on Wednesday related to methamphetamine. Chief Deputy Robert Paris said deputies executed several warrants for individuals wanted on charged related to the drug.

The sheriff's office arrested Melissa Ann Fletcher, 38, of 448 Artesian Well Road, Calhoun, and charged her with possession of methamphetamine and two counts of sell of methamphetamine.

Kevin Roy Fowler, 52, of 108 Stone Loop, Calhoun, was arrested by the GCSO and charged with purchase/possess/control of methamphetamine, possession and use of drug-related objects and possession of marijuana less than one ounce.

Terrell Steven Russell, 59, of 607 Peter St., Calhoun, was arrested by the GCSO and charged with sale of meth and a probation violation.

Donna Kay Starr, 46, of 486 Blalock Road, Calhoun, was arrested by the GCSO and charged with sell of methamphetamine.

Terrance Montease Wade, 41, of 639 Pine St., Calhoun, was arrested by the GCSO and charged with possession of methamphetamine and a probation violation (original charge: possession of meth).

Unrelated to the sheriff's office's efforts, the Georgia State Patrol on Wednesday arrested Cody Allen Johns, 33, of 442 Fog Road, Resaca, and charged him with sale of methamphetamine.


Mud volleyball set for Saturday
• The annual tournament supports the Sarah Williams Youth Foundation and its projects.

There will be mud.

That's the promise of Bob Williams regarding the annual Sarah Williams Memorial Mud Volleyball tournament, set for Saturday at the Recreation Department on McDaniel Station Road in Calhoun. Captains will meet at 8:15 a.m. and play will begin 45 minutes later.

The event is the major fundraiser for the Sarah Williams Youth Foundation, named in honor of Williams' daughter who died following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Money raised from the event will benefit several of the organization's projects, said Williams, including scholarships at all three local high schools, donations to the Coulter Hanson Foundation and Sarah's Snacks, a program that allows the Williams family to ensure children begin treated at the Children's Hospital at Erlanger receive snacks during their stays. A donation is also given to the Sonoraville High School volleyball team in appreciation for their assistance with the event.

"It's just about the community coming together to help one another," Williams said of the tournament. "Everybody has a good time, and it's a good fundraiser for us. It pretty much funds all our projects throughout the year."

Williams said this year's tournament should raise about $9,000, a marked improvement compared to last year.

The action will feature 18 teams playing on multiple muddy courts. Fire trucks will turn out early to prepare the fields.

The tournament will begin with pool play, where teams play each of the other teams in their own pool, then the winners from pool play will face off in a double elimination tournament.

Spectators are encouraged to attend, as food and drinks will be available for purchase, and the Jandy's yogurt truck will be on site, with a portion of each sale benefiting the foundation.

Williams said most teams in the tournament are just there to have fun, but a few will take the games seriously.

He recalled one year that a team of ladies from Chattanooga, all 55 years old or older, showed up for the tournament. As it turns out, the team had recently competed in the Senior Olympics.

"They didn't win, but they did really well," Williams said.

More information about the tournament, as well as a list of sponsors, can be found on the Sarah Williams Youth Foundation Facebook page, facebook.com/SarahWiliamsYouthFoundation/


International win with Wildfire quartet brings Hayes full circle
'It was incredible'

Former Calhoun City Schools student Caleb Hayes had no way of knowing that his passion for music would lead him to finding both international victory and lifelong friendships when his mother first introduced him to singing, but that is exactly what happened.

In June, Hayes and three other members of the Wildfire Quartet (Stephen Goldman, Harrison Cooke and Kevin Mendez) beat out 19 other singing quartets from around the world to take home first place in the Next Generation Barbershop Varsity Quartet Contest. The experience, according to Hayes, was "surreal."

"Winning the competition has been a dream of mine since I was in the seventh grade, so to sit in the audience and hear our score and names called out, I was in disbelief," Hayes said. "I was absolutely in awe of what was going on. It was incredible."

Hayes' mention of seventh grade is no accident. That year marked the moment he knew music would forever be part of his life.

"That is when I was introduced to theater and chorus, which is really when music became a true passion for me. I wasn't thinking of it as just something to do anymore," Hayes said. "It was something I was good at and it started becoming more and more important in my life. The more I performed and sang, the more I loved it."

He credits local teachers Casey Parker, Julia Leggett and Dana Plunkett with fostering his growth during that time and for "showing me what I could really do with music if I put my heart in it."

"They exposed me to new styles of music and encouraged me to try new things. They gave me some of my first big opportunities to perform and that's something I'll always be thankful for," Hayes said. "There are a lot of people who have shown me a lot but, without them and without God blessing me with the ability to do this stuff, I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am now."

As a student at Calhoun Middle School, he participated in musical theater and the school choir.

He also began attending the Barbershop Harmony Society's annual Dixie District summer camp, where he trained with other young musicians from Alabama, eastern Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Hayes continued his camp training even after graduating to Calhoun High School, where he performed with Georgia's All State Choir and helped secure two different literary victories for the school's quartet group — which is why the Dixie Day Camp was one of his first stops after Wildfire won big this summer.

Hayes, Goldman, Cooke and Mendez attended the camp together as instructors for young performers in the very same district that he initially trained with. Going back to the place where he first learned about the doors that music could open for him and giving back to the people who taught him so much was "really and truly amazing."

"I can remember myself sitting in the same position those kids were in, and I can remember wanting to do exactly what the instructors were doing. I wanted to travel the world teaching people about music and winning awards," Hayes said. "So, it was definitely the cherry on top of the sundae of our win to finally do that and give back to something that gave me so much. Honestly, that was just as much of an achievement as winning in the first place. But, of course, that doesn't mean we want to stop doing competitions."

If anything, Hayes said that taking home such a big victory has fueled Wildfire's desire to continue going head-to-head with other quartets and singing groups. They want to see how far they can go.

"Our goal is to make the top 20 next year, so we would be in the top 20 in the world. Eventually we'd like to make the finals round again and get a medal in the open contest, which means placing somewhere between first and fifth," Hayes said. "We'd like to win the whole thing again, but we're taking things step-by-step. There's always another really good group to push us to do better and better."

The 2020 international convention will be held June 28-July 5 in Los Angeles.


New GNTC president stops by Gordon County campus

Georgia Northwestern Technical College's new president stopped by the Gordon County campus on Wednesday to talk shop with the people who work there.

Heidi Popham, who had been executive vice president at GNTC, took over as president of the college last month. She said on Wednesday that she's beginning to settle in and is enjoying getting out to the college's seven campuses that serve nine counties and reacquainting herself with everyone.

"I'm excited about the opportunities," she said.

Popham also praised the partnership the college has with the local college and career academies and noted that dual enrollment students will have the new option of electrical and welding programs this fall. She also said she wanted to strengthen relationships the college has with the local business community.

"We want to make sure we are building the bridge," she said, "working in economic development and making sure our team is at the table to see what the workforce needs."

Popham began her career at the college began when she was hired as the executive assistant to the president in 1995. Since then, she's gained significant leadership experience, having held positions as director of institutional effectiveness, vice president of institutional effectiveness, and in her latest role as executive vice president.

"Dr. Popham is a strong leader for Georgia Northwestern Technical College," said Matt Arthur, Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner. "Her years of experience in technical education certainly equip her for the job, but it's her passion for students and her commitment to developing a workforce within the community that make her the right choice to lead Georgia Northwestern Technical College going forward."

Popham holds a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational management from Covenant College, a Master of Education degree from the University of Georgia, and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Georgia. Past GNTC president Pete McDonald retired at the end of April.

Rome News-Tribune reporter John Popham contributed to this report.


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