A 38-year-old Calhoun woman died Wednesday night after being struck by a train while walking on the tracks near the Henderson Bend Road crossing.
Misty Dawn York was positively identified late Wednesday night and a family member was notified, according to Gordon County Deputy Coroner Heath Derryberry. He said there were several names he and Georgia State Patrol Troopers were working from in attempting to identify the woman, who was hit by the train around 8:15 p.m.
Derryberry received notification of the woman's death at 8:18 p.m., he said. She did not have any form of identification on her at the time of the incident, and she did not have a specific address registered to her name, he continued.
Master Trooper J.R. Rickett said the woman was walking southbound on the eastside of the railroad tracks when she was struck.
The incident remained under investigation Thursday, and more information about her death was expected to be recovered from a review of the on-train camera footage, he said.
CSX personnel, who work for the company which owns the railroad line the Union Pacific train was operating on, were also on scene investigating with the state troopers.
The train was stopped on the tracks for more than two hours, blocking the crossing on Henderson Bend Road, just past its intersection with Thomas Street.
The medical examiner will perform an autopsy, including completing a toxicology report, Derryberry said.
The Gordon County Board of Commissioners denied a request to abandon a 1,213foot section of Pearl Johnson Road in Ranger following a public hearing earlier this week, where one property owner said he would block the road if the action went forward.
The road was proposed to be abandoned from a spot north of its intersection with Pittman Road — 2,904 feet, just beyond where the last home is — to the end of the road. The board had moved forward to certify the road abandonment at its August meeting. But County Administrator Jim Ledbetter recommended against it after the public hearing, and the board unanimously denied the action.
Anthony Reis, of Douglasville, came to the public hearing as a new landowner, recently purchasing 27 acres off Pearl Johnson and another parcel to the west. He said his only frontage is on the road, which he said he would have to maintain for decent access without relying on the county.
In continuing, he ex pressed his intent to block the road, while still providing access to residents there, if it was abandoned.
"I don't think we can abandon the road at this time," Ledbetter told commissioners after Reis spoke, saying that if the road was abandoned then Reis could gate it off, and the board had to decide if there is a remaining public interest in keeping it.
By abandoning the road the county would have given up its interest in maintaining the road bed, Ledbetter told the board during work session. He added that the road has not been maintained by the county for "quite some time."
However, with the road remaining under county control, Ledbetter said at least minimal work, such as putting gravel down and grating it, would have to be done.
Dr. Dennis Steele, whose family owns property on Pearl Johnson, requested the board to not approve the request. He said he worried about the potential impact abandoning the road would have on the access of firefighters and forestry crews to get their equipment into a position to fight a wildfire. He added there is little expense in maintaining the road in an attempt to show it was not a financial burden to the county.
Shane McDougle, of 173 Pearl Johnson Road, which was one of the four residences below the starting point of the proposed road abandonment, expressed concern over how the action could impact the use of his 20 acres. Particularly, a requirement to have 125 feet of road frontage to build a new home, something he hoped his kids may be able to do on his property one day.
"I did not think of Shane McDougle's dilemma," Ledbetter told the board.
Also speaking was attorney Gary Barnes, with the Atlanta-based law firm Baker Donelson, concerning the interest of his client Weyerhaeuser, a timber and paper products company from Seattle. The company owns 2,200 acres off Pearl Johnson Road where the paved portion ends, he said, and needs access to that land. If the road was grated then this access would be sufficient, he continued.
In other items, commissioners approved a request to close Trimble Hollow Road for a "special event." Ledbetter said there is filming set to take place there, but he would not explain more, citing the request from those filming to not be disturbed.
Also, commissioners approved surveillance property of the Gordon County Sheriff's Office to be declared surplus property, so it can be give to the Calhoun Police Department. And Commissioner Bud Owens was re-appointed to a two-year term on the Northwest Georgia Region 1 EMS Advisory Council.
Resurfacing the track at Sonoraville High School is on the top of the list of athletic facilities needs for Gordon County Schools, while also carrying the biggest price tag of the projects with cost estimates.
Gordon County Board of Education members were updated on the priority lists of athletic facility projects moving forward during its monthly meeting earlier this week.
The cost estimate for resurfacing the track, which is in certain need, at Sonoraville High is around $600,000.
"At the best," board member Charlie Walraven said of the cost estimate.
Director of Facilities Ron Norrell said the track has underwent patching for years and is in "bad shape."
Due to the condition of the track, the high school is not able to host state track meets, Walraven added.
Another big project on the table for consideration is one which would impact both Gordon Central High and Ashworth Middle. At an estimated cost of $200,000, the project would entail adding bathrooms and a new concession stand to the north end of Ratner Stadium. The new additions would be accessible for those at baseball, softball, football and soccer games for both schools, as well as for track meets.
To have access from all three fields, the current concession stand for visitors would be torn down and the end of the track would be moved to construct the building.
This joint project is on the top of the list for Gordon Central, while the No. 1 item for Ashworth Middle is the construction of a standalone metal building for the cheerleading and wrestling teams. The size of the building was put at 60-by-100 feet, and it was requested for system officials to begin looking into the options available and what the cost would be.
The big future project at Red Bud Middle is to renovate newly-purchased property adjacent to the school for a field house. The goal would be to make the field use compatible for multi-sport use.
Other notable projects include putting in a larger building at the main gate of Ratner Stadium to serve as a new four-window ticket booth, estimated at $30,000, and constructing a raised, joint-use baseball and softball press box behind home plate for each field — this requires moving home bleachers at the baseball field — estimated at $35,000.
Also, another possible project discussed was the construction of baseball dugouts at the Sonoraville Recreation Department, with potentially adding restrooms and locker rooms. Norrell provided a cost range from $40,000 to $70,000, but added that could substantially increase depending on the work connected to digging out concrete and potentially running into service lines.
"We really need to prioritize across the board," said Director of Finance Mendy Goble, especially as the school system transitions from a busy summer of projects and determines its next focus for ESPLOST — education special purpose, local option sales tax — funds.
In giving an update on instruction, board member Nan Barnette commended the work of instructional leaders in securing more than $2 million in funding through the L4GA — Literacy for Learning, Living and Leading in Georgia — grant. The grant covers literacy initiatives from birth to 12th grade.
For action items, the board approved a revised transportation agreement with Murray County Schools concerning the busing of students to the Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring. Gordon County Schools will now provide transportation for up to three Murray County students five days a week to GSD.
Superintendent Susan Remillard explained the school system will now receive a flat rate of $16,000 — previously it received $3,500 for providing transportation two days a week. Currently there is only one Murray County student taken by the bus with Gordon County students to GSD, she said.
Out of the Darkness: Be the LIGHT, a free suicide prevention training-QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer)on how to react when someone talks about suicide. This event is aimed at the faith community. It will he held today, from 10 a.m. until noon, at Crane Eater Community Church on Redbud Road in Calhoun.
Concord Baptist Church will hold its fifth annual Fall Festival today, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The church is at 9414 Fairmount Highway Southeast. There will be inflatables and pony rides for the kids. Door prizes will also be handed out. Visit cbcfairmount.com for more information.
Week of Oct. 7
The Gordon County GOP will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday night at the Calhoun Depot. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. There will be yard signs and information for those who attend.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Dr. Cherri Woods Washington will present
"Yes! Take it Personal! Personalizing Instruction to Increase Student Achievement," at the Calhoun-Gordon County Library. In this session, Washington will educate and inspire educators to find creative ways to make connections with English learners. These sessions (and GATESOL membership) are good for any teacher who has English learners in their classrooms. Classroom teachers are invited to join GATESOL and register for the sessions. Visit gatesol.org for more information.
Week of Oct. 14
Hamilton Medical Center is offering a free Hands-Only CPR and Early Heart Attack Care class on Oct. 16 from 1 to 2 p.m. in the upstairs classroom inside Bradley Wellness Center at 1225 Broadrick Drive. To register, please visit hamiltonhealth.com/cpr or call 706-272-6114.
Week of Oct. 28
The final GATESOL event of 2018 event will be held at the Calhoun-Gordon County Library on Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. New York Times bestselling author, Carmen Agra Deedy, will present "An Evening of Storytelling for Educators." Although no book sales will be held at this event, there will be time provided for book signing. These sessions (and GATESOL membership) are good for any teacher who has English learners in their classrooms. Classroom teachers are invited to join GATESOL and register for the sessions. Visit gatesol.org for more information.
First Thursday Book Club will meet on Nov. 1, at Shoney's on Red Bud Road at 7 p.m. We will discuss "The Buried Giant" by Kazuo Ishiguro. From the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature and author of the Booker Prize-winning novel "The Remains of the Day" comes a luminous meditation on the act of forgetting and the power of memory. Arrive a little earlier to enjoy dinner. For more information contact Roberta Charbonneau at 678-773-5655.
Pleasant Valley Baptist Church will hold its third annual Christmas Bazaar Craft Festival on Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 3882 Red Bud Road. There will be food, local music and crafty vendors. The proceeds will be put toward maintaining the church's community playground.