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Driver pleads not guilty in fatality
• Jesse Adam Ridgeway waives his arraignment in the case involving a wreck in which he is accused of being DUI and texting while driving.

Jesse Adam Ridgeway

An Alabama man waived his arraignment and pled not guilty Friday to criminal charges, including homi cide by vehicle, related to a June 2017 wreck in which he is accused of causing the death of 49-year-old William Chad Lance.

Jesse Adam Ridgeway, 37, of Muscadine, Alabama, was scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Floyd County Superior Court, before Judge Bryant Durham.

Last month a grand jury indicted him on the homicide by vehicle charge. He is also charged with driving under the influence of drugs, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving on a suspended license, operating a vehicle with an expired tag, reckless driving and texting while operating a vehicle.

According to Georgia State Trooper Jeremy Battle:

On June 27, Ridgeway was driving a dump truck on Ga. 140 near the intersection of U.S. 27, reportedly texting on his cellphone, when he struck Lance's Acura around 5 p.m.

The impact caved in the driver's side of the Acura. The dump truck continued another 75 yards before going off the road and down an embankment. Ridgeway's commercial driver's license had been canceled due to his previous driving history.

Ridgeway was arrested that night. Days later, following an interview with the state trooper at the Floyd County Jail, he was charged with DUI.

Ridgeway was in jail without bond Friday night on a hold for the Polk County Sheriff's Office. He will be put on the criminal jury trial calendar.

Wildlife exhibit opens today
• Local photographer Gena Flanigen has more than three dozen photos on display at The Martha Berry Museum.

Abundant wildlife of Berry College will be the focus of a nearly six-month exhibit opening today at The Martha Berry Museum. More than three dozen photographs taken by local wildlife photographer Gena Flanigen will be featured along with static exhibits of animals from the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta.

The exhibit will run through Aug. 18.

Visitors will be able to leaf through a notebook featuring old newspaper articles and letters which indicate the desires of Martha Berry to create a bird and wildlife sanctuary on the country's largest college campus.

Flanigen, a retired educator, is a native of Rome and got serious about her photography, like many others, after a pair of bald eagles started nesting right behind the Cage Center at Berry.

"Photographing those eagles became my classroom and forced me to learn how to use my camera," Flanigen said. Her thousands of photos of the eagle has resulted in two photography books, "Strength and Beauty" and "Majestic."

While known for her eagle photographs, Flanigen has a passion for much smaller, less conspicuous birds, particularly warblers. Many of the brightly colored smaller birds, which can be found around the Berry campus, are included in the exhibition. She credits Renee Carlton, a biology professor at Berry, for cultivating her interest in the smaller birds.

The photographer credits Rachel McLucas and Alice Stevens at the museum with encouraging her to develop the exhibit. She also said her husband, Rick Flanigen, has been a great encourager and supportive of all the time she spends in the woods with her camera.

Museum admission is $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for students.

During the run of "Sanctuary at Berry," Berry faculty and community members will present lectures on various topics, such as: the white-tailed deer, the Berry College bald eagles, striped bass spawning, and ongoing Eastern bluebird and coyote research. Dates for the lectures will be released as soon as the details are finalized.


Today's artwork is by Luci Brownrigg, a first-grader at East Central Elementary School.

International Day

Eaglet falls out of nest, doesn't survive
• "It is nature," a Berry professor says.

Rome's — really the nation's — eagle watching community was saddened Friday morning to learn that one of the 10-day-old eaglets at Berry College had toppled out of the nest Thursday night and was not able to survive the fall.

Renee Carleton, associate professor of biology at Berry, said the fall happened just after 8:30 p.m. and she was able to retrieve the carcass from the base of the tree around 11 p.m. Thursday.

"We're darned lucky that nothing has happened before now." Carleton said. "It was just a matter of time because it is nature."

The carcass is being sent to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia to determine if there was any neurological abnormality with the eaglet.

Less than a week ago, the male adult eagle unwound the intestines of a squirrel that had somehow wrapped around the neck of one of the eaglets, however at this point there is no way of knowing if it was the same bird since they hatched less than 24 hours apart and were essentially the same size.

Carleton said an analysis of the video from the approach camera indicates the eaglet may have gotten hung up on the side of the nest for a few minutes before it fell all the way to the ground.

"There were some scrapes on the body," Carleton said.

Carlton said she was surprised at how mobile the eaglet was, given that it was less than two weeks old. "At roughly ten days old they're not that mobile," Carleton said. She said there was no movement on the part of the adult that was in the nest at the time to try to stop the eagle from wobbling around so close to the edge of the nest.

The adult eagles are constantly building up the nest, bringing sticks that are referred to as crib rails to try to keep the young inside the nest.

The professor said that Berry has started the paperwork process to be permitted to bring the remains back to campus for mounting a the bird as part of an exhibit that would go on display in a museum at the science building. "I don't know if we'll get approved for that or not," said Carleton, who has a salvage permit and also has a number of hawks and owls that could be a part of the exhibit.

Cable and Liu honored as STAR students
• Both advance to further competition next month.

Peter Liu

Jerry Cable

Jaaie Varshney

Jerry Cable from Armuchee High and Peter Liu of Darlington were honored Friday as the local STAR students for Floyd County and the city of Rome. The teenagers were recognized with other high school STARs at the Rome Exchange Club luncheon Friday. STAR is an acronym for Student Teacher Achievement Recognition.

The STAR program honors seniors with the top combination of SAT scores and grade point average. Cable and Liu now move on to district honors which will be held March 13.

Cable was unable to attend the luncheon Friday as he was on a prospective college trip to Illinois.

"He hopes to gain admittance to one of the military academies," said his STAR teacher, Donald Bettler. "He has an amazing work ethic." After the meeting it was pointed out that Cable has been an active member of the Young Marines organization in Rome.

Liu told the Exchange Club that he was not sure where he wants to attend college, but planned to major in a field related to theoretical computer sciences. Liu is a native of China and was described by his STAR teacher, Jennifer Sikes, as an incredible reader and writer. "He is a man of infinitely great ideas," Sikes said.

The club honored each of the individual high school STARs including Floyd County Schools students Kasana Grace Page from Coosa High and her STAR teacher Chris Parker, Daniela Katriele Creel from Model and her STAR teacher Ellen Dunn, Kenzie Nicole Green from Pepperell and her STAR teacher Allison Goggans.

Also honored are Jaaie Varshney from Rome Highandher STAR teacher Jason Ollis, along with Hannah Jo Jackson from Unity Christian and her STAR teacher Brad Poston.

Page said she planned to attend the University of Georgia, Creel said she planned to take a year off and do some traveling before continuing her education. She mentioned the WinShape Impact 360 Institute as a possible choice for furthering her schooling.

Varshney was off at a scholarship interview at the University of Georgia and unable to attend the luncheon. Green has been accepted at the Savannah College of Art and Design where she plans to study industrial design, while Jackson said she planned to go to the Georgia Institute of Technology and study something yet to be decided in the field of engineering.