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Coming in next week's editions

Next week's Walker County Messenger will include the Review & Forecast edition for 2018, three sections with 28 pages highlighting local governments, businesses, schools, recreational outlets and updates on health and wellness.

Farm owners asked to apply for Centennial Farm Award

Most Georgians are several generations removed from their family farm, but many can trace their family history back to a farm and may still have relatives farming the family home place.

The Walker County Farm Bureau encourages owners of farms continuously operating for 100 years or more to apply to be recognized by the Georgia Centennial Farm Program.

"Farms play an important role in Georgia history as they

formed the economic, family and cultural foundation for many Georgia communities," said Mike Bunn, Walker County Farm Bureau president. "Since farmers make up only about one percent of our country's population, a farm that has been in operation for at least 100 years deserves the recognition the Georgia Centennial Farm Program offers.

"It represents the sustainability and continued growth of some of Georgia's oldest farms. I encourage anyone whose farm meets the criteria for one of the three awards to apply."

Applications for the 2018 awards must be postmarked by May 1. If you are interested in applying for recognition in 2018, visit to download an application or contact Sara Love at 770-389-7856 or

To qualify, your farm must be a working farm with a minimum of 10 acres actively involved in agricultural production, and produce $1,000 in annual farm-generated income. The farm also must retain at least 10 acres of the original farm purchase.

The program recognizes farms in one of three categories: The Centennial Heritage Farm Award honors farms owned by members of the same family for 100 years or more that are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Centennial Family Farm Award recognizes farms owned by members of the same family for 100 years or more that are not listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Centennial Farm Award does not require continual family ownership, but farms must be at least 100 years old and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Each year, qualifying farms are recognized on the first Friday of the Georgia National Fair in Perry. During the awards presentation, farm owners receive a Georgia Centennial Farm certificate of honor signed by the governor.

More than 500 farms have been recognized by the Georgia Centennial Farm Program since its inception in 1993. It is administered by the Georgia Historic Preservation Division (HPD) in a partnership with the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation; Georgia Department of Agriculture; Georgia Forestry Commission; and the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter. The program is sponsored by Georgia EMC.

Author visiting Fort O to gather POW info

Jason Wetzel will be spending all day Feb. 24 at the 6th Cavalry Museum listening to any stories local citizens may have about POWs that were housed at Fort Oglethorpe during World War II.

"I'm looking for anything anyone has – old photographs, letters, newspaper articles, family memories, anything related to the POWs who lived here," says Wetzel.

There were over 12,000 German and Italian POWs in our state during WWII, Wetzel says. "It's an unfamiliar story to many Georgians and, in fact, to most Americans." A retired Army historian now living in Dahlonega, Wetzel and fellow Army historian Dr. Kathryn Coker are writing a book on the subject.

Wetzel says that during the Second World War Georgia had five POW base camps and 39 branch camps that extended into neighboring states.

The camp located in what is now the city of Fort Oglethorpe, says Wetzel, was a branch camp and housed 300 German POWs for 21 months during the years of 1944 and 1945.

Wetzel says the POWs often worked for local farmers and merchants. "There was a severe labor shortage in the U.S. due to the war. If not for the POWs, there would have been a lot of crops lost in the fields and lumber mills would have sat unmanned."

"The camps had a thriving culture," says Wetzel. "They often grew their own food, they ran classes in everything from art to journalism, engineering and languages. They had sports teams and bands and put on plays. They were allowed to keep whatever they earned working in the community and often paid children to run errands for them to buy candy and Cokes."

Wetzel says that nationwide, WWII POW camps housed 425,000 men. "We started taking them in 1943 when England was becoming overwhelmed and couldn't handle so many prisoners."

After the war, says Wetzel, when POWs were returned to their homelands, many chose to come back to the U.S. "They were young when they came here – most in their late teens and early twenties. They were treated well. They ate better and were safer here than they would have been if captured overseas and sent to a foreign POW camp where food was scarce and death rates high. The U.S. came to feel like home to them."

Anyone with documents, photographs, letters, newspaper articles, family memories or any other information related to WWII POWs in Fort Oglethorpe can meet with Jason Wetzel on Feb. 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the 6th Calvary Museum, 6 Barnhardt Circle, Fort Oglethorpe. They can also contact Wetzel or Dr. Kathryn Coker by email:,

LaFayette Woman's Club's serves 80 years

Mayor Andy Arnold, during a recent LaFayette City Council meeting, awarded the GFWC Georgia LaFayette Woman's Club with a proclamation honoring the club for its many contributions to the city.

Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, was proclaimed Woman's Club Day. The proclamation listed many contributions of the Club included 70 years of the Birthday Calendar, HOBY Scholarship and High School Perfect Attendance Awards, Support for Kids for Christ, Veterans Day Program, support for the LaFayette-Walker County Library and its many programs and services, as well as contributions to community events.

Co-Presidents Cecilia Westbrook and Stephanie Wardlaw expressed their appreciation for the proclamation on behalf of the Club members.

"We are honored to be recognized for our service to the community." said Westbrook.

"Our hope is to see the Club continue to grow and make a difference in LaFayette for another 80 years at least. "expressed Wardlaw.

For information about the LaFayette Woman's Club contact Rachel Oesch Willeford at 706-200-8099 or