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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

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Sneads Pirates ready for 2018 season

  • Published in Sports

The Sneads Pirates are ready for a new season and a winning record this year according to returning coach Bill Thomas. Sneads lost just over a dozen players to graduation but is optimistic about this year’s team with the return of several key players.

What could have been seen as a challenge to replace quarterback Matt Thomas became easier for dad Bill Thomas when he had two candidates step up to vie for the spot and possibly make it a dual quarterback system. Thomas says he is very fortunate to have two quality quarterbacks in Courtavious Garrett and Colton Mercer.  About Mercer, Thomas says, “He’s got an arm on him and can move around.” Garrett, on the other hand has speed, “Courtavious has lightning speed, he’s fast and we just have to get the ball in his hands.” 

Receiving passes thrown will be Jackson Milsapp and Trent Smith.  Thomas says they are very deep in running backs this year. Other than Garrett carrying the ball, Alonzo Hill, Calvin Stringer, Seth Scott, Trent Smith will alternate time in the running back position. Handing off snaps from center will be Dylan Arnold.  Offensively, Jay Nathan Hayes and Zach Thomas will anchor down the line with guards Trent Johnson, Ryan Cloud and Connor McDaniel giving it 100%.  

Defensively, Thomas says he will have many players being called on to work both sides of the ball. Zach Thomas and Jay Nathan Hayes will both fit into that category. They will have fresh legs in Ryder McDaniel, Estavious Smith, Jaheim Garrett, Deangelo Manbeck, Ryder McDaniel and Matthew Thompson will all be contributing heavily defensively.

Sneads will open their regular season August 24, 2018 when they host cross-county rival Cottondale with a 7 p.m. start time.

Graceville football has blessing of the helmets and pom poms

  • Published in Sports

What better way to welcome the new season than with a ‘Blessing of the helmets and pom poms”.  That’s exactly what Graceville’s new head football coach and athletic director Tommy Roberts orchestrated this past Sunday afternoon. Parents and fans came into the Tiger gym with helmets and pom poms lining the bleachers normally filled with basketball fans. One by one, they went to each helmet and pom pom, stopping sometimes momentarily and sometimes longer to pray over the items. Prayers were silent and could have been for anything but the feedback I received was for a safe and injury free season. 

Coach Roberts is hopeful this will become not only an annual event but one that is expected and welcomed by the community and will grow in numbers yearly.


First annual 2018 Home Run Derby for Riley Torbett = success

  • Published in Sports

Alyson James was a life-long classmate of Riley Torbett and says openly she thanks God every day for putting him in her path. When Riley’s life ended way short of what anyone could ever have imagined on May 22, days before he and Alyson were scheduled to graduate, she knew she had to do something to honor Riley.  A Pinterest post turned on the light bulb for Alyson and she put the wheels in motion.

Countless hours searching for sponsors, volunteers, location, and finally putting it all together resulted in a successful Home Run Derby that raised over $6,000. Riley’s dream will live on with all the money raised going to Project H.O.P.E., a passion of Riley’s for the last several years. He has spent summers in Nicaragua working with kids, teaching the children that he loved dearly about God and how he works in everyone’s lives. With the money raised Saturday, one school can be built and salaries paid to dedicated staff who have been in fear of losing their jobs due to the civil unrest there. 

Alyson James opened the event welcoming everyone and thanking them for the great turnout. She gave a brief synopsis of how the event transpired, “When I was crowned in November of this past year, one of my duties as Miss NWFL was to create a platform. I came up with what I thought was a heartfelt platform. I felt great about it and started preparing for it. Then May 22nd happened and my friend and classmate Riley Torbett and Cason Hatcher were killed in a tragic accident. I felt very numb for several days and felt God working on me. I thought about the life Riley lived and the things he accomplished in his short 17 years. He was an awesome example for me and all of our classmates. He was the heart and soul of our Marianna Bulldogs and I know I am a better person because Riley Torbett touched my life.” Alyson told of memories with Riley that have remained with her since elementary school and her desire to keep his memory alive and thus was born the Home Run Derby.

Alyson James was most humbled by the turnout of the event, “I am forever changed because of Riley. To say I am thankful is an understatement. I can’t thank everyone enough who helped me. I could not have done this alone. Thank you, Dana and Rex Torbett for allowing me to honor your son.  He was a one-of-a-kind person and left this earth much better than he found it.”

Alyson thanked the North Florida Queens, and countless volunteers to came out to work the tournament. 

For the Home Run Derby itself, there were five age divisions with participants in every division.  In the seven-year old division, it was Trace Pelfrey taking home the first-place trophy.  There were eight participants signed up for the 8-10-year old division with Sam Kight Hamilton with four homeruns on the day. Riley Rowe came in second in the event.

In the 11-13 division, Lane Johnson took home the first-place trophy with four homeruns. Coming in second was Denton Lord with three homeruns. There were seven participants in this division. 

In the 14-20-year-old division, Cody Gwin with four out of the parkers to take first place.  Right on his heels was Mac Danford with three and Cameron Gray with two. Hunter Mitchell and Caleb Torbett both went yard once each.   There were 20 signed up in this division.

The adult division was won by none other than slugging Scott Wiggins with 12 vying for that number one honor.  Scott sailed out two on the day.  

Following the event, a very humble Dana Torbett said, “I am beyond humbled by everyone’s kindness that participated as well as Alyson James for making this a priority and working so hard. Nicaragua will get a new preschool dedicated in Riley’s name. They will also be able to pay many staff salaries in Nicaragua so they don’t have to lose their jobs like so many others during the civil unrest there. What a blessing.”

Rex Torbett summed it up in a few words, “Awesome job.  To everyone involved, once again Jackson County has stepped up and hit it out of the park. Thanks for the overwhelming support.”

The Jackson County Times recognizes Alyson James, Rex and Dana Torbett for an awesome accomplishment and appreciates the opportunity to be a part of this event.

Jackson County School Board votes NO TAX increase

Following a near three-hour meeting of the Jackson County School Board a week ago, the Board voted for no millage increase which means taxes will NOT be raised to landowners this past Tuesday night. Superintendent Larry Moore opened the meeting with Chairman Terry Nichols asking for any citizens requesting to speak at the meeting.

Walt Hewett came to the podium and addressed the Board about his taxes over the last few years, noting the increase from 2016 to 2017. Hewett said, “My taxes in 2016 for Jackson County property taxes were $1938.99.  Of this, $895.10 went to the Jackson County School system.  That ends up being a percentage of 46.16% of my total property taxes went to the school system, almost 50%.”  Hewett said while he fully supported the school system, his mom and dad and he worked for the school system, and wanted better for the students, he was maxed out with taxes and was opposed to an increase this year.  Hewett said he was there to work with his commissioners to increase sales tax until he realized we were maxed out on sales tax. He complimented Dr. Nichols helping him out before the meeting with understanding some of the things that were going on.  He thanked the board for their time and encouraged them to rethink their decision.

Following the citizen’s request, Superintendent Larry Moore addressed the board and said after much contemplation, he had opted to leave the rate at 1.114. 

The Board voted on a motion that basically amended last week’s motion allowing for the advertised increase requested of 1.250 to remain at the 1.114 rate of last year, eliminating an increase to taxpayers for this year.  

Following the meeting, school board member Tony Pumphrey said, ““I did do a lot of research and it did give me a chance to talk to a lot of the county taxpayers and we were able to come to a compromise that I think will benefit both. That’s a win-win for our schools, we get a little bit of money and the taxpayer doesn’t incur any additional burden of taxpayer money.  Pumphrey says, even though the capital outlay is lower than they had hoped for, they will still be able to complete two of the projects.”

In other school board business, at the July 24 meeting, the school board agreed to move forward on a purchase of 157 acres of land for the potential site of a K-8 school for Grand Ridge and Sneads schools.  School board member Chris Johnson told the board he had eyed this particular tract of property for some time and was more than happy to see it within reach of the school board obtaining it. The property is priced at approximately $2,344 per ace for an estimated $368,000.  With both Sneads Elementary and Grand Ridge Middle School deteriorating yearly, the property located near the Inwood Community between Grand Ridge and Sneads seems to be a perfect fit for the prosed project. 

At the July 24 meeting, an update was given by Deputy Superintendent Cheryl McDaniel in reference to job vacancies for the upcoming school year.  At that time, there were still 43 positions open, however that was down from 52 the previous week. As of press time Wednesday, there are 40 positions open with eight of those teaching positions.  There is one opening for an occupational therapist, seven for police officers, one custodian, 11 paraprofessionals with two of those required to be Spanish speaking, two mechanics, and 10 bus drivers.  Moore said he should have an announcement on the last assistant principal position by Friday. Two employees were terminated from the school board.  Bus driver Carolyn Killings for willful neglect of duty and paraprofessional TeQuavis Brigham for misconduct. 

The Jackson County School Board will hold its monthly workshop August 16 at 4:00 p.m. with the monthly meeting the following Tuesday, August 21 at 4:00 p.m.  The workshop and the meeting will be held in the board room at the school board office.

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