December: A first for Gadsden judges, local icon passes

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Year in Review

By Alice Du Pont

Kathy Garner made history in Gadsden County when she was sworn in as the county’s first African-American and the first female every elected county judge. Garner was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist In 2009, but was overwhelmingly elected by the voters on Aug. 14, 2012.

She said the voters validated the governor’s choice in appointing of her.

East Gadsden High School’s graduation rate for the 2011-12 school year soared compared to the prior school year, jumping from 65.61 percent to 81 percent.

Julia Woodward died in January after a long illness. She was well-known throughout the southeastern United States for her love of Gadsden County, her grace and elegance and her philanthropic efforts.

It was just about as big as you can imagine — that’s the day Earvin “Magic” Johnson came to town. He spoke in the Jaguar gymnasium to students from East Gadsden High School. More were bused in for the special assembly from West Gadsden High School, Carter-Parramore Academy and Crossroad Academy to hear the National Basketball Association legend.

He met a standing ovation and cheers when he walked into the room. But Johnson quickly got down to business, urging students to study hard and stay focused. He told them that as one of nine children, he grew up poor and could not afford to wear expensive tennis shoes and jackets.

He asked the students to stop pressuring their parents to buy things they cannot afford. Then he told the students to take out their camera phones and walked around the gym to give them a photo opportunity.

While citizens were decking their own homes, the city of Quincy’s Tanyard Creek Park hosted a tree-lighting ceremony, complete with a 30-foot tree and decorations throughout the park. Citizens were encouraged to drive through the park and enjoy the lights.

A Quincy businessman, 29-year-old Travis Barkley had to run for his life early one December morning when he opened his car detailing business across from city hall. Arrested near the scene and charged with attempted murder was Jerrell Richardson after he allegedly tried to kill Barkley with a handgun.

Assistant Police Chief Glenn Sapp said Richardson arrived at the business around 10:30 a.m. and had words with Barkley. Richardson allegedly pulled out a gun and Barkley started running, with Richardson chasing him and firing.

arkley was finally able to get away from Richardson by reportedly running through a plate glass window and going to a nearby business. Richardson was captured a few blocks away still with the gun allegedly in his possession. Barkley received a gunshot wound to the hand but was treated and released. No one at the business was injured.

Quincy City Commissioners tabled a proposal that would create an economic strategy to retain, expand and attract businesses to Quincy. One part of the plan is an economic development initiative for reduced electricity charges.