Top 5 Stories of 2019

Published 3:14 pm Friday, December 27, 2019

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1. Taurus USA cuts ribbon on Bainbridge headquarters

After breaking ground in April 2018, construction began for Taurus’ North American headquarters at the Commodore Industrial Park. It would later open in December 2019.

In February, builders began the process of putting up walls for the 200,000 square- foot facility. Rain slowed the construction down a bit, but the walls were lifted and construction continued on course.

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The company planned to begin manufacturing a portion of the firearms line in August and be in full operation by January 2020, which they have succeeded in doing.

Taurus hosted several job fairs at the Kirbo Center in May to help fill a large number of jobs in accounting, sales, engineering and manufacturing. They planned to total 300 jobs by January. They also have intentions to expand in the future, meaning more jobs will be available in the future. They designed their manufacturing plant with that in mind.

In May, Rick McCaskill updated the public on how the construction was doing and some other interesting details about what was to come. He informed everyone Taurus would have an indoor firing range, and that their call center was already in operation. He additionally said that Taurus suppliers were considering moving to Bainbridge and had already been looking at property.

In November, residents got a first hand look at what Taurus had been hard at work on inside their new facility. Taurus manufactured 2,000 Taurus TX 22 pistols that had BAINBRIDGE, GA. exclusively printed on them. They sold them to locally owned businesses, where residents could purchase this special run of pistols.

After long months of waiting and glimpses as to what would be offered, Taurus USA officially cut their ribbon at their new headquarters on Thursday, December 5, 2019.

In attendance were guests such as, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Sen. Dean Burke, CEO, David Blenker and other officials from the city, county and Economic Development who made this project possible.

Taurus’ opening brought other businesses to Bainbridge and is expected to bring more in the future, making Bainbridge officially “open for business.” Taurus is now headquartered at 100 Taurus Way and manufactures guns for customers around the globe, making them our number one story for 2019.

2. City, County continue to recover from Hurricane Michael devastation

Hurricane Michael ripped through Bainbridge in October 2018, leaving destruction, ravaged power lines and damaged crops in its wake. However, 2019 promised a much brighter outlook with allocations given to farmers and recovery continuing throughout the year.

In January, The Georgia Department of Agriculture announced that funding would be available through the Georgia Development Authority. The distributed funds would be given out through loans for farmers as a result of Hurricane Michael. The loans were limited to $400,000 per 7-year loan and had a guaranteed interest rate of 1 percent for the first two years.

January also was the hard deadline for debris to be picked up by the U.S. Corps of Engineers; all residents were asked to move their debris to the right of way. Once the U.S. Corps of Engineers completed their pickup, Crowder Gulf continued to handle pick up duties.

In February, rural hospitals finally overcame the hurdles they faced during the Hurricane as the Georgia Senate passed a bill, including a $2 million allocation of funding to compensate rural hospitals impacted by Hurricane Michael. Sen. Dean Burke noted that no amount of money will ever be able to fully restore what was lost in the tracks of Hurricane Michael, but hopes this helps rebuild what was lost and come back stronger than before.

Another tax credit program, the Timber Tax Credit was opened in March that allowed landowners to file their substantial economic losses incurred during Michael. Finally, in May 2019 the Trump Administration announced that Georgia would receive $34.9 million to assist in rebuilding and fixing infrastructure that was damaged.

Due to all the damage that was incurred and the amount of debris, in July the Decatur County Board of Commissioners had to add additional space at C&D Landfill.

Finally, one year later the City and other local farmers looked back this October at how far the community had come since that day and thanked God for his abundant blessings.

3. Community rallies around Cloud Kirbo after Krabbe diagnosis

In early August, young Bainbridge resident, Cloud Kirbo, 3, was diagnosed with late on-set Krabbe Disease after being misdiagnosed in early July with Guillain- Barre Syndrome. While the news was devastating to his family and friends, the community vowed to not let Cloud fight this alone and began rallying around him through various fundraisers and donation drives.

Cloud was taken Dr. Maria Escolar of the Program for the Study of Neurodevelopment in Rare Disorders at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Escolar explained Cloud was a candidate for a cell transplant, and this transplant would slow down the progression of the disease. The transplant did not come without a cost, though. The procedure would cost $500,000 to be paid in advance. Cloud’s father, Carlyle reached an agreement to pay $250,000 down and pay the rest in 60 days.

That is when the community stepped in.  Cloud’s aunt, Natalie Kirbo set up a GoFundMe, while others began preparing ways to raise money for a family they cared so deeply about. There were various percentage nights at local restaurants, meats, jellies, t-shirts, and bracelets sold. There was a combined yard sale by the boat basin, and finally one large charity event that culminated everyone’s efforts known as the Silver Lining Charity Event to benefit Cloud Kirbo.

On October 5, guests showed up in the hundreds to the Kirbo Center, where they were greeted by Ben and Erin Napier from HGTV’s hit show Home Town. They then partook in a live and slilent auction, where all funds raised went to the whopping $700,000 the Kirbo’s had incurred in medical bills.

The money raised helped the family immensely, and since then Cloud has received his transplant and is residing at the Ronald McDonald house with his parents, hoping to return home soon. Most recently, donations were used to purchase a stander that was given to Cloud on Christmas morning.

4. Football team continues celebration after State Championship

Bearcat fans went wild in December 2018 after the football team won the Class AAAAA football state championship in triple overtime. Since their win, attention has been drawn from the Touchdown Club, the local school board and the Georgia Capitol, making 2019 a year to commemorate.

In January, the Touchdown Club of Atlanta named Coach Jeff Littleton the Class AAAAA Coach of the Year. He was presented the award by Cole Forsyth, who played on the 1982 state championship team and Tom Kirbo.

Later in February, Littleton, along with the Bearcat football team, were honorary guests at the Georgia State Capitol. Littleton and the Bearcat captains even had the opportunity to be welcomed onto the legislature floor and be honored with Senate Resolution 182, which congratulated the team on their State Championship win.

In March, the players finally received their long awaited State Championship rings at the season banquet. The rings featured a large Bearcat “B” in the center with two footballs above it, representing the two state championships Bainbridge has won.

Littleton reminded everyone at the banquet that the rings were not just an accessory.

“It’s not just a piece of jewelry,” he explained. “It’s a symbol of a team that started the season 2-4, which battled back to the state championship game, where the Bearcats beat Warner Robins 47-41 in triple overtime.”

With their new rings in tow, the Bearcats celebrated with a parade down Shotwell Street that led to Centennial Field, where fans could interact with players and a ceremony was held to honor the 2018 and 1982 State Championship teams. Superintendent Tim Cochran gave a speech at the ceremony, along with 1982 coach Ralph Jones.

In the midst of this, a fundraiser was also being planned to raise money for the Bearcat Touchdown Club and celebrate the season. This event would feature one famous Bearcat, Kirby Smart.

Smart returned home to a packed out event and told Littleton he asked to speak, because Littleton put “Bainbridge back on the map.” Smart applauded the team and reminded them that they don’t have to be sick to get better and to always push forward.

The cherry on top to this great season ended with a new addition to the field where it all started. The School Board unanimously decided to add a new north gate entrance that would provide access to both the home and visitor’s stands. They also cleared the way for a new parking lot to be paved at the home of the old Elcan-King Elementary.

5. Hubert Moore’s murderers sentenced to time in prison

Members of The Post-Searchlight family were devastated in October 2017 when employee, Hubert Moore was shot and killed. However, in 2019 Moore’s family and coworkers saw justice when a trial was set for his murderers.

The trial for Louis Lamorris Ousley, 29, Thaddas Nundra, 38, and Ronnie Denardo McFadden began Monday, February 11, where prosecutors used new DNA technology for the first time in a Georgia trial. The technology was used to analyze mingled DNA on guns to determine who pulled the trigger. Prior to the trial, Nundra was believed to the main culprit for Moore’s murder.

The men were charged with felony murder and criminal attempt of armed robbery with Nundra being charged with malice murder.

During the four- day trial, Ousley pled guilty and Nundra received a life sentence for the killing. South Georgia Circuit District Attorney Joe Mullholland was pleased with the outcome and shared his thoughts on this tragic event.

“On Oct. 26, 2017, the South Georgia Circuit suffered a tragedy that our small corner of Southwest Georgia is not accustomed to,” Mulholland said.

“Hubert Moore was shot and killed while preparing for his Post-Searchlight newspaper delivery in the early morning hours. Moore was not shot by an enemy, or a vindictive assailant, but rather was shot randomly by a man determined to rob him of his money.  “Moore had eight dollars on his person. The killer, Thaddus Nundra, was released from prison a year before the murder. Moore spent the last moments of his life lying in an empty parking lot gasping for air. He left behind a wife of 26 years. They spent their time together raising cows, enjoying each other and  spoiling their little dog.  This Valentine’s Day, Mr. Hubert’s widow wasn’t awakened by a kiss from her husband but rather an empty bed.  She received no flowers, nor any signs of affection from her best friend Mr. Moore.

“The only peace I can give Mrs. Moore is that this Valentine’s Day, the Jury convicted Thaddus Nundra,” said Mulholland. “The Court sentenced him to Life Without Parole. Thaddus Nundra will spend whatever time he has left on this world rotting in a 10-by-10-foot cell in the State System. While he certainly doesn’t deserve even this, I hope that the Moore family and friends can have some closure knowing that his killer will never see the light of day again as a free man. Our community was sickened by this crime. This is something that happens in metro areas, not God’s Country.  I cannot thank the Jury, Bainbridge Public Safety, Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and all of the other parties enough that made this conviction become a reality. Our community will recover from this case and be stronger and more vigilant in the future.

“But we will never forget Mr. Hubert Moore. Rest in Peace and God Bless You Mr. Hubert.”