Rep. Graves’ third-annual Youth Leadership Summit attracts 250 students

Rep. Graves’ third-annual Youth Leadership Summit attracts 250 students

Nearly 250 students participated in Rep. Tom Graves’ (R-GA-14) third annual Youth Leadership Summit in Calhoun last Thursday. The students were high school juniors and seniors from 25 schools across the 14th Congressional District, each of whom was recommended for attendance by their teachers and school administrators.

As these students prepare to enter higher education or the workforce, the conference provided them with an opportunity to learn from and engage with Georgia leaders who represent industries ranging from the energy sector to social media startups.

Besides Rep. Graves, this year’s speakers included Lauren Claffey, Executive and Internal Communications Director at Southern Company; Caleb Beavers, student at the University of Michigan and Youth Leadership Summit alumni; Phillip Edge, Senior Manager of Learning Solutions at Sodexo; and Blake Canterbury, founder of

“You are here today because someone, somewhere at your school, saw something just a little bit different in you,” said Rep. Graves. “We believe in you and we want to invest in you.”

Likewise, the first guest speaker, Lauren Claffey, encouraged students to believe in themselves and find what they love. She urged the students not to fear failure, but cautioned “once you figure out what you love, you have to hustle.”

Caleb Beavers, a junior at the University of Michigan who attended Rep. Graves’ first Youth Leadership Summit, advised students to challenge themselves when they transition out of high school and into the workforce or college. “To expand your comfort zone, you have to get out of your comfort zone,” he noted. “The most rewarding path is the one that takes you out of your bubble.”

Phillip Edge spoke to the students about their “Limitless Potential.” In his energetic presentation, he drove home the importance of taking action, declaring “the knowledge you receive is nothing until you activate it.”

He concluded by challenging the students: “Everything you need you already have…What are you going to do to unlock your potential?”

Next, Kate Hewitt, Director of Programs and Operations at 21st Century Leaders, gave a brief presentation on opportunities her organization offers and encouraged the students to get involved. 21st Century Leaders connects high school students with successful professionals, who hope to inspire young people to seek leadership roles in business and in their communities.

Young entrepreneur Blake Canterbury was the event’s final guest speaker. He described his experience creating successful companies that leverage social media to meet community needs. He told the students, “Purpose is rooted in doing good for other people.”

Sitting with young folks from other schools, students were encouraged to meet new people and expand their networks. And, unlike most classroom settings, students were encouraged to use their cell phones to take photos, tweet and post on social media sites. The event, which was livestreamed on Facebook Live, generated significant engagement on social media under the hashtag #GA14YLS.

Students left the event inspired by what they heard. “Our entire attending student body gathered a tremendous amount of information from all of the speakers and did nothing but talk about the entire day on the way back home as well as the following day,” said Dr. William Lanford, an instructor at Morris Innovative School in Dalton. “I cannot wait to hear further and more detailed discussions from this event.”

There were also four student ambassadors from Sonoraville and Gordon Central High Schools’ chapters of Future Business Leaders of America. Volunteering to help with the execution of the event, these students arrived early to set up, helped throughout the event and stayed late to clean up, ensuring the venue was left in great condition.

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Signage unveiled to mark Purple Heart designation at local Shoney’s

Signage unveiled to mark Purple Heart designation at local Shoney’s

An official ceremony was held Wednesday, Oct. 19 to recognize Shoney’s restaurant, located at 1205 Red Bud Road NE in Calhoun, as a Purple Heart restaurant by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The establishment was recognized by the state of Georgia on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 as one of the inaugural Purple Heart restaurant’s in the state.

Local dignitaries, along with Shoney’s employees, city representatives, Purple Heart members and family and friends gathered at the restaurant to unveil two parking signs, designating the spots as special parking for veterans who are Purple Heart recipients.

“We appreciate the City of Calhoun and their street department for putting up the signage,” said Military Order of the Purple Heart Rome Chapter 525 Commander, Marvin Garner. “Calhoun-Gordon County is very patriotic. We appreciate what Shoney’s is doing; this is a historic occasion. It is one of the first restaurants in the state to be designated a Purple Heart restaurant and to put signs up to have reserved parking spaces for our wounded veterans.”

“I just want to take the opportunity to thank Shoney’s for the recognition of this group,” said Calhoun Mayor Jimmy Palmer of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. “When we signed the resolution and recognized the city as a Purple Heart city and placed the signage for that designation, it was one of the more meaningful resolutions we have done; just recognizing the people who have contributed so much to every American citizen. We enjoy the freedoms we have today because of the sacrifices that have been made by so many, and we at the City of Calhoun want to recognize you as well.”

“When we were approached several months ago, asking if we were interested in being a Purple Heart restaurant, we immediately said ‘yes’,” said Michael Culvey, general manager of the local Shoney’s. “Anything we can to do help our veterans, no matter how small or big, we will do.”

The Military Order of the Purple Heart was granted by Congress in 1958, and is composed of members of the military who have received the Purple Heart Medal for combat-related injuries.

Both the City of Calhoun and Town of Resaca are designated Purple Heart cities.

Any business or organization wanting to become a Purple Heart business or organization may contact Marvin Garner, Commander, Chapter 525 Rome, Ga., at 706-913-3165 or visit for information.

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Cook of the Week: Lillie Mowry

Cook of the Week: Lillie Mowry

Lillie Mowry has lived in Gordon County for 30 years. She was born in Tennessee and is a retired college Language Arts teacher. Lillie enjoys teaching a Sunday School class for senior ladies at Hill City Baptist Church. She has four children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Lillie watched her mother cook and her sister bake cookies, but mostly was self-taught. After getting married at 17 and moving away from home, she learned a lot about cooking from the ladies at church and an elderly lady that roomed with them.

Counted among her favorite things to cook are homemade corn beef hash, meatloaf, fried tomatoes, fried okra and apple spice cake. She also enjoys stir-fry meals, especially those that utilize vegetables from her garden. Her favorite ingredients to cook with include any fresh vegetables or fruit. She enjoys the seasonings of the South to those of other regions. Deep-frying is not something she enjoys because she feels that it tends to be messy and not a healthy choice.

When asked what advice she would share with inexperienced cooks she stated, “Get in the habit of gathering all your ingredients and utensils prior to when you begin cooking.” Lillie always has enjoyed making a beautiful table using crystal, stemware, china with matching tablecloth and napkins. Her children learned at a young age how not to break things. They grew up believing that this beautiful atmosphere was normal, but it made them feel special. Since Lillie taught at the local college, she entertained often, especially international students. She wanted them to always feel welcome and get a glimpse of southern hospitality and cooking. The happiest times of her life has been with her husband and family gathered around the table at supper time and holidays. Every member had a special meal on their birthday instead of a party.

Black Eyed Susans


½ lb. butter

1 lb. sharp grated cheese

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. red pepper (Lillie uses 1/8 tsp.)


Pecan pieces


Make dough and refrigerate awhile. Roll out and cut with juice glass. Wrap dough around a date with a pecan piece inside. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Lillie’s Hints:

Save on preparation time. Sift flour right into a storage canister to have on hand for recipes that require sifted flour.

To insure round muffin tops, grease only the bottom and halfway up the sides of each muffin cup.

Apple Spice Cake

2 cups sugar

½ cup. shortening

2 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

2 ½ cup flour

5 apples, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. nutmeg

(If using self-rising flour, omit salt and baking soda)

Mix together as bread (mixture will be dry). Add topping-put in greased and floured large baking dish or pan. Bake approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Topping (optional) Put on cake before baking.

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 T Bisquick

2 T. margarine

Add ½ cup chopped walnuts, if desired.

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

2 cups flour

½ cup sugar

2 ¼ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup floured blueberries

1 tsp. baking soda

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

¼ cup melted butter or margarine.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, set aside. Combine egg, buttermilk and butter; mix well. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Fold into blueberries. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove immediately. Makes 1 ½ dozen muffins.

Hearty Twice-Baked Potatoes

8 large baking potatoes

½ lb. bulk pork sausage

¼ cup butter or margarine , softened

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1 ½ cups diced fully cooked ham

6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

½ cup Italian salad dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

Scrub and pierce potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-60 minutes or microwave, uncovered, on high for 12-14 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook the sausage until no longer pink; drain.

When potatoes are cold enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a ¼ “shell. In a large mixing bowl, mash the pulp with butter. Stir in the sausage, cheese, ham, bacon, sour cream, salad dressing, salt and pepper. Spoon into potato shells. Place on two ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Yield 16 servings.

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State fares poorly again in infant, maternal health

State fares poorly again in infant, maternal health

Georgia still ranks low among states in rates of premature births, low-birthweight babies, and infant mortality.

The rankings in those categories are 43rd, 47th and 45th, respectively, based on the latest data, according to the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia’s 2016 report on maternal and infant health.

The recently released report also notes that the state suffers from an absence of key information. A federal publication of 2013 birth data identifies Georgia as having the highest rate of missing prenatal care data from its birth certificates, with about 16 percent not having that measure.

“Other states are collecting some of this data better,’’ said Elise Blasingame, executive director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of women and babies. “We have the highest rate of missing prenatal care data in the nation and do not report on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders beyond postpartum depression.”

Prenatal care is vital for infant health. Babies born to mothers who received no prenatal care are three times more likely to be born at low birthweight, and five times more likely to die, than those whose mothers received prenatal care, the report said.

The report points to an interesting decline in Georgia’s infant mortality numbers that occurred in 2010. The author, Merrilee Gober, notes there was a significant rise that year in pregnant women getting flu shots, amid the national H1N1 scare. Georgia’s fetal mortality rate also had a drop in 2010.

The latest CDC survey data show 50.5 percent of pregnant women in the nation are getting the vaccine, but in Georgia, just 17 percent now are getting it, said Gober. “Thus, nationally it appears that other states have maintained their higher rates of immunization after the H1N1 scare — but not Georgia,’’ she said Tuesday.

The state also has a problem with access to care, especially in rural areas, the report said.

Longer distances to birthing hospitals can increase chances for pre-term birth. But only 46 of Georgia’s 159 counties have labor and delivery units, with about 75 hospitals delivering, the report said. Many hospitals, especially in rural areas, have shuttered these units in the past two decades due to financial losses.

And only half of Georgia counties have an ob/gyn.

Georgia has an above average rate of maternal mortality as well, Gober said. Maternal mortality is defined as the death of a woman while she is pregnant or within one year after the end of her pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management.

The initiation of breastfeeding of newborns has improved in Georgia, the report pointed out, with 73 percent of new moms starting out with the practice.

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers. For the baby, breastfeeding reduces the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, lowers infant mortality and supports healthy development of the brain and nervous system. It also lowers infants’ risk of becoming obese later in childhood.

For mothers, breastfeeding reduces the risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

But the Georgia breastfeeding rate drops off significantly three months after birth.

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, though, pointed out that the Legislature passed a bill that will improve access to clinical lactation care for Georgia’s mothers and babies.

Among the report’s recommendations are better tracking of prenatal statistics; raising reimbursement rates for doctors and dentists who serve Medicaid patients; starting a push to increase flu shots among pregnant women; increasing the tobacco tax; and creating an initiative to address Georgia’s high unintended pregnancy rate, now at 60 percent.

Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, said the report “presents a clear picture and understanding of the health of women and infants in our state and provides strategies to breastfeed address challenges and promote successful programs through Public Health, the health care community, policymakers and the community at large.

“Continued progress will require public-private collaborations to implement the strategies and monitor data outcomes. After all, the health of our communities begins with healthy women and infants.”

Here’s a link to download the report

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Obituaries from the Wednesday, October 19, 2016 issue of the Calhoun Times

Obituaries from the Wednesday, October 19, 2016 issue of the Calhoun Times

Edith Burns

Edith Witherow Burns, age 91, of Calhoun passed away at 7 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2016 at Gordon Healthcare.

Edith was born on Dec. 7, 1924 to the late Fate Witherow and Frances Rogers Witherow in St. Clair County, Ala. In addition to her parents, she was also preceded in death by her husband, Hoyt Jackson Burns, Sr., seven brothers and sisters, and one grandchild, Jim White.

Edith was the oldest living member of West Union Baptist Church and she worked as a Lunch Room Manager for the Gordon County School Systems from 1965 until 1981.

Edith is survived by two sons, Jackie Burns and his wife, Rosellen, Jerry Burns and his wife, Roxane; two daughters Wilma Burns Hammontree and her husband, Rayford, and Pat Burns White and her husband, Jack; eight grandchildren, Tracy Bryant, Emily Jones, Wendi Murphy, Lisa Traylor, Jamie Burns, Jacin Burns, Jayla Ensley and Jared Burns. Fifteen great- grandchildren also survive.

The family of Edith Witherow Burns received friends on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 at 1 p.m. at West Union Baptist Church and funeral at 3 p.m. Reverend Jerry Brooks and Reverend Jim Burns will officiate. Edith will be laid to rest next to her husband at West Union Baptist Church Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Jacin Burns, Jamie Burns, Jared Burns, Eric Jones, Daniel Bryant, Brandon Ensley and Joel Murphy.

Condolences may be recorded at

Thomas Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Howard Franklin

Howard R. “Poppa” Franklin, age 75, of the Nance Springs Community, died at 7:02 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. Howard was born in Chattanooga on July 24, 1941, a son of the late Howard J Franklin and Doris Self Franklin Moore. Also, he was preceded in death by his stepfather, Roy B Moore; brother, Robert Franklin; stepmother, Minnie Franklin. He has lived in the Nance Spring Community for 48 years. He was a member of the Central Church of Christ of Dalton. He was employed by Norville Industries for over thirty years and recently by Global Solutions.

Howard is survived by his wife, Patricia Nance Franklin; one son, Chris Franklin and his wife, Linda, of Varnell; one daughter, Tara Franklin Dunn and her husband, Rick, of Gallatin, Tenn.; three sisters, Joy Hamilton, Carol McCamish and Mane McMellon, all of Chattanooga; seven grandchildren, Laura Franklin Garner and her husband, Jonathon, Hannah Franklin, Sarah Franklin, Christopher Franklin, Tucker Dunn, Evan, Elizabeth Dunn, Cassie Moss Boyd and her husband, Justin, and one great-grandchild Jackson Boyd. Several brothers-in-law, sisters-in-laws and several nieces and nephews.

The family received friends from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and the funeral at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 at Thomas Funeral Home Chapel with Barry Gilreath, Jr and Ross Jordan officiating. Pallbearers were grandsons and nephews.

In lieu of flowers the family request donations be made to the Central Church of Christ of Dalton Building Fund.

Condolences can be made at

Sgt. Anthony Bramlett

Sergeant Deputy Sherriff Anthony Ray Bramlett, age 42, of Calhoun, passed away at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.

Sergeant Bramlett was born on Dec. 21, 1973 to James Bramlett and Meletha Grogan Moss. He is preceded in death by his grandparents, uncles and infant brother, Joshua.

He was an avid participant at the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament and hunter and fisherman. Sgt. Bramlett was a dedicated sheriff’s deputy of Gordon County for eight years and leaves behind his partner K9, Katja. He was a member of Grace Community Baptist Church and was a loving, kind and great Christian, who was always taking care of others.

Sgt. Bramlett leaves behind his wife, Carrie Sudduth Bramlett and two children, Anna Bramlett and Conner Bramlett and his girlfriend, Megan Harbin; his father, James Odell Bramlett and his wife, Linda; his mother, Meletha Ann Moss and her husband, Woody; his grandmother, Barbara Brown and her husband, Jimmy Middlebrooks; three brothers, Timothy Moss and his wife, Reba, Brett Bramlett, and Alan Moss; one sister, Natasha Reece and her husband, Ronnie; three stepsisters Anna, Gwen and Tasha; one sister-in-law, Misty Townsend and her husband, Bill; one brother-in-law, Eddie and his wife, Kara Suddduth, father and mother-in-law, Eddie and Joan Sudduth and several nieces and nephews.

Sgt. Bramlett’s family received friends at Sugar Valley Baptist Church on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 at 5 p.m. Funeral services were held on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016 at 2 p.m. with the Reverend David Peeler and Captain Shane Parrott officiating. The Gordon County Sherriff’s Honor Guard had charge of graveside rites at Salacoa Baptist Church Cemetery of Cherokee County. Pallbearers were Harris Housley, Conner Bramlett, Timothy Moss, Danny Floyd, Jason Brown and Billy Townsend. Honorary pallbearers were the Gordon County Sherriff’s Office.

Please leave condolences at

Thomas Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Michael Fletcher

Mr. Robert Michael Fletcher, 65, of Calhoun, died Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 at Hamilton Medical Center. He was born in Gordon County on Nov. 27, 1950, son of the late Robert H. and Venita Stewart Fletcher. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Johnny Fletcher, and a sister, Patty Densmore.

Michael was a 1969 graduate of Calhoun High School and served in the Army National Guard. He was a member of Salem Baptist Church.

He leaves behind his wife of 43 years, Patricia Mincey Fletcher; his daughters and son-in-law, Christy and Wesley Brown of Calhoun, and Suzanne Fletcher of Adairsville; his grandchildren, Ryan Brown, Justin Brown, and Hope Brown; and a brother-in-law, Al Densmore of Calhoun. A host of friends and other relatives also survive.

Services to honor the life of Mr. Robert Michael Fletcher were held Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. from the chapel of Max Brannon and Sons Funeral Home, with Dr. William Roberts and Rev. Gary Hibberts officiating. Interment followed in Fain Cemetery with Military Honors. Pallbearers included Wesley Brown, Ryan Brown, Justin Brown, Greg Davis, Jeremy Fletcher and Adam Fletcher.

The Fletcher family received friends at the funeral home on Monday, Oct. 17 from 5 until 9 p.m.

Condolences may be left at Funeral services for Mr. Robert Michael Fletcher are under the care and direction of Max Brannon and Sons Funeral Home of Calhoun.

Betty Locklear

Ms. Betty Locklear, 82, died Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 at McLeod Medical Center in Dillon.

Born in Dillon County, S.C., Dec. 24, 1933, she was the daughter of the late John Dallas Locklear and Lizzie Chavis Locklear. She was a member of Leland Grove Freewill Baptist Church.

Survivors include her children, Sandy Kay Bennett (William) of Maxton, N.C., James A. Locklear, Wanda Jean Locklear, Peggy Locklear Branch (Larry), all of Little Rock, Tammy Locklear Berry (Tim) of Calhoun, Ga., and Pamela Locklear McColl (John) of Clio; Tella Branch, granddaughter known as her baby girl; twenty-three grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Ms. Locklear was preceded in death by her granddaughter, Rhonda Branch, and her brothers and sisters, Carson Locklear, Dora Chavis, Macie Barfield, Bud Locklear, Lee Locklear, Ed Gene Locklear, Monroe Locklear, Virgie Jones, Mary Elizabeth Owens, and Blondell Chavis.

Services for Betty M. Locklear were held at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Leland Grove Freewill Baptist Church with burial in the church cemetery directed by Cooper Funeral Home. Visitation was held 7-9 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.

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GCHS grad Keener in running for “Live with Kelly” contest

GCHS grad Keener in running for “Live with Kelly” contest

Actress, host and Gordon Central graduate Beth Keener has reached the Top 5 in the “Live with Kelly and You Co-Host Search” contest, which provides the winner with the unique opportunity to fly to New York and co-host two episodes of Live with Kelly Ripa.

Keener has appeared on a variety of popular television shows and movies including The Walking Dead, One Tree Hill, Finding Carter and Necessary Roughness. She has also hosted and reported for a variety of nationwide media outlets, and has been featured in various commercials.

The Top 5 in the highly-coveted contest were announced last Friday. The remaining contestants will appear on the show this week to compete in daily challenges and be interviewed by Ripa.

Daily voting for the competition will begin online from 10:30 a.m. and close at 11:59 p.m. this week. Videos from each challenge can be viewed on the show’s website.

The competition’s Top 4 will be revealed on Wednesday, Oct. 19, and the field will be dwindled down to the Top 3 on Thursday, Oct. 20.

On Friday, Oct. 21, the grand prize winner will be announced based on the highest challenge score from the previous day. They will officially co-host the episode with Ripa.

The winner will also get to co-host an additional episode during the week of Oct. 21.

To vote for Keener, you can visit and click “Vote” on her submission. You can also visit and “Share” or “View” her video, or “Like” her submission by clicking the heart on

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