Arrest Records from the Wednesday, August 24 issue of the Calhoun Times

The following arrests information was taken directly from Gordon County Jail records. Arrests were made by the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office except where otherwise indicated. Law enforcement officials are in compliance with Ga. Code 50-18-72 of the Open Records Act in releasing reports of arrests. People with similar names may not be the same as those listed in reports. All people are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

Friday, Aug. 19

Thomas Addison, 26, 210 NW 17th Street, Apt. 7, Miami, Fla., arrested and charged with second-degree burglary.

Johnny Lewis Blevins, Jr., 50, 212 Old Belwood Road, Calhoun, arrested and charged with probation violation.

Michael Lee Crowder, 45, 5177 Roland Hayes Parkway, Calhoun, arrested and charged with battery FVA.

Teaquita Terrell Fluker, 22, 1231 NW 58th Street, Miami, Fla., arrested and charged with second-degree burglary.

Michael Shannon Ivey, 45, 300 County Road, Centre, Ala, sentenced.

Josue Leonore, 31, 1125 NW 130th Street, Miami, Fla., arrested and charged with second-degree burglary.

Samuel Leonore, 31, 1125 NW 130th Street, Miami, Fla., arrested and charged with second-degree burglary.

Jason Dewayne Taylor, 41, 130 Church Road, Calhoun, arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine.

Zachery Labron Lee Taylor, 25, 233 Covey Rise Drive, Calhoun, sentenced.

Timothy Lewis Edwards, 36, 117 Hanover Circle, Calhoun, arrested by and housed for CPD.

Melanda Lynn Gibson, 36, 1203 Carter Mt. Road SE, Fairmount, arrested by and housed for CPD.

Sandra Leugh Goble, 53, 103 3rd Street, Ellijay, arrested by and housed for FPD.

Geoffrey Landon Whaley, 26, 5420 Adairsville Road, Adairsville, arrested by and housed for CPD.

Tadric Lamarius Wilkey, 34, 212 Old Belwood Road, Calhoun, arrested by CPD and charged with theft by taking.

Saturday, Aug. 20

Johnny Lee Byrd, 56, 298 Maplewood Drive, Calhoun, arrested by CPD and charged with simple battery FVA.

Jurbien Bedford Byrd, 29, 298 Maplewood Drive, Calhoun, arrested by CPD and charged with simple battery FVA.

Steven Gary Gaddis, 43, 88 Echota 4th Street, Calhoun, arrested by CPD and charged with child abuse.

Christy Nicola Higgens, 29, 2324 Trimble Hollow Rd., Adairsville, arrested and charged with probation violation.

Ryan Gene Pate, 26, 8290 Nickelsville Road, Ranger, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Leon Thompson, 43, 168 Barnard Road, Cohutta, arrested and charged with probation violation.

Russell Baker, 51, 1742 Hammond Road, Hastings, Mich., arrested and charged with driving while license suspended, no proof of insurance.

Leonard Lamar Goble, 51, 87 Acorn Drive, Chatsworth, arrested by GSP and charged with DUI, driving on roadways laned for traffic.

Randall Mart Townsend, 63, 390 N. Ave., Fairmount, sentenced.

Sunday, Aug. 21

David Orlando Garcia, 25, 133 Holly Hills Drive, Calhoun, arrested by CPD and charged with DUI, failure to yield at intersection.

Daiysha Monae Glenn, 17, 701 Cheyenne Blvd., Madison, Tenn., arrested and charged with theft by shoplifting.

Steven Skylor Nichols, 24, 525 Peters St., Apt. 19, Calhoun, sentenced.

Charla Alicia Richards, 43, 114 Brookstone Drive, Calhoun, arrested by and housed for CPD.

Dexter Lee Johnson, 42, 6584 East Brire, Lithonia, arrested by GSP and charged with DUI, maximum limits-66 in 55 MPH zone, driving without a license on person.

William Avery Padgett, 30, 191 Cornell Way, Dalton, arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Curtis Del Silvers, 46, 200 Crawford St., Oakman, arrested and charged with obstruction of LEO.

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Obituaries from the Wednesday, August 24 issue of the Calhoun Times

Betty Raines

Betty Ann Raines, age 74, of Calhoun, passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 at Mary & Martha’s Personal Care in Rossville.

Betty was born on Oct. 9, 1941 in Jasper to the late Harvey Keener and Mary Mullins Keener. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Harvey Raines, and several brothers and sisters. Betty was a member of New Town Baptist Church and retired from Mohawk Industries.

She is survived by her daughter, Brenda Blackmon and her husband, Macky, of Calhoun; two brothers, Larry Keener of Talking Rock and Leroy Keener of North Carolina; two sisters, Julia Mooney of Talking Rock and Sherry Cody of Jasper; grandson, Shaun Blackmon; and great-grandson, Drake Blackmon.

Funeral Services were conducted on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 4 p.m. at Thomas Funeral Home with Reverend Clifford Free officiating. Burial followed in Fain Cemetery. Pallbearers serving were Terrence Greene, Brian Mooney, Kevin Wilkie, Jerry Wayne Jordan, Daniel McTaggart and Richard Sullivan.

The family received friends on Friday, Aug. 19 from 5 until 8 p.m. at Thomas Funeral Home.

You may leave the family online condolences at www.thomasfuneralhomecalhoun.com

Thomas Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements for Betty Ann Raines.

Willard Baggett

Mr. Willard B. Baggett, age 80, of Chatsworth, passed away Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 at Parkside Nursing Home.

Willard was a member of Center Hill Baptist Church.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Sue Baggett; parents, William Berrie Baggett and Lela Baggett; son, Clayton “Buster” Baggett; daughter, Melissa Marie Baggett.

He is survived by five children, nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Cremation services were provided by Peeples Funeral Home.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 8 p.m. from the Chapel of Peeples Funeral Home. The family will receive friends at the funeral home Wednesday from 5 p.m. until the service hour.

Peeples Funeral Home & Crematory of Chatsworth is in charge of the arrangements for Mr. Willard B. Baggett.

Terri Autrey

Terri Autrey, age 58, of Plainville, passed away on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 at her residence.

Terri was born on July 3, 1958 in Floyd County to the late Albert Max Scott and Nellie Pickard Scott.

She is survived by her daughter, Pachis Berner her husband, Sam; brother, Roger Scott and his wife, Marie, and Troyia Scott and his wife, Wanda; sister, Sket Angland and her husband, Jamey; stepmother, Pam Scott; and three grandchildren, Alexis Owens, Aryian Berner and Blayse Berner.

The family received friends on Tuesday, Aug. 23 from 5 until 8 p.m. at Thomas Funeral Home.

You may leave the family online condolences at www.thomasfuneralhomecalhoun.com

Thomas Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements for Terri Autrey.

Paul Jones

Mr. Paul E. Jones, age 78, of Calhoun, died Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016 at Floyd Medical Center. He was born in Waleska on Dec. 28, 1937, son of the late Vernie Andrew and Gladys Mashburn Jones. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Doris Cagle Jones, on Nov. 27, 2013.

Paul was owner/operator of Paul’s Community Barber Shop in Calhoun for many years.

Survivors include his brothers and sisters-in-law, Luther and Helen Jones of Adairsville, Floyd Jones of Rydal, and Hoyt and Juanita Jones of Cartersville; several nieces and nephews; and a host of friends.

Services to honor the life of Mr. Paul E. Jones will be held Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. from the chapel of Max Brannon and Sons Funeral Home, with Rev. Hoyt Jones officiating. Music will be arranged by Sally Jones. Interment will follow in Faith Tabernacle Church Cemetery in Rydal. Pallbearers will include Anthony Jones, Austin Jones, Garrett Worsham, and Tripp Breeden. Honorary Pallbearers are Richard Weaver, Ray Erwin, Hollis Patterson, and Don Thomas.

The Jones family received friends at the funeral home on Tuesday, Aug. 23 from 6 until 9 p.m.

Condolences may be left at www.maxbrannonandsons.com. Funeral services for Mr. Paul E. Jones are under the care and direction of Max Brannon and Sons Funeral Home of Calhoun.

Barbara Smith

Mrs. Barbara Jean Smith, age 62, of Ranger, departed this life on Sunday Aug. 21, 2016 at Redmond Regional Medical Center. Barbara was born on Nov. 25, 1953 in Calhoun, the daughter of the late Haywood Pack and Roselee Silvers Pack. Barbara was also preceded in death by her brothers, Larry Pack, J.L. Pack and Lloyd Pack; brother-in-law, Charlie Ralston. Barbara was a fulltime housewife and mom; she loved taking care of her family and family that lived nearby. She was a member of Church of God.

Mrs. Barbara Jean Smith is survived by her loving husband of 42 years, Larry Smith; daughters, Sherry Smith and Robin and Stephen White; special daughters, Shell Smith and Tonya Roberts; special son, Chris and Trisha Smith; brothers, Keith Pack, George Pack, Tony Pack, Hubert Pack, Ford Pack; sisters, Bessie Faye Ralston and Bonnie Lou Walker; sister-in-law, Glenda Pack; grandchildren, Jesse Smith, Eli Smith, Jacob White, Hunter Smith, Zach White, Jasmine Roberts, Gabby Roberts and Jackson Roberts; great grandchild, Gracie Pitman, several nieces and nephews and many friends.

The service to celebrate the life of Mrs. Barbara Jean Smith will be held Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 at 3 p.m. from Ponders Calhoun Chapel with Rev. Mitchell Gaston officiating. Interment will follow at Haven of Rest Memorial Park with Jesse Smith, Zach White, Jacob White, Paul Shipman, Chris Smith and Harvey Petty serving as pallbearers.

The family received friends on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016 at Ponders Calhoun Chapel from 5 until 9 p.m.

Arrangements made Ponders Calhoun Chapel 675 Jolley Rd, Calhoun, GA 706-625-7577. Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.pondersfuneralhome.com.

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Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston, Sheriff’s Auxiliary and Northwest Georgia Sheriffs sending aid to flood-stricken areas in Louisiana

According to Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston, Northwest Georgia Sheriffs and the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary are in the process of assembling aid supplies for flood stricken East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana. Sheriff Mitch Ralston and the Auxiliary, along with Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, Murray County Sheriff Gary Langford, Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk, Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross and Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader are organizing the relief effort.

This area has been ravaged by floods for days caused by unusually heavy rains. Thousands have been displaced in what the Red Cross called the “biggest natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy.” An official from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office told Sheriff Ralston’s staff that more than 50 percent of the parish (county) is underwater. The supplies will be trucked to Louisiana with an escort of deputy sheriffs and turned over to East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreauex’s staff for distribution.

Sheriff Gautreauex’s Operation Center Commander advised Sheriff Ralston that the items most urgently needed are new clothing and shoes: all genders/sizes/ages; and toiletries, male and female items. The county cannot accept used clothing. Donations are welcome.

Donated items will be accepted at the GORDON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE at 2700 US Highway 41 (off I-75 Exit 320), beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23 during normal business hours (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and on Saturday, Aug. 28 beginning at 8 a.m. 

Sheriff Ralston encourages everyone to join in this relief effort. The supplies will be transported as soon as the trailer is filled.

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Cartersville Medical Center: No serious injuries in I-75 pile-up

As of 8:45 p.m., Cartersville Medical Center had treated and released three of the 13 people injured in a multi-car pile-up on Interstate 75 near Red Top Mountain.

CMC spokeswoman Ginger Tyra said the hospital began receiving patients at approximately 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

“Upon initial assessment, injuries range from minor to moderate,” Tyra said in an emailed statement.

The patients range in age from 11 to 61 years and come from cities in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.

A heavy rainstorm led to a chain reaction involving 29 vehicles, according to WBHF Radio in Cartersville.

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Gordon receives federal funds to supplement emergency food and shelter programs

GORDON COUNTY has been awarded federal funds made available through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program.

Gordon County received $27,377 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county during the Phase 33 funding period. 

The selection is made by a national board that is charged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and consists of representatives from American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, the Salvation Army and United Way Worldwide. 

The local board was charged to distribute funds appropriated by Congress to help expand the capacity of food and shelter programs in high need areas around the country. 

A local board will determine how the funds awarded to Gordon County are to be distributed among the emergency food and shelter programs run by local service agencies in Gordon County.  The local board is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds made available under this phase of the program. 

Under the terms of the grant from the national board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must: 1) be private voluntary non-profits or units of government, 2) be eligible to receive federal funds, 3) have an accounting system, 4) practice non-discrimination, 5) have demonstrated the capacity to deliver emergency food and or shelter programs and 6) if they are a private voluntary organization, have a voluntary board.

The local board also requires that local agencies receiving funds must: 1) be in good standing with the national and local boards regarding documentation requirements if funds were received in prior phases, 2) utilize the local emergency assistance database as approved by the local board, 3) serve residents of Gordon County with funds awarded, 4) be currently operating programs which provide food, shelter or emergency programs providing rent/mortgage or utility assistance (no new start-ups will be funded).

Gordon County distributed $28,925 in Phase 32 funding to Hand-Up Inc. and Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center, Inc.  These agencies provided services to 553 individuals through shelter, rent and utility services. 

Public or private voluntary agencies interested in applying for Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds must apply in writing to the local board chair.  Written requests must include: 1) a brief history of the voluntary agency seeking funding, 2) information regarding the requesting agency’s non-profit or government status and names of the agency’s voluntary board members (if applicable), 3) provide validation of eligibility to receive Federal funds, 4) provide validation of the agency’s accounting system, 5) provide a statement regarding the requesting agency’s non-discrimination practices, 6) provide statistics regarding emergency services provided during the last fiscal year of the agency’s operations, 7) include the amount requested from the Local Board, and 8) certify the agency’s willingness to adhere to all Phase 33 funding requirements as issued by the National Board under the Emergency Food and Shelter Programs’ Phase 33 requirements.

Requests for funding should be mailed to Richard Cooper, local board chair, 400 Belwood Road, Calhoun, GA 30701.  Written requests can also be submitted via fax to 706-629-1023.  The contact phone for the local board chair is 706-629-8851.  Written requests for funding, must be received by the local board chair by no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, 2016. 

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Center recognized for outstanding workforce satisfaction

Gordon Health & Rehabilitation just received the Excellence in Action award from MyInnerView by National Research Corporation. This honor is awarded to post-acute care centers that achieve overall workforce satisfaction scores within the top 10 percent of the MyInnerView product database. The database is the largest source of long-term care and senior living satisfaction metrics in the nation.

“This center has set the bar for other providers with their performance and continued focus on their workforce’s experience,” said Rich Kortum, director of Strategic Partnerships at NRC. “This is a wonderful achievement and we’re pleased to honor this top rated organization with the Excellence in Action award.”

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CGCREA looking to grow membership

Calhoun Gordon County Retired Educators Association is looking for retired educators. If you are a retired educator, you are needed in the local unit if you’re not already a member.

Retirees need to be members to stay informed about benefits/information of the Georgia Retired Educator Association that are provided for you, as a retired educator. The group is a youthful education minded group who continues to give back to students; although, members are retired.

The monthly meetings are usually held on the second Wednesday of each month. Fellowship time begins at 10 a.m. and the meetings start at 10:30 a.m. Business meetings usually last an hour.

The meetings for the 2016-2017 year are set for the year:

Sept. 7, 2016 – this meeting date is a week earlier than usual. The annual covered dish picnic will be held at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church’s picnic area. The meeting/lunch will be moved inside if weather isn’t suitable to be outside. Plans and programs for the year will be shared. School supplies should be brought to share with students in Calhoun City and Gordon County Schools.

Oct. 5, 2016 – Pickle Ball presentation at the Calhoun Recreation Center.

Nov. 15, 2016 – 2nd Annual Scholarship Auction to raise money for the three scholarships given each year to local graduating students who are pursuing a degree in education. This takes the place of the regular meeting. The Silent Auction will run from 4-5:30 pm at the Calhoun High School Library/Career Center. Refreshments will be served at 6 pm with the Live Auction follows.

Dec. 14, 2016 – Calhoun First United Methodist Church. This meeting is a covered dish luncheon; with music by Heart and Soul.

Feb. 8, 2017 – Calhoun-Gordon County Library. Nyala Edwards will share information about the programs offered by the Library.

March 8, 2017 – Barbara and Charlie Long’s Cabin. David Aft, Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia and Brad Jones, Association Member Benefits will share information with the group.

May 17, 2017 – Stoneleigh (Jim Lay’s home). Installation of officers, GREA Convention reports and awards will be presented. A covered dish garden picnic follows.

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Editor’s Column: Falcons’ rookie LBs; Olympics; CFB Final Four picks

Falcons’ Dimitroff might’ve gotten a couple draft picks right

Atlanta Falcons’ GM Thomas Dimitroff has taken his share of abuse in the media for his lackluster free agent moves and draft picks in recent years, and I’ve been right there in the firing line.

But after what I’ve heard from the first few weeks of Falcons’ training camp and after watching the first preseason game, I’m beginning to thing he could’ve possibly made two outstanding post-Round 1 picks in this last draft.

If you’ve heard Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn talk for anymore than about 30 seconds over the last two years, you’ve no doubt heard two words that he wants his team to be described as — fast and physical. Well, he might have just that with his two rookie linebackers.

Due to other obligations last Thursday, I taped the Falcons’ preseason opener against the Washington Redskins and went back and watched it later on. (I know, it’s preseason football, but I’m so starved for anything football, I had to do it.) What I saw out of rookies Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell was two future playmakers for Atlanta’s defense.

The two linebackers, which the Falcons selected with their Round 2 and Round 4 picks, respectively, last April, were all over the field in their first NFL action, and man, I liked what I saw.

Both possess great speed to roam the field and have the potential to become tackling machines in Quinn’s scheme. And that’s exactly what the Falcons need at linebacker, a position that has been pretty void of talent on Atlanta’s roster in the past few seasons.

Now, I know it was only a preseason game, and it was each their first preseason game, but there are some things you see on a football field that translate no matter what kind of game it is at any level. These two have those things — speed, aggressiveness, competitive drive. It’s going to take more reps for them to get used to diagnosing NFL plays as was the case on a few occasions last Thursday, but that will come.

The bottom line is you’ve got to be excited about the potential of these future playmakers. And that’s not even including the Falcons’ first-round pick last April, safety Keanu Neal. He’s also created a buzz in the first few weeks of training camp with his ability to be all over the field, his speed, his run-stuffing and pass-coverage abilities and most of all, his big-hit potential. He was held out of the preseason opener with an arm injury so I can’t wait to get a look at him on the field as well.

As much as we all like to point the finger at Dimitroff for the lack of defensive talent drafted over the last few years, I’m hoping (and believing) that he got several picks right (probably with the assistance of Quinn) in this past draft.

I’m excited to see them on the field this upcoming season as they are the starting building blocks of an intimidating and effective Falcons’ defense.

Olympic Fever has hit

Every time the Olympics, whether Summer or Winter, comes around, I find myself realizing just how much I love it.

These last two weeks, whenever I’ve had a free moment, my TV has more than likely been on one of the many NBC stations showing Olympic coverage. I’ve watched everything from your typical basketball, track and swimming to your not-so-typical (at least for me) handball, field hockey, rugby, volleyball, beach volleyball, table tennis and even some synchronized diving, among other odds and ends.

It’s amazing how much my interest goes up in something once you wrap your country’s pride around it. I’ve enjoyed watching the USA dominate the medal count, and I’m hoping for a strong finish to widen the gap even more.

I just don’t understand people that say they have no interest in the Olympics. It really makes no sense to me. Like I said, even though many of those sports aren’t on the top of my list of things I’m likely to watch, seeing an athlete compete for his country still gives me a warm feeling inside.

And as much bad publicity Rio got leading up these Olympic Games, I think they’ve gone off incredibly well. I hope the U.S. gets another Olympics in the near future.

That’s something on bucket list to see. I missed the chance when Atlanta hosted in 1996. I hope to get another chance in my lifetime.

College Football Playoff Picks

There will be plenty more college football talk from me in this column in the next few weeks leading up to the season so I’ll try to make this short (since I’m running out of space).

We’re running right up on the beginning of the college football season, which in my opinion is one of the best times of the year alongside March Madness. So I wanted to go ahead and make my College Football Playoff Picks right here and now.

I’ve got to start at the top with a pretty safe pick, considering they’ve won four of the last seven national titles. Yes, Alabama will be back in the mix again this year. As crazy as it sounds, I think their defense has a chance to be even better than it was last year. They’re more experienced in the secondary, and I think they’ll be faster and deeper at the linebacker position. There were some losses on the defensive line, but Nick Saban just basically rolls another five-star into those spots every year. Offensively, there are some question marks, but the running game will once again lead the way, and I think by the end of the season, Bo Scarbrough will be a household name.

I’ve got Oklahoma also making it back to the playoff as they are the clear favorite once again in the Big 12. They return quarterback Baker Mayfield, who might be in the top five QBs in college football this year, and they’ve got plenty of weapons around him. Their tough non-conference slate, which includes Houston and Ohio State, could be a stumbling block, but I think they’ll get through those unscathed.

I’ve got Florida State coming out of the ACC and making it into the Final Four. This could possibly be Jimbo Fisher’s deepest and most talented team he’s had in Tallahassee, and the quarterback questions aside, they should only receive one real test in the ACC. I just think they’re better than Clemson. Plus, it’s tough to get back to the mountaintop for a lot of teams (with the exception of Alabama).

My fourth and final team (as much as I really don’t want to make this pick) is Michigan. Jim Harbaugh, who isn’t my favorite coach around, has built an extremely solid program in his short time, and they have the most experience and talent coming back in the Big Ten. Ohio State just has too many question marks as they return just six combined starters between offense and defense. The Wolverines will be even better than they were on offense last year, and that should combine well with a stout defense.

So there you go. There’s my four. And winning it all… I know it’s not a very bold pick, but I’ve got Alabama beating Florida State to give Saban another ring. The guy’s a pretty good coach, really. Maybe the best ever. Can’t pick against him.

That’s all I’ve got. Happy College Football season to everyone.

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Editor’s Column: Falcons’ rookie LBs; Olympics; CFB Final Four picks

Falcons’ Dimitroff might’ve gotten a couple draft picks right

Atlanta Falcons’ GM Thomas Dimitroff has taken his share of abuse in the media for his lackluster free agent moves and draft picks in recent years, and I’ve been right there in the firing line.

But after what I’ve heard from the first few weeks of Falcons’ training camp and after watching the first preseason game, I’m beginning to thing he could’ve possibly made two outstanding post-Round 1 picks in this last draft.

If you’ve heard Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn talk for anymore than about 30 seconds over the last two years, you’ve no doubt heard two words that he wants his team to be described as — fast and physical. Well, he might have just that with his two rookie linebackers.

Due to other obligations last Thursday, I taped the Falcons’ preseason opener against the Washington Redskins and went back and watched it later on. (I know, it’s preseason football, but I’m so starved for anything football, I had to do it.) What I saw out of rookies Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell was two future playmakers for Atlanta’s defense.

The two linebackers, which the Falcons selected with their Round 2 and Round 4 picks, respectively, last April, were all over the field in their first NFL action, and man, I liked what I saw.

Both possess great speed to roam the field and have the potential to become tackling machines in Quinn’s scheme. And that’s exactly what the Falcons need at linebacker, a position that has been pretty void of talent on Atlanta’s roster in the past few seasons.

Now, I know it was only a preseason game, and it was each their first preseason game, but there are some things you see on a football field that translate no matter what kind of game it is at any level. These two have those things — speed, aggressiveness, competitive drive. It’s going to take more reps for them to get used to diagnosing NFL plays as was the case on a few occasions last Thursday, but that will come.

The bottom line is you’ve got to be excited about the potential of these future playmakers. And that’s not even including the Falcons’ first-round pick last April, safety Keanu Neal. He’s also created a buzz in the first few weeks of training camp with his ability to be all over the field, his speed, his run-stuffing and pass-coverage abilities and most of all, his big-hit potential. He was held out of the preseason opener with an arm injury so I can’t wait to get a look at him on the field as well.

As much as we all like to point the finger at Dimitroff for the lack of defensive talent drafted over the last few years, I’m hoping (and believing) that he got several picks right (probably with the assistance of Quinn) in this past draft.

I’m excited to see them on the field this upcoming season as they are the starting building blocks of an intimidating and effective Falcons’ defense.

Olympic Fever has hit

Every time the Olympics, whether Summer or Winter, comes around, I find myself realizing just how much I love it.

These last two weeks, whenever I’ve had a free moment, my TV has more than likely been on one of the many NBC stations showing Olympic coverage. I’ve watched everything from your typical basketball, track and swimming to your not-so-typical (at least for me) handball, field hockey, rugby, volleyball, beach volleyball, table tennis and even some synchronized diving, among other odds and ends.

It’s amazing how much my interest goes up in something once you wrap your country’s pride around it. I’ve enjoyed watching the USA dominate the medal count, and I’m hoping for a strong finish to widen the gap even more.

I just don’t understand people that say they have no interest in the Olympics. It really makes no sense to me. Like I said, even though many of those sports aren’t on the top of my list of things I’m likely to watch, seeing an athlete compete for his country still gives me a warm feeling inside.

And as much bad publicity Rio got leading up these Olympic Games, I think they’ve gone off incredibly well. I hope the U.S. gets another Olympics in the near future.

That’s something on bucket list to see. I missed the chance when Atlanta hosted in 1996. I hope to get another chance in my lifetime.

College Football Playoff Picks

There will be plenty more college football talk from me in this column in the next few weeks leading up to the season so I’ll try to make this short (since I’m running out of space).

We’re running right up on the beginning of the college football season, which in my opinion is one of the best times of the year alongside March Madness. So I wanted to go ahead and make my College Football Playoff Picks right here and now.

I’ve got to start at the top with a pretty safe pick, considering they’ve won four of the last seven national titles. Yes, Alabama will be back in the mix again this year. As crazy as it sounds, I think their defense has a chance to be even better than it was last year. They’re more experienced in the secondary, and I think they’ll be faster and deeper at the linebacker position. There were some losses on the defensive line, but Nick Saban just basically rolls another five-star into those spots every year. Offensively, there are some question marks, but the running game will once again lead the way, and I think by the end of the season, Bo Scarbrough will be a household name.

I’ve got Oklahoma also making it back to the playoff as they are the clear favorite once again in the Big 12. They return quarterback Baker Mayfield, who might be in the top five QBs in college football this year, and they’ve got plenty of weapons around him. Their tough non-conference slate, which includes Houston and Ohio State, could be a stumbling block, but I think they’ll get through those unscathed.

I’ve got Florida State coming out of the ACC and making it into the Final Four. This could possibly be Jimbo Fisher’s deepest and most talented team he’s had in Tallahassee, and the quarterback questions aside, they should only receive one real test in the ACC. I just think they’re better than Clemson. Plus, it’s tough to get back to the mountaintop for a lot of teams (with the exception of Alabama).

My fourth and final team (as much as I really don’t want to make this pick) is Michigan. Jim Harbaugh, who isn’t my favorite coach around, has built an extremely solid program in his short time, and they have the most experience and talent coming back in the Big Ten. Ohio State just has too many question marks as they return just six combined starters between offense and defense. The Wolverines will be even better than they were on offense last year, and that should combine well with a stout defense.

So there you go. There’s my four. And winning it all… I know it’s not a very bold pick, but I’ve got Alabama beating Florida State to give Saban another ring. The guy’s a pretty good coach, really. Maybe the best ever. Can’t pick against him.

That’s all I’ve got. Happy College Football season to everyone.

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Editor’s Column: Falcons’ rookie LBs; Olympics; CFB Final Four picks

Falcons’ Dimitroff might’ve gotten a couple draft picks right

Atlanta Falcons’ GM Thomas Dimitroff has taken his share of abuse in the media for his lackluster free agent moves and draft picks in recent years, and I’ve been right there in the firing line.

But after what I’ve heard from the first few weeks of Falcons’ training camp and after watching the first preseason game, I’m beginning to thing he could’ve possibly made two outstanding post-Round 1 picks in this last draft.

If you’ve heard Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn talk for anymore than about 30 seconds over the last two years, you’ve no doubt heard two words that he wants his team to be described as — fast and physical. Well, he might have just that with his two rookie linebackers.

Due to other obligations last Thursday, I taped the Falcons’ preseason opener against the Washington Redskins and went back and watched it later on. (I know, it’s preseason football, but I’m so starved for anything football, I had to do it.) What I saw out of rookies Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell was two future playmakers for Atlanta’s defense.

The two linebackers, which the Falcons selected with their Round 2 and Round 4 picks, respectively, last April, were all over the field in their first NFL action, and man, I liked what I saw.

Both possess great speed to roam the field and have the potential to become tackling machines in Quinn’s scheme. And that’s exactly what the Falcons need at linebacker, a position that has been pretty void of talent on Atlanta’s roster in the past few seasons.

Now, I know it was only a preseason game, and it was each their first preseason game, but there are some things you see on a football field that translate no matter what kind of game it is at any level. These two have those things — speed, aggressiveness, competitive drive. It’s going to take more reps for them to get used to diagnosing NFL plays as was the case on a few occasions last Thursday, but that will come.

The bottom line is you’ve got to be excited about the potential of these future playmakers. And that’s not even including the Falcons’ first-round pick last April, safety Keanu Neal. He’s also created a buzz in the first few weeks of training camp with his ability to be all over the field, his speed, his run-stuffing and pass-coverage abilities and most of all, his big-hit potential. He was held out of the preseason opener with an arm injury so I can’t wait to get a look at him on the field as well.

As much as we all like to point the finger at Dimitroff for the lack of defensive talent drafted over the last few years, I’m hoping (and believing) that he got several picks right (probably with the assistance of Quinn) in this past draft.

I’m excited to see them on the field this upcoming season as they are the starting building blocks of an intimidating and effective Falcons’ defense.

Olympic Fever has hit

Every time the Olympics, whether Summer or Winter, comes around, I find myself realizing just how much I love it.

These last two weeks, whenever I’ve had a free moment, my TV has more than likely been on one of the many NBC stations showing Olympic coverage. I’ve watched everything from your typical basketball, track and swimming to your not-so-typical (at least for me) handball, field hockey, rugby, volleyball, beach volleyball, table tennis and even some synchronized diving, among other odds and ends.

It’s amazing how much my interest goes up in something once you wrap your country’s pride around it. I’ve enjoyed watching the USA dominate the medal count, and I’m hoping for a strong finish to widen the gap even more.

I just don’t understand people that say they have no interest in the Olympics. It really makes no sense to me. Like I said, even though many of those sports aren’t on the top of my list of things I’m likely to watch, seeing an athlete compete for his country still gives me a warm feeling inside.

And as much bad publicity Rio got leading up these Olympic Games, I think they’ve gone off incredibly well. I hope the U.S. gets another Olympics in the near future.

That’s something on bucket list to see. I missed the chance when Atlanta hosted in 1996. I hope to get another chance in my lifetime.

College Football Playoff Picks

There will be plenty more college football talk from me in this column in the next few weeks leading up to the season so I’ll try to make this short (since I’m running out of space).

We’re running right up on the beginning of the college football season, which in my opinion is one of the best times of the year alongside March Madness. So I wanted to go ahead and make my College Football Playoff Picks right here and now.

I’ve got to start at the top with a pretty safe pick, considering they’ve won four of the last seven national titles. Yes, Alabama will be back in the mix again this year. As crazy as it sounds, I think their defense has a chance to be even better than it was last year. They’re more experienced in the secondary, and I think they’ll be faster and deeper at the linebacker position. There were some losses on the defensive line, but Nick Saban just basically rolls another five-star into those spots every year. Offensively, there are some question marks, but the running game will once again lead the way, and I think by the end of the season, Bo Scarbrough will be a household name.

I’ve got Oklahoma also making it back to the playoff as they are the clear favorite once again in the Big 12. They return quarterback Baker Mayfield, who might be in the top five QBs in college football this year, and they’ve got plenty of weapons around him. Their tough non-conference slate, which includes Houston and Ohio State, could be a stumbling block, but I think they’ll get through those unscathed.

I’ve got Florida State coming out of the ACC and making it into the Final Four. This could possibly be Jimbo Fisher’s deepest and most talented team he’s had in Tallahassee, and the quarterback questions aside, they should only receive one real test in the ACC. I just think they’re better than Clemson. Plus, it’s tough to get back to the mountaintop for a lot of teams (with the exception of Alabama).

My fourth and final team (as much as I really don’t want to make this pick) is Michigan. Jim Harbaugh, who isn’t my favorite coach around, has built an extremely solid program in his short time, and they have the most experience and talent coming back in the Big Ten. Ohio State just has too many question marks as they return just six combined starters between offense and defense. The Wolverines will be even better than they were on offense last year, and that should combine well with a stout defense.

So there you go. There’s my four. And winning it all… I know it’s not a very bold pick, but I’ve got Alabama beating Florida State to give Saban another ring. The guy’s a pretty good coach, really. Maybe the best ever. Can’t pick against him.

That’s all I’ve got. Happy College Football season to everyone.

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