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By Colby Dunn
Thanks to the newly-opened Madison Produce Company, the pungent, sweet aroma of fresh produce now fills a once-vacant storefront next to the courthouse on "the corner of Hancock St and E. Jefferson in Madison.
Andy Oller, longtime produce man and Conyers resident, opened the store last week, fulfilling his dream of offering high-quality fresh fruit and vegetables to Madison residents at good prices.
"We want to be competitive and cheaper than a grocery store," said Oller, "and better quality, better service."
The business is a family operation, with Oller's father coming out of retirement to man the store during daytime hours, while Oller works at the Atlanta Farmer's Market as a seller.
Though he and his family don't live in town yet, Oller says that they hope to call Madison home in the near future.
"I'm kind-of doing it backwards," he said with a chuckle on the store's opening day. "I'm starting my business first and moving later."As for the decision to start the business itself, Oller says it was the next natural step in a produce career that started when he was just 16. Since then, he's been a produce manager, grocery store manager, produce buyer for Kroger in the southeast, wholesaler, market seller and now small business owner. When asked why his produce will impress over other stores, Oller points to this wealth of experience that's given him an eye for quality and price and, he says, a discerning taste that makes him shudder at the stock on most grocery store shelves.
Though he says he's keen to bring in local products when they're in season, the fruits and vegetables that fill his racks now are from around the world, from Atlanta to Lima.
Printed in the January 14, 2010 edition.
By Colby Dunn
Rutledge residents mourning the upcoming loss of their Region's Bank branch may soon have cause to rejoice, according to Bank of Madison president Charles Haney.
The local bank, which already owns land in Rutledge, has lodged its application with the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance to open a branch in Rutledge that, if the state agency gives the go-ahead, could be open for business by the second quarter of this year.
"We're excited about the potential opportunity to go to Rutledge,"said Haney. "Several years ago we bought property in Rutledge with a vision of one day there being the opportunity and/or need for Bank of Madison to branch to Rutledge.
"We've got a 121 year history of banking the citizens of Morgan County and are excited about this particular opportunity and with Regions announcement that they were closing that particular branch, the need arose and we were right there ready to fill that need."
Haney said that the deal was not yet done - regulators are wary of allowing new branch openings in the midst of what is still a very tough market for the financial sector - but that he was optimistic that the vacancy in Rutledge would be seen as a favorable condition to the new, local branch.
Regions Bank announced its Jan. 29 closing late last year, marking the first time since 1887 that the municipality would be without a bank.
If opened, the Bank of Madison branch would be a full-service store, with ATM, drive-up and full lending services.
Haney said that they intended to staff the store with a mix of existing employees and new hires.
By Kathryn Schiliro
Taking Driver’s Ed in Morgan County anytime soon? Expect the class to spend some time focusing on the dangers of driving while using a cell phone.
“I just wanted this board to know that we’re going to try to elevate the importance of this kind of behavior on our Driver’s Ed classroom portion at our school,” Superintendent Dr. Stan DeJarnett told the Board of Education at Monday night’s meeting.
The decision to spend a little extra time on the issue in class came as a result of the death of 2009 Morgan County High School graduate Caleb Sorohan, killed in a car accident last month. Law enforcement authorities believe that Sorohan was reading a text message while driving when his car crossed the center line and collided head-on with a truck-horse trailer.
Taking it a step further, board member Dave Belton asked that the body publicly support Georgia House Bill 23, which calls for drivers under 18 to be prohibited from using their cell phones while operating the car; board members hesitated to agree with Belton, as they didn’t want to start a trend of endorsing legislation.
“I think we’ve got to be careful,” chairman Nelson Hale said. “I would not really be in favor of the board taking a position on proposed legislation… I do think bringing it into the schools here would make a bigger difference.”
“I think our responsibility is local,” board member Bob Prior said.
Halfway through the school year – December marked that point – the board ended last month with more than $4.6 million in the operating fund. Total expenditures to this point came in at 48.97 percent.
The Morgan County Branch NAACP and the Madison Morgan County Chamber of Commerce will hold the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast celebration Monday at 7:30 a.m. at the Source of Light Mission on Eatonton Highway.
Breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. and the program will begin at 8 a.m.
The speaker for the breakfast service will be Gail Reid, daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. W.J. Reid, pastor and first lady of Springfield Missionary Baptist Church.
Gail Reid was a Martin Luther King, Jr. scholarship recipient at Emory University where she earned a B.A. in Political Science and African–American Studies. She has also earned a Master of Science in Public Policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University and J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
The evening service will be held at Springfield Baptist Church on Bethany Road at 6 p.m. The speaker for the evening service will be the Rev. Cedric Cotton from Madison’s St. Paul AME church.
By Kathryn Schiliro
It's the "last chance to celebrate Madison's [200th] birthday."
It's also another chance to listen, and dance, to the Atlanta Seventeen.
The big band will celebrate its 50-year anniversary this year; while he hasn't been playing with the band since 1960, Madison resident and Morgan County superintendent Dr. Stan DeJarnett has been with the Atlanta Seventeen for about 20 of those 50 years.
"I'd been doing some playing around town in different groups," DeJarnett, who was then working in Atlanta, said. "Somebody suggested I might want to play with that group; they had an opening in the trumpet section."
DeJarnett, once a music major at Western Carolina University and then music teacher, was part of the Atlanta Seventeen until he elected to take some time off to pursue his doctorate and to be around for his daughters' activities. While he filled in as a substitute trumpeter from time to time, it wasn't until about three years ago that he again played with the big band full-time. He even volunteered to sing with the group; the double-duty ended up working out perfectly for the trumpet player.
Back in the 1970s, an Atlanta Seventeen trumpeter was also featured as a lead vocalist. Many of the band's charts, which have been toted about by the band since its inception, are written so that a trumpeter can break away and sing, which works out perfectly for DeJarnett now.
Generally composed of four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, a guitar, bass, piano, drums and two singers, the Atlanta Seventeen gained its name from the original number of musicians in the group, even though there are often more than 17 musicians currently in the big band.