El clásico sin Iker ni Xavi, el relevo lo toman Ramos e Iniesta

El clásico del fútbol español vivirá este sábado un nuevo capítulo de esta encarnizada rivalidad. Entre otras cosas, será especial porque será el primero en mucho tiempo sin Iker Casillas y Xavi Hernández, santo y seña de ambos clubes que encaminaron sus carreras en Portugal y Catar. La jerarquía indica que el testigo pasa a manos de Sergio Ramos y Andrés Iniesta.

El clásico sin Iker ni Xavi, el relevo lo toman Ramos e Iniesta

Ministries offer food, clothing, encouragement at Thanksgiving meals

With hands stuffed in her jacket pockets, Mary Mauricio stood in the parking lot of a defunct Gainesville restaurant, watching the city’s homeless and hungry take clothing, blankets and food.

She was thinking about today’s forecast for freezing weather and the people who live under bridges and between buildings in her hometown. She was looking at bloated winter clouds, so thick they smothered the noontime sun. She was shaking her head, saying “We do what we can. We always do what we can, because when you love God, you love people. And, when you serve God, you serve people.”

Mauricio and husband Ruben’s outreach L.A.M.P (Latin American Missionary Program) Ministries was one of two faith-based, nonprofit organizations offering an early Thanksgiving meal, clothing, blankets and a little encouragement Saturday.

Volunteers with L.A.M.P. held up signs that read “free food” on the side of Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville as hundreds lined up for a hot meal and searched through stacks of clothing. Among them was Rachel Howard who stood in line, accepting a styrofoam container of food. She tucked it beneath her arm and sifted through a stack of shirts.

A domestic violence survivor, Howard also has in the past suffered from depression.

“Now, I’m getting strong again,” she said. “My life hasn’t always been easy, but it’s getting better, and it’s thanks to people like (those at L.A.M.P. Ministries). People help me along the way, and I try to pass it on when I can. I tell other people who I see on the street, ‘it’s going to be OK. There’s better days coming.’”

Carol Ann and Dwayne McFarland also got assistance Saturday from L.A.M.P. Ministries. The couple has had a difficult year, to say the least. Dwayne lost his job two months back after an emergency bout of appendicitis put him out of work. Carol Ann is disabled.

“We’re on food stamps, but our food stamps ran out a week ago,” Carol Ann said. “We almost lost our home when he lost his job.”

Dwayne said he recently got a new job painting machine parts, and the couple is in the process of getting their finances back in order. The help they’ve received in the interim has been “a blessing,” he said.

“It says a lot about Gainesville,” Dwayne said. “These are good folks. People helping people. It’s a big help.”

Just across town, at Atlanta Street Apartments, others were also getting help from Under the Bridge Ministries, who held a Thanksgiving dinner for anybody who wanted a hot meal and fellowship.

Bo Hairston, a board member with Under the Bridge Ministries, said the gathering was “a chance for people to come and give. We eat every day, and some of these people you see here, they eat once a week. We can all do something to help, but only if we want to.”

Added Hairston: “These people, they need help. They need somebody to love on them. They need to have a conversation with somebody, and that’s why we have to come together as a community and make a difference.”

Joey and Angela Nicholson used their musical talents to reach out to the crowd outside Atlanta Street Apartments.

“It’s not just a handout for the people here,” Joey said. “They’re also getting the love of Christ through a song, a piece of chicken, clothes, a prayer, a smile or a hug … whatever it takes.”

Under the Bridge Ministries CEO Heather Meyer said it’s “heartbreaking” knowing there will be many sleeping outdoors in Hall County today as forecasted temperatures dip toward freezing.

“That’s why we try to gather as many tents, blankets and warm clothes as we can and get them in their hands and encourage them to take shelter,” Meyer said. “We encourage them to take shelter and point them in the right direction. But, if you refuse to go to a shelter, at least we’ll try to give you a blanket to keep warm.”

Over on Jesse Jewell Parkway, where L.A.M.P. volunteers continued to do their part Saturday afternoon, volunteer Alina Carbonell handed out hot plates of food.

“I’m honored to be able to serve and be a part of this and to see the community come together,” Carbonell said. “It doesn’t matter what language you speak, what color you are, what race you are … we come together regardless of these things. And, to us, that’s what the Kingdom of God looks like.”

Ministries offer food, clothing, encouragement at Thanksgiving meals

Suspect at large after running patrol car off Ga. 365 during chase

A Gainesville man fleeing police on Ga. 365 is still at large after sideswiping a patrol car and forcing the vehicle into a guardrail near Cagle Road, according to Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes.

No one in the patrol car was injured.

Bailes said it all started at 2:55 p.m. Saturday when Hall County warrant deputies received information that suspect Cody Jett, 24, was at the Racetrac station on Ga. 365. Jett was wanted in Forsyth County for fleeing and eluding.

The deputies arrived at the gas station and spotted him.

“While attempting to make contact, the suspect struck a vehicle in the parking lot to evade those deputies,” Bailes said, adding that nobody was injured.

Deputies then pursued Jett north on Ga. 365, and he ran the pursuing patrol car off the road, she said.

“The suspect continued north on 365, and contact was lost with the vehicle,” Bailes said.

The patrol car had moderate damage. Jett was last seen inside a black 1999 Honda Accord with extensive body damage.

Hall County Sheriff’s deputies have requested Georgia State Patrol’s assistance in the matter, and additional warrants will be taken out for Jett.

Suspect at large after running patrol car off Ga. 365 during chase

You Heard it Here: State Rep. Dunahoo now doing interviews while hunting

State Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gainesville, has always been responsive to media inquiries.

But that commitment to openness and transparency reached a new level this past week when a reporter from The Times called to speak with Dunahoo about whether the United States should accept refugees from Syria in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Dunahoo answered his cellphone with a hushed, “Hello.”

When asked if his whisper was the result of a cold, Dunahoo said, “No, I’m in a tree stand in Kentucky right now.”

Dunahoo went on to answer a few questions before getting back to his hunt. It is unknown if he bagged a buck.

Wangemann offers Oakwood a boost with sewer

Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann brought more than just goodwill when he and other members of his church attended a Family Month proclamation at Oakwood City Council recently.

There had been some chatter about how Oakwood operates a sewer system without running a plant, instead allocating sewer it buys from Gainesville and Flowery Branch.

Wangemann said Gainesville could help provide additional “sewer capacity so you don’t have to build a plant.”

The remark drew smiles from Oakwood officials, who also are working on a sewer agreement with Braselton.

Donation page gathers $24K for brothers killed in car crash

A charity raised more than $24,000 in donations on a fundraising website for two teenage brothers killed in a Jefferson car crash Wednesday night.

William, 17, and Alex Trimble, 15, were involved in a two-vehicle collision with a rental truck around 7 p.m. Wednesday night on Old Pendergrass Road.

The charity Ride to Give launched a donation page on Fundrazr that has raised more than $24,000 as of Friday evening.

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You Heard it Here: State Rep. Dunahoo now doing interviews while hunting

Hall schools developing Internet safety, etiquette course for students

The Internet is a dangerous place, especially for a child.

Hall County Schools are developing ways to teach students safe behavior online. Administrators, teachers and staff from the district office have spent months developing an age-appropriate Internet safety and awareness course for students.

“The goal here was to provide the tools for our students to be safe and responsible with all of their online activities,” said Steve McDaniel, director of student services. “It’s a major undertaking.”

Thus far, four separate units have been developed for four different age groups. Kristi Crumpton, teacher at Mount Vernon Exploratory School, developed programs for kindergartners through second-graders and third- through fifth-graders.

“This course was designed to be teacher-led,” Crumpton said. “One of the things we really want to focus on at the kindergarten level is building a strong foundation for these students. We want to instill in them what it means to be responsible, courteous, to have etiquette online and how to be safe.”

Crumpton said the concern with the Internet is children who are 5 years old can be exposed to the same things as children who are 12 years old.

“There are a lot of things that children today can be exposed to, even at the youngest level, that can be a little shocking to some of us,” she said.

The content of the course varies by age. The kindergarten through second-grade course does not deal with social media, but it does have a module called “what is the Internet?”

“You know, little kids today think anything that’s on the Internet is real,” Crumpton said. “What we focus on there is teaching them about sources and things like that.”

At the third to fifth-grade level, students are taught to avoid online strangers, online gaming, username and password information and more. The middle school unit, still in development, will address content specific to middle-schoolers, and at the high school level, students will take interactive guided lessons about sexting, cyber bullying, leaving a digital footprint and more.

Becca Hamby, East Hall High School media specialist who piloted the high school course, said the course starts with an understanding of “living connected.”

“These students are online probably 80 percent of their day,” she said. “They connect with people online, so we talk about safety in that area, and we talk about what is oversharing and how to not overshare their lives.”

Crumpton said the course is not just about what to avoid, but about proper online procedure. She said they will incorporate email etiquette into the course as well.

“We want to bring into awareness that email is different than a text,” she said. “So you don’t use your abbreviations, slang language, things like that.”

The course is slated to begin in January, though Superintendent Will Schofield said parents are always allowed to opt out.

“We believe we have an obligation to take every child in this district — obviously apart from those parents who opt out for their children, which they always have the right to do,” he said. “But we know a lot about the Internet, about how children are using it, and about how many of them, when they’re in their 20s look back and say, ‘Gosh, I wish I hadn’t done that.’

“We just feel we have a real obligation to empower them with information in terms of how to use the Internet positively.”

Hall schools developing Internet safety, etiquette course for students

Parolee faces 2012 kidnapping charge in Hall, authorities say

A man paroled out of prison Tuesday was transported to face a 2012 kidnapping charge in Hall County.

Allen Johann Curry, 31, of Toccoa, was booked Tuesday into the Hall County Jail to face charges of kidnapping and false imprisonment from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

A woman told authorities that her estranged boyfriend Curry kidnapped her May 20, 2012, from her Lookout Court home in Lula and drove her to Macon, according to Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes.

“The report indicates that Curry shoved the female victim into his vehicle and threatened her harm if she did not comply with him,” Bailes wrote in an email.

Bailes said the woman filed a rape report with the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, though the deputy was unsure of the resolution to the allegation. Representatives from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, Bibb County Clerk’s Office and Bibb County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment to The Times about the case by phone.

Curry was indicted on Dec. 19, 2012, on one count of kidnapping and one count of false imprisonment.

In Stephens County, Curry was convicted of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections database. He was incarcerated in a state prison from October 2012 until Tuesday.

Curry was booked in to the Hall County Jail, where he remains.

Parolee faces 2012 kidnapping charge in Hall, authorities say

Father of girl killed in White County wreck partners for driving course

A White County man whose daughter died this year in a car crash has partnered with another group for free defensive driving courses this weekend.

Cecily Mcree Hamilton, 16, and driver Taylor Scott Swing, 18, of Cleveland, died March 15 in a wreck on Gene Nix Road in Cleveland when the car went off the shoulder and submerged in a creek.

Cecily’s father Shannon Hamilton made national news when White County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested him when trying to put up concrete barriers at the crash site in April. The charge of felony interference with government property was later dropped.

Now, Shannon Hamilton is partnering with the nonprofit Put on the B.R.A.K.E.S. — Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe — to offer free defensive driving courses today and Sunday.

“They put you in situations where you’re going to lose control, but they teach you the tools that you need … to give you the best opportunity to regain control,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said he reached out to the nonprofit’s founder Doug Herbert, whose two sons died in 2008, to get the ball rolling.

The course involves a wet skid pad and other roadway distractions to give teenage drivers the skills to be on the road.

Hamilton highly suggested the course to parents with teenagers getting behind the wheel.

“They grew up differently than we did,” Hamilton said. “They didn’t have the dirt roads that we had growing up to learn how to counter steer and keep control of the vehicle.”

Hamilton’s three children will take the four-hour course Sunday, he said. The White County father said his son recently avoided injury when coming from on a snow day.

“He went into a curve with snow and he lost control. He had no idea what to do,” Hamilton said.

The class runs from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. today and Sunday at Atlanta Dragway, 500 East Ridgeway Road in Commerce. The class is free but requires a $99 deposit to secure a spot.

Drivers need to have a permit or driver’s license, at least 30 hours of driving experience and a parent with them at the event.

Father of girl killed in White County wreck partners for driving course