Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 1, 2014

Top Ten Stories of 2013

(Continued)

VALDOSTA — 2. City of Valdosta Sewer Woes

Following a massive flood event in April 2009 which threatened to overwhelm the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, Valdosta City officials tried to obtain more than $93 million in federal funding to replace the plant, while not making any provisions to keep it from being overwhelmed again. Four years later, in February 2013, another heavy rainfall caused flooding which again emptied raw sewage into backyards, businesses, and the Withlacoochee River.

The city shut the plant down this time entirely, allowing millions of gallons of untreated raw sewage to flow directly into the river, causing brown-outs, warnings and closures downstream in Florida. The Times’ investigations turned up similar events dating back more than 20 years, with a total of more than 300 million gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage released into the Withlacoochee.

Following lawsuits and a consent order from the Environmental Protection Agency, the city is under time constraints to relocate and rebuild the plant, replace pump stations, and replace gravity lines with force main lines. To date, the city has obtained loans from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency for water/sewer issues, with an outstanding loan debt of more than $93 million.

With the passage of SPLOST VII, the city will be able to pay back a large portion of the loans for the new plant and affiliated projects within the next seven years.

3. A tragic loss in Brooks County

In early July, a single vehicle accident took the lives of three Brooks County High football players shortly after leaving practice. Jicaree Watkins, Shawn Waters, and Johnie Parker died in the accident while a fourth player, De’Vron Whitfield, was seriously hurt but recovered from his injuries.  The loss affected the entire community, which pulled together for the sake of the families. Several players paid homage to their lost teammates by wearing their numbers and jerseys throughout a stellar season, which saw the Trojans all the way to the state semi-finals.

Coach Maurice Freeman helped his players recover from the tragic loss of their friends and inspired them to perform at their peak all season, not losing a single game at home all year.

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Local News
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    Veteran newspaper editor Jim Zachary has assumed the editor’s chair at The Valdosta Daily Times.
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    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-griner001.jpg Griner takes oath

     Surrounded by family, friends, and fellow commissioners, Clay Griner took the oath of office Monday morning as the Lowndes County Super District 5 commissioner.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

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    Authorities continued searching for suspects Monday evening connected to a stolen dump truck involved in a chase with law-enforcement.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • City workers strike natural gas main

    A gas leak evacuated a neighborhood Monday when workers struck a natural gas main.

    July 29, 2014

  • education.jpg Desegregation status approved

    Forty-three years after an initial lawsuit was filed to force the system to desegregate, Valdosta City Schools has officially been approved for “unitary status.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

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    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

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