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2018 brought tragedy, triumph, growth

The year 2018 brought with it tragedy, triumph and growth for Pike County as a new college opened here, a Veterans Affairs Clinic is being prepared for and local citizens were recognized and honored across the United States – and across the globe. The fatal football injury to Pirates player Dylan Thomas in September shone a spotlight on Pike as the community joined together to support Dylan’s family, friends and teammates with love and respect. Many from the football community across the nation also sent jerseys with Dylan’s number – 32 – and most were signed by high school and college athletes to share their condolences. Funds have been collected in Dylan’s memory to create the Dylan Thomas scholarship that will be presented to Pike County High School seniors in the future. Pike triumphed over several challenges together as community members raised the money and had the roof replaced on the Old Zebulon School on Adams Street before the winter rains came. The building’s foundation was also secured. Plans are to completely renovate the building into an AirBnB-style hotel with 13 rooms. Grants have been applied for to complete the project. Visitors to the county joined forces with others in Pike and beyond to help restore the city of Williamson’s Army UH-1 ‘˜Huey’ helicopter and a special rededication ceremony was held in May. The helicopter had fallen into disrepair, had been vandalized and was in need of a paint job. The costs to the city would have been more than $25,000 but several volunteers did the work themselves, found the missing items and replaced them and transported the Huey to the DeltaOps hanger where it was repainted and finished with Vietnam-era specific logos and signage. The city built a pavilion to house the newly renovated helicopter. Five local siblings earned Guinness World Record certificates for being the world’s oldest siblings and were recognized globally. A special celebration was held in their honor and hundreds attended, including television news crews who spread the news across the nation. The siblings were even honored in Germany and other countries as newspaper reports of their global record was shared. When the certificates were presented, Helen Mae Mangham was 102, Rosalee Mangham King was 101, Grace Mangham Ward was 99, William Decatur ‘˜W.D.’ Mangham was 96 and Essie ‘˜Virginia’ Brooks was 92. Four of the siblings have since had birthdays, setting the world record for five siblings at a combined age of 494. Members of the Class of 1969 finally received their high school diplomas in an emotional and historic graduation ceremony in March that emphasized faith, hope and love. The 43 members of the Pike County Consolidated High School Class of 1969 had the unique honor to have children and even grandchildren at their high school graduation ceremony. The students were in good standing to graduate in 1969, but were denied their diplomas because some students left their classrooms in Concord and marched in a silent, peaceful protest to the superintendent’s office in Zebulon. In February, the Pirates’ star running back C’Bo Flemister committed to Notre Dame after receiving many offers from top colleges, including Georgia Tech, the University of Tennessee and others. He was ranked as the number 83 running back nationally. The county has seen growth as local businesses have expanded, new businesses have opened – including the Georgia Military College in Zebulon – and news of the county’s future Veterans Affairs Clinic was announced. The Georgia Military College held a ribbon cutting ceremony in January and the inaugural class of 11 students started classes in March. GMC also offered summer courses starting in May and fall courses in August. The VA Clinic is expected to be opened in Pike by 2020 and will be housed in a 49,000 square foot building with at least 350 parking spaces. The Department of Veterans Affairs will contract with a local landowner with a lease of up to 20 years. Several properties have been rezoned to be potentially selected as the site of the VA Clinic. See more top stories from the year on the special Year In Review section on pages 1B-8B.

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