George Barnes – silently impacting a school for decades

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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

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George Barnes – silently impacting a school for decades

Riverside Elementary lost a friend, an employee and most of all a friend to every student who walked the halls of Riverside for 29 years. 

When Barnes was diagnosed with cancer, students and staff were saddened and put their minds to work on ways to help.  They held a fundraiser to assist with medical expenses, wrote notes, said a ton of prayers, along with posters with good well wishes lining the walls of Riverside. 

Teachers and students alike were eager to share memories and thoughts of Mr. George. Many students and even some faculty were unaware of Mr. George’s last name – he was just affectionately known as “Mr. George”.  

Alayana Calloway is fairly new to Riverside, three years young there, “This is the third year I have taught at Riverside, and since I have gotten here, Mr. George has always been a highlight of my day.  His friendly face and encouraging words would make any day better.  I never once saw him without a smile on his face.  He loved the students and faculty at Riverside, and we loved him!  When we learned he was sick, my students and I would pray for him.  They learned to love him and would be so excited when he was at work because they knew he felt well enough to come.  When he passed away, we made cards to him as closure but will keep his memory alive.  His empty chair that he always sat in is so hard to see, but I know we will see him again one day when the Lord calls us home too.  Mr. George was a special person, and he will ALWAYS be in our hearts.”    

Paige Cavanaugh reiterated, “George Barnes, or as the students at Riverside called him, “Mr. George,” was a warm smile and a helping hand at Riverside for 29 years. When asked to recall Mr. George, several students used the same words repeatedly: kind, helpful, and a hard worker. Just last month, the students of RES blessed him and his family in a time of need by selling snack cakes. The school and community raised over $3,000. Yesterday, as the students learned of his passing, several found comfort visiting the front hallway. There they found baskets of snack cakes, paper, markers, and tape. Creating tributes to Mr. George was a big part of the day. From simple one line wishes to heart-felt letters to his family, the wall quickly became a way for our students and staff to stop and reflect upon the blessing Mr. George was to each of us. A sign on the wall says it best, “Mr. George Barnes, the Heart of Riverside, Always.”

Julie Melton worked with Barnes for 22 years, “To know George Barnes was to love him!  I was blessed to work with him for over 22 years at Riverside Elementary School.  From day one, he was one of the most kind, positive, and inspiring individuals I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.  George’s love for the Lord was evident in all his actions and in everything he said.  In fact, I’ve never heard a negative word come from his mouth in 22 years even when he was battling cancer.  To me, that sums his character up completely. George radiated love in all he did and said here at RES.  No matter what I needed in my room or if it was just a kind word, George was always there. The joy in his heart was truly contagious, and his smile warmed my heart.  I will forever be grateful to have had a relationship with George.  Heaven received an angel on March 4, 2019, and Riverside will never be the same.”

Sheri Byrd is another seasoned teacher at RES who has worked alongside Mr. George for many years, “My heart is broken with the passing of Mr. George. Mr. George had a smile that lit up the room.  He had such a gentle soul that was easily seen in the way he carried himself.  His kindness reached more than just the teachers and staff, it reached the students, too.  He would guide kids to own their behavior and come up with ways to correct it, without ever raising his voice.  On a more personal note, I was blessed to have spent many afternoons just talking to Mr. George about school and life.  His wisdom was enlightening and his talks inspiring.  They gave me hope when I felt defeated and discouraged.  He celebrated with me through my triumphs and success.  There is no greater man than one that is kind, humble, and genuine, and that was Mr. George!”

We talked with a fifth-grade student this week who had fond memories of her time with Mr. George, “He was a very nice man and he always had a big smile. He said kind things to the kids when he would see them in the hall.  We were very sad that he died but my mom said Mr. George doesn’t hurt any more and he’s with God.”  

The Times sends its condolences to the family and friends of George Barnes who will miss him greatly. 

Lauren Locke inks a scholarship to Troy University

  • Published in Sports

Lauren Locke sat on stage before family, friends, teammates and classmates Wednesday, March 6 and made her choice official.  Locke will be attending Troy University as an integral part of their track team in the 2019-20 season.

Locke has been a standout runner at Marianna High School throughout her high school years. She not only has stood out as an exceptional athlete, but is just as equally an academic standout, making all As throughout high school. As a result of her high achievements both academically and athletically, Locke will have no worries about the cost of her education. She is the recipient of both academic and athletic scholarship awards. 

As far as her future after college, Locke is undecided and readily admits, she has changed her mind more than a few times.  Lately, she says she is leaning towards physical therapy. 

As a student at Marianna High, Lauren is a member of BETA, NHS (National Honor Society), Juniorettes, FCA (Fellow Christian Athletes), Anchor Club, and SGA (Student Government Association). 

When asked about how she achieved where she is today, Lauren is quick to say, “I thank God, my family, coach Larson and my friend Bowen Rudd. He was like a coach to me and encourage me every day.”

Lauren is the daughter of Jimmy and Mary Locke, and Jennifer Locke.  She has a younger sister, Emily Locke and a younger brother, Jake Locke. She is the granddaughter of Patricia Locke, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Donaldson, and Mr. and Mrs. John Carter.

Boots on the Hill take on the Capitol supporting the cattle industry

Jackson County Cattleman’s Association president Jeff Snell led a group of boot-wearing citizens from Jackson County to Tallahassee Wednesday to lobby for assistance for the cattle industry.

Boots on the Hill is a yearly event that is attended by a group from Jackson County who know the importance of backing from legislation to the cattle and farming industry. 

A small group attended on Monday and met with Senator George Gainer about concerns with a much larger group attending the sessions on Wednesday. 

Those attending has several talking points on their agenda for this legislative term. First was animal legislation where they will be watching to make sure no bad amendments directed at their industry are adopted. They take great pride in the care of their cattle, horses and pets of all kinds.  They are also in support of the reinstatement of the “Beef Market Development Act” which will take effect should the federal check-off program ever be found to be unconstitutional by the federal court system.  For the budget, Department of Agriculture they are asking for increased funding for Rural and Family Lands Program to $100 million, $26.5 million for projects within the Office of Ag Water Policy, and $148,857 for the Kissimmee Diagnostic Lab. They are asking for continued funding of the Cattle Enhancement Board. They are requesting to increase funding to meet the demand for programs, services and education through statewide research and extension services. 

The group is also requesting help in sales tax exemption. Presently they have to pay sales tax on fence construction and materials for livestock when they are mandated to keep their animals fenced. 

The above are just some of the items being requested that will benefit the cattle industry. Early in the day, the group felt positive about the feedback they were receiving. 

Update on Shack Circle homicide

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Captain Virgil Watson held a press conference at 9 a.m. Thursday morning in reference to the homicide investigation of Patricia Shack, 65-year old female, “On Tuesday March 5 the sheriff’s department got a call just shortly after 5 a.m. of a possible deceased person at 2880 Shack Circle.  Officers arrived there and they found her, she was laying in the bed.  She was, at this time, what looks like was a single gunshot wound. At that time, we roped off everything and call FDLE. They assisted us in the lab, they processed the scene and at that time after the scene was cleared, we started running down leads. This residence is off the main road, it’s obscured by trees so we canvassed the neighborhood but of course we haven’t found anybody that has seen or knew anything yet. We’ve had investigators go to Tallahassee, Dothan, Panama City to follow up on leads. At this time, we don’t have any suspects. We would ask that anyone that has any information please call the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.”

Watson advised that a family member found the victim. In reference to a question if the family member was in the home at the time, Watson said, “Yes, the family member thought it might have been a suicide but then they heard something run out the door.” He advised that no run has been found. Watson said at this time it appears to be a single gunshot wound and won’t know anything further until FDLE finishes processing. He said robbery doesn’t appear to be the motive. 

Watson stressed that they needed the public’s help and if they have any information that will assist, to please contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at (850)482-9664.  

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