Tornado response, 'Three Stooges' top human interest stories of 2011
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 26, 2011 | 2636 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Salvation Army Corps Capt. John Fuller, left, and Grassy Harper, load a truck of donations people brought to the radio-thon for storm victims. In addition to the items donated, the event reportedly raised about $48,000.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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From the arrival of "The Three Stooges" movie production to the community's display of generosity following the April tornadoes, 2011 presented Bartow residents and organizations with a bevy of memorable moments. Ranked by the newsroom of The Daily Tribune News, some of the top human interest stories are listed below in no particular order.

Community rallies around tornado victims

Following the April tornadoes that struck Bartow County, the community rallied around those in need. From nonprofits and churches to businesses and emergency personnel, the public's generous spirit overflowed in the storm's aftermath.

An example of this was a radio-thon in which WBHF radio joined forces with The Daily Tribune News and Cartersville UNCUT to raise needed funds and items for Bartow's tornado victims. According to WBHF, the radio-thon generated $48,000 for the local United Way, which in turn provided immediate assistance to impacted families.

"The word I've been using is 'overwhelmed,'" said Matt Santini, Cartersville mayor and WBHF station manager, following the radio-thon. "Going into this with the kindness of the Cartersville-Bartow Community Foundation and the other two anonymous foundations to match, I figured if we raised $5,000 and were able to bring in $14,000 for the community I thought that'd be great.

"I'm just totally blown away by the community's response, just the generosity of everybody. ... It's my understanding that [the] money is going to get into the hands in quick fashion to those storm victims either in the form of gift cards or distributed to the [United Way] agencies that can get those resources to those people fast. Again, it's worth noting that this is a special fund that's been set up by the United Way that 100 percent of the money that's raised goes directly to these local tornado victims."

Broadcasted live on WBHF 1450 AM radio, listeners were encouraged to place pledges by calling in or by dropping off donations at the station in Cartersville.

"A lot of these people have lost everything," said Brenda Morehouse, president of the United Way of Bartow County, via phone to the WBHF radio-thon. "I was out there and I have never really experienced ... walking through so many different areas of a small community that was really devastated, and helping people find -- there were people walking that couldn't even put their children down because they had no shoes and were walking through the forest trying to find shoes to put on their children's feet just so they could put them down and looking for pictures -- anything because there was absolutely nothing left.

"It was amazing. ... the devastation is incredible and I hope that everybody understands how lucky we are that we didn't have any fatalities because I know in Ringgold they performed services for a family of four that were killed there. And I think we're so lucky that we didn't lose anybody. But we definitely need the funds, and they're going to go straight into the hands of these victims and quickly."

Referring to the radio-thon, Morehouse recently said the three-hour benefit helped raise about $70,000 for the local United Way over a two-day period.

Bartow community remembers 9/11

Bartow County residents joined individuals across the nation, commemorating the 10th-year anniversary of 9/11.

Although a decade had passed, area fire departments urged the public to 'never forget' the events that transpired the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks, which included the hijacking of four U.S. airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, killed nearly 3,000 civilians and public safety personnel.

"I think everyone would agree that 9/11 was one of those events where our country pretty much stopped on the dime and changed direction," said Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter, prior to a remembrance ceremony in downtown Cartersville that was coordinated by the Cartersville Fire Department Honor Guard. "It was a life-changing event. In the fire service, we have always said since 9/11, 'Never forget, never forget.' You see it on the side of some fire trucks. It's just kind of like a saying and the reason for the 10th anniversary program is just that. We as a country, we should never forget. We as a community, we should never forget. 9/11, 10 years ago, was a day that our country lost a lot of innocence and we need to remember why we need to remember what happened that day.

"We need to remember the sacrifice of not just the first responders. While that was the greatest loss of fire service life on any one incident in the history of our country, there were, of course, law enforcement, EMS that lost lives that day. But there were many, many, many citizens that lost their lives that day. And there were many citizens that stood up with heroic acts that day. And since then, what has our country done? Well, we have survived the terrorists. They wanted to bring America to its knees and the only thing that I believe that they did was they brought America to stand up and that's why we remember that event."

Held at Friendship Plaza in downtown Cartersville, the remembrance program consisted of musical selections by the Cass High School band and Cartersville Middle School chorus, a wreath-laying ceremony and tributes by a joint public safety honor guard, including those from Bartow County and Cartersville fire departments.

Hill takes helm at Red Top Mountain, Etowah Indian Mounds, Allatoona Pass and Pickett's Mill

In May, Daniel Hill started serving as the park manager for Red Top Mountain State Park, Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site, Allatoona Pass Battlefield and Pickett's Mill Battlefield Historic Site.

"I grew up on a farm and I've always enjoyed working outside and working with people," Hill told The Daily Tribune News. "It was almost a natural extension, going from working my summer jobs in high school to pursuing a career with the [Georgia Department of Natural Resources]. ... What I enjoy most about this line of work is the flexibility. Definitely it's a requirement to be able to be flexible, to be able to handle situations as they arrive. But also every day is something new and that's what I find very enjoyable about it.

"As far as park management goes, it's being able to have a positive influence on a wide variety of people. We've got a great staff here. We have an excellent Friends group. Being able to be involved with them and have common goals that we can work to and share in those accomplishments, I think that's the most enjoyable part of park management for me."

Working for the Georgia DNR since 1995, Hill was introduced to the state park system when he spent two summers in high school as a seasonal laborer at then Watson Mill Bridge State Park. Later, he served as the park manager for Hamburg State Outdoor Recreation Area, then Hard Labor Creek State Park from 2007 to 2011.

"Daniel has a passion about the cultural resources at whichever park he's working at, and those are significant at Red Top, Etowah and Pickett's Mill," said James Hamilton, program manager for Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. "He takes the DNR's commitment to interpretation and protection seriously, plus he's interested in engaging with the local community."

'The Three Stooges' films in Cartersville

Set for release in April, 20th Century Fox's "The Three Stooges" film will feature a familiar backdrop for many Bartow residents.

Known as the Ryals-Davis Home, the Cartersville three-story brick homeplace at 900 Old Alabama Road serves as an orphanage in the movie. Directed by brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the film highlights the slapstick antics of Curly, Moe and Larry, portrayed by Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos and Sean Hayes, respectively.

Situated on 300 acres, the Ryals-Davis Home was built in the late 1850s by the Ryals family. According to Lehmann Smith, who is one of the property's managers, the home was spared during the Civil War because Union soldiers used the structure as a small hospital. Now restored, the building is no stranger to the film industry. Along with being featured in "The Three Stooges," it also has been utilized for the Steve Martin movie "A Simple Twist of Fate" and various made-for-TV films.

With "The Three Stooges" exhibiting a variety of local connections, such as utilizing Bartow County actors and properties -- Regina Wheeler -- deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau -- said there are numerous advantages to working with the entertainment industry. In 2011, the CVB has responded to at least two inquiries a month concerning filming locations. Throughout the years, Bartow has served as a backdrop for many films and TV shows, such as "Mosquito Coast" and "I'll Fly Away."

"Economic development through overnight stays in our lodging properties -- that's our number one purpose," Wheeler told The Daily Tribune News. "But in doing so, in bringing people to the community, it does bring people into our restaurants. It brings people to our catering companies. It brings business to our rental companies, gas stations. You name it, there's a large, large trickle-down effect with the tourism industry and the film industry is just one facet of that."

Gilbert claims Distinguished Young Woman of Georgia title

Mary-Clayton Gilbert -- the local 2012 Distinguished Young Woman -- became the fourth Bartow County representative to win the state title. With this achievement, she joins an elite group, consisting of Mary Jon Bradley Garrison, Abbey Hufstetler and Caroline Lloyd, the latter two also winning the competition in the past four years.

During the program -- formerly known as Georgia's Junior Miss -- at the Cobb Civic Center's Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, Gilbert competed in the areas of fitness (15 percent of the overall score), interview (25 percent), scholastics (20 percent), self-expression (15 percent) and talent (25 percent). Along with the overall title, she also received awards in fitness and self-expression, netting her a total of $5,600 in scholarships.

"I was completely shocked," said Gilbert, the daughter of Dr. Tom and Regina Gilbert of Cartersville, following the July competition. "I know that right before they announced my name, my heart was just beating like crazy. I honestly thought it was going to pop out of my chest. But when they called my name, I was just so shocked and so honored and the emotions really got to me and I did start crying a little bit.

"But it was a wonderful feeling. It means the world to me. I'm so honored, and the girls I was competing against were so talented, well-spoken, beautiful young ladies, and I was just so honored to win the title."

Gilbert -- a 12th-grade homeschooled student -- advanced to the state contest by becoming the first Distinguished Young Woman of Bartow County and won a total of $1,900 in cash scholarships. For the talent segment, Gilbert showcased her vocal skills, singing "Breathe" from the musical "In the Heights," which she repeated at the state competition.