The Concerned Clergy of Butts County is calling on residents of Jackson and Butts County to join them for a community prayer vigil called “Remembering the Victims of Violence and Praying for a Safer Community. The candlelight vigil will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27 on the campus of the old Henderson High School, 181 North Mulberry Street in Jackson.
Pastor Dee Sidney of Greater Bethel Community Church, a member of the CCBC, said it is time for pastors and people to come together to offer up prayers for the community and to denounce the increase in violence in Jackson and Butts County in the past two years.
“We believe that prayer still works for our community and we just want to make sure that we publicly denounce violence and all aspects and forms, whether it is physical, domestic, or gun violence, or all types of violence,” said Sidney. “We just want to stand collectively together with our community, the community stakeholders, the youth of our community, law enforcement, elected officials, clergy, private and public business owners, we just want to take a collective stance against violence.”
During the vigil, candles will be lit and those who have been killed or injured by violence will be remembered.
“If there is a family member of the victims present and they want to speak or call our their names in remembrance during that time,” Sidney said, “we’ll have a time for that.”
Pastor Poleon Griffin of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Fincherville, a member of the CCBC and the Jackson-Butts County NAACP, said he and the other pastors feel a deep concern on several levels.
“Number one, we’re very concerned about the spike in violence among our youth and just crime in general in the community in the city of Jackson,” he said. Two, we’re also very concerned about our youth. What is happening with crime and our youth, and how it is destabilizing the community at well. And then thirdly, the concern about the families that are affected. Concern about the mothers who’ve lost children, siblings losing their siblings, the trauma put upon school systems, and all those types of things, the police department, and all the other affected people in the community as a result of this crime.”
“Case in point,” Griffin added, “back in May when the Pepperton shooting occurred, that was on (JHS) graduation night, which was a joyous occasion. Loved ones and families were there to celebrate the achievements of their children, only to be ended with this violence less than a mile away. That just upended the tranquility of the community.
“And not just that. The young lady that recently got shot in Jenkinsburg. Chris Head at the gym (in March), working as a mentor and coach and trying to help develop our youth, and to have this type of violence come up and interrupt something that’s good and more importantly, cause harm and danger and injury to him, which affected his family.
“I think as ministers and pastors we need to stand up, because we don’t think that we are doing enough to stand with the victims,” Griffin continued. “We’re not doing enough to speak out against the crimes, and we’re not doing enough to help culture our children. At this point we’re drawing a line in the sand and saying enough is enough. I really challenged our group of ministers not to just talk about people, but to talk to them and engage them.”
Griffin said it is not enough to exchange platitudes, condemn what has happened, and offer condolences, because nothing changes.
“I think it is because we’re not soliciting the help of those really affected, not that mother, that sister, that brother, that wife, we’re not reaching out to them,” he said. “On the national stage, when we look at the Al Sharptons, when we look at the attorney (Benjamin) Crump, and their different levels, they’re able to make, I would think, a little more headway than we because when you see them they are there with the victims, they are there with them in prayer. Our president, Joe Biden, he went and sat down with the victims. And if change is going to occur, it is going to occur with the people who have got the pain.
“This is a great opportunity for us to not only build the community, but maintain the community that’s healthy to bring up our children. So we’re coming together to stand with those victims, the affected families, to reaffirm law enforcement, to let those mothers and wives and children know that we hear you and feel your pain, and we’re here to help you do something about it,” Griffin said. “We know that as ministers we can’t just do the change ourselves. We need their help. We need to put the faces on it and humanize the people that were slain and injured. We need to let people know that these were real people with feelings and dreams and hopes and all those things that are gone at the blast of someone’s bullet and violence. That’s what it is all about.”
Georgia is receiving about $4.8 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to fund eligible local infrastructure projects, and the city of Jackson is hoping to tap into that account to help build a new state-of-the-art wastewater plant.
Jackson Mayor Kay Pippin updated the city council at their Nov. 2 meeting on the city’s efforts to secure a $23.5 million grant from the state for the new wastewater treatment plant.
Jackson currently has three old sewer plants that are not in good shape, with the northeast plant being almost 50 years old. The equipment is old and out-dated and Pippin said everyone should be grateful to Water and Waste Department Superintendent Ben Walker and his staff for keeping all three plants functioning.
“We’ve stayed one step ahead of EPD on some of these regulations,” said Pippin. “Two weeks ago our engineers (Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood) came down to do some work and our northeast plant is permitted for 140,000 gallons of wastewater a day. It was after a torrential rainfall and 800,000 gallons was going through that plant. That’s the condition we were in. We have no choice. We have to fix all of these things if there is going to be a good life in this community for years to come.”
The mayor said she and the council have been working on a plan to remodel all three plants and to increase the permit on the northeast plant in order to stay within EPD regulations. The projected cost is $8 million, and Pippin said they were well on their way to making it happen when the pandemic hit, and then the federal government sent money to each state through ARPA to remedy the havoc Covid caused communities and the economy.
In Georgia, one of those areas is infrastructure, said Pippin, with a heavy emphasis on water and sewer.
“At the recommendation of our engineers, this council regrouped and we submitted on the Oct. 31 deadline a very elaborate application for a $23.5 million grant,” she said. “I was at a Three Rivers Commission meeting last week where we were lauded for doing this because of the work that is involved, and apparently this is one of the biggest applications that has been filed in our region.”
A committee at the state is reviewing all of the grant applications. A state website has been set up and each applicant has a code to get onto the website and check for any questions regarding their grant. If an applicant doesn’t immediately respond to the questions, their application could be thrown out. Pippin said both the city and its engineers are monitoring the site daily.
If they are awarded the grant, Pippin said the plan is to use the funds, plus additional funds from the city, to help build a new wastewater plant.
“The plan is it will take $28 million to build a brand new, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant that would accommodate all of the city’s wastewater cleaning and disposal for the next 60 years,” said Pippin. “It would enable us to take our three old plants offline. One of the old plants would probably be the site of the new plant, but at least two would go completely offline, and going forward, the city would only have to staff one and it would be one that is state-of-the-art and meets all the conditions of EPD and would cease to be a major headache for the city.
“If this happens, it will be phenomenal and we will be in the cat bird’s seat when it comes to being able to accommodate growth going forward.”
It is expected to be sometime in January before the grant awards are made known.
Christian Cline of Jackson, a member of the Jackson High School Class of 2018, and currently a senior at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), has combined his two loves of art and science into his first book, “The Teeming Universe, An Extraterrestrial Field Guide.”
Available on Amazon.com, the book, which features more than 300 pages filled with art, diagrams, and vivid descriptions of extraterrestrial creatures, environments, and planetary bodies, is already receiving rave reviews such as:
“The book is well written and easy to follow along, with incredible illustrations on almost every page. The author is great at creating awe inspiring and imaginative worlds without sacrificing a drop of realism; each species being wonderfully unique and designed.”
Another reviewer wrote:
“The book is surprisingly easy to follow, as many complicated scientific words and ideas are broken down for the reader, and there’s even a glossary for supplementary reference. The book is fun and engaging, and will certainly entertain your fantasy of investigating extraterrestrial life across the galaxy! Overall, The Teeming Universe is a great reading experience. I really like this book and all its imaginative art, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in science fiction, astronomy, creature design, and speculative evolution!”
Cline is the son of Norma (Le’Jean) Cline of Jackson, and has two older brothers, Caleb and Joshua. While at Jackson High, Cline was a STAR Student nominee and honor graduate. He received scholarships from the Jackson-Butts County Council for the Arts, the Butts Men of Action Memorial Award, and the Cornelius Watts Scholarship Foundation.
Continuing his education at SCAD, Cline is majoring in Illustration and minoring in Writing. He will be a graduate of honor distinction, Magna Cum Laude, in May 2022.
Cline said his personal passion is to conceptualize creatures and build new and scientifically accurate worlds, complete with new and alien life forms. Stemming from his fondness for biological and astronomical science as a child, he expresses great interest in scientific illustration in particular, which is something he regularly incorporates into his material.
“As as child, like most, I’ve always loved art and expressing creativity, but additionally, I really loved science, especially astrobiology and paleontology,” Cline said. “This fondness for science and scientific plausibility is something that I carried with me, and I make it a subconscious goal to make my creature designs rooted in plausibility. I believe that our world, nature and the universe, is a testament to a genius creator, and its example is the best you could follow when creating something of your own. That’s why I combine elements of both true nature and science with my own creativity, forming something that I believe is as real as it is equally alien.”
Cline’s goal for the past two years was to publish his own book, and now that he has, he is looking forward after graduation next spring to becoming an environment/prop or character concept artist.
“Aside from that,” he said, “I seek to simply be the best artist I can be, and show other artists that math and science can be made into something beautiful.”
Cline’s book, “A Teeming Universe,” has been featured on Curious Archive and can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/UL_V_jpIANE. Also, the book has been featured on Astrovitae, a digital magazine by Domenic Pennetta. Most recently, the book is featured on AZFK. The link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHLqoMak1vM.
Cline has an upcoming book promotion on Amazon.com on Monday, Dec. 1, from 6 — 8 p.m. If those interested will purchase their copy during that time period, Cline can become an “Amazon Best-Selling Author” due to a large number of orders during the time period.
An in-person BYOB (Bring Your Own Book) Signing will take place in early 2022. Details will be announced later.
For more of Christian's art and information, please visit his website: