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Looking back at 2011
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Rockdale started off the year encased in ice and ended with a dry, warm winter.

The snow storm on Sunday, Jan. 9, paralyzed the metro-Atlanta region for a week. Schools, governments, businesses and regular transportation were halted as the roads became impassable with thick sheets of ice, and very few snowploughs or sand trucks were available. Stranded trucks, SUVs and tractor trailers on the side of the road became a common sight. Interstate 20 was shut down for an evening. Students in Rockdale were off for the entire week and later made up those days during winter break. Conyers police reported 21 accidents from Sunday to Wednesday, with nine of those on Interstate 20, and the county reported 19 accidents from Sunday to Monday.




Rockdale mourned the loss of an officer and a soldier and an attack on a teacher and her young daughter outside a daycare center.

The Pulliam family mourned the loss of their son-in-law, 2nd Lt. Dimitri del Castillo, 24, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in June. He and his wife, Salem graduate Katie Pulliam del Castillo — who was also a West Point alum and also serving in Afghanistan — had recently married legally but were waiting for a church wedding after their tours ended.

Former Rockdale resident and Doraville police officer Shane Wilson was killed on duty when a wrong-way driver crashed in to his patrol car on Nov. 14. Wilson, 27, was the father of a young son and had recently remarried. His funeral was held in Rockdale at Conyers First Baptist.

Kimya Roberson, a kindergarten teacher at CJ Hicks Elementary, and her 10-year-old daughter Corinne Williams, a student at Lorraine Elementary, were the victims of a shooting attack by her estranged husband Terrence Sherrod Roberson, 36, outside a Stockbridge daycare center on Sept. 21. Terrence Roberson had recently heard Kimya had filed for divorce. Roberson later turned himself in to deputies and was charged with aggravated assault. There is no charge of attempted murder in Georgia. Mother and daughter are recovering at home.


Several tragic child-abuse related deaths occurred this year in Rockdale. Three-year-old Edna Figueroa was reportedly shaken severely and died after she and her two brothers came from Texas to live with their mother, Yaneth De La Cruz, 21, and her boyfriend, Raul Solis, 20. Two-year-old Cayden Allen died from apparent blows to the head in April after he was left in the care of his mother’s boyfriend, 23-year-old James Sims, who has been charged with murder. Allen had recently come from Kentucky to live with his mother.



Rockdale Medical Center CEO Bryan Dearing stepped down and Chief Operating Officer Deborah Armstrong, who had been with the hospital since 2001, was appointed CEO of the 138-bed acute care hospital owned by LifePoint Hospitals. Dearing, who had been brought in 2009, went on to head the Northridge Medical Center in the Athens area.

Rockdale County Fire and Rescue Chief Cedric Scott resigned in April to take an assistant chief position with the city of Savannah. After a search, Franklin Wilson from Idaho was appointed in July to the Fire Chief position.

Human Resources Director Jeff Pogue also was let go in April, and Daryl Bowie was appointed HR director in July.

Church in the Now officially went into foreclosure in March, but no bidders came forward for the $18.8 million property on Iris Drive, which went back to mortgage holder Evangelical Christian Credit Union.



In the Board of Commissioners, discussion at the beginning of the year on county funding for non-profits became a hot topic after disagreement over the funding for non-profit Ceek-2-Fulfill. Commissioner Oz Nesbitt abstained from voting on funding for non-profits, leaving the discussion to Chairman Richard Oden and Commissioner JaNice Van Ness. In budget discussions for 2012, the BOC continued funding for the Conyer-Rockdale Economic Development Council and for the Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families, a BOC created entity. The BOC dropped funding for Rockdale Cares, a non-profit for the developmentally disabled, but did continue funding for View Point Health, formerly known as the Gwinnett Rockdale Newton Community Service Board, an entity under the state that provides services for mental health, addiction and the developmentally disabled.

The Board of Elections took center stage as the long simmering stalemate among the Republican, Democratic and at large members came to a head in court over the issue of how to appoint the third, at-large member.

Republican member Lynn Brown and Democratic member Garvin Haynes failed an ultimatum by Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation to come an agreement and choose the third member, and Brown and Haynes were dismissed from the board for failing to do their duty as elections board members. Nation ruled that interim third member Cary Bond was serving legally until the new third member could be appointed.

The Rockdale Republican Party appointed Jonny Brown, husband of Lynn Brown, to be its new representative on the elections board and the Rockdale Democratic Party appointed attorney Caycie Dix.




Rockdale and Conyers celebrated a few exceptional achievements this year. The Rockdale County Public School System made Adequate Yearly Progress under the Federal No Child Left Behind act for the sixth year in a row – an accomplishment in any situation and especially considering the increasing bar set each year and the rapidly rising numbers of students on free and reduced lunches, or from low-income families.

After more than two years in the making, Family Promise of NewRock officially launched after the 13th church agreed to join the network. The interfaith hospitality network began hosting its first homeless families in November. The organization provides a network of churches to host local families recently made homeless. The non-profit is still looking for two more churches to join to strengthen the network and resources.

Phoenix Pass, a transitional housing program for homeless women and children at the Light House Village campus on Sigman Road, recently celebrated one year in operation.