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United Way aims to raise $900,000 this year
 lmcdonald  / 

The United Way of Coastal Georgia kicked off its 2018-2019 fundraising campaign Thursday. The local nonprofit aims to raise $900,000 this year.

The United Way raises money to provide grants to partner agencies that focus on improving the health, education and income stability of residents of Glynn and McIntosh counties.

“The United Way campaign provides essential funding to the most impactful programs in our community,” said Virginia Brown, president and CEO of the local United Way. “All funds are raised locally … And the good news is every bit of it stays here. It all stays local.”

That money is distributed the same year it’s raised, she said, so that United Way starts back at $0 annually.

“We’re launching this year’s campaign to find solutions to problems occurring this year, to your neighbors, today,” Brown said. “This is an immediate need, and we are out there doing that. So now is the time to act.”

The challenges in this community are vast, she said.

About 35 percent of children in Brunswick live in poverty. In Glynn County, about 28.8 percent are living in poverty, and about 35 percent live in poverty in McIntosh County.

About one-fourth of all children living in Glynn County go hungry, she said. About 20 percent of families live below the poverty line in both Glynn and McIntosh Counties.

United Way introduced the ambassadors of this year’s campaign at a kick-off event. They will be featured on marketing materials including billboards, posters and social media posts.

“This year we’re featuring people that are so into the fight and the fight for our community that they’re willing to put themselves on the front line and let us use their images 30 feet high on billboards and advertisements” said Michael Alexander, chair of the United Way of Coastal Georgia marketing committee and president and CEO of King & Prince Seafood. “They’re standing up to fight.”

Ambassadors for the campaign this year will be Oatanisha Dawson, Shawn Williams, Griffin Bukin, Harrison Sapp, Paulo Albuquerque, Randal Morris, Scott Steilen, Paul McKenzie and Judy Dodd.

The call to action this year is “United We Fight,” the nonprofit organization’s nationwide campaign for 2018-2019.

Randal Morris, public affairs manager for Georgia-Pacific LLC, will serve as this year’s workplace campaign chair. A co-chair for individual donations will be named later this year.

Individual donors have been harder to reach in past years, Morris said.

“This is our call to action, and it requires all of us working together to volunteer, to advocate and to give the community solutions that target some of our most critical gaps,” he said.

United Way aims to bring about positive change in the community, Morris said.

“I challenge all of you to go out there, individually, and spread the word and make the ask,” he said. “I challenge you to find others that you know will support the cause, support United Way.”

People can donate by visiting the Untied Way website or by texting “fightunited” to 91999.

Burt Reynolds, star of film, TV and tabloids, dead at 82

Burt Reynolds, the handsome film and television star known for his acclaimed performances in “Deliverance” and “Boogie Nights,” commercial hits such as “Smokey and the Bandit” and for an active off-screen love life which included relationships with Loni Anderson and Sally Field, has died at age 82.

His death was confirmed Thursday by his agent Todd Eisner, who did not immediately have further details.

The mustachioed, smirking Reynolds inspired a wide range of responses over his long, erratic career: critical acclaim and critical scorn, popular success and box office bombs. Reynolds made scores of movies, ranging from lightweight fare such as the hits “The Cannonball Run” and “Smokey and the Bandit” to more serious films like “The Longest Yard” and “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.”

In “The Longest Yard,” he came to Brunswick to film sequences of the opening chase scene in which the old Sidney Lanier Bridge is featured.

He received some of the film world’s highest and lowest honors. He was nominated for an Oscar for “Boogie Nights,” the Paul Thomas Anderson film about the pornography industry; won an Emmy for the TV series “Evening Shade,” and was praised for his starring role in “Deliverance.”

But he also was a frequent nominee for the Razzie, the tongue-in-cheek award for Hollywood’s worst performance, and his personal life provided ongoing drama, particularly after an acrimonious divorce from Anderson in 1995. He had a troubled marriage to Judy Carne, a romance with Dinah Shore and a relationship with Field damaged by his acknowledged jealousy of her success.

Through it all he presented a genial persona, often the first to make fun of his own conflicted image.

“My career is not like a regular chart, mine looks like a heart attack,” he told The Associated Press in 2001. “I’ve done over 100 films, and I’m the only actor who has been canned by all three networks. I epitomize longevity.”

Reynolds was candid about his flops, his regrets and about his many famous friends. He would call posing nude for Cosmopolitan one of his biggest mistakes because it undermined the respect he had gained for “Deliverance.” He revered Spencer Tracy as an early mentor and came to know Johnny Carson, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra and many others.

“Burt Reynolds was one of my heroes,” tweeted Arnold Schwarzenegger. “He was a trailblazer. He showed the way to transition from being an athlete to being the highest paid actor, and he always inspired me. He also had a great sense of humor — check out his Tonight Show clips. My thoughts are with his family.”

Born in Lansing, Michigan and raised in Florida, he was an all-Southern Conference running back at Florida State University in the 1950s. Reynolds appeared headed to the NFL until a knee injury and an automobile accident ended his chances. He dropped out of college and drifted to New York, where he worked as a dockhand, dance-hall bouncer, bodyguard and dish washer before returning to Florida in 1957 and enrolling in acting classes at Palm Beach Junior College.

He won the Florida Drama Award in 1958 for his performance in the role John Garfield made famous in “Outward Bound.” He was subsequently discovered by a talent agent at New York’s Hyde Park Playhouse.

In the 1960s he made dozens of guest-star appearances on such TV shows as “Bonanza,” ‘’The Twilight Zone” and “Perry Mason.” His first film role came in 1961’s “Angel Baby,” and he followed it with numerous other mediocre movies, the kind, he liked to joke, that were shown in airplanes and prisons.

He did become famous enough to make frequent appearances on “The Tonight Show,” leading to his most cherished film role and to his greatest folly.

In the early 1970s, director John Boorman was impressed by how confidently Reynolds handled himself when subbing for Carson as host of “The Tonight Show.” Boorman thought he might be right for a film adaptation of James Dickey’s novel “Deliverance.”

Reynolds starred as Lewis Medlock, the intrepid leader of an ill-fated whitewater canoe trip. When he and three other Atlanta businessmen are ambushed by violent backwoodsmen, Reynolds must guide the group to safety.

“Deliverance” was an Oscar nominee for best picture and no film made him prouder. In his 2015 memoir “But Enough About Me,” he wrote that “Deliverance” would be his choice could he put one of his movies in a time capsule.

“It proved I could act,” he wrote.

But soon after filming was completed, he made a decision he never stopped regretting. While appearing on “The Tonight Show” with Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, he agreed to her invitation, offered during a commercial break, to be the first male centerfold for her magazine.

“I was flattered and intrigued,” Reynolds wrote in his memoir. The April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan quickly sold more than 1 million copies, but turned his life into a “carnival.” The centerfold would appear on T-shirts, panties and other merchandise and Reynolds began receiving obscene fan mail. Reynolds’ performance in “Deliverance” was snubbed by the movie academy.

“It was a total fiasco,” he wrote. “I thought people would be able to separate the fun-loving side of me from the serious actor, but I was wrong.”

He did remain an A-list movie star, starring in such films as “Shamus,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and three popular “Smokey and the Bandit” comedies, with co-stars including Field and Jackie Gleason.

Reynolds also directed a few of the films he starred in, including “Gator,” “Sharky’s Machine” and “Stick,” and made cameo appearances in the Hollywood spoof “The Player” and Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask).”

One of his first encounters with the tabloids came in 1973 with the mysterious death of Sarah Miles’ manager during filming of “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.” Reynolds testified during a highly publicized inquest; the death was eventually ruled a suicide.

His romance with Shore, 20 years his senior, brought intense media scrutiny. The two met when Reynolds made a surprise appearance on her talk show, bursting out of a closet on the set.

In the 1980s, his career was nearly destroyed when false rumors surfaced that he was infected with the AIDS virus, in the height of hysteria over the disease. He had injured his jaw making the 1984 comedy “City Heat” with Clint Eastwood. Barely able to eat, he lost 50 pounds and suddenly looked ill and emaciated.

“For two years I couldn’t get a job,” he told the AP in 1990. “I had to take five physicals to get a job. I had to take the pictures that were offered to me. I did action pictures because I was trying to prove that I was well.”

He eventually regained his health, and in 1988 he married Anderson. The actress, one of the stars of the sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” had met him on a talk show.

The couple divorced in 1995, and their breakup was an embarrassing public spectacle, with the pair exchanging insults in print interviews and on television shows. Reynolds finally paid her a $2 million settlement and a vacation home to settle the divorce.

He rebounded once again, this time with the role of porn movie impresario Jack Horner in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights,” which brought him some of his best reviews even though he felt ambivalent about his character and felt limited rapport with the director.

He won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor and received an Oscar nomination. Convinced he would win, he was devastated when the Oscar went to Robin Williams for “Good Willi Hunting.”

“I once said that I’d rather have a Heisman Trophy than an Oscar,” he wrote in his memoir. “I lied.”

Reynolds had previously won a Golden Globe in 1992 for “Evening Shade,” in which he played Wood Newton, a former professional football player who returns to his Arkansas hometown to coach the high school team. He also received an Emmy for the role in 1991.

He was back in the tabloids again in 2005 after he appeared in a remake of “The Longest Yard,” which starred Adam Sandler in Reynolds’ old role as an imprisoned former football star. Reynolds costarred as the warden, the role Eddie Albert had in the original film.

At a premiere in New York, a studio publicist admitted he hadn’t seen either movie, and Reynolds responded by slapping him across the face. He joked later that it was just a “love tap.”

Burton Leon Reynolds was born on Feb. 11, 1936, the son of a police chief who looked down on his son’s ambitions to become an actor. After several years in California, he returned in 1969 to Florida, where he had gone to college. He bought eight acres of waterfront property in the wealthy community of Jupiter and spent most of the rest of his life there, devoting much of his later years to his only son, Quinton, whom he had adopted with Anderson.

He opened the Burt Reynolds Jupiter Theatre and a Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum, where he displayed his memorabilia and sometimes lectured to drama students.

City commission delays vote on Mary Ross park upgrades
 lmcdonald  / 

The city commission chose Wednesday to delay its vote on whether to approve the purchase of new playground equipment and a splash pad for Mary Ross Waterfront Park, and some commissioners are growing frustrated with the pace of the project.

A last-minute budget addition at the commission’s regular biweekly meeting requested city commissioners to vote on the purchase of more than $300,000 in equipment. Commissioners asked that the entire cost plan for the proposed additions to the downtown waterfront park, including the cost of potentially adding a staff member to oversee the park, be presented before they make a decision.

The request for that information had already been made, said Commissioner Felicia Harris.

“This information was supposed to be compiled,” Harris said. “We’ve received separate reports. This information was supposed to be compiled so that we’d get the total picture … of what the final cost would be.”

The city of Brunswick’s Urban Redevelopment Agency voted on Aug. 30 to move forward with a plan to add a splash pad and playground to the park.

At the city commission meeting Wednesday, LaRon Bennett, chair of the URA, provided an overview of the proposed equipment that needs to be purchased.

The cost of playground equipment, which includes a slide, swings, monkey bars and climbing rock, totaled about $86,520.

The splash pad cost is about $239,500, and with suggested saving measures, the entire purchase cost could be about $313,270, Bennett told the commission. Without those potential cost saving measures, the project total would be about $326,020.

“The URA has approved what you have before you,” Bennett said. “… Obviously, we don’t have the funds to do so and we don’t really think it’s proper for us to just start spending money without putting the information together and bringing it back to the commission for your final approval.”

Cost-saving measures include the option to do in-house maintenance by hiring a new city staff member. Commissioners said Wednesday that without the full report of costs, they were unprepared to make the decision to create that position.

The purchase of equipment is time sensitive, Bennett said, as the plan is to have the park ready for the next warm-weather season.

“You have to order the equipment and you’ve got to wait until it comes in,” he said. “We’re projecting it’ll take about six months from the time we get the approval to the time we can actually start using it.”

Harris said she needs to see a total picture of cost projections before voting.

City manager Jim Drumm provided his own report of costs that will be associated. His numbers, for the most part, matched those in Bennett’s report, he said.

“I think we both understood it was our responsibility individually, and we both gave you a report,” Drumm said.

Mayor Cornell Harvey suggested that the commission defer the conversation to its next meeting in two weeks and that Drumm and Bennett get an organized report together.

“It seems that we are not ready tonight,” he said. “I can feel the pulse of the commission here.”

Commissioner Johnny Cason asked whether all stakeholders have agreed to the full scope of the project. Harris said the commission is past that stage and that there’s been ample time for that discussion.

“The community has wanted this to take place,” she said. “… We can’t keep backtracking. We’ll never go forward if we keep backtracking.”

The next city commission meeting is schedule to take place Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at Old City Hall, 1229 Newcastle St. in Brunswick.