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Nine jobs; seven programs cut at Fort Valley State University


Seven programs were cut and nine people have been let go at Fort Valley State University following a "lengthy, transparent review of the entire institution."

According to a statement issued Thursday from the President's Office, the programs being eliminated include General Business, Sociology, Computer Information Systems, English, Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Master of Science in History and Master of Arts in Teaching. For example, students can still take English courses, like English 1101, but can no longer receive a degree in the subject.

The statement says the programs are being eliminated due to failed attraction and graduating the number of students necessary to continue the programs. Staff who were let go, according to the statement, were offered one-year contracts that will end in 2016.

Blue Bird employee found unconscious in bathroom, dies


UPDATE: July 20, 2:45 p.m.

Peach County coroner Kerry Rooks says the death of an employee at Fort Valley's Blue Bird plant apparently was not caused by the heat.

An autopsy was performed Monday on Clinton Jenkins. He was found unconscious in the bathroom of the Fort Valley bus plant Thursday and later died.

Rooks says the GBI found that Jenkins died from natural causes, but "it wasn't heat related or anything like that."

Jenkins had previous health problems and lost over 50 pound in less than a year, the coroner said.

He may have died from a lung ailment. Rooks said GBI medical examiners may have a more definitive cause of death later this week.

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UPDATE:

FVSU receives $400,000 grant for toxicology research


Jasmine South is a biology major at Fort Valley State University.

This summer, she was able to try her hand at toxicology through lab experiments with her mentor, assistant professor of Biology, Celia Dodd.

"Doing the research here that I've been doing this summer, I actually have more interest in toxicology now," South said.

Toxicology is the study of poisons.

"Things like pesticide exposure particularly in rural environments, have been correlated with diseases," said Dodd.

Thanks to a nearly $400,000 grant, students at Fort Valley State will also be able to study this infectious field.

Dodd, who is also a toxicologist, says it's important to get students interested, because while many may have never heard of the field, it makes a big impact on our environment.

Two men rob Fort Valley gas station


A Citgo gas station at 901 MLK Drive in Fort Valley was robbed around 11 p.m. Thursday.

According to a Facebook post from the Fort Valley Department of Public Safety, two men went in the store, showed a clerk a handgun and demanded money.

The clerk gave the men the money from the register and told deputies the men ran off. No one was injured during this incident.

Detectives interviewed witnesses, collected evidence and processed the crime scene. The case is still under investigation.

"We are grateful no one was injured in this incident, and we are asking for the public's assistance with identifying these subjects," Lawrence Spurgeon, the chief of Public Safety, said in a statement.

Bond denied for Fort Valley rape suspect


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The man accused of a series of rapes and break-ins in Fort Valley will remain in jail for now.

Judge Tillman Self today denied bond for Darrell Ross.

Prosecutor Cindy Adams argued against bond during the hearing, saying that Ross was arrested for burglaries twice before in 2007 and 2009, and was on probation from a 2009 case.

His public defender, Bill Phillips, said Ross denies all the charges against him, and that Ross believes the real rapist is still free.

According to Chief Lawrence Spurgeon, there have been no rapes reported since Ross was arrested, and the number of break-ins that have occurred are low.

Crawford coroner indicted on charges of violating oath


A Crawford county grand jury indicted county coroner Allen O'Neal Wednesday for violating his oath of office.

According to the indictment, the two charges came about after O'Neal refused to answer a call after a death on May 2. Then it says O'Neal ordered deputy coroner Kent Winslett not to respond. When Winslett answered the call, O'Neal fired him.

The GBI investigated and arrested O'Neal. O'Neal has battled Crawford County commissioners over funding and equipment for his office. Earlier this year, he sued the County for not providing him a vehicle to answer coroner calls, but a judge threw the case out.

Fort Valley cooks world's largest peach cobbler


It's a Peach County tradition.

Every year, Fort Valley celebrates the Georgia Peach Festival by cooking up the world's largest Peach Cobbler.

Peopled lined Church Street, eager to get a taste of the cobbler, which measured 11 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 6 inches deep. Volunteers started working on the giant desert around 3 a.m. Saturday morning.

Rich Bennett has been the head chef of the world's largest peach cobbler since 2006. He says the best part is serving the community.

"It's a lot of work, for sure, and a lot of people and organizations have come together to put this together for us, but it's a lot of fun too," says Bennett.

What goes in the world's largest peach cobbler?