Our family would like to express our gratitude to the citizens of Dawson, Hall and Forsyth counties for their tremendous outpouring of support during the past weeks. The loss of Matthew has caused us incomprehensible grief; however, the support of this community has helped us to find strength.
Matthew will be missed deeply. There are no words to express the pain of our grief and loss. Matt gave his life for our freedom, and the tributes paid to Matthew's sacrifice have filled our hearts with pride. We wish every single serviceman could have seen and felt the warmth and love that surrounded us and know how much their service to our country is appreciated.
We are deeply grateful to everyone who took the time to stand and honor Matthew. The displays of appreciation, patriotism and support on Dahlonega Highway and along the route from Lee Gilmer Airport to Cumming were overwhelming. We would specifically like to express our appreciation to the Veterans of Foreign Wars; the members of the Coal Mountain Baptist Church; Dawson, Hall and Forsyth county law enforcement; the Patriot Guard Riders; and the faculty and staff of North Forsyth High School.
Please continue to keep all our brave men and women who are serving our country in your thoughts and prayers.
Michael Phillips and the family of Cpl. Matthew B. Phillips
Shame on local GOP leaders for actions
After a couple of decades of peaceful growth and successful elections, the Hall County Republican Party now finds itself with its first scandal.
Thanks to philosophical leadership by such long-time conservatives as Ted Oglesby, and the practical organizational skills of respected chairmen of the local Republican Party such as Gordon Sawyer and Martin Ellard, the modern version of a local Republican Party was cobbled together and became effective a couple of decades ago. It consisted of very few long-term Republicans and mainly included disaffected Democrats.
The favorite Republican to most of us is Rep. Nathan Deal. Mirroring the general population of the time, he was a loyal Democrat and outstanding leader when most of us met him. He switched parties and became a Republican and has remained a model to most of us, both for his personal conduct and his legislative abilities.
At the same time he was switching parties, his constituents were as well, and Georgia switched from being a "blue state" to a "red state."
The actions that have been attributed to consultant Tommy Sandoval and local Republican Party Chairman Paul Stanley with regard to having the executive committee of the local Republican Party denounce Bob Vass in his running for public office while previously voting for Democrat candidates has been appropriately condemned publicly by respected citizens such as Oglesby and most of the people with whom I have talked.
According to The Times and others who have written and spoken about the actions of the local Republican Party leadership, candidate Jennifer Gibbs was utilizing the services of political consultant Sandoval, while Stanley was chairing the meeting in which Sandoval, a member of the Executive Committee, made a motion to denounce Vass because of his previous votes for Democrats. Sandoval's actions have been described as a major conflict of interest on his part, and the actions of the chairman and executive committee have been described by Oglesby as "disgusting" and "detestable."
Virtually all local voters with whom I have talked agree wholeheartedly with Oglesby. Ted spoke well for all of us. While attending the Conservative Forum after news of the scandal appeared in The Times, one person put it well when he said, "It looks like these people were interns in the White House under Richard Nixon." As for the local Republican Party, clearly both Sandoval and Stanley should go.
To memorialize the whole sorry affair, we probably should come up with a name for this history-making scandal. Could The Times or some group sponsor a contest using the word "Gate" to label it in order for all of us to describe it to our grandchildren? Sandoval Gate? Stanley Gate? Hall County Republican Party Executive Committee Gate? Show them the gate?
Samuel Fleming Dayton Jr.