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Tuesday October 4th, 2022 3:44AM

South Hall Rotary unveils public safety sign honoring Justus Williams

By Austin Eller News Director
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The South Hall Rotary Club on Wednesday unveiled a public safety sign at River Forks Park in honor of Justus Teal Williams, who passed away in 2019 after contracting a form of E. coli following a swim in Lake Lanier.

Jess Williams, Justus' mother, said during the dedication ceremony that she did not know about the risks of swimming in a lake prior to her son's passing.

"I myself am from right outside of Atlanta and did not grow up around the lake," Jess Williams said. "The risks associated with its water safety were nowhere near the forefront of my mind until several weeks after May 17, 2019, the day that Justus was called home to be with the lord ... Had I known the risks associated with my two-year-old being in the lake, I would have made a different choice."

The sign at River Forks Park is expected to be the first of many signs around Lake Lanier, according to Jess Williams. The project was completed with help from the Hall County Commission, Hall County Parks and Leisure and the Lake Lanier Association.

The front of the sign contains several safety warnings for those swimming in Lake Lanier, such as recommendations to cover cuts with waterproof bandages and take kids on bathroom breaks every hour. The sign also contains an overall warning that germs in the water can make individuals sick.

The back of the sign contains two QR codes: one links to AccessWDUN's story about Justus, while the other links to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper's online water quality data.

Jeff Williams, Jess' husband and Justus' father, recently spoke on WDUN's Mornings on Maine Street about the project. That full interview can be found here. Jeff said South Hall Rotary plans to expand the project to every Rotary Club in the area.

"We are going to go tour around every Rotary Club that touches Lake Lanier, and I'm going to go and give our presentation, our speech, and help them come on board with this environmental project," Jeff said. "I want everyone to know that this is important not just in our little area but everywhere that this lake touches."

Jess Williams said while it was a strange feeling, she felt that the sign's unveiling was validating.

"I find myself, and I know my husband does too, really kind of existing in a very bittersweet place in our life," Jess said. "We are glad for these signs. We still grieve for our son."

Hall County Commissioner Shelly Echols spoke at the unveiling, where she said Justus left behind a big legacy.

"This community undoubtedly grew brighter because of his existence in it, and now this community is both wiser and safer because of the legacy he leaves behind," Echols said.

Photos of the sign and from the unveiling can be viewed in the above photo gallery.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: lake lanier, hall county, rotary club, South Hall Rotary Club, E. coli, River Forks Park, Shiga-toxin E. coli, Justus Teal Williams, South Hall Rotary, Justus Williams
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LISTEN: A sign on Lake Lanier that can save your life
Jeff and Jess Williams stopped by Maine Street to talk about signs that are being placed at Riverforks Park in Hall County that will provide information on water quality of Lake Lanier. The signs will be unveiled Wednesday April 20th at noon. The Williams son, Justus Teal Williams, died from E.coli poisoning after visiting Lake Lanier in 2019 at the age of 2. A project of the South Hall Rotary Club, the signs are in hopes that others won't suffer a similar loss.
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