Aunt's work aids 'Race' winner

ALBANY -- Janelle Evans is the one who sweated in the 90-plus-degree heat. She's the one who fought off the mosquitoes and other insects in her search.

But Evans' niece Katie Barrentine is the one who's $1,000 richer.

Barrentine found the "little blue box" that was the quest of the Ole Times Country Buffet/Albany Herald "Great Race II" contest. With her find, she claims $1,000 in cash, a year's worth of weekly lunches at Ole Times and a year's free subscription to The Herald.

"My aunt (Evans) is the one who did all the searching, who looked in the paper for the clues," Barrentine, 18, said after she confirmed her contest win. "She'd been looking in all the parks around Albany, and she called me and asked me to go with her to Hilsman Park.

"She told me about the clues, and I guess I just got lucky."

Barrentine recently graduated from Lee County High School and is preparing to start her college career at Darton College. She said the prize money will come in handy once school starts.

"I probably would have qualified for some of Darton's scholarships, but I waited too late to apply," Barrentine said. "I was planning to go to Georgia State (in Atlanta), but I decided I'm not ready to make that move yet. I haven't decided on a major yet; I'll take the core classes at Darton. I'm kind of thinking about pre-med."

The recent high school graduate had worked at Tony's Gym in Albany before commencement. She decided to take the summer off to travel. Barrentine has already been to Key West in Florida with her mother and sister and is preparing for a trip to visit relatives in Tennessee.

Evans, meanwhile, said she hated that her efforts went unrewarded, but at least the prize will remain in the family.

"Yeah, I told Katie if she wasn't very sweet to me she'd be getting nothing but a red ribbon from me every Christmas for the next 20 years," Evans laughed. "I'd been to Tift Park, Turtle Park, all the parks, but the clue about the presidents clinched it for me. I'd been out to Hilsman Park three or four times, and I'd looked all over that tree that Katie found (the blue box) in.

"It's a little bittersweet that I didn't find the box myself, but it would have been worse if I'd put in all that work and someone I didn't know found it. I'll get something out of it anyway: Since Katie will live with me while she's going to college, I'll get The Herald at my house everyday."

Herald Circulation Director Michael Hill said the third Great Race would be conducted "in around three months."