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Family moves on after dairy

By Rob Pavey
Staff Writer
Sunday, July 3, 2011

Michael Holahan/Staff

Bill Boyce and his wife, Carolyn, opened a restaurant behind their house after closing their long-running family dairy farm.

KEYSVILLE, Ga. --- Bill Boyce loves the smell of wood smoke and the telltale hiss of chicken grilled to perfection.

"I still don't fish, still don't hunt and still don't play golf," he said. "But I sure love to cook."

Boyce and his wife, Carolyn, opened Country Boys Cooking in 2005 after spending most of their lives operating a family dairy established by Bill's father in 1947.

Today, the dairy, its 1,400 cows and almost 700 acres are gone.

The Boyces spent years trying to advance their claims that improperly treated sewage sludge -- applied to their land by City of Augusta officials as free fertilizer -- caused the downfall of their dairy by poisoning both cattle and soil.

A $550,000 jury award in June 2003 left the family, in the words of their lawyer, "vindicated but not compensated."

The award was a fraction of the $12.5 million in damages sought by the family in a trial that was watched nationally because of its implications on federal rules governing the use of sludge as fertilizer.

The end of the trial heralded the end of an era for the Burke County family.

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