Most parents speaking at a concerned citizens meeting Tuesday related similar lists of objections to the new bus stops used by the school system: The centralized stops require children as young as kindergarten to walk by themselves on roads with no street lights or sidewalks, facing the dangers of traffic, sexual predators and wildlife.
Between 50 and 60 parents turned out for the meeting to voice their fears that the new bus stops are dangerous. As promised by lead organizer Willie Prather, everyone was allowed to speak as long as they wanted with the meeting running well past two hours as parent after parent told of their specific complaints to the new stops instituted this school year. Prior to this year, the school buses in Pickens County essentially ran “door-to-door” service. School faculty say combining bus stops, staggering school start times so that some drivers run two routes will save $120,000 this year, by eliminating some driver positions and buses.
School board chairman Wendy Lowe and vice-chair Byron Long attended the meeting, both addressing the group. Commissioner Rob Jones and Sheriff Donnie Craig were also on hand to hear from the citizens, although neither has any direct involvement in school transportation.
See updates on this story, parent comments and school board response in this week’s print edition.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Press Release
Florida panther killed by David Adams in Troup County, GA on Nov. 16, 2008. Photo: Georgia DNR.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that David Adams, 60, formerly of Newnan, Georgia, was sentenced today in United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, after pleading guilty to the unlawful take of a Florida panther, a species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, on November 16, 2008, Adams shot and killed a cougar known as a Florida panther while deer hunting in Troup County, Ga. At the time of the shooting, Adams knew he was shooting at a species of cougar, for which there was no open hunting season in the State of Georgia. The bullet fired from Adams’ gun entered the Florida panther in the rear portion of the rib cage by the right hindquarters just below the spine and lodged in the inside of the panther’s right front shoulder.
The Florida panther has been listed as an endangered species since March 11, 1967. The Puma concolor coryi (the scientific name for the Florida panther) is a sub-species of the Puma concolor, which is known by many names such as, cougar, puma, catamount, and mountain lion.
Evan Howell (center), of Blue Ridge Marble & Granite Company, hands down a marble slab freshly removed from the top left corner of the main face of the Pickens County Courthouse. Courthouse construction Project Manager Thurman Slone stands at right.
Testing resumed Monday morning to judge how tightly the marble face of the courthouse adheres after workers discovered last week that some marble near the roof edge came off too easily. Evan Howell and Terry Long, of Nelson's Blue Ridge Marble & Granite Company, went aloft two stories on a scissors lift around 9 a.m. as county workers watched from the courthouse lawn.
Howell and Long were up the courthouse face to pick down another piece of marble facing from the highest run at the wall's upper left edge. Last week, after a similar piece was found to be too easily loosened, yellow barrier tape went up on the terrace below. Monday's work was apparently to see how many other pieces of courthouse facing might be loosely in place. The marble facing dates from mid 20th century.
ATLANTA – State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 10.1 percent in July, up two-tenths of a percentage point from 9.9 percent in June. The state’s jobless rate was also 10.1 percent in July a year ago.
The July increase, as in June, was due primarily to the traditional seasonal layoffs, with about 80 percent of them in state and local education.
Georgia lost 30,200 jobs in July, as the total jobs number dropped eight-tenths of a percentage point to 3,789,600. In addition to 24,500 jobs lost in government and education, business services lost 2,200, while construction lost 1,800. Overall, there were 28,400, or seven-tenths of a percentage point, fewer jobs than in July of last year.
However, a gain of 1,400 manufacturing jobs helped offset overall losses. This was the first July in 18 years that Georgia had an increase in manufacturing jobs.
“Manufacturing has been a very weak sector, but we’re starting to see some increases in hiring,” said Butler. “We’re getting a lot of inquiries from manufacturers who are looking to expand or relocate here, which is always a good sign.”
Butler said Georgia’s pro-business environment will help create much-needed jobs. However, he noted that the unrest in Washington is only hindering the growth process.
“I believe the recent lack of leadership in Washington is a contributing factor to the overall lack of confidence in the economy,” Butler said. “Due to this lack of confidence, we are seeing a business community which is hesitant to make further investments in this economy.”
The number of long-term unemployed workers increased for the first time in five months, up 600 to 251,100. The number of long-term unemployed remains 9.1 percent higher than the 230,100 in July of last year. The long-term unemployed account for 52.9 percent of Georgia’s 474,577 jobless workers.
Also, first-time claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in July rose to 61,570, up 2,589, or 4.4 percent, from 58,981 in June. Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, education, services and construction. However, on the positive side, there was an over-the-year decrease of 6,519 initial claims, or 9.6 percent, from 68,089 filed in July of last year.
July marked the 48th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent, down from 9.2 percent in June.
Around 40 parents and students attended the school board meeting Thursday, with those allowed to speak asking for a reconsideration of the new centralized bus stops.
Three parents addressed the board during public comments. Many remaining parents left disgruntled that the board had not yielded some floor time so more parents could speak. Some indicated their frustration with the board for not offering more feedback to parent comments.
A parents group has since organized a meeting next Tuesday, August 23, at 6:30 p.m. to be held at the Chamber of Commerce Building for discussing the issue further. Willie Prather, among organizing parents, asked that anyone concerned with the bus routes attend.
Donna Tucker, along with other residents of the Bethany Moorings subdivision, said safety is the prime concern involved with the school bus stop for that south Pickens community.
“It is a very unsafe corner with cars flying up the hill,” she told the board. “There are no streetlights or sidewalks with kids walking in the street in the dark.”
During a break in the meeting, many other parents had harsh words about the situation and about not getting a better response from the board.
See more parent comments from those at the meeting and additional school board news in our print edition now on sale.