County Road crews move concrete barriers into place Monday on Cove Road where a rockslide stopped traffic April 16.
Commissioner Rob Jones said the barriers should increase safety along the S-curves section of road. No other work is planned at this point, but the commissioner noted the steep rocky roadbed is not unique for North Georgia or the southern Appalachians.
“It was designed and installed by the state DOT in 1964. It’s as safe as it ever was,” he said. “It is what it is.”
Georgia DNR website/photo
Submitted by the Georgia DNR
Chalk up another solid nesting year for bald eagles in Georgia.
Department of Natural Resources aerial surveys in January and March documented 142 occupied nesting territories, 111 successful nests and 175 young fledged. Totals for eaglets and successful nests declined slightly compared to 2010, when the respective counts were 194 and 122. But the number of occupied nests increased from 139 last year.
Each count this year topped 2009 when the statewide search revealed 128 occupied or active territories, 101 successful nests - those in which young are raised to the point they can fly - and 166 eaglets.
Survey leader Jim Ozier said the fluctuations could reflect factors such as harsh weather and sampling error and “are not outside the range we would expect.” His opinion is the state’s bald eagle population is strong.
“I think it will continue to grow,” said Ozier, a program manager in the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section.
Thanks to conservation laws, restoration work and a ban on the pesticide DDT, bald eagles have rebounded from near-extinction through much of their range 40 years ago. Nests numbered in the single digits in Georgia when Ozier started searching for them more than two decades ago. Nesting territories steadily increased and then surged to 96 in 2006 and beyond 100 in recent years.
Ozier and others are concerned about the impact of Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy, or AVM, a neurological disease deadly to waterbirds, mainly coots and bald eagles. One suspected link is that coots ingest a
strain of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae common on submerged aquatic plants - particularly hydrilla - and a toxin in the algae sickens eagles that eat contaminated coots.
Discovered in Arkansas in 1995, AVM has been documented in Georgia at lakes Clarks Hill, Juliette, Varner and West Point, and some small reservoirs near Atlanta. Clarks Hill, also known as J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir, is a hotspot. Eagle nesting territories on the lake have dwindled from eight to one, Ozier said. He saw two adult eagles dead on nests there this year. At one of the nests, another dead adult eagle was found a few days later on the ground below. Apparently both members of this nesting pair were lost at about the same time.
Scientists are probing AVM and what can be done to combat it.
Although concentrated on the coast, bald eagle nests are found across the state, usually near major rivers and lakes where the fish, birds and turtles that eagles eat are abundant. The nests are big - averaging 5 feet wide - but they can be hard to find. Ozier encouraged the public to let his office know of any eagle nests they see, by form (www.georgiawildlife.com/node/1322) or phone (478-994-1438). Each year, these reports lead to the documentation of nests not monitored before.
DNR works with landowners to help protect nests on their property.
Bald eagles are one of more than 600 high-priority nongame animals and plants identified in the Georgia Wildlife Action Plan, a strategy guiding conservation efforts statewide. Georgians can also help conserve eagles and other rare and endangered nongame wildlife by contributing to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund checkoff on their state income tax returns.
The Wildlife Conservation Fund supports conservation of animals from sea turtles to southeastern American kestrels, as well as native plants and natural habitats. DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section also uses donations to attract and match grants, gaining about $1 for every 25¢ spent.
The Nongame Conservation Section receives no state appropriations for its mission to conserve nongame animals - those not legally hunted, fished for or trapped - and native plants and habitats. The sales of bald eagle and hummingbird license plates also benefit the agency and the Wildlife Conservation Fund. Details at www.georgiawildlife. com
The associate superintendent of Bartow County schools appears headed to become the next superintendent of Pickens County schools, following an announcement at a Thursday school board meeting.
The board announced at a called meeting that Dr. Ben Desper is the sole finalist for the superintendent job here. Under Georgia law, a school board must wait 14 days after naming a finalist before they can officially sign a contract.
A press release handed out following the meeting Thursday stated, “after a lengthy search that began in January, 2011, the Pickens County Board of Education has named Dr. Ben Desper as the finalist for the superintendent of schools.”
Dr. Desper is presently Associate Superintendent of Bartow County schools. He has 27 years of administrative experience and has been in the Bartow County school system since 2008. Prior to working in Bartow County he was a successful teacher, elementary principal, middle school principal, high school principal and has superintendent experience, according to the press release.
“The Board of Education was impressed with Dr. Desper’s knowledge and experience in finance and budgeting, curriculum and instruction, and his success as a principal at all levels,” the press release stated. “His experience is in North Georgia school systems of Floyd, Habersham and Trion, all of which share common characteristics with Pickens County.”
Wendy Lowe, chair of the school board, stated in the press release, “We are delighted to have someone of Dr. Ben Desper’s experience and ability to be our next superintendent. We have had a very deliberate and thorough search process and I appreciate how well the board has worked together through the search process.”
See more on the selection in next week’s print edition
Pickens County Road Department Supervisor Greg Collis surveying the rockslide at Cove Road.
With the original cleanup complete, county officials are looking at what may shore up the steep cliff next to Cove Road in the long run.
Among the more immediate plans are concrete barricades placed at the base of the cliff, directly next to the road in a section called the “S Curves.”
Most of the long-range plans are expensive and will require the road being closed temporarily at times.
See a complete report in this week’s print edition.
Press Release from Donald E. Craig, Sheriff
Pickens County Sheriff’s Office
On Sunday, April 17, 2011, our office received a report that a local church had been broken into. After an investigation, it was determined that someone entered into the church over the weekend by breaking a door. The individual, or individuals, then removed several expensive sound equipment items from the facility. Detectives from our office were able to locate several clues and will continue to work on this case from all available leads.
Please remain vigilant in monitoring your businesses, homes and churches to ensure that you do not become a victim of similar acts. We will continue to extra patrol our churches while we continue this investigation. If you have any information that you believe would assist in determining who these offenders may be, please contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 706-253-8935.