STAR student Michael Land and STAR teacher Gail Culbreth.
By Reeder Burch,
Michael Land of Jasper has been named the 2011 STAR Student of Pickens High School. The announcement is made by the Optimist Club of Jasper, local sponsor for the Pickens STAR Program. Land, the son of Brent and Melissa Land, selected Gail Culbreth as his STAR Teacher.
The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program, now in its 53rd year, is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Education. Since its inception, the STAR Program has honored more than 22,000 students and the teachers they have selected as having the most influence on their academic success. To obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the three part SAT and be in the top 10% or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.
Following his inauguration, Governor Nathan Deal was presented with the official nameplate for the Governor of the State of Georgia.
The nameplate is solid white Georgia marble and inlaid with the state seal and lettering in gold leaf. The lettering reads, “Nathan Deal 82nd Governor State of Georgia.”
Making the presentation was François Darmayan, president of Polycor Georgia Marble, Walter Davis III and Dennis Burnette. Davis is a descendant of Colonel Sam Tate the president of Georgia Marble at the turn of the 20th century.
Beginning in 1991 with a simple mission of protecting one of the highest ridges in Pickens County from logging, members of the Oglethorpe Mountain Land Trust began what is now two decades and counting of preserving green areas in North Georgia.
The Jasper-based land trust, now known as the Mountain Conservation of Georgia, will mark their 20th year with a series of special event during 2011.
According to trust history, a group of ten people gathered in the home of John and Miriam Kiser on Burnt Mountain and were successful at seeing Georgia Pacific let the timber contracts expire on the high slopes of Burnt Mountain.
Lynnell Reese, one of the original founders recalled in an article for the trust’s upcoming newsletter, “My dominant memory of our beginnings is that we had fun and drew from each others strengths, and I might add, strong personalities. The humor and mutual respect kept us cooking.”
In 1998, the trust changed their name to the Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia (MCTGA). The intervening years also saw new director Dr. Barbara Decker come on board. Under Decker’s tenure the trust completed their protection of the Burnt Mountain Preserve, a 756 acre tract on the slopes of the mountain that frames the skyline east of Jasper.
Tension ran high at the first school board meeting of the year, as the three new members used their majority to remove John Trammell as board chair and change the school board meeting time.
These actions drew harsh criticisms from the former chair and board member Ervin Easterwood, who accused incoming members Dan Fincher, Byron Long and Wendy Lowe of holding secret meetings and undermining the board code of ethics all members are sworn to follow.
“Just so we dispel any rumors or negative thoughts,” Trammell said during the board comments section at the end of the meeting, ”we voted on a code of ethics that’s been in place for some time and the first thing on that code of ethics says that all matters of the board come before all members of the board.
“Since some things were already decided on before we got here I didn’t feel it was appropriate to vote for them or against them because I wasn’t included in the deliberation. Private meetings without all of us being involved I will not support and I will not vote,” the former chairman continued.
According to both Trammell and Easterwood, the board unanimously decided at a recent board member retreat that Trammell would continue to serve as chair and Long would be selected to serve as vice chair.
But at the start of the meeting Fincher nominated Lowe as chair, which was seconded by Long and carried by a 3-0 vote in which both Trammell and Easterwood abstained.
Read complete story in our print edition on sale today. Also look for information on new school board meeting times and the plans for makeup days.
You get the impression of controlled power, a fighter who carries himself like a gentleman. Eagle Scout and Army veteran, Jimmy Darwin of Jasper, age 23, is to compete in a Tough Man boxing competition at Asheville, North Carolina near the start of February.
Darwin began boxing in the Army at organized bouts between units. "Between platoons and companies," he said. "Things like that. Company fights."
He served as an Army specialist with the Third Infantry Division 324th Company out of Fort McPherson. A training exercise damaged an eardrum and put Darwin out of the service with a disability just three months before the scheduled end of his four-year enlistment. "I've probably lost about 60 percent of the hearing in my left ear," he said.
His training as a boxer began with instruction from his platoon sergeant in boot camp, Darwin said, where he learned hand-to-hand combat as a recruit. When he found he had a knack for it, Darwin sought extra training in hand-to-hand technique.
"Everybody is required to do some hand-to-hand," he said. "I just decided to pursue it a little further than everybody else did."
And he continued the pursuit after exiting the Army. "Once I got out of the military, I was training with Greg Gaddis and a few people over here at Bodyplex," Darwin said, "and at Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu in Holly Springs. Gaddis, he did a lot of Muay Thai, a lot of kick boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, and a lot of Taekwondo," Darwin said.
Gaddis has more than a decade of experience training fighters in martial arts, Darwin said, and training with Gaddis has improved his fighting ability. In amateur cage fighting nearer Atlanta, Darwin managed to vanquish one opponent after another as they came against him.
"Cage fighting is actually mixed martial arts, where you're mixing all kinds of martial arts," he said. A cage fight takes place inside an octagon-shaped ring bound at the edges by chain-link fence with padding on the fence posts, he explained.
"The Tough Man [competition at Asheville] is strictly boxing," Darwin said. "And it's pretty much anybody that's willing to enter. There may be people with limited experience. There may be people with extensive experience. May be people that just walk in off the street."