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Is zero dropouts possible at PHS?

When she took over as the attendance officer 16 years ago, Shelley Cantrell never thought she would one day be asked if it were possible to bring dropout levels down to zero in the Pickens school system.

But after wrapping up the past academic year with a mere 14 dropouts from a student population of 4,345, it will be hard to make much further progress without eliminating the problem completely.

“Problems are opportunities. I always try to set the goal high,” Cantrell said. “Zero dropouts is possible. Last year we had a couple of months with no dropouts, and that was something I never thought I would see when I started this 16 years ago.”

But zero dropouts, while possible, won’t come easily, as at least two of the 14 who quit school last year didn’t have much choice. One was expelled and one incarcerated, according to the reasons listed on the statistics provided each month to the school board by Cantrell.

Considering that the high drop out rate in Pickens County  schools was a regular subject of jokes less than a decade ago, having the number whittled down to 14 last year is remarkable.

Last year’s total 14 more than cut in half the 37 who elected to leave school in the previous (2009-2010) academic year. Each of the past five years, the schools have seen more students follow the motto, “School’s in, don’t be out” with drop out numbers dropping in solid steps from a record number of 84 in the 2005-2006 year down to the 14 of last year.



Summer events at the Pickens Library

The summer reading activities at Pickens County Library will soon start, Children’s Coordinator, Olivia Hattan-Edwards said her top three favorite events will be: The Summer Reading Club Kick Off Events with Barry Stewart Mann, "Cultureman  June 2 at 2:30 p.m., The Old West Show with Jim Dunham, July 7 at 1:00 p.m. and Juggler Extraordinaire with Adam Boehmer, June 29 at 1:00 p.m.

Children under nine years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

Teen events include: Teen Movie Monday, June 6 at 3:00 p.m. featuring the story of a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole, light refreshments provided. This event is for teens 12 and up.

Duct-tape Designs on June 20 at 3:00 p.m. teens are invited to design jewelry, wallets, bookmarks and more. Registration is required and sign-up begins two weeks prior to the event.

Mad for Mad Libs! on July 11 at 3:00 p.m. This event is for teens to be creative and have fun.

Reference Coordinator Carmen Anne Cosner Forsee said her top three activities for adults will be the murder mystery play on July 21, “great fun”, a movie starring Humphrey Bogart August 11, and Heritage Quilting (registration required  June 16 at 6:00 p.m.

The adult programming will begin May 20 and end July 31, participants must come in to receive their passport and after every three books read they will be entered into a raffle.

Participants for the adult events must be high school graduates and up. Forsee said, “Everything is free, their biggest expense will be the gas to get here.”

For more information on summer events at the Pickens County Library call 706-692-5411.


Civil War Reenactment at Resaca

Small arms popped. Banners rippled. Cannon thundered. Smoke massed and drifted. Canteens tipped skyward and cavalry mounts lathered as late May sun burned down near Resaca during two Civil War reenactment battles last weekend.

Action took place on a portion of the original Civil War battlefield of Resaca, a rolling wide open space at the end of Chitwood Road north of the village.

On both days, reenactors authentically demonstrated Civil War era military units in action, though battlefield maneuvers could not be said to mimic historic battle action from the original battle of nearly a century and a half ago. This time, the Rebs won on Saturday, the Yanks prevailed Sunday.

Southbound, a CSX freight train broke the spell of antiquity Sunday afternoon just before the field fell silent with cessation of hostilities around 3 p.m. In the quiet, two distant buglers echoed Taps across the killing fields.

A windswept silence followed. Applause sounded and faded away, leaving wool-clad armies to traipse homeward under the continuous whirr of massed cicadas.



See more Civil War Re-Enactment Pictures

Test bores needed at courthouse to look at suitability of site

Commissioner Robert Jones announced he has contracted for test bores to be drilled around the courthouse property in downtown Jasper as part of “the pre-planning” for future construction and expansion of the Main Street marble landmark. Jones’ announcement came as part of a very brief May commissioner’s meeting Thursday, May 26.

The county signed an agreement with Moreland Altobelli Associates, Inc. for “geotechnical drilling sub-surface investigation.”

The cost of the work is $5,400 and Jones said it is necessary  to determine the suitability of the site for future construction. Jones said in this case, the sub-surface work is important, as it is known the Main Street location has held earlier buildings and may hide old “coal-bins,” unknown utility lines or other buried structures.

Jones said seeing if there is anything buried around the courthouse property that may have to be removed or dealt with in some other way will be important as an architect begins designing an expansion of the marble courthouse.

Plans call for six test holes, with the deepest going 36 feet. Jones said infrastructure and buried utilities aside, it is important to check the condition of the soil as the county continues to plan for a courthouse renovation project, budgeted as a $17 million item in a sales tax referendum approved by voters in 2008.

Rabies vaccinations save the day for Townsend Road dogs

Proud owners of eight dogs, Phillip and Julie Tippens sit on the porch of their home with some of the dogs which killed the rabid raccoon.Damon Howell / Photo


It was one of the “good stories” said Jan Stephens of the county Environmental Health Department.

A beloved group of family dogs killed a rabid raccoon without suffering injury. All the dogs were up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, so booster shots were given, and all the animals are still running around the Townsend Road home of Phillip and Julie Tippens.

According to Ms. Tippens, her eight family dogs are a “wide variety” of rescue animals. Some were likely dumped at their residence. Others appear to have just shown up.

All the “funny mixed-up family” have been spayed/neutered and, most importantly in this case, properly vaccinated against rabies.

Ms. Tippens said, from her work in an emergency room, she knows rabies is a threat to humans and pets. She has always made a point to have her animals vaccinated.