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Organizers polishing up 2011 Marble Festival


      Visiting students from Pickens High School jot notes as contributing artist to the 31st annual Marble Festival Fine Arts Competition Show, Dee Ann Boggus (far right), explains the clay model of her own making. Sharptop Arts Association is organizing this year’s show which exhibits an array of techniques and styles from photography to marble sculpture. If you would like an early viewing of the juried art at the  Marble Festival Fine Arts Competition, visit the Chamber of Commerce at 500 Stegall Drive in Jasper, Friday, September 23, from 4 to 8 p.m. or Saturday, September 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During this special sneak preview you will be able to take your time viewing or purchasing artwork in a spacious, comfortable environment before the festival crowds.

Every year on the first weekend in October, the Chamber of Commerce celebrates one of the most prized natural resources in the world by hosting the Pickens County Georgia Marble Festival.

Thousands of Pickens residents and tourists come to town for a weekend of events, from the popular quarry tours to the juried fine arts reception, from the parade to the children’s area, to food and craft vendors and much more.

A mean, green, edible gardening machine


ediblejasperFrom age three to  retirement age and everywhere in between, Sustainable Pickens saw its largest group of participants yet at their most recent get-your-hands-dirty project.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 14, over 15 people geared up to play in the dirt as downtown Jasper’s edible gardens underwent expansion.

The edible gardening initiative, called Edible Jasper, is a collaborative effort between several local groups looking to landscape downtown Jasper with edible, medicinal or native plants. Edible Jasper is one of the pilot projects of Sustainable Pickens, which was formed in 2010.

Abbott pleads not guilty to in-laws’ murder


Ben Thomas Abbott pled not guilty to murdering his wife’s parents in February of this year, during a routine arraignment in Pickens Superior Court last week.

The state has filed notice they intend to seek the death penalty for Abbot, who is charged with murdering Raymond and Cythina Campbell with a shotgun at their home on Long Swamp Church Road. According to the testimony of a GBI agent during a February pre-trial hearing, Abbott confessed to killing his in-laws, hoping to make the slayings look like a robbery, so he could collect on life insurance polices. He told the GBI agent that he, his wife and their four children were going to lose their home.

Last week, the court also addressed the “unified appeal checklist.” This 40-page list of conditions applies to all capital cases in Georgia.

District Attorney Joe Hendricks said the unified appeal checklist is standard procedure to remind both the prosecution and defense of potential issues with capital cases.

Hendricks called the arraignment and first proceeding under the capital procedures to be typical for this type of case.

“It was exactly as you would expect under these circumstances,” he said.

Next, the prosecution will provide its case files to the defense under discovery procedures. Abbott, an Ellijay resident at the time of the slayings, is being represented by Jerry Ward from the Georgia Capital Defender office.

Following discovery, the defense will have 60 days to file motions.  The motions will probably be heard in January.


Chronology of other stories:

 Two Dead in Home Invasion-- February 9, 2011

Son in Law Arrested in Double Murder Wednesday --   February 9, 2011

Son in Law confessed to GBI agent in double murder case, according to first court hearing-- February 11, 2011

Death Penalty Sought for Ben Thomas Abbott -- June, 15, 2011 print edition for full story 

Abbott pleads not guilty to in-laws’ murder September 2011

Abbott shows no remorse -- reprint from Times Courier

Five things you didn't know about Casual Classics Concert Series


Above, Montana Skies, who will launch this season of the Casual Classics Concert Series in Jasper. Learn more about Montana Skies at

Next Monday, Sept. 26 the Classic Concert Series is kicking off its sixth, and perhaps most powerful season with the unique cello/guitar duo Montana Skies (pictured to the left). 
According to concert manager Suzanne Shull, there is now a growing interest in the series. Shull says an average crowd at the New Lebanon Presbyterian Church on Bent Tree Drive falls between 100 and 150, and the patron-base for the series has widened significantly.


Hiking trails on Burnt Mountain open

Above, members of the Mountain Stewards trail crew at a bridge they constructed in the Burnt Mountain Preserve. The Stewards have recently completed three new hiking trails on the county-owned property.


The public is invited to attend the grand opening celebration for three new hiking trails at the Burnt Mountain Preserve, all recently completed by the Mountain Stewards.

Next Friday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. the county will hold its grand opening celebration at the trailhead kiosk, located on the right side of Hwy 136 East headed toward the Dawson County line. The kiosk is located just before the first overlook.