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A nitpicking problem -- Lice outbreak at Pickens Middle School

Thirty students were sent home from Pickens Middle School Thursday following head lice inspections.

Speaking during a break in the monthly school board meeting last night, Principal Chris LeMieux said the school checked all students in grades 6 and 7, using the school nurse and others to assist, and that they were planning to continue the inspection in 8th grade today.

Students who were found to have lice or nits were sent home with directions from the nurse and then asked to return on Friday for a re-inspection.

The lice problem affected students in all grades and classes.

Although there have been lice problems at campuses before, PCMS faculty said they had never seen it this widespread among the student population.

“These critters don’t discriminate,” the principal said.

Letter sent home with all Pickens County Middle School students .


LeMieux said there had been problems at the first of school years in the past, but previously the outbreaks were restricted to only some classes.

LeMieux speculated that this year the problem was more widespread due to the number of kids attending summer camps. He said the outbreak could have started at one of the summer events and is now spreading with students back in the classroom

Attendance Officer Shelley Cantrell, also speaking during the break, said at this point, the overall situation at Pickens Middle, and to some extent at Tate Elementary, isn’t affecting attendance rates, but she is keeping a close eye on all the cases.

She said if the lice got a good head start on some student heads and infested their homes as well it can be difficult to eliminate them. Cantrell said the supplies for a full home treatment are fairly expensive. As attendance officer, she will provide supplies for families that can’t afford them and will even make home visits to offer input on eliminating the lice.

“It can be a real ordeal for families,” she said. “You can’t just treat the kid, you have to treat the whole family.”

She said families have to do more than wash the students’ hair. Sprays for furniture, washing all bedding and other precautions must be followed.

A letter sent home with all Pickens County Middle School students gave parents information on how to eliminate lice and nits.

The letter noted, “Lice outbreaks are very common among school children. Head lice do not carry any disease, and their presence does not indicate a lack of cleanliness.”

LeMieux said the only real health concern is that they are irritating by the itching and “there are hurt feelings” among students found to have lice.

The principal said they used a microscope in the nurse’s office to show skeptical parents the lice from students’ hair.

Cantrell said if they clear the problem up with no new cases for 21 days, then they would likely have eliminated the problem from the campus.

Historic Woodbridge Inn up for sale

Owner Hans Rueffert asks for support during transition


The second-generation owner of the Woodbridge Inn announced earlier this month that the historic restaurant/inn on the north end of Jasper’s Main Street is for sale.

Hans Rueffert, who purchased the Woodbridge with his wife, Amy, from his parents in 2009, said he had hoped to continue the traditions of the Woodbridge, but health problems have forced him to put the Jasper icon up for sale.

“I wrestled with the decision for three months before we put it on the market,” Rueffert said. “I grew up in the restaurant – literally. But my health has reached a point where there isn’t much choice.”

Despite quarantine, all animals doing fine at animal shelter

Shelter to reopen August 16


All the animals at the Pickens County Animal Shelter are healthy and doing well, Deputy Brandi Strawn reported Tuesday morning, after a case of parvo last week caused a litter of puppies to be put down and the shelter quarantined until August 16. A puppy brought into the county animal shelter in late July was found to be carrying the virus.

“All of our animals are in good condition,” Strawn said. “We haven’t had any problems. Everybody’s healthy.”

Strawn said a litter of puppies came in late July and it was nine days before they showed any symptoms of an illness.

“They came in looking really healthy. They started showing symptoms and one of them passed away.”

Following testing, Strawn discovered Canine Parvo was to blame. The other puppies in the litter had to be put down, she said.

Strawn reported the incident to the Georgia Department of Agriculture whose officials requested she close the facility for 14 days, a standard procedure. Strawn said puppies at her facility are kept separate from others dogs, cats and kittens and there was likely no transfer of the virus from the puppies to any other animals being held there.

“I don’t think any of my animals are at risk because of where the puppies were kept,” she said. “It’s just a safety precaution more than anything. We will monitor the animals for two weeks to make sure no one else shows any symptoms.”

She said officials she spoke with at the agriculture department reported that a lot of shelters around the state are experiencing parvo outbreaks because of the heat and humidity.

“We get a lot of stray animals and these animals are piddling through whatever they can to eat. The parvovirus can lay dormant for five months. This heat is like a big Petri dish and it overwhelms these animals. They can carry the virus dormant in their bodies for 14 days.”

Canine Parvo is a contagious virus spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces, according to Wikipedia. It can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccinations. Symptoms of parvo may include diarrhea, vomiting, quick weight loss and lethargy. Straun said dogs or puppies also stop eating and drinking water.

The mortality rate for parvo is 91 percent if untreated and, Strawn said, it could be very expensive to treat. Canine Parvo is not transferable to humans.

Until the shelter opens on August 16 no one can come in to adopt an animal and no other animals can be taken in, she said.

“I want people to understand there’s nothing bad. It’s just a safety precaution. Our animals are healthy. We make sure we adopt out healthy animals. In the summertime it’s par for the course.”

Shelter hours are Tuesday – Friday from 12-5 and Saturday from 11-3.

State leaders call for special session for re-districting


Governor Nathan Deal with House Speaker David Ralston to his right signing earlier legislation. The governor, Ralston and other leaders have convened the state legislature Monday to work on re-districting.

From Governor's press office

Gov. Nathan Deal, joined by House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, today issued the call for the 2011 special legislative session. The special session is set to convene Monday, Aug. 15, at 10 a.m. and will include redistricting of the Georgia House and Senate and congressional districts, technical changes to next year’s TSPLOST referendum and ratifying the governor’s gas tax rate freeze.

“My aim is to sign into law fair maps that comply with the mandates that the federal government sets forth,” Deal said. “We will update our state and congressional legislative district maps to reflect the population changes documented in the 2010 Census, and we will  honor the sacred principle of ‘one person, one vote.’

“Working swiftly, as our maps require preclearance from the Department of Justice, we will also work to provide candidates and voters as much time as possible to prepare for the next election cycle and to keep costs down for Georgia taxpayers.”

Pickens beauty queens meet governor

(Back L-R) Kerrie Lee, Kelsie Gilbert, Christina Farron, Makaila Caylor, Carly Culverhouse, Anslee Busby; (Front L-R) Peyton Williamson, Carson Veal, Lexi Bowen and Kati McClure with Governor Nathan Deal.



By Michelle McClures

Miss Pickens County Director

There is more to being a beauty queen than smiling and wearing a crown. It’s my (Miss Pickens County Director Michelle McClure’s) belief that pageants help girls build self- esteem, confidence, friendships and community involvement.                                                

Miss Pickens County was rewarded for their volunteer work and community involvement at the Governor’s Office with a meet and greet with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Thank you to Kerrie Lee, Kelsie Gilbert, Christina Farron, Makaila Caylor, Carly Culverhouse, Anslee Busby, Peyton Williamson, Carson Veal, Lexi Bowen and Kati McClure for showing involvement and pride in our community.

Miss Pickens County members have volunteered at fundraisers to benefit sick children and the needy. They donated time, money and support to public safety, volunteered time and talents to local nursing homes and collected and donated food to Pickens County food banks. I (Michelle McClure) and MPC Royalty will be presenting a check for new football uniforms to Pickens County Middle School at their annual tail gate party.

To request appearances and volunteers or to view upcoming pageants and events go to