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Loose marble on courthouse prompts more testing

Evan Howell (center), of Blue Ridge Marble & Granite Company, hands down a marble slab freshly removed from the top left corner of the main face of the Pickens County Courthouse. Courthouse construction Project Manager Thurman Slone stands at right.


Testing resumed Monday morning to judge how tightly the marble face of the courthouse adheres after workers discovered last week that some marble near the roof edge came off too easily. Evan Howell and Terry Long, of Nelson's Blue Ridge Marble & Granite Company, went aloft two stories on a scissors lift around 9 a.m. as county workers watched from the courthouse lawn.

Howell and Long were up the courthouse face to pick down another piece of marble facing from the highest run at the wall's upper left edge. Last week, after a similar piece was found to be too easily loosened, yellow barrier tape went up on the terrace below. Monday's work was apparently to see how many other pieces of courthouse facing might be loosely in place. The marble facing dates from mid 20th century.

121 animals woof and meow as animal shelter re-opens following quarantine

The Pickens County Animal Shelter re-opened Tuesday afternoon following a 14-day quarantine after a puppy left there was found to be carrying the parvovirus. No other animals at the shelter became sick outside of the puppy’s littermates.

Tuesday afternoon Deputy Brandi Strawn said the shelter is housing 121 animals looking for loving homes, 47 cats and kittens and 74 dogs and puppies.

“We’re all set and ready to adopt these animals to great homes,” Strawn said. “I’ve got some of the most loveable cats.”

Above, Shelter personnel in the Camp Road facility at an earlier date. The shelter re-opened yesterday with 121 animal awaiting adoption.


Strawn specifically mentioned two-year-old Laffy, a large, orange domestic short hair cat who is seriously in need of a new family.

“She’s been here for a while. She’s a good 12 pounds – she’s a big kitty,” Strawn said. “In the dog department I’ve also got a rat terrier mix named Mary. She’s full of energy and has a little bobtail. She’s very, very affectionate.”

Mary is approximately eight months old.

Strawn said anyone could find a pet appropriate for their needs – from young and feisty to older, calm pets.

“We’ve even got young animals that are very calm that would work well for senior citizens,” Strawn said. “We’ve got some lap cats that would just love to be petted and loved on.”

Shelter hours are Tuesday – Friday from 12-5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Next Saturday, August 27 is volunteer weekend where people of all ages are encouraged to come walk and spend time with the animals from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.


Joy House marks decade of helping teens


Steve Lowe, Joy House founder and executive director, takes a dunking, as part of the fun and games at their 10th anniversary celebration Saturday on the Christian ministry’s campus. More than 200 turned out for the day’s celebration.


“I’m humbled and excited. Humbled to see where the Lord has brought us from our beginnings in 2001 and to think about the teens and families the Lord has touched through these 10 years,” said Joy House founder Steve Lowe, marking a decade of helping families in North Georgia. “I’m excited to think about what the next 10 years hold as the Lord continues to heal teens and families.”

Lowe along with 200 supporters, former students and family participants celebrated the 10th year of the ministry Saturday at the campus with games, barbecue, Christian music and tours of the boys’ home, still under construction. The Joy House is located off of Cove Road, near the entrance to Bent Tree. Currently they operate with a completed girls home and temporary boys home.

Lowe said in the next year, they hope to finish the boys home so they can serve 16 teens at a time. They also work with teens on a non-residential basis in some stages of their program.

“I’m convinced that there will be a need for The Joy House and other ministries like it as long as we live in this broken world,” he said. “We look forward to continuing to grow this ministry under the Lord’s direction to be a beacon for hope and healing in our North Georgia community.”

Lowe said, the Joy House would like to say a special thanks to the many sponsors and volunteers who made this day possible.

“We are excited to see where the Lord has brought us in our first 10 years and look forward to these next 10 years of working to see teens and families restored,” he said.

For more information or to contribute to the ministry,


Free smoke alarms available from local fire stations

Battery-powered smoke detector alarms are  available for free from Pickens County fire stations and the City of Jasper firehouse to county residents without an alarm at home. .

Alarms being given away were purchased on the initiative of Community Thrift Store founder, Don Russell, with funds generated through the Thrift Store, Pickens County Fire Chief Bob Howard explained.

"Each fire station, they have smoke detectors to give to folks that don't have one," Howard said. "All they need to do is just go by the station and just sign for one. Supplies are limited," he added.

At right, Firefighter Zack Petty of Marble Hill outside the City of Jasper Firehouse with one of the smoke detector alarms now available for free to county residents without one.


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.