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Wounded soldier makes surprise holiday visit


  “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this community’s support,” says Wes Farron

Above, Wes and Melanie Farron with their son, Asher. The 22-year-old Farron was injured while on active duty in Afghanistan in October. He spent over two months in a Texas hospital.

After surviving massive injuries during a firefight in Afghanistan in October, then spending two months in a Texas hospital recovering from the wounds, 22-year-old Wes Farron and his wife surprised family members by coming home for Christmas.

Throughout his ordeal, Farron said the support of his wife and family, along with the support of this community, helped pull him through.

“The sheer support I had from the town and the church – I had tons of people praying for me. Since I’ve been back, some people have said ‘hey’ to me and ‘thank you,’ and that means more to me than anything,” said Farron. “I don’t expect a thank you. Being a soldier is something I love doing. My family and Melanie’s family, I can’t thank them enough. That’s my main focus, family and the people who’ve supported us the whole way.”

Plants of the Southeast -- “Sweetgum,” Liquidambar styraciflua


(Photo by Patrick Coin.)     The leaves of the sweetgum instantly separate it from everything else: nothing else has smooth leaves with five (sometimes seven) lobes, these toothy and when crushed, releasing that distinctive medicinal scent.


By John Nelson

I’ve had a long friendship with this tree, commonly called the sweetgum.

My first recollection of it was while still a small boy, seated outside on a summer morning on the porch and crushing its bright green leaves in my hand, and then enjoying a remarkably pleasant, somewhat medicinal fragrance. Once you’ve taken the scent, so to speak, you’ll never forget it.

Georgia River Network Challenge to ‘Paddle 12 Rivers in 2012’


Submitted by April Ingle of the Georgia River Network

You can see the Paddle 12 in 2012 project page.

The idea of community water trails is extremely popular right now and over 30 trails in Georgia are either in the works or completed. A water trail (also referred to as a blueway or canoe trail) is similar to a hiking trail or greenway, only on the water. 

Water trails are being recognized for their benefits to communities which include recreation, economic development, healthy lifestyles, greenspace and more.

“Georgia River Network believes that getting people out on rivers is an effective way to introduce people to river issues and engage them in protection of their local waterways,” says April Ingle, Georgia River Network executive director. “Our annual Paddle Georgia trip down a different river each year is our most popular program. People want more opportunities to connect with Georgia’s wonderful rivers.”

A few examples of some of the trails in Georgia that are featured on the website include:

• The Altamaha Canoe Trail offers 138 miles of trail, originating near Lumber City at the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers, emptying and into the Atlantic Ocean. On the canoe trail, you will float past numerous Wildlife Management Areas and Natural Areas, tidal swamps, and rich bottomland forests. The Altamaha River has been designated by The Nature Conservancy as one of the 75 “Last Great Places” in the world.

A drumming what?

Submitted by Kathe Hall of Van Goghs Hideaway


When folks around town have asked "What is a drum Circle?", I just simply explain that it's a group of people gathered into a circle for the purpose of making music with percussion instruments like drums, tambourines, etc.

At left, Jim and Mary Heaster of Tate discussing sharing the drum at a recent drumming circle. Van Goghs Hideaway holds drumming circles each month.

Though drumming circles can be found all across the country and take on many aspects, we are not limited to any specific tradition or culture.  It's a time to come relax, encourage creativity, and fellowship.

At VanGoghs Hideaway we schedule drumming on the full moon of each month.

Anybody got an extra opossum?


“There are always plenty of ‘possums out here, until you need one,” says New Year’s Eve Possum Drop organizer

At right, the 2008 Possum Drop featured a stand-in raccoon. This year organizers are on the lookout for the namesake marsupial, opossum.


In the past four years, whenever Cowboy Church began preparations for its annual New Year’s Eve Possum Drop, coming up with the honored guest was as simple as spreading the word a living marsupial was sought.

This year however, the Jerusalem/Henderson Mountain area has apparently run temporarily dry of opossums, says Cowboy Church Director Rebecca Hampton.

“There are always plenty of ‘possums out here, until you need one,” said Hampton Tuesday morning.

In years past, organizers have caught the guest of honor early on and then caged and fed it until the big night.

And, lest ‘possum-rights folk grow alarmed, when the gala midnight arrives, the drop includes a lighted cage lowered safely, so the featured critter can be released later, a bit jazzed maybe but unharmed.