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Former CFO had county months behind paying bills

 Questions about county credit cards arise, audit expected next week 

      According to Pickens County Commissioner Rob Jones, the county’s transitional audit, which is over two weeks behind schedule, should be completed by the end of the Thanksgiving period.
    The audit is being performed following the resignation of county finance officer Mechelle Champion, who left office at the height of controversy surrounding the recent county property tax increase. During public hearings regarding the tax increase, members of the public had pointed questions for Champion regarding the accuracy of her work.
    The county has now hired a new finance officer, Faye Harvey, longtime CFO from Gilmer County. The commissioner has said it is “good business” to perform an audit of the county’s finance office while transitioning from one CFO to another, and a similar audit is now underway in Gilmer, he said.
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Marble Company records moved to historical archive


Pictured (l to r) are John Edwards, Commissioner Rob Jones and Lawton Baggs thumbing through Georgia Marble Company records at the old marble jail on Camp Road. 


After sitting dusty and forgotten for decades, records and artifacts from the Georgia Marble Company are now finding a proper home at the Department of Museums, Archives & Rare Books at Kennesaw State University. 

“I’m really pleased they are going to be in such good hands with professionals who know how to handle them,” said John Edwards, member of a local committee charged with finding a way to preserve the documents. 

Last Tuesday, November 13, boxes and boxes of the old Georgia Marble records, including promotional items, advertisements and personnel records were transported from the old marble jail on Camp Road to Kennesaw State, where the long process of archiving and documenting would begin. 

Pickens woman missing and feared dead in Indiana


     When Holly Womack Elischer left Pickens County to follow her son and ex-husband to Gary, Indiana at the end of July, her mother didn’t know it might be the last time she would see her daughter.
    Darlene Strickland said she last heard from her 30-year-old daughter on October 4 after she had spent a night under a gazebo in downtown Gary, Indiana. Strickland said her fears began with a phone call on October 2 to her from Holly’s former husband.            Holly was in the same room with her ex-husband at the time of the call as Strickland could hear them arguing.
    “He was drunk and he was just screaming at her,” Strickland said. “All this ranting and raving. He threatened to kill her. I was scared for her safety so I called the Gary police station.”
    Strickland said her daughter stayed overnight at the police station where officials made arrangements for her to stay at a domestic abuse shelter the following day.
    “They carried her to the wrong shelter and let her out and the shelter refused her,” Strickland said. “So she went to the only place she could, a restaurant, and stayed there till they closed. She wound up sleeping outside in a gazebo. I can’t tell you how bad this area is. I spoke to her Thursday morning and she was going to recharge her phone.”
    That was the last time Strickland heard from her daughter.
    “She has just dropped off the face of the earth,” said Strickland who still lives in Pickens County.
    Strickland said following the birth of Elischer’s son, now age 7, her daughter was diagnosed with postpartum depression and, ultimately, bi-polar disorder.
    “Even if she had medicine with her when she left, she probably would be getting close to being out of it. The last time I talked to her she just seemed like she was really disconnected when I talked to her and not making much sense.”    
    Strickland said the area of downtown Gary where her daughter was last seen is a high crime area with lots of abandoned buildings.
    “I’m not feeling good about her surviving this whole situation. She was walking. She didn’t have any transportation,” said the mother.
    Strickland asks anyone who might have any information to contact her at 770-877-2806 or Lt. Lawrence Wright with the Gary Police Department at 219-881-4736.
    “She grew up here and both her and her ex-husband lived here. Maybe someone here might have some information. Anything. There were a lot of people who knew them. Any source of information they can lend to finding her would be wonderful.”
    According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Database, Elischer is between 5’1” and 5’4” and weighs 300-325 pounds.    


Ga.’s unemployment declines to 8.7 percent

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 8.7 percent in October, down three-tenths of a percentage point from 9.0 percent in September. The jobless rate was 9.7 percent in October a year ago. 

“The unemployment rate dropped because we had an increase of 36,000 new jobs, which is the largest September to October job increase ever,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “That job growth pushed the number of jobs in October to the highest level in any month since December of 2008.”

There were 3,971,700 jobs in October, up nine-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,935,700 in September. The growth came in retail trade, up 8,000; education and health care, up 7,000; professional and business services, up 6,000; state and local public schools, up 5,000; leisure and hospitality, up 3,000; technology, up 2,400; construction, up 1,700; financial services, up 900; and manufacturing, up 700. 

“While manufacturing gained 700 jobs during the month, it’s more important to note that the industry has gained 10,500 jobs in the last year,” Butler added. 

Georgia gained 68,000 jobs, or 1.7 percent, from 3,903,700 in October 2011. Additional growth sectors over the year include: professional and business services, up 25,500; retail trade, up 14,000; education and health care, up 13,000; food services and drinking establishments, up 9,400; and technology, up 3,600.  

Georgia’s labor force continued to increase, climbing to 4,793,540 in October, up by 17,438, or four-tenths of a percentage point, from 4,776,102 in September.  The state’s workforce totaled 4,734,487 in October 2011.   

“Our labor force has grown consistently over the past year, indicating that Georgians are more optimistic about finding a job, and fortunately, we’ve had the job growth necessary to put these people to work,” said Butler.

The number of initial claims rose 11,931 to 51,495 in October; however, the number of claims is down by 4,370, or 7.8 percent, from 55,865 in October 2011. Most of the October increase came in manufacturing, trade, administrative and support services, and construction. 

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined for the sixth consecutive month, dropping 2,100 from September to 206,700 in October. The long-term unemployed—those out of work for more than 26 weeks—make up 49.4 percent of those unemployed in Georgia, the lowest percent in slightly more than two years.  

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Turkey shoot aims for a good cause


Turkey Shoots are in season. Look through this week's paper for ads about upcoming events.

     Talking Rock resident Isabella Brandreth takes aim off of Joseph Ellis’ arm as Turkey Shoot sponsor Appalachian Mountain Scottish Rite Association Vice President Greg Gibson looks on.
    What is she aiming for? Not a turkey, but a target about one hundred feet out. If she can come closer to the center of the target than the other nine competitors, she will earn her family a frozen turkey, just in time for Thanksgiving.