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Cool stuff for Summer Solstice Celebration June 21

When last seen, the world’s largest kudzu basket was in scaffolding (during the 1st Annual Jasper ArtFest) - but it will be unveiled in finished form for the upcoming summer solstice celebration.


By Amelia McIntyre, Lisa Schnellinger

PACA members

Come and celebrate summer at the 2nd Annual Summer Solstice Celebration on Tuesday, June 21, in Jasper. Taking place on the longest day of the year, the event is designed to bring arts and cultural groups and individuals together to offer their work to the public.

Summer Solstice is sponsored by the Pickens Arts and Cultural Alliance (PACA) and co-sponsored by Sharptop Arts Association. It is being presented in partnership with Pickens Family Partners, the Mountain Conservation Trust and Educational Excursions. Other local supporters are the Pickens County Board of Education, the Pickens Progress and Smoke Signals newspapers, WIVL Radio Station and local restaurants.

The program is a community workshop funded in part by a project grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. PACA also works in collaboration with the Pickens Chamber of Commerce and its tourism committee to promote economic development through arts and cultural tourism.

The community workshop will consist of a variety of smaller workshop events in downtown Jasper beginning at 1 p.m. on June 21. The individual workshops are designed to showcase local artists at work and engage participants to either observe or roll up their sleeves and get involved.

Teacher enters plea bargain and avoids sex charges


Laura Deane Lyles (34), a former Pickens High Shool teacher indicted after allegations of sexual misconduct with male students during the 2009-2010 school year, has pled guilty to a state accusation of cruelty to children in a plea bargain that spares Lyles from prosecution on charges brought in her indictment.

Lyles' guilty plea on child cruelty charges came just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, at the end of a Superior Court session to handle plea bargains for numerous defendants in a variety of cases.

The session began at roughly 4:30 p.m., following arrival of presiding Superior Court Judge Roger Bradley to the upstairs courtroom within the Pickens County Courthouse. Lyles' case came last, the court session ending around 6:45 p.m., shortly after she was sentenced.

Lyles' indictment included two charges of sexual assault on a person in custody, two sodomy charges, and four charges of furnishing beverage alcohol to underage persons. The state's accusation of cruelty to children in the first degree was put forward by the prosecution pursuant to a plea agreement, explained Assistant District Attorney Scott Poole, who served as prosecutor during the Lyles proceeding.

Bring on the drama this summer at Tater Patch theater camps

By Nan Nawrocki

Tater Patch Member

The Tater Patch Players are  hosting their 6th Annual Theater Camp. This summer’s camp program is for kids from rising third graders through high school. For two weeks, from June 20 through 24 and June 27 through July 1, there are opportunities to learn about all things theater and have a lot of fun in the new Tater Patch Players Theater. Campers can attend either one or two weeks of the camp. The morning session is for the older campers, from rising 6th graders through rising 12th graders. These campers will learn from Tater Patch’s qualified instructors about the many skills involved in “tech theater.” This covers everything that happens behind the scenes:  designing and building scenery, doing lighting, costuming and makeup.

Adults who are interested in learning these skills are invited to contact Tater Patch at the theater number, 706-253-2800, and ask about how they may join and learn too. The older campers are welcome to stay for the afternoon sessions to help the younger campers and to work on sets, lights and costumes for the troupe’s upcoming production of Peter Pan. Those choosing to stay for both sessions should bring a sack lunch and enjoy lunch with the Taters where lively theater discussions will take place.

New Jasper acting company “putting a spin” on community theatre


NEW COMPANY, SAME FACES - With the majority of the original cast in tact, Smoke on the Mountain is travelling to the Cumming Playhouse with the new Jasper-based North Georgia Acting Company. The show opened June 2 and will run through June 26.


For Ross Galbreath, creative director of a new Jasper-based acting company, theatrical productions should be all or nothing.

“The shows need to be 100 percent,” Galbreath said from his Jasper hair salon, Hollywood FX Studio off Bill Wigington Parkway. “They need to have the highest possible quality every time.”

Galbreath, who has more than flat irons and styling products up his sleeve, is bringing 20-years of entertainment industry experience to the new company, having worked for Walt Disney and on other live shows, independent films and special event productions in various roles, from directing to managing to producing and casting.

Mayberry and proud of it, Nelson residents tell mayor


"If we are Mayberry as you say we are, then we're proud of it," said Nelson resident Melba Roper during time reserved for public appearances at Nelson's council meeting Monday night.

Roper was addressing Mayor David Leister regarding an article he published in the May 26 edition of this newspaper. Leister's article depicted Nelson's police chief spending time visiting residents on porches instead of issuing citations or making arrests. This activity met expectations of the city council, Leister wrote, as "they wanted a police officer that would stop and sit on porches, as in the fictional town of Mayberry."

Longtime Nelson resident Frances Carney spoke to the mayor concerning the same issue. She had not wanted to speak publicly, Carney insisted. A neighbor was going to speak her sentiments at the meeting, Carney said, but could not due to illness.

"We didn't like this, mayor," Carney said of the newspaper article. "Don't do this again. Don't trash our town. Just don't ever do it again. You put in here about Mayberry. We're Mayberry, and we want to stay that way," she said. "And we let you be mayor. We want you to act like one."

Carney particularly objected to Leister's indication that in recent days Nelson Police Chief Heath Mitchell has not effectively covered his Nelson beat.

Read the rest of the story in our print edition, now on sale.