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Love wine? Be a judge at Yonah Vineyards for the International Grand Wine Challenge


Sautee, GA:  Members of the wine drinking public are invited to judge the eight wines that will be presented at the 2012 International Grand Wine Challenge on Saturday, January 21. Two blind tastings will be held at the Yonah Mountain Vineyards tasting room in Sautee at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. during which participants may consider how the elements of Yonah Mountain Vineyards and Serenity Cellars wines compare to some of California's and Italy's finest labels.

Heading for hike – don’t forget your GORP; New pass required for all use of some state properties


Dawson and Gilmer areas included in places where GORP is required

Submitted by Ga. DNR

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (Jan. 4, 2012) - The new Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass has been in effect a few days, and will help with much-needed maintenance on state wildlife areas.

Thirty-two sites managed by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division now require the Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass (GORP) for visitors ages 16-64. Exempt from the requirement are individuals who have a valid WMA

License, Honorary License, Sportsmen’s License, Lifetime License or Three-Day Hunting and Fishing License.

In all, Wildlife Resources Division manages more than 100 properties across the state. However, GORP impacts only about one-third of the areas - the spots with the highest traffic by all users.

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.”

Rep. Jasperse previews upcoming session


Top 5 legislative issues of 2012

State Rep. Rick Jasperse entering his second full legislative session under the Gold Dome believes there are several factors which may make this a very “contentious” session.

Rick Jasperse, who will be entering his second legislative session representing Pickens County and surrounding areas, said the state legislative session this January will likely be contentious.

“With the election year, presidential and others in the state, you will see folks really trying to make political statements,” Jasperse said in a late December interview. “With the redistricting completed there will be several forces that should make this a very interesting session.”

Jasperse previewed in late December what he believes will be the five most newsworthy efforts under the Gold Dome when the legislature goes into session this January.

1.  Budget – “This is number one by far. It’s why we go there.” Jasperse said in Georgia, the governor proposes a budget and “both the house and senate fiddle with it.” At this point the governor’s proposed budget cuts all state agencies two percent except public safety and education.

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.