Get Adobe Flash player


School enrollment down slightly from last year

Tate Elementary still below desired student numbers


Pickens schools saw 4,311 students enrolled the second day of classes, a total student population down 50 from last year at the same point. First day numbers had been lower but some of that could be attributed to the rains and flooding.

The school board also discussed facility plans, recognized students and heard about efforts to shift enrollment to Tate during their August meeting.

Read more about the local schools in this week's Progress.


Woodstock Baptist "FIllin’ up Jasper"




 Members of the Woodstock First Baptist’s Jasper campus pumped and paid for part of the gas purchased Saturday at a Jasper convenience store to show they are grateful to be in this community.


 By Laiken Owens


Intern Reporter

   Saturday, members of the Woodstock First Baptist Church’s Jasper campus held “Fillin’ up Jasper” at the BP station next to Waffle House on Highway 53.

   For two hours, the church paid for $1 of every gallon of gas any motorist purchased, for 10 gallons max.

   Campus pastor Eddie Rhodes said, “We are doing this to show that we really care about the community, and we are grateful to be here.”

   Church volunteers pumped the gas for drivers so they could stay in their cool cars. Church member Carly Osborne said, “We want to show our love for the community, especially in these hard times.” 

  While pumping gas, church volunteers handed out Waffle House coupons, Bibles and information on the church.

  “I love my church and I love Jesus,” said volunteer Sarah Dickerson. The church is located at 5335 Hwy 53 West in Jasper. Church worship is on Sundays at 11a.m. To contact the Woodstock First Baptist Church in Jasper call 770-591-2640 or go to their website,


The Pickens GOP makes headlines on The Colbert Report


    A post on The Pickens County GOP website gained national attention on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report.  The screenshot was taken from the Comedy Central website.

   A Thursday, July 25 post on the Pickens County GOP website caught the eye of Comedy Central’s Steven Colbert, who on the Thursday, Aug. 1 edition of the Colbert Report chaffs  the local political party.
    But a representative with the local GOP says the comments weren’t originally theirs, and that they simply reposted a story from another website to “provide information and to educate people about news going on in the country.”


Feds ignore insurance commissioner’s request to delay ACA implementation


By Pam O’Dell

Capitol Reporter

As of last Friday, Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, had not received a reply from Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Hudgens had penned a very public letter to the Secretary, requesting a 30-day extension for Georgia’s approval of seven company insurers competing to provide health insurance coverage within the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) healthcare exchange program. The letter made reference to “massive rate increases” and requested that Department “show cause” as to why the increases were not justified in light of the ACA. See original Statement from Commissioner Hudgens.

Hudgens’ letter was dated July 29 (one day before the Commissioner’s deadline to submit his findings to HHS). He requested that a response be delivered on July 30. 

According to the letter, of the seven actuaries hired to evaluate the participant insurers’ submissions, six had deemed the submissions as “justifiable” within the ACA. One actuary reported that one of the submissions was 11 percent above the justifiable range. 

The commissioner cited one instance in which a non-smoking male, aged 24 years, would likely experience an increase in his insurance premium from between 85-198 percent. 

Bill Custer, director of The Center for Health Services Research within Georgia State University, believes this estimate is in anomaly. Custer notes that some premiums will rise for certain individuals (most notably for males and young people) in order to spread risk amongst patient population segments. 

“The law requires that insurance companies bring in sick people, and bringing in sick people increases risk and costs. However, I don’t expect an increase of more than 20 percent in any one class of insured people [in the exchange].”

Custer notes that provisions within the law limit large rate disparities between customer classes. A 3:1 ratio cannot be exceeded (meaning a rate for one class cannot exceed three times the cost of any other rate class). 

Parents upset over new transportation policy

Transportation Director says previous chaos led to safety issues


    Some parents of Pickens County students say the recent changes to the bus transportation policy have left them scrambling to find childcare after school lets out.
    But the school system’s transportation director Bruce Godfrey said the changes have been put in place for the sole reason of keeping Pickens students safe, not to make it easier on bus drivers or the system as a whole.