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Superintendent’s contract renewed by school board



By Alex Goble

            The Pickens County School Board held a meeting on Thursday, Oct. 25, in which Superintendent Ben Desper’s contract was renewed in a unanimous 5-0 vote. The vote took place following a private executive session that lasted for much of the meeting.

            All five members of the board (Wendy Lowe, Byron Long, Ervin Easterwood, John Trammell and Dan Fincher) voted in favor of extending the contract.           

            The executive session lasted a little over an hour and included the two incoming board members (Mike Cowart and Peggy Andrews) who will take office in January.

            According to Wendy Lowe, the board’s chair, Superintendent Desper wanted to be assured that he had a position in the future if he decided to stay on as superintendent instead of retiring, because there are incentives right now for him to retire early.

“We think he’s headed in the right direction and we don’t want to go on a superintendent search right now,” said Lowe, reinforcing the board’s confidence in their choice.

Homecoming Parade for PHS


Pickens High School held their homecoming parade and a pep-rally bonfire Tuesday evening in Jasper. To see more scenes check out the Facebook page of the high school yearbook, Pickens Draca. Above, Mr. and Miss PHS, photo courtesy of Steven Wilkie. Also be sure to see the latest issue of the high school newspaper in this week's Progress and e-edition.

Researchers here this week to document Ga. Marble


By Victoria Woodcock,
Historical researcher with the "Who Built the Minnesota Capitol Building" project

    Over the last three years, a team of researchers has been uncovering the stories of the men and women who built the Minnesota State Capitol building between 1896 and 1907.  We have researched not only on-site tradesmen, such as carpenters and stonecutters, but quarry and railroad workers who supplied the materials for the statehouse. 

Y'all Watch - Pickens couple to be on Redneck Rehab


     Above, WHERE REDNECK MEETS THE LIMELIGHT - Pickens residents Heather (top row on right), Adam Matteson (bottom row on right), and son Titus (bottom row center) on the set of Redneck Rehab with host Tom Arnold (center). The Matteson’s episode airs on CMT this weekend.

     "My husband’s sister moved to Knoxville and she’s all into working out and shopping and just real high-maintenance,” said Pickens resident Heather Matteson, who will be featured on CMT's Redneck Rehab Saturday, Oct. 27 and Sunday, Oct. 28. with her husband Adam, son Titus, and in-laws and niece. “We got her down here and showed her how to live off the land,” she said laughing.

Read what Adam and Heather Matteson said about their experience with this reality show in this week's print or e-edition.

Pickens Family Partners braces for crippling budget cuts

Super Heroes Run & Obstacle Course fundraiser planned to help struggling non-profit


Click the above photo to be taken to the Pickens Family Partners website

     “Ninety percent of the parents we serve are either victims of child abuse or neglect,” said Pickens Family Partners Executive Director Margy Lohman, who will be slashing her staff and cutting services after state budget cuts come the first of the year.


    “These parents have poor childhood histories, substance abuse, lack of coping skills and education, and are very isolated,” she said. “How are they going to parent? That’s my biggest fear. What’s going to happen to these families?”
    Pickens Family Partners opened in 1994 under the name Prevent Child Abuse Pickens. The goal of the non-profit is, and has always been, to prevent child abuse and neglect. They accomplish this through various programs, including First Steps (in hospital visitation for new parents), Parents as Teachers (an early school readiness program), and Healthy Families (home visitation and other support for parents with preschool children). 
    “We currently have anywhere from 65 to 70 families on the programs and close to 148 children. We are going to have to cut from 40 to 50 families from that,” Lohman said. “We know what will happen, the rate of child abuse and neglect will go up but we won’t see it for three years because they are that far behind in data. I told someone they will have to build another Hope House.”