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Middle schools to merge football programs


By Bettina Huseby
Progress Contributor

    Pickens High School head football coach Chris Parker addressed the March 14 board of education meeting about plans to combine both middle school football teams into one.
    “What we’re trying to do at the middle school level is much like what Dawson County recently did,” Parker said. “It’s an opportunity to streamline players into one group which will move together from the JYSA to middle school and then to high school. It will really build the program.”

Sunday alcohol sales pass in county


The 5.84 percent of the voters in Pickens County who cast a ballot said yes to countywide sales of alcohol by the package by more than a two-to-one margin Tuesday and in early voting.

The totals for the alcohol sales were 692 yes to 328 against. See complete story later at this site.


Read previous coverage for more details on alcohol sales.

Teen driving commission recommends tougher penalties for texting-while-driving

An all-teen board appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal has recommended major changes to teen driver education strategies and asked for harsher penalties for teens who break Georgia’s law banning motorists from sending text messages and using smartphones while on the road. 

Members of the Governor’s Commission on Teen Driving have also asked lawmakers to ban handheld phone use for all Georgia drivers. 

Commission members presented the recommendations to Georgia lawmakers, advocates for highway safety and public safety leaders Monday.

 The meeting was the final one for the commission before the end of the school year.

The 22-member commission, comprised of all teenagers, is administered through the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and is the first of its kind in the United States. 

The commission’s ultimate goal is to discover strategies that reduce the number of teen crashes, injuries and fatalities on Georgia’s highways. While preliminary data shows that the number of fatal crashes involving 16 and 17-year-olds declined in 2012, vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of death for teenagers in Georgia. 

The commission’s recommendations are the first organized step toward a statewide discussion of policies that might improve that statistic. 

“This is just the beginning,” said Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “We are proud to be the first state in the union to make sure that teen drivers are in the forefront of a discussion that will ultimately change their lives.” 

Among other recommendations presented Monday, board members urged policy makers to consider updating the state’s current Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program to reflect other factors that cause drivers to be impaired, such as sending text messages or using a smartphone while behind the wheel. 

Board members recommended that driver’s education courses and permitting tests for Georgia drivers include a greater focus on the dangers of distracted driving and texting while driving. 

For those who continue to text and drive after a first citation, the board recommends a graduated punishment system similar to the one set up for repeat offenders of Georgia’s laws against driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. 

Appointed by Gov. Deal in October, the commission has worked for five months to help Gov. Deal develop a statewide strategy for educating teen drivers on the risks and consequences associated with driving while distracted, texting while driving and driving while impaired by alcohol.

The group is expected to reconvene in the fall.

Record low turnout possible for alcohol vote today



A possible record low turnout for Pickens County is expected when voters go to the polls today to decide whether Pickens stores (outside the city limits of Jasper) may sell alcohol by the package on Sundays.

With early turnout barely squeaking past one percent of registered voters, it is thought that interest on Tuesday will be similarly scarce.


Voters should remember that on election day, they must vote at their district polling spot, not the central election office on Pioneer Road used for early voting.


Original Story --As of Friday morning, the last day of early voting, slightly over 1 percent of the registered voters had bothered to cast a ballot on the Sunday sale of alcohol by the package. The elections office reported about 10 a.m. this morning that only 1 person had voted today moving the total number of early votes to 236.


Elections Superintendent Julie Roberts said in an earlier story that she is expecting an extremely low turnout at the polls next Tuesday. 

If voters pass the referendum, the only question to appear on the March 19 ballot, 10 retailers including one supermarket in the Yellow Creek area will be allowed to sell by the package on Sundays. Retailers inside the city limits of Jasper have been able to sell on Sunday since voters there passed the measure in July last year. 

The surrounding jurisdictions of Dawsonville, Dawson County, Forsyth County, Cumming, Cherokee County, Ball Ground, Canton, Lumpkin County and the City of Jasper have all legalized Sunday package sales. 

Regular polling places will be open throughout the county next Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. 



Powerball jackpot at $260M for Wednesday



ATLANTA – The jackpot for Powerball is in high gear, reaching an estimated $260 million to a single annuity winner for Wednesday’s drawing. The excitement is spreading statewide as lucky Georgia Lottery players won big from Saturday’s drawing.


The jackpot has grown since Feb. 9 and has rolled 11 times.


Three Georgia Lottery players have won big. One lucky ticket worth $1 million was sold at Jet Food Store #0054 in Macon. Another Powerball ticket worth $40,000 was sold at 301 N. Package Store in Jesup. A ticket worth $10,000 was sold at Chevron Food Mart in Atlanta.


Powerball offers two payment options: the $260 million jackpot prize paid over 29 years in 30 graduated payments, or the cash option, which is approximately $161 million.


Powerball tickets are $2 per play.


As with all other Georgia Lottery games, proceeds from Powerball will benefit education in the state of Georgia.


Since its first year, the Georgia Lottery Corp. has returned more than $14 billion to the state of Georgia for education. All Georgia Lottery profits go to pay for specific educational programs, including Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship Program and Georgia’s Pre-K Program. More than 1.4 million students have received HOPE, and more than 1.2 million 4-year-olds have attended the statewide, voluntary prekindergarten program.



Draw Date: March 20, 2013

Estimated Jackpot Amount: $260 million
Annuity Amount: Jackpot prize paid over 29 years in 30 graduated payments
Cash Option Amount: Approximately $161 million
Cost to Play: $2 per play; an additional $1 per play to add the Power Play multiplier
Drawings: 11 p.m. (ET) every Wednesday and Saturday
Overall Odds of Winning Any Prize: Approximately 1:32
Odds of Winning Jackpot Prize: Approximately 1:175 million
Date Jackpot Began Rolling: Feb. 9, 2013
Number of Rolls: 11
Last Winning Jackpot Ticket: Feb. 6, 2013 – $217 million jackpot (Virginia winner)
#1 Powerball Jackpot: Nov. 28, 2012 – $588 million jackpot (Arizona and Missouri winners)

For more information on the Georgia Lottery Corp. and Powerball, please visit: and


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