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Jasper hiker completes Appalachian Trail


McGhee-App-trailLongtime Jasper veterinarian Mike McGhee completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on August 19th.

Here’s a look at his hike on the 2,181 mile trail by the numbers:

• 143 days - total number of days on the trail.

• 20 days  - spent not hiking at all.

• 15 miles  - overall daily average. This figures in the days spent not hiking.

• 27 miles – longest single day.

• 4 pairs - shoes used, favorite pair were trail runners, not hiking boots. Each pair had been bought and broken in prior to starting and sent ahead to mail spots along the trail.

• 20 pounds - usual weight of pack first day out of a town. As food was eaten it would get lighter each day until resupplying.

• 39 pounds – weight lost on trail. McGhee started the hike at 189 pounds and finished 150.

• 10 bears sighted – Five in New Jersey, four in Virginia, 1 in Vermont

Redistricting divides Pickens in Ga. Senate and Congress



Pickens County will be split among two districts in the state senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives under re-apportionment maps set for approval this week by the state legislature.

The state senate will vote on the re-drawn maps this week. The house has already voted approval. The re-apportionment maps made significant changes to district lines at all levels across the state to accommodate the growing Georgia population.

State Senator Steve Gooch  and State Rep. Rick Jasperse who represent Pickens County both said they doubted much will change from the proposed maps presented last week with only some “minor tweaking” still in discussion this week.

Freedom Ride rolls through Jasper


Cyclists with the Freedom Ride come through Jasper Friday afternoon.

Day One of the 1,035 mile ride from Atlanta to New York was slated to end in Ellijay.

Among the riders are local business owner Jon Hudgens, the Art of Hair, (seen in front far right) and Mike Palmeri, who was a co-creator of the cycling tribute for 9/11. Palmeri owns Cartecay Bikes in Ellijay. The event began as an idea for Palmeri and one other fireman to make the ride in time to be in New York to commemorate the 9/11 attacks but kept growing as the idea caught on.

To follow along see a blog on the Cartecay Bikes website.


See previous story on rider Jon Hudgens and his son, Ian -- the oldest and youngest riders in the group.


Story on mother of autistic child generates overwhelming response


“I can’t keep up with everything that’s been happening,” said Kelly Ingram, who was featured in an article in last week’s edition of the Progress.

In the article Ingram described her emotional and spiritual journey raising her autistic son, Bradley.

“People have read that and the article is everywhere,” she said. “I’m getting Facebooked and emailed from people I don’t even know.”

No sidewalks, no streetlights, no safety -- Parents spell out objections to bus stops



Most parents speaking at a concerned citizens meeting Tuesday related similar lists of objections to the new bus stops used by the school system: The centralized stops require children as young as kindergarten to walk by themselves on  roads with no street lights or sidewalks, facing the dangers of traffic, sexual predators and wildlife.

Between 50 and 60 parents turned out for the meeting to voice their fears that the new bus stops are dangerous. As promised by lead organizer Willie Prather, everyone was allowed to speak as long as they wanted with the meeting running well past two hours as parent after parent told of their specific complaints to the new stops instituted this school year. Prior to this year, the school buses in Pickens County essentially ran “door-to-door” service. School faculty say combining bus stops, staggering school start times so that some drivers run two routes will save $120,000 this year, by eliminating some driver positions and buses.

School board chairman Wendy Lowe and vice-chair Byron Long attended the meeting, both addressing the group. Commissioner Rob Jones and Sheriff Donnie Craig were also on hand to hear from the citizens, although neither has any direct involvement in school transportation.


See updates on this story, parent comments and school board response in this week’s print edition.