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Trout streams open March 31


More than one million trout will be stocked by the end of this year, thanks to efforts by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In fact, many streams will be stocked by the end of March, just in time for the opening day of seasonal trout stream fishing, Saturday, March 31.

“Our goal is to replenish all of our stocked streams before Opening Day,” says John Lee Thomson, acting trout stocking coordinator for the Wildlife Resources Division. “The mild winter gave us great growing conditions for trout in our hatcheries, and good stream flows this spring will give us the opportunity to spread the fish out. It should be another excellent opening week of the Georgia trout season.”

Some popular seasonal streams include Cooper Creek in Union County, Sarah’s Creek in Rabun County, Dicks Creek in Lumpkin County and Johns Creek in Floyd County. Anglers should note that two popular streams, Boggs Creek in Lumpkin County and Wildcat Creek in Rabun County, will not be accessible to vehicles and will not be stocked with trout for an extended period. Tornado damage clean-up continues in the Boggs Creek watershed, while the Wildcat Creek Road, affected by a winter landslide, will undergo repairs. Trout stocking in these two streams will resume

when the public access roads can be reopened.

Anglers must possess both a current Georgia fishing license and a trout license to fish in designated trout waters and to fish for or possess trout. Licenses can be purchased online and at various local sporting good dealers. The daily limit is eight trout on general regulation trout

waters. Anglers are reminded to respect private property rights along streams flowing through private lands and to obtain permission before fishing on private property.

Where can you get a license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

For those seeking additional county-specific trout fishing information, visit where current Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations, a complete list of stocked streams, a Northeast Georgia fishing guide and the award-winning Trout Streams of Georgia map are available. Printed copies of the regulations and trout stream map are available at all Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Management offices and at some official fishing license dealers.

Synthetic marijuana outlawed by Governor


Gov Deal signs SB 370 with (from left) GBI Director Vernon Keenan, House Speaker David Ralston, Sen. Buddy Carter, Sen. Ronnie Chance, Yvette and David Burnett, Rep. Matt Ramsey and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed legislation that outlaws all forms of synthetic marijuana in the state of Georgia.

“These synthetic substances pose an enormous risk to our public safety,” said Deal. “As the usage has dramatically increased, instances of violence, bodily harm and even death have risen with it. I applaud the GBI and the General Assembly for their fast work on this legislation, which addresses a pressing need.”

First rabid animal case of 2012 reported here

rabies_awarenessOwners urged to have pets vaccinated at upcoming clinics

Environmental Health Officer Jan Stephens has reported the first case this year of a rabid animal in the county. She announced the case Friday, March 16, a case that unfortunately led to the euthanization of a beloved pet.

According to Environmental Health reports, a family who lived in the Parker Road area took in a stray dog about six months ago, and a teenager in the family developed a bond with the dog. The family was unable to locate any owner of the dog. Stephens said the family told her they knew the dog needed rabies shots after they decided to keep it, but they hadn’t gotten around to having the vaccinations done.

Earlier this month, a raccoon wandered onto their property and fought with the dog. The teen-aged owner eventually killed the raccoon but not before the dog was bitten or scratched on its face, according to environmental health reports.

The raccoon was found to be rabid in a test last week by the state lab.

“There were no records [of any rabies shots], and this was a definite exposure––the teeth broke the skin of the dog,” Stephens said. “This is sad; the boy lost his dog and was heartbroken.”

Stephens said it is technically possible to quarantine a pet that has rabies exposure to see if it does develop symptoms, but it is difficult to meet the state’s “kennel within a kennel” requirements, which also limit human contact with the animal.

“Generally domestic animals require euthanizing if they haven’t had shots,” she said. “It is better to euthanize than to let the pet die a slow agonizing death and possibly infect others.”

While the precaution may seem rigorous, the dangers are very serious. Rabies is fatal to humans in almost all cases if it reaches the point where symptoms are felt.

“It is easily treatable when you treat immediately (with preventive shots),” she said. “But it is almost universally fatal if left until the symptoms show.”

Stephens urged all pet owners to have their animals vaccinated by participating in one of several clinics coming up to provide low-cost shots.

“Pets are your best protection,” she said. “But, only if they have had their shots. Unvaccinated pets are time bombs for the danger.”

Stephens said there doesn’t appear to be any increase of rabies cases here, but the cases do present more danger due to the density of the population. More people are in contact with more animals.

There was one recent case where a kitten that had lived around the Starbucks in Canton was later found to be rabid. It remains unknown how many people may have been exposed in that case. A press release on that cat stated, “The public is alerted to call their local environmental health office or medical care provider if they believe they may have been exposed to the kitten, described as being gray-striped with medium-length fur and located at the Starbucks at 1353 Riverstone Parkway in Canton during February 22 through March 1, 2012.”

Last year, Pickens had four confirmed rabid animals. These were one fox, one dog and two raccoons.

Over the years, tests have confirmed rabid animals from all areas of the county. They do occur in town just as often, and this is where the danger of mass exposure to people exists.

Previously it was thought rabies was more prevalent in the fall, but in recent years, cases have appeared at all times. Stephens said she worries that spring and early summer, when more people and their pets are in the woods, could pose a higher risk.

But, she reminds the public, shots are guaranteed protection for pets. “Shots offer 100 percent protection [for animals] after 30 days,” she said.

Stephens said, in the early 1990s, she tested one animal for rabies, and that fox was the first confirmed rabies case in Pickens County in 30 years. The following year, a rabid fox was confirmed in Dawson County, the first confirmed case there in several decades.

Stephens urges all pet owners to take advantage of two upcoming rabies clinics. The shots will be discounted at around $10 to $15 per animal, and drive-thru car treatments are offered.

Wayside Animal Clinic on Cove Road will offer a rabies clinic March 31st in the parking lot of its business neighbor, Community Bank at its Cove Road branch. (See ad on page 6A.)

April 7th, Dr. Ava Talmadge, of Amicalola Veterinary Services, will hold a rabies clinic at Hinton Milling on Highway 53.

“These are such a wonderful service, people need to take advantage of it,” she said.


Heading for a long high summer? Gas prices up again

Georgia, March 26- Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have risen 5.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.78/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has increased 4.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.86/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were 32.2 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 12.3 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 21.9 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 29.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

"The national average has risen twenty one consecutive days, according to our data, a troubling sign. Typically we expect such increases to occur more so in April," said Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "We're 31-cents per gallon ahead of our year ago pace, and I'm seriously contemplating revising my January forecasts upward having seen things race higher, faster than expected. If there's any ounce of good news for motorists, its that such high prices so quickly may mean prices will peak in April rather than May," DeHaan said.


GasBuddy operates and over 250 similar websites that track gasoline prices at over 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. In addition, GasBuddy offers a free smartphone app which has been downloaded over 20 million times to help motorists find gasoline prices in their area.

Georgia’s jobless rate drops to near three-year low, amid continued job growth


ATLANTA – State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced today that Georgia’s February seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined for the seventh consecutive month to 9.1 percent, the lowest rate since March of 2009, when it was also 9.1 percent. That is a decline of one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 9.2 percent in January. The jobless rate was 9.9 percent in February a year ago.

“February’s economic data is encouraging,” Commissioner Butler said. “We created 15,600 jobs, lots of unemployed Georgians went back to work, and fewer people were laid off. After back-to-back quarters of declining unemployment and continued job creation, it looks like Georgia’s businesses are trending toward a comeback.”

The number of jobs in February increased to 3,880,400, with 70 percent of the February growth coming in the private sector. Also, newly revised numbers show the state gained 41,800 jobs in the past 12 months.

The employment sectors showing growth over the year were: professional and business services, 28,000; retail trade, 12,700; education and health care, 8,300; and manufacturing, 4,200.

“Manufacturing has always been a staple of Georgia’s economy and it was hit hard during this recession,” Commissioner Butler said. “Watching employment in the manufacturing field rise is very encouraging. At the same time, growth in professional services shows that business owners are feeling confident about adding new people. I hope to see the numbers get even better as the year moves forward.”

In February, the number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits declined to the lowest number since June 2008. The number of claims dropped to 46,326, down 31,430, or 40.4 percent, from 77,756 in January. Most of the decrease came in manufacturing, administrative and support services, trade, construction, and accommodations and food services. Initial claims were also down over the year, declining by 9,250, or 16.6 percent, from 55,576 in February of last year.

Also, the number of long-term unemployed workers decreased 2,500, to 241,700 from January to February, the fewest number since October 2010.