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Father maintains crusade for immigration reform after son killed by illegal driver

After 11 years, Billy Inman remains dedicated to his crusade for immigration reform and the capture of an illegal immigrant who collided with the Inmans’ car, killing 16-year-old Dustin and permanently disabling Ms. Inman.

As part of his one-father mission, Mr. Inman came to Jasper Monday to focus attention on the case as part of a swing through North Georgia. Inman said June 16 was the 11th  anniversary of the wreck at an intersection in Ellijay that forever altered his family’s life.

On that fateful day, the Inman family was on their way to Hiwassee for a Father’s Day celebration with other relatives.

The man who ran the red-light and hit them, later identified as Gonzalo Harrell Gonzalez, has never been caught. He was in this country illegally at the time.

In 2006, it was thought that Gonzalez had been apprehended, but it turned out to the man’s brother, also in this country illegally. Inman said the fact that his brother was here illegally is evidence that the driver may still be here.

Inman said with the heightened attention to immigration this year in Georgia as a result of recent legislation, he is optimistic that some of the new checks may turn up the man who drove the car that day.

“I am still hopeful that he will be caught,” said Inman. “I realize that won’t bring my son back. But I want something done to make our system work.”

Inman said he hopes his relentless campaigning over the past decade may have played a small role in bringing immigration reform in this state. Inman said he doesn’t get involved with the lawmakers directly,  prefering to talk to “everyday people” about the problem and the need for them to get involved in politics.

“I don’t blame anyone who wants to come here legally and work,” he said. “But I want to see our laws enforced.”

Inman’s crusade has been joined by others including some who do lobby the legislature. For more about this, see the



Pets line up for Jasper registration day -- owners encouraged to keep the animals coming


SHE'S NUMBER ONE -- This little black and white Shih Tzu known as Precious was the first animal to be registered in the City of Jasper’s new program. Precious’ owner, Jasper resident Joyce Roberts, arrived at city hall for last Saturday’s registration day 30 minutes before the 9 a.m. start time.


Dozens of Pickens County pet owners had their favorite felines and canines in tow last Saturday, when the City of Jasper hosted its first animal registration day.

“This thing has already been a success,” said City of Jasper Animal Control Officer Lonnie Waters, who reported 35 pets were registered from 9 a.m. to noon at city hall, and that 15 appointments have been made for the coming weeks.

“When people are willing to pay $45 for three animals to be registered, you know they care about their pets,” he said.

The city recently passed an updated animal control ordinance that requires pet owners to register their animals, but Waters said the city is only asking that residents participate in the program voluntarily at this time.

“We don’t want to force anyone to do this,” Waters said during registration day. “It’s really for the safety of your pets. I had a guy come through who said it’s like taking out an insurance policy on his animal, and that’s the truth.

“If I pick up your animal and they are registered, I can bring them right back to your door,” he said.

Waters said he has had good response from non-city residents who are interested in registering their animals as well, with people from Gibson Trail, Gordon Road, Bent Tree, Camp Road, West Price Creek and Upper Salem Church Road areas participating in the Saturday event.

“People in the county want to be involved in this too,” Waters said. “And we want people to know that anyone in the county can register their pet, not just people from the city.”

Waters also said registration is not limited to cats and dogs.

“If it’s your pet, we’ll register it,” he said. “I imagine we’ll start seeing all kinds of animals come through.”

Waters said there has been some confusion about the registration program, with some residents mistakenly calling the county animal shelter for information.

“We just want to be clear this is the city and not the county that’s doing this program,” said Waters, who noted that he and Pickens County Animal Control are working closely to help bring pets and owners back together.

Early Monday morning, Waters met with county shelter officials and shared registration information that was gathered Saturday.

“This way if an animal is taken to the shelter this will assist in their identification of that animal,” he said. “We have always worked well with the county, and we want to continue to do that in the future.”

Information about all registered animals, not just those registered Saturday, will be transmitted to the county shelter.

Waters urges pet owners who have not registered their animals to contact him at city hall to set up an appointment.

For dogs or cats, owners are required to show proof of a rabies vaccination for their animal at the time of registration.

You can contact city hall at 706-253-9100 or email Waters at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Commuters on Hwy. 575 may find construction delays

CHEROKEE COUNTY – Work has just begun on a DOT project to reconstruct the I-575/Sixes Road Interchange, located between the cities of Woodstock and Holly Springs near mile marker 11 on I-575 in Cherokee County.  The project includes the construction of a bridge and its approaches on Sixes Road over I-575 and intersection improvements. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2013, at a construction cost of $7,968,602.


To minimize the impact of this construction project on the heavy traffic in the area, work interfering with traffic on I-575 and Sixes Road will occur mostly at night and at non-peak hours during the day.   Single lane closures will only take place on I-575 between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays and between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekends.


“Georgia DOT wants to constrict traffic flow in this area as little as possible, but delays at times are almost unavoidable,” said Kent Sager, district engineer at the DOT office in Cartersville. “We have made every effort to minimize the impact this construction project may have on the heavy traffic on I-575 in Cherokee County. Working at night and on weekends and in phases; scheduling the lane closures after the morning rush hour, and reopening these lanes before the evening rush hour; and informing the public in advance of any traffic interruption are only a few examples of these efforts,” he added.


The bridge under construction over I-575 will allow for two through lanes in each direction, two left turn lanes onto I-575 South, a left turn lane onto I-575 North, a raised median, and sidewalks on each side. The ramps on all quadrants of this diamond interchange will be reconstructed with concrete pavement. The I-575 northbound exit ramp will be widened to a two lane exit, with a total of four lanes at its terminal with Sixes Road, to allow for dual left and right turn lanes. The southbound exit ramp will be a single lane ramp with two lanes at the terminal to allow for turn lanes for each turning movement. The northbound entrance ramp will have one lane and the southbound ramp will have two lanes to allow for the dual lefts from Sixes Road and will continue to its terminal with I-575. The total length of the project is 0.519.


Cool stuff for Summer Solstice Celebration June 21

When last seen, the world’s largest kudzu basket was in scaffolding (during the 1st Annual Jasper ArtFest) - but it will be unveiled in finished form for the upcoming summer solstice celebration.


By Amelia McIntyre, Lisa Schnellinger

PACA members

Come and celebrate summer at the 2nd Annual Summer Solstice Celebration on Tuesday, June 21, in Jasper. Taking place on the longest day of the year, the event is designed to bring arts and cultural groups and individuals together to offer their work to the public.

Summer Solstice is sponsored by the Pickens Arts and Cultural Alliance (PACA) and co-sponsored by Sharptop Arts Association. It is being presented in partnership with Pickens Family Partners, the Mountain Conservation Trust and Educational Excursions. Other local supporters are the Pickens County Board of Education, the Pickens Progress and Smoke Signals newspapers, WIVL Radio Station and local restaurants.

The program is a community workshop funded in part by a project grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. PACA also works in collaboration with the Pickens Chamber of Commerce and its tourism committee to promote economic development through arts and cultural tourism.

The community workshop will consist of a variety of smaller workshop events in downtown Jasper beginning at 1 p.m. on June 21. The individual workshops are designed to showcase local artists at work and engage participants to either observe or roll up their sleeves and get involved.