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PHS STAR students and teachers profiled


Submitted by Reeder Burch,

Optimist member

The Optimist Club of Jasper will host the annual “STAR” Banquet on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. The banquet will be held at 7 p.m. at Chattahoochee Technical College, 100 Campus Drive, Jasper, Ga. Anyone interested in attending the banquet should contact Reservation Coordinator Rodney Buckingham by e-mailing him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Banquet tickets are $22 per person and the dinner will be catered by the Woodbridge Inn.

Former Pickens High School STAR Student, Dr. John Chastain, will be the guest speaker for the banquet. Chastain, a 1994 graduate of PHS, was the STAR Student of his class and chose his mother, Kaye Chastain as his STAR Teacher. Chastain is a physician in Atlanta.

This year the Optimists will recognize the PHS STAR Student and Teacher along with Nine STAR Finalists. Each student and teacher was given a questionnaire and below you will find responses from each of this year’s STARS.

The STAR Student for this year is Michael Land and the STAR Teacher is Mrs. Gail Culbreth.

The Star finalists who are all profiled in this week's print edition Pages 10A-11A are:

Jessica Bell - Susan Anderson

Jessica Bradley - Martha Kinney

Lauren Fann - Danny McCormick

Taylor Goble - Lynn Cantrell

Sara Rooker - Shea Byers

Emily Talley - Kevin Jacobs

Alberto Torres - Patrick Gallagher

Jamie Waterman - Carissa Parker

Carly Wood - Mary Land

All-Stars named for Rec. Dept. Basketball


By Casey Parker

The regular basketball season may be over, but look out for the All-Stars from the Pickens Rec. Dept.

Rec. Dept. Director Melinda Logan said, "The season went great, with the exception of all the snow causing cancellations.”

Games for the All-Star teams start next Thursday Feb. 17, lasting until Saturday Feb. 19.

Son-in-law confessed to GBI agent in double murder case, according to testimony at Friday hearing



During a pre-trial hearing Friday, Feb. 11, a GBI agent described how Ben Thomas Abbott confessed to the killing of his in-laws the previous Wednesday, hoping to collect on their life insurance policies and keep his family from losing their home.

During the emotional hearing, Abbott’s wife described the night her parents were killed as her husband, shackled and dressed in orange prison fatigues, sat at the defense table with his chin tucked tightly to his chest, not making eye contact with anyone during the hour-long hearing in the county’s main courtroom.

The hearing, which saw onlookers sobbing and leaving the courtroom, was held in front of Magistrate Judge Allen Wigington to determine if there was adequate evidence for the case to be bound over to superior court, which it was judged to be. The next step will be for the case to be presented to a grand jury.

During the course of the hearing, District Attorney Joe Hendricks only called two witnesses: GBI Special Agent Dustin Hamby and the accused’s wife, Trinity Abbott. Through their testimony, the state built a detailed view of events before and after the killings of Raymond and Cythina Campbell at their home on Long Swamp Church Road on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

School board hires firm to assist with search for new superintendent; Hopes to make offer to someone by spring break


The school board has a hired an outside company to “assist” with their search for a new superintendent of Pickens County schools, following a called meeting last week.

School Board chairperson Wendy Lowe announced at the close of their regular meeting Thursday that they would use King and Cooper, a company that has worked on 27 superintendent searches in Georgia, to help find a replacement for Mike Ballew, who retired at the end of last year.

The board decided to use the outside company to help notify other school systems in Georgia and surrounding states of the vacancy as well as complete background checks of potential candidates at the called meeting. 

Board Member John Trammell made clear at the regular meeting that the board is using this firm to "assist" not lead in the hiring process.

Lowe discussed how King and Cooper will be used in a followup interview. The board has also prepared a document "Superintendent of Schools Job Qualifications."

See a complete story on the superintendent search in tomorrow's print edition.

Volunteers needed to open VA office




 Pickens County veterans at a Memorial Day observance in 2008

"We are going to open," said Kirk Kondos, the man leading the effort to establish a VA-assisted veterans information and referral office for Pickens County. The idea of locating such an office here has been projected since last August when VA representative Ron Hackney visited Jasper to inform local veterans and interested others of the possibility.

A veterans information and referral office (a VIRO) is a county-based office manned by volunteers with the mission of advising United States military veterans on where and how to apply for benefits through the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.


There is a VA hospital on Clairmont Road in Decatur and a VA office at the same location that assists veterans in applying for all types of veterans' benefits, Hackney explained in August, but a VIRO in Pickens County could connect local veterans to information on VA services they seek while saving them the drive to metro Atlanta.