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Courthouse work underway by spring


Work began on grading the new parking lot area for the courthouse approximately two  months ago.  Ultimate plans are for a lighted walkway to lead from the parking area near the Piggly Wiggly up Court Street to the courthouse.


Barring any unforeseen setbacks, county officials expect early stages of construction on the Pickens County Courthouse renovation to begin in spring 2012.

This announcement comes more than three years after the SPLOST passed in February 2008, when voters approved $17 million for courthouse renovations and another $2.7 million for parking and debt service for the courthouse.

According to Pickens County Courthouse Project Manager Thurman Slone, all department heads with the Pickens judicial system have signed off on tentative courthouse plans, or schematics, which were drafted by Bruce Jennings of JKH Architects.

“This is where we lay out the space for the rooms and offices to make certain everyone has adequate space for operations,” Slone said.

Pickens County Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver, District Attorney Joe Hendricks, Chief Magistrate Judge Allen Wigington and Probate Judge Rodney Gibson have all signed off on these tentative plans, Slone said.

Sheriff Donnie Craig said he has met with Slone and Jennings regarding the schematics but that he has not yet signed off. Craig said he requested a copy of drawn plans for his review and that he plans to meet with Slone and Jennings in the next week.

Jasper non-profit selected for Pepsi Refresh contest


Vote and help Educational Excursions get $10,000

Vered Kleinberger, director of Jasper-based Educational Excursions, recently received word that her non-profit could win $10,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project --- but she needs help from you.

“I really love the concept of Pepsi Refresh because it’s the community supported projects that get funded,” she said. “They are chosen based on votes from the community rather than being chosen by a board of directors.”

To mark 9/11 anniversary, Jasper business owner and son prepare for Atlanta to New York bike ride


Freedom riding father and son. Jon Hudgens and his son, Ian, plan to join a group composed mostly of firefighters riding to New York on bikes to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.


A Jasper business owner and his son have the distinction of being the oldest and youngest participants in the Freedom Ride – a 1,035 mile bicycle ride leaving Atlanta August 26 and rolling into New York in time to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks.

Jon Hudgens and his son Ian are both signed on as riders in the crew that began planning with just a simple idea of two firefighters making the ride with little accompanying fanfare to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks which destroyed theTwin Towers.

The simple idea hatched by Mike Palmeri, owner of Cartecay Bike Shop in Ellijay, and a fellow Atlanta firefighter has since taken off .

“It’s something that has gained a life of its own,” said Hudgens, who owns the Art of Hair on Cove Road.

The elaborate multi-day event has around 20 participants, including other riders (mostly fire fighters), plus an array of support personnel and sponsors.

Hudgens, at 62 is the oldest, said he had been “somewhat talked into it” by a fellow biker – the coercer has since dropped out. But once on board, Hudgens got excited by the challenge and the trip. Hudgens noted he hadn’t had a real vacation in a decade and why not take off and spend more than a week on two-wheels heading to New York. His son, Ian, the youngest rider at 22, got excited hearing his dad planning for it and even though Ian wasn’t a road cyclist decided he would join in.

120 turn out for community prayer

More than 120 people turned out for a community prayer Saturday at Pickens High stadium. The Rev. Ron Rucker, who opened the ceremony, said it was a non-political event to pray for the "crisis affecting this country."

Following remarks by several preachers and public officials, those in attendance broke into small groups to pray individual prayers. See a complete report from Rev. Diane Hale, one of the organizers in this week's print edition.

Gas prices fall slightly

Georgia, August 1- Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have fallen 1.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.71/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has increased 1.1 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.70/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were $1.12/g higher than the same day one year ago and are 26.5 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 13.2 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 95.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.


GasBuddy operates,, and over 225 other local gasoline price-tracking websites that follow prices at over 125,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. GasBuddy also uses Facebook ( Twitter (, and phone apps to keep motorists ahead of changing gasoline prices. was named one of Time magazine's 50 best websites and to PC World's 100 most useful websites of 2008.