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For some, fire insurance rates skyrocket


    Fire Chief Bob Howard points to the Tate fire district on a map that outlines the different fire districts in Pickens County. The blue dots represent fire stations. Pickens has two districts with residents that are considered “unprotected” by ISO, the fire preparedness rating agency.

     Some Pickens residents, especially those in the west, may have had to do a double take when they opened their latest home owners’ insurance bill.
    According to Pickens County Fire Chief Bob Howard, that’s because insurance providers are cracking down on rules they’ve already had in place. This action has translated to increased premiums – double, and sometimes triple – for homeowners.
    “I’m getting complaints every day. With all the losses insurance companies have experienced in the last few years, they are getting very strict about their policies,” Howard said.

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Sports columnist weighs in on baseball's first week


Pickens County Progress Sports Columnist Tommy Gartrell

By Tommy Gartrell
    One week into the professional baseball season, we have seen a bit of everything including near Yu Darvish’s “almost perfect” game in Texas, Sandy Koufax’s return to Dodger Stadium and thunder and lightning in Atlanta. Where do the Braves stand? How is the Atlanta-Arizona trade looking thus far?

Waterfest features river race, canoe-a-thon and prizes




More than $4000 in prizes will be up for grabs in the Coosa River Basin Initiative’s WATERFEST XIII Canoe-a-thon, Canoe & Kayak Race and Canoe & Kayak Tug-O-Wars set for May 3-4 at Rome’s Ridge Ferry Park.


Registration is underway for the Race and Tug-O-Wars, and CRBI supporters are already competing against one another in the Canoe-a-thon—a fundraising competition in which participants vie for a host of prizes, including a new canoe from Johnson Outdoors, a $300 gift certificate to Cedar Creek Park, vacation getaways from the Villas at Coosawattee, clothing and products from Patagonia and much more.


CRBI has set a goal of raising $10,000 through the Canoe-a-thon. In 2012, Canoe-a-thon participants raised more than $6,000. More information about the Canoe-a-thon and registration for the Race and Tug-O-Wars is available at or by calling 706-232-2724.


Participants in the 13-mile Blue Sky Outfitter River Race on the Oostanaula set for May 4 can choose to enjoy a leisurely float down the river or paddle hard to record the fastest time and win gift certificates from the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer in Rome and Cartersville. Registration fees are $40 for solo boats and $50 for tandem boats.


“This is a beautiful section of the Oostanaula, and if you don’t have a boat, we’re providing complimentary canoes and kayaks to the first participants to register and reserve boats,” said Joe Cook, CRBI Executive Director & Riverkeeper. 


The Canoe Tug-O-Wars on May 4 pit four-person co-ed teams against one another in CRBI’s mammoth Cedar Creek Park Tug-O-War Pool.  In the adult division, teams will compete for a $200 cash prize. A special division for Boy Scout troops is also planned. Registration fees for adult teams are $80, and $20 for Scout troop teams.


Kayak Tug-O-Wars will kick off WATERFEST XIII Friday May 3 with matches in six youth divisions and two adult divisions. Registration for Kayak Tug-O-Wars is $5 per person and includes a raffle ticket to win a new Old Town Rockport canoe from Blue Sky Outfitter in Rome.


Raffle tickets to win this canoe valued at $575 can also be purchased at Blue Sky Outfitter in Rome and Cartersville, at CRBI and online at The drawing will be held at WATERFEST.


WATERFEST XIII will also include an environmental fair featuring live reptile shows and exhibits by Southeastern Reptile Rescue, educational exhibits, children’s activities, food and the Environmental Quiz Bowl competition for area elementary schools. Admission to the Fair is free.


The event begins with Kayak Tug-O-Wars on May 3 from 5-8 p.m. followed on Saturday, May 4, with the Environmental Fair opening at 10 a.m.


WATERFEST is sponsored by The Ridge 95.7, WLAQ, Blue Sky Outfitter, Cedar Creek Park, Soymet Biodiesel, Pirelli, International Paper, Harbin Clinic, Marglen Industries, Georgia Power, The Villas at Coosawattee, SCANA Energy, Terra Renewal, AMEC, Johnson Outdoors, Mount Vernon Mills, and WSB-TV’s Family 2 Family affiliates.


CRBI is a 501c3 non profit organization and member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. Its mission is to inform and empower citizens to protect, preserve and restore North America’s most biologically diverse river basin.


April is Prevent Child Abuse Month in Pickens


      Commissioner Robert Jones signed the proclamation on April 4 declaring April as Prevent Child Abuse month. Surrounding Mr. Jones were supporters and service providers working on the problem of child abuse in Pickens County.

Gas down about 30 cents from same time last year



Prices still high compared to 21st century historical values







CHICAGO, April 3 -- Consumers in the U.S. saw gasoline prices steam to a record average price in February, but the motor fuel market cooled considerably in March. Contrary to public perception, average first quarter 2013 gas prices averaged below 2012 numbers, GasBuddy reported today. 

In fact, Americans paid about 30cts gal less for gasoline in the most recent Easter Weekend than they paid over the same period in 2012. Gas prices averaged just over $3.64 gal on Good Friday and may dip further in coming days. Consumers paid just over $3.93 gal on Easter Weekend last year. GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan estimates that each penny per gallon translates into about $3.6 million per day in cost differences based on typical demand numbers. Hence, consumers are saving about $108 million each day when current costs are compared to last year.