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Tax hike too much, citizens tell commissioner



At the first two of three public hearings held on a county tax increase, around 50 citizens told Commissioner Rob Jones last week they want to see the county cut spending instead of raising taxes.

Business and property owner Ralph Fitts was among those commenting both Thursday and Friday at hearings. Fitts said during the Friday hearing, “People in business and people paying taxes are suffering and have tried to cut back,” he said. “But I don’t think anyone in government realizes the extent we businesses have cut back and what we have done.

“Government has grown to an entity that it’s not cutting back at the same speed we are in business. What you are doing in government is not comparable to what we are doing in homes and businesses.”

With many of the same faces showing up to comment on the proposed 9 percent tax increase for Pickens County at the two meetings, Commissioner Rob Jones reiterated earlier statements that he had no choice but to raise the millage rate this year. Jones said the recent court ruling against the county over the tax exempt status of the Young Life camp cost $400,000, and also that declining property values played a part in forcing him to raise the millage rate by .64 mills to a total county millage of 6.9.

Jones pointed out that the county has not raised taxes in several years.

Stop sign, lower speed limit sought by Mt. Zion


The Rev. Ben Mock alongside North Main Street in front of Mt. Zion Church. Members of the church are seeking a stop sign and lower speed limit along the route.



   Members of Mt. Zion Baptist Church on North Main Street are seeking measures to slow traffic along that route, following a fatal crash in front of their church last month.

   The 400 member church has created a petition asking for a lower speed limit on the stretch of road from downtown Jasper to the intersection with Philadelphia Road. They are also requesting a stop sign at the intersection of Old Philadelphia Road and North Main.

    The July 2 wreck that killed Kimberley Godfrey of Talking Rock did not involve church members, but is the latest of several serious wrecks in that section of road. The Rev.    Ben Mock said it is difficult to get information on the total number of wrecks there, but he found seven listed on a 911 report, and church members remember others that involved serious injuries.

    One of the other wrecks left a victim with permanent brain damage; another involved the nephew of a church member.

“The primary culprit is speed,” Mock said. “People coming out of Jasper come around that curve [where Old Philadelphia Road intersects] and they start picking up speed.”

Bluegrass musicians, sign up to win $1,000 or $250

Georgia State Bluegrass Championship coming in October


     If you’ve played Foggy Mountain Breakdown so many times you could pick it blindfolded, you may want to consider entering the 1st annual Georgia State Bluegrass Championship, the newest edition to the Georgia Marble Festival.

     The bluegrass championship will be held all day on October 6 at Lee Newton Park and will feature contests in fiddle, mandolin, banjo, flat-pickin’ guitar and bluegrass band.

     Winners of the individual categories take home $250 each. Winner of the band competition takes home $1,000.

     “We want this to be the premiere music event in the area,” said organizer Ernie McArthur. “This is our first year, but eventually we want to attract the best musicians in the state and region.”

     McArthur and other event organizers encourage musicians to sign up sooner than later, as space is limited and musicians are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

     Contests begin at 10 a.m. and go through 6 p.m. The iconic Lonesome River Band will cap of the evening with a performance at the main stage beginning at 8 p.m.

     For rules and entry forms visit You can also call the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce at 706-692-5600 for more information.

Jasper “Duck Pond” work ahead of schedule



Updated: Mayor John Weaver announced Monday that work at the popular walking/picnic area is going faster than expected. Portions of the park could open next week.

See complete story in this week's print edition.

     In a sudden move, Jasper City Hall announced Thursday that the portion of the Jasper City Park containing the duck pond and walking trail would be closed for urgent repairs beginning later today (Friday, Aug. 25).

     The repairs could take a month, according to a statement sent from city hall. The sports fields adjacent to the duck pond in the park will not be closed.

Jasper Mayor John Weaver said he went by the park earlier Thursday and started looking at everything that was broken, rotten, overgrown or just trampled following a summer of heavy use and realized they needed to take action immediately.

   Heavy equipment will be needed around the walking paths and there is no way the work can be handled with people coming through he said.

Weaver noted that of prime concern are spindles holding up the handrails around the pond that are rotten and a safety concern.

The park, which includes a walking path, tennis courts, two playground areas and picnic areas sees heavy summer use all day, walkers using the mostly level paved path, while the picnic tables with nearby grills get regular weekend gatherings. The park also contains the best playgrounds in the county.

Weaver said the park is really pushed beyond its capacity with the number of users. He said when he started developing a work list he kept finding items that were in urgent need of attention, which prompted the immediate closing.

There are overgrown trees, the rotten spindles, the lake is leaking through a drain, we are going to need some heavy equipment to do the work “and I won’t even tell you about the sand in the playground.”

Pickens man develops iPhone App

    iHelp+      “In a matter of seconds, your life could be changed forever. Will your iPhone be there for you when you need it?”

     That’s a portion of the official description of a new iPhone app called iHelp+ (or iHelp Plus), which was developed by former Pickens County school board member Shane Neighbors and his business partner.

     “My partner told me he read an article that said the fastest segment of smartphone users were people 50 plus, “ Neighbors said. “So we thought we should do something for the iPhone.”

     The iPhone app is designed to alert a family member or monitoring company if you do not arrive at a destination due to an unforeseen accident. When triggered, the app provides a GPS location and a phone number for the closest 911 call center. iHelp+ also stores personal medical information, which is shared with first responders in the event of an emergency.