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A mean, green, edible gardening machine


ediblejasperFrom age three to  retirement age and everywhere in between, Sustainable Pickens saw its largest group of participants yet at their most recent get-your-hands-dirty project.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 14, over 15 people geared up to play in the dirt as downtown Jasper’s edible gardens underwent expansion.

The edible gardening initiative, called Edible Jasper, is a collaborative effort between several local groups looking to landscape downtown Jasper with edible, medicinal or native plants. Edible Jasper is one of the pilot projects of Sustainable Pickens, which was formed in 2010.

Five things you didn't know about Casual Classics Concert Series


Above, Montana Skies, who will launch this season of the Casual Classics Concert Series in Jasper. Learn more about Montana Skies at

Next Monday, Sept. 26 the Classic Concert Series is kicking off its sixth, and perhaps most powerful season with the unique cello/guitar duo Montana Skies (pictured to the left). 
According to concert manager Suzanne Shull, there is now a growing interest in the series. Shull says an average crowd at the New Lebanon Presbyterian Church on Bent Tree Drive falls between 100 and 150, and the patron-base for the series has widened significantly.


Hiking trails on Burnt Mountain open

Above, members of the Mountain Stewards trail crew at a bridge they constructed in the Burnt Mountain Preserve. The Stewards have recently completed three new hiking trails on the county-owned property.


The public is invited to attend the grand opening celebration for three new hiking trails at the Burnt Mountain Preserve, all recently completed by the Mountain Stewards.

Next Friday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. the county will hold its grand opening celebration at the trailhead kiosk, located on the right side of Hwy 136 East headed toward the Dawson County line. The kiosk is located just before the first overlook.

Abbott pleads not guilty to in-laws’ murder


Ben Thomas Abbott pled not guilty to murdering his wife’s parents in February of this year, during a routine arraignment in Pickens Superior Court last week.

The state has filed notice they intend to seek the death penalty for Abbot, who is charged with murdering Raymond and Cythina Campbell with a shotgun at their home on Long Swamp Church Road. According to the testimony of a GBI agent during a February pre-trial hearing, Abbott confessed to killing his in-laws, hoping to make the slayings look like a robbery, so he could collect on life insurance polices. He told the GBI agent that he, his wife and their four children were going to lose their home.

Last week, the court also addressed the “unified appeal checklist.” This 40-page list of conditions applies to all capital cases in Georgia.

District Attorney Joe Hendricks said the unified appeal checklist is standard procedure to remind both the prosecution and defense of potential issues with capital cases.

Hendricks called the arraignment and first proceeding under the capital procedures to be typical for this type of case.

“It was exactly as you would expect under these circumstances,” he said.

Next, the prosecution will provide its case files to the defense under discovery procedures. Abbott, an Ellijay resident at the time of the slayings, is being represented by Jerry Ward from the Georgia Capital Defender office.

Following discovery, the defense will have 60 days to file motions.  The motions will probably be heard in January.


Chronology of other stories:

 Two Dead in Home Invasion-- February 9, 2011

Son in Law Arrested in Double Murder Wednesday --   February 9, 2011

Son in Law confessed to GBI agent in double murder case, according to first court hearing-- February 11, 2011

Death Penalty Sought for Ben Thomas Abbott -- June, 15, 2011 print edition for full story 

Abbott pleads not guilty to in-laws’ murder September 2011

Abbott shows no remorse -- reprint from Times Courier

Mr. and Miss PHS Court named


Photo/Sarah Alexander - staff reporter for the Dragons' Lair News


Every year, the Pickens High School seniors choose among themselves ten young men and ten young women to represent the school. This year the Mr. and Miss PHS court (l-r) Sam Crawford, Katie Tippens, Mason Mullins, Tiffany Stone, Brooke Smith, Griff Montgomery, Bryce Odom, Aries Johnson, Mindi Mullins, Wesley Easterwood, Levi Wood, Amber Hester, Sawyer Henderson, Emma Fox, Austin Murphy, Megan Dixon, Spencer Jones, Carly Culverhouse, Jake Ledbetter, Jesslyn Chastain. Mr and Miss Pickens High are are Jake Ledbetter and Emma Fox. See complete story on page 12A of this week’s print edition.