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Jazz ensemble open Casual Classics series this Tuesday


The David Brothers to perform at New Lebanon Presbyterian Church Tuesday, Sept 18.


By Suzanne Shull

Concert Manager


     Thank you music lovers!

     As the Casual Classes Concert Series opens its 7th season in Jasper I am thinking of how grateful I am for the many people who made this happen.  Listening to live music of any kind is always a great experience, and classical music lovers are especially passionate about the privilege.  This has led to a core group of loyal patrons who have supported the series with donations while New Lebanon Presbyterian Church has provided the perfect acoustic space.  We’ve been able to offer free admission to all concerts and have watched our audiences grow every year. People who have never heard live chamber music before are learning about the medium and becoming new enthusiasts.

     This year we open our season with a piano jazz group, The David Brothers (see our ad in this paper). They are regarded as one of the finest professional jazz ensembles in the southeastern U.S. The concert will be Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 7 at New Lebanon, 389 Bent Tree Drive here in Jasper. This will be followed by three more classical music concerts during the school year.

     For more information visit

Commissioner cuts planned tax increase in half

Find out more: other elected officials comment see story in print or e-edition now on sale

From Commissioner Rob Jones: An open letter to the taxpayers of Pickens County from Robert Jones

   To begin with, I would first like to thank all of the people who have provided thoughts and information to me on the subject of the proposed millage rate increase, both those who attended the three public meetings and those who have approached me outside of those meetings. Although these discussions can be tense and even acrimonious at times, they are an important part of a successful government run by the people.

   I have also had discussions with the individuals that you have elected to serve you in Pickens County. These include Brenda Weaver, your chief superior court judge; Rodney Gibson, probate court judge; David Lindsey, probate court judge-elect; Allen Wigington, magistrate court judge; Donnie Craig, sheriff; Joe Hendricks, district attorney; Alison Sosebee, district attorney-elect; Gail Brown, clerk; Sharon Troglin, tax commissioner; and Kevin Roper, coroner. To a person, they each are dedicated to reducing how they spend your tax money; they are also dedicated to generating more revenue in order to offset the costs of county government.

   Two other people will help me with your budgetary obligations next year. You have already elected one with Becky Denney. She has read this letter and she believes in it. I fully believe that whomever you elect from the west side of our county will hear the same voices that I have heard when he or she makes decisions as to how to spend your money.

The problem we face with this year’s millage rate is two-fold. The first part has to do with the Young Life settlement. As most of you are aware, we are obligated to pay Young Life $400,000 on or before Jan. 15, 2013, as full settlement of claims Young Life had regarding the tax exempt status of its property located in Pickens County. Young Life won this claim (and more) in the Court of Appeals earlier this year. I don’t agree with the Court of Appeals’ ruling, and I venture to guess that the taxpayers who have read this ruling also disagree with it. However, our opinions do not matter, and we must pay the money. This is a one-time payment. The matter needs to be put behind us so we can make sound financial plans for the future.


See comments from other elected officials and more on this in tomorrow's print edition.

County finance officer resigns

Updated: Gilmer County CFO hired as replacement, see story in print or e-edition on sale.


Mechelle Champion, right, at an earlier tax hearing with Commissioner Rob Jones and County Attorney Phil Landrum. Champion resigned on Friday.

Pickens County Finance Officer Mechelle Champion has resigned as of Friday 7.

     According to Commissioner Rob Jones, the CFO put in her resignation due to personal issues.

     “It was a friendly resignation,” Jones said Monday, who noted that Champion will work on and off until Oct. 31.

     “She’s going to work for a while and help with the paperwork to get things caught up,” Jones said. “I’m looking for a new CFO now, and I’ve got a few names I’m pulling from.”

     Champion was not available for comment.

250 Jeeps expected this weekend, spectators encouraged for annual Jeepfest





What do you get when you mix 250 Jeep enthusiasts, one worthy cause and 30 miles of off-road trails?

According to both the county economic developer and Sheriff’s JeepFest organizer Greg Baker, not only do you get a good time, you could get a sizeable boost to the local economy.

“I think this event is great because it supports a good cause and it’s also good for the community because it brings families and it brings money here,” Pickens County Economic Developer Gerry Nechvatal said of this weekend’s Sheriff’s JeepFest Crawl for the Kids, to be held Friday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 16.

JeepFest, a fundraiser for the Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes and the Sheriff’s Foundation of Pickens County, is a major undertaking, with events ranging from Jeep obstacle courses to Jeep crawls, live music, a chili cook-off, a vendor fair, fellowship, a bonfire and more.


Video from Saturday of a stuck jeep being towed.


See slideshow of trial run of obstacle course -- follow Read More link.

Parvo outbreak at county shelter forces destruction of 62 dogs

    animal-shelter-cleaning     Above, an inmate cleans and sterilizes the Pickens County Animal Shelter after 62 dogs were put down following a parvo outbreak.

     County Animal Shelter Manager Brandy Strawn said Friday that she and the rest of the staff of the county facility had been “absolutely devastated” by a parvo outbreak that lead to the euthanization of all 62 dogs at the site the day before.

     Strawn said the decision to destroy all the dogs housed in the county animal shelter did not come easily or without a great deal of consulting with professionals outside the sheriff’s office after nine dogs in the facility were found to be showing signs of parvo – a highly contagious canine disease that can kill within two days of visible symptoms.

     The shelter is under quarantine and undergoing intensive cleaning through Tuesday.

     The outbreak began the week prior when three animals adopted to a rescue group for terriers were found to have parvo by a vet with the rescue group. Strawn said she was surprised by this, as two of the animals had not been processed into the shelter and looked healthy. During the same week, they had dogs die and other dogs showing signs of the disease, which spreads and kills quickly. Dogs may carry the parvo virus for years without it being active but triggers like heat, humidity and stress – such as coming into a shelter can cause it to become active.