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Mayberry and proud of it, Nelson residents tell mayor

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"If we are Mayberry as you say we are, then we're proud of it," said Nelson resident Melba Roper during time reserved for public appearances at Nelson's council meeting Monday night.

Roper was addressing Mayor David Leister regarding an article he published in the May 26 edition of this newspaper. Leister's article depicted Nelson's police chief spending time visiting residents on porches instead of issuing citations or making arrests. This activity met expectations of the city council, Leister wrote, as "they wanted a police officer that would stop and sit on porches, as in the fictional town of Mayberry."

Longtime Nelson resident Frances Carney spoke to the mayor concerning the same issue. She had not wanted to speak publicly, Carney insisted. A neighbor was going to speak her sentiments at the meeting, Carney said, but could not due to illness.

"We didn't like this, mayor," Carney said of the newspaper article. "Don't do this again. Don't trash our town. Just don't ever do it again. You put in here about Mayberry. We're Mayberry, and we want to stay that way," she said. "And we let you be mayor. We want you to act like one."

Carney particularly objected to Leister's indication that in recent days Nelson Police Chief Heath Mitchell has not effectively covered his Nelson beat.

Read the rest of the story in our print edition, now on sale.

 


Jasper pet registration encouraged, not mandatory, says city

By Angela Reinhardt, staff writer

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While City of Jasper officials are now saying they will not force pet owners to license their animal, they say it is in residents’ best interest to participate and they strongly encourage attendance by residents at registration day this Saturday, June 11.

“While council passed it as an ordinance that people have to have pets licensed, we are only asking that residents do it on a voluntary basis at this time,” said City of Jasper Animal Control Officer Lonnie Waters. “Due to the economy, we want to work with the people of Jasper and not have them feel forced into doing something.”

Waters says the city is not implementing the program to generate revenue but rather to help pet owners and protect their animals.

Hats off to Mad Campers

Last Friday, the Creative and Performing Arts Academy presented its 40 young campers to their family and friends in a Mad Hatter's Camp Celebration performance of scenes from the musical Alice, based on Alice in Wonderland.  

 With five different Alices, two white rabbits, and four Tweedles plus many more characters, this fun display was a great chance for more young actors to perform on stage. See more about this group in this week's print edition.

School board hires personnel for key posts

The Pickens County School Board filled three top positions at a called meeting Thursday, hiring a PHS graduate from 1978 as the principal for his alma mater.

 Eddie McDonald was hired as the high school principal; Dr. Lisa Galloway was hired as the personnel director and Dr. Lonnie Trahan Dikowski was hired as a full-time special education director for the system.

See complete story with comments from administrators, board members and McDonald in this week's print edition.

 

Eddie McDonald stands in front of the class of 1978 photo on the wall at PHS. He is the first graduate to return as principal in the modern era.


Is zero dropouts possible at PHS?

When she took over as the attendance officer 16 years ago, Shelley Cantrell never thought she would one day be asked if it were possible to bring dropout levels down to zero in the Pickens school system.

But after wrapping up the past academic year with a mere 14 dropouts from a student population of 4,345, it will be hard to make much further progress without eliminating the problem completely.

“Problems are opportunities. I always try to set the goal high,” Cantrell said. “Zero dropouts is possible. Last year we had a couple of months with no dropouts, and that was something I never thought I would see when I started this 16 years ago.”

But zero dropouts, while possible, won’t come easily, as at least two of the 14 who quit school last year didn’t have much choice. One was expelled and one incarcerated, according to the reasons listed on the statistics provided each month to the school board by Cantrell.

Considering that the high drop out rate in Pickens County  schools was a regular subject of jokes less than a decade ago, having the number whittled down to 14 last year is remarkable.

Last year’s total 14 more than cut in half the 37 who elected to leave school in the previous (2009-2010) academic year. Each of the past five years, the schools have seen more students follow the motto, “School’s in, don’t be out” with drop out numbers dropping in solid steps from a record number of 84 in the 2005-2006 year down to the 14 of last year.

 

READ MORE ABOUT THE DECLINE IN DROPOUTS IN OUR PRINT EDITION NOW ON SALE