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General news and features

Solar power is “just plain smart,” says Pickens resident

The benefits of going solar explained

    A shot taken from a video of Todd Smith explaining his solar power set-up at his Jasper home. Follow this link to the Progress' YouTube channel to watch the video.

 By Todd J. Smith
      Two weeks ago I finally flipped the switch on my newly installed 4 KW (4,000 watt) solar system.  It was

Can value be placed on a library? Not for many Pickens countians

library1    In 2013, 83,000 patrons visited the library checking out 96,000 items. The library boasts just over 41,000 books, 16 adult computers and eight children’s computers.   

   David Kiser considers the Pickens County Library his second home. Kiser is in his 70s and, like many local residents, takes advantage of the vast number of services the library offers on a daily basis. The first of which is knowledge.

In-law killer sentenced to life without parole



     After pleading guilty to murdering his in-laws, Ben Thomas Abbott, 35, Ellijay, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.


         On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, Abbott pled guilty in a Pickens County Superior Court to breaking into the Longswamp Church Road home of Cythina and Raymond Campbell and shooting

Georgia’s haves and have-nots getting further apart


By Pam O’Dell
Capitol Reporter
    Last week, right-leaning Kyle Wingfield (who writes a daily column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution) refuted Democrats’ claims about the need to address income inequality. 
    The article entitled:  “Inequality by the Map; Largely Urban, Overwhelmingly Democratic” often references an Atlantic Monthly article authored by Michael Zuckerman.

Water park developers to speak publicly


    Photo/Pickens County Chamber of Commerce
    An artist rendering of the indoor water park and conference center proposed for construction off of Highway 515.


See Previous stories:

Water Park looking at Pickens County (original press release) April 2, 2013

Talking Rock Water Park discussed - April 3, 2013

Editorial: Whether a water park or something else, Pickens economy needs boost - May 1, 2013

Latest on Water Park proposal -- May 15, 2013

Water Park Developers to speak publicly -- May 7, 2014


    After months of negotiations, developers with the Port Royal Hotel, Conference Center and Indoor Water Park are in a position to make a public presentation about the status of the project.
    Developer Damien Barrett will be the featured speaker at the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce’s May

Membership Breakfast. Barrett will be accompanied by others involved in the project who will all, according to Pickens County Economic Development Director Gerry Nechvatal, be available to answer questions during the presentation.
    Speaking at the May Jasper City Council meeting, Nechvatal also said the developers will present artist renderings of the project and will talk about some of the main financiers.
    Nechvatal likened the project to Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, and expects it to have a “strong positive impact” on the community.
    The indoor water park has been cause of much interest since it was made public at the end of 2012. Since that time the project site has been moved from the Highway 136 Connector in Talking Rock to a parcel of land north of Walmart on Highway 515.
    The chamber breakfast is open to the general public and will be held on Tuesday, May 13 from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at Chattahoochee Technical College.
    RSVPs are required. You can contact the chamber at 706-692-5600 or visit them online at

Prepare for the bears
    City animal control office Lonnie Waters said bears are beginning to show up at city homess, and encouraged residents to take necessary precautions.
    Waters recommended putting away all food sources that would lure bears into yards and onto decks, including bird feeders, garbage and table scraps.
    Bears have been spotted on Ridgewood Drive, Navaho Trail and Pioneer Roads, and according to Waters have been seen in the Lumber Company Road and Greystone Road areas in the county’s jurisdiction.

Parks and grass
    Jasper Mayor John Weaver said with spring in town, city crews have been busy keeping grass trimmed around the county.
    “We’re trying to make the city of Jasper look pleasant,” he said.
    Weaver apologized to people who have had bad experiences at certain areas of the city park near Chattahoochee Technical College. Weaver said those areas will get needed attention in the near future. 
    Weaver noted that at next month’s meeting council will set a date for the grand opening of Jasper’s new park, which has entrances off of Lumber Company Road and Gennett Drive.
    Councilmember Allison Brown asked about the new park’s hours. Weaver said there are no official hours at this time, but asked people to use common sense and leave before dark.     Weaver also said city police will patrol the park regularly to discourage inappropriate behavior.
    Hours will be posted in the future.

Other news
from Jasper council:
•According to Jasper’s Chief Finance Officer Lisa Hoyle, sales tax collections are up for the most recent month of collections, having increased from just over $7,000 to $10,000.
•A relieved mayor reported that a long-term water infrastructure upgrade along the Highway 515 corridor is finally complete. Look for a full story on this project in an upcoming edition of the Progress.
•The animal control officer noted that he responded to two separate calls in which children had been bitten by dogs.
•Jasper Police responded to 811 calls for the months of April.
•Jasper Fire responded to 130 calls during the month of April.
•Jasper’s Planning & Development Director Mike Castagna, who has been with the city for 11 years, announced his retirement later this year.