General news and features
The Pickens school board announced Tuesday afternoon they had hired a superintendent on a six-month contract to replace Dr. Ben Desper who announced his retirement last week.
The board hired Dr. Lula Mae Perry, who served as superintendent of the Jeff Davis County schools from 2000 through 2012. Perry will work on a consulting basis for the month of June while Desper completes his final month and will begin full time in July.
Perry retired in 2012. School board attorney Phil Landrum said she came with an excellent statewide reputation and is familiar with the work of a superintendent in a system the size of Pickens.
Landrum said the board feels she will be effective from day one.
The Woodbridge Inn and Restaurant owner, Hans Rueffert, stands in the lawn of his Jasper business.
Hoping to maintain the legacy of The Woodbridge Inn, which his family has owned and operated for decades, Chef Hans Rueffert has some large-scale plans to transform the historic venue with kitchen upgrades and areas for special events and entertainment.
Below is an interview conducted via e-mail with Superintendent Ben Desper over the weekend. Click here for previous coverage of his retirement announcemet.
Obviously your announcement came quickly and after your contract had been extended. What prompted the change of direction?
I began to think about retirement in October of last year when the state offered a retirement incentive to those state employees who had over thirty years of work experience. The board of education was very generous to make contract changes to provide me an incentive to stay, however, now is really a good time in our family for me to make this change. I am very excited about beginning a new chapter of my life.
The demands and the rewards of this job are great, but your family must always come first. Along with spending more time with my family, I want to have the time and freedom to pursue some interests that I have had to put on the back burner for a few years.
The budget process has been somewhat contentious, but it appeared that you were near the end of it. Did issues that arose during it play any part in your announcement?
For Dr. Desper's answer to this and several other questions regarding the Pickens County School System, see this week's print or online edition.
Steve Burgess, 56, has been charged with possession of methamphetamines and intent to distribute following an investigation Monday afternoon that uncovered explosive materials in the man’s home.
At approximately 11 a.m. on Monday, June, 3 during the execution of a court order at the Talking Rock Highway residence just north of Annie's Restaurant, suspicious items were located that indicated the presence of explosives.
See our print or online edition for the rest of this story, which includes comments from Pickens County Sheriff's Office Leiutenant Kris Stancil.
[UPDATED: The school board held a called meeting Thursday. Following a lengthy executive session, it was announced that their attorney would handle details involved in finding an interim-superintendent who could quickly assume the top position in the system and the board would begin planning a search for a permanent replacement.]
In an e-mail to school board members yesterday, Superintendent Ben Desper announced his retirement, effective at the end of June.
School board chair Wendy Lowe confirmed that the superintendent had announced his retirement in a brief interview Wednesday. She said it did not come as a complete surprise to board members but there were issues that will be discussed in a meeting later this week.
Lowe said the board will need to decide how to proceed but she anticipated they would follow the same procedure as when Desper was hired – to first name an interim and then conduct a search for a replacement.
With the budget not finalized for this year, Lowe said it is important to have someone in the office to keep things moving, but she noted that with an experienced finance director, they shouldn’t have any added difficulties wrapping up the budget process.
See complete story in next week's print edition.