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General news and features

Black Dog Syndrome rampant at shelters


Getting out to stretch his legs, Pickens Animal Shelter dog George has a blast as Eddie and Kelli consider him as an adoptee. Shelter director Cindy Wilson (left) says good photos are usually all it takes to bring black dogs into the limelight.

     When you see a big black dog do you avoid eye contact, turn and swiftly walk the other way? Do you find yourself rolling up your windows and locking the doors? Do thoughts of a black dog conjure up images of the red-eyed hounds of Hell?
    These examples may be extreme, but according to Pickens County Animal Shelter Director Cindy Wilson black dogs unfairly get the shaft at adoption facilities, and she wants to raise awareness about the animals she says get “looked right over.”
     “It’s amazing,” Wilson said. “People come in here and it’s like they don’t even see them. People just don’t want a black dog. That’s the one animal that gets put down more than any other in shelters.”

To learn more about Black Dog Syndrome check out our print or online editions.

Tractor Supply Company coming to old Blue Star


The vacant building on E. Church Street in Jasper that will be soon be home to Tractor Supply Company.

    According to the City of Jasper’s Planning and Development Director Michael Castagna, the agricultural and livestock supply store Tractor Supply Company will move into the old Blue Star building on E. Church Street.

New Bent Tree board member discusses CIA career

             Manget served as Deputy General Counsel for the CIA  when terrorism changed everything
By Hank Hollensbe
Progress Contributor

    Fred F. Manget, one of the new 2014-16 members of the Board of Directors at Bent Tree, agreed to meet me for lunch.  He was to provide me with information - information beyond that already available on the web -that would allow me to describe him and his career for readers of the Pickens County Progress.  Fred’s career?  Twenty-six years with the Central Intelligence Agency, retiring as Deputy General Counsel.

More flooding reported, roads closed



Updated at 11 a.m.  Wednesday -- most roads in Pickens County now open. Gennett still closed to thru traffic, Mineral Springs closed and Eagle Perch area near Yellow Creek still has roads closed. Road crews in Eagle Perch area. All emergency crews return to standby status.



 Emergency crews work to remove a trapped resident from Wigington Lane.

The rescue was completed successfully this morning. 

     Fire Chief Bob Howard said this morning the same areas that saw flash floods last week are getting hit again by heavy rains with Burnt Mountain Road closed or narrowed to one lane is several spots due to down trees and more mudslides. A rescue requiring a raft was completed with no injuries at a Wigington Lane residence.

      Flooding in the roadways was reported at Old Philadelphia and Talking Rock Highway intersection; and the Highway 136 junction with Jones Mountain.

The city of Jasper saw many streets flooded and Gennett Drive collapse, similar to Tamarack Drive in Bent Tree last week. Mineral Springs is also closed.

    In Talking Rock, Talona Creek is up 7- 10 feet over normal flow. Sheriff officers have asked for a voluntarily evacuation of campers at Talona Creek Campground. The bridge over Talona Creek on Whitestone Road is closed.

Updating an earlier story, Cove Road is open with no problems reported.


Gennett Drive in Jasper gave way completely this morning in heavy rains, also taking out a water line.  In Photo, Mayor John Weaver in red discusses options with Charlotte Fortner from the city's public works department. They are separated by a deep chasm.




Feds ignore insurance commissioner’s request to delay ACA implementation


By Pam O’Dell

Capitol Reporter

As of last Friday, Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, had not received a reply from Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Hudgens had penned a very public letter to the Secretary, requesting a 30-day extension for Georgia’s approval of seven company insurers competing to provide health insurance coverage within the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) healthcare exchange program. The letter made reference to “massive rate increases” and requested that Department “show cause” as to why the increases were not justified in light of the ACA. See original Statement from Commissioner Hudgens.

Hudgens’ letter was dated July 29 (one day before the Commissioner’s deadline to submit his findings to HHS). He requested that a response be delivered on July 30. 

According to the letter, of the seven actuaries hired to evaluate the participant insurers’ submissions, six had deemed the submissions as “justifiable” within the ACA. One actuary reported that one of the submissions was 11 percent above the justifiable range. 

The commissioner cited one instance in which a non-smoking male, aged 24 years, would likely experience an increase in his insurance premium from between 85-198 percent. 

Bill Custer, director of The Center for Health Services Research within Georgia State University, believes this estimate is in anomaly. Custer notes that some premiums will rise for certain individuals (most notably for males and young people) in order to spread risk amongst patient population segments. 

“The law requires that insurance companies bring in sick people, and bringing in sick people increases risk and costs. However, I don’t expect an increase of more than 20 percent in any one class of insured people [in the exchange].”

Custer notes that provisions within the law limit large rate disparities between customer classes. A 3:1 ratio cannot be exceeded (meaning a rate for one class cannot exceed three times the cost of any other rate class).