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Staff Editorials

Snowpocalypse jam on the roads shows need for transportation alternatives

    The late novelist David Foster Wallace told a story during a speech once about two fish swimming along when an older fish made a comment about the water that day. The younger fish scoffed, what’s he talking about?
    The point being the most common things are the ones you rarely notice. Take for example the automobile. You certainly notice when a ridiculously expensive foreign sports car goes by at 100 mph, but as a whole, cars have become to north Georgia like water to the fish. The use of automobiles for transportation is so ingrained that 99 percent of the time you never think about them and you certainly don’t consider alternatives.
    That is until something like an ice event barrels through the area mid-morning with some (but not a lot of) warning. In that case, if you were trying to get home from anywhere further south than Tate, you had plenty of time to consider the automobile both as a form of transportation and a punishment from the seventh level of Hell.
    The case can be made on both the recent snow/ice events that what shut us down so completely was partly the roads and weather, but part of the blame also goes to cars.
    In the late January snowpocalypse: no one could get anywhere in their car because there were too many other people who also couldn’t go anywhere in their cars. In fact at its simplest, the problem resulted from too many cars on roads that were no longer functioning and no other means to get anywhere.
    We blamed the ice and snow for leaving us stuck at home, but it was really the fact that in Georgia we haven’t created any options other than driving.
    The lack of any alternatives for getting out of the Atlanta area stuck out clearly in our snow event, especially when compared to other eastern cities. It’s not that everyone in Chicago, Boston and New York knows how to drive in the snow or that their cities have some magic concoction to dump on the roads, in those places not everyone has to get from point A to point B by car. When roads are less than ideal, you have choices.
    In Atlanta, the ninth largest metropolitan area in America, we continue to rely almost exclusively only on one form of transportation to serve an area of  5,457,831, particularly as this relates from getting from northern suburbs to the area inside the perimeter.
    What is scary to ponder is if you look how a relatively benign occurrence, like snow and ice, jammed all the roads, imagine the chaos that would happen if a real emergency (big fire, terrorist threat/attack, tornadoes) struck the metro area and damaged key roads. Based on what we saw with the snow and ice, try to imagine if a portion of I-75 north between the I-285 and I-575 junctions was suddenly left impassable. People might not get home for a week.
    Even though buses may not go much better than cars in the snow, they are infinitely better at moving a lot of people without jamming up roads. And subways and trains run well in all weather.
    Rather than jumping on the governor, mayor and state leaders for not keeping a better eye on the weather, Georgians should be taking them to task for continuing our thorough dependence on the auto in this state.   

Editorial -- Swimming lessons, common sense saves lives at pools and lakes

Over the weekend, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a Bibb County firefighter-in-training drowned while trying to aid three children who appeared to be having trouble swimming.

Two of the children, ages five and seven, were sons of Michael Jones, the drowned man. The third was an 8-year-old girl. All the children were hauled to shore in good shape. As of Monday morning, it was unknown why Jones, presumably a healthy 24-year-old with some experience in dramatic situations due to his training, went under in Lake Tobesofkee and never re-surfaced.

Jones was credited as doing what any good parent or fireman would do. It is a tragic story and, unfortunately, not uncommon.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with an average of ten people drowning every day. Latest figures from the CDC website show that in 2007, some 3,443 people lost their lives in drowning accidents with another 496 drowned in boat-related accidents (there are two different categories).

Facts behind the statistics are more unsettling. Most who drown are children, with (for whatever reason), 80 percent of drowning victims being male.

“A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under,” according to the?Orange County California Fire Authority.

Editorials

 

 

 

Recent editorials written by the Progress staff

A new and simpler Christmas Beyond the tension – Have a Christmas with Joy - Merry Christmas from the Progress!

Tate Depot project  - The Tate Depot project has devolved into a half-funded, half thought-out plan and possible waste of $1.2 million in DOT funding. 

 

Have confidence that recycling works - Following public criticism, we want readers to know single stream recycling is for real.

Things we're thankful for - Our little town gives us so many reasons to be thankful.

Kill Hitler or change something about yourself - If you could travel back in time what would you do?

Coat drive donations making a difference - Blankets donated in Pickens County were given away two weeks ago by Holy Spirit Ranch volunteers in an Atlanta park.

Americans take too many drugs - Red Ribbon Week just ended, but beyond the illegal drugs the Red Ribbon campaign fights to keep at bay, America is a long ways from being "drug-free." We're a country addicted to medicine.  

The changing relationship of kids and bikes - Kids don't use bikes as transportation like they used to - but more sidewalks in town could change that.

Choco-lypse and the lure of the office candy bag - The office candy bag -- every Tuesday afternoon as we are proofing page after page of type and staring down yet another weekly deadline -- it calls our names.

 

Open government means open discussion - When parents or 

property owners attend meetings, they are carrying on a noble tradition and should be given a chance to be heard.

 

Pickens County needs to re-align financial timeline - There is good reason to be perplexed about county spending and we don't think the practical explanation accounts for the recent 6.55 percent increase.

Ebola outbreak and U.S. national security - Whether through the virus itself spreading to our shores  or by the collapse of established nations that allow terrorist groups a new stronghold, the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is on our national security radar screens -- and for a good reason.
Something must be done to stop constant Cove Road wrecks - From a traffic point of view, it’s sheer lunacy that such a steep and narrow road serves as one of two major east-west traffic arteries for Pickens County.

Little town, big event - We're proud of the way our little town pulled together to make JeepFest 2014 go off without a hitch.

Be informed to know rhetoric versus reality - Progress editor Dan Pool talks about the importance of digging below the rhetoric of news.

Rush to censorship online not in our best interests - In a democracy, just who does get to decide what is free speech and who gets to censor it in the public domain?
Drivers Education would be money well spent - Nixing the Drivers Ed program in schools was a mistake.

Botched executions are inexcusable - How hard is it for a modern country to kill someone? This is not a rhetorical question, but a practical challenge.

I paid $9.99 for a virtual Fruit Ninja - Companies like Amazon and Apple are being sued over unauthorized in-app purchases by children. One Progress staffer tells her own story. 

Public probation needs strict state oversight - It was estiamated that private probation generated $40 million in revenue in the past year in Georgia.

Are we our cells? - The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling highlights how our cell phones have come to define us as people.

Kids, pets left in locked cars: A deadly summer mistake - Children and pets should never be left alone in cars, regardless of whether it’s a sunny or cloudy day.
With latest Middle East crisis, it’s time to cut ties in region - With all the
American military lives, time and money already
expended in Iraq, we can’t see getting involved again there.

At airport tech park, failing to plan is planning to fail - Head-in-the-sand governance has left the airport project a decade down the road and nowhere close to reaching a break even point.

How to avoid the "summer slide" - The Pickens County Library's summer reading program is a great way for kids to keep their skills sharp.

Words to graduates - With graduation approaching this weekend, we've pulled some quotes from some of the best graduation speeches of our time.

Port Royal Water Park talk of the town - Here's what we've been hearing about the waterpark resort proposed for Jasper.

Vote yes on SPLOST even with misgivings - A yes vote on the sales tax will give the county some substantial dollars to remedy potholes, cracked pavement and dirt roads.

Pull an Anna Jarvis this Mother's Day - The founder of Mother's Day denounced it later for being too commercial. We see her point.

When did kids get so busy? - Parents need to keep kids activities and free time in balance.

How much rock and roll is noise pollution? - Three times now the planning commission has denied requests for venue permits becuse of the county's lack of ordinances that would provide control of noise, traffic and crowds.

In praise of KPB’s environmental efficiency - We appreciate efforts of this local group who keep our corner of the world clean.

Happy Tax Day - We hate it, but every year we suck it up and pay.

Bracket Busted - Progress editor Dan Pool laments his failed Final Four bracket picks.

Common Core is common sense - National standards allow us to compare apples to apples, and Common Core allows us to do just that.

Adults should play on Team Parent - We think modern day parenting falls short on dicipline.

Does Pickens want art? - While maintaining a thriving art community here is a challenge, we think it's worth it.

Students need make up days - A week-and-a-half of missed school will negatively impact student education.

Snowpocalypse jam on the roads shows need for transportation alternatives - We blamed the ice and snow for leaving us stuck at home, but it was really the fact that in Georgia we haven’t created any options other than driving.

Winter Olympics - We may not understand them, but we can enjoy the ride
Have politics really gone this low - Sending out "trackers" to video political opponents and exploit misspeech is going too far.

No, we don't know how to handle the cold - Southerns and cold is like oil and water --- they just don't mix.

News at the speed of light - The Progress editor talks about how technology has changed the way we cover news.

The Odyssey for flu shots, and what it says about healthcare - The Progress editor on the diffuculty of getting flu shots for his family.

Charles Schultz's sad little Christmas tree - Charles Schultz got it right when he said, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”

 

Raising the minimum wage small step in the right direction - Over the dollar amount of minimum wage, A better question to ask is why so many  adults are stuck in minimum wage positions?

Sidestep last-minute holiday madness: Shop local - There are plenty of places to do your Christmas shopping right here in Pickens.

Bundle up and go this winter - Don't spend your entire winter cooped up - get outside and get some exercise.

The ABCs of Thanksgiving - We can think of ways we're thankful for every letter of the alphabet.

Long-term solitary confinement: inhumane and ineffective - We agree that crimes should have appropriate consequenses, but mental torture isn't it.

Progress' readers' coat donations leave woman in tears - We love this community because Pikens is full of givers.

Why the Savannah Port project is important to North Georgia - Sometimes government gets it right, and in the case of the near billion dollar project in Savannah they do just that.

Energy drinks and soda aren't "nutrition assistance" - We support the food stamp program, but it needs a major overhaul.

Government shutdown is a hijacking of America - It is enraging that petulant government leaders in Washington have led us to a point where our natural attractions are locked

Cheering for the home team has surprising benefits - Emotional benefits abound when we identify with a local team and build connections to those around us.
Even online, think before you share - Anyone with a keyboard or cell phone can say whatever they think without facing any scrutiny in the real world.
“I Forgot My Phone” - 91 percent of American adults own a cell phone and apparently use them all
the time. Are we addicted?
No way new courthouse doesn’t meet needs -- just look at it - Courthouse department heads say there is no room for future growth at courthouse? You've got to be kidding.

 On JeepFest, county airport and City of Jasper civil suit - Events/festival/tourism can produce a lot of economic bang without the long-term infrastructure commitments required for commercial development.
 U.S. should stay on sidelines in Syrian civil war - We need to learn from history and keep our hands out of Syria.

 Abductions, school shootings and other things that probably won’t happen - Has parenting gotten too paranoid?

FDA caution a benefit to health despite critics who bemoan delays - We need the
caution of the organization and approvals for new drugs in the U.S. come faster than in Europe or Canada.

Every dog should have its day - The county shelter and Pickens Animal rescue offer great animals.

 

 Has Happiness Left the South? - If a recent study of geotagged  internet postings (tweets) is true, the Duck Dynasty gang from A&E’s reality television show may be among the few who are happy in their state of Louisiana.

 

"Learning" - it's not just for the schoolhouse - This school year remember, a child’s education happens everywhere

 

Comments from Main Street - A story two weeks ago on vacant buildings in downtown Jasper prompted a barrage of comments both online and at our Main Street office.

 

A night at the symphony must be benefical - The Progress editor reflects on his night at the symphony.

 

Golfing while Egypt revolts may be best policy for Mid-East - It was nice to see America sit back and say, “we don’t have a dog in this fight” when revolution sparked in Egypt.

 

Freedom and pickup trucks - Peoples’ desire for freedom lies at the heart of America’s Independence Day.

 

Paula Deen's southern fried mess - Certain racial terms now bring a firestorm of negative attention when the same phrases were regularly used in decades past with no consequences.

 

Use SPLOST money to spruce up Hwy 515 - We agree that roads are a top priority for the 2014 SPLOST, but we think a gateway beautification project for Hwy 515 would go a long way to improve tourism and provide a boost for our local businesses. 

 

Views on healthcare while wearing an $800 knee brace - Editor Dan Pool came to some conclusions about healthcare after a knee injury put him in crutches. 

 

Teens always moving ahead with social media - Today, Facetime, texting, and online photos are the way teens prefer to keep in touch. And there are some seriously cool tools to help them.

 Latest scandal shows what we  already knew: IRS is one big mess - IRS worker testimony revealed not so much partisan leanings as a massive dysfunctional bureaucracy run amok.

 

400 ppm is just a number but we need to pay attention to it - Like a bad report from the doctor, reaching a record high for CO2 is a warning we need to heed.

 

Internet sales tax creates fairness for Main Street -We can't see any reason that
Amazon.com with its billions in revenue shouldn't pay the same taxes as Jasper Drug Store or Coco's
Cottage.

 

Whether water park or something else, Pickens economy needs a boost - A water park may sound far fetched, but so did other big developments that are now thriving in Pickens --- and it's time we had a bood to our economy.


Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombing - Progress Editor Dan Pool had a lot of time to watch coverage of the Boston Marathon Bombings following a knee injury. Here are some of his observations.
75 cents worth of knowledge -
Everybody is aware there is free news on the Internet...but you get what you pay for.

30 minute meals and other lies we're told - We've relegated Rachel Ray's 30-minute meal to the annals of myth, along with all those other wives' tales that have been proven wrong.

Less debt, fewer homes, fewer cars equals shaky economic foundations - Younger people have less debt, but it's not because of financial stability.

A financial refresher for Rob Jones - Following a negative comment Jones made in public regarding our reporting, we felt it was time to remind him of the financial state of the county.

A discussion of our Letters to the Editor policy - We are changing a few things about our Letters to the Editor policy in the next edition.

Be careful what you "like" on Facebook - You think you're casually approving of other friends' posts, but people can draw conclusions about your personality.

How government helped create jobs here - Because our local government got involved, 50 Pickens residents now have good paying jobs.

Legal drugs can still produce deadly outcomes - The drugs that kill more people each year are lurking in your medicine cabinet.
Cove Road unsuitable for key thoroughfareSpeed can always be a problem, but the larger problem is that Cove Road is unsuited as the major east-west county thoroughfare it has become.

Zombies versus snooty English people - Does Downtown Abbey and The Walking Dead divide your house on Sunday? Here's our thoughts on the two primetime shows.

A completely reactionary opinion on climate change - We're not saying it's scientific, but here's how we feel about climate change based on recent weather.
Keep our night skies dark - As our community grows and additional structures and businesses are built, the need for lighting is inevitable. But we have options, and it’s up to us to make choices that will help preserve our amazing night skies.

Praying before public meetings comes under fire nationally - We think that prayer is okay at public meetings, as long as it is respectful of all religions.
County must really make cuts to budget this time - Everybody hates numbers, butt readers, pay close attention to this re-telling of our county’s attempts at trimming the budget thus far.
 Believe it or not? UFO sightings intrigue us - We enjoy the serious stuff too, but talking about UFOs is just plain fun.

Let’s react wisely to school shooting - We need to be reasonable with school safety

History isn’t being erased, it’s just not being printed - Following a seasonal clean-up at the  Progress office, our photo editor made some realizations about photographic history in the digital age.

2012 “doomsday” Mayan prophecy - Here are our thoughts on the end of the world.


Pickens Arts Community: Washing the dust off our daily lives - "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
 

What America searched for in 2012 --- literally - Does this year's top Internet searches surprise you?

Black Friday shows our dark side - We think Thanksgiving is being perverted by earlier and earlier Black Friday shopping.

 No suspension for Gordon? - NASCAR Jeff Gordon intentionally hit another racer with his car. We think NASCAR fans should be outraged.

Book Recommendations for the President as he begins a second term

 

Our lacking curb appeal holds back tourist economy - Jasper needs something enticing on Hwy 515 to pull passers-by into town.

 

Pitt’s Chanel ad: Brilliant or ridiculous? - He made how much for that commercial?
A woman's curve appeal - One staff writer talks about how her own perspective about women's bodies has changed.

Ban censorship, not books - Ban Book Week as just come to an end, and we have a few thought on the matter.

More clicking, less happiness - We think the parody news site The Onion has recently called out, for real, the downside of social media sites.

 Candidates’ religious views matter - Political candidates should be more forthcoming about their religous view, because they shape public policy.

Are we thankful enough? - This week we want you, and us, to consider the graditude factor.

When we change recreation, let's swing for the fences - Following the termination of the county rec director, we think the department should refocus its energies and work towards building a better program.

Hunger Games passes Potter: Children forced to kill  better than magical spells? - In this week's editorial we compare the popularity of the two smash young adolescent books.

School smoking ban: One vice is as bad as the other - If the board really wants to show it is serious about influencing the community’s health, how about some attention to diet, exercise and healthy food choices.

More Facebook, less Hatebook - Research shows that people who make hateful, negative posts may have self-esteem issues.

Two keys to success for anyone in government - We call for all elected officials to make it easy and don’t proceed until you have considered all the facts when making policy. 

More enforcement of existing laws needed on Georgia lakes - After a fatal crash killed two people, we think boating laws need more enforcement.

Being spontaneous can save a vacation - One of our staff writers talks about how being flexible salvaged their vacation plans.

Stimulus did some good, but it didn't do it well - After our research on the stimulus' impact in Pickens, we came to a few conclusions about the efficiacy of the program.

Big Gulp ban an easy target and a positive move - We're fat and getting fatter. Bloomberg's proposal isn't perfect, but it sends a good message.

Thoughts on how Pickens stacks up with rest of North Ga. - Editor Dan Pool discusses Jasper from a cycling tourist's perspective.

The pay of elected officials: the highs and lows - There are obviously a lot of different opinions on how much someone should be paid for a job they are elected to do. What follows are a few thoughts about that.

Keep children’s heads above water with adult attention, swimming lessons - Kids deserve to cool off in the pool, but they need to do it safely

Mailbag - Here are a handful of recent questions or comments we wanted to address in public. As always, we are open to comments from readers at 706-253-2457 or by e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

To the PHS class of 2012 - Our editorial staff offers a few bits of advice to this year's graduating class.

Do you really want a revolution in this country? - In the face of much heated political rhetoric and talk of revolutions, we need someone to remind us that most Americans want our great country to improve, and not have rioting in the streets.

Public profanity gosh darn inappropriate - We're not models of refinement here at the paper, but we know there are times when being profane just isn't appropriate.

Drop in teen birth rate a step in right direction - Last week, however, to minimal fanfare, the Centers for Disease Control announced that the rate of teenagers giving birth has hit the lowest level since 1946, the first year teen births were tracked.

As far as we're concerned, it is a miracle - Last week the Progress featured a story about a two-year-old who emerged from a hospital virtually unscathed after being accidentally run over by his mother. For us, there is no other explanation.

Simple rules needed for  wilderness areas of Georgia - Nature lovers have shown they will support parks, but the state can’t ambush them when they get there with arbitrary fees.

Eastwood mania hits town - This week we have a few suggestions for the week leading up to Clint Eastwood's arrival for the filming of Trouble With the Curve in Jasper City Park.

Tourism may help local economy but our plans must be realistic - In an emperor-has-no-clothes moment, we point out  Pickens still has no bona fide tourist attraction.

What kudzu should have taught us about tilapia - We think the new bill that would legalize the stocking of tilapia in Georgia ponds and domesticate the non-native fish is a recipe for disaster.

In this case contraception is everyone’s responsibility -- While we know many of the presidential candidates strongly disagree on the issue of contraception, in the case of spaying and neutering pets, we say it’s everyone’s responsibility. 

Walking and thinking - Our photo editor recently walked from his house on Price Creek Road into downtown Jasper. In this week's editorial he talks about his journey there and back. 

Step lightly when weighing students - For the kids’ sakes the new fitness evaluation is needed at school, but if this program isn’t well administered it has the potential to devastate some students and produce no benefits for those who need it.

Wake up, Nelson - Used to be when a crisis erupted in a village, someone rang a fire bell in the night to alert the populace and avert disaster. It's time someone did that at Nelson.

A government intrusion - This week we take a satirical look at the state mandate that will force kids to be weighed in school.

The problem down on Main Street: Empty buildings - While combining two fitness clubs is hardly news to rock the local economy, it is certainly poor news for Main Street merchants or anyone hoping for a vibrant downtown.

What's disgusting? - Apparently, researchers are paying more attention to what we find revolting to gain insight into psychological disorders.

Great things are going on here - Too often that which is good is overshadowed by that which is bad, but great things are happening right here in Pickens County.

Where have all the nicknames gone? - Watching simultaneously the Republican primary race, the NFL playoffs and continued coverage of military’s efforts in Afghanistan, one can’t help but wonder: Where have all the nicknames gone?

Iowa schmiowa - Instead of watching candidates use the Iowa Caucuses as a political launching pad when they are flawed in so many ways, we say change the presedential primary/caucus schedule to something that is more representative.

Georgia jobs should be top priority for legislature - When the legislature convenes next week, the number one focus should be on job creation for Georgia – not the budget. Budget should be a close second.

At least it's not the end of the world - We refuse to get caught up in the doomsday doldrums this year, and we hope you do the same.

To Americans in service: Merry Christmas - This holiday season, keep us mindful, dear God, of their sacrifices on our behalf.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays - Any way you say it, we welcome the seasonal pleasantries. The point we get upset is when people try to make assumptions about others based on their holiday greetings.

Junk E-mails tell all - This week we take a totally unscientific look at what Americans want.

Sell this county like a used-car salesman - County and city officials need to rethink their old M.O. and offer creative incentives to attract new businesses.

World population to hit 7 billion - Some thoughts on the history and future of popuation growth.

The disconnect in health  -After meeting with the director of a local health-related non-profit, we wonder why people don't do things that are good for them when they know it would make them feel better.

What would make Pickens a certifiable great place to live? - For the fourth straight year, we look over paublished lists of the best places to live in America to see how Pickens County stacks up.

Fight "planned obsolescence" and buy for quality - It's time to invoke our elders' "keep it 'cause it works " mentality. 

Welcome aboard PHS journalists - We are happy and excited to be working with journalism students and instructor Steven Wilkie on the new monthly high school newspaper The Dragon's Lair.

Stop to smell the roses (and sip the coffee) - We need to remember that life here is ripe with simple pleasures.

Some places where spending tax money is exactly what we need - Ideas on how spending local tax money up front could prove fruitful in the long run.

Debt ceiling drama a sideshow: Federal budget should be focus - The immediate problem with the political game of financial chicken in Washington is that the turmoil has bled over into our economy.

Business of sports shouldn’t be ignored when assessing local parks - Pickens is missing out in the game of sports tourism dollars.

Public obsession with celebrity - Is it envy or the appeal of a human car wreck that keeps us glued?

Marketing violence to youngsters: Kids’ meals with a side of gunplay and a little torture thrown in - Ultimately it's the parents responsibility to make good decisions when raising kids, but marketing companies should take a higher road and stop pimping violent films to our children. 

A tragedy in one act: Money down the toilet bowl - Learn what can happen when you leave your toilet to its own devices in this first hand account from staff writer Angela Reinhardt.

Why self checkout stinks - There are essentially two kinds of people in this world, those who use self checkout and those who don't. Which one are you?

Chiseled in marble plans needed for courthouse - Why after three years of piddling around is the county still not formally into planning mode for the courthouse?

 Keep mean dogs on short leashes - Even with new animal control policies here, pet owners still have responsibilities.

Ga. parks shouldn't be forgotten by families or legislators - Both inexpensive and close to home, our state parks and other outdoor recreation areas offer a wide variety of activities and places to relax and we engourage you to use them more.

 Is college worth it? - The question recently posed in a national poll by a nonpartisan group is, “Is college worth it?” In our view, the answer is a resounding, “Yes”.

 Swimming Lessons & Common Sense Save Lives  -- An average of ten people drown every day in the United States. Kids in the south deserve the chance to cool off in pools and ponds this summer, but adults have the responsibility to keep them safe.

Time to end the war in Afghanistan - America has spent over $4 billion since the death of bin Laden and six American troops have died. Now is the time to bring our men and women home.

Childhood obesity trend not slimming down - Unfortunately, the distinctly American trend of childhood obesity is not going away.
For three decades, we’ve been getting bigger and bigger as childhood obesity rates have alarmingly tripled.

Last week’s storms prove weather warnings save lives - We’re thankful that we live in a time when we have so many ways to be prepared, and we were inspired to see people in Pickens get over being “the cool guy” and actually take last week’s weather forecasts seriously.

Preventing child abuse starts with adults taking action - Prevent Child Abuse Month is winding down, but there are things we can do all year long to make a difference in a child's life. 

T-SPLOST: Good, bad or just ugly? - With a vote on a regional transportation SPLOST on its way in 2012, we are uncertain how this unprecedented push for state funding will pan out for Pickens.

Support your community: Enjoy weekend events - With big events going on in town this weekend we have a chance to add a little flavor to our community, year after year, by going out to enjoy them.

Keep nuclear power threats & benefits both in perspective -- In light of Japan’s natural disaster, it’s important to realize both the dangers and energy possibilities with nuclear power.

Pig out of town and trees officially ugly - From Buzzards to hogs to groundhogs --- Jasper, it's been a wild year. 

NPR better off without federal funding - Without funding from the federal government, NPR wouldn't be beholden to politicians like Rep. Tom Graves, who uses the issue as a politicial hockey puck when its convenient.

Sober Drivers, Not Luck of the Irish Needed When Celebrating -- Thursday is Saint Patrick’s Day and despite its roots in Christianity it is now widely considered a secular holiday ranked as one of the highest alcohol consumption days in the United States and one of the busiest times of year for bars and restaurants.

 

SPLOST a Fairer Way to Pay -- While no one supports new taxes, we hope voters will give a favorable nod to the school's sales tax referendum coming March 15th. One way or the other we have to fund education and sales tax beats property taxes in our opinion.

Sunday alcohol sales versus local control - For a conservative-controlled statehouse, proposed legislation involving Sunday alcohol sales presents quite a conundrum. Governor Nathan Deal has struck the correct tone: Sign legislation if passed by the house and senate and let local people decide for themselves if they want Sunday sales.

Facebook & kids - More young users online, but sizeable minority believe social networking not appropriate for teens.

Animal shelter the cat's meow -  The Pickens County Animal Shelter is just weeks away from its grand opening on March 1, and after taking a tour of the impressive facility last week we feel praise should be given where praise is due.

Clean your plate...it does us all good - Often the latest environmental/social cause du jour comes across as some flaky idea dreamed up by a bunch of college grad students with too much time on their hands. But one of the latest ideas, now trumpeted by various pundits, relates almost solely to your kitchen. Turns out it could save you a few bucks while it’s no more elaborate than your mother’s old exhortations to “get what you want but want what you get” when you sit down to mealtime.

"They" shouldn't do anything to help downtown Jasper - "They” need to get busy, according to a lot of opinions relating to downtown Jasper. They need to do something to help businesses downtown, to ease parking, to slow traffic. They need to do something about the trees. They need to get rid of the water park. In our opinion, They have done enough already, and we’re not being sarcastic.

Cursive may go the way of hieroglyphics, but is that a bad thing?Although cursive handwriting is currently required of third graders in Georgia, the new Common Core Standards for English adopted by the state last summer makes no mention of it. Teachers and administrators from across Georgia will convene in March to decide whether or not to amend the standards and keep cursive as a requirement for our kids. 

 It's been cold, but global warming still heating up --  This winter has been unlike any in Georgia’s recent history.  After one ice storm and two major snows not even a month into the season it’s easier than ever to discount global warming as politicized hype.

 Turn off that telephone and talk to someone -- Jasper Pickens says, Seein' as Christmas Day found me on the road away from round here, I stopped midday at a handy Waffle House to place a to-go order.

Busting on Just Busted (January 6th, 2011) -- The essence of our objection to this type of publication: You don’t know why the person whose mug shot is plastered there is in jail.

Anatomy of  a New Year (December 30th, 2010) -- During this time of year our minds and bodies are infused with the idea of starting anew or transforming. It has become traditional for us to make predictions and, more frequently, resolutions. 

Anatomy of a New Year

 

The little blue ball we call home has made yet another orbit around the sun, its axis spinning at 1,000 miles per hour, its body jettisoning through space at 67 times that speed. 
But the New Year goes beyond these material elements. It goes beyond the physical science of cycles of the Earth and sun and moon. Yes, the New Year is indeed more than a dry interplay of biological masses and celestial orbs. When you dissect it you find that it is physical and temporal, sure, but also largely cultural and emotional. 
We decorate and embellish it with fireworks, tinsel and gifts. We host parties and feasts. We kiss and hug.
During this time of year our minds and bodies are infused with the idea of starting anew or transforming. It has become traditional for us to make predictions and, more frequently, resolutions. 
  Like the snake that rubs its body along rock and dirt to unsheathe itself, we itch to slither out of old habits, old states of mind, old preoccupations (or occupations). Each year we are filled with possibility and hope for the next 12 months as we peer over our shoulders at the accomplishments, regrets, losses and loves of the past.  
Indeed, the New Year makes for a marked, acute delineation between what was and what could be.
But each culture, each hemisphere makes the New Year its own. It binds communities, large and small, in an overarching awareness of a pinpointed, transitional spot of time.
In China the New Year is their longest and most revered celebration, based on both the solar and lunar calendars. Festivities begin on the first day of the month and span 15 days, ending with the Lantern Festival. Families gather for their reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve. 
The Celts once celebrated their New Year near Oct. 31 with the festival of Samhain, meaning “summer’s end,” when nature began dying off for the year. 
In Mexico they eat a grape with each chime of the New Year’s bell while making a wish.
  In our culture we celebrate the 365.25 days it takes for the earth to orbit the sun. We eat collards and black-eyed peas in hopes of good fortune.
  How interesting that the concept of a “year” can have so many meanings and that we all operate on such different cycles.
   And how strange it is, really, our tradition of honoring the end of one of these chosen time periods for the next. The reality is that our lives operate more or less irrespective to those measured hunks in each year’s calendar. 
It’s more personal than that. 
Is it not more effortless to measure our lives by events, by deaths and births, by our gardens, by overcoming an illness comforting a loved one?
In whatever way the world chooses to honor the New Year, marking the end of a cycle offers up new possibilities for us all as we forge ahead into the coming months.
Let’s all celebrate the newness and the potential of this, our New Year.
 
Happy 2011 from the Progress staff
 

Busted on Just Busted

Over the last few months, a new publication has appeared on racks around Pickens County. The one we have seen is called Just Busted, though one convenience store owner told us there is/was occasionally another called just plain Busted.

The tabloid publication costs $1, according to its cover, and contains nothing but a few ads and page after page of mug shots with the name of the person arrested and a one-line description of  charges against them. Sometimes it also shows registered sex offenders in a similar manner.

According to the publication, it covers a large swath of North Georgia and Tennessee with sections divided by county.

A typical entry shows a mug shot, gives a name, and then some charge like “probation violation” or “theft by taking.” Sometimes the publication uses legalese that makes the crime hard to decipher. While everyone knows DUI, one person was arrested for VOP, another for FTA, and some were listed as weekenders or as being held for another county.

One unfortunate person in Pickens had his mug shot and name shown without charges. Maybe he didn’t do anything wrong, or maybe he was lucky the charge that landed him behind bars wasn’t listed. This one example is the essence of our objection to this type of publication: You don’t know why the person whose mug shot is plastered there is in jail.

The publication has several disclaimers throughout noting that all of those pictured should be considered innocent until proven guilty. The problem as we see it, however, is that everyone arrested gets grouped into one big photo spread. Nowhere does the publication indicate it would make any attempt to find out later if some of those pictured had, in fact, been found innocent or if charges against them were dropped before the case even came near to a court hearing.

Just Busted is well within its citizen rights to access the arrest bookings it publishes, but we believe Just Busted and many newspapers go too far in publishing the names of everyone arrested for everything. The Progress formerly published an “arrest blotter,” but after serious consideration, we dropped it.

As anyone who reads the Progress knows, we do publish stories on significant or out-of-the-ordinary crimes.

What we try to stress in our reporting is not who got arrested but what crimes have been committed. Information, such as the rash of metal thefts before Christmas or the fact prescription drug abuse has surpassed meth use here may offer information to protect  our readers’ possessions or to alert them concerning the need to safeguard prescription bottles.

We do report in some stories who has been arrested, but we certainly do more in reporting than just collecting the weekly batch of mug shots and charges listed.

Without firsthand reporting, there is no opportunity for editorial discretion, no opportunity to filter out when there was a “domestic situation” that led to charges but really didn’t turn out to be much more than yelling and threats between two adult brothers, versus a case where someone savagely beat their spouse.

In straight blotter reports, both cases could appear as family violence charges, unfairly leaving readers to assume someone may have beaten his wife when an exchange of a few punches with his brother was nearer the truth.

Further, with most traditional newspapers, those arrested are given the opportunity to present their side of the story––usually through an attorney, but not always. Recently we ran a story about the resolution of a case involving a former president of a property owners association here. While we reported that the one arrested paid some restitution and saw the charges dropped, he took the opportunity to present his side of the case to the public. He got both a day in court (assuming pre-trial meetings count) and his proverbial 15 minutes in the media.

We have been asked why we don’t start blotter-style reporting here. Maybe we will again one day. Convenience stores say those arrest rags sell quickly. But while there is a thrill in seeing your neighbor’s mug shot in print, it’s hard to believe it serves much good.