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General news and features

Retailers pleased with holiday sales

Average to above average turnout despite down economy


     Daisy Boutique owner Peggy Rabin wraps a present at her downtown store. Statewide, retailers expect to see a slight increase in Christmas shopping this year.

Local retailers are reporting healthy sales during the post-Thanksgiving shopping period and that’s good news for Pickens stores who, like others across the state, often make a large percentage of their annual sales during the Christmas shopping season.
    According to the Georgia Retail Association, holiday sales in December are expected to increase between 3 and 4 percent this year and local store owners and managers say they have been pleased with traffic in their shops so far.

2013 county budget shows slight increase


The commissioner will convene a public hearing this Thursday at 4 p.m. to hear discussion about the county’s proposed 2013 budget with county finances being a touchy subject for the past months.

If approved at a meeting already set for Dec. 20th, the county’s FY 2013 budget of $19.9 million will increase by $483,837, or 2.48 percent, over FY 2012. The largest increases, according to figures released by the new financial director Faye Harvey, come from judicial administration, mental health court, accounting, recreation centers and administration, and animal control categories. Many of these increases, Harvey said, are due to insufficient budget numbers from previous years and grants, specifically in the judicial department.

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Change for Teens - important fundraiser for Joy House



By Steve Lowe, Exec. Director,

The Joy House


Our first Joy House banks are being returned back to us filled with change and there is still time for you to participate in our Change for Teens campaign. Let me give you some reasons to consider this.

This year has been one of expansion for The Joy House. Our new boys’ home and school was completed debt-free earlier this year. With this addition, we are now able to minister to more teens on-campus than at any time in our history. Additionally, the Lord opened the door for us to begin The Joy House Counseling Center as part of the ministry under the direction of our good friend, Garry Barber. Through the counseling center, we are touching 30 to 40 lives per month with the message of hope and healing found in Christ.  Both our residential program and our counseling center services are based on the ability-to-pay. This is consistent with our philosophy of ministry; we will never refuse service to anyone because they can’t pay.

Our ability to provide services and make this a reality is because of our great friends and partners who financially support this ministry. By participating in our Change for Teens campaign, you are a part of sewing Christ’s love into the lives of every person who is touched through the ministry of The Joy House.

We are trying to get at least 1,000 of these banks distributed, filled and returned by Friday December 21st. We know that a filled bank with a good variety of change is approximately $10. If 1,000 banks are returned filled, that is a total of $10,000, which will make a huge impact. You can still pick up banks at Jasper Drugs, Sacketts, Pickens Progress, or The Joy House.  Simply pick up your bank, fill it, and return it to your pick-up location. If you would like several house banks to distribute at church, work, or another social network, please contact me directly at The Joy House (706-253-7569 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). Thanks so much for your consideration and we look forward to having you join us to make a Change for Teens.

Ga.’s Zero DUI Tolerance Takes on Urgency

Authorities Cracking Down During the Holidays To Avoid Increase in Traffic Fatalities




 In recent years, Georgia has always used the holiday season to reinforce the state’s zero tolerance policy for impaired driving. If you’re over the limit, you’re under arrest. It’s that simple.


However, the end of 2012 has brought a new sense of urgency for Georgia besides battling the Christmas shopping crowds and making New Year’s resolutions. That’s because for the first time in 6 years, Georgia is on track to experience an increase in traffic fatalities. If fatalities maintain their current rate, the state will surpass last year’s total of 1,226 deaths on our roadways.

Expect more patrolling on secondary roads




At the November commissioner’s meeting, the county amended their 2012 budget to reflect a $143,000 state grant received by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. 

This grant, the HEAT Unit grant provided by the Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, is meant to combat death and injures cause by impaired driving.

According to Pickens County Sheriff Donnie Craig, who spoke at the Thursday, Nov. 29 meeting, the county has begun to implement the program and is already seeing positive results.  

The $143,000, Craig said, will pay for two fully equipped patrol vehicles and will also cover salaries of deputies driving the vehicles. 

The sheriff said these deputies will be charged with patrolling secondary roads in the county. Craig noted that Pickens County has one of the highest rates of fatalities and serious injury rates of surrounding counties.

“We’re not just going to get out here and work 515,” he said. “We’re going to be working the backroads, out in Hill City, Cove Road and the roads out in the community, not just in the state routes, which we already have the state patrol working.” 

Craig said in the first four days of the program, one of the department’s HEAT officers issued 70 citations, several of which involved illicit substances or drunk driving.

“Of those I think we had three or four DUIs as well as several drug arrests,” he said. 

For more information about the program, and to find out which other counties in the state have HEAT officers, visit