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General news and features

Horse lover finds new mission through Ball Ground rescue


    A UGA veterinarian changing the cast on Chief, a horse rescued by Equine Advocates of North GA. The local non-profit is holding a fundraiser at Sacketts this weekend, Dec. 15-16.

     “It just blows my mind how hard she works for these horses,” said Cindy Decker, a Pickens-based jewelry artist who has decided to donate all her profits, every red cent, to Lynley Edwards and the Equine Advocates of North GA. “I’ve found my mission for my jewelry-making endeavor.”
    Decker found a common love for horses in Edwards, who she says operates the non-profit in Ball Ground with a thunder in her soul and a gallop in her step.

Dying man’s open house draws people from near, far


    Former radio station owner Mark Hellinger with Toby, a dog recently adopted from the county shelter. Hellinger is again opening his home during the holidays to any and everyone.

  At his home near the southern county line, Mark Hellinger, the former owner of  two radio stations here, sat wrapped in a “Snuggie” blanket behind a microphone stand and other audio equipment, with a long line of pill bottles beside him last Wednesday.
    When asked if the microphone is hooked up, the 38-year broadcast journalism veteran, says, “Oh, hell no. I figured I’ll die sitting in this chair and I want to die behind a microphone.”

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.

For complete story, see our print editions now on sale or our e-edition.




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.