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"Teeny-tiny" tax decrease coming from school board -- but better than increase says Superintendent

 

Pickens property owners will see a “teeny-tiny tax decrease” from school taxes with the tentative budget approved by the school board Tuesday night.

Chief Financial Officer Amy Burgess said that the administration was able to hold the millage rate the same 

as the previous years and with the slightly lower tax digest, this will produce a less than 1 percent decrease in the tax revenue they receive.

Pickens property owners will see the same millage rate this year as they have seen the past two years, 15.97 mils.

Superintendent Ben Desper told members of the school board, “It’s a teeny-tiny decrease, but that is better than an increase.”

See further comments on what has the superintendent and finance director concerned going further and how the administration had to “overcome” $1.8 million in budget issues to hold the millage flat in next week’s print edition.


 

Old post office to house court offices during renovation

old-post-officeAt his most recent meeting, Commissioner Robert Jones announced plans to relocate several court offices while renovations are underway at the Pickens County Courthouse.

The county will lease the old federal building/Jasper post office for 24 months at $5,000 per month. The building is located beside West Church Street between Mark Whitfield and Richards streets, across from the Burnt Mountain Trading Company.

The building, owned by Old Towne Developers, LLC, will temporarily house the probate office, the magistrate office, the district attorney’s office, county probation, a small office for the Pickens County Sheriff, and Pickens County Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver’s office. It will also contain a small courtroom and an area designated for visiting judges.

Above, the building in downtown Jasper where court offices will temporarily be located during courthouse renovations.

Jones said these offices will be relocated around November of this year.

According to Jones, the County Annex Building will remain operational during renovations, expected to begin in spring of 2012.

Story on mother of autistic child generates overwhelming response

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“I can’t keep up with everything that’s been happening,” said Kelly Ingram, who was featured in an article in last week’s edition of the Progress.

In the article Ingram described her emotional and spiritual journey raising her autistic son, Bradley.

“People have read that and the article is everywhere,” she said. “I’m getting Facebooked and emailed from people I don’t even know.”

Jasper hiker completes Appalachian Trail

 

McGhee-App-trailLongtime Jasper veterinarian Mike McGhee completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on August 19th.

Here’s a look at his hike on the 2,181 mile trail by the numbers:

• 143 days - total number of days on the trail.

• 20 days  - spent not hiking at all.

• 15 miles  - overall daily average. This figures in the days spent not hiking.

• 27 miles – longest single day.

• 4 pairs - shoes used, favorite pair were trail runners, not hiking boots. Each pair had been bought and broken in prior to starting and sent ahead to mail spots along the trail.

• 20 pounds - usual weight of pack first day out of a town. As food was eaten it would get lighter each day until resupplying.

• 39 pounds – weight lost on trail. McGhee started the hike at 189 pounds and finished 150.

• 10 bears sighted – Five in New Jersey, four in Virginia, 1 in Vermont

No sidewalks, no streetlights, no safety -- Parents spell out objections to bus stops

 

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Most parents speaking at a concerned citizens meeting Tuesday related similar lists of objections to the new bus stops used by the school system: The centralized stops require children as young as kindergarten to walk by themselves on  roads with no street lights or sidewalks, facing the dangers of traffic, sexual predators and wildlife.

Between 50 and 60 parents turned out for the meeting to voice their fears that the new bus stops are dangerous. As promised by lead organizer Willie Prather, everyone was allowed to speak as long as they wanted with the meeting running well past two hours as parent after parent told of their specific complaints to the new stops instituted this school year. Prior to this year, the school buses in Pickens County essentially ran “door-to-door” service. School faculty say combining bus stops, staggering school start times so that some drivers run two routes will save $120,000 this year, by eliminating some driver positions and buses.

School board chairman Wendy Lowe and vice-chair Byron Long attended the meeting, both addressing the group. Commissioner Rob Jones and Sheriff Donnie Craig were also on hand to hear from the citizens, although neither has any direct involvement in school transportation.

 

See updates on this story, parent comments and school board response in this week’s print edition.