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General news and features

Young students walking too far without sidewalks or streetlights to dangerous stops, parents tell school board

Parent meeting planned for community to discuss new bus routes

Around 40 parents and students attended the school board meeting Thursday, with those allowed to speak asking for a reconsideration of the new centralized bus stops.

Three parents addressed the board during public comments. Many remaining parents left disgruntled that the board had not yielded some floor time so more parents could speak. Some indicated their frustration with the board for not offering more feedback to parent comments.

A parents group has since organized a meeting next Tuesday, August 23, at 6:30 p.m. to be held at the Chamber of Commerce Building for discussing the issue further. Willie Prather, among organizing parents, asked that anyone concerned with the bus routes attend.

Donna Tucker, along with other residents of the Bethany Moorings subdivision, said safety is the prime concern involved with the school bus stop for that south Pickens community.

“It is a very unsafe corner with cars flying up the hill,” she told the board. “There are no streetlights or sidewalks with kids walking in the street in the dark.”

During a break in the meeting, many other parents had harsh words about the situation and about not getting a better response from the board.

See more parent comments from those at the meeting and additional school board news in our print edition now on sale.


Dragons kickoff season Thursday

By Duane Cronic

Submitted article

The 2011 edition of the Pickens High School football season will kick off this Thursday, August 18, at Pickens High Stadium with a scrimmage game against West Hall starting at 7 p.m. The Dragons just completed two weekend mini-camps as well as summer workouts. The Dragons will be a fairly young squad this year with only six seniors on the roster. They include Matt Stracener, Corey Evans, D.J. Williams, Ryan Neill, Jake Ledbetter and John Burmeister. Both offense and defense will have four returning starters, and with only six seniors, the Dragons will rely heavily on their underclassmen.


Entering his 19th year as the head coach for the Dragons is Steve Sewell who is excited about the upcoming season, stating, “We have had a very good off-season; the kids have worked hard and we are excited about the upcoming season.”

Above, Tanner Brumby (red jersey) will be leading the 2011 Dragon offense as the starting QB.


121 animals woof and meow as animal shelter re-opens following quarantine

The Pickens County Animal Shelter re-opened Tuesday afternoon following a 14-day quarantine after a puppy left there was found to be carrying the parvovirus. No other animals at the shelter became sick outside of the puppy’s littermates.

Tuesday afternoon Deputy Brandi Strawn said the shelter is housing 121 animals looking for loving homes, 47 cats and kittens and 74 dogs and puppies.

“We’re all set and ready to adopt these animals to great homes,” Strawn said. “I’ve got some of the most loveable cats.”

Above, Shelter personnel in the Camp Road facility at an earlier date. The shelter re-opened yesterday with 121 animal awaiting adoption.


Strawn specifically mentioned two-year-old Laffy, a large, orange domestic short hair cat who is seriously in need of a new family.

“She’s been here for a while. She’s a good 12 pounds – she’s a big kitty,” Strawn said. “In the dog department I’ve also got a rat terrier mix named Mary. She’s full of energy and has a little bobtail. She’s very, very affectionate.”

Mary is approximately eight months old.

Strawn said anyone could find a pet appropriate for their needs – from young and feisty to older, calm pets.

“We’ve even got young animals that are very calm that would work well for senior citizens,” Strawn said. “We’ve got some lap cats that would just love to be petted and loved on.”

Shelter hours are Tuesday – Friday from 12-5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Next Saturday, August 27 is volunteer weekend where people of all ages are encouraged to come walk and spend time with the animals from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.


Free smoke alarms available from local fire stations

Battery-powered smoke detector alarms are  available for free from Pickens County fire stations and the City of Jasper firehouse to county residents without an alarm at home. .

Alarms being given away were purchased on the initiative of Community Thrift Store founder, Don Russell, with funds generated through the Thrift Store, Pickens County Fire Chief Bob Howard explained.

"Each fire station, they have smoke detectors to give to folks that don't have one," Howard said. "All they need to do is just go by the station and just sign for one. Supplies are limited," he added.

At right, Firefighter Zack Petty of Marble Hill outside the City of Jasper Firehouse with one of the smoke detector alarms now available for free to county residents without one.


A nitpicking problem -- Lice outbreak at Pickens Middle School

Thirty students were sent home from Pickens Middle School Thursday following head lice inspections.

Speaking during a break in the monthly school board meeting last night, Principal Chris LeMieux said the school checked all students in grades 6 and 7, using the school nurse and others to assist, and that they were planning to continue the inspection in 8th grade today.

Students who were found to have lice or nits were sent home with directions from the nurse and then asked to return on Friday for a re-inspection.

The lice problem affected students in all grades and classes.

Although there have been lice problems at campuses before, PCMS faculty said they had never seen it this widespread among the student population.

“These critters don’t discriminate,” the principal said.

Letter sent home with all Pickens County Middle School students .


LeMieux said there had been problems at the first of school years in the past, but previously the outbreaks were restricted to only some classes.

LeMieux speculated that this year the problem was more widespread due to the number of kids attending summer camps. He said the outbreak could have started at one of the summer events and is now spreading with students back in the classroom

Attendance Officer Shelley Cantrell, also speaking during the break, said at this point, the overall situation at Pickens Middle, and to some extent at Tate Elementary, isn’t affecting attendance rates, but she is keeping a close eye on all the cases.

She said if the lice got a good head start on some student heads and infested their homes as well it can be difficult to eliminate them. Cantrell said the supplies for a full home treatment are fairly expensive. As attendance officer, she will provide supplies for families that can’t afford them and will even make home visits to offer input on eliminating the lice.

“It can be a real ordeal for families,” she said. “You can’t just treat the kid, you have to treat the whole family.”

She said families have to do more than wash the students’ hair. Sprays for furniture, washing all bedding and other precautions must be followed.

A letter sent home with all Pickens County Middle School students gave parents information on how to eliminate lice and nits.

The letter noted, “Lice outbreaks are very common among school children. Head lice do not carry any disease, and their presence does not indicate a lack of cleanliness.”

LeMieux said the only real health concern is that they are irritating by the itching and “there are hurt feelings” among students found to have lice.

The principal said they used a microscope in the nurse’s office to show skeptical parents the lice from students’ hair.

Cantrell said if they clear the problem up with no new cases for 21 days, then they would likely have eliminated the problem from the campus.