General news and features
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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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.
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.
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 www.gahighwaysafety.org/heat.html.
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16-year-old Joseph Addis, who is charged with murdering his stepfather with a samurai sword on November 23, will likely be released on bail to the home of his grandparents in the Preserve gated community following a Wednesday hearing.
The house where he will be held under 24/7 supervision of his grandmother is the same place he is accused of stabbing his step-father Christopher Allen, 36, a single time with the rusty, old sword following a family argument. Marcie Allen, the wife of Christopher and mother of Addis, told detectives that the stabbing occurred following a family fight where the older Allen had tried to slap the juvenile. The mother said during a cell phone conversation in front of a deputy that Allen had regularly been abusive.
Judge Brenda Weaver indicated that she would grant bail unless something unexpected came up in psychological exams from Addis’ in-take at the Youth Detention Center in Dalton, or in a conversation the judge requested with the psychologist if the report is not available.
Judge Weaver announced her intention following a lengthy and at times tense hearing Wednesday where the victim’s mother testified along with Addis’ grandparents.
The witnesses all described Addis as extremely withdrawn and in need of counseling. During the hearing it was also announced by the District Attorney’s office that they opposed any bail release where Ms. Allen and her son could “collaborate,” as they are looking at possible charges against Ms. Allen in the death of her husband. Read more in next week's print edition.