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General news and features

Briton named office manager for KPB

Joan Briton, a five-year resident of Pickens County, has assumed the duties of office manager for Keep Pickens Beautiful (KPB).

KPB operates out of the small green building on the south end of Main Street. Their primary activities include promoting recycling, adopt-a-road, and education.

Briton takes over following the retirement of Carol Opdenhoff who served as office manager for the past decade.

The work of office manager is the day-to-day operation of the organization including bookkeeping and bill payment and keeping membership lists current.

Brtion said she had been in a volunteer working on membership for the non-profit, when Opdenhoff retired. With book-keeping experience she was hired as the part-time manager.

Briton said she got involved with KPB after becoming more environmentally aware through several books she had read and was looking for some way to make difference. She met current KPB president Mary Anne Rentz who encouraged her to volunteer.

“I want to see the world go on,” she said.

Briton has lived in Pickens County for five years. Following many years of vacationing in the mountains of North Georgia she moved here from Fort Lauderdale.

Among the upcoming projects that KPB is working is on:

They will host the shredder on July 23rd from 9 a.m. until noon in the parking lot of the former Post Office behind the KPB offices. Briton said this is a good opportunity for households and businesses to see any documents they aren’t comfortable throwing in the trash shredded on-site while they wait. She said this is a great opportunity for law firms or medical businesses to get rid of old records safely.

• On a longer range scale: KPB is working to establish “a central recycling center drop off site.” This would be a spot where recyclable materials could be held for Pickens and surrounding counties until they have full truckloads. Briton said the project is about increasing the efficiency of recycling operations.

For more information on KPB call their office at 706-253-3600.


Bank of Ozarks CEO discusses expansion plans

George Gleason, chairman and CEO of the Bank of the Ozarks, took a break to talk with the press by phone from his hotel room in Gainesville June 21st during a week the bank’s entire board of directors spent touring recently acquired Georgia facilities.

The Bank of the Ozarks, which began in 1903 in Jasper, Arkansas, has added 30 branches in Georgia to their Little Rock based operation through a series of FDIC acquisitions of failed banks. Included in those was Chestatee State Bank with its Marble Hill (Foothills) office.

Gleason said Georgia now accounts for roughly one-third of Bank of the Ozarks operations with 300 of its 1,100 employees in Georgia. He said the week-long series of bank tours and meetings gave directors firsthand knowledge of the business climate in Georgia – a state where they are planning aggressive acquisition and expansion.

Gleason has been chairman and CEO of Bank of the Ozarks since1979, when, as a 25-year-old attorney, he bought a controlling interest in the bank which at that time had a handful of employees and $28 million in assets.

In 1994 the Bank of the Ozarks, (a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, symbol OZRK) began expansion throughout the Southeast. It now has locations in Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.

Gleason said he considered it important that his entire board spend time in Georgia to understand what he called the environment for “aggressive expansion.”


Read more about what Mr. Gleason had to say in this week's print edition.


Statebound! Pickens 8U All-stars off to Eastman

The Pickens team will begin state tournament play this week.


Congratulations to the 8U girls All-Star team! They are going to the state tournament in Eastman, Ga., starting July 7. Best of luck to these girls who have worked so hard.

Team members: Sarah Parks, Adeline Fitts, Caroline Carver, Beverly Crouse, Jayd Hamby, Kayla Jones, Brooke Taylor, Sarah Morris, Payton Green, Morgan Krastes, Ashtyn Jones, Madelyn Elrod and Kensley Essig.

Coaches: Matthew Parks, Trent Green, Sandy Essig, Kevin Jones, Frank Morris and Alex Jordan.

A special thank you to all the sponsors.


Jasper 4th goes off with a bang


From the parade to the rides, to the entertainment, the Independence Day celebration in Jasper went well throughout the holiday weekend.

The sponsoring Lions Club reported solid attendance at all events.

Lion Mark Miller said they had been a little worried that Monday events on July 4th might see smaller than normal crowds due to the numerous activities here and in surrounding areas the weekend leading up to the main events on Monday.

But Miller said they saw good numbers at all the activities including jam-packed streets in Jasper for the opening parade.

Above, even Elvis was sighted having his hair done during the parade. See more parade photos from the Progress staff.

Ga. Gas prices continue downward trend

Georgia, July 5- Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have fallen 0.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.45/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has increased 0.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.57/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were 87.0 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 15.2 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 19.8 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 84.0 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.


GasBuddy operates,, and over 225 other local gasoline price-tracking websites that follow prices at over 125,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. GasBuddy also uses Facebook ( Twitter (, and phone apps to keep motorists ahead of changing gasoline prices. was named one of Time magazine's 50 best websites and to PC World's 100 most useful websites of 2008.