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General news and features

With summer gardens producing, Farmers’ Market to open Wednesdays

Andy Givhan bags up lettuce for a customer who has brought her dog along.


By Darlene Huffman

There was still plenty of lettuce available at the Jasper Farmers’ Market Saturday. Andy and Marie Givhan from Rydal  where they operate an aquatic plant nursery in addition to growing vegetables, had lettuce, kale, carrots, onions and some exotic looking bog plants for sale.

Another vendor known to have unusual plants is Mark Harrison. He often sells, and is very knowledgeable about, native plants as well as a large variety of the more common ones. On this Market day he had a magnolia tree that has extra large leaves and huge blossoms and grows to about 30 feet high.

Cindy Fix has been selling her fiber arts at the Market for several years, focusing on clothes and hair bows for little girls. This season she has sun hats. Mimi Tritt, the vendor next door selling fresh fruit sorbet, liked them so well she had Cindy custom make her one in fresh fruity colors.

Handmade soap has become increasingly popular with both vendors and shoppers liking the idea of a natural, local product.  Beth Allen is fairly new to both soap making and the Farmers’ Market but has made an interesting variety – a shampoo bar, a shaving bar, an exfoliating bar and several other choices.

This is the week that the Wednesday Market opens. The hours will be the same as Saturday, 7:30 to noon and will end Wednesday, August 31. The Saturday Market continues through October. Here is where we usually say that we are closed for the 4th of July celebration but this year we will be OPEN THE 2ND OF JULY. Sackett’s Western Wear Tack and Feed has invited us to have the Market in their parking lot, so tell everyone, “The Jasper Farmers’ Market is not closing for the 4th of July.”

See more of what is going on at the Farmers’ Market on Facebook,, or the Master Gardeners Web site ( The Market is a project of the Pickens County Master Gardeners.  See their Web site for more information or contact the County Extension Office (706- 253-8840).


Teacher enters plea bargain and avoids sex charges


Laura Deane Lyles (34), a former Pickens High Shool teacher indicted after allegations of sexual misconduct with male students during the 2009-2010 school year, has pled guilty to a state accusation of cruelty to children in a plea bargain that spares Lyles from prosecution on charges brought in her indictment.

Lyles' guilty plea on child cruelty charges came just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, at the end of a Superior Court session to handle plea bargains for numerous defendants in a variety of cases.

The session began at roughly 4:30 p.m., following arrival of presiding Superior Court Judge Roger Bradley to the upstairs courtroom within the Pickens County Courthouse. Lyles' case came last, the court session ending around 6:45 p.m., shortly after she was sentenced.

Lyles' indictment included two charges of sexual assault on a person in custody, two sodomy charges, and four charges of furnishing beverage alcohol to underage persons. The state's accusation of cruelty to children in the first degree was put forward by the prosecution pursuant to a plea agreement, explained Assistant District Attorney Scott Poole, who served as prosecutor during the Lyles proceeding.

New Jasper acting company “putting a spin” on community theatre


NEW COMPANY, SAME FACES - With the majority of the original cast in tact, Smoke on the Mountain is travelling to the Cumming Playhouse with the new Jasper-based North Georgia Acting Company. The show opened June 2 and will run through June 26.


For Ross Galbreath, creative director of a new Jasper-based acting company, theatrical productions should be all or nothing.

“The shows need to be 100 percent,” Galbreath said from his Jasper hair salon, Hollywood FX Studio off Bill Wigington Parkway. “They need to have the highest possible quality every time.”

Galbreath, who has more than flat irons and styling products up his sleeve, is bringing 20-years of entertainment industry experience to the new company, having worked for Walt Disney and on other live shows, independent films and special event productions in various roles, from directing to managing to producing and casting.

Bring on the drama this summer at Tater Patch theater camps

By Nan Nawrocki

Tater Patch Member

The Tater Patch Players are  hosting their 6th Annual Theater Camp. This summer’s camp program is for kids from rising third graders through high school. For two weeks, from June 20 through 24 and June 27 through July 1, there are opportunities to learn about all things theater and have a lot of fun in the new Tater Patch Players Theater. Campers can attend either one or two weeks of the camp. The morning session is for the older campers, from rising 6th graders through rising 12th graders. These campers will learn from Tater Patch’s qualified instructors about the many skills involved in “tech theater.” This covers everything that happens behind the scenes:  designing and building scenery, doing lighting, costuming and makeup.

Adults who are interested in learning these skills are invited to contact Tater Patch at the theater number, 706-253-2800, and ask about how they may join and learn too. The older campers are welcome to stay for the afternoon sessions to help the younger campers and to work on sets, lights and costumes for the troupe’s upcoming production of Peter Pan. Those choosing to stay for both sessions should bring a sack lunch and enjoy lunch with the Taters where lively theater discussions will take place.

Mayberry and proud of it, Nelson residents tell mayor


"If we are Mayberry as you say we are, then we're proud of it," said Nelson resident Melba Roper during time reserved for public appearances at Nelson's council meeting Monday night.

Roper was addressing Mayor David Leister regarding an article he published in the May 26 edition of this newspaper. Leister's article depicted Nelson's police chief spending time visiting residents on porches instead of issuing citations or making arrests. This activity met expectations of the city council, Leister wrote, as "they wanted a police officer that would stop and sit on porches, as in the fictional town of Mayberry."

Longtime Nelson resident Frances Carney spoke to the mayor concerning the same issue. She had not wanted to speak publicly, Carney insisted. A neighbor was going to speak her sentiments at the meeting, Carney said, but could not due to illness.

"We didn't like this, mayor," Carney said of the newspaper article. "Don't do this again. Don't trash our town. Just don't ever do it again. You put in here about Mayberry. We're Mayberry, and we want to stay that way," she said. "And we let you be mayor. We want you to act like one."

Carney particularly objected to Leister's indication that in recent days Nelson Police Chief Heath Mitchell has not effectively covered his Nelson beat.

Read the rest of the story in our print edition, now on sale.