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General news and features

Veterinarian wants to privatize animal shelter

commish mtg dr. chester

   Veterinarian Dr. Craig Chester talks at the meeting about the animal shelter.

At their December meeting, Veterinarian Dr. Craig Chester, owner of Animal Medical Clinic in Jasper, gave a presentation to county commissioners regarding his proposal to take over operations at the Pickens County Animal Shelter.  

Pickens resident William Bell began the presentation. He said, “In the spirit of the American Humane Society that does such a good job in the country, we want to do something in that fashion for the citizens and animals of Pickens County.” 

Bells’ daughter Jessica Bell, a former employee at Animal Medical Clinic, is 16 months away from completing veterinary school and would come on board as an employee of Dr. Craig’s at the shelter if a deal is hammered out between the two entities.  

Rick Land talks thru-hiking the AT, band, and keeping clean


  Rick Land at the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail in Maine - Mount Katahdin. Land created a YouTube channel for his journey and posted a video everyday. Visit YouTube and search for “Greeter 2017 thru-hike” to follow his adventure.   


Rick Land doesn’t let a challenge hold him back. The 59-year-old recently completed all 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail on a solo trip. Before that, he spent decades as a school band director in Pickens and other Georgia counties and served on Jasper City Council. Land also learned to fly planes in his late 20s and worked for six years as a commercial airline pilot. 

Both he and his wife Mary Land, a local band director as well, earned doctorates in their field. He still plays trombone locally in Big Band groups. They have two sons, one who is an Adjunct Instructor of Tuba and Euphonium at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., the other is in his final year of residency to become a surgeon. 


School board ends year with action-packed meeting

• Schools/grades re-aligned

• $3 million in renovations approved, including artificial turf at PHS

wilson calendar


Dan Pool / Photo

Superintendent Carlton Wilson takes a question during a public presentation of the grade level/calendar choices last week.

        In an action-packed called meeting December 21, the school board took a slew of decisive actions that will affect all 4,500 students in the system in the next academic year.

The biggest change will re-align grade configurations and campus designations. The change will affect all schools, except the high school. 

         See this week's print or online editions for full story, including new grade configurations and construction plans. 

Derailed train spills 1,000 gallons of fuel near Talona Creek



                                                                                                                photo/Angela Reinhardt 

     Crews work to contain a fuel leak and keep it from entering Talona Creek in north Pickens County Wednesday afternoon. According to the Pickens Fire & EMS Director, the EPD inspected the creek Wednesday and determined no fuel had spilled into the water. 

        According to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, a train derailed near the Pickens/Gilmer line and spilled 1,000 gallons of fuel from a punctured tank.

The spill occurred on Whitestone Road near an Imerys operation at approximately 7:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The derailment and leak occurred at a section of track near Talona Creek.  Emergency crews immediately began work to contain the leak and keep it from entering the creek, but officials said

Changes sought at Chattahoochee Tech


chattahoochee tech empty parking lot

Damon Howell / Photo

Last Friday afternoon the parking lot of the tech school showed few signs of activity. The apparent absence of educational use has been noticed by community members who voiced criticism and questions at a meeting with Chattahoochee Tech officials last week. 


        Members of the community, including business leaders and civic officials, met Friday with top administrators of Chattahoochee Technical College to discuss how the college could be reinvigorated to meet the needs of the community.

After a long discussion, several actions were advocated, including the hiring of a full-time person to promote the Jasper campus; a needs assessment to give direction on courses and other offerings; and a promise by the college president “to listen more intently” to the people of this area.

Chattahoochee Technical College has a total enrollment of 10,200 students. The largest group are students who take at least some classes online and also attend classes at a campus. The Marietta campus is the next largest with 4,500 students. 2,500 students attend the second largest campus in Cherokee County, while Pickens only has an enrollment of 414.

       See full story in this week's print or online editions.