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General news and features

Rape charges dismissed; Man freed from jail, then deported


Rape charges against a Hispanic man who spoke little English were thrown out Thursday after several problems with the prosecution’s case and investigation arose in a magistrate court hearing.

Chief Magistrate Judge Allen Wigington ruled that Benjamin Chavez, 56, should be released due to lack of probable cause. Wigington said from the bench that probable cause is a very low threshold to meet, but in this case they had failed. Probable cause is based on a what a reasonable person would consider ample proof that a crime had occurred. 

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

Revolution Church breaks ground on North Main

The harvest is plentiful and the workers just got a lot more


Revolution Pastor Jason Gerdes breaks ground at the site of their Jasper campus, near the Jasper Fire Department, with a Revolution-logo’ed shovel Sunday. The planned 20,000 square-foot church is expected to be complete in late 2018.


         Members of Revolution Church officially broke ground on a Jasper campus  with a ceremony Sunday at their site on North Main Street near the Jasper Fire Department.

        Jasper Campus Pastor Chad Elliott thanked local officials, including the county commissioners, Jasper mayor, school board and sheriff’s office, for help in seeing their vision move ahead.

Revolution Church began in Canton in 2004 and has grown to see attendance of 2,500 each week at their main campus.

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


Father on a mission to stop opioid overdoses


  David Laws lost his daughter Laura to a drug overdose when she was 17. Laws helped get the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty law passed and wants to keep overdoses from happening to other families.


For Pickens County resident David Laws, opioid overdoses aren’t just statistics. Four years ago, Laws lost his daughter to an overdose and he has dedicated his life to keeping them from happening in the future. 

His daughter Laura’s battle with drugs began like so many others who become substance abusers. She was prescribed a liquid opioid after she broke her jaw playing sports in high school. That was when she was 15. It was just two years later when she OD’d at a friend’s house. Laura had been in and out of recovery, including detox and a 30-day residential treatment program, but her addiction finally won.

Drivers will see cellphone ban across the state if bill is passed


By Diane Wagner

Staff writer

Rome News-Tribune


Legislation banning the use of cellphones while driving is being drafted for the upcoming Georgia General Assembly session and, this time around, Rep. Eddie Lumsden expects wide support.

Texting while driving was banned in 2010, but the Armuchee Republican — who serves on the House Distracted Driving Study Committee — said the compromise bill failed to stem the rise of accidents with injuries or fatalities.

“The texting law is really ineffective,” Lumsden said Wednesday. “The penalties aren’t stringent enough and there are many loopholes.”

Retailers report positive holiday weekend

Holiday Gift Guide:

Click the image below to find our special section that features articles and ads from local businesses that will help you plan your shopping this season.  


Staff reports


While some local retailers reported better than normal Black Friday sales this year, others said Small Business Saturday brought more people into their stores. And overall, retailers said they are seeing similar numbers from last year.

An interesting observation made by two downtown merchants was that out-of-town shoppers made a noticeable impact in their holiday weekend sales.

At the Bargain Barn, Cynthia Spriggs said their advertised firearm specials left them “quite pleased” with Black Friday results. Spriggs said they were up a little from previous years at this point in the holiday season.