Pickens County veterans at a Memorial Day observance in 2008
"We are going to open," said Kirk Kondos, the man leading the effort to establish a VA-assisted veterans information and referral office for Pickens County. The idea of locating such an office here has been projected since last August when VA representative Ron Hackney visited Jasper to inform local veterans and interested others of the possibility.
A veterans information and referral office (a VIRO) is a county-based office manned by volunteers with the mission of advising United States military veterans on where and how to apply for benefits through the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.
There is a VA hospital on Clairmont Road in Decatur and a VA office at the same location that assists veterans in applying for all types of veterans' benefits, Hackney explained in August, but a VIRO in Pickens County could connect local veterans to information on VA services they seek while saving them the drive to metro Atlanta.
Shelves at the Community Thrift Store on Cares Drive sit empty after Christmas, the sluggish economy and winter storms.
The Pickens County Community Thrift Store was already feeling the pinch of families still reeling from Christmas debt and an unfriendly economy. Then came the “White Christmas snows” followed by the post-Christmas ice storms that locked down the area for days.
“This after-Christmas period is traditionally a slow season for donations,” explained Thrift Store founder Don Russell. “But factor in the economy and the weather and our intake is way down.”
Clean out…a cure for winter blues:
With more of winter’s freezing winds just around the corner, the need for warm clothing has never been greater. Russell suggests that this might be a good time to clean out the attic or closets, bag up those items people have been meaning to get rid of, and bring them to the Thrift Store. “If people have items they mean to donate, the time to do it is right now,” he emphasized.
Store still offers a good selection of bargains:
Students from Tate Elementary's reading bowl team celebrate their first place finish at the regional level Saturday.
The team competed against schools from across North Georgia by answering questions on books from a list used by all teams.
The team from Pickens High finished second at the high school level of the competition on the same day.
Both teams will advance to the next round in the statewide competition.
“We need to raise awareness and get this under control,” says county marshal
Shown are hundreds of pounds of trash at a large illegal dumpsite on Carns Mill Road off Hwy 515.
In the last year Pickens County Marshal Jim Harvey has written 43 citations for illegally dumping trash inside county lines.
Now Harvey is on a mission to inform the public about the seriousness of the problem and the potential severity of littering fines and imprisonment. He also wants to encourage people to report suspicious activity if they see it to aid in future investigations.
“We need to raise awareness and get this under control,” he said. “It’s just getting completely out of hand.” Harvey says he has been so busy pursuing illegal dumpers that he has been unable to focus on his other primary responsibility as marshal, that of collecting delinquent taxes from pre-bill mobile homes, which is says is costing the county thousands of dollars.
You can more about Harvey’s efforts in this week’s print edition.
Speaking at the January commissioner’s meeting, Pickens resident and Pickens County TEA Party Public Information Officer Nancy Davis expressed concern that the future location of the Pickens County Elections & Registration Office (shown above) is not “voter friendly.”
According to Elections Supervisor Julianne Roberts, the office will be relocated from the Pickens County Administration Building on East Church Street into a building on Pioneer Road, formerly the Hair Hutch, beginning March 21 of this year.
Roberts said the office will continue to conduct the same functions it currently serves, including voter registration and early voting.
“I am handicapped, and there is insufficient parking,” Davis said, adding that the majority of parking at the former Hair Hutch is on a slant, and further that when backing out from the building, voters will be pulling into a main road with heavy traffic from Chattahoochee Technical College.
Davis said Pickens has a large senior voting population she feels will have difficulty at the new building because of its limited parking.
“It could be used as early voting, but it’s not a precinct,” Jones reminded. “Voters still have to go to their polling places. It’s not like we’re segregating anybody out.”
Pickens County Attorney Phil Landrum, III said the county opted to relocate the office following an ethics complaint filed in 2009 in which the county was accused of violating the prohibition against campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place.