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Talking Rock tree lighting ushers in the season


Ralph Dennis / Photo

If you missed Santa in Talking Rock, look for him in Ball Ground Friday and in Jasper on Saturday and at businesses around the area. See Christmas event information throughout this edition.

By Ralph O. Dennis

Contributing writer


With absolutely perfect weather, the town of Talking Rock held its annual Christmas tree lighting Saturday. The tree site and festivity area was moved in front of the caboose where it was several years ago. 

The last two years the town went with a living tree planted beside the old schoolhouse. Both of those trees died and with that in mind, the council decided to move it back to the old location and use a cut tree.

Burnt Mountain used for indie filming location

“It’s one of my favorite places,” director says



Photo / Bryan Tan

The director of “Ends” selected Tate Mountain Estates on Burnt Mountain for its natural, isolated beauty and relationship to themes in the film. 


        Even though he’s never lived there, David Tabor has spent countless hours on Burnt Mountain inside the Tate Mountain Estates community. 

“I’ve spent so much time in that place and I fell in love with that world,” Tabor said, who used it as the sole filming location for his short  “Ends,” and who wants to use it and other areas in north Georgia for a full-length version called “Ends: Aliens & Old People.”

Jasper bicyclist completes 13,000 mile trip around America


       Mike McGhee on his touring bicycle after riding the perimeter of the nation.

Click here to follow along with McGhee's adventures on his blog.


Mike McGhee cruised back into town Thursday on his bicycle after a 13,334-mile trip around the perimeter of the United States, saying that it was mostly fun.

Arriving a month ahead of schedule after departing on January 1, the Jasper cyclist was on his third bicycle and had spent a month recuperating after being hit by a truck in Texas on March 6 (which destroyed bike #1). 

Looking back over the many days, McGhee described the trip as fun  - doing something he enjoyed and visiting towns where he could have the occasional beer and a good meal and find lodging when he needed it.

“I got to see stuff, talk to people,” he said. “It’s a simple lifestyle; you know exactly what you are going to do the next day.”

Whipping up life skills at the Dragon Table

tiny-grant-IMG 1396

Angela Reinhardt / Photo

Pickens High School’s special education students take turns adding ingredients to make a batch of cookie dough for the Dragon Snack program, funded in part by the state’s Innovation Fund Tiny Grant.



On a recent afternoon, the smell of fresh baked cookies filled the Dragon Snack Shack at Pickens High School, where special education students were busy measuring, pouring, and mixing up the week’s batch of goodies - oatmeal peanut butter cookies. 

“We’ll do muffins, cookies, and other types of treats each week,” said special ed teacher Diane Hicks, who along with teacher Darya Schmidt wrote and received a $6,500 grant through the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement for their Dragon Table program, which has four project areas where special ed students develop a variety of life and business skills.  

Jasper Merchants trying to salvage New Year’s party


A shot from one of the downtown New Year's Eve celebrations hosted by the City of Japser. 

        The Jasper Merchants Association is working to salvage the New Year’s Eve celebration after the city council voted to not fund it at their last meeting. However, the volunteer group knows it won’t be easy to get the party started.

“It’s not a done deal,” said the merchant’s vice president Kirk Raffield. “I’m not going to say we are going to have one, but we will go before the council and petition them to let it occur.” Be sure to see our editorial this week, "Time is of the essence with New Year's Eve decision.

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