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Understanding the different drought indicators for Pickens County

 By Rachel Wigington,

County Extension Agent

 (October 19, 2016) As the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and the local water departments in the counties continue to work together on water-related issues, we have discovered that there are two entities that monitor drought levels throughout the state – the National Drought Mitigation Center and the Environmental Protection Division.

The National Drought Mitigation Center developed the Drought Monitor to keep the public informed of changes in drought and provides measures that the public can take to prepare and ease the societal vulnerability.

Board of Education speaks out about senior tax exemption

“Opportunity School District” also denounced by board


     For at least the second time in the last year a representative of Pickens Seniors for Change - an advocacy group for senior property tax exemption - petitioned the school board to help seniors from being “taxed into poverty.” 
    “We don’t get raises in Social Security,” Lee Williamson told the board at their Thursday, Oct. 21 meeting. “We were promised in December a panel would be formed to discuss this and so far I’ve heard nothing.”

See full story in this week's print or online editions, including comments from the board about their opposition to the "Opportunity School District" referendum.

No trace of missing Preserve man


Friday Morning Update -- The sheriff spokesman said no trace of Mr. Thebaut had been found as of late Thursday. They are planning a large grid style search, beginning Saturday using trained volunteers from around the state. The public should be advised they will be using the Old Lawson Chevrolet building on Highway 515 as their staging area, command post if anyone notices a large law enforcement presence there over the weekend. The sheriff also released a Missing flyer, see bottom of this article.


     At press time Tuesday, the last known sighting of Ben Thebaut, a 79-year-old resident of the Preserve at Sharp Mountain, was him waving at a neighbor when he left on a hike Sunday afternoon.
    He was reported missing later that day by his wife when he did not return home.  Since then dozens of emergency responders and trained volunteers from here and neighboring areas have spent countless hours combing the trails in the large gated subdivision, using bloodhounds and helicopters with special heat-sensing scanners.
    But not one clue to Thebaut’s whereabouts had been found as of press time.
    “It’s a strange one,” said Sheriff Spokesman Kris Stancil. “We have not turned up anything.”

5-year-old ‘doing well, considering’ after dog bite

     progress squareA five-year-old girl who was bitten on the face, cheek and neck by a dog her family had just adopted from the county animal shelter is “doing well” her father said Thursday morning.
    John Ellison, of Hobson Road, said his daughter was bitten by the dog 45 minutes after bringing him home from the shelter Tuesday, Oct. 11th. The girl was released from Scottish Rite Thursday morning.

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

One killed in tour bus, tractor-trailer wreck


Damon Howell Pickens Progress/photo

The driver of a tour bus was killed and more than 30 passengers injured after the bus and a tractor-trailer collided on Highway 515 at Whitestone Road, just across the Gilmer County line mid-morning Thursday.

The Ellijay Times Courier reported, "A tour bus heading north on Highway 515 collided with a semitruck pulling out of Whitestone Road. Capt. Frank Copeland of the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office said one of the injured was transported by helicopter, the rest by ambulance."

All medical units from Pickens and Gilmer counties responded to transport those injured from the bus.

Traffic on Highway 515 in both directions was backed up for most of the morning.