Get Adobe Flash player


Updated agenda for Oct. 10 planning meeting

The agenda for Monday's meeting was revised after our last edition came out.







DATE:                        October 10, 2016


TIME:             6:00 p.m.


LOCATION:  Pickens County Administrative Center - Commissioner’s Meeting Room










III.           OLD BUSINESS:


                        A.        TA-9-16-004              Chapter 74 Utilities Revisions & Modification        



IV.           NEW BUSINESS:


A.            Rezone Request RZ-08-16-1210  William Edward Simmons                                                2514 Hwy 515 South, Jasper, GA

                                                                  Highway Business (HB) to Suburban Residential (SR)


                                                                   5.167 Acres

B.          Text Amendment Discussion – Pet Cemeteries




V.             BOARD COMMENTS



            VI.       PUBLIC COMMENTS



            VII.      ADJOURNMENT

Fake charities seek donations for damage from hurricane in Haiti


    ATLANTA, GA – With thousands of Haiti residents recently devastated by Hurricane Matthew, well-meaning Georgians will consider donating to charities providing victim assistance. Secretary of State Brian Kemp encourages Georgians to research the organizations seeking donations for disaster relief efforts to avoid being scammed by fake charities.
     “When a catastrophe of this nature occurs, con artists seize the opportunity to prey on donors by holding themselves out as legitimate charitable organizations,” stated Secretary Kemp. “Do not be fooled by these scams. There are several, helpful resources that will help you verify the existence of a charity and make sure your contribution will reach Haiti’s hurricane victims in a meaningful way.”

Secretary Kemp issued the following tips for charitable giving:

- Research charities before you contribute. A number of online resources can help you research charities. The Better Business Bureau, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and Charity Watch provide detailed information about non-profit organizations. Also, take time to review the organization’s own website.
- Take the time to make sure that your money is really going to help those in need. Ask how much of your donation will go to the cause.  The percentage of your contribution that a charity spends on fundraising activities, employee salaries, or expenses which do not directly support the charity’s stated mission varies greatly by organization.
- Be wary of telephone solicitors asking for contributions. If you are solicited by phone, ask the individual to put the request in writing and provide detailed information and material about the charity and its program. Also, ask if the person conducting the solicitation is a volunteer or a paid fundraiser for that charity.
- Never give your credit card, debit card, or bank account information to a telephone solicitor. Be particularly cautious of couriers willing to rush out to your home or business to pick up your contribution.  Avoid sending cash donations. Donate by credit card or check directly to the charity.  Do not make payments to individuals. If your contribution exceeds $250, you should receive a letter from the charity confirming its charitable status as well as the amount of your donation.
- If a tax deduction is important to you, make sure the organization has a tax-deductible status with the Internal Revenue Service. “Tax exempt,” “non-profit”, and “tax-deductible” are not synonymous. Only “tax-deductible” means your contribution is deductible on your income tax return. If you contribute to a charity, make sure you get a receipt which shows the amount of your contribution and states that the contribution is tax-deductible. The IRS has a searchable database (“Exempt Organizations Check”) of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
- Not all organizations with charitable-sounding names are actually charities. Many organizations adopt names confusingly similar to well-known charities. Be sure you know exactly who is asking for your contribution. Sites like Charity Navigator can provide you a list of a charities that have a history of working on massive disasters. Here is a list of suggested charities from Charity Navigator:
Catholic Medical Mission Board
Childcare Worldwide
Children of the Nations
Direct Relief
Haitian Health Foundation
Heart to Heart International
Hope for Haiti’s Children
MAP International
Save the Children
Water Mission
The Charities Division encourages Georgians to contact division staff if they receive suspicious charitable solicitations. To report suspicious activity, call (404) 654-6023. You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to submit a complaint.
     Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting secure, accessible, and fair elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities, charities, and professional license holders.  For more information about the office, go to or follow Secretary Kemp on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube.

More charges against Miller

   Mark-MillerMark Miller booking photo.

     Last week the grand jury returned charges against suspected members of a statewide prison gang, added more charges against attorney Mark Miller and returning indictments against the former PHS student in a murder-for-hire case among their work. Other cases include:

• Grand Jury indicts Ghostface Gangster members for attempt to smuggle meth into jail
• Former PHS student indicted in murder-for-hire plot

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

Execution date set for inmate convicted of murder

Execution Date Set for Gregory Paul Lawler, Convicted of Murder
ATLANTA, GA- An execution date for Gregory Paul Lawler has been set for October 19, 2016. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens offers the following information in the case against Gregory Paul Lawler for the 1997 murder of Atlanta police officer John Sowa.  In addition to the murder of Officer Sowa, Lawler critically wounded Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

Scheduled Execution

Gregory Paul Lawler’s direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings have been concluded. Accordingly, on October 5, 2016, the Superior Court of Fulton County issued an order setting a seven-day period of time during which the execution of Gregory Paul Lawler may take place. The period of time ordered by the Superior Court will last from noon on October 19, 2016, to noon on October 26, 2016. The execution has been set for Wednesday evening, October 19, 2016.

Lawler’s Crime (October 12, 1997)

The Georgia Supreme Court summarized the facts of the crime as follows:

The evidence adduced at trial showed the following: Lawler and his girlfriend, Donna Rodgers, were drinking at a bar near their Atlanta apartment at approximately 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 12, 1997. Ms. Rodgers was very intoxicated. They left the bar and began walking home when they had some type of altercation in the parking lot of a pawn shop. A person at a nearby gas station believed that Lawler was striking an intoxicated Ms. Rodgers with a bag. He drove to a police station and reported what he had seen. Officer Cocciolone and Officer Sowa went to the parking lot and observed Ms. Rodgers sitting on a curb with Lawler trying to pull her to her feet. Lawler left the scene and walked to the apartment when the police arrived. The officers did not pursue Lawler; since Ms. Rodgers was intoxicated and lived only a short distance away, they decided to help her get home. They placed her in a patrol car and drove to her and Lawler's apartment, which was a two-story townhouse-style apartment with a ground floor door.

They parked on the street, escorted her up the walk (witnesses testified that she had difficulty standing), and knocked on the door. Lawler opened the door and began yelling "get the f--- away from my door" at the officers. After Ms. Rodgers was inside, he tried to shut the door on them. Officer Sowa put a hand up to prevent the door from shutting and said they were just trying to confirm that Ms. Rodgers lived there and that she would be okay. Lawler grabbed an AR-15 rifle he had placed next to the door when he saw the officers arrive and opened fire on the officers as they fled for cover. A neighbor testified that she heard a young man's voice shout, "Please don't shoot me"; another neighbor testified that she saw Lawler emerge from the apartment firing a gun; and a third neighbor testified that she saw the officers running with their backs to the apartment during the shooting. Lawler fired fifteen times; the police found three shell casings inside the apartment and the remainder outside the apartment. A fourth neighbor testified that seconds after the shooting he saw Lawler standing over the crumpled form of Officer Cocciolone holding what appeared to be a rifle; Lawler then ran back into the apartment. Lawler had fired penetrator bullets, which can pierce police body armor. 

Officer Cocciolone managed to send a radio distress call and other police officers arrived at the scene. They found the victims in front of Lawler's apartment, with Officer Sowa lying next to a parked car near the sidewalk and Officer Cocciolone collapsed on the front yard. Both officers still had their pistols snapped into their holsters. Officer Sowa was shot five times in the back, buttocks, and chest, and, according to the medical examiner, died almost immediately. Officer Cocciolone was hit three times in the head, arm, and buttocks. Despite a shattered pelvis, damaged intestines, and permanent brain injury, she survived and testified at Lawler's trial. 

One of the responding officers, Sergeant Adams, peered through Lawler's front window and saw Ms. Rodgers sitting on the floor. He opened the front door and entered the apartment. While inside, he heard footfalls upstairs and the sound of a rifle action being worked so he retreated from the apartment and took Ms. Rodgers with him. After a six-hour stand-off, a hostage negotiator convinced Lawler to surrender. The murder weapon, the AR-15 rifle, was found in the apartment along with numerous other firearms and several different types of ammunition. Lawler's co-worker testified that Lawler had expressed his "extreme dislike" of the police and stated that if any tried to enter his home he would be ready for them.

Lawler v. State, 276 Ga. 229, 230-231 (2003)

The Trial and Direct Appeal (2000-2003)

On March 1, 2000, following a jury trial, Lawler was convicted of malice murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer, aggravated battery on a peace officer, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.  The jury’s recommendation of a death sentence for malice murder was returned on March 3, 2000.  The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Lawler’s convictions and death sentence on January 27, 2003. Lawler v. State, 276 Ga. 229 (2003).  The United States Supreme Court denied Lawler’s request to appeal on October 6, 2003.  Lawler v. Georgia, 540 U.S. 934 (2003).  

State Habeas Corpus Proceedings (2004-2010)

Lawler filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on January 9, 2004.  An evidentiary hearing was held on February 5-7, 2007.  On December 2, 2008, the state habeas corpus court entered an order denying Lawler state habeas relief.  The Georgia Supreme Court denied Lawler’s appeal on June 7, 2010.  The United States Supreme Court denied Lawler’s request to appeal on November 8, 2010.  Lawler v. Hall, 562 U.S. 1031 (2010).


Federal Habeas Corpus Proceedings (2011-2016)

Lawler filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on February 25, 2011.  On April 2, 2014, the district court denied Lawler federal habeas relief.  The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of relief on December 10, 2015.  Lawler v. Warden, 631 Fed. Appx. 905 (11th Cir. 2015).  The United States Supreme Court denied Lawler’s request to appeal on October 3, 2016. Lawler v. Chatman, 2016 U.S. LEXIS 5701 (2016).



Hospital staff challenged by a group of students

student-hospital-challenge 1224

        PHS students and Piedmont employees promoting their upcoming 5K Walk at Roper Park to raise money for the Friends of Mountainside to help purchase a Zeiss Microscope for the hospital.

     Friday a group of Pickens High students challenged the staff at Piedmont Mountainside to raise more money and bring more people to an Oct, 29th 5K Walk at Roper Park.
    The walk, which requests a $25 donation to participate or sponsor a walker, will raise money for the Friends of Mountainside to help purchase a Zeiss Microscope for the hospital.