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East Coast pipeline shut down by cyberattack operated by Ga. company

Updated -- Statement from Governor's office -

Gov. Kemp Signs Executive Order to Temporarily Suspend Gas Tax in Georgia


Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp signed an executive order to temporarily suspend the gas tax in Georgia in light of the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack. The Governor also announced that Georgia is increasing the weight limits for trucks transporting fuel, providing more supply for stations as they receive deliveries. The order further prohibits price gouging by bad actors looking to exploit the situation.


“My office has been in close contact with company and industry officials since we first learned of the Colonial cyber attack over the weekend," said Governor Kemp. "Unfortunately, extensive media coverage has caused people to panic which has resulted in higher gas prices. We are taking action to relieve some of the cost burden from Georgians as Colonial recovers by suspending fuel taxes, increasing the weight limit for supply trucks, and prohibiting price gouging.


"We expect these measures to be temporary as Colonial plans to be fully up and running later this week. There is no need to rush to the gas station to fill up every tank you have and hoard gas. With the measures we have taken today, I am hopeful we can get more supply to stations and get through to this weekend when we hope Colonial will return to normal."


Original Story

By Dave Williams

Bureau Chief

Capitol Beat News Service

    ATLANTA - Gasoline prices could be headed up at the start of the summer driving season following the shutdown of a major pipeline hit by a cyberattack.

   Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline reported Friday it was the victim of an attack involving ransomware that forced one of the largest fuel transport systems in the nation to halt most of its operations. Colonial’s 5,500-mile pipeline system runs from Texas to New Jersey.

   Colonial has hired independent cybersecurity experts to determine the nature and scope of the ransomware attack and put an operations team to work developing a system restart plan with a goal of “substantially restoring operational service” by the end of this week, the company wrote in an update Monday.

Read more: East Coast pipeline shut down by cyberattack operated by Ga. company

Fourth of July festivities, fireworks back for 2021

fourth lotsa flags

      A scene from the last Independence Day celebration, held in 2019. COVID forced a cancellation, but the Lions Club says everything is set to return to action this year.


The Jasper Lions Club this week announced the return of their annual Fourth of July celebration, which like all other big events was cancelled last year due to COVID. 

“We are so excited to be hosting the 4th of July festivities,” said Jasper Lions President Leslie Miller. “We missed it so much in 2020, and being able to bring our decades-long tradition back feels like a big step forward to things getting back to ‘normal.’”

The local civic group has hosted Fourth of July festivities since 1939, barring one year during WWII and in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to bring the event back in 2021 was made a couple of weeks ago, and the Lions are going full steam ahead to get prepared.

  “After the governor lifted restrictions and we spoke with the city we started coming up with our plan,” Miller said. 

Read more: Fourth of July festivities, fireworks back for 2021

Menard named 2021 Pickens High STAR Student

star student and teacher Menard-Westbrook


photo/ Kyle Frantz Photography

STAR Student Brett Menard and STAR Teacher Christine Westbrook.

Submitted by Jasper Optimist Club


Pickens High School senior Brett Menard has been named the school’s 2021 PAGE STAR Student. The Optimist Club of Jasper, the local STAR program sponsor, announced the honor.  Menard selected Christine Westbrook as his STAR Teacher.  Mrs. Westbrook has taught for 27 years and currently teaches Honors and AP Biology at PHS. She is married to Ricky Westbrook.

Brett is the son of Mark and Michelle Menard of Jasper and he has one brother, Nick Menard. He earned the recognition as the STAR Student for academic achievement and performance on the SAT.  

Read more: Menard named 2021 Pickens High STAR Student

Burn ban now in effect in 54 north Georgia counties


        On May 1, a ban on outdoor burning begins in 54 Georgia counties, primarily in the northern half of the state. Affected residents are asked to refrain from burning yard and land clearing debris during the hot summer months because smoke can negatively impact the state’s air quality by contributing to high ozone levels. These conditions have been linked to lung and heart disease in humans.

“The restrictions are required by the state Environmental Protection Division,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Protection Chief Frank Sorrells. “By limiting outdoor burning, fewer chemicals and particle pollutants are released into the air.” The burn ban is in effect until September 1 in the following counties: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Coweta, Crawford, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee,

Paulding, Peach, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Putnam, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Twiggs, Upson, Walker and Walton.

Read more: Burn ban  now in effect in 54 north Georgia counties

“They’re Coming:” Development officials say growth is here

development new homes galore

        At Grandview at Gateway, new homes are popping up and being sold at a quick pace. Another two developments are also in some stage of construction along Highway 515 south of Jasper.


o describe where we sit on the development scale, Green Suttles, the joint Jasper/Pickens County economic developer, used an analogy of a grass fire with the metro area as the center and expanding outward. “I would say right now the edge of this grass fire is Ball Ground,” Suttles said in an April interview.

To add some figures to this, Suttles points out Gwinnett County has more than 900,000 people; 204,000 in Hall County and 258,000 in Cherokee County. “Now move over one inch on the map,” he said. His meaning that just barely moving your finger on a Georgia map puts you from dense population over to Pickens (population around 30,000). 

Both Pickens and Dawson counties are still mostly rural but just a slight movement in the neighboring populations and numbers will rise dramatically, he said.

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