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Rolling along - mountain bike park opens

bike group

        An enthusiastic crowd of mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, bee keepers, birders and outdoor lovers were on hand to officially dedicate the first trails at the Talking Rock Nature Preserve Saturday.


The increasingly-popular mountain bike trails in the Talking Rock Nature Preserve were officially dedicated Saturday with a ceremony on a day that also featured guided hikes and demo bikes.

Jon’s Trail was named in honor of local cyclist Jon Hudgens who died last year; another section of trails was named Nitro North and Nitro South to recognize Ken “Nitro” Nix who led the trail-building work.

The event Saturday was a dedication of the trails, but not a ribbon cutting said Bill Jones, the executive director of Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land. Jones said there are still quite a few options being explored for the 211-acre tract on Carns Mill Road, across Highway 515 from Biguns Barbecue.

Two brothers take on Great Wall marathon

great wall marathon2

Alexander Goble, left, and his brother Taylor after completing a grueling half-marathon on the Great Wall of China.

By Alexander Goble

“Beijing is like a crucible in which one cannot but be transformed.” An apt description of the city where I've found a second home, attributed to Mao Zedong no less, but the saying works for any foreign city one might live in. I find it a more appropriate description for the Great Wall Marathon, a race that occurs each April, falling on April 15th this year.

The marathon bills itself as "the most beautiful great wall, the most difficult marathon", running through a mountainous area 125 kilometers Northeast of Beijing called JinShanLing. If my Chinese was right (it's often wrong) I heard that there were about 1,300 runners this year from all around the world. We all stood near the starting line waiting for the "game" (as the Chinese translate it) to start and watched with amusement as the government representatives gave stuffy announcements for almost 10 minutes following a

Gov. Deal signs cellphone bill into law

Drivers will no longer be allowed to hold or support a phone with their body starting July 1



(Statesboro) -  Governor Nathan Deal made Georgia the 16th state in the nation to enact a law banning drivers from having a cellphone in their hand when he signed House Bill 673 Wednesday afternoon in Statesboro.

When the law takes effect on July 1 of this year, drivers will no longer be allowed to have a phone in their hand or supported by any part of their body.

“It’s second nature to pick up our phones when we are behind the wheel but if you have it in your hand when driving after July 1, you run the risk of getting a ticket,” Harris Blackwood, Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway said.  “While we encourage everyone to stay off their phones, we recommend drivers to implement now whatever they will need in order to place and receive calls without having the phone in their hands or on their bodies.”

Economic growth emerges as top issue at candidate forum

candidate forum school board

photo/Dan Pool

School board incumbent Byron Long’s response draws a laugh from challenger Tucker Green during the forum last week. Early voting is underway now.

        At the candidate forum hosted by the Pickens Progress Thursday, seven candidates from the three contested local races responded to questions from moderators and members of the public. 

If public officials and candidates’ family members are taken out of the count, attendance was disappointing as there were only a handful of people from the public present.   

Across the board, candidates expressed their love for the Jasper and Pickens County and desire for the community to be the best it can be. There were many overlapping platforms from candidates, who were all cordial during the forum.

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

Earth Day Paddle showcases beauty of Dawson Forest



Angela Reinhardt / Photo

Kayakers floating down the Etowah River for Mountain Conservation Trust’s Earth Day on the Etowah Paddle. 

It was around 10 a.m. the Saturday before Earth Day. Kayaks and canoes in a kaleidoscope of colors poured into the takeout site at Kelly Bridge in Dawson County, where they would soon be loaded onto shuttles and sent upstream with their owners/renters. 

The weather was shaping up to show off mother nature at its finest, an ideal scenario for Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia’s Earth Day on the Etowah Paddle that would take participants nearly 10 miles through Dawson Forest’s Wildlife Management Area. It was sunny, and despite it being a brisk 40 in the morning temps would get into the 70s by afternoon. The land trust’s director George Kimberly was busy checking people in when my party of three arrived. He told me attendance was up an impressive 300 percent, from 10 participants last year - the first year the event was held - to over 30.

After boats were stacked and secured on trailers, we got a rundown of what to expect from the Appalachian Outfitters shuttle service rep, followed by a safety lesson from a couple there as guides.