Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Voting in Lumpkin

Instead of standing in line this election day, we voted early. And while casting our votes, Dahlonega and Beyond learned a thing or two or in this case, six:
  1. Don't tell the poll worker that you plan to Vote early. Vote often. While that is the general consensus of some states (one of which we used to live in), Vote early. Vote often is NOT acceptable in Lumpkin. It's also a statement that can you get booted from the polling center.
  2. The Sunday wine and beer sales option was, indeed, on the ballot. 
  3. Voting in Lumpkin is high tech. First, they scan in your driver's license to ensure that you are who you say you are, all the verification is done via computer, and you use a computer card and computer to cast your vote.
  4. You'll be voting on more than a choice for U.S. President. We were surprised to find an amendment on the ballot for contracts and purchasing goods in Ga. Guess we should have done our homework better on the 'extras' we were going to be asked to vote on.
  5. Write-ins are an option. One of us voted a straight ballot, and the other (always the rebel) was more selective, voting on each office, and, in some cases, casting a Write-in vote. 
  6. No political signs lined the sidewalk outside the voting center, unlike at previous elections. Guess the Obama and Romney campaigns felt that by the time you reached the polls, you had your mind made up. (And besides Lumpkin is not exactly a land of undecideds.)
Voting is one of the best parts of being an American citizen. It's a citizen's duty and a privilege. Plus, in Georgia, you also get a fancy orange I'm a Georgia Voter sticker. One thing is for sure, we'll be seeing a lot more of those stickers in coming days.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Liquor Question on the Ballot

The decision to sell wine and beer on Sunday in Lumpkin County is now in the hands of the voters. After months of arguments, editorials, speeches, and signs, the County Commission (by one vote) agreed to put the Sunday liquor sales referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The controversy surrounding Sunday sales centered on the people having a right to vote on an issue that affects the entire county. The argument ultimately doomed the political career of one Lumpkin's commissioner. Because of his stubbornness and refusal to allow the referendum to be put up to public vote, the people voted him out of office in August.

Emotions are still high regarding Sunday sales, on both sides of the issue. Our stance since the referendum first became an issue has been that the people have the right to it yes or no. But no matter which side of the debate you are on, please vote. Once the votes are tallied, the commissioners will know how their constituents feel on the issue...and the people will have spoken.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Bernard by Any Other Name

When the announcement came in January that North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College were combining, faculty, students and grads all were concerned about what would happen to school programs, curriculum, and staffing.

Few people, at that time, thought about the fate of the Fighting Geese and the Saint Bernard. (The aggressive birds and the reverent canine are the mascots for Gainesville College and NGCSU, respectively.)

The joining of the two schools meant either one of the mascots would be killed off or, worse yet, both would have to disappear to make way for a new mascot for the soon-to-be University of North Georgia?

Gainesville's Fighting Geese  Laker
What should the newly formed university do? Keep the Saints or the Geese? Or perhaps combine the two, i.e. the Fighting Bernards, the Saintly Geese, the Fighting Saints, or maybe even Bernie the Goose.

The NGCSU Saint
A Name that Mascot committee pondered the dilemma and came up with three possible mascot contenders: Golden Eagles, Nighthawks and Warriors.

Then, the students, faculty, staff and others were asked to vote for one of the three. Votes are in and tallied...and  the winner is the Nighthawks.

The reviews for the new mascot are mixed."Not tough enough for me...nighthawks just fly around eating insects," said one student in a Gainesville Times interview. Another declared, "I LOVE IT....NOBODY else has this mascot anywhere near us!"

To be honest, we think we know why no other schools in the area are Nighthawks. It's a weird selection. Maybe the Fighting Saints would have been better. Oh well, the election is over. Can't wait to see the Nighthawk mascot parading around at a UNG basketball game!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Love Hate Relationship with Walmart

Anti Walmart graffiti outside Dahlonega, Ga.
Walmart. That one word can conjure up considerable emotions. Some people LOVE Walmart. Others HATE the super chain.

For example, take the Walmart graffiti on an abandoned building outside of Dahlonega. An obviously disgruntled Walmart shopper has declared his disdain for the mega super chain, with bright blue anti-Walmart art work urging a store boycott

Initially, D&B were Walmart haters, although we never reverted to graffiti to express our opinions. Both of us are from small towns in Louisiana where Walmart came in and, within, a couple of years, ran the homegrown retailers out of business.

For years, we didn't shop Walmart, going to Kmart at first and then to Target or the major grocery chains instead.

Then, we moved to Dahlonega. Here Walmart is THE place to shop. It's where we go for groceries, pens and  paper, cosmetics, dog food, detergent...and the list goes on. While we may not have converted completely to Walmart Lovers, we do shop there. In fact, now when a family member asks, "Where did you get that," the answer most of the time is "Walmart."

And just in case anyone asks, when it comes to us, the local store has always honored the Walmart policies. But obviously, for one local resident, that hasn't been the case.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thank You, Sandra Deal

Georgia's First Lady Sandra Deal stresses reading.
Thank you, Sandra Deal. Thank you for coming to Dahlonega to talk about your love of reading and your and Governor Nathan Deal's passion for education.

Thank you for helping us send a strong message to the 'movers and shakers' of Lumpkin county and for pointing out that when a business can't find properly trained employees, they go elsewhere. Those words resonated throughout the audience.

Unemployment in Lumpkin, hovering around 9%, is higher than the state and the national averages. Lumpkin wants to bring new business to the county and expand the businesses we have, but we can't do that until we improve the education skills of our workforce.

Over 3,000 people in Lumpkin over 25 years old can not read. That's a lot of people, especially when you consider that illiteracy costs the U.S. approximately $240 billion a year in lost productivity, law enforcement, and unrealized tax revenues. (Source Washington County Illiteracy Council.)

"Education is the best gift we can give our children and the people of our state," said Mrs. Deal. And she is right. Now we must focus on educating our children and helping those who missed out, those who need to learn to read, who need a GED, and who can improve their quality of life.

Again, thank you Sandra Deal. Because you took time to speak to the Adult Learning in Lumpkin (ALL) Summit on Oct. 10, people are talking about illiteracy in Lumpkin and how it impacts our economy.
Ga. Senator Steve Gooch (left) with NGCSU's President Bonita Jacobs with Sandra Deal (right.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lessons Learned at Lumpkin Learning Summit

Literacy (or the lack of) is a problem in Lumpkin. That's what we learned at the Adult Learning in Lumpkin (ALL) Summit here in Dahlonega on Oct. 10.

Over 100 people - judges, county commissioners, state representatives, Lumpkin and NGCSU educational leaders and other area dignitaries - attended the half day summit presented by State Senator Steve Gooch.

One of the highlights of the event (besides a keynote address from Georgia's First Lady Sandra Deal) was a panel of leaders talking about literacy and how we (the county and state) are tackling the issue. Here's what we learned from the panelists:

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard - Not being able to read is a problem with inmates. The jail had to video tape the reading of the Do and Don't jail handbook because so many inmates couldn't read it. The Sheriff's department strongly supports the GED program, offering GED classes for jail inmates."We have had 50 to 60 graduates from our GED program." Sheriff Jarrard sees that education is key to lowering the crime rate, and he needs volunteers for the GED program.

Dr. Bonita Jacobs, President of NGCSU - With the upcoming consolidation (NGCSU and Gainesville College), the soon-to-be University of North Georgia can create multiple paths for people to work for advanced degrees. "I long for the day," she emphasized, "when we are bringing in more businesses so that our graduates who want to stay here can."

Tricia Pridemore, Executive Director, Governor's Office of Workforce Development - "The most frequently asked question when businesses look to Georgia," said Ms. Pridemore, "is 'Can the work force do the job?'" Businesses want to know what it will take to train people for their jobs, she added. (Oh by the way, did you know that Georgia is the 33rd largest economy in the world?)
Roger Yonts, HR Director, Koyo Bearings - According to Yonts, when the large Lumpkin employer Koyo hires, they first look at the applicants' education qualifications because "Education is critical...everything our employees do is based on their being able to read." Yonts also confirmed what we already new job competition is fierce in Lumpkin. At a recent job fair, 400 applicants applied for 45 openings at the Dahlonega Koyo plant.

Dewey Moye, Lumpkin County Superintendent of SchoolsThe Lumpkin school system is committed to a 100 percent graduation rate and for students to be on level at the third grade. The school system is also pushing parental involvement, especially in the high school years. The goal, Moye stressed, is to get each parent on the high school campus at least once.

In summary, at the we learned that the more educated the community, the more appealing the community. Education is the only way we can be successful.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why We and Warren Buffet Love Small Town Newspapers

It's Wednesday, Nugget day, the day that The Dahlonega Nugget hits the stands and our mailbox.  
We love The Nugget and read it cover-to-cover to catch up on police reports, read Wayne Knuckles' editorials, see what questions Dr. John (the County Commission Chairman) is answering in his column, and check to see if any Lamar Photography photos are published.

The Nugget is our home town newspaper - a photo-rich, information packed paper that keeps us informed on upcoming social events, festivals, sport scores, and so much more. The Nugget is more than just pictures and words on a page. It's a printed forum for local Lumpkin residents, politicians, school leaders and community organizers.

One of our do-not-miss sections is the Letters to Editor page and/or pages. Thee written commentaries and personal missives record the pulse of the county. (And yes, D&B has had at least one "Got to get this off my chest" letter published.)

Perhaps one of the main reason for my Nugget Love is that a small town newspaper is where I got my first job and where I became a news junkie. 

Based on investment reports, looks like I am not the only one who loves the hometown newspaper.  Seems that savvy investment guru Warren Buffet  has invested lots of millions in small town newspapers. Why, you ask? Because, according to The Street, "Local small town papers.... focus on providing the news that everyone wants like sports and other local affairs." And that's just the role that Dahlonega's Nugget does.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Literacy and Lumpkin

Next time you are in line at Walmart*, look at the person in front of you and then at the person behind you. Based on statistics in Lumpkin County, it's possible that neither of those people can read.

That's what a member of the Lumpkin Literacy Coalition said to me at a meeting once. Unfortunately, she's right. According to U.S. Census reports and other literacy studies, one third of the adults in Lumpkin County are not able to read. (Latest estimates are the number of non-readers and low readers is around 3,300.)

Imagine shopping and not being able to read. You can't read the labels. You can't read the signs. You can't read your receipt.

Now imagine your child asks you to read a story. Or the teacher sends you a form to fill out. Or you have a job application to complete. Or a test to take to get a job. Not being able to read is a handicap to the non-reader, and, regretfully, a handicap also to our county. Companies want an educated, skilled workforce.

Ga.'s First Lady
The county's non-literacy rate and its impact on the local economy are the main topics of  the Adult Learning (ALL) Summit taking place in Dahlonega Wednesday, Oct. 10, at North Georgia College and State University (NGCSU).

Senator Steve Gooch, who heads the county's Business Development Authority is presenting the Summit which will feature Sandra Deal, Georgia's First Lady and a former teacher, as keynote speaker.

The hope of the half day meeting is that the attendees - important business, civic and government leaders - will realize how critical the literacy issue is and vow to do more to support the efforts of the Lumpkin Literacy Coalition and local GED program. (By more, we mean MORE than just buying a ticket to a Literacy Coalition event or writing a check.)

*Note to readers: Walmart is the only major grocery store/shopping center in Lumpkin and is an oft-frequented store by Dahlonega and Beyond. In fact, D&B were there today.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How We Protest in Dahlonega and Beyond

In so many parts of the world, when you get angry, you get a few thousand of your closest friends, relatives, and acquaintances together and riot. You burn a few buildings. Turn over a dozen or so cars. Throw heavy rocks at police officers. And, of course, you scream chants incessantly loud over and over  while waving your fists in the air.
Europe protest photo by Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty

Fortunately, oh so fortunately, that's not how people in Dahlonega and Beyond react when they get mad. Here in North Georgia, we show our anger without taking to the streets, burning and looting

Here are a few examples of how people in our part of the world show their disdain:

  1. Earlier this year, residents were angry, very angry, with County Commissioner Tim Bowden's seemingly disregard for voters. So, Commissioner Bowden was voted out of office.
  2. A local distraught Walmart shopper, instead of rioting over a perceived misjustice, picked up a paint brush, a couple of cans of paint and painted a huge Don't Shop at Walmart sign on an abandoned building on Hwy. 9.
  3. A Lumpkin homeowner, angered by a commissioner's actions (which she and others viewed as lawbreaking), printed up fliers, stood on a street corner and handed out her missives as voters went to the polls.
  4. Upset with the response from a Lumpkin County Sheriff's deputy, a member of the Dahlonega Women's Club penned a scathing Letter to the Editor for The Dahlonega Nugget.
While the people in our area may show their dissatisfaction in non-violent ways, don't think we don't value our freedom and will fight for them. Our love of freedom and are country are quite evident to anyone who sees the war memorial on Dahlonega's town square or the graves of war veterans in local cemeteries.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bikes to Zip thru Dahlonega

The Dahlonega area, with their curvy and mountainous roads, has long been a favorite of Harley, BMW, Yamaha and other motorcycle riders.

However, the other kind of bikes - the non-motorized kinds - are going to be filling the square this Saturday by the hundreds when Dahlonega hosts the 2nd Annual Six Gap Criterium, one of Georgia's premier cycling events.

While the event is open to riders from though out the region, don't expect to see the type of two-wheelers you rode as a child. The bicycles in this race are big-time bikes, some costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Cyclists from ten to 50 (and beyond), along with many of the Southeast's biggest stars in cycling, are expected to participate in the scenic Criterium. They will ride on a one kilometer closed circuit around the historic town square, along West Main Street and on the NGCSU campus. Cyclists can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour as they speed along the curvy and hilly course and compete for medals as well as thousands of dollars in prize money,

You can expect to see cyclyists riding through town from 3:30 to 8:30. The Junior Races start at 3:30 p.m. and the Men's Pro-Am at 7:30 p.m. The race is open to the public, and race organizers expect thousands of people to fill the square or line the route to cheer on the bikers.

And if watching cyclists speed around Dahlonega's curves isn't enough excitement for you, there's a Bike Expo in town and, of course, all the downtown shops will be open.

The Six Gap Criterium is the final event in the Georgia Championship Series (GCS). Many of those participating in the Saturday event will also ride in the strenuous, sometimes treacherous, Six Gap Century and Three Gap Fifty Bike Races on Sunday, Sept. 30.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Murder and Mayhem in Lumpkin

Yes, folks. There is murder and mayhem right here in Lumpkin County. Well, murder might be stretching the truth just a tad, but there definitely is some mayhem.

The story starts several weeks ago when the Dahlonega Women's Club displayed their first scarecrows around town to promote the organization's Scarecrow Stomp, a fundraiser and contest based on scarecrow building and scarecrow creativity. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the mayhem (and first of the many incidents) began.

One scarecrow disappeared, then another, and another. What happened next was even more disturbing. Someone (or someones) burned a scarecrow right where he/she stood. A news story in the Dahlonega Nugget, calling attention to the disappearances, and burning, seemed to quell the mayhem for a while.

But it wasn't long before scarecrows began disappearing again. Not just in downtown Dahlonega, but along county roads, in front of churches, and next to local businesses.

The scarecrows on display went missing at the Dahlonega Funeral Home, Woody's Barber Shop, the United Community Bank and the Dahlonega Baptist Church were all attacked and wrecked. The anti-scarecrow folks even stole the Uncle Sam scarecrow. (Ironically, among the missing is a scarecrow a deputy sheriff's uniform.)

"While they have small monetary value per se, they (the scarecrows) represent the collective work and enthusiasm of people trying to do good for the community," wrote Leah Ratzel in an editorial published in this week's Nugget. Sadden by "this reception in our community," Ratzel wrote that nearby towns have similar festivals, yet they "have no problem with vandalism. What's up with Lumpkin County."

It is sad, extremely sad, that a group of thugs (yes, I said thugs) have acted so irresponsibly. Having total disregard for the work of others. Destruction of property. Theft. Vandalism. These are not behaviors we want in Lumpkin.

Mayhem is not funny. It is a crime. Let's hope this vandalism doesn't deter the Dahlonega Women's Club from sponsoring Scarecrow Stomp again next year.

Scarecrow Stomp's Missing (Scare)Persons

Photos compliments of the Dahlonega Women's Club, Facebook

It's Fall Says Uncle Shuck's!

Before we moved to Dahlonega and Beyond, leaves turning bright orange and red were our signal that fall had arrived. But in our world now, the first real sign of fall is the opening of Uncle Shuck's Corn Maze in Dawsonville.  

Uncle Shuck's, which opened officially on Labor Day, is a green island -  of corn stalk rows, bright colored tents, tractors, horses, kids (lots of kids) and pumpkins, too.

When you leave anywhere near Dawsonville, you can expect to experience traffic backups for miles on 400 and Hwy. 53 as corn shucking, maze loving folks journey to this North Georgia hot spot on fall weekends. (FYI, this popular fun maze is not too far from the corner of Hwy. 400 and Hwy. 53.)

Uncle Shuck's isn't the only place for fall fun up here in Dahlonega and Beyond.
Imagine maneuvering through this maze!
Tourists (and we up here love our tourists) migrate to North Georgia for fall to experience the breath-taking colors, hand-picked apples, fun festivals, palate pleasing wines, and winding mountain trails.

How lucky we are to live here in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and all they offer.

(Photos from Uncle Shuck's.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Candidate for Cruiseaholic Anonymous

Okay. I'm just going to say it. I'm a Cruiseaholic. It's a sickness that I've had for about 20 years now. And, as I get older, I've found that the only remedy is, of course, another cruise.

How do you know if you're a Cruiseaholic? If you answer Yes to two or more of the following questions, you're definitely a Cruiseaholic and perhaps a possible candidate for Cruiseaholic Anonymous.
  1. Is there is a separate section of your closet just for your 'cruise clothes'?
  2. Is one of your photo albums filled with ship photographer portraits?
  3. Have you been or will you go to Cozumel this year?
  4. Is the Bahama Mama one of your favorite adult beverages?
  5. Do you have at least one drawer filled with t-shirts you purchased on cruises?
  6. Are you looking for cruise destinations for 2014? 
  7. On your last cruise, did you pre-book a future cruise?
  8. Have you bookmarked the URL for Cruise Critic?
  9. Are you on a first-name basis with a cruise travel agent?
  10. And, of course, do you own at least one Cruiseaholic luggage tag?
 Have any more Cruiseaholic signs that you want to share? D&B would love to hear them!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's Back - Dawsonville Pool Room

Bully burgers are back !
Bully Burger lovers rejoice! The Dawsonville Pool Room (DPR) is open again. Closed in the spring by those infernal revenooers, the legendary Pool Room opened its doors on Labor Day Weekend much to the joy of Dawsonvillians and DPR fans worldwide.

On May 9, a force of Georgia state revenooers stormed into the restaurant during a lunch service, grabbed the cash register, ordered patrons out and shut the Pool Room down. Since that date the Pirkle family has worked with the government to regain possession of the restaurant and pay back a tax debt totally almost $40,000.

When word came that the restaurant doors had shuttered, the community rallied in support of Pirkle and the Pool Room, both icons in the county and in NASCAR racing circles. Groups and individuals have thrown fundraisers for the Pirkle family, created a Facebook page (Save the Dawsonville Pool Room) and written letters of support to local newspapers.

Pirkle plans to have an official grand opening in coming weeks. Until then, the Pool Room is open for lunch and dinner. Breakfast will be added later. As for the menu,  have no fear. The menu hasn't changed. Bully Burgers, those classic Pool Room fries, and the yummy daily Meat and Two specials are still available.

Dahlonega and Beyond urges all to journey to the Pool Room and support this historic venue by attending a fundraiser hosted by Save the Pool Room supporters. Two of those fundraisers are planned for coming weeks - Sept. 29 car show at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville and an Oct. 5 Murder Mystery Dinner Theater event at the Peach Brandy Cottage.

Welcome back, Dawsonville Pool Room. We missed you. 

(Bully Burger photo compliments of Foodspotting)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is Catching Fire Coming to Dawsonville?

Rumors are that filming starts September 10 for the Catching Fire, sequel to the archery-laden film Hunger Games. Film directors decided not to go back to North Carolina where Hunger Games was filmed but to use movie-friendly Georgia as the set for part two in Suzanne Collin's Hunger Game series.

Casting for movie extras for Catching Fire has already started. There might even be an extra spot or two still available. Check out the movie's casting call.

What's great about Catching Fire's filming, according to the rumors, is that movie crews may be coming to Dawsonville, Ga., again. Earlier this year, movie crews spent a week in Dawsonville filming Clint Eastwood's new movie, Trouble with the Curve. (Who knew that Dawsonville was so photogenic?)

And it's with tremendous anticipation that we wait for some of the stars to actually appear in Dawsonville. Here's hoping we run in to a star or two in Walmart or at The Varsity - Dawsonville.

Here are just a Catching Fire Cast that we could see:
  • Jennifer Lawrence 
  • Josh Hutcherson
  • Liam Hemsworth
  • Donald Sutherland
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • Stanley Tucci
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Elizabeth Banks
  • Amanda Plummer
  • Woody Harrelson

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No to Bowden. Yes to the Stealth Candidate.

The people have spoken. Tim Bowden was voted out as District 2 Commissioner for Lumpkin County in the recent run-off election.

Steve Shaw, sort of a stealth candidate, bested Bowden by about 15% of the votes. The total was BOWDEN 1257 (42.55%) and SHAW 1697 votes (57.45%).

As District 2 residents who weren't too happy with Commissioner Bowden, we can only hope that Mr. Shaw will be a better representative for our area. Unfortunately, we don't know  that much about Mr. Shaw. He's what we call the stealth or mystery-man candidate.

The soon-to-be Commissioner Shaw didn't spend a lot of time handshaking, kissing babies, riding in parades, hosting fundraisers or going to campaign events. He was a no-show at the major candidate debates. The Dahlonega Nugget even had a hard time tracking him down for an article on candidate position statements and qualifications.

Let's hope that newly elected Commissioner Shaw has time to devote to his new part-time county job, and that he won't be so hard to find when a constituent has a question or wants to talk to him. We can also hope that if Mr. Shaw is given a key to the county, he won't lose it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's a Bee-utiful Life

Yes, life in Dahlonega and Beyond if bee-utiful. In fact, because of all the buzz in the air, this author hasn't had much blog posting time.

Why, no blogging you ask? Well, this is D's first year as a board member of Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition (LCLC), a non-profit devoted to improving the literacy rates in our area and to improving people's reading skills. As LCLC Awareness Chairperson, D's role is to promote our organization and, of course, to 'Bee Cool."

That's just what we have been doing. Instead of blogging, we've bee-come bee-centered, working hard to create a bee buzz, and spreading the honey on thick to promote the Lumpkin Literacy's Annual Adult Spelling Bee. (Yes, that sentence isn't exactly English teacher worthy.)

The Bee, one of LCLC's major fundraisers, is Sept. 11, at the Holly Theater in Dahlonega, at 7 p.m. It's is such a fun night. Adults in teams of three attempt to spell such challenging words as chimerical and farraginous. Go ahead. Admit it. You could correctly spell these without any trouble, right? We will be the first to admit, neither of these words appear in our vocabulary often. But then, a lot of words on last year's list that aren't exactly every day words for we Lumpkinites.

Oh, and if you would LOVE to attend this year's Spelling Bee, we've got tickets to sell. Just $10 each!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Eastwood, Timberlake and Dawsonville, Ga.

The trailer is out....the one to promote Trouble with the Curve, the soon to be released movie starring Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake and featuring scenes filmed in nearby Dawsonville, Ga.

In Trouble with the Curve, Clint is an aging baseball scout, who with his daughter, played by Amy Adams, comes to Atlanta to scout a promising young pitcher. The movie was filmed throughout Georgia - At the Atlanta Braves' stadium, in Georgia minor league ball parks, in an Athens bar, and in Dawsonville.  

If you look closely in the movie's promo, you can see shots of a motel - the Amicalola Motel, a not-so-upscale motel just outside of downtown Dawsonville. As the trailer flies by, look closely near the end for scenes with Clint, Justin and Amy pictured in front of the motel.

Once you see the trailer (and the motel), bet you can't wait to see the real thing. But wait you will. Trouble with the Curve doesn't hit the theaters until September. (Wonder if they will have a premier showing at Dawsonville's 400 Cinema?)  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quadruplets in Dahlonega

No one even knew Georgia was pregnant, so when she gave birth Friday, everyone (and I mean everyone) was surprised. The surprise was even greater when not one, not two, but four babies arrived.

Rare baby white tigers. Photo from Gainesville Times.
Georgia and the quadruplet's father Magnum are Siberian Tigers, who make their home in the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega. The baby tiger cubs are rare white Siberians, like their mother.

Normally, Siberians usually have two or three cubs, so having four is not a common occurrence. The quadruplets join ten other Siberian Tigers at the Chestatee Preserve, which is home to a large number of big cats.

"'It's just a miracle that all four are still living,'" said the Preserve's General manager C. W. Walthen. According to him, the babies, each weighing less than 3 lbs., were taken from Georgia because she was not nursing them. The cubs are now being bottle fed and seem healthy. "It's just like having four new babies at home." The baby tigers will grow to be between 700 and 800 pound adults.

The Chestatee Preserve is known world-wide for its unique collection of animals, including an extremely rare mother-daughter set of Zedonks, a half zebra - half donkey combination. The Preserve, open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is the only exotic animal rescue and wildlife preserve in North Georgia. Obviously, this is a must-go-to spot when you visit the North Georgia mountain region.

For more details on the baby tigers, you'll want to read this Gainesville Times article -

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

13 Votes Made the Difference

Just 13 votes. That's all that separated candidates Steve Shaw and Carlton Smith for the crucial run-off spot for Lumpkin County District 2 Commissioner when the votes were counted last Tuesday, July 31 after the primary election.

The vote was so close that Shaw and Smith had to wait until Friday (Aug. 3) for the provisional and military votes to be counted before they knew which one of them had captured the run-off spot against incumbent Tim Bowden.  Finally after EVERY vote had been tallied, 13 votes still separated the two candidates. Steve Shaw had 13 more votes than Carlton Smith. (It's a shame Smith didn't make the run-off. He would have made a terrific commissioner.)

Steve Shaw now faces Commissioner Bowden in the August 21 run-off. If Shaw can capture a large portion of the Carlton Smith votes, he will win the commission seat. (Bowden only managed 38 percent of the votes in the July 31 primary with Shaw and Smith splitting the other 62 percent.)

D&B is not so sure what kind of candidate Steve Shaw is. We do know that he wasn't much into campaigning. He failed to show up at the candidate debates, he wasn't at the Lumpkin County Republican Party event for candidates, and he wasn't spotted at any fundraisers or campaigning at large county social gathering.

The next two weeks until the run-off will be interesting. Will Shaw continue his non-campaigning campaign? Or is Shaw's strategy one of hoping there will be enough anti-Bowden votes that he (Shaw) can cruise to victory? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Politics in Lumpkin County

As they say, "You win a few. You lose a few." That's what happened yesterday in the primary elections in Lumpkin County.

Big Loss
D&B actively supported two candidates - Guy LaBoa and Carlton Smith. Unfortunately, Guy wasn't able to pull out a victory in his race for Lumpkin County Commission Chairman. He definitely fought the good fight, but as a Lumpkin newcomer (he's only lived here 9 years), he was an underdog the minute he decided to run. Guy, a retired Lt. General, would have made a great leader for Lumpkin.

Big Maybe
As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Carlton is still in the race - just 12 votes away from making the run off for the District 2 Commissioner seat. With military ballots and some absentee ballots still to be counted, Carlton gain enough votes to come in second and face incumbent Tim Bowden in a run off. Hang in there, Carlton. You still have a chance!

Big Win
In another big vote, Lumpkinites voted over 72% (one of the highest ratios in the state election) against the 1% transportation sales tax. In this economy, the people in this mountain area just weren't ready to pay more taxes, especially when such a small amount of the money raised in the Mountain District were for Lumpkin highway projects.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vote for Carlton Smith

Carlton Smith Gets D&B Vote for Commissioner.
In the election for Lumpkin County Commissioner, District 2, many voters are going to the polls to vote AGAINST Tim Bowden, the district's uber controversial commissioner. Bowden's single-mindedness and seemingly disregard to the electorate are reasons enough to cast a ballot for another candidate.

However, in D&B's case, we are not voting AGAINST Bowden. We are voting FOR Carlton Smith. Carlton is a neighbor, a man whom we know personally. In fact, he was one of the first people to welcome us to Lumpkin and extoll the virtues of our new county.

Carlton is a successful small business owner. He knows the challenges that businesses face. He's familiar with budgeting and the need to make wise financial decisions. He was a public safety worker for years so he values the roles that our fire fighters and sheriff deputies play.

Carlton is a husband, father, and grandfather who values the quality of life we have in Lumpkin. Most importantly, he loves Lumpkin, he's a true leader, and he will make a darn good commissioner.

P.S. Carlton spoke out months ago on giving Lumpkin voters the right to vote on the Sunday alcohol referendum. While he may not vote for Sunday sales, he strongly stands for letting the people vote on such a controversial issue.

Why We're on the Guy LaBoa Team

D&B have joined the Guy LaBoa team for Lumpkin County Commission Chairman. In fact, we've already cast our votes for him as early voters.

According to experts, the race between Guy and his opponent Chris Dockery is going to be tight. Both men definitely have their merits, but for us, Guy just is the better choice.

Guy graduated from the same university that D&B did (although a few years apart) so we know the values, ethics and code of honor that was instilled in him as part of his education. That alone would sway our votes his way, but there are other reasons to vote for Guy LaBoa. Here are a few:
  1. Guy's a retired U.S. Army retired Lt. General. Now I ask you, how many communities have the opportunity to have a three star general as their leader?
  2. Guy is a leader. He's lead men in battle; he's managed companies; he's built teams of disparate groups; he's been elected to public office. 
  3. He's a conservative who is fiscally responsible. As a businessman and military officer, he's managed multi-million dollar budgets and knows the importance of smart spending and staying on budget.
  4. He loves Lumpkin and Dahlonega. After living in over 20 places all over the world, he and his wife Pat SELECTED Lumpkin as their home. They could have retired anywhere, but they fell in love with Dahlonega. And, after all, this is where Pat and daughter Mary Kaye went to college.
But probably the best reason to vote for Guy is that he can be a full time commission chairman. With the challenges that our county is facing (and will face), we need a chairman who isn't juggling his chairman duties with another job or jobs. Guy is retired and has the time to devote to the chairmanship. Dockery has a full-time job as a builder and serves in the Army Reserve. Now I ask you, with those major responsibilities, just how much time will he have to handle the Lumpkin's critical issues?

Put Lumpkin first. Vote for Guy LaBoa for Lumpkin County Commission Chairman.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It was Bill Scott!

Commissioner Bill Scott Said YES
Thanks to one of D&B's loyal readers for pointing out a major error made in the Dahlonega and Beyond post of July 19. D&B incorrectly identified the stalwart commissioner who has repeatedly allocated for giving the people of Lumpkin the right to vote on the Sunday alcohol sales referendum.

The Commissioner who voted YES on three different occasions for the referendum is Commissioner Bill Scott. Thank you, Commissioner Scott, for speaking for the voters of Lumpkin County. You listened to the people when others on the commission suddenly became hard of hearing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Liquor Referendum Makes the Ballot - At Last

Clarence Stowers casts deciding vote.
The Sunday beer and wine sales referendum will be on the ballot in November! The decision came Tuesday morning at the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners' meeting, with Commission Chairman John Raber breaking a 2 - 2 tie by voting YES to the referendum.

Commissioner Clarence Stowers, who had voted twice against the referendum, switched his vote to YES, joining Commissioner Bill Lewis on the YEAH side. Commissioners Tim Bowden and Clarence Grindle voted NO, as they had done previously when the issue was before the Board.

The pressure has been on the commissioners for months as Lumpkinites (including D&B) argued that the commissioners had denied voters the right to vote.

That public pressure seemed to be what changed Stowers' vote. When asked by The Dahlonega Nugget why he switched his vote, Stowers said he had not changed his mind on Sunday sales, but that he had changed his vote because "of the attacks," including attacks on his wife and mother. Some county employees had trouble doing their jobs because of all the calls on the Sunday sales issue, he said.

No matter what his reasons may have, Dahlonega and Beyond says, "Thank you, Mr. Stowers, for joining Mr. Lewis and Mr. Raber in giving the vote back to the people."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Nuts Are Coming to Town

Yep. That's right. Nuts are coming to town - Alabama nuts to be exact. The Jim Lovell family is opening the first franchise of The Nut Shop, an uber popular Alabama nut business right here in Dahlonega.

Nut Shop products - from peanut and pecan brittle to roasted and boiled peanuts - are currently only available online, at Alabama and Mississippi convenience stores, and at University of Alabama's Brant-Denny Stadium. In fact, Nut Shop peanuts are the official peanuts for U of A athletics.

It took some convincing of the original Nut Shop owner, Cecil Williams, to franchise his brand, especially out-of state. After several months of conversation between the Lovell family and Williams, a deal was struck. Besides the store in Dahlonega, the Lovells also have the rights to wholesale their products throughout Georgia.

We're not sure all the 60 products found in the Alabama Nut Shop will be available in the Dahlonega store. So a trip to the Dahlonega Nut Shop is a must do. We need to see firsthand if the Lowells will have almonds, pecans, mixed nuts, chocolate covered nuts along with the beloved peanut.

While neither D or B can stand boiled peanuts, we're anxious to taste the shop's roasted peanuts and some of the shop's infamous pecan brittle. After all, will the Alabama peanut be as tasty as a Georgia peanut? Only a taste test will tell for sure.

Monday, July 16, 2012

We've Got Readers

Sometimes as a blog writer, you wonder if anyone out there is reading your blog....and then it happens. You introduce yourself and the person say, "You write that blog about Dahlonega, don't you?"

Guess that means that the blog is getting noticed. One person we met even commented that there had been an absence in blog entries. (Which was true - It's hard to write a blog when you are sailing the high seas or spending a week in small town Louisiana.)

So to the small but mighty group of Dahlonega and Beyond readers, thank you. Stay tuned for more musings from a North Georgia lover. Better yet, how about signing up as a follower?

Let the People Vote

The Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners has a giant decision to make Tuesday night, July 17. Should they, or should they not, let the Lumpkin voters vote on Sunday liquor sales?

In two other 'Should the Voters Vote' decisions, three of the four county commissioners said NO. Only Commissioner Bill Scott voted to let citizens decide on the sale of beer and wine on Sunday.

The hope of an ever growing group of Lumpkinites is that at least one of the Negative Three will switch his No vote to Yes. If that happens, the tie breaker goes to Commission Chairman John Raburn, who has publicly stated that he supports the referendum.

The pressure is on the commission. Last month, the Dahlonega City Council voted to put the liquor referendum on the ballot for voters WITHIN the city of Dahlonega. If the city's referendum passes, then county businesses. This fact was acknowledged by all four commissioners in last week's issue of The Dahlonega Nugget.

D&B are not the only ones who feel that our right to vote is being held hostage by three men. The Nugget's editor Wayne Knuckles, in a strongly worded editorial in the same issue of the Nugget, urged the commissioners to "let the people have the final say." After all, he wrote, "The proper course of action, the fair thing to do, is to put the question before the voters."

D&B will be part of the crowd Tuesday night to see just what the commission decides.

It's time, commissioners, to let the people vote.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Potato Chips in a Pie? Oh yeah!

Lay's Wavy Potato Chips and Ghirardelli chocolate in the same recipe? You know that combination is going to be a winner...and that's just what the Sweet and Salty Chocolate Pie was.

Baked to perfection by Christopher A. Taylor, the melt-in-your mouth combination of potato chips and bittersweet chocolate took first prize recently in the Lumpkin County Pie Squared Event sponsored by Lumpkin Literacy.

I'd show you a picture of that yummy pie, but by the time I got to taste a sample, the pie plate was empty. But I did get the recipe!

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Pie
by Christopher A. Taylor (Atlanta, GA)

Crust and Topping
6 oz Ghirardelli Bittersweet (60%) Chocolate
10 oz potato chips (I prefer Wavy Lays, but Ruffles work, too)

4 oz Ghirardelli Bittersweet (60%) Chocolate
4 oz Ghirardelli Extra Bittersweet (70%) Chocolate
3 eggs
5-1/4 oz (3/4 cup) sugar
2 tbsp water
1 cup heavy cream (I prefer 40% pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized)

1 tbsp large flake sea salt (I prefer Maldon sea salt flakes)
1 cup chocolate curls

From the potato chips, select and set aside about 12–15 whole chips to use as the garnish.  

Crush half of the the remaining chips.  The baker prefers to place the chips in a sealed Ziploc-type bag and lightly beat the bag with a rolling pin. You don’t want the chips to turn to dust. Stop bashing the chips when they are about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch in size. Empty the chip pieces into a bowl.

Melt the 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in the microwave (stirring every 20 seconds) until it is completely melted.

Add the melted chocolate to the chip pieces a spoonful at a time and stir the chips and chocolate after each addition. Stop adding chocolate when the chips are thoroughly coated and the mixture begins to hold together when lightly smooshed into the side of the bowl.

Pat the chocolate-chip mixture evenly into a 10-inch pie plate. Make sure the mixture is even across the bottom and up the sides. The mixture will be thickest where the bottom of the pan meets the sides. Press into this area with your thumb to thin out and push the mixture up the sides. The edges of the crust may seem ragged, but we’ll cover them up with the chips later.

Place the crust into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set before you begin preparing the filling. Dip the remaining whole potato chips into the remaining melted chocolate, gently shaking off any extra chocolate. Place the dipped chips on a sheet of wax paper to set at room temperature.

For the filling, chop both chocolates and melt in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds until melted.  Set aside.

For the filling, heat a 1/2-inch of water in a sauce pan until simmering. Combine the eggs, sugar, and water in a small bowl.  Place the bowl over the simmering water ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the egg mixture over the simmering water until the mixture is thick and fluffy and temperature reaches 160˚F, 5–10 minutes.

When the mixture reaches temperature, remove the bowl from the heated water and continue to beat the egg mixture until it reaches warm temperature, about 5–10 minutes more.

Once the mixture is cool, add the melted chocolate and stir until combine. Whip the heavy cream until it reaches stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture using a rubber spatula or whisk (I prefer a whisk) until no streaks remain.

Add the filling to the crust and smooth. Immediately place the chocolate-dipped potato chips into the filling along the crust of the pie allowing the chip to curve over the edge of the pan.

Allow the pie to set in the fridge for several hours. Sprinkle the salt and chocolate curls evenly over the top of the pie before serving. (Adding the salt earlier risks it dissolving into the filling.)

Slice a piece and enjoy that yummy combination of sweet and salt!