Spring Signing Day sees four commitments from Gilmer athletes

Bobcat's Corner, Community

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer High School celebrated today, April 29, with family and friends of four athletes who ceremonially signed commitments to colleges and universities, advancing their sports careers to the next level.

The special day saw not only those friends and family members, but coaches, school administrators, and even Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs present to honor the work and achievements of these four at the “Spring Signing Day” event.

Tyson Elliott signs to the University of the Cumberlands for football.

Tyson Elliott signs to the University of the Cumberlands for football.

Tyson Elliott signed his commitment to the University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, where he plans on playing football. Elliott is currently looking to play Right Tackle. He says his next goal is to join the travel squad his freshman year and hopes to continue working hard towards that goal. He will be studying to major in Mathematics Education and possibly minoring in Coaching as he hopes to one day become a coach at either the middle school or high school levels.

As he transitions into collegiate sports, Elliott said he is excited about the coming challenges. Having put in the effort to get to this point, he said that he feels like it’s all paid off to have a college offer him a spot and to take that step to the next level. He went on to add, “Pretty much it’s everything I’ve been looking forward to. It’s kind of hard to explain, honestly.”

Grace Pleasant signs to Berry College for swimming.

Grace Pleasant signs to Berry College for swimming.

Grace Pleasant signed her commitment to Berry College, located in Rome, Georgia, where she plans on competing on the swim team. She swims the 100-meter breaststroke and some freestyle. Attending Berry College, Pleasant said that she plans on completing the dual-degree program. Then she plans on transferring to the Georgia Tech. She wants to major in Environmental Engineering.

As she transitions into collegiate sports, Pleasant said it has been a major impact on her life as she never thought she would be able to keep swimming into college. She started swimming at 10-years-old and also swam for a club team in Dalton. Noting the passion she has had for swimming all her life, Pleasant was excited to have Berry College give her the chance to continue that saying, “I’m really honored that they would want me.”

David Smith signs to the University of the Cumberlands for football.

David Smith signs to the University of the Cumberlands for football.

David Smith signed his commitment to University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, where he plans on playing football. Smith is currently looking to play at the Quarterback and Receiver positions. He said he is excited for the challenge of the next level of his sports career as he faces harder challenges and what he calls the “learning experience” as he sees the differences between high school and collegiate football. He plans on majoring in Education in order to come back to the high school level to coach football.

As he transitions into collegiate sports, Smith is looking forward to both aspects of college as he says he will get to play the sport he has been a part of his entire life while also having that pay for part of his tuition. He went on to say, “It’s gonna be a big step, like the workouts are going to be harder. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be exciting to be on a bigger team.”

Austin Daman signs to Reinhardt University for baseball.

Austin Daman signs to Reinhardt University for baseball.

Austin Daman signed his commitment to Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, where he plans on playing baseball. He plans on pitching for the team. Coming off of a tear of his UCL tendon in his arm, Daman has already conquered one challenge as he recovered faster than expected and is already pitching again in preparation for his collegiate years. He plans on majoring in Business and minoring in Sports Management. Though he didn’t comment on any future plans after college, he did not he wants to see where life takes him.

As he transitions into collegiate sports, Daman said it means a lot to even be able to play college baseball after his injury, even more that his hard work has paid off to continue pitching and to be in the position he is now. He said, “All glory to God for him to be able to get me to where I am. I couldn’t have done it without him.” Daman also gave credit to his Dad for his pushing and support and instilled his drive and belief to put forth the effort that was necessary to achieve this goal.


Native Plants of North Georgia


Spring is here and the University of Georgia (UGA) Extension has an electronic “app” to help families and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of springtime hikes.  Native Plants of North Georgia, created by Mickey Cummings, is available for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices.  It’s a consumer-oriented field guide of the flowers, trees, ferns and shrubs that populate north Georgia’s lawns and forests.  Mickey, a former Union County UGA Extension ANR Agent, who is now retired, worked in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest and spent his career identifying plants for day-trippers, hikers and homeowners in north Georgia.  “I started wanting to create a collection of photographs that backpackers could use to identify plants on the trail,” Cummings said.  “All the reference material I was working with was too large to pack, and we wanted something that would be easy for people to use.” He first developed a hard copy of his guide, a pocket-sized laminated flipbook, in May 2008 to help the public identify local plants on the fly and now UGA Extension has sold more than 1,000 copies of that original book and the free on-line edition has been viewed more than 6,000 times.

Representatives from Southern Regional Extension Forestry, UGA Extension and the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Information Technology decided to use the popular guide as a pilot project in their development of mobile applications for UGA Extension. The app allows users to browse photos of plants organized by their blooming periods and includes leaf and bloom descriptions as well as scientific and common names.  Native Plants of North Georgia is the first app to be produced by the UGA Extension publications and extension digital productions team. All versions of this app are free and ready for download via the Apple App Store and Google Play.  A PDF version of the guide is also available for free download and the original pocket-sized flipbook is available for purchase ($12.00) by visiting http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/. That web site also houses the hundreds of free-to-download, research-based publications, which provide information on everything from home vegetable gardening to pest control to native plant identification.

Also of interest this spring, the Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, an outreach of UGA Extension, are offering several upcoming opportunities. The North Georgia Master Gardeners in Blue Ridge will have a Nature Walk Thursday, April 26, and a Native Plant Sale Saturday, May 12.  The Gilmer County Master Gardeners in Ellijay have a demonstration garden at the Gilmer County Library plus monthly lectures that cover gardening topics. They also organize and sponsor the Ellijay Farmers Market, which will open Saturday, April 28, and be open Saturdays through October 6, just off the roundabout, adjacent to the courthouse. The hours this year are from 8 a.m. to noon.  Be sure to check it out on Facebook at Gilmer County Master Gardener Volunteers or online at https://gcmgvolunteers.wordpress.com/.

Spring Flowering Bulbs Start Now


Spring Flowering Bulbs Start Now

By:  Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent


Now that fall is officially here, does the thought of a long cold winter have you down?

Have you considered a landscape full of spring flowering bulbs?  It’s that burst of spring color that makes you feel good.  Best of all, most spring flowering bulbs aren’t expensive or hard to grow.

What those gorgeous spring flowers do require, though, is that you start working on this project in the fall.  Spring flowering bulbs must go through a period of cold temperatures before they will sprout in the spring.  Because of this, purchase bulbs from a commercial source now to be sure you get the high-quality bulbs you want in time to plant them.  Early spring favorites include crocus, grape hyacinth, tulip, narcissus and scilla.  Popular mid-to-late spring bulbs include hyacinth, ipheion, and tulips.

Store your new bulbs in the bottom compartment of your refrigerator until time to plant, which will be in a few weeks.  Keep them in their original packaging or put them in a paper bag full of fresh sawdust or clean straw.  Where you will plant them is an important part of the planning.  It’s not hard to decide – just think like a bulb!  You can even plant small bulbs like crocus directly into your lawn but remember that the area can’t be mowed until the foliage dies down.

Whatever bulbs you plant, and wherever you plant them, none will survive if planted in soggy, poorly drained soil.  Don’t plant them on the shady side of the house either, or under groupings of pines.  Some shade is fine.

Prepare a bulb bed by digging up the soil at least six inches deeper than you plan to set the bulbs.  Add a complete fertilizer, like 10-10-10, and garden lime according to package instructions or soil sample results and adjust for your flowerbed size, then mix soil thoroughly.  The golden rule for bulb planting is to place them upright in the soil at a depth of at least three times their diameter.  A one-inch diameter tulip can be planted three inches deep, and so on.

Space most bulbs about one bulb-diameter apart for the best color effect.  Narcissus bulbs can be spaced at twice their diameter.  Water all bulb plantings immediately to settle the soil and start root growth.  If the winter is dry, you may want to water once a month just to be safe.

Two inches of pine straw, bark chips, straw, sawdust or some other mulch will enable your bulbs to over winter successfully.  Next spring, gently check under the mulch for signs of new shoots.  Some mulch such as sawdust and leaf compost can get clumpy and heavy, to the point of hindering new shoots.  Gently removing or breaking up the mulch as the shoots appear will prevent any disappointments.

A final caution:  don’t apply fertilizer just before the spring bloom because the fertilizer can damage the newly emerging flowers.  It’s best to top-dress with the necessary fertilizers in December after the cold weather has come.  For more information, contact me at the Extension office.

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A Love/Hate Relationship


We love spring has sprung. . . but we hate the allergies!

Depending on what day the vernal equinox occurs the first day of spring in the U.S. is around the 20th or 21st of March. This is the time when the sun sits directly above the equator and as the Earth revolves around the sun; the top half becomes tilted more toward the sun and brings us the spring. If you look around you will see signs of spring everywhere. The beautiful trees are budding, warmer weather is here and all the animals are coming out of their winter hideaways. Watching all the pretty flowers blooming against the green of the grass is like adding color to a black and white photo. And probably making many of us sneeze when we stop to smell the roses.

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