ELLIJAY, Ga. – A new sign for the Cecil Mathews Memorial Bridge stands on the roadside just at Turniptown Creek just before you get to the shops at Whitepath Commons when traveling from Ellijay. A simple brown sign stands for a man of Ellijay’s history.
On September 14, 2021, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives and Representative of District 7, David Ralston visited the site with family and friends of the late Cecil Mathews to dedicate the bridge over Turniptown Creek to him.
With 7 kids, six daughters and one son, Cecil Mathews was memorialized in a ceremony dedicating the bridge to his memory for his remaining family. All of his children but one were able to attend, but few had a short drive. Eldest child Maxine Clark said that many of the siblings are spread all over the southeast from Kentucky to Alabama and one still living in Ellijay.
With local leaders Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson and Chamber President/CEO Jennifer Grimmer also attending, the family listened as Speaker Ralston read the official resolution naming the bridge and delivered two duplicated signs to the family members.
Ralston said, “He was a very highly thought of person in this community.”
Mathews opened his own sawmill in Ellijay in 1965 after operating others for 15 years previous. According to the approved resolution, he later completed the total electrification of the business in 1966 which “allowed for the streamlining of production and an increase in lumber supply used in the manufacture of furniture and flooring.”
A special feat in that day, the electrification allowed for 15,000 feet of lumber to be sawed in a day with grading still done by hand. This also attracted other businesses to the county at the time and aided in modernizing the area.
Patsy Harris, one of Mathews’ daughters, accepted a bound copy of the resolution on behalf of the family.
Harris said, “Thanks be to God, there is seven of us children and we’re all still living. We’re all in our 70’s and 80’s. I appreciate what you did.”
Maxine Clark of Blairsville and Mathew’s eldest daughter, chuckled as she fought back tears when asked about the sign and what it meant to see her father memorialized in the area they grew up. Amid the tearful moment she could only reply, “What do you think?”
Taking a moment, Clark eventually said, “Daddy was the best man in my life. I still can’t talk about it but I guess I’m the ‘bawl-box’ of the family.”
Each of his seven children, from eldest to youngest, are Maxine Clark, Joann Crotzer, Doris Hammond, Jackie Allums, James Mathews, Patsy Harris, and Susan Buckner.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County Schools dedicated the healthcare science wing to former nurse and school staple Avis Shaw.
“In years gone by there were not as many opportunities to go to doctors and specialists and Mrs. Shaw was the first line,” Dr. Paula Davenport stated. “There are a lot of people who care about other people, but it takes a special person to care not only about that person, but their wellbeing.”
New board member Julia Barnett called Shaw one of her “heroes” and commented how the retired nurse could relate to everyone. A non-judgmental, caring, and smart individual who wanted to teach children how to care for themselves.
Shaw worked for the health department for 30 years until retiring, but then went on to work for the nursing home for 11 years. Union County Nursing Home staff refer to Shaw as “Florence Nightingale.”
“I am humbled,” Shaw said. “Nursing has been my life. I’ve loved every minute of it. I think I’ve worked 51 years. I could have worked longer, but I probably wasn’t able to walk.”
She went on to pay tribute to teachers and the impact they’ve had on her life including her principal. He pointed her on the path to achieving her nursing dream. He helped her into Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University where students could work their way through the program.
“Out of all the teachers I had, I only had one that was bad. All the rest of them made up for that,” Shaw recalled. “It’s been a wonderful life, and I have enjoyed it. It has been a blessing.”
Shaw and her family moved to Blairsville after eliminating Alaska as their other option. She worked at the hospital for $400 a month for 11 years and learned a lot while she was there.
The maintenance, technology, and special education department received special recognition for all of their efforts.
Maintenance handles a range of projects every day and often, no one has any idea about their responsibilities or accomplishments from food delivery to fixing a roof.
The special education department is a model district for the state with several families choosing Union County because of the department.
The technology department made online learning for Union County possible by thinking ahead and planning for the pandemic. They had every child a Chromebook within 24 hours and prepared wi-fi hotspots.
“These folks are very much the unsung heroes of why we’re successful,” Superintendent John Hill added.
Tony Hunter will continue being the board chair for 2021, and Patrick White will continue as the vice-chair for another year.
JASPER, Ga. – Today marked a special day for veterans in Pickens county as the VA Clinic not only celebrated Independence Day, but honored the day and the location as they raised, in dedication, a new flag on their flagpole.
The American Flag was custom made by Annin with 100 percent American made materials according to the Va Clinic’s statements online. They said Annin was established in 1847 and is the largest and oldest manufacturer of flags in the world. Their flags draped Abraham Lincoln’s casket, were raised at Iwo Jima, and have flown to the moon.
The Marine Corps League North Georgia Mountain Detachment 1280 raised the flag and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 47 Honor Guard of Jasper, Georgia conducted a firing salute. Mark Mitton lead prayer to start. Britney Walker sang the National Anthem.
The flag measures 30 feet by 38 feet and was raised on a 90 feet tall flagpole. Owner of the VA Clinic Building, Supervisor of the property, and the man who purchased and built the flagpole in front of the clinic, David Shouse said the event went far better than he expected as they filled every parking space and even had more parking on a nearby hill.
Shouse said that when he was first asked to build a flagpole in front of the VA Clinic, he was told they could have a small one or something sufficient. Shouse said he replied at the time, “If we’re going to build a flagpole, then we are going to build a flagpole.” Since the construction, Shouse said they have flown smaller flags to let the pole settle and have some time before adding a larger one with more weight and wind drag.
However, Shouse said that the larger flag was not supposed to be delivered until August. But as the times aligned, and they were able to have it delivered last week, they pushed for a more meaningful day, July 4, 2020. Independence Day would become their day of celebration and dedication, for just as we celebrate our freedoms, our independence, and our rights on this day, so too would this day hold meaning for the clinic, and for the flag flying outside of it. A representation that Shouse said would mark a “modern VA Clinic that will provide local care to our veteran’s that have waited so patiently for something they deserve.”
The VA Clinic serves local veterans in, according to Shouse, a community with the largest veteran demographic population in the county and serving those veterans is a necessary service for such a place.
More than just a flag, it is the people who were there to celebrate the dedication, it was the presence of the Marine Corps League, the Veterans, the Honor Guard, the presence of people that made the dedication meaningful. For it is not a ceremony or a constructed symbol that makes something sacred. It is, instead, the people who honor that symbol, the people who recognize the meaning that make it so.
(Photos provided by David Shouse and the Pickens County VA Clinic)