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Helen, Georgia has been in the news
About North Georgia

Randy's Corner

About North Georgia's publisher Randy Golden contributes a look into life in north Georgia, the Web, or anything that's on his mind.

Hello, friends

This past week the city of Helen got a black eye, courtesy of Ramada Inn. It seems that when a legally blind guest from Marietta arrived with her seeing-eye dog the folks at the Ramada Inn turned her away. This is not only wrong, it is illegal. Both seeing-eye and hearing-ear dogs, by Georgia law, are exempt from any restrictions against dogs - on planes, on trains, or in restaurants and hotels.

Now it seems that the Ramada Inn in Helen was not only violating Georgia law, but the strict policy of Ramada Inns that requires franchisees to grant access to all "service" dogs. When Ms. Shaw's boyfriend called the Helen Police, they explained to the clerk that the dog should be allowed to stay in the room. The clerk, in touch with the manager by phone, refused the policeman's request. Three months after the incident the couple filed a federal suit against the motel. News of the suit was picked up in the local news outlets and soon papers throughout the Southeast blared the names of Helen, Georgia and Ramada Inn.

We will be watching as this case is heard in court. Its hard to believe that in this day and age that there are people so uncaring, so unethical as to turn blind and deaf people away, violating their rights, simply because they depend on an animal to perform tasks that sighted and hearing people do unconsciously.

The really sad part of this story is that there are other animals, such as the Canine Assistant dogs, who are not allowed where seeing-eye and hearing-ear dogs can go. Their job is no less important, aiding those with mobility handicaps. These pets also need to be added to the exempt list of pets.

On another subject, when Phyl Reardon began her work on the Smithgall Wood Conservation Area, just down the road from Helen, she tried to contact Charles Smithgall for an interview. Her request was turned down because Smithgall was ill. This past August, 2002, Charles Smithgall died. A Georgia Tech Graduate who entered the world of radio in Gainesville, Smithgall went on to amass a rather large empire before his retirement. He used the money from the sale of these assets to do many benevolent thing throughout north Georgia, including funding at least one chair at Georgia Tech, aiding Zoo Atlanta and various causes in the Gainesville area.

Mr. Smithgall's lasting legacy, however, will be Smithgall Woods. In the 5,000 plus acres are a sportsman's paradise, preserved and protected by the Georgia DNR. We enjoy the time spent here hiking (in my case), fishing and relaxing. And if we want to get into a battle, the Ramada Inn in Helen isn't very far away.

Randy Golden, Publisher


Alpine Helen
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Randy's Corner
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