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Local veteran works with national non-profit to bring hope, purpose and healing to others

Friday, November 11, 2022

Local veteran and business owner Tim Cooper has been working tirelessly with an organization that devotes time and resources into vets and first responders offering programs to engage and empower our nation’s heroes.

 

Founded in 2010, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) is a national non-profit founded and headquartered in Rogers, Ark. that provides charitable services benefiting the overall well-being of the nation’s “Sheep Dogs” (Veterans, Law Enforcement, Fire & Rescue, and EMS personnel) through Get Off The Couch™ programming. SDIA exists to engage, assist and empower our nation’s heroes through Outdoor Adventures (physical activity), Warrior PATHH training (mental wellness) and Continued Service/Disaster Response (volunteerism) programs. SDIA is made up of teams throughout the United States; Cooper serves with the Georgia Team.

Calhoun's Tim Cooper of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 6,000 Veterans die by suicide each year, and twice as many first responders die by suicide than in the line of duty. Post-traumatic stress, injuries, depression, addiction and isolation can plague the nation’s Sheep Dogs to the point of thinking about and/or attempting suicide.

 

Our nation’s heroes have an instinctive desire to serve, and their service gives meaning and purpose to their lives. That’s where Sheep Dog Impact Assistance comes in, offering opportunities for physical activities to foster camaraderie, peer-to-peer training to transform struggle into strength and posttraumatic growth and volunteer opportunities for continued service, which helps prevent suicides in our Veteran and First Responder communities. These programs fulfill a Sheep Dogs’ innate desire to serve again.

 

“I attended a class with another organization, and another veteran that I met at that class was affiliated with Sheep Dog Impact Assistance at the national level,” said Cooper, who serves as the SDIA Interim Team Leader for the State of Georgia. “He told me about this organization. We kept in touch for about a year, talking back and forth. He discussed getting me and some of the other guys in that class to the Yellowstone trip with SDIA. I went on the trip and thought, ‘This is awesome.’ But I knew I couldn’t just take that trip to Yellowstone and not do anything else within the organization. So I volunteered with the Hurricane Ida relief, and stayed with the organization after that.”

Cooper served in the United States Army for 11 years and was medically retired with the rank of Staff Sergeant. During that time, he served three deployments to Iraq. For the past couple of years, Cooper has been heavily involved in SDIA and their mission.

 

According to Cooper, the organization is comprised of three tiers that offer hope for veterans and first responders that they can thrive and grow past their traumatic experiences.

 

“This is the only organization that has a program for those dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” said Cooper. “And it’s for both military veterans of any era, and public safety officials and first responders.”

 

The Outdoor Adventures program helps engage sheep dogs in physical activities which fosters healing and camaraderie.

 

“We get together and go fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting or other outdoor activities,” said Cooper. “The goal of the outdoor adventures is to get busy; to get off the couch and get out of your thoughts. The national organization gets a yearly trip organized to Yellowstone National Park to snowmobile. I was fortunate enough to go on that trip a couple of years ago.”

 

The program Warrior PATHH assists sheep dogs in learning to transform struggles into strength and posttraumatic growth. Warrior PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) is the nation’s first non-clinical, peer-to-peer program designed to cultivate and facilitate Posttraumatic Growth (PTG). PTG occurs when a person turns adversity, trauma and other challenges into positive psychological change, enabling them to THRIVE not in spite of, but because of their experiences. This training program focuses on Combat Veterans and First Responders struggling with traumatic stress symptoms (such as post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and other challenges associated with trauma), giving them the training necessary to make peace with the past, live in the present, and plan for a great future. This enables them to transform times of deep struggle into profound strength and lifelong growth.

The third program is Continued Service, or disaster relief missions. Cooper said that his favorite part of the organization is the Continued Service program.

 

“It’s been a very beneficial program for me,” said Cooper. “There’s something about volunteering to go on disaster relief missions that does me good. I know that we make an impact in the areas that we go into but I get just as much from it as well. Helping others helps me mentally.”

 

Cooper traveled to Florida a couple of weeks ago to complete disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Ian. He has also gone on disaster relief trips with the organization to Kentucky, for both tornado relief and flooding relief, and worked Hurricane Ida relief. Earlier this year, the Georgia team traveled to the Macon-Warner Robbins area for tornado relief efforts.

 

“We’re watching Hurricane Nicole now to see if it’s going to do damage,” said Cooper. “We’re preparing in case they need us. We don’t wait for things to happen or to get invited; we just go. These teams are from all over the United States and they’re ready to help.”

 

Cooper is now a local business owner, running Cooper’s Cleanup Services & More, removing unwanted items and cleaning out rooms, houses, sheds, barns and businesses. He has been heavily involved in the community in recent years, most notably with his service at the Oothcalooga Masonic Lodge No 154 F&AM and with Resaca Daylight Masonic Lodge. Keeping Cooper active is also his two children; one a student at Sonoraville High School and one at Red Bud Middle School. His work with SDIA is very important to him, helping him to channel his experience into helping others.

 

Cooper hopes that any veterans or first responders/public safety personnel in the community will look into the SDIA program. Cooper can do presentations about the organization with local public safety/first responders on request.

 

And for those who would like to support the organization, donations can be made at the national level by visiting www.sheepdogia.org or by making a donation to the Georgia Team by contacting Cooper.

 

For more information, contact Cooper directly at 706-618-6018 or find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100033592054756

Shankly Elite Training LLC: Training students in both the game of soccer... and the game of life

Thursday, October 27, 2022

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Coach Tyler Hudson, in red, works with a small group of players at Shankly Elite Training LLC, his new supplemental training program in Dalton.

The game of soccer has exploded in popularity in Northwest Georgia in recent years, especially in Dalton and the surrounding communities, where deep runs in high school soccer have been made at the state level. Dalton has even been declared “Soccer Town USA” by the New York Times for their multiple high school state champion teams.

 

It’s no surprise that soccer has seeped into the fabric of Northwest Georgia. Considered a European sport, FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) statistics show that there are now 24,472,778 Americans who play soccer at some level. Soccer is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world, played by more than 250 million people in more than 200 countries, with more than 4 billion fans.

Making the most of the professional experience he gained in Europe, Tyler Hudson, a Dalton State grad who played the game of soccer growing up in England, has started Shankly Elite Training, LLC, a sports company that offers a supportive training regimen for soccer players throughout the region.

 

“We’re a private, supplemental soccer and sports performance training company,” said Hudson. “We are more focused on soccer than the other sports. We offer classes including one-on-one training, small group and team sessions.”

 

Team sessions work with those soccer teams that are already playing but need more detailed instruction.

“It gives us the chance to get into more of a detailed session where we replicate game movements which they can use in their team practices and games,” said Hudson.

 

Hudson has an immense love and knowledge of soccer and knew he wanted to somehow mix these things to start his own business.

 

“It was an idea I came up with after watching many different people around the world for many years,” said Hudson. “I had to wait until I graduated from college, then I was able to form my own company.”

 

The soccer trainer knew that the Dalton community and surrounding areas could use supplemental training and used contacts through his time at Dalton State to help begin building up clientele.

 

“Obviously Dalton and the surrounding areas are very highly soccer-oriented communities,” said Hudson. “I have met many people over the years through school and being around the town and among the community that helped me get my start.”

Hudson laughs that another foot in the door for him was the fact that he is from England.

 

“People in the community always ask me if I wanted to do something like this (training business) because there’s a stereotype of me being from England; everyone thinks I must know about soccer,” said Hudson. “That was the foot in the door for me really. But I worked on this for a long time and did a lot of planning; I put together a business proposal together and in June I went ahead and launched the company. It’s four months in and it’s been crazy. I’ve had kids coming in to train from everywhere.”

 

His training philosophy is more than just training for the game of soccer…he trains his students on the game of life as well.

 

“I try to make it more than just soccer,” said Hudson. “I put a strong emphasis on the kids. It’s not really about just building soccer players, but building people and building character. (The soccer training) doesn’t mean that the kids will go on to become superstars in the game because most of them will not likely get to the highest level of the game professionally, but I want to make sure they gain things that they never thought they could do (by training) with us; they may gain new friends, they may gain confidence in certain areas they didn’t have originally and then of course, it will set them off as a better person. I want to make them better players, but more importantly, better people…better team players, better people individually so they do gain more confidence in their own abilities.”

 

THE LONG ROAD TO NORTHWEST GEORGIA

Hudson began playing soccer in Liverpool, England, in a very working-class area, when he was around four years old.

“All we really know in Liverpool is soccer,” said Hudson. “Of course, we call it football, and it’s almost a religion. We are born, we go through our first three years of life and then we start playing soccer. I started in the grassroots Saturday-Sunday league in soccer. I was fortunate enough to play on some okay teams at the time. I went ahead through the first few years just playing local leagues, then I was fortunate enough to get scouted and picked up by Liverpool and Everton academies. I basically went through the academy system training 2-3 times per week, getting the exposure of professional facilities and environments. When I was around 10 or 11 years old, I got picked up by a team called Liverpool Schoolboys, which is made up of the best 16 or 18 kids playing soccer in the inner city of Liverpool. They had scouts at every game, and to be honest, I never got picked up (with a professional club) throughout those years…I just enjoyed playing for my local teams and my school team, as well as the Liverpool Schoolboys. But at that time, they took us to Holland to play in a big tournament. And we were good enough that we actually went over and played against Barcelona’s Academy. Some of those players in Barcelona that we played with are now actually playing in the Premier League (professional English soccer). It’s nice to have played with guys that went to the highest level.”

 

He attended high school at Alsop High School in Walton, Liverpool. Throughout the next few years, Hudson, who played the position of left back on defense, played in the regular weekend league, school soccer and played with the Liverpool Schoolboys. He was then scouted for Wigan Athletic, which at the time was a premier level team in England that now plays in the English second division.

 

“I actually signed with them and played with them between the ages of 13 and 16,” said Hudson. “I spent three years there trying to get recognized. That’s around the age that puts you in the limelight and gives you professional opportunities to go further in the game. You can get a pre-professional contract, called a Youth Team Scholarship which puts you into full-time soccer and you start getting paid a small amount, like an internship’s wage. You train full time and you do your schooling for your last two years of high school with the club. I played with Wigan and tried to get that contract, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me like I wanted it to for one reason or another, and I got released from the club when I was 16.”

 

While disappointment could have easily set in, Hudson was determined to play and realized that setbacks are opportunities for setups to something bigger and better.

 

“I spent four to five months with my dad, driving up and down the north of England trying to find a new club,” said Hudson. “My dad was taking me everywhere there might be an opportunity, like a few contracts left or somewhere they needed a position that I played.”

 

Hudson visited several different clubs and ended up meeting a man by the name of Tony Robinson, who is the father of U.S. soccer pro Antonee Robinson, a left back on the U.S. National Team who will be playing in the World Cup next month.

 

“Tony reached out to me and asked me to go to a connection that I had through my school since I was still in need of a club,” said Hudson. “He hosted regular sessions on a local field in Liverpool, and it was basically just guys being released from clubs who were looking to train at a high level. Tony was trying to open doors for these guys to get a chance to train for another club in hopes of getting signed. I went to his training session one time, and he called me aside and said, ‘Son, what on Earth are you doing here?’ It confused me - I was there because he asked me to be there! But he told me he was asking me that because he didn’t see anything that would be a reason to have been released from Wigan. He told me, ‘Give me a week and I’ll contact a club; I’ll send you there and they’re going to sign you.’ Literally a week later, I went to a club that was in the 4th division in England called Morecambe FC. I went for a week on trial, and then signed. I spent about a year-and-a-half there. I played for their second team, a reserve team of the pro team. I was playing with guys who were a lot older than me and were fully established, professional soccer players. I was getting a lot of good exposure and a lot of good experience. It was while I was there that I began looking at the American scholarship route to come over and play in college.”

 

That opportunity presented itself about 16 months into playing at Morecambe FC.

 

“I received a call one night after a game; I actually thought it was a scammer because it was a call from North Atlanta, Georgia,” said Hudson. “I called back and it was the assistant coach at Georgia State. He was actually from England himself, and he told me he had one of the scouts from the university watching me in a game and watched what I did, and he offered me a scholarship over the phone.”

 

Hudson said another call came on a Tuesday just after Christmas, and he was told to sit down because a lot of information was coming.

 

“I asked when I was going to America, thinking it would be in the summer,” said Hudson. “He told me, ‘No, that’s the deal…you’ve got to go next week.’ We’d just finished eating breakfast and I was sitting there with my teammates and he was telling me to pack my bags, go tell my coaches ‘bye,’ to tell my teammates ‘bye’ since I’d never be playing with them again. I packed my bags and took the first train from the club back home to Liverpool. The next night, he came to my home and spoke to my parents about what was going to happen and by Sunday afternoon, I was on a plane to Atlanta.”

 

Hudson was set up with a host family, the Samniks, in Atlanta.

 

“I went to their house, I didn’t know them and had never met them before,” said Hudson. “I walked into a completely new environment but I didn’t feel out of place whatsoever because they were so welcoming. I stayed with them for over four months and played for an academy in hopes to gain a college scholarship, of which I was offered 15. I eventually committed to play at the University of Wisconsin. I went home for a couple of months to get all of the paperwork sorted and get my visa, and found out two days before I was about to fly to Wisconsin that I was ineligible to compete for the NCAA because one of my classes in England didn’t transfer. I had to stay home for another year and I lost the full scholarship.”

 

Hudson took a night school course during the next year in England and worked menial jobs. He said that year really taught him a lot.

 

“It taught me that when I did come back, while nothing was certain I knew I would do whatever to get back over here, and when I did get back here, to do everything in my power, and work my tail off, to not have to go back to a job I just did not like doing.”

In June of 2015, Hudson made it back to America, and again stayed with Michael Samnik, who had ties to a new college soccer program in Northwest Georgia.

 

“He had already spoken to the coach at Dalton State, which was a new program at the time,” said Hudson. “They took three of us from England and I’ve basically been here ever since.”

 

Hudson got his first degree in Biology, ran into a visa issue and had to go home and fix it then come back to America for another degree.

“That put me on the right track to graduate this past May with my second degree, then start the company,” said Hudson. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, but it was worth it.”

 

Shankly Elite Training LLC works with all ages of soccer players, from little tykes all the way through high school. In the less than six months he’s been training players, parents are impressed with the results they are seeing.

 

“My son has been training with Tyler a little over a month now, and my son’s confidence has grown so much. Tyler pushes the kids to their full potential and teaches them quality techniques. We absolutely love the patience and dedication he has for the kids. I’ve seen the growth in my son, so now I take my 5-year-old daughter to his mini kickers training,” said Angelica.

 

Shankly Elite Training currently holds sessions at Riverbend Park (Whitfield County Recreation Department), Dalton High School and Heritage Soccer Complex, all located in Whitfield County. The company serves players from all around the region who travel to the training sessions. In addition to the one-on-one training, small group and team sessions, Hudson also offers a variety of camps throughout the year. Hudson also plans to introduce a mental and physical well-being course that will be offered to the middle school and high school students in the area, with the belief that there is much more to soccer than just the technical side of the game.

 

Hudson is thankful for the support he's received through the years, and plans to keep working hard to grow his company as a way to honor those who have encouraged him.

 

“I would never be where I am today without the ongoing support and guidance from my parents back home, the Samniks and many other families here in the U.S. that have treated me like their own,” said Hudson. “And of course, Tony Robinson, who helped to kick-start my U.S. journey.”

 

Sessions can be scheduled through Vagaro at https://www.vagaro.com/shanklyelitetrainingllc/.

 

Shankly Elite Training can be found on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/shanklyelitetraining_llc/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087267036256. Shankly also has a TikTok account at https://www.tiktok.com/@shanklyelitetraining_llc

 

For more information, follow Shankly Elite Training LLC on any of their social media platforms.

Gordon County Coroner James Carver will not be cited after hitting pedestrian in crosswalk

UPDATED: Thursday, October 13, 2022
ORIGINAL: Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Georgia State Patrol is not citing Gordon County Coroner James Carver after a traffic incident last Tuesday, Oct. 4 where Carver struck a 77-year-old man walking in a crosswalk with his county-issued vehicle.

 

The Calhoun Police Department originally responded to the scene, but due to the incident involving a county vehicle and elected official, the investigation was handled by the Georgia State Patrol, with the CPD reporting in an assist capacity.

According to the Calhoun Police Department’s incident report, they arrived on the scene on Tuesday, Oct. 4, after a call was dispatched just before 11 a.m. to the intersection of Court Street and River Street in downtown Calhoun in reference to a pedestrian vs. law enforcement vehicle. After arriving on scene, an officer was able to locate the vehicle, a 2013 Ford Explorer owned by Gordon County and driven by James Franklin Carver, 73, of Spencer Drive in Calhoun. The report states an officer walked over to the pedestrian who was struck, identified as 77-year-old Cipriano Barajas Rios, of Lilac Way, Calhoun. The officer asked Rios if he was okay and where he was struck; Rios stated he was okay and denied medical treatment by signing a refusal from a med unit on scene. He told the officer he was struck in his left hip and arm area. The officer then walked over to the Title XChange, where Carver was located.

 

The report states that upon walking to Carver’s Gordon County issued vehicle, the officer observed Carver sitting in the driver’s seat. The officer began speaking to Carver and noticed his eyes were glossed over, watery and droopy, and that he also had sluggish reactions. The officer asked Carver what had happened; Carver informed the officer he was attempting to make a left turn off of Court Street and onto River Street and that he had the green arrow to make the turn. Carver then attempted his turn and struck Barajas Rios, who was crossing the road at the same time. While Carver was speaking, the officer noted in the report that his speech was slurred, and the officer asked Carver if he had consumed any prescription pills or had anything to drink. Carver told the officer that he did not drink and he was heading to the prescription shop to get a refill on his medicine. The officer asked Carver if he would be willing to do some Standardized Field Sobriety Tasks; Carver stated he would but advised that he couldn’t walk without his walker. The supplemental incident report states that “due to Mr. Carver’s inability to walk long distances (medical issues/age) he was not asked to step out of the vehicle.”

After performing several checks that included Carver following the officer’s finger with his eyes, the report notes that lack of smooth pursuit was present, and that distinct and sustained Nystagmus was present. Carver did notify the officer that he had shingles in one of his eyes. The investigating trooper then arrived on scene and took over the accident investigation; the CPD officer advised the trooper what had been observed in the Standardized Field Sobriety Tasks but the trooper conducted his own field sobriety and stated he “saw no validated clues,” according to the CPD report.

According to the CPD report, upon turning the scene over to the State Patrol, David Gibson, identified as the Risk Management Coordinator for Gordon County, arrived on scene; Gibson advised that “they have had problems with Mr. Carver in the past.” Carver was released from the scene and Gibson gave Carver a ride, according to the report.

The officer noted in the Calhoun Police report that based off of Carver’s mannerisms and the result of the CPD’s Standardized Field Sobriety, he felt it was unsafe for Carver to drive.

The GSP then conducted their investigation of the incident. According to their incident report, Carver was traveling east in his vehicle on Court Street, attempting to turn left onto North River Street. Barajas Rios was walking west on the north sidewalk of Court Street at its intersection with North River Street. Carver’s vehicle turned left onto North River Street, striking the pedestrian who was crossing North River Street. After impact, both Barajas Rios and Carver’s vehicle were relocated to a safe area off the roadway before the investigating trooper arrived on scene.

Carver told the GSP that he had a green left turn arrow traffic signal to turn left onto North River Street.

Barajas Rios, the pedestrian, told the GSP that he was traveling west and crossing over North River Street on the north sidewalk of Court Street. The report says that the pedestrian did not look at the pedestrian traffic control signal as he began crossing the street. He told the trooper he was struck by Carver’s vehicle on his left side.

A witness stated that he was traveling south on North River Street and that as he was approaching the intersection, he could see that his traffic signal was turning red so he began to slow to a stop. He said that the pedestrian began to cross the street and was struck.

The investigating trooper noted he observed the cycles of the traffic signals at this particular intersection and that it was determined the Walk/Don’t Walk signal would remain on ‘Don’t Walk’ unless the button was pressed on the signal. When the button was pressed by the investigating trooper, the ‘Don’t Walk’ signal was displayed until the green left turn arrow on Court Street was no longer illuminated. After the green left turn arrow on Court Street was no longer illuminated, the ‘Walk’ signal was displayed on the crosswalk to cross over North River Street.

The determination of the GSP’s crash investigation is that the pedestrian, Barajas Rios, did not press the button to activate the ‘Walk’ signal on the crosswalk pedestrian traffic signal, nor did the pedestrian abide by the ‘Don’t Walk’ pedestrian traffic signal that was activated when he began crossing North River Street. (OCGA 40-6-90 a: A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device specifically applicable to him, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.)

 

No citations were issued to either Carver or Barajas Rios.

Gordon County released a statement to the Gordon Gazette on Thursday morning, Oct. 13, saying "James Carver is elected by the people of Gordon County to serve as Coroner. Gordon County provides his office with necessary equipment to perform his duties as coroner including several vehicles. The County risk manager was on scene to collect information for insurance purposes."

Carver has been the Gordon County Coroner since the late 1970’s, and is believed to be the longest serving coroner in the state of Georgia. He was last re-elected in 2020. 

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Kemp visits Calhoun Wednesday during bus tour, says there is a 'fight for soul of our state'

Thursday, September 15, 2022

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, along with First Lady Marty Kemp, stopped in Calhoun on Wednesday, Sept. 4 during a bus tour of Northwest Georgia as part of Kemp’s re-election campaign.

After welcoming the large crowd that included the general public, local and state elected officials and public safety, Kemp addressed his fight for what he termed “a fight for the soul of our state.”

“We are working so hard every day to make sure Stacey Abrams is not going to be your next governor, or your next president,” said Kemp of his democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia State Representative who is making her second attempt to become Georgia’s governor. “We are beating the bushes every single day, reminding people of where they would be now if Stacey Abrams was your governor; if you remember how heavily she criticized me, along with the national media and the media in Atlanta and the healthcare pundits when I was the first governor in our country to reopen small parts of our economy (during the pandemic shutdown). You remember how much grief I took, telling me I was doing the wrong thing and that it was a death experiment.”

Kemp said it was important for him to reopen the State of Georgia as soon as possible during the pandemic because as a former businessman, he knew the importance of getting small business reopened and people back to work.

“We’ve been there on Friday night; barely paid the people working for us, couldn’t pay our suppliers and thinking ‘are we going to be able to make it to the next Friday night?” said Kemp. “It’s a bad feeling to know you’re going to lose something you’ve worked over a decade for. It’s a bad feeling when you’re going to lose the roof over your head; it’s a bad feeling when the bank’s coming to get your truck or equipment. It’s a bad feeling thinking, ‘What happens next week if I can’t pay the people working for me? What’s going to happen to them and their families?’ That’s why I did what I did because I was listening to you. All I did when I (made that decision) was fulfill a promise I made in 2018 to put you first ahead of the status quo and the politically correct.”

Kemp said he also listened to the public concerning school closings.

“We did the same thing when we pushed to get our kids back in the classroom,” said Kemp. “Stacey Abrams criticized us when we did that. The data today in the Biden administration is the same data that we had when Donald Trump was president; it said our kids need to be in the classroom. Dr. (Kathleen) Toomey (Georgia Department of Public Health) and I understood that; we understand that we didn’t need to just do everything we could to protect lives but we had to protect livelihoods. (We had to protect) people’s financial wellbeing and also their children and how the children were going to be affected by this if they’re not in the classroom. Getting physical help and being around other kids is great mentally for them. All the other issues we talked about and warned about, we’re seeing now in other states. They weren’t having kids in the classroom and they’re struggling even worse than our kids are.

“We’re going to address the issues we do have and we’ve been working on that for months if not the last year concerning learning loss and other things,” continued Kemp. “People (were) playing pandemic politics; they were ‘following the science.’ They were following the political science. But the political science winds are blowing different now than they were in 2020 because people are seeing the bad results of not having your economy open and not having your kids in the classroom. I will tell you, it was sad to watch the other governors around the country where you could go to their state and gamble in a casino but you couldn’t go worship at your church. That does not make good common sense to me. We did not close places of worship here in Georgia and as long as I’m your governor, I will not.”

Kemp said the difference in this race is his opponent thinks the government knows what’s best for the people of the state and he wants to let the people decide because he believes in them.

“This is the big contrast in this race: you have a governor that believes in the people more than one person in the government. And Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden think exactly the opposite of that. They want to control and make every decision for you,” said Kemp. “They want to tell you whether you can go to work or not, they want to tell you whether your kids can be in the classroom or not, whether you can go to your place of worship or not. They also want to try to tell your people how your voting laws are in this state. If you remember when we passed the strongest elections integrity act in the county, they tried to cancel us. Big corporate CEOs and Stacey Abrams pressuring Major League Baseball and got them to move the All Star Game because they said (our election law) was suppressive and was ‘Jim Crowe 2.0.’ They even rolled President Biden out to say that; he didn’t even realize his own state of Delaware was more restrictive than our state and most other states in the country. But you know what, we did not waiver. We stood for the truth and what we knew to be the truth. These legislators that supported the bill, just like me, know what was in the bill. We knew it made it easy to vote and hard to cheat. And you know what? We stood up, did the right thing, and even though we lost the All Star Game, we got poetic justice because the Braves won the World Series. We got poetic justice again on Primary Day, because we had record turnout with the new voting bill that we have (in place), in the Republican Primary and the Democratic Primary. I have not heard any apologies yet from the other side, nor do we want any because all it did was verify what the truth is and it verified that they lied to you. They’re trying to scare you; they’re trying to tell you that we’re something that we’re not, but Georgian’s know different.”

Kemp said the concern for residents of the state is the people from other states trying to control the destiny of Georgia with the use of what he deemed ‘dark money.’

“Georgians also know that Abrams has raised 86 percent of her money from outside the state. It’s a lot of (money),” said Kemp. “But she’s going to need it, because those (donors) can’t vote here. They’re trying to use their money to empower her to control us. That’s why we’re in a fight for the soul of our state. But you (the public) control the ballot box here (in Georgia) because you can vote.”

Kemp feels the policies he and the conservatives put in place during the pandemic made Georgia a better place, including criminal justice reform.

“If we had have done what they wanted to do (during the pandemic), we would be in a much different place than we are right now,” said Kemp. “This is the same crowd that a year-and-a-half ago thought it was a good idea to defund the police, and Stacey Abrams said that with her own words. She said ‘We have to reallocate resources.’ Let me translate that: that means defunding the police. We passed legislation to keep rogue local governments from defunding police. We are going to stand with our men and women in law enforcement. Stacey Abrams said she backs the George Soros-backed ideas of eliminating cash bail. It’s insane what we’re seeing out there right now. We have to be tough on crime; we have to go after violent, repeat offenders. They’re dangerous people and we need to take them off our streets. No state in the country has done as much as we have on criminal justice reform. I support the good work that Governor (Nathan) Deal has done and some that we have done also, but that does not relinquish us, and me, from one of the prime duties of the Georgia constitution and that is the safety of its people. I take that very seriously and I look forward to working with your local law enforcement to do that.”

Another point Kemp made was the booming economy of the state throughout the pandemic; with economic development records broken the past two years.

“But if we had not been open; if you all and the rest of the citizens in our state had not been so resilient, we would not be in the economic circumstances that we’re in right now,” said Kemp. “(We have) the greatest economy I’ve seen in my adult lifetime; lowest unemployment rate in the history of the state, the most people we’ve had working in this state, least amount of people on the unemployment roll since post-911. The previous fiscal year (ending June 30, 2021), we had a record year for economic development: $11 billion dollars of new investment in the state with over 30,000 jobs (created); 74 percent of them were outside the 10 metro counties which is keeping true to my word of strengthening rural Georgia, which is what I campaigned on in 2018. We meant it and you’re seeing it here in North Georgia. This fiscal year that just ended, we crushed last year’s record: over $21 billion dollars in new investment in new investment, over 51,000 new jobs coming with that, over 75 percent of them outside the 10 metro counties. It’s just incredible because we’ve been open and we’ve been resilient. If Stacy Abrams had been your governor, that wouldn’t be happening right now.”

Kemp said that if Abrams had been the governor of Georgia, the help the public has received to fight inflation would not have been available.

“You wouldn’t have the ability for the General Assembly to work last year to fight through 40-year high inflation (if Abrams was governor),” said Kemp. “I don’t know about you, but I thought it was pretty disappointing to see 300 democrats celebrating the so-called Inflation Reduction Act yesterday on the lawn of the White House the same day the stock market plummeted. If you take out fuel and food, inflation went up in August. And overall CPI (Consumer Price Index) with everything included is still over 8 percent, close to the 40 year high we just had. To me, that is not something to celebrate, nor is raising your taxes when this president said he would not. That’s exactly what he did in that bill.”

Despite what is happening on a national level, the Governor said that he and his team are doing everything they can to help Georgians fight through inflation and property tax increases.

“We can’t fix every bad, broken policy in Washington D.C., but what the members of the General Assembly, the rest of the state team and myself is asking is, how do we help you fight through that? How do we help you fight through going to the grocery store? Remember when you used to be able to go to the store and buy a bottle of ketchup or mustard for $1 dollar and now you go and it is $5 dollars? That hurts hard working Georgians and their families. What we’ve been focused on is helping you fight through that; that’s why we sent a billion dollars of your tax dollars back to you last year to help you fight through 40-year high inflation. And if I’m re-elected on November 8th, we’re going to do it again this coming January to again help you fight through 40-year high inflation.

“We made the largest personal income tax cut in state history last year because we were open, because we budgeted conservatively and because we have a business-friendly environment, to put more money back in your pockets,” said Kemp. “We’re going to continue to work to do that in the future. We have suspended the gas tax since March to help you fight through 40-year high inflation. It matters. It matters when you talk to working Georgians across this state. We can’t control the bad domestic energy policy that this White House has implemented on this country and one that Stacey Abrams supports and helped him get elected to do. But we can help you get through that.

“Because we’ve been so fortunate in Georgia and because we were so resilient, we’ve seen our property assessments go up, which means our property taxes are going to go up,” said Kemp. “Not every local government is rolling back the millage rate to offset that. So what we’re going to do instead of spending excess revenue on pork barrel projects, we’re going to do a one-time property tax relief grant in January to help offset your rise in property taxes. We believe that’s going to save 15 to 20 percent for the average homeowner in the State of Georgia. (We are) just trying to help fight for our people.”

Kemp finished by telling the crowd that his goal is to continue to fight for Georgians to keep the state economically sound unlike other states with policies in place that Abrams supports.

“We’ve been fighting for you and we’re fighting now,” said Kemp. “And Marty and I, and our family, along with you, are going to fight until November 8th to make sure that we keep the good policies going, and that we don’t go the way of California or New York.”

County addresses confusion the public may have concerning proposed millage rate at latest meeting

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

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Despite a large crowd that attended the Tuesday night, Sept. 6, 2022 meeting of the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, no one spoke before the Board at a public hearing held concerning the proposed millage rate. It was the second public hearing of the three required by law on the millage rate.

 

As required by law, Gordon County has to notify the public anytime an increase will occur, no matter how small the increase, and published the following public notice on their website last week.

 

“The Gordon County Board of Commissioners today announces its intention to increase the 2022 property taxes it will levy this year by 9.47 percent over the rollback millage rate.

 

“Each year, the board of tax assessors is required to review the assessed value for property tax purposes of taxable property in the county. When the trend of prices on properties that have recently sold in the county indicate there has been an increase in the fair market value of any specific property, the board of tax assessors is required by law to re‐determine the value of such property and adjust the assessment. This is called a reassessment.

 

“When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires a rollback millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.

 

“The budget adopted by the Gordon County Board of Commissioners requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate; therefore, before the Gordon County Board of Commissioners may finalize a final millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the increase.”

 

County Administrator Jim Ledbetter began the public hearing by addressing confusion that the public has concerning the legal notice.

 

“I want to start out by addressing some confusion or common concern that we had at the meeting this morning where people had signed up to speak,” said Ledbetter. “The millage rate will be set on September 20th in this room at a meeting. The proposal is to leave the millage rate at the same rate it was last year, at 9.515 mills. That’s the lowest millage rate we’ve had since 2010. But because all of our property values have gone up, because folks are selling their houses for a whole lot more than they were, our tax assessor has to value our properties at fair market value as of January 1, 2022. They do that based upon statistic sales data from six months before January 1, 2022. That’s reflected in your notices of assessment that you received in June. All of our values have gone up pretty shockingly. So at 9.515 mills, the millage rate stays the same but because your property values assess for more, 9.515 mills collects more in taxes this year than last year. The State of Georgia says that’s a tax increase and you have to disclose that.

 

“The common misconception that I’ve ran into with some folks is that somehow people think this is an increase on top of the assessment you got in June. It is not. So whatever your bottom line on your tax in your June assessment is going to be pretty close to what your tax bill is. The reason I say pretty close is the Gordon County amount should be the same (as the assessment) at 9.515 mills. The school tax for people living in the county, I think they’re intending to rollback just a little bit (County Schools) and if that’s the case, it might roll back two dollars on your taxes. And for folks living in the City, whatever the City and the city schools do will have its impact. But your county tax should be right at what your notice of assessment was in June, and you then had a chance for 45 days to appeal if you disagreed with that fair market value.”

 

The tax increase for Gordon County minimal, and will be the same as the county portion on the June assessments mailed out.

 

“What that all means to us is on a $175,000 house, your county portion of the bill will go up about $56,” said Ledbetter. “On a house worth twice as much, then of course you’d double that. Then some people are in farm covenants and such with certain exceptions that help protect against increases. So that’s the proposal that’s before you, would be to leave the millage rate at 9.515 mills and (it does) not increase the county portion of the assessment that you all received in June.

 

The third and final public hearing concerning the county proposed millage rate will be held at the Judicial Building, located on Piedmont Street, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

 

In other news from the meeting:

Ledbetter gave his Administrator’s Report during the work session.

·SPLOST and LOST revenue shown in the report dated July 31, 2022 reflect collections reported for that month. For that period, SPLOST collections were $1,312,673.59 which is a $346,704.44 increase over the same month last year. LOST collections were $831,715.21 which is a $221,523.91 increase over the same month last year.

·The renegotiated LOST certificate required by the State has been filed and accepted by the Department of Revenue.

·The Emergency Management Agency and Gordon County Fire Department sent personnel and equipment to assist with flood relief in Chattooga and Floyd Counties this weekend. Also, EMA conducted a full scale emergency preparedness drill today.

·The Courthouse renovation project remains on time and is within budget including the use of some contingencies. The first floor is 90 percent framed, the second floor HVAC install is underway, and third floor framing is underway. Gordon County hosted a project meeting on August 31. Afterward, Judge Richie Parker, Judge Crissy Davis, Judge Pat Rasbury and Elections Director, Shea Hicks, toured the facility.

·The Board of Commissioners held a Board Planning Session at the Ag Center on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022

·Work is underway that will transform a portion of Trimble Hollow Road on the West side of I-75 into an industrial grade road to handle significant growth of warehousing and logistics centers in the area. The developer, not Gordon County, is paying for this road upgrade.

·Gordon County filed the Title V semiannual air quality report and groundwater reports that were due at the end of August for Redbone Ridges Landfill.

·The Gordon Floyd Joint Development Authority met in Rome on August 17 and discussed interest from a potential buyer for a portion of the property. The Gordon County Development Authority met on August 23rd.

·The Gordon County Building Inspector, Derron Brown, continues to make improvements to the office including online permitting and reducing plan review turnaround from 15 days to 3.

·Gordon County Codes do not allow people to live in campers or RV’s unless they are in an approved campground. The State Environmental Health Department requested a meeting with County officials because people using campers as their residence have become a growing problem in the county. There a number of reasons this could be a growing concern. Some people have sold their homes while prices are high and are living in campers in hopes the cost to build will come down. It also underscores the need for affordable housing in the county.

·The SPLOST funded renovations to the senior center are continuing this month. Senior Center services continue to be provided by Gordon County at the Calhoun Rec.

·Calhoun and Gordon County held an initial public meeting on August 30 to introduce the planning process. The County then held a county stakeholders meeting on September 2nd to prepare for the next meeting to be held on September 15.

 

In consideration of new business:

The Board approved a budget amendment in the amount of $149,859 total for various software and other items needed for Clerk of Court, Finance Department, Juvenile Court and Building & Planning.

 

The Board approved the appointment of Chris Pierce and Richard Huie to the Gordon County Public Facilities Authority.

 

The Board approved the appointment of Flipper McDaniel to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.

 

The Board held a first reading of the Unified Land Code Amendment. Ledbetter said that the amendment will include Chapter 1 of the International Code Commission and adopts and updates a permit fee schedule and will now apply to commercial buildings under 5,000 square feet, meaning they will have to be in code compliance.

 

The Board approved a Declaration of Surplus Property for the Sheriff’s Office for six vehicles.

 

The next meeting of the Gordon County Board of Commissioners will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Judicial Building on Piedmont Street in Calhoun.

Gordon County Board of Education holds first two public hearings on millage rate

Saturday, September 3, 2022

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The Gordon County Board of Education held their first two public hearings on Wednesday, Aug. 31 on their proposed tax increase by not taking a full rollback on their millage rate.

 

The Gordon County Schools Board of Education announced in mid-August its intention to increase the 2022 property it will levy this year by 13.44 percent over the rollback millage rate.

Each year, the Board of Tax Assessors is required to review the assessed value of taxable property in the county. When the trend of prices on properties that have recently sold in the county indicate there has been an increase in the fair market value of any specific property, the Board of Tax Assessors is required by law to re-determine the value of such property and adjust the assessment. This is called a reassessment.

 

When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires a rollback millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred. Currently the school system is at 18.50 mills; a full roll back this year would take it down to 16.088 mills.

 

The FY23 budget adopted by the Gordon County Schools Board of Education requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate; so before the Gordon County Schools Board of Education can set the final millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions about the tax revenue increase.

 

The partial rollback of the millage rate that has been proposed is supposed to further Gordon County Schools efforts to support the system’s strategic plan, including the following investments: costs associated with school safety improvements, increased costs of business operations, regular facility maintenance and improvements and expanded opportunities for students.

 

At Wednesday’s second public hearing, GCS director of Finance Mendy Goble gave a list of a few items that have been added to need additional funds.

 

“After we approved the budget, we had to increase some security costs in our schools to have more presence of security officers,” said Goble. “Our current capital project needs exceed our current SPLOST money. The last couple of years we had a couple of austerity cuts from the State; at mid-term (this year), we got a surprise from the State after budgets were set where we got some State money back. At this point, all austerity has been returned so there will not be any surprise money coming back this spring. The only way we should see an increase is if we have a large increase in our FTE which we’re pretty flat at this point with no growth or loss. Also, for the last three years we’ve cut supply money to the schools about 40 percent so we have not restored that and that was around $250,000.”

 

Goble also gave a breakdown of where GCS money is spent; 86.2 percent of the GCS budget goes to salaries and benefits.

 

During the presentation, Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Fraker gave a list of school improvements since 2020, which included bringing back para-professionals and custodians under Gordon County Schools’ employment, increased security needs across all campuses and adding safety features, adding dedicated gifted teachers at each school, adding a homebound teacher to work with students who need to be served in their homes, expanding instructional resources, upgrading classroom technology, added a three-year-old program at Belwood, added Online Gateway program, upgraded GPS and cameras for buses, purchasing 2-4 buses annually to replace aging fleet, upgrading and enhancing facilities, enhancing technology infrastructure to protect data, professional development for teachers, implementing the Inspiring Principals program which will turn into an overall GCS Leadership Essentials program and expanding Literacy Program in younger grades.

 

Goble said that while there would be a slight tax increase, the millage rate at the advertised 18.25 mills is still the lowest for GCS in over 10 years. Based on an average assessment of a home in Gordon County at $175,000 with the homestead exemption, the annual tax is calculated at $1,241 or $103.42 monthly at 18.25 mills; that is just for Gordon County Schools; it doesn’t include the millage that Gordon County will levy. She stressed that was the amount for those who claim homestead exemption, and that those who do not need to visit the Gordon County Tax Office to find out how to claim homestead exemption.

 

The FY 2023 budget for Gordon County Schools shows revenues of $63,732,820 with expenditures of $66,691,913, a shortfall of $2,959,093. No adjustments have been made to expenditures for inflation or cost of fuel. Security costs have increased this budget by $250,000 and current capital project needs exceed SPLOST revenue projections.

 

The only person to speak at the second public hearing was former Gordon County Schools’ Board member and financial advisor Dwayne Bowman, who wanted to know how much Gordon County Schools’ actually collects in taxes and how much reserves does the school system need.

 

“I own a couple of pieces of property in Gordon County,” said Bowen. “I think we have fantastic schools in Gordon County. “When I came on the Board (in 2010), I think we had a $1 million or $2 million dollar reserve. Back then, that was too low. We went through the worst financial crisis in 70 years. When the economy crashes like it did then in real estate, it takes a couple of years before it trickles down to local level. I remember going through budgets and cutting out custodians. It was a tough time. The (reserves) were too low. But, we made it through that time and I think improved things. I think we borrowed money a couple of times to pay bills. I’m not advocating getting down that low (in reserves) again. But if what I’ve heard is true, we’ve got about a $21 million dollar (reserve); what I’d like to see is what you collect every year. If my taxes are $5,000 now, are they going to be $6,000 next year? That millage rate is a little tricky. I’d like to see what you collect.”

 

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the BOE on Aug. 8, discussions began on the millage rate, with Superintendent Fraker telling the Board she was not in favor of taking the full rollback rate, and voiced her concerns why.

 

“My concern, of course, is the rapid growth that’s predicted to come to us with some of the new developments coming in, especially over at Sonoraville,” said Fraker. “Knowing that the cost of doing business has gone up and we have not adjusted any of our budgeted items for inflation, which at this point is looking at 20 to 30 percent as far as goods and services. Going forward, we’ll have to think about that as well. My concern with such a drastic rollback (to 16.088) is that sets the baseline for the next year, too, for the rollback. I know that people’s property values have gone up and I do think that we should lower the millage some, however, we’ve got to be in a situation, as a school system to be able to handle any growth we have for our students, plus continue to do the projects that we want to do to continue to provide exemplary facilities for our kids and programs. If we want to add programs and lower class sizes moving forward, all of those things come into play. And if we lower rollback some now and see how this next year goes with so many unknowns, maybe we can rollback some more.”

 

Fraker pointed out the list of rollbacks through recent years and told the Board she didn’t want to get into a situation where they have to later increase the millage rate by several mills.

 

Board member Eddie Hall was vocal at that time on his position that the system should take the full rollback to 16.088 due to the hardships taxpayers are facing at this time; Board member Kacee Smith echoed Eddie Hall’s thoughts, questioning the need for a roll up.

All citizens are invited to participate in the final public hearing on the tax revenue increase which will be held at the Gordon County College and Career Academy of Design and Advanced Manufacturing, 305 Beamer Road SW, Calhoun, GA 30701 on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022 at 6 p.m.

First public meeting held for Joint Comprehensive Plan update

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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On Tuesday, Aug. 30, a large crowd attended the first public meeting held concerning the required update of the Gordon County Joint Comprehensive Plan.

 

The Comprehensive Plan is an important, guiding policy document that addresses a wide range of factors and presents short and long range recommendations. The Comprehensive Plan is a joint effort that includes the County and the municipalities of Calhoun, Fairmount, Plainville, Ranger and Resaca. Under the Georgia Planning Act of 1989 and the 2018 Local Planning Requirements of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, a five-year update is required.

 

The deadline to have the Joint Comprehensive Plan updated is June 23, 2023.

 

“It’s becoming very important,” said County Administrator Jim Ledbetter of the Comprehensive Plan. “Our Future Land Development maps and our goals that we look to over the next few years are very important. This is a great opportunity for the public to help shape the community and address concerns”

 

Julianne Meadows with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission is heading up the project and will be working closely with Gordon County and the municipalities to make sure all State requirements are met for the plan.

 

“The Comprehensive Plan is very important in terms of growth and development, in terms of meeting State requirements, and also in terms of receiving and putting into the plan community input and leadership input of each of the communities, so it reflects the specific needs and projects that are coming up in the next five and ten years,” said Meadows. “The Comprehensive Plan does have required elements meeting State guidelines: goals, needs and opportunities, a new five-year work program, a report on the previous five-year program…it’s both what we’ve accomplished in the past five years and what we know we need to do in the next five years. New this time is broadband; many communities have sufficient broadband but more rural areas may still have an issue. This plan gives you the chance to identify what’s working, what’s working well and what is needed now and in the future. The Future Development Map for each community shows those areas that have changed, those areas that you want to update and those areas that are working well now.”

 

Ledbetter said the comprehensive plan was important as the area continues to welcome new industry.

 

"As we grow, and as major industries are having impacts on our needs such as roads, fire protection and more police service, among other needs, if we ever want to consider impact fees on major industrial developments, that will need to be an element of the Comp Plan," said Ledbetter. "I would recommend adding that; it's a long, detailed process that probably takes a year and about $100,000 to develop. That's one element we're looking at and it's the kind of things we'll be looking at during the Stakeholders' Meeting."

 

According to Meadows, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs will oversee the planning process, and the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission will work closely with DCA to make sure requirements are met and the process is as seamless as possible.

Meadows said there will be ample opportunity for public input throughout the process.

 

In the next 60 days, there will be a Community Survey published. According to Ledbetter, there were over 1,000 participants in the survey the last time the Joint Comprehensive Plan was updated.

 

There will also be two Stakeholder Meetings that include community leadership from Gordon County and the municipalities and the public is invited to those. The meetings are scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. and on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. Both of those meetings will be held at the Gordon County Judicial Building on Piedmont Street. At that time, leadership will conduct a basic SWOT analysis, looking at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for what the community is facing, including the massive amounts of growth occurring.

 

After the Stakeholder Meetings are held, there will be an open house where the information taken from those meetings will be presented.

 

A draft for the Joint Comprehensive Plan should be ready by March 2023.

 

Gordon County and the cities and towns have created a set of Joint Community Goals, out of a shared sense of vision, cooperation and solidarity. Each jurisdiction understands that certain geographic areas of the county are more likely to develop commercially, while some areas are best retained as rural residential/agricultural, so some goals will apply to some jurisdictions more than others. The plan is to enhance the quality of life throughout the county.

 

The six topics addressed in the current Comprehensive Plan include:

• Community Vision and Goals – This includes a Vision Statement for each municipality and joint community goals, agreed upon by each community.

• Report of Accomplishments – A table summarizing the status of the projects from the previous five year work program. Projects determined to be “underway” or “postponed” have been included in the newly created work program.

• Needs and Opportunities – A list created by the joint stakeholder committee that reflects the current state of each community and opportunities for growth.

• Community Work Program – A list of specific projects to accomplish within the next five years. This list of projects is designed to address each of the needs and opportunities.

• Broadband Services.

• Land Use/Future Development Guides – a spatial organization system using maps to show how people interact with the land and how development will change the landscape in the future. Calhoun, Resaca and Gordon County plan for future land use through zoning. At the time of the last update, Fairmount, Plainville, and Ranger currently have no zoning ordinances in places and rely upon Future Development Maps for land use decision-making.

 

Each element of the updated plan is developed with public participation. Gordon County and the municipalities will create a steering committee that meets as often as needed; each meeting will be open to the public.

 

After public participation and a plan update is completed, another public hearing will be held in March 2023. After submitting that plan to various regional and state agencies, the adoption resolution will be executed and the plan publicized by June 30, 2023.

 

It’s important for the citizens to help shape the direction their community is headed, which is why it’s crucial for public participation in these meetings. Continue to look for updates as they become available.

 

To read the current Comprehensive Plan, visit https://gordoncounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/government/comprehensive-plan/Comp-Plan-2018-2028.pdf

City of Calhoun holds public hearings on proposed millage rate increase

Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022

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The City of Calhoun on Monday night held their second of three scheduled public hearings on their proposed millage rate increase.

 

As presented in the already passed FY 23 budget in June, the City of Calhoun is proposing a millage rate of 3.2 mills, an increase of 0.5 mills from the current 2.7 mills.

 

At Monday night’s hearing just before the regularly scheduled City Council meeting, City Administrator Paul Worley presented information on the reasons for the increase.

 

Worley began by showing that out of 20 total cities in the 15,000 – 20,000 population size in Georgia, the average millage rate is 9.07, with Calhoun’s proposed 3.20 being the lowest out of those cities. In cities in the Northwest Georgia region, Jasper has a current millage of 5.56, Blue Ridge comes in at 5.01 mills, Rome has a millage of 11.48, Cedartown is at 10.93 mills, Cartersville is at 3.62 mills, Dalton is at 5.52 mills and Chatsworth is at 5.81 mills.

 

The City is proposing the increase in millage to address increased operational costs. Despite an increase in population, the City continues to do more with less, such as a reduction of its workforce by about 25 employees since 2007. There has been an increase in construction costs per linear foot of roadway. In 2012, the City paid $275 per linear foot of roadway construction; in 2021, the City Paid $450 per linear foot of roadway construction and in 2022, the City is paying $575 per linear of roadway construction. Calhoun Fire’s Rescue and Medical calls have increased significantly from 250 calls in 2009, with 36 certified firefighters on staff to the 1,525 calls the department responded to in 2021 with 36 certified firefighters on staff. The City has added two firefighter positions in the 2022 budget with the goal of adding more positions in the next one to two years. At the Calhoun Police Department, there were 279 crimes against property calls in 2019 with 42 certified officers on staff; in 2021, the number of calls nearly doubled to 542 crimes against property calls with 42 officers on staff. In the 2022 budget, the city has added 2 additional officer positions and 1 school resource officer position with the goal of adding more officers over the next two years.

 

Worley said an issue the City is trying to address increasing salaries for these positions to be able to attract candidates for the jobs.

 

“Cities and counties across the country are struggling to find employees,” said Worley. “We were fortunate enough at the beginning of the year to use some of the ARPA (America Rescue Plan Act) money to do a mid-year budget amendment to increase salaries for City employees and we were able to budget a five percent cost of living.”

 

Worley pointed out that in a short amount of time, the starting pay for a Certified Firefighter in Calhoun increased. Just this January, starting pay for a certified firefighter was $10.80 per hour, due to the ARPA and Cost of Living raise, the starting rate is now $13 an hour.

 

“It’s a significant improvement in a short amount of time. With the market, it’s still very challenging to get candidates when there are potentially more lucrative jobs elsewhere,” said Worley. “We can all agree that the public services that the City provides in public safety, streets and utilities are very critical functions and we want to be well staffed, well trained and have good employees serving the public.”

 

Worley shared last week that the 0.5 mill increase would increase the annual tax bill of a $100,000 home by $20, but with the proposed rollback by the Calhoun City School System of 0.967 mills, the proposed City/City Schools combined tax rate of a city resident would decrease by 0.467 mills. This excludes the Gordon County millage levy.

 

“I think this millage rate of 3.2 stacks up very favorably for a taxation rate as compared to other cities,” continued Worley. “It puts us on a more secure footing to be able to move forward and have the revenues that we need as the City comes forward with requests for personnel and equipment, to be able to meet those needs and provide that quality of service to the community.”

 

The third and final public hearing for the millage rate increase will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12 at the Depot on South King Street.

 

In other news from the regularly scheduled meeting:

A second reading of an annexation and zoning request from County AG-1 to PRD for 29.67 acres at 763 Hwy. 53 was held. The Zoning Advisory Board meeting will be held on Sept. 8 and the public hearing on Sept. 12.

 

A second reading of a zoning change request from Ind-G to R-2 on CL Moss Parkway was held. The Zoning Advisory Board meeting will be held on Sept. 8 and the public hearing on Sept. 12.

 

The Council approved a parade request on the traditional parade route for Gordon Central High School’s Homecoming Parade on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. The Council approved a rain date of Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. for the parade.

 

The Council approved a manager change request for Cracker Barrel Store #424 in Calhoun. The new store manager is Kelly Hartline.

 

The Council approved an update to the 2022 City of Calhoun Utilities Rate Resolution to change the return check fee to the new legal limit of $30, a decrease by $5 per returned check.

 

The Council approved the renewal of the Probation Services Agreement between the Judge of the Municipal Court of the City of Calhoun and Supervision Services, Inc. The term is for five years, ending Aug. 30, 2027. The monthly probation maintenance fee increases by five dollars to $40.

 

Worley gave the City’s cash report for July 2022.

 

The General Fund stands at $2,894,947, up from last month’s total of $2.7 million. The Revolving Loan balance is $447,254. Hotel/Motel Tax collections for May, reported in July, were $86,729 which was a decrease of about 8 percent decrease from May 2021’s $94,000 in collections. The Council approved the Cash Report.

 

Utilities Administrator Larry Vickery gave the Utility Cash Report for July 2022.

 

The operating account stands at $4,010,398, with a total in reserves at $7,207,741 for a total of $11,218,139. The Council approved the Utility Cash Report.

 

The next meeting of the Calhoun City Council will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12 at the Depot in downtown Calhoun.

City of Calhoun proposes millage increase, but anticipated CCS rollback should decrease overall millage rate

Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022

As presented in the already passed FY 23 budget in June, the City of Calhoun is proposing a millage rate of 3.2 mills, an increase of 0.5 mills from the current 2.7 mills.

"As we shared in our budget hearings, cities our size average a rate of approximately 9 mills, and with this proposed increase, Calhoun will be at the 3.2 level," said City Administrator Paul Worley. "The 0.5 mill increase would increase the annual tax bill of a $100,000 home by $20.00

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However, the proposed rollback by the Calhoun City School System is 0.967 mills. Therefore, the proposed City/City Schools combined tax rate of a city resident would decrease by 0.467 mills. This excludes the Gordon County millage levy." During budget discussions, the major needs addressed included planning for community growth, new employee growth, water and sewer increases, the proposed millage rate increase, a 5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment and succession planning while tackling high inflation rates, inflated wages, rising interest rates and record low unemployment. The City presented and approved a balanced budget this year with both revenues and expenditures of $19,202,564 in the General Fund. Just over $5.8 million dollars of those expenses were for the police department, with just over $4.3 million dollars for the fire department. The Calhoun City Schools' budget was also approved by the City Council at that time, with revenues at $37,002,623 with General Fund expenditures at $37,197,503 for a slight shortfall of $194,880, which will be paid for from the fund balance. The Capital Projects fund for the school system is balanced at $1,496,800; the Other Funds for the school system had revenues at $13,917,968 and expenditures of $13,684,297 for excess revenues of $233,671. The City of Calhoun will have the three required public hearings: Monday, August 22 at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Monday, September 12 at 6:30 p.m., all at the Depot on South King Street in downtown Calhoun. The City will present additional budget information and justification of the increase at those hearings.

County BOE millage rate talks begin; discusses not taking full millage rollback which will increase taxes

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022

At the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Gordon County Board of Education on Monday night, Aug. 8, a discussion was held concerning the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 millage rate.

“Thursday afternoon, late, I received the digest from the county,” said Director of Finance Mendi Goble. “I looked through that and calculated what the rollback rate should be. As you know, we talked a few months ago about how they did reassessments on the square footage price of residential. We did see about a 17 to 18 percent growth in the tax digest values this year. So when I calculate the rollback rate, that calculates at 16.088 (mills). We’re currently at 18.5 (mills). We’ve done a couple of other scenarios for you to consider.”

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A millage rate is the tax rate used to calculate local property taxes. The millage rate reflects the amount per every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Assigned millage rates are applied to the total taxable value of the property in order to arrive at the property tax amount.

A 16.088 millage rate would be the lowest millage rate the County School System has levied since 2011.

 

In Fiscal Year 2011, the millage rate for GCS was 15.611. The next year, FY 2012, the millage jumped to 19.228. It was levied as high as 20 mills in FY 2016, which is the limit at the state level it can go. It has slowly declined to its current 18.5 mills.

The other scenarios the Board was given encouraged them not to take the full rollback. Concerns for the need of extra tax money revolved around the explosive growth coming to Gordon County. Because there will likely not be a majority vote to take the full rollback, three public hearings are required to be held, by law, which will be advertised so stakeholders and tax payers can voice their opinion on the millage rate. The advertised rate that was decided at Monday’s meeting was 18.25 mills. That doesn’t mean the millage rate can’t be lower, but the millage rate cannot be set higher than the advertised rate.

Goble said that the scenarios presented would be lower than the current millage rate but would still bring in money to address concerns involving growth and teacher retention.

“The most (important) is doing some adjustments to our salary scales as far as increasing those past 21 years,” said Goble. “We are one of the few systems in our immediate area that are not doing that. Calhoun, Bartow and Whitfield, I know they are. That’s something we’re definitely going to have to consider to retain our veteran teachers. That directly impacts their TRS going forward and what they will draw for retirement for life. We don’t want to lose them when they hit 21 years.”

Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Fraker told the Board she was not in favor of taking the full rollback rate, and voiced her concerns why.

“My concern, of course, is the rapid growth that’s predicted to come to us with some of the new developments coming in, especially over at Sonoraville,” said Fraker. “Knowing that the cost of doing business has gone up and we have not adjusted any of our budgeted items for inflation, which at this point is looking at 20 to 30 percent as far as goods and services. Going forward, we’ll have to think about that as well. My concern with such a drastic rollback (to 16.088) is that sets the baseline for the next year, too, for the rollback. I know that people’s property values have gone up and I do think that we should lower the millage some, however, we’ve got to be in a situation, as a school system to be able to handle any growth we have for our students, plus continue to do the projects that we want to do to continue to provide exemplary facilities for our kids and programs. If we want to add programs and lower class sizes moving forward, all of those things come into play. And if we lower rollback some now and see how this next year goes with so many unknowns, maybe we can rollback some more.”

Fraker pointed out the list of rollbacks through recent years and told the Board she didn’t want to get into a situation where they have to later increase the millage rate by several mills like was done from 2011 – 2012. She also told the Board that in looking back, they cannot find such a drastic assessment such as the one this year.

“Our county hasn’t adjusted for that inflation over time so it’s happening all at once to us,” said Fraker. “It can also affect our equalization money down the road; we can actually lose some equalization money if we don’t grow or aren’t in the same pattern as everyone around us. We won’t know that for another year or so.”

“The largest cost I see is extending teacher’s pay (for those employed at GCS for 21 years or longer),” said Board member Bobby Hall. “This Board of Education might not be sitting around this table when their time comes, but we’re sitting here and we’ve done used the money and don’t have no way of covering it but now we do. What’s going to happen is, we’re going to be faced with a teacher shortage like a lot of other systems are now. Fortunately, a lot of folks right now are from our county, but it’s like Dr. Fraker said, they’ll go across the border lines to increase the last 7 years of their teaching scale just to be able to have a better retirement. I’m telling you, it’s going to be a dangerous situation with no teachers, especially our veteran teachers.”

Fraker said that by not taking the full rollback, they could pass a balanced budget without having to take money from the General Fund Balance, which sits at just over $21 million dollars at this time.

“The General Fund budget was approved for FY 23 but there was that gap between revenues and expenditures that was $2.9 million, so by passing a millage of the 18.25, you could still reflect that balance without using our fund balance. Right now, we’re balancing the budget using the fund balance, which I know was a concern when we were passing the budget,” said Fraker.

“So the discussion is, if we stick with the (full) rollback rate of 16 (mills), how do we propose to go forward? So that’s the discussion we need to have,” said Board member Christy Fox. “I’m definitely in favor of lowering the millage rate, I’m leaning more towards the 18 (mills). I want to see some of these things happen. I want to see us work to retain good teachers who have been with us; whatever we need to do to make that happen. And we do need to consider inflation. There’s a reason the housing market is doing what it’s doing, and we have to look to the future. I just think this goes along with it. I hate it; I know I didn’t enjoy getting my tax assessment when it came in.”

Board member Eddie Hall was vocal on taking the full rollback to 16.088 due to the hardships taxpayers are facing at this time. And Board member Kacee Smith echoed Eddie Hall’s thoughts, questioning the need for a roll up.

“I agree that the assessments were drastic, and inflation is high and that’s why I don’t think we should hit our citizens (with extra taxes) right now,” said Eddie Hall. “A lot of them worry about buying groceries every week, and if you take a look around FY 2013 or FY2014, the years before that, you had about a million dollars in the bank. As we raise these millage rates, we’ve built $21.5 million dollars in the bank (general fund balance). We passed a budget two months ago, not knowing what it was going to be today but we were happy with it. Now, we’re ready to take another $2 million dollars from our citizens? I just don’t see that. I do agree with some of the things that we put forth here, the pay scale increases, but they’re not going to be addressed in this next budget, so why do we want to add money and make a hardship (to our citizens)? These are all things that could be addressed at the next budget if we need to address them. But we’re in a recession; we may be in a situation (then) where we have to cut more funds. We don’t know what the future holds. But I just don’t think this is the time to ask our citizens to pony up and pay an extra $2 million dollars when we can operate with what we agreed upon just two months ago.”

“It’s easy to sit here and talk about it now but you be on the Board of Education 10 years from now. You’re going to look back on this day and say ‘why didn’t we do some of these things whenever the taxes were leveled out where we’re at right now,’” said Bobby Hall. “You’re afraid of resistance whenever you do that but I think…I got a new house and my taxes went up too and I’m retired. But I know what it’s going for. And I know how important teachers are to retain them. And if we don’t do some type of step-thing (pay scale), you’ll be sitting here looking at four walls with no teachers in them. And you’re not going to have to answer for that, Eddie. Only thing is going to look back and cuss every one of us out because we didn’t go ahead and do it (increase taxes) when we had the opportunity. This is an opportunity.”

“You didn’t worry about retaining (teachers) this year, but that’s another argument,” said Eddie Hall to Bobby Hall. “And I don’t appreciate you telling me that, Bobby. What I worry about is the people who have to pay these taxes, that’s who I worry about. And I worry about what it’ll do to them. Just because the property values went up; there are some people who have to work two jobs to put groceries in their basket. Go to the grocery store and see how many full buggies you see come through. That’s where the rubber meets the road, and that’s where these taxes hurt. To go and raise them; everybody panicked when they saw their reassessments. What’s changed in two months for us to need another $2.5 million dollars?”

“Well, generations from now, the price will be even greater. The cost of everything is up,” said Bobby Hall. “Go buy fertilizer that I have to buy; it’s doubled. Gasoline; it’s doubled. That’s just two items. Go down the aisles of the grocery store and buy things you used to pay $5 for and it’s $10. So, you know, do we go backwards at this point and say we’re going to suffer through it? We have to do something.”

Eddie Hall told the rest of the Board members that in 2019, by not taking a full rollback, the system put an extra $5 million in the bank on the backs of the tax payers.

“Have you seen your fund balance go down any in the last four or five years?” asked Eddie Hall. “The fund balance has gone up a significant amount every year. Let’s be honest. And I think that’s what our taxpayers expect is for us to be honest.”

The Board agreed to advertise the proposed millage rate at 18.25, however, that doesn’t mean that’s the millage rate the Board is actually considering. There will be three public hearings on the millage rate, then a vote by the Board. While the Board could vote to take the full rollback to 16.088, it is doubtful that will happen. Look for a millage in the 18 to 18.25 mills per board discussion tonight.

Goble also discussed the General Fund balance with the Board, saying there would be a request to move some of the funds.

With more than $21 million dollars in the General Fund balance, Goble told the Board that next month they would be bringing a request before the Board to earmark between $5 - $6 million dollars of the fund balance to finish capital projects.

“We know that Gordon Central (remodel) is going to come in higher than we have SPLOST and bond money to cover, just because the cost of construction is so high right now,” said Goble. “So we will probably come back to you with a proposal for $5 to $6 million dollars of that to move toward that project, because we’re going to need all of those funds to finish the Gordon Central project.”

“And we also will bring a refreshed (project) list back to you, too,” said Fraker. “We know we still have to do the restrooms at Red Bud Middle, which was part of our discussion when we did the baseball field there, and some additional paving needs we have, and reworking Belwood’s entrance. We’ve talked about moving up these projects with different infrastructures at some of the elementary schools, too.”

Goble said the final bond payment on their 2017 bonds will go out, which was right at $5 million dollars, leaving an excess of about $3.5 million dollars in their old SPLOST, which is final with all monies collected.

“We have moved that out to the projects account to finish some of the projects (Fraker) mentioned as well,” said Goble. “SPLOST collections have been booming the last 18 months.”

In other news from the meeting:

The Board approved revised and new policies, including a unstructured breaks/recess policy; a Parent’s Bill of Rights; and Divisive Concepts Complaint Resolution Process.

The three policies will bring the school system into compliance with new state laws that took effect on July 1.

In the Unstructured Breaks policy, the Board of Education requires each elementary school to schedule recess for all students in kindergarten and grades one through five every school day; provided, however, that recess shall not be required on any school day on which a student has had physical education or structured activity time or if reasonable circumstances impede such recess, such as inclement weather when no indoor space is available, assemblies or field trips exceeding their scheduled duration, conflicts occurring at the scheduled recess time over which the classroom teacher has no control, or emergencies, disasters, or acts of God. Read that policy HERE.

The Parents Bill of Rights promotes parental involvement in the school district’s schools. It is to ensure that each school within the school district has in place and makes available procedures for a parent to: Review records relating to his or her minor child; Learn about his or her minor child's courses of study, including, but not limited to, parental access to instructional materials intended for use in the classroom. Such instructional materials will be made available for parental review during the first two weeks of each grading period, either online or on site upon a parent's request made during the review period; Object to instructional materials intended for use in his or her minor child's classroom or recommended by his or her minor child's teacher; Withdraw his or her minor child from the school's prescribed course of study in sex education if the parent provides a written objection to his or her child's participation. Such procedures will provide for a parent to be notified in advance of such course content so that he or she may withdraw his or her minor child from the course; and provide written notice that photographs or video or voice recordings of his or her minor child are not permitted, subject to applicable public safety and security exceptions. Read that policy HERE

The Divisive Concepts Complaint Resolution Process will prohibit district employees from discriminating against students and other employees based on race; ensure that curricula and training programs encourage employees and students to practice tolerance and mutual respect and to refrain from judging others based on race; will prohibit a school administrator, teacher, other school personnel, or an individual facilitating a training program from responding in a professionally and academically appropriate manner and without espousing personal political beliefs to questions regarding specific divisive concepts raised by students, school community members, or participants in a training program; prohibit the discussion of divisive concepts, as part of a larger course of instruction, in a professionally and academically appropriate manner and without espousing personal political beliefs; prohibit the full and rigorous implementation of curricula, or elements of a curriculum, that are required as part of advanced placement, international baccalaureate, or dual enrollment coursework; provided, however, that such implementation is done in a professionally and academically appropriate manner and without espousing personal political beliefs; prohibit the use of curricula that addresses the topics of slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, or racial discrimination, including topics relating to the enactment and enforcement of laws resulting in racial oppression, segregation, and discrimination in a professionally and academically appropriate manner and without espousing personal political beliefs; and create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, by any party against the District, Board or the schools, departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees, agents, or any other personnel affiliated with the District or the Board. Read that policy HERE

The Board approved a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Natural Resources for additional school safety.

The Board approved a Transportation Agreement with Calhoun City Schools to be able to bus students to the Georgia School for the Deaf.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Gordon County Board of Education will be held at 6:15 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12 at the Gordon County College and Career Academy at 305 Beamer Road in Calhoun.

Sunday Alcohol Sales for unincorporated
Gordon County to go before voters Nov. 8

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

At the Tuesday night, July 19, 2022 meeting of the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, the Board approved two resolutions for referendums concerning the addition of putting Sunday alcohol sales in a special election on Nov. 8, 2022 for the residents of the County.

 

The first referendum for Gordon County voters to consider is whether or not to permit and regulate package sales by retailers of malt beverages and wine on Sundays. Voters would cast their ballot on whether they think the County should be authorized to permit and regulate the sale of malt beverages and wine by retailers on Sundays between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. If approved by voters, sales would begin Jan. 1, 2023. The special election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

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The second referendum for Gordon County voters to consider is whether or not to permit and regulate the sale of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages for consumption (drink) on premises such as restaurants on Sundays. Voters would cast their ballot on whether they think the County should permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits and alcoholic beverages beginning Jan. 1, 2023 if approved by voters. The special election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

 

Talk concerning Sunday alcohol sales began in early July 2021 when a group of business owners in the unincorporated areas of Gordon County addressed the Board, asking for Sunday alcohol sales to be put back out for voters to decide.

 

At that commission meeting on July 6, 2021, Rebecca Lanier, an employee of Mulligans, the café located at Fields Ferry Golf Course, presented a petition to the Board from other alcohol license holders who have businesses in the unincorporated areas of Gordon County, and spoke on behalf of those businesses.

“In today’s very competitive business world, there are so many uncertainties on business sales and revenues, specifically the small business owners facing many challenges financially,” said Lanier in the statement from the business owners. “As we all know, the City of Calhoun sells beer and wine at designated times; additionally many surrounding counties allow the sale of packaged beer and wine in retail stores on Sunday. Chain stores owned by big corporations within the city limits have a huge advantage against small business owners within the county limits. As Gordon County small business owners, we sincerely and respectfully make a request to allow equal opportunities for all businesses within county limits and city limits. This will bring more job opportunities, business sales and sales tax revenues for our county.”

 

The last time Sunday alcohol sales were on the ballot locally was in 2012. At that time, the residents of the City of Calhoun voted in favor of Sunday alcohol sales, which can be sold between the hours of 12:30 – 11 p.m. on Sundays within the city limits of Calhoun. During the same election, voters in unincorporated Gordon County voted against Sunday alcohol sales.

Calhoun sets public hearing for golf cart ordinance

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The City of Calhoun will hold a public hearing on Monday, July 25 for a proposed Golf Cart Ordinance for the municipality. The ordinance is being established to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City of Calhoun by regulating the operation of personal transportation vehicles or PTV, more commonly known as golf carts, by restricting their use to certain low volume, low speed residential streets in the City, who may legally operate these vehicles, and the issuance of operational permits for such use.

A copy of the proposed ordinance can be found HERE.

 

The ordinance defines golf carts as self-propelled by either a

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gas or electric motor engine, having no fewer than four wheels, weighing less than 1,375 pounds and not operating in speeds more than 20 miles per hour. It does not include power wheelchairs or scooters for the purpose of aiding mobility for a person, and does not include all-terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles or multi-purpose off-highway vehicles.

The proposed ordinance will require owners of golf carts to obtain a golf cart permit every five years; the operational permit fee will be set separately  as part of the General Government Fee Schedule as allowed by law.

Golf carts will be permitted on residential municipal street within the City of Calhoun having a posted speed limit of no more than 25 miles per hour. Golf carts will be prohibited from traveling or crossing state highways, arterial roads and residential collector roads within the city limits.

Persons who are 17 years of age and older are allowed to operate golf carts on the designated municipal streets as long as they have a valid driver’s license that has not been revoked or suspended from the state which the license was issued. Persons who are 16 years of age are allowed to operate golf carts on the designated municipal streets as long as they have a valid driver’s license that has not been revoked or suspended from the state which the license was issued with restrictions of all requirements or limitations placed upon those drivers by state law. Persons who are 15 years of age but not yet 16 may drive with a valid learner’s license and accompanied by a person at least 18 years of age with a valid driver’s license in the front seat. No person under the age of 15 will be allowed to operate a golf cart on any of the public roads or designated roads within the city limits.

In addition to those requirements, the operator/owner of the golf carts must have written proof of insurance.

Golf Carts may be operated only during daylight hours a half-hour before sunrise and  a half- hour after sunset unless equipped with two operating headlights, tail lights and brake lights that are visible from a distance of 500 feet. The golf cart may not be operated at any time when there is insufficient light to clearly see persons or vehicles on the street or roadway at 500 feet.

Gasoline powered golf carts must be factory equipped with safety systems, including an indicator or gas or propane leaks, speed governor and exhaust system in good working order. Electric golf carts must be equipped with a charge indicator for low battery.

The number of occupants in a golf cart is limited to the number of persons for whom the factory seating is installed and provided on the golf cart.

The operator of the golf cart has to comply with all traffic rules and regulations contained in the official Code of Georgia and the Code of Calhoun.

No motorized play vehicle may be operated on any public street, public roadway, public sidewalk, public part, public or private parking lot, public trail, public shared multi-use path, public bicycle path and all other public property.

Motorized play vehicles are permitted on private residential property with the permission of property owner. In the case the property is commonly owned by an HOA, the HOA may regulate usage.

All violations of the ordinance are subject to charge by uniform traffic citation and jurisdiction for the adjudication of guilt and sentencing will be held by the Calhoun Municipal Court.

  • For the first offense, a fine of not less than $250 levied against the registered owner of the golf cart;

  • A second offense is a fine of no less than $500 against the registered owner of the golf cart;

  • A third offense committed within one year of a conviction of a second offense is a $1,000 fine and the golf cart registration is revoked. The registered owner or family member of the golf cart cannot use the golf cart within the city for a period of two years following a third conviction.

The ordinance states that the adoption is “to address the interest of public safety. PTV are not designed or manufactured to be used on public streets and the City of Calhoun in no way advocates or endorses their operation on public streets or roads. The city, by regulating such operation is merely trying to address obvious safety issues, and adoption of (this ordinance) is not to be relied upon as a determination that operating on public streets is safe or advisable if done in accordance with (this ordinance).”

A copy of the proposed Personal Transportation Vehicle (golf cart) Residential Registration can be found HERE.

The public hearing is set for 7 p.m. on Monday night, July 25 at the Depot, located at South King Street in downtown Calhoun.

Round-about proposed for Curtis Parkway/Dews Pond intersection which is expected to see more
than 600 new residences in the area

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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With the impact of traffic in the area of East Line Street/Dews Pond Road and Curtis Parkway expected to grow tremendously over the next couple of years due to new residential projects in that area, the City of Calhoun is in the early stages of planning the addition of a round-about to the intersection. The proposed project is being planned in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Transportation, who has provided a grant up to $400,000 for the project.

“We are in the very early stages of design, but we would like to do a roundabout there,” said City Administrator Paul Worley. “The Georgia Department of Transportation gave us a grant based on the concept plan. We bought the northwest corner lot (on Dews Pond Road) so we can demolish the home there to make room.”

Ground has broken on both the Dews Pond Road and Curtis Parkway residential projects recently and once finished is expected to add to already problematic traffic congestion in the area, especially during morning and evening school/work travel.

In December 2020, the City Council approved an annexation, rezoning and stream buffer protection variance for Seven Lights Investments LLC for a 19.71 acre property located on Curtis Parkway across from Laurel Creek Road. The property backs up to I-75 and sits beside Heritage Baptist Church and Ashton Furniture. At that meeting, representatives with Seven Lights said they plan to build around 300 apartments on that property.

In early March 2021, the City Council approved the annexation and rezone request for a 120-plus home development called Sycamore Crest on Dews Pond Road, just east of the entrance to Amakanata Subdivision. The development consists of 37 acres on Dews Pond and 4.22 acres at Amakanata Road. There will be more than 120 houses in the subdivision, with four homes built per acre. The development is expected to have just one entrance/exit area on Dews Pond Road.

Also recently, a developer has purchased the tract of land directly south of the Curtis Parkway 300-unit apartment complex that was existing multi-family zoned property. That tract of land is about 34 acres total. The developers plan to construct a 236-unit senior living development of quadraplex cottages that will be 2 - 3 bedrooms, according to Worley. 

In addition to those new projects, Waterside, a new subdivision consisting of dozens of single-family new homes just west of the intersection is completely built at 90 percent capacity.

In an already congested area with a lot of school traffic, the City Council earlier this year approved the purchase of the land at the northwest corner of Dews Pond Road and Curtis Parkway to make improvements for traffic flow to the road, but it is expected the proposed round-about project will not get underway for quite some time.

“These type projects take a long time to get shovel-ready,” said Worley. “It will take many months just to do design engineering and relocate utilities.”

In addition to the road work, Worley said that the City hopes there will be additional improvements to the area, including the addition of a stacking lane on Curtis Parkway for Calhoun Primary and Elementary school traffic heading south, along with building a sidewalk that will connect the Dews Pond sidewalk to the one already in place around Firehouse Gym.

If this project is approved and goes through, it will be the second round-about for the City, which already has one at the intersection of Peters Street and May Street.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, round-abouts have a long list of benefits, including:

  • Improved safety: Reduces the number of points where vehicles can cross paths and eliminates the potential for right-angle and head-on crashes;

  • Safer speeds: Another safety improvement is promoting lower vehicle speeds, giving drivers more time to react;

  • Increased efficiency / reduced congestion: Yield-controlled design means fewer stops, fewer delays and shorter queues;

  • Long-term cost effectiveness: roundabouts can save on long-term costs by not requiring the same maintenance and operational costs as traffic signals;

  • Aesthetics: Allows for landscaping and beautification;

  • Roundabouts significantly reduce pollution, noise impacts and fuel consumption.

"The City is appreciative of all the hard work of Rep. Matt Barton and Rep. Rick Jasperse, along with Senators Chuck Payne and Chuck Hufstetler who helped advocate on the City of Calhoun's behalf for this much needed project," said Worley. "We are thankful for the Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurray and his staff at GDOT for their support with this project."

WHO ARE YOU CARRYING? Carry The Load's National Relay Team makes stop in Calhoun

Friday, May 20, 2022