Bowen and Watson price approved for constructing SCHS

On Tuesday, Stephens County School System officials approved Bowen and Watson's price for construction of the new high school building, at just over $31.1 million. This amount was the guaranteed maximum price for approval.

Currahee Welding Announces new Operation, "Currahee Waste Products"

At a ceremony yesterday, Currahee Welding announced the development of a new operation, Currahee Waste Products, which will manufacture residential rear loaders. Company owner Rusty Harrison said that the completion of the demonstration body of the waste hauling equipment marks the start of the operation, which Robert Williams, sales and marketing leader, will be promoting. Currahee Waste Products is to run out of the same location as Currahee Welding, located in Northeast Georgia midway between Atlanta and Greenville, SC near Interstate 85 in Eastanollee. Currahee Welding has been in business for over twenty years. Harrison anticipates that the new operation will include 10-12 new employees initially.

Rusty Harrison, Owner: “This is going to be a big venture and it will be tough at first because we will be competing against large companies. But I believe we can get into the market and sell our product.”

Senator Jim Butterworth: “We know how much of a time and investment challenge this project is in this day and age…when the unemployment rate is the highest in probably our lifetime. Even given our situation in the U.S. economy, we still need to realize that we are in a much better position than many other economies in the world, and it’s because people like Rusty are taking the challenges that he is taking, and we appreciate his effort.”

Representative Michael Harden: “In a time when I find myself congratulating people for keeping their doors open and for not folding, it is so refreshing in this economy to be able to see someone who is not only keeping their doors open but also moving forward. Rusty has recognized a niche in this market, he has diversified and he is going to move not only his family and business forward, but this entire county.”

Jonesy Haygood, Stephens County Commissioner: “On behalf of the County Commissioners we commend you for what you have undertaken. You have undertaken a project that very few people would have the guts to do, and you followed through from step one to the very end. This will be a tremendous asset to the county. Thanks for choosing us to be a part of your endeavor.”

Billy Morse, Toccoa City Manager: “On behalf of the city of Toccoa I want to thank you and congratulate you for what you’re doing. You have been a vital asset to the Public Works Department for many years with your welding services, which keep us up and running. Congratulations to you; we will work with you in any way we can to help you.”

Tim Ash, Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce: “The Chamber is here to support local businesses. We always love to acknowledge the expansion and growth of someone who has already demonstrated success in local business. We thank you for your investment in Stephens County and your guts in going forth with something new in this economy. That’s what will bring us out of where we are, and we appreciate that greatly.”

Cam Parker, Stephens County Development Authority: “The Development Authority’s job is to create more jobs, but to do so more than anything, we depend upon people like you. You said in the beginning of this venture that you would be battling huge companies as competitors. R.G. LeTourneau was in the exact same position as you a hundred years ago in California, and he succeeded. He came to Toccoa and helped us to further develop our manufacturing sector. I thank you so much for helping our community get back into the business of making things.”

SCDA Infrastructure Committee presents watershed research findings

After five years of research into the threats to the Lake Toccoa watershed, the SCDA's Infrastructure Committee presented their findings and recommendations to the City of Toccoa. “Seventy percent of the earth is covered in water … but only .007 percent of all the water in the world is available for us as human beings,” said committee chairman Buddy Lawson to commissioners. “I thought that was significant, and brings home the need for protecting our watershed and water resources.”

The committee made five overall recommendations to protect the water supply which will cover 90-95% of all threats if implemented:

• Prohibit development of any kind on city-owned property surrounding Lake Toccoa.

• Control golf course storm water run-off into Lake Toccoa and control chemicals applied to the golf course.

• Prepare and implement a plan for regional water sales.

• Dredge Lake Toccoa and the Davidson Creek Impoundment.

• Extend water discharge piping from Davidson Creek to Lake Toccoa

North Georgia Technical College sees a jump in enrollment

North Georgia Technical College has seen a major increase in student enrollment for the Fall quarter. The school as a whole experienced a 44% increase over last fall's enrollment, while Stephens County's Currahee Campus has had a 55% increase. 2,988 total students attend NGTC.

Stephens County graduation rate improves again

The final graduation rate for Stephens County increased yet again this year by more than six points, from 72.3% to 78.6%. This is barely under the Georgia average of 78.9% and meets the required improvement for the Georgia Work Ready Certified Community program.

Developer Day Highlights Downtown Toccoa Revitalization Project

Developing Stephens County was the topic of the day as the Stephens County Development Authority held their first fall 2009 “Developer Day” event, which followed three successful spring events. Seven statewide economic development project managers from the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia EMC, Quick Start, Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Georgia Department of Economic Development, AGL Resources, and Georgia Department of Community Affairs toured the community. The goal of the trip was to gain a more in-depth understanding of Toccoa-Stephens County’s assets and economic needs so as to better foster development in the area.

The statewide guests also were able to present to a local leadership team about their role in the development of Northeast Georgia. David Shellhorse of the Georgia Department of Community affairs spoke about his work on the Canopies Project in historic downtown Toccoa:

"Removing the canopies which covered Toccoa’s historic downtown district and providing additional streetscape improvements was among the most rewarding, collaborative and innovative projects I have encountered during my time at DCA. An astounding four different grant funding sources contributed to this project which represented a 100% aesthetic makeover and revitalization of a charming and now vibrant downtown area. Of the four grants, DCA helped to administer three of them: OneGeorgia, the Redevelopment Fund, and the Appalachian Regional Commission (USDA was the other funding source).

"The downtown area had been compromised visually a few decades ago with the construction of large canopies which were installed in an innovative attempt to compete with and create the feeling of an indoor shopping mall. Malls were becoming increasingly popular and downtown areas were becoming increasingly affected and marginalized by their presence. While the canopies did not end up providing a direct competitor with the wave of malls and large shopping centers that emerged throughout the region, the canopies did help the community realize that there are things intrinsic about downtown areas that could never be offered by a mall: history, charm, and character. Through strong local leadership and vision in this project, those qualities have been restored. It is also necessary to mention that the administrative coordination between four different government funding sources and all of their various programmatic requirements was masterfully executed."

Read the entire Developer Day press release here: Developer Day showcases Toccoa's assets