Downtown Toccoa Historic District On National Register of Historic Places

The historic district in downtown Toccoa joins the National Register of Historic places. Last week, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Historic Preservation Division announced that the downtown Toccoa historic district is now listed in the National Register of Historic places. According to officials, the National Register of Historic places is the country's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation.

City of Toccoa Welcomes New Manager

The City of Toccoa has a new city manager. Mike Jackson was named city manager by the Toccoa City commission at a meeting this morning. Jackson has served as interim City Manager since August. He was named the sole finalist for the job at a December 7 meeting of the city commission.

SCDA Offers Year End Report

The Stephens County Development Authority provides a year-end update to local leaders.

Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin spoke to the Toccoa City Commission at its meeting on Monday, then spoke to Stephens County Commissioners on Tuesday at their meeting.

Martin talked about a number of different areas during his presentation.

The first was the Development Authority’s website,

Martin said they have been working to add new features and information to that site as often as they can.

“Your Stephens County Development Authority is constantly trying to make sure that the information is current, correct, concise, out there on the web where folks can take advantage of it 24/7 as they are looking at us, making their decisions, (and) moving forward.”

Martin also said that the Stephens County Development Authority continues to work with neighboring counties on extending broadband infrastructure in northeast Georgia.

Stephens and five other counties, Franklin, Habersham, Banks, Rabun, and Hart counties have been working on a broadband connectivity study.

Martin said they have found that all six counties can be served by constructing about 150 miles of fiber throughout the region, a project Martin says would cost about $9 million.

He said that they are already looking at the first part of that project.

“The Tri-County Development Authority asked the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission to write the grant to OneGeorgia for $1 million that would fund the first leg of this, which would be the 18 miles from Hollywood (in Habersham County) to Toccoa.”

Martin said that grant would require a $200,000 match and how that match would be covered has not been determined yet.

According to Martin, the loop Stephens County is involved with would connect into a similar loop being constructed in other parts of north Georgia called the North Georgia Network.

Martin also reviewed progress at Hayestone-Brady Business Park for commissioners.

According to Martin, the Development Authority is looking at additional grading at the park, located on Highway 17 between Toccoa and the town of Martin.

Global Partitions Helps with NGTC Renovations

A local industry works with North Georgia Technical College on improvements to one of its facilities.

Global Partitions recently contributed the equivalent of approximately $30,000 in equipment and materials to complete renovations to bathroom facilities at Bryant Hall, located on the Clarkesville campus of North Georgia Tech.

North Georgia Technical College President Steve Dougherty said that this represents a substantial gift to the college and adds that he and the school greatly appreciate it.

Global Partitions is a manufacturer and worldwide distributor of toilet partitions, shower dividers, dressing partitions and other lavatory equipment. Global Partitions is one of four companies that make up GEM Industries, Inc.

GEM Industries Vice President Doug Hitchon said that GEM is proud of its association with North Georgia Technical College, adding that this is a great example of how industry and higher education can work together in a lot of ways.

"Policies and Pastries" Breakfast held Friday in Toccoa

Local officials meet with state legislators to talk about issues facing northeast Georgia. State Representative Michael Harden and newly elected State Senator John Wilkinson met with Stephens County leaders at a "Policies and Pastries" breakfast at the Mitchell Allen Meeting Room in Toccoa on Friday. Two of the top issues under discussion were the T-SPLOST and E-Verify. Representatives for Rep. Paul Broun and Sen. Johnny Isakson were also in attendance and spoke on federal issues.

Toccoa Manager Jackson named Sole Finalist for Permanent Job

Following an 8:30 a.m. called meeting yesterday (Dec.7), Toccoa city commissioners named current interim city manager Mike Jackson as the sole candidate for the permanent position. "The city commission has determined that Michael Jackson is the best qualified person for the position of city manager," mayor Janice English said following the meeting. "Michael Jackson is the only person under serious consideration," she added. English said the commission had reviewed applications from a number of candidates, but felt Jackson was best qualified for the position. Jackson was hired in August following the commission's 3-2 vote to fire then-city manager Michael Uskiewicz. "The city commission does hereby give notice that final action on this appointment will take place at a meeting to be held on the 22nd day of December at 3:30 p.m.," English said, adding that all documents the city has regarding Jackson are available for public inspection. "One of the main reasons I really wanted to stay, instead of remain as an interim and have a definite stop point, is that I'm convinced Toccoa has absolutely unlimited potential, and I want to be a part of it," Jackson said. "I look forward to the challenge," he added. "I think that we can help return Toccoa to where it was 20 years ago... a city to whom others looked for guidance; a city everyone wanted to be like." Jackson said a continuing emphasis on bare steel replacement, expansion of the gas system, and continuing to provide the best water service were priorities, and added that changes in the budgeting process were also among his goals. "We want to move our budget and budgeting process forward in a way that is more transparent and easy to understand for people that are casual readers of our budget," he said. "While it's a plate full, it's going to be fun," he said of the coming challenges. "It is just a matter of getting all the players on the same side of the wagon, pulling together in the same direction," he said.

Ribbon Cutting held for New Airport Terminal

Local officials celebrate the opening of a new airport terminal in Stephens County.

Community leaders gathered at the Toccoa-Stephens County Airport Tuesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Toccoa-Stephens County Airport Authority Chairman John Taylor said that this day was a long time coming.

“The Airport Authority has worked diligently over the years to help develop this airport into what it is today and there are a lot of people we need to give appreciation to for all of the work they have done out here,” said Taylor.

Toccoa Vice-Mayor David Austin said it is a great day for both the city and county.

“I know in the past 12 years I have been on the commission, we have been looking at plans and talking about this thing and it goes back even further than that,” said Austin. “In looking at the plans, I am amazed at how much better this looks than I could have ever imagined. It is just glorious.”

Stephens County Commission Chairman J.B. Hudgins agreed and credited the volunteers for their work at the airport over the years.

“When I started coming to this airport in the mid 1940s, it did not look like this,” said Hudgins. “We had a hangar and a strip. That is about it, so there are big changes happening and it has been due to the volunteers that have led us.”

State Representative Michael Harden said this terminal project is an example of a team effort, while Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin, speaking on behalf of Development Authority Chairman Cam Parker, thanked the citizens for supporting the project.

Meanwhile, Georgia Adjutant General Jim Butterworth said the new terminal will help with economic development.

“The main point is build it and they will come,” said Gen. Butterworth. “You have built it. You had the vision to put a place where you can greet people who will bring industry to this area.”

Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Barry Roberts, who shared that opinion, says that this terminal will provide a wonderful gateway into the community.

“If you bring people through here, prospective clients, business clients, visitors, they are going to be impressed,” said Roberts. “This is a beautiful place to be.”

Ground was broken for the approximately 6,000 square-foot terminal back in March.

At the time of the groundbreaking, officials estimated that the total project cost was expected to come in at around $1.5 million, with the building itself costing about $1.1 million. Some of the funding for the project came from a $500,000 OneGeorgia Grant. The rest of the money came from SPLOST V funds.

TSC Chamber becomes Georgia Certified

The Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce is in the first group of Georgia Certified Chamber of Commerce programs across the state.

The Georgia Association of Certified Chamber Executives created the program earlier this year and announced the first class of 25 Georgia certified chambers recently.

The Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber is one of 25 chambers to receive the Georgia certification in the initial class.

According to the press release making the announcement, the program is modeled after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s accreditation program.

To achieve Georgia certification, chambers must meet standards in organization, service intent and capacity, professional administration, financial management, communications, and advocacy. Officials say that the purpose of the program is to facilitate continuing excellence in the chamber industry and to foster a pro-business environment across the state of Georgia.

City Unveiled Second Plaque

Toccoa unveils another historic plaque in it's downtown district. The city unveiled it's second plaque at the Toccoa Record offices on Doyle Street in downtown Toccoa Thursday. Toccoa Planning and Downtown Development Director Connie Tabor said that the plaque marks the Record as the city's oldest business. City officials said that plans are to unveil ten plaques, with a new plaque going up each month.

Preliminary Unemployment Numbers

Preliminary unemployment numbers from the Georgia Department of Labor show a slight drop in last month's unemployment rate for Stephens County. According to those figures, Stephens County's preliminary unemployment rate in October came in at 10 percent. That represents a drop of one tenth of a percent from the revised September unemployment rate of 10.1 percent.