Stephens County Commission Makes JDA Appointment

Tuesday, the Stephens County Commission unanimously appointed North Georgia Technical College Currahee Campus Director Greg Roach to fill the unexpired term of Cam Parker on the Joint Development Authority. The JDA includes Stephens, Franklin and Hart counties.  Stephens County Commission Chairman Dean Scarborough said Roach will do a good job.  “We were looking for someone with exposure in all three of those counties and had knowledge of some of the people involved in the Joint Development Authority’s work,” said Scarborough. “Greg, of course being at North Georgia Tech’s Currahee Campus, has dealings in business and has spoken to all of the developers and a lot of the people there and we felt like he was a good match.”  The Stephens County Commission also unanimously re-appointed both Scarborough and Bob Evans to their posts on the Joint Development Authority.

Click for full article

EPD Signs Wilbros Consent Order; Court Hearing Today in Civil Suit

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has finalized a consent order with Wilbros.  The EPD signed the consent order on Monday with the Rose Lane facility at the center of controversy over complaints of excessive odor coming from the facility.  According to EPD Assistant Director Jim Ussery, the final consent order that will be implemented includes a number of amendments made after public comments on the proposed consent order.  Ussery said that the EPD believes this final consent order will provide solutions to the odor problem.  “All of the things that we have laid out in the order go beyond what some facility like this might be required to do, but since they are in a populated area, then they need to take these actions,” said Ussery. “I do think it will control the odors. In fact, I know we will control the odors ultimately.” 
Meanwhile, a court hearing in the civil suit filed by Stephens County and others against the Wilbros facility is set for this morning.  That hearing is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. today regarding a motion made by the plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction against Wilbros.  Stephens County, the city of Toccoa, Stephens County School System, and Concerned Citizens of Toccoa-Stephens County, LLC filed suit in July against Wilbros and associated defendants over the odor.

Click for full article

Stephens County Hospital Ranked #8 by Georgia Trend Magazine

Georgia Trend Magazine ranked Stephens County Hospital #8 among the top small hospitals in the state for 2012.  To determine the rankings, hospitals were grouped of similar size and mission together and compared with their peer institutions.  All information used to compile the rankings relies on publicly available information on quality of care, patient satisfaction, mortality and readmission statistics and data on hospital-acquired infections and conditions.  Georgia Trend worked with researchers and healthcare professionals at WellStar Health System in Marietta to determine the state rankings.

Click for full article

“New Harmonies” Exhibit Comes to Toccoa

Friday evening, Toccoa welcomed the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit, New Harmonies, to the Schaefer Center.  The “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music” exhibit covers the history of American music. It was brought to Toccoa through a joint effort of the Georgia Humanities Council, Stephens County Historical Society, and Main Street Toccoa program.  Historical Society Executive Director Brenda Carlan said they are proud to host the exhibit and she thanked the Humanities Council for choosing Toccoa as one of the host cities. Officials from the Georgia Humanities Council were on hand and say they are thrilled to have the exhibit in Toccoa.  Friday night’s event also gave the city a chance to show off the newly renovated Schaefer Center with a grand re-opening.  “We want this to be one of the anchors for downtown redevelopment and to be a facility that we can use and enjoy and that you and I can be proud of for years to come,” said Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson.  The “New Harmonies” exhibit will remain in Toccoa through January 26, 2013.  It is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Click for full article

Stephens County Hospital Holds Love Light Program

Stephens County Hospital held its annual “Love Light” ceremony in the hospital cafeteria on Thursday.  The Stephens County Hospital Auxiliary sponsors the event each year.  Auxiliary President Ann Hauerland said this event is one the auxiliary truly enjoys.  “We work for this all year long,” said Hauerland. “We cannot give every department their requested equipment, but we are so honored to give the ones that we can. It just means the world to us to help the hospital.”  During the ceremony, the auxiliary presents equipment that it has purchased with donated money for the hospital.  This year, the auxiliary purchased five items. They include an analyzer for the lab to help with test results, a laptop computer and related equipment to set up a mobile patient registration unit, a pulmonary function machine that will assist with testing, a special stretcher for cataract surgeries, and a recumbent bicycle for the hospital’s cardiopulmonary rehab unit.

 Click here for full article

Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow Releases Report

A committee working to create a community improvement plan for Toccoa and Stephens County releases its Executive Summary of a September community input meeting.  “Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow” is a privately funded effort in conjunction with the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce and the Fanning Institute from the University of Georgia.  Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow Chairman Barry Roberts said one of the clear priorities is economic development.  “Economic development is at the forefront of everybody’s mind,” said Roberts. “Jobs are important. People are ready to see things turn around in Stephens County."  The Executive Summary from the September meeting at the Currahee Campus is posted at

Click for full article

Building Inspections Informational Event Saturday in Stephens County

The Stephens County Board of Commissioners and the Stephens County Building Inspections Department is holding Introduction to Building Inspections and Contractor Appreciation Day on Saturday, December 8 at at the Stephens County Senior Center in Toccoa.  The event is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free to attend.  Stephens County Building Inspector Larry Krul said the event is open to the public and is designed for contractors, subcontractors, and those interested in significant home repair projects.

Click here for more details

NGTC Taking Applications for Associate’s in Nursing Program

North Georgia Technical College is now accepting applications  for entry into the Associate in Science Nursing program.  The ASN program will be a direct path to Registered Nursing.  It is projected to be one of the two occupations with the highest growth rate in Georgia and among occupations with the most annual openings in North Georgia.  Application deadline for the first group of students is March 1, 2013. 

Click for more details

"Christmasfest" This Weekend in Toccoa

Tonight is the annual "Christmasfest" in downtown Toccoa.  Main Street Toccoa Events Coordinator Sharon Crosby said there will be some new activities during "Christmasfest" for people to enjoy.  “New this year is a Christmas Sage Market and that will be located at 56 Doyle Street and so we invite people to come and do a little bit of their Christmas shopping while they are downtown,” said Crosby. “We will also be having a church walk. Our three historic churches downtown will be open and be having entertainment there. We invite people to come and just stroll down Tugalo Street, see the beauty of the lights, and just visit our churches and hear some beautiful Christmas music as well.”  Christmasfest will also include many familiar activities, such as carriage rides, a live nativity, and Santa himself.

Click here for further details

Toccoa Welcomes New Harmonies in December

The city of Toccoa is preparing to welcome the “New Harmonies” exhibit next month.  The Currahee Military Museum and Toccoa Main Street, in cooperation with the Georgia Humanities Council, are bringing the “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music” exhibit.  Main Street Toccoa Events Coordinator Sharon Crosby said it covers the history of American music.  “You see a history of American music throughout the display,” said Crosby. “It is a very interactive display with a lot of spots where you can stop and listen. It has a lot of pictures. It is a really interesting exhibit. It is something that is appropriate for children as well as adults.”  “New Harmonies” is a traveling exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution.

Click for full article

Preliminary Unemployment Rate Released for October

According to figures released last week from the Georgia Department of Labor, the preliminary unemployment rate in Stephens County is 8.9 percent.  This figure represents a 0.4% increase from the revised September rate of 8.5 percent.  The October 2012 preliminary unemployment rate is 0.9% of a percentage point lower than the revised October 2011 rate of 9.8 percent.

Click for full article

Toccoa to Convert Five Vehicles to Compressed Natural Gas

Monday, Toccoa City Commissioners approved a motion to convert five vehicles to compressed natural gas and purchase and install a compressed natural gas fueling station through CNG Technology Systems of Atlanta at a cost of $54,800.  Toccoa city Manager Mike Jackson said the city would convert the vehicles as a test to get an idea of savings on fuel costs and possibly expand the conversion effort in the future if the trial period goes well and produces savings.  Jackson says that the city should have the vehicles converted and compressed natural gas fueling station up and running by or at the beginning of the New Year.

Click for full article

Congratulations Sage Automotive Interiors!

SCDA congratulates Sage Automotive Interiors for winning 3rd Place in the 2012 Stephens County Scarecrow Contest.  Over 37 businesses and organizations participated in the judged event.  Sage Automotive Interiors develops and manufactures innovative automotive bodycloth and headliners preferred by automotive manufacturers around the world.  They are located at 7786 Hwy 17 South in Toccoa.

Harvest Festival This Weekend in Toccoa

The 36th annual Toccoa Harvest Festival takes places this Saturday and Sunday in downtown Toccoa. 
Main Street Events Coordinator Sharon Crosby said that everything gets started at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“We have two different stages for entertainment, one at Tugalo and Sage streets and one on Doyle Street in front of Kay Royal’s office,” said Crosby. “There will be solid entertainment throughout the day. Of course, we have vendors with hand-made, homemade, home-baked, and homegrown products. We have the food vendors. That is always a popular part of the festival as well as the games and activities for the children.” 
The Festival runs 10a.m.- 5p.m. on Saturday and 10a.m.-4p.m. on Sunday.

Click here for more information

Congratulations Stephens County Schools

On Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Education released the list of REWARD SCHOOLS.  As part of Georgia’s accountability waiver to the US Department of Education,  Georgia must identify Reward, Priority, Focus, and Alert schools. There are 2 categories of Reward schools: Highest Performing and High Progress. These calculations are based on three years of data including the following years: 08-09, 09-10, and 10-11. These designations are given to Title I schools,  which all of our schools were during the time period. (next year the only schools that will be eligible to be named REWARD will be TES, LES, and EES)
78 Title I schools were named Reward Schools: Highest Performing.  Among the 78 named were Big A Elementary, Eastanollee Elementary, Liberty Elementary, Toccoa Elementary, and Stephens County Middle School.  These 78 were the top 5% of the state’s Title I schools for highest performance. 156 Title I schools were named Reward Schools: High Progress.  Among the 156 named was Stephens County High School.  These 156 were the top 10% of the state’s Title I schools for highest progress in performance.
"Congratulations!   We have seen improvement in almost every area,  from CRCT, EOCT,  AP, and our Milestones.   You are to be greatly commended for all you do and for always putting our students first.  We have so much to be proud of!" said Sherrie Whiten, Superintendent of the Stephens County School System.  

Martin Provides SCDA Update

Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin provided an update this week to the city and county commissioners on the recent activities of the Development Authority.  He discussed business recruitment and work at Hayestone-Brady Business Park. Martin said the bottom line is to try to increase the number of jobs and investment in Stephens County.  “In this past 12 months, we were able to work and secure for our community, with great existing industry announcements, 112 jobs, which resulted in about $22.3 million worth of investments,” said Martin.”

Click for full article

Broadband Project Still Moving Forward

A broadband project involving Stephens County continues to move forward.  On Tuesday, Stephens County Commissioners unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement regarding the broadband project that will build a 150-mile fiber loop through Stephens, Franklin, Hart, Banks, Habersham, and Rabun counties.  Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said that the North Georgia Network is making preparations to begin building out the broadband loop.  "We are very, very excited about this project. Things still take time, but we are expecting to see fiber being hung on poles and electronics buried in the ground at the end of this year and the first of next year.”  Martin went on to say that the first phase of work will take place in Stephens County.

Click for full article

Hospital Shows Off New Equipment

Stephens County Hospital recently announced the installation of a powerful and compact Computed Tomography (CT) system offering improvements from its predecessors in diagnostic capabilities at low dose radiation levels-levels as much as 50 percent less depending upon the scan performed.  Stephens County Hospital is only the second hospital in North America to install the GE Optima CT660 scanner.

Click for full article

Work Continues On Schaefer Center, Grant Received

The City of Toccoa receives another grant to help with restoration efforts at the Schaefer Center.  The Fox Theatre Institute recently selected the Schaefer Center as one of three recent grant recipients from around the state. Officials with Main Street Toccoa said the goal is to have work done by December for the arrival of the “New Harmonies” traveling Smithsonian exhibit on American music.

Click for full article

Scarecrow Contest Voting Continues

Voting continues for the 3rd annual Main Street Toccoa scarecrow contest.  More than 20 businesses, schools, churches and other organizations have displayed scarecrows to participate in the contest this year.  The public can vote at one of three locations:  Toccoa City Hall, the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce and WNEG Radio.  Winners will be announced November 5th. 

Click here for more information

Rivers Alive at Yonah Dam Park

Area residents will take part this week in Rivers Alive, a joint program of the Environmental Protection Division Outreach Programs and the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation.  Volunteers in Stephens County will stage their cleanup at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 20th at Yonah Dam Park.  Toccoa-Stephens County Beautiful Executive Director Linda Scofield said a lot will be going on during Saturday’s event.  “We will have tents with information, free breakfast, free lunch, activities, and I think everyone is going to have a great time,” said Scofield.

Click for full article

Myers Inaugurated At TFC

Dr. Robert Myers was inaugurated as the seventh President of Toccoa Falls College in a formal ceremony Thursday night on campus at the Grace Chapel and Performing Arts Center.  The ceremony included a processional in full regalia with presidents from local and regional colleges in attendance. Dr. Myers said he and his family are proud to help lead the college into the future.  “We look forward to serving this college,” he said, adding they will hold to the school’s motto, “where character is developed with intellect.”

 Click for full article

Roberts Appointed to SCDA

The Stephens County Commissioners unanimously appointed Barry Roberts to the Stephens County Development Authority to fill the rest of the term of Cam Parker. Roberts is the plant manager at Global Partitions.  Stephens County Commission Chairman Dean Scarborough said that Roberts will do an excellent job. “Barry will be a great addition to the Development Authority. He has been very active in the Chamber of Commerce and also with the industrial group, ” said Scarborough. Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said the Authority is glad to have Roberts back on its board. “We thoroughly enjoy working with Barry Roberts and we are absolutely thrilled that he is coming back on board,” said Martin. “He is smart, focused, dedicated, committed to this community, and he has a tremendous amount of skill and enthusiasm.”
Click for full article

Click for full article

Main Street Toccoa Unveils Historic Plaque

Main Street Toccoa unveiled the latest historic plaque last Thursday as officials gathered at Threads Sports on Sage Street.  Kembra Landry with Main Street Toccoa said the building has been used for many things since the early part of the 20th century.  A new historic downtown building is scheduled to be featured each month and eventually Main Street officials want to create a walking tour and podcast to highlight the historic buildings.

Click for full article

Currahee Military Weekend Getting Underway

Final preparations are underway for the 12th annual Currahee Military Weekend. The event takes place Friday through Sunday and honors the men who trained at Camp Toccoa at the foot of Currahee Mountain to become paratroopers during World War II. Stephens County Historical Society Executive Director Brenda Carlan said that veterans will begin arriving today.  “The veterans visit the schools and the schools are excited about that,” said Carlan. “They enjoy them coming each year.”

Click for full article

NGTC Starting Quality Enhancement Plan

Three years of dreaming big dreams have come to a reality as North Georgia Technical College formally kicked off a five-year quality enhancement plan.  As part of the requirements for reaffirmation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accreditation, NGTC has chosen to embark on a college-wide focus on math achievement.


Click for full article
Toccoa "residents" are winners in the Picture-Perfect Pets contest in the October issue of GEORGIA Magazine, a publication of the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation.  More than 1000 photographs were received of readers' furry, finned and feathered companions.  Candy, the sheltie who captured the hearts of the judges and won in the Perfect Pets category, belongs to Julie Civitts of Toccoa.  Also, best friends Delaney and her Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat, Patsy, won in the Kids and Pets category submitted by her mother, Maggie Johnson of Toccoa.  Regarding Delaney and Patsy's photo, contest judge Parker Smith notes, "This photograph is like a beautiful mystery.  The eyes are absolutely stunning."

Click for full article