State Recognizes Downtown Toccoa, Troup

 Main Street Toccoa and a local leader receive state honors.  Bob Troup and the city's Main Street program both received awards at the recent Georgia Downtown Conference in LaGrange.  Toccoa Main Street was awarded the Best Downtown Special Event and Troup received the DCA's Highest Achievement Award, the Annual Outstanding Leadership Award.  Troup was the sole recipient.

Full Article:

No Local Tax on Energy Used In Manufacturing

Stephens County will not implement a local excise tax on energy used in manufacturing.

County commissioners unanimously opposed moving forward with collection of the local excise tax on energy used in manufacturing. According to the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, the local excise tax on energy used in manufacturing is an optional local tax designed to replace the local sales tax revenues that will be lost to the new statewide sales tax exemption on energy used in manufacturing that takes effect in January.

Stephens County Commission Chairman Dean Scarborough said that the exemption at the state level was instituted as an economic development tool for the manufacturing sector. He said the county commission feels it is best to support that exemption on the local level as well.

“We just feel like most of our jobs are created right now through existing industry,” said Scarborough. “We feel that anything we can do to support our local existing industry is in our favor. Then of course, this could be used as a tool to attract new industry as well.”

Toccoa Sets Millage Rate

Toccoa City Commissioners officially drop the city’s tax millage rate. Monday, the city commission voted unanimously to lower the city’s millage rate to 6 mills from the previous level of 7.19 mills. The commission also eliminated the extra .75 mill tax that used to be paid by property owners in the Main Street tax district. The decisions to both lower the millage and eliminate the extra downtown tax were first made as part of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget process. However, Monday’s vote made them official. During the budget process, the millage rate decrease was put forth as a suggestion to help balance a sewer rate increase that was included in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. With the tax rate of 6 mills and the elimination of the downtown rate, the city will levy $1.134 million in net taxes in 2012. Toccoa Mayor David Austin said he is pleased to see the millage reduced. “I am proud that the commission came together and decided to lower the millage rate for the property owners inside the city of Toccoa,” said Austin. “It is going to be an ongoing goal from this commission for our citizens.” 

Bruce Creek Boat Ramp improvements unveiled in Stephens County

Representatives from Stephens County and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources gathered at Bruce Creek Boat Ramp on Hartwell Lake to cut a ribbon and unveil the changes at the facility. The improvements include seven new fishing piers, a courtesy dock for boaters, a walking trail, and an updated restroom facility, at a total cost of about $560,000. Money for the project came from the $4 million received by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources as part of the 2006 settlement agreement related to polychlorinated biphenyl contamination in Hartwell Lake. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce President Wendi Bailey and Stephens County Development Authority executive director Tim Martin praised the project, with Bailey saying it will help with tourism promotion in the county. Stephens County will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Bruce Creek area.
Full Article:

Isakson in Stephens County for Town Hall Meeting

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson stops in Stephens County. Isakson held a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon at North Georgia Technical College’s Currahee Campus. The senator began the town hall with brief remarks about what is happening in Washington, D.C. Isakson said that America has never faced more difficult challenges than it faces today.

“The biggest challenge being too much spending,
too much debt,” said Isakson. “We (Congress) have to get our act together. We have to get discretionary spending down. We have to get the tax code reformed and we have to be sure that your Medicare that you paid for and your Social Security that you paid for is there for you and we are going to have to reform those programs to do so.”

Isakson went on to say that he feels moving from an annual budget to a two-year budgeting process in Washington could help with tackling federal spending issues. He said he has presented such a proposal for consideration in the nation’s capital.

“We are going to pass two-year appropriations bills and budgets in odd-numbered years and then every even-numbered year, we are going to focus entirely on oversight to find the waste, fraud, abuse, and savings that you know you can find in programs,” said Isakson of what his proposal would do.

Following his opening remarks, Isakson took questions from those in attendance.

A number of the questions dealt with the management of Lake Hartwell by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with people voicing frustration over lake levels and the Corps’ response to their concerns.

One person told Isakson that he feels the Corps needs to be more open to changing its rules and regulations.
Isakson agreed. The senator said that the Corps needs to re-visit its water control plan for Hartwell.

“The Corps of Engineers has got to get back in the business of modernizing its water control plans under which they operate the dams,” said Isakson.

He said there were water level problems at Lake Lanier because of a poorly managed water control plan.

“(The plan) took too much water out of the top basin too early in the season and then when the drought really hit, the water was already downstream,” said Isakson, who called for higher full pool levels to increase storage. “When you do have a drought, your water level starts out much higher so you don’t go down as far.”

Others in attendance asked Isakson if he could arrange for the Corps of Engineers to come to northeast Georgia and hold a public meeting about the management of Lake Hartwell. Isakson said he would make that request and help try to facilitate such a meeting.

Stephens Co. School System Receives Grants

The Stephens County School System will use grants to continue running two programs this school year.

Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said the school system has again received a Georgia Appalachian Center for Higher Education, or GACHE, grant, along with a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.

Whiten said that the GACHE grant is for $10,000 and will go to Stephens County High School to help the school focus on post-secondary education options with students.

“It will provide the opportunity for students in grades 9 through 12 to visit a college,” said Whiten. “Each grade level has a different college that they visit. They will also work on things like the reality store, which is an activity that students are given a job and know how much they make. It is a scenario where they play that out.”

As for the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, Whiten said this is the third year that the school system has received this grant.

“That is the grant that allows us to have our after-school programs and provide transportation,” said Whiten. “It has been excellent. It allows us to partner with certain groups like the Boys and Girls Club for some different activities. It is a very successful grant and this will be the last year for that grant.”

Whiten said both grants were discussed and approved during a Stephens County Board of Education work session held last Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Stephens County Board of Education will meet at 5:30 p.m. today at the Stephens County School System Administrative Offices on Mize Road.

City of Toccoa Approves Joint Funding For Sewer Expansion Exploration

At their regular monthly meeting, Toccoa City Commissioners approved to use a portion of the one million dollars in reserved SPLOST V funding for sewer infrastructure for a 50/50 split with Stephens County to engage the services of an engineering company to design a sewer collection system for South Big A Road and the Veterans Parkway, also known as the Toccoa By-Pass, to be used to match any state or federal funds that may become available to build or install the collection system.
Stephens County Commissioners approved the 50/50 split at their meeting last Tuesday. Stephens County and The City Of Toccoa each set aside one million dollars out of SPLOST V receipts, for a total of two million dollars, with the money reserved to go towards an expansion of a sanitary sewer collection system down Big A Road and then South into industrial areas in the county.
The two million dollars was a local match designed to obtain eight million in additional federal funding to help build the project. The eight million dollars was approved, but never appropriated.
In early August, the city commission agreed by consensus to ask City Manager Mike Jackson to draft a letter to Toccoa’s representation in Washington D.C. to ask once again about the federal funding.


North Georgia Technical College receives three long-term hospital beds for the school’s healthcare program labs.  M.C. Healthcare recently donated the beds to the North Georgia Technical College Foundation for use at the school.   North Georgia Technical College Foundation Director Cynthia Brown called it a wonderful contribution to the college.   For the latest on this and other stories visit:


U. S. Congressman Paul Broun will host a Grants and Small Business Expo this week.  The fair will be at the Currahee Campus of North Georgia Technical College from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15th.  According to Broun, representatives from the Small Business Administration, UGA Small Business Development Center, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Foundation Center, and more will be there with information.  For more on this and other stories visit:


U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson will host a town hall meeting later this month in Stephens County.   The town hall is set to take place on Wednesday, August 22 at the Currahee Campus of North Georgia Technical College on Highway 17.  The town hall is open to the public and is set to start at 3:30 p.m.  and run until 4:30 p.m.


The City of Toccoa celebrates the release of a book detailing the city’s history.  Angela Ramage and Kelly Vickers are the authors of Images of America:  Toccoa.  The book’s launch was celebrated with a ceremony Monday at Toccoa City Hall.  The authors were present to sign books and Stephens County Historical Society Executive Director Brenda Carian and City of Toccoa Mayor David Austin both made presentations.  
Angela Ramage speaking to the crowd about her work with the book and her love for Toccoa. (pictured left)

Kelly Vickers and Angela sitting at their book signing table before the reception (Pictured right)

For more on this and other stories visit:    

Stephens County High School’s Ethan Martin Starts for Double-A Phillies!

Former Stephens county High School baseball standout Ethan Martin gets off to a good start with his new organization.  Martin won his first start for the Double-A Reading Phillies of the Eastern League Friday night, allowing just one run and four hits in six innings as Reading defeated the Binghamton Mets 4-1.   For more on this and other stories visit: