SCSS Receive Honorable Mention in ‘Green Ribobn’ Program

The Stephens County School System receives an honorable mention award from the state of Georgia for its efforts in energy efficiency.  The state named the Stephens County School System as the Honorable Mention Small District for the state’s Green Ribbon School District program.  Stephens County is one of two districts to receive honorable mention. Cherokee County received Honorable Mention in the Large District category.   According to officials, the program seeks to showcase schools and districts across the nation where staff, students, officials, and communities have worked together to produce progress in three areas of green school activity, including optimal efficiency in energy, water, and waste management; healthy students and school environment; and environmental education.

Annual Easter Egg Hunt Saturday

The 30th annual Stephens County Easter Egg Hunt takes place Saturday morning at the Stephens County Recreation Department.  Stephens County Recreation Department Program Director Cheryl Stinnett said that the hunt begins at 11 a.m. at the Rose Lane complex’s ball fields, weather permitting.  “We have three age groups, ages 3 and under, ages 4 through 6, and 7 through 9,” said Stinnett. “They will need to bring their easter basket to collect their eggs.”  Stinnett encouraged people to arrive early, preferably by 10:30 a.m., as the hunt will start promptly at 11 a.m.  In case of inclement weather, it will be moved inside to the Stephens County Senior Center next to the Recreation Department.  For more information, call the Stephens County Recreation Department at 706-886-5101.  

SCSS Holds Charter System Meeting

The Stephens County School System held a community meeting Thursday regarding becoming a charter system.  Teachers, school administrators, parents, and business people gathered to hear about what a charter system is and the process for becoming a charter system. The Stephens County Board of Education voted to pursue charter system status in January.  Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said that she was pleased with the turnout for Thursday’s meeting.  “I think tonight went really well because it gave us a chance to let people know what we are doing and why and there was a lot of interest in what we are doing,” said Whiten.  Following the presentation, school officials also answered questions about what a charter system is and how it operates.  Whiten said that in a charter system, a local Board of Education reaches a contract with the state Board of Education about the operation of the school system. In that contract, Whiten said a school system spells out what it wants to do differently for students in exchange for relaxation of state rules while in return, the state spells out the student achievement goals that hold the the school system accountable. 


SCHS Student Wins State Essay Contest

Stephens County High School Junior Connor Roberts won the AAAA state championship in boys’ essay at the state literary meet this past weekend in Warner Robins.  Roberts said the competition requires participants to write an essay of 600 words or less on the spot within a certain amount of time.  “You have two hours to write an essay, a rough draft then cut it out to a final draft and then a judge scores the essay using a rubric and they compare scores,” said Roberts.  Competitors either write on a literary topic or a current events topic and they do not know the topics ahead of time.  Roberts said he chose a literary topic once his options were presented.  “It was ‘Why authors choose to set novels in certain countries based on the values of the peoples within the country’,” said Roberts. “I wrote it on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.”  He went on to say that preparing for such a contest requires a lot of reading and reviewing.  His advisor for the competition is Stephens County High School English teacher Connie Harding.  She said that she is very proud of Connor’s performance.  “He scored 92 out of 100,” said Harding. “His choice of Heart of Darkness speaks of his being well-read. He is an extremely well read young man.” 

Powers Receives Award From Junior Achievement

Liberty Elementary School Principal Terri Powers received the “Educator of the Year” award last Thursday from Junior Achievement of Georgia and Walters Management Company.  Junior Achievement is a non-profit organization that brings the real world to students through hands-on curriculum delivered by a trained classroom volunteer to encourage growth in areas like work-readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. The program has been a part of the entire school’s curriculum at Liberty Elementary since 2008.  Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said Powers is deserving of this award.  “Mrs. Powers does an outstanding job,” said Whiten. “It is just one more of those great things they do at Liberty Elementary and we are so proud of her.”  In a press release about the award, Powers said that Junior Achievement has really benefited students at Liberty by encouraging an early foundation for civic awareness. She added that her hope is that it will encourage community involvement throughout their lives.

Motion for Stephens Co. Commission to Move Forward on Land Use

The Stephens County Land Use Regulation Committee wants county commissioners to make a decision on whether or not they want to move forward with the creation of a land use plan for Stephens County.  Monday, the committee met and voted 7 to 1 to place a motion before county commissioners at their March 26 meeting asking them to move forward with the creation of a land use regulation plan.  Committee member Cynthia Brown is one of the “yes” votes. “We are not looking to do anything that is going to do harm to our citizens or businesses that are there,” said Brown. “We want to move ahead with a community that attracts good jobs that allow people to make a living and to do it in an environment that is safe and healthy.”  Brown said that land use is also a mechanism for preventing undesirable businesses and industries from not locating in Stephens County.

Local Officials Say Washington Trip Went Well

Local officials with Toccoa and Stephens County said their trip to Washington, D.C. last week went well.  “We had a very busy schedule,” said Toccoa Mayor David Austin. “We were there two days and out from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon calling on various folks, including both of our Senators and several Congressman and their staffs, to tell the Toccoa-Stephens County story and make a pitch for more money for our community.”  Stephens County Commission Vice-Chair Dean Scarborough echoed those comments, noting that the group met with a number of Congressmen who sit on Appropriations Committees that control federal funding.  Scarborough said that the trip provided an opportunity to bring up a number of topics with federal leaders.  “We got to sell our message,” said Scarborough. “We took several messages that we specifically wanted to sell. We talked about Wilbros, our sewer infrastructure, Highway 17.”  According to Austin, some legislators say there is a possibility that Congress will consider re-authorizing the 2007 bill that authorized $8 million in federal funding for a sewer expansion project in Stephens County. That money was never appropriated.

Local Officials Get Update on Sewer Project Design

Monday, officials from Toccoa, Stephens County, and other agencies gathered at the city commission work session to receive an update from Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood on the design of a potential sewer expansion project in Stephens County.  The firm was tasked in November with designing wastewater system enhancements for areas such as Big A Road and the Toccoa By-Pass, as well as south into other industrial areas of the county.   According to Steve Cawood, the $5.5 million design would not complete the project, but would provide the ability for the city to get sewer service to a property along those corridors quickly as needed for potential development.  “In economic development channels, economic developers like to have water and sewer access within a 90-day timeframe,” said Cawood. “This (design) does that.

Stephens County Hosts GDA Retreat

The Georgia Downtown Association board, ex officio members, and staff held the organization’s annual planning retreat on February 26 and 27 at the Currahee Club.  Toccoa Main Street Director Connie Tabor said that the annual retreat provides the board an opportunity to look back and also plan for the year ahead.  “The Georgia Downtown Association retreat is an opportunity for the board members to get together to review the organization’s accomplishments for 2012 and then plan the goals for 2013,” said Tabor. “We also reviewed a Georgia Downtown Association membership survey that was completed in 2012 to make sure that we meet the needs of the membership.” Tabor said the organization’s goal is to promote the economic redevelopment of Georgia’s traditional downtowns.


Collins To Chair New Congressional Group on Corps

U.S. Representative Doug Collins is the chair of a new Congressional group formed to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on water management issues across the country.  One issue concerning our region is the lake level on Lake Hartwell.  Speaking at a recent breakfast in Hart County, Collins talked about the new group.  “The Corps of Engineers really most of the time could care less what the state thinks,” Collins said. “But I’ve got a little secret for the Corps of Engineers. They’re going to have to care what I think because I’m going to be dealing with them on a day-to-day basis.” Collins said he would be working with South Carolina U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan on the Lake Hartwell management plan.  He said the two plan to tour the Hartwell Lake and Dam Project in Hartwell in the coming weeks.