Toccoa Hosts Costume Parade Today

An annual Halloween tradition, the Childrens Costume Parade, took place this morning in downtown Toccoa.  Hundreds of children donned creative, clever costumes along the Doyle Street parade route.  "Every year, it just seems like the moms try to outdo themselves because the costumes are just so creative," said Toccoa Main Street Events Coordinator Sharon Crosby.  Judges announced the winners in each age category after the parade and the "cabbage patch" won Best Original/Handmade/Creative costume this year!

Patterson Pump Observes Anniversary of Purchase

Patterson Pump President Al Huber (left),
Gorman Rupp President Jim Gorman and CEO Jeff Gorman

Last week, Patterson Pump observed the 25th anniversary of the date when the business was purchased by the industrial giant Gorman-Rupp Company. Patterson Pump president Albert Huber recalled the time of the sale, in the fall of 1988.  "We didn't have much of anything," Huber said.  "It wasn't what we had, it was the people."  Since that time, the company has grown in size and production.  Patterson Pump was recently awarded a $70 million contract in New Orleans to provide equipment to construct pumps that would move water out of the city during floods.  Currently, Patterson Pump employs 365 people and Human Resources Director Charles Craig said that employees are moved to different areas within the company as necessary during slow time to avoid terminations.  "We look at laying people off as a management failure," said Craig.  Toccoa's Patterson Pump has more than 350,000 square feet of manufacturing space.  The company produces pumps for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, water pumps for irrigation, flood prevention and wastewater treatment and for industries to transfer liquids and process heating or cooling needs.

Martin Fall Festival Saturday

An annual autumn tradition returns Saturday for the 21st annual Martin Fall Festival.  The Martin Woman's Club organizes this event each year and Mary McNeff, with the Martin Woman's Club, said they are looking forward to a great day featuring a lot of different activities.  "We do have quite a few different vendors this year, some things we have not had in the past," said McNeff.  There will be food and craft vendors, music, livestock, and children's activities.  In addition, McNeff said the festival will include an event during the afternoon to get everyone, especially children, in the Halloween spirit.  "At 2 p.m., we are having a costume contest for the children," said McNeff.  There will be cash prizes in different categories.  "We are hoping to have a lot of children participate," said McNeff.

Annual Toccoa Harvest Festival Set for November

It is time for the 37th Annual Toccoa Harvest Festival!  This year it will be held November 2 - 3, 2013, in historic downtown Toccoa. Enjoy music and dancing while taking in the sights, sounds and smells of fall mingling with roasting peanuts, mulling spices, and regional and international foods There will be more than 150 craft and food vendors. All crafts will be "homemade, home baked, or home grown", plus enjoy a wide range of mouth-watering foods including homemade cakes and fried pies, funnel cakes, peanuts, Asian, Greek, and Cajun style entrees, Bar-B-Q and all American offerings as well!  The Chattahoochee Chain Gang and Georgia Highlanders will provide musical entertainment throughout the festival.  The Toccoa Harvest Festival is from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and opens at 10:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Don't miss the fall fun at Toccoa Harvest Festival!  For more information call the Toccoa Main Street office at 706-282-3309.

SPLOST VI Town Hall Meeting

SPLOST VI Town Hall Meeting set for Monday October 28, 2013
CONTACT: Barry Hodges, 706-779-3013
Early voting has begun. Stephens County voters are casting ballots on SPLOST VI, a continuation of the county’s one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. You have from now until November 5th to learn more about SPLOST, what it is, why we have it, and to review the City and County project lists.

Barry Hodges, Chair of the “Stephens County Friends of SPLOST VI” committee will present at a Town Hall meeting set for Monday October 28th at 5:30pm in the Historic Courthouse. The presentation includes an overview of the SPLOST, a review of the completed SPLOST “V” projects and a review of the proposed SPLOST “VI” projects.  There will be a question and answer period immediately following the presentation.

Barry recently spoke at the Rotary Club of Toccoa.  He and other “citizens for progress” have been distributing SPLOST VI informational fliers.  If you would like to have Barry present to your Civic or Church group meeting please call the Chamber at706-886-2132.

PTL Wins Top Honor

Employees of Toccoa-based PTL Equipment hoped to win an award such as best exhibitor booth while attending the industry’s trade show in Tampa, Fla., in September, according to company President and Chief Executive Officer Jon Heffer.  The award they received, however, was beyond their expectations.  PTL was honored as the Best Supplier of “vertical transportation” components at the 2013 Contractors’ Choice of the Year Award.  Heffer said that various individuals vote on the award including customers, other elevator companies, and consultants. The goal is to choose the best supplier.  “They vote on this award from April to September,” said Heffer.  Points are awarded in 16 different categories – sales, office staff, timely quotes, order procedure, customer service, innovative problem solving, responsiveness, attitude following sale, accurate billing policies, code compliance/knowledge, quality of product/services, support, timely delivery, innovations, support of the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) and support of the industry.  Heffer stressed that the award is the result of the hard work and dedication of the entire staff at PTL Equipment.  “This is not a Jon Heffer award,” said Heffer. “As a team, we work together for our contractors.”  He said that PTL Equipment sells vertical transportation all over the world.  "The only elevator in the Statue of Liberty has our fixtures,” said Heffer.  PTL also has provided components for elevators used in the entertainment industry including CBS television shows “Elementary” and the new Robin Williams’ show, “The Crazy Ones.”

March for Babies Set for Saturday

The annual March for Babies in Stephens and Franklin Counties to benefit the March of Dimes takes place Saturday morning at Tugaloo State Park.  March of Dimes Community Director for Franklin and Stephens Counties Kim Eldredge said Saturday's March is the celebration of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.  "Everyone has been working really hard fundraising money for the March of Dimes, so we would like everyone to come out and support this event," said Eldredge.  "We will have a bouncy house for the kids.  There will be a clown (and) face painting, so (it will be) lots of fun for the families."  The March for Babies raises money yearly for the March of Dimes, which focuses on prevention of premature births and birth defects, as well as the general health of babies.

Toccoa Police Officer Receives Regional Award

Toccoa Police Officer David Shanks recently received the Northeast Traffic Enforcement Network Officer of the Year Award for 2013.  The Northeast network consists of all law enforcement agencies from Stephens, Hall, White, Habersham, Rabun, Lumpkin, Dawson, Jackson, Franklin, and Hart counties.  Toccoa Police Chief Tim Jarrell said that Officer Shanks is very deserving of this honor.  "I am very proud of Officer Shanks being recognized by his peers for his long hours of hard work to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety," said Jarrell.  "He believes in its mission, as well as the goals of our traffic network and keeping our streets safe."  According to Jarrell, Officer Shanks handles all of the Toccoa Police Department's Governor's Office of Highway Safety programs, as well as coordinating the department's Child Safety Seat Program and other community policing efforts.  Officer Shanks received the award at a recent gathering of four different traffic enforcement networks in Gainesville.

Stephens County BOE Approves Charter System Application

The Stephens County Board of Education unanimously approved for the Stephens County School System to send its charter system application to the state for consideration.  "We had a lot of input from a lot of different people and we are not proposing to anything drastically different from what we have done in the past," said Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten.  "But we do realized as a community that we have to get our kids prepared for the workplace and for jobs and we want to be the ones to do that."  Whiten also said that economic development and preparing students for careers is a major focus of the charter system application Stephens County is submitting to the state.  "There are going to be opportunities for our kids, but a lot of time they do not have the skill level necessary to get those jobs and we want to make sure we give our kids the background and what they need to be able to take these jobs," said Whiten.  Read more...

SCDA Approves Revised Budget

Three months into the Fiscal Year, the Stephens County Development Authority unanimously approved a revised budget for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year at their Tuesday board meeting.  The revision reduced the total budget amount by just over $52,000 from approximately $398,000 to just over $346,000.  A majority of the reductions were reduced in programmatic expenses such as marketing and communication, spending on attraction and recruitment, and money spend on existing industry.  SCDA Executive Director Tim Martin said that the Development Authority felt is was an appropriate time to re-examine the budget and make some changes.  "Every single day, we are to be as conscious as we can be with our finances," said Martin.  "We are going to continue to do that."


Wilkinson Visits Big A Elementary for Pre-K Week

State Senator John Wilkinson visited the Pre-K at Big A Elementary School Thursday, reading to students in the class, as part of Pre-K Week in Georgia.  The 50th District State Senator said he had a great time visiting the school and meeting with the students and staff.  "I always enjoy getting to see the young students," said Wilkinson.  "They are always so enthusiastic and they are so excited about being in school and learning new things.  It rejuvenates me to spend time around them."  Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said it was a pleasure for the school system to welcome Wilkinson into the classroom.  "He did a fantastic job," said Whiten.  "He relates so well to the kids.  The kids really enjoyed the story.  We appreciate being able to highlight all of the great things we do with Pre-K because it is a wonderful program."  Whiten said the event also gives school officials a chance to highlight the importance of Pre-K programs in education.


Currahee Military Weekend Gets Underway

Currahee Military Weekend activities kicked off Thursday night with a musical tribute to veterans at the Schaefer Center in downtown Toccoa.  The weekend ahead is filled with events such as the annual book signing and autograph session with the World War II veterns, the USO Hanger Dance, the Currahee Challenge Run-Walk, the veteran's parade, the 2025 Grenade Toss, the Banquet and Auction and much more.  Stephens County Historical Society Executive Director Brenda Carlan said the book signing is a great opportunity to meet and talk with the veterans.  "It is very interesting and humbling to watch these men," said Carlan.  "It is just really exciting to watch them because they really enjoy the opportunity to share their stories with our visitors."
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Ramblin’ ‘Doc’ Tommy Scott Passes Away

A well known Stephens County showman, Ramblin' "Doc" Tommy Scott of Eastanollee, passed away earlier this week at the age of 96.  Scott was a singer, entertainer, and actor whose "Last Real Old Time Medicine Show" visited nearly 300 towns each year across the United States and Canada until the mid-1900s, according to his website. He also made his name in show business starting in the early and mid part of the 20th century.  His website states that Scott was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and wrote over 300 songs, while recording more than 500 songs.  Scott also appeared in numerous films and was a regular on television and radio plus made TV appearances with hosts such as Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Opray Winfrey. 

“Musical Tribute to Veterans” Tonight

Currahee Military Weekend activties begin tonight with the musical "Tribute to Our Veterans" at the Schaefer Center in downtown Toccoa.  "Tonight's concert is going to be put on by the Toccoa-Stephens County Community Theatre," said Toccoa Main Street Events Coordinator Sharon Crosby.  "It is one of their first in several years.  We are very excited to have them.  It is all local Toccoa musicians."  Crosby said the show will feature numerous musical selections from the 1940s, as well as some patriotic selections.  "So many of (the songs) were very popular during that time and they are popular now as well," said Crosby.  "it will be a great show."  The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. and is free to attend.

SCMS Football Beats Hart; Wins League Title

Congratulations to the Stephens County Middle School football team as they defeated Hart County Saturday 14-0 to win the Conference Championship.  The win gave SCMS the NEGIAA title.  This was the third straight shutout for the Rebels.  Stephens County Middle School's next game is at home Thursday versus Madison County at 4:30 p.m.

Stephens County Unemployment Drop in August

According to figures released last week by the Georgia Department of Labor, Stephens County preliminary unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% in August while Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.7%.  This is an 0.8% decrease from the July revised rate of 8.9%.  Also, this preliminary rate is a full 1.2 percentage points lower than the revised August 2012 rate of 9.2 percent.