Discussions Underway on New Toccoa City Pool

At a work session Monday, City Manager Bill Morse updated city commissioners regarding plans for the new city pool.  Morse said that he, City Commissioners Fail Fry and Terry Carter, and Toccoa Planning and Main Street Director Connie Tabor have met with numerous pool professionals about formulating a possible plan for moving forward.  "It is probably going to be best if we demolish the existing pool and bring in a new pool," said Morse.  Meanwhile, Commissioner Fry said that the new pool would be smaller than the one that the city has now.  "It will be basically three areas, the deep end, the 'lap pool,' and an area for handicapped and younger children," said Fry, who added the shallow end will be able to be entered without steps to make it easier.  Toccoa has budgeted up to one million dollars out of SPLOST VI for improvements and renovations at the Doyle Street pool.  Voters approved SPLOST VI in November and collections will start next year. 


Stephens County Hospital Love Light Campaign Underway

The 32nd annual Love Light fundraising campaign is underway at Stephens County Hospital and is organized by the Stephens County Hospital Auxiliary.  This year also marks the first year of the merging between the Hospital Auxiliary and the Stephens County Hospital Foundation.  "The managers of all the departments in the hospital have the opportunity to submit Love Light requests to us," said Foundation Director Pamela Jones.  "What we do is we have a campaign and we raise money for (purchasing) the equipment in the hospital."  The goal this year is $12,000.  The Love Light campaign culminates every year with the annual Love Light Tree Ceremony, where Stephens County Hospital lights a large Christmas tree with all of the lights on the tree representing family members or friends that are being honored or memorialized.  This year's Love Light Tree Ceremony will take place on Thursday, December 5 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Stephens County Hospital and is open to the public.  Envelopes to make a donation to this year's Love Light campaign are available at Stephens County Hospital or an envelope can be requested by calling the Stephens County Hospital Foundation office at 706-282-4254.  All donations to the Love Light campaign are tax-deductible.

Stephens County “Stuffing the Bus”

The Stephens County High School Interact Club is working to "Stuff the Bus" for its 3rd annual food drive this Thanksgiving.  During the drive, the club attempts to stuff a bus full of non-perishable food items in an effort to help the hungry.  SCHS Interact Club Faculty Advisor Derek Demmler said the club has also teamed with the Toccoa Rotary Club to host a 5K race and fun run this Saturday morning in conjunction with the food drive.  The 5K race will start at 9 a.m. and the fun run begins at 8:30 a.m., rain or shine, at the football stadium.  Runners can register online at www.active.com and searching for "Stuff the Bus 5K" or register Saturday morning at 7:30 at the high school.  Many local businesses also have registration forms plus runners can bring a maximum of 10 pounds of food for a discount off of their registration fee.  The public can also donate non-perishable food items to the high school or bring them to the race event Saturday morning.  Demmler said all of the food will remain in Stephens County.

Stephens County Names Teacher of the Year

School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten and other staff surprised April LaHayne of Toccoa Elementary in her classroom Tuesday to present her with the honor of the system-wide Teacher of the Year award.  LaHayne teaches second grade at Toccoa Elementary and said it is an extraordinary feeling to receive this honor.  "Never in a million years would I have thought that six years into my teaching that this would be something that I have accomplished," said LaHayne.  "Teaching is my passion and I feel truly blessed to be here."


NGTC Board and Chair Recognized

The Georgia Technical College Directors Association recently recognized North Georgia Technical College's board for maintaining 100 percent board certification at its recently held annual conference.  The Technical College Directors' Association of Georgia was formed in 1991 as an educational non profit organization.  It is the arm of the Technical College System of Georgia that provides training workshops and a certification process for local technical college board members.  The TCDA said it supports the technical colleges in having board members who are knowledgeable about the operations of the technical college system and are "work-ready."  North Georgia Technical College said all members of its Board of Directors completed individual board member certification training last year and are fully certified board members and this year's award confirmed NGTC's membership in the 100 percent club.  Meanwhile, Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Chan Caudell, who is also the Charis of the North Georgia TEchnical College Board of Directors, was elected as a member-at-large of the Georgia Technical College Directors Association Board at the TCDA and the Technical College Foundation Association's recent joint annual conference in Savannah.

Eastanollee Elementary Named State “Reward School”

The Georgia Department of Education announced that Eastanollee Elementary School was a "Reward School" in the state and recognized as a "highest-performing" school.  A "highest-performing" school is a Title I school among the five percent of Title I schools in Georgia that has the highest absolute performance over three years for the "all students" group on the statewide assessments.  Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said the school system is very proud of Eastanollee Elementary for achieving this benchmark and the school is one of about 80 schools to receive this honor from the state.


School System Offers Annual Report

Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten presented the annual Stephens County School System report on Tuesday at the Gate Cottage on the campus of Toccoa Falls College.  Whiten said she wants people to be able to see from the report some of the positive things taking place in the school system, like the increasing graduation rate.  "Our graduation rate has increased significantly and if I can say any one things that is the best thing for our students, that is it, the graduation rate, because they have to have a high school diploma and a plan for the future," said Whiten.  "Hopefully, that is what we are getting across to our kids."  This year's report highlighted the school system's 87.33 percent graduation rate,  reviewed the CRCT and EOCT scores for each of the schools in the system, and covered the new College and Career Ready Performance Index.


Stephens County Holds Veterans’ Day Observance

veterans day
The annual Veterans' Day observance took place Monday morning on the historic Stephens County Courthouse lawn in downtown Toccoa.  Keynote speaker the Rev. Scott Borderud of First Alliance Church in Toccoa called on those in attendance to always remember to express thanks to all veteran for their service.  "Express your gratitude to them for serving our nation, both at war and in peace, and ask those veterans what might you do to lessen their burdens they have carried with them as they return back to civilian life," said the Rev. Borderud.  The American Legion Post 104, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4346, and Marine Corps League Detachment 1303 sponsored Monday's observance. 


SCDA November Newsletter

The State of Stephens monthly newsletter is now posted on the SCDA website.  Click below to read the recent development activities in Stephens County, Georgia.
 November 2013 Newsletter

SPLOST VI Passes, Foster Re-elected Martin Mayor

Stephens County voters say yes to SPLOST VI.  According to final unofficial results Tuesday night, 1001 voters cast ballots in favor of SPLOST VI, while 384 voted against the SPLOST.  With a 3-to-1 margin in favor of SPLOST VI, the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax will continue after the current SPLOST ends on June 30, 2014.  Meanwhile, incumbent Martin Mayor Don Foster won re-election to another term.  Martin council members Roger Looney and Sandi Stovall ran unopposed.  Toccoa did not have a municipal election as Jeanette Jamieson and Evan Hellenga were unopposed in the two open seats on the Toccoa City Commission and all incumbents in Avalon were also unopposed.  Turnout was light for the election, with just over 11 percent of voters casting ballots.


Collins, Black at Farm City Week Banquet

Monday, the Currahee Campus of North Georgia Technical College hosted the annual Toccoa-Stephens County Farm City Week Banquet where leaders from the state and federal level discussed agriculture and other issues.  This year's attendees included 9th District U.S. Representative Doug Collins and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.  Collins talked about the budget battles and the government shutdown in Washington.  "The problems overall is we have lost sight of a good Northeast Georgia, biblical word called stewardship," said Collins.  "We have lost track of what it means to take care of what we have got.  We have lost track of what it means to simply say "Here is what we have been given and here is what we give to the next generation'."  State Agriculture Commissioner Black talked about how important it is for the agriculture industry to work on reaching out to the modern consumer.  "We have got to continue our great traditions of agriculture that are so very important, but we have to learn another language if we are going to connect with the 21st century consumer," said Black.  "We have to speak the language of food."
Also during the banquet, the Stephens County Farm Bureau awarded several honors.  At the top of the list was the induction of the late Willie Sheriff into the Stephens County Farm Bureau Hall of Fame.  50th District State Senator John Wilkinson called Sheriff a man of vision, integrity, and wisdom, as well as a steward of the land.  Sheriff's son, Leonard Sheriff, was named the 2013 Stephens County Cattleman of the Year.  Other awards from the banquet went to James Whiten as this year's Friend of Agriculture and the Steve Cothran family as this year's Farm Family of the Year.

Toccoa Hosting Harvest Festival this Weekend

The 37th annual Toccoa Harvest Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday in downtown Toccoa.  Organizers said that the festival will include more than 160 craft and food vendors this year.  As always, the emphasis is on homemade, handmade, home bakes, or home grown items at the Harvest Festival and Toccoa Main Street Events Coordinator Sharon Crosby said there will be some unquie items as always.  "One of the things that I think a lot of people will be interested in is (that) we will be having a glass blowing demonstration and that is a little bit new," said Crosby.  "They are from Georgia Southwestern State University and they will be coming up and doing demonstrations throughout the weekend."  Not only does the Harvest Festival include lots of food and crafts to enjoy, but two stages will also be set up for entertainment throughout the festival.  Hours for the Toccoa Harvest Festival are Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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