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Edition Highlights: Lanier Tech opens salon at Dawson campus Abba House opens new thrift store Elliott named to racing hall of fame Chamber holds business after hours

December 2013

The Member Newsletter of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce

Post Office Box 299 292 Hwy. 400, North Dawsonville, GA 30534 (706) 265-6278

Service, parade celebrates veterans By Michele Hester

Luke Holmes may just be seven, but he already understands the sacrifices servicemen and women make for his country. “I wanted to tell the veterans that we love them,” he said on Nov. 11 as he held a hand drawn banner saying the same. “They protect our country and I wanted to tell them thank you.” Holmes was among hundreds lining the downtown streets waving flags and holding up signs of gratitude as

Veterans from several wars, ranging from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the last two decades of Middle Eastern conflicts showed up for the parade downtown.

veterans all ages and from each branch of military shared the spotlight during Dawsonville’s annual Veterans Day celebration. In its ninth year, the ceremonies began with a formal tribute to veterans at Dawson County Middle School, followed by a parade through downtown Dawsonville, one of just two places in Georgia designated as a 2013 Veterans Day Regional Site by the Veterans Day National Committee. The other is Atlanta.

David Renner Dawson Community News



Our local chamber is what we make it As I pen this last article for the Chamber Chronicle, I can’t help but look back at this year. This was the first full year with the new management team in place and I think it is one of the best decisions our board of directors has made. Recently, Christie Haynes gave the board of commissioners a year

end update on the accomplishments of the chamber and the office of tourism development. No matter how many times I hear her report, I am amazed at everything the chamber does. Our organization reaches more than 3 million people every year with our advertising and outreach. The list of accomplishments goes

on and on and it is truly impressive. However, one of the most precious things for me this past year has been the relationships that we have built through the chamber. After all, we are a membership organization and are defined in many ways by our membership. Knowing that the chamber is one

of the biggest and most influential advocates for small business has always been a huge attraction for us. These are exactly the kinds of people and businesses we want to be around. For me, the best legacy is proper leadership succession. See CHAMBER | 2




Traditions alive in Dawson What a joyous season we’re in. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is already upon us, but I so enjoy this time of year. I am always interested to hear about the Christmas traditions of those around me. This year, I started a new tradition and visited Bradley’s Christmas Trees to pick out the perfect live tree. To me, there is nothing like the smell of a fresh Fraser Fir to make your home ready for Haynes the holiday season. Another tradition I have observed since I was a small child was attending the late service on Christmas Eve. What a blessing to be surrounded by family and friends as you light candles, sing carols and celebrate the reason for the season. What traditions does your family observe? Picking a tree, having breakfast with Santa and family shopping trips provide lasting memories of this special time of year. One of the wonderful things about our community is that all of these memories can be made right here in Dawson County. I hope y’all will share some of your traditions with us on social media or by email at Looking forward to 2014 causes me to pause and reflect on the year we’ve had in 2013. I am so thankful for all of our mem-


Chamber Getting Christie, Kara [Hewatt] and Brenda [Mason] in place last year has secured the future of our chamber. Along with that came a new cul-

Chamber of Commerce 2013 Board of Directors Brooke Anderson

Etowah Water and Sewer Authority

Pat Anderson

Anderson Family Mediciine

James Askew

United Community Bank-Dawsonville

Charlie Auvermann

Development Authority of Dawson County

Jennifer Baker

United Community Bank-Dawsonville

Mike Berg

Dawson County Board of Commissioners

Carla Boutin

State Farm Insurance

Kathy C. Fuller

KC Fuller & Associates

Chris Gaines

Taylor, Turner & Hartsfield For the Dawson Community News

bers, partners, volunteers and local leaders who have made this year such a success. To help us celebrate that success, please mark your calendars for Jan. 10, as we will be holding our Annual Chamber Gala at the Racing Hall of Fame. The gala this year is themed “Stars of the Chamber” and is focused on celebrating all of the amazing businesses and organizations we have in our community. As we move throughout this sea-

son into the new year, please do not hesitate to call on us if we can be of assistance. We look forward to continuing to further our mission of “cultivating a successful economic environment and desirable quality of life for our businesses and community” in the coming year. We wish you a relaxing and blessed holiday season and new year.

ture of transparency, creativity and connection with our community and our members. As we plan our board retreat for the incoming board of directors, Christie has prepared a strategic planning session in order to define our course over the next several years. We have created considerable

momentum in the organization but still have many mountains to climb. I look forward to the next year with Gloria Wyatt as our new chairwoman, and the direction the chamber is going. This is a very exciting time.

Christie Haynes President

Peter Hill Chairman

James Grogan

City of Dawsonville

Christie Haynes

Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, tourism development

Peter Hill

Hill Design Associates Architects, Inc.

Andrew Leavitt

University of North Georgia

Steve Melching

Big Canoe Homeowners Association

George Parson

Cartridge on Wheels of North Georgia

Keith Porter

Dawson County Board of Education

Denny Putlak

Denny Insurance Group

Carol Tyger Individual

Mike Underwood

First Citizens Bank of Georgia

Gloria Wyatt, Northside Hospital-Forsyth Scott Yochum, Yochum Financial Group | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 3


Luke Holmes, from left, Abby Holmes, Serenity Sacco and Kileigh Holmes wave and hold signs of gratitude during the Veterans Day parade in downtown Dawsonville.

calendar of events Dec. 12: Business After Hours will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at United Community Bank. Come and network with your fellow chamber members. There will be food and plenty of fellowship to enjoy. Special thanks to our sponsor, United Community Bank, and to our cash drawing sponsors, Dr. Larry Anderson, Anderson Family Medicine, Kristie Myers, The Norton Agency and Northside Hospital- Forsyth. Dec. 13: Join us for a ribbon cutting at Dawson

Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Forest Apartments at noon. They are located at 100 Green Forest Drive. Dec. 14: The fourth annual Reindeer Run 5K/10K & Rudolph Ride Duathlon will be at 8:30 a.m. at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. To register, visit Jan. 6: H&R Block will be holding a Ribbon Cutting at 2 p.m. at their new 425 Quill Drive, Suite 110 location in off of Hwy. 400. Jan. 10: Save the date for the chamber’s annual gala at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. Call the Chamber today to reserve your seats.


Veterans Eulene Disharoon said she was proud to be a part of the celebration. “It’s wonderful to do something for the people who served now and before us. Kids need to learn about the veterans,” she said. “My father-in-law was in World War II and other members of my family served. With the way it is now, we all need to be up here thanking these people.” Sponsored by the local veterans affairs group, the ceremony annually pays tribute to veterans who continue their mantra of service in their communities. Serving as emcee, Veterans Affairs of Dawson County President Don Brown present-

ed the 2013 Veteran of the Year award to Bert Lawson of Dawsonville. “He is a veteran of the Vietnam War, having served 3 tours as an F-4 Phantom pilot with 167 combat missions and over 7,000 hours including air to air combat with a MIG-21,” Brown said. “He left the Air Force after 14 years and entered the Air National Guard where he served until retiring as a Colonel. He holds the Silver Star, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, four Air Medals and the Vietnam Service Medal among others.” Lawson, who served three tours in Vietnam, where he was shot down and wounded twice, currently serves as a board member and treasurer of the Georgia Mountain

David Renner Dawson Community News

The Veteran’s Affairs of Dawson County float was all smiles and waves to the crowd gathered on both sides of the parade route.

Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, an advocate for a strong national defense that represents the interests of military officers and their families at every stage of their careers. “Vietnam was a tough part of American history. Whether we agreed or not, we did what we were ordered to

do,” he said. “But the real heroes are the ones that didn’t make it home. You feel guilty that you’re being recognized and the people that need to be recognized are the ones who you don’t know their names.” DCN staff writer David Renner contributed to this story.



Lanier Tech spa opens

Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes, center right, accepts a plaque designating Dawson as one of the 2013 Georgia Certified Chambers.

By David Renner

In their ongoing commitment to prepare their students for careers, Lanier Technical College has opened a spa in Dawsonville. Currently, the salon and spa is open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon, Tuesday through Thursday. Beginning Jan. 13, the salon will also be open in the evening from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. “The students get real life experience by operating all aspects of a full service salon,” said Angelia Brown, cosmetology instructor at the Dawsonville campus. Students learn skills such as greeting the guest, client consultation, performing services with the most current equipment available and using state of the art software to check the client out at the end of the service. According to Brown, all services are provided by senior level students and the work is closely monitored by the cosmetology instructors. “You learn a lot. You touch on all of the areas of spa work,” said student

Chris Ahrendt. “One thing it’s made me want to do is go back to school and get my aesthetician’s license. I enjoy it.” The salon area offers haircuts starting at $5, color beginning at $28 and foils starting at $35. The spa area of the salon will offer manicures, pedicures and facials. “All pedicure stations have plastic liners for sanitation safety,” Brown said. “Specialty facials such as microdermabrasion and oxygen therapy facials are offered as well.” Waxing services and lash and brow tint is also offered. Finally, spray tanning is also available to the public, with students being certified to do the work on-site. “It’s the best around,” said student Wanda Garrish. “I drive a long way to get here, all the way from Maysville. It’s worth every mile.” For more information about the spa and salon services on the Dawson campus, call (706) 216-5461.

David Renner Dawson Community News

Manicurist Samantha Sexton, right, works on Donna Jackson’s nails at the Lanier Tech Salon and Spa.

For the Dawson Community News

Local chamber recognized From staff reports

With more than 160 chambers in the state of Georgia, seven chambers of commerce including Dawson, were recognized as Georgia Certified Chambers during the opening luncheon of the 2013 GACCE Volunteer Leader Conference on Nov. 7 at the Savannah Marriott Riverfron. The chambers received a prestigious honor that distinguishes the high quality, expertise and strong leadership displayed by accredited chambers. These seven chambers join 34 other chamber members who were recognized with this distinction in the past two years. The quality of leadership, programs and services that define the more than 160 chambers statewide continues to increase. Many chambers have risen to the challenge during these tough economic times to

provide unparalleled leadership and direction, helping their members and communities thrive. This type of performance is a reflection of the solid organizational infrastructure built through much hard work and diligence. In 2011, the GACCE Board of Directors sought a way to recognize chambers in the state that have focused internally on their operations to assess strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to create efficient, effective organizations positioned to deliver great value. Thus the Georgia Certified Chamber pro-

Office: 706-216-4806 Fax: 706-216-4807

gram was created. The program is modeled after the U.S. Chamber’s accreditation program. The purpose of the program is to facilitate continuing excellence in the chamber industry and to foster a pro-business environment across the state of Georgia. Chambers must meet standards in organization, service intent and capacity, professional administration, financial management, communications and advocacy in order to achieve the Georgia Certified Chamber designation.

P.O Box 1096 137 Prominence Court Suite 240 Dawsonville, GA 30534 | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 5


Thanksgiving Day sales take precedence By David Renner

David Renner Dawson Community News

Folk Art jugs and pieces by local artist John “Cornbread” Anderson were just a few of the pieces seen during the North Georgia Art Ramble.

Dawson galleries part of art ramble By David Renner

Two major art galleries in Dawson County took part in the second annual North Georgia Art Ramble. The ramble offered the opportunity to visit more than 40 working studios, galleries and artists with a variety of forms and media. The Dec. 7 and 8 event took visitors across the north Georgia mountains. The locations on the tour included Canton, Ball Ground, Cumming, Marble Hill, Dawsonville, Buford, Duluth, Johns Creek, Roswell, Woodstock, Cartersville, Calhoun and Jasper. “This tour encompasses eight counties, 44 stops and artist studios, art centers and galleries,” said Tracey Burnette, local curator and art teacher. “It’ll bring a lot more people to

Dawson County to shop, eat and look at art.” The main hub for Dawson County will be the Bowen Center for the Arts. The county’s other stop on the ramble bill was folk art gallery Around Back at Rocky’s Place. “They were putting it together and we figured why not join in,” Burnette said. “It’s good advertising for the county. Mostly, only the serious collectors come to this. We’re the only folk art gallery on the tour, too.” The Bowen Center for the Arts as the Dawson County Arts Council, showcased Blackberry Creek artists as well as other local artists. Rocky’s showcased artists Dorothy Gorham, Bluejay, Bird, Billy Roper and John “Cornbread” Anderson.

This year, instead of waiting until the first minutes of Black Friday to begin at midnight, retailers opened their stores Thanksgiving night to give shoppers the deals they had been waiting on. Walmart began its sales at 6 p.m. Nov. 28 with small items such as DVDs, Blu-ray movies and video games. They continued at 8 p.m. with larger electronic items such as HDTVs and computer monitors. The North Georgia Premium Outlets opened select stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and continued opening stores hourly until midnight. According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, some 140 million people in the U.S. hit stores at some point over the Thanksgiving weekend, with nearly one-quarter of those surveyed shopping on Thanksgiving Day. For Dawson County, it would seem the majority of stores saw sales on Thanksgiving Day. Lee Ann Frix said she and her husband started their Christmas shopping

Thanksgiving night, up into the early morning hours before finishing off lists Friday morning. “We started early yesterday with the sales and got home at 2 this morning,” she said. “Then we got up again to shop today at 4:30.” Walmart continued its sales Nov. 29 with smartphones of various makes and models for sale with a contract at their mobile phone center. “We only got up about 6:30 this morning,” said Walmart shopper Jen Scott. “I’m only here for [the phones] this morning.” Despite shoppers turning out less on Friday than in the past, retailers are still getting profits, even if through other means, whether it be on Thanksgiving Day or online. Scott said she planned to take it easy with Black Friday sales this year, instead preferring to do her shopping in other ways. “We’re going light this year on Friday shopping,” she said. “I did more shopping online and yesterday than in the previous years. Last year, I did a lot more shopping in stores.”

David Renner Dawson Community News

Crowds were scarce Nov. 29 as many stores opened on Thanksgiving this year.



businesses of the month Each week, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce randomly selects a chamber member business, as the “Business of the Week”. The business is spotlighted for one business week and will receives an announcement every Monday on the chamber’s Facebook and Twitter pages is placed on the front page of the chamber website as well as being highlighted in the Chamber Chatter e-newsletter that is sent to the entire membership every Tuesday. The “Business of the Week” program is an opportunity to show the chamber’s appreciation to its members for supporting the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and investing in the community. Businesses of the Week for October and November are: Dawson County Chapter 970 Vietnam Veterans of America The chapter is a nonprofit veterans service organization that assists their membership with the claims process within the Veterans Administration System, as well as helping any and all veterans who need assistance. They also give back to the community by supporting other nonprofits where possi-

ble, with the crown jewel being two $1,000 scholarships that the veterans provide each year to high school seniors. For more information, visit Brooks Brothers Brooks Brothers has been in business for 195 years. The company began as a small business and even though it has grown to a global presence, it says it still “tailors

each store to the needs of our customers in the towns that we do business.” Brooks Brothers has a local store in the North Georgia Premium Outlet. For more information, call (706) 216-2865 or visit www.brooksbrothers. com. Best Western In business for more than 10 years, Best Western Hotel in Dawsonville has the

highest guest satisfaction score among the north Georgia properties and offer many amenities, such as flat panel televisions, free Wi-Fi, Jacuzzi rooms, suites and a heated indoor pool and spa. For more information, call (706) 216-4410 or visit Duncan Exterminating Duncan Exterminating is a full service pest control business with locations in Dawsonville and Gainesville. In addition to service for normal household pests such as ants, cockroaches and spiders, they also offer service for termites and wildlife (such as squirrels, snakes, bats, etc.).

For more information, call (706) 216-1906 or visit www.duncanext. com. Bennett Landscape Inc. Bennett Landscape is a full service landscape company offering residential and commercial services in Dawsonville, Cumming, Alpharetta, Hall and Lumpkin counties, such as landscape design, installation and maintenance. For more information, call (706) 216-1784 or visit Forsyth Dental Partners Forsyth Dental Partners has been in Dawsonville since April 2012 and in Cumming since April 1993. Forsyth

Dental Partners enjoys serving all aspects of dental needs in the community. For more information, call (706) 265-1399 or visit Alexander, Almand & Bangs LLP Alexander, Almand & Bangs is CPA firm providing a full array of financial services such as accounting, audit, financial business consulting and tax. The firm provides service to a variety of entities which include government, non-profit, nation and international business entities, estates and trusts and individuals. For more information, call (770) 536-0511 or visit

Chamber president highlights tourism By Michele Hester

Tourism in Dawson County accounts for an estimated $100,000 a day in direct spending locally. “That’s huge for a community of our size,” said Christie Haynes, president of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and office of tourism development. Additionally, the impact of tourism in the county is 410 jobs, she said. Haynes was the guest speaker at the chamber’s monthly luncheon Nov. 14 at Peach Brandy Cottage. She highlighted nearly four dozen tourism-generating attractions and businesses in Dawson, as well as several festivals and fairs her office promotes. “These are events [and] are organizations that without the support of an office of tourism development ... truly wouldn’t have the resources that

‘Our goal is to be a partner in bringing in revenue to this county, because that money that is generated ... by any of the other festivals and fairs that we partner with comes directly back to the county.’ Christie Haynes

President, chamber of commerce they need to be successful,” she said. “That’s really what our goal has been this year, to be that partner. “Our goal is to be a partner in bringing in revenue to this county, because that money that is generated ... by any of the other festivals and fairs that we partner with comes directly back to the county.” The chamber will not have a lunch meeting during December.

Bulletin board • Improve your skills … take an online class. For more information, visit • Remember to shop local this holiday season. • Past issues of the Dawson County Chamber Chronicle can be found on the chamber’s Web site, Please let the chamber know when you have a special event. | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 7


Lanier Tech may add more programs Perren would like to create lake-centered classes By Carly Sharec

DCN regional staff

Different programs of interest may be in the future for Lanier Technical College. “None of these are chiseled in stone by any means,” President Ray Perren said. “These are things we’re looking at.” Under consideration are programs such as marine engine technology, culinary arts, hospitality management and automotive technology. “We’ve got this big,

beautiful lake here,” Perren said, referring to Lake Lanier. “We want to be sure we’ve got programs in place that support the economy around the lake.” The college may also add a new two-year degree for nursing, filling a void as other colleges move to bachelor-degree nursing programs, Perren said. “All the statistics and surveys point out that there’s going to be a great shortage of technical and skilled workers as we grow

(as a region),” Chamber President Kit Dunlap said. “The two that we hear from in this area that we need (are) industrial maintenance, and welding and machiner y.” According to Perren, Lanier Tech has all three of those programs. “The challenges we have, particularly with the welding and machine tools, is the lack of physical space,” he said. “Our welding shop is in what was originally the maintenance building. We’ve got

15 welding stations out there. We could fill it if we had 45 welding stations (and) every graduPerren ate would get a job.” “One of the things I ask the community to support, as we build in the future, is to build a welding lab that really meets the needs of our area - the same thing for (the) industrial systems (course),” he added, “We’ve got about 80 students in there right now. If we had the space, we could easily enroll twice

that number.” Lanier Tech, which serves seven area counties including Dawson, served 18,211 students in 2013 in various programs, including adult education and continuing education. According to Perren, of adults 25 and older in the region, 17 percent do not have a high school education or a GED. “That’s an issue that we’ve got to address, when one out of five (adults) do not have a high school education,” he said. “That makes it difficult sometimes to attract new businesses.”


P A R E N T S .

Be Open. As the kids prepare to head back to classes, understanding the peer pressure they face at school allows you to provide the support system they need at home. Simply letting your kids know you’re there to listen can help to prevent underage drinking. For useful tips and resources, visit or call us at 706-265-1981.


the Key







College hires vice president for academic affairs From staff reports

Tavarez Holston recently started as the new Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lanier Technical College. “I am honored to join Lanier Technical College as its vice president for academic affairs,” he said. “The college has remarkable leadership, faculty and staff, and I look forward to working closely with them as we prepare students for Georgia’s workforce.” Holston has more than 13 years of experience in higher education, including more than a decade as an administrator. Holston formerly served at


Moultrie Technical College as vice president for institutional effectiveness and the acting vice president for aca-

demic affairs. While at MTC, he provided leadership for academic planning, strategic planning, distance learning, assessment, and initial accreditation with SACSCOC. He started his career at MTC as an adjunct business office technology instructor and has since

ser ved the college in various roles including campus administrator, director of online instruction and director of institutional effectiveness. Holston earned his bachelor of business administration degree from what is now the University of North Georgia, masters of science in management in Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness from Troy University, and expects to complete his doctor of education degree in higher education leadership at Valdosta State University in spring 2014. “There are few experi-

ences that compare to assisting students arrive at ‘aha’ moments,” he said. “I believe that helping others learn is one of the greatest joys in life. It is a high calling.” Prior to beginning his higher education career, Holston worked as an economic developer at the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority. As a college undergrad, he worked his way through college as a retail manager for various outlet stores at the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville and Tanger Outlets in Commerce. Tavarez and his wife of

17 years, Leigh, have three children. The Holstons regularly lead humanitarian aid teams to the war torn Uganda, Africa to assist and encourage leaders, widows and orphans. The new VPAA officially began his duties at Lanier Technical College on Nov. 18. Linda Barrow, former VPAA, has assumed the role of Vice President of Adult Education. Barrow will focus on increasing the number of GED graduates and English as Second Language program students in the college’s seven county service area.

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(706) 974-9161 • • 258 Beartooth Pkwy. Ste. 170, Dawsonville balletEtcDawsnChamberOct2013 | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 9




Chamber Chronicle is the monthly newsletter of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce. The editorial content includes Chamber News and goals of interest to the business and residential community. The Chamber will keep the community informed about ribbon cuttings, business expansions, chamber functions QUICK TAKES and events, community events and the benefits of Chamber membership through Chamber REASONABLE RATES Chronicle. Advertising offered only to

Chamber members. Delivery...Dawson Community News Subscribers, Plus All Dawson County Chamber Members Size...10” X 9.5”

The Chronicle is mailed to all subscribers of the Dawson Community News, plus all Chamber members. Additional copies are available at the Chamber office.

Frequency...Monthly 2nd Wednesday of Every Month Deadline: Monday One Week Prior to Publication

Call Jennifer Lyness at 770-205-8962 for rates



Dawsonville: around the square

Work complete on downtown roundabout By Michele Hester

David Renner Dawson Community News

Santa Claus Don Parkinson heads up the 22nd annual Buck Jones Memorial Toy Ride.

Toy run a success By David Renner

It may have been cold, but that didn’t stop motorcyclists from arriving by the hundreds to the Dawsonville Municipal Complex on Nov. 24 for the 22nd annual Buck Jones Memorial Toy Run. The event, organized by Bikers Dream of Atlanta, collected toys from across a three-county area, with riders starting at the Cumming Fairgrounds, stopping first in Dawsonville for lunch and continuing on to Lumpkin County High School. The donated toys help K.A.R.E. for Kids, which serves underprivileged children in Dawson County provide Christmas presents for children in need. “We just want to thank everyone who donated to K.A.R.E. for Kids this year,” said Calvin Byrd, president the organization. “This is going to help so many kids and make them happy for Christmas.” Last year, more than 300 bikers showed up for the ride. “We had about 240 or so leave Cumming with us, but we picked some up along the way,” said Don Parkinson, owner of Biker’s Dream of Atlanta. “I think it was a very successful run.”

According to Parkinson, the ride ended with 230 cycles in total, with more than 320 riders and passengers. As each rider brought a toy or gift card, K.A.R.E. for Kids received more than 320 gifts for local families. Jones, a former Cumming police chief who also worked for the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, started the toy drive after seeing a lack of charities helping families with presents at Christmas. According to his wife, Treva Neal Jones, the ride’s continued success is partially due to Parkinson taking the event over after her husband’s death. “When Buck got sick, Don was always helping. He asked Don and he said yes,” she said. “Buck’s been gone three years now, but Don has just an excellent job. It’s wonderful to see such a good crowd of bikers.” Jones died in 2010 at age 70, but the toy runs continues in his memory, growing bigger each year, according to organizers. “I got started with the group that I ride with,” Betsy Barnes, a rider from Gainesville. “I think it’s a great group. It’s a fun ride for a great cause.

Work to redesign the road around the town square in downtown Dawsonville is complete. State transportation crews rerouted traffic at Hwys. 53 and 9 to transform the intersection into a true roundabout last month. Intended to improve the flow of traffic through the area and increase safety, the change includes slowing motorists at yield markers as they enter the flow of traffic at the roundabout. Dawson County Sheriff’s Capt. Ray Goodie encourages drivers to use caution maneuvering through the newly redesigned intersection. “Since it is a recent traffic change, everyone should remain alert in the area and cautious in order to avoid incident,” he said.

According to DOT District Engineer Bayne Smith, the recent study of 23 intersections converted to roundabouts showed a “decrease in total crashes by 39 percent, a decrease in injury crashes of 76 percent and a dramatic 89 percent decrease in fatal crashes.” “A roundabout is simple to navigate, just be cautious and do what the signs and pavement markings tell you to do,” he said. Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan said restructuring the roundabout is one of the first steps in the city’s downtown revitalization plan. The redesign will also allow the installation of additional sidewalks in the city. “Drivers will have to yield to enter the roundabout, so traffic will be slowed down,” he said.

David Renner Dawson Community News

Work on the updated roundabout is complete in the Dawsonville town square. | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 11


Business After Hours held at the chamber By David Renner

For November’s Business After Hours, the Chamber of Commerce took a more “at home” approach, choosing to hold the Nov. 19 event at its office near Ga. 400. The social and networking meeting was co-sponsored by Mike Ziegenbalg with Cruise One Vacations. Chamber President Christie Haynes reminded everyone to let the chamber continue to help businesses by actively promoting them. “If your cards and information isn’t on our card wall yet, please get them here. It’s a free way to get your information out there,” she said. “If you think that people don’t come by here and pick them up,

David Renner Dawson Community News

Chamber members were all smiles during November’s Business After Hours at the chamber offices.

you are welcome to come sit on the couch for a day and hang out with us. You’ll be surprised at how many people walk through this door every day.” The next Business After Hours will be held on Dec. 12 at United Community Bank’s Hwy. 400 branch. As the winner of the cash drawing for November was not in attendance, December’s drawing is up to $500.

The cash drawing is sponsored by Larry Anderson, Anderson Family Medicine, Kristie Myers, The Norton Agency and Northside HospitalForsyth. Remember, you must be present to claim the cash prize. For more information about Business After Hours, contact the chamber at (706) 265-6278 or visit

new members Georgia Department of Labor 100 Colony Park Drive, Suite 204 Dawsonville, GA 30534 (770) 535-5484 (770) 535-5728 TTY Fax: (770) 531-5699 Chandler Insurance Group 121 Old Dawson Village Road

Building 100, Suite 210 Dawsonville, GA 30534 (678) 267-3242 Fax: (855) 312-0380 Dawson Forest Apartments 100 Green Forest Drive Dawsonville, GA 30534 (706) 216-4292 Fax: (706) 216-7163

monthly totals Walk-in visitors: 130 Referrals: 85 Newcomer packages: 27




Local company would like to expand here By Michele Hester

A local steel fabricator is in talks with Dawson County officials about possible tax incentives for an upcoming project. Karl Baysden, director of sales and marketing with Impulse Manufacturing, said earlier this month that the company has plans to expand manufacturing operations next year, though it hasn’t decided whether to enlarge the local plant near Ga. 400 or set up a new operation in Athens or Charlotte, N.C. The 150,000-square-foot plant sits on nearly 18 acres off G.W. Taffer Road and employs more than 200 workers over three shifts. It produces parts for several small excavator models,

including a new Caterpillar production facility in Athens. “We know … we’re going to run into some capacity issues specifically on the paint line,” Baysden said. “By 2015, we’re going to hit that capacity. Absolutely, we’re going to need to expand that paint line. The question now is, ‘Where do we put it?’” The $7.5 million proposed expansion calls for an additional 50,000 square feet of space to house a new paint line and more than $5 million in equipment. Officials estimate the expansion would create 75-100 new jobs within 18 months. “If we chose one of the other two areas, there would be a slight reduction in the work force in Dawson because some of

those would move to the new area,” said Baysden, noting the rest of the operation likely would stay put. County Commission Chairman Mike Berg confirmed there have been talks about possible incentives, though he said none of the commissioners have been in direct contact with Impulse representatives. “We’re going to depend on … the development authority to analyze what Impulse is doing and respond to the commission on the different scenarios,” he said. “The board of commissioners would then have the option on what they’d like to do.” Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County, said in a statement Monday that

Impulse made a formal request for potential tax incentives in November. “Any tax abatement is strictly in the hands of the commissioners,” Auvermann said. “Our role is to provide an unbiased financial and technical review of the request. That review is then passed to the commissioners. The authority does not make a decision in such matters.” The authority, in conjunction with the county, created a general incentives policy in 2007, according to Auvermann. “Most companies want to have various tax incentives,” he said. “The role … is to evaluate the financial gains from the firm’s presence versus the impacts to the county and the citizens when providing services such as

fire, sheriff’s patrols and the increased costs to schools.” Auvermann noted that while some tax incentives do generate long-term benefit to communities, other Georgia counties have “had trouble when they offered too many incentives.” “Incentives come with obligations,” he said. “They are not considered a handout and as such they come with expectations, which are placed into any agreement made by the commissioners.” Working with a group from Georgia Tech, the authority expects to have the review, which would also include impact on the city of Dawsonville and the local school system, complete within a few weeks.

Sheffield named Rotary Student of the Month

ambassador spotlight hotel welcomes Ambassadors

File photo

The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador program would like to thank Comfort Inn for hosting the group’s November breakfast. The local hotel has top of the line amenities, such as a redesigned conference center, eatery and patio. Comfort Inn offers its guests a non-smoking, pet-friendly facility, close proximity to parks and lakes, an exercise room, seasonal pool and a free continental breakfast. Contact Comfort Inn at (706) 216-1900 to reserve your room today.

From staff reports

Rotary Club of Dawson County’s November Student of the Month was Shyla Sheffield, a fifth grader at Kilough Elementary School. According to Assistant Principal Adam Koskovich, she is eager to learn and always strives to do her best. “Shyla is a diligent and responsible student. If she is having difficulty with a skill, she is quick to ask for help and completes additional work to master skills,” he said. “Shyla is a team player and works well with her peers.” Rotary Club President Vernon Smith presented Sheffield with movie tickets and a variety of sweet treats for her award-winning attitude. “The Rotary Club of Dawson

For the Dawson Community News

Shyla Sheffield, a fifth grader at Kilough Elementary School, was recently named Rotary Student of the Month. Club President Vernon Smith, left, along with Assistant Principal Adam Koskovich, presented her with movie tickets and a variety of sweet treats for her award-winning attitude.

County believes the future of our community lies with the elementary students of Dawson County,” Smith said. “We

have developed this program to encourage and promote outstanding fifth-grade students in each elementary school.” | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 13


Abba House moves thrift store to Ga. 400 Program aids women in crisis By Michele Hester

An area residential facility for women battling addiction and mental health issues recently moved its popular store into the former Outdoor Traditions building at Ga. 400 and Hwy. 136 in Dawsonville. Abba House Inc. held a grand opening celebration in November to introduce the ministry to the community and its official ribbon cutting on Dec. 2. “Miracles happen here every day. That’s one thing I want everyone to know about Abba House,” said Heather James, a resident and mother of three young girls. “Everyone could use Abba House. You don’t have to be an alcoholic or an addict to come to Abba House. You just have to be broken and that’s pretty much all of us.” Currently in its 13th year of operation in the area, Abba House has proved quite successful, with 93.8 percent of women avoiding a relapse and 100 percent remaining out of jail. The 15-month program focuses on helping the women make life changes by overcoming the obstacles that brought them to Abba House. It was the sudden death of her husband that set James’ downward spiral into alcohol abuse. “He was kind of my moderator. We’d just drink beers together for fun and only us. Then when he died, I didn’t have that accountability,” she said. “Then I had an excuse to drink and everybody kind of validated it. I had three kids, five and under, to raise by myself and run a com-

pany by myself and do everything, and I was quickly overwhelmed with that and drank a lot.” Within months, the business was failing and her mother-in-law had filed suit for temporary custody of the girls. Abba House became her refuge. “It’s a whole life change. It’s not just about getting you sober. It’s that alcohol is not the whole problem. It’s everything else and the drinking is what you do for the problem,” she said. Today, James is one of 13 women living at Abba House and working at the new thrift store, as well as the ministry’s first thrift store on Hwy. 9 in Silver City near the Dawson-Forsyth County line. “We’re from all walks of life, we cover the gamut age wise and we cover the gamut in addictions,” she said. “We’re all trying to find a balance and to be made whole.” Unique to Abba House is the component that allows the women’s children to live with them, according to Jim Sharp, cofounder and executive director. “That’s extremely important, because if they come into this program, they’ve chosen men, they’ve chosen drugs, they’ve chosen all kinds of things over their children and they live with an enormous amount of shame and guilt,” he said. James understands that guilt. “The first four months you’re here, your kids can come visit, but they can’t stay here with you,” she said. “I went through a hard time here about a month after I started. I wanted to leave.” A conversation with God,

Ann Sears and great-granddaughter Katie Allen shop for a winter jacket during the grand opening for Abba House’s newly relocated thrift store at the intersection of Ga. 400 and Hwy. 136 in Dawson County.

Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Contact For more information about Abba House or to volunteer, contact (678) 208-2000.

she said, made her realize the alternative. “I’d be dead, definitely, if I hadn’t come to Abba House,” James said. “Since I’ve been here, everything is different. There are five kids that live at Abba House now and I have three of the five.” James graduates in January but has chosen to continue with the subsequent nine-month

program designed to help the women ease back into their new lives. “I’m not planning to jump back in. I’m going to work here at Abba House and spend time with my kids,” she said. Sharp said everyone involved with Abba House is excited about the expansion of the new store and the potential exposure it could bring to the program. “The women are trained as cashiers, trained to supervise departments at the store and near the end before they grad-

uate, they are trained as assistant managers of the stores. The whole time we are pushing them to increase their abilities as leaders,” he said. By teaching work place skills, Abba House is providing those in their care a means to gain work experience and training. “These are women who have lived on the margins of life that have been discarded, that have been abused and battered … but at Abba House, there is hope. We show them there is hope,” Sharp said.



Celebrity stylist recounts life lessons By Carly Sharec

DCN regional staff

There are hair stylists, and there are artists. “I was the kid (who) always used to chase my sisters around to do their hair,” Dennis Stokely said. “I’ve always had a knack for hair. I’ve always loved beautiful women.” The art and passion for his profession can’t be taught, said Stokely, who styled Paula Abdul’s hair for her final two years on “American Idol.” However, proper skills and technique can. The 49-year-old celebrity hairstylist showed off his skills and techniques at the Oakwood and Dawson campuses of Lanier Technical College Nov. 11 and 12. The Oakwood campus meeting was packed with students not only in the cosmetology department but from across campus, all eager to learn the tricks of the trade. And, of course, to hear a little bit of gossip on the side about the many celebrities Stokely has worked with, including Abdul, Carmen Electra and CNN’s Brooke Anderson. Listening to his life story, it initially seems as if Stokely just fell into his career by working with master stylists since the beginning. But through it all, the South Georgia native maintains hard work and a pleasant personality is what opens doors. Stokely fell in love with

the entertainment industry after a brief stint in modeling in New York City in the mid-1980s. He went to “hair school” in his hometown of Savannah. After graduating, he immediately moved back to New York and landed an interview with one of the most famous hair stylists in the industry. “His name was Kenneth, and he was my favorite hair dresser of all time,” Stokely said. Kenneth Battelle was famous for styling Jacqueline Kennedy’s hair during her time as first lady. He also styled notable celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Gloria Vanderbilt. Stokely interviewed with Battelle at his salon in the Waldorf Astoria New York Hotel. “I thought that I had a license and I was going to work in this fancy salon doing hair,” he said, recalling the memory. “Kenneth basically said, ‘You’re too young, you’re too inexperienced to do hair for me. You can answer the phones.’” While he wasn’t near hair, it was his first big break. But after a few months, Stokely left when he learned Battelle was not interested in training a new assistant. He garnered a position blowdrying hair at the salon of Frederic Fekkai, the man behind the self-named hair product line found in drug and retail stores. After two weeks as a junior assistant, Stokely

Shannon Casas DCN regional staff

Celebrity hairstylist Dennis Stokely works on a hairstyle for Lanier Technical College student Alexandra Bright of Cumming. Stokley presented a lecture and demonstrations for Lanier Tech students.

arrived at work one morning and got his second break. He was going to assist Fekkai, who charged $290 per cut at the time. Stokely also learned his first major lesson of the industry: Not to let ego get in the way of allowing other masters to do their job. “Frederic was a master cutter,” the Georgia native said. “Frederic didn’t like doing color. Frederic didn’t like to style. But he picked great stylists to style for him and he picked great colorists to do the color. He was a genius at knowing what he didn’t like to do, and he would get great peo-

ple to do those things.” After his stint with Fekkai, Stokely moved to Florida for family reasons. He landed a style consultant position for the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL cheerleading squad. “I was the only guy with an NFL clearance to be in their locker room,” he said with a laugh. A few years later, Stokely decided to freelance as a hair stylist in Los Angeles. Then he got his third break in the industry. By chance, he walked into a new salon and left his name and number. The salon belonged to Ken Paves, a celebrity stylist best known for his

work with singer and fashion designer Jessica Simpson. Paves called Stokely for an interview and hired him. “So I was assisting him on all of these (celebrity) shoots,” Stokely said. “And he came to me and said ‘Dennis, I’m going to do the ALMA Awards,’ which is like the Oscars in the Latin world.” Stokely’s work on model Carmen Electra was featured on the red carpet. A short time later, he was booked for a wedding, resulting in big break No. 4. He met make-up artist Alexis Vogel who’s worked on celebrities like Pamela Anderson. “After the wedding was over I turned to Alexis and I thanked her,” he said. “She stopped and she turned to me and she said, ‘Wow, really? Nobody ever thanks me.’ Stokely told the audience the ability to be kind and show genuine interest in clients and colleagues is the most important aspect of the career and can lead to connections. Vogel asked for his name and number, and called him a week later with a job opportunity to work with Paula Abdul on a magazine shoot. “It was my kindness that really opened the door,” Stokely said. “You have to develop the skill. You need to be a good stylist. You need to know

how to cut. But beyond that, be kind. It’s going to open more doors for you than you will ever imagine.” The rest can be considered history, as after this initial photo shoot Abdul requested him to be her stylist for several red carpet events and photo shoots, as well as for her position on “American Idol.” Stokely quit his job and was with Abdul every single day for two years, until his tenure with her ended when she left the show. “Things have calmed down a bit since Abdul left “American Idol.” Stokely has moved back to Savannah to be closer to his mother; at this point in his freelance career, he’s working to develop a line of hair care products. He also speaks at colleges and cosmetology schools, sharing his insight into the industry as he did with Lanier Technical College students. He also conducted several live demonstrations with students, mostly focusing on styles but also cutting one student’s long hair into layers around the face. “How cool is that?” he asked. “A kid from Ocilla, Ga., from a broken home with no father ... my mom worked hard to raise us, we moved to Savannah and I just loved pretty women and beautiful hair.” | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 15


Elliott named GRHOF 2013 Driver of the Year By David Renner

Second generation racer Chase Elliott, 17, has been named the 2013 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Driver of the Year. The award honors a current Georgia race driver who has a Hall of Fame worthy season on the track, according Hall of Fame officials. The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Driver of the Year award is determined by votes from prominent Motorsports journalists, who are asked to choose a racer from the state of Georgia who competes on any level in any form of Motorsports whose accomplishments over the past year they feel qualifies them for the award. “It’s something new to us,” said Gordon Pirkle, hall of fame president. “We started it three years ago and I’m real proud of this because it ties the next generation

in with the old history.” Other drivers in the Hall of Fame included Unadilla’s David Ragan, Dawsonville’s Donald McIntosh, Senoia’s Bubba Pollard and Fayetteville’s Shane Clanton. The son of NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, he became the youngest superspeedway winner in ARCA history with win at Pocono on June 8. Elliott followed that by becoming the youngest (at the time) NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner with his Sept. 1 win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. Elliott also saw historical success on the short tracks. He became the first driver to win all four Super Late Model majors with a win in the All American 400 at Nashville, on top of previous wins in the World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park in

2012, the Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway in 2011 and the Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway in 2010. Elliott has also scored asphalt late model victories at Gresham Motorsports Park, South Alabama Speedway in Opp, Ala., 5 Flags Speedway, Montgomery Motor Speedway in Montgomery, Ala., Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele and Lebanon I-44 Speedway in Lebanon, Mo. “It’s been a solid year for us as a whole I think,” said Elliott in an email. “We’ve been able to accomplish some awesome things on a lot of different types of tracks in many different series; with the superspeedway win at Pocono in the ARCA series, our first NASCAR truck win in Canada, and being able to win the All American a

For the Dawson Community News

Chase Elliott has been named the 2013 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Driver of the Year.

few weeks ago.” He is a former winner of the famed Snowball Derby, one of the more prominent races for Super Late Models in 2011. “It’s pretty cool for sure, there are a lot of guys from Georgia that do some great things in the

world of racing and it means a lot to be given this title,” Elliott said. The 2013 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Induction banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, located inside the Dawsonville Municipal Complex.

University of North Georgia continues to grow From staff reports

The University of North Georgia continues a twodecade trend of enrollment growth with 15,455 registered students for fall 2013, an increase of 2.5 percent over fall 2012. Meanwhile, most of the state’s public colleges and universities reported declines in enrollment. “The enrollment growth we continue to experience represents progress toward our goals of increasing educational opportunities and completion rates in the region,” said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs. “At the University of North Georgia, we are creat-

ing a new and rare educational experience through our focus on excellence, opportunities for leadership development, a broad scope of degree programs, and the unique cultures of our four campuses.” UNG was created in January 2013 from the consolidation of Gainesville State and North Georgia College & State University; fall 2012 enrollment was calculated by adding the numbers for the two institutions. Prior to consolidation, fall enrollment at North Georgia increased every year since 1994, except in 1998 when there was no change.

Gainesville State experienced substantial growth in that same time frame; slight dips in enrollment in 2011 and 1998 were offset by double-digit increases in many years, including an increase of 26.9 percent in 2003. In an internal year-to-year comparison of registered students, UNG experienced a total enrollment increase of about 4.3 percent from fall 2012 to fall 2013, according to Linda Rowland, UNG’s director of institutional research. While previous enrollment reports had included both registered and withdrawn students, Rowland

said this year’s does not. Fall 2013 enrollment across the 31 colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia totaled 309,469 students, a decline of 1.6 percent (or 4,896 fewer students) over fall 2012. The enrollment numbers were released in the system’s “Fall 2013 Semester Enrollment Report,” which breaks down enrollment by institution; class (freshman, sophomore, etc.); race and ethnicity; in-state, out-of-state and foreign students; and gender and age. “As we have noted to the Board of Regents and the

institutional presidents, this enrollment decline reflects a national trend in higher education that has a number of contributing factors, including demographics, the economy and, frankly some price sensitivity,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “In addition, here in Georgia, over two years ago the Board adopted higher admissions requirements related to remedial courses that have affected University System enrollment, primarily at our access colleges.” USG’s enrollment decline from fall 2012 to fall 2013 follows a similar drop from fall 2011 to fall 2012 of 1.2 percent.



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Chamber Chronicle December 2013  
Chamber Chronicle December 2013