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Edition Highlights: Moonshiners gather for reunion Reverse raffle tickets for sale Campmeeting going strong Chamber unveils new Web site

August 2013 Post Office Box 299 292 Hwy. 400, North Dawsonville, GA 30534 (706) 265-6278

The Member Newsletter of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce

Cyclists pedal across the county By David Renner

Not many consider 60 miles a relaxing ride, but early on July 27, eighty riders from across the state gathered in Dawsonville to ride through the county. The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce kicked off its inaugural ‘Shine Pedalers Metric bike ride. The Office of Tourism partnered with Northstar Bicycle to make the event happen.

Planning was split between the two groups. “The guys at Northstar chose the route and we at the Office of Tourism Development planned the event and helped to market it,” said Chamber President Christie Haynes. “Northstar mentioned that they would really like to see a ride in Dawson County that helped showcase our community and that would help bring awareness to the existence of the cycling community in

North Georgia.” Cyclists participated in a 100 kilometer ride and a 50 kilometer ride, or about 62 and 31 miles, respectively. County Commissioner Gary Pichon was among the eighty to turn out for the ride. ““This is a great time to do a ride,” he said. “If you look at the holes in the bike riding schedules around the state, most of the rides are done in April, May and June and See PEDAL | 3

David Renner Dawson Community News

Cyclists left the Dawsonville Municipal Complex early on July 27 to take a riding tour of Dawson County for the ‘Shine Pedalers Metric.


Businesses asking the right questions? In today’s business climate, it seems being loud or even argumentative gets you noticed. Many times I have seen boisterous individuals in a meeting pass as being the most knowledgeable, or the most successful. My intuition tells me this is probably rarely the case. I think confusing noise for intelligence is a mistake.

If I am leading a meeting or a conference or even a lecture, I try to find the quiet individuals to seek out their opinion. Many times I have been surprised by the insightful responses and intriguing questions that result. I recently read an article that also pointed this out and offered several questions that only an introvert would ask.

The first question is: “What does success look like?”

I can already hear the type A’s in the room trying give a one sentence trite and succinct answer to this. Resist the temptation. These kinds of open ended questions force the group to think ahead and define where we will be

when the mission is accomplished rather than when the project is over.

What scares you?

This is a great question that helps define what our greatest threats are. See QUESTIONS | 2




Chamber full of activities One thing I love about my job is that I constantly get to learn new things. I have the opportunity to meet new people, learn about new businesses and emerging industries. Recently on a member visit, I learned that one of the businesses right here in Dawson County creates software that is used worldwide to ensure that barcode scanners and other similar technology works correctly. Hearing successful business and entrepreneurial stories like this are fascinating to me and should be true points of pride for our community. This past month we hosted our first ‘Shine Pedalers Metric. This was such a fun experience for me, because not only did I get to learn a great amount about the cycling world, but I had the opportunity to meet cyclists from throughout the metro Atlanta area, north Georgia and even a few from other states.


Questions This question combined with the first one offer great aides to navigating tumultuous waters.

A similar but significantly different question is: “What are our road blocks?” Resistance is everywhere. Spending time trying to define these like budget, technology or even staff buy-in is a worthy endeavor. This kind of question helps us prepare for the known hurdles. It is what forms our game plan. Along any journey new unforeseen roadblocks always crop up. Identify the ones you know about early but understand more are out there.

I loved interacting with them as they stopped at my station near the top of Burnt Mountain and hearing their comments about how beautiful and scenic Haynes our community is. As business owners, sometimes it can be difficult to find the time to learn new things. One example is trying to decipher what the impact of the new healthcare legislation will be on your business. We understand this difficulty and are hoping to make things are little easier on our business owners. On Aug. 20, we will be holding a health care seminar at the school board’s community center on Main Street. This seminar will address the individual mandate, related penalties, state exchanges and premium discounting, provisions affecting

What is the chain of command? Another way to ask this is: “How are decisions made?”

For any team to function there has to great communication and trust in the leadership. Defining the decision making process and who has the authority to make them will avert misunderstandings and conflicting egos down the road.

What is the deadline?

If the answer to this is “yesterday,” then there is no deadline. This question really points to the need for accurate scheduling and reasonable expectations. Putting your team in a position that requires them to work all night to pull off a miracle respects no one. The work will suffer, the client will probably be underwhelmed, and

small group insurance plans and more. To register, visit our Web site at or call the chamber at (706) 265-6278. This month we will be hosting one of the chamber’s long standing event traditions, the Reverse Raffle. It will be held at the Big Canoe Clubhouse at 7 p.m. Aug. 29. Tickets may be purchased at the chamber office, from a board member or from a chamber Ambassador. Tickets are $100 and the holder of the last ticket drawn at the raffle wins $10,000. Ticket holders do not have to be present to win. We hope you will join us for an evening of fellowship and fun. As always, if we can ever be of service to our members or the community, please do not hesitate to contact us. We hope to see y’all soon. Christie Haynes President the staff will resent you. Be honest with your client, reasonable with your staff and expect excellence! Everybody wins.

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

James Grogan

City of Dawsonville

Christie Haynes

Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, tourism development

Peter J. Hill Jr.

Hill Design Associates Architects, Inc.

Andrew Leavitt

University of North Georgia

Finally, one of the best questions introverts will ask is: “How can I help?”

Every team needs the thinkers, the quiet ones. They are quite often the most productive members in the group. These are precisely the ones who are ready to roll their sleeves up and get the job done. The next time you are in a group discussing a project, seek out the ones who aren’t talking. I bet the wheels are turning, and someone needs to ask what they are thinking about. Peter Hill Chairman

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


calendar of events Aug. 20: Dawson County Chamber of

Beer Festival hopes to draw crowd

Commerce presents a healthcare semi-

By Amanda Head

nar with discussions focused on the new

Dawson Community News

healthcare reform. The event will be held

Two afternoons of music and beer are planned to go along with a fun and festive atmosphere in Dawsonville later this month. The Dawsonville Music and Beer Festival will be held at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. Proceeds will benefit Camp Southern Ground, Zac Brown’s Camp for Kids. “Donavon Hyder with Castleberry Ale House has put together this program,” Mayor James Grogan said. “We sold him the permits and everything is ready to take place.” Doors open at 5 p.m. Aug 23 and 11 a.m. Aug 24. Some of the bands scheduled to play are Coal

from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the school board’s community center located at 28 Main Street. The cost of $15 for chamber members and $20 for non-members includes a light breakfast. Register online at www., or call (706) 265-6278 for more information. Aug. 23-24: The Dawsonville Music and Beer Festival will start at 5 p.m. on

Mountain Band, Back In Black, Alex Hall Band, Southern Accent and more. Tickets are on sale for both days. Prices range from $5 in advance and $10 at the door. VIP tickets are $25 and included a T-shirt and two drink tickets. Grogan has hopes that the event will let people see what Dawsonville has to offer. “Since there’s nothing of this nature that has taken place north of Alpharetta and Suwannee, I really see it as a possibility of drawing in 5,000 to 10,000 people into our community,” he said. For more information, visit

Friday in downtown Dawsonville at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and continue on Saturday. Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the hall of fame Camp Southern Ground. Aug. 27: Business After Hours will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge. Network with your fellow chamber members, while enjoying tasty food and beverages. Special thanks to our host, and to our cash drawing sponsors, Dr. Larry Anderson, Anderson Family Medicine and Kristie Myers, The Norton Agency. Aug. 29: Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Reverse Raffle will be held at 7 p.m. at the Big Canoe Clubhouse. Tickets are now on sale for your chance to win $10,000. For more information, call the chamber at (706) 265-6278. Aug. 30: Sparks in the Park will be held at Rock Creek Park.


Pedal some in July. Then they pick up again in the fall around September or October.” Pichon has been riding for about 20 years and used to do about 10 rides a year, he said. Other riders, such as Bently Howard, a native of White County, were there for the exercise. “I went to the doctor for my annual physical and he said I needed to get active. I had a bicycle at the house, so I got it out and tried to start riding,” he said. “This is my forth full riding season. Now I sit around and look for bike rides. That’s where I saw the advertisements for this.” The cyclists in both rides started from and finished at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex. Each route took riders through scenic Dawson County areas, such as the 50k going through Amicalola Falls State Park and the 100k going up Burnt Mountain. “We asked for feedback from the cyclists and they all seemed to really enjoy the routes since we took them on a majority of low traffic roads that are well-paved,” Haynes said. “The routes

David Renner Dawson Community News

Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Kara Hewatt helps riders sign up for the event.

were also particularly difficult in comparison to some other metrics, so many riders appreciated the challenge and enjoyed the beautiful scenery that was abundant throughout the ride.” Pichon said that while the ride was rough, he did enjoy it, with the ending being one of his favorite parts. “It was a killer. It was the first time I’ve ridden in three or four years,” he said. “I was glad to finish.”

Haynes said that she was very pleased about the turn out for the ride despite the chance of rain. “We are extremely excited about how the ‘Shine Pedalers Metric went for the first year,” she said. “We look forward to hosting it again next year and hope this will become an annual event that helps bring dedicated cyclists from across the Southeast to Dawsonville.”


business after hours



Berg addresses chamber By Michele Hester

Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Don Brown, president of Veterans Affairs of Dawson County, and Chamber President Christie Haynes draw a winning name for the military-themed gift basket the group donated at the chamber’s July Business After Hours.

Community & Southern welcomes chamber August event at Amicalola Falls By Michele Hester

The staff at Community & Southern stayed late July 23 to welcome chamber members to the bank for Business After Hours. Located at 4300 Dawson Forest Road, between Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53, Community and Southern Bank donated several door prizes and recognized local teachers during the

event. The bank also collected school supplies for local children. The chamber would like to thank the individuals and businesses that donated door prizes and congratulate the winners. The next Business After Hours will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge. Special thanks to Dr. Larry Anderson, Anderson Family Medicine and Kristie Myers, The Norton Agency for sponsoring the chamber’s monthly cash drawing, which is now at $200 for the August Business After Hours event. Remember you must be present to claim the cash prize if your name is drawn.

If industrial development continues to flourish along the Ga. 400 corridor, the county is poised for the future financially, according to a county official. Dawson County Commission Chair Mike Berg was the guest speaker at the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Aug. 8 luncheon where he gave his annual state-of-the-county address. “We’ve had a lot of business activity here, as of late. Charlie Auvermann and the development authority have been doing a wonderful job trying to not only attract business, but also talk those businesses into come in,” Berg said. Interest in the area by developers could generate additional revenue as well as provide new jobs to residents. “I’ve had a little time with Charlie meeting with some of the businesses,” he said. “Certainly not as much as he has, but in every case that he’s talking to these folks, it’s all about what the community’s like, what’s the work force like, what are the schools like, what’s the land price and what kind of activities go on in the community. So there’s a lot of interesting talks as a group.” The new Blanchard

Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Dawson County Commission Chair Mike Berg gave his annual state-of-the-county address at the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Aug. 8.

retail development just south of North Georgia Premium Outlets is among the most promising for both sales tax revenue and new jobs. “They’ve got a contract for one big box. They think they are going to have a contract for another, and they’ve got five to seven

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

mid-size businesses, all retail, that have signed contracts,” he said. “So that’s creating quite a buzz in that community, and that’s great for us. These are bringing jobs. There’s a lot of activity and a lot of folks that are looking at Dawson County.”

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


Shopping trip aids teachers By Davd Renner

Everyone takes a trip down to the store for back to school shopping, including teachers. Riverview Elementary School teachers received a pleasant surprise on Aug. 5 in the form of a shopping trip with their coworkers to Walmart. The teachers set off from Riverview Elementary that morning to take a bus tour of the route their students would take each morning to get to school. According to Riverview Principal Julia Mashburn, this was to give the teachers some bonding time and to show them what their students experienced each morning before class. “The bus routes were very insightful. It was very interesting to see where all of the students live,” said Riverview Special Education teacher Lauren Stephenson. “They’re so close to our school, but it’s definitely different than what I’m used to seeing.” After the bus ride, the teachers stopped by Walmart for some group school supply shopping. Waiting for each of them was a $25 gift card donated by Walmart. “They didn’t know they were getting the gift cards,” Mashburn said. “They were able to purchase things to get them through the year.” Because the teachers were in preplanning, all 38 teachers and workers, including all K-5, auxiliary such as Art, Music and PE and special education teachers were given cards to purchase supplies. “I put in a request with Walmart and they were able to help with that,” Mashburn said. “This was available through a very generous

Photos by David Renner Dawson Community News

Riverview Principal Julia Mashburn steps off the bus at Walmart after taking a tour of Riverview Elementary’s bus route.

donation from them.” The teachers were thrilled to find out about the cards, each of them setting off into the school supplies isle with a smile on each of their faces. “We were very excited when we found out about the gift cards,” Stephenson said. “It was very shocking.” According to Mashburn, Riverview Elementary tries to do something like this each year for their teachers. “We have been open for three years, but I think it has taken this long for us to really know who Riverview Elementary is,” she said. “This year is the first year we’ve made decisions because of who we are and what we need. Every year we try to have a common experience that all of the teachers experience together. That’s what unifies us.”

Teachers Jessica Cook and Debbie Boyd grab enough notebooks and other school supplies for their classes.

University of North Georgia teacher Jessica Stimpson, left, and Riverview Elementary Special Education teacher Lauren Stephenson, right, plan their back to school activities with Principal Julia Mashburn, center.



Board of education opens new building By David Renner

The Dawson County Board of Education opened the doors on its new downtown central office Aug. 5. During its April 15 board meeting, the school board voted 3-0 to purchase the two vacant buildings from Community & Southern Bank. The 13,700 square foot building at 28 Main St. was purchased for $1.3 million through E-LOST funds. The central office was previously located on Allen Street. It will continue to be manned, according to Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter, but mainly used as storage. The former bank building houses the central office, with reception areas, offices

and eventually the board of education meeting room located downstairs and more offices located upstairs. The former Community Center will now be known as the Professional Development Center. “We are excited about having the two buildings, and the opportunity to provide more adequate spaces to serve our teachers, staff, parents and students,” Porter said. “The Dawson County Professional Development Center has already been the host site for our new teacher orientation, bus drivers meeting, and special education lead teacher meeting. We believe that it will be used extensively to accommodate various school and non-prof-

it groups as we move forward.” A new central office was among the projects voters approved in November 2009, when they agreed to a five-year extension of the 1-cent sales tax for education. The 2009 referendum passed with 77.7 percent of the vote. “The two-story arrangement is different than our other facility, but we have tried to make sure that those who receive the most visitors are easily assessable on the lower level,” Porter said. “Therefore, the finance, school psychologist, personnel and curriculum departments are located on the lower level. We have waiting areas on both floors for the public as well.”

David Renner Dawson Community News

Superintendent Keith Porter surveys a few last minute fixes as the board finishes moving into its new downtown home.

The Allen Street location will be used for board of education work sessions

and meetings until construction on the new conference room is completed in October.

Open house showcases school to students Lanier Technical College automotive instructor Eric Jaromin, left, shows prospective jointenrollment student Collin Moore the automotive department located on campus in Dawsonville during the college’s July 8 open house.

Bulletin board • Improve your skills … take an online class. For more information, visit • Past issues of the Dawson County Chamber Chronicle can be found on the chamber’s Web site, David Renner Dawson Community News

Please let the chamber know when you have a special event. | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 7


Agency celebrates one year downtown By David Renner

Cavalry Insurance celebrated its one year anniversary in downtown Dawsonville on July 31 with an open house and ribbon cutting. The insurance agency combines more than 30 years of insurance experience with its agents Danny Brock and Bobbie Naylor. Cavalry Insurance handles Medicare and health insurance plans as well as specializes in helping senior citizens with their Medicare needs with Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplements and Part D Prescription Drug plans. Cavalry also offers individual and family health insurance,

long-term care insurance, critical illness and life insurance plans from major carriers. Originally in separate offices in Dahlonega and Cumming, Brock and Naylor decided to look at other areas in need of insurance. “Bobbie and I both had our offices in our home for so long, but we decided to move to one central area,” Brock said. He chose downtown because he and his wife visited occasionally and his wife “fell in love with Dawsonville and the wonderful downtown area.” Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes said during the ribbon cutting that she and the cham-

Bobbie Naylor and Danny Brock, center left and right, are joined by Dawson County Chamber of Commerce representatives in cutting the ribbon on their downtown Dawsonville office. David Renner Dawson Community News

ber were thrilled to have Cavalry in the downtown area. “We’re so proud to have Bobbie and Danny downtown for over a year now. We’re

always excited to celebrate anniversaries,” Haynes said. “They’ve got a great location and we’re proud to have them as part of our downtown Dawsonville community.”

Cavalry Insurance is located on Hwy. 9 in Dawsonville. For more information or to get a quote, call Danny Brock or Bobbie Naylor at (706) 531-9971 or e-mail


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







Gaines changes jobs but not commitment By David Renner

Dawsonville City Councilman and Mayor Pro-tem Chris Gaines is a father of three, husband and civic leader. He looks out for the well-being of his family and city on a day to day basis. But Gaines also wants to watch over the many businesses in Dawson County in the form of insurance. Since July 1, Gaines has worked with bringing Taylor, Turner & Hartsfield Insurance

Services to his community. “I have a lot of relationships that I’ve developed over the last 10 years in the community that are commercial relationships that I could not utilize when I was with Allstate,” he said. Currently in an office on the second story of First Citizen’s Bank, Gaines said he is working to build up the name Taylor, Turner & Hartsfield in Dawson County. “My position with Taylor, Turner & Hartsfield is multi-pronged. I want to build our brand as a

reputable, good insurance company to work with,” he said. “We have a multitude of companies that we represent, instead of just one company and the right customer to fit with what they wanted. Now I have relationships to find the right company that fits for them. It’s a change for me.” Gaines said he is looking forward to the change of pace in business style and he is definitely up to the challenge. “I’m doing mainly commercial business now. It’s

‘Now I have relationships to find the right company that fits for them. It’s a change for me.’ Chris Gaines

City councilman

a little bit of everything. We can handle everything thrown at us,” he said. “What I like the most about the commercial side is getting to know how a company works. I like to know

how their operations work and how I can be of benefit in their protection with insurance.” However, just because he will be working with larger companies instead of individuals, Gaines

said he wants to still be just as involved in the community as he has been in the past. “I want to continue to be involved in the community. I’m not changing any of that,” he said. “I want to take Taylor, Tuner & Hartsfield to our community to provide another option for insurance.” For more information about Taylor, Turner & Hartsfield or Gaines, visit, call (770) 889-8600, Ext 209 or e-mail cgaines@

Dawsonville’s Dance Studio

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(706) 974-9161 • • 258 Beartooth Pkwy. Ste. 170, Dawsonville balletEtcDawsnChamberAug2013 | 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

Council approves new road names By David Renner

City renames numbered streets David Renner Dawson Community News

Sean Howell, housing programmer, and Alice Williamson, community resource coordinator, are joined by volunteers and workers from Ninth District Opportunity along with members of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce for their Aug 7 ribbon cutting.

Agency helps community By David Renner

Homelessness is a topic that many try to avoid acknowledging, much less talking about. But to Alice Williamson and the workers at Ninth District Opportunity, this state of being is simply a transitional period from one to another. Having been in existence since 1967, the nonprofit agency provides for the low income population of Dawson County. “We serve the low income population,” said Williamson, community resource coordinator for Ninth District in Dawson County. “We do housing, electric bills, weatherization, food carts, rental and sometimes mortgage assistance, just a wide variety of things to help.” According to Williamson, Ninth District has housed more than 20 families in Dawson County this year. The funds to provide these services comes from federal grant money and “very few” donations from local agencies, according to Williamson. “Nonprofit money is hard to

come by and we couldn’t do any of this without any of you,” said Sean Howell, housing programmer for Ninth District. “We appreciate all of our partners supporting us in this community.” Williamson said her main goal for joining the chamber of commerce was to “get to know everyone” and to let everyone know who they are, “because we are here to serve the population in need.” “This issue [of homelessness] is not something people want to talk about, but it’s one we all have to deal with in some way,” said chamber president Christie Haynes. “It’s something that, if all of us work together, we can both prevent and help these families in need that are our neighbors.” Ninth District Opportunity is located on Hwy. 53, housed in the historic Dawson County Jail. Consolation is by appointment only. For more information regarding donations or program assistance criteria, call Alice Williamson at (706) 265-3744 or email alice.

The city of Dawsonville now has a new set of road names for formerly-numbered streets, but it may not be as popular of a change as initially thought. The city council voted during its Aug 5 meeting to change names of First through Fourth streets as part of a goal to revitalize downtown by weaving Dawsonville’s unique racing heritage in to the scenery. One of the first steps in the plan to revitalize the downtown area was to rename the streets to honor eight men with local ties to victory at Daytona’s famed track. Among those who will be

• • • • • • • •

East First Street is now Bill Elliott Street East Fourth Street East is Ted Chester Street Third Street is Gober Sosebee Street East Second Street is Bernard Long Street West First Street is Raymond Parks Street West Second Street is Roy Hall Street West Third Street is Lloyd Seay Street West Fourth Street is Harry Melling Street

celebrated on street signs are Ted Chester, Bill Elliott, Roy Hall, Bernard Long, Harry Melling, Raymond Parks, Lloyd Seay and Gober Sosebee. Councilman Chris Gaines said renaming of street brings value to the city. “Whereas now these streets are just letters and numbers the names will add ‘character’ and encourage

more pass thru traffic to stop and engage in our city,” he said. “This helps create a vibrant and active business community that will ensure its vitality for the next generation.” The goal of the revitalization plan, he said, is to find creative ways to weave the area’s racing history into the city.

City master plan available online City officials last month received official copies of the Dawsonville Downtown Master Plan prepared by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. The document, which took into account information received from variety of sources including one-onone interviews with residents, electronic surveys, focus groups and town hall-style meetings, is now available for public view at

Michele Hester Dawson Community News | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 11


member renewals Special thanks to the following members for renewing in June

• Dawson Clean Team • Home Instead Senior Care • AFLAC • McEver Signs and Graphics • Trend Storage • Romancing The Range LLC • Servpro of Forsyth &

Dawson Counties • The Dawson Clinics • Health Plan Select

Thank You Chamber Building Fund Sponsors

• Georgia Mountains Hospice • Taylor, Turner & Hartsfield

new members Modern Woodmen of America, Wade Chandler 75 Elliott Road, Suite 110-B Dawsonville, GA 30534 (770) 540-7670 Ninth District Opportunity Inc. 54 Hwy. 53 W Dawsonville, GA 30534 (706) 265-3744 Fax: (706) 265-4555 Franklin A. McMinn 2018 Crepe Myrtle Ct Dawsonville, GA 30534 Gold Creek Foods, LLC 686 Highway 9 N Dawsonville, GA 30534 (706) 216-8640 Fax: (706) 265-2166

monthly totals Walk-in visitors: 130 Referrals: 97 Newcomer packages: 20

Property Investment Associates



ambassador of the month

Blount: We help the community The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate Cynthia Blount, who was named Ambassador of the Month for July. Director of Northside Hospital’s Dawson Campus, Blount also serves as the center’s local liaison. She became involved with the chamber about 15 months ago as part of the hospital system’s goal to have an active presence in Dawson County. “We are a community hospital. Our focus is not to come in and have the community do things for us, but Northside wants to come into a community and give back to the people,” she said. “We are here to find out what the community needs and if,

we’re able to do it, that’s what we do. We help the community. It’s not the other way around.” She was selected as Ambassador of the Month for her commitment to promoting the chamber and its many programs. The ambassadors are an elite

group of volunteer chamber members who act as liaisons between the business community and the organization. Ambassadors attend ribbon cutting ceremonies, grand opening celebrations and volunteer at chamber functions to promote the chamber. In her spare time, Blount enjoys golf and tennis. She has two daughters and two grandchildren. She also is a member of the Rotary Club of Dawson County. For more information on the ambassador program, call (706) 265-6278. — Michele Hester

ambassador spotlight Big D’s BBQ welcomes Ambassadors Big D’s BBQ is in the spotlight for playing host to the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors July breakfast meeting. Located at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Ga. 400, Big D’s is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant’s signature dry-rub barbecue is award-winning and can also be enjoyed offsite as they offer full-service catering. Hours are 6 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (706) 2166706 or visit

File photo

Financial group helps you plan for retirement By Michele Hester

Scott Yochum, president of Yochum Financial Group, is a “safe money expert” specializing in retirement planning. “In these turbulent financial times, once you’ve retired, you can’t afford to have another financial crisis of 2008 and have your portfolio cut in half again,” he said. Yochum Financial Group opened in Dawson County nearly seven years ago and offers customized financial services. Yochum “What I do is not one size fits all. In what we do … everybody’s circumstance, everybody’s scenario is a little bit different, so we sit down and listen. Then we put together a strategy that’s designed specifically for them, taking into account all the factors that come into play,” he said. “We do a comprehensive analysis of the situation to fit their circumstances.” The goal, he said, is to help clients develop a strategy for their retirement. “Once you retire, you’re in what we call the distribution stage of life. You’ve worked all your life, built your retirement, and now you’re in the distribution stage of your life, as opposed to the accumulation phase,” he said. “So what we do is put together a strategy because the number one concern for the 55 and over crowd in American today is running out of money, or outliving your money. “So that’s what we focus on, looking at somebody’s total portfolio and then putting together cash flow strategies so you can live the way you want to live through your retirement years.” Yochum is a member of the Rotary Club of Dawson County. He is also active in the chamber of commerce and the Alliance of Churches, where he serves on each group’s board of directors. He and wife Debbie celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary this year. They attend Browns Bridge Church. The couple has two adult sons, Brad, an attorney in Florida, and Trevor, who is currently working on his master’s degree in finance. Yochum Financial Group is located at 137 Prominence Court, Suite 110, Dawsonville. For more information, call (706) 216-0022. | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 13


Reunion brings moonshiners together By Michele Hester

Not many people can say that they helped their parents with a secret family business. Pete Bearden was 12-yearsold when he made his first batch of moonshine in the backwoods of Dawson County. “I helped my daddy,” he said. “Moonshining, that’s all he ever done and all his parents had ever done and his brothers and all the Bearden family.” By Bearden’s account, his family was not alone in the local illegal liquor trade. “I’m not ashamed of it. It was a part of my family and a part of a lot of families here,” he said. “All the big families in Dawson County, if you look around, 90 percent of the people that’s done well here, one way or another, it was with moonshine. That’s the way we paid the bills.” Bearden said keeping the

illicit business under the radar was the key to his success as a moonshiner. “The local law, they knew. The locals, they didn’t force the issue,” he said. “The federal agents were who was really after us.” While the local law, according to Bearden, tended to look the other way, federal revenuers, knowing the history of moonshining in Dawsonville, kept a watchful eye on the area. “I was only caught once. They got me with 1,302 gallons,” he said. “It was in 1974 and I started my time the second day of [19]75. Six months at Maxwell Field, the federal penitentiary.” Days after his release, Bearden was back in business. “Me and a friend of mine made 35,000 gallons in 42 days, one batch,” he said, referring to his biggest haul. “It was money, and we made a lot of liquor, but we didn’t get

Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Bob Suchke, right, demonstrates the potency of a jar of white lightning by shaking it and judging the bubbles to Jerry “Birdhead” Densmore of Ball Ground at the Old Moonshiners Reunion held on July 14 at the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery.

rich from making ‘shine.” Bearden was among several dozen illegal liquor-makers, both past and present, reflecting on their moonshine lineage at the Old Moonshiners Reunion July 21.

Chamber unveils new Web site

David Renner Dawson Community News

“In a bind today, I’d do it today, if I had to,” Bearden said. Also at the reunion was a batch of new liquor makers, who stake claim as the first legal distillers in Dawsonville.

Bob Suchke has only been making moonshine for the last three years at the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery where the reunion was held. “Oh my God, it’s the most fun you think of. I enjoy it,” he said. The distillery was the first in the state to be cleared to offer samples after a tasting bill was passed by the General Assembly late last year. The measure allows visitors to sample up to a half ounce of spirits per person, per day when touring a distillery. Bearden said the distillery’s ability to offer tastings of the legal brew is exciting for Dawsonville, especially now that he’s out of the illegal business and has no immediate plans to pass on his recipes or technique to his kids or grandkids. “I just finished up some we made 45 years ago and it was still as good as it was then,” Bearden said.

Haynes sworn in Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes was sworn in last month to the Georgia Commission for Service and Volunteerism by Gov. Nathan Deal. Haynes was joined by 18 other board members handpicked by the governor for a three-year term to support and facilitate community developed service and volunteer activities in the state.

The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce debuted its new Web site to members during a question and answer session last month. The site will be broken up into easier to read sections and offer the ability for visitors to check out destinations and form itineraries for the day. It will also feature testimonials as well as dedicated advertisement space for chamber of commerce members. For the Dawson Community News



Center dedicated to Reverse raffle tickets for sale longtime director By Michele Hester

By Michele Hester

A local gathering place for active seniors now shares its name with the woman responsible for its success. On July 25, hundreds gathered for the unveiling of the Margie Weaver Senior Center to commemorate nearly three decades of compassion, loyalty and love for seniors in the community. “The only thing that would have made it better is if she’d been there, if she got to retire and she’d got to see it. Just to honor her, that her name will be on that building from now on, it’s just amazing,” said Sharon Reagan, Weaver’s daughter. Weaver died March 18 at the age of 74, four months shy of what would have been her 30th anniversary as the center’s director. “It’s just cool to me. I was thinking over the weekend, you know in five years, or 10 years from now, somebody’s going to go to the park and they’re going to say, ‘the Margie Weaver Senior Center -- I wonder who Margie Weaver was,’” Reagan said. “And I guarantee somebody’s going to tell a story about something she did for somebody.” County Commission Chairman Mike Berg called the dedication ceremony a celebration. “It’s just wonderful how many people are here, how many lives she touched,” he said. “Margie was such a dynamic figure. Everybody wanted to help her, help others in this county. This is a celebration, something to be proud of. This building will stand here a long time and will have her name on it ... and we’ll remember her for the good things she did.” Having the center bear her name would most likely rank among Weaver’s most meaningful achievements at the center, according to Granddaughter Samantha Bruce. “I remember how excited Nanny was when she finally got the OK to break

Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Dawn Pruett and Krista Bearden unveil the Margie Weaver Senior Center on July 25. The center was renamed in her honor to mark nearly 30 years of dedicated service to the county’s seniors.

ground and build the current facility. At that time it was her greatest achievement as director,” she said. “Her last greatest achievement as director was finally getting the elevator in and working. “Nanny would have been as honored and proud as I am.” State Rep. Kevin Tanner, who served as county manager before being elected last year, worked alongside Weaver to bring an elevator, which allows wheelchairbound and walking-aid seniors to participate in activities offered in the basement, to the center. After years of community-based fundraising efforts and a contribution from the county commission, the elevator took its first passengers to the lower floor for art instruction and exercise classes in December. Tanner said it was that dedicated commitment to the seniors of the county that will live on as Weaver’s legacy “long after we all are gone.” “I just want to thank her family for sharing her with Dawson County for so many years. It was a commitment,” he said. “We are all better for knowing Margie. Thank you very much.”

The Dawson County Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for one of its most anticipated events of the year. Tickets are now on sale for the reverse raffle that will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 29. Only 300 tickets at $100 each will be sold for this year’s raffle drawing party, which gives ticket holders the chance to win $10,000 cash. Every 25th number drawn will win a prize equal or more valuable than the ticket price. You do not have to be present to win. Tickets include raffle drawing, prizes and a light buffet. A cash bar will be available. The event will be held at The Clubhouse at Lake Sconti in Big Canoe. Purchasing one ticket allows two people to enter the party. Peter Hill, chairman of the

chamber’s board of directors, encourages everyone to get their tickets early. “We’re real excited about the new venue this year. It’s been a great event for us in the past. It’s just going to be a good time,” he said. “We look forward to it and we think everybody has a great time.” Tickets are available at the chamber and through the chamber’s board of directors and Ambassador volunteers. You can also stop by Roger Slaton’s State Farm Office at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Hightower Road to purchase a ticket from Margaret Bowen. The chamber accepts all major credit cards, cash and checks. Proceeds from the raffle support many chamber initiatives throughout the year. For more information on the reverse raffle, call the chamber at (706) 265-6278.

Women of the chamber unite for fun, networking Corporate massage therapist Pat Portal gives Lisa Day a relaxing massage during the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce’s Women of the Chamber event Aug. 15. The event is Michele Hester Dawson Community News designed to give local business women a networking and social opportunity in a casual setting. | DAWSON CHAMBER CHRONICLE | 15


Driving school offers classes By David Renner

Safe driving and lower insurance rates are just a few services offered at Magnum DUI and Defensive Driving School. According to co-owner, Vikki Condrey, the school has been providing driving services to the county for two years. “In the two years we have been open, I’d have to say we’ve probably had close to 500 students,” Condrey said. “That’s 500 people that are better drivers now.” The school offers a number of services and classes, such as DUI risk reduction, defensive driving and Joshua’s Law classes, clinical evaluations upon request and a victim impact panel. “We handle several services, like Joshua Law, which is driver training for teenagers, 14 through 24 years old,” Condrey said. “We also handle driver improvement, which is defensive driving. That can

help you lower your insurance or help get your license reinstated. It can also take off seven points from your license.” Defensive driving insurance reduction for drivers in good standing with no points on their license is good for three years. Magnum’s prices are set based on national averages and state mandates. Victim impact panel classes, which are held the third Friday of every month, are priced at a national average of $50. Joshua’s Law classes are set at $96.50 and are held periodically throughout the month for a 30 hour class. DUI risk reduction classes are set at a state mandated fixed price of $292. Defensive driving classes are priced at a state mandated $75, unless for insurance purposes, which is $45. The driving school currently has a chamber special until end of August. Defensive driv-

David Renner Dawson Community News

Magnum DUI representatives, from far left front, Sherry Dover, Vikki Condrey, Cassy Bristow and James Condrey cut the ribbon on July 15 for their defensive driving school.

ing class for a no-points driver is currently only $25. The school is co-owned by Condrey and her husband

James. The school is located at 42 Grant Road, Suite 230 located off of Ga. 400.

For more information, call (706) 216-2554 or visit www.drivingwithmagnum. com.

Campmeeting alive and well Waiting for a challenger, Kristian Kelley, 12, practices his skills at bean bag toss during the weeklong event at Lumpkin Campground. The annual fellowship draws families from all over the Dawson County area for a week of religious services and fellowship. Photos by David Renner Dawson Community News

Families get together between meetings to sit, relax, reminisce and visit. From left; Colby Denard, Thelma Byrd, Debra (Byrd) Pelfery, Brittany Anderson, and Autry Anderson, 3 months, held by Anna Byrd.



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