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March 24, 2013

A special section of the

online at www.forsythnews.com

What's Driving

FORSYTH Progress 2013

County’s appeal far reaching Forsyth County has steadily forged a reputation as a great place to live, work and play. But that desirable combination and its accompanying high quality of life didn’t develop overnight. What were — and, perhaps more importantly, continue to be — the driving forces behind them? Is it the high quality, high-achieving school system? Maybe Forsyth’s conve-

nient location, modern amenities and friendly, nurturing business climate? Then there are the many activities and organizations that foster a strong sense of community among residents of all ages. How about all of the above. Join us in Progress 2013 as we explore further the folks and features that are driving Forsyth.

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Ministering to many Churches fill active role in quality of life By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

Forsyth County is home to many faiths and religious organizations. While they serve as places of worship, they also serve the community. From food pantries to clothing collections, these organizations contribute to and help drive the quality of life in Forsyth. In addition to providing basic necessities, the churches also have unique programs designed to help various segments of the community, from military personnel to students and the unemployed.

Cumming First United Methodist Church Since the Iraq War began in 2003, Cumming First United Methodist Church has sent more than 6,000 packages to U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East. “As a vet, I can tell you it’s sometimes a lifeline to receive something from home,” said Neida Streit, who helps run the church’s Military Package Ministry. See CHURCHES | 2D

Health & G Recreation Exit

Rebecca Egan of St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church participates in a recent event for the homeless.

Jennifer Sami Forsyth County News

Inside this section: Generosity spreads through Forsyth, 3D

Arts on display at local theater, 10D


2D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

FROM 1D

Churches: Congregations serve others in numerous ways “It lifts morale in ways that nothing else can do and it gives you a connection that you just don’t feel when you’re that far away.” Recipients aren’t limited to church members. Some “have never even been to Georgia, Streit said. The only qualification is that someone from the church adds their name to the list. Often packages donated to members of the military include socks, toiletries or other necessities. But those from Cumming First UMC are designed to be fun. “They have beef jerky and fun items like water balloons, card games, travel-size board games and anything to help alleviate the boredom,” Streit said. “We always include a card.” The church welcomes cards created by children to include in the packages. It’s a nice touch to those serving overseas, but it also helps teach children about what the military does and what life is like in other countries. “Education is the key,” Streit said. “If people don’t understand what’s needed or what can be done, nothing will be done. And if we ever hope to have peace, children need to learn about children in the other parts of the world and what life is like for them.”

Jim Dean Forsyth County News

First Redeemer Church holds a Super Seniors luncheon each month as a service project to seniors in Forsyth County. Left, member s of Cumming Fir st United Methodist Church pack items for U.S. military personnel serving overseas.

First Redeemer Church

Every month, seniors and residents of about a dozen assisted living homes are treated to lunch and entertainment at the church. Nearly 400 seniors from across Forsyth County come to the Super Seniors Lunch. It’s just one of many efforts geared toward improving the quality of life for the county’s senior population, said Senior Associate Pastor Jeff Jackson. “They line up outside our banquet hall a half hour early to get in. It’s a big deal,” Jackson said. “We’ve just found that the growing population of senior adults in our county gives us a real ministry opportunity.” In addition to the monthly lunch, volunteers from the church visit a handful of senior living facilities, including Tara Plantation and the Manor, every week for Sunday worship. Lay leaders and church youth participate in the weekly visit, which includes a devotion and songs. “We’ve found that just being there on site means a lot to them because I think a lot of people in some of these homes feel like they’re forgotten, and we want to let them know that we haven’t forgotten about them and that we care for them,” Jackson said. During Christmas, church volunteers will also deliver gifts for the seniors on Christmas Eve.

be helping someone else that might be in the real situation of being homeless and that person might need the blanket to keep warm, or that tarp to keep them dry.”

The Hamzah Islamic Center For the Forsyth County News

The gifts may be small items like slippers and blankets, but they’re all “things that they can make use of there,” Jackson said. “That has become the highlight of our church to deliver those gifts,” he said. “We genuinely have a heart for them. It’s one of those things where the more love you show, the more love you have.”

St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church

It was a chilly morning for the homeless children living in cardboard boxes. Some kids were wearing sweatshirts, others were bundled in blankets. That’s the life of the poor. Though the church’s youth were just pretending to live in those conditions for 24 hours, the experience is life changing, said Kelle Russo,

For the Forsyth County News

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director of parish life at the church. “They really have a homeless experience,” Russo said. “There’s no technology, no phones, no computers. It’s just survival.” The program is called Cardboard Box City. This year’s event was held March 16 in the parking lot of a Kroger grocery store in Milton. Dozens of kids from eighth through 12th grade were dressed in their team’s colors, confined to the cardboard city. They asked grocery shoppers to purchase a few extra items, including food and diapers, for the area’s real homeless population. “We’ll collect nearly 40,000 items and then we donate them,” Russo said. “Some go to shelters downtown, some stay right here in Forsyth County. “We’ll collect diapers and some of that goes to Whispering Hope so it all gets distributed to local shelters and places in need.” Each team must earn points by collecting food in order to be served a basic meal, like rice, soup or beans. “It’s definitely good for them to experience being homeless and getting a very limited amount of food,” Russo said. During this year’s event, students brought blankets, sheets and slept under cardboard boxes. There was a Frisbee and some other small fun ways to pass the 24 hours of homelessness. “But anything they bring with them, they must leave behind. If they bring a pillow or a blanket, they leave it behind and we donate it,” Russo said. “They know that they’re going to

The center may be relatively new to Forsyth County, but it’s been active in the community. It has worked with refugees to supply them with food, clothes and money and has participated in several programs to feed the hungry as well as road cleanup projects. The center is also becoming a hub for people wanting to learn. “We try to help people either get jobs or improve their careers by learning new tools and new techniques,” said Tareef Saeb, center chairman and CEO. “I’m in IT development, for 35 years, so people like me who have great experience in a given field will teach the classes. They’re all volunteers. Our teachers don’t take a dime for their time.” Recently, the center offered classes on Web development, a six-week training on Oracle, Microsoft Excel and Linux. It also has volunteer technical writers on hand to help people applying for jobs improve their resumes. There’s also a class for how to improve interview skills, both for phone and in-person sessions. “It’s all volunteers from our community that have experience and passion for what they do,” Saeb said. The economic downturn was a big part of why the center chose a learning outreach. “Three, four years ago, people were having a very difficult time finding jobs because of all the offshoring and outsourcing, so we focused on that,” he said. “We do a lot of training so people can be on their own rather than be dependent on charity, to help the community get on their feet.”

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 3D

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Gift of giving comes through Volunteers and local generosity drive nonprofits

What's Driving

FORSYTH

By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

While a lawn mower may not be every girl’s dream gift, for Sandy Beaver the bright yellow machine sparkled as much as a diamond. Beaver, the director of The Place of Forsyth County, and her staff were presented with a brand new all-electric riding mower earlier this month. The machine was a donation from Terry’s Tool & Equipment Rental and Hustler Turf, the manufacturer of mower. “This is just an amazing gift,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful act of kindness for us, who work with scratch and the donations we receive, to have a brand new machine. That’s amazing for us because now we don’t have to worry if it’s going to start or not and if we’re going to be able to mow the grass.” That act of kindness isn’t rare around The Place, which has been helping those in need in Forsyth County for more than 30 years with necessities such as food, medicine, clothing and emergency funding to cover expenses like bills. “I would say, ‘What goes around comes around’ and it always does when you work at a place like this,” Beaver said. “You see the generosity of the people and the businesses that come forward to help you do your job every day.” That spirit of giving doesn’t surface at just The Place. Forsyth County is home to numerous nonprofits, all of which seem to be able to come up with whatever they need, a situation that’s driven by the generosity of locals. Melissa Corliss, director of community impact with the United Way of Forsyth County, gets to see examples of the county’s kindness every day. “The generosity of our community is just overwhelming,” she said. “When

Crystal Ledford Forsyth County News

Terry Nixon, owner of Terry’s Tool & Equipment Rental, joined with Hustler Turf to donate a new riding lawnmower to The Place of Forsyth County. Above, Nixon speaks with Sandy Beaver, director of The Place.

we [nonprofits] ask, people step forward and that just means so much to us and certainly to all the nonprofits here.” On a sunny March afternoon, it was Terry Nixon, owner of Terry’s Tool & Equipment who was stepping forward. He applied on behalf of The Place to Hustler Turf through a program the corporation sponsors to give away the free all-electric, zero-turn mowers. Only about five of the mowers have been given throughout the country. He said that was the least he could do to help an organization that gives as much to his community as does the

nonprofit off Antioch Road. “The Place here does a lot of good stuff and we wanted to help,” he said. “We need to give back to the community because Terry’s Tool Rental has been here a little over 12 years and we’ve been blessed. “We want to do something, we want to help, and this is a good way to do it.” Beaver said the company is certainly not the only local business or organization that wants to do get involved. “We have several businesses that we can call and just say, ‘We need this’ and it’ll be here,” she said.

It’s not just businesses that want to give. Individual volunteers enjoy spending time at The Place and other nonprofits throughout the county. “On a regular basis, we have probably 30 people that come every week,” Beaver said. “They help in the surplus bread room, they sort food, make up bags of foods, some come down to work in the thrift store.” Numerous others also give when they can, such as those who make periodic food donations. Beaver said Forsyth County is a special place filled with people who are eager to help, and that spirit and attitude, over time, have just become tradition here. “I think Forsyth County has always been a very progressive area with leaders in it that saw needs and always wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of,” she said. “People just said, ‘This is what we need to do’ and they embraced it and it’s been the tradition.” Corliss said Forsyth, despite its population of more than 180,000, continues to foster close relationships. “In a lot of ways, we’re still that small-town atmosphere where people really want to help their neighbors and other families that are within the community,” she said. “I think we still have that small town feeling.” Whatever the reasons, Beaver’s just glad to live and work in a place that is driven by generosity. “I don’t know of any nonprofit that could survive without the volunteers. I mean, you start from the budget down and there’s no money in the budget for the things that the volunteers come and do,” she said. “It’s out of the goodness of their hearts that they do this stuff and what more can you say.”

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4D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Groups keep arts alive in Forsyth From music to dance, opportunities abound By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

From painting to dancing, Forsyth County has many outlets and organizations, both old and new, which offer exposure for artists and entertainment for residents. Here is a sampling of the groups Forsyth has to offer, their accomplishments in 2012 and goals for 2013.

Sawnee Artists Association www.sawneeart.org

Since 1974, the organization has been an outlet for local artists. Now more than 110 members strong, it’s home to more than just painters, said past president Charlotte Gardner. Members work with a variety of mediums, including wood, glass, metal and clay. The group meets on the fourth Monday of every month at McDonald & Son Funeral Home & Crematory. The gatherings begin with a social at 6 p.m., followed by a business meeting at 7 p.m. and a program at 7:30 p.m. The association also holds three events annually, including the March Art Madness event that wrapped up earlier this month. The event has gone by a few different names, but for the past 12 years, it has been the organization’s annual member event, showcasing its members’ works. Membership in the organization is $25 annually or $30 for a couple. “And we love advocates for the arts,” Gardner said. “If they just want to come and be part of it and learn and be an advocate and not necessarily be an artist, we welcome them also.” In addition to the March event, the association is planning for a Through the Lens photography exhibit in September, followed by the Christmas in Central Park event in November. “We always do Christmas in Central Park,” Gardner said. “There are over 100 vendors with all original crafts and entertainment … it’s a festive day.” Gardner said the club brings a sense of community to local artists and wel-

comes everyone from beginners to professionals “to share their knowledge with the other artists, to promote their work and to learn and improve their skills.” “We just want to encourage people to participate,” Gardner said. “We really need this in the community.”

Forsyth County Arts Alliance www.forsytharts.org

Despite the sluggish economy, the nonprofit arts support organization again plans to award $50,000 to various groups this year. In years past, grants have gone to local high schools, arts festivals, college orchestra concerts, upgrades to the Cumming Playhouse and a therapeutic music program at Northside Hospital-Forsyth. “We’ve been able to do so many things that have had a lasting impression around here,” said Kevin Tallant, alliance board president. “I think we’re pretty unique in our community in our ability to continue to support the arts in such a public and permanent way, even during the struggling economic climate that we find ourselves in.” The alliance was created from the $2 million sale of the Sawnee Cultural Arts Center to county government in 2005. The center had been used to help promote arts in the community. Through the alliance, money from the sale was invested in the North Georgia Community Fund and is used to fund local arts projects. A grants workshop was held March 21 to help people apply, but the deadline to send a letter of intent to apply for grant money is April 26. “It’s really a balancing act between trying to reach as many people as possible, but making sure the people that we do reach that we’re supporting them to a level where they can pull off what they’re wanting to pull off,” Tallant said. “We go through the process of trying to fund as many projects as possible in a way that allows us to touch as many disciplines as we can and spreading the art throughout the community.” Only nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations can qualify for the grants, and those seeking funding must present projects that will support the arts in the community.

March 30th

Taste of Forsyth Along the Hospitality Highway

Saturday 11 am - 6 pm Food Samples: $1.00 - $4.00 FREE Easter Egg Hunts 3 & under - 11:30 am 4 thru 7 - 12:30 pm 8 thru 10 - 1:30 pm Admission: FREE

Sounds of Sawnee Concert Band www.soundsofsawnee.com

From an eighth-grade student who plays the euphonium to an 88-year-old flutist, the Sounds of Sawnee Concert Band “runs the gamut,” said president Harold Titus. “The band has about 70 members in it now,” he said. “It’s grown considerably in the past year and we expect it to continue to grow.” Most of the group’s concerts have been free to the public, primarily to generate interest in music in Forsyth and to give the members an outlet to perform. It’s also a way to recruit new members. “It gives them an opportunity to play the instruments that they probably played back in high school and college and then put them away,” Titus said. “But they have reached a point in their life now where they’d love to get them out and play … it gives them some enjoyment in the fact that we can bring entertainment to the population.” The band has performed in past years at the Cumming Playhouse and will appear at the venue again this year — twice. Other events the band for which the band played last year and expects to play this year include a free concert at Fowler Park, Cumming’s July Fourth steam engine parade, the Dawsonville Arts Festival and the Christmas in Cumming event in December, among others. Most recently, the group held a joint concert with the Alpharetta City Band at Sexton Hall. Titus said new members are always welcome. “We’re looking to have anybody join us that can play. There are no auditions or dues involved, just come and join us,” he said. Rehearsals are every Monday at Cumming First Baptist Church. They begin at 7:30 p.m. and last two hours.

Sawnee School of Ballet

www.sawneeschoolofballet.com

Since 1990, the school has offered classes for dancers from preschool through professional. In addition to ballet, classes include tap, jazz, contemporary, modern and hip hop.

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August 30th - Sept. 1st

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Recitals are held in the beginning of June featuring a variety of performances from all the school’s dancers. Also in June, the school will offer dance camps. The school was sold to Courtney Bromwich in November. “I was here for six years and then there was a five-year gap and then I came back in the fall of 2011,” Bromwich said. With her years at the school, Bromwich said she plans to deliver the same quality dance education, while expanding offerings. “We are expecting to be out and performing in the community more,” she said. “We’ll also be offering tumbling to our program with performance opportunities for some of our youngest dancers, as well as doing a parents night out and other themed events like birthday parties to help get parent involvement and dancer involvement on the rise.” The school also offers adult classes and has recently added musical theater “focusing on Broadway inspired numbers,” Bromwich said. “We’re trying to incorporate the singing, the dancing and the acting.”

Sawnee Ballet Theatre

www.sawneeballettheatre.com

The nonprofit organization features two main performances each year — a spring concert, featuring a variety of dance works and the December production of “The Nutcracker.” Under the artistic direction of Joan Kall Stewart, director emeritus of the Sawnee School of Ballet, the company will hold its spring concert April 20 and 21. Dancers will perform “Sleeping Beauty.” The spring concert last year was “From Ballet to Broadway,” which featured classical ballet works and Broadway-inspired dance numbers. The company’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” will continue to feature dancers from the Sawnee School of Ballet, which was purchased by Courtney Bromwich in November. As the school’s owner and director, Bromwich will continue to work closely with the ballet theater. She said parents are “excited by the strength of the program and how it will continue to grow with the collaboration of both Joan Kall Stewart and myself.”

October 3rd - 13th

Cumming Country Fair & Festival

Mon- Thurs 4 pm - 10 pm • Friday 4 pm - Midnight Sat. 10 am - Midnight • Sunday 12:30 - 9:00 pm Admission: Adults - $7.00, Students 5 - 18 - $3.00 4 & under - FREE Parking - $3.00 Advance Tickets Available Sept. 1st - 30th Adults - $5.00, Students 5-18 $2.00

Free Concerts & Shows with Paid Admission

Heritage Village • Indian Village • Working Exhibits Cotton Gin • Sawmill • Sorghum Mill • Cider Press Blacksmith • Grist Mill • Quilters • Schoolhouse Churches • Doctor’s Office • Dentist’s Office Barber Shop • Post Office • General Store • Printing Press • Midway Rides • Daily Ground Acts • Petting Zoo & Local Entertainment • Grand Concert Lineup


SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Parks vital to strong sense of community

forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 5D

Forsyth County boasts a large number of parks and recreation centers that add value and vitality to the overall community. From the South Forsyth Soccer Complex on Kemp Road to Poole’s Mill Park in northwest Forsyth, countywide facilities exist for residents’ enjoyment.

The county also has recreation centers at Central Park (4), Fowler Park (10) and Old Atlanta Park (14).

Cindy Bell works out at the Fowler Park Recreation Center in January.

Map courtesy Forsyth County government

1) BENNETT PARK — 5930 Burruss Mill Road 2) BIG CREEK GREENWAY — Trail heads at 5120 Bethelview Road, Fowler Park, McFarland Parkway east of exit 12 and on Union Hill Road 3) CANEY CREEK PRESERVE — 2755 Caney Road 4) CENTRAL PARK — 2300 Keith Bridge Road 5) CHARLESTON PARK — 5850 Charleston Park Road 6) CHATTAHOOCHEE POINTE — 5790 Chattahoochee Pointe Drive 7) CHESTATEE COMMUNITY BUILDING — 6875 Keith Bridge Road 8) COAL MOUNTAIN PARK — 3560 Settingdown Road, Cumming 9) DUCKTOWN COMMUNITY PARK — 5895 Heardsville Road 10) FOWLER PARK — 4110 Carolene Way 11) HAW CREEK PARK — 2205 Echols Road 12) JOINT VENTURE PARK AT DAVES CREEK — 3660 Melody Mizer Lane 13) MIDWAY PARK — 5100 Post Road / Hwy 371 14) OLD ATLANTA PARK — 810 Nichols Road 15) POOLE’S MILL PARK — 7725 Poole’s Mill Road 16) SAWNEE MOUNTAIN PARK — 3995 Watson Road 17) SAWNEE MOUNTAIN PRESERVE — 2500 BettisTribble Gap Road 18) SHADY GROVE CAMPGROUND — 7800 Shadburn Ferry Road 19) SHARON SPRINGS PARK — 1950 Sharon Road 20) SOUTH FORSYTH SOCCER COMPLEX — 800 Kemp Road 21) WINDERMERE PARK — 3355 Windermere Parkway 22) YOUNG DEER CREEK PARK — 7300 Heard Road

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6D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 7D

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6D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 7D

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

A Family Tradition for over 65 Years From our family of professional, dedicated employees to your family—We'd be honored to serve you. Jim Otwell

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Richard Brooks

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2004 Chevy Monte Carlo 2001 honda odyssey lx

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8D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

City noted Local humane society for barbecue committed to adoption List cites ratio, competition By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

Cumming has been named one of the top 10 cities for barbecue by a Web site that explores America’s best places to live and visit. Livability.com released its list of Top 10 Best BBQ Cities, which focused on lesser-known barbecue destinations, avoiding hot spots such as Memphis, Austin and Kansas City. Cumming, which ranked 10th, was chosen because of “its incredible ratio of barbecue restaurants to residents” of about 1 to 1,000, based on U.S. Census numbers. The city also garnered attention because of the National BBQ Cup: Que’n in Cumming, which has been held the past two years at the Cumming Fairgrounds. According to a news release, editors purposely avoided well-known stops, instead concentrating on small to mid-sized cities with “a large and loyal local barbecue fan base.” John Hood, a spokesman for the Web site, said in a statement that they attempt to “uncover those hidden gems in cities and help them shine.” “So when a list of BBQ cities was proposed, it was decided that we wouldn’t take the easy route of listing the usual suspects,” he said. “Instead we’d go mining for those gems that the rest of the country might not yet have discovered.” The National BBQ Cup: Que’n in Cumming, a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned event,

Adopted out 1,028 animals

Contact For more information about the programs and events at the Humane Society of Forsyth County’s shelter, 4440 Keith Bridge Road, visit www.forsythpets.org or call (770) 887-6480.

By Lance White

For the Forsyth County News

File photo

A custom-carved trophy awaits its winner during the 2012 National BBQ Cup: Cue’n in Cumming at the Cumming Fairgrounds.

drew numerous professional barbecue teams from across the country, as well as thousands of spectators in 2011 and 2012. As for the online ranking, Bowman said he was “ecstatic.” “I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “When I got the [listing], I was excited to see we were in the top 10. I wish we were a little higher, but it’s nice to be on the list at all.” Other cities in the top 10 included: Gainesville, Fla.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Bethesda, Md.; Springfield, Mo.; Tyler, Texas; Hattiesburg, Miss.; Greenville, S.C.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Lexington, N.C.

Thirty-seven years ago, there was not a county animal shelter, so a group of concerned citizens came together to form the Humane Society of Forsyth County, a no-kill shelter. These volunteers saw a need to care for stray animals in the county. They placed cats and dogs in foster homes and eventually into “forever” homes, and encouraged humane treatment of animals throughout the county. While there has been a countyoperated shelter for some 25 years, the humane society continues to be the only no-kill shelter providing services to local residents. As a nonprofit organization, the humane society is not funded by local, state or federal governments. It relies entirely on donations, fundraisers, sponsorships and grants from corporations. Here are a few of the society’s accomplishments in 2012: • A total of 1,028 animals — 568 dogs and 460 cats — were adopted into permanent homes. • The society paid for the spay or neuter of more than 500 feral cats. This is one of the first steps toward our goal of becoming a no-kill community. • The thrift store at 168 TriCounty Plaza in Cumming, which offers a wide selection of previously-owned items at great prices, has been a huge success. It provides a constant flow of funds, with 100 percent of proceeds going toward shelter operations, veterinary care and pet food. The thrift store was able to profit and donate to the shelter

File photo

Humane Society President Lance White plays with Lancelot last fall.

$86,000 last year. • The economy has rendered many families unable to care for their pets due to job losses or home foreclosures. The society offers assistance through the pet pantry so that those people in need can keep their animals. If they cannot afford to feed their animals, we give them food to feed them. • The society also has a spay and neuter assistance program known as SNAP. Through this program we offer low cost or no cost spay and neuters to the public for their owned pets, so we can end overpopulation of pets. • The humane society has grown an amazing outreach program called Humane Hearts, which allows certified and tested therapy dogs to build relationships with community members

through classroom and nursing home visits. This group of dedicated volunteers ended 2012 with 34 members and 36 dogs visiting 19 locations throughout Forsyth and surrounding counties. • The creation of our education and outreach program, Humane SMARTS, occurred in 2012 as well. Through this program we hope to lower the number of dog bites that occur in our area by educating children about animal safety. We also hope to help students learn leadership skills by creating animal advocates through our clubs, projects and other outreach programs. • The humane society orchestrates many community events such as the Mutts and More Festival at Fowler Park — which this year will be held May 19 — and the Bark And Boogie Ball, a formal dinner and dancing with live music. This year’s ninth annual ball is set for Sept. 14. • Adoption events are held each weekend at Petco and PetSmart on Market Place Boulevard, Rucker Pet on Bethelview Road and PetSmart in John’s Creek. Check the Web site for dates and times. You can help the society provide these needed services for the animals and the community. Join, volunteer, attend fundraisers, donate and support the thrift store. Lance White is president of the Humane Society of Forsyth County.


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 9D

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

United Way grateful for strong support For the Forsyth County News

File photos

Visitors enjoy one of the final days of the 2012 Cumming Country Fair & Festival, which drew record-breaking attendance to the Cumming Fairgrounds.

cumming fairgrounds

A year-round draw From staff reports

The Cumming Fairgrounds helps keep local traditions alive. From its signature event, the Cumming Country Fair & Festival, to the early-1900s mock village maintained year round, Fairgrounds Administrator Dave Horton says the venue offers family-oriented fun. The annual fair, which takes place in October, was the first event at the fairgrounds, starting in 1995 as a six-day event. The festival has since expanded to 11 days, featuring well-known musical acts, a variety of performance groups and the traditional rides and games galore. “It’s just a great gathering place for the community,” Horton said. “It’s like a homecoming. You see people you haven’t seen in a year or several years, and you meet a lot of new folks.” The 18th annual fair in 2012 saw record-breaking numbers. Horton said the event, which drew more than 141,000 people, “smashed” the previous attendance record, set in 2006. That number was about 127,500. Besides the Cumming Country Fair & Festival, the fairgrounds also provide a wide range of other activities and events throughout the year. The schedule each year stays about the same, from the fireworks display and steam engine parade in July to the Christmas celebration in December. The city also puts on a rodeo over Labor Day weekend. Previously a fundraiser for Family Haven domestic violence shelter, the city of Cumming has adopted Taste of

Forsyth, which is set for March 30 at the fairgrounds. The popular event, renamed Taste of Forsyth Along the Hospitality Highway, invites restaurants from across the county to share samples of their dishes. The fare is sold to attendees for a low price. Outside groups also use the fairgrounds venue for charity events, such as Relay for Life and Light the Night, or other community gatherings, such as church-sponsored car shows. Each November, the fairgrounds is the site of what is fast becoming one of the largest professional barbecue competitions in the nation. The National BBQ Cup: Que’n in Cumming was first presented in 2011. In 2012, the event grew in size and popularity, with more than 100 professional and amateur teams from across the country competing and about 15,000 spectators attending to sample world-class ’cue. The North Georgia Quarter Midget Association plays host to several races for competitors ages 5 to 16 on many weekends when the fairgrounds isn’t otherwise being used, Horton said. The Bill Thomas Raceway at the fairgrounds has held a national tournament in the past, with some former competitors growing up to become NASCAR drivers. The races, like most of the events, Horton said, bring in local revenue. This year, the track will welcome the Eastern Grands championships. Fairgrounds staff members work year round to keep the area well maintained and continue to planning for big events. The annual fair involves a full year of preparation to bring in a variety of acts.

In 2012, about 5,770 donors came together to support more than 60 nonprofit organizations and programs that provided direct services to residents throughout the Forsyth and Dawson County communities. Their investment of more than $1.27 million created more opportunities in the areas of education, income, health and basic needs. All of these areas play a key role in building a good life. Food, one of the most basic needs, was the focus of the 20th annual letter carriers’ food drive. A partnership between the United Way of Forsyth County and the Cumming Post Office, this two-day event collected an estimated 36,000 pounds of food that was distributed to 10 different food pantries in the county that served those families most in need. The amount of food collected was about 12,000 more pounds than in 2011. The FamilyWize Prescription card, offered by United Way, saved county residents $78,977 on prescriptions in 2012. This discount card is free for anyone who needs assistance with their prescription costs. Data from the 211 information and referral hotline charted 847 calls for utility assistance, mortgage and rent payment, and food assistance in 2012. Programs such as The Place and St. Vincent DePaul were there to help. Through the annual Give Kids A Smile Day, nearly 100 children received dental services from six dental practices volunteering to help the children and youth who needed services the most. The initiative is a collaboration between Forsyth County Schools, United Way of Forsyth County and local dentists. The Holiday Giving Tree for Kids, another program that made in impact in 2012, brought together United Way of Forsyth County, the Forsyth County Family YMCA, donors and countless volunteers to provide holiday gifts to A S S O C about 2,100 local children. This number has remained steady over the past few years as more parents have lost their jobs and are unable to provide gifts for their children. United Way’s mission is to improve lives in our community by mobilizing the caring power and spirit of residents. A

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On the Net To find out more about United Way of Forsyth County, go online at www. UnitedWayForsyth.com. You can also find us on Facebook at facebook.com/ UnitedWayForsythCountyGA and Twitter @UnitedWayFCGA

At a glance The following is a breakdown of 2012 United Way of Forsyth County funding by impact area: • Substance abuse/mental health/domestic violence services: $125,982 • Promoting self-sufficiency/ strengthening families and seniors: $299,668 • Therapeutic services for at-risk children and youth: $221,500 • Promoting community health, safety, leadership, information and referral and nonprofit education: $192,160 • Strength-based support services for children and youth: $289,735 • Services for citizens with special needs: $86,485 • Donor designations made outside Forsyth County: $61,836 • Total investment: about $1,277,366 Source: United Way of Forsyth County

They do this by bringing together donors, volunteers, community leaders, large and small businesses and many others to assess needs and find the best way to meet those needs. By coming together, they were able to make a significant impact on the lives of more than 74,000 Forsyth and Dawson County residents in 2012 and continue I A T I O N their work in 2013. Thank you to everyone who continues to give back to this great community we call Cumming and Forsyth County through United Way. Your time, financial resources and sheer dedication make it the best place in Georgia to raise families, work, relax, stay healthy and retire. I

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ion

he Sawnee Artists Association has over 100 members who produce art of all kinds. SAA consists of painters, photographers, potters, jewelers, glass, fiber, and wood workers, and even artists who create Fabergé-style eggs.Sa Members on wnee ciati o s s A A r t s i t s include beginners, hobbyists, and professionals. The programs are interesting and offer opportunities to learn and foster new skills. The SAA meets the 4th Monday of each month in the Community Room at McDonald & Son Funeral Home at 150 Sawnee Drive, Cumming, GA. Social time begins at 6:00 pm, with a meeting Photo by Phillip Winter

Photo by Jan Winter

Photo by Jan Winter

Photo by Phillip Winter

at 6:30 and the program at 7:00. Visit www.sawneeart.org for current information.

Photo by Jan Winter

Sawnee Artists Association is the organization for the visual arts and its mission is to promote and support the arts in the Cumming/ Forsyth area. There are three major events each year: “March “Art” Madness (member show), “Christmas in Central Park”, and a third event that

promotes arts in the community. The 10th Annual “Christmas in Central Park” arts Photo by Phillip Winter & craft show will be held on November 16 and 17, 2013 at Forsyth County’s Central Park Recreation Center. The event features over 100 vendors with original crafts, plus, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there for a photo session. Good food and local entertainment are part of this festival, making it a fun-filled family event that can be enjoyed by all.

Photo by Jan Winter

Visitors are welcome and we offer membership to ages 18 and up. Dues are $25.00. Come join us. For more information visit www.sawneeart.org, check us out on Facebook at Sawnee Artists Association, or email us at sawneeart@gmail.com.


10D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Playhouse enjoys productive year Variety of shows on tap for 2013 For the Forsyth County News

The Cumming Playhouse is located inside the 1923 Cumming schoolhouse at 101 School St. The facility was named to t h e N a t i o n a l R eg i s t e r o f Historic Places in 2000 through the efforts of the Historical Society of Forsyth County. This school was the first high school in Forsyth County, issuing the diplomas to graduates. The facility, which is owned by the city of Cumming, was restored through local 1-cent sales tax revenue in 2004. As a center of history, the facility also houses the Historical Society of Forsyth County and the Col. Hiram Parks Bell Center for Southern History and Genealogical Research. As a performing arts venue, the Cumming Playhouse opened its doors in 2004, providing quality entertainment throughout the season, offering plays, musicals and concerts. In 2012, serving more than 25,000 patrons, the Cumming Playhouse enjoyed its most productive year since its doors opened. Continuing to offer a variety of productions, theater-goers were entertained by shows s u c h a s “ G e o rg i a S e n i o r Follies 2012,” and Gypsy Theatre’s productions of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Deathtrap.” The Company, a production group new to the playhouse, offered the female version of “The Odd Couple.” Returning by audience demand were Playright Production’s “Forever Plaid,” “Smoke on the Mountain” and its sequel, “Sanders Family Christmas.” Interspersed among the

At a glance • To purchase tickets to shows and learn more about the Cumming Playhouse, visit www.playhousecumming.com or call (770)7819178. • Guests can also visit the playhouse and other facilities housed in the historic schoolhouse in person at 101 School St.

plays with multi-week runs were various concerts such as “Capitol City Swing Band,” “Johnny Cash” by Gray Sartin. At Christmastime, the playhouse featured a range of local musical talent in its traditional s h ow s b y t h e S o u n d s o f Sawnee Concert Band, the Cumming Playhouse Singers and the North Georgia Barbershop Singers. “Christmas Classics,” featuring the North Georgia Chamber Symphony, was also popular. The year culminated with a New Year’s weekend of concerts by the popular “Branson on the Road Country Music Traveling Show” from Branson, Mo. A capital improvement at the Playhouse in 2012 was a new red velvet stage curtain, made possible by a grant from the Forsyth County Arts Alliance and Citizens Bank of Forsyth County. “The playhouse is most appreciative for this support and the very fine addition to the playhouse stage,” said Linda Heard, executive director. The playhouse began 2013 in great form, enjoying a sellout audience for “Elvis” by Mark Pitt. I n l a t e J a n u a r y, L i n d a Ledbetter presented “MardiGras/Masquerade,” a wellattended and fun show. In time for Valentine’s Day, t h e m u l t i - aw a r d - w i n n i n g G y p s y T h e a t r e ’s “ S t e e l Magnolias” hit the stage at full speed and is expected to set

File photos

Marsha Hunter, above from left, Cameron Morton and Karen Walsh rehearse a scene from “Steel Magnolias,” which ran in Feburary at the Cumming Playhouse. Left, dancers perform during “Mardis Gras/Masquerade” in late January.

box office records for a nonmusical presentation at the Playhouse. The show runs through March 24 with “Footloose,” produced by Mello-Drama Productions, hot on its heels from April 4-21. Just in time for Mother’s D a y, P i e - I n - T h e S k y Productions, which is new to the playhouse, will present “The Marvelous Wonderettes” May 2-19. The show is a female version of “Forever Plaid,” which features music of the 1950s and ’60s. The “Sound of Music” will hit the stage by way of MelloDrama Productions in the month of June, while Gypsy Theatre returns with “Treasure Island” July 18-Aug. 11. Proceeds will go in part to benefit the Bald Ridge Boys Lodge, a nonprofit facility

boys ages 11-17. The fall will bring various concerts including “The Chuck Wagon Gang,” “Johnny Cash” by Gray Sartin, and “American Swing Canteen” with the Showtime Singers of Atlanta and Buzz Alford’s Swing Band. “Talley’s Folley” will be pres e n t e d b y t h e C o m p a ny Players, another new production company, Oct. 24-Nov. 3. The holiday season follows with a feature presentation of “White Christmas” by BK Productions. Through the month of December, the playhouse will welcome locals in various concerts with some new kids on the block, the “Forsyth Youth Orchestra.” For the grand finale, “The Return,” a Beatles revival band

will be the New Year’s Eve entertainment with two shows. In January 2014, classical guitarists, harpists and violinists Peppino ’D Agostino and Carlos Reyes will perform Jan. 11; and bluegrass band Monroe Crossing will take the stage Jan. 18-19. Heard said she and her staff are appreciative of the support the community shows for the playhouse and its performers every year. “The playhouse sincerely thanks each of you for your support as shown by your attendance and for your help in making the Cumming Playhouse a center for performing arts in Cumming,” she said. “A very special thanks is also extended to the volunteer ushers, who make such a difference in everyone’s experience at the playhouse by their kindness and willingness to help.”

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Big Creek Greenway • Vickery Village • Cumming, GA 1st race starts at 7:30 am

This fast and level course travels down a treecovered pathway along Big Creek, finishing the race in Vickery Village. This is a perfect race to establish your personal best time!

Proceeds provide scholarships for women and children at Abba House trying to get their lives back from addiction and abuse! Contact: Erin Harris, 678-208-2000 ext:104 administrator@abbahouse.com WE LOVE MOMS Run for Recovery, benefitting Abba House • Saturday May 11, 2013 Packet pickup at Totally Running, May 10, 11 am - 6 pm • Beautiful flowers for all finishers. Award to top 3 overall male/female and in every age group • Great post race food, bands, festival for kids, door prizes, and T-shirts. Register online or in person at Totally Running or mail registration to: Run for Recovery, 6800 Dahlonega Hwy., Cumming, GA 30028. Make checks payable to Abba House. Race shirt is only guaranteed to those registered before 5/5/2013. Register online at

www.totallyrunning.com

NAME ADDRESS AGE

Estimated Finish Time

E-MAIL T-shirt Size:

W

 M

XS

Sm

Pre-Registration: 10 Miler: $40, after April 5 $45 5k: $25, After April 5 $30

Med

Lg

Xlg

XXLg

10k: $30, After April 5 $35

Kiddie Run: $10 each child or $30 per family

Release: In consideration of this entry, I waive any and all claims for myself and my heirs against race officials, Abba House, Inc, Totally Running, or any sponsor, for injury or illness that may directly or indirectly result from my participation in this event. I further state that I am in proper physical condition to participate in the event. I hereby grant permission to be photographed for the use of promotion, news, and information.

SIGNATURE Parent or Guardian Signature if under 18

Date


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 11D

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Easter Services April 831 March

8:00, 9:30 & 8:00, & 11:00 11:00 AM AM

Sundays 9:30 AM Worship Live Worship Band

11:00 AM Worship Orchestra & Adult Choir

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Flashlight Egg hunt Kindergarten - 5th grade Friday, March 29th • 8:45 pm Bring your basket & flashlight!

PrEschool Egg hunt

Birth - Pre-K Saturday, March 30th • 10 am Egg hunt, cookie Decorating, Face Painting, Bounce house & More! Bring your own basket!

www.firstbaptistcumming.org


12D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013


March 24, 2013

Progress 2013

Exit

Business E & Industry Government F & Education Exit

Health & G Recreation Exit

Slice of the PIE Partners program thrives with help from businesses large and small By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

and community relations facilitator, heads up the program, through which businesses provide support for schools and the system as a whole. “I think in the true sense of the word ‘partnership,’ that’s exactly what this program File photo is,” she said. “It’s give and take on both sides Partner in Education Evan Profeta with State Farm because really with all that the teachers have to Insurance accepts a Silver Program of the Year award from Superintendent Buster Evans. See PROGRAM | 9E

What's Driving

They say it takes a village to raise a child. According to local educational leaders and businesses, the same philosophy holds true when fostering a strong school system. And perhaps nothing drives that philosophy more than the Forsyth County Schools’ Partners in Education program. Judi Jenkins, the school system’s business

FORSYTH

Inside this section: With growth, comes traffic, 2E

Real estate outlook improves, 8E


2E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Direct from the drivers

Ways differ for handling congestion By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

Forsyth County has many favorable qualities that enhance its appeal to new residents and businesses. But with that population growth has come more cars. And if there can occasionally be a downside to life in Forsyth, it might just be traffic. Forsyth County Sheriff’s Cpl. David Marsh encourages those traveling local roads to stay focused, safe and patient. Doing so can help traffic flow and reduce the possibility of accidents. “We all hate sitting in traffic,” Marsh said, “but speeding, tailgating, trying to beat that red light or passing a line of cars on the shoulder, is not helping and in most cases does not bring you to your destination any faster.” Whether for work or pleasure, some folks often find themselves traveling local roads at peak congestion times. For them, traffic is a way of life. But beyond common sense and courtesy, how do they cope? The Forsyth County News recently visited with a range of residents as they shared their perspectives.

Crystal Ledford Forsyth County News

Stan Cantrell, left, and Bob Euton, who deliver prescriptions for Lakeside Pharmacy, face traffic in Forsyth County daily.

What's Driving

FORSYTH

‘You just have to deal with it’

Euton said. “People don’t pay attention, so you just really have to be on your toes.”

Bob Euton and Stan Cantrell each put about 40,000 miles year on the vehicles they drive Monday-Friday. Luckily, they aren’t theirs. Euton and Cantrell are two of the five-man delivery staff at Lakeside Pharmacy, inside Northside HospitalForsyth. The pharmacy provides free medicine delivery for any prescription customer that wants it. So, Euton and Cantrell, two of several retirees who deliver the prescriptions, spend a lot of their time in the pharmacy’s blue P.T. Cruisers that are vividly marked with the company’s logo and advertise the free service. Cantrell, who’s lived in Forsyth for about 28 years, said he’s seen many changes in the county over the years. “It’s just been tremendous growth and then it kind of slowed down the past couple of years, of course,” he said. “But as far as the driving, the driving hasn’t slowed down, especially in the south side.” Well, if you’re sitting in it during the hours when schools dismiss, it definitely feels slow, Euton said. “Get down on Hwy. 141 when all the schools get out about 4 o’clock and you’ll see some traffic,” he said. School traffic is probably the biggest hindrance of the delivery routes for the drivers. “That’s really an issue for us because we’re in the suburbs and we’re driving through subdivisions,” Cantrell said. “That extends our time probably by an extra hour a day, just waiting on school buses to get through and let the kids off.” But when you’re making more than 30 deliveries a day, you just have to deal with it. “You just have to be a defensive driver and watch out because there are so many people on the roads,”

Traffic back-ups often an issue of timing

Few know the local roads better than Forsyth County’s Dial-A-Ride drivers, who transport people from their homes to shopping and medical visits, as well as other destinations. The service is open to anyone, but nearly all riders call on the vans due to age, disability, legal issues or lack of a car, said Tom Kimbrell, program manager. “For some people in the county, if we don’t take them, they don’t go,” said Kimbrell, noting that the cost for a disabled person could be $250 to take private transportation with a wheelchair lift. The $2-per-trip-service goes anywhere in Forsyth County and to Emory Johns Creek Hospital, just over the county line in north Fulton, Kimbrell said. The five vans travel an average of 150 miles per day, with most trips requested in south Forsyth. The mission is simply to get people from point A to point B, though the logistics can be “a little bit more complex.” Drivers account for traffic to keep their rides on schedule, but Kimbrell said it’s typically not much of an issue. “Often, they’re delayed by incidents beyond their control: accidents, weather, construction or just heavy traffic for no apparent reason,” he said. “In eight years I’ve been here, driving has become more complex. “You have more traffic, more traffic signals — the signals are more complex — and you’ve got more turning movement, more lanes to

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Chuck McBride, driver for Forsyth County’s Dial-A-Ride, inspects a vehicle before setting out for the day.

navigate.” The “usual suspects” for congestion are the larger routes, Hwys. 20, 141, 369 and Ga. 400, said Avery Gravitt, director of fleet services. “These are very heavily traveled state roads,” Gravitt said, “and we have to compensate for that.” A driver of nearly four years, Chuck McBride said traffic is more of a timing issue than a hindrance. “If you’re heading south and we’re

leaving here at 8:15 a.m.,” he said, “we’re going to incur a bunch of traffic at 141 … You have to allow yourself some time for that.” Parking lots can also be a source of congestion, especially at the hospital or — during the holidays — shopping centers. Drivers also keep in contact to let each other know about accidents or See ROADS | 4E

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4E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

FROM 2E

Roads delays, McBride said, and they work with dispatchers to maximize efficiency on routes. That means riders can travel alone or with other passengers, he said, but either way, the drivers hope to make it a fun and enjoyable experience. Residents often have the misconception that the service is just for seniors, but the vans can take anyone around Forsyth on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Defensive driving key safety tactic

Crystal Ledford Forsyth County News

As a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, Mike Brenner spends a good bit of his time on local roads. He’s been with the Cumming Post Office for about seven years and knows his way around the county, especially north Forsyth, which his delivery route covers. “You have a specific path that you take when you’re delivering the mail, but since I also do pickups … I know a lot of shortcuts,” he said. Brenner typically works from about 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. While he’s not driving during what most would consider peak traffic hours, he said it can still get a little hairy. “Well, when you consider schools and that [the main post office is] right across the street from [Forsyth Central High School], that’s high volume traffic,” he said. When he’s out on the road, Brenner said the main thing he likes to do is focus on the driving, something too many people don’t do nowa-

Mike Brenner, U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, spends much of his day on the roads in north Forsyth.

days. “If you see people speeding up and slowing down, and speeding up and slowing down, and weaving, you know they’re not paying attention to what they’re doing,” he said. “To me, that’s the main thing when you’re on Forsyth County roads: just pay attention to your driving and skip all the distractions.” As a mail carrier, Brenner tries to always practices “defensive driving.” “You have to be very careful,” he said. “You have to watch out for people in crosswalks, you have to watch out for people backing out of driveways that are not looking and watch your speed all the time. “Especially when you’re delivering mail, you have to watch out for kids all the time. You just have to be defensive all the time, because you don’t know what the other person’s going to do.”

Parents face daily shuffle

Kathy Noble has spent a lot of time driving to and from school. With three sons, Noble has spent countless days sitting in traffic, as well as waking up before 6 a.m. to take her boys to sports practices. “It could get very crazy,” she said. “There are days where all three go to school in three different modes of transportation.” Noble’s sons have all reached Lambert High School, but it hasn’t been long since she would have to shuttle between South Forsyth Middle and Lambert to get her kids to the right places by the right times. “I’ve been to the school several times a day. I have been to two schools several times a day,” she said. “And for the high school, it’s been backed up almost to the corner of Windermere and Old Atlanta.

Officials discourage distracted driving Issue contributes to woes on road

Whether stuck in traffic or cruising along an open road, authorities are reminding drivers to pay attention behind the wheel. “Distracted driving is a contributing factor in an ever-increasing number of crashes,” said Forsyth County Sheriff’s Cpl. David Marsh. Paying attention on the road means more than refraining from texting while driving, according to Marsh, though that is the top cause of wrecks caused by distracted drivers. “Distracted driving can also include eating, changing the radio, applying makeup, operating a GPS, or reaching into the backseat to pick up a toy dropped by the toddler,” he said. “Please pay attention to the road and the vehicles around you and always be on the lookout for motorcycles.” March also said that the simple task

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of putting on a seat belt is “the easiest and most effective way to help prevent serious injuries” in a wreck. Sometimes, accidents happen. If so, he reminds those involved to call 911 and identify the location. If it’s possible, safely remove the vehicle from the road and begin gathering paperwork for sheriff’s deputies. A driver’s license, insurance information, vehicle information, and passenger’s information will all be necessary for the accident report. Marsh said the sheriff’s office recently transferred more deputies into the uniform patrol division. The move allows for more deputies answering calls and enforcing traffic. “The sheriff’s office is committed to the safety and well-being of everyone on the road and will continue to educate drivers and enforce the laws so that we can all benefit from the overall decrease in the number of crashes in Forsyth County,” he said. — Alyssa LaRenzie

“It could take up to 15 minutes to get from one light to the next on Old Atlanta. You can round that corner and still sit all the way, bumper-to-bumper, from Nichols Road. And in the afternoon it’s the opposite.” Noble said she’s a firm believer in using school buses. But with all of her kids in different activities, that wasn’t always a possibility. While two of her children are now driving, she remembers having to sit in the traffic line at their schools — not to pick them up, but to drop off

their equipment. “A lot of kids who play sports — such as tennis, baseball, lacrosse — there’s nowhere for them to store their equipment during the day because their lockers aren’t big enough,” she said. “So I had to drive up there every day before practice and meet them after school to give them their equipment.” Noble said she’s grateful for the school system’s shifted schedule, without which, she would never have been able to be on time for her boys. Todd Shirley, the district’s director of school safety and student discipline, said the staggered schedule — where elementary, middle and high schools start at different times — allows parents who choose to drop off their children to do so with plenty of time to get from one school to another. “Staggered times for each of our campuses is also really a particular help for campuses like North Forsyth High School, where you’ve also got North Middle and Coal Mountain Elementary sitting there essentially on the same campus,” Shirley said. According to Shirley, the system is also conscious of its bus schedule, both in spreading them out along major corridors such as Hwy. 369 and

maximizing route efficiency. For parents waiting in lines, it’s a constant balancing act. “On campus, they’re constantly working on trying to maximize the flow on and off the campus to make it as convenient for parents as we possibly can,” he said. “It may be a line for safety, but we try to keep convenience in mind as well.” Shirley said the newer schools are designed better than some older campuses in terms of traffic flow. Others have started using additional entrances over the years to spread the access. “We do the best we can. We know it’s not perfect,” Shirley said. “But like we say, we’ve always got the option of a bus.” It’s an option used often by Stacey Stephens, who has two sons at Daves Creek Elementary and a daughter at South Middle. “Some mornings they ride the bus and other mornings I take them,” she said. “It just depends on how our mornings go, how tired they are, if they got their homework done, if I have a meeting at school. “In two years, I’ll have all three in [different] schools and all three will be taking the bus.” Staff writers Crystal Ledford and Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.

Jim Dean Forsyth County News

A Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy directs traffic at the entrance to Lambert High. Traffic has been known to back up around the school.

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 5E

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Many highlights in 2012 for chamber Organization helps facilitate progress By Linda Cole

For the Forsyth County News

In the past year the CummingForsyth County Chamber of Commerce has gained 200 new members and 17 new Chairman’s Cabinet members. Forsyth County’s unemployment rate has decreased to 6.4 percent and new single family housing permits have increased by 66 percent over 2011 figures. Eighteen new and existing companies created 762 new jobs and invested $7.1 million dollars in new capital in 2012. Outside of the books, it is the chamber’s mission to be the voice of business, provide leadership, information and solutions to foster a strong economic environment and a superior quality of life in Cumming/Forsyth County. This is reached by focusing on various aspects that affect both

the community’s business structure and quality of life. The chamber holds several events weekly, monthly and annually to promote networking. Those include Member Power Networking Lunches, Business After Hours and Economic Development events. In August, the Small Business Services Center held the largest Business Expo in chamber history with more than 1,000 attendees. This expo also included a working lunch aspect with a keynote speaker. In 2012, the SBSC assisted 222 small businesses by providing classes, roundtable discussions, business coaching and mentoring. Another exciting accomplishment of the chamber in 2012 was the introduction of the Principal for a Day program. Twenty-seven business and community leaders spent a day

It is the sole economic development entity in the community. Its partnership with the city of Cumming, Forsyth County Cole and the Forsyth County school system makes it a strong player on the global stage. The chamber acts as an avenue to channel the incredible collective resources of great business people to create economic opportunity for everyone. That opportunity is what makes this community remarkable and sets it apart from so many places around the world. In the coming year, the chamber plans to expand the reach of its economic development efforts and provide additional support to the fastest growing industry in the community: health care. With the economy in a steady upward turn, now is the time to seize the opportunities that recov-

shadowing a Forsyth County school principal. The inaugural edition of this program was the catalyst to strengthen business to education relationships within the community. The chamber’s director of tourism attended four tradeshows this year to promote venues in Cumming and Forsyth County to different organizations that bring various tournaments and festivals. From these tradeshows, more than 30 new leads were secured, including several sporting tournaments and other events. With these events comes hotel room reservations and in 2012 alone the chamber secured some 6,000 hotel room nights through these events. Economies are built upon relationship and leadership. The chamber plays an integral part in facilitating those relationships and fostering strong leaders.

About Founded in 1952, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce is the community’s leading advocate and champion for business. Its primary objective is to create a climate of growth and success in our community. By leveraging the support, talent and resources of its members, the chamber is one of the leading organizations helping to improve the economic vitality and quality of life for everyone in the community. For more information, contact the chamber at (770) 8876461.

ery will bring. Linda Cole is chairman of the board of directors for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

Outlook optimistic for banks in Forsyth County By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

The banking business in Forsyth County experienced a solid 2012 and officials are optimistic that trend will continue this year.

Citizens Bank of Forsyth County

President Tim Perry said 2012 was “the best year we’ve ever had as far as net income.” “We had a banner year,” he said. “And we’re looking forward to having another one in 2013.” Perry said the bank made $100,000 more this year than its previous record year, 2007. But he’s facing the future with “guarded optimism.” “I’m looking forward to the future, but I think we need to remember the past,” he said. “What we will see, in my opinion, is a slow improvement over the next few years.”

While Forsyth banks have not taken the hit as others in the state, the economy has taken a toll on a handful of banks in the county, Perry said. Those that remain, including Citizens, have weathered the storm. “The remaining banks, I think, are strong,” he said. “They’re well-capitalized and I certainly think the banks that are left here are well-managed and have a large market presence. I think the outlook is bright for banks.”

Alliance National Bank

It was February 2012 when the bank’s Forsyth County branch opened and since then, it has “continued to grow in both loans and deposits,” said Andrew Walker Jr., marketing president. “We’re looking forward to a good 2013,” Walker said. “2012 was a very good year for us.” He attributed much of the bank’s success to the 2010 advisory board, comprised of business and professional leaders

in the community. “They have been our link between us and the community,” he said. “And our location on 100 Colony Park Drive has turned out to be very convenient for customers. “It’s been very steady for us and we’ve been very, very happy with the result.” The Dalton-based bank is a full-service bank and Walker said Forsyth has been a great place to do business so far. “Forsyth County has always been a great place for community banks,” he said. “Forsyth has always done well and continued to grow during this recession, so I think we’ll see continued improvement.”

Fidelity Bank

It’s been nearly a year since Fidelity Bank opened its first location in Forsyth County. Sue Cole, senior vice president of marketing, said she’s excited with “the response we’ve received from the community.”

“The bank branch is right on track with the rest of our branches,” she said. “We are thrilled to be here … we love the area and love what it’s done for us.” Despite having more than 30 bank branches, in addition to about a dozen mortgage lending offices, Cole said Fidelity is most in line with the definition of a community bank. “We live by the golden rule — customer service is what we exist on. If it wasn’t for service, I don’t think we’d be here,” she said. “People want to bank with a bank that wants them as a customer.” The bank contributed to the company’s stellar year in 2012. In its fourth quarter statement for 2012, Fidelity Chairman Jim Miller said it was a record year, which included improvement. “The year 2013 offers continued opportunities to grow, operate more efficiently and improve our credit costs as the company improves.” Staff writer Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.

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6E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Sawnee EMC to mark 75th anniversary Remains committed to members

For the Forsyth County News

With one stroke of his pen and a unique vision for our country’s recovery from the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing the Rural Electrification Administration in 1935. As part of his “New Deal”, the plan provided low-interest l o a n s t o groups of rural Americans who wanted to form local electric companies called “cooperatives.” These cooperatives had one purpose — to get much-needed electricity to the unserved rural farming areas where other “for profit” utilities had refused to extend service at that time. A few years later, on July 16, 1938, a few local visionaries successfully incorporated the Forsyth County Electric Membership Corporation in Cumming. It was one of the first EMCs in the state. Then on June 22, 1939, the first switch was thrown to energize 168 miles of power line and about 750 homes in Forsyth and portions of three other neighboring counties received electric power for the first time. By December 1940, the service area had grown to more than 1,500 members. In August 1950, the members unanimously voted to change the name of the Cooperative to Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation. The name “Sawnee” was chosen because of the close proximity to beautiful Sawnee Mountain in Cumming. On July 16, Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation will celebrate its 75th anniversary. For 75 years, Sawnee’s mission to provide reliable electric service at affordable rates has never wavered. Sawnee exists “to serve the changing needs of members by

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enhancing the quality of life through active support of community developments and identifying and serving the member’s energy needs.” The Sawnee EMC board of directors and staff will continue to remember their heritage and perform under the best sense of cooperative values and beliefs. Thank you for allowing Sawnee EMC to serve your electric needs.

My how things have changed …

Sawnee EMC, a not-for-profit electric cooperative, now provides electricity to more than 155,000 accounts through its seven-county service territory. Sawnee is the ninth-largest cooperative in the nation and maintains more than 10,000 miles of distribution line. Each day, Sawnee EMC staff members field about 1,500 phone calls and Sawnee’s control center is staffed and in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sawnee EMC has now fully deployed its new Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or AMI, system.

Contact Sawnee EMC at (770) 887-2363 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The e-mail address for general inquiries is customerservice@sawnee. com and the corporate Web site is www.sawnee.com. The mailing address is P.O. Box 266, Cumming, GA 30028.

This modern, two-way meterreading system, uses a series of towers and collectors to monitor and read Sawnee’s electric meters. The 150,000 AMI meters give Sawnee members the ability to view their detailed energy usage to better assist them in managing and evaluating their monthly electric use. This innovative system also provides many other cost-saving benefits to the members. As outlined by the Georgia Legislature in 1973 by the Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act, Sawnee EMC serves parts of seven counties including Forsyth, Cherokee, Dawson, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall and Lumpkin. Members can take advantage of many Sawnee EMC services at its corporate Web site, www.sawnee. com. Tasks such as paying bills

online, starting and stopping service, free energy evaluations, and much more, can be done on the Web site. Members can also learn about free services and rebates offered by Sawnee, as well as education programs for youth, Operation Round Up, and Green Power EMC. There is also an app for your smart device. Sawnee EMC also offers natural gas.

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Sawnee EMC offers many products and services to help members save electricity and money: • Natural gas • In-home energy audits (free to members) • Energy efficiency tips published in a monthly newsletter • Energy saver books free upon request • Free, do-it-yourself energy conservation videos and DVDs • Clean, environmentally friendly, green power • Energy-saving load management switches • Rebates and incentives to make homes and businesses energy efficient • Sawnee Foundation Youth Scholarship Program • Washington DC Youth Tour Source: Sawnee EMC

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 7E

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

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8E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Market sees improvement

Low inventory, construction of new homes key indicators By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

Forsyth County continues to see improvement in its real estate market. Tim Hopkins, an officer with the 400 North Board of Realtors who works for Keller Williams, said the local market is showing steady improvement in several areas. Among them is number of sales of single family detached homes, which he said has increased by 11 percent since this time last year, going from 2,216 to 2,461. In addition, inventory is down by nearly 16 percent compared to a year, falling from 1,429 homes in 2011 to

1,214 in 2012. Hopkins also noted stabilization in median sales price and distressed sales. “We’ve actually seen a modest 5 percent increase, going from $220,000 last year to $232,000 in 2012,” he said. “The percentage of distressed sales, foreclosures and short sales, has decreased slightly, but there are now more short sales than foreclosures.” But perhaps the most encouraging news for the Forsyth housing market, he noted, is in the area of new construction. “Unquestionably the biggest story in our local real estate market is the resurgence of new construction, predominantly in south Forsyth below [Ga.] Hwy. 20,” he said. “Virtually all the developed lots have been bought up by builders.” According to Hopkins, most developers aren’t building “inventory homes,” but rather “pre-sales.” “Those are not recorded in our MLS system, so this means the 11 percent increase in sales is understated,” he said. Hopkins also noted there have been

1,809 single family home permits issued in the county through October. All this is good news for Keller Williams real estate agents Gail Milford and her son, Corey, who form the Milford Team. Gail Milford said from April to November in particular she’s noticed stabilization in the local market. “We’ve not seen any drop in prices at all and the inventory in Forsyth County is now so low that if anybody has thought about selling their house within the last four to five years, they need to do it now,” she said. “It’s like if it’s listed and it’s appraised to sell, it’s going to sell.” Corey Milford added that inventory levels are the lowest they’ve been in several years. “We’ve only got five months total inventory for the whole county for all price ranges and we used to carry 15 to 20 months’ worth of inventory,” he said. “Anything below $300,000, if it’s priced right and in good condition, it’s gone typically within the first week on the market.”

As for its neighbors, the Milfords said Forsyth “wipes other counties off the map.” “Dawson doesn’t even register. Once you put something on the market in Dawson County, even if it’s priced right, it just sits on the market,” Corey Milford said. “Hall County is about the same. It’s got some spots that move, but it’s probably got 20 months of inventory and Dawson County has probably 30 months of inventory.” He said northern Fulton County is “the most comparable” to Forsyth. “They’ve got seven months of inventory and we’ve got five,” he said. The Milfords said attributes such as high quality schools and low crime rates continue to be a draw for Forsyth. “The most things we find is people with children in schools and then the convenience of having Ga. [Hwy.] 400, having the Avenue [Forsyth shopping mall], having basically anything you want within 15 minutes,” said Gail Milford, also noting the county’s “lower taxes … and low crime rates.”

Jobless rate lowest in region By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

Forsyth has the lowest unemployment rate among counties included in the North Georgia Mountains Regional Commission. According to December 2012 figures from the commission, which includes 12 counties in northeast Georgia, Forsyth’s unemployment rate was 6.5 percent. The next closest rate was in Banks County, where it was 6.6 percent. Forsyth’s neighbor to the east, Hall County, posted a rate of 6.9 percent, while to the north, Dawson, came in at 7.7 percent.

Other counties in the region saw unemployment rates ranging from 7.2 percent in Union up to 12.5 percent in Rabun, which was the region’s highest. Pete Amos, chairman of the Forsyth County commission, attributed the county’s low jobless rate to a number of factors. “We’ve got great roads, great schools, great parks and that all leads to having jobs for people,” he said. “Our residential building permits are going up every year and people want to move here. “That just relates to more jobs here, so we’re just the county to be in right now.” James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of

Commerce, added that the county has seen a number of projects in recent years that have helped maintain a low unemployment rate. “We had about 17 new announcements of expansions or new companies relocating here [in 2012],” he said. “Right around 1,000 new jobs were announced [last] year. And when you look at the past two or three years, we’ve had some important announcements.” M c C oy a l s o n o t e d t h e employability of the population. “It’s a very employable community in terms of education levels, skills levels, and we are very fortunate that the folks who live here are very employ-

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able,” he said. “It’s more than just college degrees. It’s that they are highly skilled maybe in a particular area that is doing well right now. Lots of engineers, lots of folks in health care — they’re employable markets — so therefore [residents are] able to take advantage of a lot of opportunities, not just in our community but in others.” Amos also gave credit to county residents cooperating to ensure stability. “It’s just a combination of [groups working together],” he said. “Our county had a downturn like everybody else, but now it’s on the rebound and we were set for the rebound due to the chamber of commerce work-

ing very hard, and the [Forsyth County] development authority and just all the good staff we have at the Forsyth County Administration Building. “Everybody’s worked hard for this county.” While there’s much to be proud of, McCoy said there’s always room for improvement. “We have a lot more work to do as a community to focus on new capital investment from businesses here, new job growth from businesses here,” he said. “Really, our goal should be if someone needs a job and wants a job, that we live in a community that a job is available. “We’re not quite there yet and we’ve got to keep our eye on that ball.”


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 9E

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Lunch celebrates small businesses Steve Bloom, honored for his work mentoring small businesses, speaks during the 2013 Business Awards Luncheon.

By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

The namesake of an award was the first to receive it last month during the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Business Awards Luncheon. Steve Bloom, an entrepreneur who has mentored more than 20 small businesses through the chamber’s SCORE Roundtable program in recent years, received the honor in front of a group of about 125 at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center. Previously known as the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and prior to that as the Business

File photo

Want to help?

FROM 1E

Program do, without the help of the businesses and the community, it would be much harder for teachers to do their jobs.” Bruce Longmore, owner of Lenny’s Sub Shop on Market Place Boulevard, has been actively involved in the Partners in Education program for several years. He said the benefits of the program go both ways. “When they say Partners in Education, they mean it because they want to help out any way they can and any way we can help them, we do,” Longmore said. “So it truly is a partnership and that’s a good word for it.” Longmore supports a wide range of school programs, including about 20 sports teams at the high school and middle school levels and systemwide groups, such as the superintendent’s advisory panels. He also backs several Parent Teacher

Leader of the Year, the award now chamber’s Small Business Services carries Bloom’s name. Center, said an awards advisory Bloom, who was also the event’s committee unanimously voted to main speaker, said he was sur- name the award after Bloom, who prised. has owned and operated a number “If tears in one’s eyes would val- of business ventures throughout his idate what it was [a surprise], yeah, life. I did not expect this at all,” he said. “[They] looked at that award and Bloom said he hopes others will really knew that we needed … “pay it forward” and continue to somebody that represented that help one another as business own- type of award and it didn’t take ers. long for the council to come to a “I’ve seen the good, the bad and conclusion as to who that individuthe ugly and I have as much fun if al was,” Mock said. “He just really not more doing what I’m doing models his work behind what he with these folks because, believe it preaches and his ethics of entrepreor not, I learn as much from them neurship and trying to grow busias maybe they do from the pointers ness and helping businesses out. I throw out,” he said. Jason Mock, director of the See HONORS | 10E

Associations throughout the system, and has served as a judge for many business-related competitions at different schools. He said he would advise any business in the community to get involved with the program because there are so many benefits for both parties. “If we feed a bunch of people for free, then they know about us and they’ll hopefully come and help us grow our business,” he said. “And then also the school system is the largest employer in the county so they are a large consumer of products and services. “And probably the most important thing is the school system is the feeder for our future employees, so anything we can do to help is a great thing.” Jenkins said Partners in Education, or PIE, as it is often referred to,

A Hansgrohe Inc. representative accepts a Gold Program of the Year award from Superintendent Buster Evans, left, during the Celebration of Excellence in February.

To get involved with the Forsyth County Schools’ Partners in Education program, contact Judi Jenkins at (770) 887-2461 or jjenkins@forsyth.k12.ga.us.

sees all sorts of support, ranging from adult mentors who work one-onone with students and parents who volunteer at their children’s schools, to businesses both large and small contributing time, money and other resources. And no contribution, no matter the type or size, goes unappreciated. “For example, if a parent owns a small printing company, that business might want to be a partner at their child’s school and their resources will allow them to do that,” Jenkins said. “But then on a county level with a business — like let’s say Northside Hospital-Forsyth, which is much bigger and has many resources — they can partner with all of

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our schools and our system as a whole. “Everybody’s a partner and they’re all equally valuable. All of their actions are worth their weight in gold.” She said partners provide services such as scholarships and monetary donations to medical supplies for school clinics. “Then we have partners that may, during testing, buy a healthy snack for the kids or give them pencils to take the test,” she said. “But all of those things add up, whether it’s pencils or doughnuts for teachers or whatever it is because it

all ultimately is for kids and teachers.” It definitely does add up. Jenkins said she keeps track of all partner donations and even those that are in-kind or involve time are assigned a monetary value. “About $1.5 million each year comes back in some way, whether it’s actual financial donations or in labor or time,” she said. “So every little bit really does help.” Currently, there are about 975 active Partners in Education throughout the system, including those at individual schools and for the

school system as a whole. But no matter the contribution, they all ultimately help teachers and kids, Jenkins said. “I don’t think that the school system can successfully support the kids without the support of the community … and if kids are happy, teachers are happy. And if teachers are happy, kids are happy. “I think everybody does a better job when they are happy and they have a positive outlook, and our partners really support efforts that do that.”

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10E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Community reflects on 2012 Charles Welch award presented to Sorrells By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

A former longtime court official received the highest community service award during the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner Celebration in November. Doug Sorrells received the 2 0 1 2 C h a r l e s F. We l c h Citizenship Award before a crowd of about 500 at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center. Forsyth County Probate Court Judge Lynwood “Woody” Jordan Jr. made the presentation. The annual honor recognizes someone who has dedicated much of his or her life to serving the county. It is given in memory of Welch, a former Cumming councilman and Forsyth commissioner. Sorrells, a lifelong county resident, served as clerk of court from 1996 to 2008, as well as spending about six years as the chairman of

FROM 9E

Honors “He’s been very instrumental in helping a lot of businesses in our community.” Besides the Steve Bloom Award, several small businesses were honored during the luncheon. Awards went to the top businesses with fewer than 10 employees, 11 to 25 employees, 26 to 50, and more than 50. JTECH Networks was honored with the award for fewer than 10 employees, while Cumming Dance Academy took home the 11 to 25 category.

the board of tax assessors. He also served as one of the members of Forsyth County’s first civil service board. Throughout his life, he has served the community through a number of civic clubs and organizations such as Rotary, the Republican Party and the Masonic Association. “Seldom does one have the opportunity to participate in the public recognition of a friend and colleague who is so outstandingly deserving of an award such as this,” Jordan said. “Doug is the model of that citizenship that makes our community such a unique place.” Sorrells was surprised and honored to receive the award. “I knew Charles Welch most all of my life and he was a great role model for all of us,” he said. “I like to be involved with my fraternal orders and with my Rotary [Club] and most of all with my church, and I just want to say this is such an honor to be selected Anchor Home Mortgage received the 26 to 50 employee award, and the honor for the 50-plus employees division went to Billy Howell Ford. Awards also were presented to Algae Energy, which was named the top new business of the year, and Trox USA, for international business of the year. Scientific Games received the Heritage Award, which goes to a business that has been active in Forsyth County for at least 20 years. Republican U.S. Reps. Rob Woodall and Doug Collins also briefly addressed the group, praising members for their efforts as business owners. “If [other federal leaders]

to receive the Charles Welch Award from all of the people that could have been chosen.” Also during the meeting, outgoing chamber chairman David Seago discussed some of the organization’s accomplishments over the past year. Seago said the chamber added some 200 new members in 2012 and handled several economic development projects. Those included seven in the international business arena, which generated 250 new jobs and $9 million in capital investment. In total, he said the chamber has worked with a total of 16 new and existing companies to create some 750 jobs and $67 million in capital investment. Among those, he said, is IUS Technologies, a Korean-based technology firm, which recently selected Forsyth as the site of its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing site. Seago said the company, which specializes in product development and system integration for electric utility markets, is expected to generate up to 150 jobs over the next five years and invest some $2.8 million. Another addition is Algae Energy, a biofuels company

which brought its U.S. headquarters to Forsyth in 2011. This year it expanded its facility to accommodate new laboratories and an assembly plant, which Seago said could generate some 50 jobs and $2 million in capital investments. Seago also praised the chamber’s staff, including Jason Mock, director of the Small Business Services Center, which assisted more than 220 businesses in 2012. He also complimented Anna Barlow, who came aboard in 2011 as the director of tourism. Seago said she has worked more than 30 leads resulting in more than 6,000 hotel room nights in 2012. Incoming board chairwoman

Linda Cole said 2013 would be “the year of opportunity” for the chamber and community. She said plans include adding a new project manager for economic development and a new staff member to focus on the Forsyth County Health Association. In addition, Cole said efforts would be made to take advantage of local parks and recreation facilities to bring in more amateur sporting events. “Opportunity is what makes Cumming and Forsyth County so remarkable and sets us apart from so many places in the world,” Cole said. “I ask you to join me in making 2013 the year of realized opportunities.”

• Steve Bloom Award — Steve Bloom • New Business of the Year — Algae Energy • Heritage Award — Scientific Games • International Business of the Year — Trox USA • Small Business of the Year, more than 50 employees — Billy Howell Ford • Small Business of the Year, 26 to 50 employees — Anchor Home Mortgage • Small Business of the Year, 11 to 25 employees — Cumming Dance Academy • Small Business of the Year, fewer than 10 employees — JTECH Networks Source: Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce

came from the kinds of communities that Doug and I come from — communities like this one that celebrate entrepreneurs, that celebrate risk taking, that celebrate

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 11E

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12E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

AMERICAN PROTEINS STARTED MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS AGO WHEN LELAND BAGWELL BEGAN OPERATING A SMALL RENDERING PLANT IN NORTHEAST FORSYTH COUNTY. AT THAT TIME THE POULTRY INDUSTRY WAS JUST GETTING STARTED IN NORTH GEORGIA, AND THE BY-PRODUCTS FROM THE PROCESSING PLANTS HAD TO BE HAULED AWAY AND BURIED. AS A VISIONARY, MR. BAGWELL SAW A NEED AND WAS DETERMINED TO FILL IT. HE RECOGNIZED THE NEED TO RECYCLE BY-PRODUCTS GENERATED BY THE INTEGRATED POULTRY INDUSTRY. TODAY HIS VISION, AMERICAN PROTEINS, IS VERY MUCH ALIVE AND AN ESTABLISHED, INTEGRAL PART OF THE MODERN POULTRY INDUSTRY. THE COMPANY HAS GROWN FROM A SMALL, SINGLE PLANT OPERATION TO THE WORLD’S LARGEST INDEPENDENT POULTRY RENDERER WITH 12 DIVISIONS IN 4 STATES. CURRENTLY, AMERICAN PROTEINS RECYCLES OVER 4 BILLION POUNDS OF INEDIBLE POULTRY EACH YEAR USING THE MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY SECURE METHODS AVAILABLE. WITHOUT THIS RECYCLING PROCESS, THE REMAINS OF OVER 34 MILLION CHICKENS PER WEEK WOULD BE BURIED IN LANDFILLS, CONSUMING SIX ACRES A DAY.

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Hometown helpers

Veteran workers witness to change By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

Henderson began fresh out of Forsyth County High School as an administrator with the planning department in 1985. “I just started here and I never wanted to go anywhere else,” she said. That retention of familiar faces isn’t uncommon in the county, which has 26 employees who have more than 25 years on the job and nearly 400

What's Driving

Regardless of whether the employees call Forsyth home, the county feels like one for those who have grown along with it. For 27 years, Cindy Henderson has watched the population boom as she connected the local government with its residents. Now deputy clerk to the county commission,

FORSYTH

See WORKERS | 2F

Alyssa LaRenzie Forsyth County News

Cindy Henderson, deputy clerk to the Forsyth commission, has worked for the county for 27 years.

Inside this section: New jail, courthouse begin to take shape, 2F

Students embrace more choices, 8F


2F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Work has begun on courthouse site By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

Downtown Cumming is undergoing a transformation as work on two government projects has begun. Forsyth County has outgrown the existing courthouse and jail, both constructed in the 1970s, and new facilities are on the way. The projects were approved by voters in November 2011 as part of an extension of the special purpose local option sales tax, or

SPLOST VII, which includes about $100 million for the facilities. Demolition of office buildings and the existing parking deck wrapped up in March. The structures were removed to make way for the new courthouse, which will be built across the street from the existing one. Temporary parking locations have been mapped out in town for use until two new parking decks are built along with the jail and courthouse. Work on both buildings and

decks is expected to start in July and finish at the end of 2014. Designs for the five-story courthouse and three-story jail with a basement received county commissioner approval in early March. In the courthouse, the first floor will include a jury assembly room, clerk of court office and public space. The second floor will be used by prosecutorial functions, the solicitor, grand jury and district attorney, as well as victims’ assistance.

Just half of the fourth floor will be built out and that space will be designated for the State Court and support staff. The fifth floor will house four courtrooms for Superior Court use. The existing courthouse will be renovated and used for offices and providing space for courts not currently housed there. Plans call for the new courthouse to be attached to the jail by a bridge over East Maple Street for safe transport of inmates. Officials have said the jail

design will improve efficiency and security while increasing the inmate capacity, which is intended to reduce the costs of housing inmates out to other detention centers. The new jail would also have holding cells, space for a clinic and psychological counseling, as well as several recreational yards, six maximum security units, a staff gym and training areas. Female and male cell units would be kept separate, with no visibility between them.

New campus comes alive in Cumming

Pace, popularity of UNG site top officials’ hopes By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

In 2012, Cumming welcomed its first college campus. University Center | GA 400 opened its doors in August and the first students for the fall 2012 semester. When it opened, the campus was a joint venture between Gainesville College and North Georgia College and State University. However, those two colleges merged in January, after Georgia Board of Regents’ approval in 2012, to form the new University of North Georgia. Sherman Day, director of the Cumming campus, during a

ceremony in January to celebrate the merged university, said it provides students with greater opportunities. “The sky’s the limit for what we’re doing here,” he said. “The merger is going to offer many more opportunities for degrees and programs and educational opportunities of a professional nature.” During its first and second semesters, Day said the 38,000-square-foot campus has had about 500 students. Initial estimates projected the campus would have about 200 students. The students represent a wide range of backgrounds, from high school students involved in the local public school system’s duel enrollment program and traditional undergraduate students to professionals working on their MBAs and retirees in continuing education courses. Day said the center is serving about 500 students, but that number likely will increase at

the close of the spring semester. “Our applications are increasing and we expect to have more than that in the fall, as well as a very healthy summer schedule,” he said. “We think things are progressing very nicely.” The facility, on Aquatic Circle off Pilgrim Mill Road and near Ga. 400 Exit 16, was a $7 million project, with $3 million of the funding coming from the Board of Regents. The city of Cumming provided $4 million, which will be paid back over the course of a 10-year period. City leaders also deeded 25 acres for the campus, only about 5 of which are currently being used. The facility features eight classrooms on the first floor, as well as several others on the second floor. Besides classroom space, the campus also boasts a large “learning center,” or library area, and a multi-purpose room

that can be used by the community. There’s also a “food pod” area, which sells items likes sandwiches and salads to students, and a front desk that is used as a one-stop shop for students if they have any questions about the campus. The campus opened with a 100-space parking lot; however, it was quickly evident that needed to be increased, Day said. “With an expected enrollment of 200 and an actual enrollment of 500, we knew we needed more spots,” he said when the campus opened. Recently, the campus added a secondary parking lot with another 100 spaces. Since students are on campus as various times from about 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., the additional lot provided some relief. Day said one of things he’s been most pleased with since the campus opened has been the community’s response.

“We’ve had nothing but great support from every aspect of this community,” he said. “One of the things that should be highlighted is the way the community is using the facility.” He said the multipurpose room is popular with numerous civic groups and other organizations, and also is used to present events such as the University of North Georgia’s Great Decisions lecture series and the Forsyth County school system’s STAR Student banquet. Between student enrollment, community support and the physical facilities themselves, Day said campus’ success has surpassed any preconceived notions he had before it opened. “Frankly, it has exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I thought it would be fine. I thought it would be good. But I thought it would go much slower than it has.”

FROM 1F

Workers with more than 10 years of service. The front-line folks of Forsyth have worked with the public for years and have a special type of knowledge that helps drive customer service in the county. “We just kind of know how things used to be,” Henderson said. “You’ve got that history there and you’ve just kind of grown with the county.” If she doesn’t know who someone needs to talk with, Henderson at least can point them in the right direction since she understands the ins and outs of the county’s organizational structure. Ronnie Grizzle, a water department rightof-way coordinator, said he gets calls from people asking all sorts of questions just because they know him. “I’ve been here for so long, they’ll say, ‘Hey Ronnie, do you know anything about this?’” Grizzle said. “When you’ve been around here a long time, it’s just knowledge that you have. I’ll say, ‘Look over here, and that’s a good place to start.’” Grizzle is nearing 26 years with the county in two positions. He started in 1987 at the countyowned landfill on Old Federal Road. When it closed, he transferred to his current job. “It’s been a lot of changes,” he said. “But my time with the county has been great.” The county had three “base stations” for operations when he began: one at the landfill, another at public works and a third at the courthouses. In 1993, the county had 253 full-time employees, compared to the current level of more than 1,100. The number of services and employees have grown to match the population, though that feel of community with the other county workers hasn’t. “You’ve just got a big-

Photos by Alyssa LaRenzie Forsyth County News

Those who have served in county government for at least 25 years include Alisa Garner of the engineering department, above left, Wendy Frazier of the parks and rec department, above right, and Ronnie Grizzle with the water department, below.

ger spectrum than you did in 1987,” Grizzle said. Alisa Garner said the friendly and family-oriented attitudes in Forsyth County translate to the workplace, which is part of what’s kept her in the job for nearly 27 years. “They’re all absolutely above the standard of management to work for because they’re absolutely respectful and appreciative, and they’re also compassionate and thoughtful as to our family,” Garner said. “The majority of the people that work for Forsyth County, the atmosphere is awesome, and everybody gets along.” Like Grizzle, Garner transferred from one department to another, starting in property evaluation and moving to the engineering department, where she works as a right-of-way assistant. In her job, she often must negotiate easements with residents, which can be a tough change for them. “They still, when you treat them respectfully and understand them, they see that and then they try … to work with you too,” Garner said. “Even though we’re not country country, it’s a hometown country feel.” She’s seen the roads go from dirt to pavement during her time in Forsyth, and she’s

impressed at how the county maintains what it has. Wendy Frazier has seen that same commitment in her current department of parks and recreation. When she started with the county in 1987, Forsyth had two parks — Midway and Bennett. “Now we have 17-plus parks,” Frazier said. “We take pride in maintaining the parks. We get comments all the time from visitors from other counties saying how much better our parks are.” Frazier first started with the county’s public works department, moving from a job in Chamblee so she could be closer to home once she became a mother. She joked that she’s now “the mama of the whole department” in her role as the senior administrative assistant. Like some of the other long-term county employees, Frazier has since moved out of Forsyth. Garner moved north during her time working at the county, and Grizzle never called Forsyth his place of residence, though he has a connection here between his work and his church membership. Henderson has stayed in Forsyth, watching her kids play at the parks and seeing the public become more involved as the

population and access to government grew. That pride in the county and those connections for all translates into “good customer service,” she said, and the time the employees have dedicated is a benefit. “I would like to think after someone’s been here for more than 25 years they’re a pretty dependable person,” she said. “We have great staff.”

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4F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

State Legislative Delegation State Sen. Jack Murphy R, District 27

Sen. Jack Murphy was elected to the state Senate in 2006. He previously served two terms in the state House of Representatives. He serves Senate District 27, which covers all of Forsyth County with the exception of a small northeastern corner. Murphy serves on the Senate Appropriations, Public Safety and Rules committees. He is chairman of the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. Murphy worked in the pest control industry for many years before embarking on his political endeavors. He worked for the Rollins/Orkin division for 19 years and later established his own company, Radar, which was based in Forsyth County and operated in four states. He sold Radar in 1997. Since then, Murphy has been involved with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce for a number of years and served as its chairman in 2001. He was also the owner of Lanier Athletic Center, which closed in 2009. Murphy has six adult children: Matt, Steve, Julie Ellington, David Potter, Brian Potter and Brian Murphy. He and his wife, Linda, live in Cumming. Murphy’s Capitol address is Coverdell Legislative Office Building Room 325-A, 18 Capitol Square, Atlanta, GA 30334. He can be reached by calling his office at the Capitol (404) 656-7127 or home number (770) 781-9319.

State Sen. Steve Gooch R, District 51

Steve Gooch was first elected to serve District 51, which includes a small portion of northeastern Forsyth County in November 2010. He and wife Shannon live in Dahlonega with their three sons. Gooch serves on the Senate Appropriations, Economic Development, Natural Resources and the Environment and Rules committees and is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. Gooch earned his master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from North Georgia College & State University. He is in commercial real estate. Gooch is a member of Dahlonega Baptist Church and is the former Lumpkin County commissioner. He is a member of the DahlonegaLumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and previously served as the 9th District Georgia Department of Transportation board member. Gooch’s capitol address is 421-C Coverdell Legislative Office Building Atlanta, GA 30334. His capitol phone number is (404) 656-9221.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner R, District 9

Rep. Kevin Tanner represents the 9th House district, which includes a small portion of northwestern Forsyth. Tanner, who lives in Dawsonville with his wife, Stacie, and three children, Kaitlyn, Abbie and Chloe, was sworn in to the office in January. Prior to that, he was a small businessman and served as Dawson County manager. He was also a deputy with the Dawson County’s Sheriff’s office for nearly two decades. He’s a member of the Education, Intragovernmental Coordination and Natural Resources & Environment committees. He and his family are members of the Bethel Baptist Church, where Hill serves as a Sunday school teacher and Deacon. His Capitol address is Room 401-E State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol telephone number is (404) 656-0152.

State Rep. Mark Hamilton R, District 24

Mark Hamilton, who serves District 24, was sworn into office in January 2007. His district covers central Forsyth County, including the city of Cumming. Hamilton is the founder, president and CEO of H&H Staffing Services Inc., a staffing firm, and AppliedWisdom LLC, an executive coaching and consulting firm. Hamilton spent 20 years in corporate America in a wide range of sales, management and senior management positions around the country before founding H&H Staffing in 1998 and AppliedWisdom in 2003. He is chairman of the Industry and Labor Committee and also serves on the Appropriations, Transportation, Governmental Affairs, Rules and Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications committees. Hamilton is a member and pastchairman of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, and a member and past-president of the South Forsyth Rotary Club. Hamilton is a graduate and active alumnus of Leadership Forsyth. An engineering business graduate of Texas A&I University, Hamilton has three daughters and two grandchildren. He and wife Sandy live in Forsyth County. The Hamiltons are active members of Cumming First Baptist Church. Hamilton’s Capitol address is 218 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. He can be reached at the Capitol at (404) 656-5132. His district number is (770) 844-6768.

State Rep. Calvin Hill R, District 22

Rep. Calvin Hill has served in the House since 2003. Prior to being elected, Hill was the mayor of Ball Ground for two terms. His newly created district includes a southwestern portion of Forsyth County, as well as a portion of Cherokee County. Hill lives in Canton with his wife, Cheryl. The two have five sons and a daughter, as well as three grandchildren. Hill serves as chairman of the House Code Revision Committee. He is also a member of the House Appropriations, Banks & Banking, Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight, Special Rules, State Planning & Community Affairs and State Properties committees. Hill is an entrepreneur, having started several domestic and international businesses, including a resort hotel in Belize. The California native attended Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, majoring in business. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps. His civil service includes work with the United Way, Canton Rotary Club, March of Dimes, Cherokee Outdoor YMCA and sits on the board of trustees at Reinhardt University. He’s also a member of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce. Hill’s Capitol address is 401-B State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. He can be reached at the Capitol at (404) 656-7855. His district number is (678) 493-7257.

State Rep. Mike Dudgeon R, District 25

Mike Dudgeon, who serves District 25, took office in 2011. His district includes south Forsyth and Johns Creek. Prior to being elected to the state House, Dudgeon served a term on the Forsyth County Board of Education. As a legislator, Dudgeon now serves on the House Education, Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications, Science and Technology and Small Business Development committees. Dudgeon has a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech, holds four U.S. patents and has been in the technology business his entire career. He helped build the Alpharetta-based startup Radiant Systems in the 1990s and was part of the group that took the company public. In 2001, he founded Tier One, an engineering consulting business in Forsyth County. After selling his interest in Tier One, Dudgeon and partners founded Qualia Labs in 2007, which is performing research into new computer architectures and artificial intelligence. Dudgeon is an usher, youth Sunday school teacher and past chair of the church council at Johns Creek United Methodist. He is active in leadership of the Boy Scouts, and has served as chairman of Cub Scout Pack 3143, currently serving as assistant scoutmaster for Troop 143. Dudgeon and his wife, Lori, have three boys and live in southern Forsyth County. Dudgeon’s Capitol address is 608-C Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334. He can be reached at the Capitol at (404) 656-0298. His district number is (770) 490-7983.

State Rep. Geoff Duncan R, District 26

Geoff Duncan began his term in January. Duncan, who lives in Cumming with his wife Brooke and three sons, Parker, Bayler and Ryder, serves on the House Banks & Banking, Interstate Cooperation and Science and Technology committees. Duncan was a scholarship pitcher at Georgia Tech, where he played in the 1994 College World Series. He was drafted by the Florida Marlins after several seasons in the minor league system. An injury cut his career short in 2001, when he and his wife started a small marketing company, which he sold four years later. Duncan then began a residential construction company based in Forsyth County, which he continues to run. He is a coach for his sons’ youth sports teams and attends Browns Bridge Community Church. Duncan’s Capitol address is 512-B Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334. He can be reached at the Capitol at (404) 656-7859.

Cumming Mayor and City Council mayor

city council

H. Ford Gravitt

Quincy Holton

Lewis Ledbetter

Ralph Perry

John D. Pugh

Rupert Sexton

H. Ford Gravitt is a native of Cumming and Forsyth County. He has served more than four decades as mayor of Cumming. Before being elected mayor, Gravitt served as a city councilman from 1969 to 1970. Gravitt has three children, Keith, Fonda and Hank, and five grandchildren.

Native of Cumming and Forsyth County, Holton has served more than 40 continuous years as a city councilman. Holton is retired from Sawnee Electric Membership Corp. with 40 years of service to the company. Holton and his wife, Shirley, have two children, Gary and Nina.

A native of Cumming, Ledbetter has more than 40 years of continuous service as a city councilman. Ledbetter is self-employed in the printing business and is the owner of Cumming Printing. Ledbetter and his wife, Barbara, have two children, Lori and Matthew, and four grandsons.

Perry is a native of Cumming and Forsyth County. He is retired from Sawnee Electric Membership Corp. He has served the city of Cumming as councilman for more than three decades. Perry and his wife, Joyce, have two children, Tim and Cindy.

A native of Cumming and Forsyth County, Pugh is a local businessman. He worked for 14 years with Wilson and Co. and currently is a partner in Pugh Brothers Garage. Pugh has been a city councilman for about 20 years. Pugh has one daughter, Marsha, and two grandchildren.

A fifth generation native of Cumming and Forsyth County, Sexton is a U.S. Army veteran, 196163. Sexton is an agent with Cotton States Insurance. Prior to his insurance sales career, he was in auto sales in the North Georgia area. Sexton has four children, Pam, Angie, Kim and Jason, and five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His wife is Dana.

First elected mayor in 1970

First elected in 1969

First elected in 1970

First elected in 1979

First elected in 1993

First elected 1970


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 5F

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Forsyth County Commission District 1 Pete Amos

District 2 Brian R. Tam

District 3 Todd Levent

District 4 Cindy Jones Mills

District 5 Jim Boff

Commissioner R.J. “Pete” Amos was elected in 2010 to serve as the District 1 representative. Amos was elected by his fellow commissioners to serve as the chairman of the board for 2013. He is a former member of the Forsyth County Planning Commission and served as the chairman for six years. He has completed the Commissioners Training Program through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. The Forsyth County native is also a small business owner whose family has lived in north Georgia for generations. Amos is a state licensed master plumber, state licensed building contractor, state licensed class IV water operator and state licensed GSWCC Level 1A. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in business administration. Amos has served on the Cumming United Methodist Finance Board, has been a member of the Forsyth Rotary Club for more than 20 years and has served as treasurer and sergeant at arms for the Forsyth Rotary Club. His community involvement also includes serving for two years as president of Forsyth Central High School Football and Basketball Booster Club and coaching youth football, baseball and basketball. Amos and his wife, Catherine, have one grown son, Slate.

Commissioner Brian Tam was elected in 2004 to serve on the commission as the representative from south Forsyth. He ran successfully for reelection in 2008 and 2012. Tam serves as the commission’s secretary for 2013. Tam has been a resident of Forsyth County for more than 18 years and is a local restaurateur with more than 25 years’ experience in the service industry. He manages the restaurant Tam’s Backstage in the lower level of the Cumming Playhouse and Blue Grass Lakes Café off McFarland Parkway. Tam graduated from Purdue University with a degree in management. He has completed the Commissioners Training Program through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. Tam has served on the board of directors of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and was recognized in 2003 with the Chamber Small Business of the Year award. A 2004 graduate of Leadership Forsyth, Tam is aware of the importance of giving back to the community. Since his graduation from Leadership Forsyth he has sponsored several individuals in the program, including his wife, Kelly. The couple has three children and attend Browns Bridge Community Church.

Commissioner Todd Levent was elected in 2010 to serve as the District 3 representative. The district covers the southwestern corner of Forsyth County. Levent chose to run for county commissioner to do his part to help make Forsyth County the best place in Georgia to raise a family. Levent said his family instilled in him a “family and community first” value from a very young age. As a young man, he joined the Fulton County Sheriff’s Reserve Unit and various charitable work. From 1989 to 1994, he served as a deputy marshal in Fulton County and was also a member of the S.W.A.T. team before starting his own business. He serves as the commission representative on the Forsyth County Animal Control & Shelter Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Forsyth County Mental Health - Criminal Justice Task Force. Levent was voted by the commission to serve on the SPLOST VII Jail/Courthouse Project Team. He has completed the Commissioners Training Program through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. A native of north Georgia, Levent is a custom home builder and remodeler. He and his wife, Dana, are the parents of Jared and Alexandria.

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills was elected in 2012 to serve as the north Forsyth district representative. A lifelong resident of Forsyth County, Mills graduated from Forsyth County High School and attended North Georgia College. Mills has been a member of the business community for many years. She served as the general manager of Lanierland Music Park for 10 years and is president of CMC Trucking Company, a local agricultural transportation agency. She is also a real estate agent with Bryan Properties. She also served on the county’s parks and recreation board for 11 years and received a State Volunteer Award from the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association in 2011. She coached recreational teams for more than 20 years and is a member of the Forsyth County Parks Foundation. Mills is a charter member of the North Forsyth 400 Rotary Club, where she serves as president and is an organizer of the Community Business Bank. She is the mother of two children, Megan Mills Bottoms and Courtney Mills, and the proud grandmother of Brooklyn Leigh Bottoms. She is an active member of Oak Grove Baptist Church, where she teaches Sunday school and youth Bible study and serves as the director of the Oak Grove Opry.

Jim Boff was re-elected to a second term on the Forsyth County commission in 2012. He represents District 5, which includes much of eastern Forsyth. At the start of this year, he was elected vice chairman of the panel by his peers. Boff is retired from a career in technical sales support of voice, data and optical fiber switches. Prior to taking office, he served as the chairman of Forsyth County’s SPLOST VI Citizens Transportation Projects Selection Committee, which helped prioritize road projects completed with the use of 1-cent sales tax funds. Boff said he believes that the county government is overall doing better than it ever has before, but that there is still much work to be done to continue enhancing quality of life in Forsyth County. He has completed the Commissioners Training Program through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. Boff and wife Cindy have two daughters, Emily and Lillian. They have lived in Forsyth County for 18 years and attend Cumming First United Methodist Church. He and his family are active in the community, and Boff volunteers at The Place of Forsyth, occasionally as driver of the bread and produce truck. He enjoys tennis and stereo equipment and is a member of the Cumming Kiwanis Club.

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SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 7F

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

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Education

7F

Parents a guiding force on campus Involvement key to community

What's Driving

FORSYTH

By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

The Forsyth County school system is known for producing quality education, but administrators are quick to credit parents for helping drive the higher level of learning. “Our outstanding parents are so often in our schools that they are commonly mistaken for staff members,” said Joey Pirkle, associate superintendent. Their involvement spans everything from parent organizations and groups specific to mothers or fathers to active roles in sports, theater and academic clubs. “We love having this exceptional level of parent involvement,” Pirkle said. “Since parents are their child’s first teacher, having that continued partnership with the teachers as the student advances throughout our schools greatly benefits not only the child but also builds a strong school community.” When Kelly Mill Elementary opened in 2012, Jenny Rogers and

Jim Dean Forsyth County News

Parent volunteer Lynn Zellmann works in the Lakeside Middle School merchandise store.

her three sons were among those redistricted to the new school. “I wanted to make sure that my students had the same opportunities and experiences and educational values at Kelly Mill they were given at

Vickery [Creek Elementary],” she said. Rogers, who is also a substitute teacher, decided to help form the Parent Teacher Association, on which she shares the role of president with

Oliver Ryan. The PTA, part of a national organization, is a way for parents to play an active role in their child’s life by contributing money, time and resources to the school. The organization meets once a month. In just its first year, the parents have been able to raise funds to contribute to teachers and classrooms, established mini-seminars led by educators for parents and started a book club. They’ve also raised funds toward enhancing the playground, creating a science lab and making the media center the school’s hub for learning. “I think it’s very important [for kids] to see their parents in the schools,” she said. “That also lets them see their parents think school is important and it gives them a sense of ownership. See PARENTS | 8F

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8F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Options attractive to many Youth seize opportunities to get ahead

What's Driving

FORSYTH certifications, like CPR. “And we’re getting trained to be phlebotomy certified,” Buck said of the blood collection certification. “In April, we’re taking a phlebotomy … exam, so that’s a huge jump start.”

By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

They’re taking college-level or Advance Placement classes. They’re interning and holding down paying gigs in their future career field. They’re splitting their days between high school and college. They are Forsyth County high school students looking to get ahead, often starting college as sophomores or fully immersed in a path toward their career. The Forsyth County school system provides the various programs like Advance Placement classes, Career Pathways and dual enrollment, but it’s up to students with the drive and determination to seize the opportunities.

Advanced Placement

Every Forsyth County high school offers Advanced Placement classes, which are college-level courses taught in high school that offer credit for students scoring at least a 3 out of a possible 5 on the AP exam. Scoring a perfect 5 hasn’t been a problem for Vijeth Mudalegundi, a South Forsyth High School senior. Mudalegundi has posed perfect scores on nine AP exams, including biology, calculus, chemistry and environmental sciences. Mudalegundi prefers AP courses because it’s a “more in-depth way to learn.” “It’s not just worksheets and memorization,” he said. “It’s discussionbased … so it lets me understand, in a more holistic manner, the subject manner I’m learning about.” Instead of taking a break during his senior year, Mudalegundi is taking seven AP classes, including both micro and macro economics, physics and statistics, in addition to taking Calculus III at Georgia Tech. “I just wouldn’t feel challenged enough in standard or honors classes,” he said. “I want to do as much as I can now so I can continue doing well in college as well as doing well in my career. It’s a good steppingstone to the next level.” Taking such advanced classes hasn’t seemed to have had much of an impact to his grade-point average, which is hovering near a 4.3. With an SAT score of 2370 out of 2400, he also shouldn’t have a problem being accepted into some of the colleges to which he’s applied, including the University of Chicago and Dartmouth. Or he could take advantage of the foundation fellowship he was offered to attend the University of Georgia. Regardless of which destination he chooses, Mudalegundi has enough college credits to begin well into his sophomore year. Akhila Moturu will find herself in a similar situation when she gradu-

Dual enrollment

File photo

South Forsyth High Advanced Placement psychology teacher Hugh Canterbury helps students Robbie Nelson, left, and Dhruv Patel with an assignment.

ates in 2014. The junior at South has passed five AP exams and is currently taking seven. Next year, she plans to enroll in six AP courses and one International Baccalaureate, or IB, course in business for a total of 18 AP classes. Despite her difficult workload, Moturu’s maintaining about a 4.5 grade-point average. She’s on track to become the class of 2014 valedictorian. “The thing that makes me want to try so hard in school is because I know how hard I try in high school will show to what college I go to and that determines my future,” she said. “If I try my hardest in high school, I know I’ll have a bright future.” Every school in Forsyth offers AP courses, but South — with more than 25 different offerings — has the most. The courses range from standard math, history and science to studio 3D design, computer science and music theory. “I’m trying to take as many diverse AP classes as I can so in college, I’ll know what to expect, at the very least, and I hope I’ll know what I want to be majoring in,” Moturu said. For Mudalegundi, the variety lets him explore all his options. “Taking college level courses in high school allows you to explore things you’re interested in before you commit to it in college,” he said. Moturu said her friends are impressed she’s able to manage a full courseload of AP classes While the work is more challenging, homework isn’t as cumbersome as some of the regular course she’s taken previously. “The teachers are really considerate and they don’t just assign homework just to assign homework,” she said. “They assign it because they know we’ll learn something out of it. “I feel like I don’t have as much homework as people that might be taking regular classes, and so that really helps me out because I don’t have as much homework, yet I learn more.”

Pathways

Whether it’s culinary arts, sports marketing or any of the dozens of other fields, Forsyth County’s high schools are giving students a leg up on the competition through career pathways and work-based learning. Pathways, or career clusters, offer high school classes designed for career development. For example, students on an engineering path would take foundations of engineering, engineering concepts and engineering applications in high school. At Lambert High, both Emerson Buck and Alex Adamczyk are in the health care-diagnostic services pathway, which includes introduction to health care/basic diagnostic services, clinical lab technician and an internship. Buck, a junior, started last year with the introduction class, since he was, at first, not interested in the subject. “It really energized my motivation to go into a health care career,” he said. “Next year, we’re doing this internship program. It’s supposed to be in three parts … and it will also be job-shadowing experience.” For senior Adamczyk, he knew when he started high school that health care was going to be his career of choice. “My interest in the health care field has only grown,” he said. Adamczyk is also taking classes at Lanier Technical College, working to become a certified nursing assistant. “This is one of the best opportunities I think I ever could have ever had in high school,” he said. “I get to go to a nursing home and get to interact with patients … it is basic care but it is a good stepping stone to know what you’re going to get into in the health care field. “The program has opened my eyes to the entire medical field.” Not every student has fallen in love with their pathway. Both Adamczyk and Buck have friends who realized health care wasn’t for them. “It allows you to test the water,” said Adamczyk, who will be a nursing assistant by the end of the school year. As part of the program, the students spend class time training for certain

FROM 7F

Parents “For me, I like the feeling of being connected with the school. I like to know that I’m doing everything I can do to help my children obtain the most out of their educational experience. And since I’m not a working parent, I feel like I have an opportunity to be the voice for moms and dads who cannot be in the school.” With four children at three schools in the district, staying involved also is important to Wendy Goodrow. “I love the feeling that I’m doing something my kids will be proud of,” she said. The kids have a lot to choose from. This is the second year Goodrow has served as co-president of Lakeside Middle School’s Parent Teacher Student Association. She’s also been a leader at Mashburn Elementary, where she’s been in charge of the father/daughter dance, as well as classroom projects. And she’s also helping run the food and clothing pantry at Forsyth Central High School. Through the PTSA, Lakeside has helped provide equipment for the science department, the science Olympiad, teacher appreciation week and bus driver appreciation day. One of her favorite projects is Lakeside’s Lions Locker. The school store, run by association parents,

Jim Dean Forsyth County News

The Lions Locker, a school store at Lakeside Middle, is manned by parent volunteers. Parental involvement at Forsyth schools helps foster a broader sense of community.

doesn’t keep long hours. But for students looking for school shirts and other spirit wear, it’s the one-stop shop. “On any given day, you can walk through Lakeside and someone will have on a purple hoodie or a Lakeside Lion’s pride shirt,” Goodrow said. “It’s a sense of a pride, a sense of unity, a sense that everyone is cheering for one group or one organization. That’s the one thing at this age that everybody can agree on — that they want their football or basketball team to succeed and win. “And I think a sense of community helps in every aspect.” While her four children benefit

from Goodrow’s efforts, she said her passion for contributing is something they won’t likely understand until they have children of their own. Over at Sharon Elementary, the volunteer work of father States Wing was so impressive, he earned state recognition for it. Wing was one of six recent recipients of the 2013 Georgia Parent Leadership Award from the Georgia PTA and state School Superintendent John Barge. Wing, owner of a landscaping construction company, has been active on campus, but is mostly known for his work on the Sharon DIGS project — short for Discover. Inspire. Grow.

When Molly Quade walks across the stage to accept her North Forsyth High School diploma in May, she’ll have two years of college under her belt. That’s because she, along with a handful of other juniors and seniors, are taking advantage of the dual enrollment program offered to Forsyth County high school students. “The best decision I ever made was probably dual enrolling,” Quade told the Forsyth County school board during a recent presentation on the program’s progress. Quade admitted it has been “difficult to actually apply yourself to do the work.” In the end, however, she is spending her senior year as a student at Gainesville State College and will be two years closer to her goal of becoming a pediatric nurse. Sidney Hubbard, a senior at West Forsyth High has known for years she’s wanted to be a prosecutor. Going through dual enrollment in the criminal justice program at Lanier Technical College has provided a head start. “It’s given me a lot of background knowledge for what I know I’m going to have to know later, when I go to law school someday,” she said. Hubbard’s grades have gradually increased as she became more involved in studying for her future. “I just wanted to go ahead and be in college and be a big kid,” she said. “It’s been a good transition because I’m moving out of state in the fall.” Nearly 150 students participate in the school system’s dual enrollment opportunities Valery Hall, the system governance and career development coordinator for the district, said students receive both high school and college credit through the program, allowing them to work toward their high school diploma while earning college credits. There are two tracks — academic and technical career. For example, students interested in attending an Ivy League college may not be able to transfer credits earned through dual enrollment, so the International Baccalaureate program could be a better fit. “It’s a lot of figuring out where the students are heading next and what’s going to work for them personally,” Hall said. “Our counselors do a fantastic job of letting our students know that these options are possible.” Among the colleges students can choose from are Gainesville State, Lanier Technical, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Georgia Perimeter and Middle Georgia. Succeed. It was supposed to be a small outdoor learning opportunity for students. But by the time Wing finished, the 15, 000-square-foot Sharon DIGS had changed the way the elementary school’s students are learning. The result has been a classroom complete with a western red cedar pergola, a picnic area, plants and learning trail that winds through the courtyard with hundreds of animal footprints. There’s a weather station, red oak stump so students can count the rings, stone amphitheater and boulders that hold water for butterflies and birds that visit the insect garden. “There are so many people that worked on this project together to make it happen,” Wing said. “I feel like they deserve a lot of the recognition as well. Any one of about 10 people deserved this award and I was surprised I got it.” Wing was humble about the award and his contributions to the school, saying his line of work helped give him access to all the right people. He was also inspired by what he’s seen from other parents. “The parental involvement at Sharon, I’ve just never witnessed the level of participation the community has in this school,” he said. “It’s actually impossible to walk away from a situation like that because you actually get to see your help is making a difference and everyone is out there working for the same goals.”


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 9F

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

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10F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Planning essential to system’s growth By L.C. “Buster” Evans For the Forsyth County News

Forsyth County Schools is proud to be one of the top districts in Georgia and the United States. This success has been accomplished through dedication to our mission and a commitment to continuous improvement through the cooperative efforts of all stakeholders. After completing three successful strategic plans, Forsyth County Schools dedicated the 2012-13 school year to constructing a new plan to guide the district from 2013-16. This plan, which was approved last month, was developed with broad

community and staff input using multiple methods that included one-on-one conversations, focus groups, meetings, and online input. With clear goals Evans and outcomes, the new strategic plan describes our priorities and provides a strong “path to greatness.” To review the plan, visit www.forsyth. k12.ga.us/SP1316. Immediately following the approval of the 2013-16 strategic plan, Forsyth County Schools began working on a new facilities plan.

As the third fastest growing school district in the United States, the district has added 8,000 new students in five years. However, the district’s operational budget has not increased in those five years and there are no funds available for capital improvements, such as renovations and modifications, additions and new school construction. Throughout 2013 and ’14, the system will be working with various district departments, all county schools and other stakeholders to create the 2014-19 facilities plan to address instructional (such as curriculum programs, career, technical and agricultural education, or CTAE, special

education, and technology support), facilities, and financing needs for the next five years. We look forward to working with our community to continue to provide the best learning opportunities for our more than 39,000 students and 4,200 full-time employees that are housed in 36 schools. Whether you were born in Forsyth, relocated to our community or looking to call the county your new home, we welcome the opportunity for you and your family to become part of the school system’s growing family. L.C. “Buster” Evans is superintendent of Forsyth County Schools.

Forsyth County Board of Education District 1 Ann Crow

District 2 Kristin Morrissey

District 3 Tom Cleveland

District 4 Darla Light

District 5 Nancy Roche

Ann Crow, an Atlanta native and graduate of Auburn University, began her third term on the board in January 2011. She, husband Roger and their three daughters became Forsyth County residents in 1984. Crow is executive vice president of Crow Financial Services Inc., a business services firm. She has served the Forsyth County community as a director, officer and campaign chairwoman of the United Way; member and past president of Sawnee Woman’s Club; and officer and director of the Cumming/ Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce where she led establishment of the chamber’s education committee. In addition, Crow was the co-chairwoman of the 1996 school system Strategic Plan Initiative, which is the system’s operating guide today; member of the Board of Education’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, Standard Bearer Evaluation Committee and 2001 SPLOST Referendum Committee.

Kristin Morrissey has a computer science degree from the State University of New York and Monroe Community College. She also studied microelectronic engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. Morrissey retired after 16 years as an automation specialist for the Monroe County Library System. Morrissey and husband Joe have two children, Mackenzie and Sydney. She also graduated from the Georgia Academy for Economic Development and Leadership Forsyth. She’s a member of the Forsyth County Library Board of Trustees, Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce Quality of Life Council and is secretary for the Forsyth County Community Connection. Morrissey was elected to the school board in 2010.

Raised in DeKalb County, Tom Cleveland moved his family to Forsyth County in 1995, where his two sons attended Forsyth County schools. He began his third term on the board in January. Cleveland is employed by Sage Software as the leader of HR operations and has spent his career implementing information technology solutions, with the past 10 years specializing in the human resources area. Cleveland served as the cochair of the Vision 2010 steering committee, member of the teacher of the year selection committee, sex education committee and other various roles in the school system. He currently serves as a worship team member at First Baptist Cumming, a disaster assistance team member with the American Red Cross and a member of the Amateur Radio Emergency Services group within the county.

Raised in Forsyth County, Darla Light graduated from Forsyth County High School and attended the University of Georgia, where she majored in special education. She began her second term in January. She and husband, David, a former educator, live in Forsyth County with their three children -- Christopher and Payton, both of whom are graduates of Forsyth County schools and are enrolled in college, and Carlin, a student at North Forsyth High School. Light has served as a PTSO officer at elementary and middle schools and coached middle school basketball. She is a member of the FCS 2400 Challenge Committee, is active in the North Forsyth 400 Rotary Club and is a small business owner.

Nancy Roche, who began her fourth term on the board in January, has a B.S. in computer science and mathematics. She has previously worked as a systems analyst for IBM. A member of the Forsyth County Board of Education since 2001, Roche served as chairwoman in 2003 and from 2005-2008. She was appointed to the Georgia School Board Associations Board of Directors in June 2007. She has served GSBA on the strategic planning committee, governmental operations committee, nominating committee and serves as a presenter and mentor for new board members. Roche is a member of the Deer Creek Shores Presbyterian Church where she sings in the choir, teaches Sunday school and serves on the Christian Education Committee, the Preschool Board of Directors and the Presbyterian Women. She is also member of the Forsyth County Republican Party and the Republican Women. Roche’s husband, Chris, is retired from IBM. They have three children: Christopher, Andrea and Terry.

Pinecrest prepares, challenges students

One of top 50 Catholic high schools in U.S.

Contact

For the Forsyth County News

For more information or to schedule a tour of Pinecrest Academy, call (770) 888-4477 or visit www.pinecrestacademy.org.

Pinecrest Academy is a private Catholic, college preparatory, school serving students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.  Founded in 1993, the school moved to its permanent campus on Peachtree Parkway in southern Forsyth County in 1997. From its initial beginnings as a lower school in modular buildings, the beautiful 68-acre campus has grown to comprise permanent brick buildings. Those include a high school building and middle school building (with gender separate classrooms), free-standing chapel and two gymnasiums — a state-of-theart upper school gym and a full-size gym for the lower school, completed in 2011.  The current enrollment is about

760 students. Pinecrest was recognized for the sixth consecutive year by the Catholic High School Honor Roll as one of the Top 50 Catholic high schools in the nation.  The school’s mission is to provide an atmosphere of academic rigor and critical thinking, while offering personalized attention in a Christcentered environment of faith and reason. We prepare our students to become committed Christian leaders, eager to transform a global society. We accomplish this in a genderseparate environment on a co-educational campus. We challenge our students to identify and use their gifts in service to others. Recognizing the parent as the primary educator of the child, our mission embraces the

entire family. We provide a safe, moral, and spiritual environment, which leads to positive peer groups and joyful, caring, confident students. In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum, Pinecrest offers an excellent fine arts program, including visual and performing arts, band and chorus. Our Symphonic Band played, by invitation, at Carnegie Hall in April 2012. Pinecrest offers a complete complement of varsity and recreational sports, debuting a lacrosse program this spring. Pinecrest athletes compete in the Georgia High School Association. In 2009 and ’10, a Pinecrest student received the highest SAT score

in Forsyth County. The SAT scores of the class of 2012 averaged 90 points higher than those of the entire state.  Four of the 51 seniors in the class of 2013 have been recognized as National Merit finalists by the College Board. The dedicated and highly qualified teaching staff meets state and SACS requirements, and many staff members have advanced degrees.  Pinecrest is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Southern Association of Independent Schools, and holds membership in the College Board and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Lanier Tech building upon accreditation Local campus offering number of opportunities For the Forsyth County News

Lanier Technical College has had an exciting year. S i n c e b e i n g aw a r d e d accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the college has been able to provide more higher educational and career opportuni-

ties to students in its sevencounty area, which includes Forsyth and Dawson counties. The college offers 38 programs of study in a wide range of industries and career options including automotive technology, electronics technology, health care and solar energy technology, to name a few. It has a 92 percent job

placement rate. Lanier Tech has a total enrollment of about 3,600 students. The Forsyth Campus has more than 750 students currently enrolled. The Forsyth Campus is an educational provider hub of in-demand programs of study in the areas of business and computer, technical and industrial, personal and pub-

lic services and health care. The programs of study offered at the local campus have proven to support the local community with welltrained graduates with needed skills for many industries. In addition, the Forsyth Campus Adult Education program offers GED and English literacy classes. The Forsyth Conference Center continues to grow and is the preferred venue for many business and social events. It has served more

than 31,500 guests since July 2012.  The center can hold one large meeting or many small gatherings or a combination of both.  It offers a range of services, including audiovisual, wireless Internet, video conferencing and laptop rentals, among others.  For weddings and social events, the conference center offers flexible options to meet community needs in an elegant, affordable setting.


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 11F

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12F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

FORSYTHCOUNTY GOVERNMENT PROGRESS Today 4 New Green Space Passive Use Parks

New Fire Station 4 Ducktown Community 2

2

01 2 N

01 2 N

OPE

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Funded by

Funded by

Impact Fees Parks, Recreation and Green Space Bond

Impact Fees

5 Additional Outdoor Severe Weather Sirens

New Ladder Truck for Fire Department

12 0 2 CE I V R E IN S

12 0 2 CE I V R E IN S

Funded by

Continued New Courthouse and Jail TO 13 N O I UCT MER 20 R T S CON RT SUM STA

PROGRESS

New Animal Shelter N ETIO L P COM D E T A ICIP ANT LY 2014 EAR

Funded by

New Fire Station 3 Matt Community INGR 2013 N E OP MME SU

Funded by

Funded by

Impact Fees

Forsyth County government works every day to make our community the best it can be. It is the mission of the county’s elected officials and employees to provide effective, professional public service with integrity and a commitment to excellence. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

2013 FORSYTHCOUNTY Board of Commissioners

R.J. (Pete) Amos District 1 Commissioner Chairman

Brian R. Tam District 2 Commissioner Secretary

Todd Levent District 3 Commissioner

Cindy Jones Mills District 4 Commissioner

Jim Boff District 5 Commissioner Vice Chairman

FORSYTHCOUNTY Board of Commissioners | 110 E. Main Street, Suite 210 | Cumming, GA 30040 | Phone: 770.781.2101 | Fax: 770.781.2199 | www.forsythco.com | TV Forsyth – Comcast Channel 23


March 24, 2013

Progress 2013

Exit

Health & G Recreation

Abundance of opportunities

Forsyth boasts many activities, What's Driving clubs for youth FORSYTH By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

On any given weekend, Forsyth County parks fill up with the sounds of parents cheering on their children as they run across fields playing America’s most popular team sports. But not all kids want to tackle or kick. And as a result, recreational opportunities for youth are growing in the county, which earned the title as

one of the 100 best communities for young people in 2012. Two future north Forsyth parks, scheduled to open in 2014, will expand the archery space and open a track for BMX riders. New green space parks and public lake properties provide space for fishing. Residents have also found their own ways to enjoy the outdoors by finding properties in the county’s wooded areas to teach kids the pastime of hunting.

Matt Beynon, treasurer for Forsyth County BMX, enjoys the day racing recently with daughters Anna and Stephanie in Cobb County. There are plans to build a track in Forsyth County.

See ACTIVITIES | 2G

For the Forsyth County News

Amenities abundant in county, 7G

Aquatic center popular, 10G


2G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Impact of local hospital detailed CEO: Total activity about $553 million By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

It is the county’s largest private employer and has room to grow across 165 acres, but Northside Hospital-Forsyth is more than a business and health care provider. The hospital is a financial benefit and draws economic development to the community, said its CEO Skip Putnam. Since opening in October 2002, Northside-Forsyth has “not had one day at the hospital without construction going on,” Putnam told the South Forsyth Rotary Club during a meeting in September. “Our goal isn’t just to grow. It’s to make sure that we provide services at the quality everybody needs,” he said. According to Putnam, the hospital has 1,800 employees, but the ripple effect adds another 2,070 in terms of support staff and jobs needed outside the hospital to serve the area’s medical needs. The same goes for the hospital’s sales and benefits, which total nearly $105 million. But with nearly another $90 million

FROM 1G

Activities Family support is a common thread that drives success in most local youth sports, and that includes some of those activities that are more unique. Mike Johnson, president of the Forsyth County Archery Club, said his two children, now 15 and 18, started five years ago, following in the footsteps of their dad. A friend drove by Ducktown Park, where the group currently practices, and saw the archery targets in the field, Johnson said. Knowing Johnson did archery, the friend called and let him know that an opportunity for the sport existed locally. Johnson got started right away with his family and took on a coaching role in the volunteer-run organization, which is primarily fueled by parents. The club started at the request of a father through the Forsyth County 4-H Club, and membership has multiplied to the point there’s a waiting list. “We could double in a year if we had the room and we had the coaching staff,” said Johnson, adding that the county is working on a plan to move the group to a larger space at a future park. While some of the recent boost could be from the popularity of movies such as “The Hunger Games,” Johnson said the group has grown mostly by word of mouth, especially through a network of homeschool families. Since those children don’t often have the chance to play sports through local schools, archery gave them an indepen-

in area resources, the total labor income to the community is close to $195 million. Total economic activity is about $553 million, according to Putnam. Since opening the hospital in 2002, the total capital investment in the hospital has been about $525 million. He went on to note that the hospital has gone from seeing about 20,000 emergency patients per year to more than 50,000 over the past decade. The hospital takes up 48 acres, but has plenty of room to expand with another 120 acres of campus. As a nonprofit hospital, all proceeds go right back into the community, Putnam said. That also means “that we’re here to take care of people who don’t have the ability to pay.” The hospital boasts more than 2,400 physicians and has assisted more than 202,000 patients in just the past year. In 2008, the hospital opened its Women’s Center and began delivering babies. This year, more than 2,350 have been delivered — and counting. Lauren Giles, who was among the Rotarians at the meeting in dent opportunity to succeed. “Some kids need that excitement, [to say] I can do this,” Johnson said. “They’ve Shirley been told they’re too small to play football, they got run over on the soccer field or whatever. Now they can come out and do this and they can pull it back and they can hit a bull’s eye.” Forsyth County even has youth archers with Olympic dreams. The club also has communal equipment for beginners to come give the sport a try, he said. While the group waits for a larger space to open, the Forsyth County BMX group has formed without a track. Ryan Kramer, president of the nonprofit, said through talks at out-of-county events, several local parents discovered the sport was popular in Forsyth and yet families were driving to Peachtree City and Cobb County to compete. The group made its case to the county parks department, and the staff and commission have supported plans for the club to install a BMX track at the future Lanierland Park in northeast Forsyth. “It’s a good fit because a lot of kids aren’t looking for the ball or stick sports,” Kramer said. In BMX, mountain bicyclists race on a dirt track, though a freestyle version of the sport also exists. The youth riders have family and friends cheering for them in the stands, like with football or baseball, but many also have parents who ride too, Kramer

the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, is expecting a baby boy the first week of October. “I’m personally very glad Northside is here and I’m sure I will be in a few weeks even more so,” said Giles, a local attorney. She added that she was interested to hear more about the hospital, especially how many deliveries it has welcomed. Putnam’s presentation was good and she “enjoyed hearing what he had to say.” “We appreciate that it’s here,” Giles said of the hospital. “It’s obviously a great contribution to the community and provides a lot of jobs.” Putnam said the hospital is proud of its oncology focus, among the largest in the state, and is also concentrating on cardio and surgical growth, as well as its clinical commitment. Putnam fielded a few questions from the audience, includi n g o n e a b o u t h ow t h e Affordable Care Act could impact the hospital. Putnam said “we won’t see a lot of things change during the next five years.”

File photo

Skip Putnam, CEO of Northside Hospital-Forsyth, addresses the South Forsyth Rotary Club.

“The Affordable Care Act has a lot of good in it,” he said. “It also has a lot of really bad things in it.” Rotarian Marcie Kreager offered praise for the hospital,

which recently took care of her husband. “It’s just a great hospital all the way around,” she said. “We’ve received excellent care from the top to the bottom.”

Alyssa LaRenzie Forsyth County News

Sgt. Lee Brown of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources recently addressed a meeting of the Little Mill Middle School Hunting and Fishing Club. Student Kayley Gibbs, seated, was among those attending.

said. Kids in the group also make new friends locally and while traveling to races, which they enjoy most, Kramer said. He also noted BMX allows all children to get outside and participate, adding that “nobody rides the bench.” The planned track will get the sport going in Forsyth, but other recreational activities for kids can exist in the natural state of the county. A recent meeting of the Little Mill Middle School Hunting and Fishing Club brought together youth with years of experience and those interested in learning more about the pastime. The classroom filled up with students listening to safety tips and information from Sgt. Lee

Brown of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “There’s a lot of different opportunities for people who love to hunt and fish right here,” Brown said. Lake Lanier, the Chattahoochee and Etowah rivers and forests in the area present a natural connection for families to enjoy the sports. Seventh-grader Zach Shirley, who’s been hunting for years, said the sport has taught him about safety, patience and focus. He most enjoys the moment he can take a shot after waiting, sometimes for hours. “I think it’s a good sport for kids because they get to go out and experience what you can’t do sitting on a couch playing video games,” Shirley said.

He likes to hunt in different areas across the state and region, but added that he sees a lot of wildlife even in his backyard. Classmate Kayley Gibbs said she likes to spend time with family members, who taught her about hunting when she was 5. Gibbs and her dad usually travel to Jasper, but she said the culture and climate make anywhere in Georgia good to hunt. “Since Georgia’s Southern, there’s a lot more country and woods,” she said. Brown agreed that families can get out and enjoy nature in just a short drive by following the rules and staying safe.

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SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

northside-forsyth

Honored for cardiac, patient care Expands services, facilities For the Forsyth County News

As Forsyth County and the surrounding areas continue to thrive, so too does Northside Hospital-Forsyth. The hospital continues to expand and enhance its services to meet the community’s healthcare needs. Today, Northside HospitalForsyth has more than 2,200 physicians and 1,800 employees, in more than 60 medical specialties, who served more than 216,000 patient encounters in 2012.

Excellence in cardiac care

Northside Hospital-Forsyth is an accredited Chest Pain Center and is designated a UnitedHealth Premium Cardiac Specialty Center for outstanding quality cardiac care services. The hospital recently expanded its award-winning program to offer the latest in vascular surgery services. Northside Vascular Surgery is one of the most skilled vascular programs in the Southeast and the only one in the nation equipped to treat high-risk patients with custom-modified endografts for aortic aneurysm.

Award-winning patient care

In 2012, the hospital was named one of the nation’s top performers on key quality measures by the Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health

care organizations in America. The hospital was recognized by the commission for its exemplary performance and achievement in using evidencebased clinical processes that are shown to improve care for heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care. In addition to receiving recognition for outstanding cardiac care services, the hospital also was honored to receive the UnitedHealth Premium Specialty Center designation in recognition of quality care in total joint replacement.

State-of-the-art surgery

Northside is a leader in providing state-of-the-art surgical services. The hospital offers the very latest robotic technology and has performed more robotic procedures than any other hospital in the Southeast. In 2012, Northside was the first in Georgia to perform single-Ssite robotic surgery and single-incision laparoscopic weight loss surgery, both of which are available the local hospital. In June 2012, the hospital opened a new four-suite outpatient surgery center off of Hwy. 20 at Haw Creek Drive. The center provides physicians and patients easy access to procedures in the specialties of GI, general surgery, ophthalmology, minor orthopedics including hand surgery, podiatric surgery and plastic and cosmetic surgery.

Increased access to specialty care

Northside has begun construction on a new Medical Office Building on its Cumming campus. T h e n e w f o u r - s t o r y, 100,000-square-foot building will connect to the south side of the existing Women’s Center and will house a variety of physician specialties and practices

File photo

Northside Hospital-Forsyth has begun construction on a new Medical Office Building. The building will connect to the south side of the existing Women’s Center and house a variety of physician specialties and practices to support the hospital’s Women’s Services.

to support the hospital’s growing Women’s Services volume. Construction is estimated to be completed in August. The new Northside/Dawson Medical Campus opened in December and is just north of the outlet mall on Ga. 400, at 91 Nordson Overlook in Dawsonville. The 34,500-square-foot, three-story MOB gives Northside the space to expand its imaging services and offer a wider array of medical services. The facility is home to a number of physician practices, representing numerous medical specialties including cardiology, OB/GYN, gastroenterology, pulmonology and general surgery.

Emergent care close to home

Northside/Dawson Urgent Care also opened in December and is open seven days a week to handle minor emergencies. The only urgent care in Dawson, the facility offers a wide array of

medical services for children and adults. Experienced and board-certified emergency room physicians, many of the ones who work in the emergency departments at Northside hospitals in Forsyth and Atlanta, work alongside family practitioners to treat patients with less severe injuries. Those can range from sore throats and ear infections to burns, minor sprains and broken bones. For patients that require imaging services such as X-ray or MRI, Northside/Dawson Imaging is just across the hall. Appointments are not needed. Walk-ins are welcome.

High-tech imaging

Northside is highly respected throughout metro Atlanta for its state-of-the-art imaging services, with locations in Cumming, Dawsonville, Alpharetta, Sugar Hill and across north Atlanta. Northside was the first hospital in Atlanta to implement digital breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammog-

On the Net For more information, visit www.northside.com.

raphy, the latest advance in the fight against breast cancer. T h e t e c h n o l o g y, w h i c h became available at Northside Hospital-Forsyth in 2012, allows physicians to unmask cancers that may be hidden by dense tissue on a 2D mammogram and can prevent patients from being recalled for additional images. In December 2012, the local hospital opened its expanded Northside/Dawson Imaging at the new Northside/Dawson Medical Campus. The center offers state-ofthe-art CT, digital screening mammography and digital X - r a y s e r v i c e s , a n d n ow MRI, ultrasound and bone densitometry exams, provided by registered technologists and board certified, sub-specialized radiologists.

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 5G

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Many highlights for Emory Johns Creek Carotid stenting offered

For the Forsyth County News

Last year, the hospital began offering carotid stenting, a procedure to treat severe blockages of the carotid artery. The carotid artery is one of the main arteries supplying blood to the brain. Carotid stenting provides an effective alternative for opening the artery without an invasive surgical procedure. People with severe narrowing of the carotid artery are candidates for revascularization, or opening of the artery. With carotid stenting, the patient typically remains awake.

Hospital marks sixth anniversary

In February, Emory Johns Creek Hospital celebrated its sixth anniversary of serving the patients of Johns Creek and surrounding communities. The creation of an entirely new hospital is a rarity in the United States. In turn, our services have also grown to meet the growing needs of our fellow residents. We are also proud to have received many accolades, which have helped validate our commitment to quality, patient and family-centered care services. Emory Johns Creek Hospital is a 110bed acute care facility providing a full range of services, including emergency services staffed with board-certified emergency physicians, surgery, cardiology, oncology, advanced imaging capabilities and intensive care. Other services include digital imaging, a birth center with Level III neonatal intensive care, adult intensive care, bariatric center, advanced cardiac care, women’s services, outpatient rehab, sleep medicine and a pain center. There have been many highlights from 2012-13, including the following:  

In-house 24/7 neonatology services

As of August, Gwinnett Neonatology PC, is providing neonatology services for the hospital’s Level III neonatal intensive care unit, capable of caring for the smallest and sickest newborn babies. Expectant parents can rest easy, knowing that neonatal nurse practitioners are onsite at the hospital every hour of the day. Gwinnett Neonatology offers nearly 20 years of experience running several Level III NICUs in the greater Atlanta area. With four neonatologists and 10 nurse practitioners, they bring a level of expertise to the hospital that patients won’t find anywhere else in the area.

Opening of Intermediate Cardiac Care Unit

In February 2013, the hospital opened an Intermediate Cardiac Care Unit. The nine-bed unit is for patients who have recently suffered heart attacks or

Emergency department receives top marks

For the Forsyth County News

are recovering from major cardiac procedures. The ICCU allows patients to receive specialized cardiac care until their condition stabilizes. Extensive heart monitoring and testing is provided by a highly trained staff that is experienced with cardiac conditions, procedures and treatments. The new ICCU opened in response to the fact that heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 935,000 Americans suffer a heart attack.

Expansion of Breast Imaging Center

The hospital is designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. By awarding facilities the status of a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, the college recognizes breast imaging centers that have earned accreditation in all of its voluntary, breast-imaging accreditation programs and modules, in addition to the mandatory mammography accreditation program. The breast imaging services at this center are fully accredited in mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, breast ultrasound and ultrasound-guided breast biopsy. An expanded Breast Imaging Center is scheduled to open this summer.

American College of Radiology certification

The hospital was awarded a three-year term of accreditation in stereotactic breast biopsy after an in-depth review by the American College of Radiology. A breast biopsy is performed to remove cells — either surgically or through a less invasive procedure involving a hollow needle — from an area in the breast suspected to be cancerous. These cells are examined under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. In stereotactic breast biopsy, a special mammography machine helps guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of an abnormal growth. The ACR gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety.

Honor for patient safety

The hospital was recognized in February by the Georgia Hospital Association’s Hospital Engagement Network for being named to the prestigious Chairman’s Circle for its accomplishments regarding patient safety in 2012. The Chairman’s Circle is the second highest category in the HEN’s recognition program. The recognition places the hospital in the top third of all 116 hospitals participating the in the association’s network, which aims to reduce hospitalacquired conditions and hospital readmissions.

In terms of patient satisfaction, the hospital’s emergency department ranks right at the top, both in the state of Georgia and the nation. The ranking was revealed in the results of a survey conducted by health care research and consulting firm Press Ganey. Patients evaluated the hospital on a number of factors such as wait time, courtesy of staff, employees’ responsiveness and attention to details, cleanliness of facility, provision of privacy and more. Individuals who completed the questionnaire gave the hospital high marks in virtually every area on the survey.

First director of pastoral services named

Timothy Park was named the first director of pastoral services at the hospital. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Park has a wealth of experience pastoring in parish ministries, as well as in clinical pastoral education. As a fellow at the Emory Center for Pastoral Services, Park served as a chaplain at both Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown for seven years. Emory Johns Creek Hospital has always relied on volunteer chaplains to care for patients and their families. Several volunteer pastors will continue to minister to the patients and families at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, along with Park and two chaplains in training from Emory’s pastoral services program.

Online More information on Emory Johns Creek Hospital can be found online at emoryjohnscreek.com.


6G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Children’s to offer chance for early autism detection

‘We can now make a difference.’ Ami Klin

Director, Marcus Autism Center

For the Forsyth County News

Since Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta moved to Forsyth in 2011, the staff has seen more than 50,000 patient visits, treating everything from the flu to shin splints. Soon, Children’s will offer another important, lifechanging pediatric service in Forsyth — the early detection of developmental delays in infants. With a new eye-tracking screening device, clinicians will be able to see the world through the eyes of a child. The screening will detect how infants perceive their environment. The eye-tracking device works by using cameras that focus on a child’s eyes. Short videos and images are shown to the child, and when his eyes move, the cameras can tell what part of the scene he is watching. Most children focus on people’s eyes and faces, but infants at risk for autism tend to focus on objects and movements more than their typically developing peers. By detecting these risk factors earlier, the  hope is to catch conditions, such as autism spectrum disorders, or ASD, at the earliest possible stages. Currently the average age of diagnosis of ASD is when a child is about 5 years old. If discovered early, this screening can lead to a life-changing early intervention. “We can now make a difference,” said Ami Klin, director of the Marcus Autism Center and professor and chief of the division of autism and related disorders at Emory University. “Anything we do within this window of opportunity will have lifetime consequences for the patients.”

Join a study

Photo courtesy Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Researchers at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta instruct children with autism. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Forsyth aims to raise funds for a machine that could detect autism early.

Warren Jones, director of research at Marcus Autism Center, said they “study how children with autism look at, and learn from, the world.” “ L i t e r a l l y, w e m e a s u r e every movement of a child’s eyes while he looks at other p e o p l e , q u a n t i f y i n g h ow much time a child spends watching other people’s eyes or watching other important social gestures,” Jones said. Studies show that the earlier a child is diagnosed with autism and starts treatment, the better the outcome. Klin and a team of researchers came to Atlanta f r o m Ya l e U n iv e r s i t y t o launch the largest research e ff o r t f o r c h i l d r e n w i t h autism and related disorders in the country — a collabora-

• Marcus Autism Center is seeking pregnant mothers, or mothers who have a baby younger than 3 months old, and an older biological child who is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or typically developing with no family history of ASDs. Visit marcus.org/ research or call (404) 7857600 to participate in a study. • Note: Collaborators in research include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and not employees.

Make a donation If you would like to make a donation towards the purchase and operation of the eye-tracking machine, contact Steven Wagner, development officer, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at (404) 785-7321. For general inquiries, contact Beth Buursema, community outreach manager for Children’s at (404) 785-7691.

tion between Marcus Autism C e n t e r, a s u b s i d i a r y o f C h i l d r e n ’s H e a l t h c a r e o f Atlanta, and Emory University School of Medicine. In 2012, this collaboration led to the award of a National Institutes of Health Autism Center of Excellence, or ACE, grant — one of just three in the nation. With this grant, the team is poised to revolutionize the diagnosis of autism.

Cumming

In order to offer the eyetracking machine in Forsyth, Children’s will need to raise $250,000. “We are working hard to raise donations that will allow Children’s to offer this life-changing service,” said Steven Wagner, Children’s development officer. “The community is rallying behind this important initiative, and to date we have raised $70,000 towards our $250,000 goal, which we aim

to hit by the end of the year. “With continued community enthusiasm, we hope to hit our goal and begin providing this service as soon as possible.” Klin and Jones agreed that the most important partners in this new program will be pediatricians who screen patients in well-baby checkups and refer families with babies or young children at risk for autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening children for ASD at 18 months and 24 months and asking about social and e m o t i o n a l d eve l o p m e n t a l milestones at every wellchild checkup.

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Elite Ball Mastery Camp - Forsyth (Polo Fields) Dates: June 10-14, 2013 Times: 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Elite Striker/Keeper Camp - Forsyth (Polo Fields) Dates: July 22-25, 2013

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 7G

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

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Recreation

‘Amazing’ amenities impress County builds reputation for quality features By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

Rick Waldron laced up his shoes from the bleachers in the Central Park Recreation Center and stood to the side of the basketball court, waiting for the next pickup game. Waldron, 55, has been playing basketball in Forsyth since 1988, when he moved to the county. At that time, he used the gym next to the old schoolhouse in Cumming. Now, he has three county recreation centers and one in the city where he can play or coach kids indoors, as well as outdoor courts to use. On any given weekday, Waldron can be found picking up a game with people of all ages at a rec center while others enjoy the walking track around the gym floors, work out in the weight room above or take recreational classes down the hall.

What's Driving

FORSYTH Forsyth County’s amenities have grown with its population, and its facilities often are hailed as some of the best in the state. Bob Betz has completed the parks and recreation master plans every few years since 1998. “In the 15 years I’ve been working with [Forsyth], I think they’ve outstripped a lot of communities and a lot of counties in terms of park acreage, different types of parks,” Betz said. “Recreation in Forsyth County has been supported by elected officials over the years.” Few other counties have generated funding in the way Forsyth has, drawing from voter-approved sales tax and bonds, as well as fees charged to developers, he said. “If you have the money, you can really build nice facilities, and not only that,” he said, “but I think See AMENITIES | 8G

Alyssa LaRenzie Forsyth County News

Rick Waldron, who has been playing basketball in Forsyth since 1988, enjoys a recent pickup game at the Central Park Recreation Center. There are three recreation centers around the county.

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8G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

File photos

Neville McCanna works out in the gym at Fowler Park. Right, Vince Frese pushes son Vincent on the swing set at the park.

FROM 7G

Amenities Forsyth County recognizes the need to maintain their parks, which I think is the key.” The variety of activities supported by county amenities has been driven by the growth and diversity of the population, he said. Passive green space parks, the Big Creek Greenway, walking trails and use of field space for lacrosse are some of the changes he’s seen from the traditional sports and parks. Opportunities for public recreation provide several benefits in a community, he said, such as improved health, a boost to the economy from visitors and an attracting factor for people relocating. Kristen Stevens has seen plenty of those changes and benefits since moving to south Forsyth in 1995. She used to drive to a park in Alpharetta when her sons were young because the recreation space nearby was limited. Now, the boys, ages 12 and 14, can walk on sidewalks to one of their favorite hangout spots at the Old Atlanta Park and Recreation Center. She often sees families holding birthday parties there or using the county’s only splash pad. The family loves all the new green space parks for walking, and hopes for more fields as youth athletic programs and the population grow. “Because our schools are so good, these families who have kids want to live here,” Stevens said. “And when they get here, then they need more field space.” County Commissioner Brian Tam, who repre-

sents south Forsyth, said fields are a top priority in meeting residents’ recreation demands. The commission hopes “to get creative” in how to provide for those needs while being good stewards of public funds, Tam said. He said plans are in the works to redo existing fields in turf, which allows for more play year round, or work with the school system on dualuse fields, such as Joint Venture Park at Daves Creek. Over the years, including more than eight as commissioner, Tam has seen the county improve its diversity in recreational opportunities for all ages and many interests. The summer openings of four green space parks in the more densely populated south Forsyth added more natural settings for recreation, he said. The use of land for public parks also increases the property values in an area. “These islands of recreation are areas that won’t be built on, that we won’t have housing on, that are being put away for generations to come,” Tam said. “Primarily, though, they help with our quality of life.” The county’s staff has “done a great job” in reaching out to the community to determine what interests exist, he said. James Parks has definitely seen facilities expand for new activities and ideas in his 33 years in Forsyth. He grew up playing sports on the fields, like his nieces and nephews do now. His parents use the walking path at the coun-

Children enjoy the splash pad at Old Atlanta Park and Recreation Center.

File photo

ty’s first recreation center, Central Park, which opened in 2003, and his mother takes pottery classes there. For Parks, his favorite activity is his involvement with the Miracle League and Special Olympics, both of which use county facilities. Not every community has that opportunity for children, he said. “They get a chance to do what their brothers and sisters get to do,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing that I enjoy.” Johnny Tallant said the athletics programs and recreation facilities are well used by his family too. “The park system is just amazing around here,” he said. “Forsyth County’s known for having some of the best facilities.” Aside from playing ball, walking trails have been a popular choice for the family — and hiking too. The annual Hike 4 Hyde event at Sawnee Mountain Preserve serves as a fundraiser for research in honor of Tallant’s grandson, Hyde Talbot. Talbot has atypical

hemolyticuremic syndrome, more commonly known as Atypical HUS. The event has raised about $100,000 in its four years. “I think it’s probably one of their biggest days

of the year, the day we have the hike,” he said. “But the trail that they have the hike on is just amazing.” Rick Waldron loves his basketball. While he’s doing that, though, his

wife can enjoy the beauty of Fowler Park and his grandson can ride his bicycle at the skate park. Mary Waldron said she can’t think of much that the family couldn’t do in terms of recreation in the county. “The parks are amazing here. The programs that they do for kids — they offer so much more,” she said. “I meet people over there that don’t even live in Forsyth County that are just so impressed.”

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 9G

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

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10G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Folks flock to Aquatic Center Popular facility is filling a need By Crystal Ledford cledford@forsythnews.com

The Cumming Aquatic Center will celebrate its second anniversary this summer. The facility on Aquatic Circle, just off Pilgrim Mill Road near Ga. 400 Exit 16, boosts two indoor and one outdoor leisure pool for the use of the entire Forsyth County community and surrounding areas. Manager Carla Wilson said the center, which is owned and operated by the city of Cumming, has continued to experience non-stop development since opening. “Every year our programs continue to grow,” she said. When it opened, the center provided just a handful of offerings. Today, there are numerous opportunities, from swim les-

sons for all ages to aquatic exercise programs and leisure water activities. “It’s exciting to see how we’ve grown from a few swim lessons … to water exercise and then we added infant swimming resource classes, and most recently we’ve added Silver Sneakers [for older adults],” Wilson said. “It’s just exciting every time we can grow our program.” The community’s interest in the facility is evident in its staffing needs. “When we first opened we had two or three swim instructors on staff and now we have about 25,” Wilson said. “So we’re really grown and we have to keep training even more.” This spring, the facility will get its first physical addition. Wilson said a new ticket

‘When we first opened we had two or three swim instructors on staff and now we have about 25.’ Carla Wilson

Manager, Aquatic center File photo

booth and concession stand is under construction for the outdoor leisure pool. “That will be a separate entrance to the outdoor pool so we’ll have less traffic at the front desk, which is even more important as our programs continue to grow,” she said. The side of the booth facing

The Cumming Aquatic Center offers many opportunities, from swim lessons for all ages to aquatic exercise programs and leisure water activities.

the pool will feature a concession stand, where patrons will be able to buy a variety of snacks and beverages. “We’re going to run that inhouse,” she said. “We’re still

working on what products will available and the pricing and everything, but we’re thinking we’re going to do things like pizza, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, ice cream and sodas.”

Forsyth County ranks first in health

By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

Completing a steady uphill climb, a report released this month ranks Forsyth as the healthiest county in Georgia. The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a study from the Robert Wo o d Johnson Foundation, listed Forsyth as the third healthiest in 2011 and the second in 2012. To James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, the increase is “reflective of a great health care community.” “That is our largest and fastest growing industry in Fo r s y t h C o u n t y a n d they’re very progressive and thoughtful in their work,” he said. “It’s also reflective of the very high

quality of life in this community. “We have amazing infrastructure of parks and recreation facilities … and a whole culture of folks who are using those amenities.” The rankings system uses a range of measures to determine health levels. Among them are factors such as obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption rates. Other measures include socioeconomic factors, such as high school graduation rates, number of residents with health insurance and access to healthy foods and clean air. S o m e o f Fo r s y t h ’s neighbors also fared well in the study, including Gwinnett County, which ranked fourth in the state, and Cherokee, which c a m e i n fi f t h . H a l l

C o u n t y r a n ke d 1 1 t h healthiest in Georgia. Compared to the state, Forsyth’s child poverty rate is 10 percent, much lower than Georgia’s average of 27 percent and single-parent homes in Forsyth number 13 percent, compared to the state’s 36 percent. Forsyth also has fewer motor vehicle accidents, higher activity levels and a lower birth rate among teenagers. While the county fares better in most areas, particularly its violent crime rate of 89 per 100,000 people versus the state’s 437, the county does have a higher rate of excessive drinking of 18 percent, compared to the state’s 14 percent. Forsyth has the lowest adult obesity rate in the state, though nearly a quarter of the county’s

On the Net

population is considered clinically obese at 23 percent. Lynn Jackson, Northside HospitalForsyth administrator, said there is clearly room for improvement. “Obesity, smoking cessation , activity level — one in five are still not physically active — so we still have opportunities to improve,” she said. “Just being at that No. 1 spot is a little bit daunting because it hopefully will inspire us instead of causing us to step back from it and say we’ve done the best we could possibly do. We want to keep getting better.” The county has shown

improvements over the years. In 2010, the obesity rate was 25 percent. Smoking, now at 14 percent, was at 16 percent three years ago. And premature death, ranked by years of potential life lost for those dying before age 75 per 100,000 people, has dropped from 5,077 in 2010 to 4,052 in 2013. “Obviously, we’re heading down the right path,” McCoy said. “All of the trends are positive, so we need to continue making thoughtful investments in our quality of life and infrastructure that help continue to improve our lifestyle and our levels of health.”

Buster Evans, school system superintendent, said the ranking is another “great accomplishment for our community.” “Forsyth County Schools is proud to be part of a community that is recognized for good health because it goes hand-inhand with education. Jackson said the school system is doing its part, as are the city, county and private industries. “There’s a unique collaboration that exists,” she said. “There’s that collaboration that’s weaving together these silos that have typically been out there and that has brought us this far and will continue bringing us to the goal.”

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Jackson Weaver plays tennis with friends at Central Park. Local recreational opportunities were a factor in the county ranking high for health in 2012. File photo

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 11G

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

Stars for all seasons

North Forsyth wrestlers lift up head coach Travis Jarrard after winning their second consecutive county championship and the program’s ninth in 13 years in December.

File photos

North Forsyth’s girls softball team accepts the Region 6-AAAAAA championship trophy after defeating West Forsyth in the October title game at Fowler Park. Fans, players and coaches react during North Forsyth’s victory over Mountain View in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs in February at Raider Arena. The Lady Raiders basketball team won a program-record 24 games this season.

South Forsyth outside hitter Hannah Shanley sends the ball over the net against Johns Creek in October. The Lady War Eagles volleyball team reached the Class 6A state quarterfinals this season.

West Forsyth quarterback A.J. Erdely, left, tries to evade a pair of Gainesville defenders during the season opener on Aug. 30. Erdely helped lead the Wolverines football team to a 10-2 record and an appearance in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

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12G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

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Progress 2013