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March 25, 2012

Foundations

INSIDE: University campus shaping up, 2E

Work begins toward facilities, 2F

Center tops expectations, 1G

A

of Forsyth

community is often defined by its amenities, both natural and manmade. In Forsyth County that can range from Lake Lanier and Sawnee Mountain to new schools and public facilities. These features form the very foundations of the community and enhance the high quality of life its residents enjoy. The impact of some, such as the Cumming Aquatic Center or Forsyth Conference Center, has been immediate. That of others, including new recreation centers and a rising college campus, is imminent. From its strong library system to vibrant arts scene, few would argue the area is on firm footing. Join us in Progress 2012 as we visit some of the foundations of Forsyth. A special section of the

online at www.forsythnews.com

PROGRESS 2012

Arts& Community Library grows by ‘bricks and clicks’ Online or in person, system serving many

Foundations

of Forsyth

By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

The Forsyth County Public Library continues to branch out from its first location in Cumming. Residents have three branches from which to choose. With the addition of two more, however, the county will have a central location and one in each quadrant, said Carla Beasley, assistant director for planning and facilities. “That will give us really good coverage throughout the county,” Beasley said. Aside from the Cumming library, the Sharon Forks branch serves the south side of the county and Hampton Park in the northeast.

Post Road library, in the early stages of construction, is expected to open in 2013 in western Forsyth. Another branch in the planning stages will serve residents in the Matt community of northwestern Forsyth. “When we actually build a branch, [the usage] explodes,” Beasley said. “Typically, people who don’t live that close to the library just aren’t library users.” Once a branch’s potential service demographics encompass about 30,000 people, she said, it’s time to consider building another. See LIBRARY | 2D

Inside this section

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

T h e s t a ff o f t h e Forsyth County P u b l i c L i b r a r y ’s Sharon Forks branch helps patrons there, above. Left, Carla Beasley, assistant director for planning and facilities, holds a map of the system’s coverage area, including the Post Road location slated to open in 2013.

Centers keeping seniors active, 3D All eyes on theater, 5D


2D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

United Way praises generous community Support keeps pace with growing need For the Forsyth County News

FROM 1D

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Library

The Sharon Forks branch, above, is the Forsyth County Public Library’s busiest one.

At 60,000, a single branch typically can’t meet the needs of its area. Cumming, which opened in 1992, has hit that mark, though the opening of Post Road will reduce that congestion. Sharon Forks won’t get much relief from that Post Road branch, but help is on the way. As part of the successful 1-cent sales tax referendum in November, voters approved a plan to expand the branch by about 6,000 square feet. Since opening in 2000, Sharon Forks has become often the library’s busiest branch, said Stephen Kight, assistant director for public services. “We really have a lot of families down here in the south part of the county,” Kight said. “On the weekends, it’s crazy.” The library started out with one day for storytime for children at each location, but Sharon Forks has since expanded to three. This year, the library also began a Babies & Books program at Sharon Forks for children 18 months and younger. Kids’ programming is available at all the branches, as are activities for teens and adults. “We really have expanded to every single age group,” Kight said. “This is a very progressive library system … It really responds to the need of the community.” Book clubs for elementary, teens and adults run all year, and the popular Forsyth Reads Together program has gotten the community to focus on a novel each year since 2003. Cupcake wars and duct tape crafts are some of the recent programs for teens. The Great Decisions lecture series, a partnership with North Georgia College & State University, recently wrapped up its annual program discussions on foreign policy topics. “Forsyth County Public Library really has something for everyone in the community,” Beasley said. “We can offer people pretty much anything that they come in needing.” In terms of materials, the library has books, CDs, DVDs and more within its walls — and beyond. In 2011, the county’s virtual “eLibrary” opened for use on the Internet. It offers books, music, video, reference materials and more in a digital format for computers or electronic readers and devices. “We generalize by saying we have bricks and clicks,” Beasley said. “And both are growing.” Whether online or in person, she said the staff is “at the heart of both libraries,” making recommendations and guiding people to the right information. A recent update to the two oldest branches, Cumming and Sharon Forks, moves the staff to a one service desk model.

Stephen Kight, assistant director for public services, and Carla Beasley, assistant director for planning and facilities, talk about the expanding library system.

Where to go • Cumming library, 585 Dahlonega Road • Hampton Park library, 5345 Settingdown Road • Sharon Forks library, 2820 Old Atlanta Road • Online: eLibrary: forsythpl.org

Beasley said it’s another way to make the library more convenient and make the best use of staff. The newer Hampton Park, which opened in 2010, and the future Post Road branch also incorporate that model in their design. Plans for Post Road also include a new automatic material handling system to sort check-ins, Beasley said. “That will give staff more opportunity to actually interact with patrons,” she said. The new branch will also receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, or LEED, which should reduce operating costs and make the building comfortable for visitors, Beasley said. She said the county and community support of the library has given it the opportunity to grow. Kight recognized the nonprofit group FCPL Friends & Advocates, which does much fundraising for the library to support programs and other endeavors. The group recently opened a used book store within the Cumming branch that’s taken off quickly. “They have given us so much support and so much money,” he said. “They really have raised the level of what we’re able to do.”

Cumming Dance Academy, Inc. "The perfect dance facility for both the serious and the recreational dancer..."

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In 2011, more than 5,100 donors came together to support close to 60 nonprofit organizations and programs that provided direct services to residents throughout the Forsyth County community. Their investment of nearly $1.3 million created more opportunities for children and youth to succeed and helped sustain a safety net of essential human care services. Food, one of the most basic needs, was the focus of the 19th 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 26,000 pounds of food that was distributed to 10 different food pantries in the county that served those families most in need. The FamilyWize Prescription card, offered by United Way, saved county residents $84,414 on prescriptions in 2011. This discount card is free for anyone who needs assistance with their prescription costs. Data from the 211 information and referral hotline charted 1,110 calls for utility assistance, mortgage and rent payment, and food assistance in 2011. Programs such as The Place and St. Vincent DePaul were there to help. About 100 children received dental services from six dental practices volunteering to help the children and youth who needed services the most. Give Kids a Smile Day initiative is a collaboration between Forsyth County Schools and United Way of Forsyth County. The Holiday Giving Tree for Kids, another program that made an impact in 2011, brought together United Way of Forsyth County, the Forsyth County Family YMCA, donors and countless volunteers to provide holiday gifts to about 2,500 local children. This number has steadily increased 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

At a glance The following is a breakdown of 2011 United Way of Forsyth County funding by impact area: • Substance abuse/mental health/domestic violence services: $141,730 • Promoting self-sufficiency/ strengthening families and seniors: $308,160 • Therapeutic services for atrisk children and youth: $219,733 • Promoting community health, safety, leadership, information and referral and nonprofit education: $213,515 • Strength-based support services for children and youth: $270,711 • Services for citizens with special needs: $83,583 • Donor designations made outside Forsyth County: $53,722 • Total investment: $1,291,154 Source: United Way of Forsyth County

Flavors of Forsyth One of the biggest opportunities to bring everyone in the community together will be the third annual Flavors of Forsyth. The event is set for noon to 6 p.m. May 20 at the Forsyth Conference Center, outside on the campus of Lanier Technical College. This festival of food will benefit those nonprofits and programs that are serving our community. More details can be found online at www.UnitedWayForsyth.com.

lives in our community by mobilizing the caring power and spirit of residents. It does 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, the United Way was able to make a significant impact on the lives of nearly 50,000 residents in 2011 and continue their work in 2012.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Big Creek Greenway • Vickery Village • Cumming, GA 10K starts at 7:45am • 5K starts at 9:00am Entry Fee: $20 Until April 21 $35 Both Races • Ages 10 & Under $10 Peachtree Qualifier • Chip Timed

Registration online at www.active.com

Team Awards Team Spirit Award • Most Inspiring Mother Award Fastest Team • Fastest Pastor/CEO Individual Awards Overall Male & Female in 5K & 10K • Master Male & Female in 5K & 10K Top 3 male and female in these age groups: 14 & under,15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60 & over Activities Food & Beverages • Music & Giveaways • Clowns & Face Painting

Visit

Tutus & Taps

for all your dance supplies! Located in CDA! Shoes, Leotards, Tights & Accessories, Come by Today!

This fast and level course travels down a tree-covered pathway along Big Creek, finishing the race with an incline through Vickery Village.

CDA II Performance Academy opening in Fall 2012! Offering more classes for more dancers and performers!

Proceeds benefit women and their children at Abba House trying to get their lives back from addiction and abuse!

For more information or to register for summer camp & fall registration, visit us online at www.cummingdanceacademy.com or call

770•781•4922

419 Tribble Gap Rd. • Cumming, GA 30040 www.cummingdanceacademy.com

Contact: Erin Harris, 678-208-2000 ext:104 administrator@abbahouse.com


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 3D

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

‘A place that’s for them’

Senior centers offer outlet for active group By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

Forsyth County’s fastest growing age group in the next 20 years is projected to be adults 65 and older. Planning ahead, the county’s senior services department expanded to a new location in 2011 to spread out its offerings to more residents, said Valerie Rhoads, interim director. “We already know it’s going to happen just from all the projections,” she said. “We had one center, now we have three. “I know [the director’s] vision was to have two more — one on the east side, one on the west side.” The three existing centers, each about nine miles apart, serve residents in the north, south and central regions of Forsyth. The Center at Charles Place, which is next to the main branch of the public library in Cumming, is the county’s oldest and the most traditional site, Rhoads said. Charles Place gears its activities to residents 60 and older and also provides bus service to bring people to the center. The local Meals on Wheels program is run from Charles Place. Hearthstone Lodge, in north Forsyth, and Sexton Hall Enrichment Center, to the south, typically offer more active opportunities and classes, she said. Hearthstone was originally built as a community center with an indoor pool. The county bought the building and opened it as a senior center in 2007. The pool, fitness center and open room for gaming are some of the

Foundations

of Forsyth

Where to go • Center at Charles Place, 595 Dahlonega Highway • Hearthstone Lodge Community Center, 7305 Lanier Drive • Sexton Hall Enrichment Center, 2115 Chloe Road • Contact: (770) 781-2178 for more information, or visit www.forsythco.com.

lodge’s most popular features, Rhoads said. The county’s newest center, Sexton Hall, opened in September to give southern residents a more convenient location. Formerly a church, the converted building provides several rooms for classes and a large central room with a dance floor. Rhoads said each center has somewhat of a niche in terms of activities or visitors. The newest center is already fashioning its place. “Sexton Hall’s definitely continuing education or lifelong learning and the arts,” she said. Program coordinator Chris Luttrell said classes include fitness, art, computer and games, among others. “We’re seeing a lot of new faces there,” said Luttrell, adding that some residents who typically attend the other centers may visit Sexton for particular classes as well. Gatherings for games take place at

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Margaret Hunter, from left, Catherine Bolen, Charlene Oldham and Kay Twiner play bridge at Hearthstone Lodge Community Center, one of three senior facilities in the county. Below, seniors participate in a water aerobics class at Hearthstone Lodge.

all three centers, and bridge, mah jong and canasta are some of the most popular. Luttrell said the centers provide a place to meet, but the friendships often extend outside of the walls. “One thing I hear a lot is that it’s so nice to come to a place that’s for them, and that they don’t have kids running around,” she said. Dance events, recipe swaps and day or destination trips are designed with

seniors in mind. For those who plan to participate in the many activities through the centers, the department recently began offering several levels of memberships. Residents can buy passes to attend activities at all three, or pay as they go for those that charge a fee. The memberships offer five levels of involvement, ranging up to an allinclusive annual pass.

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4D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

‘Grown quite a bit’ Abba House prepares for an expansion

Foundations

of Forsyth

By Julie Arrington

jarrington@forsythnews.com

A local nonprofit program that helps women in need is ready to start expanding. Abba House offers assistance not only to women trying to overcome addictions, eating disorders or depression but also to those who are victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Jim Sharp and his wife, Chris, moved their ministry in 1999 from Florida and founded the organization near the Silver City community on the Dawson-Forsyth county line. Sharp said he recently received the finalized plans for a new center, which is expected to house 67 women

Bailey Pitzer marks items at the Abba House Thrift Store.

‘It’s helped me to find God. I was really mixed up and crazy and didn’t have anyone or anything and had two kids to take care of.’

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Pam Sarratt, left, and Wanda Deriso organize merchandise at the Abba House Thrift Store, one of two the nonprofit organization runs. Left, Vanessa Fowler, center, and Becky Welch chat while working.

Bailey Pitzer

Abba House resident

and their children. The center is being built with $1.5 million in federal rural development funds, but Sharp said they need warehouse space for supplies. “We have an organization that will give us all the sheetrock for the building, but we have to find a place to store it,” Sharp said. He said the center could be finished in a year. “With the women and children in the program and the interns and ministry training people we have, our total population is 35 women and children, so we’ve grown quite a bit,” Sharp said. Abba House provides a

April 7th

Taste of Forsyth Along the Hospitality Highway Saturday 11 am - 6 pm Food Samples: $1.00 - $4.00 Admission: FREE

How to help Abba House is looking for warehouse space to store building supplies for its new center. Those who would like to help can call (678) 313-8912.

variety of services to the community, including a food bank that feeds about 100 families per month. Through its families-inneed program, Abba House provides social workers in local schools with free clothing for children. The organization also features two thrift stores. One opened in 2002 in the Silver City community, while the other debuted seven years later at Hammond’s Crossing

July 3rd & 4th Independence Day Festivities July 3rd - Street Dance • Food & Craft Vendors Childrens’ Activities 6 pm - 11 pm Fireworks 9:30 pm at Fairgrounds July 4th - Annual Steam Engine Parade @10 am

September 1st & 2nd

IPRA (International Professional Rodeo Association) World Championship Rodeo Saturday 8 PM • Sunday 7 PM Admission: 13 & up - $15.00, 5 - 12 - $10.00 4 & under - FREE, Seniors 65+ $12.00 7 Event Rodeo includes: Bull Riding, Barrel Racing, Steer Wrestling, Saddle Bronc Riding, Bareback Riding, Calf & Team Roping

on Keith Bridge Road. Sharp said the Hammond’s Crossing store has grown over the years and has been expanded to 10,600 square feet. Bailey Pitzer, an Abba House resident of about four months, works at the store. There, volunteers sort donations of electronics, furniture, clothing, bric-a-brac and other items and decide whether they can be sold or sent elsewhere.

Pitzer said she came to Abba House after serving time on drug charges. “It’s helped me to find God,” the 26-year-old said. “I was really mixed up and crazy and didn’t have anyone or anything and had two kids to take care of. “I got busted and prayed for a way out and for a place where I could get to know God and get to know myself once I got out. Somehow I ended up at Abba House.” Pitzer said the experience has changed her life. Since coming to Abba House, she has begun restoring relationships with her family. Her children come to see her as well. “They’ve given me a second chance and a way to get back on my feet and to know how and where I need to start to heal myself,” Pitzer said. “It’s great.”

October 4th - 14th

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


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 5D

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Sights, sounds fill new theater Southside arts emerge with Dancing Goat By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

It’s been nearly a year since Performing Arts North found a home. In one year, the group turned a retail center space into a visual arts hub for the communities of northern Fulton and southern Forsyth counties. The Dancing Goat Theatre opened in June, thanks to the help from a $10,000 grant from the Johns Creek Foundation. There have been a few adjustments along the way, said Margarita Moldovan, its managing director. “We’ve had to consolidate a lot of our offerings, she said. “We no longer have so many production groups.” The theater opened with PAN’s three theater companies: Shakespeare Studio for high school students; Curtain Climbers, for young children; and the theater’s adult company, the MAN Presents.

Foundations

of Forsyth However the Shakespeare theater is now run through another group. The other two companies are simply called PAN and PAN Children’s. Moldovan said this has made marketing much easier and less costly. “We have huge bills we have to meet every month and sometimes the artistic side has sacrificed to try to make those commitments we have,” she said. But while the organization’s makeup has been altered, its offerings are just as strong, if not more so. Because PAN has its own facility, it’s able to open its doors to other theater companies looking for a performance space. “That’s one of the other things I really wanted to achieve,” Moldovan said. “We’re trying very hard to work with smaller companies so they can afford to have a place to be and not have to go to the schools

Ari Jerome helps direct a recent rehearsal at the Dancing Goat Theatre.

Online

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

For more on Performing Arts North, visit www. performingartsnorth.org

Madison Larson, center, rehearses with fellow cast members at the Dancing Goat Theatre in Johns Creek. Below, managing director Margarita Moldovan, center, and crew member Michelle Daly adjust lights and music.

that seat 650 people.” The Dancing Goat can seat about 120, which she said is the perfect size for small community theaters. Another perk of having a space is the summer camps the studio will be doing this year. Moldovan said they tried in the past. Without the space, however, the camps were perceived as less legitimate. “When you don’t have a location, it’s so difficult to get people to sign up for something like that,” she said. “But now that people know where we are, I think we’ll have a booming summer camp.” In the coming year, Moldovan said she’s hoping to be a venue for local and guest artists, in addition to

continuing to be a strong partner in education, working with Johns Creek and north Fulton schools, as well as Lambert and South Forsyth high schools. “We’re focusing on emerging artists,” she said.

“We couldn’t have done that before either. “If we didn’t have a home, who’s going to go to some random theater for that? But now, if it’s at the Dancing Goat, they know it’s legitimate.”

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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 25, 2012

A Family Tradition for over 64 Years From our family of professional, dedicated employees to your family—We'd be honored to serve you. Jim Otwell

Deanie Creamer

President

Vice President

Janet Otwell

James Otwell

John Otwell

Joseph Otwell

Controller

New Vehicle Sales Manager

Asst Controller

Service Advisor

Jerry Williams

Richard Brooks

General Manager

Fixed Operation Manager

Jeff Crawford Inventory Manager

AnniveRSARY sales event 64 YeARS And GoinG StRonG!

PICK YOUR PAYMENT. PICK YOUR DOWN-PAYMENT.

Richard Kent

Todd Bates

Harvey Newland

Used Vehicle Sales Manager

Finance Director

Finance Manager

Steve Barker

Vickie Sutton

Mary Carey

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Office Manager

Bdc Manager

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8D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Organizations ready for a busy 2012 New places, faces highlight changes

able to provide many opportunities for artists and supporters of the arts to thrive and grow in our community,” she said. “We are actively looking for members to participate.”

By Jennifer Sami

Forsyth County Arts Alliance

jsami@forsythnews.com

www.forsytharts.org

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 2011 and goals for 2012.

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 HospitalForsyth. “Local arts organizations have felt the pressure of a challenging economy and we hope this grant funding will help those organizations provide great programming and arts opportunities for our community,” said James McCoy, the alliance’s past president. The alliance was created from the $ 2 m i l l i o n s a l e o f t h e S aw n e e 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. Andy Burt, alliance president, said applications would be considered from “any group that’s trying to either expand the arts or be involved in the arts community.” A grants workshop was held in March to help people apply, but the deadline to send a letter of intent to apply for grant money is April 27. 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, Burt said.

Sawnee Artists Association www.sawneeart.org

Since 1974, the organization has been an outlet for local artists. Now more than 100 members strong, it’s home to more than just painters, said president Charlotte Gardner. “We have wood turners, sculptors, metal works, handmade jewelry, pottery, glass, fiber, photography and much more,” she said. The group meets monthly at McDonald & Son Funeral Home & Crematory and holds three events annually. First up will be the Bellezza member show and exhibit that runs April 5-28 at the Bowen Center for the Arts in Dawsonville. In September, the association will put on its through the Lens photography exhibit. The group’s largest event is Christmas in Central Park in November. “Over 90 vendors participate in this event with all original works,” Gardner said. The event’s two-day run typically draws more than 2,000 people, she said. “Through exhibitions, programs, festivals and educational venues, SAA is

For the Forsyth County News

Caroline Cavallo, a dancer from the Royal Danish Ballet, recently led a class at the Sawnee Ballet Theatre.

Sawnee Ballet Theatre

www.sawneeballettheatre.com

The ballet company recently held its spring concert, “From Ballet to Broadway,” featuring a variety of pieces from Broadway shows. Artistic Director Joan Kall Stewart said the company is gearing up for its annual Christmas production of the “Nutcracker.” “We always have big changes every year,” she said. “This past year was extraordinary because we had wonderful new set pieces added in and it was just fabulous.” The company also brought in guest teachers this past year for master classes, including a dancer from the Royal Danish Ballet who taught a master class recently. The company also performed during Ballet Fest Atlanta earlier this month.

Sawnee School of Ballet

www.sawneeschoolofballet.com

Since 1990, the school has offered classes for dancers from preschool through professional. The school offers more than just ballet, said Joan Kall Stewart, owner. Classes include tap, jazz, contemporary,

modern, hip hop and musical theater in addition to ballet. Recitals will be held in the beginning of June featuring a variety of performances from all the school’s dancers. “The end of the year is exciting for the children because it shows the work they’ve all done all year and their progress,” Stewart said. “It’s a wonderful showcase for the dancers to get to perform … and it’s such a fun situation for them.” Starting in June, the school will offer its annual dance camps. “We’ve got a fabulous summer of many, many different camps,” Stewart said.

Sounds of Sawnee Concert Band

www.soundsofsawnee.com

With a new president, has come a year of new changes. Since Randy Dashiell took over, he’s jazzed up the band. Dashiell, who has participated in several Cumming Playhouse productions, brings a lot of theater experience to the group. But he’s also started up a jazz band within the group. The 14-piece jazz band features saxophones, trombones, trumpets, bass, keyboard and rhythm. “That’s kind of exciting and new … it’s big band style,” he said. “They’ll have their own gigs, but there will be times when we’ll perform together.” The band also is adding a new summer concert to its gigs this year. They’ll be at the Cumming Playhouse on July 7. Some things haven’t changed, however. The band still has about 60 active members, who will continue to perform during the city’s steam engine parade July Fourth and still plan to do a Christmas concert at the Cumming Playhouse, as well as perform during Christmas in Central Park.

Fairgrounds known for its hospitality Venue site of various happenings 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 familyoriented fun. The annual fair, which takes place in October, was the first event at the fairgrounds, starting in 1995 as a six-day event. T h e f e s t iva l h a s s i n c e 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 17th annual fair didn’t post record numbers, but still drew more than 111,000 people. The fairgrounds 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 April 7 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 venue for charity events, such as Relay for Life, or other community gatherings, such as church-sponsored car shows. In November, the fairgrounds was the site of what is expected to become another popular annual event, the National BBQ Cup: Que’n in Cumming. The barbecue competition drew a crowd of thousands, as well as more than 90 professional and 30 amateur cooks from near and far. 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. Fairgrounds staff members work year round to keep the area well maintained and continue planning for big events. The annual fair involves a full year of preparation to bring in a variety of acts.

The Sawneeinvites Artists Association you to our 11th Annual Members Art Exhibit and Sale:

Bellezza

“Dream, Inspire, Challenge, Create” The Bowen Center for the Arts

334 Highway 9, North, Dawsonville, GA 30534 paintings, photography, bronze, wood, glass, pottery, jewelry and more!

April 5 - 28, 2012

Tuesday - Friday 10-4 PM, Saturday 12-4 PM Reception: Saturday, April 14, 2012 1-4 PM Many thanks to the Dawson County Arts Council For more information about the SAA, visit www.sawneeart.org

File photos

Cayla Rose, left, and Joy Krout enjoy a ride during the 2011 Cumming Country Fair & Festival at the Cumming Fairgrounds. Below, visitors line up during last fall’s National BBQ Cup event at the fairgrounds.


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 9D

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Cumming Playhouse center stage for arts

Year will welcome lively, diverse lineup For the Forsyth County News

Established in 2004, the Cumming Playhouse is housed within the Cumming 1923 Historic School at 101 School St. The playhouse is a department of the City of Cumming, operates budget-wise like the other departments and is staffed similarly. The responsibilities of the playhouse staff are many. They include contract negotiations with various theater companies and performing groups, advertising, promotion, grant writing, sponsorship solicitation and ticket sales. They also include Web site management, graphic design, coordinating audience seating, overseeing the volunteer usher staff and maintaining the venue. While the duties may seem vast, there is another crucial element that helps determine the success or failure of the playhouse function — the theater companies, their casts, crews and affiliates. The playhouse is fortunate to have attracted a fine group of experienced theatrical professionals. Bob and Kathy Russell, best known for their organization, Georgia Senior Follies LLC, are among them. Under BK Productions they produced a most successful 42nd Street in fall 2011, and will be bringing “Annie” to town Nov. 15 – Dec 9. The Russells moved to Cumming nine years ago from San Jose, Calif. Both Bob and Kathy are established performers, directors and educators in the performing arts arena. Georgia Senior Follies, which will be presented April 20-May 6 this year, is one of the most attended productions in the venue’s history. This year, due to patron demand, the show will run for three weekends, or 12 perfor-

File photos

Contact • For more details on opportunities for Cumming Playhouse contributions and associated benefits, contact Linda Heard, executive director, at (770) 781-2010. • Visit www.playhousecumming.com for performance overviews, upcoming audition information and tickets.

mances, said Linda Heard, playhouse director. The Gypsy Theatre Company, with principals Danielle and Mercury Gustaveson, is a locally owned theater company that has produced 14 successful shows at the playhouse, attracting full houses and providing much enjoyment. Having just finished a successful run of “The Dixie Swim Club” in February, Gypsy will be producing “The Wizard of Oz” June 7-July 1, and “Death Trap” Oct. 11-Nov 4. Gypsy’s presentation of “The Miracle Worker” in fall 2011 earned itself a place in the hearts of theater-goers and will remain for some time as one of the playhouse’s most excellent productions in performance and direction, Heard said. The Mountain Music and Medicine Show, originating in nearby Dahlonega, recorded live on the Cumming Playhouse stage March 24. The show will be broadcast at a later date on Georgia Public Radio.

“Forever Plaid” will return July 12-Aug. 5, produced by Playright Productions. “The Odd Couple” will be presented Aug. 9-Sept. 2, introducing The Company to playhouse audiences. This is a new theater organization to the Cumming stage with veteran performer, Gabe Russo, at the helm. Russo just presented “Summerwind, an Evening with Frank Sinatra” March 16-18. “Smoke on the Mountain,” an all-time playhouse favorite, will return Sept. 6-30, produced by the original company Playright Productions, which performed to sell-out audiences some five years ago. The Cumming Playhouse Singers, a 60-member chorale under the direction of Van McCollum, was established in 2006 and performs two to three concerts each year at the playhouse, as well as some off-site concerts. ”Musical Mirth” will be per-

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Lisa Manette Allender stars in a scene from “The Dixie Swim Club” at the Cumming Playhouse. Left, Allen Daniel, left, as George Bailey, and Derrel Emmerson as Clarence the angel rehearse a scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

formed by the Singers on May 8. The Singers holiday presentation is scheduled for Dec. 14. Also during the month of May, the playhouse will present “The Dalena Ditto Show” on May 19 and “Johnny Cash-Now” on May 20. “Capitol City,” a big band and swing music concert, will open May 26. “The Sounds of Sawnee Concert Band” a regular on the playhouse stage, presented “Music of the British Isles” on March 13 and will present a patriotic concert July 7. The North Georgia Barber Shop Singers sang to a full house March 3 and will return during the Christmas season with its one-of-a kind holiday presentation Dec. 11. Christmas Classics, under the direction of Jeanie Lipscomb, Marianna Carroll and Gloria Szokoly, will return in December, again featuring the North Georgia Chamber Symphony. For a very special treat, “Sanders Family Christmas” will perform a short run for one week Dec. 17-22. “Branson on the Road” will be

back for New Year’s with its new country music variety show. The playhouse is fortunate to be a department of the city, enjoying the privilege of budgeted monies for the advancement of performing arts. While these funds go far in securing activities, additional funding from sponsors, patrons and benefactors is always needed and much appreciated for special unfunded projects, such as broader advertising, stage, lighting and sound enhancements. Cumming, as a duly chartered municipality in Georgia, is considered a public charity. Its respective departments enjoy the same designation in receiving tax deductible donations. All checks may be made payable to the City of Cumming for the Cumming Playhouse. Contribution letters are mailed in December of each year for tax filing purposes. A grant was received in 2011 from the Forsyth County Arts Alliance. It funded the installation of new stage flooring and an elevated bandstand.


10D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Society helps in many ways No-kill shelter adopts out 1,131 in 2011 For the Forsyth County News

When the Humane Society of Forsyth County was established as a no-kill shelter nearly 36 years ago, there was no county animal shelter. A group of volunteers saw a need to care for stray animals in the county. They placed cats and dogs in foster homes and “forever” homes, and encouraged humane treatment of animals. While there has been a county-operated shelter for some time, the humane society continues to be the only no-kill shelter providing vital services to Forsyth County. As a nonprofit organization, the humane society is not funded by local or state government or national animal rescue groups. It relies entirely on donations, fundraisers, sponsorships and grants. Here are a few of its accomplishments for 2011: • A total of 1,131 animals — 647 dogs and 484 cats — were adopted into permanent homes during 2011, an increase of 40 percent over the previous year. • The society established Paws Across Forsyth, working with the Forsyth County Animal Shelter to increase adoption rates by including county shelter animals in off-site adoption events. This is the first step

toward our goal of a no-kill community. • The thrift store at Tri-County Plaza in Cumming, which offers a wide selection of previouslyowned 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 economy has rendered many people unable to care for their pets due to job losses or home foreclosures. The society offers assistance through the pet pantry and spay/neuter program. • A free training workshop (“I Adopted A Dog, Now What?”) is offered each month for families who adopt a dog through the society. • The humane society participates in community events, including Taste of Forsyth and the Cumming Christmas Parade, and sponsors the annual Pet Photos with Santa event. • Adoption events are held each weekend at Petco and PetSmart on Market Place Boulevard, Rucker Pet on Bethelview Road, and Petco on Hwy. 9 in Milton. Check the Web site for dates and times. You can help the Humane Society of Forsyth County No-Kill Shelter provide these needed services for the animals and the community. Join, volunteer, attend fundraisers (such as the eighth annual Bark & Boogie Ball on Oct. 20), donate and support the thrift store. For more information about the programs and events at the shelter, 4440 Keith Bridge Road, visit www.forsythpets.org or call (770) 887-6480.

File photos

Gwen Hays looks at a dog during a fall adoption drive, a joint effort between the Humane Society of Forsyth County and the Forsyth County Animal Shelter.

Al Cade plays with a puppy he adopted during a recent adoption drive. Left, during a humane society educational event, Chattahoochee Elementary first-graders get up close with Marley.


SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 11D

FLASHLIGHT EGG HUNT Kindergarten - 5th grade Friday, April 6th • 8:45 pm Bring your basket & flashlight!

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www.firstbaptistcumming.org


12D | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012


March 25, 2012

A special section of the

online at www.forsythnews.com

PROGRESS 2012

Business

&Industry

Entertaining BUSINESS Conference center quickly becomes the host for most By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

Jeff Pruitt says he hears one question a lot: “How did we ever live without this?” Pruitt, operations manager of the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, works long hours setting up and overseeing most of the events held at the center. The 60,000-square foot facility opened in October 2010, after school and government leaders spent several years planning and securing some $14 million in state funding for construction. The center’s director, Sara Harrison, said she and the assistant director, J.D. White, came on board with the opening of the facility. “But we quickly realized that we couldn’t handle all the sales and operations by ourselves,” she said. Pruitt was brought on a part-time basis in January 2011 and began work full time in May. “It’s been really good and I continue to feel extremely honored to be a part of it,” said Pruitt, a lifelong Forsyth County resident. Added Harrison: “The customer service aspect we’ve been able to provide thanks to Jeff has been phenomenal.” See HOST | 2E

Foundations

‘This truly came out of the needs of the community.’ Jeff Pruitt

of Forsyth

Operations manager, Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center

Photos by Autumn McBride Forsyth County News

Sara Harrison, left, and Jeff Pruitt talk about some of the events at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center which has become a popular meeting venue.

Foundations

New campus progressing North Georgia College & State University students likely will be able to attend classes in Forsyth County this fall. After years of planning, a new satellite campus on Pilgrim Mill Road, near Ga. 400 at Exit 16, is taking shape.

of Forsyth

Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Inside this section

Projects could reshape corridor, 5E Productions benefit city, 4E

See story, Page 2E


2E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

University Center to impact city, Ga. 400 By Crystal Ledford

a

cledford@forsythnews.com

North Georgia College & State University students likely will be able to attend classes in Forsyth County this fall. After years of planning, a new satellite campus on Pilgrim Mill Road, near Ga. Hwy. 400 at Exit 16, is taking shape. While just metal framing at the moment, the new facility, which has been dubbed the University Center GA 400, could see as many as 400 students by September. Community and university leaders say the campus will create expanded opportunities for not only students but all residents. “An institute of higher learning has deep and longlasting impacts on a community,” said James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. “It impacts the economy of a community, and it impacts the sorts of opportunities that exist for a community.” Patricia Donat, acting vice president for academic affairs at North Georgia, agreed. “A vibrant higher education site not only brings students, faculty and staff to the community to work and learn, but this site will also be a resource for professional development programming, scholarly lectures and cultural events as the campus matures,” she said. Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt hopes that maturity is rapid. “Hopefully, we’ll see an expansion almost right after it opens,” he said. “I think we’ll have a tremendous campus from the start here. “Down the road, we might even have a campus as large as the one in Dahlonega.” Donat said the new campus — located near the Cumming Aquatic Center, a Georgia

FROM 1E

Host

Having grown up in the county, Pruitt said he has a deep appreciation for the center, which plays host to an average of 1.5 events every day. “This truly came out of the needs of the community,” he said. “Before this, there really wasn’t anywhere to hold an event for more than 200 people.” The facility boosts a 14,000-square-foot event room, which can be divided in many ways. “It can go from the one huge room up to nine small rooms, depending on the configuration,” Pruitt said. “We’ve had it almost every different way you can imagine.” Undivided, the room can hold up to 800 people with a dinner setup using round tables, he said. In a theatre setup with rows of chairs, it can accommodate up to about 1,500 people. Besides the large room, the center also has what Pruitt called “a training room,” which can seat up to 40 people, and an “executive board room” that can accommodate up to 20 people.

Likely to boost opportunities, local economy

The University Center GA 400 is taking shape in Cumming. The school is set to open in the fall.

Foundations

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Drivers Services Center, and a future National Guard Armory — will open with several programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. “North Georgia will provide its [associate of science in nursing], [master of business administration], and undergraduate programs in accounting and management,” she said. “An undergraduate program in criminal justice will be added in fall 2013, with prerequisite classes being offered this fall.” The new campus is the continuation of an ongoing partnership between North Georgia and the city of Cumming. The university’s MBA program, called Team MBA, has

Both rooms have laptop computer connections and overhead projectors, while the executive board room also has a small kitchen area. “This is great for small businesses or a home business owner who has a lot of clients in from out of town,” Pruitt said. “We’ve had people come in and use this for the meetings and set up their doughnuts or bagels and coffee and juice in the morning.” The center has held everything from small business meetings to giant fundraising events. Pruitt said the clients have ranged from the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and local and state governments to private community groups. Randall Toussaint, vice president of economic development for the chamber, said the facility has opened many doors for businesses in the county. “It’s allowed us to partner more with Lanier Tech in training opportunities,” he said. “From an economic development standpoint, it’s great to have this resource here.” The facility has also played host to its fair share of private parties, ranging from weddings and show-

been offered in Cumming since 2008. That program, which saw its first graduates in 2010, has been housed on the floor of Cumming City Hall since it began. Kelli Crickey, who was recently named director of the program, has said she and her colleagues are happy about the move to the new campus. “We’re very grateful for our relationship with the city of Cumming,” said Crickey not long after the announcement of her position was made. “It’s been really nice to occupy the fourth floor [of city hall], but now it’s time for us to be in an educational facility because we are a school.” The campus also represents

ers to birthday celebrations. “We feel we have the niche on people holding big parties,” Harrison said. The clients and gatherings continue to grow and change. She said for the first time this spring all but one of Forsyth’s five public high schools, as well as a couple from north Fulton, will hold their proms at the facility. Harrison said about 70 percent of the center’s business has come from groups or organizations in Forsyth, although it has drawn some from the Alpharetta and Johns Creek areas. “Word is starting to spread in other areas, so we’re expecting more business as time goes by,” she said. Pruitt predicted business will only get better for the center. “We’ve done phenomenally well in very tough economic times, just imagine how well we’ll do when times are better,” he said.

On the Net For more information on the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center (below), visit www.forsythconferencecenter. com.

relationship between North Georgia and Gainesville State University. Georgia Board of Regents announced the merger of the two colleges earlier this year. But even before that decision, the two were partners on the University Center GA 400 to help relieve crowding at both campuses. According to a release from North Georgia, its main campus in Dahlonega was nearing capacity, with more than 6,000 students, when construction on the new site began in January.

of Forsyth On the Net For more information about University Center GA 400, visit www.universitycenterga400.org.

Gainesville State’s Oakwood campus has exceeded capacity since 2000. In fall 2011, more than 1,500 students from Forsyth County were enrolled at both schools.

File photo

Kelli Crickey, director of North Georgia’s MBA program, has said she and her colleagues are happy about the move to the new campus.

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

The lobby area at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 3E

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

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4E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Shooting for the stars Moviemakers taking a shine to community By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

It may not be Hollywood, but Forsyth County seems to be gaining a good reputation in the film industry. Over the past two years, scenes for two major motion pictures have been shot in the county, along with a television reality series. Scenes from the Farrelly brothers’ “Hall Pass” and the “American Pie” franchise’s “American Reunion” were shot at Cumming’s Mary Alice Park. “Hall Pass” crews were there in the spring of 2010, while “American Pie” shot in summer 2011. In addition, Constantine Tzortzis, a Cumming restaurant owner, participated in ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” bringing cameras here last spring. When film crews come to town they not only create a bit more notoriety for the area, but also leave a large monetary footprint, according to a CummingForsyth County Chamber of Commerce official. “It’s quite exceptional to see the impact film projects have on a community,” said Randall Tousssaint, the chamber’s vice president of economic development. “And it’s a big impact in a very small amount of time.” Anna Barlow, the chamber’s director of tourism, noted that “American Reunion,” which is set to be released in theaters April 6, created revenues of more than $71,000 for the county during its week of filming. Forsyth isn’t the only county in Georgia taking advantage of the opportunities film projects bring. According to a report from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, from July 2010 to June 2011 some 335 productions invested nearly $684 million statewide, generating an economic impact of $2.4 billion for the state.

Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Anna Taylor Barlow talks about the growing film industry in Forsyth County.

File photos

Camera crews prepare for a scene on the set “American Reunion” last summer at Mary Alice Park. The movie is one of two that has been filmed at the park in recent years.

Foundations

of Forsyth That’s thanks largely to the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act of 2008. The act offers an acrossDimitri Tzortzis, left, son Constantine, and the-board flat tax credit of 20 wife Eleni stand for a family photo at their percent based on a minimum restaurant, Giorgio’s. Constantine particiinvestment of $500,000 on pated in ABC’s “The Bachelorette” last sumqualified productions in the mer. state. An additional 10 percent can be earned by including an future,” he said. imbedded Georgia logo on Barlow said the word from former projects. Forsyth projects seems to be getting out Toussaint said crews may spend just a pretty fast. few days or weeks in town, but the eco“The location manager for nomic impact can be long lasting. ‘American Reunion’ has recommended “They’re spending money at our us for another film project that will be hotels, at our restaurants, in our stores, in Georgia in April,” she said. “We’re but they’re also getting the word about working on arranging for them to shot our community out to other film compaat a private residence here in Forsyth nies who may want to come here in the

Successful 2011 paves way to a great 2012 By David Seago

For the Forsyth County News

The year 2011 was a great one for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, and Cumming and Forsyth County as a whole. In fact, we have continued to weather the economic storm better than nearly all of our neighboring communities. With 2012 looking even more promising, the chamber will focus our attention on the benefits Seago of doing business in Cumming and Forsyth County. In economic development, we will continue to work with our primary partners to identify ways we can improve and focus our efforts to build on past success. The year 2011 far surpassed the number of jobs and amount of capital investment made in our community during 2010. In the last 15 months, the chamber has worked with 18 companies, resulting in the creation of 1,072 new jobs and $44.7 million in new capital investment. The chamber will strive to improve those numbers yet again, constantly focusing on identifying American and international companies that would be a good fit for our community, as well as helping existing companies expand. The chamber recognizes that many of our new jobs and much of our economic vitality doesn’t always come from our largest companies, but from thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs. In 2012, The SBSC will continue to help small businesses grow by providing essential tools and resources.

The year 2011 far surpassed the number of jobs and amount of capital investment made in our community during 2010. In 2011, the SBSC held eight seminars and will hold at least 12 educational seminars in 2012 focused on providing small businesses with critical information. We also continue to be the voice of business at the public policy table. As a community, we face a substantial challenge to ensure that infrastructure stays nothing less than the best as we turn to a time of greater growth and prosperity. Nothing is more vital to our long-term economic health and well-being than great roads, great infrastructure and the best schools in America. The chamber will continue to build upon the great partnership that exists with the business community and local government to ensure our long-term goals are priority one for all of us. As 2012 chairman, it is my goal and vision that our community will continue to be the best place in the nation to live and do business. The year is off to a great start, and both short and long-term investments are being made to ensure lasting benefits for everyone in our community.

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) 887-6461.

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County on Lake Lanier.” While she could not give details about the project, she said the film’s actors would “include some very well-known names.” “The one in April will be a big one,” she said. To help bring more film projects to the county, the Forsyth County commission in August 2011 signed off on a contract with FLIPSFilm. For $600 a year, the Alpharetta-based company works to promote the community to the film industry. It also helps filmmakers coming to the county with any permits or other logistical issues involved in shooting. “We’re a one-stop shop for filmmakers,” said the company’s founder, Dale Sizemore, after the commission approved the contract. Another effort on local leaders’ part to land more film business was becoming a Georgia Camera Ready county. The program was established by the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment division of the state’s department of economic development to offer production companies additional resources and information about Georgia communities. In late February, Forsyth joined 24 other counties in receiving the designation, bringing the total number of Georgia Camera Ready counties to 136 out of 159. Barlow is ready for any productions that want to come to Forsyth. “We already have an affluent economy and these projects create even more positive economic impact,” she said.

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 5E

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Congestion relief Three projects could reshape 400 corridor By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

In the mornings, traffic on Ga. 400 south is bumper to bumper. In the evenings, the northbound commute can resemble a parking lot. For years, the very corridor that helped lay the foundation for the county’s tremendous population growth over the last two decades has been a nightmare for residents who commute south to work. But the situation could be improving as the Georgia Department of Transportation, MARTA and the State Road and Tollway Authority are looking at three separate projects along the corridor. Individually, each could improve conditions. Collectively, they could change the way motorists view Ga. 400. The first — extending the MARTA rail farther north — has been talked about for years. The project, dubbed Connect 400 would lengthen the transit reach from its current stopping point, at Ga. 400 and I-285, to McGinnis Ferry Road near the Forsyth-Fulton county line. Public meetings on the project began in January. While there’s still a long way to go, DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope said the project, if it happens, could only help. “Giving the people of Forsyth County the option for MARTA service is a benefit as far as GDOT is concerned as far as giving

File photo

people an alternative they don’t currently have and hopefully encouraging folks out of a single motor vehicle and into mass transit,” she said. “Any time you can get more folks into fewer vehicles, that is huge for congestion and air quality.” Pope noted that the DOT is working on its own project, for which it recently held three public meetings. The High Occupancy Toll, or HOT, lane would be a new lane on Ga. 400 that motorists would pay a fee to travel on. It would be in addition to the current toll for those traveling the highway between interstates 85 and 285. The toll would rise and fall based on traffic, with higher costs during peak traffic times. “We know there’s congestion and we know we need to relieve that, but we want to figure out what the community thinks is the best way to relieve that

Foundations

of Forsyth

Crystal Ledford Forsyth County News

During a recent open house at Piney Grove Middle, state Rep. Mark Hamilton talks with Kevin Stanfield about proposed express lanes that could ease traffic, left, along Ga. 400.

congestion on Ga. 400,” Pope said. “Even if somebody doesn’t support toll lanes, then maybe they have another idea for an interchange at another location that would help ease the congestion. We’re really just trying to get any input we can from the community and see how we can develop that into our work program.” Still in the public input phase, the department’s HOT lane concept, if it were to happen, is likely a ways off. In the meantime, the State Road and Tollway Authority is currently working on Ga. 400. In fall 2010, the authority extended its main toll on Ga. 400 until 2020 to build projects along the corridor. There are 11 projects in total, two of

which have been completed — modifying the merge with I-85 and tripling the left turn lane at the Mansell Road exit. The two projects that likely would have the most profound impact on Forsyth’s traffic are the furthest from happening. Both the project to introduce managed lanes from I-285 to McFarland Road and the project to widen Ga. 400 from McFarland Road to Hwy. 20 remain in the preliminary engineering plan stage. The feasibility studies for both are slated for June. Under way are projects to add a third transition lane extension at McFarland Road, a northbound ramp extension at Abernathy Road and connector ramps at I-85.

Banks in Forsyth County foresee brighter future ‘Signs of recovery’ cited By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

While the past few years have been difficult, the banking business in Forsyth County seemed to improve in 2011. Leaders of several local banks said their business saw some upswings last year and they’re hoping for continued improvement in 2012. “The first half of 2011 was pretty tough, but the second half was pretty good and we’re looking forward to this year being even better for Forsyth County,” said Tim Perry, president and CEO of Citizens Bank of Forsyth County. Citizens Bank is one of two with headquarters in the county. It has been open for 15 years and has four locations — three in Forsyth and one in neighboring Cherokee County. The other bank headquartered in Forsyth is Community Business Bank, which has just one branch that opened in January 2008. Carter Barrett, president and CEO, said he and other staff members were “very satisfied” with 2011. “We feel we made good progress in 2011,” he said. “Our balance sheet remained very strong and we didn’t have a whole lot in the way of problem assets. A highlight of the year, he said, was earning a Superior 5-Star rating from Bauer Financial Inc. for third quarter 2011. Community Business Bank was one of just two in Forsyth to earn the rating, which, according to reports from Bauer Financial, is given to banks considered the best in the nation in terms of overall financial performance. Bank of the Ozarks, which has numerous branches throughout seve r a l We s t e r n a n d Southeastern states, including one in Forsyth, also earned the ranking.

Both Perry and Barrett said they are pleased to be a part of the only two banks headquartered in the county. “ We ’r e e s p e c i a l l y pleased with the prospects of Forsyth County and Cumming,” Barrett said. “We’re well-banked here and that creates a robust industry for all of us.” Perry agreed, saying that the security of banks relies primarily on the overall state of a community’s economy. “I think the health of the banking industry reflects that of the health of the local economy,” he said. “I think we’ve seen the last three years — 2009, ’10 and the first half of 2011 — were extremely difficult for local banks. “But this year, we’re only two and a half months in, and we’ve seen a lot more activity.” Leaders of other banks with branches in the county, also say 2012 should be a better year. “We’ve turned a corner finally and gotten back to profitability,” said Tim Heard, president of United Community Bank’s three Forsyth branches. The bank is headquartered in Blairsville. “Things are getting better, but it’s going to be a slow recovery,” he said. “We would like to see it quicker, but we do see a lot of good things happening in Forsyth County.” Despite the still recovering economy, some banks have recently had expansions into Forsyth County. Alliance National Bank, headquartered in Dalton, opened a Forsyth branch in February. “We opened with six employees in Forsyth on Feb. 6,” said the branch’s senior vice president, Andrew Walker Jr. The Dalton location of Alliance has been in business since 1999. Walker

said the Forsyth branch is a “full-service location.” “We serve businesses, individuals and the nonprofit community,” he said. “We serve everyone.” Some banks decided to conduct business differently in 2011. Will Wade, senior vice president and retail marketing administrator of First Citizens Bank, which has one Forsyth and one Dawsonville location, called 2011 “a tough, but exciting year.” “We retooled due to the new economy, which is something almost every business has had to do,” he said. He said the bank built “strategic alliances” with Southern Capital Mortgage Group, and Ta y l o r, Tu r n e r a n d Hartsfield Insurance. Both are renting space in the bank’s Dawsonville branch. Another project, he said, will “ramp up” in the fall of this year. “We’re the sole originating bank of iHELP Student Loan Program [in G e o r g i a ] ,” h e s a i d , explaining the program provides private, nongovernment-backed loans. “A lot of these customers are juniors or seniors or people going back to school for higher degrees.” Community & Southern Bank, which has 33 branches across Georgia including one in Cumming, recently expanded its offerings. In February, the bank entered the long-term care and senior housing lending industry, providing traditional commercial bank loans for acquisitions, refinancing and construction. “We look forward to becoming an active participant in this business as we enhance the type of services offered to our customers,” said Steve McGee, the bank’s senior relationship manager, when the new offerings were announced. Whether they’ve been around a long time, are just getting started, or h ave m a d e c h a n g e s , Forsyth County remains a

good environment for banks, said James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of

Commerce. “There have been a lot of changes over the past five years, but there is still room for growth in

banking in Forsyth,” he said. “With every passing month and year, there are continued signs of recovery.”


6E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Celebration of service Chamber of Commerce reflects on an active year By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce paused in November to celebrate the accomplishments of 2011 during the organization’s 56th Annual Dinner & Celebration. The black-tie event was held in the Lanier Te c h n i c a l C o l l e g e Forsyth Conference Center. John Kieffer, 2011 chairman of the board, gave a short overview of the chamber’s successes before passing the gavel to 2012 chairman David Seago. “We’ve had a remarkable year and we continue to grow,” Kieffer told the crowd of about 600. “We’re close to reaching pre-recession membership numbers.” Kieffer said some of the highlights of 2011 included the hiring of a full-time tourism director, Anna Brostrom, who has since created several partnerships to further local tourism. Other accomplishments, he said, were in the area of economic development. He said chamber and county leaders worked together to better streamline permitting and zoning processes. In addition, Randall Toussaint, the chamber’s

vice president of economic development, led several business expansion and recruitment initiatives. “This year, we’ve had nine economic development programs that have created 793 new jobs,” Kieffer said. “And we’re on our way to reaching 1,000 by the end of the year.” Kieffer also recognized Jason Mock, director of the organization’s Small Business Services Center, noting that it had seen nearly 320 clients this year. He also noted the partnership with the Forsyth County school system. In 2011, the chamber and system began the PROPEL initiative, which seeks to make Forsyth a leader in high school graduation rates. “We continue to work closely with the schools to implement programs that will have long-lasting impacts on our community and our young people,” Kieffer said. Each year the outgoing chairman presents an award to someone who gave strong support during the leader’s term. This year, Kieffer presented the award to Brian Tam, county commission chairman, for his efforts to bring a spirit of cooperation to the Forsyth and Cumming governments.

‘We’ve had a remarkable year and we continue to grow.’ John Kieffer

Chamber chairman File photos

After accepting his role as the new chairman of the board, David Seago spoke briefly. He thanked chamber staff and members for continuing to improve the county. “We’re generating real results, real jobs and real capital investments,” he said. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of this year’s Charles F. Welch Citizenship Award. “This is one of the most fun jobs I get to do all year,” said James McCoy, chamber president and CEO. The award is presented annually to someone who “ t a ke s s e r i o u s l y t h e responsibility of citizenship and community service,” he said. It honors the memory of the late Charles Welch, a former Cumming city councilman, county commissioner and chamber chairman. Tim Perry presented the award to Gerald Blackman, Cumming

Tim Perry presents the Charles F. Welch Citizenship Award to Cumming Administrator Gerald Blackburn during the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner & Celebration at the Forsyth Conference Center. John Kieffer, left, presents the Chairman’s Award to Commission Chair Brian Tam.

administrator. Blackman has served as a municipal employee since the early 1970s, when he worked as director of City Park. In 1985, he was named city administrator. “Under his leadership, many projects have been completed in the city,” Perry said. “Among them: the Cumming Fair-

grounds, City Hall and of late, the aquatic center. “He has served the city for 39 years with honor and integrity.” Blackburn has also served for many years as a Baptist minister in several local churches, including Mayfield, Shady Grove and currently Harmony Grove. “Thank you for such a

h i g h h o n o r ,” s a i d Blackburn after accepting the award. B l a c k bu r n s a i d h e knew Charles Welch, calling him a “great, great individual.” “What a vision he had for Forsyth County, and now his vision has been brought about and we see it in so many things,” Blackburn said.

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 7E

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

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8E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Forsyth County hailed for Event celebrates its entrepreneurial heritage positive year Small firms hold key to recovery, professor says

By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

Remembering the entrepreneurs of Forsyth County’s past is a good way to honor the business successes of today, a speaker told a recent gathering. Ruben Boling, an instructor at North Georgia College & State University’s Mike Cottrell School of Business, addressed an audience of about 200 during the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Awards Luncheon. The event was held at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center. Boling, who also serves as the director of the Center for the Future of North Georgia, told the audience that he was “born and raised” here. “I am a Forsyth County native and I know there aren’t many of those around anymore,” he joked. Growing up in south Forsyth, he recalled how small businesses were the heart of the county. “We didn’t even have a Kmart or a bowling alley,” he said. “Back then, it was all small businesses … our county was built on a foundation of small businesses.” Boling praised the early entrepreneurs of the county. “All the things we think about now when running a business, like balancing a budget and meeting the payroll, they just grew up knowing,” he said. He noted a few other factors have led to the continued success started by those first small business owners. Among them, he said, have been the Forsyth County school system and strong infrastructure. “When I was a student at Big Creek Elementary School, all the second- and third-grade students

were in the same room with one teacher,” he said. “Now just look at how far we’ve come.” Boling also pointed to the extension of Ga. 400 as bringing business opportunities to the area. “[Ga.] 400 used to end at the Forsyth County line,” he said. “We should be thankful that now it goes so far north and all the way into downtown Atlanta.” Boling also discussed the importance of entrepreneurship in rebuilding the weakened U.S. economy. “It’s important for any community to recognize three things that entrepreneurs do,” he said. “They birth the new, create jobs and create wealth. “They will pull us out of this recession.” Boling said new firms have historically created some 3 million jobs annually, with each having an average of seven employees. “But that’s going down every year,” he said. “New firms are hiring fewer employees now. What used to seven is now down to five.” However, Boling remained optimistic. “Fifteen eventual $1 billion companies arise in the United States each year,” Boling said.

“There might have been one started right here.” He said all Forsyth small business owners should be celebrated. “They put in the hard work, take the risks and push the environment to grow,” he said. “They’re committed to this community and that’s what helps us all grow.” A number of them were honored during the event. Business Mentor of the Year awards were presented to Dereck Brooks of Brandywine Printing and Marie Dinsmore of Network for Success. Brandon Townsend of Elite Plumbing took the New Small Business of the Year award, while Sammy and Pam Wright of The Wright Import Service Center received the Small Business Person of the Year award. Jay Ryerse of JTech Networks received Entrepreneur of the Year, while the International Business of Year was presented to Randy Kauk of RainHarvest Systems. The Heritage Award, which is voted on by the chamber member and given to a business that has been a part of the community for at least 20 years, went to Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation.

Awards at a glance The following honors were presented during the Small Business Awards Luncheon: • Business Mentor — Dereck Brooks, Brandywine Printing; and Marie Dinsmore, Network for Success • New Business — Elite Plumbing • Small Business of the Year — The Wright Import Service Center • Small Business of the Year, one to nine employees — In-Depth Wraps • Small Business of the Year, 10 to 99 employees — Lenny’s Sub Shop and TriScapes Inc. • Small Business of the Year, 100-plus employees — Russell Landscapes Inc. • International Business — RainHarvest Systems • Entrepreneur — Jay Ryerse, JTech Networks • Heritage Award — Sawnee EMC Source: Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce

Many honored for milestones By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

Members of the 400 North Board of Realtors celebrated the successes of 2011 during an annual awards dinner. Held at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, the event drew about 170 of the organization’s members. The group includes real estate agents from Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties. “We’re honored to recognize all of our award recipients tonight,” said Melba Franklin, the organization’s president. “Congratulations to each of you for achieving so much in such a tough market.” The main focus of the evening was presentation of the Circle of Excellence awards. In order to earn the recognition for the first time, an agent must have $1 million or more in residential sales throughout his or her career. In total, 71 people garnered the recognition for 2011. Five were presented the group’s highest honors: Phoenix Award, for members named to the Circle of Excellence for 10 years; and the Crystal Phoenix, for those with 20 years. Jamie Chapman, Mickey Hyams, Erica Wagner and Owen Welch, all of Keller Williams Realty Community Partners, received Phoenix awards. Vicki Treadwell of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

took the Crystal Phoenix. Other awards presented included the Rookie of the Year, which goes to a member who had “outstanding production and contributions” during their first 18 months in the field. Kathryn Fickey of Century 21 Results Realty Services received the award. The top producer and “workhorse” awards for general brokerage went to Tom Becker of Becker Realty Inc. Tamara Stout of Century 21 was the recipient of those honors in the new homes category. The team top producer was North Georgia Group, while the team “workhorse” award went to the Welch Team. Four other awards were presented during a luncheon event in December. Tim Hopkins with Keller Williams Realty Community Partners was named Realtor of the Year. The Affiliate of the Year wa s G l e n d a S ny d e r o f SunTrust Mortgage, while Mark DiJohn of Results Realty Service received the President’s Award. The Jim French Award for exceptional achievement and contributions to the organization was presented to Carolyn Mixon of Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners. Franklin closed the event with optimism for the future. “All the hard work and the job all of you have done is incredible. Who would have believed our numbers for 2011,” she said. “Wow, what a wonderful 2012 it’s going to be hopefully for us this year.”

On the net For more information about the 400 North Board of Realtors, visit www.400northboardofrealtors.org.

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 9E

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

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10E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Sawnee EMC prepared to meet needs 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 the “New Deal,” the plan provided low-interest loans to 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 under-served rural farming areas where other utilities refused to go. A few years later on July 16, 1938, a few local visionaries incorporated Forsyth County Electric Membership Corporation in Cumming. It was one of the first EMCs in the state. Then on June 22, 1939, nearly one year later, the first switch was thrown to energize 168 miles of power lines and about 750 homes in rural Forsyth and portions of three other north Georgia counties received electric power for the first time. By December 1940, the service area had grown to 378 miles of line with more than 1,500 members. In August 1950, the membership unanimously voted to change the name of the Cooperative to Sawnee Electric Membership Corp. The name “Sawnee” was chosen because of the close proximity to Sawnee Mountain in Cumming.

My how things have changed...

Sawnee EMC, a not-for-profit electric cooperative, now provides electricity to more than 151,000 accounts through its seven-county service territory. Sawnee is the ninth-largest cooperative in the nation and maintains more than 9,900 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. 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. Sawnee EMC also offers natural gas.

Directions Sawnee EMC’s corporate campus is located at 543 Atlanta Highway in Cumming. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. From Ga. 400, take Exit 14 (Hwy. 20). Go west 1/2 mile to Hwy. 9 and turn right. The office is on the left at 543 Atlanta Hwy.

Jim Dean Forsyth County News

Contact 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.

Offerings • 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

Please note When establishing new service with Sawnee EMC, there is a onetime $35 connection fee and a $5 membership fee. A deposit may be required based on an applicant’s credit history and the type of service needed.


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 11E

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

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12E | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Growing together and depending on each other.


March 25, 2012

A special section of the

online at www.forsythnews.com

PROGRESS 2012

Government &Education Changing downtown Work on a voter-approved expansion of the Forsyth County Jail, as well as contruction of a new Forsyth County Courthouse, could begin this summer. For a look at the changes, see Page 2F.

Lab

Work

Instruction and approach setting STEM apart By Jennifer Sami

jsami@forsythnews.com

Ryan Carr used to be a straight-A student. Since he started at Forsyth Central High School’s STEM Academy, however, his grades have taken a turn. “Since kindergarten, I’ve never had a B. And these classes are just a lot more challenging this year and I actually have a B. I’m not proud of it,” Carr said. “I wanted a change from the normal everyday school life, something that was a little more challenging. And it’s definitely done just that.” Carr is one of 85 students talented enough to be selected for Forsyth County’s first STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academy. The three-year-program, open only to freshmen and sophomores, is in its inaugural year. Enrollment is expected to double for next school year. All of the county’s middle schools and

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

most elementary schools have science labs. But what the STEM Academy is doing is more than just offering more difficult science and math classes, said Kim Head, assistant principal. “They’re going to be able to walk into any college and do anything they want to,” she said. “We’ve taken a career pathway and we’ve put it into the academy.” The STEM program is split into biotechnology and engineering. Students choose their path when they start. In addition to taking more challenging math and science classes, they break into the two offerings to build, create, research and demonstrate.

Foundations

of Forsyth

Inside this section

Stephen Spence, left, and Elijah Stall join classmates in working on a lab experiment in teacher Bill Schuyler’s biotech class at Forsyth Central High’s STEM Academy. Left, Jane Roney works on an experiment. The facility is the county’s first STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academy.

See LAB | 6F

New school first in three years, 7F Lanier Tech bustling, 10F


2F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Facing the future eurtfu eht gniacF Facilities form the foundation of justice system By Julie Arrington

jarrington@forsythnews.com

Construction of a new courthouse and expanded detention center, two long-sought facilities seen as key in shaping Forsyth County’s future, could begin this summer. And for some, that comes not a moment too soon. The projects became a reality in November, when voters approved a six-year extension of the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, which included an estimated $100 million for the facilities. Preliminary artist renderings show the facilities will be built across East Maple Street from each other in downtown Cumming. Voters also approved the bonding of up to about $89 million for those projects to get started before the sales tax revenues are collected. The current, or sixth round, of the sales tax expires July 2013, at which

Foundations

of Forsyth

For the Forsyth County News

An artist’s rendering shows how the proposed new courthouse and jail expansion would transform downtown Cumming. A voter-approved extension of the 1-cent sales tax will pay for the facilities.

time the seventh round will kick in. Before that extension expires in 2019, estimates project it will bring in about $203 million. The Forsyth County commission voted in January to create a ninemember committee to advise on the projects and oversee the construction, which could start in July. The team met in March and agreed to begin the process of selecting a program manager, which could take about two months. Committee Chairman and Forsyth County Manager Doug Derrer said “development of plans and project timelines can begin to take shape” after a program manager has been

County jail

File photos

The current Forsyth County Jail was built in 1976.

Officials have said the Forsyth County Detention Center, which was built in 1976 with a capacity for 64 inmates and expanded in the 1990s to its current size, has grown crowded and unsafe. Its current capacity is 221, which includes inmates and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s employees who work there. Additional inmates are housed in other jurisdictions for a fee. Those held at the jail, which is on Veterans Memorial Boulevard near downtown Cumming, are either serving sentences of 12 months or less or have not yet gone to court on the charges that they face. While that process can take years, the attempt at building a new and larger jail has taken much longer. Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton was among many others who breathed a sigh of relief last

fall when voters approved an extension of the one-cent sales tax, which will be used to build a new facility capable of handling the county’s growing inmate population. Voters had rejected in referendum on bonds to build a new jail four times since 2001 and most recently in 2008. In 2009, beds in the cells were converted to triple bunks in an effort to house more inmates locally and keep costs down. That change increased the jail’s capacity by about 90. Paxton has said that from 200110, the county spent more than $10 million to house inmates elsewhere. He has also said that if conditions stayed the same, and a new jail wasn’t approved, the county could spend an additional $66 million in the next decade.

selected. “These are large-scale infrastructure projects that must be undertaken methodically with a great deal of planning and preparation,” Derrer said. “Doing so will help deliver quality facilities that will serve our community well for years to come.” The group’s other members include: • County Commissioners Pete Amos and Todd Levent • Sheriff Ted Paxton • Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley • Procurement Director Donna Kukarola • Finance Director and Chief

Financial Officer David Gruen • Public Facilities Director David Thornton • Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt During that same meeting, they discussed funding options such as issuing a $50 million bond to begin construction before the sales tax revenue starts coming in. Gruen was directed to discuss with local banks the options for taking out loans as an alternative to issuing a bond. While the specifics of the projects remain undetermined, the necessity is no secret. What follows is a look at how the current situations evolved.

courthouse

The Forsyth County Courthouse has anchored downtown Cumming since its predecessor burned down in 1973.

Lack of space, security and storage are issues employees who work at the Forsyth County Courthouse in downtown Cumming deal with on a daily basis. Preliminary plans for the new facility call for a 110,000-squarefoot courthouse. Officials have said only about 75,000 square feet would be built initially. That structure is expected not only to be more secure, but also have room for the courthouse’s current staff and needs, as well as the addition of a third Superior Court judge. Because the local judicial system has outgrown the structure, other spaces must be used for court proceedings. For example, prospective jurors must wait across Veterans Memorial Boulevard at the Forsyth County Administration Building until they can be moved in groups to the courthouse. It is not uncommon to see a line of

people extending from the building to the sidewalk in front of it as they wait to go through security in the building’s crowded lobby before proceeding to attend hearings or conduct other necessary business. In addition, many staff members of the Forsyth County Solicitor’s and District Attorney’s offices work across Maple Street in a building leased by the county. Important court documents are stored in more than 800 bankers’ boxes kept in storage that costs the county about $12,000 per year. Because of a lack of manpower and funding, not all of the files have been scanned electronically. A fireproof vault saved documents when the previous courthouse, which stood at the same location, burned to the ground in 1973. Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies who work at the courthouse have said the lack of the building’s security capabilities at times puts employees and the public at risk. A makeshift office sits in the file storage room at the Forsyth Country Courthouse.

Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies work the booking area at the jail.


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 3F

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

City of Cumming The City of Cumming, led by a group of

seasoned elected officials and a long term Mayor is actively establishing a legacy which posterity will recall as visionary. Ever seeking programs and projects that will better the community and searching out frugal means of funding, it is quite possible that records have -Author unknown been set here with regard to innovative leadership. Most especially in the midst of the country’s adverse economical situation, it is remarkable that the City of Cumming continues to purposefully march forward and bring good things to the people of Cumming, Forsyth and surrounding communities, while maintaining a balanced budget. Cumming, Georgia is a wonderful place to live, work, play, and succeed and while it is true that our town is referred to as “The Gateway to Leisure Living”, that privilege has come about as a result of extensive planning by dedicated people and concerted effort on the part of elected officials and the citizens of the town. Presently, this community should take great pride in the Aquatic Center, The Drivers Services Center, the soon to open University Center – 400 as these new offerings and others to come will serve the community well for many years into the future.

Protect your vision. Prevail over adversity. Persevere in the midst of turmoil. Purposely walk into the day.

“A community is not complete without higher education . . . ”

GA 400 University Center

-H. Ford Gravitt Mayor

The City of Cumming has been working with North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College for a number of years to build an instructional site in Forsyth County. The new facility, scheduled to open Fall 2012 will eventually offer a range of two- and four-year undergraduate programs, graduate programs and professional development opportunities. North Georgia's MBA program, currently located in the Cumming City Hall building, will move to the new location.

The new Georgia Department of Driver Services operations opened in July 2012 and offers the same services offered at the former County Way location in North Forsyth, but, according to Richard Turpin, Center Manager, it will “be offering more in the near future.” Located at 400 Aquatic Circle, off Pilgrim Mill Road (exit 16 of GA 400), the 9,000 square foot facility broke ground in early Spring 2012 and was funded by the City of Cumming.

Georgia Department of Drivers Services at Cumming The Cumming Aquatic Center opened in June 2011 and is located at 201 Aquatic Circle, about ½-mile from Georgia 400 on Pilgrim Mill Road. The $15 million facility offers two indoor pools, including a 50-meter competition pool and 25-yard instructional pool, as well as a seasonal outdoor pool that features a water slide and lazy river. As the Aquatic Center looks forward to its second summer in operation, the family-oriented outdoor recreational pool promises to offer fun for children of all ages. Meeting and exceeding the initial goals set forth for the facility, this community oriented project has certainly proven its worth, a fact shown by the overwhelming attendance and participation in it programs.

Cumming Aquatic Center

City of Cumming H. Ford Gravitt Mayor

Lewis Ledbetter Councilman

Quincy Holton Councilman

Ralph Perry Councilman

John D. Pugh Councilman

Rupert Sexton Councilman


4F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

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 parts of Cherokee and Forsyth counties. Murphy serves on the Senate Appropriations, Insurance and Labor, Ethics and Public Safety committees. He is chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and ex-officio of the Transportation 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 304, 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 State Rep. Amos R, District 51 Amerson Sen. Steve Gooch was elect- R, District 9 ed to serve District 51 in November 2010. He and wife Shannon live in Dahlonega with their three sons. Gooch serves on the Senate Economic Development, Government Oversight, State and Local Governmental Operations and State Institutions and Property committees and is secretary 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 Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and previously served as the 9th District Georgia Department of Transportation board member. Gooch’s capitol address is 321-B Coverdell Legislative Office Building Atlanta, GA 30334. His capitol phone number is (404) 656-9221.

Rep. Amos Amerson represents the 9th House district, which includes a portion of northern Forsyth. He recently announced he will not seek re-election to his seat. Amerson, a native of Washington County, is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and earned a degree in nuclear engineering with a specialty in radiation safety, a master’s degree in quantitative methods and a doctorate in economics and statistics. Amerson served in Vietnam, as well as most of the Pacific region from Korea to Thailand. After his retirement from the military, he taught at the business department of North Georgia College from 19821998. He served on the Dahlonega City Council before seeking election to the House in 2000. Amerson serves as chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee. He is also a member of the Appropriations, Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications and Higher Education and State Planning and Community Affairs committees. His wife, Anne, is a writer who has kept a record of the history of Dahlonega through four novels, and has also written for several magazines. His Capitol address is Room 401-G State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol telephone number is (404) 6578443 and district number is (706) 864-6589.

State Rep. Mark Hamilton R, District 23

Rep. Mark Hamilton, who serves District 23, was sworn into office in January 2007. 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 Governmental Affairs Committee and also serves on the Industrial Relations, Appropriations, Transportation and Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications committees. He was recently appointed to the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Jobs Creation. Hamilton is a member and past-chairman 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) 8446768.

State Rep. Mike Dudgeon R, District 24

Rep. Mike Dudgeon, who serves District 24, was elected in November 2010. Prior to being sworn in, Dudgeon served a term on the Forsyth County Board of Education. As a legislator, Dudgeon serves on the House Education, Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications and Science and Technology committees. Dudgeon has a bachelor’s and master’s degree 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. In addition to being the CTO of Qualia, he recently joined Alpharettabased video game company Hi-Rez Studios as director of research. 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 Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334. He can be reached at the Capitol at (404) 656-0298. His district number is (770) 4907983.

Forsyth County Commission District 1 Pete Amos

District 2 Brian R. Tam

District 3 Todd Levent

District 4 Patrick B. Bell

District 5 Jim Boff

Commissioner R.J. “Pete” Amos was elected in 2010 to serve as the District 1 representative. Amos replaced Charles Laughinghouse, who decided not to seek a third term. Amos won the seat in the county’s first district-only voting election for the district, which covers the city of Cumming and west Forsyth. He is a former member of the Forsyth County Planning Commission and served as the chairman for six years. 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 board as the representative from south Forsyth. He ran successfully for re-election in 2008. Tam has been a resident of Forsyth County for more than 17 years and is a local restaurateur with more than 25 years of experience in the service industry. Tam currently manages the restaurant Tam’s Backstage in the lower level of the Cumming Playhouse and Blue Grass Lakes Café off McFarland Parkway. Serving as the district commissioner in south Forsyth, Tam has worked in negotiating various proposed projects between developers and adjacent property owners. Before taking office, he was involved with the county school system in different arenas including school business councils, the Leadership Forsyth program and also as a partner in education. In 2008, he was one of nine statewide recipients of the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals’ Patron award. Tam also served on the board of the Forsyth Restaurant Group, the board of directors for the local chamber of commerce and as co-chairman of the 2003 1-cent sales tax campaign. He graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor of science degree in management. Tam and his wife, Kelly, have 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 was elected by his peers to serve as secretary in January. He ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility and accountability and won the seat from incumbent Jim Harrell in the county’s first election with district-only voting. He serves as the commission representative on the Forsyth County Animal Control & Shelter Advisory Committee. Levent was voted by the commission to serve on the SPLOST VII Jail/ Courthouse Project Team. A native of north Georgia, Levent is a custom home builder and remodeler. 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 business. Levent is active in youth athletics and is a member of the First Redeemer Church. He and his wife, Dana, are the parents of Jared and Alexandria.

District 4 Commissioner Patrick Bell, serving his first term in office, represents northern Forsyth County. In January, he was appointed by his peers as the board’s vice chairman for the second consecutive year. Bell is a graduate of the Georgia Academy of Economic Development and is committed to diversifying the tax digest in order to ease the burden placed on taxpayers. A focus on bringing jobs and business to Forsyth County is a priority for Bell, who sees the need to maintain quality growth in the appropriate sectors. Bell considers himself to be a staunch supporter of property rights and continually works to eliminate bureaucracy, government intrusion and protect the rights of our citizens. Earned in his first year in office, Bell is the eighth Forsyth County commissioner to receive the Certified County Commissioner designation through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. Bell was a 2008 recipient of the BSA’s District Award of Merit, the highest award presented to a district volunteer. In 2010 Bell became a Scouting Ministry Specialist through the General Commission on United Methodist Men. Bell is a member of the Board of Trustees of Bethelview United Methodist Church, where he and his family are active members.

Commission Chairman Jim Boff is serving his third year on the Forsyth County Commission, after being elected in 2008. He represents District 5, which includes much of eastern Forsyth. At the start of this year, he was elected chairman of the board 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 onecent 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. 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.

Phone: (678) 513-5881

Phone: (678) 513-5882

Phone: (678) 513-5883

Phone: (678) 513-5884

Phone: (678) 513-5885


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 5F

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

www.northgeorgia.edu

Educating students. Developing leaders.

www.gsc.edu

Student focused. Learning centered.

The right programs. The right choice. Coming soon to one great location.

www.northgeorgia.edu/universitycenter


6F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

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.

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 17 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.

First elected mayor in 1970

FROM 1F

Lab

In Scott Walker’s foundations of engineering class, students recently built bridges. Earlier in the year, his students constructed trebuchets. “We have great kids here,” Walker said. “And the group that we’re going to have next year, just looking at their applications, we’ll have as good if not better coming in next year.” A handful of students in Bill Schuyler’s biotechnology class were recently infected with the SARS virus. Not the actual virus, of course, though in class the research looked pretty convincing. Students had to test samples to narrow down which students started spreading the mock infection. Schuyler is a former Emory University researcher. When

First elected in 1969

First elected in 1970

tasked with ordering supplies to establish his classroom, he sought only the highest quality. “This is the same equipment I used [at Emory] and I had a $1 million budget [there],” he said. By using such equipment, Schuyler said he’s preparing his students for exactly what they’ll be using if they enter the field. It’s not about reading and memorizing textbooks in Schuyler’s class. “I teach it differently,” he said. “Instead of a cookbook methodology where I would talk, for example, about the immune system and I would run this lab to help show how it works … I talk about the methodology, how the process works, what they’re doing, why it works and what it’s used for. “Instead of using the lab to boost content, the lab is the content.”

First elected in 1979

First elected in 1993

Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Timothy Barnhurst, left, and Grant Butschek log lab results on a board in teacher Bill Schuyler’s biotech class at Forsyth Central High’s STEM Academy.

The STEM Academy’s teaching approach has made a huge difference, Carr said. “Reading it in a book gives you the base knowledge, but

you never get that hands-on experience,” said the hopeful future aerospace engineer. “It’s almost like with sports, where it’s muscle memory. You know

First elected 1970

how to do something.” Head said the academy has had a great first year. But sustaining it is going to be a challenge in the coming years. “We’re in the process of writing grants and looking at a lot of funding opportunities, because it’s an expensive program to keep running,” she said. “We’ll basically be calling on our business partners and expanding who our business partners are for that support.” But the results are well worth it, she said. Those students enrolled are already more advanced than some college students at prestigious technology schools, she said. “Ultimately, what our goal is for both the biotech and engineering is that in their senior year, we’re doing one of two things,” she said. “They’re either interning, or in the biotechnology case, running their own research project.”


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 7F

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

A special section of the

online at www.forsythnews.com

PROGRESS 2012

Education Possibilities become realities Kelly Mill first new school in three years By Jennifer Sami

Foundations

of Forsyth

jsami@forsythnews.com

In about a month, the waiting will be over for Ron McAllister. With the contractor expected to be finished before the May 1 deadline, McAllister is ecstatic at how far the construction of Kelly Mill Elementary School has come. Though he’s currently principal of Vickery Creek Elementary, McAllister has been actively involved in the creation of Kelly Mill, which he’ll oversee as principal in August. “To say ‘amazing’ is way understated. From day one, what has struck me here is the word ‘possibilities,’” he said. “As I see it become real brick

and mortar, those possibilities — when it was just literally a lot — are now becoming more real. Those possibilities are not just pipe dreams. Those are true realities.” McAllister said his enthusiasm is catching on. For him, it’s not just about starting a new school, the county’s first since 2009, it’s about starting the community’s elementary school. And that school will be one where students play a role in their learning. The media center, for example, won’t have standard square tables with chairs. See SCHOOL | 8F

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Walt Fairchild, from left, Jennifer Caracciolo, and Ron McAllister look over blueprints at the Kelly Mill Elementary School site. Left, the front foyer to the school, slated to open this fall.


8F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Progess ‘a way of life’ at school system

By L.C. “Buster” Evans

For the Forsyth County News

When I reflect on the eight short months of our 2011-12 school year, I am so proud of the tremendous accomplishments of our students, staff and board of education working collaboratively with our parents and community/business partners. Since August, we have added 1,346 students to Forsyth County Schools, bringing our total population to 37,296 students in 35 schools. As the ninth largest of 180 school districts in Georgia, FCS ranks 165 out of 180 in total expenditures, meaning only 15 school systems in the state spend less per student than Forsyth County. The district spends an average of $7,431 per student while the state average is $8,594, a difference of $1,163.

Even with the annual increase in student enrollment growth, FCS maintains the lowest school taxes in metro Atlanta, spending 92 percent Evans of our budget directly on instruction. With this financial efficiency, we are also improving instruction, graduating more students, and leading the state in academic achievement. The district made AYP this year and our schools were again the top performers on school-level CRCT results. Our five high schools, all of which were named AP Honor Schools, had SAT scores that surpassed state and national averages. The Governor’s Office of Student

Achievement awarded 23 of our schools awards for high performance on state assessments under the Single Statewide Accountability System, which was the highest number of recipients in the history of Forsyth County Schools. Additionally, five schools received Title 1 Academic Achievement awards, three schools were recognized as Georgia Schools of Excellence, and Big Creek Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School. Recently, the district received the recommendation from AdvancedED for five-year SACS/CASI district accreditation, a compliment to our continued commitment from our students, staff, board of education, parents and partners in education.  It is because of this shared commitment to “quality learning and superior performance for all” that in

2011-12 we were able to create new learning opportunities, such as: the STEM Academy at Forsyth Central High School; provide more opportunities for middle school students to earn high school credit; expand the innovative BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) program; and redistrict for a new school opening, while providing relief for overcrowding at existing schools. We look forward in 2012-13 to continuing meeting the high expectations set forth by our community as we embark on our fourth Strategic Plan and open our 36th school, Kelly Mill Elementary School this August. Progress is not just a word to those involved and dedicated to strengthening Forsyth County Schools, it is a way of life. L.C. “Buster” Evans is superintendent of Forsyth County Schools.

Forsyth County Board of Education District 1 Ann Crow

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.

District 2 Kristin Morrissey

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 November 2010 to replace Mike Dudgeon, now District 24 state representative.

District 3 Tom Cleveland Raised in DeKalb County, chairman Tom Cleveland moved his family to Forsyth County in 1995, where his two sons attended Forsyth County schools. He began his second term on the board in January 2009. 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.

District 4 Darla Light

Raised in Forsyth County, vice chair Darla Light graduated from Forsyth County High School and attended the University of Georgia, where she majored in special education. She began her term in January 2009. 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 Middle 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.

District 5 Nancy Roche

Nancy Roche, who began her third term on the board in January 2009, 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.

FROM 7F

School: Can house 1,150 “You’ll see furniture and chairs that can be easily rearranged,” he said, adding there will be no conference tables in the school. “We want it to be collaborative and we want people to know they’re being collaborated with, talked with and engaged with — not to, or at.” It’s one of the changes students will see at Kelly Mill, which is based on the same design as Brookwood and Whitlow elementary schools, which opened in 2009. The design includes 80 classrooms, a cafeteria and media center. But there will be some adjustments. Walter Fairchild, construction coordinator, said other changes at Kelly Mill include: • more windows, allowing for additional natural light • carpeting in every classroom, to cut maintenance costs • access to the cafeteria stage from the music room, so students don’t have to enter through the audience Fairchild also noted the school has bio-retention ponds for underground rainwater storage, part of the effort to be more sensitive to the environment. That’s something he said will also be featured in future Forsyth County schools. The school also has energy-efficient features, specifically sensors that trigger the lights and air conditioning when an empty room is entered. Carroll Daniel Construction Company began the project January 2011. Fairchild said the company, which has previously built two schools in

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Forsyth, continues its record of being on time and under budget. The school can house 1,150 students and is projected to enroll with about 1,004. Construction is about 98 percent complete with just a few items left on the punch list. Fairchild said the final touches will be completing the retention ponds and laying the final layer of asphalt on the parking lot. McAllister is planning a Family Fun Day for May 5 and looks forward to offering tours and open houses for families with incoming students. “We can recreate whatever we desire here,” he said. “It’s our chance to reinvent what elementary schools typically look like. It’s our chance to reinvent what we give kids.”

Walt Fairchild, left, and Ron McAllister check out the window to what will soon be the front office at Kelly Mill Elementary School. Far left, McAllister demonstrates the portability of the media center bookshelves. Below, the stage in the cafeteria.


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 9F

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

PINECREST ACADEMY Peek into Pinecrest

Pre-K through 5th grade Monday, April 16th 9-11 AM

6th through 12th grade Tuesday, April 17th 9-11 AM

Peek into Pinecrest Academy and experience our classrooms during a typical day; observe our teachers and students; speak with current parents and Student Ambassadors. This is a unique opportunity to see our new building, new technology and new opportunities in an informal setting. A great opportunity to witness how gender-specific education, small class sizes, and personal attention can benefit your child. For more information or to let us know you’re coming, please call us or visit our website.

Developing Christian Leaders to Transform Society

New Facilities, New High Tech Tools, New Opportunities For Your Child To Reach His Or Her Full Potential. 955 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming, GA 30041 770.888.4477 www.pinecrestacademy.org


10F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Lanier Technical College secures full accreditation For the Forsyth County News

Lanier Technical College has had an exciting year so far in 2012. The college was awarded full accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. It was awarded full accreditation on its first credentialing presentation to the SACS COC board. This accreditation opens more opportunities for current and future Lanier Tech students to continue on their higher education and broadens their career opportunities. The full accreditation means that credits earned by Lanier Tech students will be easier to transfer to other institutions of higher learning, making the students’ higher education pursuits easier to attain.

Lanier Tech has a total enrollment of nearly 3,600 students, with more than 800 students enrolled at the Forsyth campus. The local campus is an educational provider hub of in-demand programs of study in the areas of business and computer, technical and industrial, personal and public services, and health care. The programs of study offered at the Forsyth campus have proven to support the local community with well-trained graduates with needed skills for many industries. The Forsyth Conference Center on the local campus continues to grow and has become a preferred venue for many business and social events. The center has served more than 23,000 guests since July 2011. It can hold one large meeting or many small gath-

Enrollment programs, strong at local campus

File photo

Lanier Tech staff member Deanna Orza, center, leads a recent tour of the Forsyth campus to prospective students.

erings or a combination of both. It offers a range of services, including audiovisual,

Public school calendar

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.

Private schools Cornerstone Schools 4888 Browns Bridge Road Cumming www.cornerstonesch.com Preschool: Cheri Davis, director, (770) 205-6860 Elementary & Junior High: Angela Martin, head mistress (770) 205-8202 Enrollment: 300 Students Head Mistress: Angela Martin Covenant Christian Academy 6905 Post Road Cumming (770) 674-2990 www.covenantrams.org Grades: K4-12 Enrollment: 230 Headmaster: Johnathan Arnold Friendship Christian School 3160 Old Atlanta Road Suwanee (678) 845-0418 www.fcsga.org Grades: K-12 Enrollment: 110 Assistant Principal: Butch Quinn Horizon Christian Academy 2160 Freedom Parkway Cumming (678) 947-3583 www.horizonchristian.org Grades: K-12 Enrollment: 300 Head Master: Heather Marshall McGinnis Woods Country Day School 5368 McGinnis Ferry Road Alpharetta (770) 664-7764 www.mcginniswoods.org Grades: Infants-8 Enrollment: 400 Principal: Mary Johnson Pinecrest Academy 955 Peachtree Parkway Cumming (770) 888-4477 www.pinecrestacademy.org Grades: PreK3-12 Enrollment: 900 Head of School: Robert Presutti

Pinecrest Academy develops leaders, scholars Private school embraces family Pinecrest Academy is a private Catholic school serving students from prekindergarten through 12th grade. In 1997, the school moved to its permanent campus on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth. From its initial beginnings as a lower school in m o d u l a r bu i l d i n g s , t h e beautiful 68-acre campus has grown to comprise permanent brick buildings that include a gender-separate high school and middle school, a free-standing chapel and two gymnasiums; a state-of-the-art upper school gym; and a brand-new, full -size gym for the lower school completed in 2011. The current enrollment has grown to about 850 students.

Pinecrest was recognized for the fourth 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 Christ-centered 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 gender-separate environment on a co-ed 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,

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

File photo

Students work together on a project at Pinecrest Academy, a private Catholic school in south Forsyth.

confident students. In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum, Pinecrest offers an excell e n t fi n e a r t s p r o g r a m , including the visual and performing arts, band and chorus.

The school offers a complete complement of varsity and recreational sports. Pinecrest athletes compete in the Georgia High School Association. In both 2009 and ’10, a Pinecrest student received

the highest SAT score in Forsyth County. The dedicated, motivated and highly qualified teaching staff meets state and SACS requirements and many staff members have advanced degrees. Pinecrest is fully accreditated by Academy is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Southern Association of Independent Schools, and the Georgia Accrediting Commission, and holds membership in the College Board and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.


SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 11F


12F | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012


March 25, 2012

A special section of the

online at www.forsythnews.com

PROGRESS 2012

Health &Recreation JUMP right in Aquatic Center has exceeded expectations By Crystal Ledford

cledford@forsythnews.com

The Cumming Aquatic Center has made a splash in more ways than one. The center’s manager, Carla Wilson, said things have been “really good” since the $15 million facility on Pilgrim Mill Road, near Ga. 400 Exit 16, opened in June. “I think everyone saw how busy we were last summer when we opened,” she said. “We totally exceeded our expectations on how many we would have at the leisure pool.” The outdoor leisure area featuring a kids’ splash play area, a “lazy river,” and a 156-foot water slide. More than 2,000 residents took advantage of the outdoor facility on the center’s opening day, June 27. Inside, the facility boosts a 50-meter competition pool and an instructional pool, used for most of the center’s classes and therapy for arthritis patients. See AQUATIC | 2G

File photo

Foundations

of Forsyth Tess Trueheart, right, and Marcos Gonzalez give swim lessons in the therapy pool at the Cumming Aquatic Center, a key new amenity in the city. Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Answering the call New stations position FCFD well for future

By Julie Arrington

jarrington@forsythnews.com

If there’s anything the Forsyth County Fire Department has experienced in the past year, it’s growth. Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News And that trend is unlikely to Forsyth County Fire Station 7 in the Silver City communi- stop any time soon. ty opened in 2011. The facility was built with room for In 2011, the department expansion and is expected to last at least 50 years. New opened a new Station 7 in the Stations 3 and 4 are in the works. Silver City community of

Inside this section

north Forsyth and broke ground on a facility to replace Station 4 at Ducktown, in west Forsyth. It also received approval to buy land for a third in the Matt community of northwestern Forsyth, which will replace Station 3. The original Stations 4 and 7 date to 1974, while the current Station 3 was built in 1981. Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said the stations were built during the department’s volunteer era and were never intended to house firefighters full time. They were actually meant for housing “apparatus,” or vehicles. That’s changed over the years.

Foundations

of Forsyth

See STATIONS | 2G

Rec centers help shape county, 7G Long-sought parks become reality, 8G


2G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com FROM 1G

Stations “A fire station is not just a home for the firefighters, it is a commercial building that is occupied 24 hours a day for its entire lifetime,” said Shivers, adding that the new stations are built to last at least 50 years. “So they need to be built to commercial standards to sustain that kind of environment, that constant use.” Danny Bowman, chief of the department that serves Forsyth’s population of about 175,000, said he couldn’t be more pleased with the progress and positive direction. “Thanks to the steadfast support of the Forsyth County citizenry, the board of commissioners and the most dedicated troops and staff that a fire chief could ever hope for, we will continue to serve as the most professional and missionready fire department in Georgia,” Bowman said. The agency responded to 6,578 medical emergencies and 928 wrecks in 2011. It also handled 306 miscellaneous blazes and 200 structure fires, as well as 169 brush and 71 vehicle fires. Shivers said Stations 3 and 4 will be virtually identical to Station 7, in that the structures will each be about 7,330 square feet and have two bays. Shivers said Station 7 was built

with room for expansion if needed. He noted that the new facilities will also have an exercise room where firefighters can work out in an effort to stay healthy. “That is critical — and the fire chief sees that as a hugely important factor — that we continue to keep health and safety of our personnel as a foremost priority,” Shivers said. Fire Lt. Greg Chapman, who works out of Station 7, said the new structure is much better than the old one. “It’s a really nice building,” Chapman said. “It’s a perfect size.” He noted that he’s looking forward to getting the new engine. The building has a bunk room with private quarters for six firefighters. Curtains that cover the entry ways to each area are marked with a patch showing the station’s number and the phrase “Pride of Silver City.” “A lot of the other stations, they’ve got their own curtains and everybody’s different,” Chapman said. “We wanted to look uniform and presentable. Actually, my mother-in-law made all of these.” Station 7 is next to Silver City Elementary School on Dahlonega Highway. Students from the school may visit the station by following a grassy path between the buildings that keeps them away from the road. Station 4 is going up next to the

A sign points out the future site of Station 3. The facility will be on Wallace Tatum Road near Matt Highway.

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Photos by Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Fire Capt. Jason Shivers points out the new location for Station 4 on Thursday. Behind him is the current building.

current station, which is at the corner of Canton Highway and Cliff Pinion Road. The new facility will have an Evans Road address, Shivers said. The existing station it is replacing will be used for storage. He said construction could be complete by the end of this year. The land for the new Station 3 is on Wallace Tatum Road near Matt Highway. In addition to the stations, new equipment is on the way. According to Shivers, the vehicles the department uses — engines, ladder trucks, brush trucks, etc. — are built to last 15 to 20 years. They are put on reserve status when they are about 12 to 15 years old. A fire engine for the Silver City facility, Station 7, is being assembled and should be delivered sometime this summer. Its cost will be covered by the department’s budget. A ladder truck, which will be paid for out of revenue from the current 1-cent sales tax, is on order for Station 14. Bowman’s annual goals include starting one replacement station and purchasing new fire vehicles in an effort to keep up with growth.

‘A fire station is not just a home for the firefighters, it is a commercial building that is occupied 24 hours a day for its entire lifetime.’ Jason Shivers

Forsyth County Fire Department

By the numbers Forsyth County Fire Department statistics for 2011: • 6,578 medical emergencies • 928 motor vehicle accidents • 306 miscellaneous fires • 200 structure fires • 169 brush fires • 71 vehicle fires • 110 gas leaks • 153 investigations of smoke • 79 carbon monoxide calls • 647 fire alarms • 11,566 incidents • 12,364 apparatus movements Source: Forsyth County Fire Department

Autumn Vetter Forsyth County News

Swimmers use the main indoor pool at the Cumming Aquatic Center.

FROM 1G

Aquatic Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said the aquatic center is one of the best projects the city has ever tackled. “We had the aquatic center on [a previous 1-cent sales tax program] and the people voted overwhelmingly to see us build it,” he said. “I don’t think any other project has been more well received in the city of Cumming than the aquatic center.” The center’s inside pools have seen more use during the fall and winter after the outdoor leisure area closed for the season in early September. The center’s offerings have expanded over its lifetime, Wilson said. “We started with limited programming, but it’s grown over the months,” she said. “Our swim lessons and water exercise classes have really taken off. “We’ve just done one thing at a time, and slowly added in more things as we moved along.” What started off as just a handful of swim lessons when the center opened has grown into a wide range of offerings.

‘We totally exceeded our expectations on how many we would have at the leisure pool.’

File photos

Russell Eddy comes down the slide into the pool. Below, children play near the water feature.

Carla Wilson

Manager, Cumming Aquatic Center “We now have around 15 different water exercise classes and swim lessons for all ages,” Wilson said. “There are parent and child lessons, preschool, young child and even several adult swim lesson classes.” Wilson said the next class offering will likely be a dive class, teaching people about proper diving board techniques. “We’re working on all the logistics for that one right now,” she said. In addition to classes for the public, the center also has played host to several swim teams, including those from most of Forsyth County’s public high schools, and several youth programs. Since its opening, the facility has held several large swim meets and water polo tournaments. Seating around the competition pool can accommodate up to 1,200

people, so the facility can hold any level of competitive event from youth up to college. Besides large events, the facility can also play host to small ones. Wilson said several activity rooms are available year-round for gatherings such as birthday parties. Cabanas around the outside edge of the outdoor facility are also available during warm-weather months. “We’ve seen some increase in party rentals as word is getting out more,” she said. “People come to a friend’s party here and then they want to have one here too. “But we’d like to see more use of those areas.” Gravitt called the center “a great investment.” “We’re tickled to death with it and it seems the community is really happy with it,” he said.

On the Net For full schedules, pay rates and other information about the Cumming Aquatic Center, visit www.crpdonline.org.


SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 3G


4G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Facilities, services continue to expand Northside meeting needs For the Forsyth County News

Northside Hospital-Forsyth continues to expand and enhance its services to meet the health care needs of the community. The hospital has grown to 201 licensed beds and currently has more than 2,000 physicians and 1,800 staff members, who served more than 174,000 patient encounters in 2011. As in previous years, 2011 proved to be busy for Northside Hospital-Forsyth in terms of campus expansion and service enhancements.

Medical/surgical expansion

The hospital completed an inpatient bed expansion in 2011, which included a 20-room expansion of the inpatient cardiology unit and expansion of the remote cardiology monitoring capability necessary to accommodate expanding needs for facility wide telemetry capture. In August, the hospital opened its larger, patientfocused Intensive Care Unit. The expanded ICU allows for the addition of four patient rooms, increasing the total from 20 to 24 beds, which are more spacious than those of the old unit. The new unit also features advanced technology in the rooms to better accommodate the needs of patients and staff, areas for family members, larger staff work and documentation stations and more, allowing for a much higher acuity in the level of care.

Women’s Center expansion

The Northside HospitalForsyth Women’s Center continues to surpass all projections for growth, with more than

2,200 babies delivered in 2011. The center expanded last year to include additional in-patient and observation/extended recovery beds, dedicated to gynecologic and women’s surgical services. T h e L eve l I I N e o n a t a l Intermediate Care Unit added four new Level II beds, which brings the total beds for the Special Care Nursery to 12.

Excellence in patient care

In 2011, Northside HospitalForsyth received Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers after a rigorous evaluation for its ability to assess, diagnose and treat patients, who may be experiencing a heart attack. The hospital also was surveyed and received disease-specific accreditation by the Joint Commission in the specialty areas of pneumonia and hip and knee joint surgery, and was reco g n i z e d a s a n A d va n c e d Primary Stroke Center. In addition, the hospital was awarded the HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award for outstanding performance in compliance with national patient safety initiatives.

State-of-the-art cancer treatment

The Northside Hospital Cancer Institute is recognized nationally as a leader in cancer diagnosis, treatment and research. In fact, Northside is the only Atlanta hospital chosen to be a Community Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. Northside Hospital-Forsyth has been able to build upon that expertise and bring services closer to home. In 2011, the hospital expanded the Cancer Center, which

File photos

Sharon Freeman, ICU manager, shows new equipment in the renovated ICE at Northside Hospital-Forsyth. Left, the waiting room has been remodeled.

offers radiation therapy, chemotherapy and CT services to patients, regardless of their cancer diagnosis. In addition, Northside brought its Hereditary Cancer Program to Forsyth, giving patients who may be at risk for genetically influenced cancers the opportunity for genetic testing and counseling. Additional adjunct imaging services, surgical services (including a surgical robot) and a dedicated in-patient care unit also are available on campus.

Advanced Imaging in Dawsonville, Sugar Hill

In 2011, Northside added CT (computed tomography) services at its Dawsonville location. Since 2008, Northside/

Dawsonville Imaging has offered high-quality digital mammography and digital X-ray services for patients of all ages. The new 16-slice CT scanner brings more state-of-the-art imaging for patients, across a number of specialties, closer to home. Northside also introduced its newest advanced imaging location — Northside/Sugar Hill Imaging, located at 4700 Nelson Brogdon Boulevard, Suite 100, in Buford. The state-of-the-art center offers digital X-ray, digital screening mammography with computer-aided detection (CAD), bone densitometry and CT services — all performed by a team of technologists, clerical staff and an onsite, board-certified radiologist, who provide the highest level of customer service.

Cumming

New Ambulatory Surgery Center opening soon

In June, Northside H o s p i t a l - Fo r s y t h w i l l b e opening a new four-suite surgical center. The Forsyth Ambulatory Surgical Center will be conveniently located off of Hwy. 20 at Haw Creek Drive. The center will provide physicians and patients easy access to procedures in the specialties of GI, general surgery, ophthalmology, minor orthopedic including hand surgery, podiatric surgery and plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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

Dive In Toda y!

Outdoor Leisure Pool Opening in May! • Swim Lessons • Water Exercise Classes • Birthday Parties • Youth/Masters Swim Teams • Lap Swimming • Adult & Open Swim Times • And Much, Much More!

2 Aquatic Circle, Cumming GA 30040 201 40 7 et 770-781-1781 • cac@cityofcumming.net crpdonline.org


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 5G

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Emory Johns Creek marks five years Hospital receives honors For the Forsyth County News

In February, Emory Johns Creek Hospital celebrated its fifth 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. And the creation of an entirely new town is just as rare, if not more so. Both Emory Johns Creek Hospital and the communities and people it serves have worked and grown together over the last five years. In turn, our services have also grown to meet the growing needs of our fellow citizens. We are also proud to have received many accolades, which have helped validate our commitment to quality, patient and familycentered care services. Emory Johns Creek Hospital is a 110-bed acute care facility staffed by 247 Emory faculty, 33 Emory specialty associate physicians and 428 community physicians. The hospital offers 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 2011-12, including the following:  

New CEO

Craig McCoy was named Emory Johns Creek Hospital’s new chief executive officer, beginning his new role in May. McCoy came to the hospital from Vanguard Health Systems, where he had most recently served

ICU” project conducted by the Georgia Hospital Association and Johns Hopkins University. A total of 66 Georgia hospitals participated in the project. Emory Johns Creek began participating in 2009 and will share its tools for success with the other participating hospitals.

as chief executive officer of Paradise Valley Hospital in Phoenix. He also worked with Vanguard Health Systems in a variety of other capacities, as well as served as vice president of professional services at Oconee Medical Center in South Carolina.  

Carotid stenting offered at hospital

This 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.

Stroke care certification

After undergoing an on-site evaluation and demonstrating compliance with nationally developed standards for stroke care, the hospital earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for certification as a Primary Stroke Center. Each year, about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation’s third leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today.

Breast Imaging Center of Excellence

The hospital was 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 ACR 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 ultra-

Emergency department receives top marks File photo

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker, left, talks with hospital CEO Craig McCoy during Emory Johns Creek Hospital’s fifth anniversary celebration in February.

sound and ultrasound-guided breast biopsy.

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 infection reduction practices

The hospital was recognized in June by the Georgia Hospital Association for its success in preventing bloodstream infections in intensive care unit patients that required a central, direct intraveneous line to the heart. The recognition came as the result of the “Stop Bloodstream Infections Collaborative for the

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.

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

Spring is here!

Want to be cold and allergy-free? Bethany Bend Urgent Care is who you should see!

13081 Highway 9 North (By the Kohls and Target) Milton/Alpharetta GA 30004 770-521-6690

Dr. David Smith Board Certified in Emergency Medicine

www.bethanybendurgentcare.com Walk-in Clinic, Open 7 days a week, most insurance accepted, self-pay, x-rays, lacerations, sore throat, flu shots $25.00, physicals, EKG’s.


6G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Children’s growing Community has embraced location over first 9 months By Crystal Ledford 

cledford@forsythnews.com

In just nine months, C h i l d r e n ’s H e a l t h c a r e o f Atlanta Forsyth facility has surpassed many expectations. “Everything has gone really well,” said Linda Cole, vice president of ambulatory a n d e m e rg e n cy s e r v i c e s . “Our volume has been much higher than projected.” The facility, which opened June 1 at The Avenue Forsyth on Peachtree Parkway, provides a wide array of pediatric health services. Among them: Immediate care; rehabilitation; sports medicine; orthotics and prosthetics; audiology; specialty care; and X-ray and laboratory services. Cole called sports medicine one of the “biggest successes.” The area uses therapists to work with children who have suffered any sort of sportsrelated injury. “Since we opened, we’ve had three times the volume over what we expected,” she said. “We started with one therapist, and we’ve already had to double that to two.” The facility’s immediate care area has seen twice as many patients than expected, she said. Jody Levenstein, practice manager, noted that the area had nearly 10,000 visits from the facility’s opening through the end of February.

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“We initially budgeted for about half that number,” she said. Due to the higher volume, Cole noted, wait times are sometimes longer than staffers would prefer. “A lot of people have been concerned about the wait times and we’ve heard those c o m p l a i n t s ,” C o l e s a i d . “We’re working to resolve that by hiring another physician.” Cole explained that with another physician, other staff positions, such as nurses and those in registration, are also added. “With hiring another physician, we’ll basically be doubling everything in that area,” she said. A number of specialty areas are also offered at the facility, said Beth Buursema, community outreach liaison. “Those rotate through,” Buursema said. “When we opened, we were at about 35 percent occupancy for specialty areas and now we’re more like 70 percent.” As an example, Buursema pointed to orthopedics. “They were working five half days a week and now they’re working five whole days a week,” she said. Among the specialties that have been added, she said, are neurology and endocrinology. Besides treating the children of Forsyth, the facility also employees a number of

Ed Barber fits Sarina Sawhney with leg braces at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Forsyth facility. Left, William Primos performs an exam for patient Austin Orenstein. The facility has been open since June 1.

File photos

county residents. “A lot of our staff lives here, so that makes them even more invested in making a difference in the quality of l i f e w e c a n p r ov i d e o u r patients,” Levenstein said. While staffers are invested in the community, Buursema noted the latter has in turn become just as invested in the facility. Since opening, leaders have been raising funds to buy a p e d i a t r i c a m bu l a n c e t h a t would be stationed full time a t t h e f a c i l i t y, s e r v i n g Forsyth and other nearby counties. Leaders have described the a m bu l a n c e a s a “ r o l l i n g emergency room” for chil-

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dren. It has much more capability to care for young patients than a standard adult ambulance. Fully outfitted, the ambulance’s price tag is about $850,000. Children’s is seeking to raise $1 million to help cover operating costs as well. “We’re about three-quarters of the way there,” Buursema said. She added that success has come from strong community and business support. In December, Hansgrohe presented a $5,000 check to the fund in lieu of sending holiday cards. L a s t y e a r, A m e r i c a n Proteins presented a $300,000 check for the vehicle.

“We’ve had that one huge donation,” Buursema said. “But we also have numerous smaller donations that come in every week. We appreciate every donation no matter how big or small.” Buursema noted several schools and churches have held fundraisers for the effort. Some restaurants have given percentages of profits to the cause. Other donations have come from individuals. One that especially touched Buursema was a young girl who donated $19.37 from a lemonade stand. “She sent a letter explaining that she wanted to help other kids. She drew a picture of the ambulance. It was just so precious,” Buursema said. “There have been so many who have given. It’s just overwhelming.”


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 7G

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

A special section of the

online at www.forsythnews.com

PROGRESS 2012

Recreation Centers help shape the county Official: Offerings are ‘huge reason’ families move here

Jim Brennan, manager of the recreation division, gives a tour of the Old Atlanta Recreation Center. The center, below, is one of two the county has recently opened.

By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

On any given Tuesday or Thursday morning, a couple dozen men gather at Forsyth County’s Central Park Recreation Center when it opens for a pickup game of basketball. They may arrive and leave in separate cars, but the time spent within the walls of the center gives them a place to be together. And while not an organized league, it has a sizeable following, said Jim Brennan, manager of the recreation programs division. “They’ll get in there because they know that the rest of the group’s going to show up,” Brennan said. “A lot of them use our shower room to shower, put on their work clothes and take off from there to go to work.”

File photos

Foundations

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8G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

PARKS peaking Residents credited for raising quality By Alyssa LaRenzie

alarenzie@forsythnews.com

Despite the tough economic times facing most local governments, Forsyth County has been able to continue to grow its park opportunities largely due to community support. The $100 million parks, recreation and green space bond that voters approved in 2008 has since funded the purchase of property, development of parks and improvements to existing ones. Parks department director Jerry Kinsey said the county has been able to follow the list of approved projects closely. “The people make the community,” Kinsey said. “They’re the ones who voted on [the bond], and they’re the ones that know what they need. They speak, and we listen and try to meet the needs we could.” Residents are already enjoying two major additions to the county parks department from bond funding. The 85-acre Fowler Park opened in February 2011 in southeast Forsyth. Kinsey said it may be the most visited of the bond projects, primarily because it’s the largest and has so many offerings. “It’s just got so much to choose from,” he said. “It’s got

Foundations

of Forsyth green space, open area and a big pavilion. You can get on the greenway, you can skateboard [and] you can play softball, baseball.” The park’s 23,000-squarefoot skate park is the county’s only one — and stays very busy on afternoons and weekends, according to staff. Fowler also provided a third trailhead to the Big Creek Greenway, which can also be accessed at its McFarland or Bethelview road ends. The trail has been another heavily-used amenity provided by bond funds, said Jim Brennan, recreation programs manager. “If you survey everybody and give them the whole list from archery down to zumba as far as what kind of recreational program or facility you’d like to see, the majority is by far, we just want walking trails,” Brennan said. Plans are under way to expand the 6.8-mile greenway to nearly 15 miles ending at Sawnee Mountain Preserve. The community also requested more walking trails when parks staff asked what they’d like to see at the future green space parks. The biggest chunk of the bond, $36 million, was set aside to buy green space. Eight properties, totaling

Photos by Jim Dean Forsyth County News

Vadim Mospanyuk uses the Fowler Park skate park. The 85-acre site opened in February 2011 in southeast Forsyth.

some 835 acres, have been purchased, leaving about $2.9 million left to acquire land. This summer, four green space parks will debut in the southern part of the county, opening up plenty of space and trails, as well as some natural playgrounds and even a splash pad. Brennan said many people choose to spend nice days enjoying time with friends and family at the parks, but he expects the opening of the green space parks will draw even more out. The community is lucky to be able to enjoy the opening of new facilities now, given the economic climate, Brennan said. “I would almost promise that no one else is supplying land and building like we’re doing,” he said. Brennan credited the bond for providing many of the new amenities the county enjoys, as well as the upkeep of existing ones. Bond funds also went

By the numbers • Of $36 million for green space acquisition, about $2.9 million remains. • Eight properties (see map below) totaling about 837 acres have been purchased with green space funds. • About $17 million has not yet been bonded, and about $5-6 million that’s been bonded hasn’t yet been spent. •The Central Park Recreation Center expansion cost about $2 million and added 15,000 square feet. • Forsyth County gave $10 million to the city for construction of the Cumming Aquatic Center. •The Big Creek Greenway in Forsyth County is currently 6.8 miles long, but will stretch nearly 15 miles when complete. About $7.3 million remains to be bonded for the final two phases of the Greenway. • Nearly $8 million has been set aside for construction of active community parks in northwest and northeast Forsyth. Source Forsyth County government

toward expanding the Central Park Recreation Center, installing artificial turf fields for athletics and renovating the camp sites at Shady Grove Campground, among others. Kinsey said without the bond referendum passing four years ago, the department

wouldn’t be what it is today. “I think the bond came at a good time. It was needed because everything we’ve got is full,” he said. “We’re good for now, but what the future holds is to take care of and develop what we’ve got.”

The athletic fields in Fowler Park are usually filled on the weekends. Here, a team plays on one field while kids practice on another.

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forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 9G

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

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10G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Scenes from prep sports

FROM 7G

Centers The Central Park Recreation Center has developed a sense of community since opening about a decade ago. It should be only a matter of time before the county’s two new centers are bustling with the same level of activity and community atmosphere. Fowler and Old Atlanta recreation centers have been open just a few weeks, but the staffs expect they’ll fill up quickly too as activities grow and residents spread the word. The popularity of the indoor parks department facility at Central started a discussion on the need for more centers, “probably the day after we opened it,” Brennan said, “but the funds weren’t there.” The county began considering how to build two recreation centers on its south end about five years ago. Part of the funding came from a ballot question. The facilities were partially included in the $100 million parks, recreation and green space bond referendum project list, which voters approved in February 2008. Funding also came through impact fees, which are charged to developers. Long sought by many south Forsyth residents, the two buildings opened their doors to a “positive reaction” in the community, Brennan said. “With [Lambert] High School right across the street at Old Atlanta, in the afternoons, the place is packed with kids,” he said. “[At Fowler] on the weekends, we are getting good crowds here.” As spring sports bring people into the parks and classes begin, Brennan expects visitation to increase at both new centers. Each 40,000-square-foot facility has an identical design, including two gymnasiums for basketball and other sports, an indoor walking track, fitness studio and a cardio and weight room. Both also feature a multipurpose room, dance classroom and community room with a kitchen. Central Park’s rec center includes many of the same features, but with a different configuration. An expansion of that facility in 2010 helped accommodate the

Jim Dean Forsyth County News

Laura Pate, left, chats with Jim Brennan at the Fowler Park recreation center.

growing demand for indoor recreation space. The centers fill up with residents ranging from toddlers to seniors participating in a wide variety of offerings, said Laura Pate, program supervisor. “The benefits are endless,” Pate said. “They’re giving people a chance to come in and do leisure activities, active activities or rent space for their own activities.” Classes include dance, art, gymnastics, exercise programs and other special interests. The walking track is free to use any time the building is open, and a workout room is available for a low-cost membership, Pate said. “The fitness membership area is actually pretty unique. There’s not a lot of departments that have those,” she said. “We’re one of a few in Georgia.” With the debut of the new centers, the parks department launched a pass option that allows members open access to all three workout gyms or their choice of more than 15 fitness classes per week. The new facilities will also allow the department to offer more camps to more kids. “Our community is very fortunate and very lucky,” Pate said. “I think the parks and recreation offerings are a huge reason that people and families and companies come to our county.”

File photos

West Forsyth linebackers Mohamed Camara and Wes Rood make a tackle against Grayson in the Wolverines’ first state quarterfinals appearance.

Where to go • Central Park Recreation Center, 2300 Keith Bridge Road • Fowler Park Recreation Center, 4110 Carolene Way • Old Atlanta Park Recreation Center, 810 Nichols Road

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Lambert’s Ellen Johnson competes in the Girl’s 200 Yard Individual Medley at the GHSA Swimming & Diving State Championship at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. Lambert’s girls took second place at the state meet.


forsythnews.com | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | 11G

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012

Forsyth Central girls celebrate after a hardfought win against Salem High School in Conyers, on Feb. 24. It was the Lady Bulldogs’ first state playoff victory since 1986.

File photos

North Forsyth’s girls basketball team celebrates its firstround state playoff victory over Wheeler.

Lambert’s Gantt Bauer (220 pounds), left, wrestles Apalachee’s Matthew Moore in the Class AAAA state title match as coach Kevin Contardi looks on Saturday at the Gwinnett Arena. The Longhorns finished third in the state.

Forsyth Central’s Kurt Osgood tries to pull down Lambert’s Matt Woodley during their game at Lambert. Lambert went on to reach the state playoffs for the second consecutive season.

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12G | FORSYTH COUNTY NEWS | forsythnews.com

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Progress 2012