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Mayor Allegood proud of city’s quality of life MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL  SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012



By Marcus E. Howard

ACWORTH — Tommy Allegood has been mayor of Acworth for 10 years and hasn’t stopped keeping busy since taking office. Allegood, 61, presides over Cobb County’s fastest growing city, which now has 21,000 residents, a 52 percent increase in the previous decade, and enough new business and restaurant growth for the mayor to proclaim it “the restaurant mecca of Cobb County.” About 50 new businesses were created over the past year, producing approximately 500 new jobs in the city, according to the mayor’s office. Businesses that have recently opened include Pearl Spa and Apothecary Boutique, Launch Awareness Yoga Centre, and Massage Envy Spa, as well as restaurants such as J.D.’s Bar-B-Que, Creekside Tavern and Fish Thyme. Other businesses that have opened are Parkside Italian Kitchen, Center Street Tavern, LGE Credit Union, RaceTrac and PTS Sports in the old Theatre on Main building downtown. Allegood said the new businesses are not the result of any incentives, but instead, the perception that Acworth has a great quality of life and very supportive business community. “Just on Main Street alone, we’ve had about 15 new businesses that opened this past year that have invested in our Main Street,” said Allegood. “One of the real remarkable statistics is 10 years ago, we had a 16 percent commercial tax base in the city. Today, 10


Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan

Tommy Allegood points out that, during his 10 years as mayor, Acworth has seen ‘a 300 percent increase in jobs and a 400 percent increase in property values.’ years later, we have a 35 percent tax base … it’s had a 300 percent increase in jobs and a 400 percent increase in property values. It’s helped to really stabilize our tax base.” With the exception of one small increase — which was later lowered back to its previous rate — the city hasn’t raised taxes in a decade, said Allegood, who was

elected mayor in 2002. Allegood said he is proud that the city began this year with a balanced budget, with every city department operating under budget. “We took the surplus and added it to our fund balance,” the mayor said. “What that really points to is every single department manager in the city was able to cut their expenses and be able to reduce their budgets, so that at the end of the year we had a total $27 million budget and we were able to finish the year with a surplus.” On the horizon this year for Acworth is the redevelopment of more than 100 acres of land, much of it currently occupied by Logan Farm Park and walking trails, where the city hopes to attract new development. Redevelopment in the area has already started taking shape. The four-story, 108-unit Legacy senior apartment complex, a Walton Communities project, is set to open this spring on Carruth Street, on land formerly occupied by public housing. Construction on the School Street road realignment project, funded by 2005 SPLOST money, is also underway. City officials are looking to increase the density within the redevelopment site, but are focusing on rebuilding the infrastructure before choosing a developer for the area. “In our Roberts School neighborhood, we will have three new (public) parking lots

‘We lost many residents to the flood, and I don’t know if we can get them to move back. The way the economy is, it’s just going to take time for them to come back, because we lost a good many houses.’ — Mayor Joe Jerkins

Mayor Joe Jerkins says 700 of the 2,500 homes in Austell were damaged during the flood of 2009 and many of the families have not moved back, and potential new residents have shied away from moving to the city.


work down there,” Jerkins said. “Lowe’s and Georgia Power helped us out with Legion Park.” Like other Cobb County cities, Austell has faced cuts to balance its operating budget. About $433,000 was cut from the fiscal 2012 budget, largely because of fewer franchise fees from the Austell Natural Gas system, which saw lower gross sales. Austell Natural Gas is a component of the city and serves customers in Austell,

of 92 employees and $75 each for five employees. The city has also announced that it will receive a $400,000 state Livable Centers Initiative Transportation grant for streetscaping. Austell promotes itself as a friendly, small city with convenient medical facilities and easy access to major thoroughfares, including Interstates 20 and 285. The city supports annual family activities, including an Easter egg hunt and Christmas tree lighting. “We have low taxes and we also have as many services as anybody,” said

Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan

City still trying to recover from 2009 flood damage

By Marcus E. Howard m

AUSTELL — In the past year, the city of Austell has made more progress in demolishing homes damaged in the September 2009 floods. Seven hundred of the 2,500 homes in Austell had some level of flood damage, though longtime Mayor Joe Jerkins says about 300 of those have been repaired and reoccupied. Twenty homes around the city have already been demolished as part of a federal program, and two others that are considered historical are awaiting the bulldozer. If more federal money comes through, as many as 61 more homes could be demolished. The buyouts were largely funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state, with the city paying 15 percent of the cost. Getting displaced residents to move back, and attracting new residents has been a tough challenge, Jerkins said. “We lost many residents to the flood, and I don’t know if we can get them to move back,” he said. “The way the economy is, it’s just going to take time for them to come back, because we lost a good many houses.” The renovation and reopening of Legion Park on Austell Powder Springs Road has been a bright spot in the city’s recovery effort. After a ribbon-cutting in 2011, the city now has plans to expand the park by two acres for a playground and additional parking. The park features baseball fields and a gazebo, covered pavilion and playground area. “We’ve done a lot of

— 200 more parking spaces,” Allegood said. “We’ll be installing about a mile of sidewalks and working to begin the redevelopment process for that Roberts School area.” A new Acworth Police Department headquarters, to be funded by SLOST money, is also in the development phase. Presently, the station and jail are housed in cramped quarters on Acworth Industrial Drive. The station is set to be moved down the street into a renovated building, which would be connected to SIX CITIES a newly constructed building, totaling about ‘Those are the 18,000 things I’m most square feet. proud of. If you look The court and jail will at everything we’ve remain in done in the past 10 the same place. years, it’s creating a Allegood community that’s was raised really the most givin Atlanta and graduing and loving comated from the Univer- munity in America.’ sity of — Mayor Tommy Georgia in Allegood 1972. Following a management career with Lowe’s companies, he was a contractor with the Resolution Trust Corporation in Florida. He is a state licensed builder and developer. He and his wife, Carol, an artist, live a restored historic house on Northside Drive and have four children and seven grandchildren. In 2000, Allegood was elected to the Acworth Board of Aldermen before being elected mayor two years later. He was reelected to a third unopposed term in 2010 and said he hasn’t put any limitations on his political future. His proudest achievements, he said, include developing a quality of life in the city, which has led to its growth. Among other accomplishments are the construction of Horizon Field for special-needs children and Veterans Memorial at Patriots Point, and winning the 2010 AllAmerica City designation. “Those are the things I’m most proud of,” Allegood said. “If you look at everything we’ve done in the past 10 years, it’s creating a community that’s really the most giving and loving community in America.”

Powder Springs, Douglasville and parts of Cobb and Douglas counties. City departments simply had to tighten their belts to deal with the decrease in revenue. In spite of the cuts, Jerkins said he is proud that the city was able to avoid laying off or furloughing any of its 97 employees. In fact, the city spent nearly $18,000 last holiday season on bonuses, gifts and dinner for city employees. The bonuses were $150 for each


Jerkins of Austell, which has a statue of its mayor downtown. “We’ve got good police and fire departments, public works and water departments. And we’ve got some nice parks.” Mayor Jerkins ran without opposition and was reelected in November 2011 to a new four-year term, but says it might be his last. He’s been the mayor since 1990, and acknowledged that two decades is a long time to serve. “That would make 26 years; that’s a pretty long time,” said Jerkins, 69. “I’m just going to have to

wait and see how things go.” Despite the flood, the 2010 Census showed his city’s population grew by 22 percent in the previous decade and now has 6,541 residents. Jerkins said his favorite aspect of serving as mayor of Austell is being around the city’s employees, whose numbers have increased from around 38 since 1990. His favorite person and biggest supporter, however, is his wife of 52 years, Sandra. Together, they have two children and a 12-yearold grandson.

AUSTELL the friendly city, is growing with Cobb. Joe Jerkins, Mayor

Council Members: Kirsten Anderson, Trudie Causey, Virginia Reagan, Martin Standard, Scott Thomas, Suzanne Thomason • 770-944-4300 2716 Broad Street, Austell, Georgia 30106

Marietta Daily Journal Progress 2012  

Marietta Daily Journal Progress 2012

Marietta Daily Journal Progress 2012  

Marietta Daily Journal Progress 2012