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The Times-Herald

Vision 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009 — 1D

Coweta opens library, starts historic courthouse renovation in 2008 By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com

Photo by Jeffrey Leo

The City of Newnan s Carnegie building project restoring the old library in downtown to a library-type facility is very, very high on Brady s priority list. Carnegie is on schedule to open in late August 2009.

Carnegie project, parks high priorities for Newnan By ELIZABETH RICHARDSON erichardson@newnan.com From the Carnegie reading room project to park improvements, the City of Newnan has many priorities moving forward in 2009 even though there have had to be concessions and sacrifices in these tough economic times. Mayor Keith Brady said that while some revenue streams are down, some are doing better than projected. The property foreclosure market is expected to adversely affect the city’s property tax revenues over the next two years. “Overall, we’re in good shape,” said Brady during a recent sit-down with The Times-Herald. He said the city has had to cut its expenses “to the bone” in order to protect employees. And, to date, the city hasn’t laid anyone off because of the economy. The city is juggling many projects and, most recently, closed on the purchase of 8.9 acres of property on Sprayberry Road adjacent to the south end of Harper’s Farm, a subdivision in foreclosure. The city purchased the land from Park Avenue Bank in McDonough and is considering the creation of a community garden on the land. Over the past year, the city has taken part in many things that have made Brady proud to be a Newnanite. For the 18th consecutive year, Newnan was recognized with a fiscal budget award. “We have a financially sound city and this is a testament to that,” said Brady. “We also do not have any long-term debt. One of the things that has helped keep us out of debt is the taxpayers voting in favor of SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), which is used to fund capital projects.” Brady is particularly proud of the city’s parks and the acquisition of the Sprayberry Road property. At a recent work session, Newnan City Council discussed the possibility of building a new aquatic facility at Lynch Park on Richard Allen Drive at Wesley Street. The council is debating whether to renovate the existing, aging city swimming pool or introduce a sprayground playpark in its place. Brady says one way or the other, Newnan will have a different type of facility by summer 2010. The city’s Carnegie building project — restoring the old library in downtown to a library-type facility — is “very, very high” on Brady’s priority list. Carnegie is on schedule to open in late August. Newnan officials are currently in the process of developing a job description to hire an executive director to oversee the facility. The mayor hopes he or she will come on board in April. “[These-type projects] are critically important,” said Brady. “Quality of life — that’s what we’re about.” In the current economic climate, the mayor also addressed the possibility of annexing more land into the city. He said if Newnan is to see growth, it would probably be in the area of Poplar Road because of the future Piedmont Newnan Hospital. The hospital broke ground at property on Poplar east of I-85, but the project was put on hold in late 2008 by Piedmont due to financing problems related to the economic slump. Future development around Poplar and I-85 would probably be commercial or office/institutional, Brady said. “We are going to see growth from the hospital,” said Brady. “There’s just no appetite right now from developers to go out and acquire land and develop more subdivisions, etc.,” Brady continued. “The economy is not sustaining that type of growth.”

See NEWNAN, page 3D

In 2008, Coweta County opened a new library and 911 center, implemented a new administrative structure, and got voter approval for a $20 million bond package to improve Coweta’s fire protection services. The Coweta County Prison was named county facility of the year by the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the Coweta County Sheriff ’s Office was named the number-one agency in Georgia by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, and number one in the nation for traffic enforcement. The county also began the $7.5 million restoration of the 1904 Courthouse in downtown Newnan, and contributed to the Veterans Memorial Plaza project. This year will be just as busy. “I think the biggest task we have at hand, of course, is managing our budget,” said County Administrator Theron Gay. “And the way the economy is right now, we are working very hard to do that.” Coweta runs on an October to September budget year, and right now is the time to really take a look at the 2009 budget. “You have to get into the budget year to see where you are,” Gay said. “You can’t analyze the budget on day one, because you haven’t spent anything.” “Now, we are going through and doing a line-by-line review with departments to see how we can cut expenses,” Gay said. Some things have already taken effect — Theron Gay from turning on fewer lights in the administration building to not “backfilling” positions that become vacant when someone is promoted. Gay said the most recent sales tax numbers, from December, “show our sales tax is running about parallel with last year, which is pretty good, really, when you consider what others are experiencing.” Gay said he feels fairly confident about the budget, and doesn’t expect to see shortfalls. “We cut millions out before we presented the budget, so we didn’t have to take drastic measures,” he said. “We feel comfortable that we are going to be able to stay within our budget.”

Photo by Jeffrey Leo

Headley Construction in recent weeks has been working on replacing all the sheet copper and decorations on the 1904 Coweta County Courthouse dome and bell tower. It is part of a $7.5 million, multi-year restoration of the historic building. The second phase of the new Coweta County Extension Office at the fairgrounds complex on Pine Road will be coming in 2009, and there will be a bit of rearranging of county offices. Engineering work is under way to expand the recreation fields on Andrew Bailey Road, and the county is looking into moving forward with planning for recreation fields on a 40-acre tract the

county owns on Frank Cook Road near Madras. Dedication was held last weekend for the newly-refurbished Grantville ballpark, where the county worked with Grantville to build four baseball fields, a full service comfort station with concession stand, restrooms and pressbox/score-

See COWETA, page 2D

UWG Newnan campus expects expansion in 2009 By BRENDA PEDRAZAVIDAMOUR brenda@newnan.com

Cathy Wright, director of the University of West Georgia Newnan Campus, administers oxygen to one of the patients in the satellite campus nursing lab.

Last year, it was all about expanding the programs at the University of West Georgia Newnan Campus, and the growth is expected to continue in 2009. The Carrollton-based UWG’s Newnan campus kicked off its expansion last year by first making room. It relocated longtime tenants — the Shenandoah Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center and Global Achievers — and converted those spaces into biology, nursing and additional computer labs. Additional classrooms, offices and storage space were also added, and an auditorium was converted into a 62-seat tiered lecture hall to accommodate more classes. UWG’s recent technological updates include adding wireless Internet. The auditorium’s renovation and wireless service was com-

pleted in March. The satellite campus, which began offering a bachelor’s degree program in nursing in 2005, added another bachelor’s degree program last fall in early childhood education. Now, all four years of the early childhood education program can be taken at the UWG Newnan Campus. The nursing program, which graduated classes in 2007 and 2008, currently has 60 students in its Newnan nursing program. The campus also offers several graduate programs including one begun this January, a master’s degree program in criminology. Other graduate programs include UWG Newnan’s master’s degree programs in early childhood, middle grades education, special education, educational leadership and the MBA program introduced two years ago. In summary, the growing campus offers classes for the first two years

See UWG, page 2D

Fast growing West Central Tech plans Newnan campus By BRENDA PEDRAZAVIDAMOUR brenda@newnan.com West Central Technical College is the fastest growing technical college in the state and wants to make room for its continued growth by building a stand-alone campus in Coweta County.

Last summer, WCTC President Skip Sullivan announced plans to build the new campus, possibly on land it has the option to buy in the Pattillo Construction-managed Coweta Industrial Park near the Sharpsburg-McCollum exit of I-85 in north Coweta. College officials hope $8.5 million in bond financing, reintroduced this

Photo by Brenda Pedraza Vidamour

Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of West Central Technical College, last summer shows a plan for the proposed new Coweta campus.

A rendering of the entry to West Central Tech s proposed new $10-$15 campus for Coweta.

month, will be approved by the governor for next fiscal year so college officials can proceed full speed with the construction of the $10-$15 million campus. The bond financing legislation passed the Georgia House on March 19 and goes to the Senate for a vote sometime before the state legislature ends its 40-day session in April. If the bill passes the

Senate, it would still need to elude Gov. Sonny Perdue’s budget lineitem veto to be included in the state’s 2009-10 budget. Regardless of the outcome, college officials — through the West Central Technical College Foundation — have committed to

See WCTC, page 2D


2D — The Times-Herald — Sunday, March 29, 2009

VISION 2009

Coweta in 2008 COWETA Continued from page 1

Photo by Bob Fraley

Coweta s new Central Library was opened in 2008 on Literary Lane at the new eastside government campus near Georgia Highway 154 and Ebenezer Church Road.

West Central Tech plans Newnan campus WCTC Continued from page 1

An artist rendering of the courtyard of the proposed standalone Coweta campus of West Central Technical College.

Photo by Brenda Pedraza-Vidamour

Jeff Sutton of Newnan shapes up Greg Gibson s beard in the barbering lab at West Central Technical College s Coweta campus at CEC in August 2008.

building the first phase of the campus through private donations. “We need a new WCTC campus in Coweta, and it’s going to happen with private funds, if (there’s no state support) this year,” said Malcolm Jackson, a retired utility executive from Newnan who serves on WCTC Foundation’s board. Jackson made the comment at the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce core industries summit March 20. The first phase of the planned Coweta campus is to include an approximate 63,000square-foot facility that will house Adult Education, degree credit and continuing education programs. The new campus is slated to also have an economic development presence, according to Dawn Cook, vice president of institutional advancement.

Newnan campus expects expansion UWG Continued from page 1 of any degree program as well as two bachelor’s degree programs and six master’s degree programs. This summer, in response to parents’ and students’ requests, UWG’s Newnan campus will also start offering “transient students” more core classes than it had in the past. College students, home for the summer, wanted the option of being able to take classes before they returned to their out-of-town schools in the fall. UWG Newnan had only offered one or two core classes before. This summer it’ll offer seven, which range from 100 level math courses to 200 level history courses. Besides the core classes, and degree programs, the school also serves as a test proctoring site for eCore and other online classes. “Students taking online classes sign up to take their midterm and final exams at the Newnan Campus,” said Cathy Wright, director of the University of West Georgia Newnan Campus. “If you were doing an online class at Mississippi State, you could come here to take your midterm.” Three computer labs with a total of 74 computer stations are available for test proctoring and are equipped with security cameras and microphones. An average of 600-700 exams are proctored at the campus annually. UWG at Newnan is the state’s second largest proctoring site. The University System of Georgia’s eCore classes are online courses provided through a statewide collaborative program. The courses, which are taught entirely online, satisfy the core curriculum requirements of any USG institution. The curriculum consists of courses required for the first two years of college for any given degree such as English, math, science and history. It’s a program designed for students with full-time jobs and families. For 2009, Wright said the university is planning for the growth of its criminology program which may include adding an undergraduate degree program by the fall. The 21-year-old campus is also planning for a communitywide open house this year to celebrate the ownership transfer of the property from the Coweta County Commission to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. “Coweta County Commission will be honored

University of West Georgia at Newnan logo on the county water tower adjacent to the campus in Shenandoah Industrial Park. The 21-year-old campus is also planning for a community-wide open house this year to celebrate the ownership transfer of the property from the Coweta County Commission to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. for their gift of property to the University of West Georgia and UWG officials will be honored for their many years of

support of the Newnan Campus in providing staff, programs and funds for needed renovations,” she said.

The entire campus, as originally designed for the Pattillo space, is to include six buildings totaling to up to about 140,000 square feet. WCTC is also merging this summer with LaGrange-based West Georgia Technical College. The merger is part of the state’s plan to save about $3.5 million from the Technical College System of Georgia’s budget. TCSG oversees the state’s 33 tech schools and is moving ahead with the merger of 13 of its two-year schools. The combined campuses of WCTC and WGTC are among those mergers. When the two tech colleges combine, it’ll retain the name of West Georgia Technical College and become the second largest technical college in the state. WCTC has shared space with the Central Educational Center at CEC’s facility on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Newnan since 2000. At its CEC campus in Newnan, WCTC offers courses in air conditioning, automotive, barbering, basic and advanced dental assisting, computer information systems, cosmetology, culinary services, emergency medical technician, law enforcement, practical nursing, patient care assisting/technician, residential electrical apprentice and welding. With CEC’s dual enrollment program, many of the classes are also made available to high school students.

keeper room. There is also a new parking lot and lighting; and the work that was done included a significant portion of shared infrastructure with the planned Grantville library — including parking, water, sewer, stormwater, fire protection and a new connecting road. The total project and improvements represent about $2 million — about $800,000 of which is in shared infrastructure with the library. Voting machines, now stored in the public building department on Olive Street, will move into the old 911 center space in the basement of the administration building on East Broad, and public buildings will switch offices with the adult probation office. Fire department upgrades will be a major focus in 2009. The county should receive the

bond proceeds in April or May, Gay said. The bonds will pay for a new headquarters station, a new station on Corinth Road near Bohannon Road, and, hopefully, one more station. The bonds will also fund several pieces of new equipment, including ladder trucks, and an 800-megahertz radio system that will serve not only the fire department but all Coweta public safety agencies. In addition the bonds, the county has money for a ladder truck in the impact fee funds. And, Gay said, Coweta is working with Senoia, Grantville and Haralson to put together an intergovernmental agreement for fire services. A new sheriff ’s office precinct is under construction at the Newnan-Coweta Airport off U.S. 29 near Moreland, and the county will be partnering with the Coweta County School System to put a new gasoline and diesel fueling station at the Fischer Road fire station.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009 — The Times-Herald — 3D

VISION 2009

Interstate 85 widening continues through 2009 By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com The ongoing road work on Interstate 85 was the dominant theme of 2008 in Coweta County — and continues through 2009. Last year and into this, traveling along I-85 has proved stressful for Cowetans, with narrowed lanes bordered in concrete barriers, and hazardous, with accidents and hours of traffic jams common occurrences. Luckily, the project is entering the home stretch, and is set to be complete by December 2009. South of Newnan’s Bullsboro Drive exit 47, it will add a third

travel lane in both directions, stretching to Forrest Road in Meriwether County, just south of the Grantville exit 35. The northern section of the project, from Bullsboro to Ga. Hwy. 74 at Fairburn, is to replace the decaying lanes. The project is set to include enough width to allow for a future HOV lane. 2009 will bring other road projects, including what is likely the most-needed, and longestawaited, road project in Coweta County — the widening of the Ga. Hwy. 34 Byapss/Millard Farmer Industrial Boulevard. Set for bidding in April, the project will four-lane the bypass from Bullsboro to Carrollton

Oak Creek. If federal money doesn’t come through, Coweta County already had a funding mechanism for the projects, which are going through Department of Transportation review. The DOT is considering using phase two sitmulus funds for the interseciton inmprovments at U.S. 29, Ga. Hwy. 16, and Pine Road. A few weeks of warm, dry weather are all that is needed for the completion of the intersection improvements on Photo by Jeffrey Leo Fischer Road at Raymond Hill, Work proceeds as of March 2009 to add extra lanes to the IShaw, and Major roads. Coweta received final con- 85 bridge over Bullsboro Drive at exit 47. ceptual approval for a new I-85 2008, and began the process of Coweta County interchange at Poplar Road in an interchange justification Administrator Theron Gay said report for a new exit at mile the county hopes to see more marker 49. The exit would tie progress this year on the Poplar together an extension of Road interchange. “If we can get some moveBoulevard in letting that bid as soon as the city can finish Amlajack Shenandoah Industrial Park, ment from the federal and state acquiring the easements, which should hapand Hollz Parkway, which level, and some commitments, pen within the next six months, according serves an office park on Hwy. 34 like a project ID number, I think to Brady. East. The Georgia Regional the county may be in a position Streetscapes will be complete once Transportation Authority plans to move forward with engineerremaining portions of Jackson Street, to move its Xpress Bus park and ing and other things that may Jefferson Street and Clark Street are filled ride lot to Hollz Parkway. move that along,” he said. in. The city hasn’t even begun design on that phase of the project. • The Veterans Plaza at the city park at Temple Avenue and Jackson Street is expected to be complete in time for a Memorial Day ceremony (May 25). The city will soon be installing the 1,800 memorial bricks. “We’re very proud of that project,” said Brady. “They did a good job with help from the city and the county — and it was a project that we should have been involved with because it supports every segment of our community. It looks great.”

Highway/Ga. 16. It should relieve traffic back-ups along the bypass at busy commute times. Hopes are that the second phase of road funds from the federal economic stimulus package will pay for the replacement of the Greentop Road bridge over CSX Railroad. The bridge was closed in late December, when a state inspection found that the bridge — similar in design to the interstate bridge that collapsed in Minnesota — had deterioration of bolts and plates that required immediate closing. The county is also seeking stimulus funding for the Cannon Road bridge over White

Other projects on Newnan’s ‘to-do’ list By ELIZABETH RICHARDSON erichardson@newnan.com Among issues high on the priority list in the next four years for Newnan Mayor Keith Brady is transportation. The city’s proposed McIntosh Parkway, which would run parallel to Bullsboro Drive from the bypass to the area of Greison Trail, is a very important project to the mayor. Brady also plans to continue acquiring land for greenspace since it’s always “well used.” “We’re glad we’re able to do it,” he said. Other project updates: • The exploration of the feasibility of building a conference center in Newnan has been put on hold indefinitely. “Everything is in a state of flux and on hold,” said Brady. “People are backing off projects. But, we’re in this for the long-haul.

The numbers always need to work before we start a project. We’re not going to enter into a bad business decision.” • The widening of Millard Farmer Industrial Boulevard — which has been delayed numerous times — is reportedly now on schedule for the Georgia Department of Transportation to begin construction in the coming months. Brady says the DOT has reassured city officials that they plan to release construction bids in April. The city has already acquired all the necessary right-of-way to proceed with the project. • Newnan is continuing work on its streetscapes project in order to promote connectivity within the city. One area that will get new sidewalks is Greenville Street from downtown to the Spence Avenue intersection. The DOT has told the city it is

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Newnan’s financial strength avoids layoffs NEWNAN Continued from page 1D In the long term, or the next three to five years, the city is looking seriously into a few projects. Council has been searching for the right spot to build a new municipal building and public safety complex. Presently, Newnan is still trying to identify a revenue stream for that. Brady hopes to go ahead and get designs for the facility so the project will be “shovel ready.” If the population grows,

Newnan will eventually need more police precincts. For now, however, Brady said a recent study indicated that Newnan is more than adequately staffed for a city its size. The city is also considering building a recreational facility in the Chalk Level neighborhood southeast of downtown. According to Brady, a half million in SPLOST is set aside for just such a project. The city must decide what kind of programs would be offered and who would run the center. The city is continuing discussions with the Coweta County Early Learning Childhood Initiative about

restoring the former Howard Warner High School building on Savannah Street as an early education facility. The facility was used as central offices for the Coweta County School System in the 1970s and ‘80s and later for instructional program offices before the facility was given to the city last year. But — “with the state of the economy, we’re really not pushing forward with any other new projects,” said Brady. Recently Brady announced that he would seek re-election to a fifth mayoral term in November 2009. His goal for the next four years is to, “get through the economic down-

turn in good financial shape.” “That takes experienced leadership, and I certainly have that,” he added. “I think we need to keep our eye on downtown Newnan and make sure it remains a viable business district and a destination for quality-of-life-type functions. Main Street does a great job with that.” But, Brady pointed out, Newnan has always had business turnover downtown. “The times we’re in now makes it that much more difficult for new business to come in,” he said. “We need to make sure [downtown’s] a strong place for our community.”

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4D — The Times-Herald — Sunday, March 29, 2009

VISION 2009

Coweta School System weathers testing headaches, budget cuts By BRENDA PEDRAZAVIDAMOUR brenda@newnan.com Testing headaches and budget cuts plagued the Coweta County School System last year, but it weathered the changes largely unscathed. Much of its rebound was due to the school system’s solid foundation, one of Georgia’s few SACS-accredited school districts. The system received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2006. Coweta school system’s standing can also be credited to a conservative approach to budgeting and retaining steady leadership despite several school board changes. After the 2007 death of Coweta County Board of Education Chairman Mitch Powell, Frank Farmer stepped in to fill the role. Winston Dowdell was appointed to the school

board, and subsequently elected to Powell’s seat last year. Also last year, Graylin Ward was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Brian Roy, a board member who resigned last March because of a job relocation. Farmer, who only wanted to serve two terms, stepped down as chairman in January; and now Steve Bedrosian serves as chair. The testing headaches, mirrored across Georgia, involved dramatic numbers of elementary and middle school students failing the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) for reading, math and social studies last April. In Coweta, one-third of the eighth-graders and onefourth of the fifth-graders failed the new test for math. The social studies scores were worse with 65-75 percent of Coweta’s middle schoolers failing the test. The failure rates led to many of the school systems, including

Coweta’s, to not make “adequate yearly progress” or AYP last year, one of the measures used to determine whether schools are meeting federal No Child Left Behind mandates. The state eventually dropped the social studies test scores because of the test’s misalignment with what students were taught. The Georgia Board of Education also allowed other concessions, including permitting systems to use summer school retest scores to better their AYP status. In the end, Coweta’s school system performed well overall, compared to the rest of the state. Only four of its 27 schools did not make AYP, and those schools missed it in one academic area within one subgroup of students. Meanwhile, Coweta high school students fared above national and state averages with their SAT scores. Coweta’s average SAT score is 1515, compared

to Georgia’s average of 984 and the national average of 1511, according to Dean Jackson, school system spokesman. For the 2008-09 school year, the Coweta school board approved an operational budget of $175.9 million which included a $1.2 million “austerity” cut from the state, and then the state’s budget crisis hit. It was aggravated early on by rising fuel costs, and then worsened with decreasing sales tax revenues. By then, Coweta had already committed to building a new elementary school to address its already overcrowded classrooms. In the midst of the fuel crisis, the board saw the costs for the new Brooks Elementary School in north Coweta rise to close to $19 million. By May, the board also projected a $3.6 million shortfall and expected more to come. Their expectations were met. By fall, the sales tax revenues

Like economy, Coweta’s school growth has come to a standstill By BRENDA PEDRAZA-VIDAMOUR brenda@newnan.com

Photo courtesy Coweta County School System

Other than opening the new Brooks Elementary School, getting through reaccreditation and maintaining its academic integrity, the Coweta County School System won’t be setting itself up to do anything else next year. It’s all because of the economy, said Superintendent Blake Bass. “The budget is going to be the issue for the next two years,” he said. “We saw all that coming in August, and we didn’t start any new programs, and I think that’s why we’re in pretty good shape, financially.” The school system isn’t planning to build any more new schools nor hire any new teachers. It won’t be funding any new programs nor taking on anything that will require any more expense in fiscal year 200910.

This aerial view shows that the entire building for the new Brooks Elementary in north Coweta is now dried in.

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that fund most of the school system’s capital projects had virtually flat-lined. At its peak, the system enjoyed annual percentage increases in sales tax revenues above 20 percent. Nowadays, the school system is collecting barely what it collected this same time last year. The same applies to money the school system collects from property taxes, which funds operating and maintenance costs. While the value of Coweta’s tax digest typically increases 7 to 8 percent annually, the digest’s value increased 6.1 percent this fiscal year. Foreseeing the revenue losses, the system budgeted likewise, and based its budget on a 5.5 percent growth in the digest. It also implemented a hiring freeze and mandated departments to scale back to 80 per-

cent of their budgets to avoid dipping into reserves. The school system’s growth has slowed, too. While student enrollment grew about 4 percent three years ago, the system has seen about a 2 percent increase over the last two years. The school system has 22,149 students enrolled as of January 2009. Coweta County School System currently employs 3,284 employees, not including substitute teachers. Of that total, 1,563 are certified, classroom teachers; 1,222 are support personnel such as secretaries, maintenance and cafeteria workers; 287 are bus drivers and monitors; and the remaining 212 are also certified employees, but are administrative personnel such as principals, media specialists and counselors.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009 — The Times-Herald — 5D

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6D — The Times-Herald — Sunday, March 29, 2009

VISION 2009

New team soon heading Coweta’s search for industrial prospects By JEFF BISHOP jbishop@newnan.com A new team soon will be heading up Coweta County’s ongoing search for new industrial prospects. Two new members were named recently to the Coweta County Development Authority, and the board is in the midst of a search for a new president to replace the retiring Bill Harrison. Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce President Jan Alligood and local businessman Rob Brass, who was a candidate for Coweta County Commission last year, will join the development board in April, just as it launches into its talent search. “Activity is intensifying as we approach our planned job announcement and call for applications in April,” said Harrison. “The support of Rick Watson and the county personnel management system will be extremely helpful in this process.” The new leadership comes in at a busy time. Coweta County is still in the running for a Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital, code-named “Project Care.” The $150 million facility will complete construction by 2011. “We have had a continuing dialogue with the Project Care team and remain optimistic

about a positive decision for our community,” Harrison said. Harrison said that the project “will bring badly needed new investment, more than 400 badly needed good paying jobs, and help establish Newnan once again as a center for not only medical treatment, but for research and development.” “We are excited to contribute to economic growth in the Atlanta area,” said Robert W. Mayo, vice chairman of CTCA. “Not only will CTCA provide quality employment opportunities; but because of the destination status of our hospital, we will add more than $500 million to the local economy over five years. Once opened, the new CTCA hospital will draw more than 65 percent of the patients we serve from outside Georgia.” But Coweta Development Authority doesn’t have all of its eggs in the CTCA basket. “We are continuing to work with projects that are as widespread as medical device production, sales and distribution, and hospitality environmental solutions, and solar energy products,” said Harrison. Coweta County also continues to cultivate its Chinese connections and looks forward to getting a long-in-the-works Chinese soy sauce plant off and running at Shenandoah Industrial Park. “We get a real sense that

many companies, worldwide, are continuing to research, screen, and prepare for new locations and facilities that will allow for a quick response as our economy recovers,” said Harrison. The Development Authority’s marketing committee planning is also well under way for the spring reception in Atlanta and for another fall “developer’s day” in Coweta. Coweta County has scored several recent successes. D&H Distributing, a major North American computer products and consumer electronics distributor, is opening its largest warehouse facility to date at Coweta Industrial Park north of Newnan. The new, 476,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art warehouse will service D&H territories including the Southeast and areas of the Midwest, and is set to open in early May, bringing about 100 new jobs to the community. MC Precast now also makes its home in the Newnan area, at the industrial park just south of town, at 75 South Industrial Park Drive. “We had been leasing space in Forest Park,” said Kathleen Rhaney, program manager for MC Precast, Inc. “But we came here to make additional products, to expand our manufacturing lines and to diversify.” The plant makes “Spancrete,”

a proprietary form of hollow core concrete that’s built to withstand tornados, earthquakes, winter storms, and fires. Coweta County was attractive because of the available acreage, she said. “We had been trying to put together enough property, and in metro Atlanta that’s becoming more and more difficult,” Rhaney said. “We’re delighted to have them here. They’re going to make a wonderful addition to our community,” said Harrison. “It’s great to see a new company come to Coweta County,” said Development Authority Chairman Mike Barber. “MC Precast is going to put people to work and create jobs, and we’re lucky to have them in the Newnan South Industrial Park.” Everything hasn’t been rosy during the past year. Commitments have been slow to come, and there has been some concern that existing industries such as the Rite Aid drug store chain may be in trouble. Rite Aid — a recent NewnanCoweta Chamber of Commerce “Prosperity Award” winner which has distribution center facilities and drug store locations in Newnan and employs about 450 local people — has been the subject of much speculation in financial circles in recent months due to its heavy

Jan Alligood

Rob Brass

debt load, which resulted from its acquisition of Brooks and Eckerd Drugs in 2007, including the local Eckerd distribution center at Shenandoah Industrial Park. “As with all companies, we continue to look for ways to operate as efficiently as possible, and that includes our distribution centers,” said Cheryl Slavinsky, Rite Aid’s director of public relations. “We’re evaluating our whole business, as everybody is right now, and that includes our stores and our distribution centers.” But the overall local job market is beginning to look up a bit, state Department of Labor officials have said at recent meetings of the Newnan-Peachtree City Area Employer Committee. Peter Ludlow, manager of the state DOL’s Newnan Career Center, said, “We’ve had an increase in the number of job orders,” he said. “So hopefully we’re turning around.” The job outlook may seem bad in Coweta, but in most surrounding counties, the situation is far worse. The current unemployment rate in Coweta County is 8.1 per-

cent, which is two percentage points better than the unemployment rate for the five-county Chattahoochee-Flint area as a whole. Meanwhile, Carroll County’s unemployment rate is 10 percent, while Heard, Meriwether, and Troup counties’ unemployment rates are now at or above a whopping 12 percent, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Marche Boykin of the Newnan Career Center told the Employer Committee at its most recent meeting that even though the unemployment rate in Coweta County is the highest she’s seen during her tenure, things seem to be improving. “T-Mobile is hiring a second shift of 111 people,” she told the group. Belk and Food Lion also opened stores recently, creating another hundred jobs. The new Kia plant and its offshoots in West Point are also bringing more job opportunities to the region, Boykin said. “We had about 105 job orders, as of Friday,” said Boykin. “It seems like we’re kind of on an upward trend, recently,” said Lee Whetstone, chairman of the committee.

Reaccreditation, opening Brooks focus for Coweta School System do it, it’s going to be for a lesser number, and we’re not going to give them that guarantee,” he said. While the district, at one time, projected building a new school every year to keep up with growth, it’s not the case for next year either. Like the economy, growth has come to a standstill. “We don’t have student growth right now,” Bass said. Enrollment fluctuated between 21,670 and 22,170 students last year. In addition, recent redistricting for Brooks Elementary and the state’s temporary waiver on number of students per classroom has given Coweta’s school system more breathing room. Coweta education leaders had also planned on continuing the system’s major renovations to the inventory of older schools, primarily to extend the facilities’ life spans and capacities. Last year, some of the older sections of Moreland Elementary and East Coweta Middle School were renovated. Arnco-Sargent Photo by Jeffrey Leo Elementary’s turn was this sumCoweta School System is opening its 19th elementary school mer, but it appears it may have in August. Educators will be pulled from other Coweta to wait for its update. schools and facilities to fill Brooks Elementary s new slots. “Because of the economy,

Teacher Pipeline, an innovative internship program for college seniors at the University of West Georgia. In the program, Continued from page 4D student teachers would be guaranteed a job with the Coweta Depending on what the Georgia legislature decides with system once they completed the state’s education budget this their year-long internship in local schools. It was inaugurated spring, the system will likely last fall with 18 student teachers, continue scaling back projects who’ll be offered positions for and nonessential programs, next year. But that may be the including planned renovations at some of its aging schools and end of that program. While the a promising teacher recruitment district wants to continue it, program eyed by the state. Bass said it’ll be eliminated or At risk for funding next year scaled down. is the last phase of Coweta’s “Next year, if we’re going to

SCHOOL

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we’ve not made full decisions as to whether to go with Arnco elementary’s renovation… as to what scope,” Bass said. “The SPLOST monies are real unpredictable right now,” he said of the one-cent education sales tax in Coweta. Many of Georgia’s capital improvement projects are funded by special purpose local option sales tax, a one-cent tax collection that has weakened since the nation entered its recession. Bass said partial renovations will likely proceed, but Arnco-Sargent’s complete $1.5 million renovation may be delayed until the district is assured SPLOST monies will be there to fund it. Don’t expect to see a lot of new faces at area schools next year either, except maybe for some specialty positions, such as math teachers. Algebra, geometry and trigonometry are no more. Ninth graders will face new, integrated math courses. While Coweta School System is opening its 19th elementary school in August, educators will be pulled from other Coweta schools and facilities to fill Brooks Elementary’s new slots. Earlier this year, the system had

to cancel its annual job fair, citing the economy. Because of the state’s temporary waiver on classroom sizes, school systems are now able to increase the maximum number of students in their classrooms over the next two years, thereby delaying the hire of some teachers. Bass added that retention rates are also high going into the new year, with less than 50 employees leaving. “At this time, we would have had probably 100-120 people leaving. I attribute it all to the economy. People aren’t moving because the jobs aren’t there for the spouses,” he said. Bass explained the system typically experiences more vacancies because of a spouses’ job relocation. But this year, the county — which is home to many airline employees as well as those in construction-related trades — hasn’t experienced the migration. People aren’t moving and they’re holding on to their jobs. He said the school system’s biggest personnel challenge will be ensuring it can continue to employ its existing employees while also filling its needed positions. Georgia’s and Coweta School

System’s hopes for surviving the recession are tied to the federal stimulus funding plan, which could bring $1.17 billion to the state for 2009-10 for construction, special education and Title 1 programs. Coweta’s share for the two-year period was estimated at $9.3 million last January by the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, but the numbers are only estimates. Coweta expects much less. For now, the school district is hoping the state legislature will pass House Bill 455, which will allow school systems to delay renewing contracts to teachers and other certified professional personnel until May 15. Right now, districts are required to tender the contracts by April 15. “That way will have a very clear picture of everything,” Bass said. “The stimulus money will be down, the (state) budget will be passed. We’ll have a clear picture of the people who’ll be returning next year.” The bill passed in the House March 12 and goes to the Senate. If it doesn’t pass the Senate, the district will have to make its most difficult budget decisions for next year by April 14.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009 — The Times-Herald — 7D

VISION 2009

2008 a year of downtown growth for Senoia By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com 2008 was a year of downtown growth and development in Senoia, a trend that looks to continue in 2009. Downtown Senoia’s f irst new building opened in early 2008, the home of Redneck Gourmet, Maguire’s Irish Pub, 92.5 FM, and PAPP Clinic. The city’s storied Hutchinson Hardware building was divided into a row of new shops; and furniture magnet Frank Hollberg opened his new twostory warehouse, which replaced several older onestory buildings on Main Street. The city also took a major step by hiring a downtown development coordinator, whose job it is to promote the town. In partnership with the city, the Downtown Development Authority opened a welcome center downtown. In 2009, work is continuing on across Seavy Street from

Redneck on the second downtown building built by Historic Development Ventures. It will be the home of Piedmont Physicians, and hopefully a pharmacy. Plans are for a bazaar type market on the basement level. Historic Development Ventures is owned by Scott Tigchelaar and Paul Lombardi of Riverwood Studios, who plan several other projects downtown, including a large residential development on the former Gin property, which will be both a real neighborhood and a “living backlot� for filming. Speaking of f ilming, the movie industry is returning to Coweta County, thanks to the tax incentives for film and video productions that went into effect in July 2008. A film producer and costume designer have moved to Senoia, and Tigchelaar expects several movies to come to Coweta in 2009, in addition to the two feature films and one television movie that have already

filmed in Newnan. Senoia hopes to get started on a new police station and municipal court facility this year. The facility, which will be located on Howard Road, is currently in the design stages. Come November, city council members will be elected to four-year terms instead of two. Then there is the city’s future new library, well behind schedule and subject to seemingly endless delays. A library site was finalized in early 2008 adjacent to Marimac Lakes, and funding survived Gov. Perdue’s veto pen in the spring. The city of Senoia officially joined the Coweta County Library System in late 2008, when the county library board of trustees finally approved an agreement with the city. Last fall, Library System Director Barbara OsborneHarris predicted the opening of the library was two years out.

‘Hollywood’ returns to Coweta From STAFF REPORTS news@newnan.com The movie industry is returning to Coweta County, thanks to Georgia’s tax incentives for film and video productions that went into effect in July 2008. Just this weekend Newnan was expecting a flurry of activity for filming of “Zombieland� — a major motion picture dubbed a horror/comedy starring Woody Harrelson and “Little Miss Sunshine� star Abigail Breslin. It was scheduled to shoot scenes downtown Sunday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Greenville Street in the vicinity of East Broad Street and the Court Square. Shooting is also taking place at a home on Wilcoxon Street and on LaGrange Street at the railroad overpass. Senoia’s Riverwood Studios execs Paul Lombardi and Scott Tigchelaar are hoping for more business and are redeveloping downtown Senoia with an eye to movie making. In addition to

multi-story brick buildings on Main Street that can serve as “downtown anywhere� for the movies, they are planning a large residential development at the lower end of downtown Senoia that will be both a real neighborhood and a potential “living backlot.� Riverwood and Coweta have seen big productions over the years, including movies “Fried Green Tomatoes,� “Driving Miss Daisy� and Turner’s TV mini-series “Andersonville� for which an entire duplicate set of the Civil War prison was built in Turin. Sharpsburg was transformed into an early 1900s scene with dirt streets for Hallmark Hall of Fame’s “Christmas Memories,� among several Hallmark productions filmed in Newnan and Coweta. In 2008-2009 the pace has picked up, especially in Newnan. Sony’s “The Wronged Man,� which is scheduled to debut on Lifetime Television this fall, filmed at businesses around and near the Court Square. The

made-for-television movie is based on the true story of the erroneous rape conviction of Calvin Willis in Shreveport, La., in 1986. Prissy Gregory, a legal assistant portrayed by Actress Julia Ormond, fights for nearly 20 years to overturn Willis’ conviction. Ormond is well-known for her starring roles in “First Knight,� “Sabrina,� “Legends of the Fall� and, most recently, “Benjamin Button.� It came on the heels of filming in February for major motion picture “Get Low,� starring Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Robert Duvall and Lucas Black. The independent film, said to be a dark comedy, was shot in part at the Victorian home of Gandy Glover on Temple Avenue. “Get Low� is set during the Great Depression and, according to “Variety,� the film is based on the true story of Felix “Bush� Breazeale, a Tennessee recluse who planned his own funeral in 1938 while he was still alive and could enjoy it.

Photo by Bob Fraley

A record crowd, and some 240 vehicles, turned out for the Fourth Annual Cruisin’ to the Oldies Car Show in Senoia in September 2008. Here show vehicles surround the building that was the first Historic Development Ventures project. It houses a Redneck Gourmet restaurant and other businesses.

Haralson sees increase in activity By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com Tiny Haralson, in extreme southeastern Coweta, is a quiet place, and the residents like it that way. But the town council has been fairly active as of late. In 2008, the town held an Independence Day celebration with a fireworks show, food booths, live music, a parade, and games and pony rides. Hopes are to make the show an annual tradition. “Everybody who came seemed to think it was as good as the others,� said long-time Councilman Fred Rudbeck about the fireworks display. Folks seemed to really enjoy the show, he said. The council is currently considering adding a car show or other event to go along with the fireworks this year. The town also had its second annual Christmas parade and tree lighting. The council “did a lot of clean up� in 2008, Rudbeck said. There were some dilapidated barns and warehouses downtown that were falling in, and the city had them removed. There’s also a new sign and flagpole at the new council chambers, and the town is going to

put up additional signs to direct residents to the council meetings. Currently, the town is looking at some new ordinances and considering starting a Web site to keep residents informed. Haralson also contracted with the Chattahoochee-Flint Regional Development Center to do a solid waste plan. Rudbeck said the town has been in contact with the railroad and is trying to get some repair work done on the railroad crossings at Line Creek Road and Main Street. “Both of them are kind of rough to cross,� Rudbeck said. A group of local residents and property owners are working to have the town placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The group has done a lot of legwork so far, Rudbeck said. Also, the council is “exploring the possibility of a park in Haralson,� Rudbeck said. Things are very preliminary, but the council is looking at various landowners and considering whether some land may be donated. “The park is probably the biggest thing we are working on now,� he said.

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8D — The Times-Herald — Sunday, March 29, 2009

VISION 2009

Despite economy, churches building for growth By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com

Crossroads Baptist Church is making progress with building its 1,500-seat sanctuary which is visible to motorists along on Highway 16 at Poplar Road southeast of Newnan.

If we build it, they will... By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com Churches, pastors and church growth consultants do not generally follow the theme from “Field of Dreams.” Still, church construction projects sometimes move forward at times when other building is slow. An article in the Dayton Business Journal last fall noted Van Con Inc., an Ohio construction firm, moved from tool and die construction toward building and remodeling churches starting in 2002 — following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The “... new primary driver for the firm has been in religious construction, which now accounts for about 70 percent of revenue,” it is noted in the article. Church facilities represent hopes and dreams of members, as well as providing practical, useful space. “It’s not just another building,” Tom Belanich, director of sales and marketing for Van Con, told the DBJ. There are several reasons why churches might move forward with building projects even though the economy is a bit shaky: • Churches may have been planning their projects for quite awhile. Many churches try to build with little or no debt and may build up funds for a construction project over a period of several years. A congregation that has money to build may actually be able to get more — dollar per dollar — in an economy where builders are

looking for work. Macedonia Baptist on Roscoe Road is planning to build a new facility, which some — including former pastor Searcy Jackson — have had in their dreams for years. “In 1968, I was traveling on Buddy West Road where the water tower now is, and I stopped beside the road to thank God for the beautiful sight that I saw in the Macedonia sanctuary,” Jackson recalled. “The longer I sat there the more God moved my spirit, and I saw a new sanctuary sitting in front.” The current proposal at Macedonia is much like what Jackson envisioned more than 40 years ago. • Because church members see the need for more space, they will give to help bring the new building or expansion about. Macedonia is working to move from $350,000 in its building fund to $1.5 million before breaking ground for its new sanctuary. “In spite of the economic circumstances, the money is still steadily coming in,” John Riley, Macedonia’s pastor said. Church members can raise money in various ways. Older churches may be able to seek contributions from descendants of former members. The possibility of large donations or bequests can also move a church building project forward. • Churches may have members who can do some work on the building. Church members may also be able to get supplies or services at a lower cost than would generally be available.

The economy is uncertain, but the work of the church — and the construction of buildings to facilitate that work — continue. Crossroads Baptist Church is moving along with building its 1,500-seat sanctuary — which is visible to motorists along on Highway 16 southeast of Newnan. The growing church — which already has a campus on Highway 154 near Thomas Crossroads — bought 130 acres fronting Highway 16 and Poplar Road in February 2004. Groundbreaking for the first phase of construction took place last year. Phase one will include a worship center with ministry areas for preschool, children, middle school and high school — as well as a coffee shop and bookstore. Crossroads is one of Coweta’s newer congregations, dating to 1989. One of Coweta’s oldest churches, Macedonia Baptist, is also experiencing growth and preparing for it by planning a new facility. Macedonia Baptist Church can trace its history to 1827 when an organizational meeting was held at the home of Coweta pioneer, Allen Gay, a Revolutionary War soldier. Located at Buddy West Road and Roscoe Road, Macedonia is already holding two morning worship services each Sunday and looking at options for adding a third. Membership at Macedonia has steadily increased over the years, from the first seven families to more than 130 families today. Current facilities at Macedonia include an activity building, fellowship hall, education building, playground and prayer garden. With an average attendance of 275 each Sunday, the congregation has felt the need to again increase its buildings, but the congregation has decided to build with the ability to accommodate future growth for years to come. They call the new sanctuary construction proj-

ect “Fulfilling God’s Vision,” and it is an effort that is a year old and two years away from groundbreaking. Even in uncertain economic times, Macedonia’s members have remained strong in their commitment to the new sanctuary. John Riley, Macedonia’s pastor since 1997, said the church made the decision to build before the current economic downturn. The decision was also made “to break ground and to build in God’s timing,” he said. Macedonia’s plan will cost an estimated $2.5 million, and the congregation will not break ground until $1.5 million has been raised. Currently, about $350,000 has been given. “We have a set of goals we need to reach in terms of money before we actually break ground,” Riley said. “We’re trying to keep the goal up in front of ourselves,” Riley said. Drawings of the

new building are on display at Macedonia. At the same time, the congregation is looking at ways to continue and grow its ministry before the new building comes about. “During 2008, we reached many new people and welcomed them into our congregation,” Riley said. “We set a new all-time record for giving to missions on the local, national and global levels. We reached new highs in attendance in our Sunday School Ministry.” Macedonia’s sanctuary still has a little space for growth. Riley said it is the parking lot and Sunday School rooms that are filled to capacity. Macedonia’s members are looking at options for using existing space more efficiently and creatively until they can fulfill God’s vision in their new worship center and educational space.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009 — The Times-Herald — 9D

VISION 2009

Coweta’s religious climate diverse By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com Religious diversity — running the gamut from Buddhism to Seventh-day Adventism — is part of life in Coweta County. While the county may seen overwhelmingly evangelical and Christian, there are many different strands to religious life in Coweta County. Come To The Table, a Newnan area organization focused on creating connections between people of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds, has looked at religion several times during the past few years. An early program explored why Sunday morning seems to be more — rather than less — segregated than workplace or school. At the most recent CTTT meeting March 9, a follower of Buddhism and pastors from divergent Christian denominations shared insights. About 20 people attended the gathering at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Mary Hinely, a Newnan resident who follows the teachings of Theravada Buddhism, spoke, as did Stephen Ruff and Matt Greathouse. Ruff, who comes from several generations of Seventh-day Adventists, is pastor of First Newnan Seventh-day Adventist Church and New Jerusalem Seventh-day Adventist Church in Douglasville. Greathouse, who comes from a Church of the Nazarene background, has been the rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal for

Photo by Winston Skinner

Stephen Ruff, left, speaks at Come To The Table s most recent meeting while Matt Greathouse, right, and Mary Hinely listen. about three months. “There are all different kinds of Buddhism out there,” Hinely said. While she follows “a very stripped down” Buddhist tradition, which is popular with many young people in America, other branches are quite different. Hinely talked about attending a Buddhist service with a strong Tibetan influence. That service involved bowing and “a lot of ritual,” she said. She said Buddhists do not see Buddha, a prince who lived centuries ago, as a deity but rather as a man who found the right path. “We have awareness of our

intentions, our thoughts and our actions,” Hinely said. Buddhists follow Five Precepts, which bear marked similarities to the 10 Commandments revered by Jews and Christians. “They are so much alike,” Hinely noted. The Precepts teach that killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, harsh speech and slander — including gossip — are wrong. There also is a prohibition against taking intoxicants that “cloud the mind and cause heedlessness,” she said. She noted that many Buddhists, herself included, will drink a glass of wine with a meal. “It’s up to each individual

to decide where you do with that,” she said. Buddhism also teaches an eight-fold spiritual path — right understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration. Hinely said people from some backgrounds have a problem with the use of the word “right” and substitute “wise.” In each case, the right or wise action “means acting in a way that causes no harm,” Hinely said. “It cuts through delusion and expresses a balanced way of working with each of these factors.” The path leads followers to

“the mental discipline required to follow the path of meditation,” she said. Obstacles to meditation include desire, aversion, sleepiness, restlessness and doubt. Hinely said desire, in Buddhist thought, “refers to the futile attempt to hang onto pleasant experiences by trying to stop the natural flow of changing conditions.” Aversion relates to anger, hatred and guilt. HInely said she feels that in American society there is a lot of anger. While anger can sometimes motivate someone to accomplish good, Hinely said it is important to see that “anger is a destructive force.” She said that while Buddhism focuses on not causing harm, she said she would struggle with and perhaps strike someone who tried to take her purse. “You want it to be simple, but you don’t want to be a simpleton,” Hinely said.

Hinely sometimes meets with a Mahayana Buddhist group in Peachtree City and she tries to go on a Buddhist retreat annually. Hinely attends St. Paul’s with her family. “The Christ heart speaks to me, also,” she said. She spoke of the Christian imperative to be Christ’s hands and do his work. Summarizing her thoughts about Buddhism, she said, “For me, this is philosophy, but even more than that, it’s a discipline.” Hinely said she can see a difference if she misses her meditation for a couple of days. She also said the ideas of heaven and hell are concepts that Buddhists see as potentially present at all times. “Buddhists don’t really concern themselves about the afterlife. It’s about right now,” Hinely said.

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Local pastors recount their spiritual journeys Jewish Sabbath. They also follow dietary restrictions outlined in Leviticus. “We do espouse a healthy Stephen Ruff and Matt diet,” he said. While some Greathouse are both pastors, but the two followed very dif- Adventists are vegetarians, “it is not a mandate,” Ruff said. ferent paths to their current “We look for the great ministerial positions. Advent of the Second Coming The two men spoke — of Jesus,” Ruff said. along with local Buddhist Ruff said Adventists face Mary Hinely — at the March 9 some challenges. “Sometimes meeting of Come To The our traditional thinking in Table. Adventism becomes a chalCome To The Table is an organization focused on creat- lenge in trying to meet the ing connections between peo- needs of humanity,” he said. There are about 90 active ple of different races, ethnicimembers in the Newnan conties and backgrounds. gregation Ruff pastors and About 20 people attended about 60 in the Douglasville the meeting at St. Paul’s congregation he serves. Episcopal Church, which folGreathouse comes from a lowed a covered dish meal. prominent Church of the Both Ruff and Greathouse Nazarene family. The grew up in religious families. Nazarene church broke away Ruff attended Seventh-day from Methodism about a cenAdventist schools through tury ago with leaders of the college. He did attend gradunew denomination citing libate school outside the Adventist educational system, eral tendencies in Methodism. Greathouse’s grandfather earning a master’s degree in was a Nazarene pastor and business administration. educator. He was once presiHe did not intend to dent of a denominational sembecome a pastor. For many inary and retired as general years, he worked in the superintendent. The joke in Adventist publication minthe family was that his grandistry. For seven years, he was father “was like the Nazarene editor of Message magazine, the oldest black religious peri- pope,” Greathouse said. “I grew up in church. We odical in the country. were there all day Sunday and For eight years, he was the every Wednesday night and denomination’s director of stewardship. He began pastor- usually two or three nights ing three and a half years ago. during the week,” he said. Greathouse said he grew up “I’m enjoying it very much. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever in an environment where done in my whole life, but it’s knowing the right answers was all important. He said he also a gratifying work,” Ruff found he could ask more said. questions than the church Adventism is a branch of could answer. Protestantism, Ruff said, datGreathouse grew up in ing to 1863. There are 28 funKentucky. In college he damental beliefs. became a philosophy major — Adventists take a literal and an atheist. After his first approach to many Old daughter was born — followTestament teachings. They ing a difficult pregnancy for worship on Saturday, the

By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com

Greathouse’s wife — he began to reconnect with God. “Here I was holding something I couldn’t make sense of,” he remembered. It was “when I got out of my head” and into his heart that Greathouse found God again. Greathouse and his wife began attending an Episcopal church. The church appealed to Greathouse because “the right answers were not as important as the questions,” he said. As Greathouse grew in faith, he led the youth work in his church. At the suggestion of the rector at his church, he began the process to become a priest himself — though he said he did not want to do so at first. He went to a seminary in Wisconsin with a high church emphasis. Greathouse said Episcopal churches are focused more on how they worship — liturgy, Eucharist — than on theology. Episcopalians range from people who are almost Catholic in their views to the strongly Protestant. He noted that couples where one spouse is Catholic and one Protestant often find a home in an Episcopal church. The Episcopalians who make headlines are often those “on either end of the spectrum,” Greathouse said. “We are a tolerant church because we don’t have to have the right answers. We’re on a path trying to get back to God, trying to understand him through his Son,” Greathouse said. Greathouse spoke of the importance of Jesus in living out one’s faith. “He makes the difference,” he said. Ruff and Greathouse spoke briefly about the tendency for churches to be racially segre-

gated — moreso than society as a whole. Traditions and the makeup of the community can affect the racial balance of a particular congregation. Greathouse said that reaching across the racial divide in worship requires intentional actions. “What unites Christians is greater than what divides us,” Greathouse said.

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com Turin and Sharpsburg may be small and quiet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t busy. “There is a lot that has been going on, over the past year or so,” said Turin Mayor Alan Starr. Starr has only been mayor a few months, but he has served for several years on the council. He became mayor following the retirement of long-time mayor Allen Smith. The town’s biggest project in many years is the restoration of the historic Walter B. Hill school house. With the county’s help, the town has resorted to the school house to its original condition, and outfitted it to serve as town hall and community center. Crews are now putting the finishing touches on the project, Starr said. Turin’s planning and zoning commission is working on the development ordinances to encourage historically-compatible development, especially in downtown, and working with the railroad to beautiful the right-of-way along Hwy. 16. “We don’t really have the downtown that Senoia has, or of course Newnan, but we are trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got,” Starr said. The town is also in the process of updating its

water system, which is fed by a well and serves Sharpsburg as well. Nearly all of the meters have now been upgrading to radio-read meters. Over the next few years, the town needs to replace its 75,000- gallon water tank with something in the neighborhood of a 200,000- to 300,000-gallon tank. The well house needs renovation, and the town needs to find another well site that can be used as backup. Lastly, the main trunk water line into Sharpsburg will be replaced with a new, six-inch line, which will provide better fire protection. Starr estimates the entire upgrade will cost about $1.2 million, and the town is looking for some government funding sources. “If we can accomplish that during the next three to four years, Turin will be set for the next 40 or 50 years,” Starr said. That’s assuming there isn’t any large increase in Turin’s population. “There is not really a push for more growth,” Starr said. “We do want to grow moderately, but most of the citizens of Turin like the bucolic nature of the town. We are a little more rural and they like it that way.”

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10D — The Times-Herald — Sunday, March 29, 2009

VISION 2009

Sharpsburg completes streetscapes By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com Sharpsburg officials will continue upgrading the town’s infrastructure over the next year. In 2008, the town competed its streetscapes project, and began the renovation of the A.O. Bridges Center. The center has now been divided into city offices and the community room, with town hall now having its own entrance. The town is now working on getting the kitchen opened up and updating the look of the community room. For years, the Town of Sharpsburg had a healthy business renting out the building. “But we kind of lost it,” said Mayor Derrick McElwaney. Plus, the center will soon be competing with Turin’s renovated Walter B. Hill school for rentals. McElwaney said a focus is to get people into downtown Sharpsburg. Coweta County did some traffic studies for the town and “we found out we had a lot of cars” coming through downtown each day, McElwaney said. And the bulk

of that traffic was in the middle of the day. “We thought — now we’ve just got to find a way to get them to shop,” McElwaney said. The streetscapes project brought sidewalks to downtown, but did take some parking spaces. The town is looking for grants to improve downtown parking and to expand the streetscapes project. McElwaney would like to see sidewalks tying downtown to Hwy. 54. The town is also looking at doing some road and drainage repairs. “A lot of things just had Band-Aids,” McElwaney said. There’s also the issue of the town’s lack of sewer. “That is one of our downfalls,” McElwaney said. “At one point that is going to have to be addressed.” Currently, officials are working to get some nice signage coming into town, “so you know you are in the town,” he said. The town also became a Tree City USA and hopes to maintain that. Though the Peachtree Citybased Pathway Communities’ Twelve Parks development will be mostly located in unincor-

porated Coweta County, instead of in Sharpsburg as planned under the town’s previous administration, the commercial sector for the mixed use community is still in the city limits. The commercial sector will be a nice addition to the town but “I don’t know how we are going to handle it once it all gets here,” McElwaney said. “I’m glad it is put off a little while longer so we can work on the city instead of working on the new stuff and bypassing the people that were here.” The new traffic light at Ga. Hwy. 54 and McIntosh Trail has been great and everybody loves it, McElwaney said. McElwaney said he has met with Turin Mayor Alan Starr and “we both agree that the two towns are going to have to start working together on things to survive,” McElwaney. He wants to keep those lines of communication open. “I think we’re still on the best side of the county,” he said. “Now we’ve just got to get together and let the people know it.”

Photo by Jeff Bishop

Downtown Sharpsburg is enjoying a new lease on life thanks to the re-occupation of many downtown buildings that sat empty for years and the completion of a Streetscapes project. But merchants are still trying to get the word out, and they have high hopes for 2009.

Things looking up for south side Coweta on Griffin Street. New businesses have come to Grantville in the form of a coin Things are looking up on the laundry, a barbecue restaurant, south side of Coweta County. and Bar W Feed and Seed Grantville residents and little Supply. Grantville also hopes to leaguers packed the new and snag some of the increased improved Grantville ballpark on movie production that’s been Colley Street for what turned coming to Coweta County in out to be a beautiful day to inau- recent months. gurate the new fields March 21. Houston said she has been “This is worth the wait,” said “working with a scout” from a Grantville Mayor Casey movie production company Houston during the dedication that’s eyeing Grantville for an ceremony. “We’re looking forupcoming shoot. ward to a great season this year Since last May, when new and for many years to come.” Georgia film tax incentives The town also recently were signed into law, about 10 improved and named the feature films, six television Grantville Community Center series and one TV pilot have on Post Street and the John A. been lured to Georgia. Malcolm Jr. and Willie L. Moreland leaders are also Clements Sr. recreation building happy to see some development

By JEFF BISHOP jbishop@newnan.com

in their south Coweta town. Newlyelected Moreland Mayor Josh Evans praised the recently Houston opened Moreland Animal Hospital, saying that it’s just the shot in the arm that the town needs right now. “I’m so glad the animal clinic is opening up. Hopefully we will have more entrepreneurs open up in Moreland,” said Evans. “We want to see even more shops,” he added.

Riders head out from the Moreland square for the October 2008 Lewis Grizzard and Catfish Memorial Bike Ride to benefit the Ferst Foundation for Child Literacy. Moreland hosts hosts the Grizzard ride in the fall to benefit the Ferst Foundation for Child Literacy. Grizzard, the late AJC humor columnist, was born in Moreland.

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Nicole “Niki” Andrews, DVM, was raised on a farm in Moreland. She received a BA in English in Raleigh, NC, and taught middle school language arts for four years before deciding to pursue her dream to become a veterinarian. The town has been “absolutely welcoming,” she said. The 2,100-square-foot building is on a site originally slated for a Dollar General store. The proposed retail store had been the topic of much debate among Moreland citizens, particularly over traffic flow in the area. Andrews said she was happy to play a part in resolving the situation. The Moreland City Council recently approved a “Moreland Spring Fling” event for April 25 that will include a car show on Main Street, a barbecue and live entertainment. The idea for the Spring Fling event was recently developed by the Moreland Elementary School PTO. “We’re trying to raise money, and we’re also trying to expand the school into the community,” said Tana Lee, PTO representative and Spring Fling coordinator. “We want to get everyone involved as much as we can,” she said. “I think this could be great for the whole community.” Other activities at the Spring Fling will include a cake decorating contest, a student expo and a silent auction. The town also hosts a Lewis Grizzard and Catfish Memorial Bike Ride in the fall to benefit the Ferst Foundation for Child Literacy. Grizzard, the late AJC humor columnist, was born in Moreland An exhibit currently on display at the Erskine Caldwell Birthplace and Museum in Moreland offers insights into the life of the world-famous author and his family. Caldwell was born in Moreland and his birthplace has been preserved. The exhibit, “Family Album: Photographs from the Becky Gooding Laskody Collection,” also is the signature event for the Caldwell Museum for

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Sunday, March 29, 2009 — The Times-Herald — 11D

VISION 2009

Coweta has recreation offerings for youth, adults By NICHOLE GOLDEN nichole@newnan.com Coweta’s Recreation Department has something for everyone. From dancing to team sports and art classes, programs are available for young and old. In Coweta, there are four senior centers. The East Coweta Senior Center in Senoia, the Welcome Senior Center in Newnan, and the Panther Creek Senior Center offer weekly meetings. The Tommy Thompson Senior Center in Newnan has daily activities. “We are still growing each week,” says Senior Event Coordinator for Coweta County, Bonnie Weeks. At Welcome, East Coweta and Panther Creek, there are approximately 170 seniors who regularly attend, says Weeks.

Photo by Bob Fraley

South Coweta little leaguers help dedicate Grantville s new ballpark March 21. “The seniors are looking for things to do...the word’s getting out.” These programs are free and funded by Coweta County.

Photo by Sarah Campbell

Coweta County recreation program art student Amanda Davis works on a painting to be displayed at the 2008 Power s Crossroads festival.

Weeks attributes the growth in part to the lean economy, and to the program’s re-organization in recent years. The East Coweta Senior Center, located at 300 Howard Rd. in Senoia, has meetings every Wednesday of the month. Programs are for those 50 and older. Activities include arts and crafts, bridge, cribbage classes, stamping and card making, a covered dish luncheon, blood pressure checks, musical entertainment and informational speakers. The Panther Creek Senior Center, at 2285 W. Highway 16 in Sargent, offers similar programs each Wednesday. Additional activities include quilting, crocheting, and macramé. Meetings at the Welcome Community Senior Center are held each Tuesday. Arts and crafts, and Bunco are among the favorite activities. Luncheons and other programs are also held. The center is located at 1792 Welcome Rd. in Newnan. For details on the Welcome, Panther Creek or East Coweta centers, call Bonnie Weeks at 770-252-6429 or by e-mail to: bweeks@coweta.ga.us . The Tommy Thompson Senior Center, which also coordinates the Meals on Wheels program, is located at 29 Hospital Rd. in Newnan. The center is open each weekday with Bible studies, crafts, movies, and shopping excursions typically on the schedule. For more information, call 770683-8600.

Weeks reminds seniors, who are residents of Coweta, to attend the annual “Older Citizens Month” luncheon each May. This year, the event is May 21 at the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Pine Road. To register for the luncheon, call the recreation department at 770-254-3750. Other programs for adults include art classes, square dancing and dog obedience classes for pet owners, and Instant Piano, among others. For youngsters, a variety of team sports are offered including t-ball, baseball, basketball, football, soccer and cheerleading. Some of the programs are provided directly by the recreation department staff, while others are offered through nonprofit associations using county fields and facilities. Youth Art Classes are provided by instructor Bette Hickman at the Art House on Hospital Road. Despite the struggling economy, Hickman finds that enrollment in classes is “stable” due to very committed parents. Many of Hickman’s current students are the second generation. The program’s long tradition has also played into its success. Hickman, and her aide Teri Lewis, plan to offer more threeday art camps this summer to accommodate working parents. “We’re more excited than ever about the arts,” says Hickman. This summer, Hickman will be bringing a student orchestral group to Coweta from

China. “We were not going to let the economy be a stumbling block” she said. This is a philosophy she has also applied in making arts education available and affordable through the Recreation Department. “When we work as a team we can do more things,” she said. Hickman hope to plan artsrelated field trips through the department. In addition to sports, arts, and other activities, the Recreation Department also has an annual Easter Egg Hunt that’s free for kids. All the children have to bring is an Easter basket. This year’s hunt will be April 4 at 9:30 a.m. at the Hunter Complex on Highway 16 in Sharpsburg. Rain date will be April 11. The Easter Bunny will be on hand. For details on any of these programs, visit online at http://www.coweta.ga.us and click on “Recreation.”

Photo by Bob Fraley

Coweta Commissioner Tim Lassetter throws out the first pitch at Grantville s new ballpark, on Colley Street, during the March 21, 2009, dedication ceremony.

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2009 Vision Special Section