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Cherokee County Public Works Announces Summer Paving Projects

Cherokee County motorists can expect to see some road delays with two resurfacing projects getting underway.

Work for the 2022 Resurfacing Project – Phase 2 is set to begin this week, with roads scheduled to be resurfaced in six different subdivisions, including Creekside Estates, Middlebrooke, Lovinggood Landing, BridgeMill, Sturbridge and Eagle Watch.

“Resurfacing work typically lasts about two weeks per road or per subdivision,” said Jim Wilgus, Cherokee County SPLOST Roadway Project Manager. “We ask that motorists allow for extra time and patience and to obey all work zone signage for their safety and the safety of all those in the work zone.”

Last month, Commissioners awarded a $3.37 million contract to Baldwin Paving Company to resurface 12.7 miles of county-maintained roadways as part of the 2022 Resurfacing Project – Phase 2 in addition to awarding the 2022 Resurfacing Project to Bartow Paving Company for $4.72 million to resurface 12.68 miles of county-maintained roadways.

The 2022 Resurfacing Project is set to begin on Monday, July 11 with sections of Arnold Mill Road and Hickory Road set to be resurfaced. The project list includes Hickory Road from the Holly Springs city limits to Ga. 140; Kellogg Creek Road, from Jacobs Road to Cedar Mill Road; Bells Ferry Road, from the Cobb County line to Ga. 92; Beavers Road, from East Cherokee Drive to Ga. 20; and Johnson Brady Road, from East Cherokee Drive to Ga. 20.

Funding for the 2022 Resurfacing Program comes from local Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds and Georgia Department of Transportation funds. GDOT awarded Cherokee County about $2.4 million through the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) program for road resurfacing with the remaining $2.3 million being paid for with SPLOST funds.

The resurfacing projects are subject to change depending on weather and other unknown factors. Resurfacing work is expected to take place Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., until the projects are complete.

The County Commission, at its retreat earlier this year, allocated $7 million additional SPLOST funds for roadway resurfacing in 2022.

Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approve advertising lower millage rate, sets public hearings

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved advertising a proposed millage rate for the 2023 fiscal year, which reflects a reduction in the current millage rate to fund the county’s 2023 budget.

The advertised rate for Maintenance and Operations is 4.995, down 4.2 percent from the current millage rate of 5.212 mills. One mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of assessed value – a property’s assessed value is 40 percent of its fair market value. The Board cannot approve a rate more than the one that is advertised. The Board officially will set the millage rate in late July following three public hearings.

“Homeowners who have a homestead exemption will see at least a 4.2 percent decrease in the County Maintenance & Operation tax,” said Chairman Harry Johnston. “For that portion of the tax bill, those properties are protected from any increase in property value assessments. Their exemption amount automatically increases to keep their net taxable value the same.”

About 61 percent of the residential properties in Cherokee County have a homestead exemption.

For non-homestead properties, the County Maintenance & Operation tax will increase by the same percentage as their increase in property value assessment, minus the 4.2 percent rollback of the millage rate. For the average of all properties combined, the advertised rate represents an 8.4 percent increase from the state-calculated rollback rate of 4.609 mills.

At the June 21 regular meeting, District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter made the motion to advertise the rate of 4.995 mills, which was seconded by District 1 Commissioner Steve West. The motion was unanimously approved.

This will be the 11th consecutive year the Board of Commissioners has not increased the millage rate. In the last eight of 10 years, the Board has reduced the millage rate.

The total general fund budget (funded by the M&O millage rate) is estimated to be about $138 million, allowing for funding for the fourth Superior Court judge recently approved, but not fully funded, by the state, 7 percent cost-of-living increases for employees and 31 new positions countywide to better serve the community. Of the total general fund budget, 53.5 percent funds public safety, 20 percent funds judicial services; and 16 percent funds general administration. The remaining portions fund public works, culture and recreation, housing and development, and health and welfare.

The Board also is considering lowering the fire district millage rate to 2.984 mills, down from the current rate of 3.292 mills. The fire district budget, which is funded by the fire district millage rate, is estimated to total about $46 million and would fund 11 new positions and a 7 percent cost-of-living increase for fire personnel and staff.

For the parks bond millage rate, the Finance Department is recommending it be rolled back to 0.354 mills, down from 0.434 mills.

To illustrate the impact these millage rates would have on a homeowner, the Finance Department used an actual property in Cherokee County. The home, now valued at $482,300, experienced a 20 percent increase in value from 2021-22. That property has a homestead exemption, and the owner would see a decrease of $27 for the county M&O rate, a $46 increase for the fire fund and a $2 decrease for the parks bond.

The Board of Commissioners-controlled portion of tax bills include the maintenance and operations millage rate, as well as the fire district and parks bond. The fire district is only charged to unincorporated properties for fire service, and the parks bond is charged to all properties as determined by the 2008 voter-approved parks bond referendum. The collections from the parks bond rate repays the $90 million bond issued in 2009. The homestead exemption does not apply to either of these rates, however, the State Disability, State Disabled Veterans and surviving spouses, State CUVA (Farm Conservation Use), and State Brownfield exemptions apply to the fire district millage rate. These state exemptions also apply to the parks bond, in addition to the state age 65 (net income less than $10,000) exemption.

The Board of Commissioners does not control the School District tax rate or any millage rates set by local city jurisdictions.

The Board of Commissioners will hold three public hearings: July 5 at 6 p.m. and July 19 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The Board is expected to adopt the three millage rates it controls at the July 19 meeting at 6 p.m

Cherokee County Public Input Meeting for Comprehensive Transportation Plan Scheduled for June 28

The second public meeting for the Cherokee County Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) Update is set for Tuesday, June 28. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the Etowah Room at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center, located at 1130 Bluffs Parkway in Canton.

During the meeting, the public will be able to learn about the CTP process and planned projects, as well as provide input on the final prioritization. The CTP Update will be the second update to the Cherokee County CTP originally adopted in 2008 and then subsequently updated in 2016. The CTP is a tool that county officials use for the planning and programming of transportation projects.

“The CTP is an important step in improvement of current and future roadways and transportation infrastructure of Cherokee County,” said County Manager Geoff Morton. “The CTP Update process has been a result of studying the feasibility, operations, need and use of SPLOST project lists. I encourage the public to attend the upcoming meeting to review the prioritized projects and provide feedback.”

For those who are unable to attend, all information presented at the in-person public meeting will be posted on the CTP project website following the meeting, You can find previous public meeting materials from Dec. 8, 2021, on the same project site. To submit input online or receive updates, visit and click on Cherokee Transportation Plan from the homepage or go directly to the project site by visiting

Cherokee Top 10 in 10 Honorees Named

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce is honored to announce the 2022 group of Cherokee County's Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch.

"The Top 10 in 10 initiative is designed to cultivate and showcase exceptional Cherokee County young professionals," said Pam Carnes, Chamber President and CEO. Coordinated by the Chamber, in partnership with Enjoy Cherokee Magazine, this recognition program focuses on Cherokee County residents under age 40 who are considered to be Cherokee County's up and coming leaders over the next 10 years.

"We were extremely pleased with the number and caliber of candidates for this year’s recognition. As we have grown accustomed to since this program’s inception in 2012, far more than 10 nominations were received and likewise, there were far more applications than honoree slots. Each application was carefully reviewed by a panel of judges that found the task of only choosing ten honorees challenging," shared Chamber Board Chair Brian Stevens, CEO & Co-Owner of FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers. Judging criteria included past professional achievements and awards, five to ten-year professional goals as well as the nominees volunteer and community activities. Besides being recognized during the Chamber’s June Good Morning Cherokee breakfast meeting, the recipients will also be featured in the July/August issue of Enjoy Cherokee Magazine. The honorees who will be under the age of 40 on October 1 have been nominated for the prestigious GeorgiaTrend Magazine 40 Under 40 recognition.

The rising stars recognized as Cherokee County’s next generation of community leaders include (front row, l to r): Sandi Harrison, Principal, Liberty Elementary School/Cherokee Co. School District; Sarah Bowen, Pharmacy Operations Supervisor, Northside Hospital Cherokee; Bethany Watson, City Engineer, City of Canton; Marcie Smith, Executive Director, The Children’s Haven. (back row, l to r): Brady Cornelison, Captain & Paramedic, Cherokee Fire & Emergency Services; Rajpal Sagoo, Managing Partner, MDD Holdings; Jacob Sluder, Owner & Dentist, Dentistry of Olde Towne; Alyssa Rumsey Sheehan, Senior Project Manager, Center of Innovation for Manufacturing/Georgia Department of

Economic Development; Andy Smith, Attorney, Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP. Not pictured: Kyle Bennett, Tourism Manager, City of Woodstock.

Canton Police Announce Officer Involved Shooting Leaving One Dead

The GBI is investigating an officer-involved shooting in Canton.  Officers responded to a local subdivision to investigate a suspicious person at 2:19 am on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, when the shooting occurred.  One man is deceased, and no officers were reported injured.  The incident happened on the 700 block of Midway Ave.  

As per the department's policy, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is conducting the investigation, and the Canton Police Department is fully cooperating.  Further questions or inquiries about this incident should be forwarded to the GBI-PIO.

Additional information will be made available as the investigation progresses.

Cherokee Tax Assessor's Office Announces Increase in Assessment Values Due to Inflation

Cherokee County property owners have begun receiving their annual assessment notices and may see inflationary increases in their assessment values due to trends in real estate and inflation.

The average assessment increase is about 23 percent. According to the Tax Assessor’s Office, 100,575 parcels (92% of total tax parcels) in Cherokee County have increased in value. The Office also reports that 1,869 parcels decreased in value, and 6,162 parcels had no change from the previous year.

Georgia state law dictates how assessments must be completed, including evaluations and deadlines for exemptions and assessment notifications.

“The Cherokee County Board of Tax Assessors follows the appraisal guidelines provided by the Georgia Code and Appraisal Procedures Manual. The goal is to achieve ‘Fair Market Value’ as defined in the code section 48-5-2 (3),” Chief Appraiser Steve Swindell said. “The appraisal staff uses three approaches to value (sales comparison, cost and income) to determine valuation of properties. Statistical analysis, as provided by law, is used to calculate the level of assessment, uniformity and assessment bias for a group of properties defined by area, neighborhood, or class of property (residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial.)”

Those who filed a homestead exemption by April 1 that was approved have an assessment value freeze for county maintenance and operations dictated by a 2008 local resolution and a $5,000 exemption off the assessed value. The freeze and homestead exemption do not apply to fire district, parks bond or the Board of Education-controlled school millage rates. The freeze stays with the property owner until the property is sold or modifications are made to the property. Disabled veterans and senior citizens have additional exemptions as long as they applied for them by the April 1 deadline.

The appeals process is underway and is outlined on each assessment notice. Property owners have until June 30 to file any appeals. Any questions regarding assessment notices should be directed to the Tax Assessor’s Office by calling 678-493-6120. More information can be found at

The county budget and millage-rate setting process will take place this summer. The Board of Commissioners must adopt the 2022 millage rate by July 19, 2022, according to state law. The BOC must also adopt the millage rate set by the Board of Education, which will set its millage rate this summer, as well. Assessment notices recently mailed are not tax bills. Tax bills will be mailed in the fall of 2022 after each jurisdiction, including local city councils, set their millage rates.

Impact Grants Awarded by Cherokee County Educational Foundation

The Cherokee County Educational Foundation surprised 21 local school district teachers this week with Classroom Impact Grants totaling $40,000 for this school year.

CCEF also awarded more than $10,000 in Rapid Grants of up to $500 on a monthly basis, and funds districtwide initiatives as requested.

Founded in 2012 to help raise funds and awareness for the public schools of the Cherokee County Public School District to ensure excellence in the classrooms, CCEF has awarded more than $1 million since its inception.

“This organization of community volunteers each year diligently leads the effort to make sure our teachers get those additional resources they need to help our students do their best,” CCEF Executive Director Lisa Marie Haygood said. “We continue to celebrate the innovation we see in our teachers, students, and community.”

Applications for Classroom Impact Grants open in November and are available for funding up to $2,500 per classroom. A committee of at least five judges grade the applications individually and the scores are compiled and ranked to decide which teachers are awarded grants.

The number of grants awarded each year depends on fundraising efforts at the annual Celebration of Education Gala.

“Without the outpouring of support, we would not be able to fulfill our mission. This year was a tremendous success,” Haygood said.

Classroom Impact Grants were given to the following teachers:

· Virginia Baldwin, R.M. Moore Elementary School.

· Jennifer Campbell, Dean Rusk Middle School

· Ty Casteel, Etowah High School.

· Jill Cole, Clark Creek Elementary School.

· Brooke Dillon, Mill Creek Middle School.

· Nina Eidson, Knox Elementary School.

· Jim Elder, Mill Creek Middle School.

· Adrianne Fagan, Woodstock High School.

· Jennifer Falco, E.T. Booth Middle School.

· Cathy Fernandez, E.T. Booth Middle School.

· Amanda Graves, E..T Booth Middle School.

· Chelsea Leming, Indian Knoll Elementary School.

· Denise Lewis, Oak Grove Elementary School.

· Sandy McPherson, Clayton Elementary School.

· Sarah Munroe, Macedonia Elementary School.

· Hillary Nichols, Active Academy/I-Grad.

· Tina Plousis, Hickory Flat Elementary School.

· Angela Topper, Oak Grove Elementary School.

· Keara Rubin, River Ridge High School.

· Lisa Spence, Hasty Elementary School.

· Amy Walker, Johnston Elementary School.

Skilled Professions Signing Day Elevates High-Demand, High-Tech Careers

Be Pro Be Proud Georgia – a comprehensive initiative that connects students to post-secondary training and careers within the skilled professions through a comprehensive website and mobile workshop – teamed up with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), the Cherokee County School District, and Chattahoochee Technical College, to host Skilled Professions Signing Day at The Circuit Woodstock on May 10, 2022.

“Working within the skilled professions is more than just finding a high-wage, stable career – it’s discovering a sense of pride that comes from building something from the ground up,” said COED President Misti Martin. “From nerdy to dirty, we spotlight essential careers that are life-changing.”

Similar to national signing days for athletes, the second annual event celebrated 34 high school seniors representing all six Cherokee high schools for their commitment to pursuing one of Be Pro Be Proud Georgia’s 15 skilled professions, including Automotive, Computer Programming, Construction, Electrical, Health Care, and Welding.

2021 signing day honoree Christian Preiser returned to speak with this year’s honorees about the benefits of working within the skilled trades. After volunteering in the mobile workshop as a Most Valuable Pro (MVP) and graduating from Woodstock High, Preiser turned his passion for electrical work into a profitable career as an apprentice at Hewatt Electrical Contractors.

“I get paid to do what I love and am proud to be working as an electrician – a job that is truly satisfying and making a difference,” said Preiser. “My company is even providing on-the-job training and paying for me to become a certified electrical worker at IBEW Local 613. Be Pro Be Proud Georgia was a major catalyst for my success.”

Construction Ready Vice President of K-12 Zach Fields, a Be Pro Be Proud partner, highlighted the importance of building a strong K-12 pipeline to fulfill Georgia’s growing demand for skilled workers while offering students affordable training options.

“Debt-free post-secondary options after high school are THE answer for thousands of students coming out of Georgia’s public school system,” said Fields. “We have to reach students earlier through robust career pathway programs like CTAE and initiatives like Be Pro Be Proud, which are the foundation for students to make these important career choices.”

In April 2022, Wellstar Health System joined Be Pro Be Proud as its first health care partner, a field that is projected to grow more than 10 percent over the next decade. Of those participating in signing day, six honorees are pursuing advanced technical training in health care-related fields.

“As one of the Southeast’s largest healthcare systems, Wellstar looks forward to having this incredible opportunity to expose students to skilled professions in healthcare and navigate them to a successful career through this innovative program,” said Wellstar Vice President of Strategic Community Development Stephen Vault.

Since launch, Be Pro Be Proud has reached over 20,000 students and has made over 228 tour visits –140 across the state and 88 in Cherokee.

2022 signing day honoree Will Nichelson discovered his career path during a Be Pro Be Proud visit to Creekview High School. “I knew I wanted to work with my hands and our school didn’t have many options,” said Nichelson. “I was asked to help on the mobile workshop in 10th grade and it was cool playing with the simulators. This experience encouraged me to look into welding. I learned that I could go to Chattahoochee Technical College and do welding as a high school student, so I am graduating this year with my welding certifications before I am finished with high school.”

Guest speaker Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools for the Cherokee County School District added, “We’re here to help every student prepare for their future, and for many students, that next step is pursuing a skilled professional career. We’re deeply proud of these students for making a commitment to fulfill important roles in our community. We’re also grateful for our partnership with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, as it has led to more career focused opportunities for our students like this special signing day event.” 


Enjoy Cherokee Magazine and WLJA 101.1 FM Sponsor Retiring Educators Recognition

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, in partnership with Enjoy Cherokee Magazine and WLJA 101.1 FM, is recognizing retiring educators from the Cherokee County School District by donating funds to the Sequoyah Regional Library System. The funds will be used to purchase books for the library branches located in Cherokee County. The books will include a label recognizing all faculty, staff and administrators who retired during the 2021-2022 school year. Each retiree will receive notification that a book is being donated in their honor.

“This is the thirteenth year the Chamber has acknowledged retiring educators for their valuable contribution to the lives of students in Cherokee County. The Chamber is pleased to partner with Enjoy Cherokee Magazine and WLJA 101.1 FM in this tribute to Cherokee County’s educators,” shared Chamber President & CEO Pam Carnes.

The mission of the Cherokee County Chamber, a Georgia Certified Chamber of Commerce, is to promote business and the community while expanding the economy and enhancing the quality of life. For more information on the Chamber and its programs, visit

High School Filmmakers Celebrate Excellence at 4th Annual Cherokee Student Film Festival

The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), in partnership with the Cherokee County School District’s (CCSD) Audio/Video Technology and Film (AVTF) educators, recently announced the winners of the fourth annual Cherokee Student Film Festival as part of a live screening and awards presentation hosted at Sequoyah High School's Skip Pope Stadium on April 29, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.

Student films were screened on the Jumbotron as 175 audience members cheered on 19 groups of student filmmakers from across the county. 

The Cherokee Student Film Festival represents COED’s second collaboration with CCSD AVTF students this year. On March 10th, COED hosted the 3rd Annual Cherokee Student Film Summit at the YANMAR EVO//Center, featuring expert guidance from local and regional industry professionals. Through engaging hands-on breakout sessions, students were able to ask questions and connect with producers, directors, screenwriters, picture car coordinators, actors, showrunners, and film festival directors to explore careers in film.

“Our partnership with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development is making so many of our students’ dreams a reality through career experiences, and this film festival is a shining example,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “Film industry professionals share expertise with our students and teachers at the annual summit and throughout the school year, which culminates in this fantastic event.  We look forward to seeing our graduates’ names on silver screens in the future, a dream more real thanks to this collaboration.”

AVTF Instructors collaborate with COED year-round to prepare for the summit and festival. “Being a part of the Cherokee Student Film Festival is like a big celebration with family,” said River Ridge High School AVTF Instructor Lin Woods.  "I have been so blessed to see my film kids grow in their film concepts and master diverse technical and cinematography skills. I look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our film students beyond the classroom for years to come.”

With strict parameters designed to simulate production requirements, ten groups of students from across the county met criteria for judging. Qualifying submissions were judged by regional post-secondary film instructors Dr. Jay Hamilton (University of Georgia), Steven Hames (Berry College), Meredith Muse (Chattahoochee Technical College), Etowah Film Festival Founder Brent Lambert-Zaffino, and Media Producer Justin Webb.

Awards were issued based on the judges’ total scores in the following categories: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Quality, Best Use of Prop, Best Use of Line, and Best of Show. Festival attendees were able to cast votes in the Audience Choice category.

Sequoyah High School freshman Ava Roberts and team took “Best in Show” for their entry Secret Agent Annie Mills. "Having grown up doing on-camera acting, I was familiar with the set," said Roberts. "When I heard about the Cherokee Student Film Festival, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get behind the camera.”

The 9th grader, who also attended the Cherokee Student Film Summit earlier this year, said both opportunities helped shape her skills and interest in working behind the camera. "I know much more about how challenging it is to run a set. “I have so much respect for directors and producers and how much organization it takes to get everything together. It's really important to communicate well."

“Working alongside the CCSD to prepare students for successful careers in film has led to moviemaking magic,” said COED President Misti Martin. “Events like these are a powerful catalyst for students to launch successful careers within the film industry and make lifelong connections.” 



Secret Agent Annie Mills | Sequoyah High School Created by Justin Clark, Ava Roberts, Hailey Thompson, and Lauren Turnage

Runner Up Best of Show Only... | Creekview High School Created by Jackson Estapa, Chloe Feibus, Abram Midyette, and Maxton Williams

Third Place Best of Show Lucid Dream | Cherokee High School Created by Hunter Schwartz, Hunter Tadin, Felisa Vasquez, and Riley Watkins

Audience Choice Award (Qualifying Entry) Unconscious | Sequoyah High School Created by Andrew Kennedy, Tyler Sandt, and Gabe Squillace

Audience Choice Award (Participating Entry) I Miss You | Sequoyah High School Created by Donovan Victorino, Robyn Walker, and Ben Willison

Best Use of Prop Wanna Hear a Scary Story | Etowah High School Created by Sophia Berry, Marissa Migneco, and Kaili Phillips

Best Cinematography  Secret Agent Annie Mills | Sequoyah High School Created by Justin Clark, Ava Roberts, Hailey Thompson, and Lauren Turnage

Best Sound Quality Lucid Dream | Cherokee High School Created by Hunter Schwartz, Hunter Tadin, Felisa Vasquez, and Riley Watkins

Best Use of Line  Security Breach | Woodstock High School Created by Taylor Collins, Alex Manser, Riley McCall, and Brody Yot


To learn more about film in Cherokee, visit

City of Canton Announces Sale of Historic Jones Building to Developers of The Mill on Etowah

The City of Canton announces that its Downtown Development Authority, DDA, has agreed to and signed a contract for the sale of the Historic Jones Building to developers Penn Hodge and Grant Schmeelk for $2.2M. Hodge and Schmeelk are business partners in an Atlanta-based commercial real estate development and brokerage firm concentrating in leasing, management, joint ventures, and sales. The firm is responsible for the redevelopment of what is now known as The Mill on Etowah [Mill District] in Downtown Canton.


“Tasked with developing downtown for the public good, this DDA, together with all of Team Canton including our Mayor and City Council, has worked tirelessly to bring the best buyer in for our beloved Jones Building,” said Brooke Schmidt, City of Canton Councilor, Economic Development Chair, and DDA Board Member. “We are confident that Penn, Grant, and their collaborators will create an exciting development that maintains our healthy and vibrant downtown." 


“The Downtown Development Authority is excited to assist our City in moving this property back into the hands of a private owner,” said Cindy Brooks, DDA President and Vice President - Retail Market Manager, Synovus. “The Jones Building will once again be the centerpiece of commerce and entrepreneurship in Canton.”


“The development of the Jones Building is the next opportunity to showcase the City of Canton,” said Hodge. “The private/public partnership of this historical landmark will define the future of Downtown. We see the Jones Building project as the next adaptive reuse challenge, which will continue our theme of ‘Honoring History’ for the City.”


Proposed Redevelopment of the Jones Building


Hodge and Schmeelk added that their intent is the proposed partnership will align the aspirations of the City with the skills of their development team to create a destination landmark for office, retail, and restaurants in the historic Downtown area, and help unite the two districts [Downtown and The Mill on Etowah] in the City of Canton. The development team proposes to invest into the existing building and take the lead on the all the renovations, marketing, and leasing.


Hodge and Schmeelk plan to enlist local design duo Kandace and Rob Walker-Bunda of Bunker Design to bring thoughtful vision of the re-design of this historic building to life.


“We want this project to show and celebrate all the layers that have accumulated over time to give this great building it’s character and personality,” said K. Walker-Bunda. “Staying true to the historic nature of the building is crucial to the vision of showing the time span this building have lived through.”


The exterior architectural and historic character of the Jones Building will remain with modifications to bring the building into current code compliance while also working with the City of Canton to ensure that any new exterior work is in line with the City’s vision and commitment to historic preservation standards. New interior work will celebrate open site lines and allow for light to pass through the interior spaces naturally, with new all-glass storefront and modern touches to show users and visitors the journey through time that this building has endured and will honor.


Proposed uses for the redeveloped building will take a mixed use – adaptive reuse – and commercial strength approach, and will potentially include retail, restaurants, and office space.


History of the Jones Building


Very few commercial buildings in Cherokee County can boast the age of the historic Jones Building in Downtown Canton. The massive building that would stand as a city block in many communities anchors the eastern side of Cannon Park. The building has served as the focal point of the central business district since 1879, when it originally opened as the Jones Mercantile. Serving the residents of Cherokee County with everything from hardware to haberdasheries, food to furniture, and children's toys to caskets, the store was a one-stop shop and the original Cherokee County department retailer. The Jones Mercantile accepted mill currency and store credit, being on the cutting edge of retailing.


It originally stood as only half the building mass that is currently visible until a two-story addition was built adjacent to the first structure on the east side along Main Street. By 1921, the expansion had a third story added on that new space and the building's storefront along Main Street was seamlessly designed. The building would undergo a remodel in the 1950s. Finally, in 1973, as was the retail trend, an aluminum and stucco facade was installed covering up the facility.


Purchased by Cherokee County in the late 1980s for additional administrative office space, the building was subdivided from large open floor space to office suites for varied County operations. In January of 2017, the City of Canton took ownership of the facility from Cherokee County as part of an asset swap through the consolidation of fire services.


City Council immediately hired Lord Aeck Sargent's (LAS) Atlanta Office and the duo of Jack Pyburn and Esther Davis to assist in putting together plans for the renovation of the exterior of the facility. Throughout early 2017, LAS had the building scanned, employed environmental engineers to scan and test building materials, examined contributing elements of the historic building (woodwork, windows, masonry, structure and mechanicals), all to create architectural designs for bidding for construction.


In May 2017, City leaders approved the use of a Construction Manager at Risk platform for the work at the facility. The CM at Risk will oversee the project, subcontracting labor to varying groups through an open book system while bidding out all work. This philosophy assists the City with establishing a not-to-exceed budget for the project. The project was two phased: a building envelope renovation and an operational renovation.


The first phase includes replacement of the roof structure and renovation of the facade of the facility. This phase included repair and replacement of masonry, windows, and the addition of historically accurate commercial storefront designs. Additionally, during this first phase, the CM at Risk was responsible for the selective demolition of the interior non-attributing elements. During this process, interior walls were removed as well as some of the non-original floor systems used to subdivide the building.


In October 2017, Garbutt Construction was hired as the CM at Risk and selective interior demolition, the new roofing system and exterior renovation work began. Construction and renovation lasted for approximately two years.  

CCSD Team Wins at State Robotics Championships

A Cherokee County School District team won at a statewide robotics championship!


Sequoyah High School’s team earned runner-up at the Georgia FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, the highest finish for any CCSD team since the competition began. 


The team is coached by Brent Hollers, who teaches career classes at Sequoyah HS and i-Grad Virtual Academy, and parent Lisa Lougheed.  Team members are: Levi Auman, Brandon Buckley, Jordan Buckley, Lily Carras, Bryson Cobb, Gavin Dayton, Xavier Feldman, Micah Gray, Eric Hu, Colin Kennel, Brett Lougheed, Julian Noaker, Bryson Partin, Joseph Thomas, Lucas Thoroughman, Shane Webb and Fernando Zapata.


“Congratulations to these skilled and dedicated students and their outstanding coaches for representing their school and our community with excellence,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “Clubs and teams that offer students additional ways, beyond the classroom, to hone and demonstrate career skills are important opportunities that we’re proud to offer in all of our high schools.  We’re very thankful to the teachers, parents, business partners and volunteers who support these programs.”


The national FIRST Robotics Competition program gives teams of high school students the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in building and programming industrial-size robots to complete specific tasks.  For this year’s competition scenario, teams were tasked with using “innovative engineering, creative thinking, and teamwork to reimagine the future of safe, high-speed travel, and lightning-fast deliveries to propel the next evolution of transportation forward – in this world and beyond.”  Judges assess the robot’s design and effectiveness and the team’s collaboration and determination.

New Public Art Project Installation on Historic Doss Building in Downtown Canton

This spring will see bright blooms take over the 62-foot-long white wall at North and Lee streets in Downtown Canton as professional artist Madison Beaulieu begins a new public art project. 


A finalist in the City’s search for the Railroad Street muralist in 2020, Beaulieu grew up in Cherokee County and has worked as a creative in graphic design and printmaking for the last 8 years. Her studio is located in Woodstock’s Made Mercantile. She has previously created murals in Duluth and Woodstock among others.


Beaulieu’s wildflower mural concept is bold and whimsical. A perfect backdrop for visitor photos, the public art piece will not only create community but highlight the City of Canton’s focus on sustainability. Georgia’s popular purple coneflowers are a native perennial while the state’s smooth coneflower variety is listed as endangered. Native wildflowers in local gardens and yards are encouraged to help bolster pollinator populations.


“I chose cheery wildflowers as the subject for this mural because they are so important to our local ecosystem,” explains Beaulieu. “Our native wildflowers help make Georgia a beautiful place to live and play! I’m so excited to create this mural with the City of Canton. They are so supportive of public arts and the arts community; I’m honored to work alongside them.” 


Members of Canton’s new Cultural Art Commission (CCAC) are thrilled to see their first public art project brought to life. "Whether we are painting a landscape, telling a story, or simply appreciating the artistic experience,” says Jamie Foreman, member of CCAC and owner of Menagerie on Main, “we are all connected. Art is a partner of progress."


Volunteers appointed by the City Council and Mayor to the CCAC are Foreman, Elaine Frederico, Amy Kesler, Theresa Shampine, Rob Walker-Bunda, Bryan White, and Haley Whyte. Staff liaison is Canton Theatre Director Kristin Norton. 


City Councilor Brooke Schmidt, who works closely with the CCAC, says, “By advancing arts and culture as an essential element of life in Canton, we build community and connectivity while increasing economic development and tourism opportunities. As City leaders and volunteers team up to help residents and visitors want to linger longer in a vibrant Canton, the excitement is palpable.” 


Funding for the mural project will be provided through the Canton Cultural Arts Commission (CCAC) and sponsor Thrive Coworking. The City of Canton will unveil the mural with a ribbon cutting. More details to follow in the coming weeks. 

Home sales, Inflation to Affect Property Values Locally

- Trends in real estate are driving home prices up and increasing values across Cherokee County. According to the fourth quarter 2021 U.S. Home Equity & Under Water Report released by ATTOM, 41.9 percent of mortgaged residential properties were considered equity rich. Almost one out of every two homes surveyed in the fourth quarter were equity rich, an increase from 39.5 percent since the third quarter of 2021.


That’s good news for homeowners looking to sell. Those sales along with other contributing factors impact assessments conducted annually by the Cherokee County Tax Assessor’s Office. As the assessment process is nearing completion for upcoming assessment notices, the Tax Assessor’s Office reports that 91 percent of tax parcels in Cherokee County have increased in value (99,935 of 109,018). The Office also reports that 2,140 parcels decreased in value, and 6,942 parcels had no change from the previous year.


For 2022, the Real Property Growth/Inflation Rate is coming in at about 17 percent, as of March 30. In the past, annual averages have ranged between 4-6 percent.

“These are preliminary numbers and are subject to change as we continue the process,” said Chief Appraiser Steve Swindell.


Georgia state law dictates how assessments must be completed, including evaluations and deadlines for exemptions and assessment notifications.


“The Cherokee County Board of Tax Assessors follows the appraisal guidelines provided by the Georgia Code and Appraisal Procedures Manual. The goal is to achieve ‘Fair Market Value’ as defined in the code section 48-5-2 (3),” Swindell said. “The appraisal staff uses three approaches to value (sales comparison, cost and income) to determine valuation of properties. Statistical analysis, as provided by law, is used to calculate the level of assessment, uniformity and assessment bias for a group of properties defined by area, neighborhood, or class of property (residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial.)”


Property owners whose home is their primary residence are able to file for a homestead exemption by April 1 of the current tax year. The homestead exemption continues without renewal until the property is either sold or change in deed occurs.


“We partnered with the county Communications Division to make an extra effort this year to inform the public about the homestead exemption deadline of April 1, as we wanted to ensure property owners were aware of the deadline. We wanted to ensure anyone entitled to the homestead exemption receives one,” Swindell said. “In 2022, our office received 5,809 new homestead exemption applications, with nearly 1,000 received in the final week prior to the April 1 deadline.”


A homestead exemption provides a $5,000 reduction of the fair market value, and a 2008 local resolution dictates that once a homestead exemption is granted, that property value is frozen for Cherokee County’s maintenance and operations millage rate until the property changes hands or modifications are made. In addition, there are exemptions for disabled veterans and senior citizens.


“The senior homestead exemption is increased each year by the Social Security Index, which saw a 5.9 percent increase in 2022,” Swindell said. “Seniors with a qualified senior homestead exemption will see an increase in their exemption amount this year.”


The Tax Assessor’s Office, which is governed by the Board of Assessors, will mail the 2022 assessment notices on May 16, and property owners have until June 30 to file any appeals. The appeals process is explained on each assessment notice.

State Awards Cherokee County $3.9 million for Road Project

– A multi-jurisdictional transportation project recently received a financial boost that will shorten the waiting period for it to commence.


Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday a $17 million investment in transportation infrastructure projects across Georgia, and Cherokee County will receive $3.9 million from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank for Technology Ridge Parkway Phase I, known historically as the Heard Road Extension. The project is in partnership with the city of Canton, the Cherokee Office of Economic Development and Cherokee County.


The total award amount is the sum of a $2.9 million loan with a five-year repayment schedule and a $1 million grant. Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds are planned to be used to repay the note. This is the first time Cherokee County has applied for and been awarded a GTIB loan and grant.


“Thank you Gov. Brian Kemp and State Road and Tollway Authority Leadership for the investment in Cherokee County and for inviting us to the Capitol to commemorate the award,” said Chairman Harry Johnston. “We’d like to also thank the city of Canton and the Cherokee Office of Economic Development for their written support of the grant application.”

This is phase one of a five-phase project that will ultimately connect Bluffs Parkway to the Cherokee County Regional Airport. The Technology Ridge project has been in the works for more than a decade – the Technology Urban Redevelopment Plan was adopted in 2011 and identifies the corridor from Bluffs Parkway to the airport as prime location for industry.


“Technology Ridge Parkway Phase I is a new roadway that will connect Bluffs Parkway to Heard Road and Fate Conn Road and will be just over a half of a mile,” said Cherokee County Community Development Agency Director Brantley Day.


The project will begin with a new roundabout on Bluffs Parkway and ends with a new roundabout installed in the Heard Road/Fate Conn Road intersection. This project will immediately enhance mobility and safety on these roadways while improving critical intersections,” Day said.


The project is expected to spur corporate and industry development bringing more jobs to Cherokee County. The new thoroughfare, when complete, will provide easier access from the airport to the businesses in the area.


“The first phase of the parkway will deliver essential connectivity while providing a critical alignment for future expansion,” said Marshall Day, Chairman of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development. “It will also ensure opportunity for quality growth with positive economic impact for the region.”

Cherokee Chamber Announces Volunteer of the Quarter

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Jason Blakey, with Credit Union of Georgia, has been named the Chairman's Council Volunteer of the Quarter for first quarter 2022. He was honored during the Chamber's April Good Morning Cherokee breakfast networking event.

Members of the Chairman’s Council are accepted by invitation only from the Chamber's Board Chair. The Chairman’s Council members are invited to attend Ribbon Cuttings & Ground Breakings, Coffee & Connections…For New Members and special invitation Chamber meetings that aren’t open to the general membership.


In determining the Volunteer of the Quarter, attendance at Chamber events is evaluated for all members of the Chairman's Council. "There was no doubt when naming this quarter's honoree as Jason has attended many Chamber events since the first of the year," said Brian Stevens, Chamber Board Chair and CEO & Co-Owner of FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers.


For information on the Cherokee County Chamber and its programs, visit

Cherokee County Marshal's Office conducts underage alcohol operation

The Cherokee Marshal’s Office conducted an underage alcohol sale enforcement detail Friday, April 1. Underage individuals who volunteered to participate in the enforcement detail attempted to purchase alcohol at 73 stores in Cherokee County. Underage operatives were able to purchase alcohol at 11 of the 73 stores.


“Cherokee Marshal’s Office will continue to periodically check businesses for these types of violations and encourages business owners to educate and warn their employees on the ramifications and dangers of selling alcohol to underage persons,” said Chief Marshal Jamie Gianfala. “From the results of this operation, it appears there is some work that needs to be done, as having 100 percent compliance is the goal. Checking identification is certainly a good thing and is what we are after. Thank you to the 61 establishments that checked IDs and refused to sell to a minor. We appreciate your efforts in keeping alcohol out of the hands of children.”


The following establishments were cited for selling alcohol to a minor:

· Circle K, 8023 Cumming Highway, Canton. Samuel Burdo was cited for selling to a minor.

· Valero, 5963 Union Hill Road, Canton. Jaswinder Singh was cited for selling to a minor.

· Marathon, 2880 Lower Union Hill Road, Canton. MD Islam was cited for selling to a minor.

· Sunoco, 256 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock. Malek Ghorbani was cited for selling to a minor.

· Walmart, 6345 Bells Ferry Road, Woodstock. Desiree Wilson was cited for selling to a minor.

· Sunoco, 5856 Yellow Creek Road, Ball Ground. Wagner Piraquire Jr. was cited for selling to a minor.

· Hop-In, 514 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock. Tarunkumar Patel was cited for selling to a minor.

· Shell, 6045 Highway 92, Acworth. Robin White was cited for selling to a minor.

· QT, 4865 Holly Springs Parkway, Holly Springs. Phillip Myers was cited for selling to a minor.

· Marathon, 6742 Bells Ferry Road, Woodstock. Ajay Krishna was cited for selling to a minor.

· Shell, 6135 Hickory Flat Highway, Canton. Michael Golightly was cited for selling to a minor.

During the operation, Sergei Makarov was cited for open container at the 76 gas station at 6080 Highway 92, Acworth.

The Cherokee Marshal’s Office plans to continue these types of operations to combat the illegal sale of alcohol to those under 21 years of age. Anyone wishing to report an establishment that is selling or allowing minors to purchase alcohol is asked to call the Cherokee Marshal’s Office at 678-493-6200.

Parade of Homes Releases List of 2022 Builders and Communities

The Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association (GAHBA) announced today its full list of home builders and communities for the 2022 Parade of Homes. Representing the largest annual spring showcase of new homes across metro Atlanta, the Parade of Homes is slated to take place over the course of three weekends including April 23-24, April 30-May 1, and May 7-8. Prospective home buyers will have an opportunity to tour a wide variety of homes and townhomes in a variety of styles and price points. Admission is free and participants are asked to vote for their favorite homes. In return, everyone who votes will receive a Digital Gift Bag via email in late May after the parade is complete. They will also be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of two outdoor fireplaces from Haven Design Works, a pair of bikes from Regions Bank, a Yeti Cooler from Construction Resources. Event sponsor PELLA Window and Door of Georgia will also host a Bingo Card to encourage attendees to visit as many homes as possible for a chance to win a 1-night stay at Hotel Avalon and $100 gift card for the upscale eatery, Colletta in Alpharetta.

Builders offering a tour of homes during the 2022 Parade of Homes include:


Adams Homes

Brock Built Homes

Century Communities

David Weekley Homes

Eastwood Homes

Fischer Homes

Kolter Homes

McKinley Homes

Meritage Homes

Paran Homes

Piedmont Residential

Smith Douglas Homes

Southwyck Homes

Thomas Communities

Tributary Group


Custom home builders - Peachland Homes and McKinley Homes – will offer Virtual Only Tours through the app and

The 65+ homes on the 2022 Parade of Homes can be found in the following Metro Atlanta communities and cities:


West Highlands in Atlanta

Ten29 West in Atlanta

Saddlebrook in Snellville

Carmichael Farms in Canton

Tiberon on the Etowah in Cumming

Twin Lakes in Hoschton

River Rock in Cumming

Cresswind Georgia at Twin Lakes in Hoschton

Townes at Marietta in Marietta

The Estates at Starr Creek in Cumming

Union Grove in Braselton

Parc Terrace in Woodstock

Creekwood in Powder Springs

Oakleigh Pointe in Dallas

Traditions of Braselton in Jefferson

Kirkview in Marietta

Seaboard Junction in Loganville

Prichard Park in Kennesaw

Turner Village in Woodstock

Brannon Ridge in Oakwood

Hastings Manor in Hampton

Worley Preserve in Jasper

Westbridge in Covington

SouthLawn Townhomes in Lawrenceville

Amberwood in Canton

Victory Place in Acworth

Thacker Farm in Bartow County

Jackson Farm in Cartersville

The Stiles in Cartersville

Escalades in Mableton

Lynwood in Ball Ground

Campbell Manor in Gwinnett County

Waterside at Riverwalk in Gwinnett County

Crossroads at Birmingham in Milton

The Cottages of Lake Lanier in Flowery Branch

Barrett Farms in Marietta

The Retreat at Sterling on the Lake in Flowery Branch

Ashbury in Alpharetta

Glenhaven at Ridgewalk in Woodstock

Thunder Ridge in Dawsonville


The event involves self-guided tours of both model and spec homes. Homes on the live tour from participating builders will be open to the public Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. An interactive map of Parade Homes will be available to attendees on the Parade of Homes app and website. To learn more about the event, prospective attendees are encouraged to visit

Cherokee County Changes Some Polling Locations for 2022 General Primary Election

Some polling locations for the upcoming May 24, 2022 General Primary Election are changing, and registered voters should expect informational letters from the Office of Elections and Voter Registration.

According to Elections Director Anne Dover, the Office is ready to send more than 200,000 letters and precinct cards once the last step of the redistricting process has been completed by the Secretary of State and new precinct cards are printed.

Several polling location changes have been made due to the availability of facilities, and one advance voting location has been added in order to meet the needs of citizens in the Acworth area of the county.

Polling locations changes are as follows:

Hickory Flat Advance/Early Voting: This location is moving to Grace Community Church, 7770 Hickory Flat Highway, Woodstock. Hickory Flat Precinct Election Day voting will remain at Hickory Flat Elementary School.

Oak Grove Precinct Election Day voting: The Oak Grove Precinct will be moved to Cherokee County Fire Station No. 19 at 100 Ridge Mill Court, Acworth. Voting hours will be May 24, 2022, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Teasley Precinct Election Day voting: The Teasley Precinct will be moved to the ACTIVE Academies Campus, 8871 Knox Bridge Highway, Canton. Voting hours will be May 24, 2022, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Avery Precinct Election Day voting: The Avery Precinct will be moved to Grace Community Church, 7770 Hickory Flat Highway, Woodstock. Voting hours will be May 24, 2022, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Seven Early/Advance Voting locations offered for May 2022 General Primary

The Office of Elections and Voter Registration will have additional Early/Advance Voting locations this year to better serve Cherokee County voters. Early/Advance Voting locations will be:

Bluffs/Northside Cherokee Conference Center: 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Canton. Voting times will be May 2-6 and May 9-13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; May 7 and May 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and May 16-May 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Elections Warehouse: 400 East Main St., Canton. Voting times will be May 2-6 and May 9-13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; May 7 and May 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and May 16-May 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

South Cherokee Annex: 7545 Main St., Building 200, Woodstock: Voting times will be May 2-6 and May 9-13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; May 7 and May 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and May 16-May 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ball Ground Public Library: 435 Old Canton Road, Ball Ground. Voting times will be May 9-13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and May 16-20, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Oak Grove Fire Station No. 19: 100 Ridge Mill Court, Acworth. Voting times will be May 9-13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and May 16-20, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Rose Creek Public Library: 4476 Towne Lake Parkway, Woodstock. Voting times will be May 9-13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and May 16-20, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Grace Community Church: 7770 Hickory Flat Highway, Woodstock. Voting times will be May 9-13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and May 16-20, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The voter registration deadline for the May 24, 2022 General Primary is April 25.

For more information, contact the Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration office at 770-479-0407 or online at

Tax Exemption Reminder for Cherokee County Homeowners

The deadline to file real property exemptions for the current tax year is quickly approaching. From Jan. 1 to April 1, homeowners in Cherokee have the opportunity to apply for several different tax exemptions depending on qualifications.

A standard homestead exemption is available to all homeowners. This exemption allows for a $5,000 reduction off a home’s assessed value (40 percent of fair market value) for county taxes and $2,000 off the assessed value for school taxes. Homeowners may register for the homestead exemption anytime during the year, but April 1 is the deadline for the exemption for the current tax year. There is also a senior school tax exemption available for anyone over age 62. This exemption allows for a $178,680 reduction off the assessed value for 2022 and is adjusted each year based on the Social Security Index.

"We encourage residents to take advantage of these exemptions as they will help alleviate their property tax burden,” said Cherokee County Chief Appraiser Steve Swindell. “Our goal is to ensure that anyone who qualifies receives the exemptions they are entitled to."

There are other real property exemptions available for persons who are 100 percent disabled, veterans’ disability, and several more. A complete list of real property exemptions and qualifications can be found online at, or by contacting the Cherokee County Tax Assessors office at 678-493-6120.

Mark A. Roberts, Ph.D., inaugurated as 21st president of Reinhardt University

On Friday, February 25, Mark A. Roberts, Ph.D., was inaugurated as the 21st president of Reinhardt University. The ceremony, attended by Reinhardt faculty, staff, alumni, the Reinhardt Board of Trustees, state and local officials, and college and university presidents from across the region, was held in the Falany Performing Arts Center on the Reinhardt University campus.  


Roberts brings twenty-five years of private higher education experience to his role as president. A native of Maryville, Tennessee, he attended Middle Tennessee State University where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature and language. He went on to earn a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities at the Union Institute and University. Roberts came to Reinhardt in 2013 as the vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. Since then, Roberts has also served Reinhardt in the roles of provost, executive vice president, and interim president, in addition to being writing center director and a professor.   


“The ruling passion of my life is to do work that has real meaning” Roberts said during his inaugural address. “Early in my career, I gained this visceral sense of purpose by pursuing my first love, which is teaching, and inspiring students to get ahold of the power of learning and to get ahold of the power of their own voice through writing. That was my passion. But, through that, I also began to understand that I had a calling and that calling was to service private higher education, especially colleges located in and around Appalachia.”  


Keeping with the inauguration theme of salt and light, Roberts concluded, “I commit to you today to instill hope, to invest in the life that is knowledge, to preserve and lift up the institution’s spirit, and to broaden the scope of opportunities for this great university. And with me, will you commit to being the salt that preserves, flavors, seasons, and spices up Reinhardt? Will you be with me the light that makes it shine with excellence, with openness, acceptance, and benevolence? With me, will you devote yourself to making Reinhardt University a place where the real work is performed to create a good life, not for one, but for all? Will you go with me? Yes? Then let us go, you and I together, being salt and light for Reinhardt.”  


Pictured, left to right: Rev. Brian Smith, pastor of Waleska United Methodist Church; Mark A. Roberts, Ph.D., president of Reinhardt University; C. Ken White, chair of Reinhardt board of trustees

Cherokee County hires new Planning & Zoning Director

Longtime Planning Manager Margaret Stallings has been named Cherokee County’s director of Planning and Zoning.

Stallings was promoted to the director position on Feb. 7, following the retirement of former Planning and Zoning Director Jeff Watkins last summer. She brings more than 21 years of experience in community planning and architectural design.

“This is an exciting opportunity to lead our outstanding Planning and Zoning staff. My goal is to use my experience to make stronger connections between the long-term plans developed by the community and the zoning decisions and regulations that will shape the county’s future,” said Stallings.

The Planning and Zoning director is responsible for overseeing of all of the long-range planning efforts and public hearings processes for zoning actions, as well as appeals and variance requests while managing the Planning and Zoning staff. The director also works closely with the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Commissioners, municipal elected boards and county residents to oversee the growth and planning in the county.

“We are extremely pleased that Margaret was selected to serve as the Planning and Zoning Director,” said Community Development Agency Director Brantley Day. “Margaret is a well-respected and highly skilled planning professional. She is extremely dedicated, and she’s continually worked closely with the cities and the community, always with the objective of achieving the highest quality of life attainable for Cherokee County.”

Stallings had previously served as the county’s planning manager and principal planner since 2005. She holds a Master of City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University. She is credentialed as a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners of the American Planning Association, as well as a Registered Architect in the state of Georgia.

Since Stallings has begun her new role, some additional changes have been made to the Planning and Zoning Department. Kevin Turner was selected as the department’s new deputy director. Turner’s previous experience includes 14 years with the City of Roswell as senior planner and planner. Dana Spayde was hired as the department’s new senior planner. Her work history also includes almost five years with the City of Roswell as a planner.

Additional promotions include, Thomas Trawick, who was named as the department’s new Zoning Division Manager and David Greenburg, who was promoted to the senior planner position. Trawick had previously served as the county’s senior planner since 2018, and Greenburg had served has a planner since 2016.

Dave Garner Announces bid for Post 2 Commissioner in Pickens County

Dave Garner has announced his campaign for Post 2 Commissioner in Pickens County.

"As a 20-year resident of Pickens County, I have been blessed by the numerous friends and acquaintances that I have made, both personally and professionally, as well as the countless experiences that have heartened my family to call Pickens County “home.” Many of those experiences over the last twenty years have spurred conversations with concerned citizens spanning a variety of topics.

As a local business owner, I understand the challenges that we face in recruiting and retaining an educated, qualified workforce to drive our desired results.

I have heard from many young families over the years that we need better parks and more recreation options.

I understand that with growth comes challenges with public safety, water and sewage, among other things.

What is our vision for Pickens County and what will it look like in 10 or 20 years? How do we stay ahead of inevitable growth? How can we increase our tax base while also striking a balance to preserve our nature and quality of life? These are all common questions we ask ourselves as residents of Pickens County. Let’s face it, Pickens is no longer the best kept secret in North Georgia.

That’s why we need level-headed, common-sense leadership in Pickens County now!

I truly believe we have entered the most important stretch in our county’s storied history, at least within the last thirty years. That may sound dramatic, but I can assure you that the next 3-5 years will shape the next couple of decades. We need conservative leadership that will sincerely have the best interests of the citizens of Pickens County front and center. We need someone who will listen and not just speak. We need an unprecedented level of communication and transparency in government.

I have served our community in many capacities over the last twenty years. From serving and leading numerous boards and civic groups to being the broadcast voice of local sports in Pickens and the surrounding area. And now I want to serve YOU as Post 2 (East) Commissioner. I want to be YOUR voice for Pickens County.

There may be an occasional issue that my constituents may not agree on, but I will always stand with those who trusted me with their vote and elected me to do

the right thing, even if it goes against popularity. I will vote for the people, not for myself.

I promise to give due diligence to budget concerns while focusing sharply on issues that will directly impact us as residents including growth and economic development, water and sewage, parks and recreation, public safety, traffic concerns and overall quality of living.

I am looking forward to working with our many communities and municipalities while furthering our collaborative efforts between county and city government to create the best Pickens County that we can be, not Cherokee or Gilmer.

I humbly ask for your support and seek your vote on May 24th, 2022! Please visit my campaign Facebook page (Dave Garner for Post 2 Commissioner) for further announcements and information on future appearances.

Let me be YOUR voice in Pickens County!" 

Cherokee County Senior Centers to Lift Limitations Starting Feb. 28

Cherokee County Senior Services will lift capacity limitations and resume normal business hours at its Senior Centers starting Feb. 28.

“We are glad to be able to lift these measures,” said Cherokee County Senior Services Director Tim Morris. “We want to thank our clients for their continued cooperation and support as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Senior Center in Canton plans to reopen Monday, Feb. 28 with capacity limitations lifted. The Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Center is closed Saturday and Sunday. Masks will continue to be required at the Senior Center in Canton but social distancing requirements will be lifted.

The Ball Ground Senior Center will open Tuesday, March 1, with capacity limitations lifted. The Center will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Fridays from 10 a.m to 12 p.m. The center is closed Monday and Sunday. Clients will continue to be required to wear a mask. The building falls under mask requirements issued by the Ball Ground City Council.

For both Centers, clients will have their temperatures checked each day, and both staff and clients who feel sick will not be allowed to enter. Clients who take CATS transportation will have their temperature checked before boarding the bus.

For information about the Cherokee Senior Centers call 770-345-2675.

Annual Shamrock Stroll returns to Jasper March 12

Walk, don’t run, to the 5th annual Shamrock Stroll in down Jasper on March 12. Come dressed in your St. Patrick’s Day finest for this .5K (yes point five k) to raise scholarship funds for Pickens County students attending Reinhardt University and enjoy a finish line party with fun for the whole family.  

The Stroll, presented by Piedmont Mountainside, begins at Reinhardt’s Cauble School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Participants will stroll through downtown Jasper to the finish line at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 53 for a post-race party. The party includes live music, food vendors, adult beverages, and children’s activities. Pets are welcomed and encouraged. Prizes will be awarded for the most creative costumes, most creative dog costume, grandest leprechaun, youngest leprechaun, and the Pickens County schools club or team with the most participants.  

Last year, over $19,000 was raised for the Pickens Scholars program. “We are so grateful to all who contributed at last year’s stroll,” said Dale Morrissey, Reinhardt’s senior director of community engagement. “Reinhardt University and local students thrive because of the support from our communities.” 


The pre-registration fee is $25 and includes a T-shirt, medal and race bib. To guarantee a T-shirt, participants must be registered by Feb. 25. Registration on race day begins at 4 p.m. and is $30.  

For more information and to register, visit  

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