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Local News Archives for 2022-07

Legendary North Georgia Broadcaster Dies

Beloved local radio personality and Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame member Byron Lamar Dobbs of Canton died peacefully on Thursday, July 28, 2022, at the age of 86.

Known as the “Voice of Cherokee,” the Woodstock native and lifelong Cherokee County resident had a long and distinguished career of more than 65 years in radio broadcasting that began in 1957 at WCHK radio station in Canton soon after his graduation from Cherokee High School.

After spending 40 years at WCHK, 35 of those as station manager, Byron, as he was affectionately known throughout North Georgia, became a partner and owner in 1998 at WLJA radio station and Tri-State Communications in Jasper where he worked until 2021.

“Byron loved the radio business and he loved teaching other people about the industry. I will be forever grateful to him for being my mentor, my friend, and my business partner over the past 25 years. He, his voice, and his wisdom will be missed dearly,” Tri-State Communications President and CEO Randy Gravley said.

Byron is fondly remembered by the community as the voice on the radio that kept listeners informed of the latest news, election coverage, deaths, and other important events of the day. He was also beloved as the announcer for local high school sports.

“I clearly remember the first time I heard Byron Dobbs on the radio. It was 1964, I was 12 years old, and my family was new to Canton. I was camping out behind my house with a new friend who had brought a transistor radio. Byron’s strong and distinctive voice made an immediate impression on me, as it did on everyone who heard it. I enjoyed hearing it for 58 years,” Cherokee County Commission Chair Harry Johnston said. Johnston also praised Dobb’s commitment to the community and love of Cherokee County.

“I was also honored to get to know Byron personally. He was an important community leader, through his radio work and his huge network of relationships. But his greatest legacy is that he was the finest example of a true gentleman I’ve ever known. I’ll never live up to his model, but I’ll always aspire to it,” Johnston said.

In 2017, Dobbs was awarded the prestigious First Citizen by the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce for his unselfish and devoted lifetime of service to Cherokee County and its residents. He also received the Lamar Haley Community Service Award from the Rotary Club of Canton that year.

“Byron Dobbs was more than a voice on a radio dial. He was a friend to many, even the people he never met who dubbed him their trusted newsman and would recognize his voice to this day. He was a historian who reported on stories over 65 years in radio that brought smiles to listeners’ faces while others evoked tears,” Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce President Pam Carnes said. “It goes without saying that Cherokee County is quite different than when Byron’s career began, yet our community will never again be the same as the man behind the microphone has signed off for the last time.”

Byron was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame in 2018 and was its first member from the contributor category for his work broadcasting local high school sports on the radio.

On the state level, he received numerous awards and recognitions including Georgia Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcaster of the Year, and a member of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Long-time friend and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston remembered Dobbs fondly. “I have had the great pleasure of knowing and having the friendship of Byron Dobbs for some 60 years. Byron spread cheer wherever he went. He enjoyed his friends, he loved being a radio guy and he loved the Cherokee County community like no one else. There will never be another like him, but I count it as a blessing that he was part of my life and that of so many others.” Ralston said..

In his illustrious career, Byron achieved many accomplishments, including being a main contributor and subject of the book, “The Glory Days of WCHK”, and a partner in Tri-State Communications Inc., Exponent Broadcasting, and Dobbs and Cline Consulting. He interviewed elected officials including President Jimmy Carter and celebrities such as NASCAR driver Bill Elliott, performers Kenny Rogers, Conway Twitty and Minnie Pearl and was the first to chart country artist Travis Tritt.

Active in the community, Byron was a member of the Board of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, member of the Cherokee County Historical Society, Sequoyah Regional Library Board, Emeritus Director of the Cherokee Sports Hall of Fame, honorary member of Ellijay Rotary Club, A-Day for Reinhardt University Committee, Cherokee Clean & Beautiful Commission, and organizer of the Easter Community Sunrise Service at Cherokee Memorial Park. Dobbs also served in the Georgia National Guard.

Dobbs was honored with the Daughters of the American Revolution Excellence in Community Service Award, with a Cherokee County proclamation for Byron Dobbs Day, Byron Dobbs Day in the City of Canton, Georgia House of Representatives Resolution for Distinguished Career, Georgia Senate Bill commending his Community Leadership, and the Georgia State School Board’s Beacon Award.

 Dobbs is survived by several nieces and nephews.  

Sosebee Funeral Home of Canton is in charge of the funeral arrangements. Visitation will be held Friday, July 29th from 4-8 P.M. and Saturday, July 30th from 2-7 P.M. The funeral service will be held Sunday July 31st at 3 P.M. at the Sosebee Funeral Home Chapel. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Cherokee County Historical Society at historycherokee.org/donate or mailed to History Cherokee, P.O. Box 1287, Canton, GA 30169.

Cherokee's Public Services Agency to Host Food Drive for Local Food Pantries

The Cherokee County Public Services Agency is hosting a food drive next month to collect goods for three local food pantries.

The Public Services Agency is made up of E 9-1-1, Emergency Management, Animal Shelter, Marshal’s Office, Probation and Radio Technology.

“I’m so proud of the Public Services Agency team and their foresight to join together to collect food for families in our community. E 9-1-1 Director Shane Bonebrake wanted to join department forces within our agency and do something great for our community,” said Director Dana Martin. “We hope the community will come together and help restock food pantries in Cherokee County.”

The food drive will take place Saturday, Aug. 13, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 150 Chattin Drive, Canton. Drop-off locations open during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., from now until Aug. 12 are front lobby of E 9-1-1, 150 Chattin Drive, Canton; Cherokee County Administration Building, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Canton; Animal Shelter, 1015 Univeter Road, Canton; and the Marshal’s Office front lobby, 959 Marietta Highway.

Donations sought include:

· Broths (chicken, beef and vegetable)

· Instant oatmeal (plain and flavored packets)

· Ranch dressing

· Canned pasta (ravioli, Spaghetti-Os)

· Tomato sauce and diced tomatoes

· Canned greens (spinach, collard, etc.)

· Baked beans

· Canned black-eyed peas, Great Northern Beans, Refried beans

· Canned fruit

· Apple sauce

· Rice side dishes

· Boxed potato dishes/canned potatoes

· Ramen noodles

· Gluten free foods

· Pop-Tarts

· Spaghetti sauce in cans

· Snacked-sized chips

· Jelly in plastic containers

· Juice boxes

· Cereal

· $10 gas gift cards

· Mustard

· Juice

· Feminine hygiene products

· Bladder control pads

· 4T-5T pull ups

· Diapers (sizes 5-7)

Food pantries need donations that are in plastic, boxed or canned to prevent breaking. When choosing boxed meals, select items that do not require the use of too many additional products like milk or butter.

Portion of Union Hill Road to Close for Bridge Replacement

Union Hill Road between Hasty Trail and Spearman Lane will be closed to through traffic beginning July 26 for the replacement of the bridge over Canton Creek.

The closure is expected to end in late January 2023, pending weather delays. A detour utilizing Ga. 20 and East Cherokee Drive will be posted for the duration of construction.

With school beginning Aug. 1, Cherokee County has been in contact with the transportation department for the Cherokee County School District to address any bus routes affected accordingly.

“We do our best to do road projects in a way that’s as least invasive as possible, however, that is not always feasible due to many factors including the length of time a project takes,” said Community Development Agency Director Brantley Day. “Many paving projects that take a couple of weeks per road are typically done in the summertime to avoid interference with school transportation, but bridge projects are much more involved. We ask for your patience as we provide a much safer bridge over Canton Creek.”

The county has taken an aggressive approach to replacing bridges identified as substandard. While bridges have a long lifespan, some of the older bridges in the county can be dangerous.

“The logistics of preparing to replace a bridge is years in the making and a daunting endeavor – securing the funding, designing the project, acquisition of property (right-of-way), relocating utilities, environmental factors, developing safe detour routes, procuring a qualified vendor, and completing pre-construction coordination,” Day said. “Once we can greenlight a bridge replacement project, we must move forward as quickly as possible without delay.”

Two bridges on Union Hill Road were identified as needing to be replaced, and engineering was completed in 2018 for the bridges over Mill Creek near Marvin Land Lane and over Canton Creek near Hasty Trail. Completing two bridge replacements on Union Hill Road at once was not feasible due to the road closures involved. The bridge over Mill Creek was constructed in 2020.

Right-of-way acquisition for the Canton Creek bridge began two years ago, with the last acquisition occurring earlier this year. While construction will begin at the end of July, county staff has been working in-house and with contractors on design, utility relocation and site preparation in the meantime with the project now getting the greenlight for construction. A delay to begin construction until July was due to restrictions related to the presence of the Cherokee darter fish. No construction can take place between March 1 and June 30 annually where the protected species is present.

The $1.6 million construction project, utilizing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds, was awarded to Georgia Bridge and Concrete LLC by the Board of Commissioners in April. The bridge replacement includes an upgraded and more modern bridge structure with 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders.

Residents with questions about the detour should contact Cherokee County Roadway Capital Program office at 678-493-6077.

Cherokee County Board of Commissioners July Meeting Highlights

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved the 2022 Annual Action Plan for nearly $2 million in federal funds for the local Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter made the motion to approve, which was seconded by District 1 Commissioner Steve West. The vote was 4-0. District 4 Commissioner Corey Ragsdale participated during the work session and public hearing and planning and zoning portions of the meeting telephonically due to illness.

Cherokee County was awarded $1.176 million in CDBG program grant funds and $531,600 in Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds, and the approved action plan identifies specific projects seeking funding. The CDBG program allows funding for nonprofits and public facilities to better serve the community.

While the CDBG funding is an annual allotment to be distributed in the community, this is the first time Cherokee County has been awarded HOME program funds.

Community Services Agency Director Bryan Reynolds said historically, the county has not been able to qualify for the program, but Cherokee County now qualifies.

A portion of the HOME funding will be used to fund the acquisition of lots for Habitat for Humanity to construct affordable housing. HOME funding will also be used to administer a tenant-based rental assistance program utilizing the existing relationship with MUST Ministries.

CDBG program funds will be allocated to the Anna Crawford Children’s Center ($99,118) and the Children’s Haven ($50,000) for facility improvements. About $97,000 is allocated for Goshen Valley for minor rehabilitation at the Goshen Valley Boys Ranch facility. Nearly $500,000 will be used by the county for the county’s minor/emergency home repair program through Habitat for Humanity, the Pea Ridge Community Center Initiative (Phase II) and public facility improvements to the Senior Center. Non-profit agencies with allocated funding in the action plan include Bethesda Community Clinic, Malon D. Mimms Boys & Girls Club, Goodwill of North Georgia, MUST Ministries and the YMCA.

During the July 5 meeting, the Board also:

· Approved, 5-0, the minutes from the June 21 regular meeting, work session and executive session and the minutes from the June 22 Special Called Meeting. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by District 2 Commissioner Richard Weatherby.

· Held a public hearing on the 2022 millage rate. One person spoke. No action was taken. The next public hearings are July 19 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The Board is expected to adopt the millage rate during the 6 p.m. meeting.

· Held a public hearing regarding Jack and Emily Riddle’s request to rezone 3.69 acres on Stover Road from R-80 to R-40. No one spoke. The Board approved the request with a 5-0 vote. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.

· Denied, 5-0, Dalakhani LLC’s request to rezone 3.136 acres at 3037 and 3039 Highway 92 from R-40 to General Commercial, as well as a concurrent variance to eliminate the deceleration lane on Old Alabama Road/Old Highway 92. The applicant was seeking to build a convenience store with gas pumps. Commissioner Ragsdale made the motion to deny due to the request not fitting the character of the area based on the Southwest Cherokee Small Area Plan. Commissioner West seconded the motion.

· Approved, 5-0, New Victoria Baptist Church’s request to rezone 10.92 acres at 6659 Bells Ferry Road from R-40 to General Commercial to erect a digital church sign. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby. In a separate 5-0 vote, the Board approved the church’s request for a special use permit to operate a free after school program intended for Boston Elementary School students. The church is adjacent to the school. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby.

· Tabled, 5-0, an application from Rocky’s Lake Estate for a special use permit for a special events facility and to allow non-scheduled chartered passenger air transportation. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion to table, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter. The item will be on the Aug. 2 agenda.

· Tabled, 5-0, Blake’s House of Independence request to modify zoning conditions. Commissioner Ragsdale made the motion to table, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter. The item will be on the July 19 agenda.

· Approved, 4-0, under the consent agenda: surplus of miscellaneous, outdated small office equipment and furniture no longer in use by the Probate Court; acceptance of a federal subgrant from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in the amount of $94,715 and a budget amendment in the amount of $17,759 on behalf of the Felony Drug Court; acceptance of a subgrant agreement in the amount of $180,883 on behalf of Juvenile Court to provide the multi-systemic treatment program to eligible participants; acceptance of an ARPA grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission in the amount of $80,917 and a budget amendment in the amount

of $9,623 on behalf of Senior Services; call for a public hearing to be held July 19 at 6 p.m. to consider a request by Brandon Green to establish a legacy lot at 1727 Lower Bethany Road, Canton; call for a public hearing to be held July 19 at 6 p.m. to consider a request for a master plan amendment to the BridgeMill PUD Master Plan for the BridgeMill Community Association; and the first amendment to the agreement with Practical Design Partners for utility test holes on the Mountain Park Road Drainage Project in the amount of $14,170. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby.

· Approved, 4-0, a professional services agreement with Pond and Company to assist in the performance of public engagement and development analysis services for the Comprehensive Plan Update totaling $59,680. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner West.

· Approved, 4-0, a professional services agreement with Indoff Incorporated to purchase office furniture for the new Elections Building at 193 Lamar Haley Parkway. The cost is $156,704. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.

· Approved, 4-0, an engine overhaul by Peach State Truck Centers for Fire & Emergency Services. The engine overhaul on a 2007 Spartan Fire Apparatus cost is $29,946.81. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner West.

· Approved, 4-0, the purchase of a Dodge 5500 Rescue Truck from Williams Fire Apparatus and an Isuzu box truck from Bellamy Strickland for Fire & Emergency Services. The costs are $199,800 and $63,312, respectively. The approval also includes a corresponding budget amendment. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.

· Approved, 4-0, the purchase of Holmatro extrication tools and Paratech stabilization tools from Georgia Fire & Rescue Supply in the amount of $85,539. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner West.

· Approved, 4-0, the purchase of the Lexipol policy and procedures platform for Fire & Emergency Services in the amount of $43,762.70 for year one, with the option to auto-renew for years two through five. The total spend is $146,260.10 over five years. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.

· Approved, 4-0, purchasing of a technical solution as requested by the county’s cybersecurity insurance to meet the underwriting requirements for the one-time purchase of $782,762.86 through the lowest priced response, Cambridge Computer Services, Inc. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.

· Approved, 4-0, the purchase of a Clark Forklift from Material Handling Inc. for Public Works. The cost is $33,979. Commissioner West made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby.

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