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Local News Archives for 2022-11

Sheree Ralston announces candidacy for the 7th House District of Georgia

Sheree Ralston today announced she would seek election to the 7th District of the Georgia House of Representatives. The vacancy was created by the passing of her husband, former Speaker of the House and longtime representative David Ralston.

“I’m running to complete the unfinished work of my husband, David Ralston, specifically as it relates to mental health reform and advancing and protecting the interests of Georgia’s 7th House District,” Ralston said. “David was our champion and voice at the Capitol, and, if elected, that’s what I intend to be as well. “There is so much work that remains to be done, and I want to honor David’s life’s work and legacy. As 2 Timothy 4:7 says, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, have kept the faith.’ David’s earthly race has come to a close, but the fight for Georgians is ongoing. I know his heart, and his heart was always for his constituents and his home. “I can never express how grateful I am for this community and their support during this sad and difficult time. I thank you for your prayers and outpouring of love. In the coming days I hope to win your support as well.”

The 7th House District seat comprises Fannin, Gilmer and a portion of Dawson Counties. It will be filled in a special election on January 3, 2023, in time for the upcoming legislative session.

Sheree Ralston is the executive director of the Fannin County Development Authority. In this capacity, she supports the Fannin County Development Authority Board of Director’s efforts to improve the local economy and enhance its workforce training initiatives. This includes working closely with existing businesses, as well as those interested in growing or relocating to the area. She also works to strengthen existing relationships with community leaders as well as build new public-private partnerships. Ralston lives in Blue Ridge and is a longtime resident of Fannin County. Together, she and her late husband, David, have four children and three grandchildren.

Advance Voting date added Sunday, Nov. 27

Advanced Voting for the December 6, General Runoff will be offered at the Cherokee County Elections Warehouse located at 400 East Main Street in Canton on Sunday, Nov. 27 from 12 p.m. - to 5 p.m. For additional information please visit

Cherokee Recreation and Parks awarded the Outstanding Program Award for its Cherokee Youth Basketball program by the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA).

Cherokee Recreation and Parks has been awarded the Outstanding Program Award for its Cherokee Youth Basketball program by the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA).

“The athletics division of Cherokee Recreation and Parks has worked hard over the past 10 years to build and provide the residents of Cherokee County with an exceptional youth basketball program,” said Cherokee Recreation and Parks Director Jay Worley. “The participation numbers are an indicator of our success, but the real achievements lie in the individual life lessons experienced by the players, coaches, and all those involved with the program.”

Cherokee Recreation and Parks received the award at GRPA’s Annual Conference in Jekyll Island in early November. The award highlights the steps the agency has taken to grow the program from its inaugural season in 2011 to a program that now boasts 556 teams with over 4,000 basketball players playing annually from October to March.

“We are extremely excited about receiving this award, especially coming off our 10th anniversary of running CYB,” said Cherokee Recreation and Park Athletics Division Director Shawn Schumacher. “It’s a true testament of how hard our athletic division works to provide a quality program for the citizens of Cherokee County. Although our athletic division handles the majority of running CYB, it is really a team effort. This program would not be possible without the support of our other divisions here at Cherokee Recreation and Parks.”

Cherokee Youth Basketball is a local recreational basketball league that is open to all eligible Cherokee County youth from kindergarten through 12th grade. Through partnerships with the Cherokee County School District, players in kindergarten through fifth grade will play on teams that represent their current elementary school while middle and high school players will represent one of the county’s six local high schools in which the player is districted to or currently attending. Teams are provided a practice space and time at their local school for practice and games. Each player is given a complete uniform along with an eight-game regular season schedule beginning the first weekend in December.

The Georgia Recreation and Park Association is a state agency, headquartered in Conyers, that supports the promotion of recreation and park agencies within the state of Georgia. For more information on GRPA visit

More additional information and program details for Cherokee Youth Basketball can be found at

Cherokee County is one of 317 governments in U.S. and Canada to win financial award

Cherokee County is now a Georgia Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) Triple Crown Winner.

The Triple Crown Award designation recognizes governments who have received GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award and Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for a fiscal year.

GFOA recently notified Cherokee County it earned the prestigious designation for the 2020 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2019-Sept. 30, 2020). It is one of 317 governments in the United States and Canada to win the award.

“Complete and understandable financial information is essential for the Board of Commissioners to balance the often-conflicting goals of low taxes and great county services and infrastructure. I’m convinced ours is the best in Georgia,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Harry Johnston. “Our Finance team gives us clear budgeting options, with five-year projections of fund balances and the required tax rates that will result from our decisions. It’s the key to how we’ve been able to keep our services excellent with tax rates among the state’s very lowest.”

The county Finance Department is responsible for providing responsive and accurate financial reporting, advice and performance measurement to management Cherokee County’s financial resources while also facilitating the most cost-effective funding of agencies, departments and elected officials. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Marquis said the recognition is reflective of the staff’s time, effort, and knowledge in managing county finances.

“The Finance Department is excited to be recognized by GFOA for achieving this distinction,” Marquis said. “The award reflects the dedication and many hours of hard work that is exhibited by the Finance staff. Our highest priority is to ensure transparency and quality in financial reporting for our organization and the community we serve.”

Keep Cherokee Beautiful Receives Certification

Officials from Keep Georgia Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, Inc., welcomed Cherokee County to its expanding community-based Network of Affiliates with the certification of Keep Cherokee Beautiful.

“The re-establishing of the Keep Cherokee Beautiful program over the past two years has been a great success,” said Cherokee County District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter. “This affiliation with Keep Georgia Beautiful and Keep American Beautiful will allow us to grow and expand our programs."

After a year of preparation, KCB finalized its affiliate certification at a recognition ceremony held on Nov. 15 at the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners work session. The affiliation process included the formation of a community team, attendance to numerous training events and the development of an action plan.

“I want to thank all of our volunteers for their efforts this past year,” said KCB Chief Executive Officer Mark Preetorius. “I would also like to thank Georgia Power and Waste Management for the donations they made that helped get this organization off the ground.”

In attaining the certification, Keep Cherokee Beautiful joins more than 70 local affiliates across Georgia. In addition, KCB will join more than 700 KAB affiliates, including 26 state affiliates, and several international affiliates.

“We are excited about this next step in the growth of Keep Cherokee Beautiful,” said Cherokee County Community Services Agency Director Bryan Reynolds. “It will open up new opportunities for training and resources including grant opportunities which will allow us to further our mission.”

Currently, Keep Cherokee Beautiful works to reduce littering through programs like Adopt-a-Mile, Community Cleanups and supporting electronics recycling events, as well as providing recycling education through the organization’s monthly electronic newsletter.

In addition to receiving its program affiliation, KCB also recognized several members with awards that included Lisa Johnson who received the Outstanding Volunteer award, as well as the BridgeMill Homeowners Association, which received the award for Outstanding Adopt-A-Mile Partner.

For additional information on the KCB program, please visit or email

Rotary's Glowball 2022 nets more than $7,000 for local charities

It was all fun on a beautiful night Nov. 4 for the 7th Annual Glowball Golf Tournament benefitting the Towne Lake Rotary Foundation. With the help of a great group of sponsors and more than 30 golfers, more than $7,000 was raised for the Foundation.

“We could not have done this without the tremendous support of our sponsors, golfers, those who donated raffle prizes and club members who worked hard to make this a successful event,” said Rotary Club of Towne Lake President Jim Klynman. “It was great to see everyone having a wonderful time for a great cause. A special thanks to Towne Lake Hills Golf Club and The Tavern at Towne Lake for hosting us every year.”

Woodstock resident Bob Sansone spent the Friday night playing with his son, Nicholas, and they both enjoyed their first-time night golf experience.

“It was such a cool experience,” Sansone said. “We had a blast and were happy to support such a great charity.”

First place winners were DD Lee, Dan Thrailkill, Vance Crook and Tom Klugman. Crook also won the putting contest. Second place winners were Bob Sansone, Nicholas Sansone, Stephen Clay and Hunter Clay. Third place winners were Donnie Henriques, George Beylouny, Bill Lilley and Shawn Johnson.

Sponsors of the annual event were: Gold Sponsor, Chattahoochee Technical College; Silver Sponsor, BlueLinx Corporation; Premium Sponsors, DCG Insurance Services – Country Financial, The UPS Store 2524 – Towne Lake, The Joint Chiropractic Woodstock, and Club President Jim Klynman; Hole Sponsors, Nesnick Total Health, J.F. Shaw Insurance, Donovan’s Irish Cobbler, Big House Construction, The UPS Store 2524 – Towne Lake, DCG Insurance Services – Country Financial; Sullenger Law, Alliance Realty & Appraisals, and Rotarians Robin and Lori Wright.

All of the net funds raised during the 7th Annual Glowball Golf Tournament goes directly to the Towne Lake Rotary Foundation, which disperses about $8,000 a year to nonprofit organizations, including the Anna Crawford Children’s Center, Ferst Readers Cherokee County, Bascomb Elementary, Never Alone, Goshen Valley Boys Ranch, Boy Scouts of America Sea Scouts, The Children’s Haven and the Malon D. Mimms Boys & Girls Club. The Foundation also supports the ALS Association, Polio Plus and ShelterBox.

To learn more about the Rotary Club of Towne Lake, its Foundation and all the hands-on charitable work Rotarians do in the community, visit The Towne Lake Rotary Club Foundation is a not-for-profit 501c3 and accepts charitable donations to support the Foundation’s mission. Checks can be mailed to the Towne Lake Rotary Club Foundation, 2295 Towne Lake Parkway, Suite 116-280, Woodstock, GA 30189. Interested in speaking with someone or visiting, email

City of Canton Selected for Georgia Initiative for Community Housing Program

The City of Canton was recently named one of five local governments in the state selected to participate in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. This three-year program provides collaboration and technical assistance to help communities create and implement a locally-based plan to meet their housing needs. Along with Canton, the Cities of Chamblee, Montezuma, and Villa Rica, and Gwinnett County were selected for the program. 

"Our selection as a GICH community will pave the way to hear and share best practices with other current and former GICH communities throughout the state,” said Shawn Tolan, City of Canton Councilor, Ward 2. “Our local GICH team of over a dozen community stakeholders stands ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Canton has a shortage of attainable/affordable housing, and with the larger GICH family's assistance and guidance, we're confident we will tackle many housing and community development issues by working together as a team. As they say, it takes a village!"

GICH helps communities improve their quality of life and economic vitality through the development of community-driven housing and revitalization strategies. This is achieved through technical assistance, collaboration, expert presenters, training, facilitation, consensus building, networking, and mentoring. 

Housing Initiatives Director Ken Patton led the charge on providing a thorough application for GICH on the City’s behalf. He believes that participation in the program is critical for the City to have a successful strategy for building a housing plan. 

Misti Martin, CEO and President, Cherokee Office of Economic Development, added to Patton’s sentiments. “The businesses and industries of Canton, Cherokee, and the region will benefit from this initiative. This will position us to help individuals and families live close to where they work and in housing that allows for economic mobility in the community.”

The City of Canton is a growing and diverse community in Cherokee County, seeing much of its population increase as the Atlanta metropolitan region continues to grow. The City grew by 197% between 2000 and 2010, and increased another 44% in the subsequent decade.

“While the growth has created a bustling economy, like many communities across the nation, Canton is experiencing concerning housing conditions,” said Sabrina Kirkland, Habitat for Humanity, Vice President, Development & Strategic Initiatives. “The Canton Housing Needs Assessment and Market Study found a short supply of affordable housing for low-income households within the City. Participation in the GICH program will help the City to create an action plan to address this known shortfall in a way that is community driven and grassroots oriented.”

Prior to selection for GICH, the City of Canton had already begun investing time into housing initiatives based on the City’s growth and the needs of residents. The City approved accessory dwelling units through its zoning ordinance, as well as cottage home development district regulations. A Housing Fund for the purpose of aiding affordable/workforce housing was created, and the City is also in the process of considering attainable housing options on City-owned property.

“The County applauds the City of Canton for taking the initiative to look into creative ways to partner with the Canton Housing Authority, to consider opportunities for workforce housing development, and to frame their zoning codes to best match the housing infrastructure necessary to accommodate the City's growth and needs in the community,” Geoff Morton, Cherokee County Manager, said. “We are excited for the City of Canton to share the knowledge they gain with not only the County but with our other cities to continue to make Cherokee County a great and unique place to live!”

Speaker Ralston Announces He Will Not Seek Nomination as Speaker of the House for the 2023-2024 Legislative Session

 Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, announced today that he will not seek nomination for Speaker of the House for the 2023-2024 legislative session. He will serve the remainder of his current term as Speaker of the House which ends in January.

“Serving as Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives has been the honor of a lifetime, and I owe a heartfelt thank you to my colleagues for the trust and confidence they placed in me thirteen years ago,” said Speaker Ralston. “I need to take time to address a health challenge which has arisen recently, and the House needs a Speaker who can devote the necessary time and energy to the office. I love the House and want to see the honorable men and women who serve in it succeed. I will work the remainder of my term as Speaker to ensure a smooth transition for my successor.”

If re-elected by his constituents, Speaker Ralston intends to serve as State Representative for the 7th House district for the 2023-2024 legislative session. Speaker Ralston is unopposed for that seat.

“I appreciate the continued support of my friends and neighbors in Fannin, Gilmer, and Dawson counties,” said Speaker Ralston. “I intend to serve out the next term as their state representative and fulfill the duties they have entrusted to me.”

Speaker Ralston was first elected to the House in 2002 and was first elected as Speaker of the House in 2010. He is the longest currently-serving state house speaker in the country.

A champion for job creation and economic development, Speaker Ralston has been a driving force behind many legislative accomplishments which have made Georgia the best state in the nation for business year after year, such as Georgia’s Transportation Funding Act of 2015 and the largest-ever income tax cut in state history.

Speaker Ralston has also worked with leaders in both parties to move Georgia forward through bipartisan legislation like Georgia’s comprehensive adoption reform in 2018 and the state’s first-ever paid parental leave policy for state employees and teachers in 2021.

In 2022, Speaker Ralston led the fight for historic reform of mental health care in Georgia. Georgia’s Mental Health Parity Act and accompanying funding transforms both access to and delivery of mental health services and treatment options throughout the state.

“I want to thank all the staff members who have assisted me throughout the years, particularly my Chief of Staff Spiro Amburn who has been by my side from the beginning,” said Speaker Ralston. “I could not have done all of this without the love and support of my family, particularly my wife, Sheree, and our children. They have been my rock, and I love them very much.”

The Speaker of the House is elected by and from the members of the House on the first day of each biennial legislative session. The Speaker serves as the House’s chief administrative officer. The Speaker also presides over House floor sessions, assigns bills to committees, and calls matters before the House for debate.

The House of Representatives will elect a new Speaker when the House convenes for the first day of the 2023-2024 legislative session on Monday, January 9, 2023.  

Cherokee County Senior Services seeking donations for Adopt-A-Senior program

Cherokee County Senior Services is asking for donations for its annual Adopt-A-Senior program ahead of the holiday season.

“We have noticed an increase this year in seniors reaching out to us requesting financial assistance with everything from utilities to groceries,” said Cherokee County Senior Services Resource Coordinator De Gale. “Since most of these folks live on a tight budget, we reach out to the community each year to ask for assistance in gathering their requested Christmas gifts.”

Requested gift items include new sets of bed sheets, gift cards to local grocery stores, stamps, small boxes of chocolate and non-perishable items such as toiletries, chap stick, tissues and lotions.

Senior Services will accept gifts through Saturday, Dec. 3. Gifts can be dropped off at the Cherokee County Senior Center located at 1001 Univeter Road in Canton. Drop off times are Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and on Saturday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. All donated items should be new, unwrapped and placed in a holiday bag.

The program, which has been in effect for more than 20 years, serves on average over 250 seniors, many of whom are also clients of the county’s Meals-On-Wheel’s program.

“It’s always nice to be remembered at Christmas and many of these seniors are living alone without local support,” said Cherokee County Senior Services Director Tim Morris. “Every year I am humbled by the success of this program. The community consistently rises to the occasion to bring Christmas to our seniors.”

For additional information about the Adopt-A-Senior program, contact Cherokee County Senior Services at 770-345-3025.


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