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Local News Archives for 2023-12

New facility opens for county coroner's office

(DEC. 15, 2023) -- The Cherokee County Coroner’s Office has its first permanent home on Chattin Drive in Canton. The Coroner’s Office previously shared space with Probation and the Marshal’s Office and prior to that was housed at Darby Funeral Home when Earl Darby served as the elected coroner.

“The space we had was not ideal for the work we are charged with completing, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who made this wonderful facility possible,” said Coroner Sally Sims. “It gives us more space and resources to better serve the deceased and their families with dignity, grace and compassion.”

The County was able to utilize Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars to give elected Coroner Sally Sims and her team a space to handle their job responsibilities under one roof.

The building is 1,720 square feet and features three offices for the coroner, deputy coroners and support staff, an examination room, and a garage with a large cooler and a small cooler.

The Coroner is an elected position that handles all death investigations in Cherokee County and works with agencies across the county, state and nation. Sims has a master’s degree in forensics and is certified medicolegal death investigator with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.

PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured, from left, District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter, County Manager Geoff Morton, Chairman Harry Johnston, Coroner Sally Sims, architectural project manager Patrick Whalen and Sheriff Frank Reynolds.

Cherokee County seeking public input on overlay zoning district along Highway 20

CANTON, GA (Dec. 15, 2023) – Cherokee County will be seeking public input just after the New Year regarding an overlay zoning district along Highway 20, from Canton to Forsyth County.

The Cherokee County Planning and Zoning Department will launch a visual preference survey for the corridor starting on Jan. 2. The survey comes in response to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s SR 20 Corridor Widening Project.

“The visual preference survey is a key element for residents and stakeholders to influence the design vision for the corridor,” said Director of Planning & Zoning Margaret Stallings. “The survey will include comparative images allowing participants to contribute to the area’s potential development. It’s also important to note that the overlay will not modify existing zoning districts but will establish a unique design standard for the corridor.”

An online visual preference survey for the east side of Highway 20 from Canton Marketplace to the Forsyth County line will open starting Jan. 2 and run through Feb. 16. The county is also planning in-person public input meetings during the process set for Jan. 18 and Feb. 7, from 6-7:30 p.m. The in-person meetings will be held in Victory Hall of the L.B. “Buzz” Ahrens Recreation Center, located at 7345 Cumming Hwy., Canton and are intended for citizens to drop in, take the survey and to ask questions regarding the survey or the overlay.

Once the survey is open, a live link will be provided on the county website. To participate in the shaping the future of the SR 20 Corridor, visit www.cherokeega.com/planning-and-zoning.


ABOUT CHEROKEE COUNTY

Located 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta, Cherokee County is part of the 11-county metro-Atlanta area. Cherokee County boasts a population of more than 281,000, according to the July 2022 Census estimates. It is the one of the fastest growing counties in the metro region and its overall Board of Commissioners-controlled tax burden per capita is one of the lowest in the region.  Cherokee County has award-winning parks and recreational facilities, is a destination for corporate headquarters and is a great place to live, work and play. Cherokee County is the best of both worlds because it’s where “Metro Meets the Mountains.” Learn more at cherokeega.com.

International Pianist Jasmin Arakawa To Perform at Falany

WALESKA, GA (Dec. 15, 2023) –  Internationally renowned pianist Jasmin Arakawa will perform at the Falany Performing Arts Center on Sunday, January 21 at 3 p.m.

Arakawa has performed in North America, Central and South America, Europe, China and Japan.  The program at the Falany will feature music by famous composers.

“This is classical music at its finest,” said Jessica Akers, director of the Falany Performing Arts Center. “We hope you will join us and see why Gramaphone magazine calls Jasmin’s mastery of the piano a ‘characteristic sparkle.’”

A prizewinner of the Jean Francaix International Music Competition, Arakawa has been heard at Carnegie Hall, Salle Gaveau in Paris, and Victoria Hall in Geneva as well as in broadcasts of the BBC and Radio France.  She has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Philips Symfonie Orkest in Amsterdam, Orquestra Sinfonica de Piracicaba in Brazil, and numerous orchestras in the United States and her native Japan.  

Tickets are $25 to $30 for adults, $20 to $25 for seniors and $10 for children (12 and younger). Tickets can be purchased at Reinhardt.edu/fpac or by calling the box office at 770-720-9167.


About the Falany Performing Arts Center

The Falany Performing Arts Center is a world-class facility overlooking Lake Mullenix on the beautiful campus of Reinhardt University in Waleska. With Flint Hall, an impressive concert hall, and the beautiful marble Ken White Atrium, this concert venue is one of a kind. Since its first year in the performing arts, guests have commented on their wonderful experiences with the convenient free parking, meet-and-greet with artists, and intimate performances.  The Falany Performing Arts Center has hosted a variety of events, from theatrical productions, chamber groups, student productions and recitals, and popular ensembles such as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The main attraction of this concert hall is its state-of-the-art acoustic and tunable stage. Known as one of the best concert halls in the Southeast, musicians, theatre groups, and guest speakers have enjoyed the quality sound the concert hall provides.  

About Reinhardt University

Founded in 1883, Reinhardt University is a private, comprehensive institution grounded in the liberal arts. Reinhardt offers more than 40?graduate and undergraduate programs online and on campus, including business, education, music, theater, and nursing. Reinhardt’s 525-acre campus is ideally located in?Waleska?in the heart of Georgia’s high country and nearby the great international city of Atlanta. For more information, please contact Reinhardt at (770) 720-5600 or see Reinhardt.edu.?  

GATEWAY CROSSINGS SHOPPING CENTER, LLC AND CITY OF JASPER ANNOUNCE PUBLIX AS ANCHOR STORE IN DEVELOPMENT AT CAMP ROAD AND HWY 515

STORE IN DEVELOPMENT AT CAMP ROAD AND HWY 515 

(Jasper, GA) – Will Cobb, developer of the Gateway Crossings Shopping Center project, and the City of Jasper City Council are pleased to announce that Publix is signed as the anchor store within the shopping center project at the northeast corner of Camp Road and Highway 515 in Jasper. 

Mr. Cobb made the call to the City of Jasper Thursday morning to advise that Publix had given their approval to release their name as the anchor store. “This is a great market for Publix to locate in, and we are excited to be in Jasper,” said Cobb. He added that “the City of Jasper has been fantastic to work with throughout the entire process.” 

Mayor Steve Lawrence stated that while it had been difficult to not be able to share the news earlier, he respected Mr. Cobb’s request to keep the name under wraps until Publix was ready to release the information. “We are excited to have Publix as the anchor store in this development, and Chick Fil A as one of the outparcel restaurants,” said Mayor Lawrence. “This represents a lot of hard work by our Staff and by our Elected Council. Congratulations to all.” 

Publix was founded in 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida by George W. Jenkins. They currently operate in 7 states in the Southeast, with a recent announcement that they are expanding to their eighth state, with a store planned in Louisville, Kentucky. Publix is the largest employee-owned company in the United States. 

Cherokee County Recycling Center hosts successful Electronics Recycling event.

CANTON, GA (Dec. 14, 2023) – Residents were eager to offload their old electronics at the Cherokee County Recycling Center’s electronics recycling event.

“We are very pleased with the community response,” said Community Services Agency Director Bryan Reynolds. “We were able to collect 22.17 tons of recyclable material at this event.”

The electronics recycling event, hosted in partnership with ECO Trading LLC, was held Dec. 9 at the Cherokee County Administration Building in Canton. More than 300 vehicles were seen at the four-hour drive-through event. Event staff, which included county employees, volunteers from Keep Cherokee Beautiful and student-volunteers from Etowah High School, were able to fill several box trucks with recycled items ranging from personal computers to large tube televisions.

“I want to thank all of the volunteers for their hard work in making this event successful and also thank ECO Trading LLC for their support,” said District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter. “Through their hard work, we were able to raise nearly $4,000 for the Keep Cherokee Beautiful organization.”

For more information, call the Recycling Center at 770-516-4195 or visit online at cherokeega.com/recycling-center.

+++


ABOUT CHEROKEE COUNTY

Located 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta, Cherokee County is part of the 11-county metro-Atlanta area. Cherokee County boasts a population of more than 281,000, according to the July 2022 Census estimates. It is the one of the fastest growing counties in the metro region and its overall Board of Commissioners-controlled tax burden per capita is one of the lowest in the region.  Cherokee County has award-winning parks and recreational facilities, is a destination for corporate headquarters and is a great place to live, work and play. Cherokee County is the best of both worlds because it’s where “Metro Meets the Mountains.” Learn more at cherokeega.com.

City of Canton Appoints Captain John Lummus as Interim Police Chief

(CANTON, Georgia, December 11, 2023)—Captain John Lummus has been appointed as the interim police chief for the Canton Police Department in an announcement released to City staff earlier today. Lummus will be leading the agency during the transition from the retirement of current Police Chief Stephen Merrifield.

Chief Merrifield joined the City of Canton in February 2015 as deputy police chief following a thirty-year career with Cobb County Police rising to the rank of Major. Merrifield started his career with an enlistment in the United States Army, serving four years in the Airborne Ranger Unit ending his time with the rank of sergeant.

Captain Lummus joined the Canton Police Department in February 1997 and served as a sergeant and lieutenant prior to his promotion to Captain in July 2022. Lummus currently serves as the captain over the Uniform Patrol Division, which provides shift patrols of the City and is the largest bureau of the agency.

“Captain Lummus has the support of his colleagues in the command staff and was a unanimous recommendation by our existing leadership, other captains, and lieutenants. John is a perfect example of a career Canton police officer that started with and will retire from our agency,” noted Billy Peppers, City Manager.

Lummus will serve as the interim chief beginning December 20, during a transition period through the holidays and leading to Merrifield’s official retirement date of January 2. Deputy Chief Wendell Turner will also be retiring early in 2024 following a nearly 30-year career in law enforcement.

"It is rare to have the retirement of a chief and deputy chief within such a narrow window of time, but both of these employees have dedicated their careers to public service, and we wish them both well in the next phase of life,” added Peppers. 

“I am honored and humbled the city manager has entrusted me to lead the department through this transitional phase. Chief Merrifield has served the City of Canton and this department with integrity. My goal is to make sure the department continues moving forward and the exemplary work he has done here continues,” said Lummus.

The City of Canton engaged Reddish Executive Consulting (dba Mercer Group) to manage the search for the next Chief of Police. It is anticipated that the application will go live on December 18 and the application window will close on January 19, 2024. Selection of semi-finalists and final interviews will occur over a six-week period after applications are closed. The city manager hopes to select a new chief in early March.

Highlights from Dec. 5 BOC meeting

(DEC. 8, 2023) -- The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners completed appointments to the Department of Behavioral Health board, heard several zoning requests and approved a construction agreement for the new probation office in Canton, among many other topics earlier this week.

During the Dec. 5 meeting, the Board:

  • Approved, 5-0, adjusting petition requirements for speed hump request on Victoria Road. There are just over 100 homes on Victoria Road with several hundred homes on side streets off Victoria Road, and the petition would require 70 percent of the more than 800 residents’ signatures. The Board agreed to adjust the requirements to 80 percent of signatures of the homes on Victoria Road and 50 percent of the residents on the side streets. Chairman Harry Johnston made the motion, which was seconded by District 1 Commissioner Steve West.
  • Approved, 5-0, reappointing Diane Minick to the Limestone Valley Resource Conservation Development County for a two-year term. One vacancy remains on the board. Chairman Johnston made the motion, which was seconded by District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter.
  • Approved, 5-0, appointing Chris Reed, to the Department of Behavioral Health Development Disabilities Council for a three-year term. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by District 2 Commissioner Richard Weatherby.
  • Approved, 4-0-1, the minutes from the Nov. 21 work session, executive session and regular meeting. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by District 4 Commissioner Corey Ragsdale. Commissioner Carter abstained, as he was absent from the Nov. 21 meeting due to illness.
  • Held a public hearing on Cooper Patrick Flood’s request to modify a 2009 condition for property at Wes Walker Memorial Drive. The applicant was the only one to speak. The request is to modify the condition that indicates all detention must be underground unless approved by the Cherokee County Airport Authority. District 1 Commissioner Steve West made the motion to deny the request, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby. There was concern about the above-ground water attracting birds and other wildlife near the airport, and the applicant indicated to board members that denial of the request would not deter the project. The vote to deny was 5-0.
  • Approved, 5-0, Bradshaw Holdings LLC’s request to withdraw its application to rezone 1 acre from General Commercial to Light Industrial without prejudice. The Planning Commission recommended denial of the application. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby.
  • Approved, 5-0, Cooper Patrick Flood’s request for a special use permit for a non-climate controlled storage facility on 100 acres at 710 Wes Walker Memorial Drive with the condition that the permit is limited to the area plan east of the stream depicted on the survey that transects the property near its midsection. Commissioner West made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.
  • Approved, 5-0, Greg Bankston’s request to rezone 19.56 acres from R-40 to Neighborhood Commercial for a golf driving range at 11001 East Cherokee Drive. Commissioner West made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby.
  • Approved, 5-0, Kevin Williams’ request for a special use permit for a special events facility at 4563 Hickory Flat Highway with a condition that the permit is not transferrable and that the gate on Pinyan Lane remain locked. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.
  • Approved, 5-0, notifying the city of Woodstock that the county does not object to an annexation request at 544 and 570 Wagon Trail. The intent of the applicant is to rezone the properties totaling about 6 acres from R-80 to R-2. The use will remain residential. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.
  • Approved, 5-0, notifying the city of Woodstock that the county does not object to an annexation request at 105 Neese Farm Drive. The intent is to rezone the property from Agriculture to Civic with no changes in the current use as a tow lot. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.
  • Approved, 5-0, the consent agenda, which included: acceptance of a state grant totaling $48,320, and a corresponding budget amendment totaling $42,522, on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement surveillance work for the Accountability Courts; surplus of obsolete traffic equipment from the Sheriff’s Office; surplus of obsolete office furniture from the Clerk of Court’s Office; renewal of a no-cost participant agreement with Peachtree Recovery Services to act as agent for claims against third-party insurance companies for damage to county property; amendment one to the project grant agreement with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for the Long Swamp Creek Recreation Area and authorization of the Chairman’s signature – there is no cost associated; amendment two to the agreement with Bennett Fire Products, Inc. for firefighting boots at $536 per pair; final acceptance of all public rights of way, roadways and appurtenant drainage structures in the Tranquil Gardens subdivision; and acceptance of an additional portion of Earl Nelson Lane in as-is condition for county maintenance. Commissioner West made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.
  • Approved, 5-0, amendment two to the construction agreement with Ohmshiv Construction LLC for the Union Hill Road at Lower Union Hill Road to include construction of the Bates Drive Sidewalk Project. The cost is $112,784. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.
  • Approved, 5-0, a contract with Kucera International, Inc. to provide countywide aerial orthoimagery for the GIS department. The cost is $46,500. Commissioner Ragsdale made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby.
  • Approved, 5-0, a construction services agreement with Ward Humphrey, Inc. for the renovation of the new Probation Office to be located at 400 E. Main Street. The total cost is $1.9 million with a county-controlled contingency of $197,128.70. Commissioner Ragsdale made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.
  • Approved, 5-0, an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Woodstock for the MACH Alert Fire Station alerting system. Commissioner Ragsdale made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Weatherby.
  • Approved, 5-0, a request that the local delegation introduce legislation during the 2024 General Assembly adopting an act to amend the compensation for the Sheriff, Tax Commissioner, Clerk of Superior Court, State Court Judge, Chief Magistrate Judge, Probate Judge, Solicitor and Coroner for Cherokee County to ensure all legal requirements for setting the salaries are met. Commissioner Carter made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Ragsdale.
  • Approved, 5-0, calling for a public hearing for a lottery to be conducted for package stores selling distilled spirits. The lottery is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 16 at 3 p.m. to provide selection order by retail district for applications submitted for package stores selling distilled spirits. Part of the motion included announcing potential finalists including Yogi 1921 LLC in District 1; Hickory Flat Hospitality LLC in District 3; Pragnesh Patel and Yogeshkumar Patel in District 4; Jaspal Singh Banti and Yesha Patel in District 5; and VMC LLC in District 6. All applications that have been submitted require a waiver or variance related to either distance from a residence or the requirement that owner(s) be a Cherokee County resident. Those requests will be heard Jan. 2. The advertisement for the lottery is out of an abundance of caution to allow for the proper 30-day notification; however, if applications are not deemed compliant, the county may not hold the lottery on Jan. 16. Commissioner Weatherby made the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Carter.

Cherokee Chamber of Commerce Names Volunteer of the Quarter

CANTON, GA (December 7, 2023) – The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Michelle Meek, Director of Community Engagement with The Children’s Haven, has been named the Chairman's Council Volunteer of the Quarter for fourth quarter 2023.  She was honored during the Chamber's December Good Morning Cherokee networking event.  

The Chairman’s Council is a group of key community volunteers who offer their time to help cultivate successful relationships with business owners across Cherokee County. Members 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.    

Michelle says of her time as a member of the Chairman’s Council, “Serving on the Chairman’s Council has been one of the highlights of my year! Within my organization and personally, I am able to share about the businesses I meet to promote continued growth and help to strengthen our local business community. The Chairman’s Council has also provided me with the opportunity to connect with incredible business owners and nonprofit leaders that I can partner and collaborate with as we support each other in our individual professions. It has truly been an honor to serve alongside so many amazing people!”

In determining the Volunteer of the Quarter, attendance at Chamber events is evaluated for all members of the Chairman's Council.  "We appreciate all the time and effort that Michelle has given to the Chamber this year," said Trey Ragsdale, External Affairs, Kaiser Permanente, and 2023 Chamber Board Chair.


The mission of the Cherokee County Chamber, a Georgia Certified Chamber of Commerce, is to promote business to expand the economy and enrich the community.  For information on the Chamber and its programs, visit www.CherokeeChamber.com

Photo ID:  Trey Ragsdale, External Affairs, Kaiser Permanente, and 2023 Chamber Board Chair (R), presenting Chamber Volunteer of the Quarter Michelle Meek, Director of Community Engagement with The Children’s Haven (L), with her award. 

Canton Hosts Open House Workshop for Parks & Rec

Looking for a fun way to shape the future of Canton's parks and recreation? Then come on down to City Hall on Wed., Dec. 6, from 5-8 p.m., for the Parks & Recreation Master Plan Open House Workshop! Be a part of the early stages of the Master Plan's development, and have your voice heard by sharing your thoughts and ideas at our feedback stations.

Stations include:

Where Do You Live Map 

Identifies what areas of the city were reached through this process

Dot Exercise

Vote for preferred features & favorite programs

Write In Comments

What do you like about existing opportunities? What would you like to see improved? 3 Topics: Parks & Facilities, Programs & Special Events, Trails & Open Space

Dollar Voting

$1,000 in play money to allocate towards the items listed on voting boxes including an “Other” option

We are excited to have you join us!

In a World of Grinches, Be a Buck! | Mayor's Moment

Season’s Greetings, Canton! I hope your holidays are off to a wonderful start. When thinking about my comments this month, there are certainly no lack of topics to cover. This time of year is simply magical in the Coolest Small Town in America! Many rightfully comment that Canton seems like a “Hallmark Movie” during the holidays, and I couldn’t agree more. I want to thank all of the individuals on our team that work tirelessly to make sure this happens, year after year. Not only do the decorations and festive events repeat each year, they only get bigger and better for the enjoyment of our residents and to benefit our businesses. 

In addition to our City sponsored events, there are many other holiday traditions in Canton to be celebrated, appreciated, and enjoyed throughout the season. Some are small and modest, while others are large and glitzy. Combined, they add to the holiday spirit in our community and offer something for everyone, young and old. That’s what truly makes this time of year so special in Canton, the collective celebration of Christmas and the holidays – the simple joys that can only be experienced in a small town. From the tree lighting in Cannon Park, to Christmas Pete towing the grinch out of all of us, to the huge gathering of family and friends for Christmas at The Mill, the list of events and activities continues to grow – and December has just begun!

However, what I find exceptional about this time of year is the spirit of giving and selfless service by so many in our community. From food and toy drives to fund raisers and warming shelters, the non-profit and service groups in Canton and Cherokee County continue to raise the bar when it comes to exemplifying the notion that it is better to give than receive. Many groups and individuals do this unnoticed, and they prefer it that way. Others, however, have a long history of promoting goodwill over the holidays. For example, the Love Lights a Tree event I emceed last weekend has a long legacy of raising funds for the American Cancer Society and honoring those in our community who have battled this horrible disease. Started almost 30 years ago by former City Councilman Wade Buchanan and his late wife, Peggy, upon the loss of their son, Steve, to cancer in 1992, “Buck” has single-handedly raised over $500,000 for the American Cancer Society since. 

For me, Mr. Buchanan, like so many others, personify and honor the true holiday spirit of bringing comfort and joy to all. Let’s follow their lead and build upon the goodwill we enjoy in Canton, because there’s no place like home for the holidays!

Jasper City Manager Sonia Jammes, for personal reasons, resigned her position as City Manager effective on December 4, 2023.

 Jasper City Manager Sonia Jammes, for personal reasons, resigned her position as City Manager effective on December 4, 2023. The Jasper City Council accepted her resignation on the same date. The City of Jasper appreciates the service of Ms. Jammes for the last two years and wishes her well in future endeavors. Assistant City Manager Kim Goldener is familiar with our organization, well positioned, and will lead the city going forward. 

Assistant City Manager Kim Goldener and the administration of the City of Jasper will continue operations until such time as the Jasper City Council appoints a new City Manager. The administration of the City of Jasper therefore remains in capable hands, and the Mayor and Council of the City of Jasper anticipate continued progress for the City in 2024 and thereafter. 

Supper with Santa - The Hickory Flat Gym

One week from today, Jolly Old St. Nick will be visiting Cherokee County a little early and is inviting all the good girls and boys to a special “Supper with Santa” on Friday, December 8th. "Supper with Santa" gives our special guests time with Santa himself, a delicious meal, desserts, music and holiday crafts. There is still time to register!!

Event Details:
Date: Friday, December 8, 2023
Time: 5:00-6:00pm Sensory Friendly; 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location: The Hickory Flat Gym, 4835 Hickory Rd, Canton, GA 30115
Cost: $25

For more information, contact Skyler Cox, srcox@cherokeega.com or Jessica Ascenzo, jnascenzo@cherokeega.com 

Registration is required and space is limited.  Participants can register through the Rec1 Online Service Center. Children must be accompanied by an adult. https://playcherokee.org/382/Supper-with-Santa 

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