DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and the University of North Georgia did a great job hosting the 2017 Eggs & Issues Legislative Breakfast Friday at UNG’s Continuing Education Center.
State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) and State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) addressed a large, engaged breakfast crowd for about 30 minutes each, then answered questions, primarily related to the upcoming General Assembly that begins next week.
Tanner said the state continues to see month-over-month increases in revenue but added that he has some concerns about lagging sales tax revenue. “We’re concerned bout sales tax revenue because a lot of sales are going to the internet. Were’ also seeing brick and mortar stores like Sears and K-Mart close their doors.”
Tanner also said there is lingering concern about school systems that are failing.
“We all know the governor brought forward legislation last year dealing with Opportunity School Districts that failed at the ballot box. I think about how blessed I am. All my daughters attended schools here in North Georgia where we have good leaders, good educators, good superintendents. But not every child is that blessed. Some children are in schools that fail year after year. Something has to happen.”
He also talked about a school superintendent in Florida that moved a school system of 200,000 students from 50 percent failing to about 80 percent passing. “It’s unbelievable what she has done so we know it can be done.”
Drugs, both legal and illegal, continue to be a serious problem legislators will try to deal with.
“There are new opioid-based drugs coming on line every day,” Tanner said. China has produced a new drug being sold here in Georgia that is not illegal yet, but has produced two fatal overdoses in the last couple of months.
“The opioid issue is something we’re going to deal with on Day 1,” Tanner said.
“The problem is we’re chasing after chemists that continue to change the compound so when we make one drug illegal, they come up with an alternate that isn’t illegal but still has the same deadly effect.”
Gooch pointed out that Georgia has been ranked the No. 1 state in the country to do business by the Site Selection Magazine four years in a row, due primarily to the state’s favorable tax structure.
He also said the state, and in particular north Georgia, is reaping the benefits of having passed the Transportation Funding Act of 2015.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has awarded hundreds of projects designed to improve the state’s infrastructure.
“You’re about to see $600 million spent on Ga. 400 all the way to where it intersects with I-285,” he said. “There will be a northbound and southbound lane added to Ga. 400 from McFarland to Browns Bridge Road. That work should be completed this year. Part of the northbound lane has already been completed and it has made a big difference in the commute time.
“A new interchange is in the design phase for Ga. 400 at Exit 17. The traffic light will be removed there and their will be an elevated off ramp there,” he said. “There is also a continuous flow interchange being built at Ga. 400 and Dawsonville Hwy.”
Gooch spent much of the summer, traversing the state as co-chairman of a joint legislative broadband committee, studying how to bring internet access to rural parts of the state.
“Twenty years ago when a company came to our area to consider relocating, the things that were important to them was roads, water and sewer,” he said. “Today they have to have internet access.”
Gooch said more than a dozen committees had studied the problem this summer and had come up with a report that incorporates 26 recommendations. That report is ready and is now posted on the state’s website.
The problem, he said, is that companies will only invest hundreds of millions of dollars where they can expect a reasonable return on their investment and that is in the urban and suburban areas.
“In order for rural areas to continue to prosper, we’ve got to find ways to incentivize those investments whether it’s through tax credits, grants or federal programs. We’re going to take a strong look at those 26 recommendations and begin to draft legislation. We won’t be in a pass hurry to pass something in the first three weeks of the session. We’re going to take some time and be deliberative about it.”
12/4/2017 | Baseball
DAHLONEGA – Fresh off a historic season that included a NCAA Southeast Region Championship, head University of North Georgia baseball coach Tom Cantrell has announced the signing of four student-athletes during the early signing period last month. Cantrell has added Hunter Cain, Tim Conway, Jackson Hodnick and Bryant Pietri to the Nighthawk family.
Cain, a pitcher and first baseman from Dacula, Georgia, has played for Archer High School and Team Elite in the summer. He has been named a second-team All-County pitcher. His stats include a 1.81 ERA combined with a 5-0 record in 27 innings of work. At the plate, Cain hit .271 with one homer, two doubles and nine RBI.
“Hunter is a big strong projectable player coming to us from Archer High School,” said Cantrell. “On the mound, Hunter has a power arm with some big upside and can throw multiple pitches for strikes. At the plate he is a strong physical hitter with some power potential. Hunter is a guy that attended one of our prospect camps and is a good fit for our program. He is a great young man from a good family and we are happy to have him on board here at North Georgia!”
Conway, a right-handed utility player from Decatur, Georgia, hit .424 a year ago for Decatur High School and his summer team, the Colt .45’s. He hit four home runs, 10 doubles and 35 RBI, as well as stole 15 bases and had a 1.306 OPS. Conway was named to the All-County and All-Region First Team as well as the DeKalb County Player of the Month.
“Tim is an extremely athletic player who can play multiple positions from Decatur High School,” Cantrell stated. “He has the potential to hit for average and hit for power and he can run as well. Tim has a great frame that he will continue to add on to and is very projectable. He is a toolsy player and we are excited to get him in the program! Tim will be a great addition to our team and we are excited to add him to the Nighthawk family! ”
A right-handed pitcher from Evans, Georgia, and Greenbrier High School, Hodnick went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 16 innings pitched this summer for Baseball Scoutz USA. He was named an honorable mention for the All-Region team.
Cantrell said of Hodnick, “Jackson is a big strong pitcher from a quality program over at Greenbrier. He has great potential on the mound and his better days are ahead of him. He can throw multiple pitches for strikes and has a good hard breaking ball that he can throw on or off the plate for swings and misses. Jackson exemplifies what it means to be a student athlete as he is a great student as well. We are excited to welcome Jackson to the North Georgia family!”
Pietri went 6-0 with two saves and an ERA of 0.23 last season for Loganville High School, marking the lowest ERA in LHS history. The righty threw 30 innings and struck out 30 batters as well.
“Bryant is a quality young man from a great family coming to us from a successful Loganville program that has had some quality pitchers over the years and Bryant is another one that fits that mold,” said Cantrell. “He has a live fastball and a quality breaking ball and had a lot of success last season on a state championship team. Bryant has a loose athletic arm action and we are excited to see him reach his potential. He will be a great addition to our pitching staff next season!”
12/2/2017 | Women’s Basketball | Box Score
DAHLONEGA – Behind Mackenzie Darrah’s and Deana Blankinship’s big games, the University of North Georgia women’s basketball team opened Peach Belt Conference play with a resounding 82-54 win over Francis Marion Saturday afternoon in Memorial Hall.
Darrah netted 21 points, matching her career high set against Erskine last season, while Blankinship contributed 19 points, surpassing her career high of 18 points.
UNG never trailed in the contest, hitting the first basket of the game. The game was tied just once at 8-8, but UNG retook the lead moments later, extending it to as many as 32 points late.
– The Nighthawks shot over 57 percent from the field. Amber Skidgel and Julianne Sutton both finished in double figures, scoring 13 and 11, respectively.
– North Georgia assisted on 19 of its 32 made field goals.
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Dahlonega’s City Council failed to achieve a quorum at last week’s scheduled work session and, instead, held what it called a “community meeting” to discuss issues to be voted on during the next regular meeting.
Council members discussed a change in special event permit fees to take effect in 2018. City staff recommended a three-tier, permit fee system based on the following: Type A events (5,000 or fewer attendees) would require a $500 permit fee and $300 parking fee; Type B events (5,000 to 25,000 attendees) would require a $1,000 permit fee and $550 parking fee; Type C events (more than 25,000 attendees) would require a $1,500 permit fee and $1,750 parking fee.
One organization that will apply for a special event permit in 2018 is the Dahlonega Science Café (DSC). According to the group’s Facebook page, it is dedicated to bringing fun, informative, thought-provoking meet-ups and talks from real working scientists to the community. Those talks are held in the Bourbon Street Grille on the square in Dahlonega.
The group is planning the Dahlonega Science Festival for March 23-25 to take place at multiple locations in the downtown area, including Hancock Park and Holly Theater. Organizers say their goal is to bring together University of North Georgia faculty, students, local businesses and organizations and people within the community to provide a stimulating environment for informal science learning.
Event activities would include the UNG faculty presenting a series of Science Café talks along with other invited speakers and UNG science students hosting hands-on science activities for children.
Staff also recommended renewal of the city’s probation services contract with Northeast Georgia Probation Services, Inc.
These and other issues are expected to be voted on at the next regular council meeting.
11/15/2017 | Women’s Soccer
DAHLONEGA – University of North Georgia women’s soccer player Renee VanHorn was named to the D2CCA All-Southeast Region Second Team as announced Wednesday afternoon by the association.
The junior from Marietta, Georgia, netted 14 goals and seven assists in the Nighthawks’ 12-4-2 campaign in 2017. She led the squad in goals and points, and finished fifth in the Peach Belt Conference in goals. She also finished fifth in the league in assists and fourth in points.
VanHorn was also listed as a second team member of the All-PBC team earlier this month, adding to her growing list of collegiate accolades.
The Peach Belt Conference took in 13 of the 26 spots on the first and second teams combined.