A year ago, I was enjoying the honeymoon period after my election, but little did I know there would be a global pandemic less than three months into my administration. However, with the hard work of our team at Canton City Hall and a dedicated City Council, we not only responded to the unprecedented circumstances that defined 2020 but also managed to build great momentum for our future.
The City of Holly Springs has continued to progress despite the limitations the pandemic has imposed.
As we near the end of 2020, we can finish the year on a positive note or look back with regret and disappointment. Although we've all faced many trials, it's best to take a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for rather than focus on the negative.
It is my pleasure to use my inaugural article in Canton Family Life to focus on the goodness of spirit that the people in our city possess. Ward 2, which I share the honor of representing with my good friend Shawn Tolan, encompasses some of our historic neighborhoods and our vibrant downtown. Here's a story about our little downtown, and the people who saved it.
"Who is my neighbor?" Many have asked themselves this question, but in today's volatile setting, we may be asking it with the wrong motives. Do you remember the story of the good Samaritan? It started with a lawyer asking Jesus a question about life and being reminded to "love your neighbor as yourself." Then, the lawyer asks a follow-up question: "Who is my neighbor?" Lawyers need to clarify, parse, and define with detail and precision under the law.
By Brooke Schmidt
Canton is going greener, y'all! When I ran for Canton City Council last year, I knew that one of the initiatives I wanted to help usher in was the installation of water bottle filling stations in our City buildings and parks. Making it easier for citizens to reduce their dependence on single-use plastics leads to less litter in our parks, greenspaces, trails, and waterways. Now, residents and visitors will find bottle filling stations in Canton's City Hall, and as the trails get completed, they will be added there as well as in City parks.
The word “treasure” can be used to describe something valuable, very special, or important, including a person who is greatly loved or cherished. Every city/town seems to have its treasured individuals, and anyone who wants to know more about his/her area’s history should make it a point to get to know them. Recently, Ball Ground lost three of its treasures, Dorothy (Dot) Byrd, Margaret Stancil, and Eddie Brackett.
Until the past couple of years, you probably met Dot Byrd whenever you visited Ball Ground. For 49 years, Byrd owned and operated Dot’s Restaurant in downtown Ball Ground. She could always be found either inside cooking or standing outside, sharing her stories of days gone by. She loved Ball Ground and Ball Ground loved her.
Canton is a growing city with a lot to offer those who live, work, and visit here. We have great restaurants, shopping, the Etowah River, and many city sponsored events and festivals for everyone to enjoy. As leaders of one of the fastest growing cities in north Georgia, your City Council has a profound responsibility to put measures in place that protect our small-town feel while adopting smart standards for growth that will serve Canton and its citizens for generations to come.
When I joined City Council in January, I was tasked with assisting with our city housing initiative and helping frame our City Roadmap, which is what we will use to guide Canton’s growth into the future, utilizing smart, measured, and sustainable approaches. The roadmap is due to be completed this year.
In many ways, 2020 feels like it has been the longest year ever, but in other ways, the time has flown. Much of the first two quarters was spent adjusting to the pandemic and other rapidly changing issues. Luckily, Canton is fortunate to have an agile and highly motivated team and City Council, and our work has continued.
We recently approved our 2021 Fiscal Operating Budget, maintaining a 5.40 millage rate, representing the lowest taxes since the early 1960s, and once again, the lowest of any city in Cherokee County. Even with projected shortfalls and the rebates of 2020 business license fees to local small businesses, our sound fiscal policies have prepared us for the challenges ahead.
City Hall reopened to the public on May 4 and resumed in-person public meetings in June. I’d like to thank each of you for your patience with City administrative and municipal court staff while we worked to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 not only to staff, but also to our community.
On June 15, City Council approved a change order from Georgia Development Partners, which included asphalt repairs near the railroad tracks on Hickory Road, the replacement of a broken curb and gutter, and the resurfacing of Hickory Road from Holly Springs Parkway to the railroad tracks. By the time you read this, this work should be complete as well as the top coating of the roundabout.
If you have ever been to Ball Ground, you have likely visited beautiful Calvin Farmer Park. While there, you may have wondered — who is Calvin Farmer?
Calvin Farmer was born in 1877 to William J. and Polly Farmer. Calvin graduated from the Chicago Engineering Works on March 30, 1926. He married Arizona Lee Ingram, and they had seven children: two sets of twins and one set of triplets. Calvin owned and operated a hotel in downtown Ball Ground until 1965, at which time it was demolished. The land was vacant until, years later, the City purchased the property to be used as a park.
Despite all the rain delays experienced during the first quarter of 2020, construction of the Town Center Road Network Project has steadily been moving forward. The contractor has been able to complete the construction of Betty Barrett Way between Hickory Road and Walnut Street, widen Hickory Road east of the railroad, and build a new driveway access for Cherokee County Fire Station 8. The contractor has also constructed the new intersection of Betty Barrett Way and Walnut Street, built the southern half of the new roundabout on Hickory Road, and started work on the conversion of the northern section of Palm Street to a right-in/right-out configuration.
While working from home, I overheard a gentleman on television say, “I wish I knew today what I’m going to learn tomorrow.” Without a doubt, no one could have predicted the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our lives. Just a few weeks before we began sheltering in place, I gave my State of the City address and shared my excitement for Canton’s future. While we have been thrown a curveball of historic proportions, my optimism remains intact.
The impact of this disaster cannot be underestimated. Many people are afraid and suffering. Within this uncertainty, it is human nature to assign blame or direct anger toward others. None of us have ever experienced anything like this, and we all react in different ways. Some people share frustrations on social media where it’s easy to think with their fingers before common sense catches up, hurting and offending others who are just as fragile.
Despite all of the rain delays experienced this winter, the contractor was able to complete the construction of Betty Barrett Way between Hickory Road and Walnut Street, widen Hickory Road east of the railroad, and build a new driveway access for Cherokee County Fire Station #8. The contractor has also constructed the new intersection of Betty Barrett Way and Walnut Street, built the southern half of the new roundabout on Hickory Road, and started work on the conversion of the northern section of Palm Street to a right-in/right-out configuration.
Holly Springs has been ranked Georgia’s 2nd Safest City by the National Council for Home Safety and Security. This is the fourth year in a row that our city has appeared on the list. The Council analyzes the most recent FBI Crime Report statistics as well as population data and internal research. Cities are then ranked based on the number of reported violent and property crimes per 1,000 people. I am very proud of the job our police department is doing to keep us all safe.
Do you know how Ball Ground got its name? Or how Cherokee County got its name? These questions and many more can be answered by attending a Ball Ground Historical Society meeting. While at the meeting, consider joining, so you can learn more about the history of where you live, work, and play.
The Ball Ground Historical Society is the brainchild of a reunion committee for Ball Ground Elementary School. The committee was originally formed to organize a reunion of people who attended or worked at Ball Ground ES. The reunion was a huge success! Everyone enjoyed visiting with old friends and reminiscing. After hearing so many stories and seeing historical pictures at the reunion, the committee thought it would be a great time to preserve the history of Ball Ground.
The citizens of Canton have often voiced their desire to have many recreational options. The City is committed to providing a means for our residents and visitors to walk the community through a trail system that borders the Etowah River and connects parks to the downtown area.
Many years ago, the City began the process of constructing Heritage Park and the YMCA. Boling Park offers residents walking paths and recreation fields. Additional trails at Boling Park were created by local scouts for hiking in the woods along the Etowah River.
Holly Springs offers exciting things to do all year long, so mark your calendars now. Additional details can be found at HollySpringsGa.us/events.
The future of Ball Ground looks as bright as ever! In 2020, projects will be completed, and new projects will begin.
Phase one of the Roberts Lake Project is anticipated to be completed by midyear. To date, three footbridges have been installed, approximately 1 mile of trail has been cleared, and markers have been placed. City staff is working to secure the old power generating building to make it safe for visitors. Stay tuned for exciting updates.
As the City of Canton’s new mayor, I want to thank you for your support and wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2020. This will be a pivotal year, as we continue our positive momentum with a new City Council, a fresh perspective, and a commitment to improving the quality of life and opportunities for all our citizens. While our progress is undeniable, it will certainly take a lot of work and political will to maintain our unique small town character and charm while enhancing accessibility to the modern conveniences that have a positive impact on the ways we work, live, and play in Canton.
I love when I have been assisting business owners, community activists, or residents over the phone or by email with a problem they are having, and then I finally get to meet them in person. There is just something about putting a face with a name that brings to life whatever project or problem we were working on together.
Over the past several years, the staff at the City of Holly Springs has been keeping citizens abreast of every step taken, as we get closer to breaking ground on the Town Center Project. In 2020, years of behind-the-scenes planning and preparing will finally give way to visible progress on this much anticipated project in downtown Holly Springs. I am happy to finally put faces with some of the names you have been hearing about for so long.