Archive | Features

GIVING THE OLD COLLEGE TRY

City, county team up to make improvements to College Drive/Walnut Avenue intersection

By MITCH TALLEY:

Whitfield County Director of Communications

 

Getting to college still requires the same dedication and determination as always.

Typical class dismissal traffic backup is shown at the south end of College Drive.

But leaving college – at least in a vehicle – will be much easier when students begin the fall semester at Dalton State College in August.

Anyone who has traveled south on College Drive knows how difficult it can sometimes be to make a left turn onto Walnut Avenue and head east, but construction is underway on a project that city and county officials believe will deliver much-awaited relief to those motorists.

When work is completed by August, College Drive will have been moved farther to the west by 240 feet, and Westbridge, the road that goes to Red Lobster, will also have been moved westward 50 feet. That way, the two streets will line up and a traffic signal can be installed to regulate traffic flow.

“If you’re familiar with College Drive, you know it comes out right beside the southbound exit ramp for I-75 and  there’s a stop sign for College Drive,” Whitfield County Engineer Kent Benson said. “The vast majority of people are turning left onto Walnut Avenue, either to go back into town or to get on the interstate.”

Once motorists have made that left turn, though, there’s room for just two or three cars in the storage lane on Walnut Avenue before they have to stop for the signal at the exit ramp. At peak times, that backs up traffic on College Drive well past Zaxby’s as vehicles have to wait to turn left.

“Then you’ve got people that get impatient and they’ll get in the right lane on College Drive, turn right onto Dug Gap Mountain Road, and then zigzag over into Westbridge and make a U-turn and get over in the right lane on Walnut,” Benson said. “That’s a dangerous situation.”

Concept drawing from which the College Drive project was designed.

Once completed, however, College Drive will have four lanes at the intersection – one for right turns up Dug Gap Mountain Road, one to go straight onto Westbridge, and two 170 feet long for left turns.

The new intersection should cut down on the number of T-bone crashes at College Drive,  according to Dalton Assistant Public Works Director Andrew Parker.

“We have a tremendous number of right-angle crashes there, which by nature are the most serious type of crashes that you can have,” he said. “Really at this moment, there’s just not any better way to deal with it than the striping configuration that we have. But this project will hopefully bring a final resolution to that and be a whole lot safer for folks.”

Dalton and Whitfield County have been working on a final resolution to the traffic problem there for years. In fact, the state offered to pay for a roundabout that would have included the southbound I-75 exit ramp, if the city and county paid up to $1.2 million for relocation of utilities.

“We essentially had a final design for the roundabout, but then the federal stormwater rules changed,” Dalton Assistant Public Works Director Andrew Parker said. “We got word from GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) that they were anticipating $2 million worth of redesign costs that wouldn’t have been finished until 2018, and then the construction estimate was another $5 million on top of that.”

A new, much less expensive option soon popped up, however, when the Chamber of Commerce moved downtown, allowing demolition of its old building on College Drive.

The city and county resumed control of the project, which will now cost $2.4 million, with $1.8 million coming from long-allotted funds in the 2007 T-SPLOST and the other $600,000 from the state.

“Our contract wound up being a little bit higher than what we had estimated because the retaining walls turned out to be more expensive to make sure the shoring was sufficient,” Parker said. “The good news is that Roger Williams, our representative on the state transportation board, helped secure an additional $600,000 from the state which helped offset a lot of that additional increase. So we can’t say thanks enough to Mr. Williams from the city and county for that because we would have been trying to hunt for some more money.”

Construction of the culvert that will divert water under the new section of College Drive continues.

Crews have been busy since Jan. 10 working on the first stage of construction, clearing the land and building a 150-foot-long, double-barrel culvert that will divert creek waters underneath the new section of College Drive. The next step will be to build four retaining walls – one along Bojangle’s frontage, one above the culvert outlet end, and two along Westbridge.

The contract with C.W. Mathews requires the contractor to have the new road open to traffic and the signal operational by the start of fall semester at Dalton State College in August.

“So we’re going to be able to deliver this project for significantly less money than the roundabout would have been,” Parker said.

Another part of the project is sidewalks along the new section of College Drive, Benson said, assuring residents who walk or jog along what’s known to locals as “the Loop” that it will still be a continuous circular route along Walnut, College, and Tibbs.

Since the work is being done outside of existing roadways, there shouldn’t be any major traffic delays caused by construction. When the new roads are tied in to the existing roads at the end of the project, the contract calls for that work to be done at night – and quickly, making inconvenience to daytime drivers as minimal as possible.

“We can build all the new parts of the roads outside of traffic, folks can continue to utilize the old roads just like they were, and then when we get ready to tie it in, we’ll do that at night and then motorists will come in the next couple of mornings and they’ll be able to utilize the new road,” Parker said.

Once the new roads are being used, final dressing, cleanup, and demolition of the old pavement will be done in September and October.

Parker said college officials are excited about the project.

“They had staff members at our pre-construction meeting,” Parker said, “and we’ve tried to keep them involved throughout the process because it’s kind of a joint community project. It’s in the city, but the county’s involved because it’s got the 2007 T-SPLOST money. And then we get the college involved because it’s impacting their students and faculty and visitors more than anybody.”

Parker admits it’s a challenging location. “Ideally we’d have more space in between those two intersections, but we’ve got the mountain that’s kind of trapping us in there. We can’t really go further west because the walls are already very expensive. Can you imagine if we went 20 feet or 100 feet further? It would get to the point where the cost benefit ratio for this project just wouldn’t be there. So what we’ve tried to do is create a balance between what’s a reasonable amount of money to realize the significant benefits like we’re hoping for, and we feel like we’ve reached it with this concept and design.”

The waterfall when it is flowing nicely.

One more benefit is that the project was able to save the waterfall that  was visible from the board room of the old Chamber building.

“One thing we’re really excited about is preserving that waterfall,” Parker said, “so if  you’re in the right turn lane coming out of College Drive, we think you’ll be able to see it from your car. But even if not, we  think we’ll be able to retain some parking area there so you can actually get out of your car and see it a lot better than you could before. Of course, people using the sidewalks will be able to see it, too.”

Posted in Features, NewsComments Off on GIVING THE OLD COLLEGE TRY

MOCK PLANE COLLISION HELPS DALTON, WHITFIELD AGENCIES TRAIN FOR EMERGENCY

By MITCH TALLEY

Two Dalton firefighters take care of mock victims during a full scale exercise at the Dalton Municipal Airport as controller Lt. Kent Cochran (right) of the Whitfield County Fire Department looks on. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

Two Dalton firefighters take care of mock victims during a full scale exercise at the Dalton Municipal Airport as controller Lt. Kent Cochran (right) of the Whitfield County Fire Department looks on. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

What would happen if two airplanes collided at the Dalton Municipal Airport?

Hopefully, no one will ever have to find out the answer to that question, but just in case, several local emergency agencies responded to such a mock accident at the airport Thursday morning.

Taking part in the full scale exercise, which is held every two years under the guidance of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, were Whitfield Fire, Dalton Fire, Dalton Police, Whitfield 911, Whitfield EMA, Hamilton EMS, Dalton Airport, and Dalton High School.

“Hopefully, nothing like this will ever happen,” Whitfield EMA Director Claude Craig said while watching the exercise, “but you know, you never know. We’ve got to prepare ourselves accordingly and be prepared the best that we can.”

The culmination of a year’s worth of training and planning by local agencies, the exercise featured a scenario in which a plane being fueled by a truck is clipped by another plane.

Lt. Bobby Buhl of the Whitfield County Fire Department helps a mock victim climb out of an airplane. Observing the response is  evaluator Scott Radeker, director of Hamilton EMS. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

Lt. Bobby Buhl of the Whitfield County Fire Department helps a mock victim climb out of an airplane. Observing the response is evaluator Scott Radeker, director of Hamilton EMS. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

Firefighters had to wash away the spilled fuel on the pavement (portrayed by flour poured onto the ground), but not before they took care of three injured passengers lying on the pavement between the two planes and then removed four more passengers from inside one of the smoking planes. Students from Ken Wiggins’ class at Dalton High School, as they have done for several years, convincingly played the roles of the victims, thanks to makeup.

“We’re trying to establish and see where our weaknesses are,” Craig said of the goal of the activity. “One of the biggest things is always communication, whether it’s an exercise like this, an actual event, or a marriage … whatever. Communication is one of the biggest things we have to master.

“We’re also testing the equipment to see if we’re able to do what we would need to do in a real life event like this,” he added.

The response was being monitored by evaluators Bo Nicholson and Nathan Saylors of the Gordon County Fire Department and Scott Radeker, director of Hamilton EMS. Another 10 people served as controllers, who had helped design the exercise over the past several months and spent Thursday morning keeping a watchful eye on the activities to make sure all participants remained safe, especially the students.

Lt. Kent Cochran (right) of the Whitfield County Fire Department and Lt. Bo Nicholson of the Gordon County Fire Department (left) talk with two firefighters spraying off mock fuel (actually flour) during the exercise. Cochran was one of the 10 controllers on site who oversaw the activity to help keep participants safe, while Nicholson was one of three evaluators who looked on to assess the response of the agencies. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

Lt. Kent Cochran (right) of the Whitfield County Fire Department and Lt. Bo Nicholson of the Gordon County Fire Department (left) talk with two firefighters spraying off mock fuel (actually flour) during the exercise. Cochran was one of the 10 controllers on site who oversaw the activity to help keep participants safe, while Nicholson was one of three evaluators who looked on to assess the response of the agencies. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

“For a successful outcome, we’ve got to have collaboration from all agencies involved,” Craig said. “I’ve said many times when you have a serious incident, the patch comes off the sleeve, and all departments are working as one.”

Craig and Deputy EMA Director Jeff Ownby said the exercise went well, noting that participants gathered for a “hot wash” immediately afterwards while the event was still fresh on their minds to give a preliminary evaluation of what went right and what went wrong. A more formal “after action report” in the coming weeks will summarize the overall response to the event and offer suggestions on ways to make improvements.

Ownby said the exercise was the culmination of a year’s worth of planning and training by local public safety workers, including a tabletop exercise in August to talk about the mock accident, then more recently three nights of class in an airport hangar learning things like the different kinds of aircraft there, what kind of fuel was on site, where the runways are, the whole airport property and the land around it, and the most likely locations of a hazardous material incident.

Craig and Ownby praised the staff at Dalton Airport for their cooperation in making the exercise possible.

A Dalton firefighter arrives on the scene of a mock collision between two airplanes at the Dalton Municipal Airport during the training exercise Thursday morning. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

A Dalton firefighter arrives on the scene of a mock collision between two airplanes at the Dalton Municipal Airport during the training exercise Thursday morning. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

“We came to them last year and told them what we wanted to do,” Craig said, “and they were very receptive. They said, yeah, we need to do that. Then they had a representative at all of our planning meetings and played the major part in getting us the airplanes and fuel truck and such as that. They did a great job.”

The exercise was the first such event held at the airport, he said. “We’d been wanting to do an exercise at the airport with simulated mass casualties because we want to be prepared,” Craig said. “Hopefully it won’t happen, but we need to be ready in case it ever does.”

Posted in Features, NewsComments Off on MOCK PLANE COLLISION HELPS DALTON, WHITFIELD AGENCIES TRAIN FOR EMERGENCY

QUICK-ACTING WHITFIELD DEPUTY SAVES RESIDENT’S LIFE

Charles Meadors named Whitfield County’s Employee of the Month

By MITCH TALLEY

photo-1-meadors-for-plaque-eom-oct On a Saturday in October, Whitfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Meadors was in the right place at the right time to save a life.

That day, Melvin Boatwright and his wife, Debbie, were headed to Hamilton Medical Center to visit his sick mother when Melvin started having pain and then had a heart attack, forcing him to stop the car in the middle of the road.

Fortunately, Deputy Meadors pulled up behind the couple. Once Debbie explained what was happening, the deputy immediately began CPR on Melvin and gave Debbie, who doesn’t drive, instructions on how to move their car out of the road.

“The deputy saved his life,”  Melvin’s sister, Ida Murphy, later told The Daily Citizen, which subsequently honored Meadors as its Citizen of the Week.

“We’re so happy we didn’t lose Melvin,” Murphy said, noting that seven months earlier, another brother had died.

photo-2-meadors-eom-with-mr-boatwright“We think Deputy Meadors is our guardian angel,” she said. “If it hadn’t been for him, we would’ve lost another brother.”

After Whitfield EMS arrived on the scene, the patient was turned over to them. Melvin underwent surgery to have blockages removed and is recovering.

Now, for that life-saving effort and his overall dedication to his job each day, Meadors has been chosen as Whitfield County Employee of the Month for October after being nominated by his supervisor, Capt. Rick Swiney.

“The family was told by the doctor that Deputy Meadors’ quick response and performance of CPR helped to save Melvin’s life,” Swiney said on his nomination form. “The family invited Deputy Meadors to the hospital to meet them and thank him for helping Melvin. The family also sent a letter to Deputy Meadors.”

Meadors’ quick response in an emergency situation didn’t surprise Swiney.

“He’s a very hard worker,” Swiney said of Meadors, “and does an outstanding job for our department. Deputy Meadors is dedicated to his job and the citizens of Whitfield County. He strives to help citizens of the county to the best of his abilities.”

To let residents know more about himself, Meadors filled out the following fun survey:

Name: Charles R. Meadors

Job title: Deputy

Time with the county: 15½ years

Where I went to high school: Madison High School, Madison Heights, Mich./Ringgold High School, Ringgold, Ga.

My role as a county employee: Patrol Division

What keeps my job interesting: Every day it is something different.

What gives me a sense of accomplishment on the job: Knowing that I have helped someone in their time of need.

The most important thing I’ve done on the job: Helped save a person’s life.

Where I grew up: Michigan and Georgia

Family: Wife of 29¾ years, Anna; daughter and son-in-law, Christa and Cody Penson; son, Charles D. Meadors; granddaughters, Camdyn and Carolina Penson; brother, Sgt. Darrell Meadors; sisters, Lisa Ellis and Dee Sluder; father, Charles A. Meadors.

After work, I enjoy: Eating dinner and relaxing with the wife.

Community activities: Anything when I can help with our local kids.

Favorite TV show: Blue Bloods

Favorite sport/sport team: Atlanta Braves

Favorite meal: My mom’s biscuits and chocolate gravy

Favorite song: Wanted Dead or Alive,  by Bon Jovi

Favorite Whitfield County restaurant: Chick-fil-A

Favorite Whitfield County event: Relay for Life

You can pick four people to have dinner with (anyone from any time in history) – who are your four people and why? My mom, because I love her and miss her; Wyatt Earp, because, well,  he’s Wyatt Earp; Jesus Christ, because He is the King; and John Wayne, because he is the Duke, need I say more.

I’m most proud of:  My kids.

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Cake or pie? Cake

Favorite car? 1965 GTO

Host or be hosted? Hosted

Early riser or sleep-in: Early riser

Favorite vacation ever: First cruise with wife

Best teacher you ever had:  Christa Penson – thank you, Spud.

Pet peeve: Rude people

If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s:   If you’re gonna be stupid, you gotta be tough….

Who has had the most impact on my life: My Mom

What’s left on my bucket list: Bow hunt white tail deer in Canada with my family, and to see my grandbabies grow up.

If I could have been in any profession of my choosing, I would have been a: professional hunter.

If I could have two wishes, they would be:  For my wife to win the big lottery, and for my kids to pick me a real nice retirement home.

You’d be surprised to learn that I: Was born in Roswell, N.M., maybe Area 51?

The best advice I ever got:   Wait for her, don’t move too fast … (wife)

Anything else you’d like to say:  It’s more than just a job, support the Blue :)    Many thanks to my Brothers and Sisters for their service.

 

Posted in Features, NewsComments Off on QUICK-ACTING WHITFIELD DEPUTY SAVES RESIDENT’S LIFE

GROUP EFFORT PRESERVES CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELD LAND IN WHITFIELD CO

Part of 301-acre site will also provide space for mountain bike trails

By MITCH TALLEY:

MAP CREATED BY JESS HANSEN, Whitfield County GIS Department

MAP CREATED BY JESS HANSEN, Whitfield County GIS Department

Two years of behind-the-scenes cooperation among several local, state, and national groups has resulted in the purchase of historically significant Civil War land in Whitfield County.

The land, known as the Grant Farm, was the site of two battles during the Civil War and consists of 301 acres next to the previously preserved 650-acre Rocky Face Ridge site, which will create a flowing interpretive experience for visitors and provide a full view of troop movements.

Local historian Greg Cockburn contacted the county in 2014 and carried Commission Chairman Mike Babb on a tour of the property to point out the reasons it was important to local Civil War history.

Cockburn provided written information and layouts about the flow of the two battles that took place there. The county used his information to make maps through its GIS department, submitting the maps and information to the Civil War Trust.

The Civil War Trust confirmed the historical significance of the property and signed a contract with the owner to purchase the land for the appraised price of $1.38 million.

For the past two years, various groups have been pulling together the necessary funding and worked out the conservation easement with the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust.

“I hope Whitfield County will become a benchmark on bringing divergent interests together to help preserve our environment, history, and health,” Babb said.

The deal closed recently, with no property tax funds having to be used. Instead, the purchase was made possible through several local, state, and national contributions, including:

  • Lyndhurst Foundation (of Chattanooga, Tenn.) – $75,000
  • Riverview Foundation (of Chattanooga) – $80,000
  • Northwest Georgia Community Foundation – $25,000 (a follow up to the money it donated 15 years ago toward the purchase of the west side of Rocky Face Ridge)
  • Whitfield SPLOST (with the agreement of the local Southern Off Road Bicycling Association (SORBA) – $150,000
  • Dalton Save the Battlefields – $5,000
  • Board of Commissioners’ TVA easement funds (paid to the county for the TVA easement through the Carbondale Business Park) – $45,000
  • Dalton Utilities – $260,000 (to secure part of the watershed feeding into the upper Haig Mill lake)
  • National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program – $690,000
  • Civil War Trust – $100,000.

Under the purchase agreement, the Civil War Trust acquired the property and will grant a conservation easement to the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust. The CWT then will transfer the property to Whitfield County

Posted in Features, NewsComments Off on GROUP EFFORT PRESERVES CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELD LAND IN WHITFIELD CO

WHITFIELD CO EOM ANGELA JUSTUS DELIVERS QUALITY WORK, BOOSTS OFFICE COHESIVENESS

By MITCH TALLEY

Whitfield County Director of Communications

 

Angela Justus

Angela Justus

“Quality Is Job One” is a fitting way to describe the work ethic of Angela Justus, who has been named Whitfield County’s Employee of the Month for September.

“Angela has a great attitude toward her work responsibilities, employees, and citizens,” said Jackie Carlo and Taylor Sardina, who nominated her for the award. “She has a commitment to quality in carrying out job responsibilities and is an asset to the Human Resources Department and the rest of the County.”

Justus was praised for working “really hard to help us have a cohesive office environment” and “helps anyone who may have a work or personal need and loves to recognize her co-workers’ achievements.”

Cited for her “great” knowledge in the workers’ comp area, Justus also “takes initiative and accepts and carries out additional responsibilities beyond her regular job assignments for the good of the County as a whole,” Carlo and Sardina said.

To give her fellow employees and local residents a chance to get to know her better, Justus filled out the following fun survey.

Name: Angela Justus

Job title: Risk management specialist/benefits coordinator

Time with the county: One year, six months

Where I went to high school: Kingston, Tenn.

My role as a county employee: Help with benefits and FMLA and manage the safety program.

What keeps my job interesting: All the county employees and retirees I get to meet daily.

What gives me a sense of accomplishment on the job: Helping other employees.

The most important thing I’ve done on the job: Helping the county get a discount off the workers’ compensation premium.

Where I grew up: Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Family: Son Justin, grandson Krayson, granddaughter Justus, granddaughter Jolene.

After work, I enjoy: Spending time with my grandkids and dogs.

Favorite TV show: Criminal Minds

Favorite sport/sports team: Football/Florida Gators

Favorite meal: Seafood

Favorite song: Anything by Carrie Underwood

Favorite Whitfield County restaurant: The Fortune Cookie

Favorite Whitfield County event: North Georgia Fair

You can pick four people to have dinner with (anyone from any time in history). Who are your four people and why? My dad – I miss him. He meant the world to me. My grandma – I miss her and would like to get some of her recipes. John F. Kennedy – Ask him a lot of questions. Tim Tebow – He is an interesting young man.

I’m most proud of: My family

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Cake or pie? Both

Favorite car? 1967 VW Beetle

Host or be hosted? Host

Early riser or sleep-in? Early riser

Favorite vacation ever? The year I took my son to Las Vegas to see Siegfried & Roy and The Blue Man Group.

Best teacher you ever had? My Dad

Pet peeve? People who don’t use their turn signals!

If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s: Life is short, live it to the fullest every day. Enjoy family and friends.

Who has had the most impact on my life: My Dad. I learned my work ethic from him.

What’s left on my bucket list? The Giraffe Hotel in Kenya

If I could have been in any profession of my choosing, I would have been a: Vet at a zoo.

If I could have two wishes, they would be: End child abuse and animal cruelty.

You’d be surprised to learn that I: Have been bungee jumping.

The best advice I ever got: Enjoy what you do or find something else.

Posted in Features, NewsComments Off on WHITFIELD CO EOM ANGELA JUSTUS DELIVERS QUALITY WORK, BOOSTS OFFICE COHESIVENESS

Community members serving on patient, family experience council at Hamilton Medical Center

Community members on HMC’s Patient and Family Advisory Council are pictured. From left are Brad Jones, Ruby Sane, Bob Harrell, Beth Randolph, Manuel Lopez and Theresa Gordon.

Community members on HMC’s Patient and Family Advisory Council are pictured. From left are Brad Jones, Ruby Sane, Bob Harrell, Beth Randolph, Manuel Lopez and Theresa Gordon.

DALTON, Ga. – As part of Hamilton Medical Center’s (HMC) ongoing commitment to not only meeting patients’ expectations, but exceeding them, six community members and four HMC associates are serving on the hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

“PFAC is important because we bring the patient experience to the staff, administrators and physicians at HMC,” said Beth Randolph, chair of the group and risk management director for Beaulieu Group. “It’s a constant reminder that the human element also needs to be considered when taking care of someone’s medical needs.”

PFAC members focus on providing ongoing feedback to assist HMC in improving the quality, safety and efficiency of services offered to patients and families; strengthening communication and collaboration among patients, families and other non-
professional care-givers and HMC professional staff and associates; promoting information sharing between HMC and the patients, families and the community; aiding in establishing HMC’s organizational priorities in response to patient, family and community needs; and promoting patient and family advocacy and involvement.

“I serve on the PFAC because it is important to me that each patient and their family members know what to expect when they are at HMC,” said Randolph. We want to make sure that they are treated with respect by everyone they come in contact with; that they are given a good understanding of why they are there; they know what things will be like when they go home; and that they have a good experience accessing HMC.”

According to Shelia Baker, director of Patient Experience and Organizational Development, a main driver of Hamilton’s PFAC is to improve patient safety throughout the organization. “It gives our customers a voice in how we do things at Hamilton,” she said. “That voice then helps us to see our processes from the eyes of our customers.”

Community members on HMC’s PFAC include Beth Randolph, Theresa Gordon, Bob Harrell, Brad Jones, Ruby Sane and Manuel Lopez. Four Hamilton associates serve on the council. They include Baker, Davida Sanders, Kim Reynolds and Stephen Rohn, MD.

“We look at a variety of factors that might affect patient and family experience,” Randolph said. “Can folks find their way around the campus? Do people know that HMC is on social media? What is the process in the Emergency Department? Do patients know what to expect when they go home? It’s a constant process to work on both short- and long-term goals.”

Hamilton’s PFAC is looking for additional members. In addition to being a former patient or patient caregiver, candidate qualifications include: a willingness to attend regularly scheduled meetings, at least six times per year; an open mind and a positive approach; a willingness to voice opinions; an openness to working with people whose backgrounds, experiences and styles are different from their own; and commitment to HMC’s mission and vision to meet the health care needs of this community in such a way that advances the quality and dignity of life while being the region’s first choice for health care.

If you are a former HMC patient or caregiver of a patient and are interested in becoming a member of the PFAC at HMC, please visit hamiltonhealth.com/PFACwelcome or email familyadvisorycouncil@hhcs.org.

Posted in Features, NewsComments Off on Community members serving on patient, family experience council at Hamilton Medical Center

Police Leaders To Participate In Community Forum

By Bruce Frazier:

Leaders of both the Dalton Police Department and the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office will be participating in a forum on the relationship between police and our community next week. The Community Unity Forum, which is being jointly sponsored by the Rotary Club of Dalton and the Carpet City Rotary Club, will also include other community leaders as part of a panel discussion.

The forum will be held on Tuesday evening, October 25th from 6:00 pm until 7:30 pm at the Mack Gaston Community Center at 218 North Fredrick Street. Participating in the panel discussion will be Chief Jason Parker of the Dalton Police Department, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood, America Gruner of the Coalition of Latino Leaders, Dr. Bonnie Samora of Dalton State College, and Bishop Stephen Thomas from the Community Fellowship Church of Ministries. The panel discussion will be moderated by David Aft of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia and Reverend Rodney Weaver and members of the audience will have the opportunity to present questions to the panelists.

Topics for discussion will include issues that are making national headlines such as the use of force by police and communicating with the community during a crisis. Local law enforcement leaders have had positive discusions with members of the community at a rally march and also a community cookout earlier this year. The forum is intended to build on that communication and make more connections.

“It’s important to stay in touch with all parts of the community, so we need to be talking today and build on the trust we’ve gained with our community,” said Chief Parker. “If we keep communication open, we’ll be able to handle tough situations better as one unified community.”

“I think it is very important that the citizens of the community have a direct connection to all that are in leadership roles,” adds Sheriff Chitwood. “It is my hope that those in attendance will come with encouraging words of support for those that are charged with keeping our community safe and at peace.  In addition, I hope that when the program is concluded, that it is clear, that simple hugs can be exchanged without having any particular reason.”

Chief Parker expects to hear some questions about use of force incidents that have made headlines around the country, and hopes to discuss the issue from the local perspective.

“Our local officers use force very seldom, especially when you consider the tens of thousands of contacts they have each year,” said Chief Parker. “We want to communicate that officers take many steps before resorting to force, and hopefully explain the level of accountability which governs officers’ actions. For years, our officers have been slowing things down in critical incidents like a barricaded, lone suspect. That approach takes much longer and uses more resources, but the outcome is fewer injuries to officers and suspects, and that suspect is held accountable for their actions.”

That won’t be the only topic of discussion at the community forum. Other topics for discussion will include police recruiting and how both law enforcement agencies are working to address concerns of the residents they serve. The forum is for all members of the Dalton and Whitfield County communities.

“Our officers are doing a great job in the community and we need to reinforce the message to all groups that our primary mission is to continue to keep the community safe,” said Chief Parker. “But no police department can do that acting alone. We need cooperation from our citizens. I think we have earned that, but we want to show that we don’t take it for granted”.

Posted in Features, NewsComments Off on Police Leaders To Participate In Community Forum

Dalton’s Assistant Public Works Director, Andrew Parker, E.I.T. Named an American Public Works Association 2016 Young Leader of the Year

Andrew Parker with National APWA President Brian Usher.

Andrew Parker with National APWA President Brian Usher.

KANSAS CITY, MO. –Dalton’s Assistant Public Works Director, Andrew Parker, E.I.T., was recently named an American Public Works Association (APWA) 2016 Young Leader of the Year.  Parker and two other 2016 National Young Leaders were honored at the Awards Ceremony of the 2016 APWA international conference,  PWX (Public Works Expo), which took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 29, 2016 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Representatives from the APWA Georgia Chapter will also present the award locally on Monday, October 3, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. at the Dalton City Council Meeting located at City Hall, 300 West Waugh Street, Dalton, GA, 30720.

The APWA Young Leader Award is intended to recognize and encourage young APWA members who have demonstrated a commitment to the profession and the association and showed potential for future growth within the association. The award promotes the concept that length of career does not necessarily indicate leadership abilities or potential for service.

The selection of Andrew Parker for this award recognizes his outstanding service to the City of Dalton as well as his significant contributions to the public works profession through his participation in APWA.  Parker is the first APWA National Young Leader Award recipient from State of Georgia. Candidates for the Young Leader Award should have accomplished one or more of the following criteria: contributing in a significant manner to his/her public agency or company;  helped to advance the cause of the public works profession either with leadership commitments to significant community projects or as an advocate for public works issues; demonstrated ongoing commitment to continuing education in the public works field;  or demonstrated an ongoing commitment to advancing sustainability within the profession.

After graduating magna cum laude with a major in Civil Engineering Technology from Southern Polytechnic State University in 2010, Parker immediately began his career with the City of Dalton Public Works Department as the Special Projects Manager.  In that role, he provided management and oversight of all roadway construction projects, maintenance programs, grant submittals, infrastructure contracts, and the city’s traffic systems network. In May  2014, Parker was promoted to his current position as Assistant Public Works Director where he assists the Director in managing and planning the daily operations of 70 employees, in seven divisions, who provide essential public works services to the city’s 33,000 residents and large industrial base.

As a member of APWA’s Georgia Chapter, Parker has served as an officer of the Northwest Georgia Branch, District 7 Director on the Chapter Executive Committee, developed and maintained the Chapter website, and is the Georgia Chapter representative on the National Young Professionals Steering Committee. In 2014, he was appointed to the National APWA Project of the Year Selection Committee and was later selected by then APWA National President Brian Usher to co-chair that committee in 2016. In 2016, Parker served as Vice President of the Georgia Chapter and was elected in July to serve as Chapter President-Elect in 2017.

For more information on APWA’s Young Leader Award, visit APWA National Awards Program web page at www.apwa.net/awards.  For APWA media queries, contact APWA Media Relations/Communications Manager Laura Bynum, M.A., at lbynum@apwa.net, or 202.218.6736.

About APWA

The American Public Works Association (www.apwa.net) is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 29,000 members involved in the field of public works.  APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge.  APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, MO, has an office in Washington, D.C. and 63 chapters in North America.

Posted in Features, NewsComments Off on Dalton’s Assistant Public Works Director, Andrew Parker, E.I.T. Named an American Public Works Association 2016 Young Leader of the Year

Dalton Area Weather from WDNN

Now on Optilink 216 – Charter 13

Now on Optilink 216 – Charter 13