ELLIJAY, Ga. – “This is the kind of project that will spread prosperity throughout our entire region. It is the kind of skin-in-the-game project that deserves support…” Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston praised the CORE Facility in Ellijay who hosted their official ribbon-cutting today.
Nestled just off Maddox Drive on the banks of the Coosawattee River in Ellijay, Georgia, the CORE Facility hosts business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment.
However, the facility’s impact reaches so much farther than the city limits or the county’s borders. Today marked a celebration for the region and for the state. Representatives statewide joined together for this ribbon cutting including Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Gilmer Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, State Senator Steve Gooch, State Representative of District 11 Rick Jasperse, Ellijay City Mayor Al Hoyle, Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, and many representatives from the Ellijay and East Ellijay City Councils and Gilmer Board of Education. Efforts from many organizations have led into combined organizations such as the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
That Foundation was the birthplace of the initiative to build CORE. According to Kent Sanford, Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA and part of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, a 14-month birth cycle has finally come to full fruition.
While the celebration was a culmination of efforts so far, it is only the beginning. It is a project that holds great impact on the future, according to Ralston who said, “It will create jobs in our area. The jobs of tomorrow will be possible because of the work that goes on in this building.”
Ralston also dedicated support to the facility as he announced, “Because of the local commitment to the CORE building the State of Georgia, through our OneGeorgia Authority, is awarding $420,000 to this project to be used for Facility purchase and improvement costs. This $420,000 grant is historic, both in terms of its dollar amount and the impact it will have on this project and community.”
Ralston continued speaking about the economic development and job creation in the county before offering the second announcement of the day regarding the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center.
Ralston stated at the ribbon-cutting, “I am proud to announce that the new North Georgia of the Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation will be housed right here in Ellijay in this facility. The office will be led by Janet Cochran.”
Ralston’s office later offered a full Press Release on the announcement stating the center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
These announcements were applauded by those present and praised by the Chairman of the Gilmer Chamber, John Marshall, who said, “Mr. Speaker, once again you have proven yourself to be the very epitome of a stalwart and faithful advocate not only to your hometown and all the other communities in these beautiful North Georgia Mountains, but to each and every corner of the state of Georgia.”
President of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Green also praised the facility as the realization of a dream for the community that has spread to benefit not only one county but something larger that now spans the region.
Today was a celebration of completing the first steps of a larger plan for the facility. Though it is now open, it is only the first phase of that dream. Director Sanford noted last year that the hopes for the facility include two more phases.
In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger area for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.
In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to be finalized.
Ultimately, the CORE wants to continue spreading and growing this larger community where possible. Opportunities that may come have yet to be revealed, but one ribbon-cutting today, one celebration, can lead to something bigger than imagining tomorrow.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County finally has an actual image of what their future pool might look like when built.
The proposal was approved last month for Premier Pools & Spas (PPAS) to be the designer. Now, nearly a month later, the team has returned with a video presentation of a walk-through of both pools and a priority list set for what citizens should expect in the coming months. The design showcased the basic layout, but still a few issues were mere placeholders as Scott Walk, PPAS Representative, said there will be both an adult and a kid slide, but the computer program only shows the adult slide.
Walk also said that the building representing the Recreation center is just a placeholder in the video and does not represent an actual design. One addition since last months meeting is the design added a “splash pad” near the kids pool. This pad is a fountain like zone with no depth for kids to play in who may not be ready for the actual pools.
Additionally, if you watch the video, the showcase will be of the uncovered pool. However, if you look at the 5:30 mark of the video, you can see what the covering for the pool is designed to look like in the background off to the far end of the “Recreation Center.” Complete with “garage-style” doors to open when needed and allowing a makeshift “breeze-way,” the cover is part of the priority lists that the commissioners have mentioned in meetings before.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – New life is springing from an older foundation in Gilmer County this week with the CORE Facility on River Terrace, just off of Maddox Drive.
Called the CORE (Collaboration on River’s Edge), the facility will host business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment. Created by the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, Kent Sanford Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA (Joint Development Authority) and member of the Greater Gilmer Foundation, tells FYN the idea began with a visit to Carrollton, Georgia. Inspecting a business incubation center there, he began dwelling on the idea.
However, concerns about the project’s feasibility in Ellijay stalled the idea and the plans never saw action. Seven years have passed since the idea began at Carrollton and the Greater Gilmer Foundation was created. Now, as Sanford noticed the building for sale on River Terrace, the owner, Edgar Land, originally wanted to sell the place. Kent says negotiations allowed them to lease-purchase the building and begin renovations to revolutionize the early life of small businesses in our area. Sanford went on to say the just like in fitness when they say strength comes from your core, “CORE will be where the future strength of Gilmer County comes from.”
While the facility will host 13 offices and 2 conference rooms during its launch by the end of the first quarter in 2019, Sanford says the facility will be both an incubator for new businesses and a co-working space for small businesses.
As an incubator, CORE stands to be a resource center for new businesses. As they take up residence in an office, they will grow and learn through cooperation with the foundation and educational sessions the CORE facility puts on. Additionally, the future plans of the CORE facility would also provide for business mentors to advise these start-ups on everything from day-to-day operations to faculty to financial decisions.
Sanford went on to say, “Not only are incubated businesses about twice as successful as ones that don’t have that mentoring help, but you also have about 80% of all businesses that start in a community stay in that community.”
As a co-working space, CORE will provide an office to a small business that may not need much space, but does need something like access to better internet than they may have at home. With utilities and furnishings provided by the CORE facility, this could give small businesses access to larger benefits to better present themselves to clients. With conference rooms and special areas available for scheduling, it also provides the amenities of a large office to be shared among those in office.
The amenities would not just be for those residing in the office spaces, though. Sanford says they are looking at a membership idea for other businesses with their own small offices that may still be in need of space temporarily for training seminars or business conferences. Looking past the businesses, Sanford said that other things like civic clubs and organizations could also find a use for the spaces.
The idea flows that as new and old businesses alike start to grow in the CORE facility, they would reach a point and need for larger space, as the move to other larger locations, the offices open up to other new businesses.
Additionally, Sanford says he hopes to see a variety of businesses utilizing the space to grow so that they benefit each other. For example, one Accountant next to a web designer could share services providing financial services o the web designer and a website for the accountant. In this way, the community feeds itself and strengthens each while maintaining close proximity for convenience.
Sanford also noted that the resource center was not just for Gilmer County businesses. He wants CORE to become a Regional Resource for Fannin, Pickens, and Gilmer for those who need only to drive a short time to take advantage of the CORE facility.
Working on their fundraiser right now, the Foundation hopes to see three phases of the CORE facility.
In Phase I, the renovations will complete with the fundraising and open to the public by the end of the first quarter in 2019.
In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger open space for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.
In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to finalized, but Sanford said the general idea is to grow into partners in education in the county.
As a part of the connection for education and incubation for new businesses, Sanford says he hopes the facility will ultimately have a real impact on the growing trend of educated students leaving the community for careers elsewhere.
As it is still in the fundraising stage, plans for the facility could shift, but Sanford states he already has people looking to rent space in the building.
For more information on the campaign and growing the CORE Facility, contact the Greater Gilmer Foundation at 706-635-2673 or check out the Greater Gilmer website.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education has detailed the plans for their buildings over the next five years at a board retreat in March.
The plan incorporates the use of Instructional Units (IUs) in relation to state and federal programs utilized to spread funding to counties based on their “need.” By better planning facility use and more details on those facilities, the Gilmer County Charter School System (GCCSS) hopes to maximize their IUs to secure as much funding as possible from these state programs.
The funding itself, however, comes in the form of reimbursements instead of pre-project funds. Most citizens should recall this is the same process the board is currently using a part of its coming renovations at Gilmer High School (GHS). The applications will allow for partial reimbursement of a few parts of the project including items like roofing and HVAC work.
Additionally, the board retreat allowed members to discuss and see the current plan on what they will be seeking in terms of facility changes and movements to come. Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes asserted that the plan is the board’s current intentions for the future, but that it was also not set in stone. Parts of the plan rely on approval of the next Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) for example. She also told FetchYourNews that the plan could change with major unforeseen circumstances.
Allowing the flexibility to change gives the school board a cushion for contingencies and alterations while also giving the guide for the next five years.
The plan described will see the board finishing up the GHS renovations before adding onto Mountain View Elementary school. The board is planning to have Ellijay Primary School (EPS), Ellijay Elementary School (EES), and Mountain View Elementary School converted into full, preschool through fifth grade (P-5) elementary schools. Looking even further ahead, the board is also discussing moving what is now EPS to a new building on the board’s property near Yukon, near Clear Creek Middle School.
As a part of this conversion, the three P-5 elementary Schools would serve their local districts where they are located. Students would then move to Clear Creek Middle School as the county’s sole middle school for grades six through eight. Moving up from there, students would attend Gilmer High School’s campus with the current Gilmer Middle School serving on campus as a ninth-grade academy and the current GHS building serving grades 10 through 12.
One possibility could see EPS becoming a preschool to second grade with EES as third grade to fifth grade until the new building can be completed, but regardless the plan will ultimately end in the three P-5 schools.
That new facility would have the board moving away from Ellijay Primary School, avoiding the damages from its location in the flood plain and moving out of a nearly 50-year-old building, as well as having the new building in a better location for its district.
Once the new building for EPS is completed, the board wants to look at EES for needed renovations at that time. According to Gilmer Schools Assistant Superintendent, Administrative Services, Stuart Sheriff, completing EES renovations should see a potential 10-year period where the board’s facilities would only need normal maintenance, requiring no major renovations.
With people still asking why the board does not utilize their old location for Oakland Elementary, Dr. Wilkes noted that Oakland can only house 247 students making it too small to be utilized. She also noted other issues the board has faced with the location, including sewage leasing and relative location to other schools and district possibilities.
With the plan set, the board has already been moving on GHS renovations and will begin phase one of the two-phase project this summer.
ELLIJAY, Ga – Gilmer Nursing Home has continued renovations as they move towards transitioning to become Parkside Health Services.
While the renovations are still ongoing, Gilmer Nursing Home Representative Hannah Towns told FYN that they could optimistically be looking at a first quarter 2018 finish date. However, Parkside Health Services will be more than just a name change as the facility is beginning to expand into parts of the old North Georgia Medical Center and adding services like outpatient and short-term rehabilitation as well as an adult daycare center.
SunLink Health Systems, owner of the facility, had previously begun changes with small improvements such as adding televisions to every room, but additional changes will also see the opportunity for couples rooms for those who wish to stay together. These steps will not remove the possibility for private and semi-private (one roommate) rooms but is a step toward expanding the facility’s options. Expanding into and updating old office space in the hospital will allow administration to have their own area and another access from the opposite side of the facility, near the Emergency Department entrance, for the daycare center.
Towns also stated the name change could allow for further expansion of programs later, though no plans have been made. Adult daycare would follow the same admissions process as the nursing home. However, once completed, patients could readily spend days at the center with a check-in/check-out procedure. Activities coordination and day rooms will provide everything from community interaction, TV rooms, games and more as volunteers and staff are made available.
The short-term rehabilitation expands services available for those recovering from surgery or injury who may not need a hospital but are not well enough to be home alone. Short-term, according to Towns, will be available for those in need of any age. However, not to be confused with hospital care, there are several things that the short-term care could not provide that a hospital could.
More for recovery, short-term care will have a rehabilitation focus to get patients to the point where they can return home without re-admittance to a hospital. Along those lines, short-term and outpatient care is set to expand the already advanced therapy available in the center. Gilmer Nursing Home already hosts experts in physical, occupational, and speech and recognition therapy. Renovations will be providing a newer gym area for those recovering, rehabilitating and returning home.
As opposed to short-term care patients attending therapy every day, outpatient rehab may visit the center two to three times a week. Expansion of services and renovations will provide a larger case load, but Towns said their current therapy team are prepared for the changes. The therapy team already has two on staff with previous experience in outpatient therapy and boasts certifications that will be utilized in outpatient care. One of the new changes they hope to make use of is a full “home area” so that people in short-term care can practice everything from cooking in a kitchen, navigating areas and cabinets, getting in and out of bed, and even simple things like getting dressed.
The area also will be utilized for cross therapy, a key thing that the therapy staff said allows for better care. With so few others offering occupational therapy, having all three (physical therapy, occupational and speech) allows for conjoined efforts in the area to simultaneously recondition people. One example given suggested one therapist may work on the occupational idea of dressing oneself in the morning while a second therapist would reinforce the conditioning of cognition, putting the steps in order and recalling the steps.
While much of this may seem simple daily tasks for most people, the therapy staff said people recovering from surgeries like knee replacements, or something physically altering, requires a retraining as patients get used to differences or changes necessary in recovery. Though Towns did confirm additional staff and volunteers will be necessary, no details are available as to a specific number of additional staff that will be added.
Towns stated the renovations are an excellent expansion opportunity for the county as the new Parkside Health Services will continue the same services as Gilmer Nursing Home. She also hopes to continue to grow the community interactions aspect of the programs. Patients already look forward to outings planned, such as going to the theater to watch movies, visiting the fair, and even in-house events like the upcoming Children’s Christmas Art Show and Family Holiday Dinner in December.
Drawing nearer to 2018, the renovations continue the facility’s transition to becoming Parkside Health Services. As the changes reach final stages, stay with FYN for updates and details as they become available.
ELLIJAY, GA – With a emphasized focus on educational opportunity and advancement, a new facility is slated to begin construction soon in Ellijay.
Some may not recognize Victory Circle (pictured) in Ellijay, which is located near the Maddox Drive and Progress Road intersection, but the campus offers a total twelve acres for site.
Their full press release is as follows:
The North Georgia Christian Foundation (NGCF) is pleased to announce a new venture at the Victory Circle location in Ellijay. The twelve acre site was previously the home of a 107,000 square foot manufacturing facility that was once used for carpet production. NGCF intends to repurpose the structure and name it the North Georgia Christian Center. It will be a multipurpose facility that will include areas for education, indoor and outdoor recreation, meeting space, and even a 10,000 sq. ft. auditorium.
According to NGCF, a portion of the facility will be the new home of North Georgia Christian Academy, which is currently housed a few miles out 282 West.
The goal is to make the facilities available to other groups on a short term lease basis as long as the use does not interfere with the school(s) usage and the uses comply with the standards established by the Christian Foundation which will own and operate the property. For instance, the three basketball/volleyball courts would make an ideal place for community tournaments, the large auditorium and community room would be a great space for large community events.
In addition, the North Georgia Christian Center has interest in sharing space with a University satellite campus or Christian Seminary as they continue to expand educational opportunities in the community.
The primary goal is for the Center to be a wonderful asset to our community and to honor God in all its functions and purpose! The remainder of the architectural design and the construction are slated to take about two years, with the facility being ready for occupancy in June, 2019.
Though this project is in its extremely early stages, FYN does understand that the project planning has already begun and will continue to offer updates as available.
Along with the new Agriculture Facility, Gilmer Schools has also moved their Cannery to the new location at Clear Creek Middle School.
Serving people from several counties including Pickens, Fannin, and Murray among others with even a few from both North and South Carolina according to Mike Bushey who runs the facility. Though the facility is used by numerous citizens, it is the students who Bushey says benefit the most from the facility.
FYN recently returned to the Agricultural Center to take a closer look at the new cannery and talk with Bushey about the effect on our students.
As a part of the FFA program, students become very hands-on with all they do through raising and caring for animals, to studying farming, to the recent nationally-renowned Parliamentary Procedure Team. While the cannery is already a staple in Gilmer’s Community, a few newer additions have come since relocating.
One of these great new additions actually came as six additions. Six new large cookers replace the older ones at the previous location and not only allow the students to increase the volume of fruits and vegetables they could prep for canning, but come fully equipped with an overhead lift to help with the heavy loads. Additionally, these cookers are tied to a recording system for temperature, Bushey says, that give an actual proven schedule for the required 240 degrees as well as the duration of the temperature.
According to Bushey, Gilmer is the only Community Cannery in the state that has this equipment and is fully certified to can apple sauce and apple butter.
However, some of the improvements come from even little things as Bushey said they purchased a second blancher. With certain items requiring to be run through the blancher, a second hugely expedites the process as Bushey says they may have 35-40 people in the cannery on some days. Small things like hot water on tap instead of boiling all the needed hot water will further expedite procedures to push the new facility further.
Much of the additional equipment, from the de-seeders to the can press, is all hands on for both students and community members who utilize it as well. Bushey praised the Gilmer Board of Education’s support for the facility and specifically the cannery as he says it’s not just farming and extracurricular activity, this program reinforces every lesson students learn in regular classes as well.
Many lessons allow students to utilize their other courses such as math when they go for land measurements or science with the vast animal and plant science programs. As Gilmer’s Board of Education is beginning to look at incorporating STEM programs into their education, Bushey said they already are learning through application with the FFA program. It’s real world applications of the lessons they pick up every day.
Still more comes as Bushey says students get ownership of their programs in FFA. The new facility reinforces that as they may raise animals and learn to budget for them, take care of them, and deal with issues as they occur. The Cannery itself requires maintenance, upkeep, and supplies. Though they do charge community members a small fee for using the facility, those funds go towards the equipment’s maintenance and replacements parts when needed. Students go hands on in the Cannery to process food from start to finish, ending with a product they own.
“It shows how much the School System is behind Agriculture. I think this is a testament to all the people, the teachers and the thousands of students that have gone through that program. It’s a culmination.” said Bushey about the new Agriculture Center.
The program began in Gilmer County in 1930 and it is the community support, the kids at the high school showing what they could accomplish, and the culmination of those factors that have made this agricultural county known not only statewide, but nationally.
Bushey is not the only one excited about the cannery as Dr. Barbara Wall, Georgia Department of Education State Director for Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education, spoke at the ribbon cutting after touring the cannery. Dr. Wall offered her recall of her first time she truly realized what Agriculture Education was all about. She had visited a cannery and was amazed by its tools and capabilities. She was so excited that she contacted several media outlets and told everyone she could until the cannery director called her and told her to stop because he was too busy.
Dr. Wall went on to praise Gilmer’s facilities as well and her excitement at the “mileage you will get out of this facility.”
While the mileage seems to already show in Gilmer’s illustrious agriculture programs, Bushey says the real highlight every year is the banquet, which is also set to be held in the Agriculture facility this year. “Unlike a lot of teachers, we have these kids for four years, most of them. Sometimes more than once during a school year. Seeing them in a lot of cases as that shy ninth-grader turn into that great speaker and great leader. Just making them better people.” Seeing his students’ accomplishments over four years, seeing them grow, watching them on their way to being really successful and great community members is what Bushey pulls from the banquet.
On average, the cannery has run an average of 20,000 units that can be a quart, a pint, or a half-pint, in the past. Bushey estimates roughly 1,000 people use the cannery every year with many being repeat customers. But with new equipment and new capabilities, it seems only time will tell the true benefit this facility brings not just to our students, but to the community as a whole.