ATLANTA – During the Georgia Downtown Association’s annual conference held in Young Harris in August, Jeffrey Fowler was awarded the Georgia Downtown Development Program (GDDP) Level I professional certification designation.
In order to be eligible for the Level I review, a candidate must have at least two years of experience in the field of downtown development; 50 hours of documented training class time; and two letters of recommendation. The review consists of an oral presentation in which the candidate must document their downtown organizational and management success, and a written exam covering downtown development issues, tools, and resources.
“The Georgia Downtown Development Professional has demonstrated a thorough working knowledge in the professional practice of downtown development in Georgia”, said Connie Tabor, Chair of the GDDP. “This certification program distinguishes downtown managers who have reached a milestone of professional success in Georgia and who are committed to continuing professional growth.” Since 2007, only 61 downtown professionals in the state of Georgia have achieved the Level I designation.
The professional development program designates three levels of professional success, each requiring and recognizing more professional success than the preceding level. The program has been endorsed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the University of Georgia.
Based in Atlanta, the Georgia Downtown Association is a non-profit association that promotes the economic redevelopment of Georgia’s downtowns.
ATHENS, Ga. — Thanks to a prize-winning chicken coop design by 4-H and FFA students from Warren County, Georgia’s newly established First Flock now has a stately home on the 18-acre grounds of Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta.
Born of a conversation between Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp and Bo Ryles, senior director at National 4-H, the Georgia FFA and 4-H Ag Awareness Poultry Project challenged teams of Georgia 4-H and FFA members to submit plans that would help Kemp’s dream of a First Flock become a reality.
Working under a set of guidelines provided to teams by the project partners — including Georgia 4-H, FFA, the Georgia Poultry Federation and the University of Georgia Department of Poultry Science — student teams submitted proposals that included a site plan, concept and, in the case of the winning team, landscaping for the project.
Six teams of Georgia 4-H and FFA members from around the state submitted plans, and all of the teams were invited to visit the Governor’s Mansion on July 9 for the dedication of the project.
“We’ve gotten more than 15 dozen eggs and they’ve only been here for about a month, so they’re very happy,” said Kemp at a ceremony honoring the top teams. “Every night that I’m here, I’ll go out and collect eggs. We all enjoy taking care of the First Flock. They have a special place here and 4-H and FFA are such special organizations. We will continue to support agriculture, 4-H and FFA as long as we are here and beyond.”
Warren County was announced as the winning team before the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but shutdowns delayed the completion of the project until this spring.
Thomas Wilkerson, a 4-H’er and member of the Warren County team, said the team of seven studied the site for the coop and came up with a plan that included the hen house, coop and landscaping for the project that incorporated seating for visitors.
“We wanted to create a coop that would fit the needs of the project and raise awareness of agriculture since poultry is such a large part of the agriculture industry in the state,” Wilkerson said.
Other team members included Randy Olive, Faith McNair, Caleb Griffith, Ayden Hill, Nathan Coffman and Tayvion Robertson, guided by UGA Cooperative Extension 4-H Program Assistant Amanda Wilkerson and FFA Advisor Peggy Armstrong.
“We studied the site where the coop would be placed and came up with all the measurements,” said Olive of the coop, which includes nesting boxes and roosting spaces, as well as a fenced enclosure with plenty of space for the chickens to scratch, watering and feeding stations and a dust bath area. Robertson, an artist, designed and painted a stained-glass window salvaged from an old church that will be installed on the site.
The top four teams each received a cash award from the Georgia Poultry Federation, including the second-place team from Lowndes County, the third-place team from Bulloch County and a team from Toombs County, which received honorable mention.
The Georgia Building Authority worked with 4-H and FFA to develop the site for the coop, while Carroll Daniel Construction of Gainesville took the winning design and created working construction plans to meet all building code requirements. Morton Vardeman and Carlson designed the First Flock logo and Signs by Tomorrow of Gainesville created the First Flock sign that will be installed at the coop.
Once plans were complete, preconstruction work on the coop was done by staff at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center before the coop was delivered to the Governor’s Mansion for installation, said State 4-H Leader Arch Smith.
“We are grateful that Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp was willing to involve youth interested in agriculture in the development of the First Flock,” Smith said. “This experience provided an opportunity of 4-H and FFA members to work together on a project that would showcase the knowledge they have gained by participating in their local programs.”
The First Flock includes breeds chosen for hardiness and egg color and includes a total of 12 laying hens including two Black Australorps, two Buff Orpingtons, two Barred Plymouth Rocks, two Rhode Island Reds — all of which lay brown eggs — and four Easter Eggers, which lay blue-green eggs, said Professor and UGA Cooperative Extension poultry specialist Casey Ritz, who consulted on the project along with Todd Applegate, head of the Department of Poultry Science at UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
“We have prepared a set of placard cards that describe the breeds and that will be added to the coop. We tried to purchase a flock of hens that produce a variety of egg colors at the First Lady’s request and breeds that were also recommended from the 4-H/FFA project proposals,” Ritz said.
Applegate encouraged the students to consider the breadth of careers available in poultry science when planning for their futures.
“I challenge the young folks here — and I know it is really difficult to think about why you want to go into a particular career path — to think about how we grow our food and how you can have an impact on that. Think about what you’ve done already through these wonderful organizations and the programs you have been a part of and realize that you are blessed with being in the state of Georgia,” Applegate said.
“There is a wealth of opportunities to make an impact and to choose a career path in poultry, from accounting, sales and marketing to food safety to quality control. The leadership and team-building skills that you are developing right now are certainly skills we need in this industry.”
Ryles said the students involved have become a part of Georgia agricultural history through their work on the project and their involvement in 4-H.
“Through the years, generations of students will come here and see what you have established here, and they will learn a little bit about the history of the First Flock and they will understand the role you played in making that happen,” Ryles said. “I have said this before, and I can’t take credit for it, but it is said that if you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. But if you want to touch the future, touch the life of a child and that is what 4-H and FFA and all of our leaders and volunteers do through projects like this.”
Written by: Maria M. Lamerias
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August 29th as a customer left the store, he paused and asked an employee if he could take a picture of the inside.
He and others in Warrenton are excited to have Warrenton Ace Hardware now open. The store, which had been vacant after a former hardware store owner closed the doors and filed for bankruptcy, opened under new ownership July 26.
Warrenton Ace Hardware is owned by Mike Hubert, who also owns an Ace in Grovetown and one at Daniel Village in Augusta. Hubert entrusted the new store to Vanessa Barnes, who is the general manager of both the Warrenton and Grovetown locations.
“Everybody has been so excited about us finally opening the doors, just wanting to come in and see what we have been doing,” Barnes said. “They have been very welcoming to all of us. Matter of fact, Miss Janes’s Restaurant sent us a flower arrangement.”
Barnes said there are 10 employees and most are from Warrenton. Among the staff, Barnes and two others are from Grovetown but the others are locals — including Tommy Oliphant, who is the assistant manager in Warrenton.
“To start with, they were driving from here to Grovetown to train at the Grovetown store,” Barnes said.
The Ace staff began working on the new store June 21 and in slightly more than a month got the doors open to the public. There will be a grand opening Sept. 10 and 11. Barnes, who comes from a hospitality background, points out what sets Ace apart as a brand is the emphasis on customers.
“My main focus has always been customer service. That’s my main thing,” Barnes explained. “That was what attracted me the most with Ace. Ace is a very customer service oriented business. That’s what keeps us apart from Lowes and Home Depot, we speak to everybody. We help everybody.”
Much of Warrenton is likely to have already met Cheryl Bertsch, an enthusiastic employee from the Grovetown store. She said she will be working in the Warrenton store one or two days a week. But, she has already hit the streets of Warrenton getting to know people, and telling everyone she meets about how the store carries Dot’s Pretzels.
“Cheryl loves Ace,” Barnes said. “I love getting out in the community, rubbing elbows with people, just meeting everybody and making new friends,” Bertsch said.
Barnes said the staff size may increase over time.
“It will end up growing. It is just a thing of getting in, seeing how the store runs, and the different needs for our surrounding areas,” Barnes explained.
The store hours for the Ace locations owned by Hubert are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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Written By: Wayne Parham
Warren County Schools Walk of Fame is still in the early stages but has promise. The Walk of Fame will be located out near the football field, and surround the Albert J. Massey monument, according to Scott Swann, teacher at Warren County. “We’re going to start off, you know, just kind of making a walkway towards it, and go around it,” Swann said. Steven Simpson, head football coach at Warren County, also discussed the Walk of Fame. “You got the bench the class of 2016 put back there to,” Simpson said. “So, you know just trying to make it all of a little plaza here.” The idea of the Walk of Fame came when they were trying to find ways to come up with fundraisers. “It was sort of me,” Simpson said when asked who had the idea for the Walk of Fame. Swann said he kind of came up with the idea to sell bricks and help raise money for the school. This was also a way for people to be recognized or commemorated for what they did during their time at Warren County, and that goes for every student and not just student-athletes, according to Swann. “As far as academics, or cheerleaders, or band members, or former coaches, or principals, you know just anybody,” Swann said. “Everybody can’t have a football field named after them, or a gym named after them, or something like that.” According to Swann, people who purchase a brick may customize however they want to. “There’s over 100 different logos you can choose from,” Swann said. “Probably 200 different logos.” Simpson added that there are different sized bricks, as well. “Several of the classes have gone in and done a 12x12 brick to commemorate the class, or a classmate, or something like that,” Simpson said. Simpson said he did something a little like this at a previous school. “It’s a good idea and it’s something that’s going to be there forever,” Simpson added. Swann said there are roughly 30 bricks that were purchased from the first order. The area where the bricks will go in at can hold roughly 5,000 bricks, according to Swann and Simpson. “Once we get them installed, we’re hoping that people see them and it’ll really start taking off,” Swann said. According to Swann, the first order of bricks will arrive in about two weeks. Simpson said when they get the first order, they will try to get them installed, especially by homecoming, which is Oct. 15. “We want that first order to be in place, people to be able to see it before homecoming,” Simpson said. “That’s a time when a lot of people come back that maybe don’t come very often, but they have a chance to see where they, or some of their classmates, or maybe them, or family members are being commemorated out here.” Simpson talked about how Warren County has had a lot of people come through, and this is a good way to leave a lasting memory of everyone.
Written by: Erin Burditt
Website is home to the Warren County Chamber of Commerce, Hometown Warrenton, Warren County Development Authority, and Warren County Government.