Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Clarkesville representatives tour Downtown Toccoa

Representatives from the City of Clarkesville toured Downtown Toccoa on Tuesday to see first hand Toccoa’s award winning and nationally recognized renovation efforts.

Clarkesville Better Hometown Board of Directors and City Commissioners are looking at ways to facilitate a successful downtown. Clarkesville is currently going through the application process to become a designated "Better Hometown" community.

The Georgia Better Hometown Program operates under the same four-point approach as the Georgia Main Street Program that Toccoa is a member of, but the Better Hometown Program represents cities with a population of less than 5,000.

Following a presentation on Toccoa’s Doyle Street re-opening project and fa├žade renovation success, Clarkesville representatives ate lunch with Toccoa City Commissioners and DDA representatives at Cornerstone Restaurant.

The group then got a tour of Downtown Toccoa led by Vice Mayor Bob Troup, Community Planning and Downtown Development Director Connie Tabor, and Special Events Coordinator Sharon Crosby.

"Clarkesville’s Better Hometown Board of Directors is working diligently toward achieving the Georgia Main Street/Better Hometown designation," said Clarkesville Downtown Coordinator E. Lane Gresham. "We were thrilled to see the vibrancy in downtown Toccoa during our visit yesterday. We came back inspired and energized by the stories shared by Connie Tabor, Sharon Crosby and other community leaders."

Toccoa Main Street has facilitated a number of tours since Doyle Street has been opened to automobile traffic. Recently tours were provided to the some 150 attendees of the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing conference held at the Georgia Baptist Assembly.

"It is always a pleasure to share Main Street Toccoa’s story of revitalization and economic success," said Tabor. "I hope that we provided the information and inspiration that will assist our friends from Clarkesville in the implementation of their program."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TFC students beautify Broad Street underpass

A rather large vine (seen above) is heading to the city compost, and the Broad Street underpass restoration project is back on track.

On Tuesday, August 19, around 20 TFC College Freshmen donated two hours to Main Street Toccoa's beautification efforts. In addition to pulling Kudzu off the Stephens County Market Building fence, the volunteers picked up trash and helped with landscaping efforts at the underpass.

A gateway to the downtown district, the Broad Street underpass has been one of this year's focus for Main Street Toccoa. The underpass was a focus during Keep Toccoa Stephens County Beautiful's (KTSCB) Great American Cleanup Campaign in April. Pressure washing services for the underpass has been donated by POWER FORCE Pressure Washing of Toccoa.

Jerry Valenzuela, of VNC Landscaping in Toccoa, led the landscaping effort. Trash bags and safety vests were provided by KTSCB.

The vine had grown around the hand railing, so Jerry and the TFC volunteers first cut away the portion that was wrapped around the side of the railing. The vine was then pushed down to the street below where volunteers could cut the bottom away and haul the branches to a place where Toccoa Public Works could pick up the brush and take it to the city compost.

On Wednesday, August 19, TFC volunteers will finish removing the vines off the underpass. Removing this vine will allow Jonathan Neely, of POWER FORCE Pressure Washing to complete the cleaning of this historic underpass.

Main Street Toccoa is currently looking for a licensed electrician to volunteer time to re-wire the lights under this historic underpass. There is also need for landscaping the median near the underpass.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TFC freshmen work to improve Toccoa's Main Street

New students at Toccoa Fall College are learning about Main Street Toccoa by volunteering their time to help make downtown a better place.

On Monday, August 17, some 25 volunteers from TFC spent two hours picking up trash and removing Kudzu from the Stephens County Market Building fence. They collected 12 bags of trash, which will be disposed of by the Toccoa Public Works Department.

Bags, vests, and other materials required for the cleanup were provided by Keep Toccoa Stephens County Beautiful (KTSCB).

Students cleaned up portions of Broad Street and Falls Road (as they run through the downtown district). They also picked up trash along the railroadtracks, from Broad to Pond Streets as well as around the vacant Alexander Apartments building.

This effort is day one in a three day campaign to introduce incoming TFC students to the Main Street district of Toccoa. The volunteers are led by TFC Senior Jeremiah Young who feels that TFC students can learn a great deal about Toccoa by volunteering their time and energy to community projects.

On Tuesday, a different group from TFC will be doing some landscaping work around the downtown area and Broad Street underpass, and on Wednesday they'll be working in the Currahee Military Museum and with Toccoa's special events coordinator.

Friday, August 14, 2009

GICH Conference comes to Toccoa (from AM630WNEG Radio)

A state housing conference visits Stephens County.

The Georgia Initiative for Community Housing Conference wraps up today in Toccoa.

The conference began on Wednesday. That day, Toccoa leaders took some of the conference members on a tour of the city and some of its housing developments.

Toccoa Planning Director Connie Tabor said the goal was to give them a look at what the Toccoa Initiative for Community Housing is doing.

“We toured Imperial Place,” she said. “Then, we went through the downtown area to showcase our historic district. From there, we went to the new Habitat for Humanity house that is being built on Broad Street. Then, we ended up showing them the urban redevelopment plan area of the Trogdon Heritage District, which included Elberton, Avon, and Spring streets.”

Tabor said the city was looking to show its progress, as well as get ideas for the challenges they face.

At least one official on the tour was impressed.

Georgia Initiative for Community Housing Conference Organizing Committee Member Tom Rodgers said he saw a lot of positives on the tour.

He pointed specifically to Imperial Place and the Habitat house as specific areas that stuck out to him.

“We saw some pretty good evidence that Toccoa is moving along pretty good in housing,” said Rodgers.

Toccoa is one of the communities taking part in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program. A city goes through the program for three years to complete it.

Rodgers said the program deals with an issue facing all communities, the need to provide affordable housing.

“Toccoa, like most Georgia communities this size and smaller, has a big challenge in providing decent, affordable housing and that is what our program is about, so we love to have communities like Toccoa that have the need, but are also getting it done.”

Toccoa is in its second year in the program. Tabor said the goal is to provide affordable housing options for city residents through renovating houses, helping fill in empty areas with housing, and educating homeowners.

In addition, she said, hosting the conference, with over 100 people from areas around the state visiting, is a great opportunity.

“I talked with some folks that had never been to Toccoa before,” said Tabor. “It gives them an opportunity to see what we have to offer. We want them to come back and see more.”
As part of the group’s visit, a reception and tour of the Currahee Military Museum was also held Wednesday, with Toccoa Mayor Ron Seib and other local officials welcoming the attendees.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stephens County Market Grand Opening

The new Stephens County Market Building celebrated its official grand opening on Saturday, August 9 at 10 a.m. with a ribbon cutting, raffle, and give aways. Local and State Representatives attended the event and encouraged area residents to visit the Market and purchase locally grown food, hand crafted items, and home baked treats. The Market is open on Wednesday and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Sage Market vendors join area farmers the second Saturday of each month. For more information about the Stephens County Market, visit