Friday, February 19, 2010

Main Street Toccoa awarded $25,787 Grant

Doyle Street will be greener and more pedestrian friendly in a few months, thanks to a grant from the Georgia Forestry Commission.

A $25,787 grant was awarded to Main Street Toccoa to replant and maintain the heritage dogwood trees that line Doyle Street. The Toccoa Woman’s Club originally planted the dogwoods some 40 years ago.

Georgia Forestry Commission Representative Gary White will make the announcement at the Main Street Toccoa Arbor Day celebration at Pruitt Park on February 19, at 4 p.m.

The funding comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through a Georgia Forestry Commission program entitled “Tree Planting for Ecosystem Restoration and Green Jobs: Georgia’s Growing Green Jobs.”

The project will expand Main Street Toccoa’s urban forest of some 200 trees in downtown Toccoa to include the popular walking areas that lead to downtown shopping and dining destinations.

Main Street Toccoa’s application, “A Walk in the Shade: Creating Green Jobs in Toccoa” was awarded full funding and will enable the City of Toccoa to plant and maintain 59 dogwoods and 12 trident maples along Doyle Street, a portion of Boulevard Street, and a portion of Tugalo Street.

“This project will provide shaded sidewalks for the people who walk along Doyle Street,” said Toccoa’s Community Planning and Downtown Development Director Connie Tabor. “The trees will encourage more people who work downtown or live in the area to walk to and around downtown on their lunch breaks as well as before and after work, and increasing pedestrian traffic will boost sales in our Main Street district.”

No matching funds were required for the grant, however Main Street Toccoa will set aside some funding to keep the plants watered and maintained until they are self sustaining.

Work on the project is expected to begin in the fall.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Book reading draws standing room only crowd

If local excitement is any indication of a novel’s success, Fireworks over Toccoa is going to be a New York Times best seller.

Author Jeffrey Stepakoff read to a standing room only crowd Thursday night from his book set for release by St. Martin’s Press on March 30, 2010. (You can listen to the reading here:

Stephens County Historical Society President Cindy Tatum and Toccoa Mayor Bob Troup welcomed Stepakoff to the Mitchell Allen Meeting room at the Currahee Military Museum in downtown Toccoa and spoke about the book’s potential impact on Toccoa’s economy.

Stepakoff was introduced by family member, and local resident, Marvin Tabor.

After reading from two passages in the novel, Stepakoff took questions from the audience. He said he is currently writing his second novel, set in north Georgia, and that he is working on securing movie rights to Fireworks over Toccoa.

Stepakoff gave away a signed copy of Fireworks Over Toccoa to Diane Hewitt and also signed bookplates for those who pre-ordered the book.

Stepakoff will return to Toccoa on March 30 for a community celebration being planned in honor of the book’s release including a fireworks show in downtown Toccoa and several media events.

First Franklin Financial, the Stephens County Historical Society, and [ash-ling] Booksellers have pledged financial support for the celebration.

To find out more about Jeffrey Stepakoff visit his official website (

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fireworks reading set for Thursday, Feb 11

A love story that takes place in Toccoa is the subject of a new book being released, and the community is invited to meet the author and listen to excerpts from the book.

Author Jeffrey Stepakoff will be reading from his upcoming fictional novel, Fireworks Over Toccoa in the Mitchell Allen Room of the Historic Train Depot in downtown Toccoa on Thursday, February 11 at 7 p.m.

Doors to the meeting room will open at 6:30 p.m., and attendees are encouraged to arrive early to secure a seat. People who want to come earlier are permitted to purchase a ticket to tour the Currahee Military Museum and enter the meeting room through the museum.

Those who pre-order books at the event will be given a bookplate which will be signed by Stepakoff. There will also be a drawing for a signed pre-release copy of Fireworks Over Toccoa at the event.

The book is set for Hardback North American release by St. Martin's Press on March 30, and events are already being planned to celebrate this event in historic downtown Toccoa.

The book is also available as an audio edition, an eBook, and in a Large Print edition, and it’s a selection of The Doubleday Book Club, The Rhapsody Book Club, The Literary Guild, The Doubleday Large Print Club, and France Loisirs, The French Book Club. Translated editions of Fireworks will also be released this year in numerous foreign markets, including, France, Germany, Italy.

Stepakoff has written for fourteen different series including The Wonder Years, Sisters, Major Dad, Beauty & The Beast, Simon & Simon, and Dawson’s Creek where he was Co-Executive Producer. He currently lives in Atlanta, where he teaches dramatic writing at Kennesaw State University. If you want to find out more about Jeffrey Stepakoff, you can become a fan on his facebook page (!/pages/Jeffrey-Stepakoff/267609936422?ref=ts) or visit his official website (

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

DCA recognizes Main Street Toccoa’s 20 years of service

Main Street Toccoa was recently recognized at the state level for its 20 years of service to downtown businesses.

The recognition came as the Georgia Main Street Cities celebrated the success of the state program at the 30th Anniversary luncheon held in Atlanta during the Annual Mayors Day Conference of the Georgia Municipal Association on January 25.

"Main Street Toccoa’s overwhelming success is due to the City's perseverance in revitalizing downtown and preserving its historic character," said Mike Beatty, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, who presented the award to Toccoa representatives Mayor Bob Troup and Community Planning and Downtown Development Director Connie Tabor.

"As the Georgia Main Street Program celebrates its 30th Anniversary, we extend our gratitude and congratulations for your role in this exceptional effort," said Beatty.

In 1979, Georgia was one of six pilot states to join the new National Main Street Program, which is now administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Toccoa became a member of the Georgia Main Street Program in 1990. Each year, Toccoa's program is reviewed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for forwarding to the National level for accreditation. At the luncheon, Toccoa was recognized along with other Georgia cities achieving 20 years of service or longer.

As a Georgia Main Street City, Toccoa follows the Four-Point Approach of downtown management, which includes committees chaired by members of Toccoa’s Downtown Development Authority board of directors. They are: Chair Lynn Cox, Vice Chair Terry Carter, Joe Sewell, Pam Keener, Marilyn Hall, Matthew Farrow, Jarvis Swilling, and Toccoa City Commission Liaison Janice English.

CAPTION: Toccoa Mayor Bob Troup, left, and Connie Tabor, Community Planning and Downtown Development Director, accept a plaque recognizing Main Street Toccoa’s 20 years of service. Presenting the award is Mike Beatty, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Main Street Toccoa recognizes local businesses and volunteers

Downtown business owners, community leaders, and volunteers were recognized for their contributions to Main Street Toccoa's success over the last 20 years.

The Main Street Toccoa Program recently held its annual Awards Reception at Toccoa City Hall and many of Main Street's past board members (seen in the picture above) came to kick of the 20th year celebration.

Over the last 19 years, Main Street Toccoa saw 109 businesses and 309 employees come to Toccoa's downtown as well as 60 business expansions. More than $25 million have been reinvested in downtown by private businesses and property owners since the program began in 1999.

During 2009 Main Street Toccoa's infrastructure improvements and state recognition continued. The City of Toccoa recently spent $60,000 in matching funds for Phase III Streetscape Project located on Sage Street from Currahee to Railroad Street. The GA Trust recognized Main Street Toccoa for Historic Preservation receiving the Excellence in Commercial Rehabilitation Award. And the GA Department of Community Affairs selected “Mission Toccoa” as the Best Downtown Special Event in GA for 2009.

This year, property and business owners reinvested more than $800,000 in downtown properties and buildings. Specifically, ten businesses/property owners spent $200,000 in building renovation projects. Seven fa├žade grants were given to property owners from the city and DDA. There were also $600,000 private dollars spent in business and property acquisitions.

During the awards program a video presentation offered a looked back over Toccoa Main Street's accomplishments (view the video on Main Street Toccoa's YouTube Channel or on facebook).

Over 20 past members of the Downtown Development Authority were honored for their many years of service as well as the following businesses and people who were given awards for their hard work in 2009:

Downtown Awareness Award – Domino’s Pizza, Beth and Michael Griner
Best Historic Renovation – Dan Pressley
Best Adaptive Reuse – The Stephens County Market Building
Best New Construction – The Stephens County Museum
Main Street Newcomer Award – BJ’s Family Restaurant
Best Historic Preservation – Whistle Stop Antique Market
Special Recognition – WNEG Radio, WNEG TV, The Toccoa Record
Outstanding Volunteer – Jeremiah Young

A special 20th Main Street Anniversary Award was given to the Stephens County Government for their help in starting the Main Street Program and for their support over the 20 years. Stephens County Board of Commissioners Chair, Dean Scarborough as well as Jonesy Haygood, Stanley London and County Clerk Beth Rider accepted the award.

Toccoa Main Street also used the event to thank members of the Main Street Promotions Committee and the 2010 Downtown Development Authority.