agencies work with
county to find more
efficient ways to
By Faye Ellison
The Communities of Opportunity
Initiative, created by the Department
of Community Affairs and the Rural
Development Council in partnership
with the University of Georgia’s Fanning
Institute recently held a called
town hall meeting on Oct. 10 in
Gibson to address poverty issues in
The state of Georgia is looking to
better its relationship with its rural
communities. Out of the 159 counties
within the state, 91 counties have persistent
poverty rates. Now state leaders
are looking to change the statistic.
“We shouldn’t have 91 counties with
persistent poverty rates,” University
of Georgia’s Fanning Institute’s Mike
Bishop said. “This state does so much
with economic development.
know the state of Georgia, through
state agencies, can do things more
A town hall meeting was also
held in Jefferson County as they
will be held in nine other counties
within the CSRA. Bishop went
on to explain that those communities,
who do not work holistically,
will be at a competitive disadvantage
for state grants and loans.
“If it is, changes need to be made
at the state level, we will talk about
those things at this meeting,” he added.
The Georgia Rural Development
Council, University of Georgia’s
Fanning Institute and the Georgia
Department of Community Affairs
thought that using the CSRA would
be a good scale of the state.
look at the CSRA and compare it to
the state, it is a nice microcosmic state
of Georgia,” Bishop said.
Augusta, which is similar to Atlanta
and then you have Colombia County
that is like Cobb County.
The other rural
counties are similar to counties in
South Georgia. The region as a whole
looks a lot like the state of Georgia.
We will be able to really make some
good generalizations for the state as a
whole by looking at the CSRA. What
we learn in Region 7 will be a good
education, a good start.”
Glascock County Commissioner
Anthony Griswell said he believed
the meeting was a way to give the
citizens of the county a voice.
“It seemed to me like it was a way
for the state to find out how people
really felt about the community,”
he said. “Citizens and the state said
where they really stood and what
improvements could be done on
“I think it was a good thing. I think it is in the very early stages of getting something done, but it is a good starting point.”
Griswell stressed that it is imperative that the county remembers that it must try to better itself.
“The key point is you have got to be willing to help yourself,” Griswell said. “I hope at the second meeting we will have more of the county and city elected officials there. We needed more of those people.”
Citizens and elected officials that did attend the meeting voiced many concerns on what Glascock County lacks and how it will affect them in the future including the lack of jobs, recreation and activities for children, lack of state funding and needed departments.
Bishop explained after the meeting that the Department of Community Affairs is hoping to use the results from the town hall meetings to develop a series of reports for the community.
“We’ll take what we learned at the meeting and bring back the resources to target what was identified,” he said. “This meeting was the jump off point. It is a place where we got the issues on the table. Now we can come in and figure out what can be done. It was just to get a point in time handle on the community and to generate discussion about what the problems are.”
Bishop said in the spring the Department of Community Affairs and the Rural Development Council will come back to the 11 rural counties to do weeklong workshops. The initiative is being sponsored by the Georgia Rural Development Council, a government appointed board that is in the business of partnering and advocating for rural Georgia, according to Bishop. “This is a policy making board,” Bishop explained. “They make recommendations to the legislature and governor, whether it is a new policy on agriculture, transportation and so on. They will probably be rolling out some recommendations for the next general assembly after holding the town hall meetings.” The University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute has a long history of working with communities and government agencies to find what is best for the community as a whole.
“UGA is the convener of those types of groups,” Bishop said. “We have a long history of working with communities across the state. We see ourselves as change agents. We like to work with local governments in solving problems of communities through dealing with the leadership in those communities. We have a history of doing these things across the state and UGA’s involvement is a part of the state’s history.” The Communities of Opportunity Initiative came about as a result of conversations between two state agencies noticing that the state has many programs available to rural communities, but those communities are not able to turn those resources into the kinds of things that would minimize poverty, Bishop said. “This is starting a conversation with those communities and seeing what the state can do,” Bishop explained back in September, adding, “The pilot study is in region seven, which is the CSRA. We want to talk to the folks in the community. We have already been talking to some of the local leaders as a part of the study. “We interviewed community leaders to get their perspective on how the community does planning and development and about what the state has to offer. We are trying to get the public’s perspective. We have data, statistics and leaders’ points of view, now we want the public’s.”
Bishop said this gave those involved in the initiative an inside track to how citizens see the state of Georgia with their interaction with the community and how the citizens believe the state can improve those relationships. Through the feedback from the community, Bishop said the state hopes to find a better fit for the needs of citizens.
“We recognize the fact that all local communities are unique,” he said. “Each one has different opportunities and we need to provide services in a more unique fashion to them. The Community of Opportunity Initiative is working with all the folks at the local level for any kind of planning at that level. We are trying to have an effort at local level to do things comprehensively.”
Bishop said the state agencies want to find communities in the state of Georgia that have government entities, including commissioners, school boards or any other kind of local government that work together for the good of the community. “We want to find those places and learn from them,” he said. “We need to replicate this in places that aren’t doing it. To be honest there are some communities where the school system doesn’t talk to the local government. This way we help local communities do planning comprehensively and to bring all facets of the community together.”
• Wadley and Wrens parades
will be Dec. 2, Louisville's
Christmas festival and
parade will be Dec. 9
By Keyon Wilson
Jefferson County is showing its Christmas spirit
and decking the halls across the county.
Wadley held the first Christmas program of the
season Saturday, Nov. 18. Around 100 people gathered
in the downtown area at the city's annual Christmas
The program’s Master of Ceremony was Timothy
Bell. A host of city officials and citizens took part in
the program which included caroling from the Brinson
Hill and Spears Grove’s Youth choirs.
On Saturday, Dec. 2, both Wadley and Wrens will
have their Annual Christmas Parades. Wadley’s parade
will begin at 11 a.m. with line-up at 10:30 a.m.
on College Street. Wrens will start their parade at 2
p.m. with line-up at 12:30 p.m. at Wrens Elementary
The City of Louisville is also getting ready for its
Downtown Festival and annual Christmas Parade,
Saturday, Dec. 9. The festival will start at 9 a.m. and
will run throughout the parade which will begin at
Special appearances will be made by Santa Claus
who will also be available for pictures at the Market
House. Jefferson County High School band will march
in the parade along with the Fort Gordon Marching
Band which will be set up downtown for live entertainment
This year, there’s a new addition to the parade, the
Hillbilly Golf Cart Parade, sponsored by the Friends
of Historic Downtown Louisville. Anyone who owns
a golf cart and is interested in decorating it can be
in the line-up. Cash prizes will be given to the top
Parade fl oats will also be judged and the top three
will be awarded cash prizes. The annual festival and
parade is sponsored by the Louisville Lions Club.
Vendors will be set up downtown with crafts, foods
and much more. Exhibit fees are $20.
The Jefferson Hospital will be presenting its
Lovelight Tree a fixture in Louisville for more than
15 years. After Thanksgiving, Toni Yonchak and the
rest of The Pink Ladies of Jefferson Hospital will
begin sending out letters regarding the project. The
tree itself will be set up in the lobby of the hospital
throughout the rest of the holiday season. People can
come by make donations and fill out a little poster
with their name and a message. Donations can be
made in memory of, in honor of or for an organization.
Donations go toward scholarships for students
bound for the medical field.
Joe W. Cooper III
• Cooper arrested
while in court on
By Carol McLeod
Joe W. Cooper III, a 23-year-old
Thomson man, has been charged by
the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
in connection with a robbery against
an Augusta cab driver.
Cooper, according to a spokesman
with the sheriff’s office, called
a cab in Augusta on Friday, Nov. 10,
and asked the driver to take him to
The driver said he told Cooper to
pay a $100 deposit for the trip and
Cooper did so. Upon arriving in
Wrens, Cooper allegedly took a pistol
and robbed the driver of the deposit
as well as an undisclosed amount of
money the driver had with him.
This page has been accessed times.
After being given the money, Cooper
ran away and the cab driver went
to the police department in Wrens to
report the crime. Since the event occurred
outside the city’s jurisdiction,
the crime was referred to the sheriff’s
The spokesman for the sheriff’s
office said a warrant was taken out
on Cooper after his identity had been
determined based on the witness’ description.
Cooper was picked up in the Jefferson
County courtroom where he was
appearing on an unrelated charge.
At that time, Cooper was charged
with armed robbery, possession of a
firearm during commission of a crime
and possession of a firearm by a convicted