Road needs attention, Vaughns say
By Carol McLeod
Mitch Vaughn, teacher, pastor and entrepreneur, has been struggling for several years to get a solution to a problem he shares with many in Jefferson County. He wants something done to improve the road, a dirt road, near his home.
Vaughn opened a corn maze off Gough Road a few years ago. The success of this business has been stunning. By the end of February, he already had more than 1,500 children booked for field trips for the days from April 4 through May 6, he said in a recent interview.
While the corn maze is on Verdree Road, visitors to the farm can get to the farm only from Gough Road.
“We are constantly having deliveries, and these are not UPS, these are transfer trucks and it halts our progress because of this road,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn said he wants the county to do whatever needs to be done to keep the road in shape for the people who drive down it to come to their farm.
“And also keep the road in good shape for our customers as well,” he said.
Vaughn said the commissioners asked him to bring them a proposal and he contacted an excavating company.
“It’s a process,” he said.
“It’s basically going in and scraping the road, going down about 8 inches, where it’s sandy putting in clay; and where there’s clay putting in sand,” Vaughn said.
Workers would use a water truck to keep the moisture level high enough, he said.
“It would hold a lot better than what they’re doing now. But there’s another part of it. They come in with a sheep foot roller. That packs the soil down really hard,” Vaughn said.
The next step would be to lay down about 4 inches of aggregate or gravel and pack that down with something like a vibratory roller, he said.
“He said it would take about four to five days. Since the road is 2 miles long, he said it would take about 1/2 mile a day,” Vaughn said.
“We feel like this is a positive thing for the county. We’re bringing people in from all over,” he said.
The farm has also been recognized as a certified agri-tourism site.
Vaughn said they sent an application to the Georgia Department of Agriculture in December 2009.
“Tommy Irvin and the governor started all that in motion,” Vaughn said, referring to the former Georgia commissioner of agriculture, Irvin, and then Gov. Sonny Perdue.
“When those two came together, when farms started offering field trips, corn mazes and wineries, they realized the potential,” Vaughn said.
“You have to meet certain criteria. That criteria being several things. They have to visit the farm, make sure that you’re just not a field growing whatever and just saying you’re an agri-tourism site. In other words, they wanted it to be a clean, safe place,” he said.
Kackleberry Farm, the name of the Vaughn farm, is currently the only agri-tourism site in Jefferson County, said Gary W. Black, commissioner of agriculture, in an interview Tuesday.
“Not in our records, we don’t have anybody (else in the county) that’s actually applied,” he said.
The program is operated cooperatively with the Georgia Department of Transportation he said.
Black said the Vaughns had started their business and wanted to participate in the roadside designation program.
Black said there is no specific, legal definition of an agri-tourist site.
Any kind of facility or venue where the farmer basically charges admission to the farm and allows non-farm visitors to view aspects of farm life could be considered.
An example, Black said, would be Steeds Dairy in Grovetown. The commissioner said there is a petting zoo at that site.
“They have some interesting jumping games and water games and slides and those types of things that are sort of built into a farm venue,” he said. “They also have an outside milking stall where they periodically during the day bring a dairy cow out and milk it, mechanically milk, to give you an idea of what a dairy farm does,” he said.
Black said an agri-tourism designation has a specific meaning to the consumer.
“That is a venue that can provide an education and recreational opportunity for my family that is centered around agriculture,” he said.
Black said he would like to see the application process take less time than it took the Vaughns.
“I felt like we could do a lot better with our response to individuals. Our goal for future customers in this area is 60 days from start to finish. That’s the mutual goal that we’ve agreed upon with DOT,” Black said.
The agriculture commissioner said the application fee is currently $300.
Matthew Kaulinski who is with the department of agriculture said the application fee was a share of the cost of the first three signs that show the venue as an agri-tourism site.
“The remainder of the cost of the first three signs was paid for with a grant from the department of economic development. Currently, we’re working with the department of economic development to secure another grant for this program and we don’t have a formula yet in place. We expect to get a new grant,” Kaulinski said, adding that 100 percent of that application fee goes towards the cost of the signs.
“Ag tourism, as an industry, if you collect all that’s going on in Georgia, it’s generating over $29 million of activity. That’s in annual business,” Black said.
Nature based tourism is a little more than $54 million, he said.
“That’s an $83 million impact to the state Georgia. That’s a big deal,” he said.
What the Vaughns want
Vaughn and his wife, Lisa, said their interest in having the road improved is not just about their business and it is not just about Gough Road.
Vaughn said he would like the road paved but realizes that may not be possible because of cost.
“I would just like it improved,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
“Our point is this, we’re not asking this for Kackleberry Farm, for Mitch and Lisa. We’re asking for the people that drive down this road,” he said.
“It’s not just us, it’s all the roads,” Lisa Vaughn said.
“I understand that, according to the commissioners, that they’re unable to pave the road. I wouldn’t expect them to pave it. I would like them to do something more than scraping it,” Vaughn said in an earlier interview.
“I would just like the road to (stay in good condition) longer than it is now, to withstand the traffic that is coming down this road,” he said.
Cost to the county
“The only thing short of paving is coming in and spraying tack and then put asphalt on it. I’d say about $75,000 a mile,” Jefferson County Administrator Paul Bryan said in a recent interview.
“The only difference in that and paving is the spraying of the tack and the asphalt. There are roads in this county that have been on the list for many years. All money from the state has been stopped until the T SPLOST, if that gets passed.
“We did in our local SPLOST vote in over $1 million for road but that includes paving, bridgework, resurfacing, signage, striping, guard rail and that’s for a five-year time period,” Bryan said.
The administrator said the first check of that SPLOST was $161,500 county wide.
“The county’s portion was $86,835,” he said.
“People have got to realize in all areas that we, like the federal and state, our money is short. We will have to raise taxes for all citizens to generate any more funding. As everyone knows, prices for everything are going up, food for the inmates at the jail, gasoline, public works construction and maintenance, cost of health insurance coverage for all employees, electricity is going up,” he said.
Records from the county’s road department obtained by The News and Farmer under the Freedom of Information Act show work performed specifically on Gough Road in the past few years includes reinstalling a sign, January 2008; cutting trees out of the road, May 2008; spraying the side of the road, August 2008. Other work during that year includes cutting bushes and picking up litter.
In 2009, work on Gough Road included cutting bushes in June; grading the road in July; clearing the right-of-way and putting down eight loads of GABC in September; and cleaning out a pipe and repairing a barbed wire fence in December.
Work last year includes fixing the road, spreading sand on at least two separate occasions, blading the road and repairing mud holes in the road in January. In February 2010, road crews had five details working on the road over a four-day period.
Work at that time included hauling a total of 15 loads of crush and run, a total of nine loads of Riff-Raff plus additional material to repair the road. Repairing the road included digging ditches and repairing a mud hole. A crew also put down some material to help prevent erosion of the road.
The road was bladed in March, graded in July, bladed and scraped on separate dates in August and bladed in September 2010.
In September 2010, a crew installed a 15 foot by 30 foot driveway pipe and used one-half load of crush and run.
A Nov. 2, 2010, report shows Gough Road on a list of roads that were scraped and or had right-of-way cleared during the month of October 2010.
Other similar reports show Gough Road was scraped or had right-of-way cleared or both during March and had a 15 foot by 30 foot driveway pipe installed. An April report shows a repair to the road shoulder on Gough Road during March.
Vaughn was scheduled to speak at the April Jefferson County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, April 12.
Making the cut
By Bonnie K. Sargent
Most high school students spend their time writing essays or improving their grades to increase their chances of getting into the college of their dreams. However, one high school senior found his key to college not in academics, but in the kitchen.
Jefferson County High School senior Gidian Pastor-Price has won an accumulated total of approximately $56,000 worth of culinary arts scholarships throughout his four years in high school.
Pastor-Price said that cooking has always been a part of his life. He said he has always cooked together with his family, but when he came to JCHS in 2007 he was introduced to the professional aspect of cooking.
That’s when he met culinary arts teacher Patricia Fleming.
“When I entered Ms. Fleming’s class, I saw the stark difference in professional cooking and domestic cooking,” he said.
As a sophomore he attended a Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) event where he was awarded a $100 cash prize. He then heard about different culinary schools and scholarships when he won bronze at a Skills USA competition. Pastor-Price said that year he won an annual $1,000 scholarship for four years at the Culinary Institute of America, an annual $750 scholarship to Johnson and Wales University and an annual $5,000 scholarship to the New England Culinary Institute.
In his years as a junior and senior, Pastor-Price won a $10,000 scholarship to the New England Culinary School. He also won an annual $2,000 scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America and an annual $1,000 to the Johnson and Wales University.
While he cannot remember all of the different scholarships and the exact amounts he has won over the years, the total is somewhere around $56,000.
For several of the scholarships, contestants had to have a grade point average above 3.5 and had to already have been accepted into college. He said all of the competitions required contestants to cook on site. He said you have to know all of the culinary terminology and you have to know about flavor.
“Safety and sanitation is a big thing, too,” he said. “And knowing how to convert measurements. It’s not like domestic cooking, where things are measured in tablespoons and cups. In professional cooking, things are measured in weight, in pounds and ounces.”
In one contest they were asked to create their own variation of a menu to show planning skills as far as managing time and ingredients.
Together with Fleming, Pastor-Price has volunteered while catering churches in Wrens and Louisville, a nursing home in Louisville and the prom at JCHS.
Pastor-Price said Fleming has been a big inspiration to him.
“She’s really what made me passionate about culinary arts,” he said. “I owe her a lot.”
“Gidian is very inquisitive about anything that relates to food, equipment and what is going on in culinary arts,” said Fleming. “He is a model student for the program here at the high school. He has always wanted to become a chef for as long as I have taught him.”
Fleming said if she gives Pastor-Price a book, he will read it from cover to cover and become familiar with many things students will become knowledgeable about when they are enrolled in culinary arts schools.
Pastor-Price plans to attend to the Culinary Institute of America, located in New York. He said only part of his total scholarship winnings will be applicable at that school.
“Probably about $5,000 annually,” he said.
Fleming said this is one of the most prestigious schools in the country and many major chefs have trained there, including several who appear on the Food Network. She said the school has been around since 1946 and has a very rich history. The school also has campuses in San Antonio, Tex., St. Helena, Calif., and a recently opened and renowned program in Singapore.
Pastor-Price said he first heard about the Culinary Institute of America after winning a scholarship to the school as a sophomore. He said when they sent the scholarship they also sent a large brochure packet that outlined their different programs and extracurricular activities. That played a big part in his decision to attend the school.
The school also has a soccer team that piqued his interest when he found out that it plays across the United States. He plays soccer at JCHS and has for several years. In college, Pastor-Price also wants to try fencing, swimming and cross-country.
He said the school’s location is significant as well, because it is in the center of international trade and it has a diverse flavor of culinary arts.
“Also, the fact that they have two different restaurants on campus that are used to help give students financial aid,” he said. “For a low-income family like mine, it will be great to be able to work my way through school on the campus I attend.”
While he could potentially spend eight years at the school to earn a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and a wine specialty degree, he also wants to study abroad and learn international cooking techniques.
“If you’re going to be a good culinary artist, you have to know how they do things internationally,” he explained. “Some of the stuff they do in other countries is crazy.”
Pastor-Price said his favorite type of cooking is Asian-Indian because their food is very natural.
“The way they cook is very spiritual,” he said. “They’re very passionate about flavor. It’s not so much about how it looks as how it tastes.”
Pastor-Price said growing up in the South was something to consider in culinary arts because so many people love Southern cuisine.
Pastor-Price said his ideal career would be to become a personal chef for a high income family.
“I’m not looking to be famous so much as successful,” he explained.
Pastor-Price is the son of Rafael and Shawna Pastor-Price. He has a brother, Brenden Harvey, who is a physics major, and a little sister, Harmony, who is in the eighth grade. Pastor-Price said his family is from California, but he grew up in Georgia and currently lives in Waynesboro. He attends Jefferson County High School where his mother, Shawna, is a literature and drama teacher.
Pastor-Price said his family has been very supportive of him his whole life.
“They think I should probably be a rocket scientist or something, but they say it is OK that I like food,” he said with a smile.
When asked about his long-term goals, Pastor-Price said it is difficult to say because there are so many things about which he is passionate.
“I’m really passionate about volunteer work,” he said.
He has been involved in a lot of volunteer work throughout his life, helping people in need and said he has strongly considered one day moving to a third world country and using his talents to help people.
“If I find myself getting bored or slacking off in school, which I don’t really expect I will, I’ll finish up that year and buy a one-way ticket to some random third world country where I could help people,” he said with a laugh.
Pastor-Price said five years from now, he expects he will still be in school.
When his family first moved to Georgia it was because of financial and family reasons. His father was in the military and transferred to Fort Gordon. After that, he said, they just never left because they liked Georgia so much. He said there is a big difference in Georgia and California.
“There is a lot of space here,” he said. “Trees and grass. It’s a happy place. I wouldn’t mind coming back one day.”
Louisville concert brings big names for good cause
By Faye Ellison
Two Former Atlanta Falcon teammates, Chris Mohr and Keith Brooking, are planning an evening Louisville will not soon forget, with some of their closest country music friends to give back to children and a community that has welcomed them.
Mohr and Brooking will hold a country concert benefiting the Keith Brooking Children’s Foundation. The first ever Ogeechee River Back Country Spring Jam featuring Daryle Singletary, Heidi Newfield and Craig Morgan will be held at the Louisville Lions Club Fairgrounds Saturday, April 16, with gates opening at 3 p.m.
While Brooking grew up grew up in Coweta County, Mohr is a little closer to home, growing up in Thomson, and always being fond of his neighbors.
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“I live right down the road,” Mohr said. “I went to Briarwood and played against Thomas Jefferson in the mid 1980s. We wanted to do something unique and support the community.”
Mohr also said he and Brooking have owned hunting land in Jefferson County for almost 10 years now.
“Since we have been hunting here, we have spent a lot of time in Jefferson County,” he said. “We love the community and people and have a lot of friends there.”
Brooking began his love affair with football as a child, playing for East Coweta High School in Senoia. He later attended a football camp at Georgia Tech, where he was offered a scholarship on the first day of that camp. In 2007 he was named to the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.
Brooking was drafted in the first round to play for the Atlanta Falcons in 1998, while there, he was a five-time Pro Bown selection. He now plays as linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.
Brooking lives in Atlanta with his wife, Holly, and his two children, Logan and Ella.
Mohr was recruited by the University of Alabama, where he was a starting punter for three years and was named the Southeastern Conference’s best punter his senior year. Mohr has played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, as well as the Buffalo Bills, where he appeared in three Super Bowls with the team. He has four children, Garrett, Harrison, Quinn and Chapman.
He has retired from football, but one connection he has continued is through country music and helping his community. Using his country connections, Mohr said this is the first concert that he has held to raise money, but if the response is right, it may become a yearly event.
“We expect a big crowd and to have a good time,” he added.
Mohr said proceeds from the concert will benefit The Keith Brooking Children’s Foundation.
In 2003, the foundation began. Brookins said he was inspired by his mother, who was a foster parent while he was growing up, to create the foundation to serve the needs of foster children in metro Atlanta.
There are four programs within the foundation, including the Locker 56 Shoe Program; Be a Leader, Become a Reader; the Keith Brooking Scholarship Program; and the Keith Brooking Children’s Foundation Grant Program.
Brooking spends much of his off season each year raising awareness of his newly established foundation, visiting local schools, businesses and organizations that serve and support children. The foundation programs and services are supported by financial contributions from corporate sponsors and loyal donors, in addition, funds are raised through two yearly events as well as through grants that are awarded to the foundation by other organizations.
Mohr said performances will begin with the Southbound Band from Statesboro at 4:30 p.m., followed by Singletary, Newfield and then Morgan. Tickets bought beforehand are $25 and are available at any Queensborough National Bank and Trust location, at www.tixonline.com or charge by phone at (803) 278-4TIX.
Tickets at the gate are $35, and children under 10 are free with a paying ticket. VIP tickets are $75, and will include catering from Augusta restaurant French Market West.
“We will have vendors, barbeque, hamburgers, hot dogs, funnel cakes and all that,” Mohr said. “We are just glad we could do something unique for this area. All three performers are friends of ours, and this is something that you usually would have to drive to Augusta or Atlanta to see.”