A Georgia Family Connection Collaborative

Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families and Children

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18th Little Free Library on Friday

The box for this one is an old newspaper box donated by the Griffin Daily News and decorated by Spalding High School art students. Impact Racing Ministries will be the steward for the box.

This is the second newspaper box repurposed for a Little Free Library and decorated by Spalding High students. The other was No. 16 outside the Easy Shop on Experiment Street.

Two more Little Free Library dedications are scheduled for December — No. 19, 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 6 at Griffin First United Methodist Church, 1401 Maple Drive, Griffin; and No. 20, 4:15 p.m., Friday, Dec. 15 AMBUC’s Park in East Griffin.

The box at AMBUC’s Park is the second box built by Devin Woolf as part of his Eagle Scout project, according to Brett Bell, who has spearheaded the Little Free Library campaign for the Spalding Collaborative. The first one Woolf built was No. 15 at Sunny Side City Park.

In a letter to Collaborative board members, Bell and Doris Breland said “one year ago, the idea of the Little Free Library Initiative was planted. In January 2017, the Executive Committee gave its blessing. An action plan was developed, key community leaders were contacted, locations were scouted, sponsor letters were composed and the plan was launched.”

Bell said at the last dedication the plan was for one a month and they’ve met and exceeded that goal, with 20 projected by the end of the year and more to come next year.

“The purpose is to encourage our children to read for a better future and success,” Bell and Breland said in the letter. “It is an opportunity to encourage parents to read to their children.”

Bell has noted at each of the dedications that this venture brought together people from across the community including “civic organizations, individuals, businesses, Boy Scouts, schools, technical college and churches. Individuals and groups saw the valuable of using these boxes to promote reading,” he and Breland said in the letter.

There is a sustainability program, with book drop-off collection sites at First National Bank and outside the Women’s Center at WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital. The collected books are sorted and stored for the stewards to replenish the Little Free Libraries as needed.

The community was invited to come out to a dedication, and to support the initiative “through your financial support,” Bell and Breland said. “This is a small investment in our children that has the potential to pay big dividends in our community’s future.”

Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to Spalding Collaborative, P.O. Box 701, Griffin, GA 30224 or by PayPal on the welcome page of the www.spaldingcollaborative.com website. For more on the Little Free Library initiative, sponsors, stewards and locations of the boxes see http://spalding.gafcp.org/little-free-library-initiative/.

  • Nov 30, 2017

Ice cream party for Little Free Library

“Once again, we find ourselves here on behalf of Little Free Libraries,” Brett Bell told the children of Northside Hill Apartments.

Bell asked and the children remembered people coming there and presenting the Little Free Library, the ribbon-cutting with the big scissors, and the books. He asked them how many like to read, and they all raised their hands except one boy who said he likes math better.

Bell emphasized the importance of literacy. “When you can read, you can learn how to do things, to do math, science — you can do anything.”

And he said, that’s why the Little Free Library is back.

“Something bad happened but with the help of the Sisavaths we got it fixed and back here. We will not be deterred in our initiative for literacy,” Bell said. “That’s why the box is back, with books in there, and more books have been left with Da’Shundria (Davis, the apartment manager.”

Bell asked “what do kids love?” and one boy said, “reading.” Bell ran over and gave him a high five. He asked them all what do kids love even more that reading? And he answered, opening the fridge, saying “ice cream,” and handed out ice cream sandwiches to the children.

Bell said, “I want you to know there are people you may not know, who you don’t see everyday, who got your back, and they want for you to keep your eye on the prize.”

The sponsor for the box is Vulcan Materials, and the steward will be the staff at Northside Hills Apartments. It was built and repaired by Sisavath Remodeling.

There will be dedications each Friday for the next four weeks for more Little Free Libraries. According to Bell, the dedications will be:

• Oct. 27, 1 p.m., at Griffin Area Resource Center. Sponsor is Southern Crescent Technical College; steward is GARC; artwork Griffin Spalding Art Association

• Nov. 3, 4 p.m., at Sunny Side City Hall Park. Sponsor, steward and artist is Devin Woolf, a Spalding High School student who did this as his Eagle Scout project.

• Nov. 10, 4 p.m., at Easy Shop. Sponsor is Griffin Daily News, which donated a newspaper box, which was decorated by Spalding High School Art Department students. Stewards Naomi Rankin and Easy Shop Co-Owner Steve Blanks.

• Nov. 17, 4 p.m., at Raymond Head Park. Sponsor and steward are Department of Juvenile Justice, with art work by Department of Juvenile Justice. Bell said Blake’s Building Supply and Shawn Dean donated the lumber and Dean is the builder.

Ray Lightner, Griffin Daily News October 20,2017

Mentoring program to hold open house



Two mentoring programs have combined and will be having sign-ups at an open house, 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 24 at the A.Z. Kelsey gymnasium.

“We have combined two programs together to serve the youth population of Griffin — Hopeville Boys Center, Inc., and iMPAKZ Mentoring & Management in Art,” said Clyde Forbes, co-founder of the Hopeville Boys Center.

“Our goal is to expose our youth to various fields and connect them with positive mentors and speakers that can pour into them,” Forbes said.

“We have also partnered with a local business (Haggai Automotive and Diesel Repair) as a sponsor for the program,” he said.

Local owner Jerry McKneely, Forbes said, “has a heart and passion to see the youth be placed in better situations and lower the youth delinquency within the community. He decided to make a difference by supporting a youth non profit organization that will make an impact within the community.”

Hopeville Boys Center, Inc., is a youth mentoring program working with young men ages 12 to 18, held at A.Z. Kelsey.

“We will be working with the youth to provide services in self esteem, cyber bullying, academics,” Forbes said. ” We will address issues that face our teens, drugs, teen pregnancy, and help point them in directions of career choices, through our STEM program, finance classes, how credit works and with specialized areas with our flight club and car club.”

He said they also will address child hood obesity and healthy eating through various events and community projects. “We are also looking to start and build our basketball program with middle school boys.”

Forbes said, “we are excited about this year as we expose our kids to positive outlets and build community pride and give our youth positive environments to grow to become productive citizens and also connecting with like minded organizations like iMPAKZ Mentoring.”

That organization for girls, iMPAKZ Mentoring in Arts, was created in 2011 by founder and operator Andrea Wood-Wilson. “Noticing that there was nothing in her area to engage young ladies,” Forbes said, “Andrea an educator by profession, found a way to merge her profession with her joy of modeling thus creating iMPAKZ Mentoring in Arts.”

The mission and purpose of iMPAKZ Mentoring in Arts is to provide young ladies with various opportunities to grow and develop in the areas of arts that fall under the fashion industry.

“Young ladies are exposed to phenomenal women that are doing great things in the fashion industry, be it modeling, makeup, media, photography, etc.,” Forbes said.

He said iMPAKZ Mentoring has not limited itself to just fashion.

“Over the course of time, partnerships have been established in finance, science, and several other professional communities. At the end of it all, the goal of iMPAKZ Mentoring in Arts is to build positive, well-balanced, and productive young women.”

Both programs will be signing up students and meeting parents at the open house.


Rededication for Little Free Library at Northside Hills

There will be a rededication at 4 p.m., Friday for 11th Little Free Library at Northside Hills Apartments.

It was knocked over by vandals the same weekend as the dedication on Sept. 15. According to the Spalding Collaborative, it has been repaired and relocated inside the administrative offices there at 615 Northside Drive.

“When thinking of starting the Initiative, we were aware this may happen,” a statement from the Collaborative read “but, we also knew the benefits of a Little Free Library far outweigh any potential problems.”

The rededication includes ice cream sandwiches with the children, according to the Collaborative, “as we celebrate the reopening of the library at Northside Hills community.” The sponsor for this one is still Vulcan Materials and steward is management staff of Northside Hills Apartments.

Brett Bell has spearheaded this effort with the Spalding Collaborative.

There will be another dedication the following week for No. 14 at the Griffin Area Resource Center, according to Bell, on Oct. 27, at 1 p.m. Griffin Area Resource Center will host the dedication there at 931 Hamilton Blvd., Griffin.

GARC will serve as steward and this one is sponsored by Southern Crescent Technical College. For this one at GARC, Bell has asked that “folks bring picture-driven books as opposed to true word driven books.”

More are planned with the project bringing together people from the county to steward, build, decorate and host and help supply the Little Free Libraries. New and gently-used books can be dropped off at First National Bank, 318 South Hill St., Griffin, or the dropbox outside the Women’s Center at WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital.

  • Oct 17, 2017

Land Bank OKs agreement with Housing Authority

The Griffin-Spalding Land Bank Authority will serve as a land bank depository for the Griffin Housing Authority.

The deal, approved by both authorities, allows the Housing Authority to compile land, have the Land Bank hold it so the Housing Authority does not have to pay taxes on it until they take it back to sell or develop.

Land Bank Executive Director John Joiner explained the “whole intent is to cut down on their holding costs.”

Joiner said, “they have the obligations to maintain the properties and if they don’t, we can charge them for it.”

Joiner said the land is donated to the Land Bank by the Housing Authority with a right to reclaim it.

“It allows it to be held,” he explained, “while they are assembling lots for redevelopment.”

Land Bank Chairman Newton Galloway said he was “willing to see how it goes,” and made a motion to approve the agreement, with terms for one year, which passed unanimously.

According to the agreement, the depositor “shall furnish the Land Bank with a clear and unequivocal indemnification agreement to insure the Land Bank shall not be liable or responsible for any lien, mortgage or other encumberance.”

And at the time of the transfer, “no third party shall have any lease, license, permit or other occupancy or use rights,” on the property. The depositor shall have the option at any time, according to the agreement, “to repurchase the property at an amount equal to the sum of the costs of all expenditures by the Land Bank and “an amount determined by the Land Bank, as the average indirect cost on a per parcel basis of holding its portfolio.”

The Land Bank will be presenting a related matter to the Griffin-Spalding County Board of Education related to regarding the Land Bank waiving back taxes with the consent of the School Board on properties conveyed to the Land Bank and then transferred or sold. The Land Bank, under state law, had the ability to extinguish past due taxes and tax liens on property that it has disposed of, including any interest and penalties owed to Spalding County, the City of Griffin or the Griffin-Spalding County School District.

Land Bank member Jim Smith — who is also the Griffin-Spalding County School Superintendent — questioned a vote by the Land Bank on the matter until it had been approved by the School Board first. Galloway agreed, and moved to have the Land Bank vote on it next month, following approval by the School Board.

Joiner explained this (the approval) had not been done before, and it’s being done now for the benefit of the tax commissioner to justify the extinguishing to the back taxes in her records. Going forward, “we will do it with each one,” Joiner said, adding “this one is for the 25 done so far.”

The 25 parcels sold or transferred so far by the Land Bank include 105, 112, 114, 115, 117, 120, 123 and 124 Lynn Lane, which were transferred to Square Foot Ministries which has combined some of the lots and built new homes; and 522 Meriwether St., which is the former city hospital and Haisten funeral home, which was listed as one of the Places in Peril by the Georgia Historical Society, was slated for demolition but is currently being renovated, after being marketed by the local Historical Society.

Also on the list are 822, 855 and 857 Westbrook St., 108 Leo St., 414 Jefferson St., 131 East Chappell St., 2378 South Walkers Mill Road, 114 Crawford St., 438 Lakeview St., 315 North 6th St., 820 Scales St., 709 English St., 110 Pearl St., 403 Seven Forks Road, 31 Swint Road, and a parcel on McIntosh Road.

The total amount of delinquent taxes being extinguished on those 25 parcels, according to information provided by the Land Bank, is $63,725.32.

Three Little Free Library dedications have been scheduled for this month.


One initially scheduled for Wednesday at Sunny Side City Hall has been postponed because of the weather preventing cementing of the pole, explained Brett Bell, who heads up the local Little Free Library initiative with the Spalding Collaborative Authority for Families and Children.

Bell said the steward and sponsor for this one is Devin Woolf, who did this as his Eagle Scout project. It will be rescheduled.

On Oct. 20, Bell said there will be rededication for the one at Northside Hills Apartments, 615 Northside Drive, with an ice cream party at 4 p.m. This replaces the one vandalized following the dedication last month.

Bell said this one will be inside the Community Center at the apartment complex. The sponsor is Vulcan Materials and the steward is management staff of Northside Hills Apartments.

On Oct. 27, at 1 p.m., Griffin Area Resource Center will host a dedication for a Little Free Library there at 931 Hamilton Blvd., Griffin. GARC will serve as steward and this one is sponsored by Southern Crescent Technical College.

For the one at GARC, Bell has asked that “folks bring picture-driven books as opposed to true word-driven books.”

New and gently-used books can be dropped off at First National Bank, 318 South Hill St., Griffin, or the dropbox outside the Women’s Center at WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital.

Bell set a goal of one a month when he began this literacy initiative in January and has exceeded that with 13 so far, and three months to go.

Sunny Side will be No. 14, and GARC No. 15.

Little Free Library at Cowan Road Elementary School

A rededication of the Little Free Library at Cowan Road Elementary School was conducted Friday to honor former Cowan Road Elementary teacher Julie McLean Smith. Smith died on July 25 after having been diagnosed with leukemia in September 2016. Smith’s former co-workers praised her for being a good friend and an upbeat person. From left are Kristen Specht, who painted the butterflies on the library; Jan McLean, stepmother; Dan McLean, father; Jeff McLean, brother; and Jonathan Smith, husband. Brett Bell, who is working with the Spalding Collaborative on the Little Free Library project, gave an update on the project. He said 11 libraries have been constructed this year. The goal had been for one library to be constructed each month, so the effort is ahead of schedule, he said.

Tim Daly/Daily News

Be a mentor, dare to be the difference

The Spalding County Mentoring Program is looking for mentors and has a current campaign with a goal of 30 mentors in 30 days.

A mentor acts as a listener, a role model and a friend, according to the Griffin-Spalding County Mentor Program. Children who are mentored have better school attendance, better attitudes toward school, a greater likelihood of completing school and less substance abuse than non-mentored students, according to GSC Mentor Program Coordinator Elly Zhilyak.

To get started you need to be at least 18-years-old, complete an online application (at www.gscmmentor.org) and a background check. Volunteers are asked to pay $10 to help in the $45 cost of the background check, with the rest paid by the program.

Mentors are asked commit to mentoring a minimum of one hour, per week during the school year, attend a mandatory 2-hour mentor orientation. According to Zhilyak, there’s a mentor training/orientation session from 4 to 6 p.m., on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at the Griffin Spalding County School System Central Office Building, 215 South 6th St., for those who’ve already completed the application and background check.

The following schools are currently participating in the mentor program — Anne Street Elementary, Atkinson Elementary, Jackson Road Elementary, Moore Elementary, Cowan Road Middle, Kennedy Road Middle, Rehoboth Road Middle, Griffin High and A.Z. Kelsey Academy.

Mentors interact with their mentee on school premises, once each week for a meal, school program, game or conversation. The program requires a one-year commitment, but mentor-mentee pairings are encouraged to extend beyond the first year. The mentor visiting schedule is flexible during school hours.

Zhilyak said a mentor after hours is scheduled for the Sept. 26 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the 424 West Taylor St. office.

Why 12-months? Youth in mentoring relationships that lasted more than 12 months felt more confident about completing their schoolwork, skipped school less often, had higher grades, and had a lower rate of drug/alcohol use, according to www.childtrends.org, but “short-term relationships of three to six months typically show no significant improvement, and even briefer relationships will likely have a negative impact on the child.”

The Griffin-Spalding County Mentor Program began in 2012 through the combined efforts and contributions of the Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce, the Griffin Housing Authority, and the Griffin-Spalding County School System and it is managed through the Spalding Collaborative.

The Mentor Program matches caring adults with students in the Griffin-Spalding County School System who would benefit from having a volunteer mentor to help on their path to becoming successful adults.

Parents have to consent for their child to participate in the mentoring program.

“Mentors do not take the place of parents, grandparents, or any of the other important people that make up your child’s life,” according to gscmentor.org. “They are simply a friend — someone to provide additional support and guidance to your child. Someone that can help support you in the toughest role of your life — caregiver of a child.”

For more information or to begin the process, visit www.gscmentor.org.


  • Sep 19, 2019


Land Bank considering deal with Housing Authority

The Griffin-Spalding Land Bank Authority is considering an agreement with the Griffin Housing Authority to help the Housing Authority reduce its tax liability.

“It gives us banking separation,” Housing Authority CEO Bob Dull said.

He explained “our objective is not to just sit on properties but to repurpose them” and get them back on the tax rolls.

This would be for parcels acquired by the Housing Authority, to be demolished, or fixed up and resold. He explained many of the parcels are donated and some are purchased and“this agreement is all of us working together.”

Dull said “deposit agreements, like this, are something new. Macon has one too.”

As proposed in the agreement, when the Housing Authority moves a parcel into the Land Bank, the Housing Authority remains responsible for maintenance and payment of contractors. They would have the ability to withdraw the property at any time to convey to a purchaser after paying the Land Bank for the costs incurred for the transfer.

“It indirectly makes us an agent of the Land Bank,” Dull said. “If we don’t pay our bills, we can’t get the land back.”

The properties conveyed would be insured by the Housing Authority and may be marketed by the Housing Authority. There would be individual contracts for each parcel conveyed, Dull suggested.

The Land Bank discussed the proposed agreement last week, will be reviewing it, and consider action on it at its October meeting, according the Land Bank Chairman Newton Galloway. Dull said the Housing Authority would consider the agreement at its November meeting.


  • Sep 19,2017


Little Free Library vandalized

In the first case of actual vandalism, the Little Free Library at Northside Hills Apartments was intentionally damaged.

After being dedicated and installed on Friday, it was vandalized over the weekend.

“It is with great sadness that I report the first case of intentional vandalism surrounding one of our 11 Little Free Libraries of the Griffin-Spalding County community,” Bell said.

“Northside Hills Apartments Little Free Library’s Steward Da’Shundria Davis called me Monday morning to say how shocked she was to find that the Little Free Library had been knocked off its wooden pole, as well as missing its door plus the books,” Bell said. “Trust and believe, we will not be deterred by the ignorant actions of others in the continuing of this initiative. The Little Free Library is being repaired and once completed, will be placed inside the Northside Hills Apartment’s community center.”

Bell added the hours of operation at the community center are weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The children will still have access to ‘take a book, leave a book.’ I expect there will be at minimum 15 Little Free Libraries by the end of 2017 of the Griffin/Spalding community, both indoors and outdoors,” he said.

Bell had mentioned vandalism at the dedication, asking the children to look out for the box, but also noting damage because of use was not vandalism, and he hoped this one would be used.

That is what happened to the one at Fairmont Homes, where the glass in the door came loose from use. It was quickly repaired and remains in service.

On the way to 15, there are two more Little Free Library dedications this month. There has been at least one a month since Bell and Spalding Collaborative began this effort in January.

The existing LIttle Free Library at Cowan Road Elementary School will be dedicated to the memory of Julie McLean Smith by the McLean family and the school at 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22. The following week a ribbon-cutting is scheduled for one at City Park, sponsored by the Sun City Civitan Club, at 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29.

For more information and locations of the Little Free Libraries around town, visit http://spalding.gafcp.org/little-free-library-initiative/ or email brettbell@designscreated.biz and doris@spaldingcollaborative.com.