A Georgia Family Connection Collaborative

Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families and Children

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Your Local Georgia Family Connection Collaborative Organization

Fairmont SPLOST projects on schedule

The bonded $1.9 million Fairmont/Heritage Park SPLOST project is on schedule for completion in December of this year, as was originally projected.

County Commissioner Gwen Flowers-Taylor, who pushed for the project in her district as a way to get the SPLOST to pass after it failed the year before, asked that the project be added to the agenda for Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

During public comments, Daa’Ood Amin, who chaired the pro-SPLOST effort, spoke of concerns brought to him about the project, since other bonded projects have been completed.

“This one is way behind, in my opinion,” Amin said. “I’m asking this board to fulfill their commitment to this project, I’d like to see it get back on track.”

Flowers-Taylor raised similar concerns from residents asking “why this bonded project has not been started? I don’t have an explanation of why it’s not been completed.”

County Manager William Wilson Jr. told her “the new air conditioning (for the Fairmont Community Center) is done, asbestos removal is done, new sidewalks and fencing are done, the outside restroom building is done.”

Wilson said Public Works, Parks and Grounds Director T.J. Imberger said this would all be done with in-house crews.

“Some of the work, because of change in state laws, can no longer be done without a licensed general contractor to pull the permits,” Wilson said. “We don’t have any licensed contractors on staff. We have to hire a project manager who is licensed to pull the permits, and submit plans to the City of Griffin.”

Wilson said pavilion play structure has been bought and is storage, waiting to be installed. Work is ongoing on the shade structure, then landscaping. There are four play structures that will be installed.

He said demolition has been approved inside the rec center, using a construction manager to pull the permits from the city.

“It was scheduled to be completed in December 2018, we’ll be close, based on us doing the work,” Wilson said.

When asked how much was spent so far, the Wilson said, “to date, Fairmont requisitions total $412,892.47 and Heritage Park requisitions total $234,908.89.”

Flowers-Taylor then questioned why work was done at Sunny Side and Orchard Hill first. Wilson said “you (the commissioners, both city and county) said give them their money first.”

Commission Chairman Raymond Ray said, “the project is scheduled for completion in December 2018, as we promised. We’re still working on accomplishing that. Things are happening, not as fast as some wanted, but they are happening.”

Flowers-Taylor then complained that “the courthouse got their computers up front,” a purchase the commissioners approved even before the SPLOST was passed and included it in the bonded projects.

She then complained about pickleball, something she also voted for as a bonded project citing the potential economic impact, saying, “they’ve been playing pickleball for year. It’s always something. They want to know why we lied. Really that’s how you gonna do?”

She and Amin both noted that voters will be asked for another SPLOST in the future and they may be reluctant to vote for another one if promises are not kept.

Commissioner Rita Johnson asked that the county be held to the December date. Ray asked for more updates on the progress of the project.

“I hope they will come,” Flowers-Taylor said, “Commissioner Hawbaker has asked before.”

Hawbaker said, “it should be a regular agenda item,” noting that it is a big project. He praised Wilson’s work in selling the bonds for the project, and use of the premiums to cover the cost overages from pickleball costs.

“I’m all in favor of allocating what else is left from that to Fairmont,” Hawbaker said. “Let’s giddy up.”

Ray asked that board “get updates on SPLOST projects, especially the bonded ones, at least once a month.”

  • Mar 25, 2018

More Little Free Libraries planned

The first Little Free Library of 2018 will be at the Spalding County Department of Family and Children’s Services on East Solomon Street.

Brett Bell, who has spearheaded the initiative, said Tuesday that “County Manager William Wilson and DFACS Director Phyllis Easton Barkley have approved the placement of the first Little Free Library of 2018 inside the DFACS center.”

Bell said a date has not been finalized as the county wants to mount the box so it does not tip over. The box, Bell said, “was donated to the initiative as a newspaper box by the Griffin Daily News; A.Z. Kelsey Academy students refurbished and designed its celebratory look.”

Discussions are also under way, Bell said, “with Anne Street Elementary Principal Pearla Hodo about placing the reconciled Little Free Library taken out of Raymond Head Park to that of the school’s compound.”

That box, sponsored by the Department of Juvenile Justice, was vandalized just before Christmas. It since been repaired.

Discussions are also under way to locate two Little Free Libraries at Wyomia Tyus Park, Bell said, “one near each of the two children’s playgrounds.”

He also announced that the Spalding Collaborative Little Free Library initiative was awarded a $2,500 grant by Agnes B. Hunt Foundation.

“This money will be used to maintain the boxes already up, and purchase ‘gently’ used children’s books,” Bell said.

“We are in desperate need of children’s books,” he added encouraging people to drop off new or gently used children’s books at the two drop box locations — outside First National Bank’s main office, 318 South Hill St., and outside the Women’s Center at WellStar Spalding Regional Hospital.

  • February 7, 2018

Housing study includes recommendations

This is according to Vaughn Irons of APD Solutions, who conducted a joint housing study for the county and City of Griffin. Irons made a presentation on the county portion of the results earlier this week, entitled “Future in the GRaSP,” named for Griffin and Spalding County.

The study included a windshield and later a data survey of 10,331 parcels in Spalding County. The data area included all of Griffin city limits and the surrounding high density population areas in unincorporated Spalding County, but not the entire county. It did not include the cities of Sunny Side, Orchard Hill or the developments of Sun City Peachtree or Heron Bay.

The Spalding “dataset” included 1,829 parcels outside of Griffin city limits, with 1,726 surveyed structures and 103 surveyed vacant lots.

Of those, 60 percent were listed in fair condition, 14.6 percent in poor condition, 13.2 percent in good condition, 3.8 percent with no structure, 3.6 percent in dilapidated condition, 2.9 percent in excellent condition, and 1.8 percent not visible.

According to Irons, 32.1 percent are physically distressed, blight is 18.2 percent, 16.1 percent with very low curb appeal and there were 256 or 13.9 percent vacant properties.

The study also included the local jobs impact and neighborhood assessments. Irons explained the factors included in the rankings for the 22 neighborhoods in the overall study were — review of census data, property value, owner occupancy, spending and earning of residents in each neighborhood.

For the employment impact, he said, there are 21,452 employees in Spalding dataset (study area) including 7,811 outside Griffin. Of those employed in Spalding County, 14,523 live outside of the county.

The county has 24,449 working residents, with 6,929 living and working here, 17,520 working outside the county so 32 percent of their jobs are here, Irons explained.

The neighborhood rating or typology included:

• Exceptional — Neighborhoods that are the most competitive, locally and regionally, in all indicators.

• Stable — Attractive neighborhoods with strong housing demand and a balanced assessment across indicators.

• Transitional — Neighborhoods generally experiencing signs of improved conditions or alternatively the first signs of decline.

• Vulnerable — Neighborhoods that are susceptible to exposure to a variety of factors that threaten the vitality of the area and its residents.

• Distressed — Neighborhoods that have experienced decline among multiple indicators for some time.

On the map Irons showed with the ratings, Commissioner Gwen Flowers-Taylor noted the “distressed” neighborhoods were all in her district.

According to the study, the following were listed as distressed: East Griffin I, East Griffin II, Thomaston Mill, and census areas 604003, 604004 and 604005 which are roughly area west of Hill Street, south of McIntosh Road, and east and north of city limits.

Owner occupancy was another factor, with percentages ranging from a low of 24.1 percent in Meriwether, Park District and three other census districts including two of those above, to 87.5 percent in the Maple Drive/Maddox district.

The study included 12 possible solutions, but noted solutions would be different and needed to be tailored to each neighborhood.

The solutions included employer-assisted housing; adopt-a-school partnerships; lease-purchase options; renovation tax abatement; housing trust fund; renovation tax-credits; stronger neighborhood identities; infill development/rehabilitation; code enforcement priorities; vacant property receivership; modular housing initiative; and connecting community and economic development.

Griffin-Spalding Land Bank Authority Chairman Newton Galloway, also the county zoning attorney, liked the study and noted some of these are being done through the Land Bank, including a lease/purchase trial the Land Bank is trying with a local developer for three parcels.

The Land Bank also looks to do infill housing, and works with the city and county and blight removal. It will be continuing its policy of requiring owner occupancy for homes it sells, following the direction of the commissioners.

The full report is available as part of agenda for the Jan. 22 meeting at https://spaldingcounty.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/.

  • Jan 26, 2018

Iris at Park Pointe completed

Located on the former Meriwether Homes housing project, this is the second phase of the redevelopment of the site.

The first phase was the Oaks at Park Pointe, an 84-unit townhome development which opened in 2016.

Iris at Park Pointe is an 85-unit senior community development at 859 Park Pointe Drive in Griffin, between the Oaks at Park Pointe and the Griffin Police Department.

The $10 million development encompasses over 78,000-square feet of residential space in one three-floor building, offering 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units, with a grand community room, indoor arts and crafts space, wellness and fitness center, a gazebo park, and more.

Like the Oaks at Park Pointe, the senior community is also certified as an “Earthcraft” energy efficient community.

Griffin Housing Authority CEO Bob Dull said residents will be moving in next month and the building is 100 percent rented already.

“We’re excited,” Dull said. “It’s a beautiful site.”

Capstone Building Corporation served as the general contractor, with Pennrose Properties, LLC of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the developer and Kitchen & Associates as the architect.

“We are very excited to announce the completion of this modern senior community in Griffin, Georgia,” Capstone Building Corporation President & Chief Executive Officer Jay Chapman said in a press release. “The many unique assets of this development — including the indoor arts and crafts space and the energy efficient feature, make this senior community a special place to live.”

Dull said a grand opening celebration is being planned but a date has not been sent. Work continues on the Housing Authority’s next public/private partnership by City Park, which is the third phase of the redevelopment in the former Meriwether Homes area.

That effort begin with the Oaks at Park Pointe as the first phase and Iris at Park Pointe is the second phase. The next phase extends into the surrounding are

  • Jan 28, 2018

BOC discusses housing conditions survey

In order for Griffin stakeholders to develop a plan that will allow the area to compete favorably for investment at regional, state and national levels, a comprehensive housing inventory produced 12 recommendations to bring about positive change.

APD Solutions CEO Vaughn Irons presented the survey’s results to the city’s Board of Commissioners at its Dec. 12 workshop. City officials selected APD Solutions Real Estate Group, a national community economic development consulting firm, to conduct the study.

Commissioners asked Director of Planning and Development Touissant Kirk to implement the recommendations that all felt would positively influence the housing conditions in the city.

“We will be reviewing the information and reporting back to the commissioners,” Kirk said.

Vaughn commended the city on its aggressive model regarding substandard structures and demolition of the same, noting this favorably impacted the number of dilapidated structures in the condition assessment.

While there are any factors underlying the challenges found in the local housing market, Irons said this study hopefully will seek approaches to combat those challenges and recommend action steps to offer a long-term vision for positive change.

Of the 13,641 people employed within Griffin, the study found that 87.4 percent of them live outside the city, with the remaining 12.6 percent living in Griffin.

“With 13,641 jobs and 8,941 households, Griffin has an excellent job/housing balance of 1.53. That is a positive, but the job share is concerning with only 20 percent of the available jobs in the city being filled by citizens. This has an impact on local economic opportunity, which is compounded with wages being low, given the median income of $32,116 in Griffin,” the report states.

The study looked at existing conditions, with the primary intent to factually illustrate the condition of the designated residential properties.

In a study of area residential structure conditions, 6.1 percent were considered to be in excellent condition, 22.3 percent were considered to be in good condition and 44.9 percent were found to be in fair condition.

“From a housing conditions viewpoint, the Griffin/Spalding study area has relatively stable but aging physical housing stock. Overall there is a ‘fair’ general aesthetic appeal with the ‘excellent’ and ‘good’ parcels very concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods,” the study states .

The study also showed 13.4 percent of studied residential structures were considered to be in poor condition, 3.1 percent in dilapidated condition and 2.5 percent were not visible, according to the study.

“Extreme dilapidation was documented at 324 parcels. The locations of these properties are very concentrated in areas of the city closer to former and existing industrial sites. Properties in this category include structures most likely in need of demolition,” the study states.

While the city’s 12.7 percent vacancy rate may not seem startling, most of the vacant lots and poor structures are concentrated within several neighborhoods, many of them comprising a “band” of communities beginning in the northeast and sprawling to the southwestern portion of the city, the study shows.

“These areas not only have higher structural vacancy numbers, but also represent some of the most blighted areas in Griffin,” the study states.

The study’s recommendations include:

— Establish a targeted workforce or employer assisted housing initiative. “Strengthening the challenged neighborhoods must include creating a linkage to current and future job opportunities,” according to the study. “An employer-assisted housing initiative can help employers both enhance their businesses and help the city turn around declining growth numbers.”

— Adopt-a-school partnerships with local businesses. “The city and county should work with the Chamber of Commerce to establish an adopt-a-school program for public schools serving the vulnerable and distressed neighborhood areas to raise the profile of challenges and help erase hurdles to addressing mediocre performance,” the study explains.

— Develop a lease-purpose option. “A lease-purchase option would help capturing families who are ready for home ownership but may need more time to save or work on credit problems,” according to the study.

— Property tax abatement for property improvement and renovation. “The Restoration Tax Abatement model is one of the most accessible incentives for buyers and property managers. The program would have options for commercial properties and owner-occupied residences,” the study recommends.

— Establish a housing trust fund. “It is recommended Griffin go one step further by creating a workforce housing trust fund. This fund would be dedicated to assisting the employees at licensed businesses in the city find affordable and suitable housing options,” the study explains.

— Financing single-family properties for renovation tax credits.

— Create stronger identities for neighboring areas. “As you travel throughout Griffin there are many residential areas that seem to lack clarity regarding neighborhood boundaries and identities. To better define the features and benefits of these residential areas and attract local families to become a part of it, removing confusion regarding neighborhood areas is recommended,” the housing study states.

— Promote infill development, rehabilitation and weatherization. “With the number of vacant lots in Griffin, the advanced age of the city’s housing stock, and limited government resources, creating an environment designed to preserve and renovate existing housing stock should be a priority,” according to the study.

— Concentrate housing dollars and code enforcement in priority areas.

— Establish a vacant property receivership/conservatorship program. “Receivership gives a municipality the authority to temporarily seize the rights of the property owners under a court-appointed directive until such time that the original owner is given permission to move forward with his rights and responsibilities. The owner is further required to complete specified duties and reimburse possible costs incurred during receivership. The Griffin Housing Authority or local non-profits could be identified and trained as a pool of receivers,” the study explains.

— Consider modular construction for new development. “Modular construction will produce housing in a more expedient and cost-effective manner than traditional construction,” the study states.

— Stronger collaboration between community and economic development initiatives.

“The APDS consultant team hopes that the Griffin housing plan will be a new catalyst to restore, rebuild and renew this community,” the study concludes.

Brent Petway partners with Scholastic to gives the gift of reading

Professional basketball player and Griffin High graduate Brent Petway donated 50 books to the Spalding Collaborative’s Little Free Library initiative.

The donation includes a collection of high-interest readers for primary scholars, from Scholastic Books — including his biography titled “I Believe I Can Fly and So Can You.” It is a series telling of “Brent’s plight to become an professional basketball player,” written by his mother, Dr. Angela E. Burse.

He now understands the importance of reading, Burse said.

“You’ve got to read to be successful, she said. “So many athletes don’t focus on reading.”

He wanted to look back and give back to the community where he grew up, his mother said. “We thought this was a great opportunity.”

Petway graduated from Griffin High in 2003, playing on the state championship basketball team that year. He attended the University of Michigan on a basketball scholarship, playing on the NIT championship team there.

He played in the NBA Developmental League and his 10-year professional career so far includes a year with the Harlem Globetrotters, and playing professionally in France, Italy, Turkey and Greece, where he currently plays for Aris Thessaloniki.

Brett Bell accepted the donation on behalf of the Collaborative, saying “we sincerely appreciate this contribution. Any time he he wants to give more, we’ll gladly accept them.”

Bell noted there’s still a dire need for children’s books encouraging people to drop off children’s books anytime at drop-off sites at First National Bank and outside the Women’s Center at WellStar Spalding Regional.

December 24,2017

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