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Early voting kicks off Monday

Catoosa County will open up a three-week window for advanced and early voting for the Nov. 6 general election Monday morning, Oct. 15.

Although there are no local contested races, voters still have plenty to consider this election season as they vote for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and other offices.

Early voting will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday from Oct. 15 to Nov. 2.

Also, early voting will be available Saturday, Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On Election Day, Nov. 6, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to Catoosa County Elections Director Tonya Moore, there are 40,225 active voters in the county.

Although Catoosa County residents will need to vote at their designated precinct if they wait to vote on Election Day, Moore says they'll have to visit one of two precincts in order to vote early in person.

"If they vote early they'll have to come here to the Ringgold precinct (Freedom Center) or Westside," Moore said.

The Freedom Center is located at 5283 Evitt St. next door to Catoosa County Fire and Rescue, while the Westside precinct is located at 3319 Lakeview Drive in Rossville adjacent to Westside Elementary School.

Voters had until Oct. 9 to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election. "Residents can go online to www.mvp.sos.ga.gov and they can find out more about dates and times, find their precinct, check sample ballots," Moore said.

The website also has all the information and an application for to apply for an absentee ballot.

What to bring to the polls

Voters are required to present an acceptable ID at the poll.

This may be a valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a free ID Card issued by your county registrar's office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS); a Georgia driver's license, even if expired; a valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state; a valid U.S. passport ID; a valid U.S. military photo ID; or a valid tribal photo ID.


Literacy in Catoosa County

In the year 2000, says Catoosa Citizens for Literacy Executive Director Shirley Smith, census records showed that Catoosa County had a whopping 36 percent illiteracy rate. The shock of that number gave birth to CCL, started through the Catoosa Chamber of Commerce and now an independent 501(c)(3).

The good news is that the illiteracy rate has dropped to around 15 percent, says Smith, but the real story is in individual lives changed for the better.

"We work to meet whatever literacy needs a person has," Smith says. "For most people that's going to be getting a GED so they can get a job and become a productive member of society, but there are other stories, too.

"We had one lady who wanted to learn to read so she could read her Bible," says Smith. "Another wanted to be able to read the information on her prescriptions. A couple from another country wanted help learning to understand 'southern English.' There was lady who wanted help learning to use a computer so she could use FaceTime to communicate with her grandchild in college."

One of CCL's many success stories involved a student who scored especially high on her GED and wanted to attend Kennesaw State, a college that did not normally accept GED students.

"They were so impressed with her scores," says Smith, "that they reconsidered their policy and accepted her."

CCL partners with Georgia Northwestern Technical College to offer GED and computer classes at no cost. CCL provides free transportation and childcare for those who need it, and when a student is ready to take their GED, CCL pays the $160 fee. "When we started out nearly 20 years ago," says Smith, "the cost for taking the GED was around $25. Now it has become unmanageable for a lot of people."

CCL also awards four $500 scholarships a year to help students further their education. "Our goal," says Smith, "is for people who walk through our doors without an education and without a job to walk out the other side with both and to have the option of furthering their education even more."

Smith says that when the economy is good, the learning center sees fewer students. "Jobs are easier to get, but people fail to look ahead. The economy goes up and down, and when it's down, people without an education are the ones who suffer. That's when we see more students, but it's important for people to consider the future and how things can change."

The Georgia legislature declares one week each September as Literacy Week, but Smith says Catoosa County took it a step further this year. "The Board of Commissioners proclaimed the entire month of September as Literacy Month."

GED and other literacy classes take place at the Catoosa Learning Center at Benton Place Campus, 36 Muscogee Trail in Ringgold. For more information call 706-965-8275.


Big yard sale

Haunted Depot set to open Friday

The city of Ringgold is ready for the Halloween season and will open its 12th annual Haunted Depot event Friday, Oct. 12.

The city's widely popular and much-anticipated three-week event will feature live entertainment, food, and plenty of scares.

The family-friendly event is always evolving and has added a new wrinkle this year with the addition of illusionist Jaden Maxwell to the entertainment lineup.

"We're excited to have Jaden Maxwell's show going this year at Patriot Hall," said Ringgold Main Street Manager Jamie Klementisz. "The shows will be on the hour from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m."

Like the haunted house, tickets for Maxwell's show are $10 and can be purchased at the ticket bus on Depot Street during the event.

In addition to the haunted house and illusion show, the event also offers side attractions like the Historic Ghost Tours and Hayride & Bonfire, which cost $7 and $3 respectively.

There are also activities available for children, such as face-painting and the annual coloring contest.

"The coloring contest is being held for Catoosa County Schools grades K-5," Klementisz said. "The deadline for the contest is Oct. 27. Entries should be turned in to City Hall or brought to the Haunted Depot ticket bus. First-place winners will receive a ribbon and have their coloring page framed."

The Haunted Depot event is put on each year by the Ringgold Downtown Development Authority, and all funds help the DDA in making improvements throughout the community.

Entertainment lineup for Haunted Ringgold

• Friday, Oct. 12 – Courtney Daly

• Saturday, Oct. 13 – The Band Raven

• Friday, Oct. 19 – For Love or Money

• Saturday, Oct. 20 – Common Ground

• Friday, Oct. 26 – Grizzly Fowler

• Saturday, Oct. 27 – Shani Palmer

'The coloring contest is being held for Catoosa County Schools grades K-5. The deadline for the contest is Oct. 27. Entries should be turned in to City Hall or brought to the Haunted Depot ticket bus. First-place winners will receive a ribbon and have their coloring page framed.'

Ringgold Main Street Manager Jamie Klementisz

RINGGOLD HAUNTED DEPOT

When: Oct. 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, from 7-11 p.m.

Where: Ringgold Depot, 155 Depot St.

More info: 706-935-3061, www.cityofringgoldga.gov, or The Haunted Depot Facebook page


Ringgold OKs change order, time extension for solar project

The city of Ringgold has encountered a minor hiccup with its first solar-powered project, resulting in a $4,000 uptick in cost.

In July, the City Council approved a bid for nearly $46,000 to install solar panels to its shop area off Sparks Street.

During the Sept. 24 council meeting, City Manager Dan Wright explained that an electrical issue recently arose with some of the panel placements.

"When we had the opportunity to submit for the solar project at the shop, we had to respond very quickly in order to apply for the grant, and then when we had to put forth a bid, we had to work very quickly in order to make the time constraints," Wright said. "After the project got started, Hannah Solar, who is doing a good job from all that we can tell so far, they started installing their panel holders on the rooftop of the shop on the southern most end of our shop property on Sparks Street."

"When their electrician came, however, he realized that the location of the panel that he needed to go into was some 350 feet away."

Wright said there will need to be some additional work done to accommodate the electrical needs.

"All of that has to be trenched and there's a good portion of it that's concrete," Wright said. "The total change order is $4,000, and $2,000 will come from the grant. We were at $46,000, and we have up to $50,000 with the grant with 50-percent of it being reimbursed."

The 50-percent grant is through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

Wright says the initial quote for the work was significantly higher, but that savings will be had with city crews doing some of the work in-house.

"We have a big walk-behind concrete saw that city crews can use to do some of the work, which knocked the potential $7,000 change order down to $4,000," Wright said. "Our guys are constantly doing that with road cutting and those type things, so we'll sort of do a little bit of that for them, but then they'll do all the electrical portion of it."

During the previous City Council meeting on Sept. 10, the board was given an extension on the project. "The original agreement would've required us to have everything in place by the end of September, and GEFA contacted the city an offered a no-cost extension to the end of November, Nov. 30," Wright said.