In a called meeting on Monday, the Gordon County Board of Education named Brian Hall principal of Gordon Central High School, exactly two weeks after the board approved to hire a new superintendent.
"I am confident that Mr. Hall's vision to increase learning opportunities for all students, coupled with his genuine passion for teaching and learning, will be tremendous assets as he leads the Warrior Nation and builds upon the excellence that is Gordon Central High School," commented incoming Superintendent Kimberly Fraker, who has been learning the ropes of her new position over the past couple of weeks.
Hall, who has most recently served as assistant principal at Sonoraville Elementary School, has a long history with Gordon County Schools. Hall grew up in the Gordon County School district, where he attended Tolbert Elementary and Ashworth Middle School before graduating from Gordon Central High School in 2006. He has also spent his career in the district, having taught at both Ashworth Middle School and Gordon
Central before moving into administration.
"It is an honor and a privilege to be selected as the next principal of Gordon Central High School," said Hall when asked about being chosen for the position. "I am excited for this homecoming to my alma mater and look forward to working alongside dedicated educators to create purposeful learning experiences for all students."
Hall holds a bachelor's degree in secondary English education from Kennesaw State University, a master's degree in English education from Piedmont College and a specialist in education leadership from Valdosta State University. Hall is currently pursuing a doctorate in education leadership at Valdosta State. He and his wife Elisha reside in Calhoun with their son,
"Gordon Central is an amazing school with talented, creative and hardworking students," Hall said. "I seek to continue inviting all stakeholders to participate in the learning process as we strengthen our Warrior community and find new opportunities for success after high school."
Hall will officially assume his role as principal on July 1. Also during Monday's called meeting, the board approved for Shaw Industries to use the district's school buses on June 25, June 26, July 8 and July 9. Shaw will reimburse the district for mileage, fuel and the cost of hiring a driver for those days.
Director of Transportation Keith Brown said these days of bus usage will help the United Way through the launch of their summer fundraising efforts by promoting local organizations within the Gordon County area that benefit from partnering together.
"Being a local partner with United Way and Gordon County, Shaw Industries covers the cost to have their hourly staff tour the local organizations that benefit from their contributions," Brown said. "We will provide one bus and one driver at an estimated cost of $160 each of (the days), which will be covered by Shaw Industries."
Brown said the buses will be transporting employees to visits at Latinos for Education and Justice Organization, Boys & Girls Club and Prevent Child Abuse/Family Resource Center to understand how local organizations partnering up positively contributes to the greater community.
In addition, board members decided to continue with the process of attaining two requests for proposals — one for copier machines and the other for security updates. Director of Finance Mendy Goble is working to compile the request for copier machines to be leased to schools.
Returning to a security monitoring situation that was tabled at the June 10 meeting, the board rejected a security bid in order to spend more time auditing the current security systems of the county schools. Once those surveys have been completed, the central office will develop a request for proposal to determine how best to address the current deficiencies in the county's security monitoring.
Gordon County Sheriff's Office deputies serving an early morning warrant on Friday didn't find the person they were looking for but did arrest five others on drug charges.
According to reports provided by the GCSO, at about 3 a.m. on Friday, June 21, deputies arrived at 120 Barrett Lane, Lot 6, in search of Michael Shannon Ivey. He was not at the residence, but police found five others with meth, marijuana, scales and smoking device inside the home.
Arrested were: Charles Stanley Cagle, 58, of 120 Barrett Lane, Lot 6, Calhoun; Amanda Shae Davis, 39, of 50 Collins Road, Cedartown; Darren Lamar Gilbert, 53, of 775 Hyde Road N.W., Resaca; Michael Joe Kimsey, 37, of 127 Meadow Lane, Calhoun; and Jennifer Leigh Sission, 35, of 120 Barrett Lane, Lot 6, Calhoun.
All five individuals were each charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana less than one ounce and possession of drug-related objects.
Reports say that as deputies approached the home that Sisson ran to the front door and yelled a warning into the residence. A man was spotted running toward the back of the home as deputies moved to surround the structure.
Inside deputies found meth inside a bedroom and marijuana, scales and a smoking device on a dining room table. A second smoking device was found on a kitchen counter.
Andrew Tierce looked over his recently delivered beer-making equipment Tuesday morning and pointed out the spots where each tank will probably sit once everything is in place.
Tierce is one of three partners building a craft brewery called Freight and Rail Brewing Company on South Park Avenue in downtown, and while the business is aiming for an October opening date, the tools needed to brew beer arrived last week.
"It's all about the beer. It's all about the community. We just want to build a place for people to come and hang out and come together and enjoy a good beer.
There's nothing complicated about it. People have been doing it for a long time," Tierce said.
The process began for Tierce about two years ago when he began applying for the three levels of licensing required to make beer — one each from the federal, state and local governments — but things are beginning to pick up now that the equipment has been delivered.
Freight and Rail will serve about eight or 10 beers at a time, said Tierce, but the details regarding types and styles haven't been nailed down yet. The plan is to offer a tap room where guests can come have a beer, fill a growler or take home a six pack.
The space on the corner of South Park Avenue and Oothcalooga Street will feature a stage, bar and seating in the tap room, with the brewery located in the rear. Though the brewery will not serve food, a new pizzeria, arcade and pub is being developed just next door, and brewery patrons will be encouraged to bring in their own food from anywhere.
Tierce, who is working with Justin Childress and Dakota Rasbury on the project, said the next big milestone will be the delivery of the walkin coolers. After that the bar will be built and the stage finalized.
Tierce said it was important to him to be downtown and to focus making a truly local beer. As such, Freight and Rail won't look to distribute beyond the local area in the early stages.
"I think there is a lot of opportunity in smaller towns," said Tierce, a Calhoun High School graduate who works in production planning when he's not researching brewing equipment.
He noted that despite a recent surge in the craft brewing business, Georgia still ranks on the lower end of craft breweries per population. A new state law in 2016 that allowed breweries to sell direct to customers fostered that growth, and Tierce said the timing was perfect.
"My dad always said timing is everything," he said with a laugh.
Ultimately, his goal is to make a hometown beer that Calhoun and Gordon County residents can connect with and feel proud of, while also bringing people downtown.
"In the end we all want downtown to develop. We want businesses here. Craft beverages just go hand-inhand with downtown development," Tierce said.
See Saturday's issue of the Calhoun Times for a report about Trackside Pizzeria and Pub, a new business being developed next door to the brewery
Once a week or so, the Fuqueas try to head out to a local river to spend a few hours kayaking. But on June 15 the couple headed to Withlacoochee River near Valdosta to participate in a week-long paddle trip led by Georgia River Network.
Though Sofia and Ronald Fuquea only participated in the weekend segment of the 2019 Paddle Georgia adventure, they were two of 350 participants to kayak an average of 15 miles a day along Georgia rivers. The entire trip covered 92 miles and allowed paddlers to explore the native habitats and local bodies of water within state borders.
The Fuqueas have participated in the Paddle Georgia adventure for four years now, each time only kayaking for two days of the weeklong event.
"Saturday and Sunday, that's as much as we want to do," Sofia said. "We were pretty worn out after that. The days are longer than what we usually paddle, as we're on the river anywhere from 11-17 miles a day."
While it might stretch them and challenge their skills, this paddle event has allowed the Fuqueas to kayak along the Withlacoochee, Suwannee, Etowah, Conasauga, Oostanaula and Ogeechee rivers, giving them experiences they will remember for some time.
Though this event is one of the ways they celebrate their love for kayaking, the couple typically enjoys paddling by themselves.
"I like paddling (the two of us) more," Ronald said. "On Paddle Georgia, everyone wants to paddle – it's distracting, but during the week it's a lot better up here on the rivers."
The Fuqueas' journey of paddling actually started when they were on vacation in St. George Island, Florida, years ago and bought a kayak after renting it for a day. After their first trip out on the ocean they fell in love and found a longlasting hobby.
The Fuqueas do admit that kayaking on the ocean and on rivers are two different beasts, yet being natives of Calhoun, they can't help but take advantage of the many rivers in their home town.
Being used to having rivers to themselves, Sofia and Ronald found while on Paddle Georgia it was hard to spot wildlife, more difficult to enjoy the solitude of being on the water and they didn't get to choose their own pace, especially with 350 other paddlers on the river.
Yet, Paddle Georgia, they said, is an opportunity to connect with other paddlers and it reminds them of how important local rivers are and how communities need to protect their natural resources.
"It increases awareness of the need to protect our rivers and the need to clean them," Sofia said. "You come away understanding there are a lot of people working really hard at the government level and grassroots level to (raise awareness)."
Both Sofia and Ronald are involved with organizations such as the Georgia River Network, Coosa River Basin Initiative and the Apalachicola Riverkeeper. They say that the best way to appreciate the local habitat is to spend time in it, and they would love to see more Calhounites get into kayaking.