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Hayes named new principal of SHS; Stewart to head RBMS

Gordon County Schools is proud to announce that Jennifer Hayes, current Red Bud Middle School principal, will be stepping in as principal at Sonoraville High School, while current SHS assistant principal, Amy Stewart, will take over as principal at Red Bud Middle School.

"With the opening of the principalship at Sonoraville High School, we have the opportunity to showcase the talented pool of leaders we have in our district," said Dr. Susan Remillard, Gordon County Schools' Superintendent. "Mrs. Hayes has done a tremendous job with the opening of the Red Bud Middle School facility, and her knowledge of the Sonoraville High School communities and the relationships she has built throughout her tenure with our district will serve her well in her new role. Additionally, I am confident that Mrs. Stewart will combine her vast educational experience with her tremendous heart for the communities she serves to continue the level of excellence the families of Red Bud Middle School have come to expect."

Jennifer Hayes is a proud native of Gordon County. A product of the Gordon County School system, Hayes is a graduate of Gordon Central High School and Kennesaw State University, where she earned her undergraduate degree. She also holds a master's degree from Piedmont University and an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from Lincoln Memorial University.

Additionally, Hayes has spent her entire career in Gordon County Schools, most of which has been in service to the students of the Red Bud community, where she served as an elementary teacher, assistant principal and principal at Red Bud Elementary. She currently serves as the principal of Red Bud Middle School, a position she has held since the school opened in 2014. Since that time, Red Bud Middle School has consistently boasted a school climate rating of 5 stars- the highest score given by the Georgia Department of Education.

Hayes is married to Gordon County native and Gordon Central graduate, Clint Hayes, and they have two daughters. Lily is an SHS graduate attending Western Carolina University on a softball scholarship, and Esther-Anne is a sophomore at SHS.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue to work with the students, families, and stakeholders of the Phoenix Nation," said Hayes when asked about her new role. "As a parent of two Sonoraville High School students, I truly appreciate what the Phoenix Nation means to our community. I am eager to continue

the great work that has been done at SHS and look forward to working with the students who I came to know during my time at Red Bud Middle School. These students are my students (many I have been involved with since Pre-K) and I am excited to have the opportunity to support them during the high school phase of their educational careers."

Amy Stewart has also called Gordon County Schools home her entire professional career. A native of the Red Bud community and a product of the school district, Stewart attended Red Bud schools before graduating from Gordon Central High School, where she returned to begin her teaching career, shortly after earning her undergraduate degree from Shorter University. Stewart went on to advance her education by earning graduate degrees in education and leadership from Berry College and Lincoln Memorial University.

In 2005, Stewart transferred to Sonoraville High School as a member of its inaugural faculty. During her teaching tenure, Stewart was named District Teacher of the Year on two different occasions, once going on to be named a state finalist. She has presented on multiple occasions on both state and national stages to share her expertise with colleagues across the nation. In 2008, Stewart took on the role of assistant principal at Sonoraville High School. In this capacity, she has served as a Fellow for the nationally-recognized Schlecty Center and has conducted multiple professional development sessions for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

Stewart is steeped in the community, serving as a member of the Gordon Optimist Club and Fairmount Kiwanis. She and her husband Jody, also a native of Gordon County, have two children. Luke is a senior at Sonoraville High School, and Zane is a part of Red Bud Middle School's eighth grade class. The Stewarts are members of Rockbridge Community Church, where Amy serves on the worship team.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to lead a school where I have so much history and family connection," said Stewart. "I have been blessed to serve the Phoenix Nation for more than a decade, and I look forward to continuing my service to this community and upholding the high expectations established by Mrs. Hayes and her staff."

The two leaders will assume their new roles effective Feb. 26.

Potts reflects on his time at SHS; discusses why he resigned

With what appeared to be the abrupt resignation of Sonoraville High School Principal Bruce Potts last week, many in the community have voiced concerns over his resignation, insinuating it was an ouster by higher powers. But Potts shared this week that it's just not so: his resignation was his own decision and had been months in planning. The simple truth is, Potts wants to expand on his career in education and is looking to become a superintendent.

"I shared sort of an outline and a plan that my family, and myself, have really been thinking about (continuously) for a month, and it actually started back for me in October around fall break," said Potts.

Potts said his reason for resigning is that his goal is to expand his career and to do so, wants to take on a superintendentship, and that there is no animosity with Gordon County Schools.

"I'm thinking that I aspire now to be a superintendent at some point in my career, but my clock is ticking," said Potts. "I'll be 54 in April. If I'm going to be a superintendent, I really need five years in the superintendency to make an impact in a district. I have a passion for kids; I love being around kids. Leading a district is the next thing in my sights."

So Potts has drawn up a plan to take unused vacation time to search for a superintendent position.

"Utilizing the vacation days (84 days total) I have accrued is my next steps," said Potts. "From Feb. 21 through June 28, I'm going to really network and try to find my next steps. I trust the Lord that He'll walk with me during that time, and if there's a superintendent's

position there, I think He will put it in my sights. If there's not, He's got another plan for me. I told the seniors this week, I liken it to standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and trusting that next step is going to be one of faith and that the Lord will put a stepping stone, and then another stepping stone and I trust that and I lean on that. I know He's got a plan."

If Potts does not find a position by late June, he'll simply retire from education and go to work in the private sector, saying that his time as head of Sonoraville could not have been any more rewarding.

"A little over 13 years of being a Phoenix has been a storybook," said Potts. "I couldn't write a better book; if I could write a book, I don't know that I'd change anything. I've grown professionally. I've watched teachers come in- first year teachers that are single and get married, have kids. I sort of feel like a grandfather. It's been special. Principals lasting for 13 years is not heard of- I'm a little bit of an anomaly. Life expectancy is about five years in a principalship, and I've made it 13, so that's special that longevity has been there. The Lord's got a plan and I'm trusting in it."

Potts reflected on those 13 years at Sonoraville and has many proud moments and accomplishments throughout his tenure, most focusing on growing the school, serving the community, student success and relationships.

"That first year, Mr. Mike Stanton took a chance on a greenhorn assistant principal," said Potts. "I knew we were going to grow. That first year, the Board handed me resumes for a football coach to hire- had never done that before. We hired an assistant principal in Allen Bowen. Trace Vaughn was the third person I helped hire. That first year, bringing 35 fresh faces on this campus, knowing they were going to impact this community, and a lot of those 35 are still here. Then, in the second year, bringing 33 more in, you're looking at 68 new faces coming into Gordon County and making a difference at Sonoraville High School. Those first two years were the biggest impact years for me professionally, just networking and finding the right fit and praying that God would bring the right people to us."

Student success is another proud accomplishment Potts lists during his tenure.

"The consistency that we've exhibited over the 13 years. We're one of the highest performing high schools in Northwest Georgia," said Potts. "When you start breaking down our RESA district or if you're looking at a standardized test, CCRPI scores or AYP, we've consistently been number one or number two," said Potts. "We've out performed every school at some point during my tenure here and it benefits the kids."

"The staff that we've assembled, we have a heart for the kids," said Potts. "And we have students all across the spectrum. We have homeless kids living in cars; I pulled a kid out of a barn living with a space heater a couple of years ago. We've got kids that come from affluent situations that have hearts of gold and are not spoiled. We have hard working kids overall. And the staff we've assembled has a heart for all of these kids. If you've got a core belief in kids, and you've got a passion for kids, your (school) culture is going to be phenomenal. And our culture far exceeds anything we do as a staff. And if you've got culture, the curriculum takes care of itself. We've got a culture here (at Sonoraville) that will transcend Mr. Potts, will transcend anything that's going on. We believe every person is important, from teacher to student to bus driver to cafeteria worker and custodial staff."

Potts is also proud of how the school has served the community, especially during late January 2013 when a tornado blew through the Sonoraville community.

" Community - wise, something I'll reflect on the rest of my life is the tornado," said Potts. "That event, and how our community stepped up to help one another, shows what it means to be a Phoenix. Parents, kids, teachers and staff went the extra mile. We stayed here day in and day out for about seven or eight days, feeding the community, serving the community, working in unison with the Sheriff's Office, Samaritans Purse, Emergency Management, all the relief agencies with Church of Christ, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterian and Adventist- we had representatives from all of those agencies on this campus and we were able to coordinate and really clean up in a hurry and get people back on their feet. The other schools were a part of that, but the large bulk of it was right here and it speaks well of who we are as a community. We preach it every day. We are a learning community pursing a higher standard of excellence. It's not just something we say, it's something we try to live every day."

Potts is also proud of the tremendous extracurricular growth at the school.

"The growth of our extracurricular activities, from fine arts to athletics, has been phenomenal," said Potts. "Coach Mashburn, as our athletic director, has grown the athletic program unbelievably. Hannah Nelson handles the fine arts side. We are competing across the State. We are competing locally in those areas. Our career tech and agriculture education programs...we've got national champions, I can't even county the national champions and national qualifiers in 13 years."

Potts is proud of his accomplishments at the school and expects great things for Sonoraville High in the future.

"I want to see the continued growth of Sonoraville High School," said Potts. "I want us to live what we talk about, want us to be a learning community. The academic aspect of what we offer is going to carry a kid for a lifetime, but the experiences gained, the high school experiences, are going to make for great memories for kids. Beyond Mr. Potts being here, I hope those are things that the staff and the future Phoenix Nation will hang their hats on: they are coming to a place where teachers care about them and will build relationships with them, lifetime relations. That needs to continue for us to be success."

As Potts looks forward to his future, he relies on his faith to get him through the next few months.

"I'm excited to see what the Lord's going to put in front of me," said Potts. "I don't speak of faith enough around the kids, but I hope my actions over 13 years exhibit what it means to be a believer in Jesus' teachings. If we will serve one another and love one another unconditionally, He'll bless and honor everything in it."

Momon Construction tapped to build new animal shelter

At Tuesday night's meeting, the Gordon County Board of Commissioners selected Momon Construction to build the new Animal Shelter at a cost of $1,107,950. The total bid award was $1,207,950 to include $100,000 in contingency funds. According to County Administrator- Attorney James Ledbetter, the county was able to save money with some changes in materials.

"In lieu of metal trusses and metal roof, we can use wooden trusses and asphalt shingles, saving us more than $90,000," he said. The county will save an additional $61,700 using Momon Construction for value engineering.

Using the wooden trusses saves the county $40,222 and using shingles nets a savings of $55,280. He also stated that changing the type of hardware on the doors will save the county $12,400 and not using dormers, which was for aesthetics, would save $9,000. Discarding plans for an extra HVAC system would save $23,900. Ledbetter said the system would have supplied air for a surgical area, but that the animal shelter would have adequate heating and air for spays and neuters and those would be the only surgeries the facility would perform.

Momon has 270 days from the day the bid was awarded to complete the project. If not completed, there would a $500 per day fine, according to Ledbetter.

Carter Watkins and Associates is the architectural firm which designed the facility. Bids ranged from $1.275 million to $1.943 million. Ledbetter said nine contractors attended a pre-

bid conference Jan. 4, prior to submitting bids.

Commissioner Bud Owens, pointed out that the county has awarded several construction jobs to local business.

"This is the fifth project that was awarded to a local business, so we are keeping it local," said Owens.

In other commissioner news:

-Granted easement for the Resaca Sewer Project. The project has been a long time in the making, said Commissioner Chad Steward.

"A lot of discussion went into this," he said.

The easement had originally been proposed on the west side of Fort Wayne, but the Historic Preservation Committee opposed it, due to the impact on the historical property.

-Terry Boyd, Clerk of Superior Court office, was named Gordon County Employee of the Month.

-The Board approved a request to submit a United Way grant application for the Gordon County Recreation Department. The amount of the grant is $12,000 and the department uses the money to pay the registration fees for children who need assistance.

-There will be ACCG spring training March 15-16 in Tifton and the annual conference and training April 27-30 in Savannah.

-The Board approved the renewal of rental agreement with State Properties Commission, 1166 Lovers Lane, for a term ending June 30, 2018. This is for the Public Safety Offices and rent amounts to $1.00 per year.

-The Board declared a 2001 Buick Regal surplus property for the Sheriff's Department.

The Board will meet next on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2918 at 6 p.m. for their regular meeting. A work session will be held prior to the meeting. Both are open to the public. The meeting will be held at the Gordon County Administration Building, located at 201 North Wall Street in downtown Calhoun.

Pursuit leads to capture of fugitive, large meth seizure

According to Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston, on Monday morning, Feb. 5, deputy sheriffs attempted to stop a suspicious automobile on Cline Road near Resaca. The driver of the car fled away at a high rate of speed, leading deputies on a pursuit through the area until the suspect crashed on Bandy Lake Road.

The driver and lone occupant fled on foot into a very thickly wooded area. The responding deputies quickly set up a perimeter around the area, and the driver, subsequently identified as Robert Wayne Mitchell, age 37, of 525 Peters Street, Calhoun, was soon apprehended.

Mitchell was armed with a knife-in-hand when he was arrested. A search of the automobile revealed a large amount of processed methamphetamine for resale. At the time of his arrest, Mitchell was being sought on a felony warrant for violation of probation. He has also been charged locally with trafficking in methamphetamine, obstruction and assaulting officers, associated weapons offenses, and a host of traffic related charges.

What's Going on in Gordon

Friday, Feb. 9

Toddler Friday at 10:30 a.m. at Harris Arts Center. Toddler Friday is held the second Friday of the month and includes story time, music, sensory activities and hands-on art for ages 6 months - 5 years. The cost is $7 for first child/$5 each additional child; $5 for HAC members. To Register & For More Info: or 706-629-2599

Saturday, Feb. 10

"An Evening of Love & Laughter" benefit for The Family Resource Center. 6:30 p.m. at 209 on Wall Street. The evening will feature a cocktail hour, heavy hors d'oeuvres catered by David Burton of Wall Street Catering Company, a silent auction, and a live auction. Guests will be surrounded by entertainment throughout the night, including the music of Theresa Gorella and Andrew Royal of Poster Child and comedians Josh Scott, Andrew George and Bob Place. For Tickets and More Info: or 706-625-3311

Saturday, Feb. 10

"Sleepless In Seattle" 7:30 p.m. at GEM Theatre. Tickets are $5. Info: or 706-625-3132

Sunday, Feb. 11

Super Museum Sunday. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at New Echota. Visit New Echota and other Georgia State Historic Sites for free on this special day. Info: or 706-624-1321