The Calhoun City Council discussed a vast array of topics and approved a variety of new business items during its Monday, Nov. 13 meeting.
One of the highlights of the meeting was the acknowledgement and recognition of the accomplishments of the 2017-2018 Gordon County Youth Leadership class, which was in attendance.
The group is comprised of 48 of the best and brightest students from Sonoraville High School, Calhoun High School, Gordon Central High School and Georgia-Cumberland Academy. It is an eight-month program that introduces the local students to leadership opportunities within the community. It is the 24th class to experience the program.
"It is an honor for us to welcome the Youth Leadership group that is here tonight," Mayor Jimmy Palmer said. "I think it speaks highly of you and your group that you were selected from over 120 applicants. You certainly are leaders in your schools, and we are very pleased to have you here tonight."
Each student present shared their name and what school they attend. Palmer also expressed his appreciation for the advisers of the program, and shared that he, as well as the council members, are available if any of the students had any questions or need help in the future.
As the meeting continued, Palmer also announced the results of the Nov. 7 general municipal elections, adding that a runoff between Alvin Long and Ray Denmon for Post No. 4 is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 5. Early voting will be available.
After the election results were shared, Councilman Al Edwards, Councilman Matt Barton, Councilman David Hammond and Councilwoman Jackie Palazzolo each presented their monthly comments on the various departments they are responsible for reporting on.
At the conclusion of the comments, the council addressed a few items of new business listed on the agenda. They received a citizen request from Martha
Smith and had a discussion regarding the condition of the curbs at the Forest Heights Apartments complex. The council noted it was an issue that needed attention.
Other items on the agenda included the first readings of annexation requests by William Jenson and Jason Everts. The council then approved a memorandum of understanding between the City of Calhoun and Gordon County to pursue funding for the "Miracle Mile," which is an established section of the Rivers to Ridge Trail Master Plan.
Among items that were approved by the council was a meeting date change from Dec. 25 to Dec. 18, a request to surplus a 2005 Ford F-350 service truck by the Water and Wastewater Maintenance Department, and a request from the Calhoun Police Department to use Asset Forfeiture Account funds to purchase vehicle.
Personnel changes that were approved by the council included an Alcohol Manager Change request by RaceTrac, an Alcohol Manager Change request by Wall Street Grille, a Pawn Manager Change request by Check into Cash of Georgia, LLC, a Pawn Manager Change request for Corner Pawn, a Pawn Manager Change request by D & S Pawn, Inc. and a Pawn Manager Change request by TitleMax of Georgia.
There was also numerous annual business license renewals approved, including many beer, wine and liquor pouring licenses, in addition to pawn and taxi renewals.
City Administrator Eddie Peterson submitted the Fiscal Year 2017 4th quarter budget amendments and financial statements. He also addressed the Youth Leadership students and explained some aspects of how the city's budget is maintained. The statements were then approved.
As the meeting was drawing to a close, City Attorney George Govignon introduced an addendum to the Probation Services Agreement that had been received from SSI. The council approved the agreement.
The council will meet again on Monday, Nov. 27.
November is National Adoption Month, a time of raising awareness of the need for adoptive parents and celebrating adoption.
"During the month of November, families across America celebrate National Adoption Month—a time where we bring focus to forever families across the country to celebrate the efforts that child welfare agencies have made to achieve permanency for children in foster care," said Garrett Pierce, Gordon County Resource Development Case Manager at the Gordon County Department of Family and Children Services.
According to Pierce, 169 children from DFCS Region 1 have been adopted since Nov. 1, 2016; the region includes Gordon and surrounding counties.
"The primary goal of DFCS is to achieve permanency through reunification with birth families," said Pierce. "However, when that is no longer an option, adoption becomes the primary case plan."
For Gordon County resident Vicki Watson and husband, Jeremy, the road to adoption began five years ago, when they became foster parents. During that five-year period, they have had about 15 foster children in and out of their home, staying anywhere from a week to several months.
Fostering is what brought about the adoption of the Watson's five children: Arriah, 8; Jax, 5; Delilah, 4; Piper, 4 and Silas, 3.
"We were originally foster parents," said Vicki Watson. "We had fertility issues and we decided that's where God wanted us to goto adopt through foster care. We decided to open our home to foster children in hopes that we would eventually be able to adopt one day; God led us to adopt five."
Watson said their journey to adopting began with fostering three sisters who, after an extended stay, temporarily returned
to their birth parents, only to go back to the Watson home later.
"The three girls, Arriah, Delilah and Piper, are a sibling group; we got them and they stayed with us for nine months," said Watson. "In between having the girls and them going home, we did get one of our sons, Jax. A little later, the girls went home to their birth parents, and a few months after that, we decided to take in another baby, Silas, who is now our son. The same month we took in Silas, we found out the girls' family was not following their plan, so they came back into foster care and we decided we did not want them in another foster home. We loved them and felt that they were ours so they came back to us the same month."
This opened the door for the Watson's to adopt the girls and followed this by adopting the boys.
"The birth parents of the girls decided they wanted us to adopt them, so they signed over their rights," said Watson. "A year later, we finally adopted them. Jax, who came to us at two and a half, was supposed to be a quick adoption, but he ended up being the last to be adopted and we finalized his adoption earlier this year. So it's been a really long journey, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I love all my kids like I gave birth to them."
Watson suggests fostering before adopting. "There's a lot of parents that get into this just to adopt and do not want to foster first, but you have to open your heart to these children," said Watson. "And you have to love them with everything you've got in hopes that they can learn to love, not only you, but other people and to eventually become healthy adults."
And helping her children to become healthy adults is Watson's goal.
"The children have adjusted well," said Watson. "All the kids love each other, and as much as they fight like normal brothers and sisters do, they also have each other's back like normal brothers and sisters do. To me, our kids are perfect for me and my husband. They are happy kids; we enjoy going places and we camp all the time."
Watson offers advice to anyone who thinks they might want to foster.
"There's a lot of people that tell me they don't think they could foster because they'd get too attached to the children, but I tell them that's what you're supposed to do-to teach them that attachment," said Watson. "Not everybody can do it but if you have the heart, you should help. Everyone can help in some way."
For more information on fostering and/or adopting, call 1-877-210-KIDS or visit www.fostergeorgia.com
Now - Nov. 30
Cookies for a Cause - Chick-fil-A Calhoun: For each Chocolate Chunk Cookies 6-count purchased, Chick-fil-A will donate $5 to the local Boys & Girls Club.
Now - Dec. 10
Festival of Trees: Harris Arts Center. Tour the beautifully decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, arrangements and specialty gift baskets - all offered for silent auction. More Info: www.harrisartscenter.com
Sunday, Nov. 19
Mrs. Claus at HAC: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. reading stories & visiting with children. During this time, parents will have the opportunity to purchase Letters from Santa for $5.
Saturday, Nov. 18
Friends of The Library Fall Book Sale: Calhoun-Gordon County Library (open during the library's normal business hours). More Info: 706-624-1456.
Friday, Nov. 17 & Saturday, Nov. 18
Calhoun Little Theater presents "Christmas Belles": 7 p.m. at Harris Arts Center. This Southern-Fried Yuletide Comedy is certain to bring a smile to your face! Tickets are $10 - $15. More Info: www.harrisartscenter.com.
Saturday, Nov. 18
John Berry Christmas Concert: 7:30 p.m. at GEM Theatre. More Info: www.calhoungemtheatre.org.
Sunday, Nov. 19
Christmas Open House: 1 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Shop the deals and delicious treats when the Chamber's Christmas Open House returns! Participating establishments include downtown Calhoun retailers, outlet mall stores, and boutiques throughout Calhoun-Gordon County. More Info: www.gordoncountychamber.com.
Sunday, Nov. 19
"Polar Express" Movie: 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. at GEM Theatre. More Info: www.calhoungemtheatre.org.