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LIFT Youth Center in Ringgold in line for state funding

The Georgia Department of Education has approved LIFT Youth Center Inc. in Ringgold to receive funding through the competitive Building Opportunities in Out-of-School Time (BOOST) grants program.

“LIFT Youth Center Inc. is honored to be one of 104 organizations — four statewide organizations with statewide reach and 100 community-based organizations — awarded a BOOST grant, funded with American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds,” the center said in a new release.

LIFT Youth Center Inc. provides free drop-in afterschool for sixth- through 12th-grade students, fostering an environment of inclusion, positive self-worth, and self-discovery, while facilitating inner growth to prepare them for future success.

“The BOOST grants are a crucial part of our strategy to address learning loss as a result of the pandemic,” state School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “These 104 organizations will provide opportunities for students that support both academic learning and the needs of the whole child. I appreciate the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network lending their expertise to this initiative.”

The BOOST grant will allow LIFT to greater serve Catoosa County’s 6th- through 12th-grade students with robust programming at no cost to LIFT students and families. Having no fees for these services further gives access to what has become high-quality programming, family support, and student services.

LIFT programs

All of LIFT’s programming falls under one of the five categories of the center’s REACH (Recreation, Education, Art, Community, Health).


♦ Game room with pool table, foosball, board/card games

♦ Outdoor activities such as basketball, gaga ball, 9 square in the air, ping pong, etc.

♦ Book clubs and a library for individual reading

♦ Music, movies, video gaming

♦ Yoga classes for both students and parents/guardians

♦ Field trips and outdoor adventures, etc.


♦ Practical life skills: job interviews, resumes, car maintenance, hygiene, etc.

♦ Monthly financial literacy workshops

♦ Exposure to career possibilities or trades with local professionals

♦ Free tutoring and having a place to do homework

♦ Technology and educational resources (ACT/SAT prep, tech center, etc.)

♦ Mini-library and classes, co-hosted by the Catoosa County Library

♦ Language classes such as American sign language


♦ Photography, videography and digital editing

♦ Music and lighting studio – recording studio with classes on production and editing

♦ Free guitar classes thanks to “Guitars for Kids” and the Songbirds Foundation, etc.

♦ Maker’s Space – fully stocked with supplies for crafting of all sorts

♦ Art and crafting classes

♦ Functional stage – open mic nights and concerts of local musicians

♦ Improv and acting workshops

♦ Digital art and creative writing projects


♦ Community service projects completed by students every month

♦ Adult and student mentoring for any who are interested

♦ Connecting students with civic leaders for community projects and events

♦ Weekly support groups for students and parents

♦ Team-building exercises with Student Leadership and small groups


♦ Healthy snacks offered every day

♦ Healthy cooking classes offered weekly

♦ Mental health workshops and local referrals

♦ Resource bridging: access necessities, mental, or physical health

♦ Workshops for parents/guardians offered monthly

♦ Hosting and referring community resources

At LIFT students have new experiences through its REACH programs, engage more fully in living, and develop healthy lifestyles. Socialization opportunities are needed to support social-emotional maturity into healthy adulthood.

“The Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network offers its congratulations to the BOOST grantees and looks forward to providing them support throughout the grant cycle to ensure that Georgia’s youth receive high-quality afterschool and summer enrichment,” GSAN Director Katie Landes said. “The grantees were chosen through a competitive application process, and we believe strongly in their potential to expand access, reduce barriers, and increase quality for afterschool and summer programming across Georgia, particularly for children most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

LIFT’s afterschool programs and activities are designed to help students build assets and resiliency. Studies have demonstrated that the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in risky or unlawful behavior and the more likely they are to perform well in school. LIFT will strive to leverage evidence-based practices to assist youth in constructing building blocks that they need to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.

At the Claudia Nance Rollins Youth Center in Ringgold students are LIFTed:

Loved as they are

♦ by seeing and accepting others without judgment or criticism

♦ by working with multi-generational adults to build trust and support

Inspired to be more

♦ by discovering gifts and talents in a myriad of classes and activities

♦ by having a safe environment to explore, discover and develop

Found in community

♦ by joining groups of peers who can demonstrate true support

♦ by making a difference in their schools, towns and neighborhoods

Trusted to make a difference

♦ by empowering students in leadership positions and service opportunities — by expecting and empowering them to contribute and have a positive impact

Every day of afterschool programming will include scheduled REACH workshops, along with multiple options of art, music, gaming, outdoor recreation, tutoring, mentoring, reading or homework help. This asset-building, combined with a “loved, inspired, found and trusted” (LIFT) approach to relationships, will build resiliency and strengthen students.

LIFT is creating a safe space for those students who are high-functioning on the autism spectrum, for those who are battling depression and social anxiety, and for those who have struggled to overcome the effects of isolation during the pandemic. LIFT is passionate about the effort Georgia’s communities are taking to have an active role in the states long-term recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and are honored to get to do with excellence thanks to the BOOST grant.

Catoosa County Chamber presents first responder awards

The Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce honored firefighters, law enforcement, and Emergency Management Service personnel from Catoosa County, the city of Ringgold, and the city of Fort Oglethorpe at the Chamber luncheon held Sept. 23 at The Colonnade.

This was the seventh year for this recognition luncheon.

The honorees are chosen by their superiors for this recognition and were presented a plaque by the Chamber.

♦ 2021 Catoosa County Firefighter of the Year, Captain Rodney Johnson, presented by Catoosa County Fire Chief Randy Camp, Catoosa County Commissioner Chairman Steven Henry, and Assistant Chief of Operations Daniel Walston.

♦ 2021 Catoosa County Detective of the Year, Detective Josh Moore, presented by Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk.

♦ 2021 Fort Oglethorpe Police Officer of the Year, Lieutenant Tammy Davis, presented by Fort Oglethorpe Police Chief Keith Sewell.

♦ 2021 Ringgold Police Officer of the Year, Sergeant Josh Van Dyke and Sergeant Bryan Goresh, presented by Ringgold Police Chief Jennifer Jones and Ringgold council member Randall Franks.

♦ 2021 Catoosa County Emergency Management 911 Dispatcher of the Year, Stephanie Crane, presented by Emergency Management Director Steve Quinn, Catoosa County Commissioner Chairman Steven Henry, Deputy Director Angela Hullander, and Deputy Directory Jason Gunter.

Georgia lawmakers set to renew debate over legalized gambling

ATLANTA — While the General Assembly gears up for next month’s once-a-decade redrawing of Georgia’s legislative and congressional district maps, lawmakers also will soon renew a much more frequent debate over legalized gambling.

Bills that could lead to casinos, pari-mutuel betting on horse racing and/or sports betting in the Peach State will be on the table when the 2022 legislative session convenes in January for the second year of a two-year term.

Proposals to legalize gambling in Georgia in some form have come up virtually every year for the last decade, with most of the bills dedicating part of the proceeds to the hugely popular HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs. But after years of failing to gain traction, the effort gained momentum during the 2021 session.

The state Senate passed a constitutional amendment last March calling for a statewide referendum to legalize sports betting. While Senate Resolution 135 failed to reach the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives, it marked the first time a gambling bill had made it through either legislative chamber.

“It looks more encouraging than ever,” said state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, a longtime supporter of legalizing gambling in Georgia.

Sports betting is a relatively recent player in the debate over legalizing gambling. States other than Nevada weren’t allowed to legalize sports betting until a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a New Jersey case.

Since that decision opened up the country, 26 states have launched sports betting, according to the American Gaming Association. Another five states have passed sports betting legislation that has yet to take effect.

Georgia’s sports betting legislation is modeled after a law in Tennessee, which permits online betting only.

A coalition of Atlanta’s pro sports teams — including the Braves, Falcons, Hawks and Atlanta United — is backing the idea. They want to use sports betting to gin up fan engagement, said Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, another supporter of legalized gambling.

“They want folks sitting in stadiums betting on their phones,” he said.

But Powell is not a fan of legalizing sports betting in isolation. App-based betting on sports wouldn’t raise nearly the revenue the state could bring in from bricks-and-mortar casinos, he said.

“There are no jobs created,” Powell said. “There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.”

Stephens agrees. While he introduced a standalone sports betting bill during this year’s legislative session, he now favors combining sports betting, casinos and horse racing into a single constitutional amendment to put before Georgia voters.

“Let the people decide: Do we want to gamble or do we not?” Stephens said. “That’s the cleanest way to do it.”

Indeed, the casino industry is betting on Georgia in a big way. At least 32 paid lobbyists are working for passage of legalized gambling in Georgia, according to reports filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Those lobbyists were hired by 10 mostly high-profile gaming companies, including Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock, Wynn Resorts and Bally’s.

They and other supporters of casinos are pitching Georgia’s lack of legalized gambling as millions of dollars in tax revenue and billions of dollars in economic impact lost to neighboring states.

Rick Lackey, an Atlanta-based real estate developer behind several proposed casino resorts scattered across Georgia, points to the growth of casino projects across the Southeast.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, N.C., just opened a $330 million expansion that includes a new 725-room hotel and convention center. A new casino off Interstate 85 in Kings Mountain, N.C., that just opened in July is already planning to double its gaming machines to 1,000.

Alabama boasts three Indian gaming casinos. And the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa is pulling in more revenue than all of the casinos in Mississippi combined, Lackey said.

“If you go in any of those casinos, you’ll see a lot of Georgia license plates,” he said.

Supporters of legalizing gambling in Georgia also point to numerous polls showing the idea is popular with voters.

But obstacles to gambling legislation remain, including the difficult-to-surmount two-thirds majorities of the state House and Senate necessary to pass a constitutional amendment.

Faith-based groups oppose legalized gambling as a threat to families and a magnet for crime. Religious organizations traditionally have held great sway under the Gold Dome, particularly with lawmakers representing districts in rural Georgia.

Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said he heard the same arguments during the 1990s before Georgia created a state lottery and dedicated part of the proceeds to the new HOPE program.

“I don’t think today anyone can say the Georgia Lottery has been bad for the state,” he said.

Stephens said legalizing gambling today offers the same opportunity to boost funding for education that convinced lawmakers to support the lottery nearly 30 years ago.

“Some of the folks who vote ‘no’ on this are going to be voting against $100 million (a year) for HOPE and pre-K,” he said. “It don’t think they want to do that.”

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Restaurant inspections for Catoosa and Walker counties for Sept. 16-30, 2021

During Sept. 16-30, 2021, the health department conducted inspections at 23 food services (including four school cafeterias) in Catoosa and Walker counties.

Of those inspected, seven earned a perfect score of 100; 10 earned a score in the 90s (A); and five earned a score in the 80s (B). (This includes four school cafeterias, all of which earned a perfect score of 100. They are listed at the end of this article.)

Note: Scores are original and do not reflect on-the-spot changes, which sometimes lead to upward adjustments.




Inspection date: 09-17-2021

Score: 94

Observed wiping cloth sanitizer bucket solution not at minimum required sanitizer solution. CA: PIC had sanitizer bucket solution changed out during inspection. Corrected On-Site. Repeat Violation.



Inspection date: 09-20-2021

Score: 93

Observed paper towel dispenser did not dispense paper towels for drying hands. CA: Discussed with PIC and she provided area with single-use paper towels during routine inspection. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed food not being cooled in an approved method. CA: Discussed with PIC the importance of leaving food loosely covered or uncovered during the entire cooling process. PIC moved food items to walk-in freezer for rapid cooling and took lids off to improve cooling methods during routine inspection. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.



Inspection date: 09-20-2021

Score: 97

Observed deli meat in walk-in cooler with a use by date of 9/18/21. CA: Discussed with PIC and she removed from walk-in cooler to approve return to vendor area. This was done during routine inspection. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.



Inspection date: 09-21-2021

Score: 84

Observed TCS foods not being held at 41 or below in prep top cooler/reach-in cooler. Discussed with CFSM and she told inspector that the food was prepped two hours beforehand, so food was rapidly cooled in walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer to below 41 during inspection. Corrected On-Site. Repeat Violation.

Observed multiple food items without a label with the common name. CA: Discussed with CFSM during inspection the importance of labeling all food items not in an original container that are not easily identified with the common name. Items were properly labeled by employee during inspection. Corrected On-Site. Repeat Violation.

Observed employee food items stored in walk-in cooler not in approved designated area. CA: Discussed with PIC that employee food items must be clearly labeled and stored in a designated area approved by the health department. New Violation. Correct By: 09/23/2021

Remarks: Discussed with CFSM that the prep cooler needs to be repaired to hold food at 41 or below or if not repaired, replaced. Discussed with CFSM that storage of food items in walk-in will need to be separated by food allergen as well as cook temp. Also discussed that time as a public health control will need to have clear markings on containers at the serving line that correspond with time logs. Risk control plan started for cold holding and POC for common name repeated from previous routine.



Inspection date: 09-21-2021

Score: 93

Observed drink nozzles and dispenser heads not to a frequency to be clean to sight or touch. CA: Discussed with PIC to take apart nozzles daily and wash, rinse, and sanitize to prevent build-up. PIC will further enforce cleaning log to prevent drink nozzle build up Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed tomato slicer with old food debris. CA: Discussed proper cleaning method and slicer will be re-washed. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed equipment and utensils being wet stacked and not properly air dried. CA: COS by PIC. Discussed with PIC about properly air drying procedures before stacking equipment and utensils. New Violation.

Obsessed food debris build-up in the reach-in cooler near fryers. CA: PIC will clean coolers. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed employee drinks stored in coolers. CA: Discussed with PIC proper storage of employee drinks. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.



Inspection date: 09-21-2021

Score: 94

CA: Manager stated that she would empty majority of ice so ice machine could be properly cleaned. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed metal pans and reusable cups stacked in a manner to not allow proper air drying. CA: Pans and cups will be stacked to allow air drying. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed multiple vents throughout kitchen with excess dust accumulation. CA: Manager will get approval from Captain to have vent covers removed and cleaned. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.



Inspection date: 09-22-2021

Score: 95

Observed soil buildup inside ice machine. Corrective Action: PIC was notified, employee assigned to clean the ice machine. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed soda gun holster with accumulation of debris. Corrective Action: PIC was notified, employee assigned to clean. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed to-go containers not stored inverted to protect food contact surface from contamination. Corrective Action: PIC was notified, employee assigned to invert to-go containers. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Remarks: Educated on not using deeply dented cans.



Inspection date: 09-22-2021

Score: 89

Observed inside of microwave specifically on top of the inside of microwave with heavy food debris build-up. Corrective Action: PIC was notified, employee assigned to clean the inside of the microwave. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed TCS food (milk) being held for over 24 hours not properly date marked after being opened. Corrective Action: PIC was notified, PIC discarded the opened milk gallons. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed food service employees preparing food without hair restraint. Corrective Action: PIC is to have all employees wear hear restraints while preparing food in kitchen area. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Remarks: Observed time as a public health control procedure not properly followed (no temperatures included on stickers in addition to discard time).

Peroxide solution is used to sanitize dinning room tables and kitchen surfaces. PIC was informed to use quaternary ammonium sanitizing solution and not peroxide solution on food contact surfaces. Employee health policy for all food service employees are to be made readily available during routine health inspections. Provided copy of bodily fluid clean-up kit procedures.



Inspection date: 09-22-2021

Score: 82

Observed country ham stored over hash browns in reach-in cooler. Corrective Action: PIC was notified, no contamination was observed. PIC was educated on proper storage order. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed TCS foods cold holding above 41 degrees in cooler drawer at chicken breading station. Chicken was at 50-58 degrees Fahrenheit (see temperature chart below). PIC stated chicken had been there since this morning. Corrective Action: PIC chose to discard chicken due to unknown time parameters. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed TCS foods (dumplings and cooked chicken) hot holding below 135 degrees in steam table. Foods ranged from 80-92 degrees Fahrenheit (see temperature chart below). Corrective Action: PIC chose to discard food items due to unknown time parameters. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Remarks: Discussed not using peroxide sanitizer for dining room tables. Use chlorine sanitizing solution

♦ Women and men’s restroom air exhaust has excessive dust buildup.

♦ Clean floor under standing equipment

♦ Clean shelf over biscuit making station as it has buildup

♦ Warmer cabinets need to be cleaned as they have food build-up on floor.

♦ RIC gaskets need to be cleaned

♦ Handwashing sink with scrub

♦ Single-service lids stored between equipment (reach-in cooler).



Inspection date: 09-23-2021

Score: 87

Observed employees go from handling raw food to handling ready-to-eat food without properly washing hands between changing gloves. CA: Discussed with PIC the importance of not contaminating RTE food with raw food. PIC removed his employee from the grill station and explained when handwashing was needed to avoid contamination.

Observed employees handling clean equipment with contaminated hands in the three-compartment sink. Employees removed clean equipment before washing their hands and after touching soiled equipment. CA: Discussed with PIC that using the sanitizing sink does not clean the employees hands when contaminated. PIC instructed his employees to wash their hands between each cycle of dishwashing. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed equipment not being sanitized in the three-compartment sink. The test strip used by the inspector showed levels of chemical sanitizer below the manufacturers recommended levels. Found the sink was not being filled with solution. CA: Discussed with PIC the sanitizing solution was below manufacturers recommendations. The PIC changed the bag of sanitizing solution which then filled the sink with solution. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Remarks: Discussed proper date marking of food items, proper food separation, proper air drying of equipment and utensils, proper covering of food, and proper cooling methods with PIC during inspection.




Inspection date: 09-20-2021

Score: 100



Inspection date: 09-20-2021

Score: 94

Observed drink dispensers with heavy build-up. Had PIC implement a cleaning schedule to increase frequency of all equipment. New Violation. Correct By: 10/04/2021

Observed reach-in cooler and ice maker out of service, waiting on parts or to be removed. PIC has a work order on reach-in cooler and ice maker is to be removed. New Violation. Correct By: 10/18/2021

Observed cooking equipment with build-up, deep fryers, cooler gaskets, tops of bread toaster, top of deep fryer station, etc. Had PIC implement a cleaning schedule to increase frequency of cleaning equipment. New Violation. Correct By: 10/04/2021

Observed large quantity of debris littered around the dumpster pad. Had PIC clean up garbage immediately. New Violation. Correct By: 09/22/2021

Observed heavy build-up on floors/walls of the facility. Had PIC increase frequency of cleaning by implementing a cleaning schedule. New Violation. Correct By: 10/04/2021



Inspection date: 09-20-2021

Score: 100



Inspection date: 09-21-2021

Score: 100



Inspection date: 09-22-2021

Score: 88

Observed food containers left in bottom of cooler without lids. Had PIC cover all food containers to prevent cross-contamination. Repeat Violation.

Observed food containers without labels. Had PIC label with common name on food containers. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed condensation drains for reach-in coolers were leaking into the bottom of the coolers. Had PIC repair drain for condensation. New Violation. Correct By: 09/29/2021

Observed floors and walls in kitchen with build-up. Had PIC increase frequency of cleaning kitchen. recommend better organization and remove unnecessary items in the facility. Repeat Violation. Correct By: 09/30/2021



Inspection date: 09-22-2021

Score: 99

Observed condensation drain leaking in prep cooler. Had PIC repair drain. New Violation.



Inspection date: 09-23-2021

Score: 100



Inspection date: 09-24-2021

Score: 95

Observed spray can of raid stored in the food prep area; PIC removed product immediately. Corrected On-Site. New Violation. Correct By: 09/24/2021

Observed dumpster stored off the concrete pad; PIC to install a properly designed/graded pad for the dumpster to sit on. New Violation. Correct By: 10/29/2021



Inspection date: 09-24-2021

Score: 94

Observed milk not date marked. Had PIC discard milk and date-mark TCS foods that are used more than 24 hrs after made or open. Corrected On-Site. New Violation.

Observed hot water at hand sink not reaching 100f or more. Had PIC contact maintenance. New Violation.


Catoosa County: Ringgold High School, Westside Elementary School and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School

Walker County: Rossville Middle School