Cherokee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Buzz Ahrens laid out five goals for the county this year: a long-term solution providing immediate cash flow for the Ball Ground Recycling site, a major economic development win, on-time and under-budget completion of the county’s aquatics center and fire training center, coming in at or under the year’s operating budget and building a competitive advantage.
In a New Year’s letter to county employees, Ahrens stressed building competitive advantages in 2013 and urged employees to pay attention to the county’s “unique selling points,” a list of Cherokee County’s unique metrics, including low tax rates, the $90 million park bond, high rankings for schools and public safety and other characteristics such as proximity to rivers, lakes and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“Collectively, (the unique selling points) paint an extremely attractive picture of why Cherokee is a preferred location of choice for businesses and residents,” his letter stated.
For Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood, cooperation among the City Council is 2013’s top priority.
“I’m hopeful that the council can ultimately resolve what differences we have, and ultimately work together, which I think will happen as the year goes on,” Hobgood said.
Construction of Etowah River Park should begin this year, and Hobgood said he hopes to see the park nearing completion by the end of 2013.
Hobgood also wants to see progress on improvements at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The city is under a consent order from the Environmental Protection Division to make improvements to comply with EPD regulations.
Reducing the city’s long-term debt is another goal high on Hobgood’s list.
“We’ve been able to continually reduce that for the last five years,” he said.
Waleska Mayor Doris Jones is preparing for a year full of activity in the north Cherokee hamlet.
“We’re very excited about football coming to Reinhardt University. I think that’s going to open up our city and bring a lot more people up to see the games,” she said.
The Reinhardt Eagles will kick off their inaugural football season this fall.
Reinhardt personnel are working with the city to ensure the area is prepared for the crowds that may come to the games, Jones said.
For its second year open, Jones is hoping for big crowds at Cline Park’s splash pad, an outdoor water recreation area.
“That brings a lot of people up with small children,” she said.
Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques listed three major goals for Woodstock in the upcoming year.
Already under construction, the city plans to open a passive park on Dupree Road near Interstate 575 in the spring. The 11 acres of land was formerly an apartment complex bought by FEMA because it kept flooding, Henriques said.
“About three (acres) will be reserved for a dog park for dogs and their owners,” Henriques said.
Additionally, Henriques said he’d like to see construction begin on the city’s amphitheatre slated to be built on the lower level of the Park at City Center.
With the Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta announcing an earlier open date in July, Henriques said the city’s building department is gearing up to be able to inspect all of the new properties, and the fire and police departments are working out logistics to map the new roadways leading to the shopping center.
“If they get a call on a certain location, they need to be able to get to it very quickly,” he said.
Henriques said he and other city leaders are keeping their fingers crossed that the economy keeps improving.
“We’re hoping the economy keeps growing the way it is,” he said, adding he doesn’t expect a downward trend.
Staff writer Megan Thornton contributed to this report.