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Areas celebrate their uniqueness during Georgia Cities Week

POSTED: April 18, 2009 11:26 p.m.

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily routine — going to work, making meals, doing laundry and paying the bills — but the next two weeks will be filled with activities to encourage locals to stop for a minute and learn more about the town or city they call home.

Gainesville, Braselton, Hoschton and Jefferson are four of 111 cities across the state celebrating Georgia Cities Week, headed up by the Georgia Municipal Association and scheduled for today through Saturday. This celebration gives towns throughout the state the opportunity to “show off” with activities and events that celebrate their unique characteristics.

“The main purpose (of Georgia Cities Week) is civic education,” said Amy Henderson, public information manager for the Georgia Municipal Association. “It’s an opportunity for cities to show people that these are the things we do for you and how we operate, and to engage people in civic government.”

The weeklong celebration goes back nine years and usually coincides with Keep Georgia Beautiful Month, Henderson said, a time when people make efforts to beautify their neighborhoods and city landscapes.

But the week’s focus on cities in particular allows for people to get a better understanding of local government’s inner workings, something that their education may have only briefly covered.

“City government is the government closest to the people. Unfortunately, it’s not a government that you really learn a lot about,” Henderson said. “People are more likely to be engaged in city government, but when we talk about civic education, people usually learn about the federal government.”

Gainesville

Gainesville has been celebrating Georgia Cities Week since the celebration began in 2001, according to Catiel Felts, the city’s public information officer.

“Georgia Cities Week gives us an opportunity to raise public awareness about the services Gainesville provides and educate the public on how our government works,” she said. “This is why we like to have events that involve children like the art show and the tours with Captain Conservation.”

Some of the events Gainesville plans for this week feature water conservation as a theme. Wednesday, which also is Earth Day, the city will hold a 2 p.m. open house for a “water smart” garden at Fair Street Neighborhood Center. On Friday, Captain Conservation will take fifth-graders on a tour of the Lakeside Water Treatment plant.

Other events planned this week include Citizens’ Government Academy at 6 p.m. Tuesday and followed by the 13th annual Sister City Art Show at 7 p.m. at the Gainesville Civic Center.

The City Council will mark Georgia Cities Week with a proclamation at Tuesday’s meeting.

Braselton

The town of Braselton has celebrated Georgia Cities Week for several years, Braselton Town Manager Jennifer Dees said.

“We feel it’s important to highlight the important contribution that cities make and make sure our citizens know about their hometown,” she said.

Town hall turns 100 this year, and Braselton’s town council came up with the idea to honor its history by serving birthday cake and offering building tours from 10 a.m. to noon Monday.

The town will finish up the celebration with two activities geared toward the environmentally minded residents: showing off Braselton’s new rain garden project Thursday at town hall, and cleaning up the walking trail along the Mulberry River starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Hoschton

The city of Hoschton will extend the celebrations for Georgia Cities Week by another week to incorporate a trash collection initiative, bingo and a city clean-up day, according to Mayor Bill Copenhaver.

Residents will also have the opportunity to get their hands on fresh fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers as the Hoschton Farmer’s Market opens for the summer on Saturday.

The second week will feature a three-day trash collection initiative, where residents can bring their trash and “white goods” — refrigerators, stoves and the like — to be thrown out.

The two-week festivities will culminate in Scrowmunity Day, the first Saturday in May that the Hoschton Fall Festival Committee created to get residents more involved in the community.

“This is all part of that (Scrowmunity Day) and trying to create more community spirit, more community activity,” Copenhaver said.
City officials will be cleaning up City Hall and other buildings that day, and the Hoschton Historical Society will hold Bingo at the Depot from 5 to 8 p.m., he added.

Jefferson

Jefferson plans to take a more informal approach to celebrate Georgia Cities Week.

“Our (celebration) is more of a public service, in the way of the cleaning and entertainment,” said Beth Laughinghouse, Better Hometown Manager for the city. “We’re actually doing a more recreational thing. We don’t have anything formal planned.”

Volunteers will get up early on Saturday to clean up downtown Jefferson, traveling a half mile down Ga. 11 and a half mile down Ga. 15, she said.

Later that day, the city will sponsor a screening of “The Wizard of Oz” at 8:30 p.m. behind the Regions Bank drive-through.

“Normally we seek sponsors for the movie nights, but this year the city is sponsoring it for Georgia Cities Week,” Laughinghouse said.

Additionally, children 12 and younger will have a chance to get into the spirit of the evening with a costume contest.

“We’re doing a costume contest — the best dressed boy and girl to dress in the Wizard of Oz theme,” Laughinghouse said.



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