Dorothy Shinafelt leads an organization that does much more than just teach people to read. Through its programs, the Gainesville/Hall County Alliance for Literacy helps people become more educated so they can get better jobs, make more money and, ultimately, help provide better skilled workers for local businesses. The alliance's biggest fundraiser, the annual Spelling Bee for Literacy, is Tuesday night.
Cheryl Christian leads one of the best "good news" stories in Hall County. As executive director of Good News Clinics, Christian oversees the largest free medical clinic in Georgia, serving more than 1,000 patients a month. A cadre of physicians volunteers at the clinic, which has been held up by Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle as a model for the state and nation to follow.
Helen Dunn has seen it all - literally - at West Hall High School. She's been the librarian at the school since the doors opened 25 years ago. While a lot has changed since 1988, Dunn says the school in many ways is just the same, a place where faculty and staff truly care about their students and where students help keep her young.
J. David Earnest says his job as executive director of Challenged Child & Friends is the job he's worked his entire career to get. He calls the school a "remarkable setting" and marvels at how the facility helps students with special needs get ready to go off to a regular school. And he's grateful for the daily successes - both big and small - that happen in the school.
Cece Conrath says she's always been a performer at heart, and after watching two different performances of Les Miserables, she was hooked on theater. Now she takes that enthusiasm and shares it with students at Lakeview Academy in Gainesville. Recently, Conrath won the Outstanding Theater Educator Award at the Georgia Thespian Conference in Columbus, an award given annually to just one teacher in the state.
Lee D. Highsmith sees Junior Achievement as a way to give young people a vision for their future. As executive director of Junior Achievement of Northeast Georgia, Highsmith oversees a variety of programs that last year touched more than 7,000 students.
Darla Eden took office as Hall County's new tax commissioner just as a new law governing motor vehicle taxes was about to take effect. So she's spent much of her first two months in office explaining the law, which took effect Friday, and its impact to taxpayers. But she has big goals in mind for the office - expanded hours and better customer service among them. Today, The Times asks Eden five questions about the tax commissioner's office, the new law and her vision for the future.
Tim McDonald has spent his entire life in Gainesville, so he knows the Northeast Georgia region well. It's knowledge that helps him greatly in his role helping boost economic development here. As Lanier Technical College's vice president of economic development, McDonald is continuing a long tradition of using the college as a catalyst for development.
Ann Nixon started building with Habitat for Humanity of Hall County five years ago, becoming a full-time builder three years ago. Now she's the organization's executive director. Her biggest challenge will be how to not only sustain the program, but to grow it. Habitat will be partnering with Hall County to rehabilitate existing houses for new homeowners.
When Rick Aiken came to work at the local humane society 24 years ago, it was days away from closing. Today, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia is a thriving organization, having served millions of pets and people in those years. Now Aiken is preparing for retirement, and today, The Times asks him five questions about life as a shelter director and what life in retirement may bring.
Mitchell Hamilton is new to this area, coming here just a few months ago to serve as a recruiter for the United States Marine Corps. But already he says he loves it here, calling Northeast Georgia a very patriotic area that fully supports the nation's military.