About Teri Pope
Length of time here: I was born in Gainesville, then moved away and went to school in Cobb County. I moved back while I was in college before my daddy was transferred out of state. In 1991, I moved back to the area to stay.
Education: Bachelor of arts in mass communications from Shorter College in Rome.
Occupation: District communications officer for the Georgia Department of Transportation
Most interesting job: I worked at WDUN Radio as afternoon news and traffic reporter, and I helped sign on WMJE and WGGA. ... I also won an “Addy” award from the Northeast Georgia Advertising Association for best 30-second commercial as the voice of a baby in a car seat. Bill Maine wrote the funny commercial for Warren Featherbone’s baby store.
Family information: Married to my high school sweetheart, Kenny Pope, for almost 18 years. My parents, Tony and Jean Norris, are both New Holland (Gainesville) natives, too. I have an identical twin sister, Toni Norris Dasher of Decatur.
Each Monday, “5 Questions” asks someone of interest in our community to answer five questions about their job, hobby or some other aspect of their lives. If you know someone who would be a good subject for the feature, send their name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teri Pope becomes a familiar face to many in Northeast Georgia when there is snow and ice on the ground and roads around the region are closed.
But the Gainesville native stays busy at other times, too, helping educate Northeast Georgians on what's going on with road conditions and construction projects in the region.
Today, The Times asks Teri Pope five questions about her life.
1. How would you describe the conditions of Georgia's roads and particularly, Northeast Georgia's?
Our roads and bridges for the most part are in very good shape; Georgia is consistently ranked in the top 10 states in the nation for the condition of its transportation system. But that system is old - our entire transportation network is aging. There is deterioration that comes with aging. A different funding source is necessary to fully repair or replace old infrastructure. Current funding from the gas tax does not meet our needs now and certainly won't in the future.
2. As a longtime Hall County resident, what are the biggest changes you have seen in local traffic?
I remember when the only place you could be delayed by traffic was on Ga. 369 — Jesse Jewell Parkway and only on Friday afternoons. Traffic in Hall County has multiplied exponentially since those days; just like our population has increased exponentially! Gainesville/Hall County is a victim of its own success — being the regional center for medical care, education and retail draws people here. Add to all that the recreation and tourism opportunities because of Lake Lanier and we live in a "happening place." Everybody wants to be here with us.
3. Has technology changed how the DOT fixes and builds new roads and your job and, if so, how?
Communications technology advances have allowed us to have more direct contact with our customers and get information to them before they get caught in a traffic backup. We have a 511 app (that allows access to traffic information from a smartphone). We also utilize Twitter, a GDOT Facebook page and our traffic information website.
New technologies also have allowed us to improve the products, systems and processes we employ.
For example, we now can synchronize traffic signals wirelessly along a corridor which makes traffic flow more efficiently. And new faster-drying concrete helps us make repairs quicker and open lanes to traffic sooner than before. On the I-85 northbound "hole" in the approach to the bridge over the Mulberry River in Barrow County that occurred in January; the new mix of concrete allowed us to pour the concrete and it hardened while temperatures were below freezing!
4. What are your duties other than relaying information to and answering questions from the news media?
I work with over 60 media outlets in my 21-county district. Daily I work with the general public — answering questions, sharing project information and explaining the federal laws that mandate our processes. I write speeches and develop PowerPoint presentations for department management. I give speeches to civic groups and school audiences. I work with communities impacted by construction projects to ensure they know what is happening, when it is happening and why it is happening. I plan internal and external special events. I write articles and provide photography for internal and external newsletters, state publications and industry publications. I describe my job as the translator between the federal laws/policies and engineers to the general public.
5. You are well known to our readers as someone who is very knowledgeable about the area's roadways. But what do you enjoy doing outside of work?
My husband, Kenny, is a paraplegic since a fall from our roof in 2008. While always integral to me, my personal faith and relationship with my Lord, Jesus Christ, is my highest priority and my sustenance. Kenny and I are members at Blackshear Place Baptist Church. We were married there in 1994. We work with students teaching Bible fellowship classes; being silly and pointing them to Jesus through Bible study, special events and summer camp.
Second is our family. They are our closest friends and they are wonderful at understanding, accepting and helping us keep living through our constraints with Kenny's injury and paralysis. We eat, laugh and pray together. They are a continual encouragement and joy for us. I also enjoy chronicling our life and the work of our Lord in our life through scrapbooking.