Sunday’s edition of The Times includes our annual Progress sections, which provide a look at some of the many things happening in the area as we continue to grow and change.
While you will find a lot of information in these special sections, they are in reality just an abbreviated snapshot summarizing just a few of the many things happening around us, as there is far more activity in the area than can be captured on these few pages.
Each year as we work on these stories, we find ourselves contemplating the meaning of the word “progress,” and how it relates to the ever-changing landscape of a dynamic, growing area like that in which we live.
The Times editorial board
- Norman Baggs, general manager
- Shannon Casas, editor in chief
- Cheryl Brown
- David George
- Mandy Harris
- Brent Hoffman
- J.C. Smith
- Tom Vivelo
For some, addressing the challenges of growth in a proactive manner represents progress. For others, improving overall “quality of life” fits the definition. For some, a reduction in the rate of growth and a slowing of the pace of change would best represent the concept of progress. And there are always those convinced that we aren’t making progress fast enough, no matter what is going on around us.
Positive growth, proactive change, improved quality of life are all evident in the stories we’ve collected for our special edition. Below are just some of the many things you’ll find in the Progress sections included in today’s paper:
New software being implemented by the sheriff’s office will allow those buying homes in the county to get an idea about criminal activity in the area in which they are interested before they buy.
The hospital in Braselton is only 4 years old, but already is undergoing expansions in several areas, including adding more acute care beds, enlarging the emergency room, adding an ambulatory surgery center and more post-partum beds for new mothers.
Widening of I-985 from Mundy Mill south is expected to start in 2022-23.
The county school system is planning a major upgrade to the Early College at Jones facility near Chicopee Mill, as enrollment is surging and the program continues to be highly popular for dual enrollment students.
The anxiously awaited residency program at Northeast Georgia Hospital will start in July.
Oakwood expects to see 18 rental “cottages” marketed toward UNG students ready by August for the fall semester.
The Gainesville school system is investing some $240,000 in security upgrades at all of its schools.
The Georgia Poultry Lab off Ga. 365 in North Hall has a diorama three years in the making that includes moving trains, illuminated lights and busy scenes capturing elements of the poultry industry.
Construction should begin this year on the inland port, which will serve as a cargo connection via rail to the Port of Savannah.
As Hall County and the North Georgia area continue to grow and develop, there are certain areas that demand constant, ongoing attention if we are to avoid problems found in other growing communities.
Nationwide, having the infrastructure in place to handle necessary public services is a concern that has been ignored too long, and certainly that is an area we must constantly address if we are going to continue to move forward as a community. Water, sewer, roads and bridges require a lot of money, and a lot of time, but adding to existing infrastructure and maintaining that in existence are hallmarks of areas that see positive growth.
Intelligent land use planning is an area vital to the quality of life most expect in an area such as ours. Planning and zoning policies that provide for a variety of land uses without overburdening regulation help to allow for an economic diversification of community.
Exceptional public education is an arena most would agree is essential to long-term progress in any area, and we are fortunate to have exceptional schools in both the county and Gainesville city systems, as well as post-secondary options. With growth comes the expensive challenge of building and maintaining facilities, which is an ongoing issue in areas such as ours.
Parks, recreation and leisure time activities also contribute to the elusive “quality of life” expectations in progressive areas of growth. In that regard we are blessed with access to an incredible lake and the river systems that feed it; vast undeveloped acreage and scenic beauty; and taxpayer supported parks that offer a wide assortment of amenities and activities, with more on the way.
Another measure of a progressive community is the manner in which it handles the needs of those who live there from a social services standpoint, and in that regard Gainesville and Hall County have a spectacular track record. A host of nonprofits, church and spiritual groups, and government services are available for local residents in need, and while demand in some areas may outpace availability, the effort to address social problems is evident.
Sometimes when living in an area such as ours it is easy to forget that the problems and challenges inherent in a growing vital area are problems that many communities across the nation would gladly accept. We take for granted a booming business economy, low unemployment, affluent residential growth, efficient government services and strong local schools, when there are areas elsewhere where none of those things exist.
As we work collectively to address the realities of growth and change, there are many counties in Georgia facing ongoing, demoralizing, constant decline, with no prospects for any sort of “progress” any time soon.
So join us as we count our blessings as a community and revel in some of the many progressive things happening on a daily basis in the area we call home. It’s Progress Sunday in The Times.