New­ton County Q&A

Por­terdale Mayor Ar­line Chap­man

The Covington News - - LOCAL - This is part of an on­go­ing se­ries of Q&A ses­sions with var­i­ous top elected officials in New­ton County. To sug­gest ques­tions for spe­cific city or county is­sues, email reporter Rob Dewig at rdewig@cov­news.com.

1. How has devel­op­ment in the down­town com­mer­cial district been this summer?

“We have seen sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ment in Por­terdale’s down­town com­mer­cial district this summer. With the ar­rival of the Main Street Pro­gram, un­der the di­rec­tion of Teri Haler, we have seen the ar­rival of Ar­gyle’s Cof­fee Shop, which is the best on this side of At­lanta, and Dirty Dogs Res­tau­rant. Rhythm El­e­ments Dance Stu­dio has opened un­der the di­rec­tion of a pro­fes­sional staff that brings a qual­ity dance school of­fer­ing a full spec­trum of dance dis­ci­plines. These new busi­nesses com­pli­ment the al­ready es­tab­lished and suc­cess­ful busi­ness com­mu­nity that ex­ists. With the ar­rival of our kayak ramp at the Yel­low River Park, our ex­ist­ing river recre­ation area has blos­somed. In ad­di­tion to the Yak Club kayak rental, we now have a beau­ti­ful area with a walk­ing track, river view and pic­nic area. Hav­ing our recre­ation area ad­ja­cent to our busi­ness district is a real plus. The plans are in the works to add 18 holes of disc golf by this time next year. Geo­caching has ar­rived, and all of these ac­tiv­i­ties keep our busi­ness com­mu­nity mov­ing.”

2. What are you ex­cited for Por­terdale res­i­dents to know about?

“We work to keep our cit­i­zens in­formed about what is go­ing on in their town, and a com­mu­nity news­let­ter goes out in the monthly wa­ter bill. We of­fer a free li­brary sys­tem that is cen­tered in the RR De­pot and is open on Satur­days. In ad­di­tion, we have seven Lit­tle Free Li­braries scat­tered around in play­grounds and pub­lic ar­eas that pro­vide a con­stant source of books. We have a very suc­cess­ful com­mu­nity gar­den where peo­ple can grow their own vegeta­bles year round. Por­terdale was cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in the Ge­or­gia Ini­tia­tive for Com­mu­nity Hous­ing. We have seen an uptick in peo­ple pur­chas­ing homes to beau­ti­fully ren­o­vate and live in. In ad­di­tion, we have a buyer’s in­cen­tive pro­gram that gives more peo­ple the as­sis­tance to pur­chase their own home who, in the past, have only been able to rent. We make ev­ery ef­fort to in­form out cit­i­zens about the New­ton Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy and how it can give stu­dents a leg up on the way to ob­tain­ing a job when they grad­u­ate. In ad­di­tion, our lo­cal non-profit C.A.R.E. is off to a great start es­tab­lish­ing a schol­ar­ship pro­gram that will pro­vide a Por­terdale grad­u­ate of the Ca­reer Academy with the op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion.”

3. Are there any events com­ing up to look for­ward to?

“With the com­ple­tion of the Por­terdale Gym venue, a whole new world of ac­tiv­ity is in the works. We have had sev­eral suc­cess­ful events to date. The sec­ond wed­ding is planned for Oc­to­ber. By the time you read this, C.A.R.E. will have hosted its first con­cert for the schol­ar­ship fund. Taste of New­ton will also take place there this year. The an­nual Por­terdale Re­union is com­ing up in Septem­ber where peo­ple who grew up here travel from all over to re­live their mem­o­ries. Of course, the Christ­mas Pa­rade with Santa and the live rein­deer is a tra­di­tion that is a must of many of us. I be­lieve the gym will be­come the prime place for con­certs and events. The feed­back from mu­si­cians who have played there so far is very pos­i­tive about the qual­ity of the sound sys­tem and all the things that add to a suc­cess­ful event.”

4. Have you gone kayak­ing yet?

“The an­swer to this ques­tion re­gard­ing my kayak­ing is that I have not yet taken the plunge. I have been told that any­one can do this, so I am up to the chal­lenge. Our river queen Tonya Bechtler is plan­ning an out­ing where we will sneak into the river and pad­dle away. My only fear is that I will find this so ad­dic­tive that I will spend all my time on the river re­lax­ing and get noth­ing else done. Ac­tu­ally, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

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