Chick-fil-A Dinner and Discussion with GDOT board member Jeff Lewis

Lewis event flyer_new

Thirty years and a much needed connector to I-75. the problem is workers have yet to pour any pavement. Channel 2’s John Bachman talked to opponents who say the states wants to spend millions to save drivers 24 seconds.

Join us for coffee and biscuites to kick off the new CORR video series

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You can also check out the videos on our YouTube page.

Coalition for the Right Road | Pierre Howard | Georgia Conservancy

New Video Series Addresses Reasons Why GDOT Should Select a Better 411 Connector

ROME, Ga. – [January 23, 2013] A diverse group of individuals and organizations is joining forces to urge the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to find a better route to connect U.S. 411 and the city of Rome to I-75. The Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) today is launching a 12-week video campaign calling for an alternative route, instead of GDOT’s so-called Route D-VE.

Every other week, CORR will release a video featuring an interview with a prominent business or environmental leader to educate the public about the adverse economic and environmental effects of GDOT’s proposed route. Initial videos will feature Mark McDonald, president and CEO of the Georgia Trust; Pierre Howard, president of the Georgia Conservancy; Steve Webb, archeologist with R.S. Webb & Associates; and Tony Greco, an environmental scientist with Nutter & Associates, an environmental consulting firm. The videos will be posted on CORR’s YouTube page.

Members of CORR are opposed to Route D-VE for several reasons. First, D-VE will cost approximately $100 million more than the route that was originally proposed and favored by GDOT (Route G). Additionally, construction of Route D-VE would jeopardize endangered animals and plants, as well as a historic mining landscape site at Dobbins Mountain.

“Georgia Trust feels, as many other people do, that it is quite possible to preserve the Dobbins landscape for the benefit of future Georgians and future Americans, and also to build the road, which is needed by the citizens of Rome to connect them to I-75,” said McDonald in the first video, which launches today. “We feel that by working together we can find a different route, which will accomplish both purposes.”
Mary Martin, one of the leaders of CORR, said, “We are creating this video series so that members of our coalition can share their individual perspectives. We are committed to educating the people of North Georgia about why an alternate route is more fiscally responsible, is necessary to protect both environmentally sensitive areas and historic sites, and is, practically speaking, more likely to get built. We encourage everyone to watch the videos and share your thoughts and feedback with us.”

To watch the videos and learn more about CORR, including how you can get involved, please visit www.coalitionfortherightroad.com or www.facebook.com/411CORR.

Dobbins Mining Landscape Deserves Listing on Ten Places in Peril List

This appeared in the Rome News-Tribune on November 7, 2012

 

I want to thank the Rome News-Tribune for its recent editorial, Trusting in Tomorrow, about the list of Ten Places in Peril for 2013 just announced by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The principal purpose of our list is to draw attention to the rich heritage of our state in jeopardy of being lost. As our list this year so clearly demonstrates, the history of Georgia has contributed much to our unique American story.

You take exception to our decision to include the Dobbins Mining Landscape among the Ten Places in Peril, and I would like to explain why the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation believes that it has a well-earned place on the list.

Despite the lengthy controversy over plans for the U.S. 411 Connector project, the Dobbins Mining Landscape is a truly important historic resource. While the full value of Dobbins Mining Landscape has just recently come to light, its important role in contributing to the industrial might of America is now well established – literally since the hardening qualities of manganese mined at Dobbins was essential to America’s steel making industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While the state’s role in gold mining is perhaps best known, Dobbins helps us understand just how diverse and critical our state’s mining heritage has been. The historic importance of the Dobbins Mining Landscape has now been affirmed through a determination of eligibility by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, DC, who perhaps has the best national perspective on what constitutes a property of importance in American history.

You are correct to identify adequate transportation access as critical to the financial well-being and success of preserving historic properties. But transportation developments have too often been the cause of many of our historic places being lost.  The best hope for avoiding this in the future is understanding the real consequences of proposed transportation plans. This includes knowing the importance of historic properties–like Dobbins Mining Landscape–and adopting plans that help protect these important parts of our heritage while meeting our state’s transportation needs.

The Georgia Trust is in favor of a direct route to connect Rome with I-75 and believe that alternatives exist that can be accomplished expeditiously and without destroying historic and environmentally sensitive areas. We are most willing to work with citizens of Rome, GDOT and others to achieve this goal.

Mark C. McDonald

 

Mark C. McDonald is president and CEO of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.  He has more than 25 years of professional involvement in historic preservation.  Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations.  The Trust works for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia’s diverse historic resources and advocates their appreciation, protection and use.

Tom Perdue speaks at Rome Tea Party townhall

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Tom Perdue

U.S. 411 Connector talks proposed
by Diane Wagner, staff writer

This article appeared in the Rome News Tribune Dec. 2, 2012

Talks between Floyd and Bartow County leaders may be the next step in the 30-year battle over the U.S. 411 Connector.

“The smart thing to do is to sit down with all the parties, find a route we agree on, have an intergovernmental agreement and pass a regional sales tax (to fund it),” said David Doss, a former State Transportation Board member. “Or we’ll be in court another six or eight years.”

Doss represented both counties when the current Route D-VE was selected as the way to best link Rome with Interstate 75 through Bartow County and ease congestion in Cartersville.

It appeared to be a done deal in 2008, but the wealthy Rollins family has been throwing up roadblocks to prevent it from running through their 1,800-acre ranch. Funding for the road, estimated at between $187 million and $230 million, also remains an issue.

Doss’ remarks drew applause at a Rome Tea Party event last week that featured Rollins representative Tom K. Perdue presenting arguments for choosing a different route. But the D-VE route is supported by many local elected officials and Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce members as crucial to future economic development.

“It’s easier to stop a road than it is to build it,” Dr. Dan Hanks said during the sometimes-contentious session. “The longer we wait, the worse it is for Floyd County, and if you ever want your kids to come back to Floyd County and have a job, you’d better think about it.”

Paul Smith, a former state representative who chaired the House Transportation Committee, also said the route has been properly vetted and the straight-shot connection to I-75 is badly needed.

“If it gets to the point where people with money can decide where roads go, it’s a hell of a note,” Smith said.

Despite the wariness of local leaders, Perdue said some of them indicated after the presentation that they might be willing to talk about other options. He said he would help gather Cartersville people who also are interested in finding a faster way to get the road built.

“I told David Doss I would work with him any way possible to get some meetings set up,” Perdue said. “I think there’ll be some community discussion now, That’s all I was hoping to generate.”

The Rollins family believes the Georgia Department of Transportation made errors in the way it picked the route — a contention Doss disputes — and Perdue said they will keep fighting to keep it from running through their property.

Route selection process

The GDOT evaluated eight conceptual routes on their economic viability and their ability to attract traffic, save travel-time and reduce congestion. The southerly routes were projected to be the best choices by the year 2030:

  • Traffic volume — Concepts A, B, and D would draw more than 24,000 vehicles a day. Concept G, the so-called Ridge Route, would draw about 7,000.
  • Congestion reduction — Concepts B and D were the only ones that would keep traffic volume on U.S. 41 below 23,000 vehicles a day. With Concept G, more than 40,000 vehicles a day would use U.S. 41.
  • Time savings — Concepts B and D would make traveling faster than Concept A, the improvement of existing roads. The other routes were projected to be slower.
  • Economic viability — The value of travel time savings was projected to be greater than the cost of construction in Concepts A, B and D, with Concept D having the highest rating.

Environmental studies started in the fall of 2003 and — after notifications, public hearings and a look at a few more alternatives — the Federal Highway Administration approved Route D in October 2008.

The route was later value-engineered to shave the projected costs from about $400 million to $200 million, and renamed Route D-VE. The changes meant the FHWA’s record of decision had to be re-evaluated using new environmental data. A ruling is still pending.

Continuing objections

Rollins family attorney Henry Parkman also has written a letter protesting the inclusion of the U.S. 411 Connector (as designed) in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program that lists projects in line for construction.

Parkman’s Nov. 21 missive recaps previous objections ranging from the historic value of Dobbins Mine and the Euharlee Wildlife Preserve conservation easement to the potential of acidic runoff from a cut in the mountain and the effects on protected plants and fish habitats.

He also contends the GDOT route-selection process was flawed because it assumed population and jobs would grow equally as fast if the Connector was built or not built.

“A ‘no-build’ forecast that includes ‘build’ assumptions about land use stacks the deck against the no-build scenario by inaccurately increasing its impacts,” Parkman wrote.

He also notes that GDOT is again looking at a realignment, Route D-VE-A, and contends federal law requires the agency to start over with a comparison of other alternatives.

Also read  Sparks fly at town hall about 411 Connector, an article written about the same subject that appeared in the Rome News Tribune on November 30, 2012.

Dobbins Mine added to Places in Peril list

2 Bartow locations on list of 10 Places in Peril
by Jessica Loeding

This article appeared in The Daily Tribune News Nov. 3, 2012.

A former school that survived the Civil War and a former mining site dating back to the 1860s seem to have only age in common. But, according to the state, both are in trouble.

The two sites — Stilesboro Academy in Taylorsville and Dobbins mining landscape in the county — were listed Wednesday among the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2013 list of 10 Places in Peril in the state.

Wednesday’s designation is vital to survival of the former schoolhouse on the edge of the county.

“We are very pleased to be included in the list,” said past president of the Stilesboro Improvement Club Ann Mascia. “It’s something that is very important for Georgia, and certainly for us to be included is monumental for the academy.”

Henry Parkman, attorney for Cartersville Ranch, LLC, echoed Mascia’s thoughts.

“We are pleased that the Georgia Trust has included the Dobbins Mining Landscape on its Places in Peril list for 2013,” he said. “As recognized by the Keeper of the National Register, the Dobbins mining landscape — a site of over 200 acres — is a significant historic district associated with late 19th and 20th century manganese mining operations, which produced large quantities of manganese ore for steel manufacturing. The mining landscape includes Dobbins Mine, Georgia’s oldest and most productive manganese mine, which was critical to the growth of industry in Bartow County following the Civil War.”

The list is the eighth annual naming of places across the state that are in need of assistance. Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. Through Places in Peril, the Trust will encourage owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reclaim, restore and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.

“We hope the list will continue to bring preservation action to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites,” Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust, said in a release.

Stilesboro Academy

Stilesboro Academy

Stilesboro Academy, Taylorsville, Bartow County

Constructed in 1858-59, Stilesboro Academy’s grand opening was celebrated with a picnic on the first Saturday of May in 1859, a tradition the community has continued for the past 153 years. The school was occupied by the Union Army in 1864 and spared by Sherman. The school was saved again in the 1930s when the ladies of the Stilesboro Improvement Club raised money for the Bartow County School Board to purchase new lumber for a modern school, rather than demolish Stilesboro Academy and reclaim its lumber. The Stilesboro Improvement Club remains the caretakers of the academy, but with a dwindling membership, the building’s continual maintenance poses a challenge.

Mascia said the building faces major roofing issues that leaves the school in need of a roof, which is estimated to cost about $40,000.

“The academy is in grave need of help. … We simply cannot do it ourselves — we are a small ladies club,” she said.

Stilesboro Improvement Club will be hosting the 100th annual Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show at Stilesboro Academy on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The event serves as the club’s largest benefit for the year.

“That’s our major fundraiser for the year and the proceeds go toward the care and restoration of the academy for the year,” Mascia said, adding that the academy’s listing should generate interest and, in return, revenue.

Dobbins Mine

Dobbins Mine

Dobbins Mining Landscape, Bartow County

From 1867 until 1945, the Dobbins Manganese Mine provided manganese ore, essential to the manufacturing of iron and steel. Manganese ore was used in the steel mills and served the nation’s industrial needs during both World Wars. The remains of this open-cut mining site are uniquely illustrative of the industrial heritage of the region and Georgia. The Dobbins Mining Landscape was recently deemed eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; it is a rare example of an undisturbed historic mining site and no other manganese mine is currently included in the Register.

The Georgia Department of Transportation proposed a new highway project to facilitate traffic from Interstate 75 to Rome, known as the US 411 Connector. As planned, the connector will course directly through the cut of the Dobbins mine.

Those plans for a roadway are of concern to Parkman as well.

“The Dobbins historic mining landscape remains in peril from GDOT’s current attempt to pursue a D-VE ‘avoidance’ route that goes directly through this recognized historic property. GDOT’s new route would destroy and isolate about 45 acres of the historic mining landscape and would obliterate some of the most important historic contributing features (tailings pond, eastern dam, historic road from mill site to Cartersville railhead) that led to the Keeper’s eligibility ruling,” he said. “This approach violates GDOT’s own literature, as well as federal regulations, which require GDOT to pursue an alternative if the proposed route causes even the slightest adverse effect to a historic property. We are hopeful that the publicity from the Places in Peril listing will prompt concerned citizens and leaders to call on GDOT to pursue an alternative route that will not significantly harm the historic Dobbins mining landscape.”

Sites that have been placed on previous years’ lists have included: Rutherford Hall at the University of Georgia in Athens, which was demolished in June 2012 despite popular support from students, residents, alumni and the preservation community; Chattahoochee Park Pavilion in Gainesville, which received $25,000 in building materials after the Gainesville City Council voted in July to restore it; John Berrien House in Savannah, which was recently purchased by a descendant who plans to rehabilitate the house and use it for both commercial and residential space; and the Mary Ray Memorial School in Newnan County, which won a Preservation Award from the Trust in 2012. Updates on these sites and others can be found at http://www.georgiatrust.org.

Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. Committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia’s communities and their diverse historic resources for the education and enjoyment of all, The Georgia Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund; provides design assistance to 102 Georgia Main Street cities and encourages neighborhood revitalization; trains teachers in 63 Georgia school systems to engage students to discover state and national history through their local historic resources; and, advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts.

Other sites on the 2013 list include: Tift Warehouse in Albany; Candler Park Golf Course and Sweet Auburn Commercial District in Atlanta; Cave Spring Log Cabin in Floyd County; Monticello Commercial Building in Jasper County; Lexington Presbyterian Church in Oglethorpe County; Hancock County Courthouse in Sparta; and Traveler’s Rest State Historic Site in Toccoa.

 

Hikers Learn About Diverse Bird Species at Euharlee Wildlife Refuge

photo courtesy of Shannon Fair

photo courtesy of Shannon Fair

With the fall bird migration in full swing, avid birders recently attended an educational hike at the 107-acre Euharlee wildlife refuge on Dobbins Mountain. The hikes, which were hosted by Cartersville Ranch and the City of Euharlee, provided members of the Atlanta Audubon Society, Coalition for the Right Road and others with the opportunity to learn about several different types of native and migratory birds and their habitat.

Joshua Spence, who has 16 years of experience in bird identification in north Georgia, led the birding hike through the refuge  and noted 53 bird species. Participants heard and saw many types of birds, but various species of tanagers, warblers and vireos were the most common neotropical birds observed.

Many agreed that the highlight of the hike was three adult bald eagles having a dispute over a fish. As the hike was concluding, a bald eagle dove towards the lake and grabbed a fish approximately 200 to 300 feet from the hikers and the remaining two bald eagles gave chase for the eagle’s catch.  Other notable highlights included a sharp-shinned hawk pursuing a woodpecker through the wildlife refuge and a confirmed sighting of the declining Cerulean Warbler.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The Cerulean Warbler is one of the species of highest concern in the eastern United States because of a small total population size and significant declines throughout its range. The Cerulean is under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act and is listed on the Audubon Watchlist.”

An adult bald eagle grabs a fish from the lake on Cartersville Ranch. The eagle was one of three adult bald eagles that were utilizing the ranch’s lake as a source for food. (photo courtesy of Shannon Fair)

Kent Percy, member of the Atlanta Audubon Society, said, “It was a beautiful hike through the wildlife refuge’s contiguous hardwood forest, which contains a wide array of birds and wildlife. It would be tragic to see the 411 Connector come through here. If there are other options to build the road, I certainly hope the Georgia Department of Transportation looks very closely at its alternatives before destroying the easement. You cannot recreate what is here.”

Hike leader Josh Spence discusses color markings and other information about the Cerulean Warbler with local birding enthusiast and blogger Jean Pell. (photo courtesy of Cory Stewart)

While many were excited about the numerous types of neotropical birds observed, others remarked at the beauty and habitat quality of the wildlife refuge.

“I was very impressed with the diversity of bird species we observed on the hike,” said Atlanta birder Ruth Marley. “The property and conservation easement are beautifully maintained. It is wonderful that there are so many vines, great cover and protected areas for the birds. More importantly, it should be kept this way.”

Percy added, “This is something you cannot find in your backyard. You can see cardinals and blue jays all you want, but you cannot observe this many different types of birds; unless you get into an area that has a lot of forest. You hate to see some of this being destroyed for a road that could be done elsewhere.”

Designated as a significant wildlife refuge by the City of Euharlee in 2010, the conservation easement on Dobbins Mountain was certified for special conservation status last year by the DNR because it protects wildlife habitat through the conservation of high priority species and habitats.

City of Euharlee & Cartersville Ranch Host Educational Fall Hikes

Enthusiasts Will Learn About Diverse Bird and Wildflower Species at Euharlee Wildlife Refuge on Dobbins Mountain

The City of Euharlee and Cartersville Ranch today announced two educational hikes at the Euharlee wildlife refuge on Dobbins Mountain – one focused on bird species and the other on wildflowers. The birding and wildflower hikes are scheduled for later this month and October, respectively. Invitations have been extended to members of the Atlanta Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Georgia Botanical Society, Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Georgia Conservancy and Georgia Native Plant Society.

The Coalition for the Right Road, an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers, is participating in the outings. Public access has been limited to protect refuge habitat and species.

The announced series of educational hikes is consistent with the major purpose of the conservation easement, which is to preserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. Also, the hikes are consistent with the conservation values, set forth in the recorded conservation easement document.

“The scheduled field trips through the conservation easement are part of the city’s ongoing efforts to educate those interested in the many natural treasures of Bartow County,” said Trish Sullivan, city manager for the City of Euharlee. “Participants will be able to fully experience the abundance of birds and native plants that make the Euharlee wildlife refuge so unique and essential to our community.”

Birding Hike

Joshua Spence, who has 16 years of experience in bird identification in north Georgia, will lead the birding hike through the wildlife refuge to coincide with the fall migration. Last year, Spence completed 24 trips to the refuge and he documented the presence of 149 different bird species within the survey area of Cartersville Ranch. He also discovered 89 unique bird species within the boundaries of the wildlife refuge; more than half of those species were neotropical migratory birds that breed in the United States and during the winter in Mexico, Central America and South America.

Of the 89 species observed within the wildlife refuge, 10 are currently on the Important Bird Area Priority List, a special conservation status:  Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Cape May Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Worm-eating Warbler and Wood Thrush.

Wildflower Hike

Jim Allison, a leading expert on Southeastern wildflowers, butterfly enthusiast and botanist for 13 years at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will lead the wildflower hike at Dobbins Mountain. In 2011, Allison conducted plant surveys on 12 separate visits to the Euharlee wildlife refuge, and observed and photographed a total of 88 diverse native flowing plants within the refuge. His most important find was nearly 600 Georgia aster flowering stems – discovered in bloom at Dobbins Mountain last fall.

The Georgia aster is a state-protected and federal candidate species, and the population found at Dobbins Mountain is one of the largest remaining populations in the state. The Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia DNR characterized the new discovery as significant. Its name and beauty have made it a candidate to replace the Cherokee Rose as the state flower.

Allison also discovered a population of native orchids – the state-protected Pink Ladyslipper – within the borders of the refuge. Participants are expected to see a variety of fall wildflowers, including bird’s-foot violet, blue sage, downy lobelia, false-dandelion, grass-leaved golden-aster, Kuhnia, narrow false-foxglove, rabbit tobacco, small-head sunflower, small-leaf white snakeroot, starved aster, stiffleaf coreopsis, wedgeleaf thoroughwort, white wingstem and many more.

About the Coalition for the Right Road

The Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) is an organization of Georgia citizens committed to making sure the U.S. 411 Connector is built with minimal environmental impact and at the lowest cost to taxpayers. CORR is opposed to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s current plans for the 411 Connector – Route D-VE – because of its exorbitant cost, inefficient interchange and environmental destruction. The coalition is committed to raising awareness of shorter, cheaper and less destructive routes, and is open to anyone who shares these concerns. For more information, visit www.coalitionfortherightroad.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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