Energy Efficiency Next Topic for Commercial Green Building Committee

The Commercial Green Building Committee is holding its fourth meeting on March 30th, 2010 at the Bobby M. Snipes Water Resource Center, located at 780 Barber Street, at 3:30 pm.

“The majority of the meeting will be dealing with energy efficiency and the reviewing of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard 189.1,” said Doug Hansford, Athens-Clarke County director of building inspection and permits and provider of staff support for the Commercial Green Building Committee.

The purpose of the Commercial Green Building Committee is “to establish an ordinance that includes sustainable and energy efficient standards for the construction or retrofitting of commercial buildings with a focus on energy, water, and waste management,” according to the charge given to the committee by Heidi Davison, Mayor of Athens-Clarke County.

The Commercial Green Building Committee was appointed by Davison in January 2010 to look in to recommending some green building standards for buildings that are 5,000 sq. ft. or larger, according to Hansford.

“We have only had 3 meetings prior to this one. Our last one was on March 16th,” said Hansford. “We are trying to meet every two weeks.”

According to Hansford, the committee studies the issues at hand and makes recommendations to the commission, but Davison has the final say of what is approved.

According to the charge, tasks of the committee include things such as “review of ACC development codes for comparative purposes against accepted sustainable building standards and develop implementation strategies that consider impacts to resources including ACC staff and funding, contractor considerations, etc.”

“Last meeting we focused on water efficiency, which we will continue to talk about on Tuesday, and then we will move on to energy efficiency and the ASHRAE standards,” said Hansford.

According to the official ASHRAE website, the purpose of standard 189.1 is “to provide minimum requirements for the siting, design, construction, and plan for operation of high performance green buildings to: balance environmental responsibility, resource efficiency, occupant comfort and wellbeing, and community sensitivity, and support the goal of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to the meet their needs.”

The Commercial Green Building Committee will be reviewing this standard at the meeting on Tuesday, March 30th.

“Committee meetings may be attended by the public although input is not taken,” said Davison.

Board meeting makes progress on plans for new gym

Fourteen empty black leather chairs surround a dark wood table in anticipation of the Athens Housing Authority’s Public Hearing and Board Meeting.

The public hearing begins at 4:15 p.m. in the Central Offices of the Athens Housing Authority on Rocksprings Street, and is one of only two the Authority holds a year.

One is to annually approve the small decals denoting Authority vehicles, and the other is to allow for comment on the Annual Agency Plan, according to Marilyn Appleby, Marketing and Communications Director for the AHA.

The regularly scheduled Board meeting follows the hearing. Board meetings are held every fourth Tuesday of the month at 4:30 p.m.

Board Commissioners trickle in and help themselves to the coffee and bottles of water on a table in the corner of the large room filled with natural light. Against one wall are more leather chairs available for any guests.

Becky Hartman, Administrative Services Director for the AHA, enters the room and sets her things down on the table.

“I was amazed everyone got here so early,” she said, “But then I remembered, we do have a public hearing today, and it is over my stuff.”

“Yep, you’re the guest of honor,” said James C. Smith, the Vice Chair.

In accordance with the agenda, after the approval of the minutes, Hartman debriefs the group on the Five Year and Annual Agency Plans.

“The documents have been available for public comments for 45 days and to the best of my knowledge there have been no comments and no challenges,” she said. “My belief is this is because our Resident Advisory Board helped draft the document, all issues were addressed at that time.”

As there were no residents present to make comments, the public hearing was open, then closed, in two minutes.

The Board meeting commenced with an audit of the Athens Housing Authority.

Next on the agenda is David Linder’s talk about the financing documents for the plans to build a new Boys and Girls club gym. Linder moved from the side of the room the to main table in order to individually discuss important articles in the document and explain the progress.

The new gym will be part of a larger effort to renovate the H.T. Edwards building into another location for the Boys and Girls club of Athens.

Currently the Athens Housing Authority provides non-federal funding to the Jack R. Wells Boys and Girls center, but the facility is outdated according to Appleby. There is one main room, and some rooms on the side, but the building is small.

“In the probably 15 years of use, the Boys and Girls Club have just outgrown it,” she said. “They had probably outgrown it the minute they moved in.”

The Jack R. Wells center is in the middle of a neighborhood, and in Appleby’s opinion, this is problematic.

“Only neighborhood kids use the space,” she said, “With the exception of summer programs, we just don’t see many kids from other areas.”

The H.T. Edwards building is in a central location that should make it more accessible to more people. It will also have many of the same features as the existing, larger Fourth Street Boys and Girls Club. This will include a newly refurbished gym, offices, art space, and potentially a music lab.

The financing has been in the works for close to a year according to Appleby, the complications being caused by the partnership between four entities, local government, the school system, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Athens Housing Authority.

S.P.O.L.S.T money from the government, Boys and Girls Club fundraising, and money from the Athens Housing Authority is all being used to finance the project, and the school system owns the H.T. Edwards building.

“This is a very, very unique project,” J. Richard Parker II, the Executive Director said. “I can’t think of another example of four such high profile groups coming together to provide a service that is going to have this kind of long term benefits. None of us could have accomplished it on our own.”

Parker II guesses that building plans should be ready in 60-90 days, and construction should begin this summer.

An event is tentatively planned for April 22 to celebrate the partnership. Parker II would like the media to be there and to hand the Boys and Girls Club a giant check. The event would be held later in the day so children involved in the Boys and Girls Club could be present as well as the Board members from all the partners.

After this informal discussion, the Board meeting resumed, covered more ordinary business, and adjourned at approximately 6:45 p.m.

Athens Farmer’s Market: Two Years Later

by Chari Sutherland

On Tuesday, Roots Farm and Cedar Grove Farm workers were preparing for participation in the Athens Farmer’s Market (AFM) opening on May11.  At Roots, Sara Callaway knelt in moist, black soil, and added lettuce seedlings for red cross lettuce.  At Cedar Grove, a worker used a pitchfork to toss natural compost into the garden where planting will begin.  With the opening of the AFM only seven weeks away, growers are busy tending their gardens. 

“It’s an interesting challenge to have food coming out early spring,” Callaway said, who is manager of the Roots Farm.  “We put a good amount of effort in planting things that grow fast with a 30- to 60-day turnaround.”  She said lettuces, radishes and arugula grow fast.  Onions, planted in the fall, will be ready by the market opening day.  After mid-April frost risk goes down and growers can pretty much plant anything, said Jay Payne, president of the AFM and owner of Cedar Grove Farm in Crawford, Georgia.

Farmer markets have been becoming more and more popular.  The USDA reported in August, 2009 that there were approximately 4,900 farmers markets operating nationwide, this includes 215 new markets added since 2008.

The interest in farmer’s markets is evidenced by the attendance level increases over the last two years that the AFM has been open. 

Payne said, “We had 1200 visitors on average per market last year for over 34,000 total.”  He hopes to see an increase in those numbers this year.  “I would like to think that the 20 farmers will feed at least 2000-3000 customers a week this season.”

Board member, Christy Jenkins, was instrumental in the upstart of the market.  She said when the market began in 2008 the goals were “ to establish a stable market with regular clientele, to establish consistency in presentation of products, and to make it so people are aware of the market in the area.”  

Craig Page of Promoting Local Agriculture and Cultural Experience (PLACE) was also involved in planning the AFM.  “There definitely had a learning curve the first year,” he said.

Payne said, “On our first day, we had 3000 people show up on Saturday.  It was a disaster.  We had this knot of people in one spot.”  Produce sold out in an hour, he said.  That indicated the AFM would be a great success.

Here are some statistics:

  • First year’s weekly patronage averaged 950 people per week
  • Second year’s weekly patronage averaged 1200 a week
  • At peak season, 1500 customers were the average.   
  • In the first year 11 farmers participated.  By the end of that year, there were 16.
  • There were 18 farmers the second year. 
  • This year, 30 farmers have applied.  Only 25 will be chosen for full-time slots and up to six more for part-time. 

“This is not a market where farmers can drop in anytime,” Payne said.  “Many farmers’ markets started and failed because they didn’t have a consistent level of produce.”   Growers must commit to either a “Full Membership” which entitles the grower to participate on all Saturdays.  This level of membership costs $400.  A “Full Membership Plus”, which costs $700, enables the grower to participate on all Saturdays and Tuesdays in the season.  Growers must be

Certified Naturally Grown, have farms must be located within the 26-county area around Athens and must submit to the philosophy, ‘If you don’t grow it, you can’t sell it.’

Callaway said the rates and requirements are reasonable. “If your production size is anything, you’re going to make at least $300 every week,” she said.  “That ends up being about $9000 for the season if its 29 weeks.”

Cutting out the middle man such as transport costs, has had two affects, Payne said.  Farmers are growing more product and the money they make is staying in the community. 

Growers in the AFM are usually small farmers who are cultivating gardens of around two or three acres. There are some with only a half acre and one with about 13 acres.  Because of their small size, most growers in the market tend not to be Certified Organic (a USDA managed program). Certified Naturally Grown is a type of organic or sustainable farming that “follows organic thinking”, Payne said, but costs less.  All growers in the AFM use natural materials or techniques, avoiding any synthetic products.

The market has several changes this year.  Payne said he hopes the Tuesday Downtown Market from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Little Kings Bar parking lot will bring in consumers who can’t normally come Saturday mornings, such as students and downtown workers.

In past years, AFM has only been accepting cash or checks.  This year, they have obtained an Electronic Benefits Transfer device (EBT) that will enable them to sell to  food stamp recipients.  These customers will be able to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) debit cards to purchase food.

Page said parking had been a problem.  After 2009, most of the kinks were worked out, he said.  “An upcoming problem we may face is space,” Craig said.  Payne said he hopes the AFM will acquire its own space in the next few years instead of renting.

As a grower, Callaway’s has found that she has to narrow down the diversity of produce she grows because buyers want the more common items. “People want butter head lettuce, for example.  Not speckled romaine, red romaine, or oak leaf.  They won’t buy them.”  In tomatoes, however, customers seem to like not just the red slicers but also pink and yellow varieties. 

Payne encourages the consumers to think differently about food varieties.  “The farmer’s market has varieties of things you can’t get in a grocery store because they don’t hold up as long.”  For instance, Cedar Grove alone will sell at least four different varieties of kale and three varieties of greens.  At the market there will be growers hawking blueberries, blackberries, kale, brocalli, lettuces, carrots, squashes, and various varieties of potatoes.  Cedar Grove’s most popular item is the purple hull, Texas pink-eye peas. 

Looking ahead, Page is hopeful that state laws will be relaxed to allow local meat and dairy producers to participate in the market.

Payne said he’d like to see the market have twice as many farmers in 10 years, feeding a community with more fresh, local, wholesome food, rather than produce that might travel thousands of miles before the consumer ever sees it.  “My vision was to create something lasting so people would say ‘They have a really great market in Athens’.” 

At the outset of this venture two years ago, Page said he’d hoped that the market would create a social space for the community to come together.  It has become that.  It has also had the effect of helping growers create personal relationships with customers.  “Because the farmers are there, consumers have confidence in our products,” Payne said.  

The Athens Farmer’s Market will run from May 11 to November 20 in Bishop Park at 705 Sunset Drive.  Saturday hours will be 8 to 12.  Tuesday’s Downtown Market hours will be 4 to 7.  See the Farmer’s Market website for more information,

Construction plans approved for Historic Neighborhoods

The Historic Preservation Commission met on a rainy afternoon on March 17 at the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department Auditorium.

The meeting began approximately at 5:30 p.m. with 15 people in attendance. Three rows of chairs were placed for citizens and petitioners to sit and listen and two conference tables up front seated the members of the commission. A PowerPoint presentation showing diagrams of houses and design layouts was shown throughout the discussion.

“Each speaker will be given three minutes to speak. Please state your name for the record if you choose to speak. Any comments need to be addressed to the commission, not each other or the audience,” stated Sharon Bradley, chair of the Historic Preservation Commission.

The first item on the agenda was approval of a new single-family residential home located on Cohen Street in the Boulevard Historic District. The commission asked for the petitioner to come up to the table to discuss. An agent for that party spoke for the petitioner regarding construction changes.

The discussion amongst the agent and the commission members were softly spoken and once the conversation ended, observations of the house were discussed more clearly to the public.

One member of the commission stated that he liked the look of the house but there was “too much craftsman style” and that there might be a few houses in that area “that are not [considered to be] in a craftsman neighborhood.”

The goal for this house was to simplify it and eliminate details that took away from its historic appearance. The biggest concern was the chimney.

“The Historic Preservation Commission were concerned with the chimney being able to be permitted at the height shown if the code couldn’t allow reducing it,” said Amber Eskew, preservation planner for the Historic Preservation Commission. “They felt it was inappropriate at that height.”

An hour later, after much debate, the Commission motioned a vote. The vote was 3-2 and new construction was approved with conditions for the house.

“Some design changes were required regarding the chimney, and some areas of the front facade such as the gable windows, front door, and elimination of some bracket details,” Eskew stated. “They found its details and level of details needing modifications to fit within the very vernacular area.”

According to the commission, details on the house design had to be eliminated because the level of detail provided on the design was not seen in that area.

“They happen to be details common to Craftsman architecture, as are the columns on piers used at the front porch but is was not the fact that they are craftsman but that the area is very vernacular that caused them to need to be changed,” added Eskew.

After the approval of the first item, the second item on the agenda was up for review. This item was regarding Sarah Lacher’s property on Cloverhurst Avenue in the Cloverhurst/Springdale historic district.

The request was for a rear addition and a two-car carport. With conditions such as adding some windows to the left side of the elevation and adjustment and retaining of the walls, the commission approved the changes and voted 5-0.
After the first two items had been approved, most citizens had left the meeting and only five people remained as the commission reviewed the last item on the agenda.

Judson Doherty had requested to add a detached carport to his home as well as approval for modification of his driveway located at Woodlawn Avenue. The modification would be converting his tire-stripped driveway into solid concrete.

The Commission reviewed Doherty’s application and voted yes (5-0) for such changes with the following conditions.

“The site plan needed be adjusted- the degree of the carport roof slope had to be decreased, a gable vent was eliminated and retaining wall information needed to be provided,” Eskew said.

The commission approved each item based on the historic preservation design guidelines. The guidelines state that it is important for new construction to be similar to nearby historic buildings such as scale, materials and composition.  It should also have the same orientation as nearby historic examples.

No further comments were spoken after the last vote and now, according to Eskew, it is up to the property owners to turn in any revised plans required and then get zoning permits approved before proceeding.

“Sometimes driveway permits are also needed before they can apply for building permits. But how long this takes is really up the applicant and how quickly they turn in the necessary revisions and paperwork. This could take a day or two or much longer,” Eskew stated.

The next public meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission will meet on April 21, 2010.

Mayor, Commission review historic Milledge Avenue

Milledge Avenue has always been one of the enduring images of the Classic City.  Now, the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission want to make sure it remains as citizens have remembered it for years to come.

After over two years of preparation, the Mayor and Commission finally discussed the historic preservation of Milledge Avenue at their agenda setting meeting this past Thursday, May 18th at City Hall in downtown Athens.  The item would designate Milledge Avenue as an historic district and establish development restrictions to ensure the preservation of the popular street.

No final actions were taken at last Thursday’s meeting.  All business items discussed were moved to the meeting set for Tuesday, April 6th.

While a number of items were discussed, the historic designation and preservation of Milledge Avenue grabbed the most attention.

Kathy Hoard, the District 5 Commission, has spearheaded the effort to preserve Milledge and protect it from what some would consider improper development.

“Obviously, I’m very excited about this,” Hoard said at last Thursday’s meeting.  “This has been a two year process with a lot of input from the [UGA] Greek Community and our in-town neighborhoods.”

District 7 Commissioner David Lynn is glad to finally see this item come before the commission.

“This is an area that’s overdue, frankly, for this kind of work” said Lynn before the commission on Thursday night.  “We’ve seen some consequences of that.  This is one of those areas that –when you think of Athens – Milledge Avenue is one of those places you think of.”

According to the Historic Preservation Committee, the Milledge Avenue Local Historic District contains both sides of Milledge Avenue, from where it intersects with Broad Street to its intersection with Lumpkin Street.  Many of the structures on Milledge remain in their original form, some with a few alterations.  Newer ones have replaced older buildings through time.  Especially during the Great Depression, single-family homes gave way to apartments and commercial structures.

But the most recognizable aspect of modern-day Milledge is the affiliation with UGA’s Greek organizations.  University of Georgia members of fraternities and sororities such as Alpha Gamma Delta, Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Delta Pi have been a part of the community for over 50 years, according to the ACC Commission agenda.

One aspect of the proposed legislation would mean that Greek organizations will no longer be considered a special use. Such organizations would be allowed into the district without any special use review.  A special use allows property owners to bypass certain zoning regulations when making alterations to existing properties.

“We would not have Milledge as we know it today without [the UGA Greek community,]” said Hoard.

At last Thursday’s meeting, Commissioner Hoard proposed an amendment that would not require a special use for any additions to less than 50% of the heated space of an existing structure.  This is one of the few aspects of this legislation that is still up for debate.

“I think there may be some concern that 50% [of the heated space] is too much, and a lower threshold might be more acceptable, given the expansive size of many of the buildings on the corridor,” said Athens Mayor Heidi Davison.  “At this time, I am still considering this amendment and am not prepared to say one way or another whether this is something I can support.”

The Mayor and Commission will meet for final consideration of this and other items on Tuesday, April 6th.  Concerned citizens are encouraged to attend this meeting.

While there is still some debate left to be had considering some aspects of the item, the Mayor and the Commission look forward to moving ahead with this item.

“We’ve had a few mishaps,” said District 3 Commissioner George Maxwell.  “This will ensure that this street is preserved for future generations to enjoy.  So I hope we have unanimous support on April 6th.”

Athens moves forward with census

The 2010 Census is well underway in Athens and local officials, citizens, and students are helping to promote.

Census promoters take ideas from the national and regional offices.

John Lowery, the local census office manager, said the majority of publicity for the census is provided by the national office.

“They are primarily responsible for promoting the census,” Lowery said. “They have the advertising budget. We don’t.”

The Athens branch of the Local Census Office, which covers 14 counties, uses Field Operations Staff and enumerators to go into the community and build awareness about the census. Enumerators travel door-to-door during the census to gather addresses of community members.

The staff has contacted on-campus housing supervisors as well as off-campus housing facilities to assist students with the questionnaire. They also pass out fliers.

The office began preparing for the census last spring. Enumerators gathered U.S. Postal Service approved addresses from the community to build a database.

The office also has Partnership Specialists whose primary responsibility is to promote the census by having conversations with local community members.

The local government also plays a major role. The Athens-Clarke County Planning Department announced on its website that, “Mayor Heidi Davison [has] appointed the Complete County Committee (CCC)” for the region. The program consists of government leaders and community members willing to build awareness of the census.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Web site, the CCC members can do the following:  

· Organize a team of local people who can provide the cultural and community insights   

  necessary to build 2010 Census awareness efforts.

· Promote the value of accurate and complete census data.

· Have a positive impact on the questionnaire response rate.

The Athens-Clarke County division includes members from the Department of Family and Children Services, the Council on Aging, the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government, the Clarke County School Board and other organizations.

CCC programs play a major role in making sure every person in a specific community is counted.

Julie Morgan, special projects coordinator planner II at the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department, said that Athens uses the CCC to do most of its promotion concerning the census.

“The Complete Count Committee consists of community leaders who have contact with harder to count populations,” Morgan said. “Students are difficult to count. So are the homeless and Hispanic populations.”

The committee also holds various programs in different schools around the city.

“The Clarke-County school district applied for grants and received a lot of money to build census awareness,” Morgan said.

She adds that the shirts help bring information home to parents. They made about 7,000 shirts for students.

She also said that the CCC “steals ideas all the time from the national website.” The committee is beneficial because each member of the committee knows the questions and concerns of his or her group and can make the most productive efforts based on that knowledge.

At the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, some faculty and staff at the Applied Demography Program are filling “the information gap between data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and what local governments collect on their own.” The group collects population data beneficial to local and state governments in planning their budgets.

Students can also participate in the action. The U.S. Census Bureau Web site provides information for students and graduates to apply for jobs.

Emily Brown, 20, a sophomore political science major from Cumming said the census form wasn’t that hard to fill out. She said the census is helpful because “it gives the city money and Athens really needs it.”

As far as awareness is concerned, Brown has seen some of it.

“I saw someone in Tate,” Brown said. “And I got a couple extra mailings. I’ve also seen stuff about it on the news.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Web site, the estimated population of Clarke County in 2008 was 114,737. This is a 13.1 percent increase from the estimated 101,487 people living in the county in April 2000. The 2000 census data shows that Clarke County was the 14th most populous county in the state. The estimated population of Athens in 2006 was 111,580. This is an 11.3 percent increase from the 2000 estimate of 100,266. University of Georgia students make up a good portion of the population with 32,938 people in the fall of 2007.

The constitutionally required U.S. Census takes place every 10 years. The goal is to count every person living in the United States “to help determine the number of seats your state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

But this is not the only reason the census takes place.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Web site, “the census will help communities receive $400 billion dollars in federal funds each year for things like: hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, bridges, tunnels and other public-works projects, and emergency services.”

The website also states that not completing the census can have negative effects on a community.  Not only will it affect the amount of federal dollars the community receives, but the census is also “one of the most powerful ways of having a voice in the United States.”

The 2010 Census questionnaire will be mailed to every address. It is the shortest census questionnaire since the first one in 1790. Citizens must only fill out their name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship, and if people living in the house own or rent their homes. The census questionnaire is only available in print form. The bureau is required under federal law to protect the confidentiality of all personal date it receives.

For more information, please visit the U.S. Census Bureau Web site,, or call the local census bureau office at 706-534-5910.

Profile on Eve Anthony

            “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”

             This famous first line stirs up yuletide memories for many.  For Eve Anthony, the song evokes memories of dancing with a dear friend.

            Her friend was a client at the Athens Community Council on Aging, who spent a lot of time in Anthony’s office. Being in the finals stages of Alzheimer’s disease, he could not speak, but as soon as he heard the melody and lyrics of White Christmas he would begin to dance. He would then go and find Anthony so they could dance together. This is just one of the many touching experiences that Anthony has had in her ten years working at the Athens Community Council on Aging, where she is currently the Deputy Director of the facility.

            Through her role as Deputy Director, Anthony is involved with many programs including Home Delivered Meals, Project Healthy Grandparents and a support group for caregiver’s of Alzheimer’s patients. Home Delivered Meals is similar to Meals on Wheels.  Project Healthy Grandparents assists grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, connecting them to valuable resources. The caregiver’s support group is in conjunction with the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving and is the newest program. It allows family members and the caregiver to meet with a specialist, and create a plan on the best way to provide care for their loved one. Anthony notes that the facility recently began hosting lunches for the caregivers, and these events have gained a lot of popularity.

            Anthony desired to work with the elderly at a young age, a drive she credits to her grandmother.

           “I had a wonderful grandmother. She was part of every social club, church groups, garden clubs, everything,” said Anthony. “She would always take me to the meetings with her, so I loved being around older adults.”

            Anthony nurtured her passion during her days at the University of Georgia, where she majored in recreation therapy with a focus on older adults.     

            She admits that her first experience at a nursing home during college did not start off as she expected. “I can remember walking in at age 21 or 22 and just feeling overwhelmed and nervous at the beginning of the day,” said Anthony. “But by the end of the day I had done a complete 180 and knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do.”

            Through her practicum experience, Anthony decided she wanted to work primarily with clients who had Alzheimer’s disease, because she liked the idea of “not looking at about what’s wrong, but what is still there,” she said.

            So why does she make the hour long commute twice a day from Snellville to Athens to work at the center?

            It’s simple, this is her dream job. “I had done a practicum at the Adult Day Center in Winterville, where I coordinated the activities, and I loved it,” said Anthony. “It was my dream job, but I knew it was a pipe dream.” One weekend she was visiting her best friend in Athens and looking through the classified ads, when she noticed that there was a job opening for a coordinator of the Winder Adult Day Care Center.    

            Anthony applied for the job and was hired. She stayed in Winder for a year and a half, before moving to the Athens site, where she currently works. In Athens, she began as a coordinator, and over the past ten years has worked her way up. Anthony’s positions at the facility have included overseer of all day care programs and Co-Deputy Director. Now she is the sole Deputy Director of the Athens Community Council on Aging, and could not be happier.

            “The thing I love about my job is the people that I work with, said Anthony. “I am so fortunate that everyone is here for one thing, giving the clients good quality care. It’s neat to be part of an agency that truly makes a difference.”

            It is clear that Anthony’s former and current co-workers feel the same, “Eve is the person I have always turned to when a tough question or situation comes up.  She is always careful to call upon her years of experience to explore all angles of a problem and come up with a viable solution,” said Keith Adams, the Program Coordinator for the Winder Adult Day Health Center.  “Eve also always does her best to assist families in need of our services.  She organizes the grant funding for ADH [Adult Day Health Center] and will work with the families to ensure they can receive as much service as possible.”

            It is not just Anthony’s professionalism that her friends and co-workers admire.  “Eve is a pleasure to know.  She is an incredible person with a wonderful sense of humor.  She has a level of professional maturity and dedication that comes through all of her work and interactions with others,” said Melany Sattler, a former co-worker and friend of Anthony’s. “Given that, she can still be counted on to laugh and share an inappropriate moment with you. She is a lovely and balanced person.”

            When asked what inspires her, Anthony thinks awhile before answering, “I always tell my six-year-old daughter that the most important thing is to be kind, and to treat people the way they deserve to be treated,” she said. “I am also inspired by the actions of the woman in the movie The Blind Side. She stopped and she acted. People who act and impact someone’s life for the better inspire me.”

            So whether she is jamming out to her favorite George Michael song on her drive home to Snellville or coordinating a caregiver’s lunch, Anthony inspires everyone around her with her well-balanced disposition. She is someone to come to with a problem or a funny joke, and that combination is hard to beat.

Construction Sensitive to Historic Character

The house on 440 W. Cloverhurst Ave. will soon change, but it’s historic charm will not.

Architectural designs detail a proposed extensive addition to be added onto the back of the property.

“We’ve always been proud of our district,” said Diane Adams, a neighbor and the realtor who sold the house to the current residents. “That house has long been many people’s favorite in the area.”

Neighbors like Adams who appreciate the traditional character of the house need not worry about the change. The plans were approved by the Historic Preservation Committee at the most recent of their monthly meetings.

This body oversees all exterior construction on buildings in Athens’ 10 historic districts. At 5:30 on Wednesday, March 17, the Committee addressed three such construction projects, including the Cloverhurst case.

“People like to walk up and down Cloverhurst Ave. because of its character,” said David Dwyer, another neighbor. “We’re all pleased that this character is being maintained by the project.”

Adams and Dwyer were both on hand at the meeting to speak in favor of the proposal, citing the sensitivity and care being taken not to disturb the house’s integrity.

All committee meetings are open to the public. Before discussing matters, the committee opens the floor to public commentary on the issues under consideration.

“This is a significant addition with a minimal impact on the appearance of the house,” said board member Helen Kvykendal.

After approximately a half hour of discussion, the board unanimously passed the measure with minor conditions that some windows in the design be moved and additional retaining walls be constructed around the property.

The board often approves plans with conditions in the effort to aid property improvement.

“We want to allow people to move into historic Athens,” said board member Alexander Sams. “People sometimes need to make changes to improve a home’s functionality of use.”

Another condition of the approval is that the improved design be resubmitted to the Planning Department to ensure that the specified conditions will be met.

Although these may seem like small details, the Historic Preservation Committee is responsible for protecting the consistency and charm held by these historic zones.

“I’ve know that house forever and always admired it,” said Sams.

The majority of the two hours of the meeting was spent by the committee hashing out the specific details of these approval conditions.

Also present at the hearing were the new owners Tom and Donna Murphy and Jim Robinson, the architect who designed the renovation plans and submitted the proposal to the Planning Department.

“I see this as one of the most beautiful homes in the Five Points area,” said Robinson. “This is probably one of the oldest houses in the area and has a great deal of historical significance.”

The two other items on the agenda were also residential cases requesting permission for significant construction projects. Both were also handled a similar manner to the Cloverhurst property.

Robinson also designed the proposed carport for a property on Woodlawn Ave.

Like the Cloverhurst case, both other proposals were passed conditionally. Most of the conditions considered came from an introductory report given by Amber Eskew, the historic preservation planner at the Athens Planning Department.

Eskew bases her recommendations on prior research she compiles on the properties and plans. These recommendations are presented prior to any discussion and have no direct affect on the board’s final decision.

The meeting was held in the main auditorium of the Planning Department Building at 120 W. Doughtey Street downtown.

All seven board members were present.

Big grant spurs small business

 “We’re creating a new animal in a short period of time,” said Gwen O’Looney of the micro-enterprise development work underway at ACTION, Inc. The former mayor is managing a $1.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant that bolsters much of ACTION’s anti-poverty and community stabilizing work, but with a portion of the funds, O’Looney is breeding an economic development tool that targets low-income Athenians who lack access to traditional credit.

 “We’re turning mom and pop shops into businesses,” ACTION CEO John Scoggins said. ACTION aims to make legitimate businesses out of weekend, garage and kitchen table operations by reaching out to entrepreneurs with household incomes at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines – $21,660 for one person, $44,100 of a family of four. Existing business are fair game as well, as long as they meet the standards, but ACTION wants to focus on start-ups that can’t go to banks, the local government or other non-profits for help due to financial or credit problems.

 On top of tracking down a population previously unmapped, ACTION has the added task of completing their stimulus-funded mission by the end of September. But funds didn’t arrive until December of last year, and at this point, there’s only a few months left to finish the job.

 There’s been some confusion as to just how much of ACTION’s recovery money, a Community Service Block Grant, is earmarked for direct economic stimulus: about a quarter goes to micro-enterprise development – sole-proprietorships or businesses with fewer than five employees.

 Clarke County is home to over 8,000 micro-enterprises, representing 13 percent of businesses in the area, according to data compiled by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity.

 Another quarter of the grant goes to employment initiatives; they’ve created 10 part-time assistant positions to help administer programs throughout the region and given daycare scholarships to job seekers and the newly employed. A bulk of the money goes to eviction and foreclosure assistance, which has become increasingly important as furlough days take their toll on many ACTION clients, O’Looney said.

 Scoggins is quick to defend perceived criticism of their work.

 “We don’t give away money to anybody,” Scoggins said. When ACTION helps someone meet a mortgage or rent payment, that money is “leveraged” by a mortgagee or renter contribution. Scoggins added: housing support goes to a property owner, and that money goes back into the economy. “The notion that ACTION and ARRA is giving away money” is false, he said. “Nobody gets money without contribution.”

 While ACTION, a private non-profit, runs human development programs in a 10 county area stretching from Walton west to Elbert, from Jackson south to Greene, Clarke County uses 45 percent of the community action agency’s resources due to its population and high level of poverty, Scoggins said.

 With strict state and federal oversight of stimulus money, and a public wariness of recovery efforts in general, ACTION finds itself under the watch of many eyeballs.

 The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) oversees the stimulus grant and is “so careful with this money,” O’Looney said. Their state-level monitors are questioning but responsive, which has made the experience difficult but positive.

 In January and February, after using funds to stave off foreclosures and set up 5 new food pantries, ACTION has spent 25 percent of the total grant – including $60,000 of a budgeted $326,441 for economic development, according to a budget prepared by O’Looney.

 ACTION applies for a reimbursement from DHS each month, slowing down cash flow and creating a “difficult hurdle” for the agency that lacks a “soft cushion.” But O’Looney said reimbursement turnaround time is quickly improving. Compared to a previous month and a half wait, the most recent return took two days.

 ACTION splits the economic development portion of the grant into four parts: micro-enterprise training, job creation grants, individual development accounts and a program called Green Partners that’s planting gardens in Pinewood Mobile Homes, a local school and various faith-based organizations throughout ACTION’s coverage area. Outside of Clarke County, ACTION is the food bank for many communities, O’Looney said. Scoggins said a pound of tomatoes given to someone in Madison County is a pound they don’t have to buy at the store: “It translates into money.”

 Micro-enterprise training begins with a stack of perspective entrepreneur applications that Angelyne Diaz, O’Looney’s program assistant, whittles down into classes of 15. During the initial application process, and over the course of two five-hour training sessions, Diaz assesses the applicant’s progress and selects up to 10 for continuation. Out of the first class of 16, nine made it through.

 Each one of the graduates “selected for continuation” receives a 4 GB computer and software worth $500 and another $500 for paperwork needed to legitimize their business – a license, articles of incorporation or insurance –  $1,000 dollars total. Any money beyond that will depend on the graduate’s success as an entrepreneur – how their business plan develops and whether or not the business can create jobs for others besides the owner. After all, the project is job creating, not job sustaining.

 “If we believe the business is moving toward job creation, then it’s legitimate in my mind to give them money for job sustenance,” O’Looney said. So far, out of the nine selects to graduate from the program, only two have received job creation grants. These two grants will produce five jobs, O’Looney said.

 After her husband heard an ACTION ad on the radio, Tonya Knox signed up for the training to develop her fairy tale-themed children’s party planning business. She flew through the program, according to Diaz, and Knox’s Princess Dream Party business has customers already. Knox said she keeps a few employees ”on-call,” and is working to become Job Creation Grant eligible. Diaz also is helping Knox legitimize her three-year-old summer camp for girls.

 Diaz said she’s working through 100 new applications for the next two classes.

 Unfortunately, O’Looney hasn’t had too many takers on her favorite development tool: the individual development account (IDA).  New to the Athens area, an IDA is a basic matching fund program whose savings can be spent on secondary schooling, business building and homeownership, anything that helps low-income families build assets and economic well being, according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

 IDA holders set a savings goal for a computer or piece of equipment and ACTION matches the savings dollar for dollar. ACTION partnered with Athens First Bank and Trust on the project, but only one person has opened an account, O’Looney said.

 “We really need to get the word out on this,” O’Looney said.

 ACTION planned initially to use a flexible, low-interest revolving loan to develop micro-enterprises, but recently scrapped the idea. They’ve changed strategy for two reasons. First, Scoggins said implementing such a complex financial tool in an eight-and-a-half month timeframe is next to impossible. Second, ACTION found it difficult to find existing, credit worthy businesses that met the poverty guidelines. O’Looney said the government made it clear they don’t want the stimulus going to people who’ve been in the economy and know the channels to find money, they want it in the hands of people in need. Restrictions required ACTION to hire and pay the employees, not the employer, and that wouldn’t empower anyone. But O’Looney isn’t worried about the loss: “I feel good about having us focus more and more on the truly beginning small business.”

 While not a business novice, Seth Hendershot needed ACTION’s help when he decided to “up the ante” on his coffee shop operation.

 Hendershot owns the Tasting Room inside the Jittery Joe’s roaster on East Broad Street but is “not in the position to get a traditional loan from a bank” as he plans to open a stand-alone Tasting Room on Oglethorpe Ave. Hendershot meets the federal requirements for the Job Creation Grant, and he said he’s hoping to receive $20,000 to create more than 2 jobs.

Besides providing grants instead of loans, what sets ACTION’s program apart is the focus on entrepreneurs “who seldom see themselves as appropriate [for real financial assistance] but are doing legitimate business.” The original press release calls them the “underground economy” – but has ACTION been able to reach their quarry?

 “I think we have,” O’Looney said. “It’s hard to find these people.” Out of the original class of sixteen, only two held previous business licenses. Nine brand new businesses, 6 expanding businesses and one legitimizing business completed the training, according to an ACTION document.

 The former mayor admits they need better PR, so they’ve taken out ads in Zebra magazine, checked in with faith-based organizations and improved contact with banks that can refer the entrepreneurs ACTION wants to help.

 O’Looney said she’s excited about “carving deeper and deeper into that population that has not been helped by programs in the past.” ACTION is doing what needs to be done and what hasn’t been done before and getting the money to the right people in “an accountable and honorable way.” Hopefully, ACTION can knock it out by the September 30 deadline – which means spending quickly $750,000 as accountably and honorably as possible.

“The private non-profit sector is asked to do a job much greater than creating a new jet or a new weapon,” O’Looney said. “We’re given less money and more ropes. If we had the liberty they give a weapons builder – a billion dollar contract for ten years. We’re supposed to change the tide of culture and poverty in very little time with very little resources.”

Senior Hunger

Betty Green lives in downtown Athens-Clarke County and is 72 years old. Ms. Green has been recently diagnosed with Diabetes and needs access to healthy, wholesome food more than ever. Ms. Green’s poverty-like circumstances and financial burdens prevent her from purchasing and preparing food for herself. 

Food insecurity is an urgent health problem for senior citizens in Athens–Clarke County. Ms. Green is part of a large group of seniors who are not able to receive food assistance through programs such as Meals on Wheels (MOW).  The demand for home delivered meals in Athens is not being met.

“Not enough is being done to fix the problem of food insecurity in Athens. There are waiting lists at many senior centers where the meals are distributed in Georgia,” says Dr. Mary Ann Johnson, professor at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at UGA. “There are real costs associated with home delivered meals, including the cost of the food and in some cases transportation for the meals. Food costs have been increasing in recent years. The Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) usually has enough volunteer drivers, but they are struggling to raise enough money to hire drivers because they don’t have enough volunteers.”

Community characteristics such as low income, no education, minority status and the unavailability to prepare and access food are the leading causes for food insecurity for senior citizens such as Ms. Green.

According to the ACCA, Georgia has the 11th fastest growing population of older adults in the country. Georgia also has the 7th highest prevalence of diabetes among older people. Among the major challenges related to aging and chronic diseases are controlling health care costs, maintaining independence, and enhancing quality of life through improved lifestyles and chronic disease management.

The ACCA also says that given the current harsh economic conditions, many older Georgians are having a difficult time making ends meet. For the first time in more than 30 years, there is not expected to be a cost of living increase in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Coupled with likely increases in Part D of Medicare (prescription drug coverage), which is deducted from monthly benefits, many low income older Georgians, like Ms. Green, will have less to meet their nutritional needs.

Food Insecurity according to the USDA definition is “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited, or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”

According to the Food Bank of North East Georgia, In America, over 12 million households were food insecure during 2009. 12.9% of Georgia’s population was food insecure and 3.5% suffered from hunger throughout the year. Georgia’s population, according to 2009 census data, is 9,072,576 people. Of these, 1,206,652 live below the poverty threshold–or 13.3%. Clarke County has the highest poverty rate of all the 14 counties within the Food Bank’s service area. One out of seven senior citizens living in poverty in Northeast Georgia reside in Athens-Clarke County.

Meals on Wheels serves a very vulnerable population of older people who have a higher prevalence of health problems than the general population of older adults. National studies show that about one half of the foods and nutrients consumed by people in MOW are coming from the single meal provided each day. The home delivered meals provided through MOW provide a very important and substantial source of nutrition for vulnerable older adults.

Meal delivery programs are hurting and waiting lists have gotten longer because funds are needed. Each week seniors, like Ms. Green, who live alone, go without dinner or lunch two to three times each week.

“In the past year, I have wanted to apply for food stamps, but found the process too difficult,” says Ms. Green. UGA, the GA Division of Aging Services and the Aging Services Network perform a lot of research on food insecurity in older Georgians. Their studies show that transportation issues, paperwork and qualification standards have made access to food stamps a challenge for many residents in Athens-Clarke County. Nationally, participation in the Food Stamp program by elderly people is only at 32% of those eligible. By contrast, in Georgia the food stamp participation rate among seniors is only 7%.

“This is a very difficult problem Athens is dealing with,” says Dr. Johnson. “In the past, The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia (FBNG), has had programs for older adults in need of food but they are now lacking volunteers. There are other food banks and food pantries in our community that can help. Some churches may have programs and often families and neighbors might be able to help. But the need is great and the resources are not there to help the elderly.”

Dr. Jung Sun Lee, another professor at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at UGA has been collaborating with the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services to document the unmet need for congregate meals and home-delivered meal (HDM) programs among older Georgians. A total of 3,806 older Georgians requested HDM over the 19-week period between July and early November 2009. Only 1,210 of them (32%) received the meals and the remaining 68% were on program waitlists. Those on the waiting lists had poorer socioeconomic and nutritional health status than the participants at the time when they requested HDM services.

“There is a critical unmet need for HDM in Athens-Clarke County, a program that is of even greater importance to high risk seniors during an economic recession,” says Dr. Lee.

 The efforts made to try and diminish food insecurity among the elderly in Athens are not great enough to fix the problem. According to the Georgia Gerontology Society, Georgia must plan to realize future savings through proven prevention practices. Budget cuts are taking apart prevention programs and shredding lifelines to older Georgians including: meals, respite care, adult day care and access to prescription drug resources. Due to skyrocketing costs, Georgia must budget to meet the essential needs of vulnerable older adults on fixed incomes. The rising costs of fuel, food and basic energy needs are limiting services to the elderly, particularly the homebound. Fewer volunteers deliver meals when more people are seeking food. Housing and financial assistance and agencies are unable to serve more people with less money.

“Major federal programs could provide needed nutritional benefits for our senior citizens,” says Jennie Desse, Executive Director of the ACCA. “Over the last decade, 19 states have chosen to conduct demonstrations to make it easier for the elderly to receive Food Stamp benefits by reengineering the application process and eliminating the need to go to the local food stamp office. Our hope is to get Athens-Clarke County to jump on this bandwagon.”

“Moving forward in 2010, ACCA will begin offering many new classes on health and wellness. Working with our community partners, we will focus on nutrition and meal preparation… and financial health and exercise,” says Desse. “We hope that these small steps will help educate so that we can try to prevent hunger and disease among the elderly in Athens.”

A partnership was created among the Division of Aging Services, Division of Public Health, Diabetes Association of Atlanta, Diabetes Technologies, Inc., University of Georgia and the Aging Services Network to begin to address some of these challenges. Outcomes of the partnership include the website “Live Well Age Well” ( and a Community Intervention called “Seniors Taking Charge!”  The website provides information on healthy living for people aged 50 and older and their families and caregivers.

The goal of the community intervention is to improve physical activity, nutrition, and diabetes self-management skills. Among those with diabetes (45% of the participants), the diabetes intervention led to many improvements in nutrition, physical activity, and diabetes self-management. “It is our ultimate goal to educate those with health issues such as Ms. Green so that they can learn to how to take care of themselves in a time when funds and volunteers are lacking,” says Dr. Johnson.

“Community and university partnerships are vital for successful development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based health promotion programs. Communities can identify the real needs of real people, while universities can provide expertise in research and evaluation techniques,” says Dr. Lee. “Our department values our collaboration with the Division of Aging Services and the Aging Network, and looks forward to working together to further improve the well being of our oldest citizens.”

Program planners, policy makers, members of Georgia’s aging network, and interested citizens wishing to serve and support the older adult community in Athens, can help create new avenues and partnerships to better support and assist this growing population of senior citizens.