By: Evan Caras
In August, money from a special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) will go to the Ware-Lydon House, located at 293 Hoyt St, to construct a historic garden and to landscape some aspects of the garden.
According to the official proposal, submitted by the Board of Directors of the Ware-Lyndon House, the garden is going to be modeled after the former Stevens Thomas Garden, which is from the same era.
The overall intention for the new addition to the house is to add a garden to show what the house would have looked like originally as well as to enhance the experience of the visitors.
The garden will also be educational since it will have displays up explaining what the garden is and give a brief history lesson to those that visit.
In addition, the garden will also feature a way to showcase water conservation.
A new system will be built that will allow the house to run on its own water the majority of the time and only very rarely will it have to rely on the government to supply the water.
In total, the system is expected to produce a total of 250 to 500 gallons of water per day.
On the other hand, as desirable as a new water system would be, having one installed will not be easy.
“A must have feature of the garden is a working cistern that will be both an educational and interpretive feature, but will also serve as the sole source for garden irrigation once the garden is established. Designing and constructing an affordable cistern that will capture enough water to service the garden during the summer will be a challenge,” Barbara Andrews, the Arts and Nature Division Administrator of the Leisure Services Department stated.
The new garden will have a set of brick steps that will lead from the street, directly to the porch.
The centerpiece of the garden is going to be a cast iron fountain.
The actual shape of the garden will be rectangular, and hedges will shape the outline of the garden.
The garden will also have four apostrophe looking flowerbeds that will be symmetrical to each other.
They bottom of the apostrophes will all face each other and the fountain will be in the very center of the formation.
The intention of the design is that those who have come to relax can enjoy the garden at the front of the house easier than the people who have come on a more serious business.
As of right now the garden is unappealing to look at.
It has a few trees, a few plants, a few flowers, and one abstract sculpture.
The grass is horribly uneven, there is discoloration is some spots of the garden, and some of the plants show clear signs of damage.
This is a stark contrast from the house itself, both inside and outside, since the house is a very fine building and lots of detail clearly went into its construction.
The inside is filled with artwork and is nicely put together.
Everywhere one looks there is something that can draw one’s eye; whether it is the artwork, old books in the library, or even the studios themselves.
It is no wonder why the building’s management wants a new garden.
However, although the garden would look nice, brighten up the area, and serve and educational function; it has stirred up controversy about whether the garden should have been implemented in the first place.
The biggest concern about adding the new garden is that it will be turned into more of a general community center for paid purposes as opposed to how it is now where a person can come in and enjoy the art library or perhaps relax in warm weather.
If the house went too far in the paid direction people would worry whether if all the services the house offers for free, namely the library and the art studios, will remain free or if they will even still be in the house.
Pam Reidy, the Leisure Services director, admitted that she heard a lot of people that worried that the garden could change to a community center, but she also stated that their fears were likely unfounded.
Pam Reidy noted that they were not going to be taking anything away from the house despite the direction it was going in.
Originally, Edward R. Ware built the house in the mid 1800, the government acquired the house in 1939, and the house was later restored in 1960.
The new addition will not be cheap, as it will cost a total of 225,000 dollars to implement and a further 5,000 dollars per year to maintain.
The most expensive change is estimated to be the construction of the cistern, a device used to catch and store rainwater, at 30,000 dollars, while the cheapest is expected to be the seventy shrubs which cost twenty-five dollars each totaling 1,750 dollars.
The garden itself will have a total area of 4675 feet (or eighty-five feet by fifty five feet).
A side benefit of the new garden is that it would make the overall area look much nicer than it currently does.
“The process is currently underway to hire professional services to design the garden. Once the final design is approved, the construction phase will be bid out to contractors who specialize in this type of project and will build to specifications…and to have the construction completed by November,” according to Barbara Andrews.
By Ashton Adams
The gathered crowd at the annual American Meteorological Society meeting in Atlanta rose to their feet for a standing ovation as Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd stepped down from the stage, and his presidency.
A standing ovation is something AMS staffers say they have never seen given to a former president.
“That moment was so surreal for me because as I came off this huge stage surrounded by thousands of my colleagues, a standing ovation is not what I was expecting,” said Shepherd. “In that moment, it became clear to me that in the time I was president I must have made an impact in some way.”
Dr. Shepherd, who is also director of UGA’s Atmospheric Sciences program, completed his year-long term as president of the American Meteorology Society in February. The society serves as the nation’s mouthpiece on atmospheric sciences.
As president, Shepherd was frequently sought as an expert on weather and climate change, appearing on the Today Show, CNN, Larry King Live, Face the Nation, the Weather Channel and a number of other broadcast outlets.
In his most controversial role as President, Shepherd found himself putting out fires between two well-known power houses.
When Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called last month’s snow and ice storm a “leftist, global warming conspiracy” and made claims that the popularized term “polar vortex” was created by liberals that week, White House advisers fired back in a YouTube video claiming that the extreme weather was indeed a sign of global warming.
That’s when Shepherd intervened.
In his blog, Shepherd corrected Limbaugh stating that the term “polar vortex” had been used in meteorological reports since 1940 but called the White House “heavy handed” on the issue in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
One audience Shepherd won’t soon satisfy are the far-right critics who deny climate change and who Shepherd calls “zombies.”
Shepherd explained in his Tedx Atlanta talk last year that “zombies” were critics of his whose Conservative ideas on global warming could not be killed no matter how viable the scientific evidence.
“I quickly learned as President that to be an effective leader, you can’t waste valuable time trying to appease the extremists. As they say, ‘it is what it is,’” said Shepherd.
Shepherd’s AMS presidency was just one of many salient roles he held. Considered a catalyst in the African-American community, Shepherd says breaking barriers in his field is long over-due.
The first, and only, African-American to graduate with a PhD in meteorology from Florida State University and only the second Black president of the American Meteorological Society, Shepherd was even spotlighted on The Weather Channel for a piece on noteworthy meteorologists in honor of Black History Month.
“It’s an incredible honor to be labeled as a ‘first’ at something but it is also disturbing at the same time,” said Shepherd. “Here it is 2014 and it is somewhat sad that I am the first to accomplish some of the things I have done.”
Holding professional titles at NASA, the University of Georgia, the American Meteorological Society and a number of other esteemed panels and organizations is what Shepherd calls “normal,” and he has made no plans to slow down.
“Ultimately my success can’t be measured by my presidency, my job at NASA, or anything else I’ve done thus far. Success should be measured by how well you balance all qualities of life,” said Shepherd. “I am active professionally and I am active with my family and that will never overwhelm me.”
The former president will join the advisory board at Climate Central this month, a non-profit organization dedicated to researching climate change and its impact on the American public.
As far as his role at UGA goes, Shepherd plans on using his expertise and notoriety to further build the university’s relatively new atmospheric sciences program.
To hear more from Dr. Shepherd, visit his blog “The Mind of J. Marsh”: https://www.blogger.com/profile/06173530773221005727
By Kyle Wingfield
Business owners improve their downtown business spaces with restoration projects.
Businesses occupying historic spaces in Downtown Athens require repair and upkeep. These buildings were constructed near the turn of the 20th century, according to the Athens Clarke County website. City officials said many businesses downtown renovate their spaces, but the process behind restoration is laborious.
The Athens Downtown Development Authority acts as “a liaison between the Athens Clarke County Government and the Downtown Business community,” according to its website. The Athens DDA website said its mission is to “undertake and oversee the revitalization and redevelopment of the urban, central city areas located within the Downtown Athens Area.”
Pamela Thompson, executive director of the Athens DDA, said the Authority welcomes historic restoration projects for downtown business spaces.
“The ADDA would be happy to work with anyone interested in renovating a downtown property” she said, “and prefer that the work is sensitive to the historic character of the building and area.”
Ryan Moore, the Director of Economic Development for the Athens Chamber of Commerce, said that Athens offers “ample options for dining and socializing in close geographic proximity,” which leads to stiff competition.
“Athens supports [a] density of cultural amenities. It takes a very adaptable business model to support this diverse demand.”
A popular staple in the historic Athens business district is Transmetropolitan, a pizza restaurant started in 2001. The business renovated in 2013, a change that owner Wesley Russo said the building was ready for.
“The space in general took a beating,” said Russo. “We decided that we wanted to reinvest in our business […] and that’s when we hired a friend of mine who does construction and renovation. We liked his ideas, and we trusted him to design something that our customers would like as well.”
The process of renovating a historic building is not easy. Chris Blackmon, vice-chair of the Athens DDA, said the planning process requires consulting with nearly 14 departments and organizations before a renovation project is approved.
The departments send comments and plan changes to the business owners. “The owner must make those changes for approval. Then the owner would pull permits from the building permit office to get all of the actual work approved before they can receive a certificate of occupancy.”
Plans submitted to the departments are subject to revisions that potentially delay the renovation process. “The business owners must comply or quit,” Blackmon said.
“Sometimes there is difficulty because the list can be reviewed again and new items [are] added once the original changes have been made to the plans,” said Blackmon. “It has been likened to hitting a moving target.”
Russo said buildings downtown have more length than width. “It just changes the dimensions in which we had to design,” said Russo.
“They’re kind of narrow and deep,” Russo said to the Red & Black. “We wanted […] more of an open, left-to-right spatial setup instead of front-to-back. So that was kind of the basis for the design of the renovation.”
The fire escape imposed by the fire department created a challenge in renovating a narrow business space, according to Russo. “We lose about 12% of the width of the building because of the fire hall,” Russo said.
“The fire hallway runs the length of the building,” said Russo. “I wouldn’t consider that an obstacle; anything that the fire department wants us to do in the interest of public safety is in the interest of our customers. We want to make sure that we do what we need to in order to ensure the public’s safety.”
According to the Red & Black, Russo said the modern overhaul helped smooth out issues the restaurant previously faced. The new floor plan realigned the kitchen with the back central wall and relocated the cashier stand to the storefront.
“We no longer have the line that kind of forms through the middle of the dining area,” Russo said to the Red & Black.
Dr. Jason Rudbeck, an economics lecturer for the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, said quality, service and reasonable prices are what businesses need to succeed in Athens.
“These restaurants and bars also need to meet the economic range of university students, as they make up a significant portion of their customers,” Rudbeck said.
Russo told the Red & Black Transmetropolitan improved its quality of service in addition to the restaurant’s new image.
“It’s a little more full-service,” Russo told the Red & Black. “Before, our customers ordered at the front and received their drinks and beer and wine and things like that from the cashier. [Now] they’re delivered to the customers at their tables.”
Incentives are available to those who want to renovate their building space downtown. Thompson, the ADDA’s executive director, said additional aid is obtainable for renovation projects if the building space qualifies.
Blackmon, the ADDA vice-chair, said a business owner could receive different forms of financial support if the building is eligible for these programs.
“There is often favorable financing through the department of community affairs” he said, “and there can be historic tax credits if proper regulations are followed.
Russo’s business qualified for some of these incentives. “When we first opened the restaurant, there were some property tax benefits that we received for restoring the building back to sort of original architectural look. I think there were probably more things available to us, but in the interest of time and expediency, we just went forward with the project.”
By Ashton Adams
When City Engineer James Barnett developed a plan to install underground piping through downtown Athens in 1914, he certainly did not expect these pipes to remain in their place a century later.
Yet, there they lie and Athens construction crews will soon be encountering them and much more underneath the city’s streets.
“Speaking professionally, our department can map out and describe what crews will be running into during construction. Cracked pipes, leaking, rust. Those types of things,” said S.P.L.O.S.T Program Administrator Donald Martin. “However, when we speculate about the downtown area, knowing it is about 200 years old, we know we are bound to run into some interesting finds.”
Crews received the green light to begin excavation underneath Clayton Street after city officials approved a $7.1 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project last year. This year long downtown streetscape project, which began in February, will focus on repairing and upgrading the in-ground utilities along Clayton Street and will conclude in August.
With or without specialist consultation, pieces of Athens’ history remain underground and crews will soon become privy to what lies below.
Generations of city developers since the start of the 20th century have had a history of paving or backfilling entire structures in an attempt to cut back on funds. Janine Duncan, a campus planning coordinator at the University of Georgia and member of the Athens Historical Commission, believes that many of these structures remain where they stood a century ago, surrounded by inches of thick paving material.
“History shows that humans have always taken the path of least resistance. What has resulted in Athens’ case is a lot of structures getting backfilled,” Duncan said. “By working with archaeologists and anthropologists here in Athens, we can distinguish human activity from a century ago. Human activity remains as a scar.”
According to Duncan, the city stands almost a foot taller than it did in 1914 because of the countless layers of pavement that have been laid over the years.
And underneath the pavement are indicators of the city’s age.
“Chances are, what crews will find below ground are remnants of century-old paving bricks, Belgian block and entire water cisterns that horses and mules once drank out of,” Duncan confirmed.
Crews will see trolley tracks that once split the downtown area and ran down Lumpkin Street and various side streets as well. This railway service ran from 1885 until 1930 when G.I.’s returning home from WWII were hired to disassemble the tracks.
When it comes to underground utilities, both Martin and Duncan agree that the pipes installed in 1914 still remain in their place and are in good condition.
“I don’t think city developers a century ago built some of these underground utilities with an intention that they would remain there today,” Duncan said. “On the other hand, crews in the early 1900’s were using withstanding material like glazed terracotta and cast iron for the piping. I believe the city was putting more money into its projects than what today’s city would be doing.”
Smaller objects such as railroad ties, rough-stone stairs, fences, wells and outhouses from the early 20th century have been found under Broad and Clayton Streets.
Duncan, with the help of professor of anthropology Erv Garrison, has been able to scan the ground in and around downtown Athens and discover outlines of human disturbances underground.
Scanning these areas with radar and electromagnetometer equipment, Duncan confirmed that specific areas downtown also show to be areas of interest for archaeologists.
“The areas downtown where I can guarantee archaeologists will uncover human disturbances are in those small interior alley ways that run behind most buildings,” Duncan said. “They have virtually been left untouched since downtown’s original construction.”
It has been 40 years since crews have done an excavation project like this one, and one local administrator has been present for both.
“The last time Athens went underground like this, crews and officials were surprised at how well the piping had held together. Even then that was shocking to us,” said Glenn Coleman, assistant director for the Public Utilities Department. “And during our pre-construction evaluation on Clayton Street last year, we were yet again shocked. The cast iron piping below ground has evaded rusting, cracks and decay for so many years. It really is impressive.”
Per requirements of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966, S.P.L.O.S.T officials had to take into account their undertakings on historic properties, above and below ground, and allow opportunity for an advisory council on historic preservation to comment on the project. Martin said the S.P.L.O.S.T department fulfilled these requirements.
“We have certainly been in coordination with the Historic Preservation Commission in order to make sure we do not impact anything from a historical standpoint,” Martin said.
However, conflicting reports from a member of the commission revealed that S.P.L.O.S.T officials had not consulted the Historical Commission as previously stated.
“From my standpoint, city officials have commonly avoided approaching the Commission about local projects because they regard it as a pain or a waste of time,” Duncan said. “There is a preconceived notion with developers that if they consult the Historic Commission, they will not be able to proceed with their work and that is not the case whatsoever.”
Amber Eskew, Preservation Specialist for the city’s Planning Department also said she knew nothing about the S.P.L.O.S.T-funded project and had not been consulted or involved with the project in any way.
This Clayton Street underground construction will be the last of its kind for decades. Any replaced piping will remain where it is for another 60 to 70 years. Construction will be done on a block-by-block basis beginning on E. Clayton Street. Work will be minimal, non-disruptive and nearly invisible to the common passerby.
BY TAYLOR BROOKS
By the end of 1945 World War II ended, American troops were returning home, and birth rates began to steadily increase giving rise to a generation we now refer to as the “baby boomers.”
During this demographic boom nearly 79 million Americans were born. Due to advances in medicine and modern technology these individuals, the first of whom celebrated their 60th birthdays in 2006, are experiencing much longer lifespans.
With more than 72 million Americans over the age of 65 by the year 2030, what can be done to assist this large group as they age?
Athens Community Council on Aging member Madeline Van Dyck explained: “Our graves used to be filled with people who died from phenomena, and child birth complications, we now have antibiotics and anesthetics, so people don’t easily die anymore, when they otherwise would have.”
This very same trend is happening in many communities around the nation, but more specifically in college towns, like Athens. The Athens Community Council on Aging became aware of the growing number of boomers and created the Athens Area Village to accommodate aging citizens’ needs.
Van Dyck states, “2012 marked the beginning for the next 18 years of the second ‘silver tsunami,’ which is made up of the members of the baby boomer generation; in a way, demographically, this has not been represented before. We now have the sixty-something-year-old and the eighty-something-year-old in the marketplace and we [boomers] are the ones holding the wealth for the most part, so it’s a huge consumer market.”
According to the 2010 US Census there are 9,952 citizens ages 65 years and older in Athens-Clarke County. This makes up 8.5 percent of the total population. The National Institute on Aging predicts that “by 2030 almost 1 out of every 5 Americans – some 72 million people – will be 65 years or over.”
The Classic City has also been cited as a popular retirement destination in the past several years. In 2013 Forbes and AARP named Athens as one of the top places to retire in the country and U.S. News and World Report listed Athens as one of the cities to which baby boomers will move.
Boomers are attracted to the Athens-Clarke County area for the rich culture and atmosphere, relatively low cost of living, affordable and available healthcare in the area, a less congested environment, and possibilities for continued education through the University of Georgia through programs such as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
In 2012, in response to the “silver tsunamis,” the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) started the Athens Area Village to accommodate the growing numbers of adults over the age of 50 in the Athens area.
The program is designed after the Beacon Hill Village in Boston, Massacusettes. Their mission was to provide aging citizens assistance by using local resources and volunteers and provide a way for aging adults to do so within their own community.
Beacon Hill Village began in February 2002 and quickly became a trendsetter for assisting aging adults over 50 to age comfortably in their own homes and communities. In 2006 the Beacon Hill Village published “The Village Concept: A Founder’s Manual” which shared experiences and advice for creating a new village.
The Athens Area Village is the first village program in Georgia and serves as the model for the state as well.
The Athens Area Village, much like the Beacon Hill Village it is modeled after, provides services for adults over the age of 50. Volunteers from around the community offer services to Village members, who pay an annual membership fee.
The Athens Area Village has no physical location, but is made up of a community of volunteers and service providers from the Athens area that offer personalized assistance for Village members.
Unlike retirement communities or nursing homes, the Athens Area Village program allows aging adults to the freedom to age in their own homes and receive volunteer help or services as needed. The Athens Community Council on Aging does however have an office in Athens located on Hoyt Street.
“You have your members, your volunteers, and your providers,” Said Matte Barkdoll, a social worker at the ACCA. “Providers go through a vetting process and then they often offer a small discount to our village members. So our main focus is to have our members remain in their homes, age comfortably in place, and provide community and volunteer services like assistance in transportation and simple home repairs that help our members to remain comfortably where they are living.”
The Athens Area Village also offers a variety of additional services to it’s members including: fitness classes, special events, book clubs, and outings around the Athens community.
Other establishments in Athens also provide services for aging adults and disabled citizens. Iris Place which opened its doors in Athens in 2000 is an independent living community which also provides services for aging adults.
Members of this group live within the Iris Place Community, pay rent (including all utility expenses), are provided with three meals a day, and a variety of activities and events offered through the community.
Iris Place has 22 condo spaces and 118 apartments. In regards to whether Iris Place would be able to accommodate an influx of aging individuals in the community, manager Ken Grindele stated: “We’re at a limit now.”
For more serious care-related issues, facilities such as Arbor Terrace offer assistance and facilities for anyone who needs assistance.
Judee Odonell, a worker at Arbor Terrace said “Most of our residents are over a certain age, or simply people due to health-related issues that need help with medication management or a great deal more. For those that have serious dementia or Alzheimer issues, we have a memory care unit for that.”
While both types of assistance and care are necessary within a growing community, the Athens Area Village has adopted an innovative way of providing assistance for aging adults in their homes.
“What is happening is we are aggressively under-cared for across the frailty continuum of aging until we are suddenly permanently over-cared for. This means, we [boomers] have to find a way to die more gracefully, which is coming. Now there are these huge aging dynamically and wisely movements all around the country. Hospice is now not the last three days, but the last three years.” Said Van Dyck.
The Athens Area Village has adopted an innovative approach to assist aging adults in our community at a low cost, comfortable lifestyle, and ultimate ease. When faced with the question of if the Athens Area village could accommodate a large increase of members in the next several years, social worker Matte Barkdoll responded with a resounding “Absolutely.”
The Athens Area Village’s reliance on volunteer work and no risk of reaching a physical capacity with facilities, the program has potential for growth.
BY BRITTNEY CAIN
When the Athens Community Council on Aging sensed its Hoyt Street building was wasting water, it decided to take action with the Athens Water Conservation Office.
After they reviewed and inspected the building, experts from the Water Conservation Office knew a solution for their problem.
The Council on Aging retrofitted 10 toilets, which cut their water bill in half.
For their ability to save water and attract citizen attention, the Council on Aging won the 2012 Fix-a-Leak week competition, awarded annually by the Water Conservation Office.
The Council on Aging is similar to organizations across Athens who strives to save water daily, and officials offer a solution.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that household water leaks waste nearly one trillion gallons of water each year.
In hopes of educating citizens about wasted water, they organize Fix-a-Leak weeks in cities across the United States.
These selected cities across the U.S. sponsor educational events and leak-fixing efforts. In the North Georgia area, local governments within Districts planned a Water Drop Dash 5K race and Water Festival. The festival features water conservation education and related activities.
Athens, the EPA noted, runs alongside the best cities and organizations partnering with the WaterSense program. The WaterSense program encourages water efficiency across the U.S. through the use of a special label on consumer products.
In 2012, the EPA congratulated Athens for its outstanding approach to fixing leaks with “helping hands” by partnering with the University of Georgia.
“Volunteers from student organizations at UGA performed water conservation audits at local businesses, showed residents how to audit their own homes and distributed free water saving devices,” the EPA stated in regard to the 2012 partnership.
Currently, the 2014 Fix a leak week is in the process of receiving nominations.
Last year, there were nearly seven to eight applications. This year, they received two to three.
The Athens Community Council on Aging remains one of the biggest success stories with the Fix-a-Leak week program.
Toilets persist as the main source of water use in homes and account for nearly 30 percent of the average home’s water consumption.
Older toilets use as much as six gallons per flush, while WaterSense toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush or less.
By replacing the inefficient toilets with WaterSense models, the average family can reduce water usage for toilets by 20 to 60 percent, saving nearly 13,000 gallons of water every year and more than $110 per year in cost.
In comparison to households, the Council on Aging replaced a total of 10 toilets, which cut back on their water cost tremendously.
The Athens Community Council on Aging stood as a perfect candidate in 2012 for the Fix-a-Leak week project due to its massive size and the media attention that it would gain.
Marilyn Hall, Coordinator at the Water Conservation Office, said that everyone reaps the benefits, not just the official winner.
“Runner-ups also get water assessments. The Water Conservation Office visits their facilities, checks for leaks and offers them water saving advices,” Marilyn Hall stated in regards to the remaining nominees.
Although the Water Conservation Office does not directly fix their leaks, the assessment and advice serves as a starting point in conserving water.
“Our Daily Bread” Soup Kitchen was one of these runner-ups in 2013.
They installed a new pre-rinse spray valve, which helped conserve water when spraying down dirty dishes. The advice given by the Water Conservation Office stated that the kitchen spray valve continues as a major water waster.
Organizational kitchens that switch to WaterSense labeled pre-rinse spray valves can save more than $115 yearly in water and energy costs.
Action Ministries was the 2013 retrofit winner during the Fix a leak week.
As a part of their winnings, they received a Water Sense toilet and a new kitchen faucet, which expected to cut the cost of their water bill.
According to Erin Barger, Executive Director of Action Ministries, they are grateful for the support of the Water Conservation group, but unfortunately their facility burned down in April 2013 shortly after installation. They were not able to see the benefits from the project.