Veterans join fundraiser to help local Marine Sean Adams with home expenses

When they last saw each other, Tim Chambers and Sean Adams were together in the middle of 23rd Street in Washington D.C., on May 25, 2014, saluting fellow veterans who blazed by on motorcycles in the annual Rolling Thunder Run.

Photographers from several national media outlets captured the image of Oregon resident Chambers in his Marine uniform and retired Lance Cpl. Adams, who was wounded three years ago in Afghanistan, as they saluted together in the nation’s capital.

On Saturday in Buford, Adams and Chambers reunited to re-enact that moment. They also came together as part of a fundraiser to help Adams with expenses for special adaptive equipment in his home.

The American Legion Post 127 hosted an inaugural motorcycle ride through Hall County on Saturday afternoon. Participants included dozens of veterans, including Chambers, known to many as the Saluting Soldier from the Rolling Thunder Run.

“I’m glad to be here with (Adams) and everyone else,” Chambers said. “The special adaptive equipment he needs is not cheap. He lives a life of adversity, and because he’s a fellow Marine, I wanted to help.”

Adams, a 2011 graduate of Chestatee High School, stepped on an improvised explosive device Feb. 10, 2012, while serving in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. He lost his legs, and his hands were damaged.

Adams, who has since been involved with several local veterans groups and spoken to many about his time in Afghanistan, said he was excited about Saturday’s ride.

“The turnout was better than I’d expected,” he said, adding that he was also looking forward to next year’s event in which he would get to help decide who the next veteran recipient would be. “The Buford American Legion has been great.”

Chambers said helping out a fellow veteran is what he’s all about.

“My whole life is volunteerism,” Chambers said.

He added that when he first met Adams at the Rolling Thunder Parade last year, it was a memorable moment.

“I was in the middle of the street like I always am, and Sean saluted me as the bikes were rolling around me,” Chambers said. “So, I saluted him back, and I knelt down and gave him a hug. I said, ‘stand with me, Marine.’ He got in front of me, I put my hand on his shoulder and we both saluted.”

Added Chambers: “Today, we’re doing the same thing.”

The Rolling Thunder Run is an annual ride and gathering that began in 1988. Riders from around the country meet to pay respect at memorials and honor veterans. According to its website, the Rolling Thunder Run aims to “educate, facilitate and never forget by means of a demonstration for service members.”

Veterans join fundraiser to help local Marine Sean Adams with home expenses

3 people hurt escaping house fire in Flowery Branch

One person was transported to the hospital and two others suffered minor burns after a house caught fire Saturday morning in Flowery Branch.

Hall County Fire Services Deputy Fire Chief Chad Black said the call came in at 8:07 a.m. regarding a house fire at 5849 Atlanta Highway. Crews found the 1,500-square-foot structure “with heavy fire showing” and vehicles in close proximity to the blaze.

Black said all three occupants of the home were located. Two were treated at the scene for “very minor burns and smoke inhalation,” while another was transported to the hospital.

Black said firefighters will begin an investigation into the cause of the fire “when it’s safe to enter the structure.”

He said at 10 a.m. that the fire was out, but people should avoid the area due to fire trucks and equipment affecting traffic.

3 people hurt escaping house fire in Flowery Branch

Wrigley, ZF plant expansions could add 200 jobs in Hall

If you ask Tim Evans, times are good in Hall County, economically speaking.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce vice president for economic development was one of more than a dozen in attendance Friday as the local development authority approved measures that together will bring more than 200 jobs to the area.

“We’re definitely in an economic growth cycle in a lot of industries, and being diversified like this area is, we are seeing a lot of growth right now,” Evans said.

In separate unanimous votes, the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority approved multimillion-dollar bond resolutions for Wrigley Manufacturing Co. and ZF Gainesville. An expansion at Wrigley could mean 170 additional jobs, and ZF has plans to add 46 new positions.

Evans described the issuance of revenue bonds for Wrigley and ZF — $65 million and $13 million respectively — as “private activity bonds … with no local community obligation.”

He said Wrigley and ZF are both “responsible for the bonds and the bond payments.”

Evans said ZF is using the money for equipment at the company’s Palmour Drive facility to expand upon its product line. The plant produces transmissions and other vehicle components.

Wrigley is expanding its facility to include Orbit gum, which was formerly produced in Canada.

“They’re now shifting those operations here,” Evans said.

Wrigley Factory Director Jim FitzGerald said the company is “proud to continue creating jobs in the Georgia community through the expansion of our Flowery Branch facility, and we appreciate the ongoing partnership of the state and county.”

The development authority is a quasi-governmental entity that gets its power from the Georgia Constitution. Board members are appointed by the city of Gainesville and Hall County governments.

With regards to both resolutions passed Friday during the special meeting (held at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce building in Gainesville), Evans said the development authority “is a conduit for the financing of these bonds. The development authority facilitates private economic development for job creation and investment in the community.”

Wrigley, ZF plant expansions could add 200 jobs in Hall

UNG Psci-Train program makes learning science fun

Being a science teacher isn’t easy.

These instructors have to make concepts such as “thermal energy” and “wavelengths” interesting and fun.

For several Hall County science teachers, it is a practice they’ve devoted two years to improve.

The Psci-Train program, a two-year professional development course taught by University of North Georgia faculty, gives participating Hall County and Lumpkin County science tools and knowledge to improve their teaching skills.

The program began last November, and participating teachers have used some of the lessons they learned in their classrooms this fall.

“I have benefited greatly from the review of content to deepen my knowledge and understanding of scientific principles,” said Cheryl Walls, science teacher at Chestnut Mountain Creative School of Inquiry in Flowery Branch. “I also received instruction in how to implement scientific inquiry into my lessons.”

Walls said she learned the “5E Model,” which stands for “engage, explore, explain, extend and evaluate.” The model shows teachers how to introduce a lesson, increase student participation and enhance student understanding, all in a hands-on way.

“The 5E model provides students with the opportunity to learn by doing and collaborating with peers instead of learning by lecture or through textbooks alone,” Walls said.

Collaborative tools include visual methods to demonstrate scientific principles. Slinkies emulated different types of waves, while Chinese lanterns demonstrate thermal energy.

“Children are naturally curious, and hands-on activities encourage problem-solving skills that teach independence and perseverance,” said Carol Duncan, first-grade teacher at Chestnut Mountain. “Project-based learning is here to stay, and we are appreciative of the exciting materials we have been exposed to during these sessions.”

In the program, teachers also share their own ideas and collaborate in groups to identify ways they might adapt the session’s teaching strategies to their own classrooms.

“Each class meeting, we expand our science content knowledge and refine instruction,” Duncan said. “We have valuable time to share with colleagues and materials are available for us to check out and take back to our classrooms to share with our students.”

Psci-Train is funded by a Georgia Department of Education grant that was awarded through the federal Mathematics and Science Partnership program. The grant recently received a $50,000 increase in funding from the state Department of Education.

The grant funded $138,483 last year and will fund $187,804 this year.

“An increase of this significance in the grant funding is remarkable,” said Dr. Susan Brandenburg-Ayres, dean of UNG’s College of Education, in a release from the university. “This is a tribute to the work of UNG faculty members Dr. Nelms, Dr. Choi, Dr. Spraker and public school teachers who are attacking increasingly complex math and science content and finding ways to make teaching and learning effective and exciting for high-need students in our region.”

Walls said she believes the program deserved the funding increase because of how it benefits the students in the classroom.

“When I take the training I am receiving back to my classroom, my students get to reap the benefits,” she said. “They are learning lifelong skills that will carry them through the rest of their education and into their future careers.”

UNG Psci-Train program makes learning science fun

New style of Domino’s arrives in Hall County

A new style of Domino’s Pizza has arrived in the Hall County area, with fresh looks for the franchise at many Hall County locations.

After formerly catering primarily to take-out orders, the restaurants now include an expanded dining room area as well as a viewing window that encourages customers to watch their pizza being made.

Greg Fox, franchisee of the location on Hog Mountain in Flowery Branch and several others around the Hall County area, referred to the new food preparation set-up as “our pizza theater concept, and all of our stores will soon be transitioning to that look.”

He said all of the new restaurants “will have counter seating where you can watch your pizza being made. It’s something we call ‘the dough show.’”

One of the most recently renovated locations — at 4481 Hog Mountain Road, Flowery Branch — has been in operation for 15 years prior to the establishment’s recent face-lift. The Flowery Branch location reopened three weeks ago.

Fox said that with the expansion comes a host of new menu items and new technology, including a digital readout of all orders placed so that customers can see the progress of their order.

“We’re excited about the new set-up,” Fox said.

New style of Domino’s arrives in Hall County

Hall County confirms rabies near Cobb Griffin Road

A skunk from Hall County sent to a Georgia Public Health lab in Decatur tested positive for rabies, making it the 13th case of 2015.

The skunk came in contact with a dog near Cobb Griffin Road. The animal tested positive for rabies on Wednesday.

Anyone who witnesses an animal acting abnormally is asked to call Hall County Animal Services at 770-531-6830 or Hall County Dispatch at 770-536-8812 during non-working hours.

Hall County confirms rabies near Cobb Griffin Road