Walk-through provides ‘bittersweet’ farewell to Enota School building

Julia King is a speech therapist at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, but after finding a picture of her first-grade class at Enota Sunday afternoon, she was transformed to her childhood for few moments when she was known as Julie Reynolds.

“I have great memories of eating lunch in the cafeteria with homemade rolls and vegetable soup and peanut butter sandwiches and lining up in the hallway for those dreaded innoculations that we had to have,” King recalled. “Mr. (Principal Leon) Hughes had a terrifying tall, Abraham Lincoln demeanor. I can remember our dog would follow us to school. He scared us to death about that dog following us to school.”

King was part of an estimated crowd of 150-200 students, teachers, former students, former teachers, school officials and community residents who came to the school Sunday to say one last goodbye and remember a history spanning more than six decades in Gainesville. The school is being torn down at the end of the academic year to make room for construction of a new Enota school on the same property scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.

Many called the day “bittersweet.”

“You think about a place that has so many memories, that people are tied to it sentimentally, there is that bittersweet feeling of, ‘Oh you know, we love this place; it meant so much to us, but then again, we also want to provide the very best that we can provide for the children of the community that are here now and her to come,’” said Principal Wesley Roach.

King, who moved away from Gainesville when she was 12 and has been back as the speech teacher for the past six years, said she has mixed emotions about the building being demolished, especially when thinking about her late mother, Ann Reynolds.

“My mother walked with me in these halls,” she said. “I went to First Presbyterian Church and that was torn down years ago. I feel like this was the last vestige of things I knew as a child. To me, it’s like I’m walking with my parents in these halls, so when it goes, a little piece of that will go. But on the other hand, I’m super excited to live in the moment, to live in the now with the children I see every day.”

Former state Sen. Jane Hemmer was also at the school with her husband, John. Hemmer was a second-grade student at Enota when the school opened in 1954. She said while she was sad that the school was being replaced, she was happy people had the opportunity to come together at the school one more time.

“I just heard from so many of my friends who said, ‘We just want to say goodbye,’” she said.

“I remember the playground and how much fun we had. They just let us out the door and we would have a grand time.”

Former Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer was at the gathering along with current Superintendent Wanda Creel, as well as Jeremy Williams, the lone finalist to replace Creel. The school board is scheduled to vote on Williams’ hiring Monday night.

Dyer, who was a student and an assistant principal at Enota before becoming superintendent, led a group that included Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan in the Enota School fight song. Dunagan is also a former Enota student.

“As a student, I remember the library and there was a kickball area outside of it,” Dyer said. “I had a wonderful teacher for two years, Evelyn Early, who was here a long time. I had moved here from Atlanta and was really scared in a new school.”

Dunagan went to Enota from the second through sixth grades, starting in the late 1950s.

“There are a lot of good memories here and a lot of good people went to school here, a lot of good friends,” he said. “A lot of friends I’ve seen (Sunday), I haven’t seen in many, many  years.”

Mandy Smith, a former student who now teaches in Dawson County, came to the event with her mother, Carol Weschler.

“I came to see my teachers,” Smith said. “Memories are going on the playground and just being here and the love I felt at Enota.”

Weschler said she was appreciative of the “great foundation” her daughter received in her years at Enota.

Arin Bedingfield, a sixth-grader at Gainesville Middle, came back to the school where she had been a student from first to fifth grades.

“I wanted to remember all the memories that I had through the previous years, and I wanted to see all my teachers that I loved,” she said. “They know how to teach in a different way, in a fun way. There is creativity in the school like the paintings and the activities. This is creative to have a walk around the school before they tear it down.”

John Nivens, a first-grader in the first year of the school in 1954 came back to Enota Sunday with his son Allen and daughter Leslie Nivens Miller. All three went to Enota.

“I live within a mile of here and still have a lot of memories here,” John said. “The innocence of the time, that’s my fondest memory. The selfish part of me is sad because it wouldn’t bother me to see this school for the rest of my life. I just had so much fun here. But we have to move forward.”

Allen and Leslie remembered that their father’s class planted a tree at the school because it was the first year of the school. When the children came through Enota, John was able to get permission for trees to be planted by their classes as well.

“The whole school came out,” Allen remembered. “We got to dig a hole — everybody dug a little bit — and then put the tree in that dad had gotten and then covered it back up. It was here for years and and years.”

Leslie remembered that tradition, but also remembered her second-grade teacher, Dee Snow, who had a bathtub in her classroom.

“For a special treat, if you behaved, you’d get to lay in the bathtub during reading time and read in the bathtub,” she said. “That was just a really cool thing.”

Logon Smithson, a seventh-grader at North Hall Middle School, was a student at Enota from Pre-K to fifth grade.

“I like the school because the teachers,” he said. “They genuinely care about your grades and how you’re doing in school.”

Walk-through provides ‘bittersweet’ farewell to Enota School building

Casey Cagle launches campaign for governor in Duluth

DULUTH — Playing up his elements of statewide support and his sympathetic background, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle launched his 2018 campaign for governor before a crowd of more than 600 on Sunday.

He entered the race on Sunday to replace outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal.

“Folks traveled all over the state to be here,” Cagle said, drawing cheers from those attending from each part of the state. “And I recognize that.”

The lieutenant governor, first elected in 2006, also played up his bipartisan and Atlanta bona fides on Sunday, when he was introduced by Atlanta broadcasting fixture — and registered Democrat — Monica Pearson.

Pearson told the crowd she had come to know Cagle through his work on Georgia’s public education system and his book, “Education Unleashed.” Cagle, too, was most passionate during his speech when discussing his work on education reform and his campaign promises on education.

But Pearson launched her introduction of Cagle by talking about their common background as children of single mothers.

“We share so much despite our obvious differences,” Pearson said. “Our mothers raised us alone after their husbands left. Both moms — his mom, Ms. Ginette, and my mom, Ms. Hattie — worked two jobs and said ‘no’ to public assistance and ‘yes’ to hard work.”

Cagle also hit the sentimental notes.

“I know what’s it like to attend eight different elementary schools by the time you reach the sixth grade,” Cagle said. “I know what it’s like to live in a trailer. I know what it’s like to live in an apartment. I know what it’s like to live in a house.”                                                                   

Pearson’s introduction was preceded by remarks from Cagle’s wife, Nita Cagle, and three sons, Grant, Carter and Jared.

The gubernatorial candidate also talked about his economic proposals, including a plan to pass a $100 million tax cut in his first 100 days and a goal to create 500,000 jobs in his first term.

Casey Cagle launches campaign for governor in Duluth

Archway planned at Gainesville’s Rock Creek Veterans Park

An archway showcasing each of the U.S. armed forces is planned at Gainesville’s Rock Creek Veterans Park.

“The reason we’re putting it up is a lot of people don’t know where the park is,” said Jerry Peck, member of a Vietnam War veterans group that meets regularly in Gainesville. “We’ve talked to a lot of veterans, and they don’t know anything about the park.”

The concept design for the archway shows it featuring the emblem representing each of the service branches, plus the “You are not forgotten” symbol for prisoners of war and troops missing in action.

Construction could start soon on the arch, which will be at the entrance to the park off West Academy Street and Northside Drive.

Peck said the plan is to hold a dedication ceremony on May 20, or Armed Forces Day.

The structure will have stacked-stone columns and lighting.

“And we’ve got sponsors who gave us a certain amount of money, and we’re going to try to put up something … to show our appreciation to them,” Peck said.

The effort began in July 2016, when veterans from different groups spoke to the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, said Melvin Cooper, Gainesville Parks and Recreation director.

Since then, the city’s design firm and construction contractor for citywide signage designed the sign, he said.

The project’s cost is $24,000, with $10,000 from the city and $14,000 from veterans.

The park has been a work in progress for several years, with war memorials, benches and walkways dotting its landscape. It also features an amphitheater and has served as the site for veterans ceremonies.

“We’ve got some more stuff after (the arch goes up) that that we’ll be doing,” Peck said. “There’s another section we want to work on.”

He added, with a laugh: “One of these days, we’ll have that park done and we’ll start throwing money at something else.”

Archway planned at Gainesville’s Rock Creek Veterans Park

State budget will invest in foster families, caseworkers

Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature on the budget Monday will usher in a sizable investment for the state’s foster care system, including increased salaries for caseworkers and per diems for foster parents.

“Our foster parents have taken a huge responsibility and have brought children into their home,” said Ashley Fielding, Department of Human Services’ legislative and governmental affairs communications director. “They deserve support as they navigate this new family dynamic.”

There are 55 active foster homes in Hall County, which includes 24 working directly with DFCS and 31 who work with private child placement agencies, according to DHS.

Per diems given to the foster families vary by the age of the children. For example, for each child younger than 5, the family receives about $15 per day.

Fielding said DFCS foster parents are expecting to see a roughly $10 daily increase starting July 1. Relative foster care placements and foster families working with child placing agencies will get a $5 daily increase as part of a two-year plan.

“That was put in with the intent that they would be brought up to the $10 amount by the next fiscal year,” Fielding said.

The budget includes $25.9 million for raising Division of Family and Children Services caseworker salaries and another $10.7 million in per diem rate increases for DFCS foster families.

Martha Coley, a Gainesville foster parent for 33 years who has cared for more than 100 children, said the per diem increase is greatly needed.

Before working with an agency, the amount received was “not nearly enough to take care of a child,” Coley said.

Taking care of caseworkers so they can take care of children also has been a struggle.

In an attempt to tackle the department’s rampant turnover, salaries for caseworkers will increase by 19 percent in the new budget. Fielding said the money will bump up the starting salary, which is currently around $28,000.

“The impacts of these salary increases will be huge in our ability to retain workers,” Fielding said.

Fielding said it takes about two years for a caseworker to get up to speed. The department has a 32 percent turnover rate.

“A lot of our work depends upon the relationship we’re able to have with families, so for that reason retention is huge,” she said.

When Deal assembled the Child Welfare Reform Council a couple of years ago, a major goal suggested by the group was having a caseworker handle 15 cases.

According to DHS data from 2016, the average caseworker in Hall County’s region had 24 cases. If all positions were filled, the caseload would be 16.

REWRITING THE ADOPTION CODE

While the budget represents change for the average foster family and caseworkers, other stakeholders around the state saw their legislation stall or fall apart in the legislature this year.

Most notably was the attempt to revamp the state’s adoption code, which was last rewritten in 1990.

“It really brings Georgia’s adoption law on par with many other states. Our code has not been overhauled in a long time,” Gainesville adoption attorney Judy Sartain said. “There’s been amendments here and there, but the adoption code has not been totally reworked in many years.”

One of the biggest areas to address for Sartain was equal rights between private individuals and private adoption agencies.

Currently, a private agency can pay for transportation, living expenses and other items for the mother, while a private individual cannot offer anything of value.

“It was really going to put the individual private adoption person on a more level playing field,” Sartain said.

The code rewrite would also allow the biological parents to waive the 10-day period of revoking the adoption that is allowed.

“They don’t have to give a reason, they don’t have to prove a point,” Sartain said. “They just simply say, ‘I changed my mind’ and can take the baby back. And of course that causes just 10 days of agony for all parties.”

The 10 days of waiting is heart-wrenching for the adopting parents, but it can also take a toll on the mother undergoing biological changes postpartum, Sartain said.

“I always caution women to trust the decision when they were clear of mind,” she said.

House Bill 159 sailed through with a 165-0 vote before heading to the Senate. An amendment regarding religious liberty halted the bill’s momentum.

“I felt very conflicted, because I wanted the bill to pass, but I understood what the senator was trying to do to introduce the amendment,” Sartain said. “He was trying to preserve the right of the various religious agencies in the state of Georgia to place a child with either a single parent or a heterosexual married couple.”

Sartain said the issue likely will come up next session.

“Now that we know that that’s a hurdle we have to clear, that’s going to be first and foremost, front and center in the efforts at reintroducing the bill,” she said.

A POOL OF VOLUNTEERS

Another bill that didn’t clear all of its legislative hurdles was an effort to make a uniform system for volunteers helping foster parents.

After noticing a high rate of foster parents quitting, Promise 686 President and CEO Andy Cook said the goal was to create a support network for foster families. Promise 686 works with churches to recruit, train and support foster families.

“Our rationale was if we had a stronger volunteer system, we could ultimately have stronger foster families and more foster families,” Cook said.

Senate Bill 170 would have created a uniform system of approving volunteers, who are often needed for babysitting, mentoring and other services.

Cook said the greatest need for foster parents are babysitters used on a routine basis.

“Once it becomes routine care, then there’s a ton of vetting that has to occur for that babysitter, things like background checks and fingerprinting,” he said. “The standards and process for how that occurs is different in every county, and private agencies also handle it differently between agencies.”

The goal would be to create a pool of volunteers able to serve across county and agency lines, he said.

The bill passed in the Senate 40-13, but it was withdrawn in the House on March 30.

Before the next session starts, Cook said he will spend the year discussing with DFCS how the volunteer program might be structured while also working to address the needs of private agencies.

State budget will invest in foster families, caseworkers

Brutal agresión de un jugador de rugby que deja inconsciente a un árbitro

Durante un partido de la Copa Junior de Francia que enfrentaba al Toulouse y al Saint-Esteve un jugador del último equipo recibió una tarjeta amarilla, motivo por el cual debía abandonar el campo.

Brutal agresión de un jugador de rugby que deja inconsciente a un árbitro

La magia de Ronaldinho vuelve a brillar con pases y controles de lujo

La gran estrella de ‘El Clásico de las Leyendas’ como era de esperarse fue Ronaldinho. Este video recopila sus intervenciones de un partido que se jugó en el estadio Camille Chamoun Sports City de Beirut. Los azulgranas vencieron 3-2 a su eterno rival.

La magia de Ronaldinho vuelve a brillar con pases y controles de lujo

Nadal derrota a Thiem en hora y media y gana su décimo título en Barcelona

El español Rafael Nadal, quinto jugador del ránking mundial, ha conquistado el Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell-Trofeo Conde de Godó, por décima vez en su carrera, al derrotar en la final al austríaco Dominic Thiem, por 6-4 y 6-1, en una hora y treinta minutos.

Nadal derrota a Thiem en hora y media y gana su décimo título en Barcelona