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Archive for November, 2009

4th Annual Taste of Pickens a Huge Success

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Last Saturday hundreds of Pickens County residents and their friends from around North Georgia got a real treat as 4th the Annual Taste of Pickens was held on the Appalachian Campus of Chattahoochee Technical College in Jasper, GA.  The event is sponsored by CARES (Community Assistance Resources and Emergency Services) as a fund raiser for the local food pantry.    All the fantastic food was donated by local restaurants, caterers and grocery stores so all of the proceeds go to supporting the food bank and helping to feed those in our community in need of occasional support.  CARES is just one of the outstanding non-profit organizations that make Pickens County one of the most remarkable counties in the country.   My wife and I attended and had a great time, but I did not have the foresight to record the event for this column.  Fortunately, Beth Compton of Southern Home Inspections and did take the time to write a nice article and post a video.  Beth offered to let me post it here, so here is the link to Beth’s story on  A Taste of Pickens.  See you there next year and until then we’ll…

See you ’round the Mountains.


Pickens County “Thrives” Even in Hard Times

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Last week the Small Business Council that I chair for the Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored a very successful seminar here in Pickens Couny.  The following article is the one I submitted to the Pickens Progress for publication.

Chamber Seminar a Rousing Success

Over 80 local community and business leaders gathered at the Appalachian Campus of Chattahoochee Tech last Tuesday for a day long business seminar entitled Surviving and Thriving in Hard Times.   The attendees were treated to Key Note addresses by Dr. Roger Tutterow, Professor of Economics at Mercer University and Dr. Betty Siegel, President Emeritus of Kennesaw State University as well as 6 Breakout Sessions and a Business Expo with 12 local vendors.  The reviews from attendees identified the program as a rousing success and plans and discussions will begin immediately to determine the time line for a future seminar.

The Key Note speakers, Drs. Tutterow and Siegel, are both nationally known speakers and they brought both their thoughtful insights and personal knowledge of the area to bear in their presentations.  

Dr. Tutterow, whose undergraduate degree is from Berry College and MA and Ph.D in Economics are from Georgia State University, delivered a lively presentation peppered with statistics (and insights based on them) that narrowed the national economic news right down to very local impacts.   Dr. Tutterow’s analysis confirmed what many local businesses owners had believed to be true – during most of the recession Pickens County and Jasper have fared better than the state and national level in measurable areas such as sales tax revenues, home sales and home values.  This trend was evident until just a few months ago when local activity suddenly caught up with those unfortunate state and national trends.  The good news is that the same factors that led to our lagging on the way down, may well lead to our leading on the way back up.  (In fact, Pickens County is now reporting that sales tax revenue has started back up and local Realtors® will confirm that since mid-August the volume of traffic, offers and closings has increased significantly.)  Dr.  Tutterow’s clear message to business owners – and we all heard it loud and clear – was that we appear to be at the inflexion point and any gain in market share right now will only be amplified as the market improves.

Dr. Siegel, currently the Distinguished Chair of the Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics and Character, provided a warm and thoughtful primer on the value of leadership in solving problems at all levels of our lives.  Dr. Siegel’s personable delivery style is so effective that one quickly forgets her national stature and settles in to listen to a personal mentor holding forth on some concepts that one intuitively knows are true and some that may not have been properly considered.   There are hundreds of definitions of leaders and leadership, but Dr. Siegel’s contention that “leaders enroll others in their mission,” rings true.  Dr. Siegel’s presentation was filled with personal stories and insights into living and leading that left no doubt why she remains in demand world-wide.  It was an educational blessing just to be in the same room with her for an hour.

The two keynote speakers were supported by a strong cast of subject matter experts delivering 6 breakout sessions during the course of the day.  Randy Reidrich from the UGA Small Business Development Center presented on Managing Change.  Dave Garner of ETC and Albert Grassia from Micah Apparel provided an introduction to Social Media.  Mike McCalip of Herdt Consulting talked about Applying Leadership to Your Business.  North Georgia Cellular’s Randy Maynard gave an overview of Using New Technology.  Kary Kilkerson, from host & co-sponsor Chattahoochee Technical College, served up a session on Providing Exceptional Customer Service while James Schuster from Visual Marketing Group, Inc. developed some Approaches to Fresh Marketing.

The seminar was organized by the Chamber’s Business Council and the county’s informal Leadership Council, headed by Ardis McCain and Larry Toney.  Denise Duncan, the Executive President of the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce was the glue that held process together and provided the leadership to bring off such a successful event in such challenging times.  The Chamber and Chattahoochee Tech were the primary sponsors and the Corporate Sponsor was “The Mountains of Big Canoe.”  Vendors participating in the Expo were:  Chattahoochee Tech, Community Bank of Pickens County, Crescent Bank, ETC Communications,  Julia Jorns, CPA, LLC, Micah Apparel, New Beginnings Therapeutic Services, North Georgia Cellular, Strategic Analytic Solutions, Torrey Mountain Properties, Inc., Unites Community Bank and the University of Georgia, Small Business Development Center.  Both breakfast and lunch were provided by Bojangles.

The sponsors and attendees agreed that the seminar was a valuable addition to the community business calendar.  Business Council Chair, Don Martin, indicated that “the only way to make a significant improvement would be to have 200-300 business leaders attend next year – we’ll just have to get right to work on that.”

Casual Classics Fall Concert – Tuesday, November 10th

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Exciting news for Casual Classics Patrons, TRIO patrons, Tater Patch enthusiasts, and all who are interested in creative musicianship!  This is about the artist who will be at New Lebanon on Nov. 10 at 7:00 as part of the Casual Classics Concert Series.  I pre-ordered this C.D. and have been listening to it for a week – can’t wait for her concert!  This is her best C.D. yet with lots of humor and an interesting variety of vocalists.  We will make sure that she has some C.D.’s with her for autographing on the 10th.
Please forward this to everyone you know who wants to attend an amazing “singing” event, and be prepared to join in.  She can make a chorus of frogs sound like a heavenly choir!

Suzanne Shull, Casual Classics Concert Series.

Atlanta Music Guide – Oct. 28, 2009

In case you can’t open the link, here’s the review below.

Elise Witt
EMWorld Records
By Al Kaufman
Elise Witt is one of those local treasures that nobody knows about. The multi-linguist from Switzerland, who has called Atlanta home since 1977, has been a cultural ambassador to South Africa, China, Italy, Nicaragua and Switzerland, represented Georgia for the Kennedy Center’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, has studied under Bobby McFerrin, sung under the direction of Robert Shaw for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus for 20 years, created singing workshops for adults and children all over the globe, and hosted musicians from outside countries to play locally.
The kicker is, in addition to all that, she has one of the purest and sweetest voices you are likely to ever hear. Valise is Witt’s “suitcase of global, local, and homemade songs.” Witt was a German-speaking three-years-old when her family moved to the States from Switzerland. Her more recent work with refugee families in Atlanta caused her to look back upon her own new beginnings in a foreign country and pay homage to that time, which she does here with a wonderfully diverse and eclectic mix.
When you are as nice and as well-traveled as Witt, you make a lot of friends, and she seems to call upon almost every one of them on this CD. The most obvious example is on “Blessed Nation,” a poem written by Pete Seeger in which Witt added some lyrics and a melody. Besides her three-woman chorus, Witt calls upon folk legend and recent Atlanta transplant John McCutcheon for lead vocals for one verse, and former Weaver and co-founder of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, Frank Hamilton, for another.
Longtime partner Mick Kinney adds his piano and vocals (and violins, and accordions, and guitars, etc.) throughout, most notably on “Our Favorite Things,” in which Kinny updates the lyrics from the Sound of Music classic tune. In this modern version, “Thai food and T’aiChi, Qigong and I Ching/These are a few of my favorite things.”
But this CD is all Witt. She pays homage to the old Motown style on “Venus Between Us,” then to bebop with “Jackie.” She even does a bit of white housewife rap on “Clothes Swap.”
She sings in German, French, and Spanish. She scats, swings, and serenades. She takes the listener on a journey throughout the world of music, and what a delightful journey it is.
Elise Witt celebrates her CD release at Callenwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Rd, Atlanta GA 30306 on November 1 at 6:00 p.m.