Cobb County Government
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Honoring African American history


The Cobb County Public Library System invites the public to its second annual African American History Month Gala at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11. It will be an afternoon of entertainment, culture and history. Scheduled performers and presenters at the Central Library include the A.L. Burruss Unity Drummers, the Zion Liturgical Dancers, the South Cobb High School Steppers, Deane Bonner of the Cobb NAACP,and saxophonist Ravan Durr. For more information, please call (770) 528-7953.

Check for traffic problems online


Cobb Department of Transportation has made it easy for residents to see road closings around the county in real time. The Road Status Information System is an online mapping application that allows residents to view accurate and timely information about road closures as well as special events in Cobb. It is a geographic information system-based program. For more information, or to use the application, visit DOT - Road Closures.

District Three town hall meeting upcoming

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District Three Commissioner JoAnn Birrell will host a town hall 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 16, at Mountain View Community Center, 3400 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta. This meeting will feature Cobb County Planning Division Manager Dana Johnson. He will discuss Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map amendments and the Canton Road redevelopment plan. For more information, visit cobbcounty.org/birrell or call 770-528-3317.

Music moves to the forefront again with Encore


Staff Reports

The 2012 Encore Series at Jennie T. Anderson Theatre has started with a run of “Hairspray,” performed by Pebblebrook High School.

“Hairspray” is a musical based on the 1988 film of the same name. The show is a lighthearted social commentary on the injustices of parts of American society in the 1960s and includes downtown rhythm and blues and dance music of the era. The final shows of “Hairspray” will take place Feb. 2 -5.

The rest of the Encore season will feature a variety of old school music performers at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, which is located at 548 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta.

Peter Noone, the lead singer for Herman’s Hermits, will be in concert 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. The original Herman’s Hermits began as an English pop band in the 1960’s with hits such as "I’m Into Something Good," "Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter" and "Henry the Eighth, I Am."

Next in the series will be “Twist” singer Chubby Checker at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 3. Checker has had a long career and released more than 20 hit songs that appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart.

Four-member pop group Jay and the Americans are scheduled to make their Encore appearance on Friday, March 16. The group first hit the charts in 1962 with the hit “She Cried,” followed the next year with the hit “Only in America.”

A trio of hit groups known as The Coasters, The Platters and The Marvelettes will share a night of music performances starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 31. Each group has had its share of hits, including “Yackety Yack,” “The Great Pretender” and “Please Mr. Postman.”
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     Peter Noone

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     Chubby Checker

Country star Larry Gatlin, widely known for his performances with the Gatlin Brothers, is scheduled to close out the Encore series 8 p.m. Saturday, April 14. The Gatlin Brothers were one of the most successful country music acts of the 1970s and 1980s. Their biggest hits together include, “All the Gold in California” and “She Used to Be Somebody’s Baby.”

To purchase tickets or for more information, call 770-528-8490 or visit ticketmaster.com.

 


 

Cobb County library System expands online services

Staff Reports

The Cobb County Public Library System has launched a new tool to help the public find government resources online: its e-gov Web page, available at http://www.cobbcat.org/egov/.

This page lists local, state and federal government resources, including information on financial assistance and benefits; legal, health, and education information; and answers to frequently asked questions. This e-government tool was created as part of a national grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services, which was awarded to the American Library Association and the Center for Library and Information Innovation of the University of Maryland’s iSchool. Public libraries, including the Cobb County Public Library System, are experiencing an increased demand for e-government assistance.

In 2004, the Pew Research Center reported that approximately 97 million adult Americans interacted with the federal government online in 2003, and this number is expected to be much higher today.

“As government agencies have continued to digitize forms and services, the Cobb County Public Library System has experienced a tremendous growth in the demand for assistance with e-government resources,” said Associate Director for Central and Outreach Services Jonathan McKeown. “This portion of our Web site is designed to help the average citizen of Cobb County find the government services they’re looking for.”

Future plans for the e-government initiative include online and in-person training, helpful publications and checklists, and additions to the Web page. More information about these e-government resources can be found by visiting http://www.cobbcat.org/egov/.

Working to keep the community clean

 


By Gary A. Witte
CobbLine Staff

When most people see trash on the roadside, they think someone should take care of it.

When Cobb County residents Ernie and Laurie Ruda saw trash on the roadside about 17 years ago, they decided to take care of it.

"We were both upset how it looked," Laurie Ruda said. "It gave us something to do rather than watch TV."

Their weekly volunteer efforts, largely self-financed, have grown through the years, resulting in a display of hundreds of feet of curbside flowers of various types, neatly trimmed hedges and a clean roadway along Bells Ferry Road where it crosses under Interstate 575.

The two are scheduled to be honored for their work with a certificate of recognition from the County Board of Commissioners this month.

The retired couple moved to Cobb County from Buffalo, N.Y. about 30 years ago. Ernie Ruda, an electronic engineer, then retired from the Georgia Tech Research Institute in 1990.

A few years later, they began cleaning up along Heck Road where they live and were so pleased with the results, they decided to expand.

The Rudas became involved with the county after their garbage carrier tried to charge them double their normal pickup fee for all the trash they placed in their cans.

"They thought we had a football team living there," Ernie Ruda said.

The county agreed to provide trash bags and pick up full ones. They also provided extended grabbers and offered reflective vests. The Rudas now officially operate as the "Bells Ferry Volunteers" in cooperation with Keep Cobb Beautiful.

At one point, the Rudas began cleaning the center median under the overpass — an area apparently untouched for several decades. The result was 14 full wheelbarrows of refuse.
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Ernie and Laurie Ruda began their volunteer roadside cleanups about 17 years ago.

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Laurie Ruda trims a hedge the couple planted.

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Ernie Ruda blows away grass trimmings.

"It was amazing how much trash was in there," he said.

The couple puts in about 20 hours a week maintaining the road from North Booth Road to the Orchard Square Shopping Center. They occasionaly enlist the help of a few of their 11 grandchildren, but the bulk of the work remains their own.

"We get a lot of honks and thumbs up as people go by," Ernie Ruda said.
Those interested in adopting a roadway as a volunteer should call 770-528-1135 or go to KCB Home Page for more information.


 

Cut costs, keep quality, attract jobs

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Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee gave his State of the County address before a crowd of about 500 people at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center Jan. 9.


By Gary A. Witte
CobbLine Staff

Cobb Chairman Tim Lee described a challenging past year and unveiled future hopes for the community during his annual State of the County address Jan. 9 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.

“I believe it is important that you be made aware as to just how close we came to having a very bad year – rather than a good, if tough, year,” he told a crowd of about 500 attendees at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s First Monday breakfast.

Lee outlined various ways county government cut spending while defending last year’s millage increases as necessary to maintaining high quality services to residents and shoring up existing infrastructure.

With the tough times also came good news, as Lee said 25 businesses had announced during the past year they would locate in Cobb, bringing with them more than 3,000 new jobs. He then revealed the decision by yet another company to open a new office here, bringing an additional 120 jobs.

"I have said from the very beginning that one of my primary focus areas is economic development," he said. "I have kept that focus because it means jobs and investment in Cobb County and new revenues to our county and our six cities, which allows us to provide services that our citizens expect."
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Lee cited many cost-cutting moves the commission made leading up to the most recent budget, including restricting hiring, freezing wages, reducing the budget by $25 million in 2009, reducing it by another $8 million in 2010, privatized solid waste to save $5 million annually and reduced the payroll by $6 million in 2011.

From 2007 to 2010 the country deferred regular maintenance and capital investments in the county infrastructure, he said.

"Putting off these important expenses was a good tactic for a short period of time, but as the downturn in the economy lingered on, we reached a point where our infrastructure was showing signs of neglect, disrepair, and – in some instances – were becoming unsafe," Lee said.

"To put off maintenance and repair any longer would result in higher costs and possibly closing some facilities until much needed repairs could be accomplished."

And despite employee furloughs, a 10 percent reduction in operating budgets and closing two senior facilities, the commission still faced a $32 million shortage for the 2012 budget and $4 million in increased health care costs, he said.

"Some say we needed to drastically reduce Cobb County services for us to prosper. I disagreed," he said. "To understand the significance of $36 million dollars in cuts, we would need to shut down both the Parks, Recreational and Cultural Affairs division and all but four major libraries, eliminate many county operations plus make significant reductions to services.

"I recognize that some Cobb County residents are struggling, some even to make ends meet week to week," he said. "Businesses have struggled as well. And the unemployment rate, although dropping in Cobb, is the highest it has been in years.

"But, to only make cuts to balance the budget, was unacceptable to me... for the quality of life for our citizens to be able to attract new jobs and the ability for Cobb County to maintain its competitiveness in economic development efforts."

Lee said the county’s "Triple A" was in jeopardy, with the three bond rating agencies telling the government that it needed a more stable budget.

As a result, the county board of commissions agreed to raise the millage by .9 mills for the general fund, .5 mills for the fire fund and .11 mills for the debt service fund.

Lee said even with those increases, the adopted 2012 general fund is smaller than it was in 2011. The millage rate remains the lowest in the metro Atlanta area.

The three bond rating agencies renewed the "Triple A" status for 2011, making Cobb one of only 36 counties in the nation with the designation.

Lee also described the success of the 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, with 256 out of 302 Department of Transportation projects either completed or under construction.
Similarly, the SPLOST program resulted in a $63 million Superior Courthouse in downtown Marietta, a $110 million jail expansion and $27 million in improvements to the Public Safety emergency radio communications system.

In March, county voters approved another four year SPLOST for transportation facilities, libraries, senior services, courts, public health, repairs to parks and needed equipment for Public Safety.

"We would have had to raise the millage 1.2 mills for 20 years to realize the same much-needed revenue," Lee said.

Voters will be asked to consider the Transportation Investment Act in July, which will establish a 10-year sales tax to fund improvements throughout the region.

"The TIA is about addressing the quality of life for the region, which includes Cobb, through improved transportation solutions," he said. "The decision to support the effort will ultimately be up to you. I only ask that you take the time to educate yourself on the initiative as well as its potential benefits to the region and Cobb County."

Lee said the county is currently in good financial shape because of the tough decisions made during the past year.

"Cobb County is ready for anything 2012 may throw at it, because in 2011, we took the necessary steps to ensure that Cobb’s quality of life, financial stability, job growth and service are second to none," Lee said. "Cobb County is still, and will continue to be, the best place to live, work, play and earn a world-class education."

The public can view the county’s 2011 annual report online at 2011 Annual Report. Cobb County no longer prints copies in order to save money.