Cobb County Government
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Election year events scheduled


The dates below mark this year’s election events. Residents do not require a reason to vote in advance of any contest. Advance voting for the Presidential Preference Primary will take place 8 a.m.-5 p.m., through March 2 at the Elections main office, 736 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. Advance voting will also be available at at one of the satellite offices. These include the East Cobb Government Service Center, 4400 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta; the South Cobb Community Center, 620 Lions Club Drive, Mableton; Northstar Church, 3413 Blue Springs Road, Kennesaw, and Boots Ward Recreation Center, 4845 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs.

Presidential Preference Primary/Special Election: March 6
Special Election Runoff *: April 3

General Primary/Non-Partisan/Special Election: July 31
Registration Deadline: July 2

General Primary/Non-Partisan/Special Runoff*: Aug. 21
Registration Deadline: July 2

Special Election*: Sept. 18
Registration Deadline: Aug. 20

Special Election Runoff *: Oct. 16
Registration Deadline: Aug. 20

General/Special Election: Nov. 6
Registration Deadline: Oct. 8

General/Special Election Runoff *: Dec. 4
Registration Deadline: Oct. 8

* Election held if needed.
 

Free summer camp expo to be held

The Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department will host its free Summer Camp Expo from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, at the Cobb County Civic Center. The annual event will be the one-stop shop for Cobb County summer camp programs. Visit each booth to get information about day camps, art camps, church camps, overnight camps, performing art programs, and much more. There will be door prizes and free admission.

For more information contact Wendy.Collins@cobbcounty.org or call 770-528-8885. The civic center is located at 548 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta.

Grant to help disabled

Staff Reports

The Atlanta Regional Commission recently awarded the Cobb County Department of Transportation with $528,850 in federal funding to support development of a voucher program for disabled residents.

Officials said the funding will be used to reach disabled residents who live outside the Cobb Community Transit service areas.

"Our plan is to initially target individuals who lost their paratransit service as a result of recent service cuts to provide assistance with securing alternative transportation options," Transportation Planning Manager Laraine A. Vance said. "We have a long list of persons already identified who fall in this category and are so pleased to be able to offer some assistance to those who face transportation and mobility challenges on a daily basis."

The funds are a portion of the $3.3 million awarded by the ARC to 11 recipients which operate transportation programs or transit routes that serve individuals who do not drive because of age, disability or because they cannot afford a car.

The funding is part of the Federal Transit Administration’s grant program and is distributed annually.

Empty Bowl Benefit raises support

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The 2011 Empty Bowl Benefit held at The Art Place-Mt. View recently raised $1,000 for MUST Ministries, which provides assistance to the needy. The event also raised $1,000 for the Mountain View Arts Alliance and The Art Place as well as $600 for Vietnam Veterans.

Pictured from left, The Art Place Coordinator Nelah Gabler, MUST Special Event Director Betsy Mathews, Empty Bowl Benefit Coordinator/Potter Renee Speenburgh and MVAA Treasurer Jeffrey Bigger.

Homeowners face exemption deadline


April 1 is the homestead exemption deadline. Applications must be received or U.S. postmarked April 2, (April 1 falls on a non-business day) to affect the 2012 tax year. Applications not received by the deadline will be processed and applied in the following year.

The applicant must own and occupy the property on Jan. 1 and his or her name must appear on the deed in order to qualify. Homeowners must apply separately for each exemption for which they are eligible; exemptions are automatically renewed thereafter unless there is a change in ownership or eligibility.

Homeowners must notify the Tax Commissioner’s Office if they are no longer eligible for an exemption. It is not necessary to reapply if the home has been refinanced. Tax bills are mailed on Aug. 15 and payment is due within 60 days to avoid late charges. Homestead Exemption applications and tax payments must be received or U.S. postmarked (metered postmark not accepted as proof of timely mailing) by the filing or payment deadline to be considered timely. Applications, detailed information, tax bills and online bill payment options are available on our Web site at www.cobbtax.org or by calling 770-528-8600.
 

Help needed for park volunteer day

The Friends of Price Park will host a volunteer work day at Leone Hall Price Park 8:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, March 24. Participants will spruce up the park to get ready for the new season. There will be jobs for all ages, so children are welcome. All volunteers will automatically be entered into a raffle to win a prize. Please RSVP to friendsofpricepark@gmail.com.. For more information, go to www.friendsofpricepark.org.

Dress appropriately - long sleeves, long pants, closed-toed shoes, work gloves or other gloves for picking up trash. Also bring sunscreen, bug spray and eye protection.

Bring clearly labeled (with your name) hand tools or gardening tools and/or plastic buckets for collecting trash if you have these items.

Do not bring power tools or work vehicles. Cobb County staff will be operating power tools and have gators for ferrying debris/trash.

For late arrivals, a person will be stationed in the parking lot to direct volunteers to areas in need of help.
 

Book sale, wild west partner up for public

Staff Reports

The Friends of the Cobb County Public Library System’s semi-annual book sale will be held Friday and Saturday, March 23-24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 25 from 1-5 p.m. at the Jim R. Miller Park on 2245 Callaway Road in Marietta. alt

This year’s sale also coincides with the Cobb Library Foundation’s second-annual Wild West Fest, which will be held on Saturday, March 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Jim R. Miller Park.

Tickets to the fest are for sale online and available at the door; entrance is free for children 3 and under. All proceeds are designated to benefit the programs and services of the Cobb County Public Library System. For more information on the Wild West Fest, please visit http://www.cobblibraryfoundation.org/.

Donated items for the book sale include soft-cover and hard-back books, magazines, text books, DVD and VHS movies, and children’s books. Prices range from 10 cents to $5. Last year, the book sales generated more than $80,000 which enabled the library to purchase new materials.

The March book sale attracts thousands to the event and is one of the two large semi-annual sales held yearly. The Friends of the Library are seeking book sale volunteers.For information on the sale or to volunteer for this event, call 770-528-2342 or visit www.cobbcat.org.

Encore continues bringing classics to Cobb

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Staff Reports

Singer Chubby Checker will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre . 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."

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."

The Jennie T. Anderson Theatre is located at 548 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 770-528-8490 or visit ticketmaster.com.

 


 

Workers make ballots count

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Cobb County election workers check voting machines to be used in the March 6 Presidential Preference Primary.


By Gary A. Witte
CobbLine Staff

 The building blocks of democracy are stored in a nondescript warehouse near Kennesaw.

Steel shelves filled with stacks of black suitcase-sized cases nearly reach a two-story-high ceiling. Each plastic case has a color coded security seal to indicate if it is ready to be sent out. And inside every case are voting machines ready for the next Election Day.

"So many people don’t realize what goes into an election," Cobb County Elections and Registration Director Janine Eveler said. "They only see their one polling place."

In January, election workers started the process for the March 6 Presidential Preference Primary and Special Election.

By February, almost a dozen people were working in the Kennesaw Preparation Center, packing supplies and checking the functions of voting machines before officially sealing the cases.

Prep Center Manager Gerry Miller said there are up to 2,300 machines and each one has to be tested before it leaves the warehouse.

"It’s one of those jobs where you have to check, check and check," Miller said. "You can’t rush through it. You have to take your time."

The six weeks prior to every election are filled with preparations. A workforce has to be hired and trained to staff 153 precincts and multiple advance voting locations spread throughout the county. The ballots have to be accurate and the cards programmed with the correct information.
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"Election Day is one day and you have to get it right," Eveler said.

Since elections vary in size and participation, it follows that staff requirements vary for the department. It has only 19 full-time and 13 part-time. It also hires anywhere from 1,000 to 1,300 seasonal part-time and day workers for various jobs on each Election Day.

Many of the election workers are retired from previous careers.

Election Technician Supervisor Gregory Nowland of Marietta took an early retirement from his job rather than have to move to New Jersey. He soon began assisting with election work for Cobb County and became a full-time employee about five years ago.

"I think it’s very rewarding to be so involved in the process," he said, adding that he also appreciates the camaraderie with returning seasonal election employees. "I enjoy working with these guys. It’s like old home week."

Area Supervisor Huanne Lehto of Smyrna started working at the polls more than 20 years ago after a friend got her interested in it. She said those who choose to work elections are a special kind of people – both dedicated and conscientious.

"I think they feel like they’re serving their country by working in the polls," Lehto said.

Poll Manager Parris McDonald of Powder Springs said he doesn’t think the public understands how much training or time is involved in election work.
"They think it’s an easy day to put in, but it’s not always that way," he said.

McDonald, who has worked for the county for 15 years, said they sometimes have to deal with people who believe themselves registered to vote, but aren’t on the official list. He said voters should go online prior to an election to make sure they’re registered. The information is available at http://www.CobbElections.org.

Poll workers have to have the patience and understanding to deal with these and other problems, he said.

Poll Manager Sandy Prill of east Cobb is a former customer service administrator who has worked for Cobb Elections for 11 years. "We’re trained to handle just about anything that comes our way," she said.

Many of the workers wished more residents used their right to vote. During last year’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum, only 11 percent of active registered voters participated. "Everyone can’t just sit back and let the world go by," McDonald said.

Meanwhile, election workers seem to derive a lot of satisfaction from their part in making democracy possible.

"When it all goes well, and it usually does, I feel a great sense of accomplishment and then it has to be done all over again," Nowland said. 


 

Strategic plan rough draft reviewed

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Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee talks with commissioners, department heads and community leaders during a Feb. 14 meeting.

Staff Reports

Elected officials, department heads and community leaders gathered Feb. 14 to work on details of a Cobb County strategic plan with the aim of setting goals for the community’s future.

The draft plan is under review by a working committee made up of the Cobb Board of Commissioners, other elected officials, the county manager, various department heads and members of the public.

The working group meets periodically to discuss ongoing changes in the draft, which was drawn up based on county employee and public input.

"We’re doing this to prioritize what our goals should be," Chairman Tim Lee said during the meeting.

A range of strategic initiative topics are outlined in the draft, including leadership, efficiency of county services, human resources, county government financing and economic vitality. Suggested goals include placing a priority on improving intra-government communication, saving money and avoiding duplication of county services.

It also calls for the implementation of recommendations made by the Citizen’s Oversight Committee, the Department of Transportation to relieve traffic congestion using both local methods and coordination with regional efforts as well as a 20-year plan to ensure an adequate water supply for the county.

District One Commissioner Helen Goreham expressed concerns about making the strategic plan too unwieldy.

"This is an ongoing to-do list," she said. "Let’s keep it simple."

The initial draft was presented by former business executive Jerry Davis, who volunteered to meet with county officials and help create the strategic plan.

"What goals should be there that aren’t there?" Davis asked the committee, promising to revise the plan and bring it back for consideration. The group hopes to finish it in the spring.

Various issues brought up during the meeting were whether the plan should address recruitment and retention of public safety personnel, the role of county government in economic development and stormwater management issues.

Aside from the Board of Commissioners and department heads, other committee members include Sheriff Neil Warren, Probate Court Chief Judge Kelli Wolk, Citizen’s Oversight Committee Chair Brett McClung, Marietta Daily Journal Executive Vice President Otis A. Brumby III, WellStar Senior Vice-President of Public and Government Affairs Kim Menefee, Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tony Britton and Acworth Alderman Tim Houston, who is chairman of the Cobb Municipal Association.