Cobb County Government
CobbLineMonthlyHeaderLg

Payments due during October

Tax bills are mailed on Aug. 15 and payment must be received or U.S. postmarked by Oct. 15 to avoid late charges. A metered postmark is not accepted as proof of timely mailing. Allow adequate scheduling and processing time when using a third party online bill pay system. You can view, print and pay your tax bill at www.cobbtax.org.

New senior center offers public services and cost savings

alt

Local dignitaries gathered April 23 for a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the new Austell Neighborhood Senior Center, 4519 Austell-Powder Springs Road, Austell, inside Clarkdale Park.

In September 2009, floods that decimated much of the Austell area destroyed the old Austell Senior Center.

This was the second flood for the building in less than four years, so the decision was made to move the center to Clarkdale Park.

The new 5,500 square-foot facility garnered Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council due to many energy saving components in the design.

Highlights include: a high efficiency HVAC system, high efficiency light fixtures and a 46 percent reduction in electrical costs and 28 percent reduction in water usage to comparable buildings. For more information on Cobb Senior Services, visit Senior Services Home Page.
 

Volunteers continue to train for emergencies

Staff Reports 

Members of the Cobb Community Emergency Response Team are moving forward this year with new training classes, new equipment and a new leadership structure.

The organization is made up of more than 1,300 trained civilian volunteers who are willing to aid public safety personnel during a crisis.

Sam Peng of Acworth, a construction manager who became program leader in February, said they hope to increase public awareness about CERT and seek more ways to aid official efforts.

“We’re finding ways to partner with them, to help them do the things they do,” he said.

The CERT membership has been divided into five sections across the county, with section chiefs issued two-way radios to maintain contact with Cobb Emergency Management Agency officials when they’re needed.

“They will be able to give updates on places public safety officers have not been,” Peng said. “We can report damage. We can request support to different areas. They can direct us as to where they want our folks to go.”

Cobb EMA Public Programs Coordinator Rozlynn Hamilton said they expect to hold more classes for CERT members this year – including those to sustain existing skills.

“They’re motivated,” she said of the volunteers. “They’re empowered.”

Classes provided to the members have included everything from damage assessment to how to conduct medical operations. Future classes will include storm spotter and search and rescue training.

Those interested in Cobb CERT can call 770-499-4567 or go to CERT Volunteer Position Descriptions and complete the CERT initial training form.
 

County works to keep traffic rolling

alt
Cobb County Signal Technician Randy Moore of Villa Rica checks traffic signals during prevenative maintainence at Richard D. Sailors Parkway.


By Gary A. Witte
CobbLine Staff

If making it through traffic is a matter of good timing, Kathy Clark is one of those who holds the stopwatch.

Clark, the Cobb County Traffic Control Center manager, spends her workdays monitoring the community’s roads and intersections through a massive network of computerized systems and closed-circuit cameras.

When there’s a problem, anything from malfunctioning traffic lights to accidents that shut down major thoroughfares, she coordinates the Department of Transportation’s response. This can range from sending out a repair crew to sending out warnings to the public.

“It’s an enjoyable challenge,” Clark said. “It makes it fun to come to work. I like being able to solve a problem.”

There’s a lot of potential for problems, as the automated system oversees more than 550 intersection signals, 220 school warning lights and 250 miles of fiber optic cables. If there is a breakdown in the system, it can mean a cascade of traffic jams.

A crew of more than a dozen technicians maintains the traffic signals in the field, keeping a surprisingly complex system in working order for hundreds of thousands of commuters every day.

Workers plug their computers into metal control box cabinets alongside the roads as part of preventative maintenance checks while other members of the crew use bucket trucks to examine the signals themselves.

alt

alt

alt


 

“There’s a lot of components to an intersection,” Traffic Signal Systems Manager Brook Martin said.

Technicians face the hazards of traffic even as they work to keep it moving, checking everything from conflict monitors to camera encoders.

Traffic Signal Project Manager Tony Lewis said they usually check the suspended lights from emergency or turn lanes and don’t block thoroughfares unless they have no choice.

“We understand,” Lewis said. “People have to get where they’re going.”

The timing of traffic lights can be crucial for drivers, officials said. Most lights are set to switch timing only during peak rush hours, but Cobb County became the first in Georgia to start using an adaptive system in 2006.

The new signals, previously only installed in the Cumberland area, collect real time data and adjust their timing based on current conditions. The adaptive lights are now being added in the Town Center area and work is scheduled to be complete by the end of summer.

The hub of Cobb’s system, the Traffic Control Center, is located on County Services Parkway. It opened in 2010, and was partially funded through the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The center saves time and money by allowing the county to check problems remotely – and possibly fix them ­­­– before sending technicians, Traffic Signal Maintenance Supervisor Guy Patterson said.

“If you can look at that before you roll a truck, that [is] a big help,” Patterson said. “It’s been a benefit.”

Previous to the new center, the DOT had to make do with just three monitors – one of which included Clark’s computer screen – to keep track of the system. Exposed cables and computer equipment filled half the small room.

“It wasn’t a very good work environment compared to this,” Clark said, noting the spacious control room with nine working desks spread throughout. The room's size allows a large number of people to work there during severe weather or transportation emergencies.

“This” includes an eight-foot by 20-foot wall of widescreen monitors that can display the picture from any of hundreds of cameras throughout Cobb. Some endlessly watch highways, some stare at intersections.

The system can also show detection loops buried in the pavement that detect vehicles and allow the lights to change in order to accommodate oncoming traffic.

However, if a driver pulls up short of the white stop line for an intersection – or pulls beyond it – the loop doesn’t detect the vehicle. Thus leaving the driver stuck at a seemingly endless red light.

“It’s frustrating to see that,” Clark said.

Likewise, if a pedestrian waits on a signal to change so they can cross the road, they may not get as much time to cross as they would if they just pushed the crosswalk button, she added.

When major traffic tie ups happen, Clark informs the public through notices placed on the county’s Web site, Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as press releases and e-mails to various county departments.

DOT Operations Division Manager David Montanye said the center becomes even more crucial during large-scale occurrences. Some can be predicable, like the annual air show at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, but others may be brought by the weather.

“During the winter ice storm, this place was packed,” Montanye said. “The place becomes a lot more active during a major event.”

Much of the work is similar to the process DOT used in years past, but the Traffic Control Center and its wall of monitors have improved the department’s efficiency, he said.

“We’re just doing it better,” Montanye said. 

Chairman to hold town halls around county

alt
Chairman Tim Lee will host a town hall meeting in each of the four commission districts within the next few months. Residents are invited to attend any, or all, of the meetings to hear firsthand about progress being made around the county.
 

• 7 p.m., Monday, May 14, District Four
Lions Club Drive Community Center
620 Lions Club Drive, Mableton


For more information, call 770-528-3300 or visit cobbcounty.org/lee.