Dawson Chamber of Commerce hosts Teachers of the Year


DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Seven Dawson County educators were honored this week at the annual Teachers of the Year luncheon hosted by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.

Honorees included Jessie Venem (Black’s Mill Elementary School), Carolyn Wright (Kilough Elementary School), Chris Lundy (Riverview Elementary School), Jennifer Stowers (Robinson Elementary School), Cindy Bennett (Dawson County Middle School), Hilda Jackson (Dawson County Junior High School) and Paola Epstein (Dawson County High School). Epstein is also the School District Teacher of The Year.

The luncheon program included comments from Dawson County School Superintendent, Dr. Damon Gibbs and Lynn Jackson representing the event’s presenting sponsor, Northside Hospital Forsyth. The principal of each school introduced their teacher of the year by sharing comments from other colleagues and observations throughout their tenure. Each teacher honored was given gifts donated by local businesses.

Northside Hospital Forsyth Administrator Lynn Jackson told the seven teachers that the event was a way “to show you a little bit of love for what you do, how much we admire you and how much you mean to us and to our children.

“I hope that if there’s one thing you’ll carry away with you today, it’s that education is everybody’s business,. You are here today representing education but all of us are in the business of what’s best for our community—and what’s best is for all of our community to be in support of our teachers.”

Dawson County Chamber President Christie Moore added, “Terrific teachers are one of our community’s greatest assets It’s our privilege to host the Teachers of the Year luncheon and to honor these men and women who go far above and beyond fulfilling their duties. We are inspired by their passion, creativity and commitment to collaboration and cannot overstate how grateful we are to them for investing so much in our community’s future leaders.”

The teachers were nominated by their colleagues and each were then interviewed by an external committee to determine a system winner, according to Lisa Perry, chief human resources officer for Dawson County Schools. Epstein, a foreign language teacher, earned the distinction of the systemwide Teacher of The Year.

Epstein, who chose to move to Dawsonville because of her family’s love for NASCAR, got a special surprise when former NASCAR driver, Bill Elliott showed up to congratulate her.


Photo: (From left to right) Dawson County Chamber President Christie Moore, Hilda Jackson, Jessie Venem, Cindy Bennett, Jennifer Stowers, Paola Epstein, Chris Lundy, Carolyn Wright, Dawson County Chamber Board Chair, Mandy Power, Northside Hospital Forsyth Administrator, Lynn Jackson.



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Lt. Governor Casey Cagle Visits Dawsonville


From left Sen. Steve Gooch, Bill Elliott and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Former NASCAR great Bill Elliott — better known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville —  and a large contingent of community leaders welcomed Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to Dawsonville Wednesday morning.  Cagle is in the midst of a 17-stop bus tour of north Georgia to promote his campaign for governor.

You have to wonder if Elliott gave the Hall County Republican some inside tips on how to make a quick pit stop because after spending a little quality time with Dawson County community leaders and a quick stump speech, Cagle sped off to Pickens, Gilmer, Gordon, and Whitfield counties.

Before getting back on the road, Cagle visited with Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond, Commissioners Jimmy Hamby and Chris Gaines, Mayor James Grogan, County Manager David Headley, Sherriff Jeff Johnson and Chamber President Christie Hayes.

Former Commission Chairman Mike Berg introduced the lieutenant governor who didn’t need much of an introduction since he once represented the county as State Senator and has been lieutenant governor for eight years.

Cagle’s said he would focus on transportation, jobs, education and providing broadband to rural areas of Georgia

Cagle said, Georgia needs a transportation plan to accommodate a population growth of about 4.5 million people in the next 15 years.

“We have to get busy with a two-year strategic plan built around transportation that is able to go under, go over, go around, whatever is required to prepared ourselves for the kind of growth that is coming.”

On jobs, Cagle said he wants to build a world-class workforce second to none. “As I woke up this morning there were 150,000 jobs available today and out of that 150,000, 25 percent need four-year degrees but 75 percent need industry certification or a two-year degree. So, I want to make sure we are aligning education with what industry needs.”

On education he said, “The college and career education network I created reshapes the way we deliver education, giving our kids more options.”

Cagle also repeated his pledge of 500,000 new jobs during his first term in office and $100 million in tax cuts in the first 100 days.

Cagle said he understands how important broadband access is to education and to attracting business to Georgia and he fired a salvo over the heads of broadband internet providers.

“We’re going to have best in class as it pertains to rural broadband,” he said. “I’m going to set a standard that I expect every single provider in this state to reach. I know we have a problem with last mile so we’ll be looking at technology that will allow us to provide that. But I’m not going to accept any excuses. The providers are going to get in gear to make this a reality or we’re going to find someone that can. It’s just that simple.

Asked if the state school board members should be elected or appointed, he said, “Many people believe that the superintendent should be appointed almost like a cabinet position. I don’t believe that having an elected state school board is going to fundamentally improve education.”

On what has been a highly controversial religious freedom bill, Cagle said, “I and the other candidates have signed a pledge that if there is a federal mirror Xerox copy of what is already federal law that comes to my desk, I will sign it. There are a lot of social issues out there that are very divisive. As a born-again Christian, with a strong belief in religious freedom, I don’t want anyone trampling on that. As governor, I am also not for discrimination. So we’re not using this in a way that will cloak ourselves in a way that allows us to discriminate. So, these are balancing acts. We’ll do it in a way that doesn’t cost us business.”


Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com


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