Toccoa-Stephens County: Making A Difference

By: Julie Paysen

I recently came across an article written by Mr. Eric Heller entitled Dear Internet, Please Send Miss Manners. In this he accurately addresses etiquette or the lack thereof, when it comes to social media. We have become quite the society… Heller writes, “in the real world, we’re reasonably well behaved. We don’t need laws to make you hold the door for the person behind you. We don’t have fines for pushing your way to the front of a checkout line. There are no cops looking to arrest people who don’t say “excuse me” when they bang your buggy at the store.” He continues, “Outside of the occasional exception – which goes viral because it’s so unusual – no one really violates these basic social rules.”

“Until we go online… There we attack each other like children. We snap at “the other side” with names and flames like they are sub-humans. We cut down strangers with vicious insults just to make ourselves feel superior. We get off on clickbait where someone’s being “destroyed” or “slammed,” then dive into the outrage battle that follows. Our friends and co-workers and neighbors become raging haters on social media. Towards people they don’t even know.” And I might add, without nearly enough facts to even weigh in. “It’s embarrassing, if you think about it.” Heller says, “And it’s driving us apart.”

Heller continues, “Confident people don’t enjoy making others feel bad. So, this probably has a lot to do with fear. We seem to be suffering an epidemic of low self-esteem. Maybe it’s scary to live in an unequal, materialistic society, where our self-worth is defined by Photoshopped images and impossible perfection. Maybe the constant feed of terrible events from all over the world creates the optical illusion that bad things happening once-in-a-while, are happening everywhere and all the time. So we seek validation from others, insist on our ideological certainties, and attack anyone who dares to challenge our comfortable preconceptions.”

In conclusion Heller writes, “Here’s the thing. We live in a democracy. Facebook and social media have become our public square. We need to figure out how to talk to each other in a way that connects, not divides. We’ve developed etiquette for our face-to-face connections. As more of our interactions take place online, we need rules there too.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 2.30.02 PM.png

So how does this affect us in Toccoa-Stephens County? What will help us to be set apart? We are a community, a family. Our community, as every community, is made up of imperfect people. We should be certain to practice the art of thinking through the issues we face as a community, so we understand all sides and perspectives instead of simply reacting with an emotionally charged response. Listening with respect for others’ opinions will help those around us to do the same. Let’s take the approach to show grace toward one another, as we would like it shown toward us. We are all familiar with the golden rule. It’s a truth we must not forget: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I believe we would all prefer that someone come to us directly to try and resolve an issue rather than take to social media. We should be intentional to set the best example in how we handle discrepancies or disagreements with others, for those around us to see because they are watching.

Let’s remember as our children learn in school: Before you speak, THINK; - is it True, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Necessary, and is it Kind? Great questions for all of us to ask before we speak, or post.

We should always be kind and encouraging even when we don’t agree. As my mama used to say, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Share concerns, offer suggestions with the big picture in mind, and always surround the negative with positive. There is a lot of positive in Toccoa-Stephens County, and the people here is what makes this place so special!

We won’t always agree but if we are going to move forward in life as a prosperous community and leave a positive, lasting impression on those we love, we must choose to be part of the solution.  Join the team and make a difference.


Rural Development: Focus in Toccoa-Stephens County and Across Georgia

By: Julie Paysen

Last June Toccoa-Stephens had the privilege to be chosen by the House Rural Development Council to host one of eleven meetings throughout rural Georgia to inquire of the challenges faced by rural counties and how they can be part of the solution to help rural Georgia thrive and grow. In addition to meeting in Toccoa, they also spoke with leaders in Tifton, Thomasville, Bainbridge, Ellijay, Dalton, Metter, Waycross, Albany, Warm Springs and Milledgeville. The Council was lead by Rep. Terry England and Rep. Jay Powell.

In addition to a warm welcome to our community given by then Mayor Jeanette Jamieson, County Commissioner Dean Scarborough and myself, we each had the opportunity to share with the Council, highlighting the success of Toccoa and Stephens County in attracting new jobs but also the challenges faced by the community, including having a sufficient qualified workforce and adequate housing to attract new workers.” As quoted from the official notes from the meeting “The problem isn’t the availability of jobs, but the willingness of qualified workers to take the open positions. These challenges were echoed by other local presenters throughout the meeting.”

Furthermore, “Pat Wilson, Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner, highlighted the presence the department has in every county in Georgia as well as the impact the department has in international markets in the promotion of Georgia businesses and products. The commissioner stated that there is “no magic bullet” to attract industry, indicating that every community has something to offer.” Commissioner Wilson also spoke highly of Toccoa-Stephens County for the progress made in recent years and the effort of local leadership to work together to get the job done. Like mindedness and collaboration goes a long way.

“Local business leaders Barry Roberts, ASI Southeast; Leon Osborne, Osborne Wood Products; and Tim Martin, Stephens County Economic Development, addressed workforce challenges faced by the area. The availability of skilled labor, lack of applicants with soft skills or the ability to pass a drug/background check, as well as limited housing and lack of public transportation were all repeatedly named as reasons for a labor shortage in the area. Local employers suggested the state could provide GED assistance, protection for companies that hire applicants with a criminal background, as well as market the positives of Georgia to bring new talent in from out of state. Other suggestions included providing incentives particularly to counties that border other states to promote education, workforce training and infrastructure.”

From the House of Representatives Rural Development Council Recommendations Overview “The success of the state’s metro areas is deeply aligned with the contributions of rural Georgia. The entire state’s well-being depends on a recognition of this relationship, as well as better communication and cooperation across county lines and regions. The economic future of rural Georgia requires us to connect our small communities so that services, educational opportunities and jobs that make up our quality of life are equally available to all of our citizens.” The following are the findings from the Council.

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 2.25.21 PM.png

GENERAL WORKFORCE – “To reverse the current population migration trend, the council proposes a “Rural Relocate and Reside” program designed to incentivize rural living, especially for professional, high wage earners through a local and state government partnership.”

BROADBAND – “Another key to attracting and retaining people to rural Georgia is broadband connectivity, which is a critical tool for the vitality of rural communities. Broadband is modern infrastructure – the “road” to anywhere or anyone in the world, and a survey of Georgians conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government noted that today’s citizens overwhelmingly equate internet access with opportunities to earn a living and the quality of life.”

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – “In addition to broadband as an absolute need toward economic prosperity, there were a large number of other economic development strategies that emerged as best practices for propelling the growth of a rural community. “Regionalism”, “partnerships” and “connectivity” that pool together resources for workforce, training, marketing, health care and infrastructure dominated conversations. To that end, smaller communities do not always have the resources to instigate these partnerships nor the leadership to execute them; the state needs a focal point with the expertise to connect smaller areas with the multitude of existing state and federal programs, execute a statewide rural strategy, and provide leadership training. The council will work to incorporate many of the suggestions made for improving economic development in existing legislation, as well as within budgeted programs.”

EDUCATION – “Because economic development is centered so heavily in the availability of a qualified workforce, educational programming must be coordinated over the course of an entire academic career. Repetitious complaints that educational systems are not able to quickly respond to needs for industry programming because of a lack of flexibility or leadership were heard. Moreover, students are leaving their smaller communities for post-secondary education and never return. The state must provide opportunities that allow rural students to stay in place, as well as make the long-term investment in leadership and soft skills training that prepares a quality workforce.”

HEALTH – “Georgia’s overall health status, health system performance and clinical care rankings are low in the nation, and because the scores are an overall average that include metro Atlanta’s relatively positive performance and delivery, it means rural rankings are likely even lower. In addition to the aging of rural Georgians, rural populations on the whole are sicker, have less or no access to prevention and services, are more likely to suffer from mental illness and chronic diseases, have higher rates of teen pregnancy, and higher mortality rates.”

“Based on testimony, as well as results from the Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee, several best practices are emerging to revamp care delivery through telehealth, care coordination models and the creation of hub-and-spoke, free-standing emergency departments where patients can receive acute care, stabilize and transfer if necessary. The council recommends a multi-layered approach to stabilizing rural, as well as other health systems.”

“The House Rural Development Council presents these recommendations to improve the social and economic vibrancy of the state’s rural communities and regions. The recommendations are interrelated and reflect the complexity of building upon our assets without hampering the many unique attributes and contributions of the state’s rural communities.”

Toccoa-Stephens County is grateful to have been included and heard by the Council as they were gathering research. We look forward to the implementation of these recommendations in the near future.

The House of Representatives Rural Development Council Recommendations Overview can be found in its entirety at: A second report from the Georgia Chamber Center for Rural Prosperity: Recommendations for a Rural Renaissance can be found at for reference.


Jingle Bells in the City

By: Julie Paysen

It sure is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Toccoa! The colors are bright, holiday music, beautifully decorated trees, twinkling lights, carolers singing familiar Christmas songs, Santa’s workshop, gingerbread houses and ice skating in the south! There is a sparkle in the eyes of everyone you see from the youngest to the old and wise. There seems to be something magical about this time of year. But for some it may be more difficult than you think.

For those who have fallen on hard times, for those who will not be home with their family because they are deployed in service to our country, for those who will spend the holidays alone because they cannot get home to see family, for those who will spend Christmas without someone that they loved dearly. But for some, Christmas may actually be the most difficult time of the year.

Christmas was always a favorite for me. I remember growing up and spending Christmas Eve with my daddy’s side of the family. He was one of five and I was the youngest of sixteen grandchildren. Three generations all under one roof. We would gather every year and my Aunt Virginia and Uncle Stroud’s house and exchange gifts making memories that I still hold dear. On Christmas Day my mama’s family would come together at our house. My Uncle Ty always brought us pecans to crack and my Aunt Kate would make all kinds of sweet treats, all cut into bite size servings. One year as the cars were pulling into the driveway, our cat ran straight up the tree! The cat jumped out and ornaments went everywhere! It wasn’t too funny then, at least not to Mama, but it sure makes me chuckle now!

Page 25 Possible 2.JPG

I have always enjoyed decorating the tree, wrapping presents, giving gifts and seeing the smile on the faces of those receiving. I love the wonderful smell of cooking in the kitchen while hearing the laughter of friends and family all around. It makes me happy to see the sparkle in the eyes of my children as we celebrate the season. It’s the wonder of Christmas!

I also understand the sadness that comes with losing a loved one and missing them over the holidays. It was eighteen years ago when my precious mama went home to be with Jesus, on a cold and rainy Christmas Eve. It was so unexpected, I wasn’t ready for her to go. Left behind with pictures and so many sweet memories of a mama who loved Jesus, loved my daddy and me and served others all her life. She is greatly missed, but her legacy lives on in the lives of everyone she touched. I sure miss my sweet mama every day. But she is singing with the angels to the Prince of Peace, the One whose birth we celebrate! That is where we find Hope.

As we enjoy all the holiday festivities in our small town and beyond, and gather with friends and family, decorate the trees, buy gifts for those we love, be sure to discover the real reason for the season. Merry Christmas.


By Julie Paysen

It’s hard to ignore the recent challenges of recent days. Whether it be from a global perspective in the devastation from hurricanes in Puerto Rico, or a National standpoint with disastrous flooding in Texas and Florida. Or random shootings at a public gathering of thousands at a concert in Nevada. What was supposed to be a fun and entertaining night on the town, ended in sheer terror. And just this week, small town USA was attacked, a little church where 50 gathered to worship last Sunday morning, only to be gunned down instead. And in our own hometown as the past few months have been riddled with heartbreak in what appears to be the senseless loss of life of our loved ones. Lives taken seemingly way too soon. Our own Toccoa Falls College just this week hosted a memorial service of the 40th anniversary of the dam break and flood at Toccoa Falls in 1977. That was a life altering event in this community still evident, even after so many years. All so tragic and often hard to understand.

As the season of Thanksgiving is upon us, we naturally reflect on the things for which we are grateful.  We live in a community full of reasons to be thankful.

Though at times it’s hard to be thankful when there is so much tragedy all around us, when we personally fall on hard times or see the ones we love suffering. However, it is often in the difficult times of life when we are drawn closer together and closer to Almighty God as we are reminded that we are not in control, but we are comforted to know that He is in control.

It’s been said, true character is revealed not by life’s circumstances but by how we handle those circumstances. What I have seen time and time again in Toccoa-Stephens County is when tragedy strikes, we come together. Whether it directly affects our community or those in a neighboring state or country! We consistently respond with an outpouring of love. Toccoa steps up! 

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 2.36.33 PM.png

I am and continue to be so grateful to be part of this community. I have always said that it’s the people of Toccoa-Stephens County that make this community different and the same is true today! We rally around those who are hurting and reach out to those in need. A very special, heartfelt “Thank you” to all who donated time and money to the cause and to those took the time to bring supplies that filled two truckloads that we delivered to Texas and Florida this fall for hurricane disaster relief, individuals and companies alike. Coming together, meeting the needs of others. Many of us have before been in a place of need how that life experience has lead us to want to be part of blessing someone else in need. What a beautiful picture of The Church, together in one accord…helping others, sharing Hope. What a joy to be just a small part of how the Lord chooses to faithfully provide for our every need. How grateful I am to live in Toccoa-Stephens County, a community that comes together for those in need. Thankful.


The Total Eclipse is happening and the people are coming to Toccoa!

By Julie Paysen

If you hadn’t heard it on the streets of Toccoa, you have now heard it on regional and national news. The total eclipse of the sun is happening over Toccoa August 21st, 2017.

This is certainly an unprecedented event which makes it a bit of a challenge for which to prepare. Though it has been a topic in many of our local meetings for almost two years, it’s still hard for many of us to imagine the number of visitors that are projected to converge on our little town August 21st of this month.

But here is our chance to make a wonderful first impression on the potentially thousands of visitors who will be headed this way.

Page 21 Possible 2.jpg

A Community Standing Together

By Julie Payson

In difficult times, our great community pulls together. As you certainly are aware our small town has been hit hard over the past few weeks. One tragedy after another it seems right in our own backyard. Tragedy reveals the true character of a community. When I was growing up in north Atlanta, there was a strong sense of community. People rallied around in support whether it was in celebration of a new life, or the joining of two families in marriage, anniversaries, retirements or if in sorrow to share the pain and help carry the burden of grief.

Caught up in the busy-ness of our culture today that sense of community seems to have slowly faded away. But not in Toccoa! We are a community that is generous in compassion. We do life like family in this Small Town, USA setting. We celebrate the success of one another. We come together under the Friday Night Lights to cheer on our team, we gather at concerts on Main Street and for many community events and celebrate life in Stephens County. In that same vein, we also come together to support one another in times of tragedy and loss. We are a community that carries our wounded.

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 1.29.24 PM.png

For the families hit so hard by illness or tragedy it is such a comfort to be surrounded by friends, family and the community who will help carry and walk alongside them as they face the difficult journey ahead. As I often say and so firmly believe, the people of Toccoa-Stephens County is what sets this town apart. Our Community = Common Unity. We are a community that understands the big picture. There is more to this life than just the day-to-day routine. We are family, in good times and in difficult times. We must take the time to invest in those around us. Because one day, we will be the ones in need of that support. And when you’ve been on the receiving end of that love and support, you have a new appreciation for it. I am so thankful to live in a community full of friends and neighbors who love and care for one another.

I and humbled and grateful that as a community we still recognize the sovereignty of our Almighty God. I am praying for His continued blessings on the people of this community as we are faithful to be His hands and feet as we care for each other, help our neighbors walk life’s difficult path and simply do life together. Life is different here, in such a good way.  I reflect on a line from a recent movie, Heritage Falls, filmed right her in our town. It so applies to our Toccoa, “we are a team, we are family, we are one!”

County Line Showing!

By Julie Paysen

The Historic Ritz Theatre at The Schaefer Center will
host the first theatrical release of INSP Films “County Line”.

INSP Films has chosen Toccoa, GA, to host the premiere of its newest release, County Line.  The action-packed crime drama was shot in Toccoa in 2016.  Gary Wheeler, Vice President of Original Movies at INSP Films, said “the city of Toccoa provided the perfect backdrop for County Line.” “We needed rural landscapes, a racetrack, a small-town diner, a courthouse and other unique shoot locations.  Toccoa provided these and more.  It’s fitting that the townspeople, many of whom played extras in the film, will be one of the first audiences to see it.”

This is the second film that INSP has shot in Toccoa-Stephens County. The first was Heritage Falls. It premiered in Toccoa last fall. Then just a few months later INSP Films decided to shoot their next movie here as well. The INSP cast and crew were such a delight to work with and were very grateful for the warm welcome they received in our community.

The film industry is booming in Georgia. According to a new report by FilmL.A., “17 feature films shot in Georgia in 2016, beating California as the top location for feature film production and making it the number one filming location in the world! Georgia’s film industry not only shot the most movies but, had some of the highest grossing movies films in the state as well.”

Toccoa-Stephens County is a Camera Ready  Community.  According to the website, “Georgia’s Camera Ready Communities program connects film and TV productions with skilled county liaisons across the state to provide local expertise and support.” Being a Camera Ready Community in the State of Georgia helps tremendously when it comes to the exposure that we receive with those in the film industry; and the benefits to our community are many. The dollars that are invested in our community during the many weeks of filming have a definite impact on our local economy. Not to mention the opportunity for our folks to be part of the production as cast members and extras along with the sense of pride that comes to our residents to see our town promoted on the “big screen”.

County Line tells the story of Alden Rockwell, an aging ex-sheriff dealing with the recent death of his wife and forced into retirement after losing a re-election bid.  When his old war buddy, closest friend and neighboring sheriff, Clint Thorne, is shot, Rockwell finds himself in the middle of a non-sanctioned investigation.  Amidst a dangerous threat to his own life, Rockwell refuses to stand by while a ruthless element takes over the town.

Cast in the leading role as Alden Rockwell is Tom Wopat (The Dukes of Hazzard, Longmire, Django Unchained). Sheriff Clint Thorne is played by Jeff Fahey (Texas Rising, Justified, Lost, Under the Dome). Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement, The West Wing) plays the spunky diner owner, Maddie Hall.  Dendrie Taylor (Saving Mr. Banks, Out of the Furnace, True Blood) plays Clint’s straightforward but fiery wife, Jordan Thorne.

INSP Films debuts its newest movie in Toccoa, June 16-18 at the Historic Ritz Theatre @ the Schaefer Center. For show times call or stop by the Chamber of Commerce office and purchase your tickets! They’re going fast! To see the County Line movie trailer, please visit our Visit Toccoa page on Facebook or


From All Over the World They Come to Toccoa…

We often take for granted the very things that others see as most amazing. Our natural resources and abundance of history is what helps to make Toccoa beautiful. Last year alone 14,704 visitors walked through the doors of our Welcome Center, located in the historic train depot. Those visitors included residents from all 50 of the United States of America and 27 foreign countries.

We hear all kinds of interesting stories from those who enter our doors. We always ask “Where are y’all from?” And after hearing about their journey, I have often asked, ”Where are y’all headed?” More often than not, I get the response “Right here in Toccoa!” As surprising as that may seem, it’s the truth! Folks from all over the globe set out to make the trek to Toccoa, Georgia to experience the natural beauty of our mountains, lake and rivers, hiking trails and water falls and to visit our Currahee Military Museum.

Last year alone we welcomed visitors into our Welcome Center from:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, South Wales, Thailand, the United Kingdom and from every State in the U.S.A.

What’s the big draw, you might ask? The Stephens County Historical Society maintains the Currahee Military Museum located in the old train depot where soldiers arrived before they made the five-mile hike to Camp Toccoa. The Museum is the home of photos, documents and memorabilia of World War II, including one of the most popular exhibits which is a horse stable from Aldbourne, England that served as housing for 506th Infantry Regiment, American paratroopers. The stable,17x70 feet long, serves as a reminder of some of the finer living conditions during the war. More than 18,000 paratroopers trained at Camp Toccoa prior to and after D-Day. Also located in the train depot is the Stephens County History Museum full of local exhibits that tell the history of Stephens County for the past 100 years.

The Currahee Military Museum and Toccoa's annual Currahee Military Weekend, (which is the first weekend in October every year) celebrate and preserve the legacy of Camp Toccoa, which took men directly from civilian life to the battlefields of World War II as a new type of soldier called “paratrooper”.

In recent years, Camp Toccoa has become a destination for historians, tour groups, reunions, and especially veterans returning to visit their "home" during training. Currahee Mountain is part of the Piedmont province and rises sharply about 800 feet above its surroundings and is the highest peak in Stephens County Georgia. Adjacent to the Chattahoochee National Forest, Camp Toccoa has become a favorite place for camping, hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing, and to the place to run footraces following the footsteps of the soldiers run of "Three Miles up, Three Miles down" – CURRAHEE!

For more information about Camp Toccoa visit . For more specifics about the museums call the Stephens County Historical Society at 706-282-5055 or check out the Currahee Military Museum website, Stop by for a visit, Currahee Military Museum, over 15,000square feet of history, right in our own backyard in Toccoa! See you soon!




From the Eyes of a West Point Mom

From the eyes of a West Point mom…little did I know what was ahead when my son was accepted and signed a letter of commitment with the United States Military Academy – West Point. It was early in his senior year when he made the decision and was accepted. I had always been told that Joey was an exceptional baseball player. I was his mom so of course I was proud but I certainly was far from an expert in baseball. All I knew was that he loved the game and that’s all he ever wanted to do…play Major League Baseball. And from the time he could swing a bat, he played baseball and played it well.

He is my oldest child, with a crew coming up behind him, who practically grew up at the ballfield playing in the dirt with the other younger siblings as their brothers played baseball. The years went on and before I knew it he was talking about where he wanted to play ball in college. He was on many scouts’ radar. But never had we even discussed the possibility of a military academy. Until one day I received a call from his high school coach asking me if we would even consider talking with USMA-West Point. I responded by saying of course, we would consider all options.

To make a long story short, we met the baseball coach from West Point and there was great interest on his part. He encouraged Joey to consider USMA West Point. He made it clear that USMA West Point looks for well-rounded leadership characteristics that will in turn make the strongest leaders. What a compliment to even be considered.

He applied, and it was quite the extensive process. Even though he was being considered to play baseball, he still had to meet all academic requirements and receive a Congressional nomination before being accepted.  At that time, he had to look at the future with the realization that he was always just one injury away from being done with baseball. His thoughts had to be farther down the road. And when the time comes that he is done with baseball, what then? What education will he prefer to have, what will be in his best interest? How will he be best prepared to accomplish what God has created him to do and be?

The decision was clear, apples and oranges, not even a comparison in our book. What a privilege and honor to be accepted into the USMA – West Point. The Academy provides a superb four-year education, which focuses on the leader development of cadets in the academic, military, and physical domains, all underwritten by adherence to a code of honor.

So off to West Point we went to drop him off for “BEAST” – USMA  West Point boot camp. All of a sudden, the parents, friends and family are given just minute or two, literally, to say their good-byes and out the door walked our children, young men and women with the initial goal of becoming Cadets at USMA West Point, looking forward to the day that they would be commissioned as an officer on the US Army!

The United States Military Academy's mission is to educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army.

After a rigorous four years of balancing the challenge of military training, academics and baseball, that time finally came. Graduation Day! What a celebration! As a mom, I reflected of the challenges and obstacles Joey had faced, the endurance, discipline and dedication he had demonstrated and the fine young man he had become. I am so thankful that he was given the opportunity to be part of the West Point Long Gray Line.

After graduation, the challenge and the commitment continued at a whole new level. Joey is now an Airborne Ranger and Captain in the US Army. He has proudly served his country well. Alongside many others with the same commitment, some of whom paid the ultimate price, he has fought for and defended our freedom on the ground in the Middle East. And from this mom’s perspective, I am forever grateful for their sacrifice, their dedication to protect and defend, and for their love for the people of the United States of America.

This year we are again a proud community in Toccoa-Stephens County as we have two more of our very own who have been accepted into USMA West Point from Stephens County High School. A.J. Howard and Nikhil Patel will be reporting to The Academy in just a few short months. They will be joining another former SCHS Indian, Abigail Vickery, also from Toccoa, who began her military career at West Point in 2015.

To all who have served and to those who currently serve in our U.S. Military, thank you for your commitment to protect and defend the freedoms that we so enjoy in this great Country. May God continue to bless the United States of America!


Tomorrow's Leaders Have Arrived

One of the best investments any community can make in its future is the development of its future leaders. This month we will celebrate yet another group of leaders as they graduate through Leadership Toccoa-Stephens County, Class of 2017! 

The purpose of the program is to provide emerging leaders both adults and youth with a greater awareness of community issues, needs, services, and resources. Participants will gain insight into ways to exercise meaningful leadership - for the betterment of our community. 

The Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce supports the Leadership Board of Directors as they annually hold an Adult Leadership Class as well as a Youth Leadership Class. Each year full-day sessions are planned from August through February, including graduation.   Although the participants get traditional leadership training, the focus is on the past, present and future of Toccoa-Stephens County and the systems that make it work. The program curriculum was developed by the Fanning Leadership Institute, at the University of Georgia. The Fanning Institute is nationally recognized in the field of community leadership development.

We are blessed to have the support of our local government and business leaders as they volunteer their time and expertise to facilitate each class and invest in the futures of each participant which ultimately strengthens the future of Toccoa-Stephens County. Both the instructors (our local leaders) and the curriculum guide and encourage participants to put into practice the concepts and skills they learned during the program. 

The first session kicks off with a personality profile for each participant and team building challenges. Topics covered in the sessions to follow include Understanding Leadership, Understanding Local Government and Making Group Decisions,

Building Communities Through Collaboration, and Leading Community Change. The participants learn about local government including fire and police protection; social services, civic organizations and community programs; education; the health care industry; and Toccoa-Stephens County legal and political structure.  They take field trips to local businesses and industries and get a behind-the- scenes look at these companies.  They see economic development in the making and create bonds with fellow participants that last a lifetime. 

Each year both the Adult Leadership Class and the Youth Leadership Class take on a community project that they choose to focus their influence and passion. That becomes their first “official” opportunity as a group to make a direct and positive impact on our community. Some of the Leadership Projects in the past include the 1) Development of the Toccoa Walking Trail 2) Leaders and Legacy Recognition Banquet, which raised funding to help our local schools with needed supplies 3) Helping to Promote and Fill the existing need for our local Mentoring Program 4) Partnering with Keep Toccoa-Stephens County Beautiful on local beautification and clean-up projects…and the list goes on.

These Leadership participants groom themselves for leadership positions in their jobs, the local community and the State. The program has alumni in leadership positions at all these levels.  Most say their experiences in this program helped them advance and reach their goals.  Call the Chamber today at 706-886- 2132 for more detailed information and application. 

Strong leadership is key to the future of Toccoa-Stephens County. The Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber takes this charge and opportunity very seriously.

Let's Get on the Team!

Can you believe that the 2016 chapter has closed and the page has turned to another year? Welcome 2017, and we have hit the ground running! What does the turn of a new year mean to you? Have you set specific goals? Are you looking for a fresh start or simply moving on down the road that you’re on because it’s where you are meant to be?

This year called 2017 is a new beginning for all of us on many fronts.  But in the end…we are on the same team!

At this point, it matters not who each of us voted for in the elections… from the President of our great Nation right down to our local leadership. Or whether or not the folks that we voted for actually won. Though I will say, kudos to all who took the time to exercise their right to vote. We must do our part. At this point in the game, the decisions have been made and our leaders have accepted the challenge. Let us be careful to not underestimate the difficult jobs that they face. 

We waste our opportunity to make a difference if we spend our time arguing, grumbling and complaining. Do we all think just alike…of course not! How boring would that be?  Might we have some opposing ideas? Sure. Might we think that things could be handled differently. Sure. We must accept our differences and show respect to one another as we learn to work together to make this world a better place to be.

We are all created with different gifts and strengths that can be used best when we choose to work together to make a positive difference for the common good. Let’s be sure to stay on track and not get distracted bickering amongst ourselves. Don’t be part of the problem…be part of the solution! If we want our Nation, our State and our Community to be the best that it can be, to be most effective and prosperous, then we must all get on board. Join the team and get on the field.

What exactly does that look like in our little town? There are so many places to serve and ways to share your gifts and talents. Find the good things to talk about and to highlight…there are so many! We live in such a wonderful place, nestled here in the foothills of the mountains, full of natural resources, beauty and rich history. That’s a great place to start…

Would you like to invest in the life of a child…be a Mentor…it’s just an hour a week and makes a difference! Find a local charity to volunteer your time. Look into the local opportunities to volunteer at the Chamber, Community Events, The Arts and Community and Downtown Development. The list of ways to be a part and to make a difference is vast. 

Toccoa is a great place to do business and a greater place to do life! Purpose in 2017 to find a way to get on board…join the team! Team Toccoa-Stephens County! There is a place just for you…we need your help!

INSP Films in Toccoa-Stephens County

As we come off the one week a year that as a nation, we come together with hearts of thankfulness. We have so much for which to be thankful. From the freedoms we enjoy in our great Country, our family and friends, to the blessings of this beautiful community called Toccoa!

As our tag line reads…Toccoa means more than Beautiful! What makes our town a community is the people! This has once again been demonstrated as just before Thanksgiving we were blessed to once again be the location for a second movie to be filmed right in our backyard. As the local contact for the Georgia Film Industry, I have had the privilege to be on the front lines of the filming process, twice now. 

INSP Films chose Toccoa-Stephens County to be the home of its next movie, County Line.

According to their recent press release, “County Line tells the story of Alden Rockwell, an aging ex-sheriff dealing with the recent death of his wife and forced into retirement after losing a re-election bid.  When his old war buddy, closest friend and neighboring sheriff, Clint Thorne, is critically shot, Rockwell finds himself in the middle of a non-sanctioned investigation.  Amidst a dangerous threat to his own life, Rockwell refuses to stand by while a ruthless element takes over the town.

Cast in the leading role as Alden Rockwell is Tom Wopat (The Dukes of Hazzard).  Sheriff Clint Thorne will be played by Jeff Fahey (Texas Rising, Lost).  The movie also features Patricia Richardson, (Home Improvement, The West Wing) who plays the spunky diner owner, Maddie Hall” and Grant Goodeve (Eight is Enough) , newly elected Sheriff.

The making of this movie was much more action packed and labor intensive than Heritage Falls (the INSP movie previously filmed in Toccoa-Stephens County earlier this year). The cast was much larger, the need for special effects and props was much greater and required much organization, cooperation and support from the community. Once again, the people of Toccoa stepped up, with smiling faces and generous attitudes excited to be involved and help in any way possible.

As our town came together again and rallied to the call, whether it be for extras in the movie, vehicles used as props, law enforcement services, City and County organizations, and local business owners, the people of Toccoa helped to make it happen! And we will reap the benefits and see that sacrifice brings progress, humility brings favor and unity brings prosperity.

Let us be careful not tomove too quickly from a time of Thanksgiving to the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Let’s continue to be grateful for the blessing of living in a community where people care about one another and come together to accomplish the task at hand! Let’s celebrate the true meaning of the season, the birth of Jesus! Merry Christmas to all!

A Picture of Community

Toccoa is more than beautiful… it is the picture of community! A community that rallies around those in need. My heart was so blessed to see this demonstrated just a few weeks ago when the need arose in South Carolina for victims of Hurricane Matthew.

The little town of Nichols, S.C. sits between the Pee Dee River and the Lumber River. Soon after the hurricane, the rivers rose and the levy broke. The people of Nichols, S.C. had only a thirty minute warning to evacuate.

Governor Nicky Haley has since condemned the entire community. Including a 3 year old school, churches, businesses, residential homes …all destroyed. Entire contents of the homes and buildings from furniture to insulation has now been cleaned out and hauled to the street for pick-up. Everything was lost and the people were all displaced. The drinking water has all been compromised.

There was and still is, such great need.

The Lord placed this burden on the heart of my husband, Steve Paysen - P230 Foundation ( and he made a plea to our community to help us fill a 53 ft. tractor trailer with clean folded clothes, food, and water. And with only a 2-day notice…Toccoa-Stephens County showed up. In just a matter of a few hours, we filled that truck with HOPE for the people of another community that we do not know but we did know that they needed our help.

I was so blessed to hear the stories of so many who donated. People of all walks of life and backgrounds, from the “haves” to the “have nots” across this great community, people gave what they could give. From a small grocery bag of clothes, to pick-up truck loads of clean, folded clothes…some still warm from the dryer…were delivered. It was non-stop all day.

The people of Toccoa-Stephens County came together to make a difference in the lives of people we don’t even know. It took this village to get it done. So together with P230, Hemphill Trucking, Quality Foods, Ebenezer Baptist Church, local business leaders and the people of this community, we filled that truck with supplies to meet the needs of the residents of Nichols, S.C. and in doing so, we sent the message of HOPE right along with it!

I have always said that it’s the people of Toccoa-Stephens County that make this community different and this is just one more example of just that! A very special, heartfelt “Thank you” to all who took the time to wash and fold clothes, bag and box them up, donate time and money to the cause, and shared personal stories of how you have before been in a place of need how the experience has lead you to want to be part of blessing someone else in need.

What a joy to be just a small part of how the Lord chooses to faithfully provide for our every need. How grateful I am to live in a community that comes together for those in need.

Community At Its Best!

As I reflect over this past weekend…Currahee Military Weekend 2016…the word that comes to mind is COMMUNITY!

As a few thousand people took part in the celebration it took the core of our community to make the experience great! The Stephens County Historical Society and Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce, along with Main Street Toccoa teams worked for months in preparation for this annual event. The City of Toccoa and Stephens County teams worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the details were handled and the first impressions for our visitors was a positive one! And the countless volunteers that poured out of the woodworks in support of the weekend full of activities was unbelievable!


Main Street Toccoa hosted the “The Story of Joe Beyrle, WWII” Thursday evening at the Historic Ritz Theatre to officially kick off the weekend! Followed by the Annual Chamber BBQ which was held again this year at the National Guard Armory Hall. The “cooking crew” headed up by Tommy Moon and Burt Holmes got started at the Elks Lodge and EMT BBQ pits before 5am to successfully cook 1000 chicken halves. I showed up with biscuits for the teams around 7am and they were all having a blast and getting the job done! The chicken was delivered to the armory by 9:30am. Where they were greeted by more volunteers to pack the 1000 boxes, then deliver 700 plates throughout the town and serve the remaining 300 in the Armory Hall. All well planned and a smooth operation by Melvia Lynn Dickinson, Ashley Sharpe and The Chicken Team of volunteers!


We then rolled right into the Annual USO Swing Dance at the Armory where we were joined by 325 wonderful friends and neighbors dressed in vintage attire all dancing the night away! The David Fry Band and The Freedom Belles provided our live entertainment. The Civil Air Patrol, VFW and Stephens County Middle School PTO all served up refreshments. Marilyn Hall was the Hostess and Organizer for the event and did a wonderful job again delivering a night of enjoyment and great memories. Leaving us all looking forward to next year!


We rose up early Saturday morning to the Currahee Challenge 5k and 10k up Currahee Mountain. The event was organized by Craig and Melvia Lynn Dickinson and hosted 250 runners who participated from all across the country. The weather cooperated this year and it was a perfect fall day in Georgia. We were welcomed by another group of early bird volunteers who helped with registration, water stations, refreshments and awards. We started the morning off with prayer and a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem sung by Shauna Fortson, which brought cause for reflection on the very reason we are able to gather freely because of all who have gone before us fighting for our freedom.

The day of celebration continued with a parade down Main Street and Opening Ceremonies hosted by our Historical Society. Toccoa was lined with visitors enjoying the WWII Reenactors, Veterans Book Signing, and Memorabilia Show. We gathered again that evening at the Armory Hall as the Historical Society hosted their Annual Veterans Banquet. The evening was full of acknowledgement and appreciation for those who trained here in WWII and for our Toccoa soldiers. 4-Star General David Petraeus was the Guest of Honor and spoke to a full room of patrons. It was a wonderful evening hosted by Lyn Hack and Brenda Carlan for the Stephens County Historical Society and all who pitched in to help.

We wrapped the 16th Annual Currahee Military Weekend with the Remembrance Service held at Camp Toccoa, Parachute Infantry Regimental Memorial, which was well attended as we paid tribute. In 1942, the U.S. Government acquired a site in Toccoa, Georgia, where a new type of soldier, the paratrooper, was trained. Some 18,000 soldiers of the 501 st , 506 th , 511 th and 517 th Parachute Infantry Regiment trained at Camp Toccoa during World War II. This is our history of which we are so proud!

This weekend we saw the fruit of the collaborative efforts of or City and County governments, the extensions of those entities, the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the businesses in our town and the residents all working together to promote Toccoa-Stephens County, all that we have to offer and the history that we hold so dear.


This is Community

What a wonderful night to remember, as our community gathered to celebrate the business leaders of Toccoa-Stephens County.

Our 70th Annual Chamber Recognition and Awards Banquet was such a wonderful demonstration of the commitment and dedication of the people in this town that make this place so special and set apart!

The room was full of over two hundred and thirty guests, including our State and local elected officials, business leaders, volunteers, family and citizens of Toccoa-Stephens County. The evening is best described in the words of Christy LeCroy, who chaired the event, “What a community of team players, amazing business people, entrepreneurs, board members, teachers, farmers, volunteers, retirees, bankers, accountants, doctors, cosmetologist, bakers, journalists, pastors, lawyers, rising young adults, accomplished senior adults, leaders, life time achievers, friends and family!! Caring people that show up and tackle whatever task is at hand! We ate, met, awarded, laughed, may have shed a tear or two, prayed, praised, laughed some more and celebrated Toccoa and Stephens County!! What a great place that God has blessed us with to live, work, play and to be a part of!

Moving forward we keep in mind that it’s our privilege at the Chamber to be your advocate and community partner to promote, develop and support commerce & tourism in Toccoa-Stephens County. Just as we have seen in example after example in our community, when we decide to be intentional for the purpose at hand, we put aside personal differences and recognize each other’s strengths then, we can best work better together and accomplish the goal! 

Always remembering that we are stronger together than alone. We have passionate and gifted leaders in Toccoa-Stephens County, with a like-minded goal of bringing new industry, new opportunities and new jobs to our community. Our eyes are fixed on the prize!

Fully utilizing all of our resources is the solution, and you are part of the plan. It can be done…one step at a time, and we need your help! We have opportunities every day to make a difference. We can’t afford to let them pass us by. We all must find our place to serve. Shop here, volunteer here, invest here, start a business here, enjoy life here! 

Our enemy delights when we get caught up in our differences and take our eyes off the goal. Let’s not get side-tracked but instead continue to come together in one accord and be part of the plan to make Toccoa a town to remember! We are moving in the right direction. We are partners in progress!! Opportunities continue to come our way and new doors are opening every day. As we continue to move ahead together let us be sure to appreciate the gift of community that is right here among us. Toccoa-Stephens County is a great place to do business and an even greater place to do life!

An Evening With the Stars

You won’t want to miss an Evening with the Stars of Toccoa-Stephens County!! Our Annual Chamber Recognition Banquet is just around the corner! Plan to gather with us at the Georgia Baptist Conference Center, August 18th at 6:30pm for a night to remember! 

Together we will share a delicious dinner and an evening of community fellowship, reflection of our last year as a Chamber, the direction that we are headed in the coming year and celebration of our local Business Leaders and those who have made a lasting impression in this community. There will be live entertainment and a Silent Auction as well. You will surely want to be there!

 Some of the available items in the Silent Auction will include… 

Attorney Services for a WILL, Men’s Suit, Mountain Cabin Weekend Get-away, One week of Camp, Gas Fireplace Insert, One-year Tuition for Dance, Dental Services, Gas Grill, Gift Baskets, Surprise Money Account, Foursome Round of Golf, Lawn Mower, Home Furnishings, Gift Cards and much more. 

If your business would like to participate, please let us know. It’s certainly not too late to add to the collection of silent auction gifts. Tickets for the Annual Chamber Recognition Banquet are available at the Chamber, so plan to join us August 18th for a wonderful evening with the Stars of Toccoa-Stephens County! 

Plan to attend the premiere of Heritage Falls, the first movie ever filmed at Toccoa Falls and featuring our amazing community! This is the INSP Films movie that was filmed here in Toccoa this past spring. Heritage Falls is a dramatic comedy that follows three generations of headstrong men as they venture into the American wilderness for a rugged weekend ‘retreat.’  Family patriarch Charlie Fitzgerald is the most celebrated high school basketball coach in Georgia history, and is seen as a father figure to many of his players.  However, his adult son Evan does not share local sentiment.  In an effort to mend their relationship, Charlie plans a rustic mountain retreat for he, Evan, and Evan's son, Marky.  What follows is a touching and humorous adventure that showcases the trials and triumphs of three generations of dramatically different family members as they are forced to come to terms with longstanding differences. 

Heritage Falls will premiere at the Schaefer Center the evenings of September 8th and 9th , with a matinee on September 11th . Stay tuned for more details…coming soon! 

It’s our privilege at the Chamber to be your advocate and community partner to promote, develop and support commerce & tourism in Toccoa-Stephens County. Join the team and let’s work together for a better Toccoa. We are Partners in Progress!

Partners in Progress

So as I enjoy the fond memories of our most recent Independence Day celebrations and festivities, I have cause to reflect on just how much we so often take for granted. We live in a country where we are free to own our own business, vacation with our family, choose our path for education, all with the freedom to worship our Almighty God! As the headlines have read for quite some time now, it is more and more evident that others who live in this world are not afforded such freedoms.

In this fast paced society of ours, it seems that we too easily overlook the privileges and the blessings in our lives while we get caught up in the challenges that we face and the circumstances that arise in our day to day life. Why do we allow this to happen? I guess it's just human nature, but something that is worth revisiting on a regular basis to help keep our eyes focused on life’s treasures.

The grass is rarely ever greener on the other side of the fence. But if it is, it is probably due to the hard work that has been invested to gain the results that everyone else envies. Success takes hard work. And generally that hard work is by a village of those willing to make the sacrifice.

We are all faced with the temptation to gripe but at the same time we are also faced with the opportunity to make a difference every day regardless of where we live or what circumstances we encounter.

Let us not take lightly the sacrifices made by those who have gone before us and those who currently serve our great Country today, to protect the very freedoms that we enjoy. Let us be careful to see the opportunities and blessings around us every day. Let us be intentional to take advantage of being part of the solution and to always be looking for ways to make this world better.

Specifically, right here in our very own Toccoa-Stephens County, we should all be looking for new ways to get involved and be part of making things better in our hometown. If you see something that you believe could be improved upon, then get on the team and share your ideas and together make it happen. That’s the way we will continue to move our community to the next level and beyond. Teamwork makes all the difference. We are stronger together than we are individually. Plus, if we are part of the solution then we own the outcome and therefore, will be less likely to sit around and critique. And our friends and family will likely follow our lead. So let’s join forces and keep moving forward. This is our Toccoa and we are partners in progress!

Discover Summer in Toccoa

What is there to do in Toccoa? Perched at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Toccoa is home to so many sights and destinations and offers recreational boating, competitive fishing, watersports, camping, hunting, golfing, and scenic drives. Toccoa Falls stand 186 feet – nineteen feet higher than Niagara. The stream that flows from the base of the falls runs through the lower portion of the college’s 1,100 wooded acre campus. Toccoa Falls is known to be one of the highest free-falling waterfalls east of the Mississippi River and attracts guests from all over the nation. is located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College.

Traveler’s Rest, also known as Jarrett Manor, which is an early 19th Century stage coach inn and plantation house located at the crossroads of King’s Highway and the end of the Unicoi Turnpike, which lead across the mountains to the west. Visitors can tour the house and see the original furnishings, artifacts, and documents. Grounds are open daily, interior open every Saturday and Sunday.

Tugaloo Bend is an 87-acre site that has four trails that meander along the Tugaloo River. It is the site of Estatoe (a Native American - Cherokee village and subsequently the site of a 19th and 20th Century operating farm, which now features a pavilion and picnic tables, as well as wheelchair accessibility.

Tugaloo Bend is the Tugaloo River Corridor Heritage Site and is located on Yonah Dam Road just before Walker Creek Access.

The Currahee Vineyards award-winning winery and tasting room. A local favorite is the Three-Mile White Wine honoring the soldiers who trained by running up and down the Currahee Mountain, which you can try for yourself, 3 miles up… 3 miles down, just like the paratroopers! You can also check out the Currahee Military Museum at the historic train depot and Camp Toccoa, which was a WWII paratrooper training camp.

For the huntsman, there is the Chattahoochee National Forest, where you can hunt small game and birds, fish, bear, turkey, and deer. Even if you are not interested in hunting, the Chattahoochee National Forest is welcome to horseback riders, hikers, bicyclists, and campers. Campers can bring their own RV, tents, or rent a cabin.

Toccoa Raceway is the fastest 1650 feet of dirt in Georgia! The high-banked, oval dirt track is the oldest operating track in Georgia. Races are every Saturday night March through September. Family fun for all ages.

Golfers can also get away and visit The Links at Lake Toccoa, a nine-hole golf course that is newly renovated and features Tifeagle greens, a fully renovated clubhouse, and access to beautiful Lake Toccoa. Treat yourself to Ping’s Grill after your round! Lake Hartwell is renowned for its striped bass fishing, and catering to sportsmen and amateurs alike. The lake and surrounding rivers offer a wide variety of species. Public and private streams, and guided trips are also available. Swimming is also an option, and there are plenty of secluded beaches and islands. So, whether you want to set a hook off the docks, paddle around in a rented kayak, or take to the open water and cruise on the pontoon, Lake Hartwell makes a fantastic destination for a day on the water.

So when you’re asked, what is there to do in Toccoa…here is the answer…Toccoa means more than beautiful! Whether you want to picnic for an afternoon or take off on a trail around the lake on a horse and come back to a campsite, there are gorgeous sights to see and all kinds of adventure to be had!

Discover Toccoa…a beautiful place to live, work and play!

Toccoa Meets Hollywood!

Lights…camera…action! Our very own Toccoa is going to be in the movies! As you may have heard by now, it’s happening! INSP Films, a division of INSP Network out of Charlotte, North Carolina produces films that are inspiring, heartwarming and family-friendly is currently wrapping up the filming of their next feature film here in Stephens County, called “Heritage Falls.”

I have the privilege to be the Stephens County contact for Camera Ready Georgia and have had the distinct pleasure getting to work closely with the team from INSP. We are excited and certainly grateful that they have chosen our community for their next film. This process began in early March…of this year! When I met INSP Producer and Director, and they had a hit list of things that they were looking for before deciding where to shoot their next film. Of course, this was our opportunity to show off our community, and off we went to work our way through the list! It started off with “Would you happen to know of where we could find a remote cabin? And that was just the beginning…

Everywhere we went in this town… I was so very proud. Not only did we have the pieces of the puzzle that they were looking for, everyone was so excited to hear about the possibility of what might be coming our way. In the words of Gary Wheeler, VP of INSP Films,“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to work in Toccoa. The site has a natural beauty that makes it the perfect backdrop for this project. With location playing such a central role in the film, it was critical that we find the right environment. Toccoa and the surrounding area has exceeded our expectations.”

From the first day on location with gorgeous lake views, a breathtaking mountain top, to our quaint shops and restaurants on Main Street, Toccoa Falls, Trembly Bald, beautiful local homes, to caterers, lodging, you name it, we were happy to be able to show off this town. And as always, our local leadership with the City of Toccoa and Stephens County have all been so intentionally accommodating and welcoming. Our merchants and residents have shown such warm customer service. But that’s who we are in Toccoa-Stephens County! The people in our community set us apart…southern hospitality at its best!

Heritage Falls is a dramatic comedy that follows three generations of headstrong men as they venture into the American wilderness for a rugged weekend ‘retreat.’  In an effort to mend relationships, the family patriarch plans a rustic mountain getaway. What follows is a touching and humorous adventure that showcases the trials and triumphs of three generations of dramatically different family members as they are forced to come to terms with longstanding differences.

Of course, the production of Heritage Falls will generate income into our local economy. But in addition to that, we are thrilled that we have this opportunity to showcase our wonderful community and all the resources that are right in our midst. The word is getting out that Toccoa really does mean …more than “beautiful!”

Every Vote Counts

What a privilege we have in this United Stated of America to vote. That right was fought for and we must not take it for granted. Voting is our voice in the process of growing and improving our community, State and Country. With that in mind, The Chamber would like to provide the taxpayers and residents of Stephens County the opportunity to get to know the candidates of our 2016 Republican Primary a little better.

Join us tonight at The Schaefer Center for the first of two Town Hall Meetings. The Government Affairs Committee of the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce and WNEG Radio are sponsoring the events. The format of each meeting will be such that each candidate will take the platform alone and will be given 2 minutes for an opening statement, then each candidate will be asked a series of questions and have two minutes to respond. Each candidate of the same race will be asked the same questions. The candidates will have 15 minutes to field questions and address the audience.

Questions must be submitted to The Chamber ahead of time or put in writing, signed and submitted before the beginning of the Town Hall Meeting to be considered. Please take advantage of this event to ask relevant, issue-based questions so that when it comes time to place your vote, you will be better informed.

Tonight the Town Hall Meeting will be held at The Schaefer Center and begins at 6pm (doors open at 5:30pm) the candidates will be welcomed to the stage from the following races:

  • Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney
    • Honorable George Christian
    • Bruce Russell, Jr.
  • U.S. House, 9th District
    • Congressman Doug Collins, Incumbent
    • Bernard Fontaine
    • Mike Scupin
    • Paul Broun
    • Roger Fitzpatrick
  • State Senate, 50th District
    • Senator John Wilkinson, Incumbent
    • Roy Benifield
  • Stephens County Sheriff
    • Sheriff Randy Shirley, Incumbent
    • Jim Davis

Next Thursday evening, April 21 st again at The Schaefer Center, 6pm (doors open at 5:30pm) we will host the candidates for the following races:

  • Chief Magistrate
    • Donald Tabor, Incumbent
    • Ralph Stowe
  • Stephens County School Board, At Large
    • Tony Crunkleton, Incumbent
    • Len Stovall
  • Stephens County School Board, District 3, Post 2
    • Jim Ledford, Incumbent
    • Mark Smith
  • Stephens County Commission, Post 2
    • Debbie Whitlock, Incumbent
    • Jonesy Haygood
    • Larry Krul
    • Henry Moore
    • Kenny Yearwood

We should all be aware of the challenges that exist in our community. We must see it as an opportunity to involve ourselves in the resolution process and elect the right leaders who will work hard on our behalf and forge through the challenges that we face. When we take advantage of our right to vote, we send the message that our Community, State and Country matter! Be a difference maker and VOTE!!

See you at the polls May 24th; early voting begins May 2nd.