Legislative Update — February 14, 2014

Greetings from the Capitol!

Monday, February 10, 2014, marked the 20th day and half-way point of the 2014 legislative session.  With only 20 days left to pass laws this year, we quickly got to work, voting on legislation and reviewing bills in committee.  Unfortunately, our week was cut short by snow and ice that came with Winter Storm Pax.  Despite the inclement weather, we were able to conduct business on Monday and Tuesday of last week.

House Bill 773 was one of the many bills passed on the floor during the first part of the week. This bill, aimed at improving public safety, would make it unlawful for anyone to unjustly discharge a gun or pistol on or within 50 yards of a public highway or street.  This bill excludes anyone who is firing a gun at indoor/outdoor shooting ranges, firearm safety course facilities sponsored by a government entity, and any business that is licensed as a firearm dealer. Also excluded is anyone who is legally hunting within 50 yards of a public highway or street. We hope that this measure will keep Georgia drivers and pedestrians safe while traveling on our state roadways.

Another measure taken up this week, HB 877, modernizes the code for golf carts on public paths and roadways, making Georgia a model for all states.  HB 877 sets rules of the road for those cities that have not already established their own golf cart laws.  It also maintains local power for those cities, such as Peachtree City, which already have well-established traffic laws for these vehicles. Georgia hosts the two leading manufacturers for golf carts, producing a total of 90% of golf carts in the world, and I’m proud that HB 877 makes our state an example for other states to follow in their use of motorized carts and personal transportation vehicles.

Additionally, our full Appropriations Committee met on Tuesday, and passed the Fiscal Year 15 (FY15) budget out of the Committee. This budget runs from July 1, 2014 until June 30, 2015. Now, we will wait for the FY15 budget, House Bill 744, to be placed on the Rules calendar where it will then be voted on in the House Chamber.

Although the snow and ice disrupted legislative business for the second half of the week, I was proud to witness Georgia’s response to Winter Storm Pax.  Immediately after the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for Georgia, Governor Deal put emergency response agencies on alert.  Department of Transportation crews pre-treated roads well in advance of the snow, and school districts closed schools so that children would be kept off of the icy roads.  As the storm drew closer, Governor Deal declared a state of emergency for affected counties and released government employees before the temperatures dropped below freezing.  I commend Governor Deal, state agency heads, and all emergency response employees for taking the appropriate steps for preparedness through these challenging weather conditions.

Now that the weather has improved, we will get back to work under the Gold Dome.  We recently passed an adjournment resolution, which calls for the 2014 legislative session to conclude on March 20.  We would love to hear your input on any bills that come before the House.  If you reside within District 19, and have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Lauren Talley in State Representative Paulette Rakestraw’s Office, 404-656-0177.

Best regards,

Rep. Paulette Rakestraw


Legislative Update — February 7, 2014

Greetings from the Capitol!

Last week, Winter Storm Leon brought snow and ice to many parts of our great state.  Leon’s impact on the metro Atlanta area was particularly harsh.  Schools, government, and private businesses, who originally believed the bulk of the storm would hit further South, all released their students and employees onto the highways on Tuesday when the snow began to fall.  The combination of icy roads and high volumes of traffic produced gridlock that forced many motorists to be stuck in hours-long traffic jams.  The Georgia National Guard, Georgia Department of Transportation, and state troopers quickly got to work to help stranded motorists find shelter and clear the roads of ice, snow and abandoned vehicles.  We were pleased to see that many Georgians reached out to those in need with a true spirit of Southern hospitality.  Given the conditions, the House postponed all legislative business on Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30.  This action helped ensure the safety of all Members and staff of the Georgia General Assembly, and also kept the roads clear of unnecessary traffic, so that GDOT could get our roads back up and running.

Despite Mother Nature’s disruption, we were able return to the House on Friday, January 31.  One of our first orders of business was the passage of House Bill 176, the “Mobile Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act,” which could result in better cell phone service for Georgians.  This legislation would allow previously approved wireless support structures and wireless facilities to be modified without additional zoning or land use review beyond what is typically required by the local governing authority that issues electrical permits. House Bill 176 would streamline the permitting process for companies investing in wireless infrastructure, which would ultimately allow wireless telecommunication companies to increase the cellular bandwidth for Georgians.  Increased cellular bandwidth is not only crucial for business and recreational communication, but it is also an essential factor in public safety and emergency response.  For example, when thousands of motorists were stuck on the roads last week, many were unable to call their families and friends because phone lines were jammed.  Increased bandwidth would have allowed those motorists to more quickly communicate, so they could make those important phone calls.  HB 176 will now go to the Senate for consideration.

Also passed on Friday was House Bill 715, which clarifies the acreage of land permitted for development on Jekyll Island.  This bill states that the Jekyll Island Authority cannot convert more than 1,675 acres of the total land area of the island into developed land.  Additionally, HB 715 designates 12 acres for the expansion of an existing campground, 46 acres for public health, safety or recreation, and 20 acres for unrestricted use, which could be used for future commercial development.  Setting these standards for development will ensure that Jekyll Island remains a place of rest, relaxation and recreation for the thousands of Georgians who vacation there each year.

Senate Bill 297 was another piece of legislation that passed the House on Friday.  This bill made a technical change to an elections bill that passed in 2013.  It gives candidates for municipal or county office the option to waive campaign finance disclosure requirements if that candidate intends to accept or expend less than $2,500 on their campaign.  This bill will also cut unnecessary government regulations, so that citizens can more easily run for local office in their county or city.

In addition to passing these pieces of legislation this week, we also took time to recognize some of our brave Georgians in uniform.  On Monday, January 27, we celebrated Georgia National Guard Day in the House.  Dozens of airmen and soldiers visited the State Capitol, and we recognized their accomplishments on the House floor with House Resolution 1131.  We also had the great privilege to Skype with troops who are currently deployed in Afghanistan.  It was an honor to show our appreciation to these incredible heroes.  We are so grateful for their selfless actions both abroad and at home.

As the 2014 legislative session moves into its fourth week, we will be discussing and voting on more pieces of legislation.  We would love to hear your input on any bills that come before the House.  If you reside within District 19, and have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Lauren Talley in State Representative Paulette Rakestraw’s Office, 404-656-0177.

Best regards,
Rep. Paulette Rakestraw

Representative Rakestraw Leads Georgia Sponsorship of the Compact for a Balanced Budget

State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) this week introduced House Bill 794, a bill that would enable Georgia to join with other states, including Arizona, Arkansas, and Alaska, in the Compact for a Balanced Budget. The Compact is an agreement among the participating states to invoke Article V of the U.S. Constitution to advance a powerful balanced budget amendment. Rep. Rakestraw is working closely with Rep. Andrew Welch (R-HD110), the Goldwater Institute, and Georgia legislative colleagues including Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-HD54), Rep. Josh Clark (R-HD98), Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-HD27), Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-HD115), and many others.

The Compact for a Balanced Budget is an innovative approach. It uses a binding agreement among the states to advance and ratify constitutional amendments, such as a balanced budget amendment, with the entire Article V convention process — including delegate appointments and convention rules — fully specified and safeguarded. Additional compacts, advancing many of the Liberty Amendments and other reform ideas that have supermajority support among the American people, will follow.

Rep. Rakestraw said, “This will be a breakthrough for the American people, as finally we will have the means to improve the financial health of our nation and stop the runaway spending in Washington. This forces Washington to live under a balanced budget like 49 of the 50 states do and like everyone else in American does.  Moreover, it limits Washington’s ability to raise the debt ceiling. This puts a structure in place that will incent lawmakers to cut spending first and raise taxes last to balance the budget, unless Washington chooses to move us to fairer, flatter tax model.”

She added, “I’d like to thank my co-sponsors of this important bill, especially Andy Welch, who has done great work in preparing this bill to go before the Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee. “

House Bill 794 now awaits a hearing and a vote by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 4, 2014, in Room 132 at the Capitol. Georgia could play a historic role in bringing fiscal reform to Washington because the first state to adopt the Compact will have the right to designate the convention Chair.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County.  She was elected to the House of Representatives as the Vice Chair for the Science and Technology committee and serves on the Special Committee for Small Business and Job Creation, Special Rules, Juvenile Justice, and Economic Development Committees. Follow Rep. Rakestraw’s legislative activities here.


Legislative Update — January 31, 2014

Greetings from the Georgia House of Representatives!

We began the second session of the 152nd General Assembly on Monday, January 13, 2014.  With a goal to get back home to our constituents by April, we hit the ground running.

On Wednesday, January 15, Governor Nathan Deal jump-started the session by revealing his goals for the year in the State of the State Address.

In his address, Gov. Deal detailed the exceptional progress Georgia’s economy has made since the Great Recession.  The state’s unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2009, and 217,000 jobs have been created in the past three years.  Lower unemployment means more Georgians are back at work, and state revenues are returning to pre-recession levels. Gov. Deal presented his ideas on how to best allocate state revenues in his amended budget for the Fiscal Year 2014 (AFY 2014), the mid-year spending plan, which helps fund the final few months of the current fiscal year, and full budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015), the state’s budget from July 1 to June 30. He projects that revenues for AFY2014 and FY2015 will total $20.2 billion and $20.8 billion respectively.  Both figures are a slight increase from the $20 billion that was originally forecast for FY2014 last session.

Georgia’s education system ranked at the top of Governor Deal’s priority list in his address.  Among his goals for education was an increase in internet access at schools across the state, expanded online learning programs, and the creation of a new Zell Miller Hope Grant for technical college students who maintain a 3.5 GPA.  The Governor then delivered his budget proposal, detailing the funding for these, and other, state projects.

In his budget summary, Gov. Deal recommended that Georgia’s education system obtain the largest budgetary increase in the past seven years.  With a partnership between school systems, such funds have the potential to restore instructional days that were cut during the economic downturn and provide teachers with a much-needed and long-awaited pay raise.

Also included in the Governor’s budget proposal is funding to increase caseworkers for the Division of Family and Children Services, so that reports of child abuse and neglect obtain the attention they deserve.  Other objectives for the state include funding to deepen the Savannah port and the continuation of a three year plan for criminal justice reforms, which could help reduce recidivism and crime in Georgia.  Finally, the Governor’s budget proposals also increased funding for the juvenile justice system with the intent to improve the retention rates of juvenile corrections officers.

In addition to the State of the State address, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees began the process of reviewing the Governor’s budget recommendations and turning them into the actual legislation that will ultimately guide all state spending.  The process started on Wednesday, January 16th with a joint Appropriations Committee meeting.  Governor Deal led the presentations by detailing the major highlights of his budget proposals.  The Governor was then followed by the leaders of our state agencies, each of whom explained their agency’s budget and answered questions from House and Senate members.

Another milestone for the week was the House and Senate’s final passage of House Bill 310.  This legislation moves state and partisan county primary elections from July to May 20, so that the state elections will coincide with the federally mandated elections that were recently moved to May. If this fix had not been made, as voters we would have to vote at separate times to decide who we were going to send to Washington and who we were going to send to Atlanta.  The change in dates also provides troops overseas with more time to vote via absentee ballot.  For information about election dates and your voter registration status, visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.ga.gov.

Finally, we also took some time this week to remember two great colleagues who passed away last year: Representatives Calvin Hill and Quincy Murphy.  Rep. Hill, from Canton, and Rep. Murphy, from Augusta, both served in the House for more than 10 years.  Their families visited the Chamber on Tuesday, January 14, to hear the readings of House Resolutions 1050 and 1051, which recognized the lives and accomplishments of the two representatives.  Reps. Hill and Murphy will be greatly missed, but their legacies will live on through their contributions to the state of Georgia.

Now that session has begun, I want you to know that I will be working hard every day we are in session in Atlanta.  I hope you will take the opportunity to review updates like this one to keep you informed about legislative matters.  You can also stay in touch by visiting our website at www.house.ga.gov to watch the House in action, view live and archived committee meetings, and review legislation that we are considering.  I also hope to hear from you on your ideas and opinions regarding the issues facing our great state.  Please call my office at the State Capitol in Atlanta and let me know what I can do for you.  The phone number is 404-656-0177. Thank you for your time.

Paulding Legislators Speak to Chamber Chairman’s Club

Paulding County, GA – The Paulding County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Chairman’s Club breakfast this week that included a panel discussion with the Paulding Legislative Delegation.  The panel consisted of Representative Howard Maxwell (R-HD17), Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), Representative Micah Gravley (R-HD67), Senator Bill Heath (R-SD31), and Senator Mike Dugan (R-SD30).

L-R:  State Senator Bill Heath (R-SD31), State Representative Micah Gravley (R-HD67), State Senator Mike Dugan (R-SD30), State Representative Paulette Rakestraw Braddock (R-HD19), State Representative Howard Maxwell, (R-HD17), Ford Thigpen, President, Westside Bank.

State Senator Bill Heath (R-SD31), State Representative Micah Gravley (R-HD67), State Senator Mike Dugan (R-SD30), State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), State Representative Howard Maxwell, (R-HD17), Ford Thigpen, President, Westside Bank.

The discussion centered around expectations for significant legislation for the upcoming session, and gave each member of the delegation an opportunity to discuss with the members of the Chairman’s Club the pieces of legislation they plan to carry in the next session.

Rep. Howard Maxwell, chair of the Paulding delegation, said, “We expect an aggressive agenda this session.  We will move through it very quickly.  I have a couple of retirement bills I will be carrying and the Regulated Industries Committee that I chair will have several bills come before it, but I think there is an appetite to not pass a lot of legislation this session.”

Rep. Paulette Rakestraw discussed a couple of bills she is carrying.  One will eliminate the tier tax system in Georgia, to help the state be more economically competitive.  She is also sponsoring a compact in Georgia to call for an Article V Convention that will force Washington to operate under a balanced budget and lessen federal ability to raise the debt ceiling.  According to Rep. Rakestraw, this is a big initiative because several states are banding together to pass this compact so it can be expedited and happen quickly — in a year or two rather than over 20-30 years.  Rep. Rakestraw also discussed H.B. 707 that she is co-sponsoring to nullify the implementation of Obamacare in Georgia.

Rep. Micah Gravley is carrying a 911 bill that will prohibit releasing to the media the audio portion of 911 calls when there is a victim of rape or aggravated battery. This will prevent media use of these calls to sensationalize a tragedy.  Rep. Gravley said, “This needs to be a session of common sense.  We need to get in and address issues that matter to the tax-paying citizens of Georgia.”

Senator Mike Dugan discussed his “Merry Christmas” bill, S.B. 283.  This bill clarifies the law to state that it is okay for a school system to use a seasonal holiday greeting like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukah.”  Senator Dugan also has S.R. 734, a constitutional amendment that would place term limits on Georgia senators.

Ford Thigpen, the Chairman of the Government Affairs committee and the President of Westside Bank, moderated the panel discussion.

Republican Women Honor Women in Politics

Paulding County, GA – The Paulding County Republican Women hosted a luncheon to honor State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) and the wives of other Paulding Legislators for their efforts in the political arena.  The luncheon was held at The Olive Tree Restaurant in downtown Hiram and was an opportunity for the Republican women in Paulding to come together and share their concerns with Representative Rakestraw and with the wives of the state and federal elected officials.

The guest speaker for the event fell suddenly ill and was replaced at the last minute by Ms. Virginia Galloway, the outgoing State Director for Americans For Prosperity and the incoming State Director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a political organization founded by Ralph Reed.  Ms. Galloway was ready to step in and speak at the list minute, briefly discussing her upcoming career change and encouraging all attendees to read the book, The Devil Inside the Beltway, by Michael Daugherty.


Libby Kingston, wife of U.S. Representative Jack Kingston (R-1st Congressional District), Susan Heath, wife of Senator Bill Heath (R-SD31), Nancy Hollingshed, outgoing President of the Paulding Republican Women, Marsha Evans, Asst. Treasurer of the Paulding Republican Women, and Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19).

Susan Heath, the wife of Senator Bill Heath (R-SD31), attended and was honored for supporting her husband.  Susan is actively involved in the political arena with Senator Heath, working tirelessly with him on campaigns and during legislative session.  Susan frequently can be seen at the Capitol during the legislative session, helping the senator with administrative duties and supporting him at legislative functions.  Libby Kingston, the wife of U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston (R-1st Congressional District) was also in attendance with her mother-in-law, Anne Kingston.

Both Heather Gravley, wife of Representative Micah Gravley (R-HD67), and Missy Dugan, wife of Senator Mike Dugan (R-SD30), were invited to the event to be honored for their support of their husbands, but were unable to attend.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County.  She was elected to the House of Representatives as the Vice Chair for the Science and Technology committee and serves on the Special Committee for Small Business and Job Creation, Special Rules, Juvenile Justice, and Economic Development Committees.

Representative Rakestraw Reviews Technology in Georgia

Paulding County, GA – Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) spent the day with the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), reviewing the state’s technology infrastructure and information and plans for efficiency and security of public data housed in Georgia.  Rep. Rakestraw was appointed by Speaker David Ralston to the Georgia Technology Authority Oversight Committee last year to review the state’s infrastructure and technology systems.

Calvin Rhodes, chief information officer for Georgia, led the meeting, held at the GTA offices.  Joe Webb, deputy executive director of the GTA, Steve Nichols, chief technology officer, Tom Fruman, senior enterprise governance and planning officer, and Jeff McCord, director of intergovernmental relations, were there to present information to Rep. Rakestraw and to answer questions.

Throughout the state budget cuts, Georgia has centralized its technology infrastructure, information systems, data management, security, and telephony systems to streamline government services and make them more robust and cost effective.  The GTA provided Rep. Rakestraw  with a status report on the implementation timeline, identifying which agencies have been centralized already and the measurable results of that effort in terms of efficiencies gained.

The Georgia Enterprise Technology Services (GETS) division has worked to modernize the state’s information technology (IT) infrastructure to allow better management of IT resources, so that government can meet its service obligations to Georgia’s citizens.  It has a predictable spend, better security, and a robust disaster recovery system for emergencies.  A centralized effort has also enabled GETS to replace an aging IT infrastructure more cost effectively than would have been possible with the compartmentalized, multi-departmental approach that previously existed.

Jeff McCord, GTA Director of Intergovernmental Relations, Calvin Rhodes, GTA Chief Information Officer, State Representative Paulette Rakestraw  (R-HD19), Steve Nichols, GTA Chief Technology Officer, Joe Webb, GTA Deputy Executive Director, and Tom Fruman, GTA Senior

The Georgia Technology Authority is a state authority that is self-funded through data sales and administrative fees and has public/private partnerships with outside companies to provide centralized information systems efficiently and cost effectively throughout the state. The GTA manages the state’s central IT infrastructure, data center, security, network, and telecommunication services. The vision statement of the GTA is, “To provide exemplary customer service; to enable business solutions for Georgia’s state government; to lead change for Georgia’s state government.”

Rep. Rakestraw commented, “The centralization of our State’s IT infrastructure was a huge undertaking, but it has helped our state be more efficient, cost effective, and secure —things I believe every tax-paying citizen seeks from their government.  I am honored to serve on this oversight committee, looking at how our state can be more efficient in the technology realm.”

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County.  She was elected to the House of Representatives as the Vice Chair for the Science and Technology committee and serves on the Special Committee for Small Business and Job Creation, Special Rules, Juvenile Justice, and Economic Development Committees.

Paulding Chamber Hosts Legislative Listening Day

Paulding Legislative Delegation

Paulding Legislative Delegation, L-R:
State Senator Bill Heath (R-SD31), State Representative Micah Gravley (R-HD67), State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), Senator Mike Dugan (R-SD30), State Representative Kimberley Alexander (D-HD66), State Representative Howard Maxwell, (R-HD17).

Paulding County, GA – The Paulding County Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its annual “Legislative Listening Day,” in which all State Legislators representing any part of Paulding County came to listen to local city, county, and government officials, local businesses, and community stakeholders.  The focus was on issues facing the county and areas in which the legislative delegation could help Paulding County by having a strong, unified voice in the State Capitol.

Six members comprise the Paulding legislative delegation: State Senator Bill Heath (R-SD31), State Senator Mike Dugan (R-SD30), State Representative Howard Maxwell (R-HD17), State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), State Representative Micah Gravley (R-HD67) and State Representative Kim Alexander (D-HD66).

In addition to the government officials and businesses, the delegation heard from the leadership teams of Kennesaw State University, Georgia Highlands College, and Chattahoochee Technical College regarding plans for future expansion of their higher learning facilities in the county.

The Government Affairs committee of the Chamber of Commerce spoke to the delegation about the five biggest issues facing Paulding County and how they can help plan a better future for the county in the following areas: environmental & water, transportation, education, economic development, and healthcare.

The Paulding County Chamber holds this legislative listening day annually to help promote a strong business climate for Chamber members and to strengthen job opportunities for the citizens of the county.  It is a collaborative effort among the business community, the Chamber, and city, county, and state officials.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County.  She was elected to the House of Representatives as the Vice Chair for the Science and Technology committee and serves on the Special Committee for Small Business and Job Creation, Special Rules, Juvenile Justice, and Economic Development Committees.

Paulding Legislative Delegation with members of the Chamber Government Affairs Committee.
Back row, L-R: State Senator Bill Heath (R-SD31), State Representative Micah Gravley (R-HD67), Don Barbour of AT&T, State Representative Howard Maxwell, (R-HD17), Ford Thigpen of Westside Bank, Drew Ferguson (Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Tom Graves), Phillip Godfrey of Georgia Power.
Front row, L-R: Senator Mike Dugan (R-SD30), Scott Greene, (Paulding DOT Director), State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), State Representative Kimberley Alexander (D-HD66), Carolyn Wright (Chamber President).


Representative Paulette Rakestraw Visits Dugan Elementary with GABIE

Paulding County, GA – Representative Paulette Rakestraw visited Dugan Elementary School with GABIE, the Great American Bus of Interactive Education, this week.  GABIE was created by Ms. Lisa Williams, a constituent of Rep. Rakestraw.  The mobile, interactive, educational bus was created to teach school children about agriculture in Georgia.

Six third-grade classrooms at Dugan Elementary learned about Georgia’s crops and agriculture by touring the GABIE bus.  Students learned to grind wheat into flour and each took home a sample bag of flour and a cookie recipe to try.  Students in each classroom also planted lettuce or cucumbers; they can watch these plants grow and then use them to make a healthy salad or side dish for their families.

The third-grade classrooms have been learning about government and Representative Rakestraw spoke to the students about her role in government.  Students answered questions about their studies and asked Rep. Rakestraw about what she does and tied it all back to the lessons they’ve learned about how government operates.

Ms. Heather Wilson’s third-grade class sang a song about how government operates to Rep. Rakestraw.  Teachers say this helps the students retain information about the three branches of government and what they do.

GABIE has recently filmed a pilot for a television cooking-contest show in which teachers can create a recipe using a Georgia crop and submit it to the show. The winner of the recipe contest may then bring 30 students to film the television show with GABIE.   Long-term plans are to expand and launch programs in other states to highlight the state’s products and teach students about trading.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County.  She was elected to the House of Representatives as the Vice Chair for the Science and Technology committee and serves on the Special Committee for Small Business and Job Creation, Special Rules, Juvenile Justice, and Economic Development Committees.


Leadership Paulding Class 22 Brings Flowers to Paulding

Paulding County, GA – The Leadership Paulding Class 22 (the twenty-second in the series of classes created to foster effective leadership practices in the county) recently took on a class project to beautify Paulding County. The project, suggested by class member Sam Elrod of Elrod Nursery and titled, “Paulding is Blooming,” involved planting flowers on the medians in the main roads going into Paulding County. Elrod headed up the project and it has been heralded throughout the county as a smashing success.

State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) commented on the how well the project has been received.  “Everywhere I go, people are talking about how beautiful the flowers are,” she said. “When I tell them it was a project from my Leadership Paulding class, they clearly appreciate our efforts. I commend Sam Elrod because he has overcome adversity to make this project a success. He had to re-plant flowers a couple of times due to the rain and the medians being inadvertently mowed.  And he funded a lot of the project himself,” said Rep. Rakestraw.  “Sam has exhibited good, old-fashioned American ingenuity and devotion to hard work.” The class undertook and planned the initiative and facilitated fundraising to support the effort.  The county, in turn, used prison labor to plant the flowers.


The members of the Leadership Paulding class are as follows:


Brian Acker Paulding County Board of Commissioners
Paula Bechtler Kennesaw State University
Paulette Rakestraw GA State Representative Paulette Rakestraw
Erica Breazele Olympus Media Inc
Sam Elrod Edrod Garden Center
Jamie Gilbert Paulding Economic Development
Natalie Higgins Hardy Dealerships
Mark Jackson Croft & Associates
Teresa Janiga Visiting Angels
Cathy Ledbetter Georgia Highland College
Clark Maggart Paulding County Board of Edcuation
Kara Marinko Aspen Village at Lost Mountain
Jim McMichen Visiting Angels
Tonya McNabb Comfort Keepers
Anthony Murray Oasis Family Center
Carol O’Connell Wellstar Paulding Nursing Center
Doug Osteen Ace Hardware of Dallas
Catherine Owens United Way
Jody Palmer City of Hiram
John Rakestraw Raker Construction
Michael Rickman Flad Architects
Carmen Rollins Main Street Guns, Gold & Pawn
Amy Turner US Senator Johnny Isakson



Paulding residents who would like to see the “Paulding is Blooming” project continue to bloom can donate at www.pauldingisblooming.com or can support the cause by purchasing a “Paulding Is Blooming” t-shirt from Teresa Janiga at Teresa@westcobbangels.com or 770-222-7388 x102.


Link to Paulding is blooming website:  http://www.pauldingisblooming.com