More Than Just "The Year of the Virus"

Dealing with a pandemic has been every city's top priority for the last several months. But, in the City of Alpharetta, we have not let current challenges derail our efforts to prepare for the future. And, since many of Alpharetta's most recent accomplishments may have been overshadowed by other headlines, we would like to highlight them here.

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Working Together for the Health and Safety of the Roswell Community

To say that the last five months have been a challenge for all of us would be an understatement. Though these are unprecedented times for our community, state, and country, I want you to know the health and safety of our residents is and always will be my top priority. The City of Roswell is working to do its part in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Beginning in mid-March, I formed a COVID-19 internal task force. Those serving on the task force include Fire Chief Ricky Burnett, Police Chief Jim Conroy, City Administrator Gary Palmer, Fire Battalion Chief Pabel Troche, City Attorney David Davidson, Community Relations Manager Julie Brechbill, and Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Leatherman.

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Milton's 2020 Gains

Little about 2020 has been easy. We have missed out on parties, date nights, games, and concerts. Some of us have even missed milestones like typical graduations, funerals, and weddings that bring people together. In Milton, we’ve canceled meetings and special events, like the Community Egg Hunt and July 3rd festivities, which residents look forward to annually. We’ve coped with unprecedented health worries, trying to keep those closest to us physically and mentally well in the age of COVID-19. On top of all that, we’ve seen our nation rocked with additional turmoil and challenges.

Still, I’d contend that – at least here in Milton – we’ve gained a lot this year, too.

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Resilient Alpharetta

The City of Alpharetta started 2020 with every expectation of it being a banner year. Then, on a Monday in early March, the Fulton County School System discovered one of its substitute teachers had been diagnosed with COVID-19. That was the day the coronavirus changed how the year 2020 would go down in history.

Schools shut down. Headlines screamed that millions of Americans could die if drastic measures were not taken immediately. Experts said we had to “flatten the curve,” or our entire health care system would be overwhelmed.

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Embracing A New Normal

After a spring that, I’m pretty sure, lasted at least 12 years, summer is here. Finally. However, this summer in Milton won’t be like the 2019 version or any version before it. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things — including our perspective, and that’s going to stick for a while.

In City government, we’re used to dealing with emergencies. Still, when you have a winter storm, the snow and ice eventually melt, and in Georgia, it’s usually sooner rather than later. But this pandemic has lingered with constant new developments that have turned our world upside down.

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Alpharetta's Daily Visitors

By almost any standard, Alpharetta is a remarkable community. While there are many things that make our city exceptional, one of the biggest things that most residents aren’t aware of is the extraordinary size of our daytime population.

Approximately 64,000 residents call Alpharetta home, but on an average weekday, our city attracts tens of thousands of people who work at local businesses and/or patronize our stores and restaurants. That daily influx brings our total number of people to over 120,000, creating one of the largest daytime population increases in Georgia. This great distinction presents unique blessings and challenges.

One of those blessings is that residents can enjoy an amazing selection of restaurants, entertainment venues, and other amenities that are often only available in much larger cities. Without the abundance of daily visitors, Alpharetta could never sustain Avalon or the great shopping and dining scene downtown, the entire North Point corridor, Ameris Bank Amphitheater, or any of the other great dining and entertainment options we enjoy.

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Highlights From Roswell’s State of the City Address

Two years ago, when I became mayor, an overall citywide strategic plan didn’t exist. The City of Roswell is currently creating a plan that embraces a common vision and goals for the future. Last year, we began collecting input from residents and businesses about what they wanted for Roswell’s future. More than 2,000 residents provided feedback, which will help us develop a strategic plan that will give marching orders to Roswell’s elected officials.

I believe we need to expand our tax base in order to keep taxes down. So, when I saw an opportunity to increase movie filming in Roswell, I created the Mayor’s Movie Task Force. Partnered with the Roswell Visitors Center and the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, this task force makes film production easier in Roswell.

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Preserving Milton's Heritage and Improving Quality of Life

The beginning of the year is an especially busy time for many of us. If you couldn’t attend the State of the City in January, you missed quite an event. We discussed the future of Milton in 2020 and beyond.

Some of the highlights included the new Public Safety Complex on Highway 9, which will house the Milton Police Department, Municipal Court, and the new Fire Station 44; the recently purchased sports fields on Cox Road that will offer additional recreational opportunities; the growth of downtown Milton; and the continued enhancements to roads, which will improve your daily travels.

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Alpharetta's Exciting Year Ahead

For the City of Alpharetta, 2019 was another extraordinary year. As our nation’s economy grows, the State of Georgia continues to provide an outstanding business climate, and unemployment levels remain at historic lows. Alpharetta has also grown and evolved in ways we could have only imagined just a few years ago.

Downtown Alpharetta offers an exciting place for our community to come together. An area many people once considered a ghost town in the evening has become a place filled with people, music, and laughter. Nearly every week, new restaurants and shops open, and now that the second parking deck has been completed on the west side of downtown, there is plenty of room for people who want to join in the fun.

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‘Tis the Season for Festive Events in Roswell

One of the best things about December is all the holiday events we celebrate in Roswell with our residents. There is so much to see and do during this final month of 2019.I hope you will join me for one of my favorite events of the year, Roswell’s annual Holiday Celebration on the Square, December 7 at 5:00pm. This free family event includes carolers from local schools, the lighting of Town Square, and hot chocolate. During the event, I will read "‘Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the children. We will also have a special guest from the North Pole, and kids can have their picture taken with him!

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Milton’s Constant and Strategic Progress

It is hard to believe that Milton was incorporated only 13 years ago. In just over a decade, we’ve established our community as one of the best places to live in Georgia, and it’s an honor to help lead the growth and direction of our beautiful and unique city. We’re working to preserve our rural heritage while updating the parts of Milton that will lead to our best future.As someone who grew up just a few miles from Milton and is now a father raising three active children here, one of the things I’m most excited about is the future of our parks and trails program. The beautiful design and beginning implementations of Mayfield Park; the passive park space created jointly with Alpharetta; and the continued improvements at the former Milton Country Club with the first phase of trail placements, new restrooms and resurfacing of tennis courts are incredible additions to our community. And, the recently approved purchase of an existing sports complex at the corner of Arnold Mill Road and Cox Road will greatly reduce our need to “pay to play” on athletic fields that do not belong to our city.

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Thankful for Milton’s Progress

During my younger years, I can remember adults telling me, “The days go by slowly, but the years fly by.” I’m not sure where this saying originated, but it is very true for me this year. It seems like yesterday I was in City Hall for January’s annual State of the City event, talking about our 2018 accomplishments and providing a sneak peek of what we planned for 2019.Now, the holidays are around the corner, and 2019 will soon be in the rearview mirror. Like most Americans, I’m a bit more introspective during this time of year — thankful for all my family’s blessings and looking forward to the promise of a new year.

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North Fulton Cities Pick Up the Pace in Adaptive Recreation

As the mayor of Alpharetta, I am incredibly proud of the collaborative environment emerging between the north Fulton cities, as well as the strong partnerships that are developing and growing with local organizations.One year ago, leaders from the north Fulton cities of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell, and local organizations including the Ed Isakson YMCA and Fulton County School District came together to discuss the growing recreational needs of families and individuals with special needs.

This meeting evolved into the creation of a task force, which was established to find solutions for special needs populations and provide an enriched quality of life for all residents. It is important for us, as a community, to offer children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities places and programs where they can have fun and feel safe and comfortable participating in adaptive recreation.

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Fall in Love With Roswell's Autumn Activities

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. After our hot Georgia summers, the cooler breezes and crisp evenings are refreshing. Our tree canopy turns red and gold, perfect for taking beautiful photos and spending some time outdoors on Roswell’s magnificent trail system or kayaking down the Chattahoochee. This season is both relaxing and rejuvenating. For me, fall is the time of year to be thankful for all we have and to be surrounded by friends and loved ones.The autumn months begin Roswell’s jam-packed holiday event season. With so much to do in Roswell around the holidays, it is sometimes a challenge for folks to stay on top of all the community events. Traditionally, Roswell kicks off fall with the Annual Frances McGahee Youth Day Parade. This year’s 69th annual parade will be held October 12. The route from Roswell’s First Baptist Church to Roswell Area Park is lined with children, arms outstretched, waiting for those on the passing floats to throw them candy for their Halloween baskets! This year’s theme is “Be Someone’s Hero.”

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Sticking to Our Roots: Agriculture in Milton

Founded in 1928, the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Organization is a 501(c)(3) youth organization that promotes and supports agriculture education.“Without agriculture, we would have nothing,” says Sarah Nerswick, who is an agriculture education teacher at Cambridge High School. Nerswick launched the Cambridge Agriscience and Veterinary Education (CAVE) program in 2015 in tandem with Cambridge’s inaugural FFA chapter. In its short history, the program has won numerous national competitions. “We know the lessons our students learn from agricultural studies will stay with them forever,” says Nerswick.

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Milton Police Explorers Program

Not only was Milton named the best city in Georgia to live in earlier this year, but thanks to the diligent efforts of the Milton Police Department, we’re consistently ranked the second safest city in Georgia. Of course, the public helps contribute to community safety by being vigilant and always adhering to “see something, say something.”Building strong relationships between City staff and the community is something that is very important to me. Each department has its own unique way of doing that, and one of the ways our Milton Police Department does it is through our Milton Police Explorers program, which began in February 2015. Law enforcement exploring offers a hands-on program to young men and women who have completed sixth grade through age 20 and who may be interested in a possible career in law enforcement or the criminal justice field.

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The "Burning Hams" Crossroads

Travelers in the mid-1800s passed through a little community now known as Birmingham Crossroads and remarked that they were often greeted by the aroma of meat cooking in nearby log homes. They described the scent as “burning hams.” According to an article written by a roving reporter in 1960, that is how many old-timers believe the Birmingham area of Milton got its name.In the article, Wade McCurry denied that the area was named for Birmingham, Alabama, or Birmingham, England. The small farming settlement got its name and post office soon after the Civil War. The community was a popular stopping place for farmers from the mountain regions on their way to sell their produce in Atlanta. McCurry described pitched tents that looked like a campsite.

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Alpharetta’s Current Success and Bright Future

Alpharetta is a special place, and this fact has never been more obvious than over the last 12 months. Our community offers a unique blend of the perfect environment for building successful businesses along with a friendly, hospitable atmosphere to live and raise a family. Such a combination inspires people from all over the world to call Alpharetta home. As great as this city is now, the future is even brighter.The much-anticipated City Center project, approved by voters in 2011, finally opened last year. The restaurants, shops, and special events now accessible in our downtown attract countless families, neighbors, and shoppers to share in the exceptional sense of community Alpharetta has to offer. With new shops and restaurants opening all over downtown every week, more is still to come. Thankfully, the new west side parking deck on Milton Avenue will soon provide additional parking spaces for those who visit downtown every day.

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Milton Parks & Rec

Summer officially arrives later this month, but for most north Fulton families, the fun has already begun! This year, my wife Dawn and I are officially empty-nesters for the first time, but we fondly recall past summers making memories with our three children.Summertime is unique for every family and is not one size fits all. For many families, the months of June and July mean lazy days lounging and playing outside, weekends at the lake, or beach weeks. For others, this time of year is an opportunity to get involved in a variety of art, sports, or academic camps during the school break.

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Spring Into Roswell for These Fun Events

Spring is my favorite time of year in Roswell. Flowers are blooming, trees are getting their leaves, the weather is warming up, and the City of Roswell’s event season is kicking off. Our great city offers so much to do during the spring and summer months. We pack our warm-weather months with festivals, events, and, of course, Alive in Roswell, our signature event each month. There’s something for everyone!If you see me at one of our events or concerts, please don’t hesitate to come up and say hello. I love talking to our residents and visitors. Some of the events you may enjoy this spring and summer include:

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