Category Archives: Gordon

Bridgework Benefits Drivers and State’s Biggest Bridge Roost for Bats

CALHOUN – A busy northwest Georgia bridge and the massive colony of bats that call it home are both better off thanks to recent work that preserved the structure and its wildlife.

The Interstate 75 bridge near Calhoun averages 72,000 vehicles a day. Yet it also doubles as the largest known bridge-roost for bats in the state, according to Katrina Morris, a senior wildlife biologist who leads bat research for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

“Thousands of big brown and Brazilian free-tailed bats are under the bridge year-round,” using it for shelter, hibernation and raising their young, Morris said.

The combo of interstate infrastructure and protected mammals posed a challenge for the Georgia Department of Transportation: How to complete required maintenance – in this case, replacing expansion joints and preserving the six-lane deck with a protective coating – while sparing the roost and the bats crowded into the bridge joints underneath?

According to GDOT Transportation Ecology Special Projects Coordinator Sujai Veeramachaneni, the solution was efficient and effective. When old sealant was cut from the joints, exposing the bats, workers temporarily filled the openings with a flexible foam called backer rod to shield the animals from the sprayed-on copolymer overlay and construction debris. GDOT also mapped out plans with DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the bats were monitored on-site during the project, day and night.

The work was finished Oct. 4 and no injured bats were documented. Morris said some of the bats were so reluctant to move from the bridge joints, she had to nudge them away from the road surface with a yardstick so workers could remove the sealant and later saw the joint edges smooth before re-sealing the openings.

Veeramachaneni said GDOT does this type of maintenance each year on bridges statewide. Some have bats roosting on them, which can complicate projects.

“By testing the efficacy of backer rod … we now have a new tool that will help minimize harm to bats,” he said. “This tool can be used on a number of similar projects to minimize the impact on bats and ensure that projects are constructed in an environmentally sustainable manner.”

That balance benefits an imperiled group of mammals. Up to 31 percent of North America’s bat species are at risk, according to a review published last year in the journal Biological Conservation. Habitat loss and white-nose syndrome are key threats. White-nose is a fast-spreading disease that has killed millions of bats and ravaged populations in north Georgia since it was documented in the state in 2013.

The declines undercut the vital roles bats fill: eating insects, serving as prey and adding nutrients to cave habitats. Bats can eat half their weight in insects in a night. Losing the natural pest-control services they provide could cost agriculture on this continent an estimated $3.7 billion to $53 billion a year.

The Calhoun bridge is within the ranges of Indiana, gray and northern long-eared bats, all federally- listed species, though none have been documented at the site. Statewide, bats are found on about 10 percent of bridges. That is why GDOT has joined with DNR to factor bats into bridgework across Georgia.

Morris called it “a great example of working together to prevent harm to bats within DOT right of ways.”

DNR and Eco-Tech Consultants Inc. are also testing the use of sound to deter bats from bridges when maintenance and other construction projects are being done, she said.

Through its Wildlife Conservation Section, Georgia DNR conserves rare and other native wildlife species not legally fished for or hunted, as well as rare plants and natural habitats. This work depends primarily on grants, contributions and fundraisers, such as the eagle and hummingbird license plates. Learn more at www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/annualreport.

Georgia DOT plans, builds, maintains and improves the state’s roads and bridges and interstate highways, while also providing planning and financial support for other modes of transportation, including rail, transit, general aviation and bicycle and pedestrian programs. Learn more at www.dot.ga.gov.

Deal: Mannington Mills to Create More Than 200 Jobs in Gordon County

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Mannington Mills, a flooring manufacturer, will create more than 200 jobs and invest $42 million in Calhoun by 2021. Mannington Mills purchased a 78-acre site and will expand upon the company’s presence in Georgia.

“Georgia’s economic environment and skilled workforce continue to provide businesses like Mannington Mills with opportunities for growth and innovation,” said Deal. “Mannington Mills has had a large footprint in northwest Georgia for years and I am proud to see this partnership continue. This expansion is a testament to Georgia’s business-friendly environment that encourages growth by companies already located here. I applaud Mannington Mills for its investment and for creating even more high-quality manufacturing jobs in this community and we look forward to the company’s continued success in Calhoun.”

New jobs at the Calhoun site will include positions in production, management, engineering and marketing, as well as supervisory and administrative positions. The new site is located less than one mile from a current Mannington Commercial facility that employs more than 700 people in 800,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehouse and office space.

“Mannington continues to experience strong growth of its business interests in Georgia, and acquisition of this site will help us accommodate and capitalize on that growth,” said Mannington President and CEO Russell Grizzle. “This purchase is another installment in Mannington’s ongoing long-term growth investment plan for Calhoun and we are very pleased to again work with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.”

Mannington Mills is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial flooring with operations in six states, as well as the U.K. and other parts of Europe.

“This community was involved in the beginning of the modern flooring industry in the United States,” said Kathy Johnson, president and CEO of the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce. “Mannington has been a major partner in the growth and innovation of that industry, but more importantly, they have been a partner with our community. Mannington’s commitment and continued investment in Calhoun and Gordon County, combined with the City of Calhoun and Gordon County’s planning and foresight, has brought this new project to a successful conclusion. We believe in this partnership and are committed to doing what is necessary to enhance it.”

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Regional Project Manager Stephanie Scearce represented the Global Commerce Division in collaboration with the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce and North Georgia EMC, who partnered with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“The expansion of Mannington Mills speaks to the extensive resources northwest Georgia provides to the flooring industry,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “The company’s unwavering dedication to Calhoun is a testament to our workforce and the relationships maintained at the local and statewide level. Congrats to all partners involved.”

 About Mannington Mills

Mannington Mills, Inc. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fine flooring. Based in Salem, New Jersey, the company manufactures residential and commercial sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl, laminate, resilient and hardwood floors. The company also manufactures commercial carpet and rubber under the Mannington Residential, Mannington Commercial, Amtico and Burke brands. For more information, visit www.mannington.com.

Deal: Complete Flooring Supply Corporation to Create 100 Jobs in Gordon County

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Complete Flooring Supply Corporation (CFS), a flooring supplier for retailers in the U.S. and Canada, will create 100 jobs and invest $30 million in Gordon County. This announcement coincides with a state leadership economic development mission in China.

“CFS’ decision to establish its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Gordon County is a testament to Georgia’s preeminent position for global commerce,” said Deal. “Manufacturing is a vital component of our robust and growing economy, representing approximately 10 percent of our state’s GDP. As the gateway to the Southeastern market, Georgia will provide CFS with the skilled workforce and strategic resources needed to expand its customer base and maintain its competitive edge. This latest announcement will provide greater opportunities for Georgia citizens, while bolstering our reputation as a top destination for international job creators.”

CFS imports and distributes laminate, cork, solid wood, engineered and hand-scraped flooring products. New jobs will include positions in manufacturing and operations.

“The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), especially Stella Xu and the China team, was most supportive and provided us with useful information throughout the entire site selection process,” said Bin Liu, vice president of CFS. “They helped us coordinate with partners in utility service and local government, and made sure we all worked together cohesively. We firmly believe that Georgia is a great place to do business.”

CFS’ manufacturing operations are headquartered in Shanghai, China. The company currently operates distribution centers in Georgia and California.

“We at the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce are pleased to have CFS Corporation in Calhoun-Gordon County,” said Kathy Johnson, president and CEO of the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce. “Their presence in the business community represents a significant investment as well as employment opportunities for the citizens of Calhoun-Gordon County.”

GDEcD Director for Greater China Region Initiatives Stella Xu represented the Global Commerce Division in partnership with the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce and Georgia EMC.

“CFS’s growth in Georgia is the result of our strong relationship with the Chinese business community and overall pro-business climate,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Collaboration across all levels helps make projects like this possible, and I am thankful for our local partners as well as our international team who has worked hard throughout this process.”