Jefferson is Home to Georgia’s Best Bridge

ATLANTA, GA. – Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry proudly announces the Highway 82/15Alternate over Big Curry Creek in Jefferson has received the 2015 Georgia Partnership for Transportation Quality Award for the best Bridge Deck Steel Cover Statewide.

“Of the 1,500 road construction projects underway across Georgia, our construction of the Bridge for Highway 82 over Big Curry Creek was named the best bridge deck steel cover in the State. The bridge deck steel cover is extremely important to the life of the bridge.  It eliminates the rusting of the reinforcing steel and adds to the overall structural integrity of the bridge, allowing DOT to save time and labor because of the decreased maintenance required on the bridge,” explained Brent Cook, District Engineer.

Billy Cantrell, Georgia DOT Construction Consultant, worked diligently with Pittman Construction Company, the project’s contractor, to ensure the project was completed to the highest possible standards. Cook continued, “If we are going to get in the road and inconvenience the motorists and spend the money, we need to make sure our work is exacting and that is just what Billy and his team did. We are very proud of their work in Jefferson.”

The bridge is part of a larger project that will build a one-way pair system along Kissam and Storey Streets through Downtown Jefferson, improving traffic flow and efficiency. A multi-use trail will be built in Big Curry Park. The project costs $6.9 million by Pittman Construction Company by the contract completion date of August 31, 2016.

Four statewide Construction Awards are given annually by Georgia DOT. Pittman Construction Company won 2 of this year’s awards.

Billy Cantrell is a retired Georgia DOT Employee now Managing Construction Projects through a Consultant Firm. He is a native of White County.

Independent analysis consistently ranks Georgia’s transportation system as being in the best condition of any in the United States, despite the fact that we lag near the bottom of all states in per capita investment in transportation infrastructure.  But our highways and bridges are carrying more vehicles than ever; they are aging; and they are becoming more expensive to maintain.  More than $500 million is needed for basic bridge maintenance over the next decade and $1.5 billion for routine road repairs over just the next five years.  For more information on Georgia DOT, please visit or subscribe to our Press Release RSS feed

Gilmer County To Host Georgia Supreme Court Special Session

On October 16, 2015, history will be made in Ellijay as the Georgia Supreme Court holds oral argument at the Gilmer County Courthouse. Such a momentous event has never occurred anywhere in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit (which is comprised of Pickens, Gilmer, and Fannin counties). Superior Court Chief Judge Brenda S. Weaver, Judge Roger E. Bradley, and Judge Amanda H. Mercier invited the Supreme Court to hold oral argument in Gilmer County and were honored when the Supreme Court accepted. The Georgia Supreme Court normally holds court in Atlanta but occasionally hears cases in locations around the state for the purpose of making the Court’s business and the judicial process more accessible to the public.

The Supreme Court is composed of seven judges who are referred to as “Justices.” The Supreme Court is the highest court in Georgia. All of the Justices will be traveling to Gilmer County and hearing oral argument. The Court will hear argument on two cases. These cases do not originate from the courts of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, but the issues are of interest to all individuals. The first case, Olvera et al. v. University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents et al., is a civil case and addresses the issue of sovereign immunity and an immigrant’s right to the Hope Scholarship. The second case, Finney v. State, is a criminal case and involves the timeliness of the sealing of wiretap recordings.

The Special Session of the Supreme Court is open to all members of the public. Court will convene on Friday, 10:00 a.m., October 16, 2015, Gilmer County Courthouse, Jury Assembly Room. Everyone is welcome to observe the proceedings.

Deal: Study finds Georgia Pre-K ‘significantly improves’ student readiness

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that students in Georgia’s Pre-K program show educational improvement in key areas and progress at a greater rate while participating in the program, according to a recent study. The results are part of a multi-year evaluation by the Frank Porter Graham Childhood Development Institute at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“Ensuring Georgia’s youngest scholars continue to benefit from Georgia’s highly ranked Pre-K program is one of my top priorities,” said Deal. “This study confirms that Georgia is on the right track. Our Pre-K program helps students acquire the foundation necessary for a solid education, puts them on track to read at grade level by the third grade and assists in developing essential skills which will lead to academic excellence and future success.”

The comprehensive evaluation was commissioned in 2011-2012 by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) and tracked the progress of 1,169 children who participated in Georgia Pre-K during the 2013-2014 school year.  Results showed that program participation significantly improved children’s school readiness skills across a wide range of literacy, math and general knowledge measures. Based on standardized test scores, the study indicates that students progressed at a greater rate while participating in the program compared to normal development in the same timeframe. The report also revealed that Spanish-speaking dual language learners grew skills in both English and Spanish, usually showing greater growth in English.

“These findings are strong and attest to the impact of Georgia’s signature early education program and the important work accomplished by our teachers and assistant teachers every day,” said DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs. “The findings concerning language and literacy are especially important, as they suggest that foundational reading skills are taught in Pre-K classrooms. These findings support that what children are learning in Pre-K aligns perfectly with Governor Deal’s emphasis on grade level reading.”

Researchers will continue to monitor student progress through the end of the third grade.

“Georgia’s Pre-K Program has had positive outcomes for children, and the level of quality has remained fairly constant over time,” said principal investigator Ellen Pesiner-Feinberg. “The results from the studies conducted so far indicate that the program clearly has several areas of strength; as a long-standing, statewide, universal pre-k program, the outcomes for children and the quality of classroom practices has been maintained.”

The full report and an executive summary can be found here.

About Bright from the Start

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. It administers the nationally recognized Georgia’s Pre-K Program, licenses child care centers and home-based child care, administers Georgia’s Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program, federal nutrition programs, and manages Quality Rated, Georgia’s community powered child care rating system. The department also houses the Head Start State Collaboration Office, distributes federal funding to enhance the quality and availability of child care, and works collaboratively with Georgia child care resource and referral agencies and organizations throughout the state to enhance early care and education. For more information, go to