Here’s a look at the top stories from this year.
A lasting legacy
Commissioner Clarence Brown retires this year having served 40-plus years as a public servant, 20 of which he served as sole commissioner. Brown’s tenure as commissioner has included leading the county through lean economic times, the building of a new conference center named in his honor and maintaining a great relationship with the municipalities in the county all while leading with a fiscally responsible and for-the-people approach to his position.
VOICE OF THE PEOPLE
This year, Bartow County voters headed to the polls to make important decisions from the next president of the United States to the next county commissioner.
While locals heavily favored Republican Mitt Romney, Barak Obama earned a second term.
Steve Taylor won a front-loaded contest to become the next commissioner and voters said “yes” to a charter school referendum and “no” to a transportation special local option sales tax (T-SPLOST).
Also taking new posts in January are Fred Kittle, who will join the Bartow County School Board, Mitchell Bagley who was elected mayor of Taylorsville, and Melba Scoggins who takes over as clerk of superior court and Steve Stewart who will serve as tax commissioner.
It’s been a year of facing tough questions and scrutiny for the Bartow County School Board. Complaints were filed with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), board members were accused of ethics violations and school board meetings at times grew contentious.
Board member Wanda Cagle Gray, who had been accused of not working well with other board members by Superintendent John Harper, lost her re-election bid and board member Anna Sullivan was able to rise above allegations that her appointment to the board was illegal.
On a positive note, the school system did receive $3.4 million for the Bartow County College and Career Academy which is set to open in 2013.
For months speculation has swirled about the possibility of big name companies moving to Bartow. This year, the county hosted two highly anticipated groundbreaking ceremonies.
Chief among them were highly anticipated Lake Point Sporting Community and Town Center in Emerson.
The multi-million dollar project is expected to bring revenues, jobs and tourists to the county.
Bartow County also welcomed new neighbor voestalpine, an auto parts manufacturer, as the first tenant of the Highland 75 Industrial Park.
Cartersville Medical Center also held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $30 million expansion that is expected to make an impact on the local economy.