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Hopes on rise for '09
Economy tops officials' wish lists
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Forsyth County News

The new year has Forsyth County residents making resolutions and looking forward to a brighter future.

Local officials have a few wishes for 2009 as well.

Doug Derrer, interim county manager, said he hopes to see a significant improvement in the local and global economies.

"The effects it is having on the nation, families, individuals and businesses is in some cases devastating," he said. "However, the challenges we face are not insurmountable. Considering the will and spirit of this community I'm certain Forsyth County will recover much sooner than others.

"As staff, one of my goals is to continue to build strong alliances with and between state and local governments and the community. This is key to our success as a government."

Tammy Wright, director of Keep Forsyth County Beautiful, said the recycling market is also in a slump, a trend she hopes will change in 2009.

"A lot of people are losing and that's why they're not (recycling)," she said.

Fire Chief Danny Bowman shared a few professional and personal hopes for the new year.

"It's important that we stay focused in 2009 on a five-year plan for the protection of life and property of our citizens and our visitors," he said.

The Insurance Standards Office inspected the department last fall.

Bowman said he hopes that inspection will result in a drop in fire insurance costs in 2009. The county's current ISO rating is 6, which he hopes will drop to a 5 or 4.

"I really want our citizens to pay less than they are paying in fire insurance based on the survey from September," he said.

On a personal level, Bowman kept it simple.

"I hope that my marriage and career stay as strong as they are today," he said.

The city of Cumming has a few projects on its list for the new year.

Cumming Administrator Gerald Blackburn said the new aquatic center will begin to take shape off Pilgrim Mill Road and the city will work on improving two intersections.

"We're scheduled to be complete in June with the construction that's going on with the pump station and the [water] line in the lake," Blackburn said. "That'll be a tremendous boost to the water system.

"We will bring online the 6 million gallon addition up into the water plant ... and we have a few sanitary sewer lines that we hope we'll be able to do during 2009. But a lot of that will depend on how the economy does."

Blackburn said the city plans to continue communicating with Wisconsin-based Great Wolf Resorts on a deal to bring a resort and indoor water park to Mary Alice Park.

"It's been going on long enough where we feel like something should be going forward," he said.

Like Derrer and Wright, James McCoy has got the economy on his mind.

"My hope is that we will see community leaders rally around how we can, as a community, resolve our economic issues and to come out of the recession we're in sooner," he said.

McCoy, the president and chief executive officer of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, added that he hopes local leaders will focus and work together to improve the community's economic situation.

In 2008, local school officials wrestled with redistricting and plans to open five new schools in August.

Nancy Roche, chairwoman of the Forsyth County Board of Education, said she's hoping for everyone to have a "positive attitude" as the school district grapples with budget and funding issues.

"Because we're going to have a lot of problems we're going to have to face and we're going to have to make some real tough decisions," she said. "I think everybody working together to resolve the problems that we know we're going to have, and everyone looking at it positively will really help the whole school system in the long run.

"I think we can make it work. I really do."

Staff writers Julie Arrington and Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.