Forsyth County packed in newsworthy events in 2018, and there’s no reason to think 2019 won’t do the same.The FCN staff predicts some of the biggest things to expect this coming year.
Cumming continues to come alive
Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow made community engagement a focus of his first year in office, and he attempted to do that through an array of events. From “Food Truck Fridays” to a series of Saturday music festivals, Brumbalow’s goal was to bring people together in Cumming to a degree that he felt had not been happening for a while.
Expect the city to take things to the next level in 2019.
Brumbalow said that the city expects to add a slate of standalone concerts this year in addition to the music festivals it offered this past year. The city will finalize the musical acts over the next month, Brumbalow said, and the bands/musicians should run the gamut from country to pop to rock and roll.
Brumbalow said the turnout for country music star Trace Adkins during this year’s Cumming Country Fair & Festival emboldened the city’s belief that it can be a music destination.
“You can bring a great band that people want to see and at the same time the city can feel comfortable that it’s not going to lose money,” Brumbalow said.
Other expected developments in 2019 for Cumming will be a pedestrian bridge connecting the Cumming Fairgrounds parking lot to its south entrance and a new cut-through road between Veterans Memorial Boulevard and Castleberry Road, while construction on the new city center is expected to begin toward the end of the year.
“We may have a few surprises up our sleeves,” Brumbalow said.
Here comes Halcyon
One of the biggest changes of the year will happen in early 2019, as Halcyon Forsyth opens to the public.
Slated to open around March, the new live-work-play development will include 480,000 square feet of office and retail space, a trailhead for the Big Creek Greenway, about 230 homes, open space, 460 apartments, two hotels, a parking deck, a movie theater, office space, a dog park and other retail.
The first phase of the project, which will open in the spring, will focus heavily on the commercial and retail portions of the project and will be on the west side of Ronald Reagan Boulevard. The second phase will be on the east side of the road, and construction is also expected to start in 2019.
Officials previously said about 70 percent of the restaurant space in the development is leased, and a number of restaurants have previously announced they would be coming to Halcyon including Cherry Street Brewing, Gu’s Dumplings and a trio of restaurants from Atlanta Chef Marc Taft, along with several others.
Single-family homes will be available on both sides of the project, though they will be developed by different companies.
After breaking ground on the project in February 2016, Halcyon is expected to open by March of next year. Mays said the specific date would be determined as work on the project continues.
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and county staff should have plenty of work carved out for them in 2019.
The most notable change on the board will be the addition of District 1 Commissioner-elect Molly Cooper, who will replace Pete Amos, who had held the seat since 2011.
Cooper did not face a Democrat in November and won the seat defeating fellow Republican Dooz Owings, 77.3 percent to 22.7 percent, or 3,000 votes to 882, in the Republican primary for the seat in May.
Along with a new commissioner, the board will also likely have a new chairman next year after Chairman Todd Levent recently announced he did not intend to hold the position for a third year. The chairman is selected by other members of the commission at the beginning of each year.
Commissioners will also have a new space for work sessions with an expanded conference room with additional seating for visitors is expected to be completed by 2019.
Along with those changes, there are plenty of projects moving ahead next year.
At the Bald Ridge Lodge – which serves at-risk boys ages 12-21 with counseling, mentoring, community support and other positive activities – the current building (a former hotel) is planned for demolition in 2019 and will be replaced with a newer facility.
The county will also see a continuation of road projects including Post Road, McGinnis Ferry Road, Hwy. 306 and Hwy. 9.
Body cameras added to sheriff’s office arsenal
If you’ve ever wanted to see through the eyes of local county law enforcement officers, in 2019 you might just get to with the rollout of 150 Axon brand body cameras to deputies of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
"Body cameras are going to be huge, because they are going to give us a whole new level of policing, both for citizens and our safety," said sheriff’s office spokesman, Cpl. Doug Rainwater.
According to Rainwater, the cameras have been ordered and are set to go out to road deputies and school resource officers first. Residents should start seeing them used county-wide by March of 2019.
With this introduction of body cameras to their force, Rainwater said the sheriff’s office will be able to increase its accountability, transparency and safety, while giving residents the ability to see inside their agency.
Rainwater said that they plan on regularly releasing footage to the public to show citizens what their deputies go through on a daily basis.
“We're hoping to let you, the citizens, look through the lens of a deputy and see what we go through on a traffic stop, chasing somebody on foot," Rainwater said. "You've seen chases, you've seen us (pit maneuver), but you've never seen us chasing someone and tackling them in a field, or how some people treat us.”
Rainwater said that residents should also be aware of their new Traffic Response Vehicle unit and upcoming construction of their new shooting range complex, both of which are set to commence in 2019.
He said that like all of their programs and units, they will be building on these new programs over the years to make them better.
New school brings redistricting
In 2019, the Forsyth County Schools system will break ground on its newest institution in northwest Forsyth, Poole’s Mill Elementary School.
Residents should expect redistricting for the new school to take place later in the year. Though Poole’s Mill won’t officially open until 2020, it’s opening will complete a plan that has been in the works since the early 2000s to take pressure off schools in the surrounding area that are at or over capacity.
According to Jennifer Caracciolo, director of communications for Forsyth County Schools, Poole’s Mill has been planned with a design similar to Brandywine Elementary School in south Forsyth, and will have a capacity for 1,125 students.
Poole’s Mill will be built on a plot of land at the intersection of Heardsville Road, Heardsville Circle and Hurt Bridge Road, that the system has owned since 2005.
The school will be built by Carroll Daniel Construction, who won the school bid with a construction agreement for $21.7 million.
Earlier this month, the school system announced that Paige Andrews, a longtime educator and current principal of Silver City Elementary, would serve as principal at the new school.