Local government and business leaders from Toccoa and Stephens County gather to talk about the U.S. Highway 123/Currahee Street corridor.
The meeting took place Thursday at the Stephens County Senior Center on Rose Lane.
Citizens’ Advisory Panel on Litter and Blight Chair Tim Hale said the goal of the meeting was to start discussions about how to beautify and revitalize the stretch of Highway 123 between the Jeanette Jamieson Intersection and the South Carolina state line.
Hale said the corridor is currently not making the first impression on visitors that it needs to.
“People that come from out of town get their first impression of Toccoa and Stephens County coming up this road,” said Hale of Highway 123. “What they see when they first come to town is all they know and they begin to formulate opinions early on. We believe that is an important thing. A first opinion is a hard thing to change, so you work towards putting your best foot forward.”
Numerous individuals agreed with that, talking about directing people into Toccoa different ways in order to avoid U.S. Highway 123.
Business owners along the corridor said they want to work with local government and others to clean up the road, with some business owners saying they are already working on plans to tear down some abandoned buildings.
Hale said he was pleased with the business community’s response and willingness to get involved.
“This job is full of high highs and low lows,” said Hale. “Those announcements are some of my highest highs.”
Some business owners along the corridor say that it is vital that Toccoa and Stephens County get involved and start the process by cleaning up along the sides of the roadway.
City and county commissioners on hand pledged their support, saying that they would look at providing what resources or support that they could.
Hale said he feels this is an effort that both the city and county governments are also behind.
“I think they realize it is an important step to take to work the county forward,” said Hale. “Everybody is concerned about jobs. Everybody is concerned about a stagnant economy. Everybody is concerned about poverty. They looked, like the rest of us, for ways to make the situation better.”
Hale said meetings on this will continue to work on formulating more specific plans.
Those in attendance did decide to focus their initial efforts on the stretch of U.S. Highway 123/Currahee Street from the Jeanette Jamieson Intersection to Broad Street in downtown Toccoa.