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General County News

Posted on: December 30, 2021

Hall County Government celebrates 2021 accomplishments

The Hall County Government Center

Hall County Government is proud to have accomplished many things in 2021 through the vision and leadership of the Hall County Board of Commissioners and the coordination of Hall County staff. The following represents some of those achievements; however, it does not capture every success, including the many that were made by individual County employees.

GENERAL
  • Services to the public continued despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Staff continued to grow the number of services offered remotely in order to accommodate the public as needed throughout the ongoing health crisis. 
  • A complete overhaul of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at the Hall County Government Center began in 2021 with floors closing and departments relocating in order to accommodate construction. Board of Commissioners meetings and Planning Commission meetings were held off-site at the Gainesville Civic Center in order to accommodate social distancing requirements in light of the Commission Meeting Room undergoing construction as part of the overall project. 
  • Several new facility identification signs were fabricated and installed, including new signs at Murrayville Park, Fire Station 1 and the Sheriff’s Office South Precinct. Plans for new, consistent signage featuring the Hall County brand continue for most all County facilities.
  • The Hall County Law Department was established with the addition of an in-house County Attorney in early 2021. Later in the year, the department grew with the addition of a Deputy County Attorney position. 
  • The first all-virtual State of the County video was produced, allowing County leadership to update the public on various County projects without compromising health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

COURTS
  • Extensive renovations were completed to Hall County’s Judicial Accountability Services building and the Misdemeanor Probation building.
  • The Hall County Court System invested in technology in order to continue holding hearings remotely via video conferencing platforms.
  • Hall County’s Parental Accountability Court became the first in the state to collect $1 million in child support cases
  • Hall County’s Drug Court and HELP Court transitioned to night schedules amid the ongoing pandemic.

ELECTIONS
  • The Hall County Elections Department safely and effectively conducted a runoff election in January amid a surge in COVID cases.
  • That feat was followed later in the year by the safe and effective administration of municipal elections in November 2021.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
  • Hall County Emergency Management launched a process by which eligible non-profits can receive a portion of Hall County’s American Rescue Plan funding. The funding must be used for projects associated with improving public health, serving those negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and serving communities that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
  • The department helped administer more than 20,000 vaccine doses in the community throughout 2021.
  • Hall County Emergency Management also worked with health officials to provide public facilities for COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The department conducted an update to the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan as required every five years by both the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • The Hall Regional Radio System was established in partnership with Jackson County, allowing for equipment maintenance and cost sharing, including measures for interoperable communications for emergency responders. An intergovernmental agreement was approved by both counties in 2021, and the project is tentatively scheduled for completion in early 2023.

FINANCIAL SERVICES
  • Hall County Financial Services launched the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program in April 2021 to assist Hall County residents who have been financially impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of homelessness or housing instability. Later in 2021, Financial Services worked to make utility assistance available through the ERA Program as well, providing millions of dollars worth of assistance through both programs to those in need in the Hall County community.
  • Hall County Financial Services has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2020. The designation, which the County has received for 29 consecutive years, is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.
  • For the fifth consecutive year, the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has awarded Hall County Government the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
  • Hall County’s credit rating has been upgraded by S&P Global (S&P) to AA from AA-, citing the County’s “strong revenue and expenditure assumptions in the budgeting process, and strong oversight in terms of monitoring progress against the budget during the year.” The upgraded rating signifies increased stability for investors and will positively impact Hall County’s future financing endeavors through lower interest rates.

FIRE RESCUE
  • The Hall County Board of Commissioners has increased the incentive for all paramedics within Hall County Fire Services to $10,000 a year to help recruit and retain highly-qualified and highly-trained paramedics.
  • A rebranding initiative was launched, updating Fire Services’ name to Hall County Fire Rescue. Additionally, plans to update the department’s patch and overall appearance to the public were also released to the public.
  • Hall County Fire Rescue released a dynamic new video, highlighting the heart, passion and the reasoning behind why the men and women of that department choose a career with Hall County Fire Rescue. The video was released in July of 2021.
  • Construction was completed on Hall County’s newest fire station, Hall County Fire Station 1, which was celebrated with a grand opening in late 2021.
  • Eight new fire trucks and a new ladder truck arrived in Hall County in early 2021, replacing older trucks at various stations throughout the county.
  • The Hall County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of eight new fire apparatus in October. This continues a plan to replace components of an aging fleet, reducing maintenance costs and assuring reliable response performance for citizens.
  • A new piece of public art, a “protective angel” sculpture, was dedicated to the men and women of Hall County Fire Rescue during a ceremony at Hall County Fire Station 6 in Lula.
  • In 2021, the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved the order of nine new med units to service the county.
  • Construction began on a new logistics warehouse for the department. Completion of that facility is expected in the first half of 2022.

HUMAN RESOURCES
  • Hall County Human Resources (HR) oversaw the implementation of a $500 COVID-19 vaccine incentive program. As of Dec. 21, 2021, 1,069 (64%) employees had received the incentive.
  • Also in 2021, Hall County HR reorganized the department to be more strategic, solution-oriented, and customer-focused.
  • HR acquired a new staff member, a Learning & Development Training Manager, to create, train, and develop County personnel and leadership, which will assist with goal attainment.
  • The department promoted and cultivated employee health and well-being by acquiring a Health and Well-being Coordinator, as well as an Integrated Care Coordinator assigned to the Hall County Family Health Clinic.
  • Human Resources created and promoted employee engagement and awareness by conducting various meetings during the year (e.g. benefits education, retiree benefits, wellness town hall meetings, and disability meetings).
  • HR continued to keep safety a prime focus through updating the COVID Best Practices Manual.

PARKS
  • A new website was launched for the Highlands to Islands Trail Network, highlandstoislands.org.
  • Construction was completed on Murrayville Park, which underwent significant renovations after being closed in 2011 due to the economic downturn. A grand reopening for the park was held in June 2021.
  • An official groundbreaking celebration was held for a new park in District 4 after the National Park Service officially approved grant funding for the park on Athens Street, making more than half a million dollars available for construction of the park, which will include a playground, pavilion, restrooms, basketball court, water feature, trails and more.
  • Construction continued at Tadmore Park, another park that was closed more than a decade ago during the economic downturn. Plans for its reopening are on track for 2022.
  • Hall County Parks & Leisure saw a record number of youth sports registrations during 2021, with 2,823 players and 349 coaches registered for various youth sports leagues.
  • A new Hall County Parks & Leisure baseball division was opened for 15- and 16-year-olds.
  • Nine lined pickleball courts were opened at Alberta Banks Park for a total of 13 new outdoor pickleball courts countywide.
  • The Healan's-Head's Mill Master Plan was completed, providing a framework for the park’s future development.
  • The installation of Hammock Hollow, an interactive public art piece at Laurel Park, was completed in conjunction with “Art in the Park,” a celebratory event at the park in May.
  • Allen Creek Soccer Complex served as a COVID-19 testing site, while the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center served as a vaccination site.
  • The North Hall Community Center served as a relocation site for the Courts System to accommodate larger crowds in the wake of the pandemic.
  • The Activity Hall at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center was remodeled and new LED lighting was installed in the arena at that location.
  • River Forks Park & Campground hosted 38,004 campers and 13,817 day use participants during 2021.
  • Basketball courts at community centers and scoreboards at County parks were rebranded with the Hall County logo.

PLANNING
  • A total of 3,894 building permits were issued in 2021 (as of Dec. 21, 2021).
  • The number of business and alcohol licenses issued by the Hall County Business License Division totaled 4,050 in 2021 (as of Dec. 21, 2021).
  • Work on Hall County’s Unified Development Code (UDC) continued in 2021 after beginning in 2020. A UDC combines zoning, subdivision, environmental, and other regulations into a single code that determines what kind of development happens in unincorporated Hall County, where it can be built, and how dense it is. The expected completion year for Hall County’s UDC is 2022.

PUBLIC WORKS
  • A request for proposal (RFP) was issued for right-of-way services for Phase 2 of the Spout Springs Road Widening Project.
  • A total of 101 parcels (out of 159 total) were closed for use as right-of-way for the Sardis Road Connector Project.
  • A task order was issued for the design of dedicated right-turn lanes along Mt. Vernon Road at its intersections with Rilla Road and Jim Hood Road (near North Hall High School).
  • Road Maintenance deployed a new asphalt zipper to provide expedited construction times and extend the life of local roads.
  • Hall County staff met with members of the public to discuss safety modifications to Cash Road’s intersection with Hog Mountain Road, which were implemented later in the year.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE
  • The Hall County Sheriff’s Office deployed a new ROV unit, a tethered underwater drone, to assist in underwater search and rescue operations.
  • The remodel of the Sheriff’s Office’s Lula Precinct was completed in 2021.
  • The Sheriff’s Office Training Unit added an online training model to offer remote learning for members of the department.
  • The Sheriff’s Office hosted all shooting events for the 2021 Georgia Police and Fire Games.
  • The Uniform Patrol Division implemented a cloud-based Field Training Program for more efficiency and accountability in training new deputies.
  • The K-9 unit was expanded to provide coverage for all patrol shifts.
  • The HCSO Traffic Unit received multiple awards during 2021, including second place in the Governor’s Challenge Award and individual awards for Impaired Driving Enforcement, the MADD Golden Shield Award, the Todd Helcher Impaired Driving Award from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and speed enforcement.
  • The HCSO expanded their Car Camera Program in patrol vehicles.
  • The Student-Resource Officer Unit established a Community Outreach Program for Hall County’s Latino community and was named Chick-fil-a’s Hero of the Week.
  • The Hall County Sheriff’s Office distributed 62 bicycles to families in need as part of its annual Christmas Bike Program.
  • The HCSO Court Services Division completed the construction of a new, secure employee entrance for Courthouse employees and provided security for multiple high profile cases throughout the year.
  • Body cameras were implemented for all jailers at the Hall County Jail, where the wifi system was also upgraded to accommodate remote courts due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, 171 inmates were vaccinated at the Hall County Jail during 2021.
  • The HVAC system was replaced in all towers of the jail facility during 2021.
  • The HCSO Investigations Division established an Intelligence Unit to manage their technology-based investigative tools.

TAX COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE
  • The Hall County Tax Commissioner’s Office made a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners to remove the requirement of a decal from mobile homes, realizing an overall cost savings and an increase in efficiency. 
  • Hall County Tax Commissioner Darla Eden appointed Richard Steele as Chief Deputy Tax Commissioner.

Again, this list represents only a few of the County’s achievements in 2021. Hall County’s elected officials and staff look forward to continuing this legacy of success in 2022.

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