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New ordinance aims to curb blighted properties
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JONESBORO — A new ordinance approved by the Clayton County Board of Commissioners has created a vacant or foreclosed real property registration.

The purpose of the registry is to protect neighborhoods in the county from becoming blighted by the lack of adequate maintenance and security of properties that are foreclosed or where the property ownership has been transferred.

The move comes after Commissioner Felicia Franklin in April requested county staff consider developing policies and procedures to tackle the problem of blighted areas, also known as vacant, abandoned or poorly maintained properties.

During the April BOC meeting, Chief Operating Officer Detrick Stanford said such a registry would allow county staff to get in touch with a property’s owner rather than a management company to address problems.

The ordinance requires creditors to provide the county with official information for contacting owners responsible for bringing properties into compliance with county code.

Property owners will be required to pay a $100 administrative fee. Failure to register could result in a $1,000 fine.

“Vacant property registry provides the county a centralized clearing house of contact information relative to the responsible parties of abandoned, foreclosed and vacant properties,” Stanford said. “It is our goal through such an initiative that we promote repair and rehabilitation in assisting with stabilizing property values and public safety throughout the community.”

Kindergarten parade celebrates literacy, start of new school year
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JONESBORO — Hundreds of school employees came together Saturday morning to cheer on and march in the Kindergarten Roundup For School and Literacy parade.

The goal of Clayton County Public Schools was to promote both literacy and school registration.

Ending at Lee Street Park and Lee Street Elementary, families had the opportunity to register their students for the 2021-22 school year starting on Aug. 2, where district leaders encouraged students to continue reading.

Alicia Dunn, director of Counseling and Post Secondary Enrollment, coordinated the event.

She said the parade and after party celebration were an excellent opportunity to engage with the community and future students.

“It was a positive experience for everyone,” Dunn said. “I think it gave our parents confidence in our school system and encouraged them to register their children for school. We’re excited for the new school year, and we want our kids in school.”

For more information about Clayton County Public Schools or to register online, visit www.clayton.k12.ga.us.

Second social worker added to Clayton police ranks
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JONESBORO — The Clayton County Police Department’s request to shift funds and hire a second social worker has been approved by the Board of Commissioners.

The first position was approved in February to help officers and the department respond to non-criminal calls for those who may be in crisis or dealing with mental or emotional problems.

To fund the second social worker, two vacant police officer positions were deleted — total compensation between the two is $123,986.

The police social worker position will pay $88,464 in total compensation.

Police Chief Kevin Roberts said the exchange will more than benefit the department and community.

He said the search began in earnest in February for the right person, but officials were not finding candidates with the necessary credentials.

However, that changed in June when Roberts said they had two strong applicants.

“I wanted to seize on this opportunity and hire them both,” he said.

Roberts explained the program is still in its infancy. He said the department is looking at the two new social workers to build the program’s foundation and that they are key to developing the program.

“We’re looking to build this into something that will provide relief to our officers and our citizens,” Roberts said.

In February Roberts noted that having a social worker respond to calls when someone is in crisis can lead to them getting the help they need via social services rather than being arrested. He added that it will help free up officers to respond to other calls rather than taking them out of service for several hours.

“The new position is about providing alternatives to our community,” Roberts said.

Ellenwood vet receives new roof through Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project
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ELLENWOOD — ARAC Roof It Forward installed a new roof for U.S. Army veteran Ronald Johnson Tuesday, July 6, as part of the Owens Corning National Roof Deployment Project.

Johnson, who lives on County Line Road in Ellenwood, served 13 years in the U.S. Army. He started out as a storage specialist and then trained as a small engines and diesel tech. He was stationed in Fort Jackson, Fort Bennett, Fort Hood and deployed to the Canal Zone and Germany. He was injured and retired from active duty but then re-enlisted as a reservist. He still undergoes therapy for his injuries.

He and his wife have four children and 15 grandchildren.

ARAC Roof It Forward installed the new roof on the home that was built by Johnson’s grandfather in 1955. According to Johnson, his grandfather purchased 10 acres of land and built four houses for family members as they could afford it. His mother was able to purchase a home from the grandfather, and he purchased it from his mother. Although the property has since been divided up, there are still three houses left that are owned by family members.

Johnson said he has addressed some of the issues with his home over the years, such as windows, replacing a water heater and HVAC; however, he reached out to Habitat DeKalb for assistance with his leaking roof and a sump pump to control water coming into his basement.

Habitat. DeKalb partnered with ARAC Roof It Forward, an Owens Corning Platinum Roofing contractor, to make the new roof possible.

The Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project is a nationwide effort to show gratitude and honor the veterans who served our country and the families who support them. Since the inception of this program in 2016, more than 275 military members have received new roofs.