Calhoun was ranked No. 7 in a list of America’s 10 fastest growing cities by Bloomberg Businessweek in May.
According to the story, Calhoun had just over 11,360 households with an average household income of $68,905. Calhoun as a community has grown over 36 percent since 2000.
Calhoun’s proximity to Dalton, a major carpet distribution, shipping, and retail center was a key point in Businessweek’s ranking of the city. The fact that Calhoun is 70 miles from Atlanta and 50 miles from Chattanooga adds numbers to its population growth, the story stated.
“I believe we are doing things right,” said Calhoun Mayor Jimmy Palmer. “As a community we address needs as they present themselves. We have active development that works with agencies and companies that want to see our area thrive.”
Palmer also agreed with Businessweek that Calhoun’s location, with numerous interstate exits and growing industry, are pluses for our population.
“Our community works well with industry,” said Palmer. “We do well at supplying water and wastewater, and can meet the electric needs of residents.”
“Maintaining our infrastructure is key,” he explained. “Meeting the demands for supplies and needs for existing industry will hopefully lead to the development of more industry projects.”
Gordon County Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Phillips said he believes that a focus on home and community is what makes Calhoun ideal.
“The main thing is that this ranking gives kind of a confirmation that Calhoun is a great place to live and work with a great community around us,” said Phillips.
Calhoun was the only city in Georgia on the list, beating out both Linton Hall, Virginia (No. 10) and Madison, Alabama (No. 8) for the 7th place rank.
Also this year, Gordon County’s population topped 55,000.
The area increased in population by more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the latest census numbers, Gordon County’s population now stands at 55,186, an increase of 11,082 (25.1 percent) over the 44,104 counted during the 2000 census, the Census Bureau said.
The 25.1 percent growth rate means Gordon County grew at a faster rate than the state as a whole. Georgia’s population is now at 9,687,653, and 18.3 percent increase over 2000.
Gordon County’s location on the Interstate 75 corridor put it among some of the fastest growing counties in the state.
August – Chickens in the city
In mid-August, Calhoun City Council members heard from several residents concerned about the presence of chickens in city neighborhoods. The subsequent discussion touched off a debate among city residents, some in favor of chickens within the city, some against.
In December, the council proposed amendments to a city ordinance that would prohibit chickens in residentially-zoned areas.
The proposed amendments to the ordinance state that keeping farm animals in residentially-zoned areas within city limits is a nuisance and endangers the health of the public and welfare of the citizens and that these animals are not made for urban lifestyles due to the threat of disease, noise and waste control deposited onto public and private property. The ordinance also addresses requiring owners to clean up after their animals.
Farm animals are still allowed on city land zoned A-1, according to the proposed ordinance.
The council came at this issue with several points in mind, including the complications backyard chickens may pose to the poultry population at large.
When the Council first began examining the issue of chickens in subdivisions, one council member said small flocks, when not tended properly, can also pose a danger to the poultry industry.
“Agriculture is the largest economic boon there is … and the poultry industry plays into that very heavily,” explained Council Member David Hammond in a previous interview.
“Backyard flocks,” he explained, often increase “the potential for disease spread,” endangering the entire poultry industry.
This issue goes much further, however; the revisions to the ordinance are ultimately designed to quell the possible nuisance situations some animals pose. Residents of the city have property rights, Hammond said, and not everyone relishes the idea of living next to domesticated fowl or farm animals.
“I think the vast majority will be in favor of it (the proposed ordinance),” said Hammond. “People who live in the city want to live in the city without a farm animal issue.”
The city council will vote on whether or not to put the amendments in place in the near future.
August – fire damages 160 acres
The crisp grass carpeting the rolling hills on the east side of Gordon County makes for perfect tinder.
Firefighters found out just how perfect the situation was for a wildfire to spread Monday, Aug. 29, in a field off Boone Ford Road. When emergency personnel arrived on scene, flames were licking across about 10 acres. By the time three hours had passed, firefighters had the blaze under control, but the fire left more than 160 acres blackened.
Firefighters and emergency personnel from four counties, the City of Calhoun and the Georgia Forestry Commission worked for three hours to contain the brush fire. The blaze touched a total of 165 acres in the Gordon County Farmville community, authorities said, but no structures were damaged.
Firefighters had to concentrate heavily on keeping four particular homes safe on Foster Lusk and Heinz Roads.
They saturated the ground around the homes in an effort to stave off the approaching fire.
Gordon County Emergency Management Agency Director Richard Cooper said the emergency personnel involved worked under the philosophy of saving lives first and property second, but that bringing a fire of this magnitude under control without structural damage was a significant accomplishment.
“It’s a big achievement to save someone’s home,” he said. “Any time you can help a family, it’s always a sense of accomplishment.”
A spark from a piece of farm machinery may have started the fire, Cooper said.
A man was bush-hogging when part of his machine hit a rock, generating a spark that ignited some grass, Cooper said.
“It’s one of the worst we’ve had in a long time,” he added.