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Posted: August 16, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Newton County Q&A with Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman

This is part of an ongoing series of Q&A sessions with various top elected officials in Newton County. To suggest questions for specific city or county issues, email reporter Rob Dewig at rdewig@covnews.com.

1. How has development in the downtown commercial district been this summer?

“We have seen significant development in Porterdale’s downtown commercial district this summer. With the arrival of the Main Street Program, under the direction of Teri Haler, we have seen the arrival of Argyle’s Coffee Shop, which is the best on this side of Atlanta, and Dirty Dogs Restaurant. Rhythm Elements Dance Studio has opened under the direction of a professional staff that brings a quality dance school offering a full spectrum of dance disciplines. These new businesses compliment the already established and successful business community that exists. With the arrival of our kayak ramp at the Yellow River Park, our existing river recreation area has blossomed. In addition to the Yak Club kayak rental, we now have a beautiful area with a walking track, river view and picnic area. Having our recreation area adjacent to our business district is a real plus. The plans are in the works to add 18 holes of disc golf by this time next year. Geocaching has arrived, and all of these activities keep our business community moving.”

2. What are you excited for Porterdale residents to know about?

“We work to keep our citizens informed about what is going on in their town, and a community newsletter goes out in the monthly water bill. We offer a free library system that is centered in the RR Depot and is open on Saturdays. In addition, we have seven Little Free Libraries scattered around in playgrounds and public areas that provide a constant source of books. We have a very successful community garden where people can grow their own vegetables year round. Porterdale was chosen to participate in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. We have seen an uptick in people purchasing homes to beautifully renovate and live in. In addition, we have a buyer’s incentive program that gives more people the assistance to purchase their own home who, in the past, have only been able to rent. We make every effort to inform out citizens about the Newton College and Career Academy and how it can give students a leg up on the way to obtaining a job when they graduate. In addition, our local non-profit C.A.R.E. is off to a great start establishing a scholarship program that will provide a Porterdale graduate of the Career Academy with the opportunity to further their education.”

3. Are there any events coming up to look forward to?

“With the completion of the Porterdale Gym venue, a whole new world of activity is in the works. We have had several successful events to date. The second wedding is planned for October. By the time you read this, C.A.R.E. will have hosted its first concert for the scholarship fund. Taste of Newton will also take place there this year. The annual Porterdale Reunion is coming up in September where people who grew up here travel from all over to relive their memories. Of course, the Christmas Parade with Santa and the live reindeer is a tradition that is a must of many of us. I believe the gym will become the prime place for concerts and events. The feedback from musicians who have played there so far is very positive about the quality of the sound system and all the things that add to a successful event.”

4. Have you gone kayaking yet?

“The answer to this question regarding my kayaking is that I have not yet taken the plunge. I have been told that anyone can do this, so I am up to the challenge. Our river queen Tonya Bechtler is planning an outing where we will sneak into the river and paddle away. My only fear is that I will find this so addictive that I will spend all my time on the river relaxing and get nothing else done. Actually, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

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