Porterdale may soon become a better town after all, at least if Sandy Fowler has anything to do with it.
The Porterdale City Council introduced Fowler as the new downtown manager and soon to be Better Hometown manager.
"I'm extremely excited and I'm very passionate about Porterdale," Fowler said. "This city has always had an allure to me with the antiquity of the mill. It has been thrilling for me to see Porterdale come back recently and I look forward to the beautification of the downtown district."
Council members along with City Manager Tom Fox and Mayor Bobby Hamby hope Fowler's appointment will bring with it Better Hometown status through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
"Part of Sandy's job will be to meet the requirements to qualify for Better Hometown through the DCA," said Councilwoman Arline Chapman. "We want them to know we are serious about this. It's a pretty in-depth process, but we feel like she understands how important that would be to Porterdale."
Porterdale must meet several stringent requirements in order to receive designation, one of which is to have a dedicated staff person devote at least 20 hours a week to the city's program.
But as a Better Hometown, Porterdale would receive support from the DCA including management training, design and technical assistance and periodic resource team visits.
"We have to prove ourselves to the DCA before they do anything for us," she said. "We aren't expecting them to give us anything. We know we need to earn that status and we also have to show the community that we are involved and putting out the effort."
Chapman's sentiment laments the city's latest move to revitalize the community and turn the page after a tumultuous year that saw the council fail to reappoint both the city clerk and former Better Hometown Director Patti Battle.
The city had been without anyone in the downtown management role since the council's decision to let Battle walk after disputes concerning budgeting and event planning ultimately led to her dismissal.
But Chapman said she never lost sight of the Better Hometown program and knows the city has a long way to go before the DCA will grant them the status.
"I've seen how the DCA's Better Hometown program has lifted cities such as Covington, Madison, Monticello and Social Circle," added Fowler. "To think we are beginning the process towards that, I really look forward to that."
Fowler brings with her 25 years of wedding planning and floral design experience; experience Chapman thinks will ultimately earn the city Better Hometown status.
Although already satisfying the time budget requirement, the council agreed to in a motion to amend the budgeted hours from 20 to 24, effectively giving Fowler three eight-hour days to work with.
Neighboring Covington has Classic Main Street status through the CBA and while the two designations are essentially the same, Porterdale would be eligible as a Better Hometown based on its size.
Fowler gets a chance to showcase her skills this summer as her first big event plans to be an Independence Day celebration.
"I know the fireworks are already ordered," Chapman said. "It is going to be a great challenge and we'll get to see her first major event over the Fourth of July. I'm looking forward to it."
As far as the possibility of working the position fulltime, both Chapman and Fowler agree 24 hours is sufficient for now and only time will tell whether more hours are needed.
"We really need to show the citizens of Porterdale that we are serious," Chapman said. "They've seen it before so they need to be shown some results. But I think Sandy is the right person for the job and I'm confident she will prove that to everyone."