2014 Business Seminar: “How to Supervise People and Lead a Team” with Glenn Shepard   


Be the manager other managers envy and bosses can’t wait to reward!
The best managers have learned how to deal with problems without missing a beat. Now you can too!
In this short, intensive and enjoyable seminar, you’ll learn how to effortlessly:
Defuse tension
Derail toxic behavior
Defang even the most malicious employee
Energize the people and bring everyone together solidly as a team. Learn the powerful strategies you need to solve your worst workplace
       Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
    8:30 a.m. to 12 noon
NorthWest Trade & Convention Center
$129 for Chamber members and $149 for non-members
When you send 3 or more people, the 4th person attends FREE!
Please click here to register.
Seminar Cost Highly Discounted:
Your Chamber has worked out a great deal for you on the tuition. Managers have paid as much as $1,295 to hear Glenn Shepherd speak. You, as a member of the Chamber, may attend this event for only $129, with your 4th registration FREE!
This seminar is approved is approved for 3.25 (General) recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GHPR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.
For more information, please contact Beth Morrison morrison@daltonchamber.org or (706) 712-0949

Spotlight in Business: COS Business Products & Interiors

ImageCOS Business Products & Interiors is a family owned business solutions company who has served North Georgia and East Tennessee since 1941.

COS provides a wide variety of products including office supplies, toner/ink, printing and forms management, marketing and promotional items as well as large selection of office furniture options to fit virtually every style, finish and price point imaginable.  Their newest category is janitorial and breakroom products. 

Services include managed print, printer repair and maintenance, facility services as well as design, space planning and CAD services for furniture projects.

Dianna Towery is COS’ North Georgia representative.  She is a resident of Ringgold and works with all sizes of businesses to improve their bottom line.  She can be reached at (423) 400-2992 or dtowery@cosonline.com.


May Ribbon Cuttings!


Bailey Outdoors
Mark Bailey
921 E Morris Street
(706) 226-3126


City of Varnell Park
Mayor Anthony Husley
231 Prater Mill Road
(706) 694-8800


EES Consulting
Jay Martin
1161 East Main Street
Chattanooga, TN 37408
(855) EES-7357


Paniagua Auto Sales
Francisco Paniagua
1776 E Walnut Ave.


2014 Election & Candidate Information


The Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce is non partisan and does not support any candidates. However, it is important that voters have the opportunity to get to know the candidates in preparation for the upcoming May 20, 2014 Primary Election. The Chamber of Commerce conducted a questionnaire for the offices of State Representative District 6, Whitfield County Commissioner District 1, Whitfield County Board of Education District 2, and Superior Court Judge of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit as a service to the Chamber’s membership. Below are the unedited responses of candidates who chose to participate. This information is also posted on the Chamber’s website at: http://www.daltonchamber.org/community-2/candidate-election-information/ Early voting concludes on Friday, May 16, 2014.
State Representative District 6

ImageTom Dickson

Q: What are your qualifications for State Representative District 6 and what business experience do you have?

A: Having spent five years as Superintendent of the Whitfield County School system as well as many years in lesser leadership roles I have a significant background in working with governmental units as well as in the areas of budgeting and policy development. During this time I have had extensive opportunities to work with individuals from all walks of life within our local community and have observed first hand the impact that decisions made in Atlanta have on our citizens as well as our local businesses and schools. I also have served five terms as the representative from the sixth House district and have developed a thorough understanding of the legislative process as well as having been appointed to a leadership role in the House of Representatives.

In addition to my background as an educator I also spent two years working first in the personnel department of one of our local Carpet Corporations, and secondly managing a small fiberglass company producing tubs and showers. I saw, again, first hand, the impact that government decisions can have on both large and very small business.

Q: What is your position on strong education rigor and standards (Georgia Performance Standards) and why?

A: As a retired educator I have worked under several different sets of standards. There have been times when the standards in Georgia were very low and provided very little in terms of guidance for teachers or challenge for students. At other times we have had standards that were so broad that they were impossible to cover and again did not provide students with a comprehensive educational experience. With the adoption of the Georgia Performance Standards we at last had a set of standards that were recognized nationally as very appropriate and rigorous. It is important that students have standards that are relevant and that will challenge them. The goal should be that upon completion students will have been provided with the academic foundation and study skills that prepare them for higher education and or career readiness. It is also equally important that within those standards that we are able to provide sufficient choices to allow students to tailor their education to meet the needs of their future choices.

Q: The Georgia General Assembly has faced some very tough budget issues the last few sessions, how do you propose to make an impact on this issue?

A: For the past three years I have served as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Sub-Committee for Education, a role in which I have been able to have direct impact on how the budget was developed for K-12 education. It also afforded me the opportunity to work closely with those who managed each of the other portions of the budget. I would anticipate that this involvement in the budget process would continue although those assignments are always decided by the Speaker of the House. How the money is budgeted for appropriation is only half of the process, equally important are the decisions made about the tax policies that generate the revenues. With seniority and leadership roles also comes a greater role in all of these decisions.

Q: What do you see as the top issues facing our State that will be addressed in the future by the Georgia General Assembly and how can you make an impact on them?

A: The Governor of the State plays a major role in setting the agenda for the General Assembly, however it is safe to assume that economic development, the budget and education will continue to be top issues for the next four years. Certainly in the area of education I would expect to play an important role and have an impact on the development of the legislative agenda that is considered by the House. In order to be in a position to impact legislation in the General Assembly you must first demonstrate a knowledge of the subject matter and secondly demonstrate a capacity to work together and also to lead. Until you have earned respect in those areas you are less likely to have an impact than you are to be impacted yourself by the process

State Representative District 6

Sarah Fields did not submit answers to these questions.


Whitfield County Commissioner District 1

ImageRenee Davis

Q: What are your qualifications for Whitfield County Commissioner and what business experience do you have?

A: I have owned and managed Four Paws Pet Resort for the past nine years. This is a business I visualized and oversaw construction from the ground up. Although on a much larger scale, the same business principals are applied to serving as a County Commissioner. My motivation for running and serving as County Commissioner came from my experience in Leadership Dalton Whitfield (LDW). Through LDW I have had the opportunity to really see the various sectors of Whitfield County, learn what they need and gain insight into different opportunities to get involved. When the seat became available in my district it just seemed like the perfect time and opportunity to put what I have learned into practice and serve my community in more depth.

Q: What do you see as the top issues facing the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners and how would you as a Commissioner address them?

A: Our biggest issue is with the budget and maintaining the same level of services to our community with decreased income. The County’s income level has dropped due to economic factors such as the recession and losing some of the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue with the new agreement between the county and cities in 2012. As a commissioner I would work to increase tax revenue through economic development of bringing new businesses in and examine our existing expenditures for duplications in services being paid for by both county and city that might be combined to save the citizens money and still provide the same if not better services. I think working with the other commissioners and listening to our citizens while looking for creative ways to save money and increase revenue is going to be the best way to address the problem.

Q: What are you most excited about for Whitfield County?

A: Here are the 3 things I am the most excited about being involved with and/or making changes to help Whitfield County continue to move forward…
1. Economic Development: Whitfield County has worked hard to put itself in a position to attract new business to our area. We provide water service throughout the county, good utility services, a wonderful road system with the by-pass and easy access to I-75. I will continue making decisions to push our county forward in this direction because attracting more business will equal more jobs and taxes coming into the county to sustain our growth.

2. Financially Conservative: I personally feel Whitfield County provides a lot of services to the community with lower taxes in comparison to surrounding counties of similar size. However, if elected I would continually explore opportunities to improve our services without raising taxes while monitoring and eliminating excess spending.

3. Education: Our Education system needs restructuring and updating. Core Curriculum is a big issue in the school systems and I will do my best as one of your Commissioners to support our School Systems in achieving changes our Educators feel are needed for our area. My goal is to develop and support a system that will help our children reach their full potential and produce graduates with skills needed to enter the technologically demanding fields in our area which will only serve to strengthen our infrastructure even more. In addition, the Southeast District desperately needs examined for locations to provide children a place to practice ball, play outdoors, and have school functions.


Whitfield County Commissioner District 1

Cody Holloway did not submit answers to these questions.


Whitfield County Commissioner District 1

ImageBarry Robbins

Q: What are your qualifications for Whitfield County Commissioner and what business experience do you have?

A: I want to thank the Chamber for their interest in my campaign for a position on the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners as I am a candidate for the District 1 seat. Given my professional background of 30 years in banking and finance, I will bring a unique perspective to the Board as budget issues relating to revenue and expenses are always a priority. Operational efficiencies should always be a focus rather than a consideration for tax increases. I will work and support everyone, both individuals and groups, who demonstrate promoting an environment which improves the lives of all concerned citizens of Whitfield County. I am financially conservative and I will take a conservative approach to budget issues. Whitfield County is in a great position to attract new business to the area and create new employment opportunities. I propose to examine creative ways to attract economic development.

Whitfield County Commissioner District 1

ImageNicky Starling

Q: What are your Qualifications for Whitfield County Commission, and what Business experience
do you have?

A: I have been appointed to and served on important Boards, and Committees for Whitfield County and the State of Georgia. I was elected as Presiding Bishop of the Overcoming Church of God of America, Inc. where I over see a Board of Eleven Bishops, over 20 Pastors. I am the Pastor of Greater St. James Overcoming Church of God for 28 years. I have owned a business called S P H Painters. (Starling, Parks, and Hunt).

Q: What do you see as the top issues facing the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, and how would you address them?

A: Well, the budget. How to keep the best services for our Citizens, but yet how to if possible not put a tax burden on the Citizens of Whitfield County. The Retirement and Pension Plan. This is very very important. We have invested in buildings,
equipment, parks, and playgrounds, but its time to invest in the Whitfield County Employees, by giving them a Retirement Plan of 25 years of service and 55 years of age, or a straight 30 year plan. Whitfield County Employees might have to invest just a bit more for the plan, but in the long the Employee will reap the benefits. Up date Technology for Whitfield County Deputy Sheriff Patrol Units, this will give the Deputy
Sheriff more information for their safety and protection, plus, will save time. Public Transportation for Our Area. As you know we are the 8th largest metropolitan area in Georgia. What a great advantage to our area, from Cohutta, to Chatsworth. This will also improve traffic conditions in all area hopefully.

New Post Office. Our Citizens deserve better. With us being the Carpet Capitol of the World, and with the business the Post Office generates, we need a bigger facility in a prime location with more parking. It will take a big effort, but I am up to the task, with all of our Elected Officials involved, it will take a team effort.

Q: What are you excited about for Whitfield County?

A: I am excited about our County in that we have a lot of new families moving into our County, new business is also choosing our County, most of all the Floor Covering industry is recovering creating new and more jobs for our Citizens. Dalton State College is becoming well known all over the Country, and with all ready one the best Educational Institutions anywhere, and with top sporting programs being added, with new new dorms being added, we will become a top College town. Whitfield County’s future is very bright.


Whitfield County Board of Education District 2

ImageJamie Johnson

Q: What are your qualifications for the Whitfield County Board of Education and what business experience do you have?

A: My first and most important qualification is in the role of a dad. I have two children currently in the Whitfield County School System and I have an invested interest in my children’s education and their future. We as a community must stand together to ensure that our children are receiving the best public education they deserve and providing them an opportunity to reach their full potential after graduation whether it be going directly into the workforce, technical school, or college. I want to build partnerships with our community and our business leaders, and increase participation from the parents with one focus and that is on our children’s future.

I hold a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. My educational training has provided me with an in depth understanding of organizational management, budgetary principles, research methods, building strategic partnerships, and maintaining strong ethical standards. During my 14 year career at the Dalton Police Department I have obtained real life experience in these areas. I have been involved in gathering data in order to develop action plans and policy development and implementation. Since 2008, I have advanced into leadership roles, serving as a Patrol Sergeant and currently a Lieutenant in the Patrol Division. These roles have enhanced my ability to solve problems and make decisions in the best interest of the parties involved. Additional duties include ensuring policies and procedures are being followed, accurate reports are being submitted, and overall supervisory responsibility of personnel. I believe that my educational background and professional roles will allow me to contribute to the Whitfield County Board of Education.

Q: What do you see as the top issues facing the Whitfield County Board of Education and how would you address them?

A: Funding: Budgets in nearly every school system are stretched thin, which takes a toll on education. We all know tough choices have to be made but they need to be based on priorities with the focus being on the students and teachers in the classroom. Fiscal management must be a priority for the Whitfield County School Board. As a school board member I will look for innovative ways to reduce the tax burden and develop fiscally responsible budgets.

Early Childhood Literacy Gap: This is not only a local issue but also a nationwide issue. Children are beginning kindergarten without the basic early literacy skills and are already trying to catch up to some of their peers on the first day of class and are less likely to succeed as adults. It is going to take a concentrated effort by the parents, teachers, and the school system to work together to get these children on track by the time they are in the third grade. I believe early childhood programs must start even before kindergarten.

The Graduation Rate: While the graduation rate for Whitfield County increased by nearly 7% last year it is still below the state average of 71%. This improvement is good news but we must continue to find advanced ways for students to become more invested in staying in school and completing graduation. There are a few programs that already exist in helping drive this initiative such as the College and Career Pathways and The Stem Curriculum which provides an opportunity for students to discover problem solving, exploratory learning, and student centered development of ideas and solutions in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. However, we cannot not stop here if we want to see the graduation rate continue to increase.

Q: What is your position on strong education rigor and standards (Georgia Performance Standards) and why?

A: I support the high performance standards set forth in the Georgia Performance Standards because they go into a greater depth and tell the teachers what the student is expected to know and expected to master. The standards provide clear expectations for assessment, instruction, and student work. The standards also defines a level of work that has to be mastered for the standards to be achieved. The performance standards identify the skills needed to use the knowledge and skills to problem solve, reason, and communicate. The curriculum allows teachers to incorporate extra activities and projects that will stimulate critical thinking and in depth learning for the individual student. The Georgia Performance Standards allows the teachers to teach to a curriculum and not to a test. The Georgia Performance Standards have been nationally recognized for their rigor assessments and high performance standards.

Q: What are you most excited about for the Whitfield County schools?

A: I am a firm believer in the Whitefield County School System and believe it is a system that can produce qualified and competent individuals to meet the demands for the 21St century. I have observed a high level of commitment and dedication from many teachers by working long hours in order to hold special events such as math night, science night, and other after school activities. These events help to bring families together to be part of the students’ education. Retention of these dedicated educators is vital to the success of our school system.

Whitfield County Board of Education District 2

ImageRodney Lock

Q: What are your qualifications for the Whitfield County Board of Education and what business experience do you have?

A: I have been on the Whitfield County Board of Education for over 3 years now. It has been an eye opening experience. I have learned, things move a lot slower in government than it does in the business world. During the first year of office we as a board were overwhelmed with the learning curve of a new business, and issues from past decisions. I think working through these issues has given me a huge advantage over anyone running for Whitfield County School Board. I have always considered all stakeholders in my decisions.
I am a lifelong resident of Whitfield County where I have operated a successful business for 30 years. During this time I have had to meet budgets every year and a payroll each week. I have had hard times during my 30 years of business fighting ups and downs in the economy and weather, but this has taught me to manage income wisely and build revenues for hard times. I also have a very good relationship with customers and employees, because I am always willing to listen to new ideas from people at all levels of the industry.

Q: What do you see as the top issues facing the Whitfield County Board of Education and how would you address them?

A: One of the top issues facing Whitfield County Schools is definitely finances. We are still cut 10 million a year in austerity cuts, and every time money is given back in one area it is taken away in another area.

Our Board, Superintendent, Principal’s and Staff are very frugal with what money they are allotted. We also apply for every grant possible. Some of the grants we have been awarded are Striving Reader 2.3 Million, Technology grant for Northwest and Southeast for $82,000, Math/Language $192,000, and two other grants that haven’t been announced yet. All of these were applied for this year. We also try to keep our state mandated training within driving distance instead of going to those we must stay overnight for several days.

Q: What is your position on strong education rigor and standards (Georgia Performance Standards) and why?

A: I support rigorous standards for students. State standards and assessments are not firmed up yet so this causes concerns among teachers. New evaluation instruments will be required for evaluating teachers next year and a large part will be based on student achievement. For student growth and achievement we use MAP (measures of academic progress). Computer test are given 3 times a year (beginning, middle and end). We can see where students are and where they need to be at the end of the year. We can see the amount of progress they make. It also shows us the student’s weak areas so we know where to instruct. This program measures our students against student’s nationwide and not just state wide.

We are putting an academic coach in each elementary school next year to focus on supporting teachers in teaching reading, math, and using student assessment data to drive the instruction.

Without a strong education system our community will struggle to attract new Industries and business. When relocating to this area; educational systems and a well trained work force are among the top concerns.

Q: What are you most excited about for the Whitfield County Schools?

A: I am most excited about our Superintendent. A superintendent should be a servant leader. A leader which places the needs of the system above their own and empowers our teachers and staff to give of themselves as he/she gives to the system. The Superintendent needs to lead by example and this person creates the culture by which our staff are validated and empowered to do the best job they can. This person creates the overall atmosphere of the system in which our children and our community’s future is dependent upon. I truly do believe we have a Superintendent like this.
I am also excited about Career Academy/Phoenix’s partnership with Georgia Northwestern. Our students can dual enroll in career pathways and receive college credits without cost or using HOPE funds. If our students take full advantage of this program they can receive an associate’s degree in a specific field when graduating from high school.


Superior Court Judge of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit

ImageDavid Blevins

Q: What are your qualifications for this position and why do you want to be elected as Superior Court Judge?

A: Part A: Qualification
For the past two years I have had the privilege to serve as one of the four superior court judges for the Conasauga Judicial Circuit (Whitfield and Murray Counties). As a superior court judge, I have presided over many bench and jury trials. (For details see response to question two below) At present, I am on track to attend the National Judicial college in October 2014. Several of my orders are published on WestLaw, a national computer database of legal decisions.

Prior to serving as a superior court judge, I practiced law in Dalton, Georgia for almost 27 years. My practice concentrated on civil litigation including cases such as products liability, medical malpractice, commercial transactions, estate litigation, and automobile collisions. My practice took me to federal and state courts at both the trial and appellate levels.

Before becoming a superior court judge, I served on the Georgia State Personnel Board. One of the Board’s responsibilities is to hear appeals from administrative law
judges on personnel matters.

I have published two legal articles: “The Made Whole Doctrine From the Georgia
Perspective” GA. BAR JOURNAL (Spring 1995) and “. . . Lest We Be Judged, The Dilemma of Judicial Power: A Lawyer’s Perspective” 19.1 CHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY 4 (Winter 1998). The first article is about the application of certain equitable doctrines to insurance proceeds. The second is part of a three part feature about judicial philosophy. The other two contributors were Judge Edith Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Robert P. George McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University.

I graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1985. While a law student, I received the AmJur Book Award for the highest grade in Constitutional Law and was a member of the Intrastate Mock Trial team. I received my B.A. from Carson-Newman College in 1979 where I was outstanding graduate in history.

Part B: Why do I want to be elected as Superior Court Judge.
The short answer is I care. I care what happens to the children in the custody cases. I care about the heart break of their parents who can’t or wouldn’t find a way to live together in harmony. I care about the addict in trouble with the law. I care about the victim of crimes great and small. I care about the parent languishing in jail on a child support warrant and I care about the parent or grandparent (and taxpayer) who is raising the child and needs the money. I care about the business man or woman facing foreclosure and I understand that if his or her banker cannot enforce the promises of the bank’s customers, then there will be no more banks, no more loans and no more businesses.

When you care, you look people in the eyes. The eyes are the window of the soul. Some eyes are full of defiance; some are full of fear; some are full of anger; some are full of despair; and some only carry the blank stare of the soul without hope. I do my
best to care about them all and not take away hope unless absolutely necessary.

As much as I care about anything in my judge’s world, I care about the law. It is the ship in which civil society sails. If she goes down, all of us are lost. I will defend her against all enemies great and small. All who work within the framework of the law will find in me a great friend. I am willing to listen to those who tell me I am wrong. I have never taken offense at a motion for reconsideration or motion for new trial. I have entertained many and granted several.

Caring is hard work but it offers the satisfaction of a life well invested.

Q: What is your level of legal experience? (trial, litigation, etc.)

As a judge. I have been a superior court judge for two years and ten months. Thus far I
have presided over 18 jury trials, had 5,738 calendered criminal matters, held 382 child support hearings, ruled on 143 family violence ex parte partitions, presided over 465 domestic hearings/trials, and held 72 hearings on general civil motions. In Whitfield County I have 250 open civil cases, 565 active criminal cases, and 3,300 open but not presently active criminal casesⁱ. In Murray County I have 118 open civil cases and 159 active criminal casesⁱⁱ. My total case load is 4,492 plus post conviction Murray County cases. The criminal cases range from murder to DUI. The civil cases range from disputes over millions of dollars to Magistrate Court appeals. In October 2014 I am scheduled to attend the National Judicial College.

ⁱPost conviction cases remain with the judge but are considered inactive; however, they are a part of the case count because they often become active due to post conviction matters such as probation violations, motions for new trial, extraordinary motions for new trial, habeas issues, etc.

ⁱⁱCriminal cases are not assigned in Murray County, Represents 1/4th of total criminal caseload. I was not able to find the inactive but open criminal (i.e. post conviction) cases from Murray County.

As an attorney. In the first three years of practice I had seven jury trials, largely due to appointed criminal cases. From about 1988 through 2011, I averaged about one jury trial every three years which is fairly typical for civil litigation. During that same period I had about two bench trials per year (often contested probate matters). I could not give an accurate estimate of court appearances but the number would be fairly large. If I counted all appearances in bankruptcy court in my early years of practice the number might be in the thousands but that number would not have a great deal to do with my fitness to be a judge.

Time in the crucible. The best training for being a judge is tough cases. Cases that have complex fact patterns, complex legal issues, good opposing counsel, demanding judges, and high stakes for the client. Tough cases are the crucible. The crucible will make or break you as a lawyer and give you the depth to be a judge. An attorney can do minor hearings and rack up tens of thousands of court appearances without ever being in the crucible. I have spent many years in the crucible as an attorney. I am spending more time there as a judge.

Varied experience. I have had the advantage of practicing in both state and federal courts though out Georgia. Occasionally I practiced in other states in both state and federal court. I have a much broader prospective than a lawyer who rarely if ever has practiced outside Whitfield and Murray Counties.

See also answer to question 1A above for types of cases handled.


Superior Court Judge of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit

ImageScott Helton

Q: What are your qualifications for this position and why do you want to be elected as Superior Court Judge?

A: I have spent my entire active career, over eighteen years, working for our community as an assistant district attorney, pursuing the truth, seeking justice and working to protect our community. In the course of my job, I have to make difficult decisions affecting people’s lives. I have to decide whether or not to file a charge. Either decision I make has a profound effect on the person arrested, the victim in the case and our community at large. I have to decide what will be charged, a misdemeanor, with limited consequences, or a felony, with substantially more consequence. Again, this is a decision only I can make, and one that greatly affects the lives of others. I also have to decide whether we are willing to compromise the charges and what to recommend in sentencing, which in certain situations can virtually control the outcome of the case. I believe my years of making difficult decisions that affect people’s liberty would help prepare me to make the difficult decisions required of a superior court judge.

I also know what it means to try a case, and I understand the difficulties and pressures that come along with it. I have tried approximately one hundred jury trials as an assistant district attorney, not to mention the countless non-jury trials and hearings. Having spent years in the trial arena, I think I would be in a good position to now preside over trials.

I want to become a superior court judge to continue, at another level, making the difficult decisions for our community, to continue pursuing the truth and applying the law fairly. I want to use all my experience and ability to make our community a better place to live.

Q: What is your level of legal experience? (trial, litigation, etc.)

A: I’ve been a licensed attorney for nearly twenty years. I’ve been a practicing lawyer for over eighteen years, all as an assistant district attorney. As an assistant district attorney, I have handled approximately five thousand cases. I have tried approximately one hundred jury trials. I have handled cases from misdemeanor traffic violations to murder, including such charges as rape, attempted murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, child molestation, burglary, terroristic threats and criminal damage to property. I have handled countless non-jury trials and hearings, including probation revocation hearings, motions to suppress and and motions in limine. During a time as an assistant district attorney I was designated as the sole prosecutor for domestic violence cases for the entire circuit. I have also worked as the sole prosecutor for the Drug Court Program in superior court. As an assistant district attorney, I have been responsible for cases from start to finish. So, I have also had the opportunity to argue cases on appeal, in both the Georgia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Superior Court Judge of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit

ImageJim Wilbanks

What are your qualifications for this position and why do you want to be elected as Superior Court Judge?

I attended and graduated from Murray County High School in 1977. I attended and graduated from Dalton Junior College with an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice in 1979. From there I went to West Georgia College and Obtained my B.A. in Political Science in 1981. My last quarter there I worked an internship at the State Capitol for the Georgia House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. I next attended the University of Georgia School of Law graduating in 1984. During my summers off, I clerked for the Mitchell and Mitchell Law Firm in Dalton. After my graduation from Law School I returned home and began my law practice with Mike Brown. Mike was a wonderful mentor and friend from who I learned a lot. I practiced with Mike for 6 years before I opened my own office. At all times I was focused on my ultimate goal of becoming a Superior Court Judge. I knew to do that I needed to handle all types of cases so I would be knowledgeable, experienced, and capable as a Judge on all cases that came before me.

What is your level of experience? (trial, litigation, etc.)

I opened my own office in 1990. Since the beginning of my practice of law I have handled every type of case that would come before a Superior Court Judge and even some that would not such as Social Security Disability cases and the trial of Workers’ Compensation cases. Appeals of Workers’ Compensation cases are heard in Superior Court. Having handled hundreds of these cases makes me knowledgable of the law in those cases. I have also handled divorces, child custody cases, contempts,TPOs, restraining orders, protective orders, paternity and legitimation cases, termination of parental rights cases, guardianships of children and adults, estates, wills and trusts, adoptions, probate of estates, incorporation of businesses, both profit and nonprofit, business agreements, litigation of business and shareholder disputes, litigation of property disputes, land lines, estates, wills, and the drafting of wills and estate documents.

I also served as a contract public defender for Murray County for seven years. During that time I handled hundreds of all types of criminal offenses, misdemeanor and felony, including murder, feticide, aggravated assaults, aggravated battery, sodomy, aggravated sodomy, burglary, criminal trespass, armed robbery, child molestation, aggravated child molestation, cruelty to children, kidnapping, false imprisonment, damage to property, vandalism, arson, felony possession of all types of drugs including cases with intent to distribute, trafficking in drugs, forgery, bad checks, theft of services and property, including automobiles, escape, deposit account fraud, financial transaction fraud, perjury, gambling, obscenity , littering, rape, sexual assault and battery, stalking, terroristic threats, possession of explosive devises, reckless conduct, criminal trespass, conspiracy, solicitation, damage to property, underage possession of alcohol, concealed weapons, illegal dumping, criminal attempt, violation of probation, setting of bonds, aggressive driving, cruelty to animals, and all types of driving offenses including DUI, driving on suspended license, no license …etc.

I have also handled the appeal of these types of cases to the State Board of Workers Compensation, Georgia Court of Appeals, and the Georgia Supreme Court.
I have also attended annual continuing attorney education courses since I began my law practice resulting in hundreds of additional hours of updates on all areas of my law practice.

In 1994 I completed the requirements for certification and registration as a mediator in all categories allowed of civil, domestic, domestic with violence, early neutral evaluation, and arbitration. Since then I have mediated over 1000 domestic and civil cases which include divorces, child custody, child support, alimony claims, legitimation and paternity cases, custody cases and all types of civil litigation cases including personal injury, contract disputes, suits on account, and business disputes.

In 2001 I was selected to be a member of steering/formation team to create the Conasauga Judicial Circuit Drug Court Program which serves both Whitfield and Murray Counties. With the team I attended Federal training in New York and Louisiana. I currently serve as Judge Pro Tem for Judge Partain in Drug Court when needed. I have continued to receive annual Federal and State training on Drug Court issues and best practices since the formation of the Court.


I currently serve as the Municipal Court Judge for the City of Dalton. I first began service there in the early 1990’s when I began to serve as Pro Tem Judge for Judge Thad Boggs. When Judge Boggs retired in the mid 1990’s I ran for the position and was the last elected Judge for Dalton. After that four year term the position was changed an an appointed one. I left that position in 2005. I was asked to return in September, 2010 and have served there since. I have received annual State and National Judicial training during each year that I served.

I also serve as Judge Pro Tem in the City of Varnell Municipal Court and have served there for several years.

I also serve as the Associate Juvenile Court Judge for the Conasauga Circuit, which includes Whitfield and Murray Counties. I began service there in 2005 and have received annual State and National training since beginning service. Juvenile Court hears and disposes of Juvenile felony and misdemeanor cases, deprivation cases, legitimation cases, guardianships, and termination of parental rights cases.

I have served as Judge Pro Tem for the Superior Court Judges since 2000. During that time I handled Court for the Judges when needed including while they were all at mandatory trainings.

I have also served as Judge Pro Tem for the Whitfield County Probate Court, the Murray County Probate Court, and the Municipal Court of Cohutta.

I have completed hundreds of hours of general and specialized Judicial training for over 20 years. I have handled thousands of cases as a Judge including felonies, misdemeanors, probation revocation hearings, arraignments, motion hearings, domestics, divorces, TPO’s and trials.

Local Elected Officials Speak

Mayor Pro Tem, George Sadosuk, City of Dalton


What opportunity are you most excited about in your city?      For the past few years the City has been looking into the possibly of having a “downtown campus” for Dalton State College, for both academic classes and dormitories.   A downtown campus would greatly enhance the downtown area and give DSC an area for greater growth. Also, the reboot of Dalton State College athletics has a lot to do with Dalton’s competitive nature.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?  The City has a large number of both commercial and residential properties that are in foreclosure or have been abandoned by their owners.  Many of these have absentee owners or in foreclosure by out-of-town banks.  Neither seems to take any pride or interest in keeping the properties in a presentable condition.  The City has increased our Code Enforcement efforts.  Code Enforcement has now been placed under the Police Department and is handled by a POST mandated officer.  Since being implemented about a year ago, progress can be seen in many areas, especially in our residential subdivisions.

The Great Recession was hard on Dalton and our workforce.  Perhaps most concerning was the way the recession challenged the belief in the American Dream for our younger generations.  Each young person had to wonder, “Can I live a life that surpasses that of my parents?”   We want to renew that faith by focusing resources on the younger generations.  Moreover, our community has invested in still more opportunities in higher education such as the brand new Georgia Northwestern campus.  Last but not least we will continue to support the next generation with early age education, health and wellness initiatives at our state-of-the-art Gaston Community Center.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community? The City of Dalton is in excellent financial condition with the City’s Find Balance being nearly doubled in the past six (6) years.  Property taxes have been lowered by approximately 25%; downtown business property taxes have been cut in half; business licenses have been reduced, some by as much as 50%, all the while, City provided services have been maintained at a constant level.  City Departments, along with Dalton Utilities, work closely with the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority to ensure the permitting process for new developments is expedited.  The City has a first class utility, with high speed fiber optics throughout the entire City.  Dalton welcomes new businesses as well as appreciating the existing manufacturing industry.  I want the business community to understand under no uncertain terms that we are the most competitive city in America.  Dalton has made its mark on the world but more importantly we aren’t finished.  Our competitive juices are flowing like never before.  Businesses should come be part of what we’ve got going here.

Mayor, Kenny Gowin, City of Tunnel Hill

ImageWhat opportunity are you most excited about in your city?  We’re hoping to add wastewater infrastructure to a greater part of our business district along Hwy 41.  This is the first phase of several that could eventually lead to covering the entire City.  There are obstacles to overcome, but it’s exciting and could happen.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?   We were a bedroom community before the downturn and we’re still a bedroom Community.  However, any chance for business growth was stymied during the past five years.  We’re hoping, by addressing our lack of a wastewater system, it’ll help provide a better climate for businesses interested in Tunnel Hill.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community? The City of Tunnel Hill does not have its own property tax, nor a business tax, and your corporate or industrial class one, two, and three inventory is 100% exempt.  We also have two major distribution routes that run through our corporate limits; one is I-75 and the other is U.S. Hwy 41.  Both have good properties available and the I-75 area (along Hwy 201) already has wastewater lines operational.

Mayor, Anthony Hulsey, City of Varnell


What opportunity are you most excited about in your city?       I am looking forward to seeing Varnell grow. I hope to encourage businesses to establish in Varnell to help promote growth and provide more convenience to Varnell citizens. I would also like to see more citizens that are eligible to annex into the city to come in and to provide more community events and involvement.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?  As in all communities, the economic downturn has brought hardship to citizens and businesses. I would like to encourage businesses to establish in Varnell to increase jobs in the community. Highway 71 is becoming more of a main thorough fare  from south to north, in the fact that all GPS’s take you this route when traveling north on I-75, because it takes approximately 30 miles off of your travels.  I plan to re-approach businesses that have looked in the Varnell area in the past and have been turned away due to lack of sewage and liquor by the drink. Varnell now has access to sewage, alcohol sales on Sunday, and liquor by the drink. While alcohol sales on Sundays is not popular among a lot of people, the people that want to consume alcohol or buy alcohol on Sundays will do so, no matter where it is.  They can cross the state line and get it and bring it back, so why not keep the sales tax and revenue in the cities and counties and provide convenience to the citizens.  Varnell has a new Mexican restaurant opening soon and I feel that they will prosper in Varnell.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community?  I would like the business community to know that there is opportunity for growth and prosperity in Varnell. Food Lion ranks high in sales within the company and McDonald’s had the highest sales for a grand opening in the company, just to name a couple. Businesses in Varnell draw from many areas, such as the North end of Whitfield County, the North end of Murray County, the South end of Bradley County, and the Southeast end of Catoosa County.

Mayor, Ron Shinnick, City of Cohutta

ImageWhat opportunity are you most excited about in your city? It’s difficult to point to just one singular opportunity that stands out from all the rest, because presently there are several exciting and challenging opportunities. The truth is Cohutta is one of those undiscovered gems in our County and in NW Georgia. In general terms we want to do those things that will continue to foster and encourage an atmosphere where community, family, and volunteerism is encouraged among all our citizens.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the economic environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?
Most importantly it has effected families which is the real strength of any community including ours. You can see this lingering effect in regards to families in a number of important areas including our school, recreation programs and in other areas. We work closely with our county leaders both in the government and the school system, along with civic groups and local church groups to be sure we assist families wherever possible. We are able to provide through our local government and these other civic groups excellent outdoor facilities, town programs, meal assistance and other serviceswhere possible. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and make our local government work and serve everyone.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community?
– Because of our location, in the very Northern portion of the county, and our proximity to Tennessee, we are indeed the gateway to Georgia and also a convenient and time saving bypass, both north and south, around Chattanooga via highway 71.
– Cohutta has a long standing history of providing a quality education for all of its students in this part of the county. We have an award winning Elementary School with an amazing staff. Complimenting this fact is Cohutta was actually the first accredited High School in the County.
– We have a 45 acre recreational complex complete with three ballfields, tennis court, walking track, community bldg., picnic pavilion, playground etc..
– The Historic downtown area includes the original Bank bldg. built in the 1920’s, the original jail that is over a hundred years old, one of the oldest original church buildings in the county, the Cohutta Fish Hatchery which is the oldest continuos running fish hatchery in Georgia and now one of the oldest in the country, Red Clay State Park is also on our Northern border.
– We host several important annual events including the Street Dance each Fall, the 100k Firehouse Bike ride, the Ruritan Chicken Q and the 5k Joseph Standing run.
– Even though we are the smallest community by population in our County, the citizens have a great spirit of volunteerism, community and family. Because of that can do spirit we have been able to accomplish a great deal.
– Its a great community for families and new opportunities for business, especially along the highway 71 corridor, are beginning to take shape

Chairman, Mike Babb, Whitfield County Board of Commissioners

Image What opportunity are you most excited about in your city? We are most excited about the fact that there are more business inquiries about our area and the possibility of locating or expanding here.  Whitfield County is now on the state department of economic development radar and is having many more contacts from them concerning possible business locations and site visits.  The county has basically “bought” this position through economic development and pro-business decisions.

Coming out of an economic downturn, what lingering effects has the environment had on your community and what are you doing to address them?  The lingering effect that the county commissioners have to deal with are the changes in the revenue stream to the county treasury to support county services.  Economic development incentives, 100% Freeport, no 2% excise tax on energy used in manufacturing, payment for utilities to new business sites and development of the Carbondale Business Park are all expenditures or loss of revenue that affect the county treasury.  The county has to deliver state mandated services plus services expected by the citizens (roads, recreation, fire protection, etc.).  The commissioners expect to offer the citizens a chance to vote on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to address the revenue loss to the treasury by allowing some of the capital costs to be paid by SPLOST rather than property taxes.  Passage of a SPLOST will also supply the opportunity to address quality of life issues to make our community more attractive to citizens and businesses.

What else would you like the business community to know about your community? Given a review of the past actions of the board of commissioners I think most businesses will come to realize that Whitfield County is “open for business”.

Diplomat of the Month! Congrats Shelly Faucett!

ImageI am so honored to be chosen as Diplomat of the Month!  Being a Diplomat has allowed me to meet so many people in the Dalton community. I enjoy going into the businesses that I may not normally go into.  It’s interesting to find out what they do.  It’s been nice to know more about our business community and what they have to offer.  I live in Chatsworth and live with my husband, Craig and my 7 year old son Avery.

I am the office manager at Dalton Funeral Home. We are located at 620 S. Glenwood Ave. We just celebrated our 2nd year anniversary. Dalton Funeral Home is a beautiful funeral home, we try to make the families feel as comfortable as possible during such a hard time. By the time they leave, we feel as though they are part of our family and we hope they feel the same way about us. I also sell tombstones, monuments, and markers. You can stop by the funeral home anytime and I would be glad to show you what we have to offer.

I would also like to mention the owners Tim Rowe and Robert Chambers are great to work with. Robert takes care of our pre-need arrangements. And we are happy to have our Funeral Director Michelle Givens with us also. The whole staff at Dalton Funeral Home are very kind, caring and passionate people. Please call with any questions at 706-529-5371.