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Braselton 13-year-old collecting books for Belize community

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Alina Rodriquez returns again to help orphanage from which she was adopted

Alina Rodriquez, in pink dress, has been returning annually to the Belize orphanage from which she was adopted as a toddler as a part of her Alina Gives Back charitable efforts. The 13-year-old Braselton resident is hosting an April 30 book drive to collect new and used books for this summer's outreach effort near the orphanage.

Alina Rodriquez, in pink dress, has been returning annually to the Belize orphanage from which she was adopted as a toddler as a part of her Alina Gives Back charitable efforts. The 13-year-old Braselton resident is hosting an April 30 book drive to collect new and used books for this summer’s outreach effort near the orphanage.

What began as a child’s question about other children without toys remaining in the Belize orphanage from which she was adopted has become an ongoing mission of a Braselton family.

Alina Gives Back is a nonprofit which annually finds that child, Alina Rodriquez, now 13 and a 10th-grader Georgia Cyber Academy student, returning to Belize to not only deliver toys and toiletries and host a dinner meal at the orphanage but host a summer day camp.

After Dominique Rodriquez and her husband had struggled for years to conceive a child and began to explore adoption, her mother, who was born in Belize and returned there after her retirement, joined the mission to find them a child. One day, the couple got a call from her mother.

“I have found your daughter,” she said of the darling orphaned toddler she found and took home with her, and the lengthy formal process began to adopt Alina and bring her home to the United States. The big bond between grandmother and granddaughter developed as Alina lived with Dominique’s mother for several months.

Alina was in kindergarten when she asked about the children she had known at the Dorothy Menzies Child Care Center in Belize. She remembered the simplicity of the surroundings compared to what she was enjoying in her Georgia home, and she wanted to share with others.

“This all happened by accident because of my daughter,” said Dominique, who began asking store managers for donations for Alina’s goal of providing for the children she left behind in the orphanage. Before long, it was Alina making the requests.

“She is my little angel,” says Dominique of her daughter, who was recently accepted to the Governor’s Honors Program in English with math as her minor. She is one of a few 13-year-olds selected to participate in this summer’s residential program at Valdosta State University for gifted and talented high school students who will be rising juniors and seniors during the program. Applying for Governor’s Honors is an arduous process and Georgia Cyber Academy instructors assisted.

The day after she returns from Governor’s Honors, Alina will be headed to Belize. While there, in addition to conducting the summer day camp, she will also be tutoring kids a few hours a day almost until school starts back.

Continue reading Braselton 13-year-old collecting books for Belize community

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announces campaign to ‘unmask’ sex traffickers

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By Nick Watson

Regional staff

With Atlanta as one of the largest centers of sex trafficking in the country, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announced Tuesday a campaign to target the buyers.

“When I was first elected, one could be convicted of trafficking and serve a year,” Olens said, adding it has since been increased to a minimum 10-year sentence.

The statewide campaign is called “Unmasked,” an effort to prosecute buyers in the sex trafficking market and “show that they are not anonymous,” according to the attorney general’s office.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said the metro Atlanta area has been identified as one of the top five areas for human trafficking by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Over time, greater education of the public has led to greater identification of victims and criminal prosecutions, Keenan said.

While progress has been made every year, Olens said the next step would be mandatory jail time for both buyers and sellers in human trafficking.

“We need to have in place that that’s not acceptable, that those buyers have to serve jail time,” Olens said.

Continue reading Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announces campaign to ‘unmask’ sex traffickers

U.S. Rep. Collins to meet May 9 with Windstream officials to discuss Windstream improvement promises

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U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said in a statement Tuesday that he will meet with Windstream officials on May 9 to discuss the company’s latest promises to improve communication with and upgrade internet service for tens of thousands of customers across Northeast Georgia.

Collins has been engaged in a media back-and-forth with the Little Rock, Ark.-based company for several months now after complaints from customers began pouring into his office.

The complaints have become so numerous that the Jefferson City Council in Jackson County established a Broadband Advisory Committee to address possible alternative service providers.

Collins said he is concerned because Windstream has received federal funding.

Continue reading U.S. Rep. Collins to meet May 9 with Windstream officials to discuss Windstream improvement promises

Apply now for Braselton Citizens Academy

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A few spots remain for the 2016 Braselton Citizens Academy with classes to be held from May to October on the third Thursday of each month from 6-8 p.m. Optional special tours and law enforcement ride-a-longs are also available to class members.

Classes cover all aspects of Braselton’s government structure and responsibilities. Members get a true behind the scenes look at how Braselton performs its daily tasks and special events.

For an application, email Jennifer Dees at jdees@braselton.net

 

Braselton planning board recommends rezoning of Braselton-Stover House for use as funeral home

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Addressing the Braselton Planning Commission related to a rezoning request on the Braselton-Stover House property, Braselton resident  Lynne Roetzer expressed her concern about the impact on the Braselton Police Department. She asked if the addition of a funeral home would put an additional burden on police and its budget.

Addressing the Braselton Planning Commission related to a rezoning request on the Braselton-Stover House property, Braselton resident Lynne Roetzer expressed her concern about the impact on the Braselton Police Department. She asked if the addition of a funeral home would put an additional burden on police and its budget.

Funerals would be scheduled around special events held in banquet room

The Braselton Planning Commission is recommending the Braselton Town Council approve the request to rezone the Braselton-Stover House property to commercial to allow for continued operation and expansion of the popular special events venue while allowing the historic residence to become a funeral home.

However, planning board chairman Allan Slovin suggested a third condition that would ensure that a funeral and a special event in the banquet room addition do not take place at the same time.

Jack Frost, owner of Memorial Park Funeral Homes and Cemeteries, has asked for the rezoning change to General Commercial (G-C) from the current Residential (R-1). He has a contract to purchase the property from Marvin and Mary Stover.

Representing Frost, attorney John Stell said, “The property needs to be rezone property” to reflect existing the commercial use [in the 2008 banquet room addition]. He said the growing trend is to have a funeral home and a special events venue to complement each other. He noted that Frost is currently building an events venue at Memorial Park in Gainesville.

Stell, who said the opportunity to acquire the Braselton-Stover House would eliminate the plan to construct a new facility on the Broadway Avenue (Highway 124) where the town council last year approved Frost’s development of a cemetery adjacent to Westview Cemetery where members of the Braselton family and others are buried, indicated that customer questions have been responded to and Frost’s acquisition of the property would ensure that repairs, needed because the house is not being used, would be made.

Continue reading Braselton planning board recommends rezoning of Braselton-Stover House for use as funeral home