Milton named best in state, All N.F. Cities in top 20

Milton named best in state, 9 in south

All N.F. Cities in top 20

 
December 12, 2011
MILTON, GA. - Milton has been named the ninth best city in the Southeast and the best overall in Georgia.

The results come from a survey compiled by The Business Journals, a Charlotte, N.C.-based collection of business publications and websites, which includes the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The report's author, G. Scott Thomas, said he analyzed 3,764 cities throughout the country, searching for places that have "healthy economies, light traffic, moderate costs of living, impressive housing stocks and strong educational systems."

Nationally, Milton ranked 37

The other North Fulton cities ranked high on the list, each making the top ten in the state. Of Georgia cities, John Creek ranked second, Alpharetta was fourth and Roswell eighth. Mountain Park was 17.
West University Place, Tex, home of Rice University, placed first in the south.

Thomas said the raw numbers used came from the five-year version of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey. Milton's 2009 estimated population was 15,572.

Alpharetta completes deal for Westside Parkway extension



By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Alpharetta has taken ownership of the final tract of land needed to complete Westside Parkway, a key thoroughfare used by thousands of north Fulton commuters each day.

 

At its regular meeting Monday night, the City Council voted unanimously to accept the deal negotiated with property owners along the proposed route north of Old Milton Parkway to Westside Parkway.
"The vote sets the stage for completing one of our community's most important goals," Mayor Arthur Letchas said. "The completion of Westside Parkway will provide a key north-south roadway that will ease traffic congestion during peak commute times."
The city anticipates it will send out requests for proposals by the end of the year, and a contractor should be selected the early part of 2012.

8th Annual Christmas In Central Park Festival

Christmas in Central Park is held at Forsyth County Park and Recreation Central Park center. It is located less than one mile from Highway 400 at the Keith Bridge Exit. We look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday November 19, 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM and

Sunday November 20, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM     

Enjoy a variety of handmade products, jewelry, glass, pottery, wood work and decorative items. There is also specialty food items, clothing, holiday decorations.
Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Central Park Center
2300 Keith Bridge Road
Cumming, GA 30028

Sites selected for new Roswell, Alpharetta libraries

Milton building still pending



ATLANTA, Ga. - The Fulton County Library Board of Commissioners has decided on five of the seven library locations and has begun the process of designing libraries for them.

The Board met Nov. 2 to chose the sites for the majority of sites that will be built with $275 million in bond referendum monies voters approved in 2008.

The sites of Roswell and Alpharetta are among those settled on. Roswell's will be at the intersection of Holcomb Bridge Road and Fouts Road on land donated by the city; Alpharetta's will be incorporated into the new city center concept, paid for with bond money on the ballot.

Walmart to put Neighborhood Market in Alpharetta

First one in Georgia as Walmart goes


ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Walmart will open a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Alpharetta that will compete directly with Kroger and Publix.

Although there are more than 180 Neighborhood Markets to date (the first Walmart Market opened in 1998 in Bentonville, Ark.), this one along with six other stores in the metro Atlanta area will be the first in Georgia. Walmart corporate communications officer Glen Wilkins said the plans call for refurbishing a former grocery store in the Alpharetta Crossing Shopping Center at the corner of Haynes Bridge Road and Old Milton Parkway.
The 40,000-square-foot store will open in late 2012 carrying a full line of groceries, a pharmacy, health and beauty aids and a "limited selection" of general merchandise.
"We found we needed to fill a gap in our market for the everyday customer who only needs a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread," Wilkins said. "Our regular Walmart stores can be five or six miles from one another, and we want to find a more convenient solution to pick up the things they may need on a daily basis. It's a grocery store."
These smaller stores are also meant to woo shoppers with easier parking, less crowded aisles and quicker checkout.
Wilkins said the Neighborhood Markets will soon be in Snellville and Marietta also. The store will employ 45 to 100 people. The strategy is to fill in where those Walmarts are already.
Wilkins said Walmart is not challenging the big grocery chains. It is instead trying to better serve its customers.
"This is a smaller-basket concept. We know our customers like shopping at Walmart. Sometimes with the challenges of traffic and convenience, it is hard for them to come to our stores. This fills that gap," Wilkins said. "We want to continue to provide that convenience."
Walmart will be competitive in price "for the market we are in," he said. "We will have everyday low prices."

Alpharetta's 33rd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting


Alpharetta Downtown Historic District will light up at the 34th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at 5 pm on Sun, December 4, 2011. The celebration will take place in the Milton Square City Park at Milton Avenue and Main Street.
Creating special memories for area families for over 30 years, the celebration began in 1977 with about 100 people gathered around a 6-foot live blue spruce tree. Alpharetta’s annual holiday event has grown to approximately 3,000 people celebrating the lighting of the 45-foot tree.
“The Christmas Tree Lighting has brought the Alpharetta community together for years,” said Mayor Arthur Letchas. “It is a perfect time to enjoy the simple traditions of holiday season.” The children’s classic book, ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, will be read on the main stage by Mayor Letchas and his wife Sally.
An entertainment program will feature live music and caroling with James Casto. Plus enjoy holiday performances by City of Alpharetta Recreation and Parks Department Rhythm n’ Shoes Dance Program, and Alpharetta Christian Academy Children’s Chorus.
Alpharetta’s Christmas tree will come aglow with 10,000 twinkling lights at approximately 5:40 pm, just before the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus on a City of Alpharetta fire truck, which
has been a local tradition since the first event thirty-two years ago. The Christmas Tree Lighting will offer the opportunity for children to talk with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the park gazebo. A North Fulton Jaycee’s volunteer will be on hand to help take FREE online photos, or parents may bring their cameras to take photos.
On Milton Square City Park, entertainment will consist of strolling elves creating FREE balloon sculptures, lighted train rides, glow necklaces and holiday crafts provided by City of Alpharetta; and FREE face painting provided by Milton High School’s Interact Club. The shops and restaurants of Historic Downtown Alpharetta will also feature holiday activities so make sure to visit the local businesses.
The Christmas Tree Lighting is free to the public. Free parking is available at City Hall and Milton Center (the old Milton High School). The event owes its success, in part, to the generous volunteerism of the Dr. James J. Awbrey IV, D.M.D and Staff, Milton High School Interact Club, Milton High School Key Club, North Fulton Jaycees, and Hopewell Middle School Jr. Beta Club. For more information, visit www.alpharetta.ga.us or phone 678-297-6078.

Dunwoody Music Festival Oct 22-23--Brook Run Park



The Music Festival is back for 2011 and better than ever!
$5 at the gate per day gets you a full day of music on the MAIN STAGE, a local BATTLE OF THE BANDS on Saturday, the BREAKOFF BATTLE ROYALE on Sunday, a Kids Area with rides and bounce houses, and an assortment of local merchants and food vendors through 6 PM.




Boo At The Zoo: Atlanta’s favorite family Halloween festival begins this weekend

Atlanta’s favorite family Halloween festival returns at Boo at the Zoo presented by Xfinity, Saturdays and Sundays, October 22, 23, 29 and 30.

Guests will enjoy sampling sweet treats along magical pathways while meeting a whimsical cast of costumed characters. Kids of all ages can explore an all-new expanded hay maze presented by Mitcham Farms. Older children will appreciate a visit to a new spooky safari outpost inhabited by an eccentric ranger and his creepy collection of relics. Other highlights will include rides on the Candy Express Zoo Train; costume contests; Halloween dance tunes by Little Beat Music; and games at the Zoo Boo Town carnival.

Three of the Zoo’s most beloved great ape youngsters also observe birthdays during Boo at the Zoo. Boo-goers are invited to join in festivities for Dumadi the Sumatran orangutan this Saturday the 22nd; celebrate gorilla twins Kali and Kazi on Sunday, October 30. Guests recycling cell phones during Boo at the Zoo will receive special treats at the Willie B. Gorilla Conservation Center; proceeds from cell phone recycling benefit gorillas and their habitats in the wild through the Zoo’s partner in conservation, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Costumes are welcome and encouraged. Boo at the Zoo is free for Zoo Atlanta Members and children under 3; free with general admission. Visit zooatlanta.org for more information, and check the Zoo map on the day of the event for a full listing of activities, times and locations.

10th Annual Taste of Atlanta at Technology Square 10/22-23/2011

10th Annual Taste of Atlanta at Technology Square
After a decade of bringing together the city’s best restaurants for Atlanta’s premier foodie event, Taste of Atlanta announces its return to Tech Square in Midtown on Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 2011. Taste of Atlanta will continue to feature a diverse selection of the finest fare from the food capital of the South; and this year, in honor of its 10-year milestone, the festival will also serve up several new additions to its event line-up.

Throughout the weekend, guests of all ages and levels of culinary expertise will enjoy an extensive selection of the best offerings in food, wine, beer and cocktails – along with engaging chef demos, specialty food and beverage tents and other family-friendly activities.

Gold Rush Days Dahlonega,GA

Gold Rush Days are held October 15th-16th, 2011when thousands come to see fall colors peaking and celebrate Dahlonega's 1828 discovery of gold. Over 300 art and craft exhibitors gather around the Public Square and Historic District in support of this annual event, and it is estimated that a crowd of over 200,000 visit over the weekend to join in the fun and excitement! It has been voted one of the Top 20 Events in the southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.


Included in the two day event are a parade, children's activities, a fashion show, gold panning contest, wheelbarrow race, King and Queen Coronation, hog calling, buck dancing contest, gospel singing and other live entertainment, wrist wrestling, and last but not least – some delicious food!
Friday night streets close @ 6:00 and don't reopen until 6:00 Sunday night.
Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega GA
gold_rush_days_festivalGold Rush Days are held the third weekend in October (the 15th and 16th for 2011), when thousands come to see fall colors peaking and celebrate Dahlonega's 1828 discovery of gold. Over 300 art and craft exhibitors gather around the Public Square and Historic District in support of this annual event, and it is estimated that a crowd of over 200,000 visit over the weekend to join in the fun and excitement!
It has been voted one of the Top 20 Events in the southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. Included in the two day event are a parade, children's activities, a fashion show, gold panning contest, wheelbarrow race, King and Queen Coronation, hog calling, buck dancing contest, gospel singing and other live entertainment, wrist wrestling, and last but not least – some delicious food!For GoldRush Days Information, visit www.dahlonegajaycees.com

30th Annual House on Horror Hill in Alpharetta

House on Horror Hill in Alpharetta

Are you ready for the scare of your life? Then get ready, because the North Fulton Jaycees
are ready to scare you with the most intense haunted house in the North Fulton area. Come experience horror as only the Jaycees can deliver. Sight and sound combine
to send shivers down your spine!!! The house opens around dark.
Nights of operation 2011:
September 29-30, October 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, & 27-31
Directions:
From Ga. 400 Take Exit 7(Holcomb Bridge Rd.) West to Hwy 9(Alpharetta Hwy) turn right onto Alpharetta Hwy/Ga 120/Ga 9.
Continue to follow Alpharetta Hwy 2.9 miles. Haunted House will be on the corner of Hwy 9 and Wills Rd. The address is 1650 Alpharetta Hwy. Alpharetta, GA 30004
You can't miss it, just listen for the screams of fright!




Nights of Operation 2011:



S

Nights of Operation 2011:


September 29-30, October 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, & 27-31eptember 29-30, October 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, & 27-31
From Ga. 400 Take Exit 7(Holcomb Bridge Rd.) West to Hwy 9(Alpharet

Nights of Operation 2011:


September 29-30, October 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, & 27-31
ta

Nights of Operation 2011:


September 29-30, October 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, & 27-31
Hwy) turn right onto Alpharetta Hwy/Ga 120/Ga 9.
Continue to follow Alpharetta Hwy 2.9 miles. Haunted House will be on the corner of Hwy 9 and Wills Rd. The address is 1650 Alpharetta Hwy. Alpharetta, GA 30004
You can't miss it, just listen for the screams of fright!

Chastain Park Arts Festival

2011 Park Arts Festival
The 2011 Chastain Park Arts Festival will be held November 5 - 6, 2011 in Atlanta, GA.

The Chastain Park Arts Festival is a two-day outdoor event with an emphasis on the visual arts. Located in the largest public park in Fulton County, we set out with many different goals in mind: 1) Give back to the community through art; 2) Create a venue that emphasizes local and Georgian artists, so they have a show they can depend on in their own back yard; 3) Bring a festival to the folks in the northern part of Fulton county; 4) Create a festival for Artists by Artists, letting the artist have a voice in the creation and operations of the festival; 5) Create a show unlike any other in the City of Atlanta, bringing together outstanding local, regional and national artists.

The Chastain Park area is rich with one of the largest and most enthusiastic art buying communities in the Atlanta area. This inaugural event will feature approximately 100 fine painters, photographers, sculptors, leather and metal craftpersons, glass blowers, jewelers and more! The Festival will also offer visitors the opportunity to view artist demonstrations, enjoy live entertainment, participate in hands-on arts activities, and enjoy festival foods and beverages.
 

The Georgia Aquarium Welcomes Aqua Vino Guests

Georgia Aquarium's Sixth Annual Aqua Vino will be held at the Georgia Aquarium on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, with the Grand Tasting beginning at 7 p.m. Enjoy and sample more than 200 fine wines from around the globe, gourmet fare from Atlanta's premier restaurants, a live, silent and wine auction and live music, all with the backdrop of the Ocean's Ballroom and the Aquarium's amazing galleris.
All proceeds from Aqua vino support the Aquarium's Veterinary Services through the Correll Center for Aquatic Animal Health.
This special price is only available if you purchase your tickets by Sept. 30, so get your tickets today!
Thank you for your support of the Georgia Aquarium! We would like to extend a special offer to you for our Sixth Annual Aqua Vino!
From now until Sept. 30, you have the opportunity to purchase Aqua Vino Grand Tasting tickets for the special price of $150 per person. That's a $50 savings!

To learn more about the event, please visit www.georgiaaquarium.org/aquavino
Sixth Annual Aqua Vino
Georgia Aquarium and Ocean's Ballroom
Oct. 13, 2011
Grand Tasting: 7 p.m.
Attire: Cocktail Chic
Event attendess must be 21 years of age for entry.For VIP Tasting tickets and Patron opportunities, please visit www.georgiaaquarium.org/aquavino

Taste of Johns Creek on Tap This Weekend

Taste of Johns Creek
Where/When: Chattahoochee High School, 5230 Taylor Road, Johns Creek, Sunday, Sept. 25, 4-7 p.m.
Why Go?: Unlimited samples from 50 participating restaurants as well as entertainment and activities. Proceeds benefit the football team and stadium with new uniforms and capital improvements for the 4AAAA state-champion Chattahoochee Cougars.
Price: $20 at the door

Alpharetta Brew Moon Fest

The Downtown Alpharetta Trade Association is proud to present the first annual Alpharetta Brew Moon Fest street dance, brew & shenanigans on Saturday October 1, 2011 at 6:30pm on Old Milton Ave in downtown Alpharetta.

There will be great food, beer and wine and non-alcoholic beverages for sale, a performance by the Old School Horn Band from 6:30p to 8:30pm and our headline band Banks and Shane from 9pm to 11pm!

Food vendors at the event will be Smokejack, 52Bistro, Pure Taqueria, and Coffee Pot.

Admission to the event is $10. ID's will be required at the entrance gates. People coming to the event are welcome to bring their own chairs.

DATA is very excited about this event and look forward to seeing you all there! Bring your friends and neighbors because this is going to be a whole lot of fun!




If you have any questions regarding table reservations, please email office@downtownalpharettatradeassociation.com

The tasty toast of Georgia.This is a real wine country — not just a phony excuse for a label



DAHLONEGA, Ga. — So what wine goes best with fried pork rinds, anyway?

"That'd be Fat Boy Red," deadpanned Sharon Paul, not missing a beat as she continued to pour at a tasting at her Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery in the steep foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Paul and her husband, Doug, a former broadcaster, own and operate the kitschiest of a cluster of remarkable wineries just outside this north Georgia town hitherto known principally for one of the nation's oldest military colleges and the Southeast's biggest gold strike. (The U.S. government actually established a branch mint here in 1838 to turn out gold coins.)

But the gold in these hills here and now can be found in the thousands of acres of grapevines laid out as if in military rows up and down the steep slopes of outer Dahlonega. The place even looks like the Napa and Sonoma valleys.

A short (once you get out of Atlanta traffic) drive due north from the state capital, Georgia's wine country beckons oenophiles, tourists and folks just looking for a pleasant day out of the hustle and bustle of the city for a taste of fine yet casual dining, decent live music and surprisingly good local wine.

Arguably the best of that wine is produced in the vineyards in and around Frogtown, a red-clay community perched along the border of rural Lumpkin and White counties, where you can almost hear the tune from "Deliverance" as you drive past the occasional dilapidated gray wooden shack barely held together by rampant kudzu.

Within a Champagne cork's toss from Three Rivers are two wineries recognized as producing wines on a par with any in the storied California regions of Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles: BlackStock Vineyards and Winery and Frogtown Cellars.

"My wines are an expression of this place," said BlackStock owner Dave Harris, a fifth-generation Atlantan who studied at Fresno State University to hone his craft, which he says is not just growing grapes but "growing wine."

BlackStock's 40 hilly acres encompass 240,000 vines planted in 1997 and yield a wide range of wine grapes, from merlot to chardonnay to pinot varieties. Harris modestly claims to be the second-largest grower on the East Coast of viognier, a highly prized, once nearly extinct French grape that legend claims was the favorite of kings.

But he seems most proud of the fact that BlackStock's wines are "100 percent Georgia grown." Citing a unique combination of soil, slope, rainfall and mountain-protected climate, the soft-spoken but passionate winemaker declared, "This is an exceptional grape-growing area."

Which explains in large part the mini explosion of successful wineries that have cropped up in north Georgia over the last decade and a half. The Georgia Winegrowers Association lists 10 local wineries within an hour's drive of one another.

Michael Bryan, director of the prestigious Atlanta Wine School, said the high elevation and cool climate "provide the best chance of mimicking better known domestic wines from the West Coast."

Just up the road from Three Sisters (named for the trio of mountain peaks you can see from the porch) and BlackStock is what some critics consider the best of the Georgia wineries: Frogtown Cellars.

Owner and winemaker Craig Kritzer has built an impressive European-style operation in Frogtown, embracing innovative winemaking techniques and combining that with shrewd marketing concepts.

A retired lawyer from Atlanta, Kritzer followed his passion for wine to realize his dream of owning what he claims is the biggest homegrown vineyard (41 acres) in Georgia and — as he will tell anyone who will listen — the best.

"We do not just say we make competitive premium wines," Kritzer said. "We prove this characterization of our wines by submitting Frogtown labeled wine to the rigors of competing against the best wines produced anywhere in the world."

To back this up, he produces a list of recent medals Frogtown Cellars has won in a slew of major U.S. wine competitions.

While the title of No. 1 Georgia winery likely will continue to be challenged by these competitive neighbors, most of the folks who drive up from Atlanta or down from their mountain vacation homes mainly seem to be looking for where they can have the most enjoyable wine-tasting experience. All provide tastings, fine dining, live music and leisurely sipping — even grape-stompings during harvest season — plus venues for weddings and receptions.

The consensus seems to be that visitors leave happy, whichever winery they visit — from the slick Old World Frogtown Cellars to the engaging modern sincerity of BlackStock to the down-home atmosphere of Three Sisters.

Which brings us back to Fat Boy Red. Where did that name come from?

"Have you seen my husband?" Sharon Paul asked, gesturing to the rather robust man in denim overalls pouring a glass for a visitor.

'Nuff said.

If you go

Tastings generally run $15 for eight or nine wines.

BlackStock Vineyards

and Winery, 5400 Town Creek Road, Dahlonega; 706-219-2789, ext. 223; bsvw.com

Prices range from $15 for a 2006 merlot to $32 for a 2008 reserve touriga. The 2010 reserve viognier is $25.

Frogtown Cellars, 3300 Damascus Church Road, Dahlonega, 706-865-0687, frogtownwine.com

Prices range from $19 for a 2008 sangiovese to $50 for a 2006 Frogtown Family reserve merlot. Most Frogtown wines are in the $20s.

Three Sisters

Vineyards & Winery, 439 Vineyard Way, Dahlonega, 706-865-9463, threesistersvineyards.com

Prices range from $10 a bottle for Chestatee red or Chestatee rose to $28 for a 2005 cabernet franc (from the reserve list). Fat Boy Red is $15.

Other wineries in north Georgia:

Cavendar Creek Vineyards and Winery, Dahlonega, 770-823-9255, cavendercreekvineyards.com

Crane Creek Vineyards, Young Harris, 706-379-1236, cranecreekvineyards.com

Habersham Winery, Helen, 706-878-9463, habershamwinery.com
DAHLONEGA, Ga. — So what wine goes best with fried pork rinds, anyway?

"That'd be Fat Boy Red," deadpanned Sharon Paul, not missing a beat as she continued to pour at a tasting at her Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery in the steep foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Paul and her husband, Doug, a former broadcaster, own and operate the kitschiest of a cluster of remarkable wineries just outside this north Georgia town hitherto known principally for one of the nation's oldest military colleges and the Southeast's biggest gold strike. (The U.S. government actually established a branch mint here in 1838 to turn out gold coins.)

But the gold in these hills here and now can be found in the thousands of acres of grapevines laid out as if in military rows up and down the steep slopes of outer Dahlonega. The place even looks like the Napa and Sonoma valleys.

A short (once you get out of Atlanta traffic) drive due north from the state capital, Georgia's wine country beckons oenophiles, tourists and folks just looking for a pleasant day out of the hustle and bustle of the city for a taste of fine yet casual dining, decent live music and surprisingly good local wine.

Arguably the best of that wine is produced in the vineyards in and around Frogtown, a red-clay community perched along the border of rural Lumpkin and White counties, where you can almost hear the tune from "Deliverance" as you drive past the occasional dilapidated gray wooden shack barely held together by rampant kudzu.

Within a Champagne cork's toss from Three Rivers are two wineries recognized as producing wines on a par with any in the storied California regions of Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles: BlackStock Vineyards and Winery and Frogtown Cellars.

"My wines are an expression of this place," said BlackStock owner Dave Harris, a fifth-generation Atlantan who studied at Fresno State University to hone his craft, which he says is not just growing grapes but "growing wine."

BlackStock's 40 hilly acres encompass 240,000 vines planted in 1997 and yield a wide range of wine grapes, from merlot to chardonnay to pinot varieties. Harris modestly claims to be the second-largest grower on the East Coast of viognier, a highly prized, once nearly extinct French grape that legend claims was the favorite of kings.

But he seems most proud of the fact that BlackStock's wines are "100 percent Georgia grown." Citing a unique combination of soil, slope, rainfall and mountain-protected climate, the soft-spoken but passionate winemaker declared, "This is an exceptional grape-growing area."

Which explains in large part the mini explosion of successful wineries that have cropped up in north Georgia over the last decade and a half. The Georgia Winegrowers Association lists 10 local wineries within an hour's drive of one another.

Michael Bryan, director of the prestigious Atlanta Wine School, said the high elevation and cool climate "provide the best chance of mimicking better known domestic wines from the West Coast."

Just up the road from Three Sisters (named for the trio of mountain peaks you can see from the porch) and BlackStock is what some critics consider the best of the Georgia wineries: Frogtown Cellars.

Owner and winemaker Craig Kritzer has built an impressive European-style operation in Frogtown, embracing innovative winemaking techniques and combining that with shrewd marketing concepts.

A retired lawyer from Atlanta, Kritzer followed his passion for wine to realize his dream of owning what he claims is the biggest homegrown vineyard (41 acres) in Georgia and — as he will tell anyone who will listen — the best.

"We do not just say we make competitive premium wines," Kritzer said. "We prove this characterization of our wines by submitting Frogtown labeled wine to the rigors of competing against the best wines produced anywhere in the world."

To back this up, he produces a list of recent medals Frogtown Cellars has won in a slew of major U.S. wine competitions.

While the title of No. 1 Georgia winery likely will continue to be challenged by these competitive neighbors, most of the folks who drive up from Atlanta or down from their mountain vacation homes mainly seem to be looking for where they can have the most enjoyable wine-tasting experience. All provide tastings, fine dining, live music and leisurely sipping — even grape-stompings during harvest season — plus venues for weddings and receptions.

The consensus seems to be that visitors leave happy, whichever winery they visit — from the slick Old World Frogtown Cellars to the engaging modern sincerity of BlackStock to the down-home atmosphere of Three Sisters.

Which brings us back to Fat Boy Red. Where did that name come from?

"Have you seen my husband?" Sharon Paul asked, gesturing to the rather robust man in denim overalls pouring a glass for a visitor.

'Nuff said.

If you go

Tastings generally run $15 for eight or nine wines.

BlackStock Vineyards

and Winery, 5400 Town Creek Road, Dahlonega; 706-219-2789, ext. 223; bsvw.com

Prices range from $15 for a 2006 merlot to $32 for a 2008 reserve touriga. The 2010 reserve viognier is $25.

Frogtown Cellars, 3300 Damascus Church Road, Dahlonega, 706-865-0687, frogtownwine.com

Prices range from $19 for a 2008 sangiovese to $50 for a 2006 Frogtown Family reserve merlot. Most Frogtown wines are in the $20s.

Three Sisters

Vineyards & Winery, 439 Vineyard Way, Dahlonega, 706-865-9463, threesistersvineyards.com

Prices range from $10 a bottle for Chestatee red or Chestatee rose to $28 for a 2005 cabernet franc (from the reserve list). Fat Boy Red is $15.

Other wineries in north Georgia:

Cavendar Creek Vineyards and Winery, Dahlonega, 770-823-9255, cavendercreekvineyards.com

Crane Creek Vineyards, Young Harris, 706-379-1236, cranecreekvineyards.com

Habersham Winery, Helen, 706-878-9463, habershamwinery.com

Montaluce Winery & Estates, Dahlonega, 706-867-4060, montaluce.com

Persimmon Creek Vineyards, Clayton, 706-212-7380, persimmoncreekwine.com

Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards, Sautee, 706-878-1056, sauteenacoocheevineyards.com

Tiger Mountain Vineyards, Tiger, 706-782-4777, tigerwine.com

Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery, Dahlonega, 706-867-9862, wolfmountainvineyards.com

Yonah Mountain Vineyards, Sautee-Nacoochee, 706-878-5522, yonahmountainvineyards.com
Montaluce Winery & Estates, Dahlonega, 706-867-4060, montaluce.com

Persimmon Creek Vineyards, Clayton, 706-212-7380, persimmoncreekwine.com

Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards, Sautee, 706-878-1056, sauteenacoocheevineyards.com

Tiger Mountain Vineyards, Tiger, 706-782-4777, tigerwine.com

Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery, Dahlonega, 706-867-9862, wolfmountainvineyards.com

Yonah Mountain Vineyards, Sautee-Nacoochee, 706-878-5522, yonahmountainvineyards.com

Yellow Daisy Festival

Yellow Daisy Festival

Dates: Stay tuned for the 43rd Annual Yellow Daisy Festival Sept 8 - 11, 2011.
Event is FREE with $10 vehicle entrance fee
Consistently voted one of the top five arts & crafts shows in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine, a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event and winner of multiple awards by the Southeast Festival and Events Association.

Despite its growth from a small arts & crafts show to the four day event that it has become today, the Yellow Daisy Festival continues to be a big show with a small-town feel. The mission of re-connecting families and friends with fun, shopping, live entertainment and good food has remained constant over the past forty-two years. Multi-generations of mothers, daughters and grandmothers meander the wooded trails together in search of the perfect item.
More than 400 artists and crafters from 38 States and two countries display their works for your appreciation and purchase.

Daily live entertainment, Children's Corner activities, clogging and crafter demonstrations throughout the event as well as fabulous festival foods.

Please note pets are not allowed at the Yellow Daisy Festival.
http://festivals.stonemountainpark.com/mini-section/default.aspx?season=fall&id=14

Roswell Arts Festival 2011--September 17/18,2011


The weekend of September 17 and 18, 2011, the Roswell Town Square will become an outdoor art gallery. Creative works will be on hand from artists around the county. Along with art, there will be live entertainment and a kids activities area.
The 45th Roswell Arts Festival will be held rain or shine. Parking is limited, however, there will be shuttle rides from City Hall at 38 Hill Street in Roswell. Proceeds of the 2011 Roswell Art Festival will go to support the Roswell Recreation and Parks Department. Find out more at www.roswellartsfestival.com.

Nestled in the heart of historic downtown Roswell, the Roswell Arts Festival is held on the Roswell Town Square. Entertainment featuring local singers, dance companies, and children’s entertainers begins daily at noon on both days of the festival. Children’s painting, sand art, and other activities are also available. Food vendors on site.

Founded in 1966, the Roswell Arts Festival Committee has worked tirelessly to bring quality artisans to Roswell for the benefit of the community and to raise money in support of the Roswell Recreation and Parks Department. The Roswell Arts Festival has raised money for a variety of projects throughout its forty year history, including funding for the Roswell Visual Arts Center, Roswell’s Riverside Park, funding for the Roswell Adult Recreation Center, and funding for the purchase of sixty three acres of land that would later become Roswell Area Park. Through monies raised by the annual festival, the Roswell Recreation Association has been able to donate more than half a million dollars towards the betterment of recreation in Roswell.




Stalled Alpharetta project to get new life--Prospect Park

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The firm that bought Atlantic Station now is poised to buy a stalled retail project in Alpharetta.
North American Properties, which bought the shops at Atlantic Station in December, has signed a contract to purchase Prospect Park.
Newnan developer Stan Thomas had proposed a luxury destination for tourists, residents and shoppers on the 106-acre site at Ga. 400 and Old Milton Parkway. His grandiose plans included $1.5 million homes and a luxury hotel. A parking deck for a proposed Whole Foods was started but not completed. Instead, building materials and heavy equipment sat idle on the site while Thomas’s firm ran into financial trouble during the recession. He had billions of dollars of projects under development, but ran out of cash and financing to bring many of them to completion. Thomas filed for bankruptcy protection on the Prospect Park site.
North American Properties, led by Mark Toro, wants to put a scaled down mixed use center on the site and will be seeking input from citizens of Alpharetta about what they would like to see on the site. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Alpharetta unveils new city center proposal

Subject: Alpharetta Plans for Downtown Area
City of Alpharetta officials unveiled Monday night a long awaited vision for the redevelopment of 22-acres of property in the heart of Downtown Alpharetta. That vision includes the creation of a large public park, the new Fulton County Library, a new Alpharetta City Hall, structured parking, and the realignment of Haynes Bridge Road.
For several years the City of Alpharetta has pursued plans for reinvigorating the community’s downtown core through development of property surrounding the current City Hall building. Past attempts have not been realized due to factors that were beyond the control of City Council. City officials are confident that this time the vision will be realized.
“The key difference this time is that we own all of the property,” explained Alpharetta Mayor Arthur Letchas. “In the past private developers were unable to come to terms with the owners of key pieces of property, and the project withered. Today, we own all of the property needed to make this vision a reality, and we are committed to making that happen.”
Since the summer of 2010 the City has taken advantage of the depressed real estate market to acquire 8 acres of Downtown Alpharetta property that, in combination with property the City already owned, will encompass the entire project.
The City’s property sits on both sides of Haynes Bridge Road, so officials plan to realign the road to unify the proposed development. Under the plan, just north of its intersection with Old Milton Parkway the road will be shifted to the east so that it intersects with Academy Street at the present day Brooke Street.
“The road will be realigned to become the eastern boundary of the redevelopment project, which allows the entire development to be pedestrian focused,” Letchas explained.
Concept images revealed Monday night reflect a five-acre passive park dominating the northeastern portion of the development and a one-acre town green fronting Main Street. A new public library is depicted prominently in the southeastern corner.
“Every good development needs an anchor, a star attraction,” Letchas stated. “The new library is the anchor for this development, so we have proposed a location that takes advantage of topography and sight lines from Old Milton Parkway to draw attention to that important community asset.”
The City also proposes to build a 450-space parking structure and a new 47,000-square foot City Hall as part of the redevelopment. Those projects would be funded by General Obligation Bonds, if voters approve a referendum that will appear on the ballot this November.
“We will make our case to Alpharetta citizens,” stated Letchas, “and they will decide if those elements are built. We can take on those bonds; can make this project happen, without increasing taxes,” he went on to explain. “Alpharetta can make this vision happen without paying a dime more in taxes than they do today.”
City officials explained that the balance of the property, sites fronting Main and Academy Streets, will be developed by private interests at a later time. They explained to the gathering that their intent is to host a series of public input sessions to learn what citizens would like to see built in those locations. Once that process is complete, the City would solicit offers from private developers to either buy the individual sites or enter into long-term ground leases.
“Our intent is to construct the public portions of the project - those elements that are good and proper for local government to build and own,” Letchas said. “The environment that is created will serve as incentive for private development, but the City will not fund what the private sector builds.”
The City has added pages to its website on which citizens can view images of conceptual plans, get information on the proposed development, and share their thoughts and impressions. Visit www.alpharetta.ga.us/downtownproject for more information.

Fulton County Schools North Fulton High School Redistricting Final Recommendation



The opening of a new high school on the Bethany Bend-Cogburn Road site in August 2012 also will be the starting date of the new attendance zones expected to be adopted by the school board in June.  Please see attached link for Final Recommendation for North Fulton High Schools Redistricting Map.

Alpharetta a hotbed for high-tech companies

Alpharetta a hotbed for high-tech companies


A great article from Patrick Fox at the AJC regarding Alpharetta--- a great place to live and work.  To see the entire article go to: http://www.ajc.com/business/alpharetta-a-hotbed-for-922371.html
When Bob Trotter toured Alpharetta as a possible site for his company’s IT operation, he was struck by the miles of underground fiber-optic cable and a world-class broadband network.
But what really blew him away was what was above ground.
“If it was just technology, we’d have located to Chicago or Dallas,” said Trotter, North American president of ThyssenKrupp Corp.
Despite a dot-com drubbing and the worst recession in a generation, Alpharetta continues to lure high-tech companies during a time Georgia’s unemployment rate remains in double digits. One reason is Alpharetta’s commitment to developing its technology infrastructure like its nexus of fiber optic data lines.
But what distinguishes Alpharetta from other tech-wired cities, Trotter said, is its proximity to all the elements that contribute to an inviting lifestyle — good schools, good roads, access to university systems, quality housing, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.
ThyssenKrupp, a German-based industrial conglomerate, invested a year researching 138 cities for its North American IT Shared Services operation. Its selection of Alpharetta in January will bring $30 million and 110 employees to the local economy.
“The board of directors — when I flew them in from Germany — they were extremely impressed,” Trotter said. “They actually said ‘Maybe this should be our world headquarters.’ They were that impressed.”
They’re not alone.
Seven of metro Atlanta’s top 25 technology employers call Alpharetta home. Close to 900 technology or tech-enabled companies are here, according to Technology Association of Georgia, a trade group that tracks the industry.
This year alone, tech companies have committed more than $125 million to expand or relocate businesses to the city, bringing nearly 300 jobs with them.
Alpharetta’s top employers
Attracted by bucolic settings, Alpharetta has been attracting both corporate headquarters and technology and health care firms. These are the city’s top employers.
Company Operation Employment
1. AT&T Inc. regional headquarters 5,000
2. Verizon Wireless regional headquarters 3,000
3. ADP Inc./
National Account Services regional headquarters 2,100
4. McKesson Provider 
Technologies headquarters 1,800
5. LexisNexis RIAG headquarters 1,100
Source: Georgia Power and the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
Business activity 
in Alpharetta
One sign of a city’s commercial health is the number of business licenses it issues. Here is a look at business licenses issued in Alpharetta over the past 10 years.
Year Licenses Fees
issued
2001 2,988 $634,598
2002 3,314 $653,296
2003 3,551 $648,579
2004 3,443 $678,887
2005 3,595 $754,394
2006 3,820 $800,687
2007 4,878 $855,692
2008 3,977 $904,375
2009 3,836 $872,391
2010 4,183 $936,927
Source: Alpharetta Department of Community Development


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bethany Bend High School Site Draft Plan Map

North Fulton Redistricting Draft Maps for the high school and middle school have been posted on the Fulton Schools website.  There is summary of the draft plan, a flow chart of the feeder pattern and also a summary of the projected enrollment.

http://fultonschools.org/redistricting/bethany/Packet_Round3_online.pdf

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival | Dahlonega, Georgia



If you’re a fan of old-time, bluegrass and gospel music from the Southern Appalachian region, the 15th annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Ga., will be the place to be on Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17.

The lineup of MainStage Tent performers for the festival has just been announced by Glenda Pender, president of Bear on the Square and chairperson for the festival’s music and program, and there will be a heavy emphasis on hand-clapping, toe-tapping music which originated from the mountains and valleys of the Southern Appalachians.

Alpharetta Farmer's Market



The Downtown Alpharetta Farmers Market is in Historic
Downtown Alpharetta, Georgia at the City Hall Parking Lot

Each Saturday - April 16 through October 8

8:00 AM to 12:30 PM

(exceptions: April 16th and Oct 8th will be 9:00 - 2:00)
Open To The Public - Free Admission

You will find farmers with fruits and vegetables, gardeners with fresh flowers and plants, and makers of all sorts of edible home goods from yummy desserts to local raw honey and homemade sauces and jellies.

Named "Best Saturday Morning Excursion" in 2007 by Atlanta Magazine

Great Escape: Wine Tasting In Alpharetta

Welcome to TinderBox Vino 100

Wine Tastings:

If you like a good wine, don't miss our Tinder Box Vino 100 Alpharetta Wine Tasting Events, held every Saturday from 4:30pm-6:30pm. Drop by and sample several featured wines — all for the nominal fee of $10 per person ($5 of which is donated to charity! No RSVP required! Talk wine with our helpful, knowledgeable staff, fellow wine lovers, distributors' reps — and perhaps a vineyard owner from time to time. You'll enjoy our store's warm and relaxing ambience and soothing background jazz music so much, you won't want to leave!
131 South Main Street, Suite G | Alpharetta, GA 30009 | 770-343-8010

Bethany Bend High School Site Attendance Zone Redistricting



About the redistricting process
Each time a redistricting effort is under way, the school system holds three rounds of meetings to gather information needed to draft a redistricting proposal that best meets the community's needs. Fulton uses a unique process that encourages public discussion before developing a proposal. This allows the community to have maximum input on how the proposed attendance lines are created.


Timeline for Redistricting Process
Meetings will be held and Alpharetta High School (3595 Webb Bridge Road, Alpharetta 30005; click for Google Map) from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.
  • Round One - February 23, 2011
    • School system staff will outline the redistricting process and established ground rules for facilitated small-group input sessions.
    • Participants will move to small-group sessions and give input related to the redistricting criteria.
    • Staff will review public comments and apply Board-approved redistricting criteria to develop alternative attendance zone plans prior to the next community forum
  • Round Two - March 16, 2011
    • Staff will present alternative proposals for new attendance zones.
    • Community members will offer comment on strengths and weaknesses of each plan in facilitated small-group discussions.
    • Prior to the next community forum, staff will condense the number of attendance zone alternatives based on public input.
  • Round Three - April 13, 2011
    • Community members will review and provide input on revised attendance zone draft plans in facilitated small-group discussions.
    • Staff will use comments to develop a final attendance zone recommendation for Board consideration.
The Fulton County Board of Education will be reviewing the new attendance zone recommendations during their meetings. Changes in the attendance zones will go into effect in August 2012 with the opening of the new school.

It’s unanimous: Council approves MetLife mixed-use project at Haynes Bridge near GA. 400

Despite hearing concerns from residents who say a mixed-use development from MetLife at Haynes Bridge Road near Ga. 400 would be bad for Alpharetta, city council voted unanimously to approve a rezoning request for the project.
The project, which includes nearly 500 condominiums and office and retail space, came before council in late January but was tabled and came back to council at Monday’s meeting, where Mayor Arthur Letchas and council members agreed the project would benefit the city economically.
“If everyone would just study this, it’s a great project for Alpharetta,” Letchas said.
Letchas pointed to resident complaints that this project will become another undeveloped site in the city, like Prospect Park, and said MetLife is financially secure.
“You can go out there and build it right now. You have the finances to do that,” Letchas said to the MetLife representatives at the meeting. “Some of these projects we’ve approved didn’t have that financial backing, but you do.”
Letchas also pointed out that MetLife will not begin building this project for three to five years, so the current condominium market is not relevant.
But some residents, such as local blogger Jimmy Gilvin and Windward Homeowners Association representative Tom Miller, have expressed skepticism toward the project since they heard about it.
At the meeting, both residents showed concern that the approved condominiums would become for-rent apartment units and said they believe the city is trying to bring MARTA to Alpharetta.
“For more than five years Alpharetta city officials have been quietly but methodically urbanizing this city in the hope of attracting MARTA,” Gilvin said after reading from a letter reportedly from MARTA’s Office of Transit Planning that states the transit authority has been working with Alpharetta to possibly bring the rail line to the North Point area.
Representatives from MetLife said they had no interest in MARTA and stated the company has no intentions or hopes of trying to have the condominiums rezoned as apartment units.
In addition to the three residents who spoke out against the development, two residents, former Council member John Monson and Richard Debban spoke in favor of the project.
“Most cities in the United States would be tickled pink to have this opportunity to entertain such a development and an organization behind it,” Debban said.
The project was approved with 35 conditions, one of which was that a building permit must be taken out by January 2015.
By Rachel Kellogg
rkellogg@neighbornewspapers.com

Alpharetta Arts StreetFest--Saturday & Sunday, April 16-17, 2011 10am-6pm

The arts are alive this spring on the Northside with nearly 100 artists from throughout the U.S. showcased at the 7th Annual Alpharetta Arts Streetfest. Enjoy a spring weekend strolling through outdoor galleries filled with fine art in 14 medium expressions. Create children’s art and make your own Chia Pet; experience live jazz, roots rock and Celtic music, as well as cultural dancing; and more. Admission and parking are free, with parking at City Hall and Milton Center.

Race After the Taste--Mayor’s Challenge Road Race--Alpharetta, Georgia



Mayor’s Challenge Road Race
May 14, 2011
5K & 10K Races 7:15 AM
Fun Run/Walk 8:30 AM
Wills Park Swimming Pool
1810 Old Milton Parkway
Alpharetta, GA
Join the Alpharetta Rotary Club & the City of Alpharetta for a great race! This is a 5K/10K Peachtree Qualifier for the serious runner as well as a Fun Run/Walk for the whole family. A runner’s pancake breakfast provided at 7:30 AM! Race will be held rain or shine. Proceeds from the Mayor's Challenge support the Alpharetta Rotary. Registration begins March 2011.

Georgia Ensemble Theatre proudly presents Inherit the Wind


February 24 – March 13. Visit www.get.org for show times and tickets.

Georgia Ensemble Theatre
Roswell Cultural Arts Center
950 Forrest St.
Roswell, GA 30075
(770) 641-1260

Inherit the Wind

Georgia Ensemble Theatre proudly presents one of the greatest epic plays of the 20th Century.
As relevant as today’s headlines, Inherit the Wind tells the story of Americans in conflict: what happens when our right to think for ourselves and exchange ideas is threatened? Do we celebrate our differences? Or do we push for conformity? Inherit the Wind digs into the heart and soul of America in a timely search for perspective and enduring hope.
John Ammerman and Eddie Levi Lee lead a remarkable cast of over 20 in the theatrical event of the season. http://www.get.org/plays/2010-11season/inheritthewind/

Dolphin exhibit at Georgia Aquarium opening in April

After nearly three years of planning and construction and one postponed opening, Georgia Aquarium's $110 million dolphin attraction will open April 2. The exhibit will include interactive displays about conservation efforts and a 25-foot-long underwater viewing window that guests will encounter on their way to the main draw: a theatrical show with live actors, Broadway-style theatrics and heavy production values.

 
 
 

VZW Amphitheatre at Encore Park OUR 1ST 2011 CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT!!! dave-fm's Earth Day Birthday - Band of Horses with The Jayhawks Saturday, April 2! Tickets on-sale this Friday at 10AM. Tickets start at only $19.29.


edbd web header1 EDBD 2


dave fm’s Earth Day Birthday is back April 2, featuring 2011 Grammy-nominee Band of Horses, along with newly reunited The Jayhawks!
Join us at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre as we kick-off “Earth Month” with this incredible concert, and celebrate all of our environmental partners who are dedicated to making our community a better place to live.
Purchase your tickets through the dave-fm pre-sale starting this Wednesday at 10 a.m. Click to www.ticketmaster.com and use key word:  davefm
Ticket prices range from $19.29 to $39.00.  This is a limited-seating, pavilion-only show.
Click here to hear music and see videos from Band of Horses and The Jayhawks!
Click below to few pictures from last year’s Earth Day Birthday Day.


Read more: EDBD 2 – New Music, Entertainment, All Things Atlanta, 92.9 dave fm http://929dave.radio.com/edbd-2/#ixzz1E3ka7P7T

T5 picks Alpharetta for $75M data center

Atlanta-based T5 Partners LLC has picked Alpharetta as then site of a $75 million data center.
The 103,000 square foot building, expected to open in November, will be among the five largest data centers in the region.
The data center, located on 12 acres, will include 54,000 square feet of "raised space" — the area where servers and other computer equipment is housed.
Data centers, which can be as large as shopping malls, are stacked floor-to-ceiling with computer servers and other hardware that power websites, crunch data and store information. Critical to modern business and holding terabytes of sensitive information, data centers are equipped with duplicate power and network systems to ensure against blackouts.
Demand for data centers is growing as technology allows businesses to focus on their core competencies. A greater focus on the bottom line also means companies are looking to cut operational costs by outsourcing data center work.
Atlanta is one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S. for data center space, in terms of build-out and demand, New York-based Tier1 Research said in November. Several firms, including E*Trade, Google, Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp., have data center operations in the region.
Metro Atlanta — relatively free of natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes — is an ideal location, since mission-critical data centers must be up and running 24/7. The region also has good fiber infrastructure and reliable and relatively inexpensive power. Atlanta’s major industry clusters — media, research and financial services — are also heavy data center users.
While demand for data centers in metro Atlanta was flat over the past two years, it is expected to increase about 30 percent next year.
T5's data center, which will have redundant power systems, could have a single large tenant, Partner Jason Chartrand said.
It will, however, built to accomodate as many as 10 tenants, occupying on average about 10,000 square feet each, he said.
While the tenants would be under the same roof, each business would have secure and separate data center space and dedicated infrastructure, including power and fiber.


Read more: T5 picks Alpharetta for $75M data center | Atlanta Business Chronicle

15th Annual Showcase Home Tour presented by Roswell Woman's Club & Arie Kohn Architects, PC


2011 SHOWCASE HOME TOUR DETAILS

 

TOUR DATES AND TIMES:

March 10 - 27, 2011
Wednesday - Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 1 – 6 p.m.

10th Annual Chattahoochee Challenge 10K

10th Annual Chattahoochee Challenge 10K

All Proceeds benefit the Chattachoochee Nature Center, a community supported nonprofit organization.
One of the best Peachtree Qualifiers of the Season!Saturday, February 12th

START TIMES:
10K Race 8:00 AM
1 Mile Fun Run at 7:30 AM
This official qualifier for the 2011 Peachtree Road Race along the Chattahoochee River is a fast paced benefit for the Nature Center. Register Online at http://www.active.com/running/roswell-ga/chattahoochee-challenge-10k-2011 or at any Big Peach Running Company Store. Call 770-992-2055 x226 for additional information. Register in advance for a discounted rate or on site for $32 for 10K and $15 for Fun Run. All participants receive a t-shirt and gift bag.
Saturday, February 12th
 
 

6 Reasons You Should Google Your Address (or Search it on Trulia!)

It seems almost negligent these days to go meet with a prospective employer, set your kid up on a sleep-over or even add an old friend on Facebook without first running the company's name, your kid's pal's parents or your old college chum through Google -- just to see. But it's nowhere near as common (yet) to Google or otherwise do an internet search for your home's address.

There are at least six compelling reasons it makes sense to do so, though -- especially if it's an address you're thinking of renting, buying or selling. Smart homeowners would do well to search for their addresses, too, and here's why:

#1. To See If Megan's Law Registrants Live Nearby
Safety first, folks. Megan's law requires law-enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods. Nearly every state that has a Megan's law-type sex offender registry has an online version that serves up the names, addresses, sex-offense history, and even photos in many cases, of convicted sex offenders who are registered as living at a certain address. Googling your address and "Megan's law" -- or even your city or zip code and "Megan's law" -- will turn up a quick list of nearby registrants. Alarmism is not a good look -- ever, but many homebuyers with young children highly value this information, especially while they are still in their contingency or objection period, before their home purchase is finalized.
#2. To Find Crime Reports and Data for Your Home and Environs

Cities, counties and state law enforcement agencies all post crime data online, but a Google search for your address or city and "crime reports" is most likely to turn up your local police or sheriff's office's crime map. Or, you can check out the crime stats around a specific property on Trulia’s Map & Nearby tab on the detailed page for your home's address. In my town, for example, you can see a crime map of recent incident reports for the whole city, by zip code, by neighborhood or by address. You can zoom in and out, and the map is in color and letter-coded with little icons representing different types of crimes: red is for violent, blue is for drug crimes, green is for property crimes; and the most common specific offenses reported get their own two-letter code. Whether you own or rent your home, if you hear a siren and wonder what happened, Google might be a good place to look.

This is also a good strategy for home buyers to leverage. In fact, when new homeowners Robert Quigley and Jennifer Friberg started developing headaches and other strange physical symptoms after moving into their first home, a neighbor dropped the informational bomb that the home's previous resident had been cooking methamphetamine in the home. In a panicky effort to suss out the truth, they Googled their address and - yikes! - found it listed on the Drug Enforcement Administration's database of meth labs! If you're considering buying a home, or moving to a neighborhood with which you are not completely familiar, doing a quick address search on Trulia or Google holds the potential to reveal some disturbing or comforting crime activity information.


#3. To Detect Scammers Trying to Rent or Sell Your House. In one of those if-only-they-would-use-their-powers-for-good-not-evil scenarios, Internet scammers have taken to ripping off home information and putting together fake listings offering other people's homes for rent or, often, lease-to-own. They often list the home on extremely cheap and easy terms, then ask the would-be-buyer or tenant to please wire or send the deposit money overseas, where the faux-seller can get it while they're traveling in -- you guessed it -- Nigeria. (And, BTW, I have friends from Nigeria who even distrust emails they get purporting to be from Nigeria!)

These scams come to light, most often, only after the homeowner or current resident notices all the bargain-hunting wanna-be tenants start peering in the windows and tramping through the backyard, checking the place out. If you are getting an inordinate amount of street or foot traffic to your home, or someone knocks on the door asking if they can see the place, you may want to Google your address. If you find a fraudulent listing, contact us, identify yourself as the home's rightful resident and ask us to take the scam posting down - stat!

# 4. To See What Your Neighbor's Place Sold for and Possibly Lower Your Property Taxes.   In real estate, the value of your home is largely driven by what similar, nearby homes have recently sold for ("comparable sales," or "comps" for short). That gives every homeowner a valid reason for wanting to know what the neighbor's place sold for (on top of your purely voyeuristic need to know). If you search your address, Trulia will first surface some sort of image of your home, a map, the basic property details from the public records (see No. 5, below), and recent sales data for your own home before listing out the comps -- homes with similar numbers of bedrooms, bathrooms and square feet as yours, near yours, and what they recently sold for. Googling your address, in this instance, does double duty -- letting you satisfy your cat-killing curiosity to know what your new neighbor paid for their place, and track the value of your own home at the same time!

And as an added bonus, if you see a pattern of homes selling for lower than your home's assessed value, you can use those comps to petition your County to lower your own property taxes!

Three birds, one stone - you get the picture.

#5. To See Your Home's Property Records. It's a story as old as homes -- well, at least as old as websites that display home records and listings. Your home's records online are populated from the public records about your home, which are either so old they don't include the upgrades and additions that have been done over time, or they're just flat out wrong for a number of reasons. My last home, while large, certainly did not have the 25 bedrooms one site listed it as having. On the other hand, it also was not a boarding house, which is what that site listed as the property's County-designated use. If you Google your address, or search for it on Trulia, and find that your home's description is riddled with errors, contact us or your County public record agency to correct them; this is particularly important if you're planning to sell your home anytime soon.

#6. To See Your Home's Google Street Views. When you're selling your home, it's especially critical to see everything that prospective home buyers will see. That means checking out how your home's listing looks on all the online real estate sites (yes, even on Trulia), checking out the flier - even stopping by to check out any staging your broker or agent did if you've already moved out. One thing even most savvy sellers don't check out is the way Google Maps Street Views depicts your home. If you're unfamiliar, Google actually hitches up cameras to cars and sends them up and down public streets worldwide, so that Google Maps users can go from an overhead view of a street via satellite to seeing panoramic pics from the street from curb level with one click.

Trust me, home buyers know this, and do this. They often use Street Views as a shortcut for seeing whether a home's photos are just fuzzy, or whether it's next door to the local hoarder's house. Here's the problem: Sometimes, the street views can be outdated. I did a major remodel on my home a few years ago, and the photo was clearly taken mid-construction: with dumpster in front, unpainted siding and all. If you're about to sell your home, and you notice that the street view is outdated, mention it to your agent, and ask them to make a note of that fact in the listing information.

Note: This post first appeared on WalletPop.com on 12.13.2010.
http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/2011/01/6_reasons_you_should_google_your_address_or_search_it_on_trulia