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Community members watched the processional drive from Jefferson to Braselton, where services were held for fallen deputy Lena Marshall.

A look back at 2021

From the opening of a spacious new high school on the west side of Jackson County to changes in local municipal leadership to the community dealing with the third and fourth waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, the calendar year of 2021 was an eventful one in the Braselton-Hoschton area. The community was rocked with tragedy, too, in 2021 when a local law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty in November. Here is a look back at the past year's headlines. 


Orr announces he won’t seek re-election

Longtime Braselton Mayer Bill Orr announced on Jan. 11 that he would step down from his seat at the end of the year. Orr gave a number of reasons for not pursuing re-election, noting that “three terms is enough” and that new leadership can bring new energy and ideas to a board. Orr said he also plans to focus on his business. Orr and his wife operate 101 Mobility of Georgia and East Tennessee.

Hoschton approves council pay raise

The Hoschton City Council on Jan. 18 approved an ordinance to increase compensation for council members and the mayor. In addition to the pay hikes, council members and the mayor were also eligible for city insurance and retirement benefits.

The vote called for the mayor to be paid $1,000 per month and council members $500 per month. The mayor and council were receiving $25 per meeting per month with a cap of $75 per month.

COVID hospitalizations set record

Northeast Georgia Health System, which serves the Braselton area, reported a record 355 COVID patients in January as the pandemic’s third waved peaked. The number of patients fell off in the spring and most of the summer before cases surged again in late summer/early fall.

Hall County approves controversial townhome project

Hall County leaders, in late January, gave the go-ahead to a controversial residential project in the Braselton area.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted Jan. 28 to approve a rezoning request for 40 acres at 7285 Spout Springs Rd.

The project was initially proposed to have 274 apartment units and 124 townhomes. But the approved project was scaled down to include 225 townhomes and no apartments.

The development was opposed by several area residents who cited concerns with density; lack of conformity with the character of surrounding developments; and traffic.


Jackson Co. Schools return to in-person classes

The Jackson County School System announced a return to full-time in-person classes on Feb. 1 after using an alternating day model of online and in-person classes following the Christmas holidays due to a massive surge in COVID cases. Gwinnett County and Hall County schools had previously announced a return to in-person learning for Jan. 25.

Braselton rejects large PUD

Braselton leaders turned down a request for a massive planned unit development near downtown on Feb. 8.

The Braselton Town Council voted to reject approval of a request to rezone 40 acres off Jesse Cronic Rd. Developers had planned a number of uses on the property, including a 315-unit multi-family development; 115-unit senior living facility; 10,000 sq. ft. of office space; 10,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space; 10,000-20,000 sq. ft. of medical office facility; and 26,400 sq. ft. of business service space.

Hoschton plans for new ‘Hosch Hall’

Plans for a new city hall in Hoschton were announced in mid-February. Hoschton leaders said that “Hosch Hall” will be located on the lot adjacent to the current city hall and built to resemble three separate distinct storefronts that blend with the 1880s appearance of Hoschton.

Large amount of drugs, firearms found at Braselton residence

Braselton police, on Feb. 23, assisted the United States Marshal's Service with the execution of an arrest warrant, discovering a large amount of drugs and firearms in the process. Charles Seang had federal warrants for drug trafficking and weapons charges and was known to be living with a relative at 1900 Bell Lane in Liberty Estates.

Once the search warrant was obtained, a search of the residence revealed approximately 100 pounds of marijuana, crack cocaine, GHB, THC (liquid form), a money counting machine, six handguns, five semi-automatic rifles, armor plates/bulletproof vest, packaging materials and numerous other drug-related items.


Braselton OKs joint development authority with Barrow County

In early March, Braselton leaders gave their nod of approval to create a joint development authority with Barrow County.

The Braselton Town Council voted Monday, March 8, to agree to create the authority, which could be used as a funding vehicle to attract potential developments to the area.

Federal COVID Relief applied to Hwy. 211 widening project

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced in March the availability of $277 million in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act 2021 funds to the Georgia Department of Transportation to fill in projected revenue gaps caused by the impacts of COVID-19. One of the funded projects includes the Hwy. 211 widening project in Braselton, which will expand the busy road from two lanes to four lanes and include the installation of roundabouts. The Town of Braselton is funding design of the project. The estimated construction cost is $12 million with a total investment of $14 million.

Wilbanks' tenure with Gwinnett Schools ends

The Gwinnett County Board of Education voted 3-2 at its March 18 meeting to transition the district leadership from CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks to a successor in preparation for the 2021-22 school year. Wilbanks' tenure as superintendent ended July 31.


Greenspace park planned for West Jackson

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed April 5 to buy 65 acres off of Pocket Rd. for a “passive” greenspace park. Preliminary plans called for a 1.4-mile hiking and biking trail, fishing and camping activities. The property abuts Walnut Creek and will be named Tanner Park at Walnut Creek. The county agreed to pay $700,000 for the property

Hoschton abolishes planning board

The Hoschton City Council abolished the town's planning commission during its April 19 meeting. In a time of unprecedented growth, processing annexation, rezoning and variances applications had become cumbersome and unnecessary, according to city officials. By eliminating the planning commission, the city hoped to streamline the zoning process by having them go directly to the council for action. This move, initiated by Mayor Shannon Sell, necessitated amendments to the city’s Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and Code of Ordinances.

The disband move was unanimously opposed by the planning commission.

“I strongly object to any removal of this planning committee,” planning board chairman Scott Butler said in March. “This has been the most independent, wise, unprejudiced, non-conflict of interest group that I’ve ever worked with."


Hoschton reactivates police department, establishes DDA

The Hoschton City Council, on April 27, voted to reactivate its police department and activate a new Downtown Development Authority.

The council approved reactivation of its police department, which was included in the city’s 2021 budget to provide funds for one officer and one car beginning in the third quarter of 2021. The city abolished its police department in 2010 due to funding problems, however the council determined a need to reactivate on a small scale due to the city’s anticipated growth coupled with the county sheriff’s office inability to provide the response times residents expect.

The council also determined a need for a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to promote the city’s efforts to revitalize and redevelop the city’s central business district, officials said. The DDA held its inaugural meeting June 11.

Korean auto manufacturer announces plans to open Braselton facility

Duckyang recently announced in late May that it would invest $10 million in opening its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Jackson County. Duckyang is an electric mobility parts supplier of automotive battery modules and energy storage systems to SK Battery America (SKBA). Duckyang's new 230,000 sq. ft. facility, located at 284 Broadway Ave. in Braselton, is expected to create 285 jobs in the area.


Braselton budget grows by 31%

The Town of Braselton, on June 18, approved its budget for FY22 with an expected 31% increase in the General Fund. The town's General Fund, its main governmental fund, was slated to net $7.45 million in revenues in FY22, 31% higher than the town's FY21 budget. In expenses, Braselton projected its General Fund to have $5.57 million in expenses, leaving a balance of $1.87 million to go toward debt service and reserves.

Braselton Cancer Center opens

The Braselton Cancer Center held its ribbon-cutting ceremony June 24 at Medical Plaza 1, next to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton. Services in the new facility began that week. The center is a collaboration between NGMC, Longstreet Clinic and Northeast Georgia Physicians Group. The new facility included an expanded space and dedicated entrance and parking for patients.

Brad Hill named Hoschton police chief

Brad Hill, who served two decades with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, was named Hoschton’s chief of police at a special called meeting June 29. Hill began his tenure in August. During a separate special called meeting July 1, the council approved the purchase of a silver 2021 Dodge Durango for $34,779 to serve as its first patrol vehicle and approved Hill’s annual salary at $75,000 as police chief.


Hoschton starts farmers market

The newly-formed Hoschton Downtown Development Authority (DDA) voted July 12 to host a twice-monthly farmers market on Thursdays. The first event was held Aug. 12.

Jackson Co. BOC nixes large West Jackson subdivision

In a marathon three-hour meeting before a room packed with red-shirted citizens, the BOC on July 19 voted to deny land use map changes for a proposed 340-lot subdivision on 170 acres at Boone Rd. and Hwy. 332 near Hoschton.

Several citizens spoke in opposition, pointing to how rapid growth in recent years was impacting the West Jackson Area, citing the mobile classrooms recently put in front of some area schools and problems with traffic on many West Jackson Area roads.

Hoschton approves speed-monitoring cameras in school zone

The City of Hoschton and the Jackson County School System, in July, agreed to install speed-monitoring cameras in the school zone of West Jackson Elementary School off Hwy. 53 in downtown Hoschton.

New JCHS opens its doors

Approximately 1,620 students on July 30 arrived for the first day of classes on at the spacious, new, state-of-the-art Jackson County High School located on Skelton Rd. near Hoschton. The 293,700 square-foot structure offered students a more college-oriented layout with wide hallways, charging stations and spaces for both collaboration and study. The move to the Skelton Rd. location marked a return to the west side of the county for JCHS after being located in Jefferson for decades. The old JCHS campus in Jefferson was renovated and repurposed as the Empower College and Career Center. The center serves 1,500 students from East Jackson Comprehensive and Jackson County high schools.

Calvin J. Watts approved as Gwinnett Schools superintendent

The Gwinnett County Board of Education unanimously approved Calvin J. Watts as the next superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) on July 30. Watts — a former GCPS school leader and assistant superintendent who most recently served as superintendent of Kent School District in Washington — was the sole finalist for the Gwinnett position.


Crowd demands JCSS change COVID rules

A sometimes-boisterous crowd of red-shirted citizens harangued Jackson County School System leaders during a meeting of the Jackson County Board of Education Aug. 5 about the system’s rules regarding student masking and quarantining due to Covid. Several parents, backed by an outspoken crowd, voiced opposition to the system encouraging masking and vaccinations and opposed any quarantine time for students exposed to a positive case.

Audience members shouted down school officials and interrupted the Aug. 5 meeting several times with outbursts. Some of those speaking to the BOE also spread misinformation about Covid, including its seriousness, the usefulness of masks, the reliability of Covid testing and the need for vaccinations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center officials later said comments made at the meeting by an employee of the system were not accurate.

Plans for redevelopment of Lanier Raceplex move forward

A planned expansion of Lanier Raceplex proceeded after receiving the green light from the Hall County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 12. The revamped venue will include 99 race-day condos, car condos, single-family residences, a hotel, an event center with a restaurant, a motorsports-themed village with retail and a rally cross track. The build-out of Lanier will take five years, according to developers.

NGHS facilities fill up during fourth wave of COVID

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) held a media tour in late August as hospitalizations neared 300 COVID patients during the pandemic’s fourth wave.

“So, in essence, our hospitals are full — they’re essentially full at this point,” said Carol Burrell, CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System, during the media tour to highlight the issues hospitals are facing.

Emergency rooms and urgent care centers within NGHS were seeing higher volumes than ever before in the pandemic and increasing wait times. Meanwhile, hospitals were so full that hallways, conference rooms and waiting areas became patient-care spaces. Every patient room large enough was converted to semi-private to maximize space. Fourth-wave cases peaked at 333 nearly September.

JCHS transitions to two-week virtual learning

Jackson County High School, in late August, transitioned to virtual learning for two weeks due to the impact of COVID cases. Additionally, students at several schools in Jackson County including West Jackson Middle School, were required to wear face coverings for one month due to the number of positive COVID cases, clusters and spread rate.


Jackson Co. reports record number of COVID cases

According to figures released by the Georgia Department of Public health, a record 167 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Jackson County on Sept. 3. That number well exceeded the county’s previous peak of 140 set on Jan. 5 during the pandemic’s third wave.

Hoschton purchases property for police station

The Hoschton City Council, on Sept. 3, agreed to make a $650,000 purchase for property located at 4162 Hwy. 53 in downtown Hoschton for its newly re-instated police department. The 0.4-acre lot included a 3,200 square-foot building to be renovated for a police station.

Application for 219-unit rental community in Braselton withdrawn

A rezoning application for a proposed 219-unit rental community between Hwy. 124 and Davis St. in Braselton was withdrawn by the developer in mid-September. Lyons Group Acquisitions, LLC, had requested to rezone 32.51 acres on Hwy. 124 to multi-family residential for the project. The Braselton Planning Commission recommend denial of the request.

Proposed subdivision can’t tie into Reunion

A Braselton-area development was given the green light on Sept. 23 but without a controversial connector road to Reunion subdivision that had generated considerable pushback among that neighborhood's residents.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted unanimously to allow a planned residential development (PRD) zoning for Pulte Group to develop a 54-acre, 140-unit subdivision off Spout Springs Rd., but did so with a notable condition prohibiting a connecting road or golf cart path to adjacent Reunion, which is also a Pulte development.

A tie-in would have allowed use of Renion’s amenities by the new home owners. Residents contended that Reunion’s streets and amenities were already crowded enough.

Braselton nurse testifies about workplace violence

against health care workers

A veteran nurse who was allegedly attacked by a violent patient was one of several speakers Sept. 23 before a state Senate study committee formed to look into violence against health care workers.

“I was attacked by a patient who had already attacked one of our technicians,” a nurse who identified herself only as Destiny, said. “While I was trying to de-escalate the situation, the patient lunged at me, grabbed my hair and twisted it in her hands. I was punched and kicked several times; I was bit; and she tried to drag me into the bathroom.”

Destiny, who works at Northeast Georgia Health System’s Braselton hospital, said it took five nurses and three security guards to restrain the patient.

Ethics complaint filed against Hoschton councilman by mayoral candidate

An ethics complaint was filed in September against Hoschton councilman Adam Ledbetter by mayoral candidate Lauren O’Leary. O’Leary filed the complaint against Ledbetter over comments made on Facebook. A three-member board of the city’s ethics committee met Sept. 30 and unanimously dismissed the complaint.


Howard announces retirement as Jackson Co. Schools superintendent

After serving eight years as the top administrative leader of the Jackson County School System during a time of massive growth and change, Superintendent April Howard announced in mid-October that she is retiring. The Jackson County Board of Education heard presentations from two firms on Oct. 18 about searching for a replacement for Howard.

Howard was named superintendent in 2013 amid a tremendous amount of turmoil in the school system. In a bid to bring the system's finances back into the black, Howard cut staffing and led a controversial move to consolidate some underused schools on the east side of the county, closing and selling two older facilities in the process. At the time, the system had reserves of only around $300,000. Today, the system's reserves are close to $20 million.

Hoschton breaks ground on two major projects

The City of Hoschton commemorated two major projects in October, holding groundbreakings on Oct. 12 for both its West Jackson water tank project and new city hall and multi-use building. The new water tank will be located on West Jackson Rd. near West Jackson Elementary School. Completion is expected in June 2022. The city’s new city hall complex will be constructed on the city’s lawn on City Square, approximately 30 yards from Hoschton’s current city hall location. The complex will serve multiple purposes. One segment will serve as Hoschton’s new city headquarters, another will operate as a 100 to 150-person meeting room and the other will serve as a restaurant space for lease. A summer 2022 move-in is projected.

Panel approves appeal for Northside Hospital

surgery center in Braselton

An Oct. 22 ruling from the Georgia Certificate of Need (CON) Appeal Panel will allow Northside Hospital to construct an outpatient surgery center in Braselton. The 22,500 square foot center will be located within an existing facility on Friendship Road in South Hall County and is expected to serve patients from 13 Northeast Georgia counties.


O’Leary, Ward win mayoral seats

Braselton and Hoschton both saw changes following the Nov. 2 general municipal elections.

Kurt Ward secured the mayoral seat in Braselton with a win over District 4 councilman Hardy Johnson, while challenger Lauren O’Leary defeated incumbent mayor Shannon Sell in Hoschton.

Meanwhile, four people qualified for four Hoschton City Council seats (including two new council seats). The top three vote-getters were Scott Mims (411 votes), Fredria Sterling (395 votes) and incumbent James Lawson (383 votes). Those three will serve four-year terms. Incumbent Tracy Carswell was the lowest vote-getter with 351 votes and will serve a two-year term.

In Braselton’s council races, challenger Richard Harper defeated incumbent Peggy Slappey in the District 2 election while James Murphy defeated Jeff Gardner in the District 4 race.

JCSO deputy Lena Marshall killed in the line of duty

Jackson County Sheriff's Office deputy Lena Marshall died in the line of duty in early November after being shot during a domestic call in West Jackson on Friday, Nov. 5. She died on Monday, Nov. 8.

The shooting happened during a domestic call at a residence on Hwy. 124 near Publix around 9:20 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5.

Deputies were called to a residence at 6416 Hwy. 124, Hoschton where homeowners wanted a non-resident out of the home. When deputies arrived, they made contact with a woman at the front door who pulled a firearm and pointed it at deputies. The deputies ordered the woman to drop the weapon, but she opened fire on the deputies, striking Marshall.

The second deputy on the scene returned fire, striking and killing the shooter, Jessica Worsham, 43, of Hoschton.

Marshall is the first female officer to die in the line of duty in Jackson County.

Her funeral was held Nov. 15 and hundreds of public safety vehicles from agencies across the state were part of the processional, which spanned 16 miles and lasted about 30 minutes. Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum was among those to officiate the service, along with Marshall’s friends Lauren Stephens and Rob Peladeau. A statement was also read on behalf of Deputy Zac Billings, the second deputy on the scene when Deputy Marshall was shot.

Mangum said it takes a servant’s heart to be in law enforcement and added that Deputy Marshall had that servant’s heart.

“She loved her job, she gave it all she had all the time. She didn’t back down from anything,” Mangum said.

Braselton buys old WJPS building

The Jackson County School System and the Town of Braselton agreed on a deal where the former West Jackson Primary School would become town property. The Jackson County Board of Education agreed on Nov. 8 to sell the former school building and grounds, including the ballfields, to Braselton for $1.2 million. At the same time Nov. 8, the Braselton Town Council agreed to buy the property.

"The Town of Braselton is excited to get the opportunity to rehabilitate the former Primary School and provide opportunities for economic development while retaining the attributes that make the property a community treasure," said town manager Jennifer Scott said at the time of the purchase.

Braselton council denies senior rental community

A proposed 144-unit senior rental community in Braselton was denied by town leaders on Nov. 8 after a decision had been put on hold for nearly three months at the request of the developer. A request by OneStreet Residential to rezone 27.3 acres on Thompson Mill Rd. in Hall County to residential multi-family for the construction of a 55-and-up rental community was rejected by a 4-0 vote.

Jackson County approves new BOC districts

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a new voting map that includes a new fifth district on Nov. 15. Because of a massive amount of growth on the west side of the county, a new district was needed to balance out the voting ratios. The new districts are:

•District 1: Central Jackson around Jefferson.

•District 2: North Jackson that includes Maysville and Commerce.

•District 3: West Jackson, a compact district including Braselton and Hoschton.

•District 4: South Jackson including Nicholson over to Arcade.

•District 5: New district that includes Pendergrass, Talmo and runs between Central Jackson and West Jackson districts.


Braselton council approves townhome development,

denies large residential development

Over objections voiced by residents, the Braselton Town Council narrowly approved on Dec. 13 an annexation and rezone request to allow for the construction of 110 townhomes on Beaver Dam Rd. in Barrow County. The council voted in support of the request 3-2 following a Dec. 9 public hearing during which eight residents spoke out against the project.

While the council approved the townhome project, it rejected a much larger development, denying an annexation request from Abernathy Development Company, LLC, for a proposed 246-home development of detached single-family lots on 91 acres between Hwy. 53 and Curk Roberts Rd. That same night, the council also denied a rezoning request from Landbridge Development, LLC, for a proposed 40-unit age-restricted rental development located on approximately five acres on Thompson Mill Rd.

Hoschton council narrowly approves controversial Pirkle Farms project

Plans for a large-scale development on nearly 400 acres on Josh Pirkle Rd. found favor with Hoschton leaders after controversial attempts to develop the land in 2018 failed. The Hoschton City Council voted on Dec. 20 to approve annexation and rezoning requests from Pirkle Farms Development, LLC, which plans to build 1.36 million square feet of light industrial space and a large subdivision on a family farm that dates back to the mid-1800s.

The Pirkle Farm plans were presented to the public Dec. 13 in a forum hosted by those planning the development. But a host of residents expressed their displeasure with the project during that gathering. Many of the same concerns were voiced again on Dec. 20 before the council voted 3-2 to grant the annexations and rezonings for both the commercial and residential components of the project.

Braselton civic center project delayed multiple times in 2021

The opening of the Braselton Civic Center on Davis St. was delayed multiple times in 2021 due to supply and labor issues. The most recent delay was the result of front doors for the 40,000 square-foot facility not yet being available. The venue is expected to open on Feb. 1 now. The project was originally slated for a July finish, but the timetable was first pushed back to October and then January before this latest setback. The biggest delay came when the company responsible for constructing the building’s pre-engineered frame was forced to take a three-month hiatus due to COVID.

With new city hall, PD expansion on the books, Hoschton approves $3 million budget

Some big-ticket items have generated the City of Hoschton’s biggest budget to date.

The city council, on Dec. 20, approved a near $3.08 million general-fund budget, marking an increase of nearly 87.4% over last year.

Mayor Shannon Sell said in November, when the draft budget was released, that the 2022 budget would be the “largest budget the City of Hoschton has ever seen.”

Hoschton levies no property tax on its residents.

One major reason for the jump is to fund a new $1.15 million city hall building with the city having outgrown its current space. The city budgeted $428,400 for facilities last year. The new city hall facility will push that figure to $1.22 million this year.

The city is also looking to grow its recently-reinstated police department.

Police expenses will jump from $89,250 to $359,500 in fiscal year 2022, with money spent for regular employees increasing from $21,000 to $150,000. City leaders have previously said they look to begin hiring officers in 2022. Hoschton currently only employs a chief of police. Police vehicle expenses will also increase from $38,000 to $55,000. Additionally, the city budgeted $50,000 toward building improvements as the police department will move into a facility on Hwy. 53 that will require renovation.

Hoschton had been without a police force since 2010 but has started a new one due to projected city growth over the next decade.

On the revenue side, Hoschton leaders approved a budget that projects an increase of over $1 million in money generated from licenses and permits. The city budgeted $748,000 for those revenues last year, but expects nearly $1.78 million in FY2022.

“We’ve got a good budget,” Sell said at the Dec. 20 meeting. “We’re in sound financial shape.”

NGHS back over 100 COVID patients, experiencing treatment supply shortage as virus surge continues

The supply of an important treatment option for COVID-19 patients is waning across Northeast Georgia Health System campuses as hospitalizations continue to increase and reports of new area COVID cases skyrocket. The system was treating 110 patients as of Monday (Dec. 27), compared to just 31 cases on Nov. 22. The daily average of new cases in area counties has more than doubled over the past week and more than tripled in Gwinnett County.

According to a recent post from NGHS, hospitals across the state, including the NGHS system, are finding doses of COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies in more limited supply as the Omicron variant starts to take over as the dominant version of the virus.

Since August, NGHS has administered the treatment to eligible patients, but its growing popularity and effectiveness has limited its availability.

As a result, patients currently seeking COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment or who need it in the future might not be able to receive it at NGHS or anywhere nearby, according to the press release. Additionally, the monoclonal antibody treatment used currently has been found to “have diminished potency against Omicron,” according to Regeneron, the company that developed it.

However, the treatment is still effective for the Delta variant patients, according to the press release. Additionally, Regeneron said multiple “next generation” monoclonal antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2, which are active against the Omicron and Delta variants, as well as other variants, should be ready for distribution in early 2022.

Meanwhile, with 110 COVID patients, NGHS heads into 2022 with its highest caseload since late Oct. 16 when it was treating 118 patients. But cases were on the decline at that point in October. The system is currently in the midst of a surge that has seen case numbers more than triple since late November.

It remains to be seen if this surge will eventually reach previous COVID-patient peaks at NGHS. The system was overrun with 333 cases on Sept. 9 during the fourth wave of the pandemic before numbers began to fall. A record 355 COVID patients were treated at NGHS facilities in January of 2021 during the peak of the third wave.


The average number of new COVID cases skyrocketed across Jackson, Hall, Barrow and Gwinnett counties over the past week, more than tripling in Gwinnett County and nearly tripling in Barrow County. Jackson County and Hall County saw their averages increase by more than double.

Here are the seven-day moving-averages for new cases for each of the four counties reported this Monday (Dec. 27) compared to last Monday (Dec. 20).

•Jackson County: 39.4, up from 14.6.

•Hall County: 86.7, up from 35.7.

•Barrow County: 46.1, up from 15.9.

•Gwinnett County: 652.3, up from 205.9.

Students enter the new Jackson County High Schools as doors open Friday (July 30) for the first day of class. The 293,7000 square-foot building has approximately 1,620 students.