DALTON, Ga. - City Council members approved a contract to begin work on five miles of multiuse trails on Mount Rachel, with most of the improvements paid for with a $100,000 grant from Georgia's Department of Natural Resources.
Under the contract approved Tuesday evening at the council's regular meeting, Eric Eades will be paid $6,000 to plan and lay out the multiuse trails.
Eades helped Dalton State College construct trails on its campus and has also been involved in the Benton MacKaye Trail Association, according to letters of recommendation provided to the city.
In addition to constructing trails, the grant money will be used to build parking areas and put up interpretive and directional signs. Interns have provided some of the designs for the areas that will be utilized around Mount Rachel.
The hiking and biking trails will provide access to Civil War sites on Mount Rachel.
City Council members also heard a presentation from Saad Aqeel, a graduate student from the Savannah College of Art and Design, who has done cultural mapping of Dalton.
Aqeel spent a week in Dalton earlier this summer to conduct interviews and survey residents. He told council members that his data showed the large role the carpet industry has in the town. The concept of a small town, the historic downtown and pride in their community were also strong components, he said.
Those aspects could be useful in decisions about future economic growth and planning, he said.
"Planning is not a physical science, it is more of human science," he said.
In other business, City Council members approved a new contract with Dalton City Schools and the Dalton Police Department that will allow a school resource officer to be allocated part time to Morris Innovative High School.
The schools help pay for two school resource officers, one at Dalton High School and one at Dalton Middle School. Under the new contract, the high school resource officer will now split time between the two high schools.
Dalton Police Chief Jason Parker told council members that he recommended the change but only for the remainder of the fiscal year. More studies would need to be done on how the change worked before he could recommend as a long-term change, Parker said.