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By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter


Dade County Executive and Commission Chairman Ted Rumley sat down with the Sentinel last week for an update on several local matters.

First, he said, Cherokee Trail atop Lookout Mountain, washed out in the recent heavy rains, should be repaired by sometime this week – “As soon as the water recedes” promised the “Executator.”

He said the county had had to have a new culvert, perhaps 44 feet long, custom-made for the road. It had arrived the week before but the road department had put off installing it until the weather broke. “You put wet, compacted dirt in there and it’s not ever going to hold up,” said Rumley. “You’ll always have a dip there. We can’t divert the water because that’s its main channel.”

The county boss reported no change in another water-related item – legal action against the Dade Water Authority threatened by a Wildwood customer as chronicled in last week’s Sentinel. Rumley said Doug Anderton, the Authority manager, had informed him the water meter in question tested 98 percent accurate, but that the paperwork was still being examined and there had been no further developments in the matter.

Rumley said his big chore last week was a trip to Atlanta the day before to present Dade’s case for periodic driver’s license issuance and renewal service in the county to state legislators. “We’ve got to have at least once a month a satellite group come in and help us,” he said. 

Georgia in previous years ran in-county driver’s license days twice a month, said Rumley. The state later cut back to once a month, then in 2003 stopped the service entirely, so that now to get their licenses renewed Dade motorists must go across Lookout Mountain to Rock Spring. 

 “By the time you drive over there from Sand Mountain, if you drive from Dade County over there and back, you’re traveling about 82 miles,” said Rumley.

Furthermore, he said, the state’s new “secure ID” requirements mean that not only must applicants stand in long lines, their hours of waiting often end in being sent back over the mountain for additional documentation. “I hear complaints daily,” said Rumley.

The Sentinel checked on the new requirements, and can report they are indeed extensive. First, to prove “primary identity,” applicants now need not just their old licenses but an unexpired, valid U.S. passport, a birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or – but only if born before 1940 – a Social Security Administration “numident record” or military discharge papers.

Then, to prove their Social Security number, they must provide either a Social Security card, W-2 form, or paycheck stub with the full number printed.

Finally, to prove residence, applicants must present not one but two of the following:  a recent utility bill, bank statement, employer verification, lease agreement, or check stubs showing rent payments. They may not use two of the same record from different time periods, such as a bank statement from December and another from January.

It is, in fact, so arcane, that the state invites applicants to construct their own personalized document checklist online at

Back to our interview with the Executator: Rumley said it was his understanding the state is obliged to provide periodic on-site driver’s license service for counties, at least isolated, rural ones like Dade, and that State Sen. Jeff Mullis had confirmed this. Another meeting would be held within the next couple of weeks about the subject, he said. “Mullis, he’s trying to do some legwork on it between now and then,” said Rumley.

He said the state’s excuse for stalling was money. “But it’s not an excuse as far as I’m concerned because we’ll furnish them everything,” said Rumley. “We’ll furnish them power, we’ll furnish them an office, if they just show up one day a month.”

Now, he said, he was optimistic about Dade’s chances. “The next couple of meetings we go to, we’ll either bring back good news or bad news,” said Rumley. “I feel really good about yesterday because we got a fire built under them.”   

Similarly, Dade had joined with contiguous counties and municipalities in beseeching the state not to proceed with its proposed closing of a law enforcement training facility in Dalton. 

“If they do that, there’s about 20 counties here in north Georgia that will suffer badly financially because we’ll have to send everybody to Forsyth, which is way down below Atlanta,” said Rumley.

That would mean bigger bills every time law officers needed required job training as already financially strapped counties sprang for motel and restaurant bills, said Rumley. “It’s a big issue,” he said.

Rumley said he would return to Atlanta this week for further advocacy of Dade’s interests.

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