Firefly Trail, Inc., Elects Board Officers for 2015

Staff Report From Athens CEO

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Firefly Trail, Inc., a non-profit organization advocating for the creation of a 39-mile rail-trail along the former route of the Georgia Railroad from Athens to Union Point, has elected officers and at-large Board members for 2015. 

Serving as president is Michael Hall, a professional horticulturist who has been president of GreenScapes Shrub & Turf, Inc., since January 2007. He received his associate’s degree in turf management at Abraham Baldwin College and his bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the University of Georgia. Hall has always enjoyed the great outdoors and ever since his first experience on a rail-trail he has been dedicated to getting one built near Athens. Since the mid-1990s, he has served on the Athens-Clarke County Rails-to-Trails Committee and also serves on the User Group Committee for the ACC portion of the Firefly Trail. Hall has served on the Firefly Trail, Inc., Board of Directors since its creation. 

Mark Ralston serves as vice president. Ralston came to Athens in 1979 and earned his bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He is the father of three grown daughters. An avid cyclist and hiker, he is a frequent visitor to the Silver Comet Trail and other nearby trails, and wants to bring the health, recreational and economic benefits of a major rail-trail to Northeast Georgia. Ralston is public relations manager at St. Mary’s Health Care System, a board member and past-president of Sandy Creek Nature Center, Inc., and a member of the Athens Symphony Chorus. 

Mary Cook continues to serve as treasurer and volunteer coordinator. Cook is a native Athenian who grew up on a farm in northern Clarke County. While serving as the planning and zoning administrator of Oglethorpe County and living in Lexington, she became excited by the idea of the Firefly Trail as a way to increase the tax base while maintaining the county’s beautiful vistas.  She retired to Athens and maintains her Oglethorpe connections as a member of the Rotary Club of Oglethorpe County, Oglethorpe County Historical Society, and is president of the Maxeys Woman’s Club. She is also a member of the Colonial Dames of America and was recently appointed to serve on the Athens-Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission. Cook and her husband are avid walkers and bikers.

Mary Quinn continues her service as secretary. Quinn is a native of the Winterville area. After living a number of years in Virginia, she now resides in a 19th Century home on Main Street in Winterville that was originally built by the historic Georgia Railroad. Retired from a career in accounting in 2000, Quinn today enjoys a variety of public service activities, including leadership roles on the Board of Directors of Arts!Oglethorpe and Friends of the Winterville Library. She served on the 2005 and 2011 Athens-Clarke County SPLOST Citizens Advisory and Oversight Committees and is a former Winterville City Council member and Mayor Pro-tem.

Completing the Board are members-at-large John R. Stephens, Jr., Gary Hedrick and Dave Hagaman.

Stephens, a native of Cave Spring, Ga., is a graduate of the University of Georgia and immediate past president of Firefly Trail, Inc. Following his service in the U.S. Air Force, Stephens lived for a time in Athens before moving to Maxeys, Ga., just over 20 years ago. In Maxeys, he served several terms as a city council member, mayor pro-tem and mayor. Now retired, Stephens served as director of UGA’s Instructional Resources Center. He has been active in various civic organizations including President of the Athens Jaycees, U.S. Jaycee National Director, charter member of Athens Sertoma Club, North Georgia Sertoma District Governor, and a charter member of the Oglethorpe County Rotary Club, for which he has served as President.  He recently completed a term as president of the Athens area chapter of the Military Officers Association of America. He has also served in various other military, professional, business, and charitable organizations. He is an active member of Beech Haven Baptist Church where he serves as a Sunday School teacher, past chairman of the Deacon Body, and Moderator. He and his wife, Carole, have three children and 11 grandchildren. Stephens is quick to tell people he wants to see the Firefly Trail built while he is still young enough to enjoy it.

Hedrick, a resident of Athens since 1979, is a retired Athens-Clarke County school teacher and a former secretary of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission. Hedrick enjoys hiking, biking and boating. Having experienced the delights of many other rail-trails across the United States, he is enthusiastic about the life-enriching possibilities offered by the Firefly Trail. 

Dave Hagaman is the board’s newest member.  Hagaman is a semi-retired attorney who practiced law in Atlanta for 39 years and recently moved back to Athens where he went to high school and college. He is a “double Dawg” having received degrees in economics and law from UGA. Hagaman teaches law at the University of Georgia School of Law as an adjunct professor. He also is a registered mediator and regularly mediates cases in the state’s 10th Judicial Circuit.  In Atlanta he served on the boards of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Preservation Center. He currently serves on the board of the Georgia Review. Hagaman has two children who are also UGA grads, both living in Atlanta. He is an avid hiker, mountain climber and occasional bike rider.  He has hiked 10 of Colorado’s well known “Fourteeners.”