Although the spring semester ended a little differently than we all anticipated, the Hart Archway Partnership has continued in its mission to connect Hart County to the resources of the University of Georgia for the community’s benefit. The group completed many projects this year, in addition to leading groups like the Poverty Task Force and the Regional Tourism Roundtable series.

“Hart County’s association with Archway continues to be a valuable organizational tool for bringing local and university resources together to support current and future goals for our community,” said Bill Leard, Archway Executive Committee Chair. “We continue to benefit from having access to the vast resources of the University system.”

The Hart County Archway Partnership works on four priorities decided by the Executive Committee: Tourism, Workforce Development and Education, Quality of Life and Preparing for Growth. A number of projects were accomplished for each priority, including the new Blush mural on Depot Street, a marketing plan for the Hart College and Career Academy and a City of Hartwell wastewater analysis.

Although the county was disappointed to lose long-time Archway Professional Anna Strickland, interim Archway Professional Rosanna Cruz-Bibb has picked up right where Strickland left off, helping to complete many projects and continue running groups like the Poverty Task Force and the Regional Tourism Roundtable.

Operations Coordinator Angel Jackson and Cruz-Bibb work with the students and faculty from UGA to complete all these projects, yielding results for Hart County and giving students work experience before they embark on their careers.

“The student interns are the best of the best; they are able to work on real-world projects that make a real difference for Hart County. Our funding partners invest in the program because they know they will get a good return on their investment,” said Leard. The numbers are still being run for Fiscal Year 2020, but in 2019 that return on investment was more than $800,000.

A couple of those projects were with the Hart County Botanical Garden, where students worked with co-directors of the garden Gretchen Torrence and Diane Slayton to install a pollinator garden and to design a conifer garden at the entrance to the Gardens.

“Our experience with the Archway Partnership has been an invaluable one for the Hart County Botanical Garden with two major projects in the works,” said Torrence. What started out as an amorphous idea for a grassland area at the Botanical Garden, with the help of Strickland, transformed into the Connect to Protect pollinator garden when she was able to bring in the State Botanical Garden of Georgia plant preservation office.

“Within weeks we were on our way to a plan and this summer we are enjoying the fruits of our collaboration with 186 matrix grasses installed in a manageable grid, the essential foundation for all the heritage prairie plants that will be incorporated to create our Piedmont Pocket Prairie,” said Torrence.

For the conifer garden, Torrence knew they could reach out to Archway for assistance. “We were soon introduced to two graduate students from the College of Environment and Design. Our Botanical Garden leads were interviewed by these students during their initial site visit last fall. Incredibly, the two of them were able to hone in on our stated needs, wants and goals presenting a fine initial concept portfolio that not only addressed the conifer garden design but incorporated our vision for a new entrance. The resulting plan is nothing less than extraordinary.”

Despite the remote work requirements in place these past few months, work has continued on all the ongoing projects and Cruz-Bibb continues to work with community groups. No matter what happens this summer or in the fall, the Archway Partnership will continue working on behalf of the Hart County community.

Writer: Baker Owens,, 706-510-9622

Contact: Rosanna Cruz-Bibb,, 706-338-9767