HELEN - The City of Helen received a birthday present of sorts from Habersham Electric Membership Corp. on Tuesday.
Susan Baker of HEMC presented Mayor Lynn Whitener with an "Experience Northeast Georgia" box set. The boxed set of four audio CDs and an 84-page guidebook featuring 75 natural and manmade landmarks in Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White counties.
Baker said the boxed set, created in honor of the electric co-op's 75th anniversary this year, was presented in honor of Helen's centennial.
Developed in cooperation with writer Emory Jones, the CDs feature narration by Habersham County artist and writer John Kollock, as well as artwork by Kollock.
"One of the things that we came to the conclusion of is that we wanted to do something that would give back to our community, and what better way for us and our community than anything that would help our tourism," Baker said. "This is pure in form. This was not a money-making project for Habersham EMC - never intended to be."
The 4.5-hour audio CDs are designed for use as people drive around the northeast Georgia area, with each attraction or location having its own track.
"We have sold over 1,000 of these since we launched the product," Baker told the mayor and commission. The product launched in April, with pre-orders beginning in March.
In response to Commissioner Helen Wilkins, Baker said 20 of the 75 places included are in White County.
Some of those include Helen, Nora Mill, Nacoochee Valley Indian Mound, Hardman Farm, Crescent Hill Church, Nacoochee Valley, Old Sautee Store, Folk Pottery Museum, Stovall Mill Covered Bridge, Chattahoochee River, Yonah Mountain, Babyland General Hospital, White County Historic Courthouse, Richard Russell Scenic Highway, Raven Cliff Falls, and the Appalachian Trail.
Baker said HEMC President/CEO Todd Pealock's vision was to bring people to northeast Georgia in hopes they will eat, shop and stay overnight.
"Any money that HEMC makes back on this is actually going 100 percent back into advertising of the products in hopes that it will stimulate our economy here," Baker said.
Commissioner Jeff Ash praised "Experience Northeast Georgia."
"That is absolutely the finest tape I have ever listened to," Ash said. "I learned more about my area - and I've lived here my whole life. It's so soothing - John's voice is just so even that you want to hear the next one."