The city of Ball Ground, in partnership with Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services, has become the second location in Georgia to implement a U.S. National Grid (USNG) based Emergency Location Marker (ELM) System. Cobb County was the first to implement the system in late 2018.

The objective of this initiative is to provide trail markers at intervals of a quarter mile and other key points along Roberts Lake Trail in northeast Ball Ground. These markers are key for first responders, who use USNG coordinates. During a 911 emergency call, USNG coordinates quickly direct emergency personnel to a physical location on the trail where a street address does not exist.

Cherokee County Fire personnel recently mapped the trail and collected the coordinates for the markers. The city of Ball Ground has ordered the markers, which are scheduled for installation later this month. The city plans to expand the use of the ELM system as the trail system is extended throughout the Roberts Lake Park property, which comprises nearly 50 acres along Long Swamp Creek.

With a large portion of the current trail system not accessible by vehicle or even all-terrain vehicles, the city felt it was important to participate in an ELM program to give first responders definitive information so that an exact point on the trail could be determined, providing a quicker response in the event of emergency.

“The trail winds through the woods for approximately seven-tenths of a mile to the site of the former Roberts Lake Dam,” Ball Ground City Manager Eric Wilmarth said. “By the end of this fall, we should acquire our final piece of property and complete a 200-foot section of the trail that will then move the trail to just behind the Ball Ground Community Center. This will open the trail to many more people and, of course, will be accessible with all types of vehicles. Additionally, it will take the trail from 0.7 to 1.2 miles in length.”

The city hopes to work on a network of interconnecting trails within the park, while Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services will continue to work with the city to expand the ELM signs as needed when the trail system is expanded, Wilmarth said.

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