How did we get to December so fast? Time seems to move more quickly year after year, especially when we are busy. This phenomenon gives us reason to slow down during the holidays, and cherish the time we have with family and friends. In a world where human connection and togetherness often seem fleeting, taking time to gather with loved ones, or volunteer to help those in need, is the greatest gift of all.
Speaking of time, Canton has seen a year of steady and exciting progress. After years of careful planning, many thoughtful projects have been completed or are approaching completion. Progress certainly brings challenges, but it also offers opportunities to re-evaluate, as Descartes said, our “inventory of possible.” Without a doubt, 2019 will be a more exciting year, and Canton’s golden days are being revived and reimagined for a new generation, and for the diverse interests of our citizenry.
In my opinion, the “live, work, play” catchphrase is extremely overused, but Canton will experience the benefits of this concept on two signature adaptive reuse projects in 2019: the Jones Building and The Mill On Etowah. Both projects are manifestations of the city’s recent Canton Forward master plan for downtown and the River Mill District.
The first project, the historic Jones Mercantile building in the center of downtown Canton, has seen a painstaking exterior restoration thanks to the city. Restored to its 1920 grandeur, the former department store is, once again, a stately landmark in the center of downtown. The building’s Main Street elevation included some infill brick from a restoration project at the Fox Theatre.
The detailed punch list is nearing completion, and the custom reproduction awning will be delivered and installed any day. The mayor and council are
considering final options for the best possible use for this landmark, including selling to a private developer with covenants to maintain the restored exterior and ensure street-level retail.
To celebrate its place in the hearts of citizens who grew up in Canton, our Main Street program collaborated with Helen Jones Spears on a nostalgic storefront window display. Helen designed many of the original window displays for the department store as a young, and extremely talented, member of the Jones family.
Next up is The Mill On Etowah, an adaptive reuse development of the former Canton textile mills, featuring a brewery, restaurants, shopping and a co-working environment in its initial phase. For me, this project is the most exciting of all, since it preserves and repurposes one of our most iconic locations on the Etowah, while also linking it to our future plans for an active river walk.
Developed by Penn Hodge Properties, the project’s first tenant will be Cherokee-based Reformation Brewery. Reformation, with origins in Canton, returns with a 30,000-square-foot production and storage facility that also will include a taproom and event space, set to open in summer 2019. The Mill’s second tenant will be the third location for Thrive co-working spaces, including 12,000 square feet of shared offices, open workspace and meeting rooms. With its waterfront location on the Etowah River and added green space access, The Mill On Etowah also will include several prominent restaurants and a market with additional shopping.
These two developments are among the many initiatives that will allow our citizens to experience Canton’s golden days of yore in updated and relevant forms. Memories will be reawakened while new ones are created. However, neither of these would be possible without a longstanding appreciation and commitment to preservation. Originals allow the innovations where past, present and future coalesce in harmony.
As we transition to the future, we also hunger for the comfort of our golden days, regardless of our age. Speaking of hunger, there’s nothing more comfortable than homemade macaroni and cheese! See what I did there?
Undoubtedly, the holidays represent the epitome of comfort food. There is nothing more satisfying than sharing a home-cooked meal with family and friends.
While many consider mac and cheese a side dish, my version can be prepared as an entrée, given its richness. Granted, it takes time and effort, compared with the boxed version adored by many, but it’s worth it. Trust me, I am a connoisseur of mac and cheese; just ask any of my friends. As I travel, I am in constant pursuit of the perfect version, rich and creamy, with the right crunchy topping.
After many trials and tribulations, this recipe has to be my favorite rendition. Again, it requires an investment of time, but just relax and enjoy the process. The results will be golden.
– Bill Grant, a Canton city councilman and mayor pro tem.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering baking pan
• 4 slices day old country white bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch cubes
• 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
• 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
• 3/4 pound elbow macaroni
• 2 3/4 cups milk
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 9-inch x 13-inch or similar size casserole dish and set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. Melt 1 tablespoon butter, pour over bread cubes, and toss to combine. Once combined, add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and combine evenly. Set bread cubes aside.
Grate cheddar, Gruyère and Pecorino cheeses, reserving 3/4 cups of grated cheddar, 1/4 cup Gruyère and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano for topping the macaroni and cheese mixture before baking. Set reserved cheese aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook al dente (about 2-3 minutes less than pasta directions). Transfer to a colander, and rinse under cold running water to stop cooking. Drain well and set aside.
Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in the pot used to cook macaroni. As the butter bubbles, add the flour and cook, whisking constantly for one minute.
Add the hot milk to the flour and butter mixture slowly, while continuing to whisk, until all is incorporated and no lumps are left. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, 8-9 minutes.
Remove pan from heat, then whisk in salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 3/4 cups Gruyère and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, stirring until fully melted. Add cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce, and stir gently to fully combine, then pour macaroni and cheese into the prepared dish.
Spread the reserved 3/4 cups of grated cheddar, 1/4 cup Gruyère and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano evenly over the mixture, then sprinkle the prepared bread cubes over the top. Bake until the top and bread cubes are golden brown, about 30 minutes. If the top is not thoroughly browned, place the oven on a low broil for a couple of minutes, being careful not to burn the bread cubes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-6 minutes. Serve hot, and enjoy seconds!