BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, along with the Blue Ridge Community Theater, hosted a candidate forum May 3 to give voters an opportunity to hear first-hand local candidates’ responses to questions about issues facing our area.
All persons running for positions on the Fannin County Board of Education and for the seat of Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner were present to share their views and explain why they should have your vote in the upcoming election.
First to take the stage were Marvin Allen (R), Bobby Bearden (R), and Jeff DePaola (D).
Allen is challenging incumbent Bearden in the May General Primary for the Republican nomination. The winner of the primary will face Democrat DePaola in the November General Election.
BOBBY BEARDEN (R) INCUMBENT
Bobby Bearden, who has served on the Fannin County Board of Education for 16 years, said, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Bearden added about his time serving, “It’s more than a privilege. It’s a blessing and an honor.”
While agreeing with his fellow candidates on many of the issues such as a board member must be a liaison between the community, parents, teachers, and students, Bearden gave insight into his feelings about what it takes to be an effective board member and what it means to serve.
“A lot of people think that the school board runs the schools, but the school board does not run the schools,” Bearden said. “The superintendent runs the schools. The school board makes sure the superintendent carries out the policies.”
Bearden spoke of accomplishments of the school board during his service specifically citing the Performing Arts Center (PAC) and the construction taking place of the new agricultural facility located on Ada Street: “I’ve got so much behind me I couldn’t tell you all of it.”
“I just heard today that we applied for a grant, a literacy grant for over 1 million bucks,” Bearden said, smiling, “and we got it.”
Bearden’s platform is unwavering, stating his top priorities are “children, children, children, and the tax payers of Fannin County.” He states that safety and quality education are his main focus.
MARVIN ALLEN (R) CHALLENGER
Marvin Allen is a product of the Fannin County School System and has raised his children in Fannin County where they all attended our public schools.
“The platform I’m running on is my concerns for the children of Fannin County,” Allen addressed the crowd of voters. “Their safety is certainly number one. Next on the list is education. Another issue I am concerned about is the consideration of the tax-paying citizens of the county.”
Allen would like to work with the superintendent to produce quality policies that make a difference and to be a good steward of taxpayers dollars when it comes to the budget.
Having helped initiate the school system’s fishing program and by being involved with his children’s educations as well as their extracurricular activities, including sports and band, Allen feels that he is qualified for a position on the Board of Education.
When asked what makes an effective school board member, Allen replied that listening and communicating with the community is a large part of the responsibility, but also being able to effectively take care of business: “There are policies you’ve got to set and a budget you’ve got to monitor.”
JEFF DEPAOLA (D) CHALLENGER
Jeff DePaola has worked with youth via mentoring programs and shows a strong resolve in helping children through community involvement.
DePaola feels that this mentoring background along with his career provides him with the experience needed to serve on the Fannin County Board of Education.
DePaola began his career with Delta at the young age of 19. Through Delta, DePaola learned the field of computer programming and went on to write and implement many programs used in this field.
“I’ve got kind of an entrepreneurial spirit about me. I feel like I have a good eye for looking at a situation and seeing opportunities to make it better,” DePaola spoke of how his career will translate on the school board.
DePaola would like to be a liason if elected to the school board. He feels that a large portion of the duty of a board member is to gather as much information as possible from students, teachers, parents and the community, and relay that information into meaningful policies.
“The platform I’m running on is opportunity through community,” DePaola stated of his goals if elected.
Next to come to the stage was the race with the largest number of candidates. These candidates include Ron Bolin (R), Mike Cole (R), Susan DeMoura (D), Steve Stanley (R), and Mike Sullivan (R).
Bolin, Cole and Sullivan are all challengers of incumbent Stanley for the Republican nomination in the May General Primary. The winner of the primary will go on to face Democrat DeMoura in the November General Election.
RON BOLIN (R) CHALLENGER
Ron Bolin opened his statements by giving voters a glimpse into his background: “I’m a retired educator. I’ve taught at all three grade levels, elementary, middle, and high school.”
Beyond having taught, Bolin has also spent time in coaching and in school administration.
Bolin is a proponent of literacy and would like to focus school assets into providing a number of tools to promote and teach these skills. Having served many years in education, Bolin stated, “When a student lags behind in this area, it makes more difficulties throughout their entire education.”
Bolin would also like to see focus put on bringing back vocational training to our schools. He believes that education has “made a huge mistake” by putting all the focus on college education and that many students do not attend college and would greatly benefit from vocational training.
MIKE COLE (R) CHALLENGER
Mike Cole is a product of the Fannin County School System and credits his success to the start he got in our county’s schools.
Cole, a small business owner, began his training at Fannin County High School in the now un-offered vocational and technical programs. Having a successful career with General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, Cole returned to Fannin County to open his own automotive repair shop.
Cole is now a strong advocate for returning programs such as transportation class, cosmetology, residential wiring, plumbing, and welding to Fannin County schools.
“I’m not just a salesman,” Cole said, speaking of his opponent Bolin’s stance to bring back vocational classes, “but I am a client. I went through this vocational system, and I now own a business doing my career path from career tech.”
Cole now has a young child enrolled in the school system, and from involvement in his child’s education, he sees areas of what he feels are wasteful spending and mismanagement.
Citing that he has personally had to provide water to children on a field trip and has seen first-hand large amounts of food being thrown away in the schools’ cafeterias, Cole stated, “If we are a charter school and can make some decisions, we need to make decisions about the waste and mismanagement in that area.”
Cole also brought to the table the idea of using Georgia Virtual on snow days. He stated that if each child were provided a Chromebook that this option could be used to alleviate the issue of make-up school days due to inclement weather.
SUSAN DEMOURA (D) CHALLENGER
Susan DeMoura shared her experience of being a director of a rehabilitation center. With a master’s in speech language pathology, DeMoura worked many years managing a large staff and being in charge of an equally as large budget.
“I believe that my experience has prepared me to sit on this board,” DeMoura explained that she is used to working with many diverse people, “and become a liaison between the superintendent and the students and the teachers and the parents.”
When asked if school boards should be moved to a nonpartisan position, DeMoura stated that she is proud to be a member of her political party, but “I don’t see this as an area where politics need to come into play.”
DeMoura said that a key area she would like to research and try to resolve is the issue of absences in Fannin County. She cited that not all absences are due to illness and some stem from a child’s home life. DeMoura would like to provide options for these children to ensure that they are able to attend school everyday.
“My goal is to try to bridge any gap that exists,” DeMoura said of her hopes if elected,”with our students and our parents and teachers and provide the very best options, the very best alternatives for them.”
STEVE STANLEY (R) INCUMBENT
Steve Stanley has served on the Board of Education for eight years and would like to be re-elected for another four year term.
Stanley is proud of his record with the Board of Education citing several successes that have come to pass during his terms. He spoke of grants that have been awarded and progresses that have been made on all school campuses.
With Quality Basic Education (QBE) being fully funded by the state of Georgia for the first time in a number of years, Stanley stated that he will continue to be an advocate for equal state funding for Fannin County schools.
“This board will continue to work,” Stanley stated of his expectations if re-elected, “and I will continue to work.”
Stanley stated that the one thing he would do differently if elected for another term would be to spend more time in the schools.
“That has been the one thing I have wanted to do since I have been on the board is spend more time in schools,” Stanley said, explaining that his work has kept him away from spending as much time as he would like in the schools.
MIKE SULLIVAN (R) CHALLENGER
Mike Sullivan remains steadfast in his platform. Two of Sullivan’s key issues are that of school safety and of complete transparency on all levels.
Sullivan would like to see no stone left unturned when it comes to the safety of the children of Fannin County. Pursuing every option to acquire top notch safety is an issue the Sullivan is very passionate about.
Sullivan was asked of what he has done to prepare himself for the school board position if elected. He cited that beyond having attended the Board of Education monthly meetings, his military background is another advantage that he possesses.
“The military really prepares you a lot for working with diverse people,” the Air Force veteran spoke of his credentials for the Board of Education, “and I believe our board is comprised of some diverse individuals. It really prepares you for conflict.”
Sullivan agreed with his opponents on a number of issues, including that the school board should be a nonpartisan position and that the best way to keep quality teachers is to offer competitive pay and incentives.
When asked what he would do differently from incumbent Stanley, Sullivan replied that he would have active engagement on all levels, with students, parents, teachers, and fellow board members.
“We really have tremendous capabilities here,” Sullivan stated enthusiastically of his intentions, “to really excel with our kids and to lead them beyond being just 21st century learners.”
POST 2 COMMISSIONER
The final group of candidates to take the stage were those running for Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner. These candidates included Dixie Carter (D), Glenn Patterson (R), Larry Joe Sosebee (R), and William “Tripp” Ritchie (R).
Ritchie and Patterson are facing incumbent Sosebee for the Republican nomination in the May General Primary. The winner of this primary will go against Democrat Carter in the November General Election.
DIXIE CARTER (D) CHALLENGER
Dixie Carter holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, and she feels that having worked many years in this field, she has a good understanding of people and their needs and for this reason would make an ideal candidate.
Carter is a proponent of improving the county’s recreational areas and of seeking ways to move the county’s library out of the courthouse and into a stand-alone location.
A library is a hub for many communities, according to Carter, and a place where not only learning can take place, but a facility that can offer community classes and lectures, Internet for those without, and social work and aid for those in need.
When asked about a county aquatic center, Carter replied that she would be in favor and that it would be “very beneficial to focus on our health and wellness.”
Rather than just fund this center locally, Carter feels that we could look into regional funding: “Regional collaboration is a very good thing.” She feels that surrounding counties might take interest since the center would be beneficial to their residents as well.
Carter would be in favor of expanding the current Fannin County Board of Commissioners from a three-person panel to a five-person panel.
“With three there’s a monopoly on the vote,” Carter stated of the matter. “It’s almost like it’s rigged.”
If elected, Carter said she will work to represent all citizens of Fannin County and work to change the atmosphere of the Board of Commissioners meetings, which she feels has a negative tone.
GLENN PATTERSON (R) CHALLENGER
Glenn Patterson is an educator of 33 years and has spent approximately 23 of those years as a teacher, administrator, and coach in Fannin County. Patterson currently serves on the Board of Directors at the Fannin Christian Learning Center and is chairman for Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.
Patterson said that he has no private agenda in running, just a vision and a want to make Fannin County better.
Being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money is a key element to Patterson’s platform, and a topic that he reiterated in his answers.
When asked about the county collaborating with the cities to provide an aquatic center, Patterson replied, “I would be open to look at it. I really would. A lot of factors come into play, especially paying for it.”
One area where Patterson seemed to agree with incumbent Sosebee was in not expanding the Board of Commissioners to a five-member board and keeping it at its current three member status. While he did not say that he was completely against the move, Patterson did cite that there is another way to approach the matter.
“I think the biggest thing is to get good people,” Patter said, explaining his stance. “Get people that you can trust. Get people that will work together collaboratively for a common goal.”
LARRY JOE SOSEBEE (R) INCUMBENT
Larry Joe Sosebee has held the Post 2 Commission seat since 2011 and will be seeking a third term in office.
Sosebee stated that his platform has never changed and that he will be running on the same ideals: “When I first ran for this office, my platform was for the safety and prosperity for each citizen of Fannin County.”
Not in support of turning the Board of Commissioners into a five-member board, Sosebee spoke frankly on the matter: “Three people is enough to butt heads on these decisions we make.”
Sosebee told the crowd that he would be in favor of a stand-alone building for the county library: “I’ve always supported a stand-alone library.” He then added,” I wouldn’t put the county in any bond debt whatsoever for any facility.”
Rival candidate Tripp Ritchie questioned the county’s planning strategy for the future and in particular cited the county’s emergency departments. Sosebee took offense to Ritchie’s comments and replied about these departments, “We are top notch in the state of Georgia.”
“All it takes is common sense to run this office,” Sosebee said and added that with his experience, he feels that he is the man for the job.
WILLIAM “TRIPP” RITCHIE (R) CHALLENGER
Tripp Ritchie, a sixth-generation Fannin County resident, co-owner of Ritchie Creek Farm, Inc., and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps., did not hold back during the forum as he spoke frankly about areas of the county that he feels need to be improved.
Ritchie has held strong to his belief that the county lacks proper strategic planning, and one downfall of not having such a plan is in newly constructed facilities: “We need a five-year capital improvements plan.”
“If it’s not in a capital improvements program,” Ritchie added, “you end up starting construction without knowing how you are going to pay for it.”
Ritchie also noted areas in how the Board of Commissioners run that could be improved for the public: “I don’t think we have enough public debate or public comments.”
Accusing Fannin County Commission Chairman Stan Helton of “weaponizing” his position by having complete say in meeting agendas and arrangements, Ritchie added, “We should encourage everybody to have input from the community. We seem to forget that we are representing the citizens of Fannin County.”
Ritchie said that he would support changing the current commission board from three members to five members: “Yes, and I would go a step further. I’d change the form of government between a volunteer-elected board and a manager.”
Having a county manager to organize and oversee all areas of the county government, according to Ritchie, would be beneficial not just in efficiency but also in transparency.
Finally, Ritchie addressed the issue of our emergency management departments and said that this is another area that would greatly benefit from strategic planning. He feels the county should do more to prepare these departments for future demand.
Ritchie also cited that he had been informed that our fire department facilities are not up to code, some not being properly vented, and that firefighters had expressed concern to him about their safety: “They asked me to bring these issues to the commissioners attention. They felt like the commission didn’t have their back.”
Ritchie maintains that he is the right person for the job because he will proactively seek solutions: “I’m not a politician. I’m a pragmatist. I see a problem, and I go try to fix it.”
Early voting continues in Fannin County through May 18. You can place your early vote at the Fannin County Courthouse, 3rd Floor, Office of Elections and Registration. Regular voting for the General Primary will take place on May 22. The 2018 General Election is to be held Nov. 6.
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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The future of the farmer’s market property and the city pool stood out among five main topics of conversation addressed by the Blue Ridge City Council as well as dozens of attending citizens in a town hall meeting Tuesday, March 27.
In the February and March council meetings, the council discussed options for either selling, leasing or renovating the farmer’s market property off of Summit Street. At the most recent meeting, Jim Sisson, owner of Sisson Log Homes, expressed his desire to either buy or lease the property as an overflow space to use for drying materials for his business.
While the council members seemingly agreed in the past meetings in their desire to renovate the property and to reopen it as an arts and/or entertainment destination in an ideal scenario, the podium was opened to the audience at the town hall meeting for direct input from citizens to gauge the consensus of residents.
Accepting the invitation was Joe Webb, of Dial, who explained that while he lives outside the city limits, he does have an interest in the city, working with the Blue Ridge Community Theater. Among the suggestions put forth by Webb were to use the property as a centralized location for a stand-alone public library or to simply sell the property to the highest bidder in an effort to establish “hotel and some retail density in that area.”
Webb went on to admit while there is some sentimental value attributed to the property, “economically, it’s literally a relic of the past.”
Another citizen, Larry Bersyn, asked about the amount of income the farmer’s market property was contributing to the city.
“It has zero income, right now, just expenses,” Mayor Donna Whitener answered, referring to utility costs.
“So, why do we still have it?” Bersyn asked.
Councilwoman Rhonda Haight explained the farmer’s market is a unique property that the city owns. “It could become a really neat art district, which we don’t have,” Haight added, also stating she would like to see the property double as an event center.
Councilman Nathan Fitts stated he liked the idea of converting the area into an arts and cultural center but was concerned about the cost to renovate.
“We do have somebody who would like to lease it,” Whitener reminded the council, likely referring to Sisson. “So until we we come up with a plan, why do we not consider leasing it out? At least it stops our bleeding.”
Whitener also explained Sisson would be willing to temporarily lease the property and move off the property once the city did produce a long-term plan for the property as long as he was given a 30 to 60-day notice to vacant.
Another citizen pointed out that an arts and cultural district would mostly benefit tourists but selling the property to make way for a stand-alone library would benefit the working people of the community.
Brian Pritchard, publisher of FetchYourNews, pleaded with the council to lease the property to Sisson, a 17-year local business owner, until a long-term plan was established. “Make a long-term plan, but maybe in the short-term, lease it to Mr. Sisson and say, ‘Thank you for being a business owner in the city for 17 years,'” Pritchard said.
Ultimately, Mayor Whitener agreed this was the best option for the city.
Tony Byrd, city street superintendent and shop mechanic, was on hand at the meeting to discuss maintenance issues with the city pool. Whitener explained the pool has a leak in the main drain and needs replacement of internal filters, manifold gaskets and valves. She also stated there was possible leak in the skimmer system.
Byrd stated to repair the aforementioned issues, the estimate would be between $5,000 and $10,000. If there is a leak in the skimmer system, Whitener stated it would be “many tens of thousands” of dollars to repair. The mayor also said she asked Byrd to present a definite amount to the council by the April meeting for the costs to repair the smaller issues to open it for this summer and then the city would look to the 2019 pool season to have the more expensive issues resolved.
Whitener also stated 1,429 people used the pool in 2017, which amounted to just under $6,000 in revenue.
In addition to repairing the pool, the council discussed ideas for constructing a city splash pad and Whitener suggested forming a committee to look for grants and/or create a campaign to generate funds to pay for these projects.
When Haight asked the audience for input, Bersyn said, “Sell the farmer’s market, use the money from the farmer’s market to pay for the pool (and) we have a new pool next year … And stop wasting the city’s money.”
Webb also spoke on the issue and mentioned that the county was studying the prospect of creating an indoor pool at the Tom Boyd Recreation Center. Webb stated he would rather see an indoor pool located more centrally and within the city.
Council members Nathan Fitts and Haight agreed to meet with the county in the near future about the possibility of forming a joint venture to build an indoor pool.
The upcoming Georgia Cities Week, which will take place April 22 to 28 in Blue Ridge, was discussed by the council. Georgia Cities Week is a week-long celebration sponsored by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). GMA is a non-profit legal advocacy organization, of which Blue Ridge is a municipality member, that offers consulting services to its member cities.
During the week, Blue Ridge will be coordinating a city-wide litter clean-up campaign in which residents and organizations are asked to dispose of accumulated litter in two dumpsters donated by Advanced Disposal that will be situated at locations within the city limits. Possible dumpster locations discussed by council included the farmer’s market property on Summit Street, near the Co-Op store on East Main Street and possibly at the Kiwanis Fairgrounds.
In the same vein, Council Members Ken Gaddis and Rhonda Haight put forth the idea of the city beginning to conduct a regular small brush pick-up twice in the month of April and again during the fall after leaves have fallen in an effort to keep gutters and storm drains clear of debris.
The city will also conduct a Mayor’s Essay Contest during the week, which will be open to all elementary, middle, high school or home school students. Those participating in the essay contest should compose a 150 to 300-word essay centered around the topic of “If I were mayor, I would …”
Other discussed ideas for Georgia Cities Week included reaching out to Red Cross, the Humane Society of Blue Ridge, and Georgia Mountains Health about possibly conducting a blood drive, animal adoption fair and health fair, respectively.
Mayor Donna Whitener stated she had recently spoken to representatives from the local chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) who expressed interest in participating in a beautification project for the downtown area, which would include situating planters along the sidewalks near downtown businesses. Whitener explained the city would be responsible for the purchase of the planters and plants and “they (FFA) will put (the planters) together for us.”
When the mayor asked local business owner and President of the Blue Ridge Business Association (BRBA) Cesar Martinez of the number of planters he thought would be needed, Martinez said he felt 30 planters would be sufficient.
Regarding another area of downtown beautification, Martinez spoke to the council about the possibility of erecting standards along streets to display small flags or banners. Martinez stated several different types of banners could be produced displaying the various downtown events, such as Fire & Ice or Trout Fest, that take place throughout the year. He added if the city paid for the standards, the Chamber of Commerce and the BRBA would be willing to split costs with the city to produce the banners. Whitener stated she thought the standards ran around $25 a piece and Pam Fink, of the BRBA, said the cost to produce the flags would be around $35 per flag.
Martinez was told to put together a definite proposal to present to the council at a later date.
An update on the current Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) project near Orchard Boulevard was given. The mayor stated the water infrastructure improvement project was scheduled to begin April 5. The council spoke of what to consider for the next CDBG project, and it was agreed that addressing the flooding issues near Ada Street should be the next project.
At the March 13 council meeting, Ben and Natalie Kissel, city residents who live in the Ada Street flood plain, talked with the council about recent flooding problems in that neighborhood. Gaddis reported that he along with a representative from Carter & Sloope, the city’s contracted engineering firm, visited the area Wednesday, March 21, to study the issue.
“There are some serious issues we’re having in flooding areas and we put together a pretty good game plan,” Gaddis explained. He added that surveyors from Carter & Sloope would be examining the area to determine which property owners would need to provide the city with easements to allow the city to move forward with a long-term improvement project. In the short-term, Gaddis stated the city could install storm culverts and water bumper rails to help direct water flow away from owners’ properties.
Whitener also mentioned the city could receive additional state funding assistance by pursuing a WaterFirst Community designation. The mayor said this application process typically takes about six to eight months. The designation is awarded to municipalities demonstrating a strong commitment to water resource stewardship by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
A project to construct a two, or possibly three, story downtown restroom facility near the depot was also discussed. According to Whitener, the existing plan to build a two-story facility would cost $450,000 and the city has already been approved for a $300,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant, leaving the city to pay the remaining $150,000. Fitts reported he had heard the cost would be in the range of $750,000.
After Martinez asked about a target date for finalizing plans for the restrooms, Mayor Whitener stated the city would know more after its meeting with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Wednesday about options for the ARC grant.
by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones
Tuesday, May 23
Directed by Sonia Smith
We can age up or down depending on the character.
BUD TURPIN – father
RAYNELLE – mother
RAY-BUD – oldest son
LUCILLE – Raybud’s wife
JUNIOR – second son
SUZANNE – Junior’s wife
MARGUERITE – Bud’s sister
ROYCE – Marguerite’s son
NORVAL – youngest son
REVEREND HOOKER –preacher
VEDA – elderly lady in town husband
NADINE – very young lady in town
CLYDE – Raybud’s boss
JUANITA – pretentious lady in town
THE JOY OF LIFE SINGERS
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays possible for scene work and full cast rehearsals
Show dates: July 13 – 30, 2017 (Thursday–Sunday)
Scripts will be available now.
Scenes from the play will be read during the audition or you may bring a prepared monologue of your choice.
Call the box office for information. 706-632-9223
February 3 – 12
Fri – Sat; 7:30 PM
Sun; 2 PM
The classic story tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.
Don’t miss the tale as old as time!
2017 at the Blue Ridge Community Theater. Live music Back in the Saddle
Saturday, January 7th, 7:30 pm and The Band Kelley
Saturday, January 21st, 7:30 pm. Sunny D Children’s Theater presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast February 3 thru February 12. On the Main Stage “The Count of Monte Cristo” March 2 – March 19 Directed by: Joey Roderick. Auditions The Count of Monte Cristo
Adapted by Charles Morey from the novel by Alexandre Dumas January 9 & 10, 2017 6 pm
Find out more about how to auditions for upcoming productions at blueridgecommunitytheater.com
Luckily, they were able to hold the bear back with sticks and screams.
‘Wild Guys’ is in its last weekend at Blue Ridge Community Theater. Four men are out for a “man’s weekend” somewhere in the woods – somewhere because they are actually lost. One guy believes he can access his primal man inside himself; one guy wants to reconcile with his son; one guy wants an excuse to ditch his girlfriend for the weekend; and, one guy wants a promotion beyond produce manager at a local grocery store. Ill-prepared, they set off on a hike without food, compass and map, relying on directions from the produce manager who heard the directions from a friend. Luckily, for entertainment, they have a six pack between them, two guys that play a mean karaoke harmonica and guitar. It’s a recipe for a crisis. That is where the bear comes in and lurks around backstage, a metaphor for their fear about finding answers in life’s emotional wilderness.
As crazy as their predicament sounds, their comical approaches to solving the outdoor predicament and the predicaments of their lives makes the show crazy funny. The play encourages the audience that everyone can re-examine the disconnect between how they look on the surface versus the deep pains in their heart. And, it reminds the audience that getting lost is sometimes the best way to find yourself. ‘Wild Guys’ got a standing ovation for the performance the night FetchYourNews was in the audience.
Hilarious lines delivered with perfect timing is the surface comedy that the audience gets; the costumes are the deep comedy. The produce manager desperately seeking a more successful life wears his dream vision of himself in the form of a blue t-shirt with a big, triangular superman logo plastered across his chest. The “primal man” is dressed like a hippy-dippy New Age complete with slightly shaggy hair, leather and hemp necklaces and a huge crystal he uses to channel the energy of whatever New Age philosophy he is believing at this time. The 50-something lawyer, who is ditching his 20-something girlfriend for the weekend, has not a hair out of place and wears olive green monotone “camping” clothing that looks like it comes from an Orvis catalog. The fourth man, the one who arranges the experience, has every look of a very successful man who wants to prove to people he is just an everyday guy. His “everyday guy” camouflage shorts have not a rip or dirt splotch upon them. His “everyday guy” t-shirt looks more like a t-shirt that wicks up sweat, has copper threads so no “manly” smell lingers on and may have its own built in air-conditioner. Of course, his backpack is completely image appropriate and probably the most expensive backpack at the store.
Sonia Smith directs ‘Wild Guys’, and Renee Roberts is the Assistant Director. The four wild guys are played by Bill Szarowicz, Rick Siefken, Steve Burton and Mike Dunham. Remaining shows are Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2 pm.
Eric Morris, assistant teacher, stands with some of his Little Bits super-stars. Mr. Morris helped the 5-7 year-olds memorize their lines. He is very proud of all the Little Bits and how well learned their lines.
Friday and Saturday, Sunny D campers will stage their performances at Blue Ridge Community Theater. Sunny D is the annual children’s theater camp run by Blue Ridge Community Theater volunteers. Other Fannin organizations help round out camp logistics. Kiwanis Club provides extra space. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church provides free breakfast, and Faith Presbyterian prepares the free lunch and snacks.
This year, the camp will put on four plays and two musicals around the central theme “Heroes and Villains”. Each year Sunny D picks a new theme and new plays. Patricia Webb, Executive Director of Sunny D, chooses themes and situations that help campers learn something more about being human than just the lines in the play.
Little Bits, actors aged 5-7, will perform Rappin’ Fairytales around the character theme of helping each other turn “zeros into heroes.”
A mystery family connection between Super Gran and Super Girl is revealed by Tweens Actors, ages 8-12 in their play Super-hero-ish. In this play, daughter of Super Gran and mother of Super Girl doesn’t know of the family’s secret super-powers since it skips generations. Gran and Girl unite to save the Queen of England whom Mad Maniac stole and imprisoned somewhere. No word yet on the true identity of Super Gran during her daily Fannin life.
Pamela Smith, who is assisting with the Tweens, says that the experience teaches kids many real-life skills that they will continue to pull on. The children learn how to work as a family, respecting other kids’ differences and abilities to work together. Theater also develops confidence and memorization skills.
The Teens, ages 13-18, are putting on The Tempest by William Shakespeare. They have accomplished a feat that adult actors find difficult. Within two weeks, the teens have memorized lines in Elizabethan English, matched their lines to their body movements and have full confidence in putting on a play written by the supreme master of English-language theater.
Paul Smith enjoys watching the Teens practice The Tempest in his down time from ferrying food for volunteers and actors between the different venues. He admires that the Teens have put in some serious practice time studying different renown directors’ version of The Tempest. “only teenagers can pull off The Tempest within two weeks… and walk away this summer with a good knowledge of Shakespeare, the foundation of our language.
Sunny D also offers beginning and advanced musical camps. This year the two different productions are Beauty and the Beast and Afternoon in the Park with Heroes and Villains. Heath Burnett, lead director of Afternoon in the Park with Heroes and Villains, wrote the play especially for Sunny D. This is the first time the ever the musical has been performed.
Friday’s plays begin at 6 pm and Saturday’s at 2 pm with the Little Bits’ Rapping Fairytales. On Friday, the Tweens perform at 7:30 and at 3:30 on Saturday. The Teens perform at 9 pm on Friday and 5 pm on Saturday. The musicals are on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday the introductory musical is at 7:30 and the advanced at 9:30. On Sunday, the introductory group is at 2 pm and the advanced at 3:30. Tickets are $5 per play. Family members and friends that are going to see their special super-stars who are in different productions will need to buy a ticket for each production. Ms. Webb encourages buying the tickets through the theater rather than on the theaters’ website since the websites’ transaction fee is roughly the same cost as a ticket. For more information, call Blue Ridge Community Theater at 706-9223.
Sunny D also puts on two children’s plays during the year. The fall play will be Peter Pan. The children’s plays during the year are separate from the summer camp. But, you can bet that many summer Sunny D campers caught the theater bug and can’t wait for the fall productions.