Blue Ridge receives short-term parking relief at council meeting

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – In addition to taking the oaths of office and appointing several city positions, the Blue Ridge City Council addressed a number of business items during its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Headlining those items was discussion about a vacant lot previously occupied by Temple Baptist Church on West Main Street between Messer and Mountain streets. Councilwoman Rhonda Thomas-Haight explained that Blue Ridge Hotel, LLC, the group that purchased part of the lot, has offered to let the city lease the lot, which has space for about 200 vehicles, from Jan. 15 through at least July 15, 2018.

Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tempore Rhonda Thomas-Haight takes the oath of office Tuesday night while her husband holds the Bible.

Thomas-Haight stated Blue Ridge Hotel outlined certain lease terms for the city to follow, which included the city providing liability insurance through the term, maintaining the lot, repairing cable fencing and taking responsibility for parking, logistics and fee collections of the lot. According to Thomas-Haight, the group requests for a 50/50 revenue split with the city; however, it was undecided as to how, or if, the city would collect parking fees for the lot.

Thomas-Haight suggested establishing a donation box system similar to that seen at a parking lot on East Main Street. “People, on their own volition, will put their money in there,” Thomas-Haight explained. “They’re going to it because it’s the right thing to do and they’re asked to do it.”

The council unanimously approved the contract with Blue Ridge Hotel, LLC contingent on City Attorney James Balli reviewing and approving the terms of the agreement.

A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) water system improvement project was awarded to The Renee Group, Inc., of Doraville, Georgia. The Renee Group submitted the lowest bid for the project, which will upgrade water systems in the Orchard Boulevard neighborhood, at $505,719.80 and was recommended by the city’s water system engineering firm, Carter & Sloope. Mayor Whitener explained because this item was tabled from the December meeting, crews from The Renee Group were ready to begin the project within a few days.

The council approved $5,450 of its $8,450 annual contribution to Mountain Regional Library System (MRLS), which includes the Fannin County Public Library. Mayor Whitener explained that the partial amount approved was due to the unbalanced schedule of fiscal years between the city and MRLS, and that the remaining amount is approved by the city at a later date.

The possibility of reopening a small portion of Chastain Street was discussed after Whitener stated development activity has occurred recently in that area. Whitener said she would contact local surveyor Lane Bishop to survey the area and come back to the council with further information regarding the reopening.

At the meet-and-greet prior to the meeting, Councilman Nathan Fitts, Fiance Director Alicia Stewart, Councilwoman Rhonda Thomas-Haight and City Clerk Kelsey Ledford talk about the upcoming oath ceremony.

A permanent backhoe was purchased by the city for $65,526. Currently, as City Clerk Kelsey Ledford explained, the city rents a backhoe for projects for $1,700 a month. Ledford told the council the city has applied for and is eligible to receive a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant of $25,000 with a loan for the remaining balance. However, Ledford also stated the city has not yet been officially approved for the grant and loan. Despite this, the council voted unanimously to purchase the backhoe from Yancey Brothers heavy equipment dealership.

Two invoices from Carter & Sloope were approved by the council. A general consulting invoice for various city projects from Sept. 17 to Nov. 26, 2017, in the amount of $15,361.25 was approved. Another invoice for $32,034.75 for monitoring of mercury and copper at, as well as other services related to, the city’s wastewater treatment facility was approved. Councilman Nathan Fitts questioned the specificity of the invoices and suggested a better breakdown of services rendered be presented to the city from Carter & Sloope in the future.

Also approved by the council were a number of quotes and invoices, which included:

  • A $14,918.84 quote and purchase order for computers, printers and mounts for vehicles for the Blue Ridge Police Department from Ellijay Telephone Company (ETC), which will be reimbursed by a Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Technology grant;
  • A $4,550.37 invoice from Dwight Oliver Electrical Contractor, Inc. for force main replacements at the city pump station 4 on state Route 515 in late November; and
  • A $43,976.69 invoice from Heavy Constructors, Inc. for emergency electrical work at the city’s water treatment plant in September, which Mayor Whitener informed the council the city could receive reimbursement from the parties responsible for the electrical issues at the plant.

[Featured image: Blue Ridge City Council Members Harold Herndon, left, Kenneth Gaddis and Nathan Fitts attend the first council meeting of the new year Tuesday, Jan. 9.]

 

 

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Syfan out as city attorney, Chief Scearce likely soon to follow

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Attorney James Balli, of the Marietta law firm of Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli, was appointed Tuesday, Jan. 9, to replace David Syfan as city attorney during the first Blue Ridge City Council of the new year and administration. Balli’s appointment was approved by the council four to one with incumbent Post 1 Council Member Harold Herndon voting against the appointment.

Mayor Donna Whitener also explained Balli’s rate would be $175 an hour with no retainer fee, and only four applications for the position were received by the city.

Additionally, a decision was made later in the meeting to begin proceedings to replace Blue Ridge City Police Chief Johnny Scearce. After Whitener asked Balli to explain the council’s options according to the city charter, Balli stated the council basically had two: either to “nominate and appoint a permanent police chief or you can make a motion … to allow someone to act as an interim chief until such time as the mayor and the city council approve a permanent chief.”

Interim Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce, right, speaks with local resident prior to Tuesday’s city council meeting.

When Whitener asked if it was possible to have a vacancy, Balli stated he did not recommend this.

After this, newly appointed Post 3 Council Member Kenneth Gaddis made a motion for Scearce to serve as interim police chief until the mayor and council are able to find a permanent police chief. After a second from new Post 5 Council Member Nathan Fitts, the council voted unanimously to approve the transition.

The two moves followed the oaths of office from incumbents Mayor Whitener and Council Members Herndon and Rhonda Thomas-Haight as well as incoming Council Members Gaddis, Fitts and Robbie Cornelius.

Thomas-Haight was also voted to serve as mayor pro tempore of Blue Ridge. Other appointments included Kelsey Ledford and Alicia Stewart remaining as city clerk and city treasurer, respectively, Robert Sneed as municipal court judge, Joseph Hudson as prosecuting attorney of court appointments and Welch, Walker & Associates as the city’s designated auditor.

Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener, left, takes the oath of office as her daughter, Kristen, holds the Bible.

Local architect David Goodspeed was also approved to serve as interim building inspector for the city’s Zoning and Land Development department. Thomas-Haight stated in her motion that Goodspeed would serve the city on a limited basis, working between 12 to 16 hours a week on average at the rate of $100 an hour.

Continue to follow this story on FetchYourNews as more details and the video from the meeting are made available.

[Featured image: Mayor Donna Whitener, left, new City Attorney James Balli and Mayor Pro Tempore and Council Member Rhonda Thomas-Haight conduct business during the Tuesday, Jan. 9, Blue Ridge City Council meeting.]

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Blue Ridge City Council to welcome new members before Tuesday meeting

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – New and incumbent council members as well as the mayor will take the oath of office Tuesday evening, Jan. 9, at the first Blue Ridge City Council meeting of the year. New members Kenneth Gaddis, Robbie Cornelius and Nathan Fitts will join incumbents, Post 1 Councilman Harold Herndon and Post 2 Councilwoman Rhonda Thomas and Mayor Donna Whitener. Gaddis, Cornelius and Fitts will assume the positions of Post 3, 4 and 5 council members, respectively.

Prior to the meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m., a one-hour, public meet-and-greet for the new city council will be held at City Hall at 5 p.m.

The meeting itself will see a number agenda items, including several appointments of city positions. Among those appointments will be mayor pro tempore, city attorney, city clerk, city treasurer, municipal court judge, the prosecuting attorney for the court and city auditor. The city charter requires the council to appoint or reappoint the above positions and offices at the start of a new term.

An agenda item tabled from the Dec. 12 meeting, a review of bids for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) water system improvement project, is again expected to be discussed by the Council. At the last meeting, Mayor Whitener mentioned it was recommended by the city’s water system engineering firm, Carter & Sloope, to proceed with the low bidder for the project, The Renee Group, Inc. of Doraville, Georgia. However, Councilwoman Angie Arp suggested the possibility of proceeding with the only local bidder, Holloway Trenching, LLC, of Morganton, whose bid was nearly $54,000 over that of The Renee Group. The decision to award the bid was tabled so as to allow the new council a chance to review and discuss the bids.

Also, the council is expected to discuss revision of its hazard and on-call policy for all city departments as well as discuss recent water issues within the Staurolite subdivision.

Contract quotes for annual routine and emergency maintenance at the city’s waste water treatment facility are also scheduled to be reviewed by the council.

Several invoices and quotes are expected to be discussed and/or approved at Tuesday’s meeting. Those pending purchasing approvals include two invoices from Carter & Sloope, one invoice from Heavy Constructors, Inc. and one invoice from Dwight Oliver Electrical Contractor, Inc. In addition, two quotes from Ellijay Telephone Company (ETC) – one for downtown stereo equipment, which was tabled at the Dec. 12 meeting and another for equipment for the Blue Ridge Police Department – are scheduled for discussion and potential approval.

Cesar Martinez, president of the Blue Ridge Business Association, is also slated to speak in public commentary.

 

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City officials meet with county, school representatives over construction projects

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener and Utility Supervisor Becky Harkins sat down with officials from the county and the Fannin County Board of Education (FCBOE) as well as County and FCBOE Attorney Lynn Doss and engineers and contractors Tuesday, Dec. 19.

The meeting, as Harkins explained, was a pre-construction meeting that should have taken place before construction began on both the Fannin County Agriculture and Environmental Science Facility and the county’s public safety complex. The city requires a number of pre-construction items to be completed before a construction project is allowed to tap into city water lines. Harkins stated after former Director of Land Development Roy Parsons retired unexpectedly earlier in the year, the pre-construction meeting “fell off the grid (and) didn’t take place” before both entities began construction on their respective projects.

“Our agenda today is to get everybody the information they need in order move forward in a timely manner so that you can complete your projects on time and the lines are up to city development standards so that when you’re done, we can complete the process of taking those lines over, which was the desired attempt from the beginning,” Harkins said.

Harkins distributed a project checklist for everyone present, who included Fannin County Board of Commissioners Chairman Stan Helton, Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham, Fannin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney and Fannin County Schools Facility and Maintenance Director Danny Shinpaugh.

The most pressing issue on the checklist is receiving approval from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) for the water main extension from Ada Street to Windy Ridge Road. According to Harkins, whenever the city or an independent developer extends a water line for which the city will eventually assume responsibility, the plans must be approved by the EPD as required by the state.

Part of the purpose of the meeting was to determine which entity – the school system or the county – would be responsible for submitting plans to EPD for approval.

Southern Architects and Engineers (A&E) is the engineering firm charged with the construction of the agriculture facility, and Michael Waldbillig, vice president of mechanical engineering for Southern A&E, explained the main extension from Ada will directly service the agriculture facility with the public safety complex line later tapping into the Ag building line at the first manhole after the extension from the existing city line.

Waldbillig inevitably agreed to send the plans for the extension to EPD since the immediate extension from the existing city line will be tied directly to the agriculture facility. Harkins also requested for the plans to be forwarded to the city for final review before Waldbillig sent the plans to EPD, which Waldbillig agreed to do.

Also, during the meeting, a meter vault located at the forthcoming public safety complex was discussed. It was revealed that an additional meter would need to be installed in the vault and the vault would have to be modified. According to EMA Director Graham, the vault, as originally designed, was not large enough to hold a fire line meter.

Graham confirmed that the modification of the vault would increase the overall cost of the public safety complex, but that the county would likely speak with representatives from R Design Works, the engineering firm that designed the public safety complex, and request that the firm cover the costs for the modification.

As far as any delays to the completion of the complex, Graham stated construction was still on schedule despite the need to modify the meter vault, and the projected completion date remains at the end of May 2018.

Regarding the continued construction of the school system’s agriculture facility, Gwatney and Shinpaugh both agreed that they did not anticipate any delays or additional costs to result from the city’s requirements concerning the water main extension and construction would continue as planned. Although the anticipated date of completion for the project is planned for sometime near the end of the school year, Shinpaugh did add that inclement weather in the coming months could be a factor in the construction process of the facility.

 

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Blue Ridge City Council elect meets with Stewart

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Blue Ridge Finance Director Alicia Stewart met informally with council members elect Robbie Cornelius, Nathan Fitts and Kenneth Gaddis along with Mayor Donna Whitener Wednesday evening, Dec. 13, to discuss city priorities, projects and finances for the coming term.

In the process, Stewart presented the incoming council members with a wealth of city financial information in an effort to familiarize Cornelius, Fitts and Gaddis with the day-to-day operations of the city and the various procedures required of the City Council regarding financial operations. In addition, the finance director also fielded a number of questions from the future council members.

Among the many projects and potential projects mentioned during the course of the 90-minute session were a possible parking deck, a downtown bathroom facility and revitalizing the city pool.

The potential parking deck project, a topic of conversation for the city for quite some time, was discussed, and Whitener told Cornelius, Fitts and Gaddis the city would like to build a two-story deck on the city hall property to alleviate downtown parking congestion.

Regarding the downtown bathroom facility, Mayor Whitener explained plans have already been drawn for a two-story bathroom complex to be built near the depot building and the project is expected to be financed with grant money from the Appalchian Regional Commission (ARC).

As for the city pool, Gaddis suggested talking with representatives from Union County concerning that county’s recent city pool project. “We could mirror that (project) … that would be great for the citizens,” Gaddis stated.

Another city issue discussed at the meeting was water loss. Whitener stated Blue Ridge was once among one of the worst municipalities in Georgia regarding the average percentage of water loss. According to Whitener, the percentage of city water loss from aging water infrastructure near the beginning of her mayoral administration stood at 58 percent. Whitener added that while the city has improved in this area, maintaining those improvements has been difficult.

Gaddis, owner of All Choice Plumbing, mentioned the future state Route 5 highway expansion along with a water main replacement project for that area of the city would help with water loss. “I’ll be surprised at what percentage (water loss) drops instantly,” Gaddis added.

Prioritizing road paving was another area of concern Whitener pointed out, and the mayor stated the city at one time rated roads and streets according to need. Whitener added she would like to see a return to that policy during the next term. “We’re going to rate (roads and streets) again. That’s one of the projects that I have planned,” Whitener stated.

Later, when Gaddis asked Stewart what improvements she would like to see come from the incoming City Council, Stewart answered by saying better prioritization of projects was needed.

“We need a good five to 10-year capital plan with clear objectives and prioritize (those objectives),” Stewart said. “We need) a clear, focused idea of where (the city is) heading. what we’re doing and what we want to get done first.”

“I think we all agree with that,” Fitts told Stewart.

 

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Back to business for Blue Ridge City Council

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After failing to achieve a quorum at the last month’s meeting, the Blue Ridge City Council met Tuesday, Dec. 12, for their last regularly scheduled meeting of the year.

The Council swiftly moved through a hefty list of agenda items starting with two Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) lease resolutions to purchase vehicles and equipment. The first resolution was to purchase a 2018 Ford Explorer for the Blue Ridge Police Department through a GMA lease for $30,591.58 with a 3.760 percent interest rate. The final payment for the lease will be Dec. 21, 2022, and the city will pay $33,482.22 with included interest.

Next, the city purchased a 2017 Caterpillar track hoe excavator and a 2018 F350 dump truck for the combined price of $85,950.30 through a GMA lease. The interest rate and payment schedule for this purchase is the same as for the previous purchase, and the city will pay $94,071.90 with included interest.

Two other resolutions were for loan acceptances from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). The first loan, a Clean Water State Revolving loan, for up to $900,000 with a principal forgiveness of $225,000 if all loan funds are drawn will be used for sewer upgrades at Trackside Lane. The other loan, a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan, for up to $250,000 with a principal forgiveness of up to $49,970 if all funds are drawn, will be used for a meter replacement and upgrade project.

The Council also amended a city ordinance through a second reading and adoption to allow an exception for low-speed vehicles or motorized carts in the form of electric shuttle buses to be used on the public streets of the city in an effort to promote economic development downtown.

Blue Ridge City Councilwoman Angie Arp

Bids for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) water system improvement project were reviewed and discussed by the Council. While Mayor Donna Whitener mentioned it was recommended by the city’s water system engineering firm, Carter & Sloope, to proceed with the low bidder for the project, The Renee Group, Inc. of Doraville, Georgia, Councilwoman Angie Arp suggested the possibility of proceeding with the only local bidder, Holloway Trenching, LLC, of Morganton, whose bid was nearly $54,000 over that of The Renee Group. Ultimately, the decision to award the bid was tabled.

A Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) application for a $35,648 grant with a 30 percent was approved by the Council Tuesday. The grant would be used for road work on West First Street from Depot Street to the where West First meets West Main Street.

The Council unanimously agreed to allow the Blue Ridge Housing Authority (BRHA) to forego payment of its final 2016 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) payment to the city as reimbursement to the Authority for costs to repair a sewer line and retaining wall at the BRHA’s Boardtown Road apartments. The PILOT payment was for $1,530.75. In addition, the Council approved a $5,500 estimate from Holloway Trenching for further repairs on a six-inch sewer line on BRHA grounds.

The Council discussed, but tabled, a $4,368.80 quote from ETC Communications for a downtown stereo system to be used during events and festivals, such as the recent Light Up Blue Ridge and Christmas parade, until more information could be procured about the safety of the system.

Among the other invoices and quotes approved were:

A $4,500.99 invoice to Johnson Paving for asphalt work on Banks Street;

A $4,094.20 quote from Fortiline Waterworks, of Cartersville, Georgia, for work on city hydrants;

A $4,700 quote from Hayes James engineering firm for mapping and geographic information system (GIS) services;

A $5,670 invoice from Carter & Sloope for general consulting, which included a review of the water drainage issues near Ada Street;

A $3,611.25 invoice from Carter & Sloope for engineering services for a sewer line project on Trackside Lane;

A $17,831.85 invoice from Carter & Sloope for engineering services at the city’s waste water treatment facility; and

A $6,599.60 quote from Peach State Amenities, LLC for three new six-foot long park benches and three 36-gallon trash receptacles.

President of the Blue Ridge Business Association Cesar Martinez

Cesar Martinez, local business owner and president of the Blue Ridge Business Association (BRBA), spoke briefly in public commentary about the success of the recent Light Up Blue Ridge festivities and Christmas parade held Saturday, Nov. 25, in downtown Blue Ridge and informed the Council of upcoming BRBA events, such as the BRBA Christmas Party Dec. 18 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Willow Creek Falls and the eighth annual Fire and Ice Chili Cook-Off in downtown Blue Ridge Feb. 17, 2018.

Near the end of the meeting, Mayor Whitener thanked outgoing council members Arp, Rodney Kendall and Bruce Pack for their service to the Council and the city. Collectively, all three members stated they were appreciative of the opportunity to serve the citizens of Blue Ridge but wished they could have accomplished even more during their tenures. Incoming council members Nathan Fitts, Kenneth Gaddis and Robbie Cornelius will join remaining members Harold Herndon and Rhonda Thomas in 2018.

 

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Light Up Blue Ridge, parade draws thousands

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The weather was chilly, but the spirits were warm and bright Saturday afternoon and evening during the Light Up Blue Ridge holiday celebration.

The day began with an arrival of a very special guest from the far north when Santa Claus arrived on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and greeted children, with wishlists in hand, in the downtown city park all afternoon. Storefronts decorated for the fourth annual Holiday Storefront Decorating Contest greeted shoppers up and down the downtown streets as many attempted to get an early jump on their Christmas shopping.

Throughout the day, several musical and theatrical acts entertained passersby at various places all afternoon including the Fannin County High School (FCHS) Theater Group and a barbershop quartet, both of whom performed at Sycamore Crossing, as well as Voices of Hope and a children’s choir led by Connie Davis.

One of the houses in the Gingerbread Village at the BRMAA Art Center.

Over on West Main St., the Blue Ridge Mountains Art Association Art Center hosted the annual Gingerbread House Village for those wanting to take a quick break and warm up from the busy and blustery downtown streets.

By 5:30, night had fallen in north Georgia, and it was time for the annual Blue Ridge Christmas Parade. Starting near First Baptist Church, the parade looped down East Main, Mountain and West Main streets, which were all lined with excited faces, young and old, packed earmuff to earmuff on the sidewalks to take in all of the festivities as well as a few pocketfuls of candy.

The parade featured a number of creatively designed Holiday floats, patriotically adorned Fannin County fire engines, antique cars and tractors, the FCHS Marching Band and even a few local dignitaries as City Councilman Elect Nathan Fitts and Shannon York served as MCs for the night.

The PruittHealth Train Float chugs its way down East Main Street during the annual Blue Ridge Christmas Parade.

Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce led the way down the the route in his squad car followed by Mayor Donna Whitener and City Councilwoman Rhonda Thomas close behind in convertibles draped with Christmas lights and City Councilwoman Elect Robbie Cornelius following shortly behind them.

Fannin County Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas escorted Georgia State Senator Steve Gooch in his familiar white truck as Gooch and his family visited Blue Ridge for the day to take in the Holiday celebration and treats.

Georgia Senator Steve Gooch and Fannin County Fire Chief Larry Thomas.

The Fannin and Copper Basin Girl Scouts council marched the route with smiling faces and handfuls of candy to the delight of several youngsters lining the sidewalks.

The FCHS Color Guard and Marching Band served up several rousing renditions of everyone’s favorite Holiday tunes while the Drumline joyfully pounded out the beat on instruments encompassed with red and green Christmas lights.

Several businesses and organizations, including Mercier Orchards, The Home Depot, the Blue Ridge Community Theater and PruittHealth of Blue Ridge among others, contributed elaborately designed floats and displays for the parade. On the Special Olympics float, Snoopy even took time to  make an appearance.

Mary and Joseph keeps watch over Baby Jesus during the Blue Ridge Christmas Parade.

On another float, the Reason for the Season was portrayed as Mary and Joseph watched over Baby Jesus, who was “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

Rounding out the parade was Jolly Ole Saint Nicholas, who was escorted down the route in an antique 1930 Ford. Later, Santa took center stage in the park as he assisted Shannon York with the lighting of the 27-foot tall Great Tree to the amazement of many enthusiastic onlookers.

As the night quickly grew colder, country music star Collin Raye warmed the hearts of the crowd with a soulful version of O, Holy Night.

Holiday festivities will continue on weekends throughout the season in downtown Blue Ridge leading up to Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year is officially underway.

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City and County to Work Together in Developing Water Infrastructure

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Blue Ridge’s Mayor Donna Whitener met with Fannin County Water Authority on August 19th.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss coordination between the Water Authority and the City of Blue Ridge in order to reduce the costs of laying new water lines and building pumping stations.

Specifically, Mayor Whitener wanted to find out where the Water Authority will be laying lines from Blue Ridge city limits towards McCaysville along the Hwy. 60 axis.  Mayor Whitener says that Blue Ridge needs to find a way to exchange water with McCaysville in the event of an emergency.  She also believes that Georgia’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) will soon ask for that.  She said that EPD is starting to push the issue that Blue Ridge isn’t working through the Fannin’s Water Authority and will eventually want to see all three Fannin municipal water providers, McCaysville, Morganton and Blue Ridge, work through the Water Authority.

Currently, Blue Ridge is under a lot of pressure to repair its water and sewer infrastructure.  There are complaints from downtown businesses.  The Orchard Blvd. area still does not have the proper piping for full fire service, though this project is underwork.  The city upgraded its sewer facilities, but it anticipates it will have to spend much more to buy a system to cool the discharge before it goes back into the water supply.  “Our water budget is as much as our general fund,” said the Mayor.

Mayor Whitener also said that the city will soon need to pull water from Lake Blue Ridge.  Currently, the city draws all of its water from the Toccoa.  The city has a permit for 1.2 million gallons per day.  The city has an average daily draw of 1 million gallons.  After reaching 1.2 million gallons per day, it must start drawing from the lake.  Ellijay has also approached Blue Ridge about drawing water from the lake in the near future.

Mayor Whitener said new businesses and residences coming to the city will quickly increase the average draw.  New apartments, two new housing complexes with two more on the way, and Blue Ridge Assisted Living, and potential restaurant, hotel and condos at the marina will push the average draw to its limits.

Mayor Whitener also wanted to make sure that the city and the Water Authority use the upcoming expansion of Hwy. 5 to increase water lines and potentially lay sewer lines along Hwy. 5.  Mercier Orchards’ has approached the city about getting a sewer line to its Hwy. 5 property, especially since Mercier is looking to build a hotel and restaurant on its property.

Mayor Whitener wants to see stricter regulations regarding rules that weren’t put into place when subdivisions were developed.  The city is spending much money and time fixing lines in Mountain Tops that were improperly constructed by the developer.

Larry Chapman, Vice-Chair of the Water Authority also wants stricter regulations.  Mr. Chapman stated that right now Fannin County has 31 private systems permitted by the EPD and he doesn’t want to see anymore.  Mr. Chapman is a Georgia-licensed engineer with 46 years of engineering experience with wastewater treatment and distribution.  He was appointed to the Water Authority in March.

Blue Ridge’s meeting with the Water Authority marks the first time a city water authority has had an expansion planning strategy meeting with the Water Authority.  Board member Stan Helton invited Blue Ridge to attend future Water Authority meetings and hopes to see representatives from McCaysville and Morganton there as well.  Until this summer, Mr. Helton was Chair of the Water Authority.  He stepped down after becoming Fannin County Board of Commissioners Chairman-Elect.

 

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