TVA pledges $50,000 in improvements to land near Blue Ridge Dam

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Christie Arp, Executive Director of the Fannin County Development Authority, announced that TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) has pledged $50,000 to renovate the grounds surrounding the area of the historic homes located near Blue Ridge Dam.

“This is owned by TVA,” Arp clarified the legalities of the area, “and leased to the county.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, Historic Homes, Blue Ridge Dam, Improvements, SPEC building, Ed's Supply, Revenue, Jobs, County Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Development Authority, Executive Director, Christie Arp

Land near Blue Ridge Dam will see improvements in the near future.

“TVA has committed $50,000 to provide ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible walkways and some other minor improvements,” Arp said explaining the purpose of the monies devoted to this area.

Among the minor improvements, pads will be poured for picnic tables, and if funds allow, decking could be installed to look out over Lake Blue Ridge.

The county would be responsible for providing the picnic tables, making minor improvements to parking areas, and continuing with maintenance such as mowing.

Arp described this new project as “a really great contribution to the county” that “will help improve an already public area”.

TVA has suggested a start date of the improvements for late July or early August of this year.

Arp did stress, “The houses are considered historic. Nothing is going to happen to the houses right now.”

An update was also given on the county’s SPEC (Speculative) Building located off Highway 5 on Kyle Road.

It was announced earlier this year that the building would be leased by Ed’s Supply Company, Inc. This announcement came just a little over a year after the building’s completion.

Ed’s Supply was founded in Nashville, Tn. in 1957. The primary focus of the company is to provide wholesale distribution of air conditioning, refrigeration, as well as heating parts and supplies across Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas.

“Construction was funded by primarily grants,” Arp spoke of the progress of the SPEC building, “at a total of around $670,000. The majority of that is grants that will not have to be paid back.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, Historic Homes, Blue Ridge Dam, Improvements, SPEC building, Ed's Supply, Revenue, Jobs, County Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Development Authority, Executive Director, Christie Arp

The SPEC building is under lease and expected to bring in approximately $90,000 in tax revenue.

Of the amount that will have to be paid back, the Development Authority was able to secure a One Georgia Equity Loan in the amount of approximately $230,000. This is an interest free loan with quarterly payments due over a 20 year period.

“Ed’s Supply was able to give me an estimate of roughly $3 million in sales that will be brought to and kept in the county,” Arp spoke of the new tenants. According to Arp this would equate to approximately $90,000 in tax revenue.

Beyond these sales estimates, Ed’s Supply plans to hire employees in the county starting out with six positions with intentions to grow.

“They are investing, with their equipment, with their inventory, along with all the build out of the interior, roughly $1 million,” Arp said explaining Ed’s Supply immediate commitment in signing a 10 year lease with the county.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton praised the Development Authority for their hard work in completing all aspects of the SPEC Building project: “I know some of the fellow commissioners in other counties tell me the typical timeframe to fill a SPEC building with a valid company is closer to five years, and you and your board made this happen in a little over a year.”

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson, who has been with the BOC since approval was given on the building project, thanked the Development Authority for working so diligently: “Hopefully some of the people who didn’t believe in it back then, will now look and say that it was a good investment.”

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp stops in Blue Ridge

Election 2018, Politics

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp continues his campaign trail as the General Election Runoff date of July 24 looms ever closer. The current Georgia Secretary of State, Kemp, made a stop in Blue Ridge, Ga. on Monday to address his supporters and those still undecided between him and current Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle for the Republican nomination.

Introducing Kemp to the crowd were two political endorsers from the Georgia House of Representatives. The first to speak was District 2 Representative Steve Tarvin.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Secretary of State, Lt. Governor, Governor, Gubernatorial, Election, 2018, Runoff, Republican Nomination, Campaign, Georgia House of Representatives, District 2, District 6, Steve Tarvin, Jason Ridley, Brian Kemp, Casey Cagle, Stacey Abrams, Democratic, Four Point Plan, George Soros, Eric Holder, Thomas Perez, Common Cause Georgia, New Georgia Project, July 24

Kemp speaks to the crowd gathered in downtown Blue Ridge.

“Integrity means the most to me in anybody’s character,” Tarvin said enthusiastically speaking of Kemp.

Tarvin went on to say that Kemp is a family man, a man of honesty and a man of faith: “I’ve known Brian for ten years. In those ten years, I’ve never seen him waiver.”

Jason Ridley, Georgia District 6 Representative, concurred with Tarvin’s introduction and speaking of Kemp said, “This is a man of integrity and a family man and is one of us.”

Ridley spoke of Kemp’s humbleness and his beginnings and being able to relate with all Georgians because of this: “That’s the most important thing.”

After brief introductions, Kemp addressed his supporters thanking them for their hard work in making his campaign a success, “It’s been a long 15 months, but the last two polls that have come out… this race is a dead heat.”

Kemp readdressed his four point plan to put “Georgians first.” The first two key issues for Kemp is to make Georgia number 1 for small businesses and to reform state government by implementing a spending cap.

“We can have broad based tax reform and lower the state income tax,” Kemp said expanding on the idea of applying a spending cap on Georgia state government.

Kemp also wishes to focus on strengthening rural Georgia: “We’ve got to have a governor that is going to focus on our whole state, and that includes the North Georgia area that we’re in right now.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Secretary of State, Lt. Governor, Governor, Gubernatorial, Election, 2018, Runoff, Republican Nomination, Campaign, Georgia House of Representatives, District 2, District 6, Steve Tarvin, Jason Ridley, Brian Kemp, Casey Cagle, Stacey Abrams, Democratic, Four Point Plan, George Soros, Eric Holder, Thomas Perez, Common Cause Georgia, New Georgia Project, July 24

Kemp and family take a quick break to have some fun on the campaign trail, and hold up the number four to symbolize Kemp’s four-point plan.

“The most important thing is, we need a governor who is going to put you first, ahead of the special interests, the status quo, the politically correct, and those that are here illegally,” Kemp spoke of his final point in his plan and the need for Georgia to have public safety reform.

Kemp also had a message about his opponent Cagle: “We need a governor who will do the right thing when no one is watching. Clearly I’ve done that over my whole career. The same can’t be said for my opponent. With the tapes that came out he will say or do anything to hold on to political power.”

Kemp spoke of the recent tapes released in which Cagle can be heard speaking to former gubernatorial candidate Clay Tippins about a recent piece of legislation that had been passed. Cagle who previously opposed the “poor policy” told Tippins about his change of stance, “It ain’t about public policy. It’s about s*** politics.”

When asked specifically why he should receive the Republican nomination over his opponent, Kemp responded that beyond his clear plan for the state, he also has a record as Secretary of State of defeating the Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams.

“All of these liberal groups that are going to be in play in Georgia supporting her (Abrams), I’ve fought,” Kemp said about his past experiences with Abrams. Citing that he has already faced George Soros, Eric Holder, Thomas Perez, Common Cause Georgia and New Georgia Project, Kemp is confident that he can beat them again.

Kemp explained where some of these groups came into conflict with the Secretary of State office, “They sued us and several counties saying that we weren’t registering voters, 10 different counts. Then they wanted us to settle. I wouldn’t do it. I made them go to court and we won all 10 cases.”

“I know what’s coming,” Kemp said about his preparation if he were to receive the Republican nomination. “I know how to fight. We’re going to have to have somebody that’s going to be not only a good fighter, but right on the issues.”

Kemp will continue his statewide campaign in the upcoming weeks in hopes of achieving his goal of becoming Georgia’s next governor.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

News from Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Community
Fannin County Chamber of Commerce  eNewsletter
July  2018
News for Members
Fannin Co. Chamber Logo

Leading the way to economic vitality and quality of life in Blue Ridge, McCaysville, Morganton and all of beautiful Fannin County, Georgia.

Two Great Business After Hours in July!

BAH Treo Blue Ridge

BAH Mercier Orchards Downtown

Chamber & Member News & Events
 
FOCUS GROUPS & INTERVIEWS FOR COPPER BASIN
RENAISSANCE – JULY 17 AND 18
Planners from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government will be in the Copper Basin on July 17 and 18 to conduct interviews and focus groups for the Renaissance Master Plan.  Appointments are available for participation by community and business leaders at the following times:
First Baptist Church of McCaysville:
Tuesday, July 17 at 1:30 or 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, July 18 at 9:00 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Please contact the Chamber at 706-632-5680 if you are interested in participating.
 
PRIMARY RUN-OFF ELECTION IS JULY 24;
EARLY VOTING STARTS JULY 2
Two local primary run-offs will appear on the Republican primary ballot on July 24. Incumbent Larry Joe Sosebee faces Glenn Patterson for Fannin County Commissioner.  Steve Stanley will run against Mike Cole in the school board race. Other races in the Republican primary run-off include Casey Cagle vs Brian Kemp for Governor; Geoff Duncan vs David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor; and David Belle Isle vs Brad Raffensperger for Secretary of State. The Democratic Party run-off includes Sid Chapman vs Otha E. Thornton, Jr., for State School Superintendent.

Chamber Member Anniversaries!!
Burger King
 
Southern Appalachian Artist Guild
 
 
 
Fannin County Public Library 
Mountain Paws Cabin Rentals

9 New Members!
First Choice Landscaping
Blue Ridge, GA, 30513
(706) 200-2960
Kyle Boyer
First Choice Landscaping is a locally owned and operated company that offers a variety of lawn care and landscaping services that are custom design to each individual property. 
Lanier Tech Pros
Blue Ridge, GA, 30513
(678) 701-7787
Stephen Bradley
Lanier Tech Pros is a full-service digital marketing agency that has been creating beautiful yet affordable responsive websites, social media campaigns and custom search optimization solutions for customers in Blue Ridge and across north Georgia for more than a decade.
Like us on Facebook
Mercier Orchards Downtown
260 West Main St.
Blue Ridge, GA, 30513
(706) 946-3411
Rita Suiter
Open daily 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mercier Orchards Downtown serves breakfast and lunch as well as offers a bakery and hard cider/wine tasting area. 
Mountain High Cabin
Blue Ridge, GA, 30513
Scott Nelson
Mountain High Cabin located on Sunrock Mountain in the heart of Blue Ridge is unrivaled for its 180° phenomenal views of the Smoky Mountains. Get that secluded mountain feeling while being just 5 miles from town, Mercier Orchards, and all mountain outdoor activities. 
 
The Cider House
(706) 492-7753
Stephanie Cots
Enjoy a home-cooked lunch or dinner with our famous homemade fried pies and pressed cold cider at The Cider House.
Like us on Facebook
Toccoa Overlook Cabin
Blue Ridge, GA, 30513
(770) 329-3640
Kelly Pearson
The Toccoa Overlook Cabin is a beautiful 3 bedroom, 3 and a half bath mountain view home on the Toccoa River that can sleep up to 15 people. It is nestled on 9 acres of private land with hiking trails down to 500 ft of river front on the Toccoa River.
 
Toccoa River Cottage
Blue Ridge, GA, 30513
(770) 329-3640
Kelly Pearson
The Toccoa River Cottage is a cozy studio home on the beautiful Toccoa River that can sleeps 2 people. Beautifully appointed and romantic, the Toccoa River Cottage is the perfect destination for a getaway for you and your special someone! The Cottage is only 2.5 miles from downtown Blue Ridge.
 
Troy Shirbroun, Coldwell Banker
(407) 739-4230
Troy Shirbroun
Troy Shirbroun, is a Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker High Country Realty.
 
WoodmenLife, Julie Dermer
Epworth, GA, 30541
(678) 447-1161
Julie Dermer
Julie Dermer helps local families prepare for the future, while working with them to make a difference in our community. As your WoodmenLife Representative, Julie will learn what makes you unique, and work with you to tailor solutions based on your financial needs.
Like us on Facebook

Community & Local Events Calendar
July 4 – 4th of July Observance, Epworth Community Club
July 4 – Blue Ridge Freedom 5k and 10k, Downtown Blue Ridge
July 4 – 4th of July Fireworks, Meeks Park
July 7 –  Carl Pruett and The Crossroads Band Blues Roots, Blue Ridge Community Theater
July 7 – Van Dilbeck Memorial & Steel Head Race , Blue Ridge Motorsports Park
July 12-29 – The Savannah Sipping Society, Blue Ridge Community Theater
July 14 – Singing in the Mountains 15th Annual Concert, Fannin County High School Performing Arts Center
July 20-28 – Georgia Mountain Fair, Georgia Mountain Fairground
July 21-22 – Butternut Creek Festival, Meeks Park
July 27 – Georgia Mountain Classics Cruise Ins, Dairy Queen
July 28 – 3D Off the Wall Exhibit, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association
July 28 – Tri-State Model Railroaders Open House, Mineral Bluff Depot
July 28  – Contemporary Southern & Folk Art Exhibit Opening Reception, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association
 
Recurring Events
Tuesday
* Trivia Tuesdays, Fightingtown Tavern
Wednesday
*Visitor Time, 10:00 a.m. – Noon, Tri-State Model Railroaders, Mineral Bluff Historic Depot
Thursday 

 
Bingo, Kiwanis Fairgrounds
* Trivia Night! Fannin Brewing Company
* Pickin’ in the Park
* Brewery Tours & Tastings:
Thursday through Saturday’s at  Fannin Brewing Company and Grumpy Old Men.
FOR THE FULL CALENDAR –Click Here

Copper Basin Renaissance

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In This Issue
Treo Blue Ridge Business After Hours
Mercier Orchards Downtown Business After Hours
Member News & Events
Welcome New Members
Community Events Calendar

Celebrating Independence Day. United States of America USA flag with fireworks background for 4th of July

Chamber Calendar of Events
July 4 – Main Chamber Welcome Center, Caboose and McCaysville Center are all closed for the holiday.
July 5 – Ribbon Cutting for Mercier Orchards Downtown, 260 West Main St.
10:00 a.m.
July 17 – Business After Hours at TREO, 588 East Main St.
5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
July 18 – Chamber Board Meeting at noon, Chamber Board Room
July 17 & 18 – Focus Groups and Interviews for Copper Basin Renaissance.
July 19 – Ribbon Cutting for First Choice Landscaping at the Chamber
10:00 a.m.
July 24 – Primary Run-off Election Don’t forget to vote!
July 24 – Ribbon Cutting for Mountain Valley Community Bank, 111 Collins Ave.
10:00 a.m.
July 26 – Ambassador Lunch at Alpine Deli, 204 West Main St.
12:00 p.m.
July 31 – Business After Hours at Mercier Orchards Downtown, 260 West Main St.
 5:30 to 7 p.m.
____________
Member Renewals-Thanks!
 
A Rolling Thunder River Company
Akins Funeral Home
All Choice Plumbing
Americas Best Value Inn
Angela Stewart DeLorme, P.C.

Bethel UMC

Blood Assurance
Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Assn/The Art Center
Blue Ridge North Georgia Ford, Inc.
Blue Ridge Oil Change
Blue Ridge Pharmacy
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Blue Ridge United Methodist Church
BumbleBee’s Cafe Blue Ridge, LLC
Burger King
Cohutta Country Store
Coldwell Banker High Country Realty
Danielle’s Great Eats Deli
Das Kaffee Haus
DOTSGOOD
DQ Grill & Chill
Edd Stepp Agency, Alfa Insurance
Edward Jones, Mike Hamby
Enchanted Mountain Retreats, Inc.
Family Life Chiropractic Center
Fannin County Board of Commissioners
Fannin Lanes Bowling Center
First Baptist Church of Epworth
Georgia Department of Labor
Habitat for Humanity
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service
Jaime Levins
K & S Tank Lines
Kevin Panter Insurance
Kiwanis of Blue Ridge
Melwood Springs Water Company
Men on the Move
Mountain Laurel Cabin Rentals
Mountain Paws Cabin Rentals
Mountain Property Limited
Mountain Valley Motors
Mountain View Orchards
Nicholson Agency Insurance Mart
North Georgia Boat Lift
North Georgia Physical Therapy
Nottely River Valley Vineyards
Ocoee Animal Hospital
Out of the Blue, Inc.
Paradise Hills, Winery Resort & Spa
Parris Medical Services, Inc.
Pat’s Kountry Kitchen
Russell Seabolt, D.M.D.
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church
Southern Appalachian Artist Guild
Southern Financial Consultants, Inc.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
State Farm Insurance/Charles Edmondson
Stress Buster Vacation Rentals & Property Management
Terminator Pest Control Services
The Lilly Pad Cottage
Thomas Insurance Group
Tin Loong of Blue Ridge
Toccoa River Tubing Company
Total Lifestyle Concepts, Inc.
Town & Country Furniture
Tri-State Business Women
Tri-State EMC
Tri-State Model Railroaders
United Community Bank
Whispering Pines Campground
Wildwater Limited
Willow Creek Cabin Rentals
Zip Line Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge
__________
Member Events
Habitat Orientation
Glow River Float
UNG Save the Date
CASA Fundraiser

Audit shows Fannin County finances in good standing

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County 2017 audit concluded with much praise from independent accounting firm Rushton and Company. The overall state of finances for the county are “very healthy”.

Sam Latimer, CPA and audit manager with Rushton and Company, gave citizens an overview of the Fannin County 2017 audit at the June 26 Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting.

Rushton and Company was hired to analyze the county’s 2017 finances and give an unbiased opinion based on an in-depth look at all county run departments.

Latimer noted that working with the county and management had been very easy for the company, and that all county employees had been very cooperative and helpful in providing the firm with all the information they needed to conduct the audit.

“You (Fannin County) have a very capable finance department,” Latimer spoke specifically of the work done by Fannin County Finance Director Robin Gazaway.

Net assets were among the highlights given by Latimer. Net assets make up the county’s infrastructure (ex. roads and buildings), equipment, restricted funds (ex. SPLOST or Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), and unrestricted funds (ex. funds remaining after the first two categories are filled).

During the 2017 fiscal year Fannin County net assets grew by $1.6 million, up 27 percent from 2016.

Latimer dubbed this increase a “very healthy year for the county”.

One of the largest components of Fannin County finances is the General Fund, and like the net assets, revenues to this fund showed positive growth with a 5.7 percent increase.

Nearly $1,000,000 of taxpayer funds were saved through cuts made to the budget of the Public Works department (Roads and Bridges).

“Due mostly to personal services,” Latimer said explaining where these cuts came from, “There was a large decrease in the number of employees.”

Latimer did note that the county’s insurance claims had risen by almost $1,000,000, but was not alarmed by this increase stating, “This is an area that is hard to control because your claims are based on people’s health.”

Insurance claims will fluctuate from year to year according to Latimer: “So that just happens to be up this year.”

The unassigned fund balance did decrease slightly from the previous year of 2016. The funds in this area, however, are still well above standard expectations.

According to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) the unassigned fund balance should have enough finances available for a county to operate approximately two months if all revenues stopped.

“What that means,” Latimer spoke of the remaining balance in Fannin County’s unassigned fund, “is that if you were to close the doors today and stop receiving revenue; you could operate for almost seven months.”

“Most (counties) are probably between two and three months,” Latimer added, “You guys are definitely above what the average would be.”

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton noted that spending had slowed, but stated that the ultimate goal of the county should be to bring expenditures down enough to begin adding revenues back to the fund balance once again.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson agreed with Helton on this matter and stated of the audit, “It shows that next year we’re going to make some, as you just said, either some cuts or we’re going to have to look at other ways of revenue.”

Johnson stated that the audit is a good way to see exactly where the county stands: “This will allow all of us to make a very informed decision as to where we are going to go next year.”

At the conclusion of the presentation, when asked about the overall strength of Fannin County financially, Latimer simply replied, “Very healthy. Very good.”

The full 2017 audit , including the management report, will be available for the public to view on the Fannin County Government website.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

City of Blue Ridge spending comes into question

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A large bill for the Blue Ridge City Pool and a final amendment to the City of Blue Ridge 2017 budget left new council members questioning the accountability and practices of the city when it comes to spending.

At the June Blue Ridge City Council meeting funds and lack thereof was a topic that was revisited throughout the evening. Blue Ridge Business Association President Cesar Martinez urged the council to take steps to acquire the funding needed for city improvements.

“You were all aware of the important issues facing the city, as you voiced your convictions towards better infrastructure, better parking solutions, and better bathroom facilities for our city and its visitors,” Martinez addressed the council reading from a prepared statement.

“Six months down the road and where are we?” Martinez questioned. “This city needs solutions now. Inaction is unacceptable.”

Martinez acknowledged shortfalls in trying to seek funding for these projects stating that grants could take months even years to come through.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge City Council, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Nathan Fitts, Kenneth Gaddis, Rhonda Haight, Harold Herndon, Robbie Cornelius, Blue Ridge Business Association, President, Cesar Martinez, Recreonics Inc, Spending, Budget, SPLOST, pool, paint, Downtown Development Authority

Blue Ridge Business Association President Cesar Martinez addresses the council about forming a Downtown Development Authority to help seek funding for the city.

Mayor Donna Whitener added to this that grants often have to be matched by city money.

Offering a possible solution to the lack of funding Martinez urged the council to established a Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Through a DDA the possibility of more funding opens up, funding which the city itself is ineligible to apply for.

Martinez cited that there are already 470 registered DDAs in the state of Georgia, and that the city is missing out on opportunities by not establishing a DDA of their own.

Council member Kenneth Gaddis thanked Martinez for addressing the council and questioned the city’s lack of focus on infrastructure.

“We’ve actually done about $800,000 in infrastructure this year,” Whitener responded to Gaddis, “$500,000 in one area and another 300 and something thousand.”

“We’re always spending money on infrastructure. We can’t keep up,” Whitener added.

Council member Nathan Fitts stated about funding issues, “A lot of what we were told as far as funding didn’t come through.”

Later an amendment to the city’s 2017 budget revealed that the previous council had already spent a large portion of projected revenue for 2018.

The previous council had approved for many of the city streets to be repaved in 2017, but the funding was not budgeted. To acquire the funds necessary the council then approved borrowing from the general fund and the Hotel/Motel tax account.

The general fund has now been paid back through the use of 2018 SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) collections, and the money borrowed from the Hotel/Motel account, in the amount of approximately $135,000, will not be reimbursed.

Gaddis showed surprise at this revelation: “So the previous council voted to use-”

“General fund money into your year,” Whitener quickly responded, “Into your term.”

Whitener went on to explain, “When I say we don’t have a lot of SPLOST money it’s because we’ve been paying SPLOST back from last term.”

With this revelation and the lack of funding for city projects, such as infrastructure and parking, Council member Nathan Fitts expressed his detestation when asked to approve a check in the amount of $9,608.04 for paint for the city’s pool.

According to Whitener the specialized paint is very costly, some of it being up to $263.00 for five gallons.

This invoice from Recreonics Inc. coupled with approximately $5,000 already spent on parts to fix the pool, brings the total amount well over the original $5,000 approved by the council earlier this year.

“So now we’ve spent triple,” Fitts said about the new invoice, “Did we get estimates on what paint was going to be before we bought it?”

Gaddis backed Fitts and questioned how the department got approval to spend this amount.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge City Council, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Nathan Fitts, Kenneth Gaddis, Rhonda Haight, Harold Herndon, Robbie Cornelius, Blue Ridge Business Association, President, Cesar Martinez, Recreonics Inc, Spending, Budget, SPLOST, pool, paint, Downtown Development Authority

Costly paint for the city pool led council to question if estimates were given before purchase.

Whitener simply answered, “They didn’t.”

“I think these department heads need to submit these estimates and bids ahead of time for approval,” Fitts went on.

Whitener, who agreed with this sentiment, stated of the department head, “I don’t think she realized how much paint it would take to paint the pool.”

“That’s why we get estimates,” Fitts replied explaining that there is no excuse. “That is unacceptable.”

Since the pool had already been painted the council had no choice but to approve to pay this debt.

“I don’t think we should have painted it period, but its been painted,” Whitener expressed her opinion.

Fitts added, “I think we should tell that department head, they better get out there and start marketing that pool to bring more revenue in.”

The Blue Ridge City Council will hold their next regular monthly meeting on Tue. July 10 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Citizens defend Tax Assessors

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – There was no shortage of comments as citizens filled the public commentary portion at the Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting to express their outrage over the recent handling of Chief Tax assessor Dawn Cochran.

After reading about the exchange between county commissioners and Cochran in local media, citizens of Fannin County spoke in defense of the Tax Assessors department.

Frank Moore of the Aska Road area was first to speak. Moore, an attorney, works on property tax appeals and has firsthand experience dealing with the Tax Assessors department and Cochran herself: “That is a very professional office.”

Appalled by the questioning of Cochran’s education by Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton, Moore expressed his opinion, “Whoever was asking that question makes me wonder where’s your MBA? Where’s their high degree of education that qualifies them to do anything?”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Tax Assessors, Chief Appraiser, Dawn Cochran, GMASS, Georgia Mass Apprassial Solutions and Services, Public Commentary, Education, Frank Moore, Lane Bishop, Sonia Smith, Sandra Daugherty, Ralph Garner, Marcella Olsteen

Fannin County citizen Frank Moore spoke of his outrage over the recent handling of Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran.

Moore also expressed concerns over recent Board of Assessors (BOA) appointment Angelina Powell.

“And who’s the person that would actually put Angelina Powell on the Board of Assessors instead of that man right there?” Moore asked motioning to former BOA Chairman Lane Bishop.

At this point Helton put a stop to Moore’s questioning stating that Moore’s actions were boarding a personal attack, “We’re not here to criticize citizens like that. That’s out of line, so let’s move forward. Criticize me if you wish.”

“If anything I’m attacking the board for making that decision,” Moore replied to Helton, “I don’t know who made that decision, but it was a foolish decision.”

Others who spoke were just as angered as Moore over the questioning of Cochran’s education.

A former board member of the BOA, Sonia Smith, asked, “It’s not that you need an education to ask a question is it?” adding, “I believe her questions were educated. She wanted an answer to her question.”

Smith also stated that the commissioners’ behavior toward an employee could be very discouraging for other personnel who might now be intimidated to ask a question.

Sandra Daugherty of Sugarcreek agreed with Smith’s perceptions of the BOC possibly making it difficult for county employees to come to them with questions.

“To be clear everyone, I’m addressing you, Mr. Helton, and you, Mr. Johnson (Post 1 Commissioner), both as a human being and as a public official, you should both be ashamed of yourselves. Not only do you owe Dawn Cochran an apology, but you owe everyone sitting here that night an apology.”

Former BOA Chairman Lane Bishop was present to defend Cochran having worked with her for several years: “Dawn Cochran doesn’t have a formal degree as you so crudely pointed out, but she does have a PhD. It’s in honesty.”

Bishop accused the BOC of having a vendetta against the Tax Assessors department. Speaking directly to Chairman Helton, Lane stated, “You’re real vendetta against the Tax Assessors office is because you can’t control it.”

Lane elaborated further, “Also the fact, the new board three years ago fired Steve Stanley, your’s (Helton) and Larry Joe Sosebee’s friend. The good ol’ boy syndrome lives in Fannin County.”

“Maybe it’s time for the voters of Fannin County to consider a recall petition on you,” Bishop concluded his time, “a class action lawsuit and call the department of revenue on all three of our commissioners.”

Blue Ridge resident Ralph Garner reasoned, “Why tarnish the legacy of good that you (BOC) are doing with ugly behavior like that? A prolonged repetitious rant is out of order most any time.”

Marcella O’Steen of Epworth approached the matter on a more personal level stating that Dawn is someone’s mother, daughter and wife. O’Steen was unable to hold back anger as she stated of the situation: “If I were her (Cochran) husband, I would kick your a**!”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Tax Assessors, Chief Appraiser, Dawn Cochran, GMASS, Georgia Mass Apprassial Solutions and Services, Public Commentary, Education, Frank Moore, Lane Bishop, Sonia Smith, Sandra Daugherty, Ralph Garner, Marcella Olsteen

Former BOA Chairman Lane Bishop accused commissioners of still using the “good ol’ boy” system.

After agreeing to discontinue the profanity, O’Steen was allowed to continue speaking. Unlike many of the other speakers who were focused solely on Helton and Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson, O’Steen also accused Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee of negative behavior in the meeting.

Sosebee who had previously complimented the Tax Assessors department during the June 12 meeting failed to take action making him just as guilty according to O’Steen: “Out of three men up here not one of you came to her defense.”

While people certainly expressed their outrage over the perceived treatment of Cochran, many were also displeased with the option that was presented of outsourcing some of the of the workload of the Tax Assessors office.

It was proposed at the June 12 BOC meeting to look into a contract with Georgia Mass Appraisal Solutions & Services (GMASS). In this contract, GMASS offers to appraise a third of the counties parcels each year for three years. This would keep the county in compliance with Georgia state standards.

The GMASS contract would cost taxpayers a total of $784,000 for three years of service. Chairman Helton pointed out that Fannin County’s total yearly budget for the Tax Assessors department is far more than surrounding counties, and this contract could be a way to alleviate some of the financial burden on the taxpayers of the county.

Helton clarified that he was not advocating to completely replace the tax assessors department: “You always need to have some local involvement and people there.”

“What they’re (tax assessors) not telling everyone, is they already are using this company(GMASS),” Johnson said of the proposed contract.

Chief Assessor Dawn Cochran did confirm that she had planned on asking for help in 2019 with approximately 13,000 parcels.

“No one voted to do it,” Johnson said explaining the proposed contract,”I’m all about saving the taxpayers money, but we’ve got a lot of research to do.”

“I have not had to raise the mileage. I didn’t get elected to look at the tax assessors. I got elected to save taxpayers money,” Johnson concluded his feeling about the public commentary.

Helton expressed a similar view to Johnson: “Fannin County taxpayers are contributing almost $1 million a year to fund our Tax assessors office. This is the highest budget in 10 Northeast Georgia counties, including Cherokee, NC. I think the citizens have a right to expect their Chairman to ask tough questions instead of worrying about my bedside manner.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

County to host electronic recycling event

Community

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Fannin County is teaming up with Ecyclers USA and will be holding an electronics recycling event on Saturday, June 23.

This is presented to the residents of Fannin County as a great way to discard of unused electronic devices as well as those miscellaneous components.

You can bring your devices this Saturday to the Senior Center located at 440 West 1st Street in downtown Blue Ridge. Drop off time will be between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The following is an outline of materials accepted at this event:

  • COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS
    Complete and partial systems (working or not), processors (CPUs), optical drives (CDROM, CDRW, DVD, etc.), network and communication hardware (modems, routers, hubs, etc.), drives (hard drives, floppy), keyboards, laptops, mice, network hardware (servers), paper tape readers, plotters, printers, tape drives.
  • SUBASSEMBLIES AND COMPONENTS
    Any subassemblies of the above, boards, cables, casters, circuit boards, computer chips, controllers, disk storage products, expansion products, fans (200/240v, 115v, 12v, 24/48v), monitors, PC cards, power supplies, wire (telephone, networking, electrical), fiber optic (kinked or broken cable, drop, etc.).
  • SURPLUS INVENTORY
    Crib inventory, endruns, off spec/excess parts
  • HOME ELECTRONICS
    NO WHITE GOODS (INCLUDING: REFRIGERATORS, FREEZERS, WASHERS, DRYERS).
    Accepted is TVs (CRT, flat panel, plasma, etc.), microwaves, phones (corded, cordless, and cellular), entertainment goods (VCRs, DVD players, radios, speakers). PLEASE NOTE : IF TVs MAKE UP 20% OR MORE OF A LOAD, A NOMINAL FEE WILL APPLY
    CENTRAL OFFICE AND COMMUNICATION ROOM EQUIPMENT. Chillers, communication equipment, mainframe equipment, motor generator sets (MG sets), power distribution units (PDU), uninterruptible power supplies (UPS systems).
  • MICROWAVE/GROUND AND SATELLITE BASED TRANSMISSION EQUIPMENT
    OFFICE EQUIPMENT
  • BARCODE EQUIPMENT, PAGERS, COPY MACHINES, FAX MACHINES, TELEPHONE SYSTEMS (CORDLESS, CELLULAR, DESK)
  • SECURITY EQUIPMENT
    Cameras, recorders, alarms, VCRs, keypads.
  • UTILITY AND POWER EQUIPMENT
    CATV, cable, electric generators, gas meters, repeaters, transformers, water meters, specialty equipment, construction, production, manufacturing equipment.
  • METALS

Aluminum, any gold bearing product, brass, copper, stainless, lead, nickel alloy, platinum, palladium, mercury, rare earth

****THERE WILL BE A $10.00 FEE FOR EACH TELEVISION OR CRT MONITOR****

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Tax Assessors question county accounting practices

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A misunderstanding of county accounting practices and a misuse of terminology had the Board of Commissioners (BOC) questioning whether the Board of Assessors were keeping two sets of books.

Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran spoke at the June 12 Board of Commissioners meeting about a line item in the Tax Assessors budget that she felt was an error.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Tax Assessors, Board of Assessors, Chief Appraiser, Dawn Cochran, Troy Junnier, Budget, Line Item, Maps, Aerials, GMASS, Georgia Mass Appraisals and Services

Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran questions to the BOC on why her numbers do not match the county’s official accounting records.

The line item in question concerns the purchase of new aerial maps for Fannin County. According to an agreement made last year, the Tax Assessors Department would pay for the mapping upfront, but other departments who would benefit from use of the maps would reimburse the county for their portion of the overall price.

“We started at $24,000,” Cochran said explaining the line item, “We paid $8,000 out to QPublic. We paid $22,000 to EagleView which is for the maps. We paid $1,000 for LiDAR (Light Detection and Radar) and that put us a balance of negative $7,000.”

Cochran stated that the revenue to date for her department was $7,508.13 and that invoices had been sent out to other departments for their share in the mapping costs for a total of $12,513.35.

“The current balance that should be in the line item for maps and aerials is $13,021.68,” Cochran concluded.

Cochran approached the BOC because the department still has expenditures for the year that would need to come from that line item and worried that already showing a negative balance would reflect badly on continued spending.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton explained that crediting back revenue to a department is not how the county’s accounting practices work. Helton stated that the way the county keeps records of its expenditures and revenues is set by the county’s auditors, Rushton and Associates.

According to Helton, revenues from any department are put back into the county’s general fund. He cited the Tax Commissioners office as an example of why this is the practice. Helton stated that if revenues were credited back to a department, such as the Tax Commissioners, it would in a sense give the department unlimited spending abilities.

“They tell us that you don’t offset expenses with revenue,” Helton said explaining the auditors recommendations. “You just don’t do that.”

Helton went further to ask if Cochran had ever invited Fannin County’s Chief Financial Officer Robin Gazaway to a Board of Assessor’s meeting to explain this practice. Cochran replied that she had not, but that she had been in contact with Gazaway via email and that all board members were copied to the exchange.

Cochran did not back down from her claim saying that it is important to keep accurate numbers from the top down, adding “Our number’s don’t match up with Ms. Gazaway’s numbers.”

Helton questioned Cochran’s accounting background and why she felt that her knowledge was correct over the county’s hired CFO.

Cochran stated that her board was upset over this “false negative” and stated, “It’s really hard to try to keep two sets of books.”

This statement immediately caught the attention of the commissioners with Helton asking Cochran to clarify and if she had made both sets of books available to the county’s CFO Gazaway.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Tax Assessors, Board of Assessors, Chief Appraiser, Dawn Cochran, Troy Junnier, Budget, Line Item, Maps, Aerials, GMASS, Georgia Mass Appraisals and Services

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson would like to see clearer lines of communication be established between departments and the Board of Commissioners.

Cochran replied that she does keep two sets of books and had made them available. Gazaway, however, stated that she had never seen the second set of books.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson questioned, “Your board is upset. Which set of books are they upset over?”

Later, Board of Assessors board member Troy Junnier would clarify Cochran’s statements, “Dawn brings up a spreadsheet. It’s not a separate set of books or anything like that.”

Junnier also stood behind Cochran’s questioning, “It looks bad on our department because we’re showing a negative line item when we’re really not.”

Helton explained that the negative line item would be amended at the end of the year budget review and that all of this could have been explained by Gazaway at one of the Board of Assessors meetings had she been invited to a meeting to discuss.

Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee pointed out that the BOC is more concerned with a department’s overall budget, “You’re concerned over a line item and your overall budget is right where it should be.”

“I understand why,” Johnson expanded on government accounting,”and if we all three (commissioners) understand why, you don’t have a problem because at the end of the year, as was said earlier, we’re going to vote to amend the budget, if you are over budget.”

Johnson added that there needs to more face to face interaction with the BOC and the departments when issues arise. Johnson’s reasoning is that interacting face to face and in public meetings would help to eliminate miscommunication and misinformation being spread through media outlets.

“Stop the emailing. If there is a problem come to a meeting. If there is a problem, handle it at your meetings,” Johnson said to Cochran expressing his frustration with the current lines of communication. “I for one am sick of friction between the Board of Assessors and the Board of Commissioners. I’m tired of reading stuff in the papers before you even come here.”

“Before your accuse the county and the Board of Commissioners of essentially not knowing what they’re doing, you might ought to come here first,” Johnson added.

Cochran replied to Johnson saying, “I can’t help how the media takes things and what they do with it.”

“It seems like there is an effort to discredit this board and our CFO,” Helton expressed his feelings on the matter. “It needs to stop. We are doing things accurately.”

Junnier replied to the BOC, “We didn’t come to try to make it seem like we were trying to discredit anybody.”

“I was concerned that it (negative line item) would come back not only just the department head or the department itself, but also on the assessors board,” Junnier added.

In the end Junnier thanked the BOC for fully explaining the accounting practices of the county, and for addressing the negative line item in the Board of Assessor’s budget.

After Junnier and Cochran took their seats, Chairman Helton spoke with the commissioners about a possible way to lower the budget of the Tax Assessors department.

“You know I’ve expressed a concern for sometime about our budget in our Tax Assessors department,” Helton said proposing an alternative way to structure the department, “and I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at the other counties. There’s some counties out there and their budget is just a fraction of ours.”

Helton presented the board with a 3 year contract proposed by independent appraisal company Georgia Mass Appraisal Solutions & Services (GMASS). In this contract, GMASS offers to appraise a third of the counties parcels each year for three years.

The cost of this outsourcing would be approximately $223,000 for the first two years and $338,000 for the final year. The total of this proposal would be $784,000 over three years.

Johnson pointed out that the total in the proposal for three years of service is less than the current budget of the Tax Assessors department for a single year.

“I’m for anything that saves money,” Johnson said addressing the current money being spent by the county in this area. ” I know I asked two or three years ago if our money would ever come back down and I was told no. After we came back into compliance, that it would never go back down.”

Helton clarified that he was not advocating to completely replace the tax assessors department: “You always need to have some local involvement and people there.”

Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran did confirm that her department already outsources rural parcels and had planned on asking for help with approximately 13,000 parcels, a little under half the county’s total parcels, in 2019.

The BOC agreed to look over the possibility of outsourcing appraisals and would address their findings and concerns at a later date.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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