Students and staff celebrate Family Career Community Leaders of America week

Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Students and staff at Fannin County High School celebrated FCCLA during the week of Feb. 12 through 16, 2018. Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a student-led Career Technical and Student Organization that has over 164,000 members nationally and is the only CTSO with the family as its central focus. Involvement opportunities for FCCLA members include expanding their leadership potential and developing skills for life that are necessary in the home and workplace. During FCCLA week, students offered activities and trivia in the commons area during lunch to promote knowledge of family and consumer sciences, they gave a small gift to all faculty and staff, and they prepared and distributed muffins to the faculty and staff at FCHS. Pictured above are FCCLA members and officers, from left, Bobbi Pippin, vice president, Desiree Bell, hospitality coordinator, and Kristen Lopez, secretary. FCCLA is advised by Family and Consumer Sciences teachers, Amy Adams, Lynn Burch, and Lauren Owenby.

Family Career and Community Leaders of America competitors advance to state

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Four members of Fannin County High School’s Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter competed at Region STAR Events Competitions on Saturday, Feb. 10. Chloe Clemmons (11th grade) and Bobbi Pippin (10th grade) earned a gold medal in their Sports Nutrition Senior Event where they created and implemented a nutrition, hydration, and exercise plan for an FCHS basketball player. Sierra Reynolds (9th grade), competed in Sports Nutrition Junior and earned a silver medal for the implementation of her nutrition plan for a local ballerina. Cady Finley (9th grade) also earned a silver medal for her Interpersonal Communications Event where she promoted healthy communication and relationships among female teens. Sierra and Cady both scored in the top two of their events and will be advancing to State STAR Events Competitions on March 10, 2018. Pictured above are, from left, Sierra Reynolds, Cady Finley, FCCLA adviser, Lauren Owenby, FCHS FCCLA president, Hope Parris, Chloe Clemmons, and Bobbi Pippin.

Administration addresses athletics at Board of Education meeting

Community, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After hearing concerns expressed at the Jan. 11 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney, as well as other members of the board, added a new agenda item covering extracurricular activities within the school system.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Rebels, Georgia High School Association, GHSA

Fannin County High School Principal Erik Cioffi discussed athletics at the Feeb. BOE meeting.

At the Feb. 8 BOE meeting the board unveiled this new item. Dr. Gwatney explained that updates of Fannin County extracirruclar activities will be a recurring item.

While these updates will encompass all of Fannin County’s extracurriculars, the focus of the Feb. updates centered around the state of the Fannin County Athletics Department.

Fannin County High School Principal Erik Cioffi presented this information to the public.

“There were some questions about accountability,” Cioffi spoke of concerns presented at the previous BOE meeting. “You don’t have to look any further than right here. I am the one who has hired people and put them in positions. So if there is a concern it should come to my department.”

Cioffi spoke of the staff of Fannin County School System and added that the pool of educators in which coaches can be pulled from is currently 59 certified teachers.

“They are teachers first and they have responsibilities that make up a bulk of their time,” Cioffi added.

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey clarified that there are 62 coaching positions that have to be covered, and for this reason coaches have to work or coach in multiple departments. Ramsey backed up Cioffi stating that a coach’s first priority is to be an educator.

“As they should be,” Ramsey stated. “Because that is the ultimate thing, they (students) leave with a high school diploma.”

Cioffi discussed the current Georgia High School Association (GHSA) policy and why Fannin County continues to be placed a AAA region school. In the past GHSA reevaluated schools on a two year cycle. Recent changes, however, has left evaluations happening every four years.

“We have no control over the region we’re placed,” Cioffi explained.

A meeting is scheduled on Feb. 21 where representatives from Fannin County Athletics along with representative from other AAA schools will meet with GHSA officials to examine the new policy.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Rebels, Georgia High School Association, GHSA

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey was also present to talk with parents.

“It’s ridiculous. If they (GHSA) get it wrong, that’s impacted a child’s entire four years,” Cioffi told the crowd about plans to hopefully bring about change on the state level when it comes to athletics.

The possibility of dropping to AA classification could pose a different set of difficulties for the student athletes of Fannin County, as travel is cited to be a large consideration in the possibility of changing regions.

A new AA classification could mean that students would have to travel as far as three hours away to play other AA teams.

Cioffi also proposed what all parties (parents, coaches and administration) want a “Winning Culture”, and explained how to take steps in this direction: “Before we even get to a winning culture, we need a positive culture. That’s going to take everyone in this room and everyone outside this room to get there.”

“Stay positive. Our kids see when there’s negativity going around,” Cioffi spoke of the recent discussions taking place via social media. “One thing I can promise you is that coaches aren’t posting things on social media about kids and parents.”

“Communicate with each other and figure out how can we best meet the needs of all the programs,” Cioffi went on,”Ultimately we want all programs to be successful.”

The parents coming forward was a big step in addressing the issues that Fannin County Athletics faces, and administration wants to keep lines of communication open and figure out how to “get over the hump and move forward.”

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey concluded the presentation: “We’re working together, because we don’t ever want to be an us versus you mentality. There never needs to be adversary. We all need to be working for the good of the kids.”

 

 

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

Parents question the finances of Fannin County Athletics

News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Feb. 8 Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) meeting was packed, with many left at standing room only, as parents and supporters of Fannin County Athletics gathered once again to voice concerns over the direction of the program.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

The Board of Education listens as public commentary focuses on athletics.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney addressed the crowd before the meeting got underway saying, “Safety is always the top priority. With that in mind, ladies and gentlemen, we have received a maximum number that’s allowed in this room from the state fire marshal, and we must adhere to that number.”

School principals were present to help usher the crowd and school resource officers were stationed at all emergency exits.

“Our room is at capacity,” Gwatney continued. Gwatney announced that the BOE had set up accommodations in expectations of the large turnout. The meeting would be streaming online and alternate locations had been set up at the high school as an overflow where supporters could watch the live-stream.

Ten community members signed up prior to the meeting to ensure that their voices would be heard during public commentary.

Donnie Kendall, who spoke at the January BOE meeting, led the way again and spoke first during the public’s allotted time.

“The last four weeks the administration has not only been helpful, but they have also made theirselves available in hearing all of my concerns, ” Kendall began. “The problem is our administration is reactive instead of proactive.”

Kendall voiced that the same accountability that is placed on educators in the school system should also be placed on coaches, citing the boys basketball team finishing with just three wins and 21 losses.

In comparing this with an academic classroom where only three students were passing with 21 failing, Kendall stated that that educators job would come into question, and the likelihood of their position being renewed would be slim.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

Donnie Kendall addresses the board first during public commentary at the BOE meeting.

“If you choose coaching as career path, you will ultimately be judged by your wins and losses,” Kendall added.

A point of concern among many of the public commentators and mentioned first by Kendall is a need for the BOE to produce total financial transparency of the athletic departments. Kendall, like many others, would like to know what formulas are in place for the funding and who is responsible for the financial decisions.

Speaking of the numerous booster clubs throughout the different athletic departments, who are responsible for raising tens of thousands of dollars every year, Kendall stated, “What we can do and what we are prepared to do is refuse to support that program financially.”

Another commentator, Cliff Shirah spoke from experience on the financial transparency that is desired by parents. Shirah has been treasurer of the Dugout Club for four years.

In those four years, Shirah cited that approximately $192,000 had been raised by the community for this club and the money directly supports Fannin County Athletics.

“We want to know how programs are funded and from what budget, and what is the process or guidelines that those decisions are made?” Shirah questioned the BOE.

Shirah pointed out that the Dugout Club had spent $34,000 in field maintenance and asked, “Why are parents forced to pay for these facilities and field expenses?”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

Brian Johnson counters reasons given by administration about the state of Fannin County Athletics.

Brian Johnson, former president of the Basketball Booster Club, also touched on finances, stating the Tip Off Club had raised upwards of $200,000 in four years, and asked the board, “What will the school board’s actions be if financial support is taken away from these programs?”

Johnson also addressed what many parents felt were excuses being given by administration for the current state of Fannin County Athletics: “excuses have been given from, ‘we don’t have talent’ to ‘we’re rural and secluded’ to ‘other teams should be playing in higher classifications.'”

Johnson countered these arguments by stating, “What in your minds makes us more secluded than Union County, Murphy, North Carolina, Hayesville, Towns County, or Hiawassee, Georgia? We have struggled against these very schools that are as small or much, much smaller than we are.”

Ryan Walton, who also spoke alongside Donnie Kendall at the January BOE meeting, did not agree with the explanations that the administration has offered. “All I’ve heard is excuses on why we don’t compete. I haven’t heard any answers,” Walton said.

Walton added, “I will say that the coaches at Fannin County right now are doing a great job of teaching our kids that life is not fair and that the best person does not always get the job, but the athletic director and board are doing a terrible job by showing these kids that you can be terrible at your job and not get fired.”

Other parents were present giving testimonials on how success in athletics directly correlates with success in a child’s personal life and their academics. These parents expressed concern over what they saw as the coaches’ lack of involvement with or enthusiasm displayed for their athletes.

Ultimately, the parents and supporters united under a common theme of change. They wish to see a winning culture come back to Fannin County and want the full chain of command, from the BOE down to the coaches, to take responsibility for this turn around.

Follow FetchYourNews as we look into obtaining full financial transparency for the Fannin County Athletics Department.

 

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

Students participate in Georgia Green Industry Association conference

Rebel's Corner

 

 

Pictured above are the students who attended the Georgia Green Industry Association conference.

From left to right bottom row: Andy Lim, Daniel Crawford, and Kelleigh Taylor.

Front row: Kiaya Jones, Anthony Malone, Gavin Starke, Taylor Long, and Layne Epperson.

S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G Bee champion moves forward to regional competition

Community, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After a lot of practice and many rounds, Fannin County School System (FCSS) named their champion speller. Eighth-grader Chloe Carter will advance for a third year to the Region 1 Competition held in Rome, Georgia, later this month.

FCSS held school-wide spelling bees in the month of January, and the winners from each school met on Jan. 31 at the Board of Education to determine a champion.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County School System, Blue Ridge Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, East Fannin Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Cirriculum Director, Robert Ensley, Keith Nuckolls, Literacy Coach, Sarah Welch, Principal, Lucas Roof, April Hodges, Matt Price, Jade Dlugokinski, Cole White, Chloe Carter, Fox Sharp.

Spelling Bee contestants at the Board of Education. From left to right, Fox Sharp, Jade Dlugokinski, Chloe Carter, and Cole White.

“Before I say anything else, I would like to say how proud I am of each of you for reaching the Fannin County School System spelling bee,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney said, welcoming the competitors.

With family and faculty present, each principal introduced their respective champion.

From Blue Ridge Elementary School, Principal April Hodges introduced school champion Jade Dlugokinski. Cole White, winner of East Fannin Elementary School, was presented by Principal Matt Price. Principal Keith Nuckolls announced the Fannin County Middle School Champion Chloe Carter, and West Fannin Elementary School Principal Lucas Roof introduced their champion Fox Sharp.

Curriculum Director Robert Ensley read the rules and formalities of the spelling bee. These rules must be strictly adhered to within each district for champions to move forward in hopes of reaching the national bee.

Fannin County High School Literacy Coach Sarah Welch was the official caller for the event, giving each student his or her word and further clarification if needed.

The second round saw two competitors eliminated, with a third contestant being eliminated in the following round.

Students Chloe Carter and Cole White battled it out for another round with Carter spelling the winning word for the round, “cruiser”.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County School System, Blue Ridge Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, East Fannin Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Cirriculum Director, Robert Ensley, Keith Nuckolls, Literacy Coach, Sarah Welch, Principal, Lucas Roof, April Hodges, Matt Price, Jade Dlugokinski, Cole White, Chloe Carter, Fox Sharp.

Spelling Bee winner Chloe Carter will advance to the Region 1 Competition in Rome, Georgia, later this month.

As dictated by the rules Carter then had to spell an additional champion word. “Ninja” was spelled with ease by Carter and solidified her as Fannin County spelling champion.

“We are proud to have Ms. Chloe Carter as our eighth grade spelling champion,” Welch announced, officially bringing the bee to a close.

Carter is no stranger to this honor. It is Carter’s third year winning the Fannin County School System spelling bee. Last year, Carter also advanced from the Region 1 Competition to compete at the state level.

The Region 1 competition will take place on Feb. 24 in Rome, Georgia. Carter will face other district champs in hopes of progressing to the state finals.

“Your achievement sets a fine example for the students across our county,” Gwatney beamed to the contestants and congratulated all of the students on their achievements.

 

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

Dixie Carter announces bid for Fannin County Post 2 Commission seat

Election, News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Another name will appear on the May Primary Election ballot in a bid for the Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner seat that will be voted on in the General Election to be held on Nov. 6, 2018.

At the Feb. 5 Democratic Party meeting, current member Dixie Carter addressed the crowd, “I am Dixie Carter and I am announcing my candidacy for the Post 2 Commissioner seat.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Board of Commissioners, Post 2 Commissioner, Dixie Carter, Democratic Party

Dixie Carter announced candidacy for Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner seat at the Feb. Democratic Party meeting.

“I have decided to run to be a voice and advocate for the people of Fannin County,” Carter explained. “I want to be a public servant for the people of Fannin County. One who listens to all people.”

Carter has a history of service work both professionally and personally. Holding undergraduate degrees in psychology and social work, and a master’s degree in social work, Carter’s career has covered many areas of social welfare.

Carter served as a case manager and therapist in mental health facilities across north Georgia, worked as a child protective service investigator with the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services, and was a medical social worker in Home Healthcare and Hospice.

“I’ve volunteered a little here in the community,” Carter spoke of her charity work. “Feed Fannin, I’ve been involved with them over the years. Also, the Fannin CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) team. I’m a member of the National Association of Social Workers, also the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club.”

“I’ve always had that passion as a social worker,” Carter spoke of her desire to help people. “It’s really a natural progression to want to help the community.”

Carter brought up a couple of the key issues she would like to address if elected. One of these issues was increased public access areas on Lake Blue Ridge.

Carter sited Morganton Point as being the only public access point of that nature and stated that the summer months bring more visitors, leading to the area being overcrowded.

Another area where Carter would like to see change is in the Fannin County Public Library. Carter would like to see the library increased in size and moved out of the courthouse.

“Public libraries are a very important public space in the community,” Carter stated, explaining the need for this change, “and can be a key hub to community activity in many ways.”

Carter concluded her announcement to the Fannin County Democratic Party by saying, “I look forward to being a voice for the people of Fannin County, and I would consider it a privilege to represent the community.”

Carter currently runs unopposed for the Democratic seat in the May Primary Election.

Glenn Patterson announced his bid for the Republican seat for Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner at the January Fannin County Republican Party meeting. Incumbent Larry Joe Sosebee is expected to officially announce his intention to run for re-election later this month.

Qualification for the May Primary Election will begin March 5 at 9 a.m. and will close March 9 at noon. Those wishing to run in the May Primary Election for any open seats in the county must qualify during this time.

 

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

GPS locating soon to be available for emergency calls in Fannin County

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) moved forward with the purchase of technology to improve services and efficiency when it comes to public safety.

Fannin County Deputy Director of EMA/E-911 Patrick Cooke addressed the Board of Commissioners (BOC) at the Jan. 23 meeting explaining the need for new technology that would allow the option of Global Positioning System (GPS) location on calls coming to the 911 center from cell phone users.

FetchYourNews, Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Larry Joe Sosebee, Earl Johnson, Patrick Cooke, EMA, Emergency Management, E-911

EMA/E-911 Depurt Director Patrick Cooke gives board members bids received for new equipment for the department.

“It will allow us to send a message to any cell phone, and we will be able to get the exact GPS coordinates off that cell phone,” Cooke told the board, “and we will also be able to communicate back and forth with pictures and other data messages.”

This new feature will be an add-on to the current 911 computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system and would come with a price tag of $5,258. There would be a annual maintenance fee in the future. The price of maintenance for the second year would be $4,725.

Fannin County BOC Chairman Stan Helton asked Cooke for examples from the past where this kind of technology would have been beneficial. Cooke immediately cited that there are numerous calls from hikers who have become lost in the woods and stated that GPS location would save time in these instances.

Cooke recalled a specific incident of a hiker last year who was suffering from a stroke while hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail. Cooke felt that had this technology been in use during the time of this call, it could have saved approximately two hours in locating the individual.

The new GPS location feature works by the caller responding to a text message sent to their phone from the 911 center. Once the caller accepts the link provided in the text, dispatchers are able to use GPS location from the cell phone to pinpoint the caller’s location.

The BOC voted unanimously to allow the purchase of this program, with Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson stating, “It sounds well worth it.”

Once the purchase transaction is complete, the new GPS location program will take about a month to implement.

Cooke also presented the BOC with bids for new equipment for a mobile command unit. The Fannin County EMA had been awarded a Homeland Security Grant in 2017, and the purchase of the mobile command equipment would be reimbursed through this grant.

Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham confirmed previously with the board that when applying for the grant, a list of equipment had been given and the grant would fully fund the list.

Cooke presented the board with three quotes. The highest bid came in at $27,602 and the lowest bid received was $20,526.

“We did receive three different quotes,” Cooke said, giving his opinion, “and we see no reason why we cannot go with the cheapest of the three. It is also the more local of the three companies.”

Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee questioned the qualifications of the company with the lowest bid, and Cooke replied the EMA had worked with the company before and had been satisfied with the results.

Helton motioned for the purchase of the new equipment for the EMA, Sosebee seconded the motion, and the board approved unanimously to award the project to the lowest bidder, Mountain Communications, Inc.

 

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

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