New Council Members Question Propane Prices

Downtown Blue Ridge, Featured

Appalachian Propane has been the previous supplier for gas for the city of Blue Ridge and its employees for the last several years. Last calendar year, the city of Blue Ridge put out a bid for gas—as per usual—and where they normally get at least three bids back, this time, they only received one bid from Appalachian Propane.

While discussing Appalachian Propane’s bid, new council members wondered aloud what the current rate was. Now, the city has the option to not reveal the single bid so that they may rebid, however, the city council and Mayor Donna Whitener decided to publicly state the amount of the single bid. Had the newer council members known this, they may not have asked to hear the current rate.

Even though propane prices are based on an open market, some council members were unsure about the current propane rates. This year’s propane price is $1.44 for City and $1.54 for employees.

Council member Nathan Fitz asked, “And what was last years rate?”

After some digging, Finance Director Alicia Stewart found the price which was reported as $1.04.

Council member Ken Gaddis asked, “Can we do that again [send out another bid]?”

Council member Rhonda Haight responded, “To be honest, it wouldn’t really be fair if you went back and asked for a lower rate now, but what you could do is hold off and renegotiate. Call the owner and see if he would renegotiate this. If not, just, it is what it is.”

Council member Ken Gaddis replied, “So can we table it and reach out to them and see if there’s any other rates we can do?”

Council member Haight responded, “We could actually make a motion probably to do it at this rate or a lower rate, but then, he wouldn’t change it would he? [after a comment within the council] Yeah, I’m recused.”

Council member Fitz made the motion, “Okay, I’m going make a motion that we table the propane gas 2018-19 quote until next month.”

Council member Gaddis second’ the motion and then they discussed whether or not there was an ‘official’ contract between Appalachian Propane and the city of Blue Ridge.

A city official responded that there may not be a contract because Blue Ridge usually goes with the bid that offers lowest rate.

Where will the Blue Ridge Council members go from here? Stay tuned for next month’s council meeting.

Budget: Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Statements Audit

Downtown Blue Ridge, News

The city of Blue Ridge audit has been reviewed by Welch, Walker & Associates and they found no issues or changes needed to be made in the report. This information is summed up from December 31, 2017. The audit was finished in June of 2018 and has been approved with no changes.

The auditors are looking at items like capital projects, funding, big downtown projects, and new water rates. The auditors judge the financial reports based on a three-tier system: the highest level is 3) Material Weakness (most serious issues), 2) Significant Deficiencies and the lowest level is 1) Management Comments—these aren’t even shared in the report as they are minute.

Findings found in the Blue Ridge financial report that are tested. There were three Significant Deficiencies findings within the Blue Ridge audit.

2015-01: “Lack of segregation of duties” and this is a very common finding in a ‘small-town’ community. This just means that there’s only one person working in a position where mistakes can be made and there’s no additional person to go back and check over reports, data entry, etc.

2015-02: “Lack of contract for revenue transactions” a few years ago it was spotted that the franchise tax agreement between the tri-state EMC and the city of Blue Ridge is outdated and it’s not been renewed officially on paper. There are a few things that need to be updated within the contract and it needs to be signed by Tri-State EMC. This has been addressed and is something the city of Blue Ridge has been working on.

2017-01: “Rates were not calculating properly in the software” this is a new finding but has already been addressed and fixed. For the new water bills in 2017, the rates were not calculating correctly in the software but was fixed in May of 2018 while they were going over the audit. Since the amount of money was ‘material’ it needed to go in the report. The ‘material’ amount was 32,110.00 from 2017 and 12,850.00 from January-May of 2018.

The 2017-01 error was the city’s software error and will not be charged to the citizens of Blue Ridge.

Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting Concerning Hampton Inn Canceled

Downtown Blue Ridge, News

The Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, scheduled for Sep. 4, to discuss the Hampton Inn floor limitations was canceled. Blue Ridge City officials decided to cancel the meeting after a recommendation letter was sent out by Blue Ridge City attorney, James A. W. Balli, stating that, in his legal opinion, the zoning meeting was no longer necessary due to the current city ordinances.

The Hampton Inn requested a variance from the City of Blue Ridge for a fifth floor. The original plans for the building site on West Main Street was to only include four stories.

This begs the question as to why there was a variance request in the first place? Surely no corporate company would purchase land without doing their due diligence to ensure that their goals of building onto the property would come to fruition. Would Hampton Inn buy land without having their attorneys review city ordinances beforehand?

Balli investigated the city’s zoning rules and concluded that the law allows for the building of up to 60 ft, so the question of floors is void, but rather, the height of the Hampton Inn is what matters most.

In an open letter Balli states, “Therefore, it is my legal opinion that, in its current form, the Zoning Ordinance limits the height of any structure within the CBD to 4 stories or 60’ feet. Accordingly, the Applicant need not request the height variance if the hotel does not exceed 60’ feet. It would be my advice that the hearing scheduled for September 4, 2018 be cancelled as unnecessary and that a zoning certification be issued to the Applicant which is complies with the legal opinion in this letter.”

There could be some potential issues with the construction of the Hampton Inn.

Note that in the open letter, Balli added Article 3 General Provisions, which states, “G15.2-3 Delay in Construction. In the event that construction is not begun within two years from the date of approval by the Council or is begun but is halted for a period of more than one year, said approval shall be void. Re-approval must follow the procedure set forth in Section 15 .1 and 15 .2 of this Article.”

Several issues have come into question by citizens of Fannin County that could delay construction. Among these issues are power lines over the now vacant lot, the city’s current infrastructure capabilities, and whether Fannin County’s fire department is equipped to handle a five-story building.

There has yet to be a sit-down between Fannin County and Blue Ridge City officials regarding these matters. Fire Chief Larry Thomas spoke on the matter of fire protection, “We (Fire/EMS) are aware of the request of a five-story building in the downtown area, and we are being proactive. We want to make sure that we have the right equipment to handle the new growth.”

With possible infrastructural changes and accommodations needing to take place, could there be a new five-story hotel on the horizon? Or will the lack of city preparedness be the downfall of the new Hampton Inn?

Open Letter

GAC wins 55-7, but Rebels Take Spotlight

FCHS Football

Two weeks ago, the Union County Panthers were undefeated and hosted Greater Atlanta Christian with hopes of establishing themselves as the team-to-beat in the region.  Four quarters and a few rolls of athletic tape later, it was the Spartans of GAC who emerged victorious with a 47-7 final score.

The Spartans returned to the mountain area for the second straight week, this time to face the Fannin County Rebels.  Although the Rebels would not win the game on the scoreboard, they managed to garner national attention by doing something even more impressive than a hail mary touchdown pass or a long, game-winning field goal.

Senior linebacker Austin Brown (82) stretches out and attempts to tackle a GAC Spartan ball carrier in Friday night’s 55-7 loss at FCHS.

The Rebels took the field carrying 40 American Flags, waving them in front of a packed stadium where there wasn’t a single person in his or her seat.  The energy inside the stadium was so electrifying you could feel the hair standing up on the back of your neck and they only thing louder than the cheers from the proud spectators was your own heartbeat, racing to the beat of the Fannin County High School band’s percussion.  Photos and video of the event soon went viral, and rather than talk about how the game ended; everyone has been talking about how it began.

The excitement dissipated shortly after kickoff, as GAC put up 28 unanswered points in the first quarter and another 20 before the half.  With a 48-0 score going into the locker room, the Spartans had pretty much shown everyone why they’re considered the best high school football team in the state.

Refusing to quit, however, Fannin came back out onto the field and played as hard as they had the entire game, eventually finding paydirt near the end of the 3rd quarter.  GAC scored a touchdown as well, but with a running clock the game came to an end and attention could once again return to the display of unity by the Rebels when they first took the field.

Game stats:

****Offensive stats were not available at the time of publishing.

Defensive stats for the Rebels:

  • Mason Rhodes 7 tk 3ast
  • Bailey White 5 tk 1PBU (TeamFYNSports Player of the Week)
  • Brett Galloway 2 tk
  • Cole Earls 2 Tkls 1 TFL
  • Jackson Weeks 2 Tk
  • Ethan Smith 2 tk
  • Will Mosley 2 TK 4ast
  • Jonah Henry 4 tk 1ast
  • Keenen Putnan 2tk 1TFL
  • Clay Holloway 4tk 3 tfl

The Rebels enjoy a bye week this week while the Spartans host East Hall in what should be the best match-up in the region.  East Hall is coming off a 62-42 win over Union County last week.

Fannin returns to the road next week as they travel with intent to upset Dawson County, who hosts Union this week.  The Tigers defeated North Hall last week by a score of 30-7.



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#TeamFYNSports Sportswriter’s Player of the Week

Player Of The Week

This week the Fannin County Rebels hosted AAA-Region 7 frontrunner Greater Atlanta Christian High School (Gwinnett), a contest that revealed the true character of the home team as Fannin found themselves down-and-out prior to the second half of play.  Under the direction of the Fannin County’s coaches, the team pulled together and showed that they refused to give up until the game was officially over.  Choosing the Sportswriter Player of the Week is a difficult task when the entire team shows relentless pursuit defensively and an unwavering attitude of persistence on offense.  Both on the field and on the sidelines, defensive back Bailey White showed the most guts this week (literally), earning POTW honors for the first time with TeamFYNSports.  White played all four quarters of the game without complaint and without hesitation, despite battling flu symptoms.  A vital part of the Rebels’ defensive scheme as well as special teams, White recognized that his position was one that could not easily be replaced.  He recorded five tackles in the 55-0 loss, and he broke up a pass that would’ve surely resulted in another touchdown for GAC.  Congratulations Bailey White and we wish you to get well soon.


#TeamFYNSports Sportswriter’s Player of the Week

Player Of The Week

At TeamFYNSports, we try to spread the love around when selecting out Sportswriter Player of the Week.  On rare occasion, however, one athlete stands out so well we simply can’t help but give it to him more than once.  Fannin Rebels inside linebacker Mason Rhodes, who racked up 17 tackles and a sack against Andrews, NC to earn POTW honors, went even further this past Friday night at North Hall.  Rhodes was the most aggressive player on the defensive side of the football, recording 18 tackles and 2 sacks on the road against an even better opponent in the Trojans.  Leading by example, his hustle sparked the defense on several different plays.  Congratulations Rhodes and good luck this week against G.A.C.  We look forward to your performance.


Fannin Powerlifters Win National Titles


On June 23, 2017, a Fannin County weightlifting club traveled to Gainsville, Georgia for the 15th annual American Powerlifting Committee (APC) National Powerlifting Championships. The Banks Barbell powerlifting team, comprised of a few local student-athletes and adults, spent nearly four months preparing for the competition, with hopes of bringing trophies and national titles back to Blue Ridge. The team not only represented Fannin County with good sportsmanship and a competitive attitude; but they also succeeded in winning 1st-place in Full Powerlifting competition as well as Push-Pull competition.

Fannin County High School senior Bradley Flowers benches while coach Jason Banks looks on at the 2017 APC National Powerlifting Championships

The full powerlifting competition consists of three compound lifts: squat, bench and deadlift. Fannin County Rebel football players Bradley Flowers (Sr) and Keenan Putnam (Sr) chose to compete in the full meet and gave credit to their training in the recently updated FCHS weight room. “The school replaced all of the old gym equipment with some real nice Dynabody racks, bars and chains,” Flowers told TeamFYNSports. “It’s nice – like real nice – probably one of the nicest gyms I’ve ever seen.” On top of their training at the high school, Flowers and Putnam joined Banks Barbell Club in Blue Ridge to supplement their athletic training. “Basically we just wanted to get stronger,” Flowers said. “My older brothers started training there and both of them got a lot stronger real fast. They took me to a deadlift and squat workout and I was hooked.”  The athletes asked Fannin County head football coach Jim Pavao if he would allow them to put in some extra training outside of the regular football scheduled workouts, and he encouraged it.  “Coach [Pavao] said he’s all for it,” Flowers told FYN.  “He told us anything we can do to get better in our spare time is fine as long as it’s positive and it doesn’t affect our training at the high school.”

The hard work put in both at the fieldhouse and their new gym paid off.  Both Putnam and Flowers won their classes, earning national champion honors, and they managed to break some national and world records in the process.

Putnam finished the day with a 192.5kg (423.5-lbs) squat, 115kg (253-lb) bench and a 170kg (374-lb) deadlift for a 445kg (979-lb) total (his squat was a 4th attempt for record-breaking purposes only) and four Global Powerlifting Alliance (GPA) World Records. The performance also set the APC national records for the 110kg (220-lb) teen (16-17) class.

Fannin County sophomore Kayleigh Russell sets up for a sumo deadlift attempt at the 2017 APC National Powerlifting Championships.

Flowers finished the day with a 205kg (451-lb) squat, 147.5kg (324.5) bench and a 235kg (517-lb) deadlift for a 587.5kg (1,292.5-lb) total. He also now holds the GPA World Powerlifting records for squat, bench, deadlift and total in the teen (16-17) class, but in the 125kg (275-lb) weight division. In a nutshell, these kids are strong.

Fannin sophomore Kayleigh Russell, one of two females on the team, also had a huge day at the competition. Russell won the 75kg (165-lb) weight class in the open (all age groups) AND teen (15-16) division. She set new GPA world records with her 65kg (143-lb) squat, 35kg (77-lb) bench and 82.5kg (181.5-lb) deadlift for a 182.5kg (401.5-lb) total. She also competed on the Push-Pull team and her bench and squat were good enough to set new GPA world records in Push-Pull teen competition for bench, deadlift and total. Basically, Russell came home with top honors in four different classes and seven world records.

“I started powerlifting because I wanted to get stronger for softball,” Russell told FYN. Russell plays softball year-round, whether it be travel ball or with the Rebels varsity team at FCHS.  She and her father, Justin Russell of Epworth, joined the club and began training together early in the year.  Like Putnam and Flowers, Russell scheduled her supplemental training around the existing workouts she received on the softball field and in the high school weight-training class.  “She wants to play college ball,” her father explained.  “She’s willing to do what it takes to do that and we support her one hundred percent.”

Fannin senior Keenan Putnam pulls a successful deadlift at the 2017 APC National Powerlifting Championships.

Other lifters for the Banks Barbell team include Paige Collins-Rideout of Epworth, who won the women’s 45-49 age group in the 67.5kg (148.5-lb) weight class with an 80kg (176-lb) squat, 50kg (110-lb) bench and 100kg (220-lb) deadlift for a 230kg (506-lb) total. Rideout also won “Best Female Lifter” in the push-pull competition.

Matthew Rideout of Epworth won the men’s open 90kg (198-lb) weight class with a 152.5kg (335.5-lb) squat, 102.5kg (226-lb) bench and 192.5kg (423-lb) deadlift for a 447.5kg (984.5-lb) total.

Terry Brandon Flowers of Morganton narrowly took second place in his class (110kg/242-lb open) with a 212.5kg (467.5-lb) squat, 145kg (319-lb) bench and 227.5kg (500.5-lb) deadlift for a 585kg (1,287.5-lb) total. Flowers’ wife was 9-months pregnant at the time of the meet and he was uncertain if was going to compete. “Holli was about to have our baby at any day so I really didn’t plan to go,” Flowers told FYN. “I even lifted heavy all week before the meet. But the day of weigh-ins she told me we should go, so I went out and gave the best I could. I really just wanted to compete for my team.”

Jeremy Flowers of Morganton finished with a strong 2nd-place showing in the 110kg (242-lb) open class for push-pull. Flowers benched 160kg (352-lbs) and then barely failed on a third attempt of 180kg (396-lbs). All push-pull lifters later learned that the bar had been mis-loaded for their flight and they were actually lifting (or attempting) 5kg/11-lbs MORE than for what they received credit. Of those lifters was Jason Banks of Morganton.

Banks won “Best Overall Male” in push-pull competition and won the 125kg (275-lb) sub-master (35-39) class with a 215kg (474-lb) bench and a 290kg (640-lb) deadlift for a 505kg (1,114-lb) push-pull total. He broke the APC national records for bench, deadlift and total and he missed the GPA world record for raw bench press by 5kg (11lbs).

The team plans to compete later this year at the APC Salute the Troops meet November 4 in Commerce, Georgia; and several of the lifters will compete at the Body By George Monster Mania Push-Pull on December 2 in Loganville, Georgia.


TeamFYNSports Sports Writer Player Of The Week: Sarah Sosebee

Player Of The Week

This week’s #TeamFYNSports Sports Writer Player Of The Week is kicker Sarah Sosebee. The sophomore had an impressive opening game last Friday against rival Gilmer, making 100% of her PAT’s (6) and becoming the first female athlete to score in a Fannin County High School football game in FCHS history. You can catch Sosebee and the rest of the Rebels on the road on September 1st, when they travel to Ringgold to take down the Tigers of Region 6-AAA.

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