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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Light Up Blue Ridge, parade draws thousands


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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



VIDEO: Is it Possible a High Rolling Gambler is Running in Blue Ridge?

Community, FYNTV, GMFTO, Politics

How important is it to know how our candidates live their lives outside of politics?

Paraphrased from GMFTO on FYNTV:

Would you want a City Council Member that was a high roller?

Would you vote for a candidate that REGULARLY gambled hundreds of thousands of dollars?

I don’t know yet, but I understand it is possible that a candidate is a casino regular, maybe not just a regular, but possibly a high roller?

The source can’t be revealed, and it isn’t 100% verified, but this is a source that would KNOW!



Chief Scearce Runs for Fannin Sheriff’s Office


I am a Fannin County native.  I grew up here, went to school here, and married my wife and raised my two children here.  I am a third generation Law Enforcement Officer following my grandfather, William T. (Boss) Mull, who served as Chief of Police in McCaysville , GA before being killed in the line of duty, and my father, W. W. Scearce, who served as a Law Enforcement Office in Dyer County, TN.

I have been in law enforcement for an impressive 35 years.  My career began in 1981 when I was Road Patrolman in McCaysville.  After serving in this capacity for seven years, my career moved me just over the GA/TN line to the Police Department of Copperhill, TN until an opportunity arose with the City of Blue Ridge Police Department.

In 1991, I accepted the position as Road Patrolman for Blue Ridge, GA.  There, I worked my way through the ranks until the following year when I was appointed Chief of Police of the City of Blue Ridge Police Department.  Since then, I have proudly been serving and protecting the citizens of Blue Ridge for nearly 24 years, longer than any other Chief in the city’s history!  Under my watch, the citizens of Blue Ridge feel safe with very low crime rate in the city and the 80%+ success rate the Police Department has at solving those crimes that do occur with arrests and convictions.  And, I plan to bring that same peace of mind to all Fannin County citizens if elected Sheriff.

To learn more about how I will build an effective department which serves all of Fannin County, check out my website at

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