Special Olympics Week proclaimed in Fannin County

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County honored its special athletes today, and officially proclaimed both in the City of Blue Ridge and in Fannin County that the week of May 16, 2018 be Special Olympics Week.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Special Olympics, Fannin County Middle School, Proclamation, Mayor, Chairman, Donna Whitener, Stan Helton, Downtown Blue Ridge, Fannin County Courthouse

Mayor Donna Whitener signs proclamation declaring Special Olympics Week for the City of Blue Ridge.

Crowds gathered shortly before 10:30 a.m. this morning in the free parking area of downtown Blue Ridge. Among those present were Special Olympic supporters, teachers, proud parents, Blue Ridge and Fannin County law enforcement and emergency personnel, representatives from Fannin County’s educational system, and of course, the athletes.

This year marks a very special anniversary for the olympics. Having begun in 1968, the Special Olympics celebrates its 50th year.

Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener was present to kick off festivities as she announced that the City of Blue Ridge was officially acknowledging this week as Special Olympics Week and delivered a proclamation stating such from the city.

A lighting of the ceremonial torch set activities in motion, and the athletes were cheered on as they made their way up East Main Street to the Fannin County Courthouse participating in the Fannin County Torch Relay.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Special Olympics, Fannin County Middle School, Proclamation, Mayor, Chairman, Donna Whitener, Stan Helton, Downtown Blue Ridge, Fannin County Courthouse

Chairman Stan Helton signs proclamation for Special Olympics Week in Fannin County.

The celebration continued at the courthouse where the procession was greeted by Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton. Helton announced to the crowd that Fannin County too would like to recognize this week as Special Olympics Week and signed an official proclamation as well.

The Special Olympics will take place tomorrow, May 16, at Fannin County Middle School (FCMS). The opening ceremony will be at 9 a.m. in the FCMS gym.

Elementary athletes and Mineral Springs athletes will compete from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Middle and High School athletes will compete from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

 

 

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Blue Ridge City Council elect talks with BKP

GMFTO, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Members of the newly elected 2018 Blue Ridge City Council joined BKP to talk Friday during Good Morning from Blue Jeans Pizza.

Incumbent City Council Member Rhonda Thomas along with council members elect Robbie Cornelius, Nathan Fitts and Kenneth Gaddis candidly discussed their goals, plans and hopes for city improvement in the next four years.  Incumbent Mayor Donna Whitener and City Council Member Harold Herndon were unable to attend due to other obligations, but both expressed their gratitude to and appreciation of voters after their respective elections to third terms Tuesday.

The open forum began with each having the opportunity to thank the voters and share their own thoughts of the upcoming council.

“I’m really excited. There’s a lot of excitement here in the community,” Gaddis said. “Even after the election was over – going out into the community still talking with people – they’re excited. They’re excited about this council.”

Regarding the nature of the election itself, Cornelius stated she was proud of the newly elected members for avoiding some of the negativity that existed during the campaigns.

Thomas thanked not only those who voted for her but those who did not: “I’m still here for you … I want to make this a term that we can get a lot of things done.”

Describing the excitement in the community as “overwhelming,” Fitts added, “I wish we could start tomorrow … I’m ready to unbutton my sleeves, roll them up and get to work.”

The diversity of the council was one of the topics BKP addressed with the council elect. Gaddis spoke of the differences of experiences and backgrounds of the new council but saw this as a strength. While agreeing with Gaddis, Fitts admitted he knows there will be some disagreement on issues at times. However, he stated this disagreement would be met in a respectful manner. “I don’t think any of us have an issue with stating our opinion … (The citizens) are tired of the fighting and the bickering … I don’t think you’re going to see any of that in the next four years. We certainly won’t ‘take it outside,'” Fitts said, citing a comment passed at a City Council meeting earlier this year.

BKP added that he saw a “good balance” with the new council and cited Herndon’s unbiased voting record as another positive moving into the next term.

When asked about issues that have plagued the city over the last two terms, veteran council member Thomas said she wants to see a long-term solution to the downtown parking situation addressed by the new council. Thomas again put forth the idea of building a parking deck to alleviate congestion. She also said downtown flooding was another major concern facing the new council.

“This has to be resolved. This is a major issue when people’s homes are flooding,” Thomas explained.

Among other ideas for the future of the council and the city, Cornelius stated she would like to initiate a quarterly town hall meeting with the citizens of Blue Ridge, and Fitts said the council will be looking into grant options to provide funding for infrastructure improvement. Gaddis also added “re-evaluat(ing) the city attorney (David Syfan), right out of the gate” would be another concern the council will soon address.

Adding his thoughts, BKP provided three suggestions, or “requests,” to the incoming council. First, he suggested staggering the elections, having an election for three council members in two years followed by elections of the other two council members and the mayor two years later. Next, he recommended looking at either a strong-mayor as city CEO system or a weak-mayor system along with a city manager. Currently, Blue Ridge operates under a weak-mayor system without a city manager in which the mayor has no authority outside the council. Lastly, BKP encouraged the new council to give more voice to the citizens in public meetings.

For the entire segment featuring the newly elected Blue Ridge City Council on Good Morning from Blue Jeans Pizza with BKP, watch FYN TV. And for up-to-date coverage of the council and the city of Blue Ridge, continue to follow FetchYourNews.com.

 

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

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Blue Ridge election results: Whitener, Herndon, Thomas re-elected, Gaddis, Cornelius, Fitts will join

Election, News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Unofficial results from the Blue Ridge Mayoral and City Council elections were tallied late Tuesday evening, Nov. 7, at City Hall.

After six hotly contested races, Mayor Donna Whitener, Post 1 City Council Member Harold Herndon and Post 2 City Council Member Rhonda Thomas retained positions while candidates Kenneth Gaddis, Robbie Cornelius and Nathan Fitts will all take oaths as Post 3, 4 and 5 city council members, respectively, in January.

Incumbent Whitener defeated local business owner Brendan Doyle 288 to 185 in the mayor’s race. Whitener described the night’s results as “extremely exciting.”

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Mayor, Election 2017, Donna Whitener, Blue Ridge City Council

Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener

“I have a really good council going in. They have lots of experience, lots of knowledge. They’re going to bring a lot to the table at Blue Ridge. I can’t wait for the next four years,” the mayor stated. “We’re going to focus on infrastructure. We have some serious issues there (with) upgrading infrastructure (and) the same thing we’ve been doing: paving roads. We’re going to continue to keep working toward keeping a vibrant downtown.”

Herndon was re-elected in what became an uncontested contest after candidate Jane Whaley failed to qualify for the election because of city residency requirements and the Georgia Supreme Court ultimately denied her appeal of city Election Superintendent Barbie Gerald’s ruling to remove Whaley from the ballot following a Sept. 25 hearing with Whaley, her attorney, Frank Moore, and City Attorney David Syfan. Herndon received 317 total votes in the election while several uncounted ballots cast showed abstention in the Post 1 election, according to Gerald.

Blue Ridge City Council, Election 2017, Post 1, Harold Herndon, Fannin County, Georgia

Post 1 City Council Member Harold Herndon

The Post 1 incumbent said he was “looking forward to another four years” on the council.

“We’ll just see how things work out. You just never know – no matter who it is or where they come from – whether you’re going to get along with them or not or whether you share some of the same opinions,” Herndon said of the council elect.

While admitting the new council had several challenges on the horizon, Herndon explained, “You’ve got to look at finances and see how (the city is) sitting … There’s a lot of things that have to come together before you can even come to a decision about what you might be able to do.”

Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Gergia, Rhonda Thomas, Post 2, Election 2017

Post 2 Council Member Rhonda Thomas

In the Post 2 race, incumbent Rhonda Thomas won over downtown business owner Angelina Powell with 255 votes to Powell’s 223. After the final tally, Thomas said she was “thrilled with the results.”

“I think everyone who will be on this council are going to do a fabulous job. It’s a diverse group of people who have great ideas, and we’re going to come together for the benefit of the city, for the residents and for the businesses, and we’re going to make a difference,” Thomas stated. “Blue Ridge should be excited about their choices.”

Citing parking and city infrastructure improvement as key challenges facing the new council, Thomas was optimistic of the city’s future. “You’ll see a huge difference in this city in the next four years,” she added.

Whitener, Herndon and Thomas will all be entering their third terms, each having served since 2010.

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 3, Kenneth Gaddis, Fannin County, Georgia

Post 3 Council Member Elect Kenneth Gaddis

Challenger Gaddis defeated incumbent Angie Arp in the Post 3 race taking 288 votes to Arp’s 186. “It feels great; it feels amazing,” council member elect Gaddis said after his win.

“I’m excited to work with the citizens. That’s my key. We are a council, but we are working with the citizens,” Gaddis added.

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Election, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs

Post 4 Council Member Elect Robbie Cornelius

Receiving 255 votes to Mike Jacobs’ 205, Cornelius won the open seat of Post 4.

Cornelius shared the sentiments of all the other winning candidates of the night and was excited to begin on the city council. Relieved that the campaign was over, Cornelius laughed, “I’m tired. I’ve been out in the rain all day (campaigning).”

In the closest race of the night, Fitts overtook David Stuart by 20 votes, receiving a total of 244 in the open contest for Post 5.

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Fannin County, Georgia

Post 5 Council Member Elect Nathan Fitts

“We’re going to work on parking (and) the infrastructure of the water lines and sewer lines,” the council member elect said of city needs. “Hopefully, we can make it so streamlined we can all get along and do things a little more professionally.”

According to Gerald, 486 total ballots were cast in the 2017 election. Of that sum, 221 ballots were cast on Election Day, 229 were early voting and 36 were absentees. “If I’m not mistaken, that’s probably a record (turnout),” Gerald said of the election.

For continual coverage of the Blue Ridge City Council, stay with FetchYourNews.com.

 

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

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

The Results Are In

Election, News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – The polls have closed and the ballots have been counted in Blue Ridge.  Citizens filled City Hall on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, to hear the outcome of several months of campaigning.

The race for Mayor and City Council of Blue Ridge was a long fought battle for many of  the candidates, and the unofficial results are in.

As it stands, you can expect to see the following faces representing the residents of Blue Ridge in January:

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Fannin County, Georgia

Mayor Elect Donna Whitener

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 1, Harold Herndon, Fannin County, Georgia

City Council Post 1 Elect Harold Herndon

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 2, Rhonda Thomas, Fannin County, Georgia

City Council Post 2 Elect Rhonda Thomas

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 3, Kenneth Gaddis, Fannin County, Georgia

City Council Elect Post 3 Kenneth Gaddis

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Election, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs

City Council Post 4 Elect Robbie Cornelius

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Fannin County, Georgia

City Council Post 5 Elect Nathan Fitts

 

 

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

Blue Ridge City Election Results

Election, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Polls are set to close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. After a very public campaign, Blue Ridge residents will get to know who will represent them for the next four years.

Counting of the votes will begin at approximately 7:10 p.m., and results will be announced in the race for Blue Ridge City Council and Mayor.

Follow FetchYourNews for updates live from Blue Ridge City Hall.

 

***Update 7:20 p.m.***  Electronic Ballots have been tallied. Currently the votes stand at:

Mayor :   Donna Whitener (I) 113       Brendan Doyle (C) 103

Post 1:     Harold Herndon  (I)  159

Post 2:     Rhonda Thomas (I)  91        Angelina Powell (C)  126

Post 3:     Angie Arp (I)  101                  Kenneth Gaddis (C)  116

Post 4:     Robbie Cornelius   107          Mike Jacobs    100

Post 5:     Nathan Fitts  100                   David Stuart  112

 

***Update 9:00 p.m.*** Paper Ballots have been tallied. (Number of votes include electronic voting previously tallied.)

Mayor :   Donna Whitener (I) 288       Brendan Doyle (C) 185

Post 1:     Harold Herndon  (I)  317

Post 2:     Rhonda Thomas (I)  255        Angelina Powell (C)  223

Post 3:     Angie Arp (I)  186                  Kenneth Gaddis (C)  288

Post 4:     Robbie Cornelius     255        Mike Jacobs    205

Post 5:     Nathan Fitts  244                   David Stuart  224

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Brendan Doyle

Candidates for Mayor. (L) Incumbent Donna Whitener (R) Challenger Brendan Doyle

 

Unchallenged City Council Post 1 Harold Herndon

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 2, Election 2017, Rhonda Thomas, Angelena Powell

Candidates for City Council Post 2 (L) Incumbent Rhonda Thomas (R) Challenger Angelina Powell

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Election 2017, Post 3, Kenneth Gaddis, Angie Arp

Candidates for City Council Post 3 (L) Challenger Kenneth Gaddis (L) Angie Arp

 

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Election, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs

Candidates for City Council Post 4 (L) Robbie Cornelius (R) Mike Jacobs

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Post 5, Election, Nathan Fitts, David Staurt

Candidate for City Council Post 5 (L) David Stuart (R) Nathan Fitts

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Latest Wolf Report and 2018 Blue Ridge City Council Agenda Suggestions

Election, GMFTO

What issues do you feel should be on the first agenda for the “new” 2018 Blue Ridge City Council? BKP has a few suggestions for them. Hear what his suggestions are and send us any that you feel should be on there as well. Also, you do not want to miss BKP’s “wolf watch” update!

Re-Elect Donna Whitener Mayor of Blue Ridge ~ Commitment * Leadership * Results

Politics

 

Commitment                Leadership♦                 ♦Results

Mayor Donna Whitener

I am asking for your support as I seek a third term as Mayor of the City of Blue Ridge. I am a lifelong resident of Fannin County and the proud mother of three children: Brandon, Eric, and Kristan. I am ‘Grammy’ to two beautiful granddaughters, Lily and Claire. I am the owner of Town & Country Furniture where I employee 25 people. My parents started the store in 1961, and I proudly carry on their legacy today.

I am committed to the City of Blue Ridge. I have an open door policy, an ear ready to listen, and my hope is that you find me approachable and reachable.

Throughout my eight years of service, I have learned that developing positive relationships with city, county and state leadership is critical to community growth. I have also learned that businesses need confidence not uncertainty in order to succeed. You deserve a stable, supportive local government, and I want to provide that stability.

In 2010, I inherited a city impacted by an economic downtown. It took over a year and a half for the city to recover financially. We lost jobs and construction projects, but the tourism industry grew steadily year to year. Today, we have a vibrant downtown, which has resulted in increased tourism, a growing economy, and job creation. There is no better place than our quaint mountain town to enjoy Mother Nature and to shop, dine, explore, relax, and live. I am proud that approximately 4,500 people are employed in our city. I am grateful to the business owners who have invested their time and money in Blue Ridge.

During my term, taxpayers received a reduction in the millage rate four times. We received over $7 million dollars in grant money allowing us to make improvements that would have otherwise been impossible. We received two Community Development Block Grants used for street, water, and sewer improvements in residential areas. We also accomplished three Streetscape Projects and will be starting our fourth one. Roads have been paved, water and sewer lines replaced, two new water storage tanks built, and we’ve had a complete overhaul of our water plant.

Moving forward, I support the development of a master plan that manages city resources while anticipating future growth. Other priorities include updating the city’s infrastructure and the development of a comprehensive parking plan.

In addition to my responsibilities as mayor, I believe it is important for me to give back in service to other organizations. I am a member of the Governing Board of Highland Rivers Health and serve on the Board of Directors of the Appalachian Children’s Center. I am in my second year of service on the Legislative Policy Council of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). I served for three terms on GMA’s District Board, including service as District Board President. I also serve on the Board of the Fannin County Health Department. I am a proud supporter of Special Olympics, Feed Fannin, Snack in a Backpack, and many more organizations that serve our community.

Without proper management, a city can find itself upside down quickly. This is why I want to continue working for you. Re-elect Donna Whitener, Mayor of the City of Blue Ridge.

Whaley plans to Appeal to Georgia Supreme Court

Election, News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Judge Winegarden denied the first appeal on behalf of Jane Whaley and the decision to disqualify her as candidate for Blue Ridge City Council Post One.

On Friday, October, 13, 2017, an appeal hearing was held at the Fannin County Courthouse. The case was heard by Judge Richard Winegarden due to the recusal of the Superior Court Judges who serve in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit which includes Fannin County Superior Court.

City Council Post One Candidate Jane Whaley was found ineligible to run after a hearing questioning her residence was held on Monday, September 25, 2017.

Election Superintendent Barbie Gerald was tasked with this initial decision, and decided to disqualify Whaley based on evidence presented. Gerald stated in a letter explaining the decision, “Under Mrs. Whaley’s own testimony, she did not reside within the city for the 12 month period.”

Whaley publicly stated shortly after the decision, “I believe I am a legitimate candidate, and I am going to appeal this decision.”

Whaley’s attorney Frank Moore filed an appeal on the decision to disqualify Whaley reciting that Georgia is a domicile state, and under that definition intent to dwell qualifies as residency.

The hearing on October 13, began at 5:00 P.M. and lasted until 9:00 P.M. Judge Winegarden heard arguments from both sides, Moore representing on Whaley’s behalf and City Attorney David Syfan representing the decision made by Gerald.

After hearing the evidence presented, Winegarden denied the appeal. He found “that the determining of the Election Superintendent should be affirmed.”

Moore requested a stay on Winegarden’s decision at that time. This would allow Whaley’s name to continue to be on November 7, 2017, election ballots, and give time for the Georgia Supreme Court to hear the case.

Winegarden did not grant this request, but Moore is hopeful that the Georgia Supreme Court will issue a stay if granted a hearing on the appeal.

Moore is preparing a request for an appeal of the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court. He expects to have this request entered by Tuesday or Wednesday, October 17th / 18th.

Campaign signs supporting the candidacy of Jane Whaley have recently been removed from the City of Blue Ridge. Moore also sent a request that these signs be put back up while Whaley continues her appeal process.

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