‘Misinformation,’ tiny homes addressed by commissioners

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – During the Tuesday, April 24, Fannin County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board discussed what was described as “misinformation” circulating throughout the county and put a six-month moratorium on tiny homes in the county.

Immediately following public commentary, Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee took a moment to address recent comments circulating in the community that suggest the county needs to create a five-year comprehensive plan. Sosebee clarified the county already has a 10-year joint comprehensive plan in place together with the municipalities of Blue Ridge, McCaysville and Morganton, which was created under the guidance of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission (NWGRC).

“Without this document (comprehensive plan) right here, we couldn’t get grants. We couldn’t have got the water grant we got. We couldn’t get LMIG (Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant) money to research the roads,” Sosebee added.

Sosebee also stated the source of these comments estimated the population of Fannin County would reach 40,000 within the next few years.

“Well, that’s a lot of people for a county that’s surrounded by forest service land and can’t contain that many people,” Sosebee said.

According to the NWGRC, as noted by Sosebee, Fannin’s population is expected to peak at 24,349 by 2030.

Chairman Stan Helton explained the 10-year comprehensive is a 161-page document that is available to the public through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs at the www.dca.ga.gov.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson stated, “I know sometimes people accidentally spread misinformation, but I want everyone to realize that when you speak information as if it’s true, it affects people who are serving this county. And I don’t like it reflecting negatively on me, myself, that this county doesn’t have a plan in place.”

Later, county Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham, Fire Chief Larry Thomas, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne, and Deputy Director of E911 Patrick Cooke came to the podium as County Attorney Lynn Doss opened three sealed bids for the purchase of three specialized desks for 911 dispatchers at the forthcoming public safety complex on Windy Ridge Road.

As Doss opened the bids, two were revealed to be duplicates bids from Watson Consoles, of Matthews, North Carolina. The Watson bid was for a total of $49,739.23, which includes $37,116.23 for the product, $9,517 for installation, and $3,106 for freight.

The other bid, from Xybix, of Littleton, Colorado, gave a total of $44,257.42, which includes $2,314.74 for sales tax, $4,100 for freight, and $4,775 for installation. Doss explained because the county is tax exempt, the total cost of the Xybix bid would more accurately be just under $42,000.

After Johnson asked Graham if EMA would need to review the specifications of the bids and the director affirmed that the department would, the bids were tabled to the next meeting for approval.

Following this, the conversation again turned to “misinformation,” this time concerning the Fannin County EMA and Fire Department (FCFD).

Certificate of Compliance from the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Counsel for Fannin County Fire Department.

“As stated earlier, there’s been some misinformation out in the public,” Graham said, “that our fire department may not be in compliance with state and federal standards, and I just want to clear that up a little bit. We are in complete compliance with Georgia Fire Safety Training Center, which is the organization that certifies fire departments in the state of Georgia. We actually have a certificate hanging on the wall at each fire station to say that we’re in compliance.”

Showing the one of the certificates to the commissioners, Graham explained although the certificate is dated 2004, the certification remains with the department unless that department becomes non-compliant. Though Graham admitted the department does rely heavily on volunteer firefighters, FCFD has “30 full-time paid employees whose duties include fire fighting, and we have never had a fire call go unanswered.”

Graham also stated the EMA currently has seven total ambulances, four of which are on-duty ambulances and three are make-up ambulances.

After Helton asked about the prospect of doubling the number of firefighters and the cost involved, both Director Graham and Chief Thomas estimated the added cost would be around $1.5 million annually for personnel along with further costs for facility upgrades.

“It’s a shame – by one person spewing misinformation – it is a shame that you have to stand here and talk about this,” Commissioner Johnson told Graham, Thomas, Payne and Cooke. “They know that we’ve had plans, they know exactly that we are state-certified … It’s a shame to me that you have to stand here and defend yourselves over something that one person in an interview just felt like he had to say … All of you have been in government a long time. It’s just election time … I appreciate you all coming up here taking your time and explaining, trying to make the people feel comfortable again.”

In other business, Chief Land Development Officer Marie Woody addressed the board on the prospect of enacting a tiny home ordinance. At the April 10 commissioners meeting, Woody and the board opened a discussion regarding tiny homes but tabled that discussion to the next meeting.

A finished, prefabricated tiny home.

On Tuesday, Woody stated Fannin is one of only four counties (Fannin, Lumpkin, Towns and Union) north of Cherokee County, Georgia, that has not passed some form of zoning. She also added that in surveying 15 nearby counties, none of the counties have specific ordinances on tiny homes and eight are currently considering tiny home ordinances, but of those eight, most have not yet decided on the square footage requirements.

Helton stated one subdivision development for tiny homes was already in the works in the county.

“We do not want to pull the rug out from under him with the investment he’s already made,” Helton said of the developer of the proposed subdivision, “but as we go forward, the concern would be that we don’t want something that is going to negatively affect other property owners in Fannin County.”

When asked about the minimum size of lots currently allowed by the county, Woody stated for a fresh tract of land with its own water and sewer system, lots could be subdivided as small as a one-third (0.33) of an acre though land development recommends no less than a 0.55-acre lot. For separate lots with water wells and septic systems, Woody explained the county recommends between 1.33-acre and 1.5-acre lots.

Johnson stated he was not so much concerned with the size of tiny homes as he was with the size of lots within potential developments and subdivisions for tiny homes.

Helton proposed to the post commissioners the idea of placing a moratorium on building tiny home subdivisions and developments and asked the commissioners for input on an exact time frame for the moratorium. After discussion, it was decided and approved unanimously to enact the moratorium for six months beginning July 1, 2018.

Robin Gazaway, county finance director, presented the monthly budget update for the county through March 31. Overall, according to Gazaway, the county is 25 percent through the fiscal year and 22 percent of its budget has been expended, leaving the county $829,415 under budget.

Departments seeing significant under-budget amounts were Public Roads ($557,168 under budget), Sheriff’s Office ($89,520 under), and Recreations ($27,148 under). Gazaway stated two departments were currently over budget – Fire/EMS/EMA ($34,983 over budget) and Tax Assessors ($18,257 over). She explained Fire/EMS/EMA was over budget because of an ambulance purchase early in the year and the Tax Assessors department was over budget because of the purchase of two vehicles but added that both departments are expected to balance out before the end of the year. The Recreation department was reported to have a $80,768 revenue, which Gazaway stated was due to the collection of gate receipts and increased concessions.

Also, Gazaway said both Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) collections were up for the year as of March 31. LOST collections, according to Gazaway, stood at $916,490.42 compared to $867,439.17 in the first quarter of 2017. SPLOST collections were $1,209,712.71 as opposed to $1,145,146.18 last year.

After an executive session, the commissioners reconvened and approved three decisions.

The board approved a filing in Superior Court to abate a public safety nuisance on Ada Street. Last month, the board unanimously approved a property on Ada Street to be dilapidated and for it to be condemned.

Also, the board approved to forward with bringing an unauthorized junkyard on Mobile Road into compliance with county ordinances.

Lastly, the board granted Rene Hamby’s transfer to the Public Works department and approved the hiring of Lauren Hein as the new human resources director for county government.

[Featured image: Members of the Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and Fire Department display a Certificate of Compliance from the state. Seen here are, from left, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne, Fire Chief Larry Thomas, Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham, and Deputy Director of E911 Patrick Cooke.]

 

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.

BREAKING: Downtown Blue Ridge experiencing water crisis

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Currently, much of downtown Blue Ridge is experiencing a widespread water outage after a contractor working at a site near Blue Ridge Elementary School struck and damaged a water main earlier this evening, according to Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham.

Graham stated Rebecca Harkins, director of Water and Utilities for the city of Blue Ridge, contacted him telling of the emergency. Harkins stated crews from the city were working to repair the line but that it could be hours before water could be fully restored to downtown Blue Ridge.

Continue to follow FetchYourNews as more details on the Blue Ridge water situation emerge.

 

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.

City officials meet with county, school representatives over construction projects

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener and Utility Supervisor Becky Harkins sat down with officials from the county and the Fannin County Board of Education (FCBOE) as well as County and FCBOE Attorney Lynn Doss and engineers and contractors Tuesday, Dec. 19.

The meeting, as Harkins explained, was a pre-construction meeting that should have taken place before construction began on both the Fannin County Agriculture and Environmental Science Facility and the county’s public safety complex. The city requires a number of pre-construction items to be completed before a construction project is allowed to tap into city water lines. Harkins stated after former Director of Land Development Roy Parsons retired unexpectedly earlier in the year, the pre-construction meeting “fell off the grid (and) didn’t take place” before both entities began construction on their respective projects.

“Our agenda today is to get everybody the information they need in order move forward in a timely manner so that you can complete your projects on time and the lines are up to city development standards so that when you’re done, we can complete the process of taking those lines over, which was the desired attempt from the beginning,” Harkins said.

Harkins distributed a project checklist for everyone present, who included Fannin County Board of Commissioners Chairman Stan Helton, Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham, Fannin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney and Fannin County Schools Facility and Maintenance Director Danny Shinpaugh.

The most pressing issue on the checklist is receiving approval from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) for the water main extension from Ada Street to Windy Ridge Road. According to Harkins, whenever the city or an independent developer extends a water line for which the city will eventually assume responsibility, the plans must be approved by the EPD as required by the state.

Part of the purpose of the meeting was to determine which entity – the school system or the county – would be responsible for submitting plans to EPD for approval.

Southern Architects and Engineers (A&E) is the engineering firm charged with the construction of the agriculture facility, and Michael Waldbillig, vice president of mechanical engineering for Southern A&E, explained the main extension from Ada will directly service the agriculture facility with the public safety complex line later tapping into the Ag building line at the first manhole after the extension from the existing city line.

Waldbillig inevitably agreed to send the plans for the extension to EPD since the immediate extension from the existing city line will be tied directly to the agriculture facility. Harkins also requested for the plans to be forwarded to the city for final review before Waldbillig sent the plans to EPD, which Waldbillig agreed to do.

Also, during the meeting, a meter vault located at the forthcoming public safety complex was discussed. It was revealed that an additional meter would need to be installed in the vault and the vault would have to be modified. According to EMA Director Graham, the vault, as originally designed, was not large enough to hold a fire line meter.

Graham confirmed that the modification of the vault would increase the overall cost of the public safety complex, but that the county would likely speak with representatives from R Design Works, the engineering firm that designed the public safety complex, and request that the firm cover the costs for the modification.

As far as any delays to the completion of the complex, Graham stated construction was still on schedule despite the need to modify the meter vault, and the projected completion date remains at the end of May 2018.

Regarding the continued construction of the school system’s agriculture facility, Gwatney and Shinpaugh both agreed that they did not anticipate any delays or additional costs to result from the city’s requirements concerning the water main extension and construction would continue as planned. Although the anticipated date of completion for the project is planned for sometime near the end of the school year, Shinpaugh did add that inclement weather in the coming months could be a factor in the construction process of the facility.

 

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.

Fannin County Health Department receives Car Seat Mini-Grant

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Health Department, along with other county health departments across north Georgia, has been awarded 2018 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health Injury Prevention Program, according to Jennifer King, public information officer for the North Georgia Health District.

The purpose of the grant is to enable county health departments to provide financially eligible families with car seats and education on proper use.

“This program is funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help ensure Georgia’s children are safe while riding in motor vehicles,” King said in a press release. “Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, and they are most effective when installed and used correctly. Nearly three out of every four car seats are not used properly, placing children at unnecessary risk.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 years in passenger cars. In Georgia alone, an estimated 344 children involved in crashes have been saved from serious injury or death since 2007 from the use of the proper use car seats or booster seats provided through the mini-grant, King added.

“The Car Seat Mini-Grant helps us meet the responsibility of keeping our children safe here in North Georgia,” Marie Smith, nursing director for the North Georgia Health District, said. “It provides us the opportunity to work with partners in each of our communities to help protect our children from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes.”

Over 130 counties across Georgia benefited from the Car Seat Mini-Grant. For the counties receiving the mini-grant, the respective health departments of those counties along with partnering agencies offer education to parents on proper installation and use of car seats and booster seats.

“Each county health department receives up to six convertible car seats and four high-back booster seats to have on stock each month to supply to eligible families,” King explained, “so, as the seats are given away, the health department can order more seats to maintain their monthly inventory. Health department staff demonstrates proper installation of the seats when they provide them to the families. They also do free car seat checks for people who already have child car seats to make sure the seats are appropriately safe and are properly installed.”

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.

UPDATE: Winter Storm Inga incoming, early release for schools, county offices

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PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. – UPDATE: The impending threat of a fast-moving winter storm has prompted Fannin County Schools to issue a three-hour early release of students at all schools within the system Tuesday, Jan. 16, according to the Fannin County Schools information hotline.

In addition, all Fannin County Government, Blue Ridge City Government, and McCaysville City Government offices will close at 3 p.m. this afternoon and will delay opening Wednesday, Jan. 17, until 10 a.m. due to expected snow.

The tail of an Alberta clipper is expected to impact parts of north Georgia and the surrounding region as early as tomorrow afternoon, bringing with it up to an inch of snow and bitter cold temperatures. The winter storm named Inga has prompted the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia, to issue a winter weather advisory for north Georgia.

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Peachtree City GA
2:25 PM EST Mon Jan 15 2018
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM TUESDAY TO 7 AM
EST WEDNESDAY…

* WHAT…Snow expected along with very cold wind chill values.
Total snow amounts of around 1 inch with isolated higher amounts
in the mountains. Wind chill values will drop the single digits
Tuesday evening, and to zero to 5 below after midnight Tuesday
night.

* WHERE…Much of north Georgia generally along and north of a
line from Cedartown to Jasper to Hiawassee.

* WHEN…From 10 AM Tuesday to 7 AM EST Wednesday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Light snow will develop across northwest
Georgia late Tuesday morning and spread across the rest of north
Georgia Tuesday afternoon. The snow is expected to end Tuesday
night, however strong northwest winds will be dropping wind
chill values to dangerous levels.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means periods of snow will
cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered
roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.
Also, cold wind chills as low as 5 below zero will cause
frostbite in as little as 30 minutes to exposed skin.

 

In Fannin County Monday morning, road crews were anticipating for what could be another crippling winter weather threat. Zack Ratcliff, director of Public Works, stated the county has 300 tons of salt at the garage on Aska Road and all available trucks are mounted and ready to treat county roads.

“Everything is pretty much ready to go, and right now, we’re just watching the weather,” Ratcliff said Monday of his crews’ readiness for the weather event.

Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham also shared similar confidence in the county emergency personnel’s readiness for a possible weather event and abilities of the county’s emergency vehicles and equipment.

Continue to follow FetchYourNews for up-to-date advisories, watches or warnings from the National Weather Service as well as school, office and business closings and delays announced throughout the county.

 

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.

Johnson on BOC: ‘We’re going down a bad road’

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – In what Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson described as a “bad nightmare,” the county Board of Commissioners addressed the notion of increasing the chairman’s spending limit from $4,500 to $25,000 during the commissioners meeting Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Currently, BOC Chairman Stan Helton is allowed to approve county expenditures less than $4,500 himself without the approval of either Johnson or Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee. Expenditures greater than that amount require signatures from two of the three commissioners. The potential approval of the spending limit increase would have upped that amount to $25,000.

Helton cited Fannin County’s most recent audit, which listed the number of invoices needing Board approval as a “material weakness,” as a primary reason for the potential change in procedure. Helton also stated that about 400 checks this year have required Board approval. The chairman also read from the audit that “the approved purchase order policies and procedures are not being followed. Purchase orders are being obtained subsequent to the purchase.”

“In other words, we’re signing the checks after the fact,” Helton explained in his own words. In addition, he referenced surrounding counties – though no specifics were given – as other entities with higher chairman spending limits.

In follow-up interviews with both Sosebee and Johnson, neither commissioner could explain Helton’s reasoning for wanting to increase the spending limit as an effort to correct the audit deficiency. When reached for comment, Chairman Helton explained he felt a higher spending limit would increase payment efficiency and cut down 75 percent of the invoices that must be processed by commission approval. “The $4,500 spending limit creates a bottleneck of invoices that requires the county to chase down one of the other post commissioners for approval,” Helton said.

“I’ll just go ahead and tell you no,” Johnson said in the meeting after Helton asked the post commissioners for their input. “All these counties we’re comparing them to as well, the county attorneys work for the Board of Commissioners, so that’s how that kind of offsets that balance of power. If I have a problem or a question with an expenditure – if I’m in Pickens or Gilmer county – I can go to the county attorney … and I can get an answer that’s not biased. In Fannin County, our county attorney (Lynn Doss) still works for the chairman.”

Johnson later explained Pickens’ chairman spending limit is currently $25,000 and Gilmer’s limit is $50,000. He also referred to instances of former Chairman Bill Simonds overspending his limit, and when Johnson questioned Simonds’ ability to do this in the past, he said he did not receive a reasonable explanation from County Attorney Doss.

Sosebee agreed with Johnson saying, “I’m not for raising (the limit) at any level right now … Like Mr. Johnson said, this is Fannin County. We’re not in debt. Millage rate’s lower than any other county … We just went down this road (with the previous administration) and I don’t intend to walk it again.”

Sosebee also pointed out that in Helton’s campaign for the office, the current chairman advocated for controlling former Chairman Simonds’ spending limit.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson

Johnson added he was beginning to see a “pattern going in the wrong way” developing with too many “tweaks” during Helton’s administration, citing specifically the post commissioners’ commentary being taken off the agenda and Helton’s request for all comments to be addressed to him as stated on the commissioners meeting agendas.

The discussion quickly evolved into Johnson requesting moves be taken by the Board to allow Doss to represent the entire Board of Commissioners and not just the chairman. Helton explained he has encouraged Doss to communicate with the post commissioners and Doss said she had emailed both posts and had spoken with Sosebee about issues in the past.

Later, Johnson made a motion four times to take steps to amend the county’s structure to allow Doss to represent the entire Board, the first of which was seconded by Sosebee. Sosebee did not second any of Johnson’s subsequent motions after the chairman stated he had neither asked for a motion nor a second.

Helton resisted the motions calling his position the “most constitutionally weak chairman this county’s ever had” and added he was not in favor of weakening the position ever further. When the notion of evoking home rule was addressed, Johnson stated he would like to consult the county attorney on the matter but could not because she did not work for the full commission.

After Helton told the post commissioners the only motion he would entertain would be a motion to adjourn, the chairman made such a motion, but Johnson and Sosebee refused to second it. At this point, the meeting reached an impasse.

“To put this situation about changing the county attorney here on the spot like this is unacceptable,” Helton told Johnson. “Now we can sit here all night.”

Reconvening after a five-minute recess, Johnson said he wanted to make an example for everyone to see the “pickle” in which the post commissioners are put by not having the same level of legal representation from the county attorney that the chairman has.

“Everything’s about the chairman,” Johnson continued, “even our minutes. The only minutes that our clerk (Karen Jones) has recorded is what the chairman says … I do paving for a living and I don’t pave over a bad road. And we’re going down a bad road.”

Commission Chairman Stan Helton

After Helton again made a motion to adjourn, Sosebee seconded the motion under the provision that the county attorney issue be revisited at the next meeting. Helton agreed to this and the meeting adjourned.

Ultimately, no decision was made to increase the chairman’s spending limit, but Helton said he would personally examine ways to resolve the issue to comply with the standards of the audit.

Prior to this discussion, several items of business were addressed. Robert Graham, director of Fannin’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA), requested the purchase of a new ambulance for the county’s fleet. Graham informed the Board if the ambulance were ordered now, the contractor would honor the 2017 price of $124,280, which would result in savings of $4,000 to $5,000 for the county by not waiting until next year to make the purchase. Graham clarified the ambulance would be a second ordered ambulance after the county approved the purchase of a previous ambulance earlier this year. The Board unanimously approved the expenditure and Graham stated the county can expect the ambulance to be delivered by early February 2018. Also, he said the expenditure would come out of the 2018 budget.

Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas requested the purchase of a used fire engine for $45,000 to replace Engine 13. Thomas said officials from the Fannin Fire Department had inspected the used engine and found it to be in “sound order.” The incoming engine will be used as a frontline engine, Thomas said, and Engine 13 would then be used as a tanker. The funds for the expenditure will come from the department’s 2017 capital outlay and the department would have a $17,000 balance remaining, according to Helton. The purchase was unanimously approved.

Also, the Board approved and instituted ACCG as the cancer insurance provider for the county’s fire department. In May, Georgia lawmakers passed House Bill 146, which mandates that fire departments provide firefighters with insurance benefits should they contract cancer while as a result of work conditions.

Several citizens spoke in public commentary concerning issues with Fannin County Animal Control and the recent incident in which two German shepherds were inadvertently turned over to an individual claiming to be the dogs’ rightful owner but was not. For a detailed account, please continue to follow FetchYourNews for the story covering the public commentary.

Public Works Director and Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) board member Zack Ratcliff requested the purchase of a used trackhoe excavator for the Public Works department that the FCWA is selling for $42,000. Post Commissioners Sosebee and Johnson both rejected the purchase.

“I feel like we’ve got enough equipment out there right now than what we’ve got people to run it,” Sosebee told Ratcliff.

“I, for one, don’t why the Water Authority is selling it to begin with. Secondly, I don’t think we need it,” Johnson stated.

Chairman Helton gave no indication as to his thoughts on the purchase.

For the Recreation Department, the Board approved a bid of $8,735 from Praters Flooring to resurface the gymnasium floor at the Recreation Center. Recreation Director Eddie O’Neal said the project is slated to start Dec. 13 and the gymnasium will likely have to remain closed until Monday, Dec. 18.

Project Chimps, which provides a sanctuary for retired chimpanzees used in private research labs, will receive 10 additional chimpanzees after the Board approved a permit allowing for the additional group. The chimpanzees are expected to arrive at the sanctuary by Dec. 12.

From left, Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson, PruittHealth Community Relations Representative Brad Watkins, Chairman Stan Helton, PruittHealth Community Relations Representative Amy Beavers, PruittHealth Administrator Kelly Floyd, PruittHealth Administrator Dana Cole and Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee.

Representatives were present from PruittHealth of Blue Ridge for a proclamation declaring November to be Hospice and Home Health Month in Fannin County to encourage citizens to increase the awareness and importance of home health services both locally and nationally.

 

 

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.

Downtown Blue Ridge Natural Gas Leak

Downtown Blue Ridge, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Crews continue to work on a Natural Gas leak reported earlier this morning. City workers hit a natural gas line on West First Street prompting a mandatory evacuation in the area.

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Natural Gas Leak, Larry Thomas, Fire Chief

Crews are on the scene of Natural Gas leak downtown.

Atlanta Gas Light officials along with Fannin County emergency personnel are on the scene to address the issue.

“We have a dig crew here now to get the line clamped off.” Fire Chief Larry Thomas explained about the progress on the situation.

Thomas went on, “It’s not as simple as just turning off the gas to the line. That would disrupt a large area of our county.”

A crew from Atlanta Gas Light is presently digging an area near the break.

“Once they can get the line uncovered, they can clamp it off and begin work to repair the broken line,” Thomas added.

When the clamp is in place, repairs are expected to move quickly.

Fire Chief Larry Thomas and Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham are monitoring the situation closely and have notified Fannin County School System (FCSS) that it is safe to start returning students and staff to Blue Ridge Elementary.

FCSS sent out the following message:

We have received clearance from public safety officials that we may now return Blue Ridge Elementary students to their campus. Students are being transported from Fannin County High School back to Blue Ridge Elementary at this time. The usual end of the day procedures for parent pick up and bus dismissal will be followed at all schools with no changes. Again, Blue Ridge Elementary students are returning to their campus now, and when the school day ends today, all schools will dismiss at the usual time using their normal afternoon procedures. Thank you.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Fannin County Schools Exceed Safety Expectations

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Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, GEMA, FEMA, Michael Ruple, EMA Director Robert Graham, Lt. Darvin Couch

BLUE RIDGE, GA – School safety was a reoccurring theme at September’s Board of Education meeting. Fannin County Schools had been put to the test and passed when it comes to the safety of the children.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, GEMA, FEMA, Michael Ruple, EMA Director Robert Graham, Lt. Darvin Couch

Fannin County Schools were awarded certificates for safety.

Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security agent Michael Ruple was present along with school resource officer Lt. Darvin Couch to announce that our school system had passed all safety criteria outlined by the State of Georgia.

Ruple stated that, “School safety is a huge issue. What we try to do is an all hazard approach. Preparing for things we can foresee and prevent.”

Each school was presented with a certificate to acknowledge this success. Ruple said that these certificates recognize that our school system has “met and exceeded Georgia law.”

Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham was also there to present each school in our area with two new weather alert radios.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, GEMA, FEMA, Michael Ruple, EMA Director Robert Graham, Lt. Darvin Couch

EMA Director Robert Graham gives schools new weather alert radios.

Graham stated that, “As a result of the flooding in December 2015, we were able to successfully apply for a grant from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).”

Having secured the grant Fannin County has acquired 692 new weather alert radios. Graham is hoping to start a campaign beginning next month that would provide these radios to flood prone areas.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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