Four life-flighted after car accident on Scenic Drive

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A head on collision left four adults having to be emergency flighted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Car Accident, Automobile Accident, Scenic Drive, Erlanger Hospital, Life Fore, Fannin County Emergency Management, Fannin County Fire Department, First Responders, Georgia State Patrol, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, James Dickey, Gary Patterson, Kimberly Patterson, Heather Seigler

Scene of head on collision on Scenic Drive.

James Dickey of Blue Ridge, Ga., was traveling southbound on Scenic Drive shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 7. Dickey had with him passengers, Gary Patterson (Blue Ridge) and Kimberly Patterson (Blue Ridge).

Dickey’s Ford F-150 crossed the center lane while navigating one of Scenic Drive’s many curves and struck a Ford Escape head on. The Escape was driven by Heather Seigler who is also a resident of Blue Ridge, Ga.

After the impact Dickey’s truck overturned onto it’s right side. Gary Patterson, who was not wearing a seat belt, was completely ejected from the vehicle.

The Escape, driven by Seigler, spun several times before coming to a stop.

Emergency crews were on the scene within 10 minutes of receiving dispatch and determined that the car accident victims would need to be taken to Erlanger Hospital, the area’s nearest trauma facility, for treatment.

Four Life Force helicopters arrived to airlift the victims who were all suspected of having serious injuries.

As of Monday, June 11, Kimberly Patterson and Heather Seigler are still admitted at Erlanger Hospital for continued treatment. Passenger Gary Patterson has been discharged from the facility. The condition of driver James Dickey was unable to be confirmed.

Charges involving the accident are pending.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

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Lightning strike destroys home in Blue Ridge

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A lightning strike is responsible for a fire that ended with the total loss of a family home in Blue Ridge.

The Fannin County Fire Department was dispatched to a call of a reported lightning strike shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, May 31. After stepping out the door of Fire Station 1 in downtown Blue Ridge, Fire Chief Larry Thomas quickly realized that the reported lightning strike had resulted in a fire.

Smoke was seen from downtown Blue Ridge bellowing high into the air quickly turning from a light gray smoke to a deep black.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, House Fire, Lightning, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Community Emergency Response Team, Medic, Cohutta Wilderness, Wildfire, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas, Tankersley, Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard

Smoke was visible from the home fire in downtown Blue Ridge.

“Black smoke is what you get from house fires,” Thomas explained of the sight from downtown Blue Ridge. “The synthetic materials that make up a home and that are found in a home will account for this.”

Thomas described pulling up to the scene of the fire: “We arrived less than 10 minutes after dispatch and found the house 40 to 50 percent involved with flames that had already vented through the roof.”

When arriving on the scene, crews were able to move three vehicles near the structure. These vehicles are known as exposures.

Exposures are potentials for a fire resulting from another fire outside of the primary building, structure, or vehicle. In this case crews identified the vehicles as having a potential for resulting in a secondary hazard and were able to remove them safely.

Firefighters were also able to protect a nearby garage and two other vehicles from becoming part of the inferno.

The home located on Wild Iris Trail belongs to the Tankersley family, owners of Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard. While the family was not physically harmed during the fire, it has been confirmed that some of their beloved pets were unable to escape.

Despite time-saving tactics and added water supply, fire fighters were unable to save the home, and it was deemed a total loss.

While the weather of the evening aided in containing the fire to the structure, it also combated efforts to save the home itself.

Thomas stated the rains helped to keep the fire from spreading to the surrounding terrain, but the steady winds that accompanied the storms progressed the fire through the home.

“The wind would shift direction and that affected the high fire. It would actually force the fire back into and down through the attic space,” Thomas said, explaining how the fire spread, “and then the low fire was just eating its way in on the ground.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, House Fire, Lightning, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Community Emergency Response Team, Medic, Cohutta Wilderness, Wildfire, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas, Tankersley, Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard

A tree near the home received a direct hit by lightning and is the cause of the resulting house fire.

The fire began as a result of a lightning strike to a nearby tree. The electricity from the strike moved through the roots of the tree where it made contact with underground utilities, and moved into the home.

Fires resulting from lightning strikes are seen annually in our area. Most notably seen in recent times, the Cohutta Wilderness Wildfire destroyed thousands of acres and lasted several months in late 2016.

“Lightning doesn’t have to hit your house to start the fire,” Thomas explained of the nature of fires caused by lightning. “It can strike anything nearby, a tree or utilities. It can then travel through the tree roots or underground lines, anything that conducts electricity, and reach the home.”

Firefighters responded to a second call of a lightning strike-induced fire on the evening of May 31. This strike had moved through a gas line connecting to a home. The homeowner in this case was able to shut off the gas supply and extinguish the fire before major damage was done.

“The best thing people can do, is just stay vigilant during these storms,” Thomas said as he acknowledged the unpredictability of storms and lightning in general.

Crews were on the scene of the house fire on Wild Iris Trail for approximately seven hours. A total of 22 firefighters helped to combat the blaze. Medics, as well as members of the Fannin County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), were also present to provide emergency personnel with rehabilitation services such as oxygen and a dry area. Fannin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to direct traffic.

 

[Featured image: The home located on Wild Iris Trail as fire fighters worked to battle the blaze.]

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

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Fannin County candidates speak at local forum

Election 2018

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, along with the Blue Ridge Community Theater, hosted a candidate forum May 3 to give voters an opportunity to hear first-hand local candidates’ responses to questions about issues facing our area.

All persons running for positions on the Fannin County Board of Education and for the seat of Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner were present to share their views and explain why they should have your vote in the upcoming election.

SCHOOL BOARD

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, May Primary Election 2018, General Election 2018, Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner, Fannin County Board of Education, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Emergency Management, Fannin County Chairman, Stan Helton, Dixie Carter, Larry Joe Sosebee, William Tripp Ritchie, Glenn Patterson, Bobby Bearden, Jeff Depaola, Marvin Allen, Stave Stanley, Susan DeMoura, Mike Sullivan, Mike Cole, Ron Bolin, Democrat, Republican, Candidate Forum, Platform, Issues, Blue Ridge Community Theater, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Pictured are, from left to right: Jeff DePaola (D), Marvin Allen (R), and Bobby Bearden (R).

First to take the stage were Marvin Allen (R), Bobby Bearden (R), and Jeff DePaola (D).

Allen is challenging incumbent Bearden in the May General Primary for the Republican nomination. The winner of the primary will face Democrat DePaola in the November General Election.

 

 

BOBBY BEARDEN (R) INCUMBENT

Bobby Bearden, who has served on the Fannin County Board of Education for 16 years, said, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Bearden added about his time serving, “It’s more than a privilege. It’s a blessing and an honor.”

While agreeing with his fellow candidates on many of the issues such as a board member must be a liaison between the community, parents, teachers, and students, Bearden gave insight into his feelings about what it takes to be an effective board member and what it means to serve.

“A lot of people think that the school board runs the schools, but the school board does not run the schools,” Bearden said. “The superintendent runs the schools. The school board makes sure the superintendent carries out the policies.”

Bearden spoke of accomplishments of the school board during his service specifically citing the Performing Arts Center (PAC) and the construction taking place of the new agricultural facility located on Ada Street: “I’ve got so much behind me I couldn’t tell you all of it.”

“I just heard today that we applied for a grant, a literacy grant for over 1 million bucks,” Bearden said, smiling, “and we got it.”

Bearden’s platform is unwavering, stating his top priorities are “children, children, children, and the tax payers of Fannin County.” He states that safety and quality education are his main focus.

MARVIN ALLEN (R) CHALLENGER

Marvin Allen is a product of the Fannin County School System and has raised his children in Fannin County where they all attended our public schools.

“The platform I’m running on is my concerns for the children of Fannin County,” Allen addressed the crowd of voters. “Their safety is certainly number one. Next on the list is education. Another issue I am concerned about is the consideration of the tax-paying citizens of the county.”

Allen would like to work with the superintendent to produce quality policies that make a difference and to be a good steward of taxpayers dollars when it comes to the budget.

Having helped initiate the school system’s fishing program and by being involved with his children’s educations as well as their extracurricular activities, including sports and band, Allen feels that he is qualified for a position on the Board of Education.

When asked what makes an effective school board member, Allen replied that listening and communicating with the community is a large part of the responsibility, but also being able to effectively take care of business: “There are policies you’ve got to set and a budget you’ve got to monitor.”

JEFF DEPAOLA (D) CHALLENGER

Jeff DePaola has worked with youth via mentoring programs and shows a strong resolve in helping children through community involvement.

DePaola feels that this mentoring background along with his career provides him with the experience needed to serve on the Fannin County Board of Education.

DePaola began his career with Delta at the young age of 19. Through Delta, DePaola learned the field of computer programming and went on to write and implement many programs used in this field.

“I’ve got kind of an entrepreneurial spirit about me. I feel like I have a good eye for looking at a situation and seeing opportunities to make it better,” DePaola spoke of how his career will translate on the school board.

DePaola would like to be a liason if elected to the school board. He feels that a large portion of the duty of a board member is to gather as much information as possible from students, teachers, parents and the community, and relay that information into meaningful policies.

“The platform I’m running on is opportunity through community,” DePaola stated of his goals if elected.

SCHOOL BOARD

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, May Primary Election 2018, General Election 2018, Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner, Fannin County Board of Education, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Emergency Management, Fannin County Chairman, Stan Helton, Dixie Carter, Larry Joe Sosebee, William Tripp Ritchie, Glenn Patterson, Bobby Bearden, Jeff Depaola, Marvin Allen, Stave Stanley, Susan DeMoura, Mike Sullivan, Mike Cole, Ron Bolin, Democrat, Republican, Candidate Forum, Platform, Issues, Blue Ridge Community Theater, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Pictured are, from left to right: Susan DeMoura (D), Mike Sullivan (R), Mike Cole (R), Ron Bolin (R), and Steve Stanley (R).

Next to come to the stage was the race with the largest number of candidates. These candidates include Ron Bolin (R), Mike Cole (R), Susan DeMoura (D), Steve Stanley (R), and Mike Sullivan (R).

Bolin, Cole and Sullivan are all challengers of incumbent Stanley for the Republican nomination in the May General Primary. The winner of the primary will go on to face Democrat DeMoura in the November General Election.

 

 

RON BOLIN (R) CHALLENGER

Ron Bolin opened his statements by giving voters a glimpse into his background: “I’m a retired educator. I’ve taught at all three grade levels, elementary, middle, and high school.”

Beyond having taught, Bolin has also spent time in coaching and in school administration.

Bolin is a proponent of literacy and would like to focus school assets into providing a number of tools to promote and teach these skills. Having served many years in education, Bolin stated, “When a student lags behind in this area, it makes more difficulties throughout their entire education.”

Bolin would also like to see focus put on bringing back vocational training to our schools. He believes that education has “made a huge mistake” by putting all the focus on college education and that many students do not attend college and would greatly benefit from vocational training.

MIKE COLE (R) CHALLENGER

Mike Cole is a product of the Fannin County School System and credits his success to the start he got in our county’s schools.

Cole, a small business owner, began his training at Fannin County High School in the now un-offered vocational and technical programs. Having a successful career with General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, Cole returned to Fannin County to open his own automotive repair shop.

Cole is now a strong advocate for returning programs such as transportation class, cosmetology, residential wiring, plumbing, and welding to Fannin County schools.

“I’m not just a salesman,” Cole said, speaking of his opponent Bolin’s stance to bring back vocational classes, “but I am a client. I went through this vocational system, and I now own a business doing my career path from career tech.”

Cole now has a young child enrolled in the school system, and from involvement in his child’s education, he sees areas of what he feels are wasteful spending and mismanagement.

Citing that he has personally had to provide water to children on a field trip and has seen first-hand large amounts of food being thrown away in the schools’ cafeterias, Cole stated, “If we are a charter school and can make some decisions, we need to make decisions about the waste and mismanagement in that area.”

Cole also brought to the table the idea of using Georgia Virtual on snow days. He stated that if each child were provided a Chromebook that this option could be used to alleviate the issue of make-up school days due to inclement weather.

SUSAN DEMOURA (D) CHALLENGER

Susan DeMoura shared her experience of being a director of a rehabilitation center. With a master’s in speech language pathology, DeMoura worked many years managing a large staff and being in charge of an equally as large budget.

“I believe that my experience has prepared me to sit on this board,” DeMoura explained that she is used to working with many diverse people, “and become a liaison between the superintendent and the students and the teachers and the parents.”

When asked if school boards should be moved to a nonpartisan position, DeMoura stated that she is proud to be a member of her political party, but “I don’t see this as an area where politics need to come into play.”

DeMoura said that a key area she would like to research and try to resolve is the issue of absences in Fannin County. She cited that not all absences are due to illness and some stem from a child’s home life. DeMoura would like to provide options for these children to ensure that they are able to attend school everyday.

“My goal is to try to bridge any gap that exists,” DeMoura said of her hopes if elected,”with our students and our parents and teachers and provide the very best options, the very best alternatives for them.”

STEVE STANLEY (R) INCUMBENT

Steve Stanley has served on the Board of Education for eight years and would like to be re-elected for another four year term.

Stanley is proud of his record with the Board of Education citing several successes that have come to pass during his terms. He spoke of grants that have been awarded and progresses that have been made on all school campuses.

With Quality Basic Education (QBE) being fully funded by the state of Georgia for the first time in a number of years, Stanley stated that he will continue to be an advocate for equal state funding for Fannin County schools.

“This board will continue to work,” Stanley stated of his expectations if re-elected, “and I will continue to work.”

Stanley stated that the one thing he would do differently if elected for another term would be to spend more time in the schools.

“That has been the one thing I have wanted to do since I have been on the board is spend more time in schools,” Stanley said, explaining that his work has kept him away from spending as much time as he would like in the schools.

MIKE SULLIVAN (R) CHALLENGER

Mike Sullivan remains steadfast in his platform. Two of Sullivan’s key issues are that of school safety and of complete transparency on all levels.

Sullivan would like to see no stone left unturned when it comes to the safety of the children of Fannin County. Pursuing every option to acquire top notch safety is an issue the Sullivan is very passionate about.

Sullivan was asked of what he has done to prepare himself for the school board position if elected. He cited that beyond having attended the Board of Education monthly meetings, his military background is another advantage that he possesses.

“The military really prepares you a lot for working with diverse people,” the Air Force veteran spoke of his credentials for the Board of Education, “and I believe our board is comprised of some diverse individuals. It really prepares you for conflict.”

Sullivan agreed with his opponents on a number of issues, including that the school board should be a nonpartisan position and that the best way to keep quality teachers is to offer competitive pay and incentives.

When asked what he would do differently from incumbent Stanley, Sullivan replied that he would have active engagement on all levels, with students, parents, teachers, and fellow board members.

“We really have tremendous capabilities here,” Sullivan stated enthusiastically of his intentions, “to really excel with our kids and to lead them beyond being just 21st century learners.”

POST 2 COMMISSIONER

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, May Primary Election 2018, General Election 2018, Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner, Fannin County Board of Education, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Emergency Management, Fannin County Chairman, Stan Helton, Dixie Carter, Larry Joe Sosebee, William Tripp Ritchie, Glenn Patterson, Bobby Bearden, Jeff Depaola, Marvin Allen, Stave Stanley, Susan DeMoura, Mike Sullivan, Mike Cole, Ron Bolin, Democrat, Republican, Candidate Forum, Platform, Issues, Blue Ridge Community Theater, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Pictured are, from left to right: William “Tripp” Ritchie (R), Glenn Patterson (R), Dixie Carter (D), and Larry Joe Sosebee (R)

The final group of candidates to take the stage were those running for Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner. These candidates included Dixie Carter (D), Glenn Patterson (R), Larry Joe Sosebee (R), and William “Tripp” Ritchie (R).

Ritchie and Patterson are facing incumbent Sosebee for the Republican nomination in the May General Primary. The winner of this primary will go against Democrat Carter in the November General Election.

 

 

DIXIE CARTER (D) CHALLENGER

Dixie Carter holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, and she feels that having worked many years in this field, she has a good understanding of people and their needs and for this reason would make an ideal candidate.

Carter is a proponent of improving the county’s recreational areas and of seeking ways to move the county’s library out of the courthouse and into a stand-alone location.

A library is a hub for many communities, according to Carter, and a place where not only learning can take place, but a facility that can offer community classes and lectures, Internet for those without, and social work and aid for those in need.

When asked about a county aquatic center, Carter replied that she would be in favor and that it would be “very beneficial to focus on our health and wellness.”

Rather than just fund this center locally, Carter feels that we could look into regional funding: “Regional collaboration is a very good thing.” She feels that surrounding counties might take interest since the center would be beneficial to their residents as well.

Carter would be in favor of expanding the current Fannin County Board of Commissioners from a three-person panel to a five-person panel.

“With three there’s a monopoly on the vote,” Carter stated of the matter. “It’s almost like it’s rigged.”

If elected, Carter said she will work to represent all citizens of Fannin County and work to change the atmosphere of the Board of Commissioners meetings, which she feels has a negative tone.

GLENN PATTERSON (R) CHALLENGER

Glenn Patterson is an educator of 33 years and has spent approximately 23 of those years as a teacher, administrator, and coach in Fannin County. Patterson currently serves on the Board of Directors at the Fannin Christian Learning Center and is chairman for Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.

Patterson said that he has no private agenda in running, just a vision and a want to make Fannin County better.

Being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money is a key element to Patterson’s platform, and a topic that he reiterated in his answers.

When asked about the county collaborating with the cities to provide an aquatic center, Patterson replied, “I would be open to look at it. I really would. A lot of factors come into play, especially paying for it.”

One area where Patterson seemed to agree with incumbent Sosebee was in not expanding the Board of Commissioners to a five-member board and keeping it at its current three member status. While he did not say that he was completely against the move, Patterson did cite that there is another way to approach the matter.

“I think the biggest thing is to get good people,” Patter said, explaining his stance. “Get people that you can trust. Get people that will work together collaboratively for a common goal.”

LARRY JOE SOSEBEE (R) INCUMBENT

Larry Joe Sosebee has held the Post 2 Commission seat since 2011 and will be seeking a third term in office.

Sosebee stated that his platform has never changed and that he will be running on the same ideals: “When I first ran for this office, my platform was for the safety and prosperity for each citizen of Fannin County.”

Not in support of turning the Board of Commissioners into a five-member board, Sosebee spoke frankly on the matter: “Three people is enough to butt heads on these decisions we make.”

Sosebee told the crowd that he would be in favor of a stand-alone building for the county library: “I’ve always supported a stand-alone library.” He then added,” I wouldn’t put the county in any bond debt whatsoever for any facility.”

Rival candidate Tripp Ritchie questioned the county’s planning strategy for the future and in particular cited the county’s emergency departments. Sosebee took offense to Ritchie’s comments and replied about these departments, “We are top notch in the state of Georgia.”

“All it takes is common sense to run this office,” Sosebee said and added that with his experience, he feels that he is the man for the job.

WILLIAM “TRIPP” RITCHIE (R) CHALLENGER

Tripp Ritchie, a sixth-generation Fannin County resident, co-owner of Ritchie Creek Farm, Inc., and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps., did not hold back during the forum as he spoke frankly about areas of the county that he feels need to be improved.

Ritchie has held strong to his belief that the county lacks proper strategic planning, and one downfall of not having such a plan is in newly constructed facilities: “We need a five-year capital improvements plan.”

“If it’s not in a capital improvements program,” Ritchie added, “you end up starting construction without knowing how you are going to pay for it.”

Ritchie also noted areas in how the Board of Commissioners run that could be improved for the public: “I don’t think we have enough public debate or public comments.”

Accusing Fannin County Commission Chairman Stan Helton of “weaponizing” his position by having complete say in meeting agendas and arrangements, Ritchie added, “We should encourage everybody to have input from the community. We seem to forget that we are representing the citizens of Fannin County.”

Ritchie said that he would support changing the current commission board from three members to five members: “Yes, and I would go a step further. I’d change the form of government between a volunteer-elected board and a manager.”

Having a county manager to organize and oversee all areas of the county government, according to Ritchie, would be beneficial not just in efficiency but also in transparency.

Finally, Ritchie addressed the issue of our emergency management departments and said that this is another area that would greatly benefit from strategic planning. He feels the county should do more to prepare these departments for future demand.

Ritchie also cited that he had been informed that our fire department facilities are not up to code, some not being properly vented, and that firefighters had expressed concern to him about their safety: “They asked me to bring these issues to the commissioners attention. They felt like the commission didn’t have their back.”

Ritchie maintains that he is the right person for the job because he will proactively seek solutions: “I’m not a politician. I’m a pragmatist. I see a problem, and I go try to fix it.”

 

Early voting continues in Fannin County through May 18. You can place your early vote at the Fannin County Courthouse, 3rd Floor, Office of Elections and Registration. Regular voting for the General Primary will take place on May 22. The 2018 General Election is to be held Nov. 6.

 

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

Fannin Fire Department recognized by Copperhill/McCaysville First Baptist

Fannin County EMA/EMS, Religion

[Featured image: First Baptist Church of Copperhill/McCaysville presented a memento of appreciation to Fire Chief Larry Thomas, far right, and the Fannin County Fire Department during the church’s Sunday morning service May 6. Seen here with Thomas are, from left, Ryan Norton, FBC minister of worship, and Rev. Matthew McDaniel, FBC pastor.]

McCAYSVILLE, Ga. – The Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) was recognized by First Baptist Church of Copperhill, Tennessee, and McCaysville, Georgia, for its efforts and dedication to the community in a special service and dinner Sunday, May 6.

Pastor Matthew McDaniel presented Fire Chief Larry Thomas with a crystal memento of appreciation, honoring the fire department and first responders during the church’s Sunday morning services this past weekend.

First Baptist Church of Copperhill/McCaysville presented this crystal memento to the Fannin County Fire Department Sunday, May 6.

The memento, inscribed with the words “Thank you for your Great Efforts and Dedication to Saving lives and Property,” was given to the department as part of a recognition for all the firefighters and emergency personnel who responded to a fire at the church Tuesday, Jan. 2.

The fire, which resulted from boxes being stacked against a wall heater that was thought to have been inoperable in the church’s balcony, saw a quick response from the fire department that afternoon as crews were able to extinguish the blaze with no injuries before it spread to other areas of the church.

Recalling the day’s events, Chief Thomas stated the fire occurred between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the busiest time of day on the narrow streets of the twin cities.

“I always say a prayer on the way to a call. That day, it was like the Lord just parted the waters as we approached the church,” Thomas said of the ease with which crews were able to reach the fire through rush hour traffic.

As a result of the blaze, First Baptist was forced to temporarily relocate its Sunday morning services for eight weeks to Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill, but returned to its sanctuary on Toccoa Avenue in McCaysville Sunday, March 4.

“It was an honor to be able to recognize (FCFD) and show our appreciation not only for what they’ve done for us, but also for what they do for our community all the time on behalf of everybody, on behalf of the whole community,” Rev. McDaniel stated. “They make a lot of sacrifices, and most of the time, we don’t take into account all that they do for us. And we just appreciate it so much.”

Pastor Matthew McDaniel, of First Baptist Church of Copperhill/McCaysville, presents Fannin County Fire Chief Larry Thomas, left, with a memento of appreciation Sunday, May 6.

Choking back a couple of tears back in his office Wednesday morning, Chief Thomas stated of the community in which he and his department serves, “They do care. They are very interested in what we do. It was an honor to stand up there (Sunday) and accept this recognition. The people of the county really care for us.”

Also Wednesday morning, several members of FCFD and Fannin County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Emergency Management Agency (EMA) gathered at Fire Station 1 for a small ceremony as the three recently added fire engines and two new ambulances were on full display outside the downtown station on West Main Street.

The five emergency vehicles represented some of the additions to the county’s emergency fleet purchased within the last year. In addition, according to Thomas, two used frontline pumper engines have also been added to the fleet. The newer engines, purchased for $240,749 on a six-year payment plan, provides the county with a Class A pumper at every station, Thomas added.

Five newly acquired emergency vehicles were on display Wednesday, May 9, outside of Fire Station 1 on West Main Street. Seen here are, from left, front: Cory Collogan, training chief; Robert Graham, EMA director; Larry Joe Sosebee, county commissioner; Larry Thomas, fire chief; Rob Ross, deputy fire chief; Darrell Payne, EMA deputy director; Brad Beaver, firefighter; Channing Johnstone, firefighter; back: Joey Cox, EMS; Eddie Hopkins, paramedic; Patrick Cooke, E-911 deputy director; and John Reel, E-911.

The ambulances, which were purchased for approximately $124,000 each from the emergency services budget, brings the total ambulance fleet for the county to seven, according to EMA Director Robert Graham.

“We’ve had every one of the new fire engines out on a fire already,” Thomas said Wednesday. “The department is stepping forward in a giant leap right now.”

 

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.

Circulation, juvenile attendance continue to rise at library

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Branch Librarian Andrew delivered positive news in his branch manager’s report during the April 19 Fannin County Public Library Board meeting.

Vickers announced that total circulation for the library’s third quarter of fiscal year 2017-18 (January, February and March) was up by 6 percent over the third quarter of last year. According to Vickers’ report, 16,386 items were checked out during the quarter this year as opposed to 15,386 in last year’s third quarter.

Despite the fact that overall attendance experienced a 3 percent decline from last year, Vickers did report that juvenile attendance was up for the quarter by 20 percent. Overall for the quarter, 11,388 patrons visited FCPL in the first three months of 2018.

“With the weather we’ve had, to only be down 3 percent (in total attendance) that strikes me as being actually pretty good,” FCPL Board member John Turner stated.

“Every time I come in, I’m always impressed with the number of people that are in the library, using the library, using the computers, wandering the stacks,” FCPL Board Chairman Gordon Riddoch said. “I always think, for myself, we have to park down the street and walk over here. It’s amazing the attendance we have (because) we have to fight all the elements and everything else to get here.”

Vickers also presented the financial report for the third quarter. According to the report, the beginning balance for the quarter was $9,521.13 and as of March 31 stood at $11,322.50. However, Vickers explained that since the end of March, the library had purchased about $1,400 in furniture upgrades. Regarding the purchase of the new furniture, Vickers stated, most of the cost was covered from $1,200 in donations to the library in memory of longtime library patron Dan Berry, who recently passed away.

Other donations received by the library during the quarter included a $250 donation from Emily Griesinger, who works in the English department at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. Vickers stated Griesinger specifically requested for the donation to be spent purchasing Caldecott Award-winning and Honor books for FCPL. Another donation of $500 was given to the library from Rhapsody in Blue during the quarter. Vickers also said the Friends of the Library had approved a $750 donation that had not yet processed.

Also in the financial report, Vickers mentioned the library had purchased 241 unabridged audio books for just over $1,500.00, which amounted to a $6.40 cost per audio book. “Which is definitely a bargain,” Vickers added, “especially when you look at the average cost of an audio book is about $25.”

The financial report was approved by the board unanimously.

Vickers also updated the board on recent library activities and upcoming library events. In March, the library celebrated the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, with a birthday party and a Cat in the Hat performance from Reuben Haller. According to Vickers, 50 children and 45 adults attended the event held at First Baptist Church of Blue Ridge.

The library recently added a second Storytime session with library assistant Darcy Arnell on Tuesdays. Arnell now leads Storytime sessions at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Tuesday. Vickers stated that the 11 a.m. Storytime session Tuesday, April 17, saw 20 children and 13 adults in attendance. “That’s a big number for it not being the summer. That’s a good number,” Mountain Regional Library System Director Vince Stone commented.

A children’s wishlist has also recently been created by the library on Amazon.com. “We’ve made that wishlist public in case any patron or business wants to donate to our summer reading program,” Vickers said. Anyone wanting to fulfill donations from the library’s children’s wishlist can visit the link on the library’s Facebook page.

On Friday, May 4, FCPL will hold a Star Wars Day event starting at 5:30 p.m. at the library. Star Wars themed snacks and activities will be available at the free event, aptly dubbed “May the Fourth Be With You.” A showing of the latest Star Wars release, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, will start at 6:30 p.m.

Vickers also reminded the board of the upcoming Friends of the Library Book Sale to be held May 25 through 27. Vickers said volunteers are still needed for the days of sale as well as before and after the dates of the sale for preparation and breakdown. Anyone interested in helping with the book sale can contact the library at 706-632-5263 for more information.

The Summer Reading Program schedule was announced during the meeting as well. The theme for this year’s program is “Libraries Rock!” Among the many events occurring during June and July this summer will be the program kickoff event Tuesday, June 5, at 11 a.m. and the teen Summer Reading Program kickoff Thursday, June 7, at 4 p.m. The library will also hold four Flicks in the Sticks movie showings in the city park: Coco will be shown Friday, June 15; Wonder will be shown Friday, June 29; The LEGO Ninjago Movie will be shown Friday, July 13; and the Fannin County Fire Department will sponsor a Family Fun Night Friday, July 27, at 7 p.m. where Cars 3 will be shown. All other Flicks events begin at 9 p.m. For a complete schedule of all the library’s summer events and activities, visit the FCPL website at http://www.mountainregionallibrary.org/fannin-county-public-library.

 

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.

Fannin County EMA continues to prepare for future demand

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) continues to grow with demand and make updates to systems to keep the residents of Fannin County safe.

The latest updates come after the recent approval by the Board of Commissioners (BOC) to purchase a GPS locating system for 911 calls coming into Fannin County’s E-911 center.

EMA Director Robert Graham was present at the Feb. 27 BOC meeting to provide the commissioners and the public with the latest information regarding his department.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Finance Director Robin Gazaway, EMA, Emergency Management Agency, Robert Graham, Larry Joe Sosebee, Copper Basin Medical Center, Fannin Regional Hospital

A new ambulance arrived to Fannin County in 2017. Graham hopes this will help with increased demand.

The main topic of discussion was the progress of the new Fannin County E-911 center and fire station on Windy Ridge Road.

Graham informed the board that the structural completion of this project is about a third of the way through. After recently speaking with the contractor in charge of this undertaking, Graham said that crews are still on time to have the building complete in May or June of this year.

Commission Chairman Stan Helton also pointed out that the contractor was currently staying on budget with the project.

Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee questioned Graham as to how soon the new facility would be in use once the contractor’s work is complete.

“There will be a little bit of time to coordinate the moving of the 911 equipment and phones,” Graham said, explaining the difficult nature of the situation, “to make sure we do not put anybody without 911 service.”

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson then questioned Graham as to what equipment would be moved and what equipment the county would need to purchase for the center.

Graham explained that all the electronic systems would be moved, citing the servers and phone system as examples, but that new furniture would need to be purchased.

Each dispatcher has five display monitors on their desk, and Graham explained that as the dispatcher’s equipment expands, so too does the need for a larger area. The new desks to be purchased would provide just that according to Graham and would allow room for extra equipment in the future.

These new desks are also equipped to be raised so that a dispatcher can stand while working. Dispatchers can work up to 12 hours a shift, and the new desks will allow them the ability to take a break from sitting without leaving their work area.

The new building will also have raised floors. Raised floors were a priority in the original design concept. The purpose of the raised floors is to allow infrastructure of the building to be easily accessible. This would save money in the future if need arises for upgrades or repairs.

New ambulances and fire trucks are also making their way into Fannin County. These new vehicles were approved in 2017.

One of the two ambulances approved in 2017 has already been located to Fannin County, and the other will arrive this month. The Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) received one new fire truck in February and two additional fire trucks are expected to join the FCFD fleet in March of this year.

Blue Ridge, McCaysville, Morganton, Mineral Bluff, Fannin County, Georgia, Emergency Management Agency, EMA, E-911, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Homeland Security Grant, Trauma Grant, Georgia Trauma Commission, SPLOST, Robert Graham, Stan Helton, Larry Joe Sosebee, Earl Johnson

One of three new fire engines slated to arrive in Fannin County in 2018.

Fire Station 1, the McCaysville Fire Station, and the Morganton Fire Station will each receive one of the new fire trucks. The trucks that the new engines will be replacing at these stations will be moved to other stations throughout the county.

“The reason we put the three trucks in those stations,” Graham described of the logistics of the new equipment, “those are three of our manned stations and they get quite a bit more use.”

Earl Johnson asked about the progress of finding a new location for the Mineral Bluff Fire Station, to which Graham replied that his department is looking but has yet to find a suitable area.

“The problem is if we don’t stay close to where that station is, it changes ISO (Insurance Service Office) ratings for some of the residents and that can affect their insurance considerably,” Graham told of the restrictions of finding a location for a new fire station in that area.

Johnson, understanding of the need to find land near to the existing station, would still like to see progress made in the search. He noted that the Mineral Bluff Fire Station should be next in line to be replaced once Fire Station 1 is complete.

After receiving a Homeland Security Grant in 2017 for the purchase of new equipment for command vehicles, Graham announced the EMA had once again been able to secure another grant.

“We did receive a trauma grant, or trauma equipment grant, for EMS through the Georgia Trauma Commission,” Graham told the board.

This grant will provide $7,500 to upgrade laptops in the county’s ambulances. This money was originally budgeted for the department through Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds but will no longer need to be taken from that account.

At the conclusion of the update, Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson asked Graham if his department had any other needs.

Graham replied, “We’re in pretty good shape.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

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Fatal house fire claims one life in Epworth

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

EPWORTH, Ga. – Fannin County Emergency crews responded to a fatal house fire in the early evening hours of Thursday, March 1.

A call came into Fannin County E-911 at 5:32 p.m. of a porch fire located at 2111 Old Epworth Road in Epworth.

Firefighter Britt Jones, first to arrive on the scene, quickly noticed that the fire had spread and was beginning to engulf the home.

Jones radioed for back up personel and also requested law enforcement assistance to close off roadways and direct traffic.

“The fire started on the ground floor front porch,” Fire Chief Larry Thomas said, explaining the rapid spread of the flames, “and it moved up to the balcony porch above. When we got there about eight minutes after the initial call, the fire had entered the second floor and the attic.”

A death that occurred Thursday evening, March 1, in connection with a fire at this residence on Old Epworth Road in Epworth is still being investigated the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Neighbors and passers-by had attempted to alert anyone that might be in the home. These good samaritans informed emergency personnel that they had knocked on doors and windows in an effort to locate anyone that might be inside.

Engine 4, Engine 5 and Medic 4 responded to the urgent situation. A total of 18 firefighters were present to battle the flames.

Along with fire and medic engines, a Light and Air unit was also on the scene. A Light and Air unit is a specialized piece of firefighting equipment used to provide supplemental lighting and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) air bottles at the scene of an emergency.

Firefighters were able to extinguish flames around the entry way of the house and upon ascending the steps of the front porch where the initial blaze began, emergency workers instantly located a body.

The discovery of the deceased initiated crews to immediately enter the structure and search for others that might be trapped in the home.

“Crews were on scene until around 10 p.m. that night,” Thomas recalled of the events of the evening.

According to rental history of the property, the current tenant is listed as Matthew Stevens. The body of the deceased, however, is yet to be identified and is presently in the possession of Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

While the cause of the fire is officially still under investigation, EMA workers on the scene report that the deceased had been creating Lichtenberg Figures in wood, and it is likely that this hobby led to the fire as well as the death.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Epworth, Georgia, Fannin County Emergency Management, EMA, Fannin County Fire Department, Fire Chief Larry Thomas, Firefighter, Britt Jones, Fatal Fire, Lichtenberg Figures

An example of Lichtenberg Figures burned into wood.

These Lichtenberg Figures are created when wood is burned using electricity. Equipment for this dangerous hobby was found on the front porch. The official cause of death has not been released but is speculated, due to the equipment found, to be caused by electrocution.

This is the first fatal fire that the Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) has responded to in 2018. FCFD responded to three fatal fires in 2017.

Thomas would like to remind residents that when fire hoses are across roadways to please avoid that roadway. A vehicle running over one of these hoses can damage the line and interrupt the water flow.

“I know it can be inconvenient for drivers, but these lines really are our number one tool in fighting fires,” Thomas explained. “The interruption in our supply line can be very dangerous for our crews on the scene.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

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McCaysville/Copperhill First Baptist sees fire Tuesday afternoon

News

McCAYSVILLE, Ga. – The First Baptist Church of McCaysville/Copperhill experienced a small fire Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 2.

According to Rev. Matthew McDaniel, pastor of First Baptist Church, a passerby noticed smoke coming from the building and contacted McDaniel. McDaniel then contacted a church deacon, who was near the church at the time and able to confirm the fire and call 911.

Gray smoke billows from the steeple of First Baptist Church of McCaysville/Copperhill during a small fire Tuesday.

Fannin County Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas stated crews were dispatched to the church at 4:18 p.m. and arrived four minutes later. A total of twenty firefighters worked to extinguish and contain a fire that began in a storage room in the church’s balcony. Thomas stated the blaze resulted from boxes of Christmas decorations stacked against an embedded wall heater that was thought to be turned off at its power source. No injuries occurred as a result of the fire, Thomas added, and the area was cleared at 6:35 p.m.

“By the time I arrived, the Fannin County Fire Department was actively containing the fire, and it was contained to the small area,” Pastor McDaniel explained.

As smoke billowed from the base of the church’s steeple, Toccoa Avenue, just in front of the church, became a staging area for crews and engines from the Fannin County Fire Department working to extinguish the blaze as well as a number emergency medical services (EMS) vehicles. Ultimately, the McCaysville Police Department closed the street to traffic for close to two hours from the state-line intersection with Ocoee Street and Blue Ridge Drive to a point just past the church on Toccoa Avenue, creating headaches for motorists and truck drivers attempting to travel through the twin cities during rush hour.

Returning home Tuesday afternoon from youth camp, members of the First Baptist Church of
McCaysville/Copperhill youth department are stunned with news of a fire at the church.

Compounding the situation, four church vans transporting 45 members of the church’s youth department rolled back into town from a youth camp retreat just as the fire was taking place. The parking lot of the Hometown Foods IGA supermarket in McCaysville, about one block from the church, served as an impromptu unloading and pick-up area for the youth coming home from the retreat.

McDaniel stated he does not anticipate that the fire will affect regularly scheduled services this week and expects to be fully functional for activities and services to continue this Sunday.

According to the pastor, damage was minor and contained to the storage room located in the back of the balcony. Likely, the church will close the balcony to worshipers this Sunday and utilize only the lower sanctuary, McDaniel added.

Commenting on the fire, McDaniel said, “I would like to thank the Fannin County First Responders, Fire Department, and McCaysville City Police Department for doing a tremendous job in fighting the fire and keeping us all safe during the process. This is one of those things that you cannot control, so we will trust God to guide us through it, and remain thankful that no one was hurt and that the damage was minor. We closed out the night like every other night, knowing that God is Good!”

Speaking of the coordinated efforts of the Fannin County emergency personnel and the McCaysville Police Department, Chief Thomas said, “I appreciate the help we got from the McCaysville Police in closing the street to make it easier for the firefighters to do their job.”

Also, according to Thomas, the state division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be conducting a follow-up investigation of the fire on Wednesday afternoon; however, Thomas stated such investigations are simply procedural any time there is a church fire.

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.

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