Dr. Gwatney Shares His Views About School Tax Exemption

Education, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney presented his stance concerning school tax exemption for seniors in Fannin County.

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Dr. Gwatney presents his concerns about upcoming Town Hall discussion.

An upcoming Town Hall is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. This meeting will take place in the Jury Assembly Room of the Fannin County Courthouse.

State Representative David Ralston and State Senator Steve Gooch will be present to hear arguments from both sides.

If representatives decide to move forward, the possible Senior Homestead Exemption would have to be approved by the 2018 session of the Georgia General Assembly and then would be decided by Fannin County voters in the 2018 general election.

Dr. Gwatney addressed the board and residents present at the November 9 Board of Education meeting.

Gwatney cited statistics for Fannin County and for the Fannin County School System. According to these statistics, just under 30 percent of residents in Fannin County could benefit from this possible Homestead Exemption.

This large portion of the population, if passed, could account for schools in Fannin County losing up to $1.4 million annually.

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Board of Education members listen to Dr. Gwatney’s presentation.

Gwatney pointed out that, “The only generation that will benefit from the exemption is the one that will be exempt now; all other generations will pay more taxes.”

A similar exemption passed in Gilmer County. Dr. Gwatney showed that after the exemption was passed, it had a negative effect on the area. The millage rate increased to account for the loss, putting a heavier burden on those not exempt from the tax.

Gwatney also cited that Gilmer experienced furloughs and a closing of a school. He stated that the citizens of Gilmer County “paid more for less.”

According to the Georgia School Superintendents Association, the current average millage rate for schools in Georgia is 16.36. Fannin County’s school millage rate sits at 11.23.

Gwatney stated, “This board has shown consistent, conservative leadership in respect with people’s money.”

He showed that while Fannin County has a lower millage rate than the average for the state, Fannin County still is able to spend more per student than the average amount spent statewide.

Dr Gwatney concluded, “My opportunities here were possible due to the effort of the previous generation.”

He added that this is “my opportunity to stand up for our next generation of Fannin 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

Blue Ridge Honors Veterans Day

Community, Featured

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – “On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the guns fell silent, we will remember.”

Blue Ridge remembered on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, as the community honored our veterans. The week leading up to this day of recognition was marked with observances held throughout the county.

Fannin County School Systems hosted guest speakers at each of the schools to talk with students about the meaning behind this day of remembrance and appreciation.

Early Saturday morning, residents began to line East Main Street for the annual Veterans Day Parade. Shops displayed their American flags in support of our men and women who have served, and visitors to our downtown area dressed patriotically and waved their handheld versions of Old Glory.

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Fannin County Emergency vehicles were adorned with flags as they joined the parade.

The parade was a beautiful display. Antique cars carried many of our county’s veterans. These veterans ranged from World War II to present day conflicts in the Middle East.

The Fannin County High School Band marched proudly while playing “God Bless America.”

Fannin County Emergency vehicles adorned with flags representing all branches of our armed services followed along.

Members of the North East Georgia Combat Veteran Association rode their motorcycles behind the the emergency vehicles.

The parade began on East Main Street and followed a route that ended at the Fannin Veterans Memorial Park.

It was at this Memorial Service that the unspoken spirit of Veterans Day could be felt and experienced. As the parade made its way to this ending point, veterans and families gathered and filled the seats bordering the memorial.

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Keynote Speaker Chief Master Sergeant Scott Peters waits to address the crowd.

Veterans from different eras greeted each other and shook hands. Some of these veterans gave hugs, some shared their experiences, and others just silently nodded in recognition of an unspoken story.

This day has a deep meaning for those who have worn the uniform. It is a day where they can meet openly, where they can feel the bond of brotherhood again, and for many, a day where they are understood and where they can feel at ease.

Keynote Speaker Chief Master Sergeant Scott Peters showed this sentiment when he stated, “It’s a day to put veterans first. In peacetime or wartime all veterans have taken an oath indicating that they were willing to offer their lives.”

Peters addressed the struggles that many veterans face when returning to civilian life: “Twenty-two veterans a day take their own lives. This is a tragedy for Americans.”

Speaking to all Americans, Peters urged, “We must be willing to pick them up when they are down, help point out the way (to) a new life when they return home, and carry them when they are weary.”

As he said these words the veterans in the crowd were moved, some hanging their head in silent prayer. For the veterans, this is a part of their story. A story that can only be understood by having served.

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Flag-Folding Ceremony demonstrated at Fannin Veterans Memorial Park.

Representatives from the Missing in America Project were present to receive a check for monies raised by the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA).

Representative of CVMA, Andy Owens, discussed the mission of the Missing in America Project. The organization locates the forgotten remains of veterans left at funeral homes or in medical examiner offices across America.

An example was cited of having recently located remains that had been stored at a funeral home in North Georgia for at least 25 years.

The Missing in America Project will provide a proper military burial in a National Cemetery for the unclaimed remains of their fellow brothers and sisters in arms.

Veterans Day is a day to honor those who serve and have served our country, but for veterans, it is a day to come together. It is a day where an unspoken truth is shared among these brave men and women. It is truth that only comes from experiencing the anticipation of receiving “the call,” and the bravery of answering that call.

This day is for previous generations to show support to the younger men and women currently serving, to let them know that others have been there before. It is a day for younger members of the military to thank the men and women who paved the way for future generations, and to realize that one day they will be that older generation showing support.

It is a day for everyone in America to take a moment and observe the sacrifices made by our military so that we may enjoy a country with freedoms.

FetchYourNews recognizes those who have served in our military both past and present, and we thank you for your service.

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

FCSS SY 17-18 Veterans Program Schedule

Community, Rebel's Corner

Apple Processing Workshop


The Fannin County School System Young Farmer Association held an apple processing workshop on August 22 at the Blue Ridge Cannery. The class started at 5:30pm and 15 were in attendance. The class processed apples, which were donated by Payne’s Apple Orchard, into applesauce. Each participant got to take home 2 cans of applesauce and a can of apple juice. The class was hands on and the participants were instructed on the entire process. Instruction on home canning was also addressed. Barbara Davenport and Rhonda Mathews taught the class.

Chloe Carter A-D-V-A-N-C-E-S to District Competition in Rome, Ga

Rebel's Corner

Fannin County School System


Blue Ridge Elementary – Maddie Boyce

Spelling Bee MaddieSpelling Bee Maddie 1








East Fannin Elementary – Kayla Herendon

Spelling Bee KaylaSpelling Bee Kayla 2

West Fannin Elementary – Ava Lackey
Spelling Bee Ava LackeySpelling Bee Ava 2






Fannin County Middle School – Chloe Carter   

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Winning Words For Chloe CarterMammoth & Womanly 

Chloe Carter will advance and compete in District Spelling Bee in Rome, Ga on February 25th, 2017.

Spelling Bee WinnersCongratulations to all the Participants.  AWESOME JOB!

FetchYourNews.com will update on Chloe and how she does at District in Rome.






Fannin County Board of Education appoints new Superintendent


The Fannin county school board held a special called meeting on Friday morning, January 20th 2017.

The purpose was to decide on a new Superintendent for the Fannin County School system.

The Board emerged from executive session and voted to appoint Dr. Michael Gwatney who is currently Director of Technology & Media Services.

Current Superintendent Mark Henson congratulated Mr. Gwaltney,

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Gwatney who was appointed as Superintendent of Fannin County Schools effective July 1, 2017 this morning by the board.  Dr. Gwatney will do an excellent job for our system.  As your outgoing superintendent I know how important it will be for Dr. Gwatney to have the support of all of our employees and stakeholders so it will make this transition much smoother with that in place.  My wish is for the best for the Fannin County School System and together you can all make that happen. Once again, congratulations to Dr. Gwatney!




Fannin Teacher of the Year: Ashley Sparks from EFES



Ashley Sparks, 5th grade language arts and reading teacher at EFES, is Fannin County School System’s Teacher of the Year.

Sparks sees her students as the product of all teachers at EFES, not just a product of herself or a particular grade.  Sparks taught her current fifth graders in first- and third-grade. This year, Sparks gets to see how her youngsters have matured.  “I am in a neat space that doesn’t occur for many teachers.  I get to see the beginning, middle and end.  Most of the time teachers only get to see one grade level,” said Sparks.

Teaching isn’t only teaching facts; it is also building character.  Sparks emphasizes the Golden Rule in her classes both for her students and herself.  She said, “I want students to feel welcomed, respected, loved and valued – yourself and your opinion.”

Sparks’  belief that all the adults at EFES work together as a team to teach and grow up a child carries through with her work with the fifth-grade teaching team.  She and the fifth-grade social studies teacher, Teresa Martin, link the information in their classes.  In social studies, the students learn about the event.  Sparks uses young adult literature and writing so students can match an event to the experience of a real person.  To support science and math, Sparks develops her vocabulary lessons around terms that students use in the classes.

Sparks said Number the Stars, a book about a young girl who helps her Jewish friend during World War II is a book ,especially impresses students about the people behind the events. Sparks has other books that she recommends for parents of fifth-graders.  The new volume of  Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a winning story right now as well as the Big Nate series and a lot of non-fiction themes.  You would be surprised at how many students love reading non-fiction about sports heroes and celebrities said Sparks.

Sparks is one of the first teachers at EFES to use Google Classroom (FCHS and FCMS are already using it).  Goggle Classroom is an online class organization and teaching tool that enhances how students access information.  She can post class information, links to websites for future studies and organize group projects.  During group project work, students use chat rooms to discuss with their team members, even if the team members are sitting in the same room.  Students learn how to discuss and explain without looking at team members face-to-face.  The experience prepares the students for adulthood and work in a technological world where team members are located anywhere and the main method of communication is written, not visual.

Point of information for parents, even though the program is called Google Classroom and students receive a Goggle account,  sites they can visit and how they speak on social media through Google Classroom is still monitored by FCSS.

Sparks is a lifelong resident of Fannin County, except for her first two months of life when she lived in Tampa.  Sparks and her husband, Caleb Sparks, have three children ranging from age 4 to 12.

Sparks was honored at the Fannin County Teacher of the Year banquet on Tuesday, September 27th.  The other nominees were Robbi Callihan – BRES, Tonya Callihan – WFES, Jodi Morgan – FCMS and Pam Patterson – FCHS.  As Fannin’s Teacher of the Year, Sparks will represent Fannin County in the state-wide Teacher of the Year recognition program in school year 2017-2018.

Fannin’s Teacher of the Year Banquet was held at Willow Creek Falls, which has graciously hosted the event for three years.  The Banquet had support from others in Fannin as well:  Mercier Orchards, Hometown IGA, Kevin Panter Insurance, Premier CPA Services, Rotary Club, TDS Telecom , Terry Lee Wilson and Pete Wilson Senior and Junior.





Chamber of Commerce Goes to School


Chamber Board checks out the three-dimensional beating heart, one of the biology lessons on Z-Space


Chamber of Commerce members take an anatomy lesson on Z-Space, the virtual reality technology which Fannin County School System obtained through ESPLOST funding.  At this time, only FCMS has Z-Space.  A future goal of the school system is obtaining Z-Space for FCHS.

Fannin County Chamber of Commerce went to FCHS on Wednesday, Sept. 21st  to learn about how ESPLOST affects technology and facilities in the Fannin County School System.  ESPLOST is the 1₵ sales tax which can only go to capital outlay for the Fannin County School System.  Last year it went towards improvements like the FCHS gym.  This year, Fannin County School System will build its $3 million Agriculture and Environmental Science facility with ESPLOST money.  Fannin County School System estimates that ESPLOST  will bring $4,790,939,12 this year.

Superintendent Mark Henson credits the multi-million dollar ESPLOST fund to the Chamber of Commerce and  its great work in promoting Fannin County as a tourist destination.  The visit to FCHS allowed the Chamber to see its tourism efforts translated into tangible results for Fannin’s children.  Currently, collaboration between the School Board and the school system is enhanced though

Cynthia Panter, Executive Director of School Board.  She is also Chair of the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce.

In other information from the meeting –

Wednesday, Oct. 5th is the is the annual Community Service Collaboration Conference at the Kiwanis Fairground. All community service organizations in the area will be sharing their missions, goals, programs and knowledge with each other.

Paul Gribble gave an analysis of the recent Blues and Barbeque.  He said that this year’s festival raised more money that it ever had for Snack in a Pack.

Manda Gwatney said that the Chamber is organizing a Law Enforcement Appreciation Breakfast for Fannin County State Patrol, Sheriff’s Office and municipal police officers in November.  The date is yet undecided.




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