Fannin County Board of Education adopts GAMB policy

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County School System officially became the second county in the state of Georgia to adopt a policy giving the option of arming school personnel. In April, the Laurens County school board in Georgia adopted a similar policy.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School, Terry Bramlett, Benny Long, Laurens County, Brent Warberg, Kyle Raque, Michele Bradley, Sheila Gooch, Jack Taylor

Standing room only as citizens gather to voice their opinion on GAMB.

The unanimous decision by the Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) is one that board members said they did not take lightly and that much thought and planning was involved in the policy of Possession of Weapons by Employees or GAMB.

“We have given careful consideration to as many aspects of this as we possibly can,” board member Terry Bramlett stated during closing thoughts.

This decision by the BOE was not met without opposition as the Fannin County Board of Education facility was filled to capacity Thursday night.

Board members listened to several speakers from the community. Ten citizens in all signed up to have their voices heard during public commentary.

“It’s madness. That the way you solve a problem is to kill somebody,” Brent Warberg, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) profiler and hostage negotiator, said, showing his passion for his stance. “If you arm a teacher and that teacher shoots somebody, you own it.”

Warberg’s feelings were shared by others during public commentary. Dr. Kyle Raque, a clinical psychologist, cited that there is no evidence that arming school personnel works to provide a safer environment.

Mother of two, Michele Bradley, shared her thoughts: “Are you prepared to be sued when one of these teachers innocently kills a child?”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School, Terry Bramlett, Benny Long, Laurens County, Brent Warberg, Kyle Raque, Michele Bradley, Sheila Gooch, Jack Taylor

Former FBI profiler Brent Warberg urges board members to not adopt the new policy.

Most who spoke in opposition of the newly adopted policy offered other solutions to the issue of safety on school campuses. Among the solutions discussed were those of addressing mental health of not just students, but of faculty as well, and trying to intervene at a young age when a child first shows signs of mental illness.

As many spoke in opposition, just as many spoke in favor of the GAMB policy. The public commentary portion of the meeting was split evenly between the two sides.

“As a former resource officer, I can tell you that evil is at the front door,” Jack Taylor, chairman of Blue Ridge Patriot Friends of the National Rifle Association (NRA) addressed the board, “and it’s knocking.”

“I commend you all for having the guts to do this,” Taylor added.

Retired educator and NRA certified pistol instructor Sheila Gooch also spoke in favor of GAMB: “We need options. We need to look at what we can do to protect our children.”

Before board members placed their vote, Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney reiterated his views that he had expressed during the April BOE meeting when the GAMB policy was first read.

“There is no higher purpose of our school system than to provide a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Gwatney said, explaining his position on adopting the policy.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School, Terry Bramlett, Benny Long, Laurens County, Brent Warberg, Kyle Raque, Michele Bradley, Sheila Gooch, Jack Taylor

Former resource officer Jack Taylor commends the board for taking steps to adopt the new policy.

“As a professional educator, I will be the first to say that simply increasing the number of weapons already legally on our campuses is not, at least in of itself, the answer,” Gwatney said, acknowledging that the issues faced when dealing with violence is multifaceted and other aspects such as mental health need also be addressed.

It was clear by Gwatney’s speech that his biggest concern when it comes to setting policy for the safety of Fannin County schools is the mistake of taking no action at all.

He concluded his thoughts by sharing a quote from John F. Kennedy: “There are risks and costs to action. But are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”

After fully reading the policy for a second time and with tension high in the room, the BOE unanimously passed GAMB. Many present in opposition of the policy stormed out of the building upon its passing.

The new Possession of Weapons by Employees policy (GAMB) states that “the Board of Education may authorize certain personnel to possess or carry weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the District.”

Those approved to carry weapons on school property must meet and adhere to certain criteria, the first of which being that proper training and review of skill must be approved in advance by the superintendent and the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School, Terry Bramlett, Benny Long, Laurens County, Brent Warberg, Kyle Raque, Michele Bradley, Sheila Gooch, Jack Taylor

Fannin County Board of Education unanimously votes to adopt new GAMB policy.

Continued evaluation will also be required upon approval: “To receive and subsequently maintain authorization, all approved personnel shall regularly qualify to the standard required by the Fannin County Sheriff for each type of weapon authorized.”

Types and quantities of weapons and ammunition each individual will be allowed to possess will be approved and monitored by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and the superintendent.

Personnel will not be required to carry arms, and the program will be carried out on a volunteer basis. Furthermore, the new legislation states, “The final appointment will be made by the Superintendent consistent with the requirements of this policy. Each employee appointed must be licensed under the laws of the state to carry a firearm and shall be subject to an annual criminal history background check. Approval will not be granted for any employee who has had an employment or other history indicating any type of mental or emotional instability as determined by the Board or Superintendent. The Superintendent shall be able at any time to remove or suspend the authority granted to any employee under this policy.”

Specific guidelines were also laid out in the new policy for proper carrying and storage of weapons.

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby expressed his opinion of the policy at the previous BOE meeting held in April: “I support it 100 percent. I think that drastic acts require drastic responses.”

Kirby went on to say, “I’m very thankful that the board and the superintendent were willing to step out into these waters. I think it was done right.”

Fannin County Assistant Superintendent Benny Long pointed out that this policy is a foundation from which the school system can build: “At this given time, it is still in the very formative stages. There are lots of questions, I think, that all of us have but we are working on developing this process.”

If the board chooses to put this policy into practice, the personnel approved would remain confidential. Gwatney previously explained, “By pursuing a policy, the Board of Education intends to reserve the option to take action that is permitted by state law; whether and/or how the Board chooses to implement the policy, if approved, is a confidential matter.”

“This is just one more option, one more tool, that we could use to keep our schools safe,” Gwatney said, explaining that by adopting the policy it simply just gives the school board that option to possibly take. “The policy in and of itself could act as a deterrent to someone wishing to do harm.”

Policy Possession of Weapons by Employees (Descriptor Code: GAMB):

The Board of Education is committed to maintaining a safe and secure working and learning environment. Unless authorized by the Board of Education or an administrator in accordance with this policy, or specifically authorized by state law, employees shall be prohibited from bringing weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at school functions, and on school buses or other transportation furnished by the School District. Employees in violation of this policy shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-11-130.1, the Board of Education may authorize certain personnel to possess or carry weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the District, subject to the following conditions:

1. Training of approved personnel shall occur prior to their authorization to carry weapons. The training shall be approved in advance by the Superintendent and Fannin County Sheriff and shall, at a minimum, include training on judgment pistol and long gun shooting, marksmanship, and a review of current laws relating to the use of force for the defense of self or others. The Superintendent, with the approval of the Fannin County Sheriff, may substitute for certain training requirements an individual’s prior military or law enforcement service if he or she has previously served as a certified law enforcement officer or has had military service which involved similar weapons training. To receive and subsequently maintain authorization, all approved personnel shall regularly qualify to the standard required by the Fannin County Sheriff for each type of weapon authorized.

2. An approved list of the types and quantity of weapons and ammunition each approved individual is authorized to possess or carry shall be prepared and maintained by the Superintendent and shall be approved by the Fannin County Sheriff;

3. Selection of personnel to possess or carry a weapon shall be done strictly on a voluntary basis.The final appointment will be made by the Superintendent consistent with the requirements of this policy. Each employee appointed must be licensed under the laws of the state to carry a firearm and shall be subject to an annual criminal history background check. Approval will not be granted for any employee who has had an employment or other history indicating any type of mental or emotional instability as determined by the Board or Superintendent. The Superintendent shall be able at any time to remove or suspend the authority granted to any employee under this policy; and

4. Weapons possessed or carried by personnel under this paragraph shall be secured as follows: Concealed weapons are permitted if they are carried in a holster and not in a purse, briefcase, bag, or similar other accessory which is not secured on the body. If maintained separate from the body, the weapon shall be maintained in a secured lock safe or similar lock box that cannot be easily accessed by students.

In addition to those employees appointed pursuant to this policy, the Board recognizes that other exceptions exist under O.C.G.A. §16-11-127.1. All records regarding the appointment of individual employees and the implementation of this program shall be exempt from production under the Open Records Act as specified in Georgia law.

 

 

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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

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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 County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 04/30 to 5/06

Arrest Reports

Arrest report provided by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office.  The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 35-01-18) allows for www.fetchyournews.com to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Fannin County. Those arrests are posted on www.fetchyournews.com for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.

This year’s Road-e-o winners

Community

Attached is the picture of this year’s Road-e-o winners.

1st Junior Dillinger
2nd Eddie Gilmore
3rd Tim Joiner

Nita Cagle speaks about life on the campaign trail

Election 2018

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Georgia’s current Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle continues to make his way across the state in his bid to become Georgia’s next governor. Recently, Cagle made stops through north Georgia as part of his campaign on a two-week venture dubbed the “Cagle Country Bus Tour.”

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Nita Cagle speaks to a group of youths in Blairsville, Georgia.

While supporters and undecided voters alike packed venues to hear the candidate speak in their hometown, many were surprised to see another Cagle family member emerge from the bus to give her take on why Casey Cagle, her husband, should be Georgia’s next governor.

Nita Cagle has been by Casey’s side for 32 years. In those 32 years, the Cagles have raised three sons and are currently enjoying the addition of three grandchildren to the family, but raising a family and having a life in politics has not always been easy.

Cagle holds the title of Second Lady of the State of Georgia, but she said what she is most proud of is her title as wife, mother and now grandmother of the Cagle household.

“I’m the inaugural member of team Cagle,” Georgia’s Second Lady joked as she spoke of the family’s early years in politics.

Casey Cagle first ran for Georgia Senate District 49 in 1994. At that time, both of the Cagles were in their late 20s and just beginning a family.

“Casey had helped a friend run a campaign,” Cagle spoke of how their life in public service began. “Over the next couple of years, I saw the spark start.”

Cagle admits that when she first noticed Casey was showing interest in this field, that she was “a little hesitant” to jump on board but says that her faith changed her attitude.

“I had many nights, many talks, and eventually a calmness just came over me, and I was okay with it. So when he came to me and said this is something that is on my heart, I already knew,” Cagle spoke candidly of her acceptance to stand by Casey as he joined the political arena.

When asked if she felt she had known of Casey’s intentions before he spoke openly of them, Cagle laughed and said, “Actually, he probably already knew. It was just ‘How am I going to tell Nita?'”

Georgia, Fannin County, White County, Towns County, Pickens County, Habersham County, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Casey Cagle, Nita Cagle, Cagle Country Bus Tour, Opiod Epidemic, Small Business, Preschool, Gubernatorial Race, 2018, General Primary, May, General Election, November, Republican, Family

Nita Cagle rallies the crowd for her husband at Glenda’s in Cleveland, Georgia.

This career move was not always smooth as Cagle had to adapt to managing her time: “The boys were young. You’re divided because you want to be with them both, be a mom and be a wife.”

Ultimately,, through family discussions, Cagle decided that she would become a strong foundation for her family at home.

“You only get one time at it,” Cagle explained of the decision and the importance of having an active role in a child’s life. “You don’t get a do-over.”

This decision did pose obstacles for the Cagles to overcome as the now Lt. Governor was often called away for his job and for campaigns, but Cagle explained these obstacles are no different than what many families face: “Whether it’s politics, any job is going to put stress. No marriage is going to be without stress.”

Cagle explained that she has been blessed in that despite the calling of Casey’s career, he has always put his family first: “He’s a homebody, and if it is humanly possible to come home, he is coming home.”

With their children grown, Cagle said being on the campaign trail this time has a much different feel: “It absolutely was harder as they were younger. It got a lot easier as they got older. I’m really energized. I’m really enjoying it.”

Having grown children poses a set of new and exciting challenges when it comes to time management, as Cagle announced that their youngest son recently proposed to his girlfriend and would like to wed in the fall shortly before the November General Election.

This announcement did not slow Cagle down as she smiled and enthusiastically explained, “What better thing to do in the middle of all this craziness, than to shut it all down and to celebrate family, remember why we do it to start with, and welcome a new daughter-in-law into our family.”

Georgia, Fannin County, White County, Towns County, Pickens County, Habersham County, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Casey Cagle, Nita Cagle, Cagle Country Bus Tour, Opiod Epidemic, Small Business, Preschool, Gubernatorial Race, 2018, General Primary, May, General Election, November, Republican, Family

Casey Cagle takes time to boast on his wife Nita via social media.

Cagle added that having been in a house of men for so long, and with her two older sons already married she is excited for the wedding and glad that the male to female ratio is evening out.

With the prospect of becoming Georgia’s First Lady, Cagle has given a lot of time to her platform and her mission if given this duty: “I have several things that I have thought about, and I may or may not narrow down.”

Having obtained a degree and having a background in early childhood education, Cagle taught preschool for a number of years.

“I specifically love the preschool age,” Cagle smiled as she discussed one of her goals if given the title of First Lady of Georgia.

Cagle would like to see preschool education expanded and offered throughout Georgia. She cited the importance of teaching children at a young age and how this early nurturing can carry over throughout their life.

Knowing that not every child is able to receive this kind of early start at home, Cagle would like to see this program offered in more areas, stating that the work put into a child at an early age will benefit society for generations to come.

Cagle would also like to put a focus on small businesses throughout Georgia. She and husband Casey got their start by establishing a small business, so she knows first-hand the struggles that entrepreneurs face.

“I would like to champion them, and spotlight them,” Cagle said, explaining her passion for this area. She noted that small businesses make up a large portion of the Georgia economy, and she would like to see “mom and pop shops” continue to set up and succeed in our state.

Finally, Cagle discussed an issue that has come up time and time again on the campaign trail and that is of the opioid epidemic that is not just facing the state of Georgia but affecting countless families nationwide.

Georgia, Fannin County, White County, Towns County, Pickens County, Habersham County, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Casey Cagle, Nita Cagle, Cagle Country Bus Tour, Opiod Epidemic, Small Business, Preschool, Gubernatorial Race, 2018, General Primary, May, General Election, November, Republican, Family

Nita Cagle is all smiles as she introduces her husband Casey Cagle to the crowd gathered in Habersham County.

From speaking with residents in Georgia, Cagle is left with one strong impression when it comes to the opioid epidemic: “It’s everywhere. It does not discriminate. We hear the same story over and over. It’s repeated everywhere.”

While Cagle admits that she is by no means an expert when it comes to this crisis, she says that she cannot deny the need to address the issue and “get the conversation going.” She stated that by hearing the heartbreaking stories from families affected by opioid addiction she understands the depth of the problem and that it will not be an easy one to combat.

Being a multifaceted issue with a number of areas that need to be addressed, Cagle said, “If we are blessed enough to be elected, the platform is going to put me in a position to do good and open doors for the people that know about it.”

Cagle would like to increase awareness of the opioid epidemic and at least on one front open the doors for mentoring programs where families struggling with this issue can speak with former addicts on how to help loved ones.

Cagle also acknowledged the successes being seen through Georgia’s Drug Courts and would like to study the impacts of possibly expanding these programs.

Nita Cagle beams a confidence and sincerity in all that she speaks of, but perhaps her biggest conviction is in that of her husband’s ability to make a great governor of Georgia.

“The best way to know the kind of leader or character a person is going to have is to look into the home, and that is what I bring to the table,” Cagle stated, smiling at her husband. “I’ve been married to a man that is consistent every single day.”

She spoke of his competitive drive and his ability to connect with people but said he is also a fair man and one she is proud to have spent the last 32 years by his side.

Cagle’s birthday is May 23, just one day after the General Primary, and she stated this year she doesn’t want any gifts from her husband but instead, “I just want a good clean win on the 22nd with no run-off.”

“He says it’s mathematically virtually impossible,” Cagle said, explaining her husband’s response to her wish, but she then added with her contagious smile, “I have seen him do the impossible before.”

 

 

 

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Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 04/24 to 04/29

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News from Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Business, Community
Fannin County Chamber of Commerce  eNewsletter
May 2018
News for Members
Fannin Co. Chamber Logo

Leading the way to economic vitality and quality of life in Blue Ridge, McCaysville, Morganton and all of beautiful Fannin County, Georgia.

Two Great Business After Hours In May!

_________________________________

Member News and Events

Don’t Forget to Vote!
Early Voting has started. The primary election is May 22.
 
 
Welcome to the Georgia Rural Development Council
The Georgia Rural Development Council will come to Blue Ridge to meet regarding Equitable Use & Compensation of Right of Way Usage for
Emerging Communications Technologies on May 15 & 16. The meetings will be at Bear Claw Vineyards from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on May 15 and  8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on May 16.

Fannin Regional Hospital presents 
“Dinner with the Doctor” 

Dinner with the Doctor will feature Dr. Kevin Bunn, Orthopedic Surgeon. The dinner is this afternoon at Willow Creek Falls at 5:30. Learn more about the doctor and there will also be a question and answer opportunity. Reservations are required. Contact Susan Kiker at (706) 964-2730.
Fannin County Host to Georgia Outdoor Writers Association
We were pleased to have Fannin County chosen as the host community for the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association’s Annual Conference. We had approximately 30 writers in the area for 4 days.  Thank you to all of our wonderful partners who worked with us and made this a successful event. They had a great time, experienced many of the wonderful things that our community has to offer and they are looking forward to a return visit.

Thank You Golf Tournament Sponsors!
The Spring Golf Tournament is happening May 22 at Old Toccoa Farm. Good luck golfers and thank you to all those who sponsored this event!
Title Sponsor – ETC Communications
Lunch Sponsor – Mountain Valley Community Bank
Putting Contest Sponsor – Mountain Gateway Appraisal
Teams – Ace Hardware, Appalachian Insurance & Financial Services, Blue Ridge Pharmacy, Copper Basin Federal Credit Union, Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals, Keel Properties, Kevin Panter Insurance, Lifeforce, Mountain Valley Motors, NGYOA, North Georgia Sports Zone, Summit Inspections, Temple Baptist Church, Trane Rental Services, UNG, United Community Bank

Welcome New Members!

Allstar Photo Service

McCaysville, GA, 30555
(706) 455-0912
Jerry Daves
Allstar Photo Services specializes in special events, team sports, custom portraits and posters.
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Daffodil Hill Romantic Carriage House Suite
(706) 851-4430
Barbara Noyes
Daffodil Hill Romantic Carriage House Suite is a custom built suite perfect for those wanting to spend their honeymoon in Blue Ridge, GA. Enjoy a heated Whirlpool Jacuzzi in bedroom with king size bed, a separate large bathroom/dressing room, marble heart sinks and a double shower in this 2,200 square foot custom designed suite for two. The large gourmet kitchen is equipped with all the essentials and guests will have a supply of farm fresh eggs, homemade bread, bacon and waffle mix. The bottom floor houses their beautiful horses and three replica 1800’s carriages available for rides or learning to drive while enjoying your stay. Please call owners for rental availability.
 
 
Delivery Dudes
(706) 760-6857
Louis Brian
Delivery Dudes is a full delivery company delivering food, groceries, etc. Whether you are in-town or out in a cabin Delivery Dudes will deliver to you! Riding the train? Delivery Dudes will have your picnic lunch waiting for you to enjoy when you arrive in McCaysville. Enjoy your lunch by the beautiful Toccoa River!
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Ed’s Supply Company
Rodney Hayes
Ed’s Supply Company offers HVAC/R wholesale.
Flying Trout Restaurant
Blairsville, GA, 30512
(706) 745-8000
Michelle Evans
Flying Trout Restaurant offers seasonal “soul satisfying” southern favorites featuring only the finest ingredients. Setting out to be the best food in the South, their culinary team rocks a menu of classics. Always fresh, always new, always comfort food with attitude made just for you. 
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Marketplace Ministries
Mineral Bluff, GA, 30559
(404)323-2074
Steve Brown
Marketplace Ministries is a non-profit faith based Georgia corporation formed to share Jesus with business leaders.
 
Southern Comfort Cabin Downtown Blue Ridge Rentals
240 West Main St.
Blue Ridge, GA, 30513
(706) 258-3737
CJ Stam

Southern Comfort Cabin Downtown Blue Ridge Rentals features vacation rentals and lodging options in downtown Blue Ridge, GA. Convenient to all the shopping, dining, galleries and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
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The Martyn House

912 Flat Branch Rd.
Ellijay, GA, 30540
(706) 635-4759
https://themartynhouse.com/the-farm/

JoAnn Antonelli

The Martyn House Farm is a circa 1930’s Homestead located in Gilmer County on 18 beautiful acres and is home to Glamping.Their unique lodging consists of 3 Luxury Sleeping Tents, The Studio, The Cottage and The Millhouse. Guests can embrace the peace and quiet of nature, while still enjoying all the comforts of home. The Martyn House offers seasonal Farm to Table dinners, Second Saturday Workshops, Retreats and is an Artist Residency. 
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Ribbon Cuttings, Congratulations!
April 24 was the ribbon cutting for Viking Outdoor. Viking Outdoor proudly provides custom lighting, sound systems and water features for the mountain community. With over 20 years in the industry, the Viking can create the right system for you – call today! 404-952-3542
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April 25 was the ribbon cutting for High Country Pest Control. High Country Pest Control offers structural pest control; termite, carpenter bees, etc.
(706) 455-8672
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Chamber Member Anniversaries!
 

El Rio Mexican Restaurant

 
Aska Lodge B&B, LLC
Huck’s General Store
Noontootla Creek Farms
Walhala Ridge Furnishings
 

Appalachian Beverage
Blue Ridge Fry Shop
Blue Ridge iClinic
Blue Ridge Medical Group – Dr. Clifford Thompson, F.A.C.S., Dr. Jonathan Bloch, F.A.C.S. and Dr. Nathan Kincaid General Surgery
Blue Ridge Medical Group – Dr. Emily Sue Burnham, Internal Medicine
Blue Ridge Mountain Trail Rides at Hells Hollow
Copper Basin Federal Credit Union
Eagles Rest
Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Goodspeed Architects, Inc.
Grumpy Old Men Brewing, LLC
King Heating & Air
MotoXAdventures
Papa’s Pizza To Go
Ray Gaines
Real Estate Around the Mountains
The Farnham Law Firm

May Community Events Calendar
 
April 27 – May 5 – The Art of Larry Smith, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association
May 4 – Veterans Fishing Rodeo, Chattahoochee Fish Hatchery
May 4 – Stand-Up Comedy with the Geico Caveman John Lehr, Grumpy Old Men Brewing
May 5 – Meet the cast of the TV show “Quick Draw”, Firefly Music Private Cabin
May 5-6 – Georgia Apple Blossom Festival, Ellijay
May 5 – Awake the Grapes, Serenberry Vineyards
May 5– Kentucky Derby Party, Blue Ridge Lake Front Address
May 5 – Fred Johnson Jazz Musician, Blue Ridge Community Theater
May 10 –   SAAG Spring Art Show, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association
May 12 – Georgia Mountain Classic Car Show, Downtown Blue Ridge
May 12 – Master Gardeners Plant Sale, United Community Bank Pavilion
May 17 – June 3 – Murder Room – Comedy, Blue Ridge Community Theater
May 17 – Jane the Move, The Swan Drive-In
May 18 – Endangered Species Scavenger Hunt, Downtown Blue Ridge
May 19-20 – Discovery Days, Project Chimps
May 25 – Georgia Mountain Classics Cruise In, Dairy Queen
May 26-27 – 43rd Annual Spring Arts in the Park, Downtown Blue Ridge
May 26 – All Star Monster Trucks, Blue Ridge Motorsports Park
 
Recurring Events
Tuesday
* Trivia Tuesdays, Fightingtown Tavern
Wednesday
*Visitor Time, 10:00 a.m. – Noon, Tri-State Model Railroaders, Mineral Bluff Historic Depot
Thursday 

 
Bingo, Kiwanis Fairgrounds
* Trivia Night! Fannin Brewing Company
* Brewery Tours & Tastings:
Thursday through Saturday’s at  Fannin Brewing Company and Grumpy Old Men.
* Swan Drive-in –Now Playing
FOR THE FULL CALENDAR –Click Here

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In This Issue
Business After Hours
Candidate Forum
Member News & Events
Golf Tournament Sponsors
Welcome New Members!
Ribbon Cuttings
Chamber Member Anniversaries
Community Events Calendar

Chamber Calendar of Events
May 1 – Ribbon Cutting for Blue Ridge Bird Seed Co., 611 East Main St., Blue Ridge
11:00 a.m.
May 2 – Lunch N Leads, Blue Jeans Pizza and Pasta Factory
12:00 p.m.
May 3 – Candidate Forum, Blue Ridge Community Theater, 2591 East 1st St., Blue Ridge
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
May 3 – Leadership Fannin, Economic Development, Fannin County Chamber
9:00 a.m.
May 4 – Ribbon Cutting for Blue Ridge Motorsports Park, 2252 Sugar Creek Rd., Blue Ridge
10:00 a.m.
May 4 – Ribbon Cutting for Blue Ridge Adventure Gear, 342 East Main St., Blue Ridge
4:00 p.m.
May 11 – Leadership Fannin, Tourism, Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association
9:00 a.m.
May 15 – Business After Hours, Fannin Regional Hospital at Riverstone Medical Campus, 101 Riverstone Vista, Blue Ridge
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
May 16 – Ribbon Cutting for Vacasa, 21 High Park Dr., Ste. 7, Blue Ridge
11:30 a.m.
May 16 – Golf Committee Meeting at the Chamber
12:00 p.m.
May 17 – Leadership Fannin Graduation
May 18 – Ribbon Cutting for State Farm Insurance/Charles Edmondson, 154 Orvin Lance Connector, Blue Ridge
2:00 p.m.
May 22 – 2nd Annual Spring Golf Tournament at Old Toccoa Farm
9:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Tee Off
May 23 – Ribbon Cutting for Downtown Accommodations by Mountain Top Cabin Rentals, 224 West Main St., Blue Ridge
10:00 a.m.
May 23 – Board of Directors Meeting, Chamber Board Room, Executive Committee at 11:00 a.m, Board of Directors
12:00 p.m.
May 24 – Ambassador Lunch at Masseria, 67 Roberts Way, Blue Ridge
12:00 p.m.
May 29 – Business After Hours, Tri-State Model Railroad, 150 Railroad Ave., Mineral Bluff
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
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Member Renewals
 
Allen Construction
Appalachian Beverage
Appalachian Insurance & Financial Services
Aska Lodge B&B, LLC
Assist Homecare Services
Automated Creations, Inc.
B.R. Fitness
Best Western Mountain View Inn
Blue Ridge Adventure Wear
Blue Ridge Bird Seed Company
Blue Ridge Fry Shop
Blue Ridge Heights, LLC
Blue Ridge Lodging Association
Blue Ridge Medical Group – Dr. Dillon Miller, Family Practice
Blue Ridge Medical Group – Dr. Emily Sue Burnham, Internal Medicine
Blue Ridge Mountain Canopy Adventure at Hells Hollow
Blue Ridge Mountain Trail Rides at Hells Hollow
Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company
Boat Dock Bar and Grill at Lake Blue Ridge Marina
Broken Bull
Brookstone Apartments
Chick-fil-A
Complete Home Services
Coosa Creek Marketing Products
Cucina Rustica
Duplicating Products, Inc.
Eagles Perch Lodge
Eagles Rest
Edwin C. Pound, III, MD, PC
El Rio Mexican Restaurant
Faith Presbyterian Church, USA
Fannin County Board of Education
Gene Rutkowski, Mountain Place Realty
Georgia Mountains Hospice
Grandaddy Mimm’s Distillery
Green Leaf Lawn & Ornamental, LLC
Grumpy Old Men Brewing
Harry Norman, REALTORS
Heartwood Health, Art and Yoga
Hometown Foods IGA
Huck’s General Store
Humane Society of Blue Ridge
Iron Bridge General Store & Cafe
Jan Kantor
Janken Daniels – BHGRE Metro Brokers
John M. Hicks
John Soave Custom Home Builders
King Heating & Air
Lisa Affordable Websites
Maureen Roeland
MotoXAdventures
Mountain Education Charter High School
Mountain Emergency Animal Center (MEAC)
Mountain Gateway Appraisal
Noontootla Creek Farms
North Georgia Cabins & Land, LLC
North Georgia Spas
Ocoee Adventure Center
Old Toccoa Farm
Papa’s Pizza To Go
Pedego Electric Bikes
Perfect Word Data Services
Persimmon Creek Campground,Trout Pond & Gem Mine
Roper’s Heating and Air Service
Satterwhite Log Homes
Scott Nichols, Coldwell Banker High Country Realty
Stonehenge Senior Living
TANK TOWN USA
Teatrees Boutique Spa
Terry L. Wilson, LLC
The Cleaning Booth
The Diamond Center
The Last Stop Grill
The Toccoa Lodge
TRC Hauling & Paving, Inc.
Van Zandt’s Riverwalk Grill & Grocery
Vista Scapes
Wilderness Creek Falls & Ridge Brook of Blue Ridge
Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard
_____________
Member Events
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