Lady Rebels Fall to Indians

FCHS Sports, Sports

On the first Wednesday of the month, the Lady Rebels softball team traveled to Murray County to take on the Lady Indians. Fannin had just come from a tough one point loss at Dawson County the week before and was looking to add a win to their record.

The Lady Rebels were unable to make anything happen on offense in the top of the first inning where they scored zero runs. When they hit the field, they let their errors on defense get the best of them. Their energy was nowhere to be found as the Lady Indians took an early 3-0 lead to finish the first inning.

Fannin started to fight back on offense in the second inning where they were able to score two runs on offense and hold the Indians on defense. Fannin continued a trend for the night of scoring every other inning while the Indians scored in all but two.

The energy in the Rebels started to come alive in the fourth inning when their bats became hot. This was their biggest inning for the night where they managed to get four runs on the board and the Indians trailed right behind with three of their own. Murray County carried their big offensive inning into the fifth where they scored four more runs. Fannin was unable to do the same with their zero runs.

Maleah Stepp was four for four at the plate for the night and led the Rebels in hits. Not only did Stepp have four hits, but she also had three RBI’s. Amelia Sneed was in the circle for Fannin and struck out three batters over six innings. Out of all of Sneed’s pitches for the night, twenty-three of her first pitches were strikes.

After seven innings of play, the Lady Indians closed out the game with an 11-8 victory over the Lady Rebels. Fannin’s loss put their overall record at 4-8 while their region record remained the same at 2-3.


Fannin offers memorial jersey to honor Larry Walker

Bobcat's Corner, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – It may seem like a small gesture to some, but for those in Gilmer County, Georgia, a simple jersey is relating a lot more than meets the eye as they receive a memorial jersey to honor Gilmer’s middle school principal, the late Larry Walker.

With a special moment before the middle school football games between these two schools on September 19, Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney took to the field with Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs and Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee for a special ceremony in order to present the jersey hosting the emblems of both Gilmer and Fannin.

After a few words about Walker’s life and a moment of silence honoring him, Gwatney and Downs shared their own moment holding the jersey together. The announcers explained the meaning of the ceremony saying,

“The jersey being presented to the Gilmer Middle School football team bears the name of Walker with the #1. Also on the jersey is the Fannin County School insignia and the Gilmer County School insignia. The jersey being presented is in memory of Larry D. Walker, principal of Gilmer Middle School, and signifying Fannin County and Gilmer County are together as one, both in spirit and community.”

With the funeral today, many are still dealing with the loss as they prepare their final respects. Others are coping in their own ways. But as a community comes together and the true reach of one man comes into focus, they are responding to the show of support. Kayann Hayden West offered her thanks on social media saying, “Thankful for the support of our community and the Walker family up and down the 515 corridor. Rivals on the field but united in purpose and heart.”



Budget: Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Statements Audit

Community, News

The city of Blue Ridge audit has been reviewed by Welch, Walker & Associates and they found no issues or changes needed to be made in the report. This information is summed up from December 31, 2017. The audit was finished in June of 2018 and has been approved with no changes.

The auditors are looking at items like capital projects, funding, big downtown projects, and new water rates. The auditors judge the financial reports based on a three-tier system: the highest level is 3) Material Weakness (most serious issues), 2) Significant Deficiencies and the lowest level is 1) Management Comments—these aren’t even shared in the report as they are minute.

Findings found in the Blue Ridge financial report that are tested. There were three Significant Deficiencies findings within the Blue Ridge audit.

2015-01: “Lack of segregation of duties” and this is a very common finding in a ‘small-town’ community.  This just means that there’s only one person working in a position where mistakes can be made and there’s no additional person to go back and check over reports, data entry, etc.

2015-02: “Lack of contract for revenue transactions” a few years ago it was spotted that the franchise tax agreement between the tri-state EMC and the city of Blue Ridge is outdated and it’s not been renewed officially on paper. There are a few things that need to be updated within the contract and it needs to be signed by Tri-State EMC. This has been addressed and is something the city of Blue Ridge has been working on.

2017-01: “Rates were not calculating properly in the software” this is a new finding but has already been addressed and fixed. For the new water bills in 2017, the rates were not calculating correctly in the software but was fixed in May of 2018 while they were going over the audit. Since the amount of money was ‘material’ it needed to go in the report. The ‘material’ amount was 32,110.00 from 2017 and 12,850.00 from January-May of 2018.

The 2017-01 error was the city’s software error and will not be charged to the citizens of Blue Ridge.

Tigers Claw Rebels

FCHS Sports, Sports

The Thursday before last, the Lady Rebels softball team traveled to Dawson County to take on the Lady Tigers. Fannin had just come from a win against Towns County prior to the matchup at Dawson and was looking for another to add to their record. The Tigers had just come from a loss to North Hall their last game and were hungry for a region win.

Even from the start of the game, you could tell that both teams wanted a win from the intensity they showed on the field. Both teams put up a fight on defense by not letting the other score.The score remained 0-0 until the third inning when Dawson started to put runs on the board.

In the bottom of the third, Dawson started to hit the ball in the right places and scored two runs. Fannin County gave it right back to the Tigers in the top of the fourth when they put two of their own on the board. Dawson was able to continue the trend in the fifth inning by adding one more run to their score as they went into the sixth inning, managing to hold Fannin on defense.

Maleah Stepp, Kayleigh Russell, and Emily Waldrep each had a hit for the night over the Tigers. Kyla Seabolt had an RBI for the night, contributing to Fannin’s score. Amelia Sneed pitched a great game from the mound where she struck out five batters.

Despite Fannin’s efforts to make a comeback, Dawson walked away with a 3-2 region win over the Rebels. Fannin’s loss put their overall record at 4-7 and their region record at 2-3. The Rebels will get a chance to redeem themselves on September 25 at 5:55 as they take on Dawson County one last time for their senior night.


DA Sosebee begins information campaign in schools

News, Videos
District Attorney Alison Sosebee speaking to GHS students about Vaping and drug use.

ELLIJAY, Ga – The Appalachian Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney, Alison Sosebee, began her campaign today in Fannin Middle School and Gilmer High School with presentations for students about the rising trend of vaping in all forms.

Speaking to the students she shared some of the responses that authorities have begun included harsher penalties for vape devices in general, not to mention the felonies possible with controlled substances. Using drugs in the vape devices like the popular Juul brand devices is only a part of growing concerns as authorities and administrations fear for students who expect non-nicotine flavored water vapor in devices they may find friends with when in reality these devices could contain anything from Heroin to Synthetic Marijuana.

Sosebee also invited Georgia Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Dustin Hamby to speak about the Bureau’s involvement. Hamby noted that almost 90% of his cases tied to drug usage in some way. He goes on to note that he’s had three murders in his career directly related to drug usage.

Sosebee recalled the story of a case she and Hamby shared about a guy who had taken drugs with a close friend. Under the influence, he grew greatly agitated at his friend and violently murdered him without full realization. He spoke further about how little it takes to blow up into major consequences in situations like vaping unknown substances.

Sosebee also noted that they are finding that many students and users of vape devices believe them safer than regular cigarettes. She noted that not only is there zero research to support his claim, but there is also no research or regulations on vaping devices right now. No one can tell you everything that is in Vape Juice, nor if people at smoke shops are adding extra ingredients. She called the students this generations guinea pigs for testing if vaping as they would be the cases that doctors study thirty years from now to determine the actual effects that Vaping can have in both short-term and long-term effects.

Only the first day, Sosebee is expected to travel to Fannin High, Pickens High, and Pickens Middle schools in the next two weeks along with possibly adding Gilmer Middle as well.


Fannin Defeats Towns

FCHS Sports, Sports

The Monday before last, the Lady Rebels softball team traveled to Hiawassee to take on the Towns County Lady Indians. Both teams had just come from a loss their games before the matchup and were looking to redeem themselves with a win.

Both teams started off the game holding the other on defense. They kept the score 0-0 for the first inning until they started to put the ball into action in the second. Fannin opened up the second inning by putting two runs on the board while the Lady Indians answered by putting up five of their own.

The Lady Rebels came back in the third inning where they put three runs on the board and tied the game 5-5. Both teams fought for their lead and didn’t let the other score over two innings. Fannin was able to put one run on the board in the sixth inning to take the lead over the Indians. The Lady Rebels were determined to keep their lead and kept the Indians from scoring in the bottom of the sixth.

Fannin came back in the seventh inning with a huge at bat. Their intensity came alive as they added seven runs to their score. They hit the field with the same determination and allowed Towns to add only two runs to their score.

Senior pitcher, Amelia Sneed, struck out seven batters over seven innings. Over those seven innings, twenty of her first pitches to a new batter were strikes. Throughout the game, Towns County had eight hits while Fannin had six. Although the Indians had more hits, Fannin made less errors on defense. The Lady Rebels allowed six defensive errors while the Lady Indians allowed seven.

With a score of 13-7, the Lady Rebels walked away with a win for the night. Fannin’s win put their overall record at 5-5 and leaves their region record at 2-2.


“Vaping” incident part of a larger problem


Ellijay, Ga. – An incident report from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office confirmed reports of a student “blacking out” and suffering seizures after inhaling a substance from a SMOK Vape device.

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

The male student was hospitalized from the incident and later released. The incident, however, did prompt officials to call in K-9 units to search for other drugs. Authorities found two additional SMOK Vapes with one testing positive for containing marijuana. While the

original vape has been tested, no official response is available identifying the substance in the original device.

However, according to the incident report, it was reported that the student was told by a fellow classmate that “there was a vape in the boy’s restroom and he should go smoke some of it.”

With the investigation in Gilmer CID’s (Criminal Investigations Division) hands, no names of the students nor additional information is available.

However, FYN spoke with Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs who confirmed the incident is part of a larger problem facing the schools today. She told FYN that last year, the school system confiscated eight vape devices over the course of the entire year. This year, they have already collected 25 devices since the beginning of school a few weeks ago.

Each instance results in disciplinary action for the student as it is a violation of the code of conduct, according to Downs, but as the rise in using other substances in the devices continues, the charges against students get far more serious as they deal with controlled substances.

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Downs went on to say that she has spoken with other Superintendents to see if Gilmer is alone in the rise of vape usage. Though she declined to name which counties she had spoken with, she did confirm that Gilmer was not alone.

Confirming the rise in popularity of these devices in several counties, the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee made a press release stating, “Within the last week, several teens in Pickens, Gilmer and Fannin counties have experienced medical emergencies as a result of “vaping,” by use of electronic cigarettes. These medical emergencies necessitated treatment by both EMS and treatment at hospitals.”

Many of the vape devices found being used are very small handheld devices easily concealed within one’s palm or bag, like a purse or book bag, or even in one’s pocket as several designs become thinner and shorter. Downs confirmed they have found Juul brand vapes and last weeks incident report confirmed the males vape was a SMOK brand. Sosebee notes, “Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items.”

As the use of vapes themselves are intended to be used with nicotine for adult smokers, the rising concern is the ability to swap out the common “juice” for homemade cocktails or drugs. Downs confirmed that reports have been made of students crushing Adderall and other things to make the “juice.”

According to Juul’s website, “These alternatives contain nicotine, which has not been shown to cause cancer but can create dependency. We believe that these alternatives are not appropriate for people who do not already smoke.”

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Photo provided by Office of District Attorney, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Sosebee also commented on other substances that have been found in the devices saying, “The liquid that is inhaled, known commonly as “vape juice,” can contain any number of substances: it can contain flavoring; it can contain nicotine; it can also contain drugs and illegal substances such as THC oil, fentanyl and LSD. Of great concern, the user may or may not know what they are inhaling, what their reaction will be to the substances, what they are exposing others to and may erroneously believe that they are simply inhaling “harmless water vapor.” There is nothing harmless about what is occurring.”

Downs went on to say that some parents may have purchased vapes for their kids not knowing that they are swapping out the contents. The feeling was echoed by Sosebee as she called for parents to “be aware of the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.”

With concerns rising from parents, administration, and law enforcement alike, investigations are continuing as programs and events are attempting to educate the community about the devices and their popularity.

Downs said the Gilmer Administration is stepping up efforts in educating and building awareness in their staff about what to look for and also to educate our parents in the community saying, “I feel like there is a real lack of knowledge and lack of understanding among our community in relation to this… This has blown up overnight to the point that I feel like its almost epidemic.”




Trojans Defeat Rebels

FCHS Sports, Sports

Last Thursday, the Lady Trojans softball team traveled from North Hall to take on the Lady Rebels at home. Fannin just had a region win against another Hall County school, Cherokee Bluff, and looked to continue the streak. North Hall had just come from a loss the game prior to the matchup at Fannin and were anxious for a win.

The Trojans got an early lead in the first two innings that Fannin was unable to overcome. In the first inning, the Trojans put four runs on the board while the Rebels were struggling to score one. North Hall extended their lead in the second with two more runs as they continued to hold Fannin on defense.

Fannin finally started to find holes in North Hall’s defense and put the ball into action. The Lady Rebels put their first run on the board in the bottom of the third inning after successfully holding the Trojans on defense. Fannin continued advancing their score little by little for two more innings while North Hall did the same.

The Lady Rebels had faith that they could make a come back until the Lady Trojans laid the hammer down at the top of the sixth inning and scored five more runs. Fannin started off slow, picked up their intensity towards the middle, and then let it fall again towards the end.

Senior, Amelia Sneed, pitched 5.1 innings for the Rebels where sixteen of her first pitches were strikes. Junior, Kayleigh Russell, came in as a relief for Sneed for 0.2 innings where she struck out one batter over a short period of time.

Fannin let their defensive errors get the best of them in their matchup against North Hall. The teams were almost even in the amount of hits throughout the night where the Trojans had six and Fannin had five. Although the amount of hits were close, the number of defensive errors were not. While the Rebels allowed ten errors over six innings, North Hall allowed only four.

North Hall closed out the game with a 13-4 victory over Fannin. The Rebels loss put their overall record at 4-5 and their region record at 2-2. Fannin will get their shot at redemption on September 18 at 5:55 when they travel to Gainesville to take on North Hall.

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