Appalachian Propane has been the previous supplier for gas for the city of Blue Ridge and its employees for the last several years. Last calendar year, the city of Blue Ridge put out a bid for gas—as per usual—and where they normally get at least three bids back, this time, they only received one bid from Appalachian Propane.
While discussing Appalachian Propane’s bid, new council members wondered aloud what the current rate was. Now, the city has the option to not reveal the single bid so that they may rebid, however, the city council and Mayor Donna Whitener decided to publicly state the amount of the single bid. Had the newer council members known this, they may not have asked to hear the current rate.
Even though propane prices are based on an open market, some council members were unsure about the current propane rates. This year’s propane price is $1.44 for City and $1.54 for employees.
Council member Nathan Fitz asked, “And what was last years rate?”
After some digging, Finance Director Alicia Stewart found the price which was reported as $1.04.
Council member Ken Gaddis asked, “Can we do that again [send out another bid]?”
Council member Rhonda Haight responded, “To be honest, it wouldn’t really be fair if you went back and asked for a lower rate now, but what you could do is hold off and renegotiate. Call the owner and see if he would renegotiate this. If not, just, it is what it is.”
Council member Ken Gaddis replied, “So can we table it and reach out to them and see if there’s any other rates we can do?”
Council member Haight responded, “We could actually make a motion probably to do it at this rate or a lower rate, but then, he wouldn’t change it would he? [after a comment within the council] Yeah, I’m recused.”
Council member Fitz made the motion, “Okay, I’m going make a motion that we table the propane gas 2018-19 quote until next month.”
Council member Gaddis second’ the motion and then they discussed whether or not there was an ‘official’ contract between Appalachian Propane and the city of Blue Ridge.
A city official responded that there may not be a contract because Blue Ridge usually goes with the bid that offers lowest rate.
Where will the Blue Ridge Council members go from here? Stay tuned for next month’s council meeting.
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.
Thursday afternoon, September 6, Dr. Gwatney sent out a letter explaining a recent event at Fannin County High School. It’s been reported that students are smoking and inhaling electronic cigarettes.
District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee contacted Dr. Gwatney sharing that several students from other counties have needed medical treatment after using these electronic cigarettes. Unfortunately, an incident has happened like this here in our own county.
It’s been discovered that a substance known as, “Kronic” is being sold locally and the students are getting ahold of it; this has resulted in students needing medical attention and have been escorted to the hospital.
Currently, Fannin County High School staff and faculty are doing everything they can to talk to our students about their decisions to vape and using electronic cigarettes. Our students also need to be aware and mindful of what substances they are putting into their electronic cigarettes and/ or vapes.
Parents and guardians should be aware and look out for these items. Electronic cigarettes, vapes, etc. can look like USB flash drives, lighters, pens, and other common items. Please ask and talk to your students about what they know—and may not know—about vaping and electronic cigarettes. Let’s take this time as a community to take care of our kids.
The school district has been kind enough to post various pictures of devices to watch for on Facebook page (Fannin County School System). For more information on vaping, you may refer to the CDC website at the following website: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm
The Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, scheduled for Sep. 4, to discuss the Hampton Inn floor limitations was canceled. Blue Ridge City officials decided to cancel the meeting after a recommendation letter was sent out by Blue Ridge City attorney, James A. W. Balli, stating that, in his legal opinion, the zoning meeting was no longer necessary due to the current city ordinances.
This begs the question as to why there was a variance request in the first place? Surely no corporate company would purchase land without doing their due diligence to ensure that their goals of building onto the property would come to fruition. Would Hampton Inn buy land without having their attorneys review city ordinances beforehand?
Balli investigated the city’s zoning rules and concluded that the law allows for the building of up to 60 ft, so the question of floors is void, but rather, the height of the Hampton Inn is what matters most.
In an open letter Balli states, “Therefore, it is my legal opinion that, in its current form, the Zoning Ordinance limits the height of any structure within the CBD to 4 stories or 60’ feet. Accordingly, the Applicant need not request the height variance if the hotel does not exceed 60’ feet. It would be my advice that the hearing scheduled for September 4, 2018 be cancelled as unnecessary and that a zoning certification be issued to the Applicant which is complies with the legal opinion in this letter.”
There could be some potential issues with the construction of the Hampton Inn.
Note that in the open letter, Balli added Article 3 General Provisions, which states, “G15.2-3 Delay in Construction. In the event that construction is not begun within two years from the date of approval by the Council or is begun but is halted for a period of more than one year, said approval shall be void. Re-approval must follow the procedure set forth in Section 15 .1 and 15 .2 of this Article.”
Several issues have come into question by citizens of Fannin County that could delay construction. Among these issues are power lines over the now vacant lot, the city’s current infrastructure capabilities, and whether Fannin County’s fire department is equipped to handle a five-story building.
There has yet to be a sit-down between Fannin County and Blue Ridge City officials regarding these matters. Fire Chief Larry Thomas spoke on the matter of fire protection, “We (Fire/EMS) are aware of the request of a five-story building in the downtown area, and we are being proactive. We want to make sure that we have the right equipment to handle the new growth.”
With possible infrastructural changes and accommodations needing to take place, could there be a new five-story hotel on the horizon? Or will the lack of city preparedness be the downfall of the new Hampton Inn?
At TeamFYNSports, we try to spread the love around when selecting out Sportswriter Player of the Week. On rare occasion, however, one athlete stands out so well we simply can’t help but give it to him more than once. Fannin Rebels inside linebacker Mason Rhodes, who racked up 17 tackles and a sack against Andrews, NC to earn POTW honors, went even further this past Friday night at North Hall. Rhodes was the most aggressive player on the defensive side of the football, recording 18 tackles and 2 sacks on the road against an even better opponent in the Trojans. Leading by example, his hustle sparked the defense on several different plays. Congratulations Rhodes and good luck this week against G.A.C. We look forward to your performance.
Two weeks ago, the Union County Panthers were undefeated and hosted Greater Atlanta Christian with hopes of establishing themselves as the team-to-beat in the region. Four quarters and a few rolls of athletic tape later, it was the Spartans of GAC who emerged victorious with a 47-7 final score.
The Spartans returned to the mountain area for the second straight week, this time to face the Fannin County Rebels. Although the Rebels would not win the game on the scoreboard, they managed to garner national attention by doing something even more impressive than a hail mary touchdown pass or a long, game-winning field goal.
The Rebels took the field carrying 40 American Flags, waving them in front of a packed stadium where there wasn’t a single person in his or her seat. The energy inside the stadium was so electrifying you could feel the hair standing up on the back of your neck and they only thing louder than the cheers from the proud spectators was your own heartbeat, racing to the beat of the Fannin County High School band’s percussion. Photos and video of the event soon went viral, and rather than talk about how the game ended; everyone has been talking about how it began.
The excitement dissipated shortly after kickoff, as GAC put up 28 unanswered points in the first quarter and another 20 before the half. With a 48-0 score going into the locker room, the Spartans had pretty much shown everyone why they’re considered the best high school football team in the state.
Refusing to quit, however, Fannin came back out onto the field and played as hard as they had the entire game, eventually finding paydirt near the end of the 3rd quarter. GAC scored a touchdown as well, but with a running clock the game came to an end and attention could once again return to the display of unity by the Rebels when they first took the field.
****Offensive stats were not available at the time of publishing.
Defensive stats for the Rebels:
- Mason Rhodes 7 tk 3ast
- Bailey White 5 tk 1PBU (TeamFYNSports Player of the Week)
- Brett Galloway 2 tk
- Cole Earls 2 Tkls 1 TFL
- Jackson Weeks 2 Tk
- Ethan Smith 2 tk
- Will Mosley 2 TK 4ast
- Jonah Henry 4 tk 1ast
- Keenen Putnan 2tk 1TFL
- Clay Holloway 4tk 3 tfl
The Rebels enjoy a bye week this week while the Spartans host East Hall in what should be the best match-up in the region. East Hall is coming off a 62-42 win over Union County last week.
Fannin returns to the road next week as they travel with intent to upset Dawson County, who hosts Union this week. The Tigers defeated North Hall last week by a score of 30-7.
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