Fannin County opts to remain a Charter School District

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) voted unanimously for the Fannin County School System to remain a charter school district.

Fannin County schools officially became a charter school system July, 01, 2015. According to the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE), a charter district must renew their intent and contract with the state every five years.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County School System, Fannin County High School, Fannin County Middle School, East Fannin Elementary, West Fannin Elementary, Blue Ridge Elementary, Board of Education, Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Chair, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Betsy Hyde, Lewis Deweese, Chad Galloway, Bobby Bearden, Terry Bramlett, Mike Cole, Georgia Department of Education, AdvancedEd, Charter, SGT, School Governance Team, QBE

Deputy Superintendent Betsy Hyde spoke with the BOE on what it means to remain a charter district.

Deputy Superintendent Betsy Hyde spoke to the BOE, “They (GDOE) asked us if we would amend our charter and say that we would review in 4 years.”

Upon Fannin County looking to obtain AdvancedED accreditation, the Georgia Department of Education asked administration to review their charter application a year early.

AdvancED is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of schools and school systems. Every five years a school system must participate in a targeted self-reflection process.

The AdvancedED helps to evaluate purpose and direction, governance and leadership, teaching and assessing for learning, resources and support systems, as well as engagement with stakeholders.

The charter renewal as well as the AdvancedEd accreditation are expected to have coinciding site visits to Fannin County Schools.

Hyde explained that during 2015, when Fannin County officially entered into the charter system, the state of Georgia offered three flexibility options for districts to pick from.

The first of these options was Status Quo. Under this option the school system would not be allowed waivers and have limited flexibility on the local level to customize the school learning environment.

The second option presented was the IE2/Strategic Waiver. This gave districts the ability to ask for specific waivers, but did not allow for School Governance Teams (SGT) to be established.

Lastly school systems had the option of becoming a charter district. This option did not restrict waivers and required the formation of SGT. With this option Fannin County would be provided more flexibility in exchange for maintaining at or above state levels in reviews.

“One of the things that we do in our system is we had to have waivers for instance to do block scheduling, class size, different things like that,” Hyde said explaining the benefits of being a charter district.

The decision to initially become a charter school system was not one that was taken lightly, Hyde explained that countless hours of research went into the decision, including speaking with other charter systems and visiting different districts.

Some of the advantages to being a charter district include flexibility to innovate educational opportunities, financial savings from waivers, and possible additional funding in Quality Basic Education (QBE) if appropriated.

One of the outstanding characteristics is the creation of SGT within each of the Fannin County schools. The first SGT was established in June of 2015. These teams, comprised of 7 members, each meet on a regular basis and include school system faculty as well as parents.

Hyde explained the role of SGT more in depth,”Student Government Teams kind of help us distribute our leadership instead of you all being the only board in the whole system. You all are still over the whole system, but this gives some government back to the schools.”

BOE Chair Lewis Deweese admitted to being skeptical of the formation of SGT in the beginning but said of his feelings now, “I think what we’ve really created are some advocates for public education.”

Before taking vote, board member Terry Bramlett questioned, “Whenever we chose to become a charter system it seemed to be the fairer choice of offering the most flexible options and the greatest opportunity for our students. Would you agree that that’s still the case?”

Hyde replied that she still felt very strongly that being a charter system is the best option for Fannin County and added that it also allows the school system a wider range of options as future needs within the district arise.

The BOE took the first step in renewing its contract to stay a charter district by passing a resolution updating their procedures. While there are still many steps to take before this renewal is official, administration is confident in their choice and ability to continue with charter district status.


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Natalie Kissel

Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 01/14 to 01/21

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 to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Fannin County. Those arrests are posted on 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.

Oscar Cross: Obituary


Oscar Cross

April 22, 1939 – January 15, 2019

Oscar Quinn Cross, age 79, of Turtletown, passed away Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at Life Care Center of Copper Basin. Mr. Cross was born April 22, 1939, in Farner, TN to the late Amos C. Cross and the late Ora Swanson Cross. He was of the Holiness Faith, had retired from Tennessee Chemical Company as a maintenance foreman, a US Army Veteran serving during the Vietnam era, a member of Ducktown Masonic Lodge #241 F&AM, and an avid hunter and fisherman. He enjoyed gardening and loved his family.

Survivors include: his wife of 57 years, Rose Ann Cross, daughter, Gwendolyn Hawkins, son, Arnold (Penny) Cross, sister, Birdie Dillard, brother, Randall Cross, grandchildren, Jason Hawkins, Amanda Hawkins, Kayla Hood, Samuel Hood, Nicholas Jones, Christopher Jones, great-grandchildren, Cameron Whyte, Kyra Hawkins, Georgia Hood, Jhaylan Jones, Zander Jones, and Zyler Jones.

Funeral services: Saturday, January 19, 2019, at 11:00 am at the Finch-Cochran Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Mike Jarrett officiating. Music provided by Pam and Jordan Ensley. Interment will follow in Zion Hill Baptist Church Cemetery. Pallbearers: Jason Hawkins, Samuel Hood, Shawn Taylor, Scott Taylor, Robert Taylor, and Tyler Jory.

The family will receive friends at the Finch-Cochran Funeral Home Friday, January 18, 2019, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

Arrangements entrusted to the Finch-Cochran Funeral Home of McCaysville, GA. You may send condolences to the family and sign the guest register at


Mary Bailey Barksdale: Obituary


Mary Bailey Barksdale

April 26, 1940 – January 15, 2019

Mary Lucille Bailey Barksdale, age 78, passed away on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at Oktibbeha County Hospital in Starkville, MS. Mary was born on April 26, 1940 in Griffin, GA to John and Lucille Bailey. Mary had spent the last few years living at The Carrington Nursing Center in Starkville, MS.

She graduated from high school in Blairsville, attended Young Harris College and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in elementary education. Before moving to Starkville, Mary lived in Blairsville, GA. She worked at Union County Schools as an elementary teacher. Mary was a member of First Baptist Church Blairsville. She was preceded in death by her beloved parents John and Lucille Bailey and former husband, Melton Barksdale.
Mary is survived by sons John Melton Barksdale (Denese), Ackerman, MS and Joel Douglas Barksdale; grandsons John Bailey Barksdale (Sarah Beth), Brantley Barksdale and Cody Barksdale; granddaughter Vivian Barksdale all of Starkville, MS.


James “Jim” Craig Beighley: Obituary


James “Jim” Craig Beighley

July 20, 1956 – January 15, 2019

The Cochran Funeral Home & Crematory announces Memorial Services for Mr. James “Jim” C. Beighley, age 62 who passed away at his home on Tuesday morning, January 15, 2019.

He leaves behind to treasure his memory: His loving wife of 13 years, Melanie Hare Beighley; sons & daughters-in-law, Brad & Tiffany Beighley of Gainesville, GA and Ryan & Jenn Beighley of Jefferson, GA; step-children and their spouses, Josh & Amanda Hale of Acworth, GA and Brittany & Brandon Ciesla of Bury ST. Edmunds, UK; grandchildren, Allie Beighley, Madeline Beighley, Jackson Beighley, and Jameson Ciesla; great grandchildren, Scott, Jathan, and Kylie; siblings, Joe & Mimi Beighley, Sue & Tom Burkett, Doug & Angie Beighley, and Bill Beighley; favorite mother-in-law, Barbara Hale; former spouse, Henrietta M. Beighley; and a bunch of beloved pets. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, William & Josephine Beighley; brother, Thomas “Tommy” Beighley; and father-in-law, Dr. James M. Hale.

Memorial Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at Sharp Memorial United Methodist Church. The family will gather with friends at the church from 12:30 pm until the service begins.

Arrangements entrusted to Cochran Funeral Home & Crematory of Blairsville.


Janice Faye Bennie: Obituary

Janice Faye Bennie

December 27, 1957 – January 19, 2019

Janice Faye Bennie, age 61 of Blue Ridge passed away on Saturday, January 19, 2019 in Chattanooga, TN. She was born on December 27, 1957 in Copperhill, TN to Hoyt J. Cavender and the late Jewel Cole Cavender. Janice was a member of Mine City Baptist Church since October 3, 1971. She worked for Hardee’s Restaurant as a biscuit maker for seventeen years. She was preceded in death by her mother, Jewel Cole Cavender.

She is survived by husband, Randy Bennie of Blue Ridge, GA; son, James Anthony Cavender of Ducktown, TN; daughter, Jackie (Ricky) Russell of Kokomo, IN; father, Hoyt J. Cavender of Ducktown, TN; two brothers, Gary Bennie of McCaysville, GA and Larry Bennie of McCaysville, GA; sister-in-law, Patty (Jerry) Falls of Mineral Bluff, GA; sister, Deborah (Roger) Hall of Ducktown, TN; nieces and nephews, David Jones of Jasper, GA, Dana Jones of Ducktown, TN, Erica Cavender of Ducktown, TN and Devin Jones of Jasper, GA; grandchildren, Daniel Russell and Lelia Russell also survive.

Funeral services will be conducted on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. from Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill Chapel. Rev. Randall Payne will officiate. Music will be by Janice Reid. Interment will follow in the Crestlawn Cemetery. Ben Jory, David Jones, Jonathan Allen, Tim Davis, Gary Bennie, Larry Bennie and Isiah Loudermilk will serve as pallbearers. James Cavender and David Green will serve as honorary pallbearers. The family will visit with friends at the funeral home on Tuesday evening from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers the family request donations be made to help defray final expenses. Condolences may be sent to the family online at Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill was in charge of the arrangements.


William “Bill” Herbert Gilliam: Obituary


William “Bill” Herbert Gilliam

April 19, 1951 – January 19, 2019

William “Bill” Herbert Gilliam, age 67, of Canton, passed away on Saturday, January 19, 2019 in Marietta. He was born on April 19, 1951 in Ducktown. He was of the Church of Christ faith. He worked for Northside Hospital in charge of the CT Department for a number of years and later worked as a Real Estate Agent in the North Georgia Area. He is preceded in death by his parents, William Herbert and Eddie Lee Morris Gilliam and sisters, Helen Garrett and Bessie Holloway.

He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, James “J.W.” and Leigh Ann Gilliam of Buford; sisters and brothers-in-law, Mary and Bob Adams of Blue Ridge, and Margaret and Darrell Bennett of Powder Springs; Tony Phillips of Canton; nephews, Winston Garrett, Bryan Adams, and Tyron Gilliam; nieces, Ruth Ann Chynoweth, Tammy MacLean, Jordan Gilliam, Hannah Morgan, and Sarah Gilliam; and several great-nieces and nephews.

Memorial services will be conducted on Saturday, January 26, 2019, at 1:00 pm from Akins Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Delmar Davenport and Dr. David Busch officiating. Darrell Bennett will provide music. The family will visit with friends at the funeral home on Saturday afternoon from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Condolences may be sent to the family online at Akins Funeral Home of Blue Ridge is in charge of the arrangements.


Emil “Moe” Van Watson: Obituary


Emil “Moe” Van Watson

March 27, 1938 – January 15, 2019

Mr. Emil Van ” Moe” Watson, age 80 of Copperhill, TN, passed away Tuesday, January 15, 2019. Mr. Watson was born in Epworth, GA to the late Orlan and Lillie Bailles Watson. He served in the United States Army. He later worked in landscaping and construction.

He is survived by his wife, Carol Thrasher Watson of the home; step-son, Tori (Vivian) Cagle of Douglasville, GA; Carol’s deceased son, Troy Eugene Cagle, Sr, who lived in Ranburn, AL; brother, Toby (Molly) Watson; sister, Belvalene Waldrip of Blairsville, GA; nephews, Donnie (Kim) Watson, Stacy Waldrip, and Robbie (Sandy) Wright; other relatives and friends also survive.

Funeral services were conducted on Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. from the Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill Chapel with Elder Rock Henderson officiating. Interment followed in the Hipps Chapel Church Cemetery. Donnie Watson, Robbie Wright, Benjamin Wright, T.J. Cagle, and Tori Cagle served as pallbearers. Condolences may be sent to the family online at Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill, TN was in charge of the arrangements.

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