The University of North Georgia (UNG) broke ground Oct. 17 on a new standalone Blue Ridge Campus facility, with a host of state officials, community members and university representatives joining President Bonita C. Jacobs to mark the occasion.
The sunny fall day in the Fannin County mountains matched the excitement about the opportunities the new facility will offer for current and future students, as 150 people celebrated the groundbreaking. The new campus, located off Ga. 515 about three miles from the current Blue Ridge Campus, is scheduled to open in 2020.
Georgia Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston, a UNG alumnus who represents Georgia District 7, including Fannin County, in the General Assembly, helped secure $5.5 million for the new Blue Ridge Campus in 2019 fiscal year budget. He said Gov. Nathan Deal’s trek to Blue Ridge in May to sign the budget was the city’s first time hosting such a visit. Ralston called the new campus “a dream come true.”
“This new, permanent campus in Blue Ridge will open doors to both a college education and better job prospects for generations to come in our north Georgia mountains,” Ralston said. “UNG’s role to provide greater access to quality education will continue to expand, and I am proud to support that noble mission.”
Jacobs presented Ralston with a commemorative shovel in gratitude for his efforts in securing the standalone campus. She thanked the community, the University System of Georgia, and state and local lawmakers for making the standalone campus possible. She noted how the Blue Ridge Scholars program encourages students to be enrolled full time.
“We’re all in on graduating students,” Jacobs said. “We are creating a workforce that appeals to businesses and supports economic growth in this community.”
The current Blue Ridge Campus has experienced almost 800 percent growth since its opening in 2015, reaching 156 students this fall. It will allow for additional courses in the core curriculum, which means students will be able to spend a longer period of their college career at Blue Ridge.
Nelson Soriero, a freshman from Blue Ridge and a Blue Ridge Scholar, said the new campus “will create an excellent learning environment for generations to come.”
“I could have ended up somewhere else, traveling endless miles and hours to a different university,” Soriero said. “But because of this campus, I get to go to college locally, continue working at my job and even live in my own home.”
UNG established the Blue Ridge Campus in 2015 in response to a need for access to higher education that was identified through UNG’s Regional Education and Economic Development Task Force, a group of more than 100 business, education, government, and community leaders from northeast Georgia. The new location will further cement UNG’s efforts in the region.
“This campus is bringing a college education much closer to home for a large number of students in the north Georgia area,” said state Sen. Steve Gooch, also a UNG alumnus. “I’m excited to be a part of this development and look forward to watching the impact of this campus continue to increase.”
In 2012, the state launched the Complete College Georgia initiative based on a 2011 study by Georgetown University that indicates Georgia needs to add 250,000 postsecondary graduates to the state’s workforce by 2025. Census data indicate nearly half of the counties in UNG’s immediate service area have a college completion rate of less than 20 percent.
“This campus will make a difference in the lives of students, their families, this community, and region for generations,” Blue Ridge Campus Director Sandy Ott said. “Thank you for being a part of the University of North Georgia’s history and the brighter futures that begin here today.”
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Representatives of the University of North Georgia, state officials and community members celebrated the groundbreaking of a new standalone Blue Ridge Campus on Oct. 17.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Mary Elizabeth Priest announced her recent qualification for and intent to run for the Superior Court bench in the May 2018 non-partisan General Election. Ellijay has been her home for 30 years.
The Superior Courts handle civil matters, including family and domestic litigation, criminal cases, ranging from traffic violations to felonies, as well as transfers and appeals from Magistrate Court and Probate Court. In our Appalachian Circuit, Superior Court judges are responsible for dockets and jury trials in Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens counties.
Mary Beth is a graduate of Gilmer High School and North Georgia College and State University. Before
attending law school, she served as a case manager and investigator for the Pickens County Department
of Family and Children Services. She later received her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Georgia State
University. She began her legal career as an associate attorney at Downey & Cleveland, in Marietta, in
2006. In 2010, she joined the law firm Clark & Clark, in Ellijay, where she practiced complex civil litigation.
Priest said, “It has been a great honor to serve on the bench for the past two years. One of my goals has
been to build a bridge between our community and our court system. I am proud of the progress we have
made in that regard. Being a judge is an enormous responsibility that I take very seriously. I ask the
people of the Appalachian Circuit to trust me with their vote. If they do, I will continue to work hard for
our community with the same commitment to efficiency, impartiality, fairness, and responsibility that I
have had since my first day on the bench.”
Judge Priest was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal in 2016 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Roger Bradley. In addition to being involved with and frequently speaking at local civil organizations, she initiated and helped coach the Gilmer High School Mock Trial team’s inaugural season this year. As an adopted child born into foster care, she has also done outreach for adoption agencies as a strong advocate for foster and adopted children.
Her husband, Jeremy, owns and operates a scrap metal recycling company as well as a plumbing company, and they live in Ellijay with their two children. Her father, Mike Williams, and mother, Lorie Stanley Williams, originally of Stanley Creek in Fannin County, also live in Ellijay.
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Dangerous arctic air has moved into Fannin County following the cold front that brought with it Winter Storm Inga.
As the day progressed roads have cleared of the icy conditions that caused treacherous travel situations throughout north Georgia.
Public Works Director Zack Ratcliff updated FetchYourNews about road conditions in Fannin County: “The main roads have cleared up, but there are still some trouble areas on them. Secondary and dirt roads are still really bad.”
“The high today was only 17 degrees, so the secondary roads got very little thaw. A lot of them have shaded areas,” Ratcliff explained.
The concern going into tonight and the early morning hours tomorrow is black ice. “All that has melted and not dried will refreeze. The temperatures will be in the low teens,” Ratcliff stated.
Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham also expressed concern over black ice forming: “More than likely overnight we will have more than a few areas where patches of black ice will form.”
Graham did want to thank the residents of Fannin County for using caution when getting out on the roadways today. “We’ve had a couple of fender benders, but that’s it. We’ve had a lot fewer 911 calls than expected in conditions like this.”
Employees of the Public Works Department will be working late into the evening to help clear roads for emergency vehicles as the need arises.
The State of Emergency declared by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal remains in effect for Thursday, Jan. 18. The State of Emergency was declared for 83 counties, including Fannin County. It states that state government offices will remain closed. This comes on a recommendation from the state Emergency Operations Command.
Deal stated, “Our top priority is to ensure the safety of Georgians and to allow the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to continue doing its job.”
There are currently no shelters open at this time in Fannin County. If you are in need of assistance and it is not a life-threatening emergency, you can call the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at 706-632-6022 or 706-632-2043. All life-threatening emergency calls should be placed to 911.
***UPDATED JAN. 17, 10:42 p.m.***
***OPENING LATE JAN. 17***
City of Blue Ridge Government Offices will open at 10 a.m.
Fannin County Government Offices will open at 10 a.m.
Fannin County Health Department will open at noon
***CLOSED JAN. 17***
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (The Art Center)
Fannin County Division of Family and Children Services (DFACS)
Fannin County Magistrate Court
Fannin County Schools (12-month personnel may be asked to report later in the day)
- Blue Ridge Elementary School
- East Fannin Elementary School
- Fannin County High School
- Fannin County Middle School
- West Fannin Elementary School
***LATEST WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY***
Wind Chill Advisory until 10:00AM Thursday
…WIND CHILL ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM EST THURSDAY… …WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM EST THIS MORNING…
* WHAT…Occasional light snow and very cold wind chills expected. Little or no additional accumulations are expected. Expect wind chills to range from 10 above zero to 10 below zero.
* WHERE…Fannin, Gilmer, Union, Towns, Pickens, Dawson, Lumpkin, and White Counties
* WHEN…For the Winter Weather Advisory, until 9 AM this morning. For the Wind Chill Advisory, until 10 AM Thursday.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Roads will remain icy and treacherous as temperatures remain below freezing all day. If you must drive, use extreme caution. The cold wind chills may cause frostbite in as little as 30 minutes to exposed skin.
PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving. A Wind Chill Advisory means that cold air and the wind will combine to create low wind chills. Frost bite and hypothermia can occur if precautions are not taken. Make sure you wear a hat and gloves.
* AFFECTED AREAS: DAWSON … FANNIN … GILMER … LUMPKIN … PICKENS … TOWNS … UNION … WHITE
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
ATLANTA (September 18, 2017) | On Thursday, September 14, 2017, Senator Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) joined Governor Nathan Deal, local elected officials and first responders for a press conference in Habersham County to address Hurricane Irma cleanup and relief efforts.
“First and foremost, I would like to extend my gratitude to the first responders and volunteers who are helping the ongoing recovery efforts in our local communities and throughout the state,” said Sen. Gooch. “It is an honor to join Governor Deal, our local elected officials, first responders and citizens in any and all efforts to get our state back up and running. Our citizens are resilient and I am confident that by working together, we can help those in need and rebuilt each and every community that was impacted. It was very uplifting to witness the outpour of assistance from the hundreds of employees of utility companies from all over the United States.”
On Monday, September 11, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Georgia leaving around 1 million citizens without power. The impact from Irma was felt from the coastal plains to the north Georgia mountains. The state of Georgia saw unprecedented damage caused by the tropical storm force winds that reached more than 400 miles from the storm’s center. Relief efforts are ongoing and first responders, power companies, state agencies, volunteers and citizens are working around the clock to rebuild and restore power.
Governor Deal and the federal government responded quickly and declared a state of emergency in Georgia so that funds could be appropriated to help with the financial burden of the storm. Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) is coordinating their efforts with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state agencies and local authorities to ensure recovery, rebuilding and cleanup is completed in the most efficient and cost effective manner.
Additional information can be found on the GEMA and FEMA websites:
BLUE RIDGE, GA- The latest models of Hurricane Irma’s path show that Fannin County could be in for severe weather beginning early Monday morning.
Governor Deal, at a press conference Friday, stated, “Just because the weather appears to be calm now, don’t take that for granted.” After his latest briefing, Deal expanded the state of emergency to include all 159 counties in the state of Georgia.
The National Weather Service in Peachtree City issued a Flash Flood Watch for Fannin County beginning Monday morning and remaining in effect until Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 8:00 A.M.
Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham said that flooding is one of the major threats related to this storm. Recalling when Hurricane Opal hit our area in 1995, Graham said “There was widespread flooding along with power outages due to downed trees.”
The National Weather Service is putting Northern Georgia at a high risk of heavy rain, with rainfall amounts between 3-7 inches.
Graham also said the wind could be an issue. “We will be seeing the Northeast quadrant of the storm. This is the more active side.” Graham has “saw teams”, responsible for the removal of downed trees, on standby to immediately address the safe removal of these trees when conditions are stable enough to reach the problem area.
The National Weather Service currently ranks our area at a moderate risk for isolated tornadoes. Graham acknowledged that there is a higher risk for tornadic activity on the front side of this storm.
Residents of Fannin County welcomed evacuees seeking refuge and are now bracing for Irma’s effects themselves. Grocery stores are reporting that there has been a run on the necessities such as bread and bottled water, but other food items such as canned goods are well instock.
Fannin County Schools and Government have announced closures for Monday, September 11, 2017 in anticipation of severe weather and are watching Irma’s track closely to see if there is a need for further closures or delays.
EMA Director, Graham said that he will have “extra personnel on duty monday evening” and that his team is prepared for the latest severe weather predictions.
Acting on a recommendation from the state’s Emergency Operations Command and ahead of heavy rains, strong wind and potential flooding from Hurricane Irma, Gov. Nathan Deal today expanded the emergency declaration to include an additional 65 counties. The state of emergency now includes all 159 counties in Georgia. State government will be closed Monday and Tuesday for all employees except essential personnel.
Following a briefing from officials and visit with emergency responders, Deal will hold a media avail tonight at the State Operations Center at 6 p.m.
Follow this link to read the executive order.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency website.
(R) Karen Handel seems to be doing exactly what is necessary to get out the Republican vote in the 6th district. (D) Jon Ossoff has to spend the next two months convincing the Democrats just to go back to the polls. On the other hand Handel has to get every registered Republican vote she can; regardless of who they voted for last week or in the Presidential primary election. Within the next two months it won’t be hard to bump into a well known Republican in the 6th district. Handel has received endorsements from almost every single Republican. From her one time rival Governor Nathan Deal to what some consider controversial President Donald Trump.
BKP questioned last week what Karen Handel would do concerning Donald Trump voters. Would she embrace President Trump during her campaign or listen to the media and turn down the possibility to campaign with The President?
During an interview on CNN, Handel shared her conversation with The President stating “He just called to say congrats and encourage me and let me know as we go into June 20, it’s all hands on deck for Republicans.” When asked if she thought Mr. Trump might come down and campaign with her, Handel responded, “I would hope so,” adding, “I don’t think this is about any one person.”
The 6th Congressional district race could set the tone for the 2018 midterms. For Republicans the 6th district will look like a real “who’s who.” But who will the Democrats send to help Jon Ossoff in this important race; Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or maybe even Maxine Waters.
Our interview Friday with Speaker of The House David Ralston focused on rural Georgia. Ralston went into detail about the new Rural Georgia Economic Council. This council will be co-chaired by (R) Terry England from Auburn, (R) Jay Powell from Camilla and Vice Chair (R) Sam Watson from Moultry. The council will be holding meetings across Georgia to hear from elected officials, local businesses and citizens about how they feel rural Georgia economy can best be improved. Ralston said jokingly that he better not find out that one meeting took place in Atlanta.
Health care is a major concern in rural Georgia. Several hospitals have closed in rural Georgia areas including one in Ralston’s district in North Georgia. We spoke to Ralston abut one possible solution to meet rural Georgia health care needs. Ralston used the example of the first stand alone emergency room, opened by Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Gilmer county. In this interview we asked Ralston if Gilmer county still had the possibility of having a full hospital.
Ralston told us that sometime within the next month Governor Nathan Deal would be visiting Gilmer county’s Fire Station 1 to sign the fire fighter’s workmen’s compensation bill. We asked Ralston the difference in this years campus carry bill opposed to last year’s bill which Governor Deal vetoed. Not being able to speak for the Governor, Ralston said he felt they made the changes necessary to get Deal to sign the bill. We also discussed the pay raises agreed upon in the 2017 legislative session for teachers, state law enforcement, and D.F.C.S workers.
Our final question in our interview friday: Speaker Ralston do you see the governor’s mansion in your future?