McCaysville, Ga. – Voters will have a lot to decide in the upcoming Nov.5 election in the City of McCaysville. Early voting officially opens Monday, Oct. 14 and will run through Friday, Nov. 1.
Early voters can cast their ballots at the McCaysville City Hall, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The hot topic on the ballot for this 2019 election is Sunday alcohol sales within city limits. The proposal and reading of the new ordinance was met with little opposition and overwhelming favor at public hearings and City Council meetings.
Ordinance 19-08-13 currently reads that a licensed establishment within city limits would be allowed “Sunday sales of malt beverages and wine for consumption on the premises”.
These sales can include beer or wine (hard ciders will also be allowed) on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.
Establishments, serving alcohol, who stay open beyond 45 minutes of the allowed alcohol sales time window are subject to legal action. No alcohol sales will be allowed on Christmas Day in city limits.
Voters will be asked to answer yes or no to the following question:
“Shall the governing authority of the City of McCaysville Georgia be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages for beverage purposes by the drink?”
McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Stuart clarified that the current ordinance will not allow for the sale of hard liquor even though wording on the ballot suggests otherwise. Staurt explained that by law the term “distilled spirits” had to be included on the ballot.
“Distilled spirits is liquor,” Staurt said explaining the wording, “however, in the City of McCaysville, now as the ordinance stands, there is only malt beverages and wine allowed inside the City of McCaysville.”
Staurt did confirm that future councils would have the option of amending the alcohol ordinance to allow liquor sales.
New faces will also be seen on the City Council following the 2019 election. Current council members Tommy Quintrell and Richard Wagner will not be seeking re-election. Council member Rodney Patterson will also be vacating his seat in his bid to become McCaysville’s next mayor.
In total at least 3 seats on the 5 person council will be vacant for newcomers. Voters will decide the next 5 members by popular vote and will have the following to choose from:
- Larry Collis (Incumbent)
- Sue Beaver (Incumbent)
- Gilta Carter
- Jason Woody
- Susan Kiker
- Steve Stanley
- Tamberlyn Tanner
- Nathan Turpin
Voters will also need to decide between incumbent Thomas Seabolt or challenger Rodney Patterson for seat of Mayor.
The General Election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5. Voters can cast their ballots at McCaysville City Hall on the day of the General Election or during the designated early voting times.
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McCaysville, Ga. – With growth comes crime, and McCaysville is not immune to this statistic. McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley made a plea to city council to help him keep the citizens of the city safe.
“I know we just passed the budget, but I am asking the council to help me out,” Earley began as he asked council members to find funds somewhere in the budget to hire another full-time officer for night shift.
The McCaysville Police Department is currently comprised of only 6 full-time officers with the remaining force being part-time.
August has been the busiest month that the department has experienced. Earley laid out statistics for the month stating that the department received 53 dispatch calls, 121 phone calls, 15 walk-ins, and 68 vehicle stops.
Among the calls to come in during the month of August, Earley referenced one in particular that reinforced his feelings that the city and his department would be safer with another full-time officer. This incident made statewide news as an officer involved shooting.
Patrolman Bill Higdon was first to arrive on the scene of an unstable gunman holding 3 citizens hostage. According to Earley, Higdon, alone on the scene, screamed into the radio for backup as the suspect was actively discharging a weapon inside the home.
Earley stated that he does not want his officers working alone on night shift. Being in pairs will provide extra security to the officers and enable them “to effectively protect the citizens of this city that we live in”.
“I know this is going to take more money and I don’t know where that money is going to be found, but if you all would consider trying to find that money somewhere,” Earley said about the need for another full-time officer, and added, with visible emotion, about the night of the hostage situation, “We came out ahead and lives were saved that day and we all went home safe. This is just one event that could very easily happen again.”
Council member Rodney Patterson answered Earley immediately addressing fellow council, “I think we could find it in the budget for him to have help.”
Patterson also made mention that the purchase of 3 new body shields at a price tag of $300 a piece would add to the safety of the force.
“I think if our chief needs something then we try to get it for him,” Council member Sue Beaver agreed with Patterson.
Patterson made the motion for a full time officer to be added to the police force and for the purchase of three body shields, council member Richard Wagner gave a second and the council voted unanimously in favor.
Earley mentioned the possibility of moving a part-time officer to the full-time position. This hire would save the city money in that the officer would already have the necessary training to fill the full-time spot.
McCaysville, Ga. – The McCaysville City Council held a public hearing on Aug. 29 to discuss the city’s 2019 – 2020 budget.
Read by McCaysville Mayor Thomas Seabolt, the resolution to adopt the 2019 – 2020 budget was met with no opposition by citizens who were present for the hearing.
According to the proposed budget the City General Fund is projecting a revenue of $1,455,526.00 and projecting expenses to be $1,455,526.00. Similarly the city’s Water and Sewer Service is projecting a revenue of $2,105,450.00 and projecting expenses to run $2,105,450.00.
These projections give the City of McCaysville a balanced budget for the 2019 – 2020 fiscal year that will end June 20, 2020.
“I think the budget’s wonderful,” Councilmember Sue Beaver shared her opinion of the proposed budget noting that the city needs everything that is in the expenditures in order to function.
Points of interest in the budget include the following departments:
Administrative proposed budget : $234,259.00
Police Department proposed budget : $585,047.00
Street Department proposed budget : $245,615.00
City Park proposed budget : $374,250.00
Municipal Court proposed budget : $16,355.00
Water Distribution proposed budget : $1,614,995.00
Sewer Collection and Disposal proposed budget : $389,455.00
Water Treatment Plant proposed budget : $101,000.00
General Fund projected revenue : $1,455,526.00
SPLOST projected revenue : $333,020.00
SPLOST Capital Outlay proposed expenditures : $202,500.00
The proposed budget for the City of McCaysville 2019 – 2020 fiscal year is expected to be voted in unanimously on Sep. 10 at the councils’ next regular monthly meeting.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – “This is the kind of project that will spread prosperity throughout our entire region. It is the kind of skin-in-the-game project that deserves support…” Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston praised the CORE Facility in Ellijay who hosted their official ribbon-cutting today.
Nestled just off Maddox Drive on the banks of the Coosawattee River in Ellijay, Georgia, the CORE Facility hosts business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment.
However, the facility’s impact reaches so much farther than the city limits or the county’s borders. Today marked a celebration for the region and for the state. Representatives statewide joined together for this ribbon cutting including Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Gilmer Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, State Senator Steve Gooch, State Representative of District 11 Rick Jasperse, Ellijay City Mayor Al Hoyle, Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, and many representatives from the Ellijay and East Ellijay City Councils and Gilmer Board of Education. Efforts from many organizations have led into combined organizations such as the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
That Foundation was the birthplace of the initiative to build CORE. According to Kent Sanford, Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA and part of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, a 14-month birth cycle has finally come to full fruition.
While the celebration was a culmination of efforts so far, it is only the beginning. It is a project that holds great impact on the future, according to Ralston who said, “It will create jobs in our area. The jobs of tomorrow will be possible because of the work that goes on in this building.”
Ralston also dedicated support to the facility as he announced, “Because of the local commitment to the CORE building the State of Georgia, through our OneGeorgia Authority, is awarding $420,000 to this project to be used for Facility purchase and improvement costs. This $420,000 grant is historic, both in terms of its dollar amount and the impact it will have on this project and community.”
Ralston continued speaking about the economic development and job creation in the county before offering the second announcement of the day regarding the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center.
Ralston stated at the ribbon-cutting, “I am proud to announce that the new North Georgia of the Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation will be housed right here in Ellijay in this facility. The office will be led by Janet Cochran.”
Ralston’s office later offered a full Press Release on the announcement stating the center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
These announcements were applauded by those present and praised by the Chairman of the Gilmer Chamber, John Marshall, who said, “Mr. Speaker, once again you have proven yourself to be the very epitome of a stalwart and faithful advocate not only to your hometown and all the other communities in these beautiful North Georgia Mountains, but to each and every corner of the state of Georgia.”
President of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Green also praised the facility as the realization of a dream for the community that has spread to benefit not only one county but something larger that now spans the region.
Today was a celebration of completing the first steps of a larger plan for the facility. Though it is now open, it is only the first phase of that dream. Director Sanford noted last year that the hopes for the facility include two more phases.
In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger area for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.
In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to be finalized.
Ultimately, the CORE wants to continue spreading and growing this larger community where possible. Opportunities that may come have yet to be revealed, but one ribbon-cutting today, one celebration, can lead to something bigger than imagining tomorrow.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – McCaysville City Council made attempts to clarify the purpose and the parameters surrounding the newly adopted “Vendor Ordinance” at their regular July monthly meeting.
The ordinance, adopted in June, was set in place for public safety according to council. By requiring vendors to obtain a permit before hitting the streets of the city, it allows for city officials to monitor activity and put in place necessary precautions ahead of events.
The ordinance requires street vendors to apply at City Hall for a permit, and there is a $25.00 application fee. This application fee is waived for nonprofit organizations and these groups can receive a permit for free.
The McCaysville City Council was moved to pass this ordinance due to the growth of the city and its festivals. Controversy was met, however, when Richard Peacock an open air preacher, posted to Facebook that the ordinance had stopped a young missionary from spreading his testimony.
“This is Aiden, he was saved last year and this year God laid it on his heart to be a missionary. Last week he handed out nearly 200 gospel tracts,” Peacock’s June 30 Facebook post read and goes on to say, “He (Aiden) wanted to go again but I have to tell him McCaysville, will not allow it without a permit. They passed an ordinance last week stopping Christians from sharing the gospel on the public sidewalk.”
FetchYourNews reached out to Peacock asking who had informed him that Aiden could no longer preach on the streets of McCaysville, but we are still awaiting a reply.
Peacock’s post fueled outrage by citizens over the new ordinance, and the McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley even became involved when he publicly replied to the social media post stating: “I have advised Brother Peacock as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the City of McCaysville I will not nor will my department enforce the ordinance and take away the right for some one [sic] to spread the word of God!”
After the backlash via social media, Councilmember Rodney Patterson addressed those present at the meeting: “Lets go ahead and clear it up. It was never meant for a preacher not to be able to preach on the street. I do want to say that. I would never take a fellar’s rights away who wants to preach. It’s freedom of speech.”
Patterson did clarify that while preaching on the streets did not require a permit, if a preacher were to hand out material such as pamphlets and gospel tracts a permit would be required, and that the permit is free for nonprofit organizations.
Jerry Rice, Reverend of Midway Baptist Church, was present at the meeting and inquired about if a permit would be necessary for his organization to hand out candy and gospel tracts in October, as they have done for many years.
Patterson replied to Rice’s inquiry, “That organization would have to have a permit.”
McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Stuart clarified, “You just need a permit. You also can’t pass out Satanic literature without a permit. It’s just meant for anybody, that’s going to do anything, to have a permit so that the city can monitor it and see what is going on.”
“It’s nothing against nobody,” Patterson added to Stuart’s comments and pointed out that in instances where a controversial group might be handing out literature or demonstrating, that the city would need to know to implement measures such as crowd control.
Stuart also clarified, “The city ordinance only concerns city property.”
“So if you’re in the IGA parking lot and never touch a city street ain’t nothing we can do to you,” Patterson added, “That’s personal property.”
McCaysville Mayor Thomas Seabolt told the concerned citizens that the city would be holding a workshop to discuss the ordinance further: “I have talked to our lawyer, we’re going to have a workshop in a couple of months. We’ll work on something. I don’t know what will come of it, but we’ll have a workshop.”
With some clarification being given as to the rules of the new ordinance, FYN spoke with Police Chief Earley as to whether he would now enforce the ordinance in instances of preachers and missionaries handing out material without a permit, Earley replied, “I’ve not looked into that yet.”
Blue Ridge, Ga. – Change and growth have become inevitable in the City of Blue Ridge. Cindy Trimble, a board member of both the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals, brought before the Blue Ridge City Council on Tuesday a small step in establishing direction, consistency, and beautification of our growing town.
Trimble along with help from council member Nathan Fitts rolled out conceptual drawings for new way-finding signs in Blue Ridge.
“It is critical that we have a plan for signage,” Trimble stated due to growth, extra pedestrians, and extra traffic in the area.
The designs included newly structured street signs with stone bases, covered kiosks with maps of businesses downtown, and gateways to the city. Trimble noted that those traveling along Hwy. 515 often do not know where to turn to enter the downtown historic area.
The gateways would be strategically placed in five areas to direct visitors to downtown. Trimble proposed placing the gateways on East First Street and Hwy. 515 near Bill Holt Chevrolet, Cook Street and Hwy. 515 near Burger King, West First Street and Hwy. 515 near McDonald’s intersection, Windy Ridge Road and Hwy. 515, and lastly Orvin Lance Drive and Hwy. 515 near CVS.
“Because these are city owned signs we cannot put them on the DOT right of way,” Trimble said explaining that the signs would need to sit back on side streets away from Hwy. 515 itself.
The gateways, designed as archways with mountain scenery and stone pedestals, would be back lit as to be visible at night and are designed to hold seasonal posters to display festivals and happenings in town.
Suggestions came from council to perhaps look into painting the Windy Ridge Road overpass to go along with design and planning. This option would require grants and permits, as well as permission from the state, but Trimble noted that it has been done in other towns and would be worth looking into.
Discussion also arose about the business directory or “you are here” map kiosks. These freestanding structures will be double sided and not only display downtown businesses, but also parking areas and trolley stops.
“There is an opportunity for advertising on this and it is something that we haven’t developed further,” Trimble stated of the kiosks.
Trimble presented the idea of digital maps as an option: “That way as businesses change it would be easier to change it.” She also noted that it would give more opportunity for advertising and that the advertisements might be a way to supplement income to purchase the new signage.
“The next step is to take some of these, if the council is comfortable with the design direction,” Trimble explained the plan moving forward, “then what we will do is, we will have several of us get together and take a map of the city and we will go around and look at where we need some of these signs immediately.”
Mayor Donna Whitener questioned, “Is the goal to replace all the signage in town?”
Trimble replied that it would just be key locations for the time being. She noted that certain areas of town might experience more street scaping such as Roberts Way and the City Park, and would not move forward in those areas until work is completed.
Council chose to move forward with obtaining pricing for the new way-finding signs and this information will be presented in a later meeting.
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