Special Olympics Week proclaimed in Fannin County

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County honored its special athletes today, and officially proclaimed both in the City of Blue Ridge and in Fannin County that the week of May 16, 2018 be Special Olympics Week.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Special Olympics, Fannin County Middle School, Proclamation, Mayor, Chairman, Donna Whitener, Stan Helton, Downtown Blue Ridge, Fannin County Courthouse

Mayor Donna Whitener signs proclamation declaring Special Olympics Week for the City of Blue Ridge.

Crowds gathered shortly before 10:30 a.m. this morning in the free parking area of downtown Blue Ridge. Among those present were Special Olympic supporters, teachers, proud parents, Blue Ridge and Fannin County law enforcement and emergency personnel, representatives from Fannin County’s educational system, and of course, the athletes.

This year marks a very special anniversary for the olympics. Having begun in 1968, the Special Olympics celebrates its 50th year.

Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener was present to kick off festivities as she announced that the City of Blue Ridge was officially acknowledging this week as Special Olympics Week and delivered a proclamation stating such from the city.

A lighting of the ceremonial torch set activities in motion, and the athletes were cheered on as they made their way up East Main Street to the Fannin County Courthouse participating in the Fannin County Torch Relay.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Special Olympics, Fannin County Middle School, Proclamation, Mayor, Chairman, Donna Whitener, Stan Helton, Downtown Blue Ridge, Fannin County Courthouse

Chairman Stan Helton signs proclamation for Special Olympics Week in Fannin County.

The celebration continued at the courthouse where the procession was greeted by Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton. Helton announced to the crowd that Fannin County too would like to recognize this week as Special Olympics Week and signed an official proclamation as well.

The Special Olympics will take place tomorrow, May 16, at Fannin County Middle School (FCMS). The opening ceremony will be at 9 a.m. in the FCMS gym.

Elementary athletes and Mineral Springs athletes will compete from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Middle and High School athletes will compete from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

 

 

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Natalie Kissel

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McCaysville lights up the twin cities Christmas Tree

Community

McCAYSVILLE, Ga. – There was no denying the Christmas spirit this past weekend in Fannin County and surrounding areas.

Fannin County, Georgia, McCaysville, Copperhill, Tennessee, Mayor, Thomas Seabolt, Kathy Stewart, Christmas, Kiwanis, Christmas Parade

The lighting of the McCaysville Christmas Tree.

With Thanksgiving officially past, it is acceptable etiquette to move forward with the Christmas season, and McCaysville did just that on Friday, Nov. 24, with the annual lighting of the city Christmas tree.

Residents and tourists alike gathered near the post office to partake in the evening’s events. Live music was provided with many in the crowd singing and dancing to their favorite yule time tunes.

Hot chocolate was served, and Santa was present to have pictures made with children, adults and four-legged family members.

The mood was set for the lighting of the city Christmas Tree at 6 p.m. As the music fell silent, McCaysville Mayor Thomas Seabolt and Copperhill, Tennessee Mayor Kathy Stewart had the honor of lighting the 2017 twin cities Christmas Tree.

Cheers came from the crowd below as the tree was lit, and dancing continued into the evening.

The cities of McCaysville and Copperhill will host the 96th Annual Kiwanis Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m.

Cincopa WordPress plugin

 

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

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Blue Ridge election results: Whitener, Herndon, Thomas re-elected, Gaddis, Cornelius, Fitts will join

Election, News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Unofficial results from the Blue Ridge Mayoral and City Council elections were tallied late Tuesday evening, Nov. 7, at City Hall.

After six hotly contested races, Mayor Donna Whitener, Post 1 City Council Member Harold Herndon and Post 2 City Council Member Rhonda Thomas retained positions while candidates Kenneth Gaddis, Robbie Cornelius and Nathan Fitts will all take oaths as Post 3, 4 and 5 city council members, respectively, in January.

Incumbent Whitener defeated local business owner Brendan Doyle 288 to 185 in the mayor’s race. Whitener described the night’s results as “extremely exciting.”

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Mayor, Election 2017, Donna Whitener, Blue Ridge City Council

Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener

“I have a really good council going in. They have lots of experience, lots of knowledge. They’re going to bring a lot to the table at Blue Ridge. I can’t wait for the next four years,” the mayor stated. “We’re going to focus on infrastructure. We have some serious issues there (with) upgrading infrastructure (and) the same thing we’ve been doing: paving roads. We’re going to continue to keep working toward keeping a vibrant downtown.”

Herndon was re-elected in what became an uncontested contest after candidate Jane Whaley failed to qualify for the election because of city residency requirements and the Georgia Supreme Court ultimately denied her appeal of city Election Superintendent Barbie Gerald’s ruling to remove Whaley from the ballot following a Sept. 25 hearing with Whaley, her attorney, Frank Moore, and City Attorney David Syfan. Herndon received 317 total votes in the election while several uncounted ballots cast showed abstention in the Post 1 election, according to Gerald.

Blue Ridge City Council, Election 2017, Post 1, Harold Herndon, Fannin County, Georgia

Post 1 City Council Member Harold Herndon

The Post 1 incumbent said he was “looking forward to another four years” on the council.

“We’ll just see how things work out. You just never know – no matter who it is or where they come from – whether you’re going to get along with them or not or whether you share some of the same opinions,” Herndon said of the council elect.

While admitting the new council had several challenges on the horizon, Herndon explained, “You’ve got to look at finances and see how (the city is) sitting … There’s a lot of things that have to come together before you can even come to a decision about what you might be able to do.”

Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Gergia, Rhonda Thomas, Post 2, Election 2017

Post 2 Council Member Rhonda Thomas

In the Post 2 race, incumbent Rhonda Thomas won over downtown business owner Angelina Powell with 255 votes to Powell’s 223. After the final tally, Thomas said she was “thrilled with the results.”

“I think everyone who will be on this council are going to do a fabulous job. It’s a diverse group of people who have great ideas, and we’re going to come together for the benefit of the city, for the residents and for the businesses, and we’re going to make a difference,” Thomas stated. “Blue Ridge should be excited about their choices.”

Citing parking and city infrastructure improvement as key challenges facing the new council, Thomas was optimistic of the city’s future. “You’ll see a huge difference in this city in the next four years,” she added.

Whitener, Herndon and Thomas will all be entering their third terms, each having served since 2010.

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 3, Kenneth Gaddis, Fannin County, Georgia

Post 3 Council Member Elect Kenneth Gaddis

Challenger Gaddis defeated incumbent Angie Arp in the Post 3 race taking 288 votes to Arp’s 186. “It feels great; it feels amazing,” council member elect Gaddis said after his win.

“I’m excited to work with the citizens. That’s my key. We are a council, but we are working with the citizens,” Gaddis added.

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Election, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs

Post 4 Council Member Elect Robbie Cornelius

Receiving 255 votes to Mike Jacobs’ 205, Cornelius won the open seat of Post 4.

Cornelius shared the sentiments of all the other winning candidates of the night and was excited to begin on the city council. Relieved that the campaign was over, Cornelius laughed, “I’m tired. I’ve been out in the rain all day (campaigning).”

In the closest race of the night, Fitts overtook David Stuart by 20 votes, receiving a total of 244 in the open contest for Post 5.

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Fannin County, Georgia

Post 5 Council Member Elect Nathan Fitts

“We’re going to work on parking (and) the infrastructure of the water lines and sewer lines,” the council member elect said of city needs. “Hopefully, we can make it so streamlined we can all get along and do things a little more professionally.”

According to Gerald, 486 total ballots were cast in the 2017 election. Of that sum, 221 ballots were cast on Election Day, 229 were early voting and 36 were absentees. “If I’m not mistaken, that’s probably a record (turnout),” Gerald said of the election.

For continual coverage of the Blue Ridge City Council, stay with FetchYourNews.com.

 

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

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Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

The Results Are In

Election, News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – The polls have closed and the ballots have been counted in Blue Ridge.  Citizens filled City Hall on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, to hear the outcome of several months of campaigning.

The race for Mayor and City Council of Blue Ridge was a long fought battle for many of  the candidates, and the unofficial results are in.

As it stands, you can expect to see the following faces representing the residents of Blue Ridge in January:

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Fannin County, Georgia

Mayor Elect Donna Whitener

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 1, Harold Herndon, Fannin County, Georgia

City Council Post 1 Elect Harold Herndon

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 2, Rhonda Thomas, Fannin County, Georgia

City Council Post 2 Elect Rhonda Thomas

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 3, Kenneth Gaddis, Fannin County, Georgia

City Council Elect Post 3 Kenneth Gaddis

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Election, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs

City Council Post 4 Elect Robbie Cornelius

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Fannin County, Georgia

City Council Post 5 Elect Nathan Fitts

 

 

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

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Blue Ridge City Election Results

Election, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Polls are set to close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. After a very public campaign, Blue Ridge residents will get to know who will represent them for the next four years.

Counting of the votes will begin at approximately 7:10 p.m., and results will be announced in the race for Blue Ridge City Council and Mayor.

Follow FetchYourNews for updates live from Blue Ridge City Hall.

 

***Update 7:20 p.m.***  Electronic Ballots have been tallied. Currently the votes stand at:

Mayor :   Donna Whitener (I) 113       Brendan Doyle (C) 103

Post 1:     Harold Herndon  (I)  159

Post 2:     Rhonda Thomas (I)  91        Angelina Powell (C)  126

Post 3:     Angie Arp (I)  101                  Kenneth Gaddis (C)  116

Post 4:     Robbie Cornelius   107          Mike Jacobs    100

Post 5:     Nathan Fitts  100                   David Stuart  112

 

***Update 9:00 p.m.*** Paper Ballots have been tallied. (Number of votes include electronic voting previously tallied.)

Mayor :   Donna Whitener (I) 288       Brendan Doyle (C) 185

Post 1:     Harold Herndon  (I)  317

Post 2:     Rhonda Thomas (I)  255        Angelina Powell (C)  223

Post 3:     Angie Arp (I)  186                  Kenneth Gaddis (C)  288

Post 4:     Robbie Cornelius     255        Mike Jacobs    205

Post 5:     Nathan Fitts  244                   David Stuart  224

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Brendan Doyle

Candidates for Mayor. (L) Incumbent Donna Whitener (R) Challenger Brendan Doyle

 

Unchallenged City Council Post 1 Harold Herndon

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Post 2, Election 2017, Rhonda Thomas, Angelena Powell

Candidates for City Council Post 2 (L) Incumbent Rhonda Thomas (R) Challenger Angelina Powell

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Election 2017, Post 3, Kenneth Gaddis, Angie Arp

Candidates for City Council Post 3 (L) Challenger Kenneth Gaddis (L) Angie Arp

 

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Election, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs

Candidates for City Council Post 4 (L) Robbie Cornelius (R) Mike Jacobs

FetchYourNews, Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Post 5, Election, Nathan Fitts, David Staurt

Candidate for City Council Post 5 (L) David Stuart (R) Nathan Fitts

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Re-Elect Donna Whitener Mayor of Blue Ridge ~ Commitment * Leadership * Results

Politics

 

Commitment                Leadership♦                 ♦Results

Mayor Donna Whitener

I am asking for your support as I seek a third term as Mayor of the City of Blue Ridge. I am a lifelong resident of Fannin County and the proud mother of three children: Brandon, Eric, and Kristan. I am ‘Grammy’ to two beautiful granddaughters, Lily and Claire. I am the owner of Town & Country Furniture where I employee 25 people. My parents started the store in 1961, and I proudly carry on their legacy today.

I am committed to the City of Blue Ridge. I have an open door policy, an ear ready to listen, and my hope is that you find me approachable and reachable.

Throughout my eight years of service, I have learned that developing positive relationships with city, county and state leadership is critical to community growth. I have also learned that businesses need confidence not uncertainty in order to succeed. You deserve a stable, supportive local government, and I want to provide that stability.

In 2010, I inherited a city impacted by an economic downtown. It took over a year and a half for the city to recover financially. We lost jobs and construction projects, but the tourism industry grew steadily year to year. Today, we have a vibrant downtown, which has resulted in increased tourism, a growing economy, and job creation. There is no better place than our quaint mountain town to enjoy Mother Nature and to shop, dine, explore, relax, and live. I am proud that approximately 4,500 people are employed in our city. I am grateful to the business owners who have invested their time and money in Blue Ridge.

During my term, taxpayers received a reduction in the millage rate four times. We received over $7 million dollars in grant money allowing us to make improvements that would have otherwise been impossible. We received two Community Development Block Grants used for street, water, and sewer improvements in residential areas. We also accomplished three Streetscape Projects and will be starting our fourth one. Roads have been paved, water and sewer lines replaced, two new water storage tanks built, and we’ve had a complete overhaul of our water plant.

Moving forward, I support the development of a master plan that manages city resources while anticipating future growth. Other priorities include updating the city’s infrastructure and the development of a comprehensive parking plan.

In addition to my responsibilities as mayor, I believe it is important for me to give back in service to other organizations. I am a member of the Governing Board of Highland Rivers Health and serve on the Board of Directors of the Appalachian Children’s Center. I am in my second year of service on the Legislative Policy Council of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). I served for three terms on GMA’s District Board, including service as District Board President. I also serve on the Board of the Fannin County Health Department. I am a proud supporter of Special Olympics, Feed Fannin, Snack in a Backpack, and many more organizations that serve our community.

Without proper management, a city can find itself upside down quickly. This is why I want to continue working for you. Re-elect Donna Whitener, Mayor of the City of Blue Ridge.

More Candidates Questioned About Residency

Election, News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – A recent decision by Election Superintendent Barbie Gerald resulted in the disqualification of City Council Post One Candidate Jane Whaley. Now two other candidates, David Stuart and Brendan Doyle, are being challenged as to the legitimacy of their residency.

Whaley, along with several of her supporters, attended an all day hearing on September 25, 2017 to argue her residential status.

City Attorney David Syfan argued that Whaley’s lack of physical presence at her apartment on East Main Street was case enough to dismiss her from the election.

Whaley’s attorney Frank Moore stated that her intent to move in was enough to claim residence, and that she had only been prevented from the physical move by circumstances beyond her control.

Gerald ultimately came to the decision that Whaley did not meet the qualifications to continue to run for City Council Post One. In a letter sent to Whaley, Gerald stated, “since I have determined that Mrs. Whaley is not qualified, in my position as Election Superintendent, I shall withhold Mrs. Whaley’s name as a candidate upon the ballot, or strike her name from the ballot if the ballots have been printed.”

It went on, “If there is insufficient time to strike her name or reprint the ballots, I will post a prominent notice at the City polling place advising voters that Mrs. Whaley is disqualified as a candidate and all votes cast for her shall be void and shall not be counted.”

Property of Stuart that is zoned C-2.

In response, Whaley stated, “I believe I am a legitimate candidate, and I am going to appeal this decision.”

Frank Moore sent a letter late last week asking for a stay of Gerald’s decision. He stated that Whaley’s name should be included on the ballot until a decision has been reached in her appeal.

The letter states that Whaley “will be permanently and irreparably harmed if the Court does not grant a stay of the Determination because she will be unable, prior to the printing of the ballots and the conducting of the election to challenge successfully the erroneous Determination.”

Property of Doyle zoned for urban dwelling living space.

Moore also sent a formal letter, with regards to a complaint filed by another city resident, to Election Superintendent Barbie Gerald requesting the investigation of residency for two additional candidates in the Blue Ridge City Council Election.

The letter brings into question the residency of City Council Post Five Candidate David Stuart. Stuart listed his address as a property that is currently zoned C-2. Properties that are commercially zoned C-2, can only have residential units above the first floor.

It also brings into question the residency of Candidate for Blue Ridge City Mayor Brendan Doyle. The complaint against Doyle states that an urban dwelling living space within the Central Business District must average 1,000 square feet in area per building.

The letter states that both of these candidates fail to meet these standards.

It asks for an investigation and if the claims are proven to be correct asks for the removal of both candidates from the ballot for the 2017  Election for City Council.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Candidates Face Off at Forum

Election, News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Candidates for Blue Ridge’s City Council and Mayoral race faced off on Thursday, September 28, 2017, giving residents an opportunity to hear exactly where their candidates stood on many important issues.

The candidates followed a regulated format. Each candidate was given two minutes for an opening statement and another two minutes for a closing. Predetermined questions from popular issues in the city were randomly asked of the candidates.

Every candidate accounted for their top priorities for the city, if they were to be elected. Almost every candidate responded their top priorities would be to focus on infrastructure and parking downtown.

Jane Whaley, Candidate for Post One, came to the stage unopposed. Harold Herndon had previously announced he would be unable to attend the event.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Election 2017, Rhonda Thomas, Angelina Powell, Donna Whitener, Brendan Doyle, Angie Arp, Kenneth Gaddis, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs, Jane Whaley, Harold Herndon, Nathan Fitts, David Stuart

Council member Rhonda Thomas addresses package sales in Blue Ridge.

A few of the candidates brought up priorities that were not a common theme. Whaley stated she had another priority along with infrastructure and parking, to “protect the residential zones, and make sure they stay residential.”

Post Two candidates, incumbent Rhonda Thomas and challenger Angelina Powell agreed on the common issues. They both felt that infrastructure and parking were matters to be addressed. Powell stated, “We are growing. We’re not going back.”

They were asked about their stance on package sales being allowed in the City of Blue Ridge. Powell was not opposed to this idea, but seemed unwilling to take a solid stance.

Thomas noted that in order for this to happen, registered voters of our county would have to start a petition and get a significant number to sign in favor. She referred to to success of package stores in Ellijay and that visitors will stop there before coming to Blue Ridge saying, “We’re losing a lot of money.”

Saying she would not go out and actively support it, Thomas promised to listen to what was being asked of her as a councilmember.

Post Three candidates, incumbent Angie Arp and challenger Kenneth Gaddis focused heavily on infrastructure and recreational areas. Both candidates would like to see improvements to our city pool.

Gaddis wants to see the pool revamped to be a more welcoming place for families to enjoy. Arp agreed with Gaddis, and said that she had playground designs that she “had brought to the council several times.” Arp also would like to see a city indoor pool.

Gaddis focused on the infrastructure of the city as being a top priority. He stated, “I’m a little upset right now because we’re paving roads where the water lines haven’t been replaced yet.”

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Election 2017, Rhonda Thomas, Angelina Powell, Donna Whitener, Brendan Doyle, Angie Arp, Kenneth Gaddis, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs, Jane Whaley, Harold Herndon, Nathan Fitts, David Stuart

Challenger Kenneth Gaddis questions the city about proper planning.

Candidate for Post Four, Robbie Cornelius went to the stage unopposed. Mike Jacobs, also seeking a seat for Post Four chose not to take the stage. Cornelius spoke of a different reason than other candidates for wanting to improve parking downtown.

While many candidates focus on parking being an issue for businesses and for tourists, Cornelius would like to see it improved for the residents. She stated, “most don’t go downtown because they can never find parking.”

This statement brought to light an issue for locals that had previously not been addressed.
Nathan Fitts, candidate for Post Five, also came to the stage unopposed. His opponent, David Stuart, had opted not to participate. Fitts addressed his broken leg as he made his way to the podium on crutches. “When I announced that I was running, they said break a leg. I didn’t know they meant literally.”

Fitts was asked his opinion on the legal fees that have been spent by the city in recent years, replying with,”It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

He acknowledged that there is a need for legal representation and to be able to receive counsel from someone with expertise, but also noted that “paying attorney fees because people don’t get along is unacceptable.”

The Mayoral candidates were the last of the evening. Incumbent Donna Whitener and Challenger Brendan Doyle agreed on many of the issues that had been discussed previously.

Both candidates gave praise to our city police department and agreed that infrastructure needed to be a priority.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Election 2017, Rhonda Thomas, Angelina Powell, Donna Whitener, Brendan Doyle, Angie Arp, Kenneth Gaddis, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Jacobs, Jane Whaley, Harold Herndon, Nathan Fitts, David Stuart

Mayor Donna Whitener and Challenger Brendan Doyle debate term limits.

Whitener and Doyle were asked if they believe there should be regular meetings between the County Commissioners, City Council of Blue Ridge, as well as Councils from other cities within our county.

Neither candidate was opposed to this idea. Whitener stated that she felt it would be beneficial and that she thought “we have a great working relation now.”

Doyle agreed with Whitener and thought the regular meetings would add unity to Fannin County. He stated that, “we should be there to support through thick and thin.”

One of the issues that separated these two candidates was the topic of term limits. When asked if they would be in favor of term limits on our local officials, Doyle supported the idea.
Whitener opposed this idea stating that the amount of information to learn is too much for a short time period and would not allow an official to be effective in their post if term limits were implemented. She stated that, “Government is a different beast.”

Elections for City Council and Mayor will be held on November 7, 2017.  Each candidate urges residents to get out and vote.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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