TVA River Management Continues to Address Above Average Rainfall in 2019

Announcements, Outdoors

TVA River Management teams are preparing Valley reservoirs for above normal rainfall forecasted to continue over the weekend and increase next week.

The current forecast for an inch of rainfall through Saturday could ramp up to bring an additional 3-6 inches mostly during the middle of next week.

“After record rainfall in 2018, we are seeing much of the same so far in early 2019,” said James Everett, senior manager for TVA’s River Forecast Center. “With above average rainfall totals on already-saturated ground possible next week, we are moving lots of water through the system to create as much storage as possible in our reservoirs while also limiting flows to protect downstream areas.”

TVA has increased spill or sluice released at its tributaries through its Cherokee, Douglas, Norris, Melton Hill and Apalachia dams to create more storage capacity. Increased releases at all nine Tennessee River main stem dams are expected with the possible exception of Kentucky Dam in order to provide flood control operations on the Ohio River.

TVA river management activities – including spilling, sluicing, hydro generation, and reducing flows at some locations – will be ongoing at tributary and main stem sites across the valley, with release strategies being updated around the clock by TVA’s River Forecast Center staff as the rainfall forecast develops.

Impacts across the valley include:

The Tennessee River at Savannah, Tenn., is expected to reach flood stage by Friday tomorrow and continue rising several feet through late next week.

Continued TVA coordination with the US Army Corps of Engineers to manage flows at Kentucky Dam and Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River to avert flood damage on the Mississippi River and Ohio River, which already is 10 feet above flood stage.

Possible closures of locks at Watts Bar and Chickamauga dams and commercial navigation through the Nickajack Gorge.

TVA also will be reaching out to the National Weather Service, farmers, marinas, local EMA’s and other groups across the Valley to provide advanced warning about rising river levels.

This weather event is a continuation of above average rainfall patterns which resulted in 2018 being the wettest year on record across the Tennessee Valley with a basin average of 67.0 inches of rain, about 16 inches above normal.

In an average year, TVA prevents about $250 million in flood damage in the TVA region and an additional $17 million averted along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers through the operation of its dams.

TVA stopped discharge from area reservoirs

News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – While Fannin County has remained for the most part unscathed from mother nature’s recent rains, we are not out of the woods yet.

There have been reports of downed trees and power outages in our area, but thankfully we have thus far been spared from widespread damages.

With only a few more days to go before we see a period of sunny skies, TVA has released a warning for our area.

In an immediate press release TVA warns:

We have stopped discharge from your area’s reservoirs due to the downstream flooding. Depending on the amount of rain we get this weekend, we expect Blue Ridge, Chatuge and all other tributary reservoirs to quick rise to summer pool or above. Residents should check their docks and move any equipment near the shore line to a safe location. Monitor TVA Facebook and Twitter for updates.

TVA released a video via Facebook that explains more indepth the issues that they are facing within their system due to the large amounts of rainfall. You can watch the video by following the link below:

TVA Video Explaining Rainfall Effects

 

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Stanley Rapids off of Aska Road. The popular “rocks” are completely submerged due to recent rains.

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Sandy Bottoms Recreation Area shows the significant water rise of the Toccoa River.

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

New Fannin Youth Initiative

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Life and career skills are something that all youth need when moving into adulthood, and thanks to a new innovative program some of the youth of Fannin County will have an opportunity to have a jump start on these skills as they work their way through high school.

Executive Director of the Development Authority, Christie Gribble, unveiled a new program aimed at garnering knowledge of real world situations and providing high school age children with an in-depth look at our local community.

“A function of economic development is workforce and community development,” Gribble spoke of the new project and the inspiration she received from attending the Leadership Fannin program, “As a local to Fannin County I learned a lot about the community.”

Leadership Fannin is an annual program hosted by the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce in which community members are nominated to participate in. Each yearly group is exposed to an indepth look at Fannin County through site visits and speakers on a variety of topics.

Gribble’s youth program dubbed the Fannin Youth Initiative (FYI), will be based on the Leadership Fannin program but geared toward a younger audience.

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Executive Director Christie Gribble tells the Board of Commissioners about the new Fannin Youth Initiative.

Students at Fannin County High School, grades 10 and 11, are eligible to apply. In its inaugural year FYI had 13 applicants.

The program itself is a partnership between the Fannin County School System, the Chamber of Commerce, the Development Authority, and a network of volunteers.

“This is a free program for students. It’s paid for by sponsorships,” Gribble said of the no cost opportunity, “We had sponsorships from TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) and Blue Ridge Mountain EMC this year.”

Students will be paired with a mentor for guidance and will get firsthand knowledge of economic development, entrepreneurship, small business, and tourism in our community.

According to Gribble one of the goals is to “help these students understand what you can do in the community if you do decide to stay and build a career here, or if you go off to college and want to come back. I want to show some success stories.”

Beyond being able to get out and meet with local workers, students will also be shown a variety of life skills needed to function as adults.

“We will show these students where you go to vote, jury duty, where you go to pay taxes, building permits,” Gribble spoke of students visiting the Fannin County Courthouse during the program. “These are things that not a lot of high school students know about.”

Participants will also get a firsthand look into state government with a trip to the Georgia State Capitol building.

Gribble noted that there will be school visits as well, and volunteers in the group will teach students about career building skills: “We will go into the school on a occasion and do some professional development such as communication skills, resume building, and interviewing skills.”

The program is set to begin Jan. 25 and run through April or May of this year. If all goes well with the inaugural “test run” of FYI, both the school and partnerships are open to expansion and possibly offering the program twice a year.

 

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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TVA pledges $50,000 in improvements to land near Blue Ridge Dam

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Christie Arp, Executive Director of the Fannin County Development Authority, announced that TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) has pledged $50,000 to renovate the grounds surrounding the area of the historic homes located near Blue Ridge Dam.

“This is owned by TVA,” Arp clarified the legalities of the area, “and leased to the county.”

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Land near Blue Ridge Dam will see improvements in the near future.

“TVA has committed $50,000 to provide ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible walkways and some other minor improvements,” Arp said explaining the purpose of the monies devoted to this area.

Among the minor improvements, pads will be poured for picnic tables, and if funds allow, decking could be installed to look out over Lake Blue Ridge.

The county would be responsible for providing the picnic tables, making minor improvements to parking areas, and continuing with maintenance such as mowing.

Arp described this new project as “a really great contribution to the county” that “will help improve an already public area”.

TVA has suggested a start date of the improvements for late July or early August of this year.

Arp did stress, “The houses are considered historic. Nothing is going to happen to the houses right now.”

An update was also given on the county’s SPEC (Speculative) Building located off Highway 5 on Kyle Road.

It was announced earlier this year that the building would be leased by Ed’s Supply Company, Inc. This announcement came just a little over a year after the building’s completion.

Ed’s Supply was founded in Nashville, Tn. in 1957. The primary focus of the company is to provide wholesale distribution of air conditioning, refrigeration, as well as heating parts and supplies across Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas.

“Construction was funded by primarily grants,” Arp spoke of the progress of the SPEC building, “at a total of around $670,000. The majority of that is grants that will not have to be paid back.”

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The SPEC building is under lease and expected to bring in approximately $90,000 in tax revenue.

Of the amount that will have to be paid back, the Development Authority was able to secure a One Georgia Equity Loan in the amount of approximately $230,000. This is an interest free loan with quarterly payments due over a 20 year period.

“Ed’s Supply was able to give me an estimate of roughly $3 million in sales that will be brought to and kept in the county,” Arp spoke of the new tenants. According to Arp this would equate to approximately $90,000 in tax revenue.

Beyond these sales estimates, Ed’s Supply plans to hire employees in the county starting out with six positions with intentions to grow.

“They are investing, with their equipment, with their inventory, along with all the build out of the interior, roughly $1 million,” Arp said explaining Ed’s Supply immediate commitment in signing a 10 year lease with the county.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton praised the Development Authority for their hard work in completing all aspects of the SPEC Building project: “I know some of the fellow commissioners in other counties tell me the typical timeframe to fill a SPEC building with a valid company is closer to five years, and you and your board made this happen in a little over a year.”

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson, who has been with the BOC since approval was given on the building project, thanked the Development Authority for working so diligently: “Hopefully some of the people who didn’t believe in it back then, will now look and say that it was a good investment.”

 

 

 

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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Natalie Kissel

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BOC motions to raise speed limit on Old Hwy. 76

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Residents may have noticed a change to the speed limit on Old Hwy. 76 this week. The Board of Commissioners (BOC) discussed an increase in the limit at the Nov. 28 meeting.

“It’s kind of convoluted, but going east on 76, from downtown to Marina Drive, that’s the city of Blue Ridge, and then it becomes the county’s responsibility from Marina Drive out to the Lakewood intersection where Hwy. 60 comes in,” Fannin County BOC Chairman Stan Helton clarified as to which entities are accountable for maintenance and regulations along Old Hwy. 76.

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L-R : Marina Drive on Old Hwy. 76; Lakewood and Old Hwy. 76 intersection

Helton went on to say, “And then that’s state responsibility from Lakewood intersection all the way out to where 60 (state Route 60) turns south on Morganton headed towards Suches. And then from that point going on east towards Union County, that’s the county’s responsibility again.”

From Union County to the Lakewood intersection, the highway has a constant speed limit of 45 mph. From the Lakewood intersection to Marina Drive, the speed limit drops to 35 mph.

The change in speed limit will not affect the current speed limit at Blue Ridge Dam and along Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) property. The speed limit will still remain at 35 mph in that area.

After receiving calls from various citizens wanting to raise the speed limit in this area, Helton brought the issue to the attention of the board. Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson and Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee agreed that bringing uniformity to the speed limit would be a positive.

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Area along TVA property, including Blue Ridge Dam, will remain at 35 mph.

Johnson deferred to Fannin County Public Works Director Zack Ratcliff to get his opinion on the proposed change.

Ratcliff pointed out that the current speed limit causes a bottleneck on that section of road and added, “I recommend that we at least do something to improve that area. I think it would help. That’s pretty slow going across there if you abide by that speed limit.”

Johnson agreed, “It does kind of bottleneck down there. There are still some law-abiding citizens left and that is too slow.”

Sosebee asked Ratcliff if the change would alleviate that issue, to which Ratcliff replied, “It used to be that (45 mph). It actually used to be that. TVA did work on the dam, and they reduced all the speed through there because they were doing the work, and it never got bumped back up.”

BOC Chairman Helton made a motion to raise the speed limit from Marina Drive to the Lakewood intersection (excluding the dam and the area along TVA property) to 45 mph. Johnson seconded the motion, and it was passed unanimously by all three commissioners.

 

 

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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Natalie Kissel

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Fannin BOC: Property Taxes, “Flesh Eater” and Family Hires

News

Property Taxes

The Board of Commissioners had a moment of well-earned pride at the August 23rd meeting when they discussed the 2016 millage rate, which is 16.984 mills, with 4.604 being the county tax and 12.380 being the school tax. With the new rate, a $150,000 house would cost $1,019 in property taxes. (Georgia assesses property values at 40% of the fair market value.)

Post-Commissioner Earl Johnson said that he believes Fannin County still has the cheapest millage rate in Georgia.  Indeed, a check on the Georgia Department of Revenue shows that Fannin County’s rate, at 16.984 is about 43% less than Georgia’s average county millage rate of 30 mills.  Mr. Johnson said that Fannin’s low millage rate draws retirees to live in Fannin County.

Chairman Bill Simonds said he would hate to be at the Commissioners meeting in a neighboring county when the Commissioners had to tell residents that their millage rate was increasing by 11.266 mills on top of what property owners already pay.

“Flesh Eater”

John Drullinger of Fannin Animal Control gave a report about the dogs at the facility.  Right now, the facility houses 27 dogs.  Several of these can’t be placed in homes.  Post-Commissioner Sosebee asked if one of the dogs is “Flesh Eater,” a dog which has been at animal control more than a year.  “Flesh Eater” has such a dangerous temperament that he tries to attack through the wire cage.  “Flesh Eater” and similar dogs pose a growing problem for Animal Control.  Since Animal Control is a no-kill facility, the number of aggressive, not able to rehabilitate dogs they must house will keep growing. The total amount of dogs Animal Control takes in is growing as well.  So far this year, it has brought in 221 dogs.  Last year at this time, it was only 202.  Mr. Drullinger told the Commissioners that more people in the county need to be using low-cost spay and neuter programs.

Family Hires

The resignation of Kristen Stone as Assistant Finance Administrator to the county set off a tirade against the county hiring family members of other people.  It seems that before Ms. Stone turned in her resignation there was already movement to hire the wife of a Sheriff’s Office investigator to fill her position.  Mr. Sosebee asked Rita Davis Kirby, who will be the new hire’s boss, if she had spoken to this woman.  Ms. Kirby replied yes and that she has spoken to others as well.

Mr. Sosebee clearly said that he didn’t want anyone else coming out of the Sheriff’s Office that would be dealing with the county’s finances.  Ms. Davis Kirby is the county’s Finance Director and her husband, Dane Kirby is Sheriff.

After Ms. Davis Kirby and Mr. Simonds assured Mr. Sosebee that the position has been advertised in the newspaper, Mr. Sosebee said the new hire needs to be someone with good qualifications who isn’t friends with nobody.

That’s what it needs to come down to… This brother, sister, mom, friend, whoever, that’s got to stop.  Somewhere down the road that’s got to come to an end.”

In his time as Commissioner, Mr. Sosebee has taken initiatives to change personnel policies in the county so that they are more transparent.

Mr. Johnson supported Mr. Sosebee’s statements.  He said, “We had this conversation in your office last week Ms. Kirby.  We have to stop hiring family in this courthouse.  There’s too much.  There’s too much in the road department.  There’s too much here.  There’s too much everywhere… Next thing you know there is one family running in every department of the courthouse.”  Mr. Johnson told everyone this is the first time in a long time that a county government position is being advertised.  He finished with, “ I hope that we absolutely hire no more family in our government.”

In other news from the Board of Commissioners meeting:

Marie Woody, Chief Land Development Officer brought seven properties that should be condemned before the Commissioners.  Ms. Woody said that some of these properties had five or six complaints lodged against them.  Mr. Johnson replied once the Commissioners start looking into this, there are properties all over the county in the same condition.  Mr. Sosebee agreed that there is a “smorgasbord of problems”.  Mr. Johnson told Ms. Woody that the Commissioners will take the information under advisement and will return to it later.

Fannin EMA will now have three ATVs to assist them in trail rescues.  One ATV is also amphibious.  Much of the money to purchase the ATVs came from a Homeland Security Grant.  EMA also received $15,000 in federal money to purchase weather radios for Fannin residents living in flood prone areas.

The Rec Department was hit with questions of mismanagement by the Commissioners and two Fannin residents.  (see”Rocky Times for Road and Rec Departments“)  The Commissioners decided that the large house at the center of the Tom Boyd Complex will become storage and Rec Department offices.

Mr. Johnson chastised the Road Department for failing to show up at yet another Board of Commissioners meeting and the department acting like it is not its duty to inform the Commissioners and the county about what road maintenance is happening.

Nicole Potzauf of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association announced that Blue Ridge was voted #6 in the list of “Top Ten Craft Cities in the United States” , beating out Asheville.

The County got an update about potential uses for the TVA property next to the dam.  There is some discussion of TVA helping renovate the houses and putting in a fishing pier.  DNR is looking at a boat house for law enforcement purposes.

The Commissioners approved Project Chimps application to house 80 chimpanzees at their sanctuary. (see “Commissioners Give Green Light to Project Chimps“)

In Public Commentary, Marcela Olsteen wanted to know why Chairman Simonds had called County Attorney Lynn Doss a flat-out liar in a taped deposition and why she is still County Attorney if he feels that way.  Ms. Olsteen also stated that Ms. Doss’ salary seems out of line.

Joe Webb made an Open Records request for the general description, function, size and cost of each project the county has set forth on the SPLOST 2016 ballot.  Mr. Webb reminded them that Georgia law requires a list of specifically described projects, the estimated cost of each and the time line for completion for a project to appear on the SPLOST ballot.  The current SPLOST ballot does not have this specificity.  (see “Commissioners Avoid Required Transparency in Setting SPLOST)

Henry Mallard of Cutcane Road appeared before the Commissioners to ask once again that they do something about 48 plus dogs at a house on Cutcane.  This is the third time since January Mr. Mallard has appeared before the Commissioners asking for action.  “Gentlemen, I’m begging for help,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Projects Underway with Fannin County Recreation Department

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In May, the Fannin County Recreation Department joined Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

 

“We’re not the one-dimensional rec department,” says John Scalera, Director of Fannin County Recreation Department when describing his vision for the Recreation Department.  Mr. Scalera took over leadership of the Recreation Department in October 2015.

Mr. Scalera has set up two new camps for Fannin youth this summer – Fishing Camp and Waterlogged  Camp.  This year, each camp is only offered one time.  If all goes well, Mr. Scalera hopes to have more than one session in the upcoming years.

Fishing Camp is for ages 8-14 and will take place June 13-17.  The cost is $75. At this camp, would-be fishermen will learn more than just putting bait on hooks.  They will learn about fishing in different Fannin county waterways, fishing techniques for different kinds of fish and how to treat fish from catching to eating. Campers will visit the fish hatchery in Suches, Horseshoe Bend and Tammen Parks as well as fishing in the pond and creek on the Recreation Complex Land.  Campers top off their fishing knowledge with a fish-fry.

Waterlogged Camp is the other new camp for this summer.  The camp is for 8-14 year olds and will take place June 27 to July 1.  The cost is $100 .  Campers will visit types of water recreation facilities like the Cherokee Aquatic Center, Lake Winey in Chattanooga, Toccoa Family Campground, and go to Helen for tubing.  Teaching swimming is not the purpose of the camp, learning new ways to enjoy water is the purpose.  Mr. Scalera says that campers should come with some knowledge of swimming, but don’t they don’t have to worry if they are beginner swimmers since the activities are not about learning to swim but about enjoying different types of water activities.

In addition to the new camps, the Recreation Department will also hold their traditional one-week sport specific camps.  This summer the camps are soccer, baseball and basketball. Parents can call the Rec Department at 706-946-1130 for more information. Neither Waterlogged Camp or Fishing Camp currently offers scholarships.  However, the Fannin County Recreation Department does offer scholarships for its youth athletic programs.

Another multi-dimensional project the Recreation Department is pursuing boat ramps for the Toccoa River.  The Recreation Department is working on along with Fannin County Land Development Authority and TVA.  The proposed boat ramps would be at Tammen Park, Curtis Switch and potentially Horseshoe Bend.  The ramps would be for kayaks and drift boats.  TVA would be installing the ramps and Fannin County would be responsible for their upkeep.  An encouraging sign for the future success of the ramps is that TVA is donating $15,000 worth of animal-proof trash cans to the Recreation Department to place in parks alongside the Toccoa.

 

 

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TVA Explains Project Delays

Community, Featured Stories

When will the Blue Ridge dam project be complete? (more…)

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