Fannin County August 11 runoff election returns

Election 2020, News
election returns

FANNIN COUNTY, Ga – The polls have closed for the August 11 runoff election. To review the unofficial election returns for your local, state, and federal races, check out the list below. Please remember all the results are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State.

COUNTY

Precincts: 12 of 12 reporting

Commission Chairman

Republican

Stan Helton (I) – 1,097

Jamie Hensley – 3,956

FEDERAL

U.S. House of Representatives District 9

Republican

Andrew Clyde – 2,826

Matt Gurtler – 2,147

Democrat

Devin Pandy – 344

Brooke Siskin – 179

 

 

To see the state election returns, click here. This article contains the overall race winner and identified runoffs for State House, State Senate, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate in FYN’s coverage area.

The General Election is scheduled for November 3 as well as the jungle primary for Senator Kelly Loeffler’s seat.

Students return to school August 7th : What to expect

Board of Education, News, Rebel's Corner
Fannin County, School System, Board of Education, Reopening, First Day, School Year, 2020, 2021, 2020-21, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Department of Education, Georgia, Online Learning, Traditional, Superintendent, Michael Gwatney, Sarah Rigdon, Masks, Safety

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Students of the Fannin County School System (FCSS) will have the option of returning to school in a modified traditional setting or utilizing online learning for the 2020-21 school year.

School Administration released their plans for reopening schools at the Board of Education (BOE) regular July meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Sarah Rigdon gave the board an overview of what to expect when school comes back into session. 

Fannin County, School System, Board of Education, Reopening, First Day, School Year, 2020, 2021, 2020-21, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Department of Education, Georgia, Online Learning, Traditional, Superintendent, Michael Gwatney, Sarah Rigdon, Masks, Safety

Rigdon presented the BOE with administration’s plan to reopen schools.

The Georgia Department of Education (DOE) released guidelines in early June for schools to consider when reopening in the State of Georgia. These guidelines, however, were only recommendations and the ultimate decisions for school operations were left up to the districts.

The DOE guidelines, along with guidance from both local and state authorities, as well as guardian and faculty input helped shape the approach that the FCSS is choosing to implement for the time being.

“The important part for us was to get the information and make the best decisions that we can,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney spoke of the system’s plan. “This plan is subject to change. We need to think of this as a living document. It will be modified as new things are learned.”

 

***Important Dates***

Traditional school, or in person education will begin on August 7, 2020.

Faculty and Staff are to report on August 3, 2020.

Online Learning will also begin on August 7, 2020.

Parents and Guardians may enroll their child for Online Learning between July 10 – July 20, 2020.

 

***Online Learning***

For those not comfortable with the traditional in class setting, an online option will be available. Assistant Superintendent Rigdon stressed that this online option will not mirror the distance learning that the school put in place upon the mandatory closure earlier this year.

The online learning platform will be run through a 3rd party that is yet to be determined. The platform will provide instruction to the child with the parent or guardian being a “learning coach”.

Students enrolled in online learning will spend the majority of the traditional school day (8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) either working online or working to complete assignments given online. Attendance will be taken and monitored via login and assignments completed.

There will be FCSS personnel assigned to check on each child’s progress. The “learning coaches” will be given the name of someone at the school who can help them navigate the program or assist with issues.

The content of the online learning platform, according to FCSS, will be “rigorous and graded”.

Students enrolled in Online Learning will be able to participate in sports and extracurricular activities. 

While the FCSS is not requiring that students sign a contract to remain in the online platform once enrolled (many other districts have this requirement), they would like to see those enrolled stay with the program through the first semester or for the entirety of the school year.

“We are not asking parents to sign a commitment, but we do want them to be extremely thoughtful as they make that decision because it is going to require us to allocate and spend funds that could be better spent if they’re not going to stick with the program,” Rigdon explained of the need for students and guardians to consider the decision heavily.

Rigdon did add for those who enroll but discover that the online platform is not working for them, “We are never turning a child away from our schools.”

Students utilizing the Online Learning platform will complete assignments from a school issued device. FCSS will provide a WiFi hotspot for students without internet, but these hotspots work much like mobile phones, so if you are an area with poor cell phone service it is likely that the hotspot would not work for you.

Online Learning is available for children in grades Kindergarten – 12. This includes children with IEPs (Individualized Educational Program). Online Learning is not available for Pre-K students.

 

***Traditional School***

Masks are optional for both students and personnel. Parents or Guardians must provide a mask for students who wish to wear one throughout the day.

Temperatures will be taken for all students, staff, parents and guardians each morning upon arriving at the campus. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be permitted to stay at school. 

Hand sanitizer will be available to all children and adults before entering the school buildings.

Fannin County, School System, Board of Education, Reopening, First Day, School Year, 2020, 2021, 2020-21, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Department of Education, Georgia, Online Learning, Traditional, Superintendent, Michael Gwatney, Sarah Rigdon, Masks, Safety

Parents, Guardians, and Staff completed a survey on key issues. This helped shape the district’s plan to reopen.

Elementary teachers will move the students instead of students changing classes. Middle and High School students will not be allowed to congregate in hallways. When and where possible class changes for Middle and High School students will be staggered or hallway traffic patterns will be addressed to prevent overcrowding.

When possible students will be assigned seats and will keep the same seat during the instructional class period.

Each school will “develop school level procedures” to limit the number of students in the cafeteria. This may include “grab and go” where students will pick up meals and eat in a classroom or designated area.

The final plan for buses has not been finalized. However, hand sanitizer will be available for anyone upon boarding a bus. Buses will be sanitized daily and ventilated to the extent feasible when in route.

Parents and guardians will be notified of any adjustments to bus routes or pick up times before the first day of school. Requirement to wear a mask while on a bus has not been decided, but parents and guardians will be notified of this decision as well.

Parents and guardians will be allowed to walk their child to class during the first few days of school but must wear a mask.  Schools will determine when parents and guardians will no longer have access beyond the main entrance.  

FCSS states “We want to keep the lines of communication strong, but we need to limit the number of people flowing into and out of the buildings each day.”

 

***If Schools Close Again***

Those students enrolled in Online Learning would continue the course that they are taking with no change. Students of the traditional classroom setting would switch to online learning but follow a model similar to that that was implemented in March 2020.

 

The FCSS states of the opening plan that “plans may change based on future orders from the Governor, the Department of Community Health, or the Department of Education”.

“Our desire is always to operate a traditional school with face to face,” Rigdon said of the hope for all students eventually to return to a traditional setting, “We believe our instruction is best at that level.”

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

BOE looks to reopen schools in August

Board of Education, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County School System (FCSS) is moving forward with plans to reopen the district in August.

“Our goal remains to have school in August,” FCSS Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney spoke at the recent Board of Education meeting, adding, “Now, it’s impossible to say right now exactly how school will look in August, as so much will depend on the health of our community at that time.”

Gwatney, along with district personnel and the Board of Education, are looking to find a balance for the upcoming year, weighing both the needs of the students and the needs of the community.

The Georgia Department of Education released guidelines on Monday, June 1, 2020 for districts moving forward. This advisement breaks up reopening recommendations into three categories:

  • Low/No Spread (of Covid-19)
  • Minimal/Moderate Spread
  • Substantial Spread

Each category has specific guidelines and recommendations for operating a school system based on the health of the community, and can range from traditional operation (in person) to hybrid operation (alternating schedules) to distance/remote learning.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, School, 2020, 2021, Covid-19, Superintendent, Michael Gwatney, Board of Education, Lewis Deweese, Sarah Rigdon, Heather Finley, Planning, Georgia Department of Education, Survey

The beginning guidelines from the GaDOE defining the categories to consider when reopening schools.

You can read the guidelines released by the Georgia Department of Education by clicking here : Georgia’s K-12 Restart and Recovery

“The great thing that I love about the plan is that it is actually giving communities back control of how their schools function,” FCSS Assistant Superintendent Sarah Rigdon said of the new recommendations.

While the district is preparing and hopeful to have children back in the classroom this fall, they are also preparing for a worst case scenario, where distance/remote learning is the only option once again.

FCSS Director of Instructional Technology, Heather Finley, gave the public a brief overview of how the statewide closure was handled in March of this year. 

During the past nine weeks, 68,000 meals were still served to students, over 700 Google Classrooms were created, approximately 900 virtual meetings and classrooms were attended, WiFi Hotspots were provided to families throughout the county, and those with special needs were still provided services.

“If we can do this in 3 days,” Finely said of the district’s quick response to the pandemic crisis in March, “we can plan for August and figure it out.”

The school system is sending out a survey to parents, guardians, facility, and staff regarding their feelings on moving forward with the 2020-2021 school year. This survey will be based on the low to moderate guidelines recommended by the State.

“This has been a very polarizing issue, and so it should be interesting once we get some of this data back to how the community feels,” Rigdon said of the survey.

The hope of conducting the survey is to get genuine feedback from those with an invested interest in the operations of the school district on a variety of topics that will need to be addressed before moving forward.

An example of such a topic was given as to whether or not children should be required to wear masks in school. 

The school system has also been seeking guidance from a wide variety of professionals in the medical, legal, economic and emergency management fields. 

Rigdon will share the findings from the survey at the July Board of Education meeting so that plans can be made for the reopening of Fannin County schools in August.

“We are excited that we are going to be able to go back to local control. It’s our kids and our community,” Rigdon stated and added, “Educators have missed their kids.”

Board member Lewis Deweese shared his feelings on how every obstacle has been met so far by the Fannin County School System: “The demonstration of love and the compassion that our teachers have for students, it goes above and beyond the call of duty by far.”

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

A Message from Candidate Jamie Hensley – Communication

News, Politics

Graduation plans finalized for Fannin County Seniors

Community, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Uncertainty best describes the school year so far, and among this uncertainty has been how to handle graduation for the Senior Class of 2020.

“It is my hope that the following communication helps alleviate the stress of our 2020 Graduates and their
families,” Fannin County High School (FCHS) Principal Erik Cioffi stated in an email, adding, “I would love nothing more than to have our full traditional graduation ceremony at FCHS on May 22nd.”

Cioffi goes on to say,  “After consulting with our local leaders and following guidelines, as of today, May 6, 2020, it is our hope that we can create and celebrate graduation through various formats that our senior class of 2020 will cherish for a lifetime.”

Fannin County High School has opted to hold a traditional (modified) Graduation Ceremony on May 22, 2020 at the FCHS Stadium. This ceremony will begin at 8:00 p.m. with the following practices in place for public safety:

Under the following conditions, FCHS will offer a 2 Guest Invitational Ceremony on campus for our
graduating seniors:

  • Tickets will be issued to the graduates and they will choose who receives them.
  • All guests will be required to wear a mask (graduates may remove during their walk or giving speeches).
  • All guests will follow social distancing guidelines (6 feet apart); local law enforcement will be present to monitor and ensure full cooperation for the safety of all guests
  • All visitors will have their temperature taken (forehead thermometer) upon entering the stadium by local EMS. Anyone who has a temperature reading of over 100 degrees will not be permitted to enter.
  • We will use both the visitor stands and the home stands for the ceremony (we can seat safely 440 guests).
  • The graduates will be assigned seating on the field (from the 50 yard line to end zone,all graduates will face the scoreboard)
  • At the conclusion of the event: students will be dismissed to the visiting parking lot and then we will dismiss guest from the stands. Guests will park on main campus and students will park behind visitor stadium.

In order for this event to be successful – All students and guests must adhere to the above guidelines
The May 22nd Graduation Ceremony will be live streamed at www.fanninrebeltv.com for all extended
family and community members to watch our Graduates be celebrated in these unprecedented times.

**Inclement weather – Graduation will be re-scheduled for May 23rd @ 10 am **

 

Graduation Rehearsal on May 20th @ FCHS Stadium
Required by all Graduates:
9:00 am – Honor Graduates
10:30 am – Remaining Graduate Candidates

  • All Graduates will park behind the visitor stadium and report to the stadium field upon arrival
  • All Graduates will be required to wear a mask
  • All Graduates will follow social distancing guidelines (6 feet apart)
  • All Graduates will have their temperature taken (forehead thermometer) upon entering the stadium. Any Graduate who has a temperature reading of over 100 degrees will not be permitted to enter.)

Seniors must also complete Graduation Procedures May 11 – 13:

  • Arrive on campus in the football stadium visitor parking lot at your designated time.
  • Seniors are scheduled in five minute intervals over a period of three days. It is imperative you arrive 5 minutes prior to your scheduled time and leave campus immediately after you receive your diploma jacket and take pictures.
  • Remain in your vehicle until instructed to exit.
  • Enter the field house paying attention to the floor markers for social distancing.
  • Your temperature will be taken.
  • Only the student or designee may Only the student or designee may enter the field house to return items (one person).
  • Following directional arrows, go to each station returning or picking up items.
  • Following directional arrows, proceed to the field.

 

Items to Return

Chromebook
 Chromebook Case
 Chromebook Charger
 Textbooks, Classroom Library Books
 Library Book(s), Calculators
 Fines, Dues, Lunch Charges
 Hotspots
 Uniforms, Instruments, Scripts, Calculators, Etc.

Items to Collect

 Yearbooks
 Honor Chords
 Honor Sashes

  • Up to (3 vehicles) 15 guests may enter the visitor entrance and view from the track as student walks.
  • Each student will have his/her name called and be able to walk the field for a private graduation
    ceremony with his/her family. A photographer will be present to capture the moment.
  • Student and guests will exit the stadium on the opposite side of the parking lot.
  • The walk will be videotaped, to be used at a later date, in the event a virtual ceremony would
    be used.
  • Allotted time is approximately 10 minutes.

 

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Happy Easter from FetchYourNews.com

Community, Featured
Happy Easter

During this trying time, FetchYourNews.com wants you to know we are a part of your community. We know this Easter will be much different than most. No family gatherings, Sunrise services, or church gatherings but we want you all to remember, that we will get through this. We are all in this together. Here at FYN we wish you well on this Easter weekend.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Home.

We are all in this together!

Happy Easter

Voters urged to use Absentee Ballots in upcoming elections

Board of Elections, Community, News
qualifying election

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Secretary of State (SOS) Brad Raffensperger released a statement urging Georgians to take advantage of the absentee ballot during this unique time in voting history. 

According to statistics from the 2016 and 2018 elections 95 percent of voters in Georgia chose to cast their ballots in person while only 5 percent took advantage of the absentee ballot (mail in) option.

Raffensperger is hoping that more voters will now opt for the absentee ballot, as social distancing cannot be easily obtained at most polling locations.

A press release regarding the 2020 elections states: “Raffensperger will send absentee ballot request forms to Georgia’s 6.9 million voters in an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes.”

It goes on to say that voters “will simply have to fill out and return the application to vote by mail in the upcoming elections with no in-person risk of exposure to COVID19.”

Fannin County Election Supervisor Mary Ann Conner is also urging residents to take advantage of this way of voting: “Not knowing what April and May hold in store with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing voting as we have never seen it before and to ensure the safety and the well-being of the voters, we join with the SOS in urging our voters in Fannin County to request an absentee by mail ballot.”

The SOS will begin mailing absentee ballot applications on March 30, 2020. Only active voters will receive an application. If you are an inactive voter, you can call the Fannin County Election Office and request an application.

Applications are also accessible online at www.fannincountyga.com  link to Elections under Departments or on the Secretary of State’s website www.sos.ga.gov link on Elections and go to My Voter Page.

Early voting will run April 27 – May 19,  Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be a Saturday vote on May 9, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

PRESS RELEASE FROM SECRETARY OF STATE

(ATLANTA) — Secretary of State Raffensperger is taking unprecedented steps to protect the public health of Georgia voters while also upholding the integrity of the vote. These temporary steps are being made because of the COVID-19 pandemic threatening public health in Georgia and around the world. Secretary Raffensperger will be mailing absentee ballot request forms to every Georgia voter. This extraordinary effort to ensure all Georgians can vote without fear for their health will supplement extra measures to ensure those who rely on in-person voting to access the ballot can do so safely. “Times of turbulence and upheaval like the one we Georgians face require decisive action if the liberties we hold so dear are to be preserved,” said Raffensperger. “I am acting today because the people of Georgia, from the earliest settlers to heroes like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis, have fought too long and too hard for their right to vote to have it curtailed. Georgia has faced challenges before and overcome them, and we can do so again through the grit and ingenuity that has made America a shining example for democracies around the world.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is moving to increase Georgia voter access and protect the public health of voters and poll workers during the COVID-19 emergency through increased mail in voting. In the 2016 and 2018 November elections, around 95 percent of Georgia voters opted to cast their ballot in person versus the 5 percent who did so by mail. With social distancing as the most important tool for limiting the spread of coronavirus, providing alternatives to voting in person is crucial. All Georgia voters can request and vote an absentee ballot for any reason.

Raffensperger will send absentee ballot request forms to the Georgia’s 6.9 million voters in an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes. In doing so, Raffensperger will literally be dropping a way to vote in safety and security on each Georgia voter’s doorstep. They will simply have to fill out and return the application to vote by mail in the upcoming elections with no in-person risk of exposure to COVID19. Georgia’s most vulnerable, those over age 65 and those with a disability, can request absentee ballots for the primary and general election as well as all elections through the 2020 election cycle with this one application. Other voters will need to submit another application for future elections. The elderly and disabled will to be able to vote in safety and security. While Secretary Raffensperger is encouraging as many voters as possible to vote by mail, some rely on in-person voting to exercise their right to vote privately and securely. People without internet or mail access, such as those experiencing homelessness; Georgians who need language assistance; and people with disabilities who rely on voting machines to cast their ballot will still be able to do so in person on the state’s new voting system. Additionally, research from the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law shows that eliminating “in-person voting could disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latino, and young voters”. Their right to vote too needs protection.

To that end, Raffensperger is taking extra steps to limit the threat of COVID-19 at the polling place. Poll workers will receive additional resources to clean the equipment regularly. In-person voters who show up to vote in person will be instructed to maintain a safe distance when waiting to vote. These measures will protect poll workers as well. Understanding the extra risk Georgia’s generally elderly poll workers face, Raffensperger is working to help counties hire more and younger poll workers. Extra staff will allow those who feel sick to be absent from the polls without significantly impacting continuity while a younger pool of workers will increase resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 threat. Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller commended Raffensperger for taking initiative to safeguard health and preserve voter access. “I want to applaud Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his office for taking decisive measures in this time of crisis,” Miller said. “These steps are critical in this temporary environment to protect our poll workers and give our counties time to successfully plan for the Georgia General Primary in May. Make no mistake about it, the members of the majority caucus and I remain committed to keep the General Primary on May 19th.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is taking these unprecedented actions for the safety and security of Georgia’s voters. Through these decisive steps, Raffensperger is protecting public health and the right to vote in Georgia.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Local Candidates Qualify for 2020 Election

Board of Education, Board of Elections, Community, Election 2020, News
qualifying election

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Qualifying has officially ended in Fannin County, and many candidates came out to have their names put on the ballot for the open seats in the 2020 Election.

The following candidates have officially qualified in Fannin County:

Fannin County Chairman

Stan Helton (Incumbent – Republican)

Bill Simonds (Republican)

James Hensley (Republican)

Vincent Davis (Republican)

Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner

Johnny Scearce (Republican)

Susan Hayes (Republican)

Debra Holcombe (Republican)

Dixie L. Carter (Democrat)

Fannin County Board of Education (Succeed Terry Bramlett)

Terry Bramlett (Incumbent – Republican)

Greg Staffins (Republican)

Board of Education (Succeed Lewis Deweese)

Lewis Deweese (Incumbent – Republican)

Kathy Smyth (Democrat)

Lorraine Panter (Republican)

Board of Education (Succeed Chad Galloway)

Chad Galloway (Incumbent – Republican)

Teresa “TC” Dillard (Democrat)

Fannin County Coroner

Becky Callihan (Incumbent – Republican)

William  “Billy” Lake Standridge, Jr  (Republican)

Fannin County Tax Commissioner

Rita Newton (Republican)

Fannin County Sheriff

Dane Kirby (Incumbent – Republican)

Fannin County Clerk of Court

Dana Chastain (Incumbent – Republican)

Fannin County Chief Magistrate Judge

Brian Jones – Incumbent 

Fannin County Probate Judge

Scott Kiker (Incumbent)

Fannin County Surveyor

Shelly Bishop (Incumbent – Republican)

Sam Walker (Republican)

STATE Qualifying

District 7 State Representative

David Ralston (Incumbent – Republican)

Rick Day (Democrat)

State Senate District 51

Steve Gooch (Incumbent – Republican)

June Krise (Democrat)

Public Service Commission District 4

Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr. (Incumbent – Republican)

Nathan Wilson (Libertarian)

Daniel Blackman (Democrat)

John Noel (Democrat)

Judge of Superior Court Appalachian Circuit

Brenda Weaver (Incumbent – Non-partisan)

District Attorney Appalachian 

B. Alison Sosebee (Incumbent – Republican)

FEDERAL Qualifying

Ninth District U.S. Congress

Michael Boggus (Republican)

Andrew Clyde (Republican)

Matt Gurtler (Republican)

Maria Strickland (Republican)

Kevin Tanner (Republican)

Ethan Underwood (Republican)

Devin Pandy (Democrat)

Paul Broun (Republican)

John Wilkinson (Republican)

Dan Wilson (Democrat)

Kellie Weeks (Republican)

Siskin (Democrat)

United States Senate – Perdue Seat

James Knox (Democrat)

Jon Ossoff (Democrat)

Teresa Pike Tomlinson (Democrat)

Tricia Carpenter McCracken (Democrat)

Sarah Riggs Amico (Democrat)

Shane Hazel (Libertarian)

Marc Keith DeJesus (Democrat)

Maya Dillard Smith (Democrat)

David Perdue (Incumbent – Republican)

United States Senate – Loeffler Seat (Special Election in November) 

Kelly Loeffler (Incumbent – Republican)

Doug Collins (Republican)

A. Wayne Johnson (Republican)

Kandiss Taylor (Republican)

Tamara Johnson-Shealey (Democrat)

Matt Lieberman (Democrat)

Joy Felicia Shade (Democrat)

Ed Tarver (Democrat)

Richard Dien Winfield (Democrat)

Al Bartell (Independent)

Allen Buckley (Independent)

Brian Slowinski (Libertarian)

Derrick E. Grayson (Republican)

Rod Mack (Write-In)

Qualifying for the presidential preference primary election occurred in Dec. 2019 and will take place on March 24, but the general primary for the state is on May 19, 2020. For the general primary, early voting begins on April 27.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Celebrate LOVE with this Circuit World Special

Business, Featured

Circuit World is having a Valentine’s Special! Click here to view more!

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