BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – According to information posted by Mayor Donna Whitener, the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Blue Ridge City Council has been cancelled.
Whitener added that council members Angie Arp, Rodney Kendall and Bruce Pack are all unavailable to attend the meeting due to other obligations.
In last week’s City Council election, Arp lost her re-election bid to Kenneth Gaddis, who will replace her in January, while Kendall and Pack both chose not to run.
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Spoiling for a fight. The heated argument between the two city council members Angie Arp and Rhonda Thomas was well on its way before the meeting ever started. Arp obviously took issue with comments Thomas made the previous week concerning City Attorney David Syfan. Arp responded to Thomas’ comments through several early morning e-mails (e-mail text posted below). It reached a boiling point at last nights Blue Ridge City Council Meeting.
At the Blue Ridge City Council meeting on March 14th Councilwoman Angie Arp and Rhonda Thomas get into a heated argument. Arp addressed the council about recent comments concerning legal fees for the city of Blue Ridge. After showing her support for City Attorney David Syfan, Councilwoman Rhonda Thomas, took a different position than Arp’s concerning the legal costs. This resulted in a verbal fight between the two council members. It escalated to a point where council member Rodney Kendall yelled the point of order several times. Arp offered to Thomas to take it outside.
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2017 3:24 AM
To: Donna Whitener; Rhonda Thomas
Subject: Re: Ada Street v. Blue Ridge – Ct. of Appeals Order Dismissing Appeal – IMPORTANT
My Dear Friends Donna and Rhonda,
How has your deceitful attacks and lies against me worked out for you so far? You LOST! Has it not hit either of you yet, that you have LOST every time you’ve gone against me and the council for that matter. Does it not get old always being on the losing side? Have either of you considered, you may just need to come to the realization that you are not going to ever win against me, no matter how dirty and deceitful you play. How long will you keep trying, it’s been almost four years now and your still getting your tail kicked. Where is the shame in that or better yet where is the pride in that. I like a challenge, but if I couldn’t do better than you’ve done, I believe I would wave the flag, pull may tail between my legs and go home.
I do have another question though, do you not find it odd that despite all your calculating, deceitful planning, orchestrated attempts and lying, you still have not been able to win at anything. Your attacks against me hasn’t effected me at all, except maybe gained me more favor, for being known as someone that don’t play the political game and certainly known as someone that don’t take no sh– from anyone or don’t care who you are or whether you like me or not.
Where is your elite group of supporters, none of you have been able to defeat me and now you’re all laying low, planning for one last attempt. Rhonda, as you have referred to confidently, a “new council” has it ever crossed your mind that you may not be part of the “new council”. Unless your luck changes and you can do something you haven’t been able to do in almost four years. If so, there may be a “new council”, if not, you lose again.
And Rhonda, I guess you’re eating crow right about now, I thought it was funny when an employee reminded me of the day you was in city hall, and so boldly and proudly quoted”Steve is going to win this lawsuit”. Now what do you have to say? Are you still going to strut into city hall, all confident and cocky, as if you’re somebody important? Rhonda Who? I’m curious, did you celebrate at the Black Sheep last night?
Joking aside, I really do hate that you both have cost the tax payers to date, $103,601 on this lawsuit, but one positive thing that may have came out of the lawsuit, is maybe at least it exposed the character of both of you, the trial certainly exposed that you were both not creditable witnesses, which is a polite way to say you’re not trustworthy. Even though you already had the reputation of having a “silver tongue”, and everyone knows about half of what comes out of your mouth, isn’t true, what the courts proved is different, because it involves tax payers money. Both of you went in to court for the sole purpose of lying to help your friend and you did it at the tax payers expense. Do you know how many people may have read the court transcript, and do you have any idea of what one could conclude after reading it?
And as for GMA, who knows what this has cost them. An attorney that has worked for GMA for 35 years said they have never seen elected officials testify for anyone that sued the city, ( the plaintiff) And he’s been around a long time and seen a lot. That says a lot about both of you and I’m sure you both have a really good reputation with GMA now. Donna, it doesn’t matter that you got on a board, due to the fact that no one else wanted to be on it, you will get courtesy, but you have no respect. Just a bug in your ear, for when you mingle at the next Mayor Conference, you have no idea what people really think of you. Just imagine if everyone is like you, untrustworthy, you’ll never know. I heard the rumor was you didn’t compare to the past mayors Blue Ridge has had. I can probably believe that some people may think that, I’ve even had people that actually supported you tell me that. Good grief I supported you and was saying that after about two years too.
Donna, I had hoped you had turned a new leaf, I heard someone at city hall say you said the most important thing in your life was your salvation, you told me that to. But all it takes is for someone to listen to you talk. Half of what you say still is not true, has it just become a bad habit? I have often wondered how you would answer God if he ask you where you lived when you served as mayor of Blue Ridge, what are you going to tell him? Are you going to say Lord, my home (domicile) is at Orvin Lance Drive, a two bedroom, one bath apartment above Town and County Furniture, where I live with 9 other people, but you’ve blessed me an investment property in Staurolite, so I stay there some too!
Its a good day and its good news, I’m just having a little fun with the facts , I was told I needed to get another hobby, other than increasing my portfolio, so maybe I have and maybe its’s beating both of you at your own game. I’ve actually done pretty good so far, don’t you think.
I’ve practically begged and pleaded with both of you, to put the personal aside, forgive and forget and try to get along, but you both seem to have no interest in that and both continue to wage war against me, you just continue to force me to do what I do best, and that’s WIN!
I still would love nothing more than to call a truce, but if you dont want to, I’ll continue to beat you at your own game.
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 1:16 AM
To: Rodney Kendall; Bruce Pack; Harold Herndon; Rhonda Thomas; Donna Whitener
Cc: Sally Smith; Roy Parsons
Subject: City Attorney Attack
After speaking with several of you individually today about the attack on the city attorney made by Rhonda, I think this should go on the agenda to discuss and clarify at the meeting. We all have information from David that we could use to get the record straight as well. David has done a good job for the city and has represented the council well in a lawsuit that could have been over in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost, if it had not been for both Donna and Rhonda’s involvement, starting with an illegal veto.
The council made their decision and it should have been final, and that’s the root of the problem. They want their way as they had it in their first term, neither of them have any respect for the council, the authority of the council, the city attorney, the citizens of Blue Ridge or the tax payers money. There willingness to betray the city and the tax payers in an attempt to help their friends, speaks volumes. Quite frankly the attack on David and the untruthful statements made by Rhonda, frustrate me more than anything she has done toward me. I can handle anything she dishes out at me, but when she starts attacking others, it is disturbing.
We have 9 months to go in this term, lets make sure that this type of thing does not happen again, the majority of the council has all authority. We do not have to allow Donna, Rhonda or anyone tohinder the decisions of the council. We have a lot of things to accomplish in a short amount of time. Please support me in putting a stop to any further hindrances and tactics by either Donna or Rhonda. They have both caused turmoil, strife, and unproductiveness within the city, not to mention the shame brought upon the city for their actions. They have both failed to keep their oath to the people that elected them.
Lets remember the tactics they have attempted in order to defy the council and the tactics the will try in the council meetings in an attempt to promote themselves as the election grows closer. Our meetings are for the majority of the council to make decisions, lets remember our role and adhere to our policy. They will both try to use the meetings as a political chess piece, it will be up to us to keep these meetings in order and run by the policy.
It takes a motion and a second to discuss and if the discussion is not what we want to hear it takes a motion and a second for the council to vote to end discussion.
Let me know if any of you want this on the agenda.
In a continuing display of ineptitude and wavering promises, Blue Ridge City Council member Angie Arp’s takeover of Blue Ridge City Park renovation will cost Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association (BRMAA) much needed space for the Arts in the Park Festival on October 8th and 9th. The festival will also lose a manicured background, an essential setting for a festival which bills itself as an event to celebrate art and nature. Instead of trees and grass, photos of art work and festival events will have backgrounds of yellow landscaping equipment, half-constructed playground equipment and piles of red dirt.
Arp unveiled her continually evolving plan of Blue Ridge City Park renovation at a Special-Called Meeting on Aug. 26th (read article here). At the meeting Arp told Council Members Bruce Pack, Harold Herndon and Rodney Kendall, “The playground will be in place by the end of September. It’s been my goal since the beginning.” She said that playground installation will begin on Sept. 19th after the Labor Day Bar-b-que and Blues & Barbecue. “It will take two weeks possibly,” Arp told Council Members.
Mayor Donna Whitener and Council member Rhonda Thomas were not at the Special-Called meeting. as Council Members consulted the two about potential scheduling conflicts when setting up the Special-Called Meeting said Mayor Whitener.
This year is the 41st Annual Arts in the Park Festival. BRMAA estimates that the festival brings in over $500,000 to Blue Ridge businesses and provides 40% of the Arts Association annual operating budget. The Spring and Fall Arts in the Park Festival attracts more than 19,000 visitors per year.
BRMMA met with Council Member Arp on Sep. 8th. Arp told them that City Park re-renovation would begin on Sept. 20th. BRMMA asked that it be delayed until after Oct. 9th. Arp then told BRMMA that it could petition the City Council for a construction delay until Oct. 10th at the upcoming City Council meeting. However, on Sept. 9th, Arp informed BRMAA that the playground installation company would not delay their work, thus City Park will be under construction during the Arts in the Park festival. Nicole Potzauf, Executive Director of BRMAA, said that the organization has had a festival permit for the City Park since January 2016.
Arp’s decision follows on the heels of Blue Ridge’s growing reputation as an arts and crafts destination. In 2015, Georgia Council of the Arts listed Blue Ridge as one of the five top art towns in Georgia. In 2016, American Craft Week named Blue Ridge as #6 in the Top Ten Fine Craft Cities in the United States, beating out regional rivals like Asheville, NC. This year’s Arts in the Park festival falls in the middle of the nationwide American Craft Week event.
The saga of indecisiveness over renovation of Blue Ridge City Park began in 2015. It was delayed throughout Fall and Winter 2015 due to the Council’s failure to agree on bar-b-que pit placement. This delay cost the city a $100,000 playground equipment grant.
In February 2016, the Council voted to continue with park design. In March 2016, city workers pulled up the current playground to make way for horticulture park featuring native north Georgia plants and trees. Habitat for Humanity of Fannin and Gilmer arranged for a university community service organization to refurbish the playground equipment. The Council stated that some of the equipment would soon return to City Park so there would be a small play area while the rest of the park is being remodeled. The playground equipment didn’t return. Also, since the Council had not voted which pieces of equipment they wanted to buy, the city lost its second chance at the Kiwanis grant.
At the June 14th City Council meeting, the Council voted to give Arp control over the City Park(see article). At the June 30th meeting, Arp and the Council stated that the playground would be back at City Park by the end of August. However, the Council did not vote on playground equipment until August 26th. On August 26th, the Council also voted to tear out City Park’s recently installed landscaping, leaving the City on the hook for re-landscaping a newly landscaped park and potentially losing the $120,000 grant that is paying for the landscaping.
Related posts: Council’s Coup Affects East Main Street Improvements
Special Called Council Meeting July 12, 2016 4:30 P.M. 480 West First Street Blue Ridge
Council Members Angie Arp and Bruce Pack have rescheduled the regular meeting on July 12, 2016 at 6:00p.m. to take place as a Special Called Council Meeting on July 12, 2016 at 4:30pm
A G E N D A
1) Call Meeting to Order
2) Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance
3) Council Meeting Rules of Procedures (to be presented at each meeting by the City Clerk)
4) Approval of Minutes from Previous Meeting (if minutes are completed and available)
a) June 14, 2016 Council Meeting Minutes
b) June 30, 2016 Special Called Council Meeting Minutes (Includes Executive Session
5) Robert’s Way Gates—Tabled June 14, 2016
6) *Security System Quotes—Tabled June 14, 2016
7) Johnson Paving Invoice No. 2131—Tabled June 14, 2016
8) *Tree City Nursery and Landscaping Statement No. 1001—Added to the Agenda by
Council Member Angie Arp
9) *Planning Commission Recommendation in regards to the Sign Ordinance
Amendment—Added to the Agenda by Zoning Administrator Roy Parsons
10) *Sign Ordinance Amendment (First Reading)—Added to the Agenda by City Clerk Kelsey
11) *Fireworks Ordinance Amendment (First Reading)—Added to the Agenda by City Clerk
12) *Ordinance Amending the Zoning Map for Stiles Property (First Reading)—Added to the
Agenda by City Clerk Kelsey Ledford
13) Fannin County and Cities Joint Comprehensive Plan—Added to the Agenda by Mayor
14) *Jarrard and Davis, LLP May-June 2016 Invoice—Added to the Agenda by City Clerk
15) *Submersible Pump Preventative Maintenance Agreement for Waste Water Treatment
Plant—Added to the Agenda by Waste Water Treatment Plant Supervisor James Weaver
16) Mayor Reports—Added to the Agenda by Mayor Whitener
17) The Blue Ridge Business Association—Cindy Trimble
18) Executive Session (if needed)