Fannin County Governmental Departments recap 2018

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – At the most recent Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting, the public got to hear first hand the accomplishments of several departments within the Fannin County government.

Among the departments represented was the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Recreation Department, and Public Works.

BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS ARTS ASSOCIATION (BRMAA)

BRMAA saw over 38,000 visitors in 2018. The economic benefits of having this many visitors to the area are estimated to be $493,000 locally and $1.1 million for the region.

“These numbers are based on Georgia Council for the Arts as well as Americans for the Arts Economic Operations,” BRMAA Executive Director Nichole Potzauf said explaining how economic impact is decided.

The Art Center hosted 37 exhibits and events in 2018 and was awarded the 2018-19 Vibrant Communities Grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

Visitors to the Art Center for one of the many exhibits hosted throughout the year.

The Vibrant Communities Grants helps to support single art projects in Georgia. These projects could include an art exhibit, a theater production, a series of workshops for children, or an artist residency.

Potzauf said of the intentions for the grant’s use, “We’re utilizing that to begin a program call the Appalachian Initiative Grant Program and we are focusing on Appalachian craft and culture.” She listed some examples including weaving and bee keeping.

Along with the exhibits and events, the Art Center also hosted 4198 students that attended one of their 190 classes offered.

There was a notable success from the annual Cork and Canvas fundraiser as well.

“All the proceeds from this event benefit our youth programming. In 2018, based on just that fundraiser alone we were able to provide $2,000 in youth scholarships, some art classes as well as college advancement for any student that is advancing their career in the college arts,” Potzauf said of this event, and reminded everyone that the 2019 Cork and Canvas fundraiser is approaching and will be held on March 29.

Expect to see a one of a kind exhibit displayed between April and June of 2020 as it makes its way across the state of Georgia.

While no specific details were given Potzauf did say of the future exhibit, “We have been selected as one of six cities in the state of Georgia to represent the Smithsonian exhibit that will be coming here to celebrate rural communities throughout the United States.”

Currently the Art Center is displaying over 1,800 pieces of artwork and is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

FANNIN COUNTY LAND DEVELOPMENT

The Land Development department saw 270 building permits in 2018. This number is slightly down from 2017. Along with the building permits there were 16 Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plans, 5 new residential developments, 2 private commercial developments, 2 apartment applications, 2 church developments, 2 assisted living developments, 1 school development, and 1 tiny home/RV park development.

One of the largest issues facing the Land Development department is the ongoing matter of litter control.

“I get about one or two calls a week about garbage. Sometimes it’s easy and I find the name in it and sometimes I can run down those folks and sometimes I can’t,” Chief Land Development Officer Marie Woody addressed the complications in combating the littering problem in Fannin County.

According to Woody, while there are fines in place for Fannin County residents who dump trash on the side of roadways when it comes to residents from out of state, if found, little or nothing can be done.

Those that litter in Fannin County or dump garbage on the side of the roadways and are from Tennessee or North Carolina often get off with no consequences because Woody simply does not have the jurisdiction to fine them.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

(L-R) Steve Oakley, Marie Woody, Jane Oakley. The three have worked closely to propose a Fannin county clean up program.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson expressed his feelings that a majority of the trash he encounters along the roadways is bulk, and expressed holding the garbage haulers in the county more responsible.

“Is there something in our ordinance where someone has to identify themselves as a garbage hauler?” Johnson questioned Woody about possible solutions. “I know for four years it’s been a huge issue. It just seems like this last year, maybe two years, there’s just a lot more private haulers.”

After brief discussion the members of the Board of Commissioners and Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss, all agreed to review the county’s current ordinances and look into the possibility of having private haulers register.

Woody, along with Fannin County residents Steve and Jane Oakley presented the county with a vision to start an “Adopt the Mountains” program.

The program, still in its conceptual phase, will aim to curb littering through education, and will work to get citizens more involved in area clean-ups.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton praised the Oakleys for their willingness to get involved: “I’m personally very grateful for citizens that step up and are willing to get their hands in the soup, so to speak. It’s a never ending battle and it takes a lot of people to make that effort to see some results.”

When questioned by the Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner Glenn Patterson about an education program for high school age children, Woody replied that she thought it would be better to focus the educational programs on younger children.

“I think we need to teach the children, not the teenagers,” Woody said responding to Patterson’s question. “When you get into the teenage years, you’re kind of set in what you’re going to do, but if we start ingraining it into the children maybe kindergarten, first, second grade; if we can educate them I think that would be your best bet. Then they could educate mom and dad.”

Woody said that the educational program could go hand in hand with the proposed Spring Clean Up outlined in the Oakley’s program.

Along with the new programs hoped to be initiated in the county, Woody will be seeking another Tire Grant clean up.

In 2018, a tire removal project was implemented through use of this grant and was met with great success. Woody is hoping to continue this momentum in the county.

Finally Woody would like to see Fannin County’s Adopt a Road program revamped. Advanced Disposal has agreed to pick up specific colored bags along the roadways where citizens have collected litter.

FANNIN COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL

Fannin County Animal Control (FCAC), Animal Control Officer, John Drullinger updated the BOC with the work that his department had accomplished in 2018.

Last year, FCAC took in 405 dogs and puppies. Of the 405 that were taken in 118 were reclaimed by owners, 83 were adopted out of the facility, and 189 were pulled by various animal rescues.

Drullinger spoke of the improvements done to the FCAC facility in 2018: “Without a doubt one of the biggest ones was the completion of the 13 outside dog kennels. Which improved both the animals lives and ours as well.”

According to Drullinger this addition to the facility has made a vast improvement on the reduction of noise, and has added greatly to the safety of employees as they now can more easily get into kennels for disinfecting.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

A volunteer working one-on-one with a dog at FCAC helps to improve the odds of adoption.

“Our new volunteer program has been a huge success. We’ve got some days up to 10 or 12 volunteers down there walking our dogs, helping clean, do laundry, work with some of the shy dogs, some of the fearful ones, teaching them tricks,” Drullinger said of the recently implemented program. “Some of our volunteers are doing legs of transports helping move some of the dogs out, helping rescues.”

Johnson spoke of the volunteers at FCAC improving the cause, “The other people that have been getting involved here recently, I hope they keep it up , keep the interest.”

“We have a great group of people. Some come pretty regular, some come on certain days, some come everyday. They are very motivated and willing to help out,” Drullinger affirmed Johnson’s thoughts and added that the FCAC donor program has been a huge success as well with people donating items such as blankets, towels, toys and treats for the dogs.

The local area animal rescues were acknowledged for their help in moving dogs out of the facility and into permanent homes. A new group, Team Dahlonega, has also stepped up, helping to advertise the dogs held at FCAC and raise pledges for individual dogs to be pulled into rescues.

Drullinger said of Team Dahlonega’s efforts, “That’s been instrumental in helping us with our rescues, that have already been helping us move out a lot more dogs.”

The efforts of the volunteers, rescues and staff are noticeable. As of this update there were only six dogs in the facility. Drullinger said of this accomplishment, “That’s lowest number that has ever been there since I’ve been there.”

Drullinger closed his update with a reminder: “I would like to remind the public about ID-ing their dogs. If we had more people have ID’s on the collars and / or micro-chipped we could get dogs back to the owners a lot quicker and sooner.”

FANNIN COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY AND FANNIN COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT

Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Deputy Director Darrell Payne and Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) Fire Chief Larry Thomas updated the BOC and residents on the busy year the departments had.

“Last year we had a busy call season,” said Payne before giving the statistics of 911 calls in Fannin County.

The EMA / EMS received 3,641 911 calls in 2018. There were an additional 1,115 non emergency calls that the department handled.

According to Thomas the FCFD responded to 416 fire calls, nine structure fires, three commercial fires, and one chimney fire.

“Several years ago we had several chimney fires. We were looking at anywhere from 12 to 15 on a given year,” Thomas spoke on the importance of having chimneys inspected, a step that can easily help to prevent a home fire. “Now these numbers have gotten down and I’m hoping that it’s our education that we are spreading throughout the county as far as cleaning chimneys. Right now is the most dangerous time of the year.”

Thomas explained that most chimneys are now prefabricated. Fires in these chimneys can easily spread to structures such as attics and rooftops.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

Fannin County rescuers working to bring an injured fisherman to safety.

EMA / EMS also received two new ambulances which were placed in the Dial section of Fannin County, and hope to obtain a new ambulance in 2019 to replace one currently located at Station 4 in McCaysville.

Both Thomas and Payne reported that emergency calls are on the rise in the county, and Thomas attributes many of these calls taking place from people exploring the outdoors in our area: “We’re having more and more trail calls.”

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson spoke of the importance of residents in Fannin County marking their homes and properties with signage that is easily visible to emergency crews: “A lot of people get black and black just blends in.”

Blue reflective number signs can be purchased at Kevin Panter Insurance. These signs, usually placed at the beginning of driveways, are clearly and highly visible which saves time for responders during an emergency situation.

A portion of the money received from the purchase of these signs goes directly back to the Fannin County EMS department.

“It does help. It really does. It reflects, it’s right at the end of the driveway,” Thomas said speaking of the blue signs available for purchase to the public.

“We have just recently moved into our new facility and we are very proud of it,” Payne spoke of the progress taking place at the new Fannin County Public Safety Complex, “and we want to thank the commissioners, you all for supporting us on that. It’s something we’ve needed for a long time. I think it’s something that the people, the county, can be proud of also.”

FANNIN COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION

The Fannin County Parks and Recreation Department had a successful year. Many new programs were added to benefit those living in Fannin County and those visiting.

In 2018, 820 children participated in some kind of youth activity offered by the department.

The third annual Basketball Christmas Tournament also brought in large numbers for the county. Sixty-six teams participated in the three day tournament which took place Dec. 26-28. A total of 116 games were played with an average of 2,000 in attendance throughout each day.

“We had a kid playing on the Forsyth team and FetchYourNews, they broadcast it live through Youtube and we had a dad who was a marine,” Fannin County Parks and Recreation Director Eddie O’Neal spoke of how the tournament had international attention in 2018, “He got in contact with us and said he appreciated it. It was the first time he saw his kid play basketball in two years. It was amazing to be able to provide that to someone.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

One of the many games hosted during the Parks and Recreation Christmas Basketball Tournament.

Events like this tournament have large economic impacts on the county as whole. Visitors stay in hotels, rent cabins, eat at local restaurants, shop in locally owned stores, and many times plan to come back to our area for a second visit.

Parks and Recreation brought in $57,078.43 in youth concession sales, $52,257.60 in admission fees, and $59,574 in registrations in 2018. Pavillion rentals at parks added an additional $7,775, along with nonresident gym use fees for $3,051, after school programs at $20,860, summer day camp an additional $20,556.25, and $30, 568 food grant for summer day camp was obtained. Major programs accounted for approximately $251, 721.23, bringing a grand revenue total to approximately $280,000.

“That comes from tons of volunteers in the county. People that volunteer to help with programs, volunteer to coach, or volunteer to tutor with our after school program. We really do appreciate all the help,” Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson spoke of the Parks and Recreation Department’s success.

Johnson added, “The complaints I’ve received have been very minimal and what that tells me is you’re running the programs the way the should be ran and handling problems the way they should be handled. I appreciate you doing that.”

“Being in sports myself and education, the job you do with the young kids is very commendable,” Post 2 Commissioner Glenn Patterson complimented the work being done by the department.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton added to this, “I think the public, I hope they understand, certainly the parents do, what a relationship our Recreation Department is. I mean it’s for everyone, young and old alike.”

O’Neal shared plans to to begin senior programs in 2019: “Starting in February we will start a Silver Sneakers program for active senior adults. We have an employee trained to handle that exercise program that will take place two times a week.”

This new Silver Sneakers program will be an exercise based program specially geared towards an older crowd. The class size, initially, will accommodate 10 to 15 people.

Next up for Parks and Recreation will be a restroom remodel at their main facility. Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with a bid from Wolfcreek Builders, LLC. in the amount of $50,075.

This remodel would include a metal roof, hardy plank siding, tiling the interior space, all new fixtures, and metal doors. The contract is for labor only. The county will supply materials.

Heating and air for the newly remodeled space will take place in a separate bid.

FANNIN COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS

Zack Ratcliff, Director of Public Works in Fannin County, has not only managed to cut the department’s expenses by close to $1,000,000 in just two years but his management has also led the Public Works department to more than double productivity in many areas.

In 2016 the Public Works department had 53 employees with a budget of $1,826,505 in payroll alone. The number of employees dramatically decreased by 2017 to 35. This brought payroll expenditures down to $1,308,744.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

The Public Works crew taking care of the demo of Fire Station 1 in downtown Blue Ridge.

By 2018 employee total for the department sits at 36 with a payroll of $1,289,868. This alone has brought a little over $500,000 in savings to taxpayers each year.

In the last year, roughly 117 miles of road have been re-striped, 12 miles of road have been paved, 25 miles of road have been chip and sealed, the Aska Transfer Station also received chip and seal, as well as the Recreation Center parking area, 28 culverts have been installed, 600 road signs have been cleaned and straightened, and 649 new road signs were created for use throughout the county.

Johnson commented on how this kind of productivity saves money for residents: “The numbers that I see that aren’t reflected in these numbers, of other savings, is when you chip and seal a road, that is that many roads we’re not having to gravel, to grade or to maintain, other than clogged ditches and what have you. So really it’s hard to put a number on that (indirect savings).”

While the payroll is the most dramatic of the savings, other areas have improved in expenditures as well. The Fuel Master system was installed to track fuel use leading to greater accountability, through negotiations with various vendors the county is now receiving 2-10 percent discounts on its bills, and a new uniform provider was found that can provide uniforms at half the cost that the county was previously paying.

Ratcliff credits the success of the Public Works department to the employees in it and stated of the workers, “My crew is an efficient crew. Everybody’s professional.”

Johnson spoke of the dramatic affect one department can have on Fannin County as a whole, “These numbers right here is what keeps Fannin County’s millage rate the lowest in the state.”

“I think this is a great example of being able to professionally manage a department and do it effectively,” Helton added his thoughts on the accomplishments, “That’s real money. That’s big time money.”

The 2017 audit showed the initially savings of the now more efficient Public Works department as being $999,333.

 

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

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Gov. Deal signs 2019 budget enabling new North Georgia campus in Blue Ridge

News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Gov. Nathan Deal made a stop in Blue Ridge Wednesday, May 2, to sign the state budget – House Bill 684 – for the 2019 fiscal year in Georgia and also bring good news for the University of North Georgia (UNG) Blue Ridge campus.

The $26.2 billion budget, which Deal stated was the largest in the history of the state, will include $5.5 million for a permanent relocation project for the UNG Blue Ridge campus.

Also, during the budget signing, Georgia Speaker of the House and Fannin County resident David Ralston announced the location of the forthcoming facility to be just off of state Route 515 and east of Industrial Park Road.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, seated, signs House Bill 684, the state budget for fiscal year 2019, into effect Wednesday, May 2, at the Art Center. Seen here with Deal are, from left, Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of the University of North Georgia, David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, Deal, and Terry England, state representative from District 116 and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. (Photo: Amanda Anthros, FetchYourNews)

Of the size of the budget itself, Gov. Deal said, “It reflects the growth of our economy.”

“When I came into office in January 2011, it was a bleak time in our state,” Deal explained of the state’s economy.

As a result of the Recession of 2008, Deal went on to say, by the time he took office, the state revenue had dropped by 18 percent and the “rainy-day fund,” or reserves, was essentially depleted with only enough funds to keep the state government open for approximately two days.

Since then, a dramatic increase in state revenue not only allows for a higher state budget in 2019 but also has allowed for a state income tax rate cut for the first time since the tax was instituted in Georgia in 1934, according to Deal. Deal also noted he expects another income tax cut to come again in 2019.

Regarding the state’s “rainy-day fund,” Deal explained conservative spending has enabled the state to increase reserves to the current amount of $2.3 billion.

“So, we are doing exceptionally well on many fronts,” Deal said.

In his Blue Ridge stop, which was one of five locations across the state of Georgia the governor visited Wednesday to sign the budget, Deal focused his address on spending with regard to higher education.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. (Photo: Amanda Anthros, FetchYourNews)

“We have to meet the needs of today and anticipate the needs of tomorrow,” Deal stated. “(Businesses) need an educated and trained workforce. Without that, we’re not going to be able to see companies expand in our state nor are we going to be in a position to recruit new companies to come here.”

Deal explained the Recession of 2008 also affected state lottery proceeds for the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Scholarship but announced the 2019 budget will add $68 million more to the HOPE program for higher education opportunities. The governor also stated the state currently has $1.1 billion in reserves for the HOPE Scholarship.

Also, Deal told of the success of dual enrollment, which allows high school juniors and seniors to take college, university, or technical college courses at no cost to serve as credits toward both their high school diploma and a higher education degree or certificate. The 2019 budget provides $26.2 million for dual enrollment programs, Deal stated.

The REACH Scholarship is another opportunity for students seeking higher education. According to Deal, the REACH Scholarship, which was launched in 2012, is needs-based and provides selected eighth-graders with a $10,000 trust account for future higher education. Promising students who come from families with limited financial resources are selected by teachers and school administrators, and once designated as REACH scholars, the students sign a contract agreeing to maintain a good grade point average, to meet with their mentors regularly and also not to partake in crime or drug use.

In addition to the REACH Scholarship, Deal said every institution in the University System of Georgia, which includes 26 public institutions, has agreed to match the $10,000 trust account for REACH scholars.

Since 2012, Deal explained, the state has invested over $689 million in the University System. In the 2019 budget, one of those University System institutions, the University of North Georgia, will not only receive $5.5 million for the Blue Ridge campus, but also $3 million in bonds to renovate its Oakwood campus in Hall County and $4.7 million in bonds to purchase property to expand its main campus in Dahlonega.

“We know that there are many students who will take advantage of these opportunities, and when they do, it will help us to retain them in the state of Georgia. It will help them to have the credentials that will be necessary to get the higher paying jobs that are here today and be able to attract those jobs for the future. For a personal standpoint of a family, when your child gets those kind of credentials, the likelihood that they can stay in Georgia and not have to leave to find a good job is greatly enhanced,” Deal concluded.

Georgia Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston. (Photo: Amanda Anthros, FetchYourNews)

Introducing Gov. Deal at the engagement held at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center, Speaker Ralston called the event “historic in many respects,” being the first time in the history of Fannin County that a state budget bill has been signed within the county.

Of Georgia’s 82nd governor, Ralston said, “Governor Deal has led this state to become the best in all the 50 in which to do business in this country. He has truly been a great governor, and frankly, I want to say this state is going to miss his leadership.”

For Fannin County, Ralston explained the 2019 budget will provide over $273,000 to the Fannin County Board of Education. Statewide, Ralston stated, over $360 million will go toward the state’s teacher retirement system. Also, statewide public school campus funding will account for $16 million, over $44,000 of which will go to Fannin County, according to Ralston.

Additionally, the budget will provide $25,000 in bonds to renovate the community center in Epworth and $277,000 for a new roof at West Fannin Elementary School.

“And today, I guess the highlight of the event is, (the budget) contains $5.5 million for the new, permanent campus for the University of North Georgia at Blue Ridge,” Ralston announced.

Georgia House Speaker and Fannin County resident David Ralston, left, welcomes Governor Nathan Deal to Blue Ridge Wednesday, May 2. (Photo: Amanda Anthros, FetchYourNews)

Ralston then explained when the campus first opened in the fall of 2015, only 18 students were enrolled at the campus. After three years, Ralston said, “That number is more than 150 students. UNG Blue Ridge’s growth rate has far exceeded our expectations and that’s something I think we can all be proud of.”

According to Ralston, the new facility, which will be 13,000 square feet, will more than triple the campus’s available space and will accommodate 500 students. “That’s 500 futures,” Ralston added, “that will be made brighter, right here in our community.”

After announcing the aforementioned location, Ralston explained the contract is pending final approval from the Board of Regents, which is expected to occur within the next 30 to 45 days.

Speaking of the day’s proceedings with regard to the UNG Blue Ridge campus, Campus Director Sandy Ott stated, “This is a wonderful opportunity for growth and expansion for the University of North Georgia to increase programs, course offerings and educational opportunities in the region. The campus has experienced significant growth since opening in the fall 2015. The opportunities that will be available are endless.”

[Featured image: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, center, prepares to sign into effect the state’s 2019 fiscal year budget Wednesday, May 2, at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center in downtown Blue Ridge. Joining Governor Deal for the signing are, from left, Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of the University of North Georgia, David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, Deal, Terry England, state representative from District 116 and chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, and Jason Ridley, state representative from District 6.]

 

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

 

Author

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.

Arts Association chosen to create ornaments for Tree Lighting in Washington D.C.

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Many can remember growing up and anticipating the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Whether witnessing it on TV or having a first-hand experience in Washington D.C., the lighting of the National Christmas Tree is an iconic celebration in American history.

Each year, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation commissions each state to design 12 unique ornaments. These ornaments are displayed on designated trees throughout President’s Park (White House).

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, The Art Center, Nichole Potzauf, America Celebrates, National Christmas Tree, Washington D.C., National Park Service and National Park Foundation

One of the 12 ornaments created by BRMAA to represent the state of Georgia.

This year, the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (BRMAA) was selected to create the 12 one-of-a-kind ornaments to represent the state of Georgia.

BRMAA staff worked with a number of mediums to handcraft these decorations showcasing a common theme of barn quilts. They used both traditional and nontraditional patterns to showcase what defines Georgia, specifically the north Georgia area.

Barn quilts have been a long standing tradition in our area and a key element to Appalachian culture. Over the years, barn quilts have served as unique identifiers to family farms and have even helped lead the way to freedom as symbols of the Underground Railroad.

This year’s display of trees will include 56 trees representing each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia. The theme of this year’s event is a Pathway to Peace.

BRMAA Executive Director Nichole Potzauf explained of the ornaments, “With such a divisive time in our country, as all the states unite to present their ornaments on the Pathway to Peace, our hope is that this project will serve as a pathway toward peace and hope for unity during the holidays for our country.”

The tradition of the Lighting of the National Tree began in 1923, when then President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree on the Ellipse in front of 3,000 spectators. Since that time, each president has continued the tradition making this the 95th year of this display.

The America Celebrates exhibit will be displayed in Washington D.C. Dec. 1, 2017, through Jan. 1, 2018.

Potzauf stated, “It is an incredible honor for the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association to be selected to represent Georgia. I would like to say a special thank you to the Georgia Council for the Arts for selecting our organization to highlight Georgia’s cultural and historical beauty through these ornaments.”

 

 

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

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Volunteers Needed for 2017 Fall Arts in the Park!

Community

Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Volunteers Needed – 
WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU!
      For 41 years, the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, a non-profit arts council, has provided a unique art experience through our Arts in the Park festival series in the Downtown City Park of Blue Ridge, GA. The Arts in the Park festivals draw in excess of 19,000 attendees annually and a wide array of artists and food vendors.  With over 120+ fine artists, exhibitors, and vendors booths, our visitors enjoy a variety of fine arts and fine crafts, demonstrations, food, family activities and much more during our Fall Arts in the Park festival.
     The Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association and the Arts in the Park festival series have helped to establish Blue Ridge as one of the top five Art Towns in Georgia by the Georgia Council of the Arts and most recently recognized as #6 of the top ten fine craft towns in America by American Craft Week.  
     
Come volunteer for this year’s FALL ARTS IN THE PARK festival!
 
Friday, October 13th (setup day), 
Saturday, October 14th and 
Sunday, October 15th
 
We are looking for the following Volunteer Positions:
-Hospitality and Information booths
-Vendor Greeters
-Assisting festival artists at their booths
-Festival setup & wrap out
Volunteers who work a minimum 2-hour shift will receive a complimentary admission for both days of the festival and an event staff shirt. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old to volunteer.
If you are interested in being a part of this year’s team, please contact Nichole Potzauf at blueridgearts.community@gmail.com
or by phone (706-632-2144)
for information and available shift positions.
The Arts in the Park festival series supports the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit arts council providing opportunities in the realm of the arts for the individual and serving as a catalyst for arts and economic development in our community.
We thank you in advance for being a part of the BRMAA team!
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

BRMAA hosts National Juried Photography Show

Community
Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Blue Ridge Mountains Photographers, BRMP

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Photographers and art lovers gathered for the Blue Ridge Mountains Photographers (BRMP) annual National Juried Show.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Blue Ridge Mountains Photographers, BRMP

Opening Reception at the 2017 National Juries Photography Show.

BRMP hosted the opening reception on Saturday, September 2, 2017, at the Art Center.  The National Juried Show was open to both amateur and professional photographers in film and digital photography.

Only 119 photographs were chosen for display out of over 200 entries. Photographers from as far away as New Hampshire came to the opening reception in hopes of winning one of the thirteen titles and awards in this year’s show.

Award winning photographer David Veal judged the anonymous exhibit beforehand and awarded 1st – 3rd place in each category, along with honorable mentions and best of show.

Winners in each category were:Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Blue Ridge Mountains Photographers, BRMP

Digital Art
First Place : “Mystic Moon” by Debra Vanderlaan
Second Place: “Mr. Frye’s Legacy” by Chris Rohwer
Third Place: “Nature’s Stained Glass” by Debra Vanderlaan

Fine Art
First Place: “Llama Overseer” by Chris Rohwer
Second Place: “Cuban Ballerina II” by Joleen Mahoney Roe
Third Place: “Cuban Ballerina I” by Joleen Mahoney Roe

Nature
First Place: “Glacial Reflections” by Jon F. Hunter
Second Place: “Grandeur” by Stan Susky
Third Place: “Great Egret Showing Its Best Side” by Keith Burroughs

This year’s Best of Show winner went to photographer Stan Susky with “Coming Around the Bend”.

The BRMP National Juried exhibit will be on display at the Art Center September 2-30.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Come take a new artistic adventure with BRMAA!

Community

 

2017 Spring & Summer Art Center Classes

Adult Tap and Barre Tone
Beginning & Intermediate
May 19, June 2, 9, 16, 2017-Friday, 4 Sessions
10:15 am-12:00 pm
Instructor:   Mary Gucciardo and Venae Ellis
Class Fee:   $40.00 non-members
                    $36 BRMAA Members 
Interested? Follow me!
This workshop series is for individuals who want to learn tap for the first time or for those who want a refresher in tap dance.  Learn the basics of a variety of tap styles designed to develop rhythm, style, and sound.  Each session also incorporates Barre sculpting exercises taken from traditional ballet class, and weight training using the Ballet Barre.  Each student will receive an uplifting warm-up for the major muscle group, invigorating tap movements to increase aerobic power and burn calories, exercises to tone the upper body, lower body, and core, and beautiful closing stretches to further increase alignment, flexibility, and proper posture.  It is a great class to meet new friends and have a fun time.  The class requires tap shoes, exercise mat and water.  Optional dumbbell weights for toning 1-5 lbs can be used.
Restorative Yoga
Beginning
May 19, 2017 Friday, 1 Session
June 25, 2017 Sunday, 1 Session
July 28, 2017 Friday, 1 Session
August 25, 2017 Friday, 1 Session
September 24, 2017 Sunday, 1 Session
4:00 pm-6:00 pm
Instructor:  Sharon Coogle
Class Fee:   $12.00 non-member & BRMAA Members 
 Interested? Follow me!
Restorative yoga allows the practitioner to enter a state of deep physical and mental relaxation. Although some yoga experience is helpful, there is no prerequisite of knowledge or flexibility; extensive use of props and supports helps every body attain positions that encourage restoration.
Introduction to Zentangle
Beginning
May 20, 2017 Saturday, 1 Session
10:00 am-3:00 pm
Instructor:   Melanie Rothchild CZT
Class Fee:   $35.00 non-members + $20.00 Supply Fee
                    $31.50 BRMAA Members + $20.00 Supply Fee
Interested ? Follow Me!
This class will teach you a basic understanding of the Zentangle Method (TM), which is the artful use of structured patterns and shapes to create intricate and fantastic pictures on Zentangle squares. Zentangle is an art form in pen and ink that requires no previous artistic training.   You will complete 2 original Zentangle tiles and will learn about the resources available to continue on your own.  The techniques you learn will be structured patterns using pen and paper tiles, and using “strings” to make templates.  Come join the class and make some new friends!  There will be a 1/2 lunch, students may bring a bag lunch.
Heart, Hands and Healing Art
May 20, 2017 (Saturday) 1 session
July 22, 2017 (Saturday) 1 session
Nov. 4, 2017 (Saturday) 1 session
10:30 am- 1:00 pm
Instructor: Vicki Wagoner
Class Fee  $ 45 non-member (tuition includes canvas and paints)
                   $ 40.50 *BRMAA Member*
Interested? Follow me!
Hypnotherapist and artist, Vicki Wagoner, encourages creative and personal expression through a simple yet profound process of painting with your hands-no brushes, rules or artistic abilities required! The painting creates itself as you allow yourself to release any fear of painting, unblocking or reconnecting to your inner artist’s creative expression.  Each participant starts with the same blank canvas, and when the session is over, Vicki assists you to discover the epiphanies of new perspectives, possibilities, and insight that have been subconsciously created during the painting process. It will transform your life!  Please wear old clothes allowing your inner child to play!  All materials and interpretation of messages in painting included
Fearless Watercolor for Beginners
Beginning
May 25, 2017 (Thursday) 1 session
1:30 pm- 4:30 pm
Instructor: Joyce Clair
Class Fee: $ 45.00 non-member + $10.00 Supply Fee
                   $ 40.50 *BRMAA Member* + $10.00 Supply Fee
Interested? Follow me!
Watercolor painting can be fun and fearless if you have a plan, know how to use basic tools and techniques, and just “go with the flow”.  The goal is to paint loosely to create your impression of an image.   Mistakes are expected, not perfection.  Some mistakes are “happy accidents” and others may be corrected if needed.  Yes, watercolor can be corrected and you will learn these “secrets” from the Instructor.  This class is for beginners with no experience or some experience.  After a practice session, the class will sketch and paint an 8X10 landscape or waterscape step-by-step with the Instructor.  The finished painting will be placed in a 11X14 mat, ready for framing.  You will learn how to plan, control and fix watercolor.  The techniques learned are characteristics of watercolor paint, proper tools, basic watercolor painting techniques, color theory, color mixing and composition tips.  The supply fee includes: watercolor paper and paint, brushes, mat and other supplies to paint one painting.
Relief Printmaking
Beginning
June 2 & 3, 2017 (Friday & Saturday)  2 Session
10:15 am-1:15 pm
Instructor:   Lisa & Chris Fraker
Class Fee:   $100.00 Non-members
                     $90.00 BRMAA members              
Interested ? Follow me!
What a great class to take if you want to expand your creativity into a new medium.  This class is an introduction to relief printmaking.  Students will learn how to use relief tools and create a relief print in one color.  This is a great beginner’s method because it allows you to explore a variety of texture in 2D work.  The 2 prints you will take home are created using techniques of carving into a block, inking the block and pulling a print.  The supply list will be provided upon registering for class.  Come join in and create something you can show your friends and family!
  
Circular Copper Disk & Howlite Earrings
Beginning
June 7, 2017, 1 Session
10:30 am-1:30 pm
Instructor:   Barbara Chatham
Class Fee:   $30.00 non-members & members
                     $30.00 Supply Fee                
What a great class to learn some jewelry techniques to enhance your knowledge on jewelry making.  You can make your own pair of earrings or give the beautiful set as a gift to someone special.
Students will learn to forge and dome copper disks as well as cut leather tassel, wire wrap Blue Howlite stone onto earrings. The use of the Jewelers Tool Box will be demonstrated in class.  The lovely earrings will be on sterling silver French ear wires.  Come take a fun class and meet new friends!
  
Watercolor Workshop-Taking Your Painting to the Next Level
Beginning & Intermediate
June 8, 2017, 1 Session
1:30 pm-4:30 pm
Instructor:   Joyce Clair
Class Fee:   $45.00 Non-members
                     $40.50 BRMAA members             
What a great class to learn and advance your talent!  Learn about the most common watercolor painting problems and ways to improve your paintings.  Students will work independently on their projects as the instructor offers individualized critique and guidance.  Students will start or complete a painting project of their choice. The techniques students will learn are principles and elements of design, transparent vs. opaque paint, sketching using a graph, how to use a photo reference, value plans and painting techniques.  Students must bring your own supplies, a project to start or finish, and samples of previous works.  This class is recommended for students with some experience.

Painting Watercolors Loose and Free on Yupo
Beginning & Intermediate
June 16, 2017, 1 Session
1:30 pm-3:30 pm
Instructor:   Joyce Clair
Class Fee:   $30 Non-members + $10 Supply Fee
                     $30 BRMAA members + $10 Supply Fee           
Interested ? Follow me!
Watercolor painting on Yupo paper will keep you painting loose and free from over-controlled paintings.  Yupo is a polypropylene paper with a slick surface.  Watercolor floats on the surface allowing your paint to flow and mingle easily.  This is a great class to find a new and exciting way to paint in watercolor.  The student will take home an original watercolor picture on a 11X14 sheet of Yupo Paper.  Some of the techniques the students will learn are lifting out whites, texture techniques, brush work, correcting mistakes and sealing you picture.  Students must bring their own painting supplies and photo reference.

Beginning Jewelry Making
Beginning
June 17, 2017 Saturday, 1 Session
Sept. 23, 2017 Saturday, 1 Session
Dec. 9, 2017 Saturday, 1 Session
10:30 am-12:30 pm
Instructor:   Vicki Wagoner
Class Fee:   $20.00 non-members + $15.00 Supply Fee
                    $20.00 BRMAA Members + $15.00 Supply Fee
Interested? Follow me!
Craft your own design for a bracelet or necklace from a treasure trove of semi-precious stones, crystals, Czech glass, pearls, wooden beads, and more provided by jewelry artist, Vicki Wagoner. She will assist you to learn the basics of beading, from picking the perfect beads to working with the right tools to finish your own lovely one-of-a-kind creation that you will proudly wear home. Ages 7 and up welcome!
How to Mix Color in any Medium
Beginning, Intermediate & Advanced
July 1, 2017, 1 Session
10:00 am-4:00 pm
Instructor:   Mark Menendez
Class Fee:   $50.00 non-members + $10.00 Supply Fee
                     $45.00 BRMAA members + $10.00 Supply Fee                
Interested ? Follow me!
This class if for any artist no matter what level you are painting! Every art student, in order to create successful paintings, must master the art of mixing color.  In order to mix color, one must have a total understanding of color.  An art student must not only know the definition of the terms: primary, secondary, tertiary, complimentary, value, Chroma, temperature, intensity, pigments, mediums, tint, tone, shade, harmony, and arrangement; but have a hands-on master of how to mix the exact color, every time.  If you want to master color, this workshop is a must.  The goals of the class will be maximizing your understanding and use of the color wheel.  You will learn to mix the exact color, each and every time. The Supply Fee includes the unique TARGET COLOR Instructional Booklet.  The supply list will be e-mailed once register for class.
 
Introduction to Leather Crafting
Beginning
July 18, 2017 Tuesday, 1 Session
September 19, 2017 Tuesday, 1 Session
December 5, 2017 Tuesday, 1 Session
10:00am-4:30pm
Instructor: Tom Slavicek
Class Fee:   $40.00 non-members + $30.00 Supply Fee
                    $36.00 BRMAA Members + $30.00 Supply Fee
Interested? Follow me!
Once learning the skills of cutting and stitching leather, you will create a beautiful hand crafted leather shoulder bag.  In this fun class the student will be using a wood burning tool that inscribes a design onto the front of your shoulder bag.  Students will also have the options of decoration their bag, which includes a strap, with tassels and “bling”.  You can design a one-of-a-kind shoulder bag for yourself or give as a present.  The Instructor supplies all the materials necessary for your creative leather bag.
Georgia Peach Owl Pendant
Beginning
July 20, 2017, Thursday-1 Session
10:30 am-1:30 pm
Instructor:   Barbara Chatham
Class Fee:   $30.00 non-members & members
                     $20.00 Supply Fee                
Interested ? Follow me!
Turn a Georgia Peach seed into a work of art!  Barbara has come up with a great class weaving a peach seed into a pendant with a leather cord.  Students will learn a technique of forming wire bails for a leather cord. The peach seed will look like an owl using wire to create the eyes.  The student will also learn a sailor’s knot for the leather cord holding the owl pendent.  What a fun class to create unique jewelry!
  
Introduction to Printmaking
Beginning
July 21, 28 & August 4, 11, 2017, Friday-4 Session
1:30 pm-4:30 pm
Instructor:   Lisa Fraker
Class Fee:   $200.00 Non-members 
                     $180.00  BRMAA members             
Interested ? Follow me!
This printmaking class is a beginning class for students. The students will learn several techniques including drypoint, relief, and monotype.  Most of the prints will be produced in black and white with the exception of monotype.  You will also learn a basic method of hand printing that you can do at home.  You are encouraged to bring reference materials for your prints.  The students will take home 3 to 4 prints.  What a new and creative way to express your artistic abilities.  The Supply List will be provided upon registering for the class.

Unique Landscapes in Pastels
Beginning, Intermediate & Advanced
July 21, 22 & 23, 2017 Friday, Sat. & Sunday-3 Session
10:15 am-5:15 pm
Instructor:   Stan Sperlak
Class Fee:   $350.00 Non-members 
                     $315.00  BRMAA members             
Interested? Follow me
Stan Sperlak will conduct a mixed indoor/outdoor landscape workshop in pastels that will cover various methods of painting that focus on creating believable works through mature use of light, form and color.  The students will see demos, slideshows and use props within the class. The highlights of the class include effects of light on forms, designing better contrasts, layering, strengthening how colors can be employed to new effects and solving the riddle for developing better understanding of values.
 In t

his Master Artist class, you will also be experimenting with techniques in water and alcohol, working with gesso and pumice, under-painting and developing new calligraphy.  The student will not only take home a painting, but will have a wealth of knowledge in the art of pastels!  A supply list will be provided upon registering for this class.
Tear Drop Pendant and Earrings
Beginning
August 2, 2017, Wednesday-1 Session
10:30 am-1:30 pm
Instructor:   Barbara Chatham
Class Fee:   $30.00 non-members & members
                     $30.00 Supply Fee                
Interested ? Follow me!
If you like prisms you will love this class!  Students will take home a Swarovski cage tear-drop pendant (20″ sterling silver chain) and earrings!  You will learn to form a square sterling silver wire cage for a tear drop crystal pendant.  The techniques used will be wire wrapping, forming bail for the chain and making French earwires.  This class creates a high quality sterling silver necklace and earrings.  What a great class to take with your friends and family.  Come join the

Author

Volunteers Needed for 2017 Spring Arts in the Park!

Community

Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Volunteers Needed – 
WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU!
  For 41 years, the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, a non-profit arts council, has provided a unique art experience through our Arts in the Park festival series in the Downtown City Park of Blue Ridge, GA. The Arts in the Park festivals draw in excess of 19,000 attendees annually and a wide array of artists and food vendors.  With over 125+ fine artists, exhibitors, and vendors booths, our visitors enjoy a variety of fine arts and fine crafts, demonstrations, food, family activities and much more during our Spring Arts in the Park festival.
     The Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association and the Arts in the Park festival series have helped to establish Blue Ridge as one of the top five Art Towns in Georgia by the Georgia Council of the Arts and most recently recognized as #6 of the top ten fine craft towns in America by American Craft Week.  

Come volunteer for this year’s SPRING ARTS IN THE PARK festival!
 
Friday, May 26th (setup day), 
Saturday, May 27th and 
Sunday, May 28th
 
We are looking for the following Volunteer Positions:
-Family Art Tent Volunteers
-Hospitality and Information booths
-Assisting festival artists at their booths
-Festival setup & wrap out
Volunteers who work a minimum 2-hour shift will receive a complimentary admission for both days of the festival and an event staff shirt. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old to volunteer.
If you are interested in being a part of this year’s team, please contact Nichole Potzauf at blueridgearts.community@gmail.com
or by phone (706-632-2144)
for information and available shift positions.
The Arts in the Park festival series supports the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit arts council providing opportunities in the realm of the arts for the individual and serving as a catalyst for arts and economic development in our community.
We thank you in advance for being a part of the BRMAA team!
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association
420 W. Main Street
Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513

Author

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