Decision to close schools not taken lightly

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The decision to close all schools in Fannin County for the week of March 16 to March 20, 2020, was not a decision that was taken lightly. Administration and healthcare experts were present at the March Board of Education meeting to present the public with details leading up to the conclusion to close.

Dr. Dillon Miller of Blue Ridge Medical Group has been working closely with the Fannin County School System and explained the facts and myths surrounding the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 ) and the disease Covid-19.

Fannin County, Board of Education, School System, Closing, Closed, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Blue Ridge Medical Group, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Dillon Miller

Dr. Dillon Miller addresses the board about the impacts of Coronavirus.

“We’re almost facing two challenges,” Miller said addressing the public and the board, “There’s the virus itself, of course, but then there’s the misinformation.”

Miller explained that unlike the seasonal flu that has a potential transmission rate of 1.4 people for every 1 person infected, the Coronavirus has approximately a 2.4 potential person-to-person transmission rate.

“We are almost mirroring each other as far as the number of cases, statistically similar,” Miller spoke of the challenges being faced in Italy and how examining the data can give insight into the actions that we should take in our communities. “Our Day Eight, which is where we’re at now, is almost eerily similar to their Day Eight.” 

Miller pointed out that Italy waited until Day 12 to close schools, and stressed the importance of school systems to have preparedness and coordination with other agencies during this time: “We always have to think about worst case scenarios. Expect the worst and hope for the best.”

Educating the public and being proactive rather than reactive can have a significant positive impact. According to Miller, steps can be taken to “flatten the curve”, referring to slowing the impacts of the virus so that healthcare systems do not get overwhelmed.

“Fortunately from a school system perspective we are dealing with a virus that doesn’t impact children the same way it is our elderly population,” Miller spoke of the potential impact on Fannin’s children and added that the virus carries a “significant” impact for those over the age of 60. “They (children) can carry this virus and potentially give it to those that are in that high risk area.”

Dr. Dillon Miller recommended the following advice for the public and parents of children in Fannin County:

  1. Wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

  2. Social awareness. Try to implement the six foot rule when possible and avoid a proximity of closer than six feet to another person when out in public.

  3. If your child is sick, do not allow them to come to school.

  4. Avoid rushing to an Emergency Room, Doctor, or Walk-In Clinic if you or your child is not significantly ill. If a trip to the doctor is inevitable, Miller recommends calling these places ahead of time. This gives staff time to prepare to potentially stop those infected from coming into contact with those that are not.

In looking at not just the health and safety of the children but also of the community, Miller pointed out that no two school systems are the same and Fannin County would have to weigh their options on how to proceed: “There’s not a black and white answer.”

“There’s a fire alarm going off. We hear that fire alarm, we don’t know if there is a fire in here,” Miller gave an analogy of the current state of affairs and added that there aren’t enough tests to know the true impacts of the virus at this time.  “Early intervention for school closures is when you get the most bang for your buck, the most success.” 

“The use of data is powerful,” Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney said before announcing the closure. “We want to do our part to flatten that curve. Fannin is going to be a part of that. We are all literally in this together, as a community, as a state, as a nation, as a world.”

Gwatney spoke of the ongoing communication that the school system has had with healthcare professionals, as well as local and state agencies. On the day leading up to the decisionto close schools Fannin County Leadership staff had a conference call with Governor Brian Kemp and a follow-up conference call with other regional districts.

“The Governor today announced and gave strong guidance for school districts and gave grace for school districts,” Gwatney stated. “We want to do our part to keep this community safe.”

The Fannin County School System will be closed to students next week (March 16 to March 20, 2020). Dr. Gwatney released a letter giving further details on how the school system will operate during this time.

“We will revisit that decision (to close) a week from now to see about the following week,” Gwatney said of the board’s decision adding, “This is a very dynamic and fluid situation and we want to stay ahead of it.”

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

Special Recognition given by Board of Education

Community, Fannin County EMA/EMS, Rebel's Corner
Fannin County School System

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education took time at their Feb. monthly meeting to give special recognition to those who have positively impacted the school system recently.

First to be recognized was West Fannin Elementary School (WFES) First Grade teacher Katy Roberson and  WFES Student Governance Team member Jocelyn Miller for their work which has brought state and national attention to the Fannin County School District.

What all began with the reading of a book, Stellaluna, to a class, has become an ongoing project that is now in its third year.

A former student of Roberson told her of a “bat house” that they have at home and from there the project evolved.

“She (Roberson) was able to take the concept of bats and integrate all of the subjects into it and the kids were basically learning math. They were reading. They were doing science, all through the lens of bats,” Miller spoke of the teacher’s work with children.

Miller, who is now going for her doctoral degree, along with Roberson wrote an article about the project titled “At Home with Bats”. This article was published in the National Science Teachers Association peer-reviewed journal “Science and Children”.

Since then the article has gone on to be published on university websites, garnering even more attention for education in our area.

Next to be recognized for their work with the school system was Fannin County’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA).

Through their Stop the Bleed Campaign, Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham, Fannin County Training Officer Ryan McDavis, and EMS Child Advocate Rebecca Huffman were all recognized for the work put into training staff of the school district.

Stop the Bleed is a program set in place by the American College of Surgeons and works to train people worldwide on how to stop bleeding in a severely injured person. 

After training, the school district received several Stop the Bleed kits which have been put in place not only in the schools but also on every bus, along with a standard first aid kits.

Fannin County School System Director of Transportation Denver Foster called these kits, “a little bag with a lot of life saving power in it”.

Foster also thanked Fannin County’s EMA/EMS for their ongoing role in working with the school system to provide safety to its students on a daily basis.

 

 

Click here to read about those honored at last month’s meeting.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

See Something, Say Something. SafeSchools Alert.

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – School safety continues to be a top priority for the Fannin County School System. Assistant Superintendent and District Emergency Planning Coordinator Darren Danner wants to remind the citizens of Fannin County of a very important tool the district utilizes to keep the children in our area safe.

SafeSchools Alert is Fannin County School District’s tip reporting service. This online service can allow students, teachers, and parents to report incidents of bullying, intimidation, harassment, weapons, drugs or other threats, and remain anonymous.

“The best information we can get, is what we hear from the kids,” Danner spoke of SafeSchools Alert’s importance and the role the students themselves can play in keeping their schools safe for all. “They’re (students) are on the frontline, so to speak. They see what’s happening. They know what’s going on.”

SafeSchools Alert can be accessed on Fannin County School System’s website by scrolling to the bottom and clicking the SafeSchools Alert icon located at the bottom left of the page. SafeSchools Alert also offers an app that can be downloaded onto mobile devices, and it is this app that students generally choose to use.

According to Danner 95 to 98 percent of tips from the student body come from the use of the downloadable app. 

Once a tip has been submitted, SafeSchools Alert will send out numerous emails to faculty within the district. Danner acknowledged that not all tips are reliable, but that some have proven to be very accurate and that all tips are taken seriously and looked into.

“The district has used this going on two years now,” Danner continued. “We’ve had some things that have been put to rest very quickly because of this.” 

The Fannin County School System urges everyone that has information about a threat to report it.

 

Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, School System, High School, Middle School, East Fannin, West Fannin, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, School Resource Officer, Law Enforcement, Appreciation, Superintendent, Sheriff, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dane Kirby, Darren Danner, Darvin Couch, Anthony Walden, Thomas Kay, Tracy Summers, Jim Burrell, Lewis Dewesse, Chad Galloway, Bobby Bearden, Mike Cole, Terry Bramlett, SafeSchools Alert

Fannin County School System’s main page where the SafeSchools Alert link can be found.

Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, School System, High School, Middle School, East Fannin, West Fannin, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, School Resource Officer, Law Enforcement, Appreciation, Superintendent, Sheriff, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dane Kirby, Darren Danner, Darvin Couch, Anthony Walden, Thomas Kay, Tracy Summers, Jim Burrell, Lewis Dewesse, Chad Galloway, Bobby Bearden, Mike Cole, Terry Bramlett, SafeSchools Alert

You can find the link to report tips anonymously, by scrolling to the bottom of the main page and clicking the SafeSchools Alert icon at the bottom left.

Click here to read about Fannin County School System’s 2019 Award of Excellence in School Safety

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

School Resource Officers honored by Fannin County Board of Education

Community, News, Police & Government, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education took time during their Jan. 9 regular monthly meeting to recognize a special group of personnel that work every day to keep the children of Fannin County safe.

“Our relationship with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office is special,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney spoke of the importance of Fannin County’s School Resource Officers (SROs).

Jan. 9, 2020 marked National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. This day is set aside for citizens to show their support for their local law enforcement.

Gwatney displayed a photo and recognized each individual SRO, as well as Assistant Superintendent Darren Danner whose duties, among others include District Emergency Planning and School Resource Officer Coordinator.

Currently the following officers are stationed at each of the five schools in the district:

  • Lt. Darvin Couch – Fannin County High School
  • Deputy Anthony Walden – Fannin County Middle School
  • Deputy Thomas Kay – East Fannin Elementary School
  • Deputy Tracy Summers – West Fannin Elementary
  • Deputy Jim Burrell – Blue Ridge Elementary School

 

Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, School System, High School, Middle School, East Fannin, West Fannin, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, School Resource Officer, Law Enforcement, Appreciation, Superintendent, Sheriff, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dane Kirby, Darren Danner, Darvin Couch, Anthony Walden, Thomas Kay, Tracy Summers, Jim Burrell, Lewis Dewesse, Chad Galloway, Bobby Bearden, Mike Cole, Terry Bramlett

(L – R) Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney, SRO Anthony Walden, SRO Thomas Kay, Lt. Darvin Couch, SRO Tracy Summers, SRO Jim Burrell, and Assistant Superintendent Darren Danner

Before presenting a certificate to Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby, Gwatney concluded, “I am thankful for these individuals. I’m thankful for the relationship that we have with the Sheriff. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Upon accepting the certificate, Kirby acknowledged that Gwatney’s sentiment goes both ways: “We really do cherish this relationship.”

Click here to read about last year’s Award of Excellence in Safety to the Fannin County School System

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Commissioners Approved Advertisement of Lower Millage Rate

News, Police & Government
2020 Budget

Blue Ridge, Ga – Commissioners move toward lowering Fannin’s millage rate for another year.

In the August 13, 2019 meeting, Chairman Stan Helton proposed lowering the rate for 2019 and advertising it in the legal organ.

The proposed millage rate for 2019 is 3.938 from 2018’s rate of 4.176 after reviewing the ad valorem tax digest for 2019.

The final decision pends Fannin Board of Education approval of their 2019 rates as well.

Currently, the board of education has to decide on lowering their rate to 10.593. On Aug. 23, the school will decide and approve the intended rate.

millage rate

Board of Education Tax Digest and Levy from last five years.

On Aug. 27, the county will vote to approve the new millage rate for 2019. In 2018, commissioners decided to drop it from 4.604 mills to 4.176 mills.

The millage rate ensures that the county receives enough in tax revenue to operate from year to year and to roll back the rate, the commissioners and board of education must determine than a decrease will not negatively affect income. Additionally, it affects local property taxes.

For example: In a county with a rate of 25 mills, the property tax on a house worth $100,000 would be $1,000 because the assessed value is 40%. In other words, $25 for every $1,000 of assessed value or $25 multiplied by 40 is $1,000.

Post Two Commissioner Glenn Patterson had no problem with lowering the rate.

“We’re right now the lowest we’ve been in 25 years and with this change, we would continue that trend, said Helton, “Fannin will continue to have the lowest millage rate in the state of Georgia.”

Fannin County Schools Start Back This Wednesday!

News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County Schools start back Wednesday, August 7, 2019!

The official calendar 2019 – 2020 calendar is as follows!

Note: Days for Spring Break and holidays can be used to make up days missed due to inclement weather or other reasons.

Thursday, August 1, 2019 – Tuesday, August 6, 2019: Preplanning

 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019: First day of school.

 

Monday, September 2, 2019: Labor Day Holiday, Emergency Make Up Day

 

Thursday, October 17, 2019: Early Release, Parent Teacher Conference

 

Friday, October 18, 2019: Professional Learning Day, Emergency Make Up Days

 

Monday, October 21, 2019: Holiday, Emergency Make Up Day

 

Monday, November 25, 2019 – Friday, November 29, 2019: Thanksgiving Holidays, Emergency Make Up Days

 

Monday, December 23, 2019 – Tuesday, December 31, 2019: Christmas Holidays, Emergency Make Up Days

 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020 – Friday, January 3, 2020: New Years Break, Emergency Make Up Days

 

Monday, January 6, 2020 – Tuesday, January 7, 2020: Professional Learning Day, Emergency Make Up Days

 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020: Students Return from Break

 

Monday, January 20, 2019: Martin Luther King Holiday, Emergency Make Up Day

 

Monday, February 17, 2020: Holiday, Emergency Make Up Day

 

Friday, March 13, 2020: Early Release, Parent Teacher Conference

 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020: Kindergarten Registration – BRES, EFES, & WFES

 

Friday, April 10, 2020 – Friday, April 17, 2020: Spring Break, Emergency Make Up Days

 

Friday, May 22, 2020: Last Day of School, Graduation

 

Monday, May 25, 2020: Memorial Day

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 – Thursday, May 28, 2020: Post Planning

 

Friday, May 29, 2020: Emergency Make Up Day
 

Testing Dates:
Sem/Final Exams: MS/FH Thursday, December 19, 2019 – Friday, December 20, 2019 & Thursday, May 21, 2020 – Friday, May 22, 2020.
 

Milestones test windows:
Winter 2019 EOC (FCHS only)
Monday, December 2, 2019 – Friday, December 13, 2019
Spring 2020 EOC (HS courses)
Monday, April 27, 2020 – Friday, May 15, 2020
Spring 2020 EOG (3rd-8th grades)
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 – Friday, May 15, 2020

 

Fannin County High School Daily Schedule: 

7:30 – 8:00 Students report to the cafeteria with breakfast being served starting at 7:40 am.

8:05 – 9:30 Block 1 Class

9:36 – 11:01 Block 2 Class

11:07 – 1:04 Block 3 Class and Lunch

1:10 – 2:35 Block 4 Class

2:40 – 3:10 FLEX Time/Block

 
West Fannin Elementary School Daily Schedule:

Pre-K
8:15 – 8:40
Breakfast
8:40 – 10:50
Academic Time
10:50 – 11:45
Lunch/Recess
11:45 – 1:30
Academic Time
1:30 – 2:00
Gross Motor Skills
2:00 – 2:45
Academic Time

Kindergarten
8:15 – 9:50
Academic Time
9:50 – 10:40
NBI/Intervention
10:40 – 11:20
Academic Time
11:20 – 12:20
Lunch/Recess
12:20 – 1:15
Activity
1:15 – 2:45
Academic Time

1st Grade
8:10 – 8:55
Academic Time
8:55 – 9:50
Activity
9:50 – 10:40
Academic Time
10:40 – 11:30
NBI/Intervention
11:30 – 12:25
Academic Time
12:25 – 1:25
Lunch/Recess
1:25 – 2:45
Academic Time

2nd Grade
8:05 – 8:55
Academic Time
8:55 – 9:50
NBI/Intervention
9:50 – 10:45
Activity
10:45 – 11:40
Academic Time
11:40 – 12:40
Lunch/Recess
12:40 – 2:45
Academic Time

3rd Grade
8:00 – 8:55
Activity
8:55 – 11:00
1st Block
11:00 – 12:00
Lunch/Recess
12:00 – 12:55
NBI/Intervention
12:55 – 3:00
2nd Block

4th Grade
8:00 – 8:50
NBI/Intervention
8:50 – 10:55
1st Block/1st and 2nd Period
10:55 – 11:50
Activity
11:50 – 12:50
Lunch/Recess
12:50 – 3:00
2nd Block/3rd and 4th Period

5th Grade
8:00 – 9:55
1st Block/1st and 2nd Period
9:55 – 11:50
2nd Block/3rd and 4th Period
11:50 – 12:35
ELA Block
12:35 – 1:25
Lunch/Recess
1:25 – 2:10
NBI/Intervention
2:10 – 3:00
Activity

 

Last-minute supply list:

 

Fannin County High School (9th – 12th grade):
#2 Pencils, Black or Blue Pens, Binder, College-ruled Notebook Paper, Colored Pencils, Highlighters (two colors), Calculator.

 

Fannin County Middle School (6th-8th grade):
2″ Binder with Divider, Notebook Paper, Composition Books, Pencils, Pens, Highlighters, Colored Pencils.

 

Blue Ridge Elementary, East Fannin Elementary, West Fannin Elementary:
Kindergarten, 1st-2nd Grade: Crayons, Glue Sticks, Pencils, Scissors, Paper, Pencil Box or Pouch
3rd-5th grade: Colored pecils, Pencils, Loose Leaf Paper, Spiral Composition Notebooks, Pencil Pouch
 
 
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Board of Education Approves New Personnel

Board of Education, News

2020 Teacher of the Year Candidates

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education approved new personnel and resignations during their meeting on Thursday, August 1, 2019.

The board voted unanimously on all recommendations.

Recommendations:
*Pending completion of paperwork and background check

Hanna Bryant – Teacher
Christy Brogden – Teacher
Robert Wood – Transportation Department
Amy Buchanan – Finance and HR Coordinator
Leigh Wood – Payroll and Benefits Coordinator

Annual General Session meeting Introductions

Recommendations – Substitute Teacher:
*Pending completion of paperwork and background check

Lisa Barkas
Leslie Dean
Pamela Foster
Jodi L. Graves
Ginnie McNally
Brandy Owenby
Patricia Partin
*Josh Patterson

 

 

Recommendations – Substitute Bus Driver:
*Pending completion of paperwork and background check
James Adams

Annual General Session meeting in the Performing Arts Center.

Recommendation – Substitute Custodian:
*Pending completion of paperwork and background check
Kenneth Dougherty

Recommendation – Substitute Clerical:
Pamela M. Huff

Resignations:
Wesley Chastain (effective Friday, August 23, 2019)
Nathan Daugherty (effective Friday, July 26, 2019)

The video below covers this meeting, as well as the annual General Session meeting that took place in the Fannin County High School’s Performing Arts Center following the meeting.

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Board of Education Introduces Newer, Safer School Bus

Board of Education, News

Extended stop arm for increased visibility.

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education introduced a newer, safer School Bus during their meeting on Thursday, August 1, 2019.

Personnel from the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office, Blue Ridge City Police Department, McCaysville Police Department, and the Georgia State Patrol were all invited to attend the event showcasing the bus on Friday, August 2, 2019.

The new bus model features an extended six foot stop arm for increase visibility.

The new model will also be surrounded by external cameras that will easily record passing offenders.

In addition to the extra lighting the bus’ have had in the past, this model also includes a license plate reader to obtain information of those who pass a stopped bus going forward.

Bus side camera.

The new model was paid for by special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST), and though not every bus will be immediately replaced, transportation director Denver Foster says that he expects to see alot more of them in the future.

Also according to Foster (quoting a national association that monitors school bus activity), it was reported that in a single day in 2018 there were 84,000 bus-passing violations nation-wide.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 is the first day of school in Fannin County, so if you haven’t seen the new bus’ yet, be sure to keep an eye out!

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BoE Approves West Fannin Elementary Paving Project

Board of Education, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education approved a West Fannin Elementary School paving project during their called meeting on Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

West Fannin Elementary Paving Project. (Click to enlarge)

There was only one bid for this project which came from local vendor Johnson Paving, LLC. in the amount of $197,383.00 for the replacement 10,650 square yards of overlay and 4,314 square yards of mill and replace. The plan does include striping.

The board discussed how these repairs have been much needed for quite some time now, and none of the board members were opposed.

The project is said to be paid for with special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) funding.

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Fannin County Schools Registration and Open House Schedule 2019-2020

Board of Education, News
Approved purchases by BOE

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education released their 2019-2020 Registration and Open House schedule during their meeting held on Thursday, July 11, 2019.

New Student Registration day is scheduled for Tuesday, July 12, 2019 from 8 am until 4 pm.
Currently enrolled students, as well as other new students, including upcoming Kindergartners, who have already registered for SY 19-20 do not need to attend.

Open House at Elementary Schools and Middle School will be on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 from 1 pm until 5 pm.

Fannin High Schools Open House for 9th grade students will be on Monday, August 5, 2019 from 5 pm until 7 pm.

Open House for Upperclassmen students will be on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 from 1 pm until 5 pm.

Any Fannin County High School student needing a parking permit needs to be at the PAC by 2 pm on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

The first day of school is Wednesday, August 7, 2019.

If you are planning to enroll your child in any Fannin County School for the 2019-2020 school year, the following documentation is needed:
Birth certificate, Current Immunization Record (Must be on a Georgia form), Eye/ear/dental examination record, Proof of custody (as noted in a divorce decree), Georgia Department of Public Health Form 3300, Social security card, and proof of residency (two documents, i.e., utility bill, paperwork, etc. verifying your 911 address; P.O. boxes are not proof of residency).

Also helpful in making your child’s transition smooth are copies of your child’s last report card and the withdrawal from the previous school.

To enroll a child in school, you must be the parent or legal guardian of the child.

For bus information, please call 706-632-7802.

Blue Ridge Elementary – 224 East Highland Street, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. 706-632-5772

East Fannin Elementary – 1 Elementary Circle, Morganton, GA 30560. 706-374-6418

West Fannin Elementary – 5060 Blue Ridge Drive, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. 706-492-3644

Fannin Middle School – 4560 Old Highway 76, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. 706-632-6100

Fannin High School – 360 Rebel Circle, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. 706-632-2081

www.fannin.k12.ga.us

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New Football Stadium Lights Benefit Players and Students

Education
Football Stadium

Blue Ridge, Ga – 2019 football season will begin with new LED lights shining on the field, and the system will give students a chance to create a unique light show.

38 football stadium lights have burnt out, and many need new ballasts or entirely new fixtures to properly work.
Four bids came in, and the lowest bid from Over and Under General Contractors was for $242,490.00.
Previously, Phillips estimated around $400,000 to $500,000 for updating the lights before the project went out to bid.

LED stands for light emitting diode and produced 90% more light than incandescent bulbs.

Danner explained, “The old light fixtures, the old cages will be coming down. New fixtures will be going up. It won’t be 88 fixtures anymore because LEDs are brighter, so it will be fewer fixtures, guaranteed for 10 years. Anything goes wrong, they come out and take care of it.”

football stadium lights

The red blocks showcase all the football stadium lights that no longer work on the field.

The new lights will be installed before the 2019 football season.

“I think it’s pretty good that the lights that were there lasted as long as they did because it was a month ago, we changed out the speakers, and all that and they were totally gone,” stated Board Member Bobby Bearden.
“Would this control module allow some of our technology student to manipulate the lighting system?” asked Board Member Terry Bramlett.

Yes, the system comes with three pre-programmed settings. Once training’s complete, the school and students can create unique light shows.

SPLOST covers the new football stadium lights.

New Pick-Up Lane at East Fannin

East Fannin Elementary School requested to widen the parent pick-up lane because the two to one lane environment caused extra congestion.

“It’s a high priority for Mr. Bryce and East Fannin Administration,” “it causes great concern, and we only received one quote back for $25,500.00 for 575 feet to widen it. It will be a dual lane from Old 76 all the way up to the bus line.”

Bryce added that they rearranged the pick-up for safety reasons as well. In the past, The school used two different parent drop-offs, and it caused congestion.

“Where it bottlenecked, they were starting to go out on the gravel and create potholes, so two lanes all the way around will be even safer,” stated Bryce.

New Security Cameras at West Fannin

Next West Fannin Elementary School requested security cameras to be paid for by a security grant from the Department of Education. The project cleared DOE requirements but needed Board of Education approval.

“What we have now, you can’t even zoom. With this, you’ll be able to tell what color shirt they have on, but you might not see facial expressions,” explained Danner.

New cameras will let the administration see 425 feet in the distance.

The cameras provide visibility up to 425 feet and the same system as the high school. The connected system allows the administration to view both schools’ security cameras on one screen.

“I think it’s a good use of the state’s safety grant money,” advised Superintendent Michael Gwatney.

Propane Bids

Propane bids for the district came in, and one provided a lower price than what the school currently spends on the gas. UPG/ Fort Mountain Propane received approval to supply the district for the next school year.

Construction Updates

The turning lane and new entrance for the agricultural center are open and ready for use.

Blue Ridge Elementary received a new metal door for security purposes.

East Fannin painted the dug-outs on the lower field and rusted handrails. The school removed a derelict trailer as well. East Fannin Middle school’s building a new administrative office for the bookkeeper. Additionally, an ADA-regulated walkway extends down to the playground. These walkways can only drop one inch per foot.
Fannin County High School pressured washed the sidewalks and painted as well as sandblasted the rusted stairs.

Local SPLOST taxes paid for the majority of the updates.

FYI Teaches Students Professional Development

Education
FYI Students

Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin Youth Initiative (FYI) successfully taught Fannin County High School students about professional development and job opportunities available to them.

Executive Director of the Fannin County Development Authority Christie Gribble spoke about the first year of FYI to the board and the impact it made on students.

Leadership Fannin served as a template for the program, except tailored to high school students. It demonstrated the opportunities in the county for jobs and helped students to learn soft skills, such as letter writing, communication, resumes, and interviewing.

“Education and having a relationship with the school is very important,” said Gribble when speaking about her role as executive director of the development authority.

The students spent five days out in the community learning from small business owners, social services, government roles, and the arts. The program included trips to the Chamber of Commerce, courthouse, and the state capitol.

Fannin Youth Initiative

Fannin Youth Initiative (FYI) visited the capitol and met with Speaker Ralston.

Gribble and her fellow workers held 10 in-school sessions during FLEX to teach high schoolers about professional development skills.

Ten students from 10th and 11th grade participated in the program. Mrs. Lynn Birch acted as the faculty advisor and made sure everyone was where they needed to be.

The participants were given a mentor, took a career assessment, and voiced opinions about young people needing a place to hang out.

“When the kids talk about a place to hang out, what’s their definition of that?” asked Board Member Mike Cole.

The answer: It varies from student to student, some wanted a diner, and others said games, in general just something different than cruising The Home Depot or Wal-Mart parking lot.

The students received internships, contacts, and contract work. The Development Authority hired an intern, and a videographer student started working for a business in the county.

FYI is also a finalist in a state CTA program and will know by July if it won first, second, or third place.

“Opportunity and preparation come together, then that’s when you have success. I’m really pleased to hear the success of these students,” stated Superintendent Michael Gwatney.

Board Chair Lewis DeWeese said, “If they learned as much about the community as they do at other Chamber events, that’s tremendous.”

2019 GSBA Exemplary Board Status Awarded to Fannin Schools

Education

Blue Ridge, Ga – The Fannin County Board of Education receives with the Georgia School Boards Association’s (GSBA) 2019 Exemplary School Board award.

The recognition program showcases best practices in school governance and leadership. GSBA recognizes good school board governance to foster educational community cultures in order to advance student learning and achievement.

“I want to first thank you for all the training we had and the retreat. It is my honor to present to you the exemplary board trophy for this year. This is two years in a row,” said Assistant Superintendent Robert Ensley during the Board of Education meeting.

Exemplary Board

GSBA awarded 55 public schools with the status.

The Fannin County Board of Education met and/or exceeded the criteria set forth by GSBA to earn the honor of a 2019 Exemplary Board. The criteria’s listed on GSBA’s website and covers eight areas, including strategic planning, fiscal responsibility, and ethics. In 2019, only 55 of the 180 public school boards earned the Exemplary Board status.

The GSBA Governance Team Recognition Program was developed by Georgia superintendents and board members based on the state board of education’s standards for effective governance to recognize exemplary leadership.

In 1998, the Georgia School Boards Association was one of the first school board associations in the nation to develop a program of standards for local boards of education. The GSBA Board recognition program is a three-tiered program.

For more information on the program, you may visit the GSBA website for awards and recognition to view the criteria for all tiers of the program.

Superintendent Gwatney Contract Renewed

Education
Board and Superintendent Gwatney

Blue Ridge, Ga – Board of Education approved a new contract for Superintendent Michael Gwatney during June meeting.

Board of Education Chairman Lewis DeWeese commended Gwatney on his work, “The board has been pleased with the Dr. Michael Gwatney’s work as our Superintendent and based on the results of his evaluation and his performance this year, the board approves an additional year for a three year contract to begin July 1, 2019.”

During Superintendent Comments, Gwatney remarked on the honor to serve Fannin School District and the extraordinary work everyone in the county and education system does for the students.

Dr. Michael Gwatney

Gwatney’s new term begins on July 1.

“I’m privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of this system and serve for so many years,” observed Gwatney, “My time here has been an enjoyable experience, and like everything that is truly important in life, it’s the people who make it that way. So I want to thank my colleagues, the directors that are here, the staff that are here, and the principals that are here. Thank you for everything that you do for our kids.”

Gwatney introduced the three new department leaders to the board, starting with Director of Transportation, Denver Foster. He worked for the transportation department for 14 years under Ben Long.

“I feel like we have an exceptional department. We have 40 main route buses, transport about 1,250 children a day and our main focus is always student safety, said Foster, “I have a vision for our department. I have quite a few things I want to do, including upgrading technology – routing software and some other things to make that safer.”

Foster also brought the winners of the May 15 School Bus Road-e-o, where bus drivers participate in a skills course that includes parallel parking. The three winners were:

School bus Road-e-o participants took part in several activities to demonstrate skill operating the vehicle.

  • Tim Massaro, First Place
  • Tim Joiner, Second Place
  • Jeff Johnstone, Third Place

Massaro also participated in the state school bus road-e-o and placed 20th out of 61.

Next, Gwatney introduced the Director of Instructional Services and Policy Sarah Welch. She’s the daughter of two educators and a graduate of Fannin County with 16 years of experience.

“I’m honored to be in this position,” said Welch, “I’ll be working a lot with our curriculum and professional learning. My vision is ensuring equity for all learners. We know that everyone comes in they start school in different places. We want everybody to be able to access the curriculum to meet their needs and no matter where you start to be able to push you forward.”

She cited depth, progression, and exploration as needed areas to develop for children to grow as learners. The school’s responsibility doesn’t stop when the children leave. It continues after hours and in the community, giving teachers and students the materials necessary to cultivate learning opportunities.

When Welch finished, DeWeese stated, “Contagious enthusiasm, if you pass that to your students, I don’t think they’ll ever forget you.”

After Welch, Gwatney stated that Darren Danner has officially started his position as Assistant Superintendent.

Danner remarked, “I’m honored to have this position and thanks to Dr. Gwatney and the Board for their support up to this point. We hope we can keep things going under the current leadership.

We’re going to automate some things in the maintenance department and continue building first-class facilities in the state of Georgia and the Southeast. We need your support to do that and the Fannin County voters to continue to support SPLOST. That’s my vision for the maintenance department.”

County and Schools Give Kids a Place to Play

Announcements, Community

Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin County Government and Schools came together at the Board of Commissioners meeting to mark the start of their Summer Day Program for local children.

The intergovernmental agreement between the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education addresses the needs of school children to have somewhere to go over the summer months.

“140 school children are signed up for this wonderful program,” explained Chairman Stan Helton, “the school provides buses on a lease to the county, and they provide food, service, and staff to support the summer nutritional program, so all the kids can have a good meal. I’m very grateful that the school works with us in this manner.”

Children will spend days at the park from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. They will have access to the gymnasium, football fields, ball fields, lobby for board games and arts-n-crafts and the After Schoolhouse. Also, field trips to Fannin Lanes, Blairsville Cinemas, Bill’s Roller Rink, and Amicolola Falls State Park are planned.  The program accommodates children from kindergarten to fifth grade.

The program has three sessions Session 1 June 3- June 14, Session 2 June 17 – June 28, and Session 3 July 8- July 19. Currently, all sessions are sold out for the year.

Board of Commissioners and the Humane Society now have a framework in place to help the abandoned dogs and cats of the county.

Next, the Humane Society and Board of Commissioners formalized the relationship between the two entities. The county has an existing relationship but wanted a framework put in place to build a stronger one in coming years.

“We have a common goal that is to address the problem and issues that come with abandoned dogs and cats in Fannin County,” said Helton, “Their spaying and neutering program can hopefully be expanded with our relationship.”

The Humane Society can now call the county their partner and vice versa.

“It opens the door for the future to do things, a slow, correct way. The county will benefit greatly, and certainly, the animals will benefit greatly, said Helton.

Post Two Commissioner Glenn Patterson stated, “I looked over it, and it looks very good. I think it’s a good thing.”

Library Board Member Mark Tune was reappointed to a new term, effective through July 1, 2022.

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