Back to business for Blue Ridge City Council

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After failing to achieve a quorum at the last month’s meeting, the Blue Ridge City Council met Tuesday, Dec. 12, for their last regularly scheduled meeting of the year.

The Council swiftly moved through a hefty list of agenda items starting with two Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) lease resolutions to purchase vehicles and equipment. The first resolution was to purchase a 2018 Ford Explorer for the Blue Ridge Police Department through a GMA lease for $30,591.58 with a 3.760 percent interest rate. The final payment for the lease will be Dec. 21, 2022, and the city will pay $33,482.22 with included interest.

Next, the city purchased a 2017 Caterpillar track hoe excavator and a 2018 F350 dump truck for the combined price of $85,950.30 through a GMA lease. The interest rate and payment schedule for this purchase is the same as for the previous purchase, and the city will pay $94,071.90 with included interest.

Two other resolutions were for loan acceptances from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). The first loan, a Clean Water State Revolving loan, for up to $900,000 with a principal forgiveness of $225,000 if all loan funds are drawn will be used for sewer upgrades at Trackside Lane. The other loan, a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan, for up to $250,000 with a principal forgiveness of up to $49,970 if all funds are drawn, will be used for a meter replacement and upgrade project.

The Council also amended a city ordinance through a second reading and adoption to allow an exception for low-speed vehicles or motorized carts in the form of electric shuttle buses to be used on the public streets of the city in an effort to promote economic development downtown.

Blue Ridge City Councilwoman Angie Arp

Bids for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) water system improvement project were reviewed and discussed by the Council. While Mayor Donna Whitener mentioned it was recommended by the city’s water system engineering firm, Carter & Sloope, to proceed with the low bidder for the project, The Renee Group, Inc. of Doraville, Georgia, Councilwoman Angie Arp suggested the possibility of proceeding with the only local bidder, Holloway Trenching, LLC, of Morganton, whose bid was nearly $54,000 over that of The Renee Group. Ultimately, the decision to award the bid was tabled.

A Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) application for a $35,648 grant with a 30 percent was approved by the Council Tuesday. The grant would be used for road work on West First Street from Depot Street to the where West First meets West Main Street.

The Council unanimously agreed to allow the Blue Ridge Housing Authority (BRHA) to forego payment of its final 2016 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) payment to the city as reimbursement to the Authority for costs to repair a sewer line and retaining wall at the BRHA’s Boardtown Road apartments. The PILOT payment was for $1,530.75. In addition, the Council approved a $5,500 estimate from Holloway Trenching for further repairs on a six-inch sewer line on BRHA grounds.

The Council discussed, but tabled, a $4,368.80 quote from ETC Communications for a downtown stereo system to be used during events and festivals, such as the recent Light Up Blue Ridge and Christmas parade, until more information could be procured about the safety of the system.

Among the other invoices and quotes approved were:

A $4,500.99 invoice to Johnson Paving for asphalt work on Banks Street;

A $4,094.20 quote from Fortiline Waterworks, of Cartersville, Georgia, for work on city hydrants;

A $4,700 quote from Hayes James engineering firm for mapping and geographic information system (GIS) services;

A $5,670 invoice from Carter & Sloope for general consulting, which included a review of the water drainage issues near Ada Street;

A $3,611.25 invoice from Carter & Sloope for engineering services for a sewer line project on Trackside Lane;

A $17,831.85 invoice from Carter & Sloope for engineering services at the city’s waste water treatment facility; and

A $6,599.60 quote from Peach State Amenities, LLC for three new six-foot long park benches and three 36-gallon trash receptacles.

President of the Blue Ridge Business Association Cesar Martinez

Cesar Martinez, local business owner and president of the Blue Ridge Business Association (BRBA), spoke briefly in public commentary about the success of the recent Light Up Blue Ridge festivities and Christmas parade held Saturday, Nov. 25, in downtown Blue Ridge and informed the Council of upcoming BRBA events, such as the BRBA Christmas Party Dec. 18 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Willow Creek Falls and the eighth annual Fire and Ice Chili Cook-Off in downtown Blue Ridge Feb. 17, 2018.

Near the end of the meeting, Mayor Whitener thanked outgoing council members Arp, Rodney Kendall and Bruce Pack for their service to the Council and the city. Collectively, all three members stated they were appreciative of the opportunity to serve the citizens of Blue Ridge but wished they could have accomplished even more during their tenures. Incoming council members Nathan Fitts, Kenneth Gaddis and Robbie Cornelius will join remaining members Harold Herndon and Rhonda Thomas in 2018.

 

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.

Blue Ridge City Council November meeting cancelled

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – According to information posted by Mayor Donna Whitener, the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Blue Ridge City Council has been cancelled.

Whitener added that council members Angie Arp, Rodney Kendall and Bruce Pack are all unavailable to attend the meeting due to other obligations.

In last week’s City Council election, Arp lost her re-election bid to Kenneth Gaddis, who will replace her in January, while Kendall and Pack both chose not to run.

Continue to follow FetchYourNews for up-to-date coverage of the Blue Ridge City Council.

 

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.

Less Parking and New Solutions

Downtown Blue Ridge, News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – September marked the beginning of the beautiful Autumn season in our quaint mountain town. With Autumn comes large crowds visiting our area for it’s natural beauty, and enjoying one of our many festivals held downtown.

Business owners and residents alike were shocked to see that more parking spaces were disappearing from East Main Street, especially with the busy season upon us.

More spaces, in our already under spaced area, seemed to disappear overnight as crews came in removing the freshly painted spots and lining them with the all too familiar No Parking stripes.

Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Downtown, Parking, Angie Arp, Bruce Pack, Rhonda Thomas, Kenneth Gaddis

Parking along East Main Street removed.

According to the original proposal of the East Main Streetscape project, passed by City Council, these parking spaces should have been marked for No Parking when the project was completed earlier this year.

Council Member Angie Arp confirmed that the striping company, contracted by Colwell Construction, did not mark off or strip East Main Street according to the council approved plans.

She went on to say that parking was only supposed to be on one side or the other all the way down the street as a safety measure, and as per recommended by the public safety officials.

When asked why the parking had not been corrected immediately, Arp explained that the striping was contracted to a company out of Atlanta, and they had to schedule the owner of the company to verify what was done and what should have been done. Once that was confirmed, the striping company had to schedule a time for them to get back up here to fix it correctly. They planned to come back at a time when it wasn’t as busy so they waited till after school started and before Labor Day weekend.

The latest removal of parking spaces disheartened many business owners who had recently attended City Council meetings over parking related matters.

Council Members have been working for years to bring a solution to our city’s parking, but with little agreement, the parking issue continues to get pushed to the backburner.

Arp and fellow Council Member Bruce Pack diligently worked to bring parking through what came to be known as the Pack Property Lease. This area, located at the end of free parking, was estimated to add an additional 300 parking spaces to the city, but at a cost for the taxpayers.

The newest idea to add parking was debuted last week, via Facebook, by Council Member Rhonda Thomas and Councilmember Elect Kenneth Gaddis. This idea involved off campus parking on an already owned city lot.

Blue Ridge City Council, Fannin County, Georgia, Downtown, Parking, Angie Arp, Bruce Pack, Rhonda Thomas, Kenneth Gaddis

Council member Rhonda Thomas and Council member elect Kenneth Gaddis discuss a solution.

The land is located near the Swan Drive-In, and with the recent passing of the Electric Shuttle Bus Ordinance could provide the city with an approximate 150 new spaces. The Shuttle Bus could run regular trips multiple times a day between this free parking area and downtown.

Thomas pointed out that this particular space is already equipped with restrooms, an area for concessions, and the existing structure could provide shelter for those waiting in inclement weather.

Gaddis said, “This isn’t just for downtown, this is for Blue Ridge itself. We have the Blue Ridge Community Theatre there which hosts many events. Students pack nearby parking for the games. This could be an overflow. We want this to be shared throughout.”

This latest idea to help alleviate the parking woes of downtown is scheduled to be discussed at a Blue Ridge City Council special called meeting on Tuesday, September 26 at 10:00 A.M. at City Hall.

 

 

 

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

A Call To Order at Blue Ridge City Council Meeting

News, Politics

On July 26, 2017, City Council member Rhonda Thomas went live on Facebook to show one of the city’s roads that is badly in need of repair. The video quickly garnered a lot of attention and has had over 5,000 views.

Fetch Your News, Blue Ridge City Council, Angie Arp

Arp responds with a prepared statement.

In this video Thomas directly asks fellow Council members Angie Arp, Rodney Kendall, and Bruce Pack why Davis Street was taken off the city’s list of roads to repair. Thomas goes further to speculate as to some of the possible reasons, questioning if it involves a past lawsuit between the City and Ada Street, LLC.

Arp and Pack called a special meeting this week, and while not on the agenda, Arp felt this video needed to be viewed and addressed. Kendall was prepared for this motion and presented the video to the room via his phone. Conversation became heated as this unannounced item was brought to the table.

Thomas stood firmly by her actions to go live on the video and wanted Arp to answer the question, “Why did you take this road off the list to be paved?”

Arp read a prepared statement in response to the video. In this statement, she addressed the issue of Davis Street with the explanation that “we decided to get the bid cost for all the relatively minor street repairs first, and wait till after we found out what their cost was before we started on the streets that would require more extensive work.”

Discussions intensified with both Arp and Thomas accusing the other of lying. Mayor Donna Whitener had to regain composure of the room by calling a Point of Order, effectively ending the dialogue about the video.

This all was a lead in to an item that was actually on the agenda, approval of bids on paving of city streets. Thirteen items were quoted on the list of streets for repair.  Johnson Paving won the bid with a quote of $232,000 for all repairs.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Is Three Hour Parking Still an Option in Blue Ridge

Downtown Blue Ridge, News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Involving several issues that the city has addressed in the past, some with no resolve, the Blue Ridge City Council called a special meeting on August 1, 2017.

Downtown Blue Ridge could see three hour parking soon.

City Council members discussed and voted on the first reading of a Parking Ordinance Amendment.  This amendment will remove Chapter 72 from the Code of the City of Blue Ridge and replace it, giving authority to change parking within city limits.

Wording in the Amendment specifically states that the city can now “provide for certain restrictive parking”, essentially putting the option of three hour parking back on the table for the city. Four council members voted in favor of this amendment with one opposing vote from Council member Rhonda Thomas.

When asked about her vote Thomas explained that she felt that the ordinance change had been rushed through. She stated, “I agree that something needs to be done, but not without a plan in place first.” She also added that Pacific Rail has been working diligently to come up with a plan and work with the city.

Council also addressed the long running issue of the city’s storm water damage. A main cause of the city’s flooding and lack of drainage is the varying size in the waste water piping. Some areas experience back up due to larger pipes being funneled down into smaller pipes that are unable to handle the volume. An engineer from Carter & Sloope was present at the meeting to provide council members with a detailed map of problem areas.

City Council member Angie Arp suggested to approach the dilemma in a piecemeal fashion rather than tackling the problem as a whole. The total cost for fixing the entire drainage system is an estimated $700,000.

Council and the representative from Carter & Sloope agreed that one of the least expensive sections to fix is located at the end of free parking. This area is represented as number 12 on the map( Phase I – Storm Drainage Revised 11-17-15-Aerial). City Council is set to discuss moving forward with this project at their regularly scheduled August meeting.

The City Council will hold their August meeting on Tuesday, August 8, at 6:00 P.M..where these issues will be further discussed.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Blue Ridge City Council Meeting March 1st 2016

Videos

Blue Ridge City Council Meeting 2/22/16 Video

News


Notice of Special Called Council Meeting

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Special Called Council meeting of the COUNCIL of the CITY OF BLUE RIDGE will be held at City Hall 480 West First Street Blue Ridge, Ga 30513 on Monday, February 22, 2016 at 3:30 PM.
This meeting was called by Mayor Whitener for the purpose of discussing a Zoning Ordinance Amendment for CBD, Land Acquisition and Personnel.

A G E N D A

1) Call Meeting to Order
2) Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance
3) Council Meeting Rules of Procedures (to be presented at each meeting by the City Clerk)
4) Approval of Minutes from Previous Meeting (if minutes are completed and available)
5) Consideration of Zoning Ordinance Amendments for CBD
6) Executive Session (if needed)—Land Acquisition and Personnel
7) Adjournment

City of Blue Ridge Town Hall Meeting Jan 14, 2016

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