Blue Ridge, Ga. – Blue Ridge City Council passed an official State of Emergency for all citizens and business owners within city limits.
After discussions with several local and state agencies and mounting pressure from the public, an emergency special meeting was called and held via teleconference at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25.
The ordinance, which passed unanimously will take effect at noon on Thursday, March 26 and expire on April 15, 2020. The ordinance does allow for city council to extend the time period of the ordinance, if deemed necessary, beyond the April 15 expiration date.
A curfew will be placed within the city limits, with exception being given to essential personnel, beginning at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26.
“A curfew is imposed from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. effective 9:00 p.m. March 26, 2020. Residents, unless “exempt individuals” as defined herein, shall remain in their homes or on their property during the curfew period.”
The ordinance also has a shelter in place provision. Persons are allowed to leave residences for essential activities, such as obtaining supplies, and for essential business. You do not have to remain indoors during this time, but will need to remain on your property, private properties, or public properties that are allowed to remain open by municipalities.
Among activities that were addressed were the gathering of people on city owned property.
“For the duration of the declared emergency, there shall be no public gatherings on any property owned or controlled by the City. To avoid confusion, the following definitions shall apply under this Section: a “public gathering” shall mean the organized gathering or assembly of more than five or more persons at a specific location; “property owned or controlled by the City shall include any park, public square, public space, playground, recreational area, or similar place of public gathering, but nothing herein shall prohibit individuals or families from using sidewalks or designated pedestrian areas of parks for walking or other exercise if they are not participating in an organized gathering.”
The ordinance also calls for a closure to all non-essential business except for “Minimum Basic Operations”.
Minimum Basic Operations are defined as: “(a) the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions; and (b) the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.”
Restaurants may operate, but must close all dine-in areas and “may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery, drive-through or take-out services” only. The ordinance further states: “Any restaurant that is currently licensed to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, such business shall be authorized to sell unopened bottles, cans, or other sealed containers of beer or wine for take-out consumption off-premises.”
The City encourages essential businesses to remain open. These businesses must follow the social distancing rule of 6 feet to the greatest extent possible and put signage on storefronts reminding customers of the social distancing rules.
Essential businesses may not allow more than 10 people in their building at a time if social distancing is unable to be maintained.
The ordinance defines “essential businesses” as:
- Healthcare Operations and essential infrastructure;
- Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
- Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
- Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
- Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
- Gas stations and auto-supply, auto repair, and related facilities;
- Banks and related financial institutions and pawn shops;
- Hardware stores;
- Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and Essential Businesses;
- Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
- Educational institutions-including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities-for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
- Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, or similar facilities shall not be subject to the restrictions contained in this Ordinance.
- Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
- Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
- Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
- Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
- Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
- Professional services, such as legal, or accounting services:
- Childcare facilities;
- Construction services; and
- Utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, railroads, public transportation, taxi/rideshare, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services).
Lastly, the ordinance states that all vacation rentals, including hotels and motels in city limits, are to be declared non-essential, stating: “Any customer currently occupying a Tourism Rental under a paid reservation tendered prior to March 23, 2020 shall be allowed to complete the original reservation period but shall not be allowed to extend. All other customers must vacate the Tourism Rental within forty-eight (48) hours of this Ordinance going into effect.”
Violation of any term or provision of the Ordinance is punishable by a civil fine of $1,000 per violation.
The Fannin County Board of Commissioners are meeting at 4 p.m. today and are expected to implement a State of Emergency for Fannin County as a whole.
McCaysville, Ga. – The McCaysville City Council held an emergency special called meeting to address concerns from the citizens regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
The purpose of this meeting was to declare a Public Health Emergency within the city and to lay out how city businesses and functions would be handled moving forward.
“It’s only a matter of time before we get a positive case here in the county,” Dr. Dillon Miller of Blue Ridge Medical Group spoke with the council. “If I were a betting man, I would say that within the next week we’re going to have a positive test come back for the county.”
Miller said that over the last week there have been testings for Covid-19 in the double digits run in Fannin County. He added that with the influx of people coming to our area from “hot zones” like Atlanta, that it could “create the perfect storm for spreading the disease”.
The council voted unanimously to pass the emergency ordinance after being informed that a small number of businesses were not willing to voluntarily comply.
The ordinance states that beginning March 25, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. all gatherings or events of 10 or more people, outside of private households, are prohibited.
- All bars, restaurants, or establishments that sell food and beverages can offer take out only, and dining is prohibited on the property of these establishments.
- All gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys, pools, arcades, parlors, nail salons, hair salons, private social clubs or any facility used for entertainment, social and grooming must be closed to in person events.
- Essential stores allowed to stay open, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, must post signage on their doors informing customers to stay at least 6 feet apart and cannot allow more than 10 people in the establishment at a time.
The McCaysville Police Department has been tasked with enforcing the new ordinance. The ordinance will expire in 30 days of passing but does have the option for council to renew for an additional 30 days.
(The following is a Press Release from the Office of David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.)
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced that the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation has opened a North Georgia Office in Ellijay. The office is located in the Collaboration on River’s Edge (CORE) Building, a workplace innovation space and initiative of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
“I am proud to welcome the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation to Ellijay and look forward to the good work that will be done to further economic opportunity throughout rural Georgia,” said Speaker David Ralston. “This center is a direct result of the work of the House Rural Development Council and our continuing efforts to ensure prosperity is accessible to all Georgians – regardless of zip code.”
The center, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, has named Janet Cochran to lead the North Georgia Office. Cochran comes to the center with more than a decade of experience as a project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“Finding ways to not only maintain but to multiply the economic and cultural vitality present in so many of north Georgia’s small towns and rural communities relies heavily on relationships,” said Dr. David Bridges, Georgia’s Rural Center interim director, “and we know that our presence and personnel there will only improve our ability to facilitate positive outcomes. Janet brings a wealth of experience in managing economic development projects in this region of the state, and we’re excited to have her join our team in this role at the North Georgia Office.”
Headquartered at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
“Promoting a strong business environment that enhances the quality of our community is not just the chamber’s mission in words, it is behind everything we do. The opening of CORE and the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation is a cornerstone moment in that mission and one that we have worked tirelessly to support and create for many years. I join with our 650 members in celebrating,” remarked John Marshall, Gilmer Chamber Chairman of the Board.
“As chairman of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation it has been our goal as a private, citizen funded organization to help spur economic growth for our community and region. CORE being the home to the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office brings our vision to reality. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities for years to come,” said Kent Sanford, Chairman of the Board.
“Working with Speaker of the House David Ralston and the House leadership to bring the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office to our community will have economic impact to the entire region. We look forward to continuing to work to insure the success of the center and all of our partners within CORE,” remarked Lex Rainey, Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority Chairman of the Board.
Located in Gilmer County, Ellijay is a thriving rural community in the North Georgia mountains, offering a unique blend of southern hospitality and natural beauty. The area leads Georgia in apple production and is a center for agribusiness and agritourism.
For more information about the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, visit http://www.ruralga.org/.
YOUNG FARMERS ASSOCIATION
Monthly Business Meeting and Ag Talk
February 18, 2019
Meal is sponsored by: Mercier Orchards
Anyone interested is welcome to attend
FCYFA members attend free of charge
Non members we ask you pay $5.00
For Questions or Additional Information
Please Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or
Senate Gets Down to Business
By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)
Although the Senate was in session for only two days this week, my colleagues and I were very busy under the Gold Dome addressing budget proposals and a key piece of legislation on the Senate Floor.
The week started with Joint Senate and House Appropriations hearings on the Amended FY18 and General FY19 budgets. Governor Deal kicked off the hearings which included several different agencies presenting their budget proposals. I am happy to say that the state’s budget continues to be in good shape, with the General FY19 budget topping $26 billion for the first time. The General FY19 budget proposals were drafted with an estimated 2.9 percent state fund growth and around 3.8 percent tax revenue growth over the Amended FY18 revenue estimates. Included in the General FY19 budget are increases in funding for education and transportation.
The General FY19 budget addresses the needs for the state to meet determined employer contributions within the Teachers Retirement System with a proposed increase of around $364 million. Additionally, around $120 million would be appropriated for enrollment growth and training. Along with these positive changes in the General FY19 budget, an important proposal in the Amended FY18 budget is adding $15 million to purchase 194 school buses statewide. This will positively impact our students by ensuring that buses are not overcrowded.
The state’s growing need to address transportation infrastructure is also addressed in the General FY19 budget. An additional $31.6 million in projected revenues resulting from House Bill 170 – passed during the 2015 Legislation Session – will be added to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) budget. I am very happy to see that a piece of legislation we passed a couple of years ago is still making positive impacts for GDOT.
Along with attending the budget hearings and carefully reviewing the proposals for the Amended FY18 and General FY19 budgets, my colleagues and I took up a very important piece of legislation in Senate Chamber. On Thursday, the Senate passed the Supporting and Strengthening Families Act, also known as the Adoption Bill, or HB 159. This bill passed with bipartisan support and is now headed over to the House of Representatives for their review. Final passage of this legislation and a signature into law by the Governor would allow our state to update our adoption system which has been the same for nearly 30 years.
The Senate’s version of HB 159 clarifies many of the laws regarding who can adopt, who can act as a legal guardian and the rights held by the biological parents before and after giving their child up for adoption. Additionally, the version the Senate passed on Thursday states that if an agency is not involved in a private adoptive process, living expenses cannot be paid. The only expenses that can be paid in a private adoption are medical and counseling. These are just some of the highlights of the Senate version of HB 159. As this legislation moves through the legislative process, my colleagues and I will work with the Governor and House of Representatives to ensure there is cooperation to address concerns anyone may have. It is imperative that we pass this legislation so that we can assist the large number of children who are in foster care and need a loving and stable home.
The pace of the session is going to pick up quickly with standing committees beginning to hold meetings next week to vet legislation pending from last year along with new bills introduced this year. As we move forward in the session, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns and feedback. It is always great to hear from my constituents and our door is always open.