Transparency obstructed at McCaysville City Council meeting

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Mayor Thomas Seabolt tried to bring to an end the reading of the monthly bills, as new councilmember Gilita Carter had done at previous meetings since taking office.

Carter had stated in a previous meeting: “I’ve been coming to a lot of meetings and it always comes up, about paying the bills. Well, I often sit there and wonder, what bills? Whose bills?”

Click Here to read about previous meeting concerning McCaysville finances.

Since taking office Carter has read each line item of the monthly bills aloud to the public, but Seabolt put a stop to this by asking for a motion before Carter could address the public.

McCaysville, Fannin, Georgia, City Council, Transparency, Finance, Bills, Mayor, Attorney, Thomas Seabolt, Sue Beaver, Gilita Carter, Susan Kiker, Jason Woody, Larry Collis, Cortney Stuart, Expenditures

Council-member Gilita Carter and Mayor Thomas Seabolt exchange words over the city’s transparency.

“I just don’t want to take the time to read everything because they’ve already been approved through payment in a sense,” Seabolt spoke to Carter of his reasoning behind not continuing to read the individual bills submitted by city departments.

After asking for a motion to pay the bills with no further explanation, council-member Sue Beaver gave that motion, with fellow council-member Larry Collis gave a second. When asked all in favor Carter abstained along with council-member Susan Kiker.

“In the basis of transparency and in the fact that I stated before, that no one ever knew what the bills were, I will at least give the total for each department,” Carter said before reading each department’s total bills.

Mayor Seabolt responded to Carter’s reading of the totals by saying, “If they want a copy they can ask for public records.” 

This sparked a short exchange between Carter and Seabolt, with Carter ending, “I won’t read them individually any more, but for transparency purposes people need to know what the city bills are. Transparency is what I’m going to stand for.”

Council-member Jason Woody proposed having a print out of detailed monthly bills available for citizens at the regular monthly meetings.

Ultimately, Carter voted no to paying the bills to show opposition in how the City Council is handling getting the information to the public.

The department totals for bills in the month of Feb. are as follows:

  • Administration – $3,828.24
  • Police Department – $2,439.42
  • Court – $519.60
  • Street Department – $3,693.45
  • City Park – $295.39
  • Water and sewer – $29,889.85

Later in the meeting Carter proposed that the City put in place a system for filing expenditure reports and receiving reimbursement. Her proposal includes basing the City’s millage rate reimbursement on Federal standards and having clear cut forms so that reimbursement would be organized and uniform.

Another topic of financial discussion came about when City Attorney Cortney Stuart pointed out during the meeting that no resolution actually exists that requires spending over $500 to come before the council for approval.

This topic and the topic of expenditure reports are expected to be discussed by council in a workshop meeting.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

New council members halt previously unchecked city spending

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The City of McCaysville has been spending outside of their means and newly elected council members are making it a goal to bring the City’s spending back under control.

Revenue for the city for the month of  Jan. 2020 was $109,309.44 and the expenses came to  $201,502.12 

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Council member Gilita Carter spoke of the city’s financial situation. “We’re going to have to tighten our belts and look at things very very closely.”

Carter referenced that the procedure for the departments of the city is for any expense over $500 to be brought before the council for approval: “These things are put in place for a purpose and should be followed.” 

Carter had consulted with McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Staurt about the legalities of this process not being followed, and according to Stuart there are legal ramifications for city employees not following the protocol.

“Anything over $500 has to come before the council for approval,” Stuart explained, “That has not been followed in the past. The danger with that is that if it is not followed and the council does not approve it, the council member could then become personally liable for it and the city could have to sue the council member to pay that.”

Stuart added, “We are in a financial situation right now and we do need to have more oversight on it.” 

Among the departments that did not seek approval for spending was the McCaysville Police Department. After having several items questioned at the Jan. 2020 meeting, Chief of Police Michael Earley was once again questioned about his spending.

Several of the City’s officers had attended continuing education courses and while the expenses for these courses exceeded the $500 pre-approval limit, nothing pertaining to these courses were brought before council for approval.

“Let’s face it, we’re not doing very well with our expenses,” Carter said as she questioned Earley over his department’s spending.

Earley explained the state mandated the schooling process, “We have to have a minimum of 20 hours a year training or we lose our certification as a police officer. I have to have 40 hours a year as your Chief of Police training or I lose my certification.”

Earley, who is a post certified instructor, admitted that he is able to provide this training and moving forward would try to offer more in house solutions: “I know the city’s under some constraints with the budget. I’m going to do everything I can to make our budget fall down.” 

Carter did not hide her feelings as Earley made the request for the council to hire a full-time officer: “We have too many policemen in this city.”

Carter along with other council members did vote to hire the officer on full-time.

More financial woes came when Mayor Thomas Seabolt read from a prepared statement: “About the new city park, I made a mistake when we filed for the work that Holloway Trenching, LLC. completed on our new park.” 

Anna Hensley with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Executive Director of OneGeorgia informed Seabolt that the City would not be getting reimbursed for approximately $340,000 of money already spent on park renovations. This leaves taxpayers responsible for the bill.

Seabolt did tell council that the city could file a six month extension for the $300,000 left in grant money if they would like to move forward with completing the park, and assured everyone that all outlines of the grant would be followed in the future to receive reimbursement.

Some of the work left to complete the park includes renovating the building in the center of park, building two large pavillions, and purchasing and planting an estimated 70 trees per EPD (Environmental Protection Division) recommendation.

“Well we want the park finished for certain.” Council member Sue Beaver motioned to proceed but follow all rules laid out by the OneGeorgia grant. Council unanimously approved to move forward.

It was later brought to the attention of new council members that this “move forward” is how the city ended up on the hook for the money not reimbursed through the grant. The Revitalization Committee headed by Mayor Seabolt took the vote to proceed previously as an okay from council to not bring any purchases before them for approval.

Newly elected council member Susan Kiker wanted to be sure that this process would not be repeated.

“We need to see the plans,” Kiker said of proceeding with the park and added that anything over $500 was to brought before the council for approval. “We were elected by the taxpayers.”

Carter, who began her term providing more transparency to the citizens of McCaysville in regards to finance, said, “Everything is falling through the cracks. Everyone spent money like it is going out of style and that’s why we’re trying to get a hold on everything.”

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

McCaysville Revitalization Committee fires back at Council and Attorney

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The McCaysville Revitalization Committee had a lot to say after they felt that their work had been villainized by the City Council and the City Attorney in a previous meeting.

“It has been stated that this committee has way too much power and I am here to assure the council and the citizens that we have no governing power at all,” Chairman of the Revitalization Committee Zachary Welch spoke first on behalf of the group. “We can’t hire. We can’t fire, nor can we bind contracts or vote on anything on behalf of McCaysville.”

McCaysville, Fannin County, Georgia, City Council, Attorney, Revitalization Committee, Chairman, Zachary Welch, Ann Williams, Marilyn McNeill, Mayor, Thomas Seabolt, Susan Kiker, Cortney Stuart, Michael Earley, Spending, Finance

Council discussing the Revitalization Committee at the previous meeting.

Welch added of the committee’s members, “The make-up of the Revitalization Committee is well represented with people who have been and are invested in this community.”

Welch pointed out that the purpose of the committee was to bring new ideas on ways to improve the city and cited some of the accomplishments that this group has brought forth. Among these accomplishments Welch pointed out that the committee had acquired new park benches to tune of approximately $51,000 and all of this had come in the form of donations.

Welch also listed flower boxes and hanging baskets throughout the city, with these and other area landscape projects being undertaken and maintained through donated material and labor.

The Revitalization Committee has also taken advantage of an LMIG grant (Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant) that had been available to the city for some time with the city not utilizing it. The use of this grant provided a sidewalk from the Welcome Center to the City Park.

“Time, talent, energy and hard work,” Welch said of the committee and stressed, “all as a donation (to the city). This committee has excelled at making this happen.”

“This committee has helped raise over $600,000 in new money being received for improvements to our community in the last 2 years,” Welch explained and stated that beyond this the committee had garnered the attention of both local and state governments and was  recently awarded the Community Service Award from Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.

Committee member Ann Williams was less subdued when addressing the council and McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Staurt.

“That is untrue,” Williams spoke to Stuart about whether the grant writing for the city park had been given to a person in Blairsville to complete, “It’s a lie.” 

Stuart clarified that while she had heard that Williams, who had been paid by the city to do grant writing, did hire someone from Blairsville for this reason, that she had never stated this rumor was true. Stuart did not back down when Williams confronted her over her comments of the committee having too much power: “Yes ma’am, I do believe that.”

“Getting out and begging money for flowers and benches,” Williams retorted to Staurt’s remark, “if you call that power, then I’ve got it and I’ll accept it and I am proud of everything I’ve done.” 

City Council member and Revitalization Committee member Sue Beaver came to Williams’ defense, “Ann is such a hard worker and we just have to give her all the credit because she works 8 to 12…14 hours a day, volunteer. She does not get paid.”

Beaver added that Williams had been selected because of her previous work in similar scenarios to that of McCaysville. 

The meeting had to be called to order during Williams’ address by Chief of Police Michael Earley after citizens in the audience began to go back and forth with Williams.

Committee member Marilyn MacNeill was last to address the council:  “It’s unbelievable that the Revitalization Committee is here this evening defending the work and the accomplishments that’s been made over the last two years.” 

“Let me make this perfectly clear, to be lectured or called on the carpet by an attorney is just not going to happen,” McNeill spoke of Stuart’s suggestion to have the committee present to make the boundaries of their roles clear.

McNeill ended wishing everyone well moving forward and added, “It has been my pleasure working with the McCaysville Revitalization Committee and the council, and I thank those who have been supportive and with that I’m stepping off of the Revitalization Committee.”

“None of this stuff is coming before the council.” Staurt said not only of spending by the committee but also of the grant process. “Going forward perhaps a resolution would be if a member of the Revitalization Committee, it could be the council members on there, come every month and there’s a report as to what’s going on with it (the committee’s progress).” 

Mayor Thomas Seabolt appointed new City Council member Susan Kiker to sit on the Revitalization Committee, taking the seat vacated by former council member Rodeney Patterson. The seat vacated by Marilyn McNeill remains open.

 

 

Featured Image courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

New council shows more transparency in city meeting

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The new year brought in new faces to the McCaysville City Council, and these new members wasted no time stepping away from the status quo of city council meetings. 

Council member Gilita Carter brought pause to the meeting’s proceedings early on when a motion was made to “pay the bills for January”.

“I’ve been coming to a lot of meetings and it always comes up, about paying the bills,” Carter spoke to the Mayor and Council, “Well, I often sit there and wonder, what bills? Whose bills?”

In meetings past, a motion would come to pay the city’s bills for the month, followed by a second, and unanimous approval. There was never given any explanation or break down of what these bills were or an amount to be paid.

Carter, who is assigned to look at city financials, continued, “We (the city) did operate at a loss and we need to look closely at these things and keep track.” She followed this statement by reading a detailed list of the monthly bills to be approved broken down by department.

The department totals for the month were as follows:

  • Administration – $1,633.37
  • Police Department – $17,190.74
  • Court – $519.50
  • Street Department – $1,272.94
  • City Park – $1419.39
  • Water and Sewer – $15,971.69

After completing the list of bills due, Carter questioned, “Have all of these, to this point, been approved? Is there anything on here that had to go before prior approval?”

McCaysville City Clerk Nancy Godfrey clarified the spending process of the city for new council members: “We do have a policy or resolution in place that anything over $500 is supposed to be approved by council.”

“The water department is different. All of those things don’t have to come before the council because they’re chemicals that are required to treat water,” Godfrey explained, but added that there was one item in the department’s bills that was questionable.

No representative from the Water and Sewer Department was present to give insight to council about this item.

McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley was present and did explain his department’s bills that had a total over $500.

One of these bills in particular accounted for the bulk of the department’s expenditures for the month. $11,300.87 was requested to pay Resurgens Orthopaedics.

This item was easily explained by Earley. Resurgens Orthopaedics is where suspect James Larry Parris, Jr. was treated after the officer involved shooting that took place in Aug. 2019.

“Once, you discharge your weapon on someone, they automatically become in custody,” Earley explained and continued, “so we assume all of their medical bills from that point forward and while they’re in jail.”

There were a few more items listed for the police department that had needed prior council approval. Council member Jason Woody questioned Earley, “Was it in the budget to purchase those items?” 

Earley answered Woody that all purchases were in the budget and offered to code his budget showing where each line item is taken from.

In the police department bills was an invoice for $702.08 for new tires (including balancing and mounting) for a Tahoe.

While Earley agreed that moving forward he would seek approval on expenditures over $500, he added, “There’s a few things in a police department that, if we have a few blow outs on our vehicles, I can’t wait to get tires for a vehicle. I have to get our vehicle back on the road.” 

Earley suggested that he meet with council to go over necessities for the department and get an ongoing pre-approval of certain items that his department needs to function immediately, so that if need arose he would already have the go ahead to purchase.

Council agreed to this suggestion by Earley.

Moving forward the City Council agreed that all department purchases over $500, that is nonessential for the department’s continued operation, would need to have prior approval before spending can take place.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

McCaysville : Are taxpayers on the hook for $342,459.35 in lost grant money?

Community, Featured Stories, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Reimbursement of grant money, or lack thereof, was a major point of discussion at the Jan. McCaysville City Council meeting, and based on the discussion, taxpayers could be on the hook for over $300,000 in park renovations.

“Mayor, I hate to beat a dead horse, but have we got our money back for the park yet?” former Council Member Rodney Patterson spoke during public commentary.

The approved grant for the City of McCaysville from Georgia One was in the amount of up to $500,000 and was to be used for improvements to the city park. According to the grant the city is responsible for any initial costs and if guidelines are properly followed, the city would be reimbursed for monies spent.McCaysville, Georgia, City Council, City Attorney, Mayor, Georgia One, Grant, Revitalization Committee, Park, Thomas Seabolt, Rodney Patterson, Cortney Stuart, Ann Williams, Reimbursement, Gilta Carter, Jason Woody, Larry Collis, Susan Kiker, Sue Beaver

McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Staurt stated that the grant had very “specific guidelines” and while she personally had not had any involvement with the grant process, she is aware of the issues being faced with getting reimbursement.

“There are reasons that it has been denied, or is in the process of being approved, that is a better way to put it,” Stuart spoke to the citizens and council,  “The quick answer is, they (Georgia One) need more information. It needs to be resubmitted with the correct information, and then at that point we will know whether or not they approved it.” 

If not approved, tax payers could be shelling out $342,459.35 to cover the costs of work already completed and this amount according to Patterson was never approved by the council to be spent: “I’m still trying to figure out how you (Mayor Seabolt) spent $342,459.35 out of the city budget and never got approval for it.”

The grant outlines that any jobs over $100,000 must be put out to bid. The city, however, used a sole source provider to complete these jobs. The jobs were finished and paid for in Sep. 2019.

“That didn’t happen,” Stuart said of the city receiving bids but added, “My understanding, there were bids, they just wasn’t submitted to the city.” 

Now the city is in the process of tracking down these possible bids in order to resubmit paperwork for reimbursement.

So how did the City of McCaysville end up in this predicament?

According to Patterson and Stuart, there was a series of missteps that took place in the process.

Initially Paragon Consulting Group, Inc. a company out of Griffin, Ga., was hired to oversee the work done at the park, but several people felt that their spending was more than necessary, and upon the recommendation of Mayor Thomas Seabolt and citizen Ann Williams, Paragon Consulting Group, Inc. was let go.

“I was opposed to ever hiring Paragon in the first place,” Stuart spoke on this move and added of who took over the project, “In my opinion I think the Revitalization Committee is great but they should not have that power and they have too much power right now. They have way too much power. They are making council decisions and they should not be able to.”

While Stuart stated that the Revitalization Committee is “not a bad thing”, she did feel that specific guidelines need to be publicly made clear to the committee, namely that they cannot purchase on behalf of the city and that all purchases should be approved by the city council: “I’m not saying the Revitalization Committee is bad. I’m saying, somehow, all this money got spent and the council didn’t approve it.”

“It has got us in problems,” Stuart acknowledged about the actions taken by the Revitalization Committee without City Council oversight.

Another point of contention surrounds Ann Williams, who was paid $15,000 by the city for continuing the grant writing process.

It was noted during commentary that Williams was paid out of General Fund money that would not be reimbursed and that she had subcontracted the work to a person in Blairsville.

On the subject of Ann Williams receiving the grant writing contract, Stuart shared her opinion, “I do know that she got a contract. Which I was completely opposed to.”

Patterson questioned Mayor Seabolt about Williams and the possibility of the city not being reimbursed, “Does she got to pay back the $15,000 if we lose the grant? Or did we just give it to her?”

City Council plans to meet with the Revitalization Committee to discuss moving forward on city improvements in the future and establish clear guidelines between the two groups.

The city is also in the process of gathering more information to resubmit to Georgia One in hopes that the $342,459.35 will be reimbursed.

When questioned directly by Patterson about when the city will see the reimbursement, Seabolt simply replied, “I’m working on it. It will come. Just don’t worry about it.”

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

McCaysville Mayor Seabolt criticized over job performance

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The final 2019 meeting of the McCaysville City Council was anything but business as usual, as conversations aimed at the Mayor became heated and accusations came to light.

Council member Rodney Patterson, who ran against Mayor Thomas Seabolt in the recent city election, used his last meeting with the council to “clear his conscious”. Patterson brought to the forefront some of the issues that he felt the re-elected Seabolt was not being completely transparent about.

The first of Patterson’s reveals were the Mayor’s reimbursement filings for the use of his personal vehicle to conduct city business. According to Patterson, Seabolt had turned in $2,055 in claimed vehicle expenditures last year.

McCaysville, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Police, Thomas Seabolt, Rodney Patterson, Richard Wagner, Attorney, Cortney Stuart, Sue Beaver, Beavers Home Improvement, Tamberlyn Tanner, Park, Budget, CDL, Illegal, Expenses, Michael Earley, Park, Restrooms

Mayor Thomas Seabolt received criticism at the Dec. 2019 City Council meeting.

“That’s equivalent to 822 gallons of gas at $2.50 a gallon,” Patterson said explaining his concern and added, “That’s 12,335 miles at 15 miles per gallon.”

Patterson questioned Seabolt if he had done that many miles in less than a 2 square mile city. Seabolt responded, “I might have. I don’t know.”

Seabolt pointed out that the amount also covers “wear and tear” on the vehicle and that he had adhered to the City Charter when turning in his expenditures.

Council member Richard Wagner came to Seabolt’s defense stating that the expenditures also cover vehicle insurance: “I don’t think it’s being abused at all.” 

“I’ve never turned in no expense,” Patterson retorted, stating that he has used his personal vehicle for city business as well,  “I figured the $200 a month (city council salary) they give me was fair enough for me to do my traveling.” 

Patterson then turned his attention to recent renovations being completed at the city park. $28,000 was set aside for renovations of the park’s restrooms. This remodel was to include five toilets and one urinal.

Beavers Home Improvement was put in charge of the job and the city did manage to stay under budget only spending $23,346. However, renovations were not done as expected. Patterson pointed out that the restrooms ended up only having 3 toilets and one urinal, and that no insulation or heating and cooling were put into place, so the restrooms could not even be left open during the Winter months due to the threat of freezing pipes.

A citizen in the audience, a former plumber with over 30 years experience, chimed in on the restroom issue.

“I’ve never seen a job that was done so shabby,” the citizen addressed Seabolt speaking of pipes being installed at improper heights and the lack of quality of the fixtures.

The citizen went on to express his feelings on the possibility of nepotism playing a role: “This man is not a plumber. He is not a qualified contractor. He’s not licensed, but yet he gets a job to go down there and gets paid by the city and his mother’s on the council. This is not right.”

Wondering why the job wasn’t inspected before payment was given the citizen summed up his feelings by stating, “I’ve never in my life seen my tax dollars thrown down the drain like I did down there.”

Although the restroom remodel came in under budget, the park budget itself is $42,459 over the original $300,000 agreed upon by council to spend. Patterson asked Seabolt why the city had not been reimbursed through grant money for the amount spent on the park, and wondered if the city would see the reimbursement at all. Patterson felt the bid process was not done properly by the city and this could disqualify them for reimbursement.

Lastly, Patterson questioned why city employees were driving a Class A vehicle without a CDL license. 

According to the United States Department of Transportation, a Class A CDL is required to drive tractor-trailer, or combination vehicles that have a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or higher with the towed portion of the vehicle that weighing more than 10,000 lbs.

“Why did we not send them to Tri County?” Patterson questioned about the licensing, saying that he had brought this issue to the council before and it was brushed aside. “I just want to know why our employees is driving around illegally in a CDL Vehicle, and there is not a single employee in the City of McCaysville that is licensed to drive it.”

Patterson pointed out the liability to the city and asked City Attorney Cortney Stuart what would be the end result if there were an accident in the vehicle without proper licensing. Stuart replied, “It’s a problem.”

Seabolt also took criticism from citizens in the audience. 

Tamberlyn Tanner addressed the workload that McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley has taken on. Earley gives monthly updates at City Council meetings, and usually these updates pertain to more than just police business.

In these updates Earley will often speak of upkeep taking place within the city. It is clear from the updates that Earley is the point of contact on many projects including roadwork, bridge inspection, and city infrastructure.

Tanner expressed that these responsibilities should fall on the Mayor and not the city’s Chief of Police.

“How are you supposed to do your job plus do his job?” Tanner spoke to Earley and then turned to Seabolt, “You’ve added things on his plate that you should be doing and you should be taking care of, not him.”

Tanner said that Earley’s main concern should be to protect and serve the citizens of the city, and wonders how he can continue to do so when new responsibilities are being added to his plate regularly.

This turned into a heated debate between Tanner and Seabolt about Seabolt’s inability or unwillingness to handle the responsibilities of mayor with Seabolt finally stating to Tanner, “I’m not going to sit here and listen to you.”

“Well, you will because I pay taxes here,” Tanner replied. 

Seabolt offered no further explanations or defense during the public comments and adjourned the meeting.

 

 

Featured Image : Previous McCaysville City Council meeting. (L-R) Rodney Patterson, Richard Wagner, Thomas Seabolt, and Larry Collis

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Sunday Alcohol Sales Pass, McCaysville Election Results

Election, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Polls have closed and votes have been tallied in the City of McCaysville 2019 General Election.

The hot topic on the ballot for this 2019 election was Sunday alcohol sales within city limits. The proposal and reading of the new ordinance was met with little opposition and overwhelming favor at public hearings and City Council meetings.

Georgia, McCayville, Alcohol, Sunday, Election, Early Voting, City Hall, Mayor, City Council, Larry Collis, Sue Beaver, Gilta Carter, Jason Woody, Susan Kiker, Steve Stanley, Tamberlyn Tanner, Nathan Turpin, Rodney Patterson, Thomas Seabolt, Attorney, Cortney Staurt

Although, there appeared to be little opposition to the new ordinance the final count of the votes told a different story with the votes being split on the yes/no question.

Ordinance 19-08-13 currently reads that a licensed establishment within city limits would be allowed “Sunday sales of malt beverages and wine for consumption on the premises”.

These sales can include beer or wine (hard ciders will also be allowed) on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.

Voters ultimately decided to allow these sales with a final tally of:

  • Yes (in favor) – 90
  • No (opposed) – 87

Thomas Seabolt will remain as Mayor of McCaysville, beating out opponent Rodney Patterson. Incumbents Larry Collis  and Sue Beaver will also remain as members on the City Council. Newcomers Gilta Carter, Susan Kiker, and Jason Woody will take the three seats vacated by previous council members.

***These election results are unofficial until being certified by the Secretary of State’s office***

ELECTION RESULTS

MAYOR

  • Thomas Seabolt – 117
  • Rodney Patterson – 63

CITY COUNCIL

  • Jason Woody – 146
  • Gilta Carter -131
  • Larry Collis – 122
  • Susan Kiker – 120
  • Sue Beaver – 112
  • Steve Stanley – 93
  • Tamberlyn Tanner – 48
  • Nathan Turpin – 69

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Early voting begins in McCaysville

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Voters will have a lot to decide in the upcoming Nov.5 election in the City of McCaysville. Early voting officially opens Monday, Oct. 14 and will run through Friday, Nov. 1. 

Early voters can cast their ballots at the McCaysville City Hall, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The hot topic on the ballot for this 2019 election is Sunday alcohol sales within city limits. The proposal and reading of the new ordinance was met with little opposition and overwhelming favor at public hearings and City Council meetings.

Ordinance 19-08-13 currently reads that a licensed establishment within city limits would be allowed “Sunday sales of malt beverages and wine for consumption on the premises”. 

These sales can include beer or wine (hard ciders will also be allowed) on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.

Establishments, serving alcohol, who stay open beyond 45 minutes of the allowed alcohol sales time window are subject to legal action. No alcohol sales will be allowed on Christmas Day in city limits.

Voters will be asked to answer yes or no to the following question:

“Shall the governing authority of the City of McCaysville Georgia be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages for beverage purposes by the drink?”

Georgia, McCayville, Alcohol, Sunday, Election, Early Voting, City Hall, Mayor, City Council, Larry Collis, Sue Beaver, Gilta Carter, Jason Woody, Susan Kiker, Steve Stanley, Tamberlyn Tanner, Nathan Turpin, Rodney Patterson, Thomas Seabolt, Attorney, Cortney Staurt, Ballot

Incumbent Thomas Seabolt (L) will face Challenger Rodney Seabolt (R) for the seat of Mayor.

McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Stuart clarified that the current ordinance will not allow for the sale of hard liquor even though wording on the ballot suggests otherwise. Staurt explained that by law the term “distilled spirits” had to be included on the ballot.

“Distilled spirits is liquor,” Staurt said explaining the wording,  “however, in the City of McCaysville, now as the ordinance stands, there is only malt beverages and wine allowed inside the City of McCaysville.” 

Staurt did confirm that future councils would have the option of amending the alcohol ordinance to allow liquor sales.

New faces will also be seen on the City Council following the 2019 election. Current council members Tommy Quintrell and Richard Wagner will not be seeking re-election. Council member Rodney Patterson will also be vacating his seat in his bid to become McCaysville’s next mayor.

In total at least 3 seats on the 5 person council will be vacant for newcomers. Voters will decide the next 5 members by popular vote and will have the following to choose from:

  • Larry Collis (Incumbent)
  • Sue Beaver (Incumbent)
  • Gilta Carter
  • Jason Woody
  • Susan Kiker
  • Steve Stanley
  • Tamberlyn Tanner 
  • Nathan Turpin

Voters will also need to decide between incumbent Thomas Seabolt or challenger Rodney Patterson for seat of Mayor.

The General Election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5. Voters can cast their ballots at McCaysville City Hall on the day of the General Election or during the designated early voting times.

 

 

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Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

McCaysville holds public hearing for proposed budget

Community, News
McCaysville, Georgia, Ga, Budget, 2019, 2020, fiscal year, city council, mayor, Larry Collis, Sue Beaver, Rodney Patterson, Richard Wagner,Tommy Quintrell, Thomas Seabolt, SPLOST, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, Administration, Police Department, Street Department, City Park, Municipal Court, Water Distribution, Sewer, Water Treatment Plant

McCaysville, Ga. – The McCaysville City Council held a public hearing on Aug. 29 to discuss the city’s 2019 – 2020 budget.

Read by McCaysville Mayor Thomas Seabolt, the resolution to adopt the 2019 – 2020 budget was met with no opposition by citizens who were present for the hearing.

According to the proposed budget the City General Fund is projecting a revenue of $1,455,526.00 and projecting expenses to be $1,455,526.00. Similarly the city’s Water and Sewer Service is projecting a revenue of $2,105,450.00 and projecting expenses to run $2,105,450.00.

These projections give the City of McCaysville a balanced budget for the 2019 – 2020 fiscal year that will end June 20, 2020.

“I think the budget’s wonderful,” Councilmember Sue Beaver shared her opinion of the proposed budget noting that the city needs everything that is in the expenditures in order to function.

Points of interest in the budget include the following departments:

Administrative proposed budget : $234,259.00

Police Department proposed budget : $585,047.00

Street Department proposed budget : $245,615.00

City Park proposed budget : $374,250.00

Municipal Court proposed budget : $16,355.00

Water Distribution proposed budget : $1,614,995.00

Sewer Collection and Disposal proposed budget : $389,455.00

Water Treatment Plant proposed budget : $101,000.00

 

General Fund projected revenue : $1,455,526.00

 

SPLOST projected revenue : $333,020.00

SPLOST Capital Outlay proposed expenditures : $202,500.00

The proposed budget for the City of McCaysville 2019 – 2020 fiscal year is expected to be voted in unanimously on Sep. 10 at the councils’ next regular monthly meeting.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

City Council Approves New Speed Limits

City Council, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Blue Ridge City Council approved new speed limits during their meeting on Tuesday, August 13, 2019.

They are as follows:

Street Name / Current Speed Limit / New Speed Limit

Ada Street from Mountain to City Limit sign / 30 / 20

Board Town Road / 25 / 20

Church Street / 25 / 20

Cook Street / 25 / 20

Davis Street / 25 / 20

Depot Street / 25 / 20

Old 76 from City Limit to Green Street. School Zone add flashing light 20mph. / 45 / 35

Old 76 from Green Street to Orvin Lance Connector / 35 / 30

East Main Street from Old 76 (Lynn Kemp) to McKinney Street / 35 / 25

East Main Street from McKinney Street to Church Street / 20 / 10

East Main Street from Church Street to Mountain Street / 5 / 5

East Main Street from Mountain Street to Old 76 / 30 / 20

East Second Street from East First Street to Church Street / 30 / 25

Industrial Blvd. from East First Street to Ouida Street (City Limit) / 35 / 30

East Highland Street / 25 / 20

Haight Street / 25 / 20

Jones Street / 25 / 20

Josh Hall Road / 25 / 20

Orvin Lance Drive / 25 / 20

McKinney Street / 25 / 20

Messer Street / 25 / 20

Milam Street / 25 / 20

Mountain Hideway Trail / 25 / 20

Mountain Street / 25 / 20

Mountain Tops Street / 25 / 20

Mountain Tops Circle / 25 / 20

Mountain Tops Road / 25 / 20

Old 76 from Orvin Lane, Connector to Marina / 25 / 30

Orchard Blvd. / 25 / 20

Orvin Lance Connector / 25 / 20

Ouida Street / 25 / 20

Porter Road / 25 / 20

Ridge Street / 25 / 20

River Street / 25 / 20

Roberts Way / 25 / 15

Scenic Drive / 25 / 20

Sierra Lane / 25 / 20

State Street / 25 / 20

Summit Street / 25 / 20

Trackside Lane / 25 / 20

Waldroup Lane / 25 / 20

West First Street from McKinney Street to Depot Street / 35 / 25

West First Street from Depot Street to Highway 515 / 35 / 30

West Second Street / – / 20

West Fain Street / – / 20

West Highland Street / 25 / 20

West Main Street from McKinney Street to Mountain Street / 30 / 20

Willa Street / 25 / 20

Wilson Street / 25 / 20

Windy Ridge Road / 25 / 20

Highway 515, US 76 from Bridge to Bridge (City Limit to City Limit) / 55 / 45
 
 
 
Board member Rhonda Haight made the motion to pass, Board member Nathan Fitts seconded, with the Board voting unanimously.

No changes were made to the proposed limits since the initial draft and first reading.
 
 
 

 
 
 
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Street preaching allowed. McCaysville City Council clarifies new ordinance.

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – McCaysville City Council made attempts to clarify the purpose and the parameters surrounding the newly adopted “Vendor Ordinance” at their regular July monthly meeting.

The ordinance, adopted in June, was set in place for public safety according to council. By requiring vendors to obtain a permit before hitting the streets of the city, it allows for city officials to monitor activity and put in place necessary precautions ahead of events.

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Richard Peacock’s post via Facebook regarding the new city ordinance.

The ordinance requires street vendors to apply at City Hall for a permit, and there is a $25.00 application fee. This application fee is waived for nonprofit organizations and these groups can receive a permit for free.

The McCaysville City Council was moved to pass this ordinance due to the growth of the city and its festivals. Controversy was met, however, when Richard Peacock an open air preacher, posted to Facebook that the ordinance had stopped a young missionary from spreading his testimony.

“This is Aiden, he was saved last year and this year God laid it on his heart to be a missionary. Last week he handed out nearly 200 gospel tracts,” Peacock’s June 30 Facebook post read and goes on to say, “He (Aiden) wanted to go again but I have to tell him McCaysville, will not allow it without a permit. They passed an ordinance last week stopping Christians from sharing the gospel on the public sidewalk.”

FetchYourNews reached out to Peacock asking who had informed him that Aiden could no longer preach on the streets of McCaysville, but we are still awaiting a reply.

Peacock’s post fueled outrage by citizens over the new ordinance, and the McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley even became involved when he publicly replied to the social media post stating: “I have advised Brother Peacock as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the City of McCaysville I will not nor will my department enforce the ordinance and take away the right for some one [sic] to spread the word of God!”

After the backlash via social media, Councilmember Rodney Patterson addressed those present at the meeting: “Lets go ahead and clear it up. It was never meant for a preacher not to be able to preach on the street. I do want to say that. I would never take a fellar’s rights away who wants to preach. It’s freedom of speech.”

Patterson did clarify that while preaching on the streets did not require a permit, if a preacher were to hand out material such as pamphlets and gospel tracts a permit would be required, and that the permit is free for nonprofit organizations.

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McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley replies to Peacock’s social media post.

Jerry Rice, Reverend of Midway Baptist Church, was present at the meeting and inquired about if a permit would be necessary for his organization to hand out candy and gospel tracts in October, as they have done for many years.

Patterson replied to Rice’s inquiry, “That organization would have to have a permit.”

McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Stuart clarified, “You just need a permit. You also can’t pass out Satanic literature without a permit. It’s just meant for anybody, that’s going to do anything, to have a permit so that the city can monitor it and see what is going on.”

“It’s nothing against nobody,” Patterson added to Stuart’s comments and pointed out that in instances where a controversial group might be handing out literature or demonstrating, that the city would need to know to implement measures such as crowd control.

Stuart also clarified, “The city ordinance only concerns city property.” 

“So if you’re in the IGA parking lot and never touch a city street ain’t nothing we can do to you,” Patterson added, “That’s personal property.”

McCaysville Mayor Thomas Seabolt told the concerned citizens that the city would be holding a workshop to discuss the ordinance further: “I have talked to our lawyer, we’re going to have a workshop in a couple of months. We’ll work on something. I don’t know what will come of it, but we’ll have a workshop.”

With some clarification being given as to the rules of the new ordinance, FYN spoke with Police Chief Earley as to whether he would now enforce the ordinance in instances of preachers and missionaries handing out material without a permit, Earley replied, “I’ve not looked into that yet.”

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

City Council Approves Derelict Property Ordinance, Short-Term Rental Ordinance, and Seeks to have Third Party Perform Building Inspections

City Council, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Blue Ridge City Council voted to approve the Derelict Property Ordinance, Short-Term Rental Ordinance and made it known that they seek to have a third party perform city building inspections during their meeting in Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

The Derelict Property Ordinance, or ordinance BR2019-08, has been the topic of much debate since its first reading on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

The 36 page ordinance, now 35 pages, focuses on what the city considers to be “derelict and blighted property within the City”, and is intended as a means to allow the city to better deal with such properties.

Many believe that the ordinance may have unintended consequences however.

The only changes made to the original document were that the mayor is to designate the enforcement officer, the removal of the tax break for redeveloping, and the time to respond was changed from 14 to 15 days.

Council Member Nathan Fitts made the motion to approve the ordinance, seconded by Council Member Robbie Cornelius. Council Member Kenneth Gaddis and Council Member Harold Herndon voted in opposition. With Council Member Rhonda Haight absent, Mayor Donna Whitener broke the tie voting in favor of the ordinance.

The Short-Term Rental Ordinance, or Ordinance BR2019-07 was also approved by the council.

This ordinance deals with a residential dwelling unit that is provided for lodging for a period of time not to exceed 30 consecutive days and the sub-divisions they’re allowed in.

There is now a process for a special land-use permit that allows people to avoid re-zoning a property in the middle of a residential area and instead notify their neighbors and appear before the City Council to request special permission for the short-term rental.

Neighbors may then voice their opinion and the council may allow the rental for a period of 12 months, at which time the council may revoke the permissions granted.

Council Member Robbie Cornelius made the motion to approve the ordinance, seconded by Council Member Harold Herndon. Council Member Kenneth Gaddis and Council Member Nathan Fitts voted in opposition. With Council Member Rhonda Haight absent, Mayor Donna Whitener broke the tie voting in favor of the ordinance.

Richard Edinge, Vice President of CPL

The City Council also made it known that they are currently seeking to have a third party perform city building inspections, similar to how they currently have a third party perform city electrical inspections.

Because of House Bill 493, local government has a fixed amount of time to review a permit application for completeness. If the local government fails at this, then the developer may hire an architect or engineer to do these inspections through their own finances. This information is then shared with the local government, which then has only a few days to determine if the review was accurate.

Because of this, the City Council heard from Richard Edinge, Vice President of Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) to help determine whether or not they wish to use the CPL firm for inspections moving forward.

No decision has been made on this matter as of yet, however, so be sure to stay tuned for future updates on the matter!

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McCaysville Police respond to the growth of the city

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – The City of McCaysville continues to grow with renovation and innovation taking over the small town. This growth brings about economic opportunity and aesthetic upgrades, but with the good also comes the bad. Simply put, anytime you have more people, you will see a rise in crime.

The City of McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley spoke to city council members about the workload of his department and the role that law enforcement is playing in keeping the city safe.

Officer Bill Higdon receives officer of the month in March.

Currently the police department has 16 employees, some of which are full-time and others part-time.  Of these employees the city boasts three specialized certified instructors, an arson investigator, a criminal investigator, a hostage negotiator, an FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) certified sniper, and a full tactical team.

“Our town, as we know, is undergoing a continual growing cycle,” Earley stated explaining the need for the growth in his department and adding, “which deserve the most professional protection needed to best serve the citizens, business owners, and tourists.”

Last month, May 2019, the McCaysville Police Department responded to 41 dispatch calls, 228 phone calls, 23 walk-ins, and 92 vehicle stops. This resulted in 41 citations being given, 4 arrests being made, and 46 warnings being issued.

The Criminal Investigation Division currently has several open investigations including a case of statutory rape and a case of burglary with warrants expected to be issued soon.

Earley also made mention to a drug related case, “We are actively pursuing a drug investigation with acid / heroin.”

Appointed to Chief of Police on March 16, 2016, Earley gave the stats for the department since his time in that position: “Since my appointment, we have made 100 misdemeanor arrests, 40 felony arrests, and of that number 56 were drug arrests.”

The department, also since that Earley’s appointment, has issued 654 uniform citations and currently have 14 active investigations and 28 active pending warrants.

“Last year alone our department answered 1660 for services from the Fannin County 911 center,” Earley spoke highly of his staff’s work.

Earley compared these numbers to the statistics of previous years. In 2015 only 11 arrests were made for the entire year, and the previous year of 2014 only saw three arrests.

“I appreciate everything you all have done for me and helping me bring the police department where it needs to be. I feel very confident in what we have as a police department now,” Earley addressed the McCaysville City Council for their role in making the department “a professional law enforcement agency”.

Council member Sue Beaver replied to Earley, “Speaking on behalf of the council, thank you. You do a great job for us.”

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

City Council Backs Derelict Property Ordinance

City Council, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Blue Ridge City Council backed their newly proposed Derelict Property Ordinance during their meeting on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, citing improvements to current ordinance.

One of the structures targeted by the Derelict Property Ordinance. Click to enlarge.

As one would expect, the ordinance was drafted in response to currently standing structures that are in need of repair. There were several specific locations the city has been struggling with, some definitely worse than others.

The ordinance was drafted by attorney James A. Balli in response to Jeff Stewart (Zoning, Land Development, Project Manager of Blue Ridge, Ga.) and the City Council’s requests for a solution to the properties in question.

Suzie Soave, a sales associate at local real estate company, had initially asked Stewart what could be done in response to comments such as “why some of these structures are allowed to be eyesores and possibly dangerous to the neighborhood and why ordinances are not being enforced.”

There is already a similar ordinance in place, though City Clerk Kelsey Ledford states that the current ordinance is “outdated, completely open to interpretation which encourages selective enforcement and would allow the mayor and council to without notice order an abatement of a nuisance property. If notice was provided the only hearing is in front of the mayor and council, no court or no warrant. If a citizen disobeyed the council order, they are subject to arrest.”

Another one of the structures targeted by the Derelict Property Ordinance. Click to enlarge.

She continues that this proposed ordinance “removes far-reaching power from the mayor and council in this area of law”, and “removes the ability for someone to be arrested for non-compliance, and adds procedural safeguards require by the state to protect citizens.”

Council member Rhonda Haight says that this ordinance will allow Police Chief Johnny Scearce to better do his job, with Mayor Donna Whitener stating that the new ordinance would be much more straightforward in regards to what Scearce’s responsibilities would be regarding enforcement of the ordinance.

Only one citizen signed up to speak against the ordinance; Michael Eaton, former Blue Ridge Zoning Board of Appeals, stating that he believes this ordinance will have unintended consequences, and thinks that Mayor Whitener may use it in her favor.

Many in attendance seemed to have concerns despite the council’s efforts to distinguish fact from fiction regarding the new ordinance, however.

Another view of the first building. Clearly not in as bad of shape as the second. It is located near the other building. Click to enlarge.

Only one council member, Kenneth Gaddis, spoke out stating that he believes that the council is rushing the ordinance, citing that tax payer money is on the line for something that he believes the council has had little discussion about, especially considering that the first reading was of a draft that still needed modification.

The ordinance is set to be voted on and potentially passed during the councils July meeting (currently scheduled for Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 6 pm), and those who wish to speak before the vote should contact City Clerk Kelsey Ledford to sign up.

(Apologies for the quality of the second half of the video. A different recording device had to be used, but this shouldn’t be an issue in future recordings).

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Can the City of Blue Ridge now seize your property? Here’s what a new ordinance has to say…

City Council, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Blue Ridge City Council held a first reading of their Derelict Property Ordinance, or ordinance BR2019-08 during their meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

This 36 page ordinance focuses on what the city considers to be “derelict and blighted property within the City”, and as many citizens are rightfully concerned, gives the city power to do anything from raising taxes on such properties to seizing the property entirely.

Properties that are potentially in violation of the new ordinance are all of those the city deems “[…]is unfit for human habitation or commercial, industrial, or business use or occupancy due to inadequate provisions for ventilation, light, air, sanitation, or open spaces; poses an imminent harm to life or other property due to fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, storm or other natural catastrophe; is vacant and used in the commission of drug crimes; is occupied and used repeatedly for the commission of illegal activities, including facilitating organized crime or criminal enterprises after written notice to the owner of such activities conducted therein;  is abandoned; or otherwise constitutes an endangerment to the public health or safety as a result of unsanitary or unsafe conditions[…]” (lines 124 – 133).

The ordinance doesn’t state who exactly would be in charge of inspecting such properties, but that they are empowered to “Investigate and inspect the condition of dwellings, buildings, structures, and private property within the City to determine those structures and property uses in violation of this article. Entries onto private property shall be made in a manner so as to cause the least possible inconvenience; provided, however, the enforcement official shall not enter into any occupied dwelling or structure without first having obtained the consent of the owner or a person in possession. In those cases where consent to entry is denied after reasonable request, the enforcement official may apply to the municipal court for an administrative search warrant upon showing probable cause that a violation exists.” (lines 149 – 159).

If the property is found to be in violation of the new ordinance, the city ultimately will make the decision as to whether or not the property is worth having cleaned up and repaired or demolished completely.

“If the repair, alteration, or improvement of the said dwelling, building, or structure can be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the present value of the dwelling, building, or structure, requiring the owner, within the time specified in the order, to repair, alter, or improve such dwelling, building, or structure so as to bring it into full compliance with the applicable codes relevant to the cited violation; and, if applicable, to secure by closing the structure so that it cannot be used in connection with the commission of drug crimes; or If the repair, alteration, or improvement of the said dwelling, building, or structure in order to bring it into full compliance with applicable codes relevant to the cited violations cannot be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the present value of the dwelling, building, or structure, requiring the owner, within the time specified in the order, to demolish and remove such dwelling, building, or structure and all debris from the property. (lines 232 – 246).

The ordinance also states that those who are in possession of “[…]a common, ill-governed and disorderly house, to the encouragement of gaming, drinking, illicit drug activity, or other misbehavior, to the common disturbance of the neighborhood or orderly citizens, shall be guilty of an offense against the City[…]”.  (lines 405-408).

The enforcement penalties? Fines to having public water services removed from certain properties.

“Any person who willfully refuses to comply with the provisions of this article shall be cited to appear before the municipal court and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than $500.00; each day of continued violation, after citation, shall constitute a separate offense. In addition to the foregoing fines, upon conviction, the director shall discontinue the public water supply service at any premises upon which there is found to be a cross-connection, auxiliary intake, by-pass, or inter435 connection, and service shall not be restored until such cross-connection, auxiliary, by-pass, or inter-connection has been discontinued. ” (lines 429 – 436).

If the property is found to be in violation of the new ordinance, it may also be subject to increased taxes.

“There is hereby levied on all real property within the City which has been officially identified as maintained in a blighted condition an increased ad valorem tax by applying a factor of seven (7.0) to the millage rate applied to the property, so that such property shall be taxed at a higher millage rate generally applied in the municipality, or otherwise provided by general law; provided, however, real property on which there is situated a dwelling house which is being occupied as the primary residence of one or more persons shall not be subject to official identification as maintained in a blighted condition and shall not be subject to increased taxation.” (lines 521 – 529).

There will be a meeting in the near future that will allow a public hearing regarding the ordinance prior to the official vote by the City Council.

We have attempted to reach out to the Blue Ridge City Council for further clarification on this proposed ordinance, but have not yet received any communication from them regarding it.

An open records request has been delivered to the council, so we will keep you updated on further developments!
 
 
 
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New direction in City of Blue Ridge design

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Change and growth have become inevitable in the City of Blue Ridge. Cindy Trimble, a board member of both the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals, brought before the Blue Ridge City Council on Tuesday a small step in establishing direction, consistency, and beautification of our growing town.

Trimble along with help from council member Nathan Fitts rolled out conceptual drawings for new way-finding signs in Blue Ridge.

“It is critical that we have a plan for signage,” Trimble stated due to growth, extra pedestrians, and extra traffic in the area.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Robbie Cornelius, Nathan Fitts, Kenneth Gaddis, Harold Herndon, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Cindy Trimble, Street Signs, Beautification, Wayfinding Signs, Gateways, East First Street, Hwy. 515, Bill Holt Chevrolet, Cook Street, Burger King, West First Street, McDonald's, Windy Ridge Road, Orvin Lance Drive, CVS

Proposed design for City of Blue Ridge archways that will direct visitors to downtown.

The designs included newly structured street signs with stone bases, covered kiosks with maps of businesses downtown, and gateways to the city. Trimble noted that those traveling along Hwy. 515 often do not know where to turn to enter the downtown historic area.

The gateways would be strategically placed in five areas to direct visitors to downtown. Trimble proposed placing the gateways on East First Street and Hwy. 515 near Bill Holt Chevrolet, Cook Street and Hwy. 515 near Burger King, West First Street and Hwy. 515 near McDonald’s intersection, Windy Ridge Road and Hwy. 515, and lastly Orvin Lance Drive and Hwy. 515 near CVS.

“Because these are city owned signs we cannot put them on the DOT right of way,” Trimble said explaining that the signs would need to sit back on side streets away from Hwy. 515 itself.

The gateways, designed as archways with mountain scenery and stone pedestals, would be back lit as to be visible at night and are designed to hold seasonal posters to display festivals and happenings in town.

Suggestions came from council to perhaps look into painting the Windy Ridge Road overpass to go along with design and planning. This option would require grants and permits, as well as permission from the state, but Trimble noted that it has been done in other towns and would be worth looking into.

Discussion also arose about the business directory or “you are here” map kiosks. These freestanding structures will be double sided and not only display downtown businesses, but also parking areas and trolley stops.

“There is an opportunity for advertising on this and it is something that we haven’t developed further,” Trimble stated of the kiosks.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Robbie Cornelius, Nathan Fitts, Kenneth Gaddis, Harold Herndon, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Cindy Trimble, Street Signs, Beautification, Wayfinding Signs, Gateways, East First Street, Hwy. 515, Bill Holt Chevrolet, Cook Street, Burger King, West First Street, McDonald's, Windy Ridge Road, Orvin Lance Drive, CVS

Conceptual designs for most signage downtown including parking and business directory kiosks.

Trimble presented the idea of digital maps as an option: “That way as businesses change it would be easier to change it.” She also noted that it would give more opportunity for advertising and that the advertisements might be a way to supplement income to purchase the new signage.

“The next step is to take some of these, if the council is comfortable with the design direction,” Trimble explained the plan moving forward, “then what we will do is, we will have several of us get together and take a map of the city and we will go around and look at where we need some of these signs immediately.”

Mayor Donna Whitener questioned, “Is the goal to replace all the signage in town?”

Trimble replied that it would just be key locations for the time being. She noted that certain areas of town might experience more street scaping such as Roberts Way and the City Park, and would not move forward in those areas until work is completed.

Council chose to move forward with obtaining pricing for the new way-finding signs and this information will be presented in a later meeting.

 

 

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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