FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. – Set to take effect in September, Fannin County approved its new Alarm Ordinance in June 2022, but indicated the wrong draft in the official motion. July saw the board rectify this with a new motion indicating the intended draft of the ordinance for use.
The ordinance had noted changes between the drafts. Fannin Board of Commissioners (BOC) Chairman Jamie Hensley stated that there were originally three drafts being considered.
With 377 alarms coming to the Sheriff’s Office during 2022 in Fannin County at the end of June, the county, Hensley said only two of the alarms “were legit.” One of the major changes noted in the meeting was that alarms without verification will not see law enforcement dispatched to locations. Hensley read the highlighted change stating, “The alarm activation alone, without verification, will not be dispatched for law enforcement response.”
Hensley said that a call from homeowners or those with visuals alongside the alarm activation could be that verification. Later, the board also noted that verification could be a separate entry notification after the first in a different area of the home. It could also be cameras on site providing the verification. Additionally, Hensley noted that law enforcement will not respond to non-permitted residential burglar alarms.
Further in the new draft, speaking to alarm companies it is noted, “Failure to provide verification within 24 hours of dispatching law enforcement could result in the placement of the residence on a do-not-respond list.”
Post Commissioner Glenn Patterson stated, “Basically, it puts the responsibility back, to some extent, on the the person that’s getting the alarm. We decided to do that due to the very high number of police dispatches that has went out there.”
The commissioners noted that many alarms like this come from animals like squirrels or renters who are staying at the locations. Post Commissioner Johnny Scearce said many places have alarms continuously going off from simple things like wind blowing and rattling doors or windows. Some people even tell you they aren’t coming to a rental residence after so many alarm activations.
Hensley assured citizens saying, “If somebody needs law enforcement, they’re going to come.” He also went on to note that this only changes for law enforcement. Fire alarms and medical emergencies will still respond to all alarms.
The county also set up a fine for false alarms beginning at third dispatches. There are no charges for first and second false alarms. However, there is a $100 fine for failure to register alarm systems. With the third false alarm response within a permit year will see a $150 fine. The fourth false alarm will be $250. The fifth false alarm within at permit year will be fined $500.
The draft was approved unanimously by the board.
FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. – With previously approved expenditures coming back to the county with changes, Fannin County approved two major increases to planned expenditures this month through the Library and the Public Safety Department.
Fannin County has celebrated a state grant in support of building a new library within the county. Even hosting House Speaker David Ralston at the more recent announcement of an increase to that grant. This month saw the Board of Commissioners return to that agenda item to adopt the official resolution to increase the county’s expenditures to match the doubled grant amount.
That amount from the state was originally set at $1.3 million and has since doubled to $2.6 million. Now, with this approval the county has officially increased its match from the original $650,000 to $1.3 million. Approved unanimously by the Board of Commissioners, this agenda item solidified the county’s final commitment to the project increase.
Within the Public Safety a Ford F250 pickup truck hasn’t been received from the dealership one year after its order. Approved on June 22, 2021, the order for a new truck in the department still hasn’t come in at the end of July 2022. Furthermore, according to EMA Director Robert Graham, it could be very late this year or even next year before its even in production as he has been told by the dealership.
To answer the immediate need, the department has found another vehicle, a 2022 Chevrolet 2500 Heavy Duty Crew Cab Truck. With rising costs of materials and shortages on supplies in the nation, prices have continued to rise since the original trucks order, though. The Ford was ordered for a price of $32,789.64. The new vehicle, the chevrolet, has already been produced and is for sale for $54,000.
The departments current vehicle in use has over 179,000 miles and needs replacing. Graham told the Board of Commissioners that it is run every day for medical and fire calls. The vehicle responds out of Station 1.
Director Graham is requesting that the county use SPLOST to purchase the Chevy for use, but not instead of the Ford F250. Graham stated, “We will never get another new vehicle at that price. I suggest we leave it on order to come in next year or something for future use. At $32,000, you’re not going to get a three-quarter-ton pickup for that price anymore. As long as we keep it on order, they’ll have to hold to that price.”
The troubles continue as the department also looks ahead to future orders as Graham reported that Chevrolet opened to receive “fleet orders” for only four hours on one day and will not accept any more orders again until next year.
The county approved the request for expenditures from SPLOST to cover an extra $54,000 on top of last year’s approved purchase and is looking to continue along with the previous order as requested, although some early discussion came that the Ford truck could be used in another department if a major need arises before it is delivered. Even if production does start on the vehicle in late 2022, the county could still see delivery not coming until 2023.
Fannin County, Ga. – Hosted by the Fannin County Chamber and CVB, April’s Candidates forum saw more absentees than attendees on Monday, April 25, 2022. Less than half of the candidates running for office attended with the largest missing portion coming from the District 9 Representatives.
In the United States House of Representatives race for the 9th Congressional District, only Gregory Howard was able to attend the forum. Offering his three minute opening statement, Howard spoke on liberties and the assaults they have endured.
Howard stated, “I’ve been asked why do I want to be in congress and the very simple answer is this, to advance my work in restoring our lost freedoms and the God-given rights bestowed on behalf of the citizens in our U.S. Constitution.”
After his opening statement, the event did not move into forum, but instead moved on to the Board of Education’s contested seat. With Clarence “Junior” Farmer unable to attend due to spinal surgery, only Debi Holcomb and incumbent Bobby Bearden spoke in the forum.
Holcomb focused on state issues that the county is facing saying that she is ready and willing to take her shot to make a difference for families in the county and be more transparent while looking to oppose state oversight in the county level. Through her experience as a mom with kids in the schools, Holcomb said that she has attended meetings of the school board and has worked in county government before.
Holcomb also spoke on compensation for teachers and time off during COVID through stay-at-home orders and her feelings towards retaining teachers in the school and losing the experience of those long-time teachers. She stated, “One of the most important things that our students need is teachers who are happy to be here and are happy to be teaching them, teachers that care. Our teachers do care, but they are not getting what they need and it’s hard for them to get the students what they need.”
Bearden is the incumbent of the office. He said he is proud of Fannin County Schools and that the school system is doing very well in current times. Holding to his participation in the school board through their efforts and what he referred to as successes over the years. Bearden said he is for the children and the taxpayers as a board member and pointed to his record as proof of the board’s forward motion and cooperation with other government entities to provide for the citizens of the county.
The teachers became a topic discussed over several questions as Bearden replied in another question that Fannin never furloughed like other places. He said, “We’ve always paid our teachers 190 days if I’m not mistaken. As far as I know, we take care of our teachers.”
Bearden said that his heart is in the school system and in the kids and that the school system is doing very well. He quoted an old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Moving into the Post 2 Commissioner’s race candidates, Glenn Patterson, Larry Joe Sosebee, and Anita L. Weaver were present for the forum. Greg Staffins was absent due to allergies and Larry Syputa was absent due to a car accident. All three candidates supported the idea for a community center with meeting space, which was the Post 2 Commissioners opening question. With all three agreeing, the only question on each candidate’s mind was how to fund it and where to put it?
Patterson is the incumbent in the office. He noted successes in the county and its growth under the current leadership saying that projects like the recent announcement of a standalone library were proof of continued efforts and cooperation among state and local entities. He spoke about service to the citizens and continuing to pursue things like those he already has in his current term including paying off the courthouse, maintaining roads and bridges, protecting gun rights through resolutions like the second amendment sanctuary, improving public safety services, and improving broadband service among others.
Patterson spoke on affordable housing as a tough topic. He stated that the county needs to tackle the issue as it is facing many surrounding counties as well. He noted some hesitation in taking grants and state funds due to strings attached with many of those options. He said the county is already looking at ordinances and are working towards a type of solution. He spoke about town hall meetings and incorporating ideas from citizens on the issue. He said the topic is very difficult as he wants to support those people living here that are builders and that is how they make a living while also supporting citizens on the other side who view the continuing developments as a negative. He said he could see it both ways.
Sosebee was the Post 2 Commissioner in Fannin from 2010 to 2018. He also spoke on projects he was a part of saying that he would continue to work for Fannin County as it is dear to his heart. Increasing economic growth through new commercial businesses and jobs alongside financial responsibility through refinancing the courthouse were two examples he gave.
Touching on the topic of affordable housing, Sosebee noted the topic gains extra stress from rising costs of lumber and other building materials. He later added that despite the costs, he definitely believes the county has a problem with overdevelopment. Addressing the issue is a process as Sosebee said one option to help in controlling growth could involve a moratorium on the building of major subdivisions in some way. He noted that the need was present and a long term solution could likely involve moratoriums in some way whether short or long term.
Weaver is Chairman of the Fannin County Water Authority. Born and raised in Fannin County, she is also a retired Vice President from United Community Bank. She stated she is running to help save the county from what is happening to it.
With concern over the issue of water, Weaver is hoping to look into better supplies for water to the whole county. She said she wants to work with the cities to find ways to cooperate on water authority access and service to all citizens as many use insufficient wells or have too many families on the same well. The growth also pressures the water needs. With affordable housing and the county’s grown being specific questions asked in the forum, Weaver also suggested restrictions on building projects such as subdivisions through lot sizes or lot numbers. She agreed that overdevelopment is an issue and spoke on options like zoning as a possible answer. She noted that many may cringe at the topic of zoning specifically but insisted that the county needs to come together over the issue for a common solution.
FANNIN COUNTY, Ga. – A special called meeting that was held as a joint meeting between the Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) and the Fannin County Board of Commissioners (BOC) also saw special guest David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives to announce a new public library to be constructed.
An unprecedented time as both Speaker Ralston and County Attorney Lynn Doss called it, the joint meeting is the beginning of a major, multi-million dollar project for Fannin County.
The meeting proceeded as the Fannin BOE made a motion and approval to donate land to the Board of Commissioners for the sole purpose of constructing a new public library. The BOE has purchased property from the United States Forestry Service near Blue Ridge Dam in order to construct two new facilities for the school system. The BOE is currently constructing a staff development center there that will be the new home for staff working out of the building at 2290 East First Street.
Because of this, the property at 2290 East First Street, soon to be empty with the move, has been donated to the county for a new library. The property, adjacent to Fannin High School, will be 0.85 acres in total. Though the project was described as a standalone library, there are no current designs for the building. Both the BOE’s motion to donate and the BOC’s motion to accept the land came with unanimous approvals of the present members of these boards.
Speaker Ralston said that a standalone library has been on the community wish list for many years. He stated, “I want to commend both the Board of Education and the Commissioners for this arrangement which will now expedite this project. The project is a result of cooperative efforts between the Fannin County Board of Education, the Fannin County Commission, and the state of Georgia.”
Ralston noted that the general assembly’s budget is providing funding for part of the library project. The state’s commitment totals $2.6 million as Ralston stated, “The budget that we just passed this past session in the general assembly provided for an additional $1.3 million specified for this project. That goes with the $1.3 million that had been appropriated back two or three budget cycles ago.”
The county can begin planning but will not break ground or start construction until after the BOE faculty have moved to their new facility when construction is complete. Due to this, County Attorney Lynn Doss said there isn’t a start date for the project. She went on to add that the contract has a provision that if the property ever ceases to be a library, it will revert back to Board of Education ownership.
Ralston stated, “A library says a lot about a community. That’s why this has been important to me and I know its been important to many of you. Because when you go into a community and you see they have a nice library facility, that says volumes about where they put priorities on learning and education and all the things that we associate with a library. When this library is completed, it will say that Fannin County is proud of our past, our present, and our future.”
With the celebration of the donated land and the unofficial beginning of the county’s multi-million dollar library project, Ralston had one more note to say as he stated that good news will keep coming. Ralston said he would be returning to Fannin County in a few weeks for another meeting and announcement with another special guest.