Celebration of the Copper Basin. The tri-cities work together for a common goal.

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A celebration of the progress made and a look at future plans for the tri-cities of McCaysville, Ga., Copperhill and Ducktown, Tn. was recently held at the Burra Burra Seafood restaurant. The Copper Basin RSVP Reveal gave the public a look at what can be accomplished when multiple agencies work together for one common goal.

Crowd gathered at Burra Burra Seafood to discuss the future of the Copper Basin.

Zachary Welch, Chairman of the Revitalization Committee and member of the Renaissance Steering Committee, gave thanks to the numerous individuals, businesses and organizations involved in the process. Welch enthusiastically declared, “It’s a very exciting time for our area.”

Citizens and visitors are already noticing a more welcoming feel to the towns. Streetscapes have begun in several areas, flower pots have been placed and filled, hanging floral baskets now adorn the iconic bridges, and the McCaysville mall has seen a complete makeover with numerous businesses spriningup to fill vacant spots.

One of the most notable figures that has pushed forward the revitalization of the area is McCaysville resident Mike Galinski of Galinski Enterprises. 

“Just a super guy,” Welch said introducing Galinski to the crowd. “I am so thankful to be blessed with having him come into our community, invest his time and his resources and really help kick off revitalization of our town.”

Phase One of Galinski’s vision included restoring buildings in the area both structurally and aesthetically, in his words he wanted to “bring the buildings back to life”.

“We’ve been listening to the people and what they want,” Galinski said of the direction his projects have taken, adding that he has plans to begin an ice cream parlor in the mall.

Mike Galinski and Zachary Welch discussing the progress made and the future of area.

“I want to make it family friendly,” Galinski said of the initially named ‘Happy Bear’ ice cream parlor. “If you take your kid to the Happy Bear Ice Cream, how could they not be happy?”

Also slated for the town of McCaysville is a 12,000 square foot McCaysville Event Center and music venue. This project, still in its design phase, will need to meet state approval before construction can begin. 

Galinski said of the proposed event center, “It should be able to hold a pretty large amount, but also do small parties.”

Of those on hand to celebrate the success and direction of the Copper Basin district was Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston.

“What a great day to be in the Copper Basin,” Ralston spoke with the excitement shared by all involved.  “I can’t tell you what it means to see the enthusiasm and pride that this community has.”

Ralston gave personal thanks to the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a branch of the University of Georgia, who has worked with the citizens of Copper Basin to brand the area and give direction to several projects. Ralston also gave thanks to the Lyndhurst Foundation of Tennessee who funded the planning.

Ralston then addressed Galinski, who he feels has spearheaded the revitalization in the area, “Mike, thank you for your passion for this community, and your vision, and your investment, of not only your time and resources, but your creativity. You have truly been a transformative leader here.”

Senior Public Service Associate with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Danny Bevins, spoke of future goals for the tri-cities and the unification through branding that his team was able to create.

Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston celebrates the success of the area.

Details to the branding and future plans where scrutinized and thoughtfully presented in order to “tell the story” of the people and the land. The Copper Basin logos and designs are free for all to use.

Bevins said of his team’s work and the over 600 survey responses received concerning the course of the Copper Basin area, “This planning process is not our plan, it’s all your all’s plan.”

“We heard a lot about a riverwalk,” Bevins spoke of the citizens’ input and added that plans have been made to incorporate the river into the plans for McCaysville and Copperhill. The future of the river in the twin towns will host  “small gathering and sitting areas that are connected from both sides of the river, up and down”.

Other plans include a new park added as a continuation of the existing park in McCaysville, Wayfinding Signs, street and sidewalk improvements, benches and connecting walkways, and public art to enhance the feel in the area

Revitalization is undeniable in the area, and it is the hope of all involved to turn the Copper Basin district into a destination that is “Too Great For One State”.

McCaysville Mayor, Thomas Seabolt, being presented with a plan of the area.


Copperhill Mayor, Kathy Stewart, was also presented with a framed plan of the area.


Jan Hackett and David Ralston pose with a framed plan, that Ralston said would hang at the state capital.


Natalie Kissel


Tourism brings big dollars to Fannin County

Community, Fannin County Chamber, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – There is no denying that our area is a hot spot for tourists and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce gave a 2018 update letting citizens know just how much money our thriving tourist industry is bringing to our area.

Last year alone, $39 million was collected in local lodging tax by both the City of Blue Ridge and Fannin County.

“That’s just the ones who pay the tax,” Jan Hackett, President of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce spoke of the significance of these numbers, “so anyone out there who is an Airbnb or a VRBO who is not paying the tax is not in that number.”

In recent years Georgia Tech teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce to do a study on our economic impact numbers. According to Hackett the purpose of this study was to determine the amount of dollars spent in our local economy based on the lodging taxes collected.

Georgia Tech was able to produce an equation that they felt would portray an accurate number based on percentages of sales in direct comparison with lodging taxes.

“Based on their percentages the amount of money that visitors spent directly was $170.5 million dollars,” Hackett said explaining the findings for calendar year 2018 and added that this number is based on overnight visitors alone and does not account for day trippers and our area’s population of second home owners.

According to these numbers and based on SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) collections last year, overnight visitors made up roughly a third of all retail sales in the county. SPLOST reported a record breaking $555 million is sales last year for Fannin County.

Hackett broke down the numbers into a daily average. On average per day lodging brings in $100,795 and visitors spend roughly $484,375. This equates to $39,347 of taxes collected locally.

While our county can become crowded due to the visitors, there is a definite positive impact these visitors bring with them. Roughly one-third of the jobs in Fannin County (excluding governmental) are supported by the tourist industry, and all the extra revenue saves residents approximately $865 in taxation per household.

Hackett pointed out that in 2001: “At that point in time we had less in retail sales than any county in the four around us.” These counties include Fannin, Glimer, Pickens, and Union.

Fast forward to recent years and Fannin County is now leading the way in retail sales and economic growth. A comparison shows that in 2001 retail sales were approximately $150 million and in 2018 retail sales were $555,697,658.

With the lodging tax now being split 50/50 between the chamber and the county, Hackett reported that the decrease from the 70 percent that the chamber previously received has not posed any negative effect on the ability to market our area.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton explains where the extra revenue the county is now getting from the split in lodging tax is being spent, “When we adjusted this ratio between the board of commissioners and the chamber, our intent was to take half of that increase and put it into safety.”

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson is credited with the idea of investing the funds into public safety, and had pointed out in previous meetings that his reasoning is simply with more people visiting and more events being held in our area there becomes an increased demand for emergency services to be provided.

Up next for the Chamber of Commerce is to continue to promote growth and visitation in our area. Hackett said of moving forward, “Our mission is only to help make Fannin County a better place to live, work and play.”

The chamber has recently focused efforts into making the Copper Basin area a desirable place to visit and has teamed up with the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government Study to produce an in depth study of McCaysville, Copperhill, and Ducktown.

“The Carl Vinson Institute is doing a kind of strategic planning process for McCaysville, Copperhill, and Ducktown….the Copper Basin,” Hackett said of the partnership and added that she is expecting the study to be complete by the end of February.

The study and planning will work to make the Copper Basin area a more appealing place to work, live and visit. Its focus is to re-brand the area. Under the name the Copper Basin Renaissance, the partnership with UGA is focusing its campaign on the slogan “Copper Basin. Too Great for One State”.

Hackett said of the chamber’s focus, “As Blue Ridge has gotten more crowded, it only makes since to try to do more in McCaysville and Copper Hill and the Basin, so that when visitors are here we’ll have them spread out in the county.”

The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce debuted a new website that went live in March of last year. 617,905 users visited the site and of those users 82 percent were new.

The new design of the website landed the chamber a prestigious Silver Adrian Award from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.

“To give you an idea of what an honor that is, the Jackson Hole Wyoming website also won a silver,” Hackett said of the accomplishment.

The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce plans to continue efforts in 2019 to once again bring in record numbers to our area and help define Fannin County as a resilient place to visit or to make home.

Featured Image: A small sample of the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce new award winning website.



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Natalie Kissel


Roy William Ball: Obituary


Roy William Ball – March 10, 1949 – October 6, 2018


OCT 9. 05:00 PM – 09:00 PM

Henry-Cochran Funeral Home

3911 Appalachian Hwy

Blue Ridge, GA, US, 30513


Funeral Service

OCT 10. 01:00 PM

Henry-Cochran Funeral Home

3911 Appalachian Hwy

Blue Ridge, GA, US, 30513


Concord Baptist Church Cemetery

Hwy 60
Morganton, GA, 30560

Johnny Wayne Deal: Obituary


Mr. Johnny Wayne Deal, better known as “J.W.”, passed away on October 8, 2018, at age 46. Born in Copperhill, TN he was the son of the late Thomas H. Deal, Sr. J.W. had worked in construction installing Drywall for a number of years. He loved spending time in the mountains and was an avid Hunter and Fisherman. He also had a vast knowledge of many trees, plants and flowers from his experience outdoors. He loved playing the guitar and his canine companion, Ruthy.

Survivors include his mother, Yvonne Deal of Copperhill; two brothers and their children, James Martin “Marty” Deal and sons, Jacob, Isaac and Michael Deal; Thomas “Jr.” Deal and his daughter, Taylor Marie Deal.

Graveside services will be conducted on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. from the Mt. Harmony Baptist Church Cemetery with Rev. David O’Neal and Rev. Clifton Patterson officiating. Music will be by Kenny O’Neal. The following gentlemen were selected to serve as pallbearers: Gary Dobbs, Channon Morrow, Nathan Smith, Jameison Hyatt, Russell Locke and Danny O’Neal. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.akinsfuneralhome.com. Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill, TN is in charge of the arrangements.

Willard “Snuffy” Smith: Obituary


Willard Smith, affectionately known to family and friends as “Snuffy”, age 95, passed away peacefully Saturday, October 6, 2018, in the Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, TN. Willard was born in Polk County, TN on December 27, 1922, to the late Lucius Napolean Smith and Lula Bell Bradburn. He was a Deacon at Zion Hill Baptist Church. He retired from City Services where he worked as a Crusher Operator. He served in the United States Army during World War II. He is also preceded in death by three sisters and four brothers.

Willard is survived by his niece, Betty Jo (Glen) Hughes of Turtletown; great-niece, Karen (Ronald) Martin of Turtletown; and many other nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

Funeral services will be conducted on Monday, October 8, 2018 at 3:00 pm from Zion Hill Baptist Church. Rev. Stephen Smith and Glen Hughes will officiate. Music will be provided by Glen Hughes and Ryan Norton. Interment will follow in the church cemetery with Ronald Martin, Kenny Martin, Johnny Smith, Mark Taylor, Dwight Dilbeck, and Seth Mathis serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers are Rev. Bill Maughan, Doad Hughes, Glen Hughes, Doug Smith, Kenneth Martin, Rev. Stephen Smith, Terry Humberd, and the Deacons of Zion Hill Baptist Church. The family will visit with friends at the church on Monday Afternoon from 12:00 pm until the service hour of 3:00 pm. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.akinsfuneralhome.com. Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill is in charge of the arrangements.

Helen Elizabeth Mack Taylor: Obituary


Helen Elizabeth Mack Taylor, age 79, of Soddy Daisy, TN, passed away Saturday, October6, 2018. Helen was born in Turtletown, TN to the late Olin and Jackie Griffith Mack. She was retired from the Interlink Corporation working as a telephone operator. She was a member of the Refuge Assembly of God Church in Soddy Daisy, TN and was preceded in death by her son, Toby Taylor.

She is survived by her husband, Robert Taylor of the home; children, Stephen Taylor of Dallas, GA, Johnathan (Marissa) Taylor of Columbus, GA, Jacqueline Michelle Chitwood of Lithia Springs, GA and Suzanna Shockley of Soddy Daisy, TN. Eight grandchildren; four great-grandchildren also survive.

Funeral services will be conducted on Monday, October 8, 2018 at 2:00 pm from the Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill Chapel with Pastor Dennis Parillo officiating. Music will be provided by Pastor Dennis and Bobbie Parillo. Interment will follow in the Zion Hill Baptist Church Cemetery. Pallbearers are Dustin Taylor, Zack Taylor, Seaver Taylor, Logan Taylor, Andrew Shockley, and Dylan Taylor. The family will visit with friends at the funeral home on Sunday Evening from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.akinsfuneralhome.com. Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill is in charge of the arrangements.

Marlene Payne: Obituary


Marlene Payne, age 84, of McCaysville, GA, passed away Thursday, October 4, 2018. Mrs. Payne was born in McCaysville, GA to the late William Lloyd and Elzie Estelle Bradley Pittman. She attended Bethany Church. She was also preceded in death by her husband, R.V. Payne, daughter, Mary Lou Taylor and brother, Kenneth Pittman.

She is survived by children, Charles (Judy) Payne of McCaysville, GA, Donald (Lynn) Payne of McCaysville, GA, Linda Hancock of McCaysville, GA, Jannie (Tom) Hedden of Blue Ridge, GA; sister Eulene (Melvin) Harper of Mineral Bluff, GA. Seventeen grandchildren; twenty-six great grandchildren; four great-great grandchildren.

Funeral services were conducted Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. from the Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill Chapel with Preacher Jimmy Dickey officiating. Music was by April Jones. Pallbearers included Cody Knight, Riley Hedden, Chris Prince, Chad Allen, Ryan Knight and Tyler Allen. Interment followed in the Mt. Liberty Baptist Church cemetery. Condolences to the family may be sent online to akinsfuneralhome.com. Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill was in charge of the arrangements.

Edith Sue Branyon: Obituary


Edith Sue Branyon, age 77, of Ducktown, TN passed away Wednesday, October 3, 2018. Mrs. Branyon was born in Gastonia, NC to the late Elmer and Pauline Burger Taylor. She was a member of the Victory Temple Holiness Church. She was also preceded in death by her husband, James Branyon and brothers, Harold Taylor and Charlie Taylor, sister Dorothy Taylor.

She is survived by her children, Perry (Renee) Branyon of Blairsville, GA, James W. (Milisa) Branyon of Magnolia, TX, Linda (Gilbert) Johnson of Farner, TN; Brothers, Abe Taylor of Turtletown, TN, Tommy Taylor of Turtletown, TN, Junior Taylor of McCaysville, GA, Leroy Taylor of Rome, GA; sisters, Joy Davis of Ellijay, GA, Opal Loudermilk of Calhoun, GA; five grandchildren; eleven great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were conducted Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. from the Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill Chapel with Rev. Frank Jalbreath and Bro. Randall Nicholson officiating. Music was by Randall & Joel Nicholson. Pallbearers included Abe Taylor, Daniel Johnson, Tim Johnson, Jonathan Branyon, Micah Branyon and Samuel Branyon. Interment followed in the New Hope Holiness Church Cemetery. Condolences to the family may be sent online to akinsfuneralhome.com. Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill was in charge of the arrangements.

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