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.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Aska Road clean up scheduled for Spring – Press Release

Community, Outdoors, Press Release

Fannin Spring Clean-up / Aska Road
Saturday, April 6, 9am

Let’s stem the tide of litter in this beautiful mountain county!

To help Fannin County become a safer, healthier and even better place to live, work and play, a series of community events to clean up litter in Fannin County is in the works.

The first clean-up is scheduled for April 6 on Aska Road; an abandoned tire clean-up will be held later in the spring. Tentative dates for future litter clean-ups are July 13 and October 15.

Besides looking trashy, littering / dumping is illegal, encourages more littering / dumping, reflects badly on our community, decreases property values, reduces economic growth, encourages crime, is a highway safety issue, harms natural resources and costs huge amounts of taxpayer money for clean-up and enforcement.

Please join us, the Fannin Litterbusters, to combat this blight:

DATE: Saturday, April 6, 9am; meet at Public Works building, 229 Aska Road.

CLEAN-UP LOCATION: Aska Road, which is one of the most beautiful but unfortunately one of the most littered roads in the county.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Responsible adults are urged to demonstrate their civic and patriotic pride by volunteering for these clean-up efforts. Volunteers are also encouraged to consider participation in Fannin County’s Adopt-a-Road program http://www.fannincountyga.com/faq_category/adopt-a-road/

SAFETY: Due to safety issues when working close to roadways, volunteers must be at least 18 years of age to participate. For the clean-up event, volunteers are encouraged to have drinking water, safety vests and work gloves. Bags will be provided.

PARTNERS: Fannin County Government, City of Blue Ridge, North Georgia Resource Management Authority, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Advanced Disposal Services, local businesses / organizations, residents, and other concerned parties.

QUESTIONS? Contact Marie Woody, Chief Officer of Fannin County Land Development, 706-258-5170.

SIGN UP: fannin.litterbusters@gmail.com

Let’s all pitch in to clean up Fannin County!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

BACKGROUND:

According to Keep America Beautiful (“Litter in America Factsheet,” January 2010), those under 30 are more likely to litter than those over 30. Communities can reduce their litter rate by

⦁ demonstrating a preference for a litter-free community through on-going efforts to keep litter cleaned up
⦁ setting a standard of caring for the community through improving and beautifying public areas
⦁ stressing individual responsibility for keeping the community clean through messages that emphasize social disapproval of littering

REMINDER:
It is illegal under Georgia statute and Fannin County ordinance to litter or dump garbage.

Fannin County has a stringent solid waste ordinance, which applies to littering, dumping, and hauling waste; violators are subject to fines of $410 to $1000 and possible jail time. [Fannin County Solid Waste Ordinance, Chapter 58 of the Fannin County Code of Ordinances]

Anyone hauling a load in Fannin County must secure and cover the load; if not in compliance, the load will be refused at the disposal site.

Citizens witnessing anyone littering, dumping or hauling an unsecured load can report it to Fannin County Land Development at 706-258-5170. For a citation to be issued to the violator, witnesses must provide their name / address / phone number and be willing to appear in court as a witness.

Witnesses are asked to provide as much information as possible, such as name of company if commercial, vehicle tag number, location of the incident, and pictures if available.

Georgia littering statutes state that it is unlawful for anyone to deposit litter or to allow littering on any public or private property or waters in the state. Violators are subject to fines up to $1000 and jail sentences up to 12 months. The driver of the vehicle involved is responsible for any trash that escapes the vehicle. [O.C.G.A. §16-7-42, §16-7-43, §40-6-249]

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Fannin County candidates speak at local forum

Election 2018

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, along with the Blue Ridge Community Theater, hosted a candidate forum May 3 to give voters an opportunity to hear first-hand local candidates’ responses to questions about issues facing our area.

All persons running for positions on the Fannin County Board of Education and for the seat of Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner were present to share their views and explain why they should have your vote in the upcoming election.

SCHOOL BOARD

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, May Primary Election 2018, General Election 2018, Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner, Fannin County Board of Education, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Emergency Management, Fannin County Chairman, Stan Helton, Dixie Carter, Larry Joe Sosebee, William Tripp Ritchie, Glenn Patterson, Bobby Bearden, Jeff Depaola, Marvin Allen, Stave Stanley, Susan DeMoura, Mike Sullivan, Mike Cole, Ron Bolin, Democrat, Republican, Candidate Forum, Platform, Issues, Blue Ridge Community Theater, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Pictured are, from left to right: Jeff DePaola (D), Marvin Allen (R), and Bobby Bearden (R).

First to take the stage were Marvin Allen (R), Bobby Bearden (R), and Jeff DePaola (D).

Allen is challenging incumbent Bearden in the May General Primary for the Republican nomination. The winner of the primary will face Democrat DePaola in the November General Election.

 

 

BOBBY BEARDEN (R) INCUMBENT

Bobby Bearden, who has served on the Fannin County Board of Education for 16 years, said, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Bearden added about his time serving, “It’s more than a privilege. It’s a blessing and an honor.”

While agreeing with his fellow candidates on many of the issues such as a board member must be a liaison between the community, parents, teachers, and students, Bearden gave insight into his feelings about what it takes to be an effective board member and what it means to serve.

“A lot of people think that the school board runs the schools, but the school board does not run the schools,” Bearden said. “The superintendent runs the schools. The school board makes sure the superintendent carries out the policies.”

Bearden spoke of accomplishments of the school board during his service specifically citing the Performing Arts Center (PAC) and the construction taking place of the new agricultural facility located on Ada Street: “I’ve got so much behind me I couldn’t tell you all of it.”

“I just heard today that we applied for a grant, a literacy grant for over 1 million bucks,” Bearden said, smiling, “and we got it.”

Bearden’s platform is unwavering, stating his top priorities are “children, children, children, and the tax payers of Fannin County.” He states that safety and quality education are his main focus.

MARVIN ALLEN (R) CHALLENGER

Marvin Allen is a product of the Fannin County School System and has raised his children in Fannin County where they all attended our public schools.

“The platform I’m running on is my concerns for the children of Fannin County,” Allen addressed the crowd of voters. “Their safety is certainly number one. Next on the list is education. Another issue I am concerned about is the consideration of the tax-paying citizens of the county.”

Allen would like to work with the superintendent to produce quality policies that make a difference and to be a good steward of taxpayers dollars when it comes to the budget.

Having helped initiate the school system’s fishing program and by being involved with his children’s educations as well as their extracurricular activities, including sports and band, Allen feels that he is qualified for a position on the Board of Education.

When asked what makes an effective school board member, Allen replied that listening and communicating with the community is a large part of the responsibility, but also being able to effectively take care of business: “There are policies you’ve got to set and a budget you’ve got to monitor.”

JEFF DEPAOLA (D) CHALLENGER

Jeff DePaola has worked with youth via mentoring programs and shows a strong resolve in helping children through community involvement.

DePaola feels that this mentoring background along with his career provides him with the experience needed to serve on the Fannin County Board of Education.

DePaola began his career with Delta at the young age of 19. Through Delta, DePaola learned the field of computer programming and went on to write and implement many programs used in this field.

“I’ve got kind of an entrepreneurial spirit about me. I feel like I have a good eye for looking at a situation and seeing opportunities to make it better,” DePaola spoke of how his career will translate on the school board.

DePaola would like to be a liason if elected to the school board. He feels that a large portion of the duty of a board member is to gather as much information as possible from students, teachers, parents and the community, and relay that information into meaningful policies.

“The platform I’m running on is opportunity through community,” DePaola stated of his goals if elected.

SCHOOL BOARD

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, May Primary Election 2018, General Election 2018, Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner, Fannin County Board of Education, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Emergency Management, Fannin County Chairman, Stan Helton, Dixie Carter, Larry Joe Sosebee, William Tripp Ritchie, Glenn Patterson, Bobby Bearden, Jeff Depaola, Marvin Allen, Stave Stanley, Susan DeMoura, Mike Sullivan, Mike Cole, Ron Bolin, Democrat, Republican, Candidate Forum, Platform, Issues, Blue Ridge Community Theater, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Pictured are, from left to right: Susan DeMoura (D), Mike Sullivan (R), Mike Cole (R), Ron Bolin (R), and Steve Stanley (R).

Next to come to the stage was the race with the largest number of candidates. These candidates include Ron Bolin (R), Mike Cole (R), Susan DeMoura (D), Steve Stanley (R), and Mike Sullivan (R).

Bolin, Cole and Sullivan are all challengers of incumbent Stanley for the Republican nomination in the May General Primary. The winner of the primary will go on to face Democrat DeMoura in the November General Election.

 

 

RON BOLIN (R) CHALLENGER

Ron Bolin opened his statements by giving voters a glimpse into his background: “I’m a retired educator. I’ve taught at all three grade levels, elementary, middle, and high school.”

Beyond having taught, Bolin has also spent time in coaching and in school administration.

Bolin is a proponent of literacy and would like to focus school assets into providing a number of tools to promote and teach these skills. Having served many years in education, Bolin stated, “When a student lags behind in this area, it makes more difficulties throughout their entire education.”

Bolin would also like to see focus put on bringing back vocational training to our schools. He believes that education has “made a huge mistake” by putting all the focus on college education and that many students do not attend college and would greatly benefit from vocational training.

MIKE COLE (R) CHALLENGER

Mike Cole is a product of the Fannin County School System and credits his success to the start he got in our county’s schools.

Cole, a small business owner, began his training at Fannin County High School in the now un-offered vocational and technical programs. Having a successful career with General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, Cole returned to Fannin County to open his own automotive repair shop.

Cole is now a strong advocate for returning programs such as transportation class, cosmetology, residential wiring, plumbing, and welding to Fannin County schools.

“I’m not just a salesman,” Cole said, speaking of his opponent Bolin’s stance to bring back vocational classes, “but I am a client. I went through this vocational system, and I now own a business doing my career path from career tech.”

Cole now has a young child enrolled in the school system, and from involvement in his child’s education, he sees areas of what he feels are wasteful spending and mismanagement.

Citing that he has personally had to provide water to children on a field trip and has seen first-hand large amounts of food being thrown away in the schools’ cafeterias, Cole stated, “If we are a charter school and can make some decisions, we need to make decisions about the waste and mismanagement in that area.”

Cole also brought to the table the idea of using Georgia Virtual on snow days. He stated that if each child were provided a Chromebook that this option could be used to alleviate the issue of make-up school days due to inclement weather.

SUSAN DEMOURA (D) CHALLENGER

Susan DeMoura shared her experience of being a director of a rehabilitation center. With a master’s in speech language pathology, DeMoura worked many years managing a large staff and being in charge of an equally as large budget.

“I believe that my experience has prepared me to sit on this board,” DeMoura explained that she is used to working with many diverse people, “and become a liaison between the superintendent and the students and the teachers and the parents.”

When asked if school boards should be moved to a nonpartisan position, DeMoura stated that she is proud to be a member of her political party, but “I don’t see this as an area where politics need to come into play.”

DeMoura said that a key area she would like to research and try to resolve is the issue of absences in Fannin County. She cited that not all absences are due to illness and some stem from a child’s home life. DeMoura would like to provide options for these children to ensure that they are able to attend school everyday.

“My goal is to try to bridge any gap that exists,” DeMoura said of her hopes if elected,”with our students and our parents and teachers and provide the very best options, the very best alternatives for them.”

STEVE STANLEY (R) INCUMBENT

Steve Stanley has served on the Board of Education for eight years and would like to be re-elected for another four year term.

Stanley is proud of his record with the Board of Education citing several successes that have come to pass during his terms. He spoke of grants that have been awarded and progresses that have been made on all school campuses.

With Quality Basic Education (QBE) being fully funded by the state of Georgia for the first time in a number of years, Stanley stated that he will continue to be an advocate for equal state funding for Fannin County schools.

“This board will continue to work,” Stanley stated of his expectations if re-elected, “and I will continue to work.”

Stanley stated that the one thing he would do differently if elected for another term would be to spend more time in the schools.

“That has been the one thing I have wanted to do since I have been on the board is spend more time in schools,” Stanley said, explaining that his work has kept him away from spending as much time as he would like in the schools.

MIKE SULLIVAN (R) CHALLENGER

Mike Sullivan remains steadfast in his platform. Two of Sullivan’s key issues are that of school safety and of complete transparency on all levels.

Sullivan would like to see no stone left unturned when it comes to the safety of the children of Fannin County. Pursuing every option to acquire top notch safety is an issue the Sullivan is very passionate about.

Sullivan was asked of what he has done to prepare himself for the school board position if elected. He cited that beyond having attended the Board of Education monthly meetings, his military background is another advantage that he possesses.

“The military really prepares you a lot for working with diverse people,” the Air Force veteran spoke of his credentials for the Board of Education, “and I believe our board is comprised of some diverse individuals. It really prepares you for conflict.”

Sullivan agreed with his opponents on a number of issues, including that the school board should be a nonpartisan position and that the best way to keep quality teachers is to offer competitive pay and incentives.

When asked what he would do differently from incumbent Stanley, Sullivan replied that he would have active engagement on all levels, with students, parents, teachers, and fellow board members.

“We really have tremendous capabilities here,” Sullivan stated enthusiastically of his intentions, “to really excel with our kids and to lead them beyond being just 21st century learners.”

POST 2 COMMISSIONER

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, May Primary Election 2018, General Election 2018, Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner, Fannin County Board of Education, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Emergency Management, Fannin County Chairman, Stan Helton, Dixie Carter, Larry Joe Sosebee, William Tripp Ritchie, Glenn Patterson, Bobby Bearden, Jeff Depaola, Marvin Allen, Stave Stanley, Susan DeMoura, Mike Sullivan, Mike Cole, Ron Bolin, Democrat, Republican, Candidate Forum, Platform, Issues, Blue Ridge Community Theater, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Pictured are, from left to right: William “Tripp” Ritchie (R), Glenn Patterson (R), Dixie Carter (D), and Larry Joe Sosebee (R)

The final group of candidates to take the stage were those running for Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner. These candidates included Dixie Carter (D), Glenn Patterson (R), Larry Joe Sosebee (R), and William “Tripp” Ritchie (R).

Ritchie and Patterson are facing incumbent Sosebee for the Republican nomination in the May General Primary. The winner of this primary will go against Democrat Carter in the November General Election.

 

 

DIXIE CARTER (D) CHALLENGER

Dixie Carter holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, and she feels that having worked many years in this field, she has a good understanding of people and their needs and for this reason would make an ideal candidate.

Carter is a proponent of improving the county’s recreational areas and of seeking ways to move the county’s library out of the courthouse and into a stand-alone location.

A library is a hub for many communities, according to Carter, and a place where not only learning can take place, but a facility that can offer community classes and lectures, Internet for those without, and social work and aid for those in need.

When asked about a county aquatic center, Carter replied that she would be in favor and that it would be “very beneficial to focus on our health and wellness.”

Rather than just fund this center locally, Carter feels that we could look into regional funding: “Regional collaboration is a very good thing.” She feels that surrounding counties might take interest since the center would be beneficial to their residents as well.

Carter would be in favor of expanding the current Fannin County Board of Commissioners from a three-person panel to a five-person panel.

“With three there’s a monopoly on the vote,” Carter stated of the matter. “It’s almost like it’s rigged.”

If elected, Carter said she will work to represent all citizens of Fannin County and work to change the atmosphere of the Board of Commissioners meetings, which she feels has a negative tone.

GLENN PATTERSON (R) CHALLENGER

Glenn Patterson is an educator of 33 years and has spent approximately 23 of those years as a teacher, administrator, and coach in Fannin County. Patterson currently serves on the Board of Directors at the Fannin Christian Learning Center and is chairman for Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.

Patterson said that he has no private agenda in running, just a vision and a want to make Fannin County better.

Being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money is a key element to Patterson’s platform, and a topic that he reiterated in his answers.

When asked about the county collaborating with the cities to provide an aquatic center, Patterson replied, “I would be open to look at it. I really would. A lot of factors come into play, especially paying for it.”

One area where Patterson seemed to agree with incumbent Sosebee was in not expanding the Board of Commissioners to a five-member board and keeping it at its current three member status. While he did not say that he was completely against the move, Patterson did cite that there is another way to approach the matter.

“I think the biggest thing is to get good people,” Patter said, explaining his stance. “Get people that you can trust. Get people that will work together collaboratively for a common goal.”

LARRY JOE SOSEBEE (R) INCUMBENT

Larry Joe Sosebee has held the Post 2 Commission seat since 2011 and will be seeking a third term in office.

Sosebee stated that his platform has never changed and that he will be running on the same ideals: “When I first ran for this office, my platform was for the safety and prosperity for each citizen of Fannin County.”

Not in support of turning the Board of Commissioners into a five-member board, Sosebee spoke frankly on the matter: “Three people is enough to butt heads on these decisions we make.”

Sosebee told the crowd that he would be in favor of a stand-alone building for the county library: “I’ve always supported a stand-alone library.” He then added,” I wouldn’t put the county in any bond debt whatsoever for any facility.”

Rival candidate Tripp Ritchie questioned the county’s planning strategy for the future and in particular cited the county’s emergency departments. Sosebee took offense to Ritchie’s comments and replied about these departments, “We are top notch in the state of Georgia.”

“All it takes is common sense to run this office,” Sosebee said and added that with his experience, he feels that he is the man for the job.

WILLIAM “TRIPP” RITCHIE (R) CHALLENGER

Tripp Ritchie, a sixth-generation Fannin County resident, co-owner of Ritchie Creek Farm, Inc., and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps., did not hold back during the forum as he spoke frankly about areas of the county that he feels need to be improved.

Ritchie has held strong to his belief that the county lacks proper strategic planning, and one downfall of not having such a plan is in newly constructed facilities: “We need a five-year capital improvements plan.”

“If it’s not in a capital improvements program,” Ritchie added, “you end up starting construction without knowing how you are going to pay for it.”

Ritchie also noted areas in how the Board of Commissioners run that could be improved for the public: “I don’t think we have enough public debate or public comments.”

Accusing Fannin County Commission Chairman Stan Helton of “weaponizing” his position by having complete say in meeting agendas and arrangements, Ritchie added, “We should encourage everybody to have input from the community. We seem to forget that we are representing the citizens of Fannin County.”

Ritchie said that he would support changing the current commission board from three members to five members: “Yes, and I would go a step further. I’d change the form of government between a volunteer-elected board and a manager.”

Having a county manager to organize and oversee all areas of the county government, according to Ritchie, would be beneficial not just in efficiency but also in transparency.

Finally, Ritchie addressed the issue of our emergency management departments and said that this is another area that would greatly benefit from strategic planning. He feels the county should do more to prepare these departments for future demand.

Ritchie also cited that he had been informed that our fire department facilities are not up to code, some not being properly vented, and that firefighters had expressed concern to him about their safety: “They asked me to bring these issues to the commissioners attention. They felt like the commission didn’t have their back.”

Ritchie maintains that he is the right person for the job because he will proactively seek solutions: “I’m not a politician. I’m a pragmatist. I see a problem, and I go try to fix it.”

 

Early voting continues in Fannin County through May 18. You can place your early vote at the Fannin County Courthouse, 3rd Floor, Office of Elections and Registration. Regular voting for the General Primary will take place on May 22. The 2018 General Election is to be held Nov. 6.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Fire and Ice a success in Blue Ridge

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Once a year in the dead of winter, things get spicy in downtown Blue Ridge as residents and tourists alike experience a “chili” weekend in February.

The eighth annual Fire and Ice Chili Cook Off Festival, brought to you by the Blue Ridge Business Association partnering with the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, kicked off Saturday, Feb. 17, and brought in crowds despite the weather.

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Crowds enjoyed the live ice sculpting demonstration provided by Rock On Ice.

Visitors to the festival were welcomed to take part in the judging of the chili cook off where the contestant with the highest number of votes takes home the coveted People’s Choice award.

The Fire and Ice Festival also now holds the honor of being the largest ice sculpting display in the Southeast. Award-winning National Ice Carving Champion Rock On Ice created many unique sculptures sponsored by several area businesses and demonstrated their difficult art form firsthand with live ice sculpting demonstrations in the park.

Official Chili Cook Off judges were also on hand to judge this years 16 contestants and to award first, second, and third place in four different categories.

Among the guest judges were Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston, Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee, former celebrity chef Bob Evans, developer Doug David, and former chef and restaurant owner Kay Kendall.

“This is really one of the bigger events put on by the business association,” Blue Ridge Business Association President Cesar Martinez spoke about the festival.

Martinez explained that despite the unpredictable weather, this year’s festival saw a large turn out: “Better than last year. Last year, it rained actually more than this.”

Guest announcer Cindy Trimble took the stage at 3 p.m. for the moment that everyone had been waiting for, the announcement of 2018 Fire and Ice Chili Cook Off winners.

Trimble explained that judges were given five categories in which they had to rate each chili. These categories were aroma, color, taste, texture, and after-taste. Each category was rated on a scale of 1-to-10 and points from all judges were then added together to determine a winner.

The maximum number of points possible for a contestant to receive was 250.

The winners for each category were:

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Fire and Ice, Chili Cook Off, Blue Ridge Business Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, David Ralston, B. Alison Sosebee, Kay Kendall, Doug David, Bob Evans, Cesar Martinez, Cindy Trimble, People's Choice Award, Chester Brunnenmeyer's Bar and Grill, Blue Jeans Pizza, Blue Ridge Brewery, Project Chimps, Habitat for Humanity, Hot House Missionary Church, Grilling Gangsters, Kelly Barton, Pitstop Chili, Boar's Nesters, Mercier Orchards, Chuck's Moonshine Chili

Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar and Grill took home the People’s Choice Award for a second year in a row.

Adult Individual
1. Grilling Gangsters with 176 points
2. Kelly Barton with 174 points
3. Pitstop Chili with 153 points

Team Adult
1. Boars Nesters with 175 points
2. Mercier Orchards with 162 points
3. Chuck’s Moonshine Chili with 155 points

Civic Team
1. Project Chimps with 178 points
2. Habitat for Humanity with 164 points
3. Hot House Missionary Church with 129 points

Restaurant
1. Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar and Grill with 168 points
2. Blue Jeans Pizza with 166 points
3. Blue Ridge Brewery with 165 points

Project Chimps, a sanctuary for chimpanzees, received the highest rating by the judges, and Trimble pointed out a uniqueness to their recipe: “This was a really unusually chili and you guys loved it.”

The recipe used by Project Chimps was “chimp friendly,” meaning that all the ingredients used were ingredients that the chimps could also eat and often do for their meals.

Finally, the coveted People’s Choice award was given. Out of 934 ballots turned in by visitors to the festival, Chester Brunnenmeyer’s received 185 of those votes, giving them the people’s choice chili award for a second year in a row.

 

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Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Chamber celebrates two ribbon cuttings

Fannin County Chamber

McCAYSVILLE. Ga. – The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce held two ribbon cuttings this week to celebrate the recent openings of the McCaysville Visitor Center and April’s Attic home decor store.

 

A host of local dignitaries joined with McCaysville business owners and citizens as well as Fannin County Chamber of Commerce representatives to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the new McCaysville Visitor Center Wednesday, Jan. 10. Located on East Market Street in downtown McCaysville, the new visitor center overlooks the Toccoa River and provides bountiful information to guests on the Trout Capital of Georgia and the rich history of Copper Basin. Regarding the influx of tourists, river-goers, and train riders who descend on the towns of McCaysville and Copperhill, Tennessee, Sarah Mickens, information specialist for the McCaysville Visitor Center stated, “Everyone always asks, ‘What is there to do here?’ That’s what the visitor center is here for, to give that knowledge and to promote the area businesses and attractions.”

 

Representatives from the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce met with owners and partners from April’s Attic at 6850 Appalachian Hwy. in Blue Ridge Tuesday, Jan. 9, for a ribbon cutting. April’s Attic is a home decor boutique specializing in antiques and collectibles. Seen here during the ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday are, from left, Chamber ambassador Brenda Morgan, Chamber ambassador Lisa Reece, Zack Leach, Mike Cheves, April Leach, namesake owner of April’s Attic, Larry Leach, Austin Leach, Chamber ambassador Bonnie Roper and Chamber Director of Membership Services Dianne Mallernee.

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Habitat receives donation from Light Up Blue Ridge

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Habitat for Humanity of Fannin & Gilmer Counties received a $1,250 donation from Light Up Blue Ridge at the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce Friday, Jan. 5.

The donation, Pam Fink, vice president and chairwoman of Light Up Blue Ridge, explained, was a remainder amount from the donations Light Up received from the community during 2017. Fink stated because Light Up is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, any remainder amount the organization has at the end of the year after the annual holiday events’ expenses are covered goes to another charitable organization.

This year, Fink said, they chose Habitat for Humanity with the caveat that Habitat provide a representative to help coordinate Light Up Blue Ridge’s holiday events and activities. Habitat agreed, and Thomas Arp served as that representative on the Light Up committee. Fink spoke highly of Arp’s willingness to help Light Up Blue Ridge during the past year saying, “The man only knows one word: ‘Yes.'”

Of the partnership Habitat and Light Up shared in 2017, Habitat Executive Director Chris Hall said, “It’s nice to be involved with the Light Up committee. (Habitat has) never, as far as I know, been involved in a downtown event like that, and now because of our mailbox playhouse, with the letters to Santa idea, we get to do that annually. So, it’s not only a great partnership, but it was really a step up in the direction that we’re raising more awareness in the community.”

[Featured image: From left, Ron Pace, Habitat volunteer, Hank Chapman, Habitat volunteer, Ed Steers, Habitat volunteer, Chris Hall, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Fannin & Gilmer Counties, Debbie Peterson, Habitat volunteer, Pam Fink, Light Up Blue Ridge vice president and chairwoman, Kit Miracle, Light Up treasurer, Kim Deutsch, Light Up member, Alan Schulman, Habitat volunteer, and Thomas Arp, Habitat volunteer and representative on Light Up Blue Ridge committee.]

 

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Blues, Brews, and BBQs

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blues and BBQ, 2017, Blue Ridge Lodging Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Snack in a Backpack

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Thousands descended upon our beautiful downtown area for a weekend of fun as Blue Ridge kicked off its annual Blues and BBQ Festival.

The festivities began Friday evening with the 12th Annual Rotary Blues Jam. Live music was held at the Train Depot where residents and visitors alike stopped to enjoy the music and partake in the street dance.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blues and BBQ, 2017, Blue Ridge Lodging Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Snack in a Backpack

Musicians take the stage at Blues and BBQ Festival.

Others opted for an evening of fine dining and adult beverages as businesses throughout downtown opened up their doors for the Blues Crawl. Ten establishments took part in this event and live music from these venues filled the streets.

Saturday, September 15,  saw the main event of the festival. The streets were lined with Barbeque vendors and artists. The beautiful weather helped make for the largest turnout in the festival’s seven year run.

Barbecue vendors got to experience this large crowd first hand, with many vendors selling out during the day. Elliot Wilborn, owner of Smokin’ E’s BBQ, was among those vendors that sold out in the beginning half of the day.

When asked what drew him to setting up as a vendor he laughed and said, “Well, it’s a Bar-B-Que festival.” He then went on to add that, “he wanted to represent Blue Ridge and show visitors what our town has to offer.”

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blues and BBQ, 2017, Blue Ridge Lodging Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Snack in a Backpack

Crowds gather on West Main Street.

Visitors were not disappointed as couple visiting from Memphis, a city known for Blues and BBQ, were heard saying, “Now this is real barbeque” as they sampled a selection from Smokin’ E’s.

The main stage was set up on West Main Street, near the Art Center, and the music was met with as much enthusiasm as the food being offered. People began setting up chairs early in the morning to make sure they were front row for the entertainment.

Crowds filtered in and out as the music played. Some set up camp in the yard of the Art Center to enjoy the shade while others danced in the street. Fun was had by all as the music went on into the evening.

Blues and BBQ wasn’t just for the adults this year, as an impressive Kid’s Corner was also set up near the Park along East Main Street. Children were able to take part in face painting, balloon animals, bounce houses equipped with giant slides, and Blue Ridge’s renovated city park equipment.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blues and BBQ, 2017, Blue Ridge Lodging Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Snack in a Backpack

Nancy Fangle created one of a kind balloon art at the kid’s corner.

The festival was dubbed a success with the Blues and BBQ Facebook page exclaiming that it was the biggest one yet.

The Blues and BBQ Festival is presented by the Blue Ridge Lodging Association and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce. While it is a day of fun and entertainment, the event itself helps to provide for children in our community.

Proceeds go to Snack in a Backpack. This organization provides healthy food items for our local children who receive their meals at school, but might have little to no food in their homes during the weekend. Snack in a Backpack delivers food to our schools during the week for these children to take home with them over the weekend.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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