Fannin Fire Department recognized by Copperhill/McCaysville First Baptist

Fannin County EMA/EMS, Religion

[Featured image: First Baptist Church of Copperhill/McCaysville presented a memento of appreciation to Fire Chief Larry Thomas, far right, and the Fannin County Fire Department during the church’s Sunday morning service May 6. Seen here with Thomas are, from left, Ryan Norton, FBC minister of worship, and Rev. Matthew McDaniel, FBC pastor.]

McCAYSVILLE, Ga. – The Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) was recognized by First Baptist Church of Copperhill, Tennessee, and McCaysville, Georgia, for its efforts and dedication to the community in a special service and dinner Sunday, May 6.

Pastor Matthew McDaniel presented Fire Chief Larry Thomas with a crystal memento of appreciation, honoring the fire department and first responders during the church’s Sunday morning services this past weekend.

First Baptist Church of Copperhill/McCaysville presented this crystal memento to the Fannin County Fire Department Sunday, May 6.

The memento, inscribed with the words “Thank you for your Great Efforts and Dedication to Saving lives and Property,” was given to the department as part of a recognition for all the firefighters and emergency personnel who responded to a fire at the church Tuesday, Jan. 2.

The fire, which resulted from boxes being stacked against a wall heater that was thought to have been inoperable in the church’s balcony, saw a quick response from the fire department that afternoon as crews were able to extinguish the blaze with no injuries before it spread to other areas of the church.

Recalling the day’s events, Chief Thomas stated the fire occurred between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the busiest time of day on the narrow streets of the twin cities.

“I always say a prayer on the way to a call. That day, it was like the Lord just parted the waters as we approached the church,” Thomas said of the ease with which crews were able to reach the fire through rush hour traffic.

As a result of the blaze, First Baptist was forced to temporarily relocate its Sunday morning services for eight weeks to Akins Funeral Home of Copperhill, but returned to its sanctuary on Toccoa Avenue in McCaysville Sunday, March 4.

“It was an honor to be able to recognize (FCFD) and show our appreciation not only for what they’ve done for us, but also for what they do for our community all the time on behalf of everybody, on behalf of the whole community,” Rev. McDaniel stated. “They make a lot of sacrifices, and most of the time, we don’t take into account all that they do for us. And we just appreciate it so much.”

Pastor Matthew McDaniel, of First Baptist Church of Copperhill/McCaysville, presents Fannin County Fire Chief Larry Thomas, left, with a memento of appreciation Sunday, May 6.

Choking back a couple of tears back in his office Wednesday morning, Chief Thomas stated of the community in which he and his department serves, “They do care. They are very interested in what we do. It was an honor to stand up there (Sunday) and accept this recognition. The people of the county really care for us.”

Also Wednesday morning, several members of FCFD and Fannin County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Emergency Management Agency (EMA) gathered at Fire Station 1 for a small ceremony as the three recently added fire engines and two new ambulances were on full display outside the downtown station on West Main Street.

The five emergency vehicles represented some of the additions to the county’s emergency fleet purchased within the last year. In addition, according to Thomas, two used frontline pumper engines have also been added to the fleet. The newer engines, purchased for $240,749 on a six-year payment plan, provides the county with a Class A pumper at every station, Thomas added.

Five newly acquired emergency vehicles were on display Wednesday, May 9, outside of Fire Station 1 on West Main Street. Seen here are, from left, front: Cory Collogan, training chief; Robert Graham, EMA director; Larry Joe Sosebee, county commissioner; Larry Thomas, fire chief; Rob Ross, deputy fire chief; Darrell Payne, EMA deputy director; Brad Beaver, firefighter; Channing Johnstone, firefighter; back: Joey Cox, EMS; Eddie Hopkins, paramedic; Patrick Cooke, E-911 deputy director; and John Reel, E-911.

The ambulances, which were purchased for approximately $124,000 each from the emergency services budget, brings the total ambulance fleet for the county to seven, according to EMA Director Robert Graham.

“We’ve had every one of the new fire engines out on a fire already,” Thomas said Wednesday. “The department is stepping forward in a giant leap right now.”

 

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

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.

‘Misinformation,’ tiny homes addressed by commissioners

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – During the Tuesday, April 24, Fannin County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board discussed what was described as “misinformation” circulating throughout the county and put a six-month moratorium on tiny homes in the county.

Immediately following public commentary, Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee took a moment to address recent comments circulating in the community that suggest the county needs to create a five-year comprehensive plan. Sosebee clarified the county already has a 10-year joint comprehensive plan in place together with the municipalities of Blue Ridge, McCaysville and Morganton, which was created under the guidance of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission (NWGRC).

“Without this document (comprehensive plan) right here, we couldn’t get grants. We couldn’t have got the water grant we got. We couldn’t get LMIG (Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant) money to research the roads,” Sosebee added.

Sosebee also stated the source of these comments estimated the population of Fannin County would reach 40,000 within the next few years.

“Well, that’s a lot of people for a county that’s surrounded by forest service land and can’t contain that many people,” Sosebee said.

According to the NWGRC, as noted by Sosebee, Fannin’s population is expected to peak at 24,349 by 2030.

Chairman Stan Helton explained the 10-year comprehensive is a 161-page document that is available to the public through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs at the www.dca.ga.gov.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson stated, “I know sometimes people accidentally spread misinformation, but I want everyone to realize that when you speak information as if it’s true, it affects people who are serving this county. And I don’t like it reflecting negatively on me, myself, that this county doesn’t have a plan in place.”

Later, county Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham, Fire Chief Larry Thomas, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne, and Deputy Director of E911 Patrick Cooke came to the podium as County Attorney Lynn Doss opened three sealed bids for the purchase of three specialized desks for 911 dispatchers at the forthcoming public safety complex on Windy Ridge Road.

As Doss opened the bids, two were revealed to be duplicates bids from Watson Consoles, of Matthews, North Carolina. The Watson bid was for a total of $49,739.23, which includes $37,116.23 for the product, $9,517 for installation, and $3,106 for freight.

The other bid, from Xybix, of Littleton, Colorado, gave a total of $44,257.42, which includes $2,314.74 for sales tax, $4,100 for freight, and $4,775 for installation. Doss explained because the county is tax exempt, the total cost of the Xybix bid would more accurately be just under $42,000.

After Johnson asked Graham if EMA would need to review the specifications of the bids and the director affirmed that the department would, the bids were tabled to the next meeting for approval.

Following this, the conversation again turned to “misinformation,” this time concerning the Fannin County EMA and Fire Department (FCFD).

Certificate of Compliance from the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Counsel for Fannin County Fire Department.

“As stated earlier, there’s been some misinformation out in the public,” Graham said, “that our fire department may not be in compliance with state and federal standards, and I just want to clear that up a little bit. We are in complete compliance with Georgia Fire Safety Training Center, which is the organization that certifies fire departments in the state of Georgia. We actually have a certificate hanging on the wall at each fire station to say that we’re in compliance.”

Showing the one of the certificates to the commissioners, Graham explained although the certificate is dated 2004, the certification remains with the department unless that department becomes non-compliant. Though Graham admitted the department does rely heavily on volunteer firefighters, FCFD has “30 full-time paid employees whose duties include fire fighting, and we have never had a fire call go unanswered.”

Graham also stated the EMA currently has seven total ambulances, four of which are on-duty ambulances and three are make-up ambulances.

After Helton asked about the prospect of doubling the number of firefighters and the cost involved, both Director Graham and Chief Thomas estimated the added cost would be around $1.5 million annually for personnel along with further costs for facility upgrades.

“It’s a shame – by one person spewing misinformation – it is a shame that you have to stand here and talk about this,” Commissioner Johnson told Graham, Thomas, Payne and Cooke. “They know that we’ve had plans, they know exactly that we are state-certified … It’s a shame to me that you have to stand here and defend yourselves over something that one person in an interview just felt like he had to say … All of you have been in government a long time. It’s just election time … I appreciate you all coming up here taking your time and explaining, trying to make the people feel comfortable again.”

In other business, Chief Land Development Officer Marie Woody addressed the board on the prospect of enacting a tiny home ordinance. At the April 10 commissioners meeting, Woody and the board opened a discussion regarding tiny homes but tabled that discussion to the next meeting.

A finished, prefabricated tiny home.

On Tuesday, Woody stated Fannin is one of only four counties (Fannin, Lumpkin, Towns and Union) north of Cherokee County, Georgia, that has not passed some form of zoning. She also added that in surveying 15 nearby counties, none of the counties have specific ordinances on tiny homes and eight are currently considering tiny home ordinances, but of those eight, most have not yet decided on the square footage requirements.

Helton stated one subdivision development for tiny homes was already in the works in the county.

“We do not want to pull the rug out from under him with the investment he’s already made,” Helton said of the developer of the proposed subdivision, “but as we go forward, the concern would be that we don’t want something that is going to negatively affect other property owners in Fannin County.”

When asked about the minimum size of lots currently allowed by the county, Woody stated for a fresh tract of land with its own water and sewer system, lots could be subdivided as small as a one-third (0.33) of an acre though land development recommends no less than a 0.55-acre lot. For separate lots with water wells and septic systems, Woody explained the county recommends between 1.33-acre and 1.5-acre lots.

Johnson stated he was not so much concerned with the size of tiny homes as he was with the size of lots within potential developments and subdivisions for tiny homes.

Helton proposed to the post commissioners the idea of placing a moratorium on building tiny home subdivisions and developments and asked the commissioners for input on an exact time frame for the moratorium. After discussion, it was decided and approved unanimously to enact the moratorium for six months beginning July 1, 2018.

Robin Gazaway, county finance director, presented the monthly budget update for the county through March 31. Overall, according to Gazaway, the county is 25 percent through the fiscal year and 22 percent of its budget has been expended, leaving the county $829,415 under budget.

Departments seeing significant under-budget amounts were Public Roads ($557,168 under budget), Sheriff’s Office ($89,520 under), and Recreations ($27,148 under). Gazaway stated two departments were currently over budget – Fire/EMS/EMA ($34,983 over budget) and Tax Assessors ($18,257 over). She explained Fire/EMS/EMA was over budget because of an ambulance purchase early in the year and the Tax Assessors department was over budget because of the purchase of two vehicles but added that both departments are expected to balance out before the end of the year. The Recreation department was reported to have a $80,768 revenue, which Gazaway stated was due to the collection of gate receipts and increased concessions.

Also, Gazaway said both Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) collections were up for the year as of March 31. LOST collections, according to Gazaway, stood at $916,490.42 compared to $867,439.17 in the first quarter of 2017. SPLOST collections were $1,209,712.71 as opposed to $1,145,146.18 last year.

After an executive session, the commissioners reconvened and approved three decisions.

The board approved a filing in Superior Court to abate a public safety nuisance on Ada Street. Last month, the board unanimously approved a property on Ada Street to be dilapidated and for it to be condemned.

Also, the board approved to forward with bringing an unauthorized junkyard on Mobile Road into compliance with county ordinances.

Lastly, the board granted Rene Hamby’s transfer to the Public Works department and approved the hiring of Lauren Hein as the new human resources director for county government.

[Featured image: Members of the Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and Fire Department display a Certificate of Compliance from the state. Seen here are, from left, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne, Fire Chief Larry Thomas, Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham, and Deputy Director of E911 Patrick Cooke.]

 

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

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.

McCaysville/Copperhill First Baptist sees fire Tuesday afternoon

News

McCAYSVILLE, Ga. – The First Baptist Church of McCaysville/Copperhill experienced a small fire Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 2.

According to Rev. Matthew McDaniel, pastor of First Baptist Church, a passerby noticed smoke coming from the building and contacted McDaniel. McDaniel then contacted a church deacon, who was near the church at the time and able to confirm the fire and call 911.

Gray smoke billows from the steeple of First Baptist Church of McCaysville/Copperhill during a small fire Tuesday.

Fannin County Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas stated crews were dispatched to the church at 4:18 p.m. and arrived four minutes later. A total of twenty firefighters worked to extinguish and contain a fire that began in a storage room in the church’s balcony. Thomas stated the blaze resulted from boxes of Christmas decorations stacked against an embedded wall heater that was thought to be turned off at its power source. No injuries occurred as a result of the fire, Thomas added, and the area was cleared at 6:35 p.m.

“By the time I arrived, the Fannin County Fire Department was actively containing the fire, and it was contained to the small area,” Pastor McDaniel explained.

As smoke billowed from the base of the church’s steeple, Toccoa Avenue, just in front of the church, became a staging area for crews and engines from the Fannin County Fire Department working to extinguish the blaze as well as a number emergency medical services (EMS) vehicles. Ultimately, the McCaysville Police Department closed the street to traffic for close to two hours from the state-line intersection with Ocoee Street and Blue Ridge Drive to a point just past the church on Toccoa Avenue, creating headaches for motorists and truck drivers attempting to travel through the twin cities during rush hour.

Returning home Tuesday afternoon from youth camp, members of the First Baptist Church of
McCaysville/Copperhill youth department are stunned with news of a fire at the church.

Compounding the situation, four church vans transporting 45 members of the church’s youth department rolled back into town from a youth camp retreat just as the fire was taking place. The parking lot of the Hometown Foods IGA supermarket in McCaysville, about one block from the church, served as an impromptu unloading and pick-up area for the youth coming home from the retreat.

McDaniel stated he does not anticipate that the fire will affect regularly scheduled services this week and expects to be fully functional for activities and services to continue this Sunday.

According to the pastor, damage was minor and contained to the storage room located in the back of the balcony. Likely, the church will close the balcony to worshipers this Sunday and utilize only the lower sanctuary, McDaniel added.

Commenting on the fire, McDaniel said, “I would like to thank the Fannin County First Responders, Fire Department, and McCaysville City Police Department for doing a tremendous job in fighting the fire and keeping us all safe during the process. This is one of those things that you cannot control, so we will trust God to guide us through it, and remain thankful that no one was hurt and that the damage was minor. We closed out the night like every other night, knowing that God is Good!”

Speaking of the coordinated efforts of the Fannin County emergency personnel and the McCaysville Police Department, Chief Thomas said, “I appreciate the help we got from the McCaysville Police in closing the street to make it easier for the firefighters to do their job.”

Also, according to Thomas, the state division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be conducting a follow-up investigation of the fire on Wednesday afternoon; however, Thomas stated such investigations are simply procedural any time there is a church fire.

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.

Fannin emergency personnel honored at awards banquet

Fannin County EMA/EMS

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Members of Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Fire Department gathered at Willow Creek Falls Thursday evening, Dec. 15, for the departments’ annual Christmas Dinner and Awards Banquet.

Following a festive holiday dinner complete with turkey, ham and all the trimmings enjoyed by a large number of firefighters and emergency personnel along with their families, Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham and Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas presented the yearly awards to honor personnel as nominated by their peers.

“I want to say thank you to everyone whose made this department something really special,” Graham said just before presenting the awards.

Spencer Kitchens was announced by Graham as the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) of the Year. Graham spoke highly of Kitchens and Kitchens’ constant willingness to improvise in difficult situations. Kitchens was not able to attend the banquet Thursday.

Next, Graham presented the award of David W. Curtis Memorial Paramedic of the Year to Bobby Long. “(Long) is a big asset to anyone going through paramedic school as he is a wealth of knowledge, which he is always eager to share,” Graham said of Long.

Paramedic Bobby Long, center, receives the award for Paramedic of the Year. Seen here with Long are, from left, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne, Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Rob Ross, Long, EMA Director Robert Graham and Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas.

Chief Thomas presented the FCFD Rookie of the Year award to Tim Grant. “He does a lot. He does a lot that is unseen out there, too,” Thomas stated of Grant, adding he suspected the award might come as a surprise to Grant.

Tim Grant, center, receives the Rookie of the Year award. Seen here with Grant are from left, EMA Director Robert Graham, Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas, Grant holding son Lawson Timothy Grant, Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Rob Ross and EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne. 

Channing Johnstone was awarded FCFD Firefighter of the Year by Thomas, who stated, “(Johnstone’s) traveled that long hard road. He’s stood up (and) he’s done – what I feel like, as chief of the department – that he should be doing, right now.”

Firefighter Channing Johnstone, center, receives the Firefighter of the Year award. Seen here with Johnstone are, from left, EMA Director Robert Graham, Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas, Johnstone, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne and Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Rob Ross. 

For Volunteer of the Year, Chief Thomas had the privilege of presenting his son, Josh Thomas, with the award and jokingly reminded everyone that the award nominations came directly from the personnel and not the officers.

Firefighter Josh Thomas, center, receives the Volunteer of the Year award. Seen here with Josh Thomas are, from left, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne, EMA Director Robert Graham, Josh Thomas, Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas and Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Rob Ross. 

Next, Chief Thomas presented Ryan McDaris with the Officer of the Year award. “I stand proud to call him one of my lead officers,” Thomas said as he presented McDaris with the honor.

Ryan McDaris, center, receives the Officer of the Year. Seen here with McDaris are, from left, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne, EMA Director Robert Graham, McDaris, Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Rob Ross and Chief Larry Thomas. 

The Lawrence Waters Rescue Award went to Jason Turner by Chief Thomas for his unwavering commitment to duty and leadership.

Jason Turner, second from right, receives the Lawrence Waters Rescue Award. Seen here with Turner are, from left, EMA Deputy Director Darrell Payne, EMA Director Robert Graham, Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas, Turner and Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Rob Ross. 

Darrin Conner, who also was not present to receive the award, was honored with the Communications Officer of the Year award.

“I really wish I could give every one of you a trophy (or) a plaque … I’m seeing the generations come up from underneath as chief of the department, and it’s really making me proud,” Thomas said near the end of the awards ceremony. “I’m (hearing) a lot coming from other counties. They’re talking about us, and it’s not bad – let me tell you – it’s not bad. The other chiefs that I meet with at these conventions, they say, ‘Chief, how do you do it? How do you maintain what you’ve got?’ It’s hard, we all pull together and we’re like one big happy family … We’re brothers and sisters in this, and we know how to pull together.”

A framed memorial to Howard R. (Ted) Gregory will hang at Station 14.

An emotional moment came at the end of the evening when Thomas unveiled a large framed collage of photos honoring the memory of the late Fannin County Fire Department Captain, Howard R. (Ted) Gregory. Gregory, Thomas explained, joined FCFD in 2000 and served as captain of Station 10 starting in 2004 and later at Station 14 beginning in 2007. Gregory passed away in 2012 after suffering a heart attack, and Thomas stated he has wanted to do something for the past five years to honor Gregory’s memory. The collage features photos of Gregory during his time spent with FCFD along with his badge and a heartfelt tribute written to commemorate Gregory’s service.

“I wanted everyone to know how much Ted Gregory meant to me,” Thomas said, choking back tears.

The framed tribute to Gregory will hang at Station 14 where the captain served.

Chief Thomas ended by saying, “I feel blessed to be here and blessed to tell these stories about this fire department.”

 

[cincopa A4LAJJ-qFVgU]

 

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

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.

Fire destroys two Scenic Drive trailers Thursday morning

Uncategorized

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A house fire destroyed two single-wide trailers at 1909 Scenic Drive in Blue Ridge early Thursday morning, Dec. 7.

According to Fannin County Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas, crews were dispatched at 1:59 a.m. to the address after receiving a call from a resident, who was sleeping inside one of the trailers, woke to find the home filled with black smoke.

Fire destroyed two trailers on Scenic Drive early Thursday morning.

Eight firefighters, one engine and one ambulance arrived at the scene at 2:03 a.m.

Thomas said the fire quickly spread to a second trailer because of the close proximity of the two trailers. Four residents, including two adult males and two adult females, were able to escape the two structures with no injuries.

Both homes are considered total losses, according to Thomas, and the cause of the fire is yet to be determined. An investigation into the cause is still ongoing by Fannin County Fire Department investigators and the state fire marshal’s office. Thomas stated he expects to receive a determination as to the cause sometime in the next day.

American Red Cross is assisting with providing shelter and clothes to the displaced residents, Thomas added.

FCFD responded to another fire occurring downtown Sunday night, Dec. 3, outside of Fightingtown Tavern after a passerby reported seeing a fire near the back fence of the establishment.

Firefighters responded to a fire at Fightingtown Tavern Monday evening.

Thomas explained the fire, which occurred after the restaurant had closed for the evening, started after an employee had cleaned hot ashes out of a chiminea on the restaurant’s patio section and placed the ashes in a cardboard box, thinking the ashes were cool enough to dispose. After the box had been set near the wooden fence, the box caught fire, which resulted in the fence catching fire.

Crews were able to arrive quickly to extinguish the fire, and only a small portion of the fence suffered damage, according to Thomas.

 

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.

Light Up Blue Ridge, parade draws thousands

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The weather was chilly, but the spirits were warm and bright Saturday afternoon and evening during the Light Up Blue Ridge holiday celebration.

The day began with an arrival of a very special guest from the far north when Santa Claus arrived on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and greeted children, with wishlists in hand, in the downtown city park all afternoon. Storefronts decorated for the fourth annual Holiday Storefront Decorating Contest greeted shoppers up and down the downtown streets as many attempted to get an early jump on their Christmas shopping.

Throughout the day, several musical and theatrical acts entertained passersby at various places all afternoon including the Fannin County High School (FCHS) Theater Group and a barbershop quartet, both of whom performed at Sycamore Crossing, as well as Voices of Hope and a children’s choir led by Connie Davis.

One of the houses in the Gingerbread Village at the BRMAA Art Center.

Over on West Main St., the Blue Ridge Mountains Art Association Art Center hosted the annual Gingerbread House Village for those wanting to take a quick break and warm up from the busy and blustery downtown streets.

By 5:30, night had fallen in north Georgia, and it was time for the annual Blue Ridge Christmas Parade. Starting near First Baptist Church, the parade looped down East Main, Mountain and West Main streets, which were all lined with excited faces, young and old, packed earmuff to earmuff on the sidewalks to take in all of the festivities as well as a few pocketfuls of candy.

The parade featured a number of creatively designed Holiday floats, patriotically adorned Fannin County fire engines, antique cars and tractors, the FCHS Marching Band and even a few local dignitaries as City Councilman Elect Nathan Fitts and Shannon York served as MCs for the night.

The PruittHealth Train Float chugs its way down East Main Street during the annual Blue Ridge Christmas Parade.

Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce led the way down the the route in his squad car followed by Mayor Donna Whitener and City Councilwoman Rhonda Thomas close behind in convertibles draped with Christmas lights and City Councilwoman Elect Robbie Cornelius following shortly behind them.

Fannin County Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas escorted Georgia State Senator Steve Gooch in his familiar white truck as Gooch and his family visited Blue Ridge for the day to take in the Holiday celebration and treats.

Georgia Senator Steve Gooch and Fannin County Fire Chief Larry Thomas.

The Fannin and Copper Basin Girl Scouts council marched the route with smiling faces and handfuls of candy to the delight of several youngsters lining the sidewalks.

The FCHS Color Guard and Marching Band served up several rousing renditions of everyone’s favorite Holiday tunes while the Drumline joyfully pounded out the beat on instruments encompassed with red and green Christmas lights.

Several businesses and organizations, including Mercier Orchards, The Home Depot, the Blue Ridge Community Theater and PruittHealth of Blue Ridge among others, contributed elaborately designed floats and displays for the parade. On the Special Olympics float, Snoopy even took time to  make an appearance.

Mary and Joseph keeps watch over Baby Jesus during the Blue Ridge Christmas Parade.

On another float, the Reason for the Season was portrayed as Mary and Joseph watched over Baby Jesus, who was “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

Rounding out the parade was Jolly Ole Saint Nicholas, who was escorted down the route in an antique 1930 Ford. Later, Santa took center stage in the park as he assisted Shannon York with the lighting of the 27-foot tall Great Tree to the amazement of many enthusiastic onlookers.

As the night quickly grew colder, country music star Collin Raye warmed the hearts of the crowd with a soulful version of O, Holy Night.

Holiday festivities will continue on weekends throughout the season in downtown Blue Ridge leading up to Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year is officially underway.

[cincopa AELA1KuCOIfN]

 

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

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.

Johnson on BOC: ‘We’re going down a bad road’

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – In what Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson described as a “bad nightmare,” the county Board of Commissioners addressed the notion of increasing the chairman’s spending limit from $4,500 to $25,000 during the commissioners meeting Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Currently, BOC Chairman Stan Helton is allowed to approve county expenditures less than $4,500 himself without the approval of either Johnson or Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee. Expenditures greater than that amount require signatures from two of the three commissioners. The potential approval of the spending limit increase would have upped that amount to $25,000.

Helton cited Fannin County’s most recent audit, which listed the number of invoices needing Board approval as a “material weakness,” as a primary reason for the potential change in procedure. Helton also stated that about 400 checks this year have required Board approval. The chairman also read from the audit that “the approved purchase order policies and procedures are not being followed. Purchase orders are being obtained subsequent to the purchase.”

“In other words, we’re signing the checks after the fact,” Helton explained in his own words. In addition, he referenced surrounding counties – though no specifics were given – as other entities with higher chairman spending limits.

In follow-up interviews with both Sosebee and Johnson, neither commissioner could explain Helton’s reasoning for wanting to increase the spending limit as an effort to correct the audit deficiency. When reached for comment, Chairman Helton explained he felt a higher spending limit would increase payment efficiency and cut down 75 percent of the invoices that must be processed by commission approval. “The $4,500 spending limit creates a bottleneck of invoices that requires the county to chase down one of the other post commissioners for approval,” Helton said.

“I’ll just go ahead and tell you no,” Johnson said in the meeting after Helton asked the post commissioners for their input. “All these counties we’re comparing them to as well, the county attorneys work for the Board of Commissioners, so that’s how that kind of offsets that balance of power. If I have a problem or a question with an expenditure – if I’m in Pickens or Gilmer county – I can go to the county attorney … and I can get an answer that’s not biased. In Fannin County, our county attorney (Lynn Doss) still works for the chairman.”

Johnson later explained Pickens’ chairman spending limit is currently $25,000 and Gilmer’s limit is $50,000. He also referred to instances of former Chairman Bill Simonds overspending his limit, and when Johnson questioned Simonds’ ability to do this in the past, he said he did not receive a reasonable explanation from County Attorney Doss.

Sosebee agreed with Johnson saying, “I’m not for raising (the limit) at any level right now … Like Mr. Johnson said, this is Fannin County. We’re not in debt. Millage rate’s lower than any other county … We just went down this road (with the previous administration) and I don’t intend to walk it again.”

Sosebee also pointed out that in Helton’s campaign for the office, the current chairman advocated for controlling former Chairman Simonds’ spending limit.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson

Johnson added he was beginning to see a “pattern going in the wrong way” developing with too many “tweaks” during Helton’s administration, citing specifically the post commissioners’ commentary being taken off the agenda and Helton’s request for all comments to be addressed to him as stated on the commissioners meeting agendas.

The discussion quickly evolved into Johnson requesting moves be taken by the Board to allow Doss to represent the entire Board of Commissioners and not just the chairman. Helton explained he has encouraged Doss to communicate with the post commissioners and Doss said she had emailed both posts and had spoken with Sosebee about issues in the past.

Later, Johnson made a motion four times to take steps to amend the county’s structure to allow Doss to represent the entire Board, the first of which was seconded by Sosebee. Sosebee did not second any of Johnson’s subsequent motions after the chairman stated he had neither asked for a motion nor a second.

Helton resisted the motions calling his position the “most constitutionally weak chairman this county’s ever had” and added he was not in favor of weakening the position ever further. When the notion of evoking home rule was addressed, Johnson stated he would like to consult the county attorney on the matter but could not because she did not work for the full commission.

After Helton told the post commissioners the only motion he would entertain would be a motion to adjourn, the chairman made such a motion, but Johnson and Sosebee refused to second it. At this point, the meeting reached an impasse.

“To put this situation about changing the county attorney here on the spot like this is unacceptable,” Helton told Johnson. “Now we can sit here all night.”

Reconvening after a five-minute recess, Johnson said he wanted to make an example for everyone to see the “pickle” in which the post commissioners are put by not having the same level of legal representation from the county attorney that the chairman has.

“Everything’s about the chairman,” Johnson continued, “even our minutes. The only minutes that our clerk (Karen Jones) has recorded is what the chairman says … I do paving for a living and I don’t pave over a bad road. And we’re going down a bad road.”

Commission Chairman Stan Helton

After Helton again made a motion to adjourn, Sosebee seconded the motion under the provision that the county attorney issue be revisited at the next meeting. Helton agreed to this and the meeting adjourned.

Ultimately, no decision was made to increase the chairman’s spending limit, but Helton said he would personally examine ways to resolve the issue to comply with the standards of the audit.

Prior to this discussion, several items of business were addressed. Robert Graham, director of Fannin’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA), requested the purchase of a new ambulance for the county’s fleet. Graham informed the Board if the ambulance were ordered now, the contractor would honor the 2017 price of $124,280, which would result in savings of $4,000 to $5,000 for the county by not waiting until next year to make the purchase. Graham clarified the ambulance would be a second ordered ambulance after the county approved the purchase of a previous ambulance earlier this year. The Board unanimously approved the expenditure and Graham stated the county can expect the ambulance to be delivered by early February 2018. Also, he said the expenditure would come out of the 2018 budget.

Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas requested the purchase of a used fire engine for $45,000 to replace Engine 13. Thomas said officials from the Fannin Fire Department had inspected the used engine and found it to be in “sound order.” The incoming engine will be used as a frontline engine, Thomas said, and Engine 13 would then be used as a tanker. The funds for the expenditure will come from the department’s 2017 capital outlay and the department would have a $17,000 balance remaining, according to Helton. The purchase was unanimously approved.

Also, the Board approved and instituted ACCG as the cancer insurance provider for the county’s fire department. In May, Georgia lawmakers passed House Bill 146, which mandates that fire departments provide firefighters with insurance benefits should they contract cancer while as a result of work conditions.

Several citizens spoke in public commentary concerning issues with Fannin County Animal Control and the recent incident in which two German shepherds were inadvertently turned over to an individual claiming to be the dogs’ rightful owner but was not. For a detailed account, please continue to follow FetchYourNews for the story covering the public commentary.

Public Works Director and Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) board member Zack Ratcliff requested the purchase of a used trackhoe excavator for the Public Works department that the FCWA is selling for $42,000. Post Commissioners Sosebee and Johnson both rejected the purchase.

“I feel like we’ve got enough equipment out there right now than what we’ve got people to run it,” Sosebee told Ratcliff.

“I, for one, don’t why the Water Authority is selling it to begin with. Secondly, I don’t think we need it,” Johnson stated.

Chairman Helton gave no indication as to his thoughts on the purchase.

For the Recreation Department, the Board approved a bid of $8,735 from Praters Flooring to resurface the gymnasium floor at the Recreation Center. Recreation Director Eddie O’Neal said the project is slated to start Dec. 13 and the gymnasium will likely have to remain closed until Monday, Dec. 18.

Project Chimps, which provides a sanctuary for retired chimpanzees used in private research labs, will receive 10 additional chimpanzees after the Board approved a permit allowing for the additional group. The chimpanzees are expected to arrive at the sanctuary by Dec. 12.

From left, Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson, PruittHealth Community Relations Representative Brad Watkins, Chairman Stan Helton, PruittHealth Community Relations Representative Amy Beavers, PruittHealth Administrator Kelly Floyd, PruittHealth Administrator Dana Cole and Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee.

Representatives were present from PruittHealth of Blue Ridge for a proclamation declaring November to be Hospice and Home Health Month in Fannin County to encourage citizens to increase the awareness and importance of home health services both locally and nationally.

 

 

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

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.

Commissioners Consider Local Architects for Fire Station #1

News

A sample design of a fire station.

Fannin County Commissioners like to buy local, even with architects.  Wednesday, March 30, the Fannin County Board of Commissioners opened sealed bids from the architecture firms who want to design Fannin County’s new fire station #1/EMS Center, located on Windy Hill Road next to the bridge over 515.  County Clerk Rita Kirby read the bid quotes.  The quotes ranged from 5.6% to 7.2% of hard construction cost. After questions to architects David Goodspeed of Goodspeed Architecture and Rick Larossa of R Design Works, who were at the meeting, the Board of Commissioners voted to review the bids for one week.  They will return to the question on Tuesday, April 5th at 6 pm.  This upcoming meeting is a substitute for the April 12th meeting.  The Board of Commissioners second meeting in April will be on the fourth Tuesday, April 26.

There was one bid from a Chattanooga firm, one bid from an Atlanta firm and three bids by Fannin County Architects.

The first bid came in from David Goodspeed Architecture from Dial.  Goodspeed Architecture is new to building for Fannin County.  He does have experience with building schools, government buildings and fire stations in Florida, from where he moved to Fannin County. R Design Works is out of Morganton.  He has designed several Fannin County buildings:  Fannin County Development Authority, Mercier Orchards and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Fannin County.  Currently, he is designing the City of Blue Ridge’s new welcome center.

Milan Vančura, the third architect, is out of Epworth.  He designed the Mineral Bluff Train Depot and Epworth United Methodist Church. His bid was not as concretely described as Goodspeed Architecture and R Design Works’ were.

Fannin Fire Chief Larry Thomas was at the meeting as well, grinning from ear to ear, that the dream of having a sufficiently-sized fire station #1 is closer to reality.  Chief Thomas was also showing off pictures of Fannin’s heaviest fire truck driving on the future site of the fire station off Windy Ridge Road.  The ground preparation of the site is strong and stable enough to hold the engines, which reduced a concern both the Fire Chief and the Board of Commissioners had about the site.

 

Author

FetchYourNews.com - Dedicated to serve the needs of the community. Provide a source of real news-Dependable Information-Central to the growth and success of our Communities. Strive to encourage, uplift, warn, entertain, & enlighten our readers/viewers- Honest-Reliable-Informative.

News - Videos - TV - Marketing - Website Design - Commercial Production - Consultation

Search

FetchYourNews.com - Citizen Journalists - A place to share “Your” work. Send us “Your” information or tips - 706.276.NEWs (6397) 706.889.9700 chief@FetchYourNews.com

Back to Top