Blue Ridge, Ga. – Blue Ridge City Council passed an official State of Emergency for all citizens and business owners within city limits.
After discussions with several local and state agencies and mounting pressure from the public, an emergency special meeting was called and held via teleconference at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25.
The ordinance, which passed unanimously will take effect at noon on Thursday, March 26 and expire on April 15, 2020. The ordinance does allow for city council to extend the time period of the ordinance, if deemed necessary, beyond the April 15 expiration date.
A curfew will be placed within the city limits, with exception being given to essential personnel, beginning at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26.
“A curfew is imposed from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. effective 9:00 p.m. March 26, 2020. Residents, unless “exempt individuals” as defined herein, shall remain in their homes or on their property during the curfew period.”
The ordinance also has a shelter in place provision. Persons are allowed to leave residences for essential activities, such as obtaining supplies, and for essential business. You do not have to remain indoors during this time, but will need to remain on your property, private properties, or public properties that are allowed to remain open by municipalities.
Among activities that were addressed were the gathering of people on city owned property.
“For the duration of the declared emergency, there shall be no public gatherings on any property owned or controlled by the City. To avoid confusion, the following definitions shall apply under this Section: a “public gathering” shall mean the organized gathering or assembly of more than five or more persons at a specific location; “property owned or controlled by the City shall include any park, public square, public space, playground, recreational area, or similar place of public gathering, but nothing herein shall prohibit individuals or families from using sidewalks or designated pedestrian areas of parks for walking or other exercise if they are not participating in an organized gathering.”
The ordinance also calls for a closure to all non-essential business except for “Minimum Basic Operations”.
Minimum Basic Operations are defined as: “(a) the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions; and (b) the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.”
Restaurants may operate, but must close all dine-in areas and “may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery, drive-through or take-out services” only. The ordinance further states: “Any restaurant that is currently licensed to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, such business shall be authorized to sell unopened bottles, cans, or other sealed containers of beer or wine for take-out consumption off-premises.”
The City encourages essential businesses to remain open. These businesses must follow the social distancing rule of 6 feet to the greatest extent possible and put signage on storefronts reminding customers of the social distancing rules.
Essential businesses may not allow more than 10 people in their building at a time if social distancing is unable to be maintained.
The ordinance defines “essential businesses” as:
- Healthcare Operations and essential infrastructure;
- Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
- Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
- Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
- Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
- Gas stations and auto-supply, auto repair, and related facilities;
- Banks and related financial institutions and pawn shops;
- Hardware stores;
- Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and Essential Businesses;
- Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
- Educational institutions-including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities-for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
- Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, or similar facilities shall not be subject to the restrictions contained in this Ordinance.
- Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
- Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
- Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
- Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
- Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
- Professional services, such as legal, or accounting services:
- Childcare facilities;
- Construction services; and
- Utility, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, railroads, public transportation, taxi/rideshare, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services).
Lastly, the ordinance states that all vacation rentals, including hotels and motels in city limits, are to be declared non-essential, stating: “Any customer currently occupying a Tourism Rental under a paid reservation tendered prior to March 23, 2020 shall be allowed to complete the original reservation period but shall not be allowed to extend. All other customers must vacate the Tourism Rental within forty-eight (48) hours of this Ordinance going into effect.”
Violation of any term or provision of the Ordinance is punishable by a civil fine of $1,000 per violation.
The Fannin County Board of Commissioners are meeting at 4 p.m. today and are expected to implement a State of Emergency for Fannin County as a whole.
FANNIN COUNTY, Ga – Fannin Board of Commissioners called an emergency meeting on Tuesday, March 24 to discuss declaring a COVID-19 related state of emergency.
If the county declares a state of emergency, then it has the power to determine essential and non-essential businesses, restrict lodging providers, and issue a shelter in place directive.
The restriction of lodging was a point of discussion due to the influx of out-of-towners into Fannin County since the COVID-19 outbreak in Georgia. Currently, the only restricted areas for lodging under 10 individuals in Georgia are Jekyll, St. Simmons, and Tybee Islands, according to County Attorney Lynn Doss. However, counties can close rentals that house more than 10 because it violates the nationwide mandate.
Doss said, “You have to have some lodging available if you’re going to have commercial traffic through here. I’m talking about the truckers coming in that might need to spend the night that brought in stuff to the hospital. I’m talking about utility workers that might be here. In a pandemic, it’s not like a tornado, where trees went down, but you still have to have lodging available.”
Post Two Glenn Patterson asked if individuals like that could show their license to prove why they’re in the community. This could hopefully be a way to identify tourists coming into the community.
“We cannot restrict travel,” stated Doss. “I’ve talked to no one who understands how a county government is restricting travel on a federal highway.”
The commissioner’s decision applies to the unincorporated areas of the county only, not Blue Ridge, McCaysville, or the schools.
“I’ve noticed since Friday is a huge number of out of town plates. State plates, but southern counties, neighboring counties,” stated Post One Earl Johnson. “I know my concern is all the people, they may be fleeing from these larger cities to maybe get to a less populated area. They’re still using our facilities, our grocery stores, EMS, and police force. It’s a sticky situation in my opinion. My idea would be how to try and convince people to stay where they’re at like we’ve all been instructed to do.”
He also asked how the county could enforce the declaration and stop people from renting out homes during this time.
The county has approximately 1,400 rental cabins and 4,500+ second homes, so if the county closes all of those to rentals, the owners can still come in to occupy it. However, it will be difficult to determine if the people in these cabins and homes are the owners or renters at first. The county wouldn’t know for certain until next quarter when the rental tax return comes out.
Restricting rentals all goes back to the property owners because they are ultimately responsible, not the property management company.
“I hate it’s going to hurt our economy, but the opposite of that is to save lives,” Patterson articulated.
Fannin County’s health system can’t support an extra 4,000 or more people according to Doss. She also said that the hospital could handle one to three cases without a ventilator. The Fannin Board of Health wants everyone to “actively discourage travel” at this time.
Chairman Stan Helton asked how the commission can create an easy-to-understand document that everyone can access and abide by.
“Right now, we just don’t know what people are bringing into the cabin or maybe have brought. You can talk about rental cabins; well you have folks that probably may come up here and think it’s a good time to buy property up here. They’re anticipating the market to go the other direction. How do you address that as well? I don’t have an answer. I guess I just have questions, said Helton. “From what I’ve heard at this point, if we can do something that’s very effective for two weeks, that might not eliminate what can get in here, but it may keep the numbers down.”
Tourist activities could be prohibited during a state of emergency. Peak tourism season is around June and judging from President Trump’s recent statement’s the country will be back to work by that time.
“People live in this county and work in Atlanta. Obviously, we can’t disturb that. Do we have any thoughts about asking people to not vacation at other places that run the potential to bring something back here? I don’t think we should fine people for something like that,” inquired Helton.
Doss replied that if a shelter in place is issued then people shouldn’t be visiting other cities unless it’s an emergency like a family member being taken to Emory in Atlanta.
“If we can’t educate our kids right now, we can’t worship however, we choose to, I think it’s very reasonable we cut out our tourist right now,” declared Johnson.
Under a state of emergency, the ultimate authority rests with EMA/EMS Director Robert Graham. It doesn’t supersede the daily operations of the tax commissioner, clerk of court, or anything that comes under the board of commissioners or chairman. Graham could order the courthouse closed or implement a curfew. A state of emergency also opens the doors to federal funding if the President issues a declaration.
If the federal or state government rescinds their states of emergencies, then Fannin’s would automatically end.
Fannin can add to a state of emergency if needed at a later time. The board can also do business by teleconference.
“We’re not trying to hurt any business, but we have to take some kind of measure to protect the people that live here all the time,” stated Johnson.
“I do know in our community there’s a lot of anxiety and a lot of fear. We don’t want that to turn to panic. We want to come up with measured responses that are effective but also give people peace,” Helton affirmed.
The Board of Commissioners is expected to declare a state of emergency at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the third case of COVID-19 in Fannin County in it’s Friday, March 27 report at 7 p.m.
Today’s 12 p.m. report verified the second case while the 7 p.m. confirmed the third.
At this time, Fetch Your News doesn’t have any additional details about the case. We’ll bring you updates as soon as we have the information.
The total cases in Georgia now number 2,198 with 607 hospitalized, and 65 deaths.
Original story below:
The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed on Tuesday, March 24 in their 7:00 p.m. update, that Fannin County has recorded its first confirmed case of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
While there have been several suspected cases in Fannin County, until today all tests had come back negative.
The first confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Georgia was announced by state officials on March 2. These cases were of a Fulton man in his 50’s that had recently returned from a work trip in Milan, and his 15-year-old son.
Georgia’s total number of positive cases confirmed by DPH as of 7:00 p.m. on March 24, has risen to 1097.
At this time DPH has noted 38 deaths related to Covid-19 in Georgia.
Neighboring counties are reporting zero cases in Gilmer County and zero cases in Union County.
DPH updates the list of confirmed cases in Georgia at noon and 7 p.m. each day. The numbers are expected to increase as more testing becomes available to the public.
FYN will bring you more details as they become available.
McCaysville, Ga. – The McCaysville City Council held an emergency special called meeting to address concerns from the citizens regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
The purpose of this meeting was to declare a Public Health Emergency within the city and to lay out how city businesses and functions would be handled moving forward.
“It’s only a matter of time before we get a positive case here in the county,” Dr. Dillon Miller of Blue Ridge Medical Group spoke with the council. “If I were a betting man, I would say that within the next week we’re going to have a positive test come back for the county.”
Miller said that over the last week there have been testings for Covid-19 in the double digits run in Fannin County. He added that with the influx of people coming to our area from “hot zones” like Atlanta, that it could “create the perfect storm for spreading the disease”.
The council voted unanimously to pass the emergency ordinance after being informed that a small number of businesses were not willing to voluntarily comply.
The ordinance states that beginning March 25, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. all gatherings or events of 10 or more people, outside of private households, are prohibited.
- All bars, restaurants, or establishments that sell food and beverages can offer take out only, and dining is prohibited on the property of these establishments.
- All gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys, pools, arcades, parlors, nail salons, hair salons, private social clubs or any facility used for entertainment, social and grooming must be closed to in person events.
- Essential stores allowed to stay open, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, must post signage on their doors informing customers to stay at least 6 feet apart and cannot allow more than 10 people in the establishment at a time.
The McCaysville Police Department has been tasked with enforcing the new ordinance. The ordinance will expire in 30 days of passing but does have the option for council to renew for an additional 30 days.
Written By : Logan Fitts
These are two cities in Georgia that see an influx in people from all over. These are cities that we see a lot of visitors come from. These are the cities that I travel to often. These are also the cities that have went under quarantine since COVID-19 has hit the state.
Since this initial post, Murphy NC has went on full lock-down and curfew in light of discovering that visitors were sick with the virus. Mind you, Murphy is only 20 miles from Blue Ridge.
I want to make a few remarks.
First, I have talked to quite a few city leaders and asked questions:
What can we do? What’s the plan? Can you close the downtown district? Can we limit or begin to dwindle the amount of foot traffic coming into our city and county, as this is a hot destination for Spring Break? I’ve asked many times: “So, what can be done?”
These are the answers thus far:
I’ve had one city leader tell me that they have no control, I’ve had a leader tell me that it is illegal to tell downtown business owners to close their doors, I’ve had one tell me that the Governor has given discretion to each county/city to make decisions up to this point about protocol, and this leader told me that they don’t feel like downtown needs to close at this time, but restaurants should do curbside pickups.
I’ve even had another concerned citizen of Blue Ridge tell me that their answer they’ve received from our very own Speaker Ralston is that at this point, it is up to our leaders in the area to make decisions at the discretion of the charter. Understandable — not verified.***
I ended up feeling even more lost. Who’s telling the truth? Does anyone know what protocol is? This is an unprecedented situation.
I’ve watched town like a hawk. Groceries stores have been covered up, go figure. Rentals are packed, so we have out of town visitors buying groceries, we have second home owners buying groceries (some being my past clients), we have full time locals buying groceries — all understandable and we all know that going to these places you must practice caution and there are ways to keep your space to protect your health. And I have to note, grocery stores are having to evolve with the situation and look out for clientele. They’re having to close early to sanitize. They’re changing hours. They’re recognizing the situation at hand.
I’ve also watched Downtown Blue Ridge. I’ve driven the streets. I’ve watched hundreds of pedestrians go up and down throughout the week. I find myself getting irritated when I go through, but remind myself that they’re on vacation. They feel anonymous. There’s less of a sense of responsibility when it’s not your home, and I get it to a certain point. But I also know that we have people coming here because it is quiet and removed and it feels safer. I know of friends of mine that are from this area that have traveled to Florida to take advantage of the break to attempt to vacation and use the Coronavirus to their advantage and find great deals on lodging, shopping, dining, etc (they know my stance on their travels). Many of the places they’re at in Florida are closing commercial activity, which leads me to my next point.
At this point, with little to no safeguards on the biggest red flag in the area, Blue Ridge is not a safe area to be in should this virus run rampant. A few things to note: downtown has two public restrooms equipped with hand dryers (recommended not to be used by many articles I’ve read). Downtown’s business owners, as I’ve learned in my time, don’t particularly want shoppers using their facilities. I also know there’s a huge shortage in sanitary equipment in the area and at a certain point, individual stores can’t provide each shopper or diner sanitizer, soap, wipes, etc. (Maybe they have stocks in what I’ve mentioned and can keep up in the cleaning and sanitizing of patrons, but I doubt it). Most stores in the downtown area are not more than 1500 square feet (total rough estimate). Allow enough people in the store at the right moment, one person sneezes and doesn’t know they have the virus, the whole store can be contaminated without even knowing it. Our county and the surrounding counties’ hospitals and medical campuses are not ready for a virus like this. Bottom line.
I want to say this to all of my fellow business owners, self-employers, service staff, to my friends, family, and clients: I am by no means trying to come off harsh. I am SO sorry that this is unfolding. I would love to support, and will continue to support small businesses throughout the town.
But I say that to say this. I know people will come and go throughout the coming weeks. I know that we can’t stop them, nor do I think we should. BUT, I certainly think that there has to be dialogue. There has to be a plan. There has to be answers to MANY concerned citizens’ questions other than the simple answer “we have a plan.” That’s one of the joys of small town America, right? We all know what’s going on. 😉 AND I ask, I don’t know what anyone else’s stance is, for this to be something done on and off Facebook. Let the elders know. Let the people who don’t use social media know. Keep everyone informed.
I want to conclude my persistence on this matter. While many bigger cities and counties are erring on the side of caution but not stringency for retail, for dessert houses, cafes, for gyms, or even offices until there’s a confirmed case in the area, Blue Ridge is different. These bigger cities have a stronger infrastructure. They have bigger hospitals, more staff, more equipment, they’re better prepared. This is not to belittle our hospital workers, nurses, pharmacists, sanitary personnel, etc., but to state what’s been the consensus from my friends and family in those fields and across the globe. These cities might have the safeguards to wait until they dreadfully find out that they have a confirmed case. Unfortunately, I think Blue Ridge has to be more proactive.
In terms of solutions, here are my thoughts.
I know it’s almost impossible to ask any business to close to foot traffic. I know it’s difficult on the owners, the staff, the patrons. I know that leaders don’t want to harm businesses. They don’t want to be the ones to make that call, if they can. Understandable. Who would want to make that call? So maybe not go there at this point. Maybe monitor the area. How many patrons are in each store? Maybe provide sanitizing stations throughout the area (this could’ve been done a long time ago when we first saw the virus hit Georgia). Maybe post signs warning people what already should be instilled in their brains: STAY HOME. Or “Caution: this is a high risk area should a pedestrian have COVID-19.” per CDC, President Trump, the whole 9.
So I resolute to this: city & county leaders, where are we with this? What is your answer to the big problem that seems to be (UNDERSTANDABLY) avoided? Can we count on you to make decisions for the well-being of the majority? We need leaders.
I don’t have all of the answers; I may not have any answers.
But I have a lot of concerns. And I have a lot of love for my hometown and my people.
**Editor’s Note** This opinion was originally written and shared via Facebook. You can read the original post by clicking here : Logan Fitts Original Post
Mayor Donna Whitener also responded via the City of Blue Ridge Facebook page. You can read the official response by clicking here: City of Blue Ridge Response
Blue Ridge, Ga. – FYN received the following letter from Assistant Superintendent Robert Ensley regarding how the Fannin County School System will operate.
Dear FCSS Faculty and Staff,
To best meet the needs of our students, we are asking for the help of our faculty. All faculty and staff will have defined responsibilities so that we can continue best serving our students and their families.
- On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, everyone aside from the following categories will follow the standard protocol for a COLD event:
- All 12-month employees, directors, and principals will report at their normal times to their assigned locations.
- All nutrition staff will report; Candice Sisson will provide additional information.
- School administrators will communicate with their respective office staff members about whether they should report or engage in COLD activities.
- Teachers may report to their classrooms tomorrow, but they may not bring children into the school building. After each classroom has undergone deep cleaning, the teacher will be responsible for ensuring that the room remains sanitized if they occupy it.
- Starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020, we will begin an operation to deliver meals to students across the county. These procedures will be in place through at least Friday, March 20, 2020. We will reassess the future later this week.
- School administrators will inform classified people in their respective buildings about expectations for the days ahead. Many will be assisting with the delivery of meals.
- All teachers who are delivering direct instruction will continue delivering COLD.
- Teachers may come to the school building but they may not bring children into the school building. After each classroom has undergone deep cleaning, the teacher will be responsible for ensuring that the room remains sanitized if they occupy it.
- School administrators will inform all certified faculty who do not deliver direct instruction per COLD about their expectations for the days ahead.
- Transportation will have designated areas or routes (to be released later today) for pick-up beginning at approximately 10:30 a.m.
- In addition to designated pick-up areas food may be picked up between 11 and 1 at:
- Blue Ridge Elementary School
- East Fannin Elementary School
- West Fannin Elementary School
Reminder: All after-school activities are cancelled until further notice.
Please bear with us as we try to provide you with the most up-to date information and expectations. This is an evolving situation and we may need to change as the days progress. Please continue to WASH YOUR HANDS and practice social distancing.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – (Updated 3/24/20 2:41 p.m.) Following Governor Brian Kemp’s announcement of the first death in Georgia from Covid-19 on Thursday, March 12, 2020, many Fannin County businesses and agencies are opting to close doors or limit hours to the public.
The hopes of Local, State and National agencies is to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) by raising public awareness and limiting public contact with those infected.
The following Fannin County businesses, agencies, and events have been cancelled or postponed in an effort to help “flatten the curve” of the Coronavirus outbreak. A list of Community Resources is also provided at the bottom.
GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC SERVICES
- Blue Ridge City Hall – CLOSED, all business can be conducted at drive-thru. Lobby will remain open for advance voting ONLY through March 20.
- Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (The Art Center) – CANCELLED all youth based programs March 16-31, all BRMAA sponsored artist guild meetings CANCELLED March 16 – 31, all classes and workshops CANCELLED or POSTPONED March 16 – 31, artist reception for Artist in Residence scheduled for April 3 POSTPONED to April 24, 23rd Annual Writer’s Conference scheduled for April 3-4 POSTPONED
- Blue Ridge City Park and Children’s Playground – CLOSED March 18 – until further notice
- City of Blue Ridge – CANCEL or POSTPONE all events inside city limits until further notice
- City of McCaysville City Hall – Building CLOSED to public, all business can be conducted at drive-thru
- City of McCaysville Municipal Court – CANCELLED March 19 date, court date will be rescheduled
- Fannin County Boys and Girls Club – CLOSED March 16 -27
- Fannin County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (Blue Ridge and McCaysville) – CLOSED March 20 – until further notice
- Fannin County Courthouse – LIMITED ACCESS beyond guard line. Citizens will call departments from security check point for access. March 19 – until further notice
- Fannin County Library – CLOSED March 17 – 21
- Fannin County Schools – CLOSED March 16 – 31
- Fannin County Recreation Department – CLOSED March 14 – 29
- Georgia Department of Corrections has suspended inmate visitation statewide.
- Georgia Supreme Court has declared a statewide emergency to halt all non-essential court business
- Magistrate Court Hearings – Suspended for 30 days
- Probate Court Hearings – Suspended for 30 days
- Superior Court Hearings – Suspended for 30 days
- Trial Jurors chosen for March 23 – Suspended, Do Not Report
- City of Morganton City Council Meeting (March 17) – CANCELLED
- Fannin County Board of Commissioners (March 24) – CANCELLED
- Chatuge Regional Hopital – LOCKDOWN March 17 – until further notice. All doors will be locked and remain locked EXCEPT for main entry. NO VISITATIONS.
- Fannin Regional Hospital – NO VISITATIONS March 18 – until further notice. All patients will be screened upon entry and asked to wear a mask if they have fever, respiratory, or other flu-like symptoms. Exceptions to visitation guidelines will be made for end-of-life situations or other special patient needs.
- Union General Hospital – LOCKDOWN March 17 – until further notice. All doors will be locked and remain locked EXCEPT for main entry. NO VISITATIONS.
- Blue Ridge After Hours at INOLA – CANCELLED
- Bowls of Hope Fundraiser (March 28) – CANCELLED
- Good Samaritans of Fannin County 5th Sunday Community Brunch – CANCELLED
- Kiwanis Club of Blue Ridge BINGO (March 19) – CANCELLED
- Leadership Fannin Health Care Program (March 19) – POSTPONED
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March 14) – CANCELLED
- Taste of Blue Ridge – Humane Society of Blue Ridge (April 18) – CANCELLED
- Trout Fest and the Back the Brookies Bash – POSTPONED
- Angelina’s Deli – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Black Sheep Restaurant – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Blue Jeans Pizza – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Blue Ridge Mountain Barbeque – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Burra Burra on the River – CLOSED
- Cantaberry – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Carroll’s Barbeque – TAKE OUT AND CURB SERVICE ONLY
- Cucina Rustica – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Das Kaffee Haus – CLOSED
- Dairy Queen Grill and Chill – TAKE OUT ONLY
- El Rio Mexican Restaurant – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Habanero’s Fresh Tex Mex – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Hansen’s Grill – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Harvest On Main – CLOSED
- Katz’s New York Deli – TAKE OUT ONLY
- La Pizzeria at Cucina Rustica – TAKE OUT AND OUTSIDE SEATING
- Masseria – Kitchen & Bar – TAKE OUT AND OUTSIDE SEATING
- Mercier Orchards – Downtown Blue Ridge – CLOSED
- Mystic Mountain Pizza – CLOSED
- Ocoee River Cafe – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Okinawa Steak and Sushi – East Ellijay – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Papa’s Pizza ToGo Blue Ridge – CLOSED
- Pat’s Kountry Kitchen – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Rod’s Rockin Rolls – TAKE OUT VIA DRIVE-UP WINDOW
- Rum Cake Lady Cuban Food Cafe – McCaysville Location – CLOSED
- Blue Ridge Rum Cake Lady Cuban Food Cafe – TAKE OUT ONLY
- South of North – CLOSED
- Southern Charm – CLOSED
- Taste of Amish & General Store – TAKE OUT ONLY
- The Blue Coyote – CLOSED
- The Copper Grill – TAKE OUT ONLY
- The Sweet Shoppe of the South – TAKE OUT ONLY
- The Village Restaurant – CLOSED
- Tin Loong & The Dragon Tail Lounge – CLOSED
- Yellowbird Coffee Shop – CLOSED
- Zaxby’s – TAKE OUT ONLY
- Aska Lodge Bed & Breakfast – CLOSED March 18 – April 2
- Blue Ridge Cellars – CLOSED March 22 – April 4th
- Blue Ridge Community Theater – CLOSED March 17 – 31, for a full list of cancelled or postponed events please visit the BRCT Facebook page
- Blue Ridge Framing Company – BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
- Blue Ridge Scenic Railway – CLOSED March 16 – 31
- Copperhill Brewery – CLOSED March 18 – March 31, will fill to go orders Mon. – Sat. 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
- Doggie Dips and Doos Grooming – CLOSED March 14 – 30
- The Folk Apothic – CLOSED March 14 until further notice, online store still OPEN
- Grump Old Men Brewing – TAPROOM CLOSED March 17 (@ 5p.m.) – March 31, will remain OPEN for carryout beer and merchandise purchases
- Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel – CLOSED March 18 – April 1
- Jumping Mouse Beads – CLOSED March 22 – April 1
- Mailbox Co. – CLOSED, will accept overnight/express packages in bin located outside, pick up for these items will be on weekdays only
- Mercier Orchards (Downtown and Farm) – CLOSED March 16 – until further notice
- Mountain Thyme Bath & Body – CLOSED March 16 – 20, will reassess on March 21
- Qinti – CLOSED March 19 – until further notice
- Tri-State EMC – LOBBY CLOSED March 19 – until further notice, business can be conducted at drive-thru
- Walmart – Effective March 19, store hours limited, OPEN 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily, From March 24 – April 28 Walmart will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older (6 a.m. – 7 a.m.)
- The Wellness Institute of North Georgia – CANCELLED all events until March 28
- The Fannin County School System, along with several area organizations, will be delivering meals to area locations across the county for those students in need. You can visit their website www.fannin.k12.ga.us for updated information.
- El Rio Mexican Restaurant is offering free kids meals (off the kids menu) to all shool age children Mon. – Fri.
- Fannin’s Helping Hands is offering a number of services, including delivery to the elderly members of the community. You can find out how to utilize these resources or sign up to volunteer by visiting their Facebook page or following this link : Fannin’s Helping Hands
- Carroll’s Barbeque is offering a hot meal for school aged children in need (during restaurant hours). Also accepting food donations to be distributed to the community.
- Twisted Tomato offering two slices of cheese or pepperoni pizza to school aged children and the elderly, Mon. – Fri. 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
- Burra Burra on the River is offering a slider burger and snack size fry to school aged children and the elderly, Mon. – Fri. 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
- Southern Drug Company offering same day delivery of food and medicine to customers during regular business hours
- Bumblebee’s Cafe is offering free pancakes for children until school is able to resume.
- Blue Ridge Pharmacy will deliver essential over the counter products, as well as prescription medications, to senior citizens. This delivery service is free. You can call 706-632-2244.
- Fannin County Family Connections drive thru for food boxes will be open during regular pantry hours Mon. – Thur. 10a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE COVID-19
If you think you may have contracted SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 please call your primary healthcare provider first. Your doctor will advise you as to whether you need to come in for testing. Do visit an Emergency Room if you feel that you have life threatening symptoms. It is advised to call hospitals or doctor’s offices ahead of time to let them know that you are on your way. This allows time for staff to prepare for your arrival and minimize the possibility of contact with patients in high risk categories.
If you have a business, event, or resource that needs to be added to the list please email Natalie@fetchyournews.com .
“The Chamber is closely monitoring the Coronavirus pandemic as it relates to Blue Ridge, McCaysville, Morganton and all of Fannin County. Our top priority is the health and well being of our community, its residents and visitors. This is a situation that changes rapidly from day to day, and there is a lot of uncertainty. We are basing our decisions about Chamber events and functions day by day as they arise, based on the current situation and guided by concern for the vulnerable in our community.As of the writing of this update, there are no known cases in Fannin County. We do have visitors here for spring break over the next two weeks, with 50%+ of cabins booked over both weekends. There have been some cancellations but also some new bookings by people who want to escape to the mountains.It is unknown how much time visitors will spend shopping, playing and eating out during their visit here. We have not prepared or issued advice to our visitors at this time. The best advice is to follow guidelines for self-care just as they would if they were at home.At the current time, our main offices and visitor centers in downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville are open.
Blue Ridge – Fannin County UpdatesFannin County SchoolsThe Fannin County Schools will be closed next week and re-evaluate at that time.UNG and State CollegesUNG and other state colleges and universities will extend spring break for two weeks.Blue Ridge Local EventsThe Blue Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been canceled. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is continuing to run.
Chamber Upcoming Event ChangesBusiness After Hours Tuesday, March 17 – INOLABusiness After Hours at INOLA has been canceled and will be rescheduled for a later date.Leadership Fannin Health Care Program, March 19Leadership Fannin’s Health Care program, scheduled for Thursday, March 19 at Fannin Regional Hospital, has been postponed. The new date will be announced later.
Links with State and Federal UpdatesThe Georgia Department of Public Health website has up to date information with details on all COVID-19 cases reported in the state.Governor Kemp’s website has current information here.The CDC Website has detailed information on keeping workplaces, schools and commercial establishments safe.For information about impact on travel, the Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division has current information.
Information for Businesses & AccommodationsBest practices are to protect your employees and customers by maintaining stringent cleaning practices. The CDC offers specific instructions for cleaning and disinfecting on their website at this link.AccommodationsCDC offers specific guidance here.Air B&B advice for hosts link is here.Ensure you clean items including (but not limited to): door handles, telephones, toilets, light switches, remote controls, blowdryers, HVAC controls, faucet handles, and other surfaces frequently.RestaurantsA link to ServSafe’s Coronavirus information is located here.Information on Coronavirus is also available on the National Restaurant Assn. website.Posters & HandoutsThe CDC has some great posters and handouts you can download here.”
Blue Ridge, Ga. – The decision to close all schools in Fannin County for the week of March 16 to March 20, 2020, was not a decision that was taken lightly. Administration and healthcare experts were present at the March Board of Education meeting to present the public with details leading up to the conclusion to close.
Dr. Dillon Miller of Blue Ridge Medical Group has been working closely with the Fannin County School System and explained the facts and myths surrounding the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 ) and the disease Covid-19.
“We’re almost facing two challenges,” Miller said addressing the public and the board, “There’s the virus itself, of course, but then there’s the misinformation.”
Miller explained that unlike the seasonal flu that has a potential transmission rate of 1.4 people for every 1 person infected, the Coronavirus has approximately a 2.4 potential person-to-person transmission rate.
“We are almost mirroring each other as far as the number of cases, statistically similar,” Miller spoke of the challenges being faced in Italy and how examining the data can give insight into the actions that we should take in our communities. “Our Day Eight, which is where we’re at now, is almost eerily similar to their Day Eight.”
Miller pointed out that Italy waited until Day 12 to close schools, and stressed the importance of school systems to have preparedness and coordination with other agencies during this time: “We always have to think about worst case scenarios. Expect the worst and hope for the best.”
Educating the public and being proactive rather than reactive can have a significant positive impact. According to Miller, steps can be taken to “flatten the curve”, referring to slowing the impacts of the virus so that healthcare systems do not get overwhelmed.
“Fortunately from a school system perspective we are dealing with a virus that doesn’t impact children the same way it is our elderly population,” Miller spoke of the potential impact on Fannin’s children and added that the virus carries a “significant” impact for those over the age of 60. “They (children) can carry this virus and potentially give it to those that are in that high risk area.”
Dr. Dillon Miller recommended the following advice for the public and parents of children in Fannin County:
Wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
Social awareness. Try to implement the six foot rule when possible and avoid a proximity of closer than six feet to another person when out in public.
If your child is sick, do not allow them to come to school.
Avoid rushing to an Emergency Room, Doctor, or Walk-In Clinic if you or your child is not significantly ill. If a trip to the doctor is inevitable, Miller recommends calling these places ahead of time. This gives staff time to prepare to potentially stop those infected from coming into contact with those that are not.
In looking at not just the health and safety of the children but also of the community, Miller pointed out that no two school systems are the same and Fannin County would have to weigh their options on how to proceed: “There’s not a black and white answer.”
“There’s a fire alarm going off. We hear that fire alarm, we don’t know if there is a fire in here,” Miller gave an analogy of the current state of affairs and added that there aren’t enough tests to know the true impacts of the virus at this time. “Early intervention for school closures is when you get the most bang for your buck, the most success.”
“The use of data is powerful,” Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney said before announcing the closure. “We want to do our part to flatten that curve. Fannin is going to be a part of that. We are all literally in this together, as a community, as a state, as a nation, as a world.”
Gwatney spoke of the ongoing communication that the school system has had with healthcare professionals, as well as local and state agencies. On the day leading up to the decisionto close schools Fannin County Leadership staff had a conference call with Governor Brian Kemp and a follow-up conference call with other regional districts.
“The Governor today announced and gave strong guidance for school districts and gave grace for school districts,” Gwatney stated. “We want to do our part to keep this community safe.”
The Fannin County School System will be closed to students next week (March 16 to March 20, 2020). Dr. Gwatney released a letter giving further details on how the school system will operate during this time.
“We will revisit that decision (to close) a week from now to see about the following week,” Gwatney said of the board’s decision adding, “This is a very dynamic and fluid situation and we want to stay ahead of it.”
Last night, the East Hall Vikings traveled to Fannin Co. to take on the Rebels (2-1-2, 1-1 Region 7AAA) for a region soccer game. Fannin Co. had just come from a tough 2-0 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian and looked to redeem themselves with a win. The Rebels managed to make their mark in overtime as they were able to claim a 1-0 victory!
It was a slow game with solid defense as no one from either team was able to score a goal in the first or second half, putting the game into overtime with a score of 0-0.
The first half of overtime passed like the rest of the game had as no one was putting any points on the board. Garrett Mervine was able to put the ball into action for Fannin Co. on offense to start off the second half as he made a goal to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead and claim a victory against East Hall!
Catch the Rebel’s next game on Thursday, March 10, as they take on Lumpkin County at home starting at 7:30 pm!
Last night, the East Hall Vikings traveled to Fannin Co. to take on the Lady Rebels (3-2-2, 1-1 Region 7AAA) for a region soccer game. Fannin Co. had just come from a tough 10-0 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian and looked to redeem themselves with a win. The Lady Rebels managed to make their mark in the second half of the game as they claimed a 3-0 victory!
It was a slow first half as both teams came out ready to play. Both teams played solid defense as they kept each other from scoring the whole first half. As the clock ran out, neither team was able to score a goal, putting the score at 0-0.
The Lady Rebel’s offense came alive to start the second half of the game. Sydnie Jones got things started right off the bat as she showed off her hustle to score a goal and give Fannin Co. a 1-0 lead. Maddie Ponton continued the trend later in the game as she made a goal of her own to extend the Lady Rebel’s lead 2-0. Ashley Frye made her presence known with 25 seconds left as she scored a goal and put the score at 3-0 for the clock to run out on a Fannin Co. region victory!
After the game, Ashley Frye shared, “No matter how the game is going, always keep your head up high and give it your all!”
Catch the Lady Rebel’s next game on Thursday, March 10, as they take on Lumpkin County at home starting at 5:30 pm!
This past Saturday, March 7, the Fannin County Rebels boys and girls golf team traveled to Braselton for the West Hall Invitational. Both teams had a great day overall as the girls finished 10th with 340 points and the boys finished 11th with 423 points overall.
As far as individual scores go, Lainey Panter had a great day on the course as she shot a 90 for a top-10 finish individually. Cady Findley finished 41st with a score of 122, Evie Webb finished 45th with a score of 128, Raven Porter finished 47th with a score of 130, and Tempest Giet finished 50th with a score of 134.
Despite the conditions on the course from all of the rain, the boys also had a good day as Jackson Rogers finished 22nd with a score of 93, Cooper Boyle finished 46th with a score of 101, Tyler Ford finished 50th with a score of 105, Max Mathis finished 68th with a score of 124, and Cole Pittman finished 69th with a score of 131.
Catch the Rebels’ next match on Tuesday, March 10, as they travel to Pickens to take on the Dragons at 3:30 p.m.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – Qualifying has officially ended in Fannin County, and many candidates came out to have their names put on the ballot for the open seats in the 2020 Election.
The following candidates have officially qualified in Fannin County:
Fannin County Chairman
Stan Helton (Incumbent – Republican)
Bill Simonds (Republican)
James Hensley (Republican)
Vincent Davis (Republican)
Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner
Johnny Scearce (Republican)
Susan Hayes (Republican)
Debra Holcombe (Republican)
Dixie L. Carter (Democrat)
Fannin County Board of Education (Succeed Terry Bramlett)
Terry Bramlett (Incumbent – Republican)
Greg Staffins (Republican)
Board of Education (Succeed Lewis Deweese)
Lewis Deweese (Incumbent – Republican)
Kathy Smyth (Democrat)
Lorraine Panter (Republican)
Board of Education (Succeed Chad Galloway)
Chad Galloway (Incumbent – Republican)
Teresa “TC” Dillard (Democrat)
Fannin County Coroner
Becky Callihan (Incumbent – Republican)
William “Billy” Lake Standridge, Jr (Republican)
Fannin County Tax Commissioner
Rita Newton (Republican)
Fannin County Sheriff
Dane Kirby (Incumbent – Republican)
Fannin County Clerk of Court
Dana Chastain (Incumbent – Republican)
Fannin County Chief Magistrate Judge
Brian Jones – Incumbent
Fannin County Probate Judge
Scott Kiker (Incumbent)
Fannin County Surveyor
Shelly Bishop (Incumbent – Republican)
Sam Walker (Republican)
District 7 State Representative
David Ralston (Incumbent – Republican)
Rick Day (Democrat)
State Senate District 51
Steve Gooch (Incumbent – Republican)
June Krise (Democrat)
Public Service Commission District 4
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr. (Incumbent – Republican)
Nathan Wilson (Libertarian)
Daniel Blackman (Democrat)
John Noel (Democrat)
Judge of Superior Court Appalachian Circuit
Brenda Weaver (Incumbent – Non-partisan)
District Attorney Appalachian
B. Alison Sosebee (Incumbent – Republican)
Ninth District U.S. Congress
Michael Boggus (Republican)
Andrew Clyde (Republican)
Matt Gurtler (Republican)
Maria Strickland (Republican)
Kevin Tanner (Republican)
Ethan Underwood (Republican)
Devin Pandy (Democrat)
Paul Broun (Republican)
John Wilkinson (Republican)
Dan Wilson (Democrat)
Kellie Weeks (Republican)
United States Senate – Perdue Seat
James Knox (Democrat)
Jon Ossoff (Democrat)
Teresa Pike Tomlinson (Democrat)
Tricia Carpenter McCracken (Democrat)
Sarah Riggs Amico (Democrat)
Shane Hazel (Libertarian)
Marc Keith DeJesus (Democrat)
Maya Dillard Smith (Democrat)
David Perdue (Incumbent – Republican)
United States Senate – Loeffler Seat (Special Election in November)
Kelly Loeffler (Incumbent – Republican)
Doug Collins (Republican)
A. Wayne Johnson (Republican)
Kandiss Taylor (Republican)
Tamara Johnson-Shealey (Democrat)
Matt Lieberman (Democrat)
Joy Felicia Shade (Democrat)
Ed Tarver (Democrat)
Richard Dien Winfield (Democrat)
Al Bartell (Independent)
Allen Buckley (Independent)
Brian Slowinski (Libertarian)
Derrick E. Grayson (Republican)
Rod Mack (Write-In)
Qualifying for the presidential preference primary election occurred in Dec. 2019 and will take place on March 24, but the general primary for the state is on May 19, 2020. For the general primary, early voting begins on April 27.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) has confirmed the arrest of Fannin County Tax Commissioner Shirley Sosebee.
The arrest was made shortly after 4:00 p.m. on March 5, 2020. Warrants were issued for Sosebee on charges of Forgery in the First Degree and Violation of Oath of Office by a Public Officer.
Sosebee has since been released on a $10,000 bond.
In a press release, FCSO stated:
“A complaint was filed by the victim to the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office that the signature on a deed to transfer title on a parcel of real estate had been forged. After a brief inquiry by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office, GBI was requested to conduct the formal investigation.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested for assistance on Feb. 27, 2020.
Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby did clarify, “The initial inquiry by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office determined the complaint against the tax commissioner did not involve the operations of the tax commissioner’s office, but involved personal, family business.”
The charges come after a portion of land inherited by Sosebee and other family was deeded over to Sosebee’s daughter.
Quitclaim Deeds filed on Nov. 6 and Nov. 8, 2019 show signatures from Shirley Sosebee, Jeanette Holloway, and Raymond White Jr. signing the parcel over. All Quitclaim Deeds in the case are notarized by Kelly M. Hughes.
White signed an affidavit on Jan. 6, 2020 in Gilmer County claiming that his signature had been forged.
White claims in the affidavit :
“I did not sign or authorize the signature on the Quitclaim Deed recorded in Book 1319, Page 37 of the Fannin County Clerk of Superior Court on November 8, 2019. I have reviewed the Quitclaim Deed and confirmed that it is not my signature and I have never appeared before any notary regarding this matter.
Furthermore, the property described in Deed Book 1319, Page 37 was owned by my mother Kathleen White. I have maintained the land since the passing of my father John Raymond White in April, 2003. I have mowed and weeded on a weekly basis, bush-hogged at least once a year and cleared a garage that was in wreckage. After the passing of my mother in October 2015, I continued to maintain the property by mowing, weeding and bush-hogging.”
Sosebee, who had recently qualified to run in Fannin County’s 2020 Election as incumbent for the seat of Fannin County Tax Commissioner, withdrew her name on March 6 following these events.
Likewise, Sosebee’s husband, Larry Joe Sosebee, who had qualified to run for Fannin County Chairman, also withdrew.
“I would like to thank everyone for their support of me running for Chairman and their continued support,” Larry Joe told FYN speaking of his decision not to run.
Shirely, taking the advice of legal counsel, was unable to give comment.
FYN reached out to GBI for comment regarding the investigation, but GBI also could not comment due to the investigation being ongoing.
Last night, the Pickens Lady Dragons traveled to Fannin Co. to take on the Lady Rebels (2-1-2, Region 7AAA) for a non-region game. The Lady Rebels had just come from a tie to Union Co. and found themselves defeating Pickens 3-0.
It was a slow first half of back-and-forth as the teams were able to hold the other from scoring a goal. Although both teams had hustle on defense, the first half ended with the score tied at 0-0.
Fannin began to come alive on offense to begin the second half. Ivy Hyde was the one to start things off for Fannin Co. as she scored a goal against Pickens right off the bat at 30 minutes. Ashley Frye continued the trend just a few minutes later with a goal of her own to extend the Rebels’ lead 2-0. Fannin Co. kept up their great defense as they kept the Lady Dragons from scoring any points as Ana Arvidson found her way to the goal with five minutes left to score another goal for Fannin Co. and close out the game with a 3-0 victory.
Catch the Lady Rebels next game Tuesday, March 10, at 5:30 p.m., as they take on East Hall at home!
Last night, Feb. 25, the Fannin Co. Rebels (2-0-1, Region 7-3A) traveled to Union Co. to take on the Panthers (3-1, 0-0 Region 8-AA). The Rebels had just come from a 6-0 victory against Adairsville and looked to continue the trend against the Panthers. Union Co. had just come from a 4-3 victory of their own against Riverside Military Academy and hoped to continue their winning streak as well. After a game of endless hustle, it ended with Fannin Co. walking away with a 2-1 victory.
Hayden Lynch was the one to get things started in the first half of the game as she scored a goal for Fannin Co. to get the early 1-0 lead. As time passed by in the first half, Fannin Co. did a great job on defense as they kept the Panthers from the goal to end the first half with a score of 1-0.
Zach Jackson was the one to put Union Co. on the board as he scored a goal to tie the game 1-1. As the ball was being thrown in bounds, Tristian Cheves made an amazing kick in mid-air behind him to give Fannin Co. a 2-1 lead to end the game with a victory.
When asking Fannin Co. senior Cheves about his team’s performance for the night he stated, “Tonight we played the best as a team I have ever seen in Fannin County Soccer. There was real possession soccer from the boys. The intensity from everyone was great.” Union Co. Panther Marcus Forrester shared this quote with Team FYN Sports, “One bad game doesn’t define who you are as a player.”
Catch the Fannin Co. Rebels next game on Friday as they take on East Hall at home at 7:30 p.m. Catch the Union Co. Panthers next game Friday at 7:30 as they travel to Putnam Co.