News from Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Community, Fannin County Chamber


Fannin County EMA/EMS Weekly Report for 10/18/20 thru 10/24/20

Community, Fannin County EMA/EMS
Fannin County EMA/EMS

Fannin County EMA/EMS

Director Robert Graham

20 Station Ridge

Blue Ridge, Ga. 30513


Fax 706-632-8003

October 18, 2020 thru October 24, 2020 Responses

M1:   40

M3:  17

M4:   20

M11: 28

Total: 105

Out of town transfers: 7

Law:          494

Fire:           6

Rescue:   36

Total Emergency Calls:  664

Total Incoming Phone Calls (911 and Admin): 974

News from Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Business, Community, Fannin County Chamber

October 14, 2020


Watch the October 6 Chamber Candidate Forum!

Many thanks to ETC3 TV for televising our Candidate Forum for the Board of Commissioners Post One and Fannin County School Board Seats. Also thanks to Governmental Committee members Teresa Bidez, chairperson, Manda Gwatney and Steven Miracle, moderators, CJ Green, Frankie Rigdon and Brandon Holloway. Thanks to candidates Chad Galloway, Theresa Dillard, Dixie Carter and Kathy Smyth for participating. Early voting began yesterday at the Fannin County Courthouse.

Halloween Drive-Thru Replaces Safe Zone:
Space is Available at Blue Ridge United Methodist Church
Halloween Drive-Thru will take the place of the Blue Ridge Safe Zone for this year’s Trick-or-Treaters . The Blue Ridge United Methodist Church would like to invite businesses to set up in their church parking lot for a drive-through trunk-or-treat event for kids. There is also an opportunity to set up a tent. There is space for 40 vehicles. If you have interest in taking one of the spaces available, please contact the church by email or phone (706) 632-2327.
Businesses offering a drive-thru trick-or-treat event include:
  • Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, 152 A Orvin Lance Drive
  • Blue Ridge United Community Methodist Church& Blue Ridge Business Association, 235 Orvin Lance Dr.
  • Kevin Panter Insurance, 95 Progress Circle
  • Dairy Queen, 380 Progress Circle
  • Papa’s Pizza To=-Go, 140 Progress Circle
  • Home Depot, 10012 Blue Ridge Dr.
  • Blue Ridge Pharmacy, 6020 Appalachian Hwy.
  • United Community Bank, 4000 Appalachian Hwy.
  • Mountain Valley Community Bank, 11 Collins Ave.
  • Town & Country Furniture, 266 Orvin Lance Dr.
  • Ace Hardware, 4344 Old Hwy. 76
**If you are offering a drive-thru event for Halloween, let us know and we will add you to the list**
The Safe Zone in the Copper Basin is scheduled for October 31 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. in downtown McCaysville/Copperhill. Local merchants will be handing out candy.
Nominations Needed for Leadership Fannin 2021!
Leadership Fannin 2020 was postponed to resume in 2021 because of the Coronavirus, but there is still room for more participants to apply. If you are interested or would like to nominate someone, contact Shannon York at [email protected]. She will need the name, company and contact information for your nominee. We will send out applications containing the dates of next year’s classes.
Chamber Calendar
October 21
Chamber Board of Directors Meeting
Executive Committee at 11:00 a.m.
Board Meeting at 12:00 a.m
Chamber Board Room
Zoom Option Available
October 22
Ambassador Lunch
Location TBD
12:00 p.m.
Featured Community Events

Information on FCMS Veteran’s Program

Announcements, Community

Happy Veterans Day

The students, faculty and staff of Fannin County Middle School would like to invite you to participate in our first ever Veterans Drive Through Parade on November 6th, 2020

Our regular Veterans Day program will not proceed as it has in the past due to COVID; however, our school still has a desire to honor those who served and are still serving

All Veterans and family members are invited to participate from the safety of their own vehicle. THOSE PARTICIPATING IN THE PARADE WILL NOT BE IN CONTACT WITH ANYONE OUTSIDE OF THEIR VEHICLES

Directions for participants are listed below

1) Meet at the Blue Ridge United Methodist Church on Orvin Lance Connector at 12:30 PM 

on November 6, 2020. Officer Anthony Walden will be there to help you get your car in 

line for the parade. . 2) Follow the Grand Marshall down to Fannin County Middle School. Enjoy the crowds of 

cheering students and the 8th grade band as you progress through the parade route

We look forward to seeing you Friday, November 6th at 1:00 for our Veterans Drive Through Parade. Our students and faculty are looking forward to seeing you


Man charged with attempted murder

News, Police & Government

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Timothy Charles Stiles is being charged with attempted murder after Fannin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) responded to a call of a stabbing in Mineral Bluff.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, Stabbing, Attempted Murder, Mineral Bluff, Timothy Stiles, Kenneth Arnold

Timothy Stiles has been charged with 3 felonies after stabbing incident in Mineral Bluff, Ga.

The incident occurred on the evening of Sept. 28. FCSO was dispatched to a call in Mineral Bluff around 7:00 p.m. The caller indicated that a person had been stabbed and was in need of medical attention.

Upon arriving at the scene, it became apparent that the victim, Kenneth Arnold, was in need of immediate emergency medical attention. Arnold was life-flighted to Gainesville for treatment. 

Warrants for Stiles arrest describe the wounds as “seriously disfiguring” to Arnold’s upper torso and abdomen. 

Stiles had already fled the scene upon officer arrival but was apprehended a few hours later. When found Stiles was inflicting stabbing wounds on himself and was transported for medical attention.

Friends of Stiles say that he suffered from mental illness but did not specify which illness(es). They also did not speculate on whether Stiles’s mental health issues played a part in the incident.

Stiles is being charged with 1 count felony aggravated assault, 1 count felony aggravated battery and 1 count felony criminal attempt “to commit the offense of murder”.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, Stabbing, Attempted Murder, Mineral Bluff, Timothy Stiles, Kenneth Arnold

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, Stabbing, Attempted Murder, Mineral Bluff, Timothy Stiles, Kenneth Arnold

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, Stabbing, Attempted Murder, Mineral Bluff, Timothy Stiles, Kenneth Arnold

Click here to see Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report for the Week of 9/20/20 – 9/27/20

UNG Blue Ridge Campus is officially open after ribbon-cutting ceremony

UNG Blue Ridge

BLUE RIDGE, Ga – Pleasant fall weather welcomed the crowd at the University of North Georgia (UNG) Blue Ridge Campus ribbon cutting on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

Since UNG Blue Ridge first opened in 2015 on Dunbarton Road, it’s grown from 18 students to 232. The new facility has over 3.500 square feet of classroom space, a computer, and biology lab with room to grow in the future. It’s right off Georgia Hwy. 515 and three miles from the old campus at Dunbarton Road.

It was a socially distanced ceremony.

In 2013, UNG began studying the need to expand access to high quality, affordable education in the Northeast Georgia region. We knew it was essential, and it would be a gamechanger for the entire region,” stated President Dr. Bonita Jacobs.

In a piece published by the university, Director Sandra Ott said, “It’s not just a UNG building. This campus is the community’s, and they are equally excited about the opportunities and what’s happening here. Having the Blue Ridge Campus has opened so many doors and opportunities, especially for students in this region of north Georgia who weren’t sure what to do after high school. It gives them the option to start close to home with the support of their family and friends.”

UNG Blue Ridge

Director of the Blue Ridge Campus Sandra Ott        

The new campus also allows students to remain at the Blue Ridge Campus longer due to more course offerings. This year introductory education courses will be the first major courses offered in Blue Ridge. Previously, students could only take the required core curriculum before transferring to the Dahlonega or Gainesville campuses.

UNG Administrators Dr. Mack McConnell, senior vice president of business and finance, Mr. Ken Crow, vice president of facilities, and Mr. Todd Bermann, director of project management, were instrumental in overseeing the construction and competition of the stand-alone facilities. IT Director Dr. Steve McCloud, chief information officer, and team equipped the Blue Ridge Campus with state-of-the-art technology.

“What’s the most important feature of this facility is what goes on inside – teaching and learning.” University System of Georgia Chancellor Dr. Steve Wrigley added.

The chancellor also cited the statistic that of the 11 million jobs created after the recession, 99 percent went to people with some higher education after high school and 70 percent to those with a bachelor’s degree.

“Education is not a guarantee that economic development will occur, but I think I can guarantee that without education, economic development will not occur,” Wrigley stated.

Blue Ridge Mayor Donna Whitener, Fannin Post Two Commissioner Glenn Patterson, Union Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris, and Fannin County Schools Superintendent Michael Gwatney were all recognized during the ceremony.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Chaudron Gille and President Dr. Bonita Jacobs presented 2020 graduate and Fulbright Scholar Candace Seabolt. She is the first Fulbright Scholar from the Blue Ridge Campus.

L to R: Provost Dr. Chaudron Gille, President Dr. Bonita Jacobs, Graduate Candace Seabolt

“Due to the pandemic, we were unable to hold our commencement ceremony in the spring, but today we have the opportunity to honor Candace’s achievement,” Jacobs said.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Dr. Steve Wrigley acknowledged State Senator Steve Gooch and Georgia Speaker of the David Ralston’s involvement.

Of Ralston, Wrigley explained, “He wanted to do this right. He was committed to doing it right, let the campus prove itself and show it can perform. I applaud him and respect him for his stewardship. His vision proved out.”
Senator Gooch always asks Wrigley how to help UNG. “He’s a wonderful advocate for this campus for UNG. He’s great to work with.”

Ralston and Gooch are alumni of the University of North Georgia. Gooch expanded upon Ralston’s dedication to bringing a college campus to Fannin County, even when others might not see the need. The speaker was instrumental in bringing UNG to Blue Ridge. The campus also provides quick and easy access to students Union County and Towns County. They can drive south on Georgia Hwy. 515 instead of winding mountain roads.

Dual enrollment students at Fannin County also have a campus nearby to jumpstart their college careers without student loans.

“This experience will equip the young people of Fannin, Gilmer, Union, Towns Counties to compete in the global marketplace by giving them an educational experience that is second to none,” Speaker Ralston stated. “Here in this place, young people priced out of a dream of a college education could know that such a dream can come true.”

UNG Blue Ridge

L to R: , University System of Georgia Chancellor Dr. Steve Wrigley UNG President Dr. Bonita Jacobs, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston

According to the Speaker, local parents stop him almost daily to express appreciation for the Blue Ridge UNG Campus. The new stand-alone facility officially opened earlier this year. Students came and went before the ceremony. One even used the outside wi-fi while the dedication took place.

We are live from UNG’s new stand-alone Blue Ridge Campus for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Posted by UNG – University of North Georgia on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Canceling the game : Rebels vs. Bobcats

Community, News, Rebel's Corner
Fannin County, Georgia, Rebels, Gilmer County, Bobcats, Football, Cancelled, Covid, Covid-19, Georgia Department of Public Health, DPH, North Georgia Health District

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A call was made to cancel a very anticipated game last week between football rivals the  Fannin County Rebels and the Gilmer County Bobcats.

The decision was made over an individual’s possible exposure to and contraction of Covid-19.

Questions arose among Rebel fans and some parents reached out to FYN not satisfied with the explanation they had been given. All wanted to know what the Fannin County School District’s protocol is to make this decision and who ultimately decides. 

Documentation provided by the Fannin County School System confirms that an individual with ties to the football team had come in contact with at least 2 persons who recently tested positive for Covid-19. This documentation goes on to say that the individual in question is “symptomatic”.

Fannin County, Georgia, Rebels, Gilmer County, Bobcats, Football, Cancelled, Covid, Covid-19, Georgia Department of Public Health, DPH, North Georgia Health District

Fannin County School System’s latest Covid-19 update on Friday, Sept. 11.

Sources tell FYN that while the individual was tested for Covid-19, no confirmation was ever received as to whether the person had tested positive.

Fannin County Director of Applied & Integrated Instruction, Lucas Roof, explained that due to medical privacy laws students are not required to produce any documentation to the school system that they have been tested and received a positive result for Covid-19.

When direct documentation is unavailable, Roof explained that verification comes in one of two ways. Either contact from the school system is made to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) for confirmation on cases, or if DPH receives a case that they determine to be a possible student of Fannin County, they will contact the school system.

“It really is a two way street as far as communication,” Roof said of DPH and the school system’s relationship.

DPH also will treat cases as “considered positive” when indications lead to a strong likelihood of an individual having contracted the virus.

Due to medical privacy, the Fannin County School System could not confirm whether the individual relating to the football game had received a positive test result.

Assistant Superintendent of Personnel & Administration, Robert Ensley, explained that the school system, upon learning of the possibility of a positive case, contacted the local branch of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to seek recommendations.

DPH and Roof discussed the situation facing the Fannin County Rebels and based on information received, DPH gave guidelines to the school district.

While Roof has been tasked with the Covid-19 coordination of the district, the cancellation of the game came down to a school level decision.

After receiving guidelines from DPH, Fannin County High School Principal, Assistant Principal, Athletic Director and Coach met to go over options and concluded that with DPH recommendations it was in the best interest to cancel.

Roof confirmed the DPH recommendations on Thursday, Sept. 10 after questions arose from parents concerning the decision.

Dr. Zachary Taylor, Director of the North Georgia Health District wrote an email to Roof stating:

“Lucas, this email is to let you know that we consider the young man who is symptomatic and is an epidemiological link to 2 cases to be a case of COVId-19 and that all of his contacts on the football team should be quarantined. Please contact me if you have any questions.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Rebels, Gilmer County, Bobcats, Football, Cancelled, Covid, Covid-19, Georgia Department of Public Health, DPH, North Georgia Health District

Confirmation received from DPH of guidelines relating to the athletics Covid-19 case.

The school system was also unable, due to privacy laws, to confirm with FYN if any players had to be quarantined after coming in contact with this particular case. Several parents of athletes, however, spoke with FYN and did confirm that their child had been sent home and would not be able to return to school until Thursday, Sept. 17.

Numbers on the school system’s website, updated every Friday morning, did show a significant rise in the number of students quarantined as of Sept. 11.

“These decisions are never made lightly,” Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney stated and added, “Our team is making the best possible decisions based on the information we have and the recommendations we receive.”

Gwatney confirmed that the protocol that was followed concerning the Fannin-Gilmer game would be the same for any future school related events, not just limited to athletics. The school system will seek the advice of medical professionals and follow the recommendations given at the time.

Gwatney explained that guidelines given to the district are fluid as more becomes known about the virus, “Covid-19 is information ever evolving and we have to work with the latest details when situations arise. The well being of our students and our community as a whole is always a top priority.”


Featured Image : Fannin Rebels and Gilmer Bobcats face-off  in 2019.

Fannin beats Union @ Union for first time since 2007

Sports, Team FYN Sports

Before we dive into the game, I think it’s important to tell the recent history of this rivalry. Fannin County had not defeated Union County in Blairsville since 2007. In that game, Union held a 19-17 lead at half. Josh Postell, would intercept a pass on a fake punt that would give Fannin the lead and momentum. Fannin never looked back for a 45-19 victory.


2013 was the last year the Rebels defeated Union. To this day, it’s still been one of the best games in the new Rebel stadium. Fannin won the game 43-35. Trevor Stone would connect with current Fannin County Football Assistant Coach Noah ONeal down the sidelines to open up the game for touchdown. Noah also had a pick 6 late in the game to capture the win for Fannin in 2013.


Union County entered the game 10-2 in the last 12 meetings vs Fannin. Brian Allison ( Union Head Coach) does not receive enough credit for the job he has done during his tenure at Union County. As one of the best Coaches in our area, Allison, holds a 117-72 record as Head Coach at Union.


Class is over. Now let’s talk about Friday night.


Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium was the site for the 29th All Time Meeting on Friday between Fannin County and Union County. Union County at the time held a 15-13 record over Fannin. Those meetings do not include meetings with games from West Fannin High and East Fannin High.


Right after Pre game warm ups, former Fannin Head Coach Ron Harbin, spoke with Current Fannin Head Coach Chad Cheatham before he entered the locker room to address his team one final time before they took the field.


Fannin was the visiting team and both the Union and Fannin stands were filled to the brim.



The atmosphere was electric and the scene was special. With so much uncertainty over the past few months just playing on Friday Night was considered a win.


Fannin entered the border war walking out led by Head Coach Chad Cheatham, Luke Holloway and Mason Bundy.



Union County won the toss and deferred to the 2nd half. Fannin would take the opening drive down the field and would score. Senior Quarterback Luke Holloway found Senior Wide Receiver Cohutta Hyde for an 18 yard Touchdown pass. Jack Catner’s extra point would be good and Fannin would lead 7-0 with 6:07 left in 1st.


Union County would go 3 and out with big stops on defense by Fannin’s Dalton Ross and Carson Collis.


Union Quarterback, Logan Helcher would have a great punt inside the 20 where Fannin would take over. Dalton Allen, recovered a fumble for a scoop and score as Union was on the board to make it 7-7 with 2:40 left in the 1st.


Fannin County on the following drive would get Jalen Ingram and Jake Sands involved as they both had nice catches through the air by Holloway. Luke Holloway would hit Cohutta Hyde down the sidelines for a 48 yard gain to end the 1st quarter.


First play of the 2nd half, Holloway, would sneak it in the end zone for another touchdown. Score would be 14-7 in favor of Fannin.



Union County would put together a nice drive engineered by Helcher. Jonah Daniel would have a 16 yard run to the Fannin 4 yard line. The Fannin defense came up just short of a goal line stand. Micah ONeal had the stop on 1st down and Cason Owensby and Logan Long would make the stop on 2nd down. Logan Helcher would find the end zone on 3rd & goal and the extra point by Mason McCombs was good to make it 14-14with 2:45 left in the 2nd.


The following drive, Caleb Postell put together some nice runs for Fannin and a nice reception by Andre Bivens were some highlights of the drive. Fannin would have 1st and goal from the 5 but we’re unable to score 6. Sophomore Kicker Jack Catner, however, would add a 21 yard field goal to make it Fannin 17 Union 14.


Union would take over and put together a drive into Rebel territory. Micah ONeal, Logan Long, Jalen Ingram, would make big stops on the drive but none bigger than Andrew Waldrep forcing a fumble on Helcher. Cohutta Hyde would recover.


Fannin would go 3 and out and Union would run 3 plays before the horn buzzed ending the 1st half. Fannin would lead 17-14 at halftime.


Union County’s Mason McCombs would attempt to tie the game but he would miss the field goal as Fannin would still lead 17-14 with 5:23 left in 3rd.


Fannin would give the ball back to Union and Helcher would complete a long pass down the home sidelines and Helcher would punch it in giving Union their 1st lead of the game, 20-17. Union would attempt a 2 pt conversion but Jake Sands would pick the pass off. Union would lead 20-17 with 1:03 left in the 3rd quarter.


Fannin would start the 4th quarter on their own 25 hitting Jalen Ingram for a 1st down. Ingram also added another catch on the drive. The Panthers would Force Fannin to give the ball back with 9:10 left in the 4th.


Carson Collis, nearly intercepted Helcher’s pass on 1st down and Jalen Ingram made the stop on 2nd down. Mccay Turner made the stop on 3rd down as Union would punt back to Fannin.



Fannin would get the ball back. 3rd down and 6 from the 25 yard line Luke Holloway found Andre Bivens for a touchdown to give Fannin the lead 24-20 with 5:49 left in 4th.

Union County would try to put together a game winning drive of their own. However, Fannin County’s Cason Owensby, had one of the biggest interceptions in recent memory for Fannin.


Fannin would take over and pick up a 1st down. Holloway would wake the final knee and a celebration for the ages took place on the Fannin County Sidelines. Head Coach Chad Cheatham would toss his visor into the stands and Fannin County Recreation Department employee Tim Wooten would come down with the reception. Wooten would give the visor to Coach Cheatham’s wife Katherine. No word yet if the post game visor throws will continue.

It was very special to see Seniors Micah ONeal and Mason Bundy and others from senior class celebrate with so much excitement and emotion.

Fannin County is now 1-0 on the season after 24-20 victory over Union. They will have another rivalry game this Friday night as they travel to Gilmer to play the Bobcats.


Gilmer County led by 2nd year Head Coach Kevin Saunders, will be coming into the rivalry game 0-1 after a 17-8 defeat by another one their rivals in Pickens County.


Kickoff will be Friday September 11th 730. Special pre game show will air at 7pm with Team Fyn Sports Director Jake West and Tim Towe.


Be sure to catch Rebel Wrap Up on Wednesday at 630 live on Team FYN Sports Facebook with Host Tim Towe. Head Coach Chad Cheatham and Rebel players will join the show.

Property taxes remain low in Fannin County

property taxes increase non-critical state of emergency 2020 Budget

BLUE RIDGE, Ga – Fannin Commissioners set the overall county millage rate at 14.253 mills and accepted the county and school system’s rollbacks.

Fannin County Schools rolled their millage rate back from 10.593 to 10.391 mills on Thursday, August 27. Previously, commissioners proposed to roll the county portion of the millage rate back to 3.938 to 3.862 mills. Typically, Fannin’s millage rate is one of the five lowest in Georgia.

“ The coronavirus, it’s effected [every person in one way or another.] At this current time, I don’t see any way of even thinking about a tax increase that would be my ten cents,” Post One Earl Johnson stated.

The county-side of the millage rate accounts for around 35 percent of the tax revenues. It affects all property owners or renters living in Fannin. The larger portion of county revenues come from SPLOST, LOST, and hotel/motel collections, and those taxes continue to do well during the pandemic.

“The millage rate really gets to the heart of the citizens here,” Chairman Stan Helton added. “Many of them are elderly…and low-income folks that live here on a fixed income. I feel a necessity just like you do on keeping the millage rate on these folks as low as we can.”

In the past, Fannin decided to use SPLOST, LOST, and hotel/motels funds on some public safety and capital outlay projects.

“As the county has grown, we’ve put those tax collections on the right group, and that’s primarily the visitors and tourists that we’re blessed in this county to have,” Helton said.

He continued to stress that the county isn’t cheating public safety or any other department but easing the burden of people who struggle.

Johnson included that he hoped, at the beginning of 2020, he hoped to maintain the millage rate to take advantage of new growth. The 2019 audit report revealed an additional $381,000 in property taxes just from new developments. However, 2020 had other plans with COVID-19 and widespread unemployment.

Post Two Glenn Patterson wasn’t present at the meeting due to technical difficulties over the teleconference meeting.

Fannin County Young Farmers Association: Seed Swap

Rebel's Corner

Search for High School Principal halted

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Education announced that they will be putting a temporary halt to the search for a new high school principal.

“We are going to pause the process of finding a permanent principal to replace Mr. Cioffi at Fannin County High School,” Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney explained, adding that he will be sending out a letter later this evening giving more details on the situation.

Erik Cioffi, current Principal of Fannin County High School, submitted his resignation at the end of July (to be effective August 28, 2020) after accepting an Assistant Superintendent position in Massachusetts.

“This move allows us to be closer to our immediate families in New England,” Cioffi said at the time of accepting the new position in Massachusetts. “I was born and raised in Massachusetts so I will be returning home.”

Interim Assistant Principal of West Fannin Elementary, Debbie Decubellis, will be moved to Fannin County High School in the role of Interim Principal for the time being.

UPDATE : Click the link below to read the letter from Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney explaining the decision made :

FCSS Community Letter (08-18-20)

Fannin County August 11 runoff election returns

Election 2020, News
election returns

FANNIN COUNTY, Ga – The polls have closed for the August 11 runoff election. To review the unofficial election returns for your local, state, and federal races, check out the list below. Please remember all the results are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State.


Precincts: 12 of 12 reporting

Commission Chairman


Stan Helton (I) – 1,097

Jamie Hensley – 3,956


U.S. House of Representatives District 9


Andrew Clyde – 2,826

Matt Gurtler – 2,147


Devin Pandy – 344

Brooke Siskin – 179



To see the state election returns, click here. This article contains the overall race winner and identified runoffs for State House, State Senate, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate in FYN’s coverage area.

The General Election is scheduled for November 3 as well as the jungle primary for Senator Kelly Loeffler’s seat.

Officers honored for life saving actions

Community, Fannin County EMA/EMS, News, Police & Government
Fannin County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management, EMA, EMS, First Responders, Fire Department, Paramedics, Narcan, Life Saving, Overdose, Corporal Dustin Carter, Investigator Gary Edwards

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Two officers with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Department were honored for their quick thinking that resulted in a life being saved.

A call came through dispatch of a single vehicle accident on Highway 2 near Flowers Baking Company. A silver Ford Focus driven by Michael Peppers of Blue Ridge had left the roadway and struck a tree.

Fannin County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management, EMA, EMS, First Responders, Fire Department, Paramedics, Narcan, Life Saving, Overdose, Corporal Dustin Carter, Investigator Gary Edwards

(L – R) Investigator Gary Edwards, Corporal Dustin Carter

Corporal Dustin Carter and Investigator Gary Edwards were first to respond to the scene and saw that the male driver was alone and trapped in the vehicle.

“The door panel was crushed from striking the tree,” Investigator Edwards spoke of the scene upon arrival. 

The door was unable to be opened and both officers saw the condition of Peppers deteriorating.

“He was slightly responsive. He was losing color and as we were speaking to him, his condition worsened and he just went out, non-responsive, lost all of his color,” Edwards recounted the quickness in which Peppers’ condition worsened.

Accident reports from that day detail how Peppers’ skin color began to become grayish in hue as his eyes rolled back and his breathing came to almost a complete stop.

“He was on the verge of completely not breathing. He was having agonal respirations,” Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham spoke of Carter and Edwards’ actions and explained that agonal respirations is a gasping for air that is associated with body reflex and is seen in medical emergencies.

Investigator Edwards and Corporal Carter worked together to free Peppers from the vehicle, Edwards having to break out the back window to gain access. It was at this point that Carter recognized the signs of a possible overdose and Edwards retrieved his supply of Narcan.

Narcan is a nasal spray used for the treatment of an opioid emergency or a possible opioid overdose with signs of breathing problems.

Upon returning, Edwards reported that Carter was able to free Peppers from the vehicle and had him laying down on the ground. Edwards administered the nasal Narcan and Peppers began to breathe and move again.

When paramedics arrived, both officers helped to load Peppers onto the stretcher and observed that he was talking to paramedics as they left the scene.

“Seeing his reactions. From the time we got there, he was kind of responsive to unresponsive in just a few minutes,” Carter explained the decision to use Narcan. Carter says that training and experience are how he was able to quickly recognize the signs of a possible overdose.

The officers were given pins of recognition by Fannin County’s Emergency Management Team to acknowledge that their quick thinking and actions were directly responsible for saving a life.

New Transportation Facility a possibility for Fannin County School System

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County School System (FCSS) unveiled two new structures that if voted for, could replace outdated buildings and give much needed space back to the Fannin County school campuses.

The Board of Education got a first look at possible design plans for a new Transportation Facility and a Staff Development Center.

Last year the school system purchased land from the U.S. Forest Service that the service had deemed not necessary for their use any longer. The land, approximately 37 acres, is located near Blue Ridge Dam off of Highway 76.

Darren Danner, Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations, explained the history of the purchase and the need for the proposed new buildings.

“We’re trying to build a transportation facility,” Danner said, explaining that currently the district has to service their fleet in a “bus garage” which lacks the space for efficiency when servicing a large number of buses.

The Staff Development Center would fill a need for the school system, as currently different rooms around the various campuses have had to be put into use for training.

“Once we got our initial drawings of the Transportation Facility, we noticed we had all this space left over,” Danner spoke of how talks for a Staff Development Center came about; the school system would want to utilize as much as possible of the acreage purchased.

Fannin County, Georgia, School System, Board of Education, Construction, Transportation Facility, Staff Development Center, Breaux and Associates Architects, Bowen and Watson Construction

Proposed floor plan of Transportation Facility.

Doug Breaux and Henry Pineda of Breaux and Associates Architects showed board members renderings and plans for the two new facilities.

Breaux and Associates Architects is a Georgia based architectural firm that specializes in educational facility planning and design.

The main building of the Transportation Facility would be approximately 17,000 square feet. Of this, 12,000 square feet would be designated for bus maintenance and supply storage, including three full service bays. The remaining 5,000 square feet would be set aside as an administration/training area.

This design also includes a covered outdoor area for buses to have quick tune-ups or fixes without taking the space of one of the full bays.

Also on the transportation campus would be a driver training course, a fueling station and a parking area large enough to accommodate FCSS’s entire fleet.

The Staff Development Center similarly would have a large footprint and would house not only training areas and conference rooms, but would also become the new location for the district’s administration and Board of Education. 

In the floor plan presented by Breaux and Associates Architects, the Staff Development Center would be divided into two sides based on purpose. The left hand side would be used for the staff development and training while the right hand side would be designated for administration.

“It is designed so that if there is ever a need for expansion, the building can actually expand toward the right hand side. If there is ever a need for more offices,” Doug Breaux said of the consideration for growth when designing the floor plan.

The Staff Development Center will be considered second after the Transportation Facility, as the need for the Transportation Facility is more pressing.

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Proposed floor plan of the Staff Development Center.

However, cost saving measures can be taken now, when planning for the future of the site.

Drew Watson, President of Bowen and Watson Construction, explained even if the Staff Development Center were to be put on hold, preparing the land for both projects at the same time would save money.

“In discussing the development of the site,” Watson spoke to the board, “you would save a lot of money if you were ever going to build the Staff Development Center, to go ahead and grade for that now.” 

According to Watson a big expense in construction and in grading in particular is the import and export of soils. 

“This would allow us to balance the site now,” Watson explained the benefits of completing both areas simultaneously.

Board of Education members asked several questions pertaining to costs, but since the project(s) are still in the preliminary stages overall costs cannot be determined until the board gives approval to move forward with getting these estimations.

No set date was given on when the BOE would hold a vote on these future construction projects.


Feature Image : One of the proposed renderings of the Staff Development Center presented by Breaux and Associates Architects.

Update On Opening Fannin’s Schools

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County School System (FCSS) has released more details about reopening plans for students opting to attend in-person schooling during the 2020-21 school year.

Assistant Superintendent of Achievement and Governance, Sarah Rigdon, updated the Board of Education (BOE) on the latest decisions to reopen Fannin County’s Schools in August.

“We are revising our plans somewhat,” Rigdon said of the ever changing guidelines related to Covid-19, “because we want to also be good stewards and good partners with our governor in trying to keep everyone in Georgia safe and healthy.”

Rigdon referenced Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s “Four for Four” plan, where Kemp is urging Georgians to follow these four guidelines for four weeks:

  • Wear a mask when out in public or when you cannot keep distance inside.
  • Practice physical distancing – six feet from those you don’t live with.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds several times throughout the day with soap and warm water.
  • Follow the executive order and heed the guidance provided by public health officials.

According to Kemp, if Georgians commit to these four things, “we can make incredible progress in the fight against Covid-19”.

With the “Four for Four” plan in mind, the school system has outlined a few new procedures for school students this year.

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Rigdon updates the board on school reopening plans.

Rigdon gave an update for students who will be riding school buses this year. The plan for buses was previously still in the works when the initial reopening update was given at the BOE’s July 9th meeting.

After consulting with medical professionals, school and district leaders, the FCSS has decided that masks will be required for all students riding buses. 

Disposable masks will be available to students riding buses as well as hand sanitizer to be used before boarding the bus.

“That is a requirement, not an encouragement or suggestion,” Rigdon emphasized of the decision for riders to be required to wear a mask.

Social distancing is just not possible for students on buses and Rigdon stated of preventing person-to-person spread of Covid-19, “The best defense against that is going to be masking up.” 

Students may also receive assigned seating on buses.

FCSS is still not making masks a requirement for students and staff inside school buildings, but are highly encouraging the mask wearing practice.

The district received a donation of cloth masks from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and will offer all students who are attending face-to-face school one of  these masks.

For parents, guardians and visitors to any of the school campuses, a mask or face covering will be required along with a symptom check before entering any buildings.

Employees of the FCSS will participate in Covid-19 related training. The training will consist of guidance about “best practices and instances when face coverings will be required”.

This specific situational guidance and training will be reviewed by the Department of Public Health.

Lastly, school specific plans for safely reopening are still being worked out among the individual schools. Staff will be given this information before returning on August 3 and parents/guardians will be given this information prior to August 7.

“The guidance is constantly updated,” Rigdon spoke about the individual schools’ finalizing plans and that these plans could still change as the district receives new information.



Featured Image Courtesy of Fannin County School System

Cioffi accepts Assistant Superintendent position in Massachusetts

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Fannin County High School Principal Erik Cioffi will be leaving the Rebels for a new position as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Personnel with a school system in Massachusetts.

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Cioffi submitted his resignation to FCSS on July 17, 2020.

Cioffi submitted his resignation to the Fannin County School System (FCSS) to be effective August 28, 2020. The Board of Education is expected to accept this resignation at a special called meeting on July 23,2020.

This move allows us to be closer to our immediate families in New England,” Cioffi said of the new position he will be filling in Massachusetts. “I was born and raised in Massachusetts so I will be returning home.”

Cioffi said in an email sent out to colleagues that his family will remain in Georgia to complete their senior year at Fannin County High School, but that all will be reunited upon graduation. He plans to visit frequently and attend events throughout the year.

The resignation date of August 28 will allow Cioffi to remain with the FCSS to help bring in the start of this unusual school year with new protocols in place due to Covid-19. 

Cioffi acknowledged his intention to be an active member in restarting the school year : “Many protocols and procedures will be fine-tuned over the next couple of weeks as we seek guidance from the North Georgia Public Health Department and local leaders.”

I want to “Thank you” for an amazing 11 years – I will reflect often on the successes and relationships that have been built and I truly believe the staff at FCHS is one of the best in the country,” Cioffi said to his colleagues adding, “Thank you for your efforts and dedication to the students of Fannin.”  

The Fannin County School System has listed an anticipated job opening of High School Principal on their website (anticipated because Cioffi’s resignation is not finalized until the BOE holds an official vote).

The website states that the position is not an entry level leadership position and “a preferred applicant’s portfolio will highlight prior successful teaching- and leadership-related experiences, demonstrate effective communication skills, and prove one’s ability to lead.”

Applications can be filled out online, via the FCSS website. Interested individuals who qualify should ensure that a completed application is entered online (in Frontline) no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, July 31, 2020.

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