Blue Ridge, Ga. – Nothing rings in the holiday cheer like a small town celebration! That’s why Hallmark has literally over 100 holiday-themed small town movies for its viewers, and if Hallmark were to ever need a new setting, Fannin County would not disappoint.
The City of McCaysville kicked off the festivities hosting Light Up McCaysville and Copperhill at the newly renovated Riverwalk Shops. Festivities began at 4 p.m. on Friday with visitors enjoying holiday music while shopping at local businesses.
At 7 p.m. McCaysville lit the tree. In its new location, on the terrace in front of the Riverwalk Shops, the tree along with the lighted steel truss bridge, cast a beautiful reflection on the river below, leaving spectators in awe of the stunning display.
In keeping with tradition, the Blue Ridge Business Association lit up the City of Blue Ridge with its annual Light Up Blue Ridge celebration held on Saturday.
The festivities officially began as Santa and Mrs. Claus rolled into town on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Hundreds lined the tracks and children of all ages cheered as the train blew its whistle to signify their arrival.
Throughout the day families enjoyed the small town wholesome feel as carollers walked the streets singing Christmas favorites and a strolling Barbershop Quartet made its way around town.
Of course, what Light Up Blue Ridge celebration would be complete without Tuba Christmas, and a Tuba Christmas there was!
Visitors and locals had pictures made with Santa and visited the Gingerbread Village set up at the Art Center (Blue Ridge Mountain Mountain Arts Association), while awaiting the parade later in the evening.
The parade began at 5:30 p.m. Despite the weather, raining with brief periods of heavy rainfall, spectators lined East Main Street. Children gladly caught candy thrown from the numerous floats and vehicles. There were grinches, dancing elves, carolling snowmen, a marching band, and ending the parade was Santa wishing all a good night.
As the parade wound down the crowd made its way to the park for the lighting of the Great Tree.
With the traditional countdown, the 27 foot tree was lit, marking that the holiday season has officially begun for Fannin County.
Featured Image : Light Up McCaysville and Copperhill. Courtesy of Michelle Degner (Crescent Moon Images).
Blue Ridge, Ga. – Growth and change continue to come to downtown Blue Ridge. With all new projects comes some debate from the local residents, and the latest construction involving the property previously occupied by the Blue Ridge United Methodist Church (BRUMC) showed no exception as citizens took to social media to vocalize their feelings on the progress of the downtown area.
Many considered the Blue Ridge United Methodist Church to be a landmark of Blue Ridge and a building that enhanced the feel of small town rural America, adding charm to the city. For others the church was more than a building, it was also a place of memories made from generations of family worship.
Dena Johnson stated in part via social media, “I understand growth. But couldn’t we have kept downtown small? And let growth occur somewhere else.”
Many echoed Johnson’s sentiment regarding Blue Ridge and the demolition of church, but others took a different stance.
“So negative… it will always be a beautiful small town with wonderful people,” resident Dana Chastain commented on the social media thread, adding, “Growth is good. It’s inevitable in any town. Embrace it and be positive. I love how our town has grown and I’m proud to be a local. I’m lucky to call this place home.”
The Blue Ridge United Methodist Church had plans on relocating and selling their downtown property for several years with an initial Capital Campaign “Laying the Foundation for the Future” fundraiser ending in 2013. The need for a new place of worship arose from the church’s own growth and the needs of its congregation.
The downtown building was not handicap accessible (by ADA standards) and with an aging congregation the stairs and hills on the property were posing a challenge. The church’s website noted that upon the first visit of the congregation to the new property on Orvin Lance Drive “Several noted how large it (the property) is. Others marveled that you could go anywhere on the property without walking up stairs or going up a hill.”
The size of the downtown property was another determining factor in the need for BRUMC to find a new location. In order to expand or update their facilities on the existing property, available parking would need to be removed. Parking that was already scarce downtown and the removal of even more spaces did not work for a growing congregation.
The downtown property sat on 1.62 acres with vertically being the only way to expand. The new property sits on just over 10 acres and will be able to be developed by the church to fit their needs as they continue to grow.
There was some divide in the church on whether to sell the downtown property knowing what fate the building would likely see. The church’s website notes that before the congregation voted on whether to sell, Reverend Herzen Andone “spoke to the congregation, noting how men and women of faith and good may and often will disagree on issues such as the vote before the body. He emphasized that we shouldn’t consider the outcome of this as having winners and losers; but as persons in Christian fellowship expressing our conscience in good faith, while keeping the unity of the congregation”.
The result of the vote was 68 persons voting to approve the sale, 16 persons voting against and one abstention. With the vote final the church moved forward in unison toward their goal with the new facility.
According to Fannin County Tax Records Hawthorne Ventures Blue Ridge, LLC. purchased the downtown property, which consists of multiple lots, for $1,750,000.00.
FYN spoke with a developer with Hawthorne Ventures Blue Ridge, LLC. about the purchase and the future of 322 West Main Street in Blue Ridge.
The developer echoed much of what was said from BRUMC. Like the church, when looking into proposed development of the area, there was no way to use the existing building because of ADA regulations. Beyond there being no handicap access to the building itself there was also many issues within the building, such as doorways being too small, that made preservation and use of the building nearly impossible.
While demolition took place only recently, Hawthorne Ventures Blue Ridge, LLC. actually completed the purchase of the property in March 2018. According to the developer, Hawthorne Ventures Blue Ridge, LLC. agreed that BRUMC could continue use of the property, rent free, while they awaited the completion of their new building. This is why construction and development of the site was delayed for over a year after the purchase.
“We also allowed them to remove whatever architectural details from the building that they wanted including the doors, stained glass windows, pews, kitchen appliances, light fixtures, cabinets, and most importantly the bells,” the developer went on to tell FYN.
Church member Gary Keel backed up Hawthorne Ventures Blue Ridge, LLC.’s account of the transaction, “It was a handshake agreement. They said they would love to help the group, and we agreed that they would give us (the church) a thirty day notice before we needed to leave. We kept up the insurance, but they let us continue to use the building, rent free, for 18 months.”
“It gave us that transition,” Keel said explaining that when the property sold the new church had not been built. “It was really amazing for a buyer not to use the property immediately, and to let us continue to use it just on a handshake.”
FYN obtained an architectural rendering of the proposed project to be constructed on the site.
“As you will see from the rendering, we have taken a great deal of time and effort to make sure that the new project is in keeping with the “small town” appearance of Blue Ridge,” the developer said of the proposed development, adding, “Located in the breezeway between the buildings will be an architectural feature commemorating the site of the United Methodist Church, which will include some of the salvaged bricks.”
The new development will be a two story structure capable of housing multiple shops. Not shown in the rendering is a two level proposed parking garage that will be located behind the structure to help alleviate some of the parking issues faced in downtown Blue Ridge.
Hawthorne Ventures Blue Ridge, LLC. is currently in the process of submitting plans to the State Fire Marshall and hopes to begin construction in the upcoming months.
“It was a great building,” Keel spoke of his feelings on the church’s move, “It served its purpose over many years, and now we are able to continue to grow.”
The Blue Ridge United Methodist Church held their first service at their new location on Oct. 13 at 10 a.m.
If anyone is interested in getting more information about the project or would be interested in leasing space, they may contact Re/Max Town and Country at 706-946-6867.
“Paid advertisement by the Campaign to Elect Bill Simonds Chairman of Fannin County”
For Immediate Release
September 24, 2019
ATLANTA – A fire investigator with the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office has determined that a
structure fire which occurred the morning of Saturday, September 14, in Fannin County was intentionally set.
“The home is located at 1588 Mountain View Road in McCaysville, Georgia. The 52-year-old structure suffered
major damage from the blaze,” said Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King. “The home was occupied up until the
day before the fire. If you have any information on who might be responsible for setting this fire, please call the
Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King is asking anyone with knowledge about this fire to call the Arson Hotline at
1‐800‐282‐5804. Rewards are offered of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the
arsonist(s). Calls are taken 24 hours a day and callers can choose to remain anonymous.
The Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Sheriff’s Office, and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are assisting with this investigation.
Fannin County EMA/EMS
Director Robert Graham
20 Station Ridge
Blue Ridge, Ga. 30513
September 8, 2019 thru September 14, 2019 Responses
Gilmer EMS: 1
Polk EMS: 2
Includes 13 out of town transfers
Total Emergency Calls: 459
Total Incoming Phone Calls (911 and Admin): 985
McCaysville, Ga. – James Larry Parris, Jr., age 51, is facing multiple felony charges after an incident that occurred in the early morning hours of Aug. 30. The incident, a hostage situation, led to police using lethal force to bring the situation to an end.
Details are emerging of the events that happened shortly after midnight in the City of McCaysville.
The McCaysville Police Department responded to a housing authority apartment complex after Fannin County dispatch received a 911 call. According to dispatch, Parris stated during the 911 call that no one was leaving the apartment alive.
Patrolman Bill Higdon was first on the scene and upon arriving at the apartment was immediately faced with an armed and belligerent Parris.
Parris had allegedly forced entry into the apartment, which is occupied by his ex-wife. A male friend of the female victim and a minor were also present at the time.
While Parris and his ex-wife have been divorced for many years, sources tell FetchYourNews that Parris had become enraged upon hearing that the male friend was present in the home. According to sources Parris and the unnamed male victim are blood related.
Patrolman Higdon established that Parris was armed with a 20 gauge shotgun and that there were three hostages present at scene.
Parris told Higdon “not to come in the apartement” and verbally threatened the officer and hostages with bodily harm. At this point Higdon requested further assistance, to which McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley, Detective Captain Billy Brackett, Patrolman Cory Collogan, as well as members of the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded.
Earley, Brackett, and Higdon attempted to negotiate with Parris. Earley told FetchYourNews that negotiations with Parris “went on for quite some time and initially seemed to be successful”. Through these negotiations Parris had agreed to put down his weapon and let the officers enter the apartment.
Once officers began to enter, however, Parris rearmed himself, picking up the shotgun and pointing it at officers while shouting, “Get out! Get out of this house!”.
With the immediate threat that Parris posed to the officers, Chief Earley took measures to end the situation and fired upon Parris, disarming the gunman and allowing time for officers to move in and make an arrest.
Parris was airlifted to a Metro Atlanta hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Parris was released from the hospital on Thursday, Sep. 5.
McCaysville Police Chief Earley, Capt. Brackett, and Officer Mark Chastain, were present at the hospital to escort Parris back to Fannin County.
Paris is currently being held at the Fannin County Detention Facility where he faces the following charges:
- Firearm/Knife possession while committing or attempting to commit a crime
- Criminal Attempt (A person commits the offense of criminal attempt when, with intent to commit a specific crime, they perform any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime)
- Cruelty to ChildrenBurglaryDamage to and intrusion upon property
- 3 Counts False Imprisonment
- 6 Counts Aggravated Assualt
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BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Special Olympics Golf Tournament was held on Wednesday, July 30, 2019 at the Old Toccoa Farm on Curtis Switch Road in Blue Ridge.
Because of the number of pictures taken during the event, all pictures will be posted into an album on the official Fetch Your News Facebook page, which may be found in our Album here.
The video may be viewed below!
The schedule of events, along with the names of the athletes are as follows:
9:00 – 9:25 – Arrival of Athletes and Guests
9:30 – Opening Ceremony – Welcome and Athletes Oath
9:35 – Level 2 Unified competition – 9 holes
1st Group – Jeff, Rick, Guests Dave and Eric
2nd Group – Joe, Debbie, Laney and Alex
10:00 – Level 1 Skills competition – normal practice area
Short Putt – Amanda, Ansley, and Kari
Long Putt – Guests: Amanda Lane and Jennifer Campbell
Chip Shot – Brandon, Mikey, Jay and Eric
Pitch Shot – Robbie, Kevin, Tommy
11:15 – *Level 1 Skills Competition – Hole #1
*This will require putting the golf clubs and athletes in cars and driving down to parking area near the river
Iron Shot – Amanda, Ansley, Kari and Guests Amanda Lane and Jennifer Campbell
Wood Shot – Brandon. Mikey, Jay, Eric, Robbie, Kevin and Tommy
Noon – Lunch followed by the Medal Ceremony down by the river