McCaysville Mayor tests positive for Covid-19

Community, News
Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia Department of Public Health, DPH, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Confirmed, First Case

McCaysville, Ga. – The City of McCaysville released an official statement this morning, April 2, informing the public that Mayor Thomas Seabolt has tested positive for Covid-19.

covid-19, seabolt, mayor, positive, mccaysville

Mayor Thomas Seabolt

The statement said that Seabolt is self quarantining at home for the next 14 days and when last spoken to he sounded “healthy and was in good spirits”. Seabolt has notified everyone that he has been in contact with so that they can take appropriate steps.

Seabolt is reported to be doing well and is able to work from home.

Also of concern is McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley. Earley had been in the same room with Seabolt several times over the past week. Proper social distancing protocols were followed by Earley and Seabolt during these meetings.

At this time Earley has not been tested. He is self quarantining until he can be tested and cleared of any possible infection.

In the statement released by the city reassurance is given to citizens that “the Chief is continuing to do his duties from home, and the McCaysville Police Department’s chain of command remains intact”.

FYN will follow this developing story and bring you further details as they become available to the public.

The City of McCaysville Declared a Public Health Emergency on March 24, 2020. You can read about this declaration by clicking the link : McCaysville Declares Public Health Emergency 

As of April 1, 2020, The Georgia Department of Health was reporting 4,748 positive cases of Covid-19 in the state. Of these cases 1,013 remain hospitalized. Fannin County was reported to have six positive cases at this time.


Natalie Kissel

Blue Ridge Community Theater : Sewing Good Deeds in a Time of Crisis


Blue Ridge, Ga. – Volunteers at the Blue Ridge Community Theater (BRCT) are stepping up in a big way to give support to local agencies and citizens, as we all face the Covid-19 pandemic together.

To quote the great William Shakespeare: “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”, and the volunteers at BRCT are doing just that, by shining a light of purpose in what is a dark time for many.

The mission of the volunteers came about when a dialysis clinic in Chattanooga, Tn. put out a call that they were in desperate need of face masks for their patients. This clinic asked for the public’s help in getting 600 masks.

Blue Ridge Community Theater, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Masks, Volunteer, Family Connection, Giving Back, Covid-19

BRCT volunteer showing a sewn mask.

The volunteers at BRCT stepped up to answer this call. Head Seamstress, Kim Westcott spoke of the group coming together, “We sew costumes. We’re good sewers,” and added, “We’ve got lots of material, unsuitable for costumes but it’s perfect for this!”

Each mask must meet certain guidelines and specifications, among these the material used must be 100 percent cotton.

Westcott talked about how people, especially quilters, across the nation are stepping up to make the washable masks to help curb the shortage of this very necessary item: “This is a grassroots effort by every quilter out there.” 

Westcott pointed out that quilters know their material and have 100% cotton material that is required on hand.

Of the requested 600 masks to the dialysis clinic, the BRCT volunteers produced around 50 and delivered them. As of Friday, March 27, the clinic had received over 400 masks.

BRCT has since reached out to several local agencies and will continue making masks for the area. Some of the masks made have gone to CASA (court appointed special advocate) volunteers to give to grandparents who are guardians of younger children, some have gone to volunteers that continue to work at the local food bank and of course, many masks will be sent to Fannin Regional Hospital.

The volunteers have received essential status from the City of Blue Ridge, allowing them to continue production during the city’s declared State of Emergency.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Westcott said of being able to help during this nationwide crisis, “As long as we have a place to deliver them to, we’ll be making them.” 

The eight volunteers have now fine tuned the production process in an assembly line fashion, and Westcott says this method is very efficient, “Now that we’ve got the process down, we can probably turn out 30 to 40 a day.”

When asked how many masks the group anticipates making and giving away, Westcott replied, “We’ll give them everything we get and we’ll keep making them until this whole crisis passes.”

Beyond mask production, BRCT has partnered with Family Connection in collecting donations for their food bank services. The theater was able to make 5-6 deliveries last week to this cause.

Volunteers from the theater are also out delivering groceries, medications and other essential items to people who are quarantined or at too high of risk to leave their homes.

Westcott asks that in lieu of donations for mask making productions, that people please consider donating food and essential items to the theater to be delivered to Family Connection.

The theater currently has enough material to produce around 1,000 masks. 


Keep Up-to-date With Covid-19 in Fannin County by Clicking Here

Featured Images in article are courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater Facebook Page.

Note: BRCT response to question regarding social distancing : “While we did gather together for a picture, each woman has her own station where she assembles her portion of the masks. We are blessed to have a very large costume Room, so we try to give them as much space as possible!”


Natalie Kissel

Voters urged to use Absentee Ballots in upcoming elections

Board of Elections, Community, News
qualifying election

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Secretary of State (SOS) Brad Raffensperger released a statement urging Georgians to take advantage of the absentee ballot during this unique time in voting history. 

According to statistics from the 2016 and 2018 elections 95 percent of voters in Georgia chose to cast their ballots in person while only 5 percent took advantage of the absentee ballot (mail in) option.

Raffensperger is hoping that more voters will now opt for the absentee ballot, as social distancing cannot be easily obtained at most polling locations.

A press release regarding the 2020 elections states: “Raffensperger will send absentee ballot request forms to Georgia’s 6.9 million voters in an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes.”

It goes on to say that voters “will simply have to fill out and return the application to vote by mail in the upcoming elections with no in-person risk of exposure to COVID19.”

Fannin County Election Supervisor Mary Ann Conner is also urging residents to take advantage of this way of voting: “Not knowing what April and May hold in store with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing voting as we have never seen it before and to ensure the safety and the well-being of the voters, we join with the SOS in urging our voters in Fannin County to request an absentee by mail ballot.”

The SOS will begin mailing absentee ballot applications on March 30, 2020. Only active voters will receive an application. If you are an inactive voter, you can call the Fannin County Election Office and request an application.

Applications are also accessible online at  link to Elections under Departments or on the Secretary of State’s website link on Elections and go to My Voter Page.

Early voting will run April 27 – May 19,  Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be a Saturday vote on May 9, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


(ATLANTA) — Secretary of State Raffensperger is taking unprecedented steps to protect the public health of Georgia voters while also upholding the integrity of the vote. These temporary steps are being made because of the COVID-19 pandemic threatening public health in Georgia and around the world. Secretary Raffensperger will be mailing absentee ballot request forms to every Georgia voter. This extraordinary effort to ensure all Georgians can vote without fear for their health will supplement extra measures to ensure those who rely on in-person voting to access the ballot can do so safely. “Times of turbulence and upheaval like the one we Georgians face require decisive action if the liberties we hold so dear are to be preserved,” said Raffensperger. “I am acting today because the people of Georgia, from the earliest settlers to heroes like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis, have fought too long and too hard for their right to vote to have it curtailed. Georgia has faced challenges before and overcome them, and we can do so again through the grit and ingenuity that has made America a shining example for democracies around the world.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is moving to increase Georgia voter access and protect the public health of voters and poll workers during the COVID-19 emergency through increased mail in voting. In the 2016 and 2018 November elections, around 95 percent of Georgia voters opted to cast their ballot in person versus the 5 percent who did so by mail. With social distancing as the most important tool for limiting the spread of coronavirus, providing alternatives to voting in person is crucial. All Georgia voters can request and vote an absentee ballot for any reason.

Raffensperger will send absentee ballot request forms to the Georgia’s 6.9 million voters in an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes. In doing so, Raffensperger will literally be dropping a way to vote in safety and security on each Georgia voter’s doorstep. They will simply have to fill out and return the application to vote by mail in the upcoming elections with no in-person risk of exposure to COVID19. Georgia’s most vulnerable, those over age 65 and those with a disability, can request absentee ballots for the primary and general election as well as all elections through the 2020 election cycle with this one application. Other voters will need to submit another application for future elections. The elderly and disabled will to be able to vote in safety and security. While Secretary Raffensperger is encouraging as many voters as possible to vote by mail, some rely on in-person voting to exercise their right to vote privately and securely. People without internet or mail access, such as those experiencing homelessness; Georgians who need language assistance; and people with disabilities who rely on voting machines to cast their ballot will still be able to do so in person on the state’s new voting system. Additionally, research from the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law shows that eliminating “in-person voting could disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latino, and young voters”. Their right to vote too needs protection.

To that end, Raffensperger is taking extra steps to limit the threat of COVID-19 at the polling place. Poll workers will receive additional resources to clean the equipment regularly. In-person voters who show up to vote in person will be instructed to maintain a safe distance when waiting to vote. These measures will protect poll workers as well. Understanding the extra risk Georgia’s generally elderly poll workers face, Raffensperger is working to help counties hire more and younger poll workers. Extra staff will allow those who feel sick to be absent from the polls without significantly impacting continuity while a younger pool of workers will increase resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 threat. Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller commended Raffensperger for taking initiative to safeguard health and preserve voter access. “I want to applaud Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his office for taking decisive measures in this time of crisis,” Miller said. “These steps are critical in this temporary environment to protect our poll workers and give our counties time to successfully plan for the Georgia General Primary in May. Make no mistake about it, the members of the majority caucus and I remain committed to keep the General Primary on May 19th.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is taking these unprecedented actions for the safety and security of Georgia’s voters. Through these decisive steps, Raffensperger is protecting public health and the right to vote in Georgia.


Natalie Kissel

Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 3/22 – 3/28

Arrest Reports, Police & Government

Arrest report provided by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office with images.  The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 35-01-18) allows for to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Polk County. Those arrests are posted on for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.

City of Blue Ridge declares State of Emergency

Community, News

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.


Click here to read about the City of McCaysville declaration of a State of Emergency


Natalie Kissel

McCaysville declares Public Health Emergency

Community, News

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.

McCaysville, Fannin County, Georgia, Public Health Emergency, Ordinance, Closings, Business

  • 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.

McCaysville, Fannin County, Georgia, Public Health Emergency, Ordinance, Closings, Business

  • 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.

McCaysville, Fannin County, Georgia, Public Health Emergency, Ordinance, Closings, Business

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.


Natalie Kissel

Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 3/15 – 3/21

Arrest Reports, Police & Government

Arrest report provided by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office with images.  The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 35-01-18) allows for to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Polk County. Those arrests are posted on for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.

Opinion: How Should Blue Ridge Proceed?


Written By : Logan Fitts

Athens, GA
Atlanta, GA

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.

Stay strong.



**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 


Natalie Kissel

McCaysville Police Department revises day to day procedures

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Amidst the outbreak of Covid-19 many government services and departments are having to amend policies and procedures to adapt to an ever changing environment.

Small towns are not immune to the stress that Covid-19 is putting on public systems. Many areas are responding to guidelines being put in place in an attempt to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the very contagious virus.

McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley released a statement detailing the procedures that his department will implement immediately until further notice. Earley did stress that the procedures are for the safety of his staff and the public, and that all new policies would only be temporary.

Statement from McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley:

City of McCaysville Police Department
CEO: Chief of Police Michael O. Earley
Dear Citizens,
Our state and country have come under the the grips of the threat of Covid-19, better known as the corona virus. Our city, thus far, has been fortunate and has been relatively untouched by the illness. However, in the face of grave information from the CDC, federal officials, and the healthcare professionals regarding the spread and mortality rates in certain marginal groups, your police department will not stand idle. In order to maintain an operational and healthy police force, our department will be altering some of our day to day activities. These modifications are temporary and are intended to only last the duration of our current crisis.In citizen encounters, our officers have been instructed to avoid certain courtesies, such as shaking hands. They have also been instructed to limit casual interactions with the public. This is not to encourage rudeness, but to limit the mediums of contact most likely to spread the virus. In the performance of law enforcement duties, officers may come into contact with affected persons, and by limiting contact with the public we will reduce the chance of exposing our citizens to an undue risk.While we will be enduring these limitations, all of our employees will be at work and our will be carrying our their normal patrols. We will, however, be closing the lobby area at our physical location, and no longer offer fingerprints services for alcohol employment permits. You will still be able to reach us by phone at 706-492-4636. If you still need to file a report you can still be able to do so by contacting 911.

I will also be authorizing our officers to take certain non-emergency calls by phone. These calls will be those in which no crime is in progress and where no evidence ca.n be obtained. These include misdemeanor thefts, incidents of fraud, medical calls, custody disputes, civil disputes and “Are you OK?” checks.

I cannot emphasize enough that these modifications in our operations are both temporary and essential to keeping the City of McCaysville safe. Please pray for the leaders of this nation, state, and local government. Pray that God will heal our people and we find a cure to prevent the spread of the virus.

God bless you all,
Michael O. Earley
Chief of Police


Natalie Kissel

Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 3/9 – 3/14

Arrest Reports, Police & Government

Arrest report provided by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office with images.  The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 35-01-18) allows for to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Polk County. Those arrests are posted on for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.

Transparency obstructed at McCaysville City Council meeting

Community, News

McCaysville, Ga. – Mayor Thomas Seabolt tried to bring to an end the reading of the monthly bills, as new councilmember Gilita Carter had done at previous meetings since taking office.

Carter had stated in a previous meeting: “I’ve been coming to a lot of meetings and it always comes up, about paying the bills. Well, I often sit there and wonder, what bills? Whose bills?”

Click Here to read about previous meeting concerning McCaysville finances.

Since taking office Carter has read each line item of the monthly bills aloud to the public, but Seabolt put a stop to this by asking for a motion before Carter could address the public.

McCaysville, Fannin, Georgia, City Council, Transparency, Finance, Bills, Mayor, Attorney, Thomas Seabolt, Sue Beaver, Gilita Carter, Susan Kiker, Jason Woody, Larry Collis, Cortney Stuart, Expenditures

Council-member Gilita Carter and Mayor Thomas Seabolt exchange words over the city’s transparency.

“I just don’t want to take the time to read everything because they’ve already been approved through payment in a sense,” Seabolt spoke to Carter of his reasoning behind not continuing to read the individual bills submitted by city departments.

After asking for a motion to pay the bills with no further explanation, council-member Sue Beaver gave that motion, with fellow council-member Larry Collis gave a second. When asked all in favor Carter abstained along with council-member Susan Kiker.

“In the basis of transparency and in the fact that I stated before, that no one ever knew what the bills were, I will at least give the total for each department,” Carter said before reading each department’s total bills.

Mayor Seabolt responded to Carter’s reading of the totals by saying, “If they want a copy they can ask for public records.” 

This sparked a short exchange between Carter and Seabolt, with Carter ending, “I won’t read them individually any more, but for transparency purposes people need to know what the city bills are. Transparency is what I’m going to stand for.”

Council-member Jason Woody proposed having a print out of detailed monthly bills available for citizens at the regular monthly meetings.

Ultimately, Carter voted no to paying the bills to show opposition in how the City Council is handling getting the information to the public.

The department totals for bills in the month of Feb. are as follows:

  • Administration – $3,828.24
  • Police Department – $2,439.42
  • Court – $519.60
  • Street Department – $3,693.45
  • City Park – $295.39
  • Water and sewer – $29,889.85

Later in the meeting Carter proposed that the City put in place a system for filing expenditure reports and receiving reimbursement. Her proposal includes basing the City’s millage rate reimbursement on Federal standards and having clear cut forms so that reimbursement would be organized and uniform.

Another topic of financial discussion came about when City Attorney Cortney Stuart pointed out during the meeting that no resolution actually exists that requires spending over $500 to come before the council for approval.

This topic and the topic of expenditure reports are expected to be discussed by council in a workshop meeting.


Natalie Kissel

Feb. 2020 McCaysville Police Department Activity Report

Community, News

The City of McCaysville Police Department

Activity Report for Feb. 2020

  • 297 calls directly to the police station
  •  19 citations written
  •  45 walk-in reports
  •  84 warnings issued
  •  74 traffic stops
  •  86 dispatches to calls
  •  9 arrests
  •  11 CID (Criminal Investigation Department) Calls
  •  2 DUIs


Click Here to see McCaysville Police Department Activity Report Jan. 2020


Natalie Kissel

Kemp Authorizes Call of Georgia National Guard for COVID-19 Response

News, Press Release
Kemp national guard

Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp issued Executive Order authorizing Adjutant General Tom Carden – at the request of Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Homer Bryson – to call up as many as 2,000 Georgia National Guard troops to State Active Duty to address novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Georgia.

“Through extensive emergency preparedness training, the brave men and women in the Georgia National Guard stand ready to serve above and beyond their traditional military duties. In states of emergency, they are equipped to take necessary action to protect the health and safety of Georgia families in every region,” said Governor Kemp“To assist with COVID-19 mitigation and critical services, including the transfer of Georgians currently at Dobbins Air Reserve Base to their homes, the Georgia National Guard will now be available to communities to ensure the steady supply of medical equipment, food, shelter, or related materials to keep Georgians safe in the weeks ahead.”

The Georgia National Guard is already assisting with the transfer of thirty-one Georgians – formerly passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship – from Dobbins Air Reserve Base to their homes today for isolation and monitoring by Department of Public Health officials.

UPDATE 3/24/20 : Fannin County Closings and Postponements

Community, News

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.



  • 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 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.


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 Kissel

Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 3/1 – 3/8

Arrest Reports, Police & Government

Arrest report provided by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office with images.  The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 35-01-18) allows for to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Polk County. Those arrests are posted on for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.

Local Candidates Qualify for 2020 Election

Board of Education, Board of Elections, Community, Election 2020, News
qualifying election

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)

STATE Qualifying

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)

FEDERAL Qualifying

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)

Siskin (Democrat)

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.


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