McCaysville, Ga. – The City of McCaysville continues to grow with renovation and innovation taking over the small town. This growth brings about economic opportunity and aesthetic upgrades, but with the good also comes the bad. Simply put, anytime you have more people, you will see a rise in crime.
The City of McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley spoke to city council members about the workload of his department and the role that law enforcement is playing in keeping the city safe.
Currently the police department has 16 employees, some of which are full-time and others part-time. Of these employees the city boasts three specialized certified instructors, an arson investigator, a criminal investigator, a hostage negotiator, an FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) certified sniper, and a full tactical team.
“Our town, as we know, is undergoing a continual growing cycle,” Earley stated explaining the need for the growth in his department and adding, “which deserve the most professional protection needed to best serve the citizens, business owners, and tourists.”
Last month, May 2019, the McCaysville Police Department responded to 41 dispatch calls, 228 phone calls, 23 walk-ins, and 92 vehicle stops. This resulted in 41 citations being given, 4 arrests being made, and 46 warnings being issued.
The Criminal Investigation Division currently has several open investigations including a case of statutory rape and a case of burglary with warrants expected to be issued soon.
Earley also made mention to a drug related case, “We are actively pursuing a drug investigation with acid / heroin.”
Appointed to Chief of Police on March 16, 2016, Earley gave the stats for the department since his time in that position: “Since my appointment, we have made 100 misdemeanor arrests, 40 felony arrests, and of that number 56 were drug arrests.”
The department, also since that Earley’s appointment, has issued 654 uniform citations and currently have 14 active investigations and 28 active pending warrants.
“Last year alone our department answered 1660 for services from the Fannin County 911 center,” Earley spoke highly of his staff’s work.
Earley compared these numbers to the statistics of previous years. In 2015 only 11 arrests were made for the entire year, and the previous year of 2014 only saw three arrests.
“I appreciate everything you all have done for me and helping me bring the police department where it needs to be. I feel very confident in what we have as a police department now,” Earley addressed the McCaysville City Council for their role in making the department “a professional law enforcement agency”.
Council member Sue Beaver replied to Earley, “Speaking on behalf of the council, thank you. You do a great job for us.”
Blue Ridge, Ga. – There is no denying that our area is a hot spot for tourists and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce gave a 2018 update letting citizens know just how much money our thriving tourist industry is bringing to our area.
Last year alone, $39 million was collected in local lodging tax by both the City of Blue Ridge and Fannin County.
“That’s just the ones who pay the tax,” Jan Hackett, President of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce spoke of the significance of these numbers, “so anyone out there who is an Airbnb or a VRBO who is not paying the tax is not in that number.”
In recent years Georgia Tech teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce to do a study on our economic impact numbers. According to Hackett the purpose of this study was to determine the amount of dollars spent in our local economy based on the lodging taxes collected.
Georgia Tech was able to produce an equation that they felt would portray an accurate number based on percentages of sales in direct comparison with lodging taxes.
“Based on their percentages the amount of money that visitors spent directly was $170.5 million dollars,” Hackett said explaining the findings for calendar year 2018 and added that this number is based on overnight visitors alone and does not account for day trippers and our area’s population of second home owners.
According to these numbers and based on SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) collections last year, overnight visitors made up roughly a third of all retail sales in the county. SPLOST reported a record breaking $555 million is sales last year for Fannin County.
Hackett broke down the numbers into a daily average. On average per day lodging brings in $100,795 and visitors spend roughly $484,375. This equates to $39,347 of taxes collected locally.
While our county can become crowded due to the visitors, there is a definite positive impact these visitors bring with them. Roughly one-third of the jobs in Fannin County (excluding governmental) are supported by the tourist industry, and all the extra revenue saves residents approximately $865 in taxation per household.
Hackett pointed out that in 2001: “At that point in time we had less in retail sales than any county in the four around us.” These counties include Fannin, Glimer, Pickens, and Union.
Fast forward to recent years and Fannin County is now leading the way in retail sales and economic growth. A comparison shows that in 2001 retail sales were approximately $150 million and in 2018 retail sales were $555,697,658.
With the lodging tax now being split 50/50 between the chamber and the county, Hackett reported that the decrease from the 70 percent that the chamber previously received has not posed any negative effect on the ability to market our area.
Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton explains where the extra revenue the county is now getting from the split in lodging tax is being spent, “When we adjusted this ratio between the board of commissioners and the chamber, our intent was to take half of that increase and put it into safety.”
Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson is credited with the idea of investing the funds into public safety, and had pointed out in previous meetings that his reasoning is simply with more people visiting and more events being held in our area there becomes an increased demand for emergency services to be provided.
Up next for the Chamber of Commerce is to continue to promote growth and visitation in our area. Hackett said of moving forward, “Our mission is only to help make Fannin County a better place to live, work and play.”
The chamber has recently focused efforts into making the Copper Basin area a desirable place to visit and has teamed up with the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government Study to produce an in depth study of McCaysville, Copperhill, and Ducktown.
“The Carl Vinson Institute is doing a kind of strategic planning process for McCaysville, Copperhill, and Ducktown….the Copper Basin,” Hackett said of the partnership and added that she is expecting the study to be complete by the end of February.
The study and planning will work to make the Copper Basin area a more appealing place to work, live and visit. Its focus is to re-brand the area. Under the name the Copper Basin Renaissance, the partnership with UGA is focusing its campaign on the slogan “Copper Basin. Too Great for One State”.
Hackett said of the chamber’s focus, “As Blue Ridge has gotten more crowded, it only makes since to try to do more in McCaysville and Copper Hill and the Basin, so that when visitors are here we’ll have them spread out in the county.”
The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce debuted a new website that went live in March of last year. 617,905 users visited the site and of those users 82 percent were new.
The new design of the website landed the chamber a prestigious Silver Adrian Award from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.
“To give you an idea of what an honor that is, the Jackson Hole Wyoming website also won a silver,” Hackett said of the accomplishment.
The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce plans to continue efforts in 2019 to once again bring in record numbers to our area and help define Fannin County as a resilient place to visit or to make home.
Featured Image: A small sample of the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce new award winning website.
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By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
Lately there’s been a lot of conversation about using the moon signs to garden. While I’ve not personally
researched this practice, I decided to look into it because I’ve had phone calls and heard people talking
about it. I learned that the Farmers’ Almanac is one of the original publications that discussed moon sign
gardening so the information here is from that publication plus an article by Catherine Boeckmann.
The foundation for using moon signs is observation. It is NOT astrology or astrological “best days.” The
basic idea behind Planting by the Moon is that cycles of the moon affect plant growth. Moon phase
gardening takes into account two periods of the lunar cycle: the time between the new moon and the full
moon (the waxing of the moon), and the time between the full moon and the new moon (the waning of
Just as the moon’s gravitational pull causes tides to rise and fall, it also affects moisture in the soil. The
theory is that seeds will absorb more water during the full moon and the new moon, when more moisture
is pulled to the soil surface, causing the seeds to swell and resulting in greater germination and better-
established plants. The moon also affects plant growth through geotropism which is how plants grow in
response to gravity. Roots grow downward in the direction of the gravitational pull and stems grow in the
opposite direction (i.e., upwards.) Now that we have that information, let’s look at how to plant by the
Plant annual flowers and fruit and vegetables that bear crops above ground (such as corn, tomatoes,
watermelon, and zucchini) during the waxing of the moon (from the day the moon is new to the day it is
full.) As the moonlight increases night by night, plants are encouraged to grow leaves and stems.
Plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground (such
as onions, carrots, and potatoes) during the waning of the Moon (from the day after it is full to the day
before it is new again.) As the moonlight decreases night by night, plants are encouraged to grow roots,
tubers, and bulbs.
Where dates for planting by the moon are concerned, see the almanac Planting Calendar for dates based
on average last frost dates and moon phase. Be sure and get the right edition of the almanac because it is
customized to your local U.S. zip code or Canadian postal code.
The almanac also provides favorable dates for sowing seeds or transplanting in the ground for all popular
vegetables and edibles. You could also calculate planting dates yourself by looking at the Moon Phase
Calendar and the following the guidelines above.
If you have any questions about Planting by the Moon, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA
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