Habitat for Humanity Fannin/Gilmer Counties Hosts Orientation Meetings


The local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity is pleased to announce it will be hosting orientation meetings to begin the process of selecting a partner family to purchase the next Habitat home, which will be built in Fannin County.

The first step in the search is to make sure everyone who might qualify for a home is aware of the opportunity.

We encourage interested families to attend one of our two orientation meetings. The first will be held on Thursday, July 12th, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at United Community Bank’s Community Room in Blue Ridge, and the second will be held on Saturday, July 14th, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the Fannin County Senior Center in downtown Blue Ridge.

The meetings are free and will last approximately two hours.

In the orientation meetings, interested families will view a presentation about Habitat and learn about the requirements for becoming a Habitat homeowner. Applications, along with a listing of required documents, will be distributed during the meeting.

Volunteers and partner families build Habitat houses along with contractors, often using donated supplies. Habitat then sells the homes to the partner family. As partner families repay Habitat over a 20-30-year period, their zero-interest mortgage payments go towards funding future builds.

To qualify for a Habitat house, a family must demonstrate three things: a need, ability to pay, and a willingness to partner with Habitat. No children at the meetings, please.

For additional information contact Habitat at 706-455-6603.

Fire and Ice a success in Blue Ridge

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Once a year in the dead of winter, things get spicy in downtown Blue Ridge as residents and tourists alike experience a “chili” weekend in February.

The eighth annual Fire and Ice Chili Cook Off Festival, brought to you by the Blue Ridge Business Association partnering with the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, kicked off Saturday, Feb. 17, and brought in crowds despite the weather.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Fire and Ice, Chili Cook Off, Blue Ridge Business Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, David Ralston, B. Alison Sosebee, Kay Kendall, Doug David, Bob Evans, Cesar Martinez, Cindy Trimble, People's Choice Award, Chester Brunnenmeyer's Bar and Grill, Blue Jeans Pizza, Blue Ridge Brewery, Project Chimps, Habitat for Humanity, Hot House Missionary Church, Grilling Gangsters, Kelly Barton, Pitstop Chili, Boar's Nesters, Mercier Orchards, Chuck's Moonshine Chili

Crowds enjoyed the live ice sculpting demonstration provided by Rock On Ice.

Visitors to the festival were welcomed to take part in the judging of the chili cook off where the contestant with the highest number of votes takes home the coveted People’s Choice award.

The Fire and Ice Festival also now holds the honor of being the largest ice sculpting display in the Southeast. Award-winning National Ice Carving Champion Rock On Ice created many unique sculptures sponsored by several area businesses and demonstrated their difficult art form firsthand with live ice sculpting demonstrations in the park.

Official Chili Cook Off judges were also on hand to judge this years 16 contestants and to award first, second, and third place in four different categories.

Among the guest judges were Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston, Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee, former celebrity chef Bob Evans, developer Doug David, and former chef and restaurant owner Kay Kendall.

“This is really one of the bigger events put on by the business association,” Blue Ridge Business Association President Cesar Martinez spoke about the festival.

Martinez explained that despite the unpredictable weather, this year’s festival saw a large turn out: “Better than last year. Last year, it rained actually more than this.”

Guest announcer Cindy Trimble took the stage at 3 p.m. for the moment that everyone had been waiting for, the announcement of 2018 Fire and Ice Chili Cook Off winners.

Trimble explained that judges were given five categories in which they had to rate each chili. These categories were aroma, color, taste, texture, and after-taste. Each category was rated on a scale of 1-to-10 and points from all judges were then added together to determine a winner.

The maximum number of points possible for a contestant to receive was 250.

The winners for each category were:

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Fire and Ice, Chili Cook Off, Blue Ridge Business Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, David Ralston, B. Alison Sosebee, Kay Kendall, Doug David, Bob Evans, Cesar Martinez, Cindy Trimble, People's Choice Award, Chester Brunnenmeyer's Bar and Grill, Blue Jeans Pizza, Blue Ridge Brewery, Project Chimps, Habitat for Humanity, Hot House Missionary Church, Grilling Gangsters, Kelly Barton, Pitstop Chili, Boar's Nesters, Mercier Orchards, Chuck's Moonshine Chili

Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar and Grill took home the People’s Choice Award for a second year in a row.

Adult Individual
1. Grilling Gangsters with 176 points
2. Kelly Barton with 174 points
3. Pitstop Chili with 153 points

Team Adult
1. Boars Nesters with 175 points
2. Mercier Orchards with 162 points
3. Chuck’s Moonshine Chili with 155 points

Civic Team
1. Project Chimps with 178 points
2. Habitat for Humanity with 164 points
3. Hot House Missionary Church with 129 points

1. Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar and Grill with 168 points
2. Blue Jeans Pizza with 166 points
3. Blue Ridge Brewery with 165 points

Project Chimps, a sanctuary for chimpanzees, received the highest rating by the judges, and Trimble pointed out a uniqueness to their recipe: “This was a really unusually chili and you guys loved it.”

The recipe used by Project Chimps was “chimp friendly,” meaning that all the ingredients used were ingredients that the chimps could also eat and often do for their meals.

Finally, the coveted People’s Choice award was given. Out of 934 ballots turned in by visitors to the festival, Chester Brunnenmeyer’s received 185 of those votes, giving them the people’s choice chili award for a second year in a row.


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Spring Cleaning in City Park

Downtown Blue Ridge

On the morning March 14, 48 students from the University of Iowa will be sprucing up the downtown park.  The spring clean up is a joint effort between Blue Ridge city government, Habitat for Humanity Blue Ridge and the group of University of Iowa students.  Tasks the students will complete are staining the stage, cleaning and painting playground equipment, painting both sets of public restrooms, staining the octagonal pavilion, painting the Main Street wooden deck, rock work and planting.  Totaled together, the group represents 240 man hours which is six weeks of full time work for a person.

Alyssa Peiffer, a student at the University of Iowa, set up the community service project through Chris Hall who manages Habitat for Humanity’s Restore store in Blue Ridge.  Hall said that for several years this group of students has been spending their spring breaks working on community service projects throughout the United States.  They are self-sponsored and not affiliated with a particular university organization.  In fact, each student has paid $500 for the four-states, four- projects tour. Hall hopes that this year will be the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Blue Ridge and the University of Iowa students so that in future years they will choose Blue Ridge again for their community service Spring Break tour.

Providing support to the group of students is a community-wide effort.  The students will sleep at First Baptist Epworth.  Papa’s Pizza and Dairy Queen will provide lunch for the group on Monday.  Some Fannin County High School Student Advisory Council members will join in cleaning with the group of students.  Council Members Angie Arp and Harold Herndon, along with Blue Ridge Parks and Maintenance employees, will supervise painting and planting.  City Hall employees will be there to serve the students snacks and lunch.  Blue Ridge’s Habitat for Humanity will also provide some of the painting supplies.

Preparation for spring cleaning has already started.  Blue Ridge’s Parks and Maintenance employees dismantled and dug up the equipment.  They have also taken down the fence.  Over the weekend they will be delivering supplies and setting up work stations for the students.

However, the playground will not be open for use the next day.  When a skeleton playground will be open for use and fencing up around the playground is uncertain says Tim Towe, Parks Supervisor for Blue Ridge.   Something will be available a few weeks out, but what, Towe cannot say.

Uncertainty about the playground’s reopening  is due to the scheduled renovation of the entire downtown Blue Ridge City Park area.

First, the City Council has not yet voted on the renovation’s design.  The desire is to place the playground around the stage, picnic shelter and restroom area rather than at its current location.  The area around the stage is uphill and will help the water drain off the playground.  Also, Mayor Whitener believes that the current playground’s proximity to Depot Street is dangerous to small children; it wouldn’t take but about three steps of toddling and a quick three-year old run to dart out onto Depot Street, possibly in front of a car.  The stage area is the portion of the city park farthest from traffic.

Second, the Kiwanis Club will be donating some new playground equipment to Blue Ridge this summer.  Current equipment, like the swings, are already slated to go, but, it is still up in the air as to what equipment will be coming.

Third, City Council members want to remove the pebbles from the playground and use sod as the top surface.  For this to happen, the playground area needs to be filled in with dirt and regraded.

Fourth, the City Council wants to replace the current fencing type with new fending and have fewer gates with so that small escapees won’t have so many options for getting away from their parents.

Fifth, Mayor Whitener would like to see several different play areas with different age-appropriate equipment so that the toddlers will not be competing for slide space with 10 year-olds.

For all of the renovation matters to settle will take some time.  But, there will be some assemblage of a playground available again towards April.





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