Bike Vandals Still At Large

Announcements, News

The three unidentified thieves, who stole two bikes and damaged a third at Fannin Recreation Park on May 26 at 8:30 p.m. in the evening, are still on the loose.

The Director of Recreation Department Eddie O’Neal told Fetch Your News that as of Monday, June 3, no arrests have been made in the case, but Fannin deputies do have a few leads that they are following up on. The Sheriff’s Office also pulled more video from the park’s security camera’s to review.

As can be seen in the security footage, three individuals approach the bike stand and proceed to break the locking mechanism then ride off.  They return later to place the third damaged bike next to the stand.

The truck appears to be an old GMC.

Footage also reveals that the suspects loaded the two functioning bikes into the back of a small, older model, pick-up truck and drove away.

The suspects are all male, two are wearing dark clothes, and one in a light blue t-shirt. Ethnicities of the men are difficult to determine due to the quality of the security camera footage.

The ten Blue Ridge Fun Bikes were bought by Nancy Moore Smith for the enjoyment of residents for the county. Smith’s own health battle led her to start the program after she remembered how she enjoyed riding bikes during her rehabilitation from multiple heart attacks.

O’Neal estimated that Smith spent $1,300 on the bikes, but was unsure of the exact amount.

Commissioner Stan Helton had this to say about the theft, “Our bike program at the Recreation Center is provided by a private individual for the enjoyment of her fellow citizens. Unfortunately, there are those that repay this kindness with total disdain.”

Residents rent the bikes by downloading an app on that phone with a GPS system that tracks time spent riding throughout the park. Once they return the bike to the stand, users are charged for how long they spent on the ride.

Nancy Moore Smith started the Blue Ridge Fun Bike program.

The Recreation Department has a $500 reward out for information on the suspects, and ask anyone with knowledge about the theft to contact them of the Fannin County Sheriff’s office.

County and Schools Give Kids a Place to Play

Announcements, Community

Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin County Government and Schools came together at the Board of Commissioners meeting to mark the start of their Summer Day Program for local children.

The intergovernmental agreement between the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education addresses the needs of school children to have somewhere to go over the summer months.

“140 school children are signed up for this wonderful program,” explained Chairman Stan Helton, “the school provides buses on a lease to the county, and they provide food, service, and staff to support the summer nutritional program, so all the kids can have a good meal. I’m very grateful that the school works with us in this manner.”

Children will spend days at the park from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. They will have access to the gymnasium, football fields, ball fields, lobby for board games and arts-n-crafts and the After Schoolhouse. Also, field trips to Fannin Lanes, Blairsville Cinemas, Bill’s Roller Rink, and Amicolola Falls State Park are planned.  The program accommodates children from kindergarten to fifth grade.

The program has three sessions Session 1 June 3- June 14, Session 2 June 17 – June 28, and Session 3 July 8- July 19. Currently, all sessions are sold out for the year.

Board of Commissioners and the Humane Society now have a framework in place to help the abandoned dogs and cats of the county.

Next, the Humane Society and Board of Commissioners formalized the relationship between the two entities. The county has an existing relationship but wanted a framework put in place to build a stronger one in coming years.

“We have a common goal that is to address the problem and issues that come with abandoned dogs and cats in Fannin County,” said Helton, “Their spaying and neutering program can hopefully be expanded with our relationship.”

The Humane Society can now call the county their partner and vice versa.

“It opens the door for the future to do things, a slow, correct way. The county will benefit greatly, and certainly, the animals will benefit greatly, said Helton.

Post Two Commissioner Glenn Patterson stated, “I looked over it, and it looks very good. I think it’s a good thing.”

Library Board Member Mark Tune was reappointed to a new term, effective through July 1, 2022.

$1,000,000 in savings. Public Works cuts budget and raises productivity.

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – “I believe that smaller government is better government, but I also believe that in areas where government does play a legitimate role we should demand that it is done better.” Former Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker spoke these words that echo true in the thoughts of many Americans across the nation. Here at home, in Fannin County, we are seeing the literal effects of these words when put into action.

Zack Ratcliff, Director of Public Works in Fannin County, has not only managed to cut the department’s expenses by close to $1,000,000 in just two years but his management has also led the Public Works department to more than double productivity in many areas.

In 2016 the Public Works department had 53 employees with a budget of $1,826,505 in payroll alone. The number of employees dramatically decreased by 2017 to 35. This brought payroll expenditures down to $1,308,744.

By 2018 employee total for the department sits at 36 with a payroll of $1,289,868. This alone has brought a little over $500,000 in savings to taxpayers each year.

“Any time you have change in administration or management there has always been that old fear, you hear that term cleaning house, you (Ratcliff) didn’t do that,” Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton said clarifying what allowed Ratcliff to make these cuts in payroll. “What you came out there and did, you set a standard of what was expected of employees.You raised the bar.”

Ratcliff confirmed Helton’s statement by saying that upon becoming the Director of Public Works he has only had one termination in the department.

With the department now having roughly two-thirds of the employees held in 2016, one would assume productivity or quality would be lacking, but Public Works has sacrificed neither of these by streamlining the department, and the number of jobs completed each year is actually on the rise.

In the last year, roughly 117 miles of road have been restriped, 12 miles of road have been paved, 25 miles of road have been chip and sealed, the Aska Transfer Station also received chip and seal, as well as the Recreation Center parking area, 28 culverts have been installed, 600 road signs have been cleaned and straightened, and 649 new road signs were created for use throughout the county.

Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson commented on how this kind of productivity saves money for residents: “The numbers that I see that aren’t reflected in these numbers, of other savings, is when you chip and seal a road, that is that many roads we’re not having to gravel, to grade or to maintain, other than clogged ditches and what have you. So really it’s hard to put a number on that (indirect savings).”

Ratcliff has also managed to cut costs by strategically coordinating work done throughout the county. By coming up with a well mapped plan for the year, the department has cut time and fuel by focusing on specific areas within the county to complete multiple projects.

Along with cutting costs, Ratcliff has added over $85,000 back to the county’s General Fund through selling the department’s older vehicles and equipment.

While the payroll is the most dramatic of the savings, other areas have improved in expenditures as well. The Fuel Master system was installed to track fuel use leading to greater accountability, through negotiations with various vendors the county is now receiving 2-10 percent discounts on its bills, and a new uniform provider was found that can provide uniforms at half the cost that the county was previously paying.

Ratcliff credits the success of the Public Works department to the employees in it and stated of the workers, “My crew is an efficient crew. Everybody’s professional.”

Johnson spoke of the dramatic affect one department can have on Fannin County as a whole, “These numbers right here is what keeps Fannin County’s millage rate the lowest in the state.”

“I think this is a great example of being able to professionally manage a department and do it effectively,” Helton added his thoughts on the accomplishments of the Public Works department, “That’s real money. That’s big time money.”

The 2017 audit showed the initial savings of the now more efficient Public Works department as being $999,333.

When asked what motivates him to continue to look for ways to improve the department and save taxpayers money Ratcliff simply replied, “I’m a public servant.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Domestic threat suspect apprehended in Fannin County

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Law enforcement from Fannin County and Cherokee County, Georgia, worked together to apprehend a suspect with outstanding warrants in the city of Woodstock.

Fannin County, Cherokee County, Georgia, Recreation Department, City of Woodstock, Woodstock Police Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, SWAT, Tactical Team, Kenneth Bethea, Satin Blakely, Domestic Threat, Day Camp, Warrants, Charges

The Fannin County Recreation Department kept the public updated as the situation unfolded.

The Fannin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) responded to a call early Tuesday morning of a domestic threat having been made at the Fannin County Recreation Department located on Tom Boyd Road.

According to witnesses, Satin Blakley dropped off her child for the Day Camp program at the Recreation Department, and informed staff members that her male passenger had made threats against her life. The passenger, Kenneth Bethea, was waiting in the car for her to return and, according to Blakley, had a gun.

Out of fear, Blakley refused to go back out to her vehicle, and staff members immediately notified the FCSO of the situation taking place.

Fannin County, Cherokee County, Georgia, Recreation Department, City of Woodstock, Woodstock Police Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, SWAT, Tactical Team, Kenneth Bethea, Satin Blakely, Domestic Threat, Day Camp, Warrants, Charges

Kenneth Bethea after being taken into custody by Cherokee County Law Enforcement.

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby stated when officers arrived on the scene, the suspect, Bethea, had already fled on foot. It is speculated that Bethea became nervous when Blakley did not return to the car.

Officers on the scene received a statement from Blakley and ran the suspect’s name. It was upon running Bethea’s name that it was revealed he was wanted by the city of Woodstock Police Department for outstanding warrants.

FCSO notified the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office of the situation, and according to Kirby, “Cherokee County sent up a SWAT Tactical Team to help with the search.”

Kirby said that the two agencies then worked together “to flush the suspect out of the woods.”

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office took command in detaining Bethea once he was located and transported him to that county where he will be held for the outstanding warrants as well as a number of new charges.

Bethea is being held without bond and faces the following charges for his actions in Cherokee County:

  • Aggravated Assault by Strangulation;
  • Simple Battery;
  • Theft by Taking;
  • Unlawful to Possess any False Fraudulent document;
  • Cruelty to Children 3rd Degree;
  • False Imprisonment;
  • Obstructing person to make 911 call;
  • Criminal Trespass;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Aggravated Assault w/a deadly weapon;
  • Hijacking by motor vehicle (Car-jacking);
  • Possession of a firearm during commission of a crime;
  • Carrying weapon w/o license;
  • Possession of Firearms by convicted felon;
  • Criminal damage to property 2nd degree;
  • Criminal Trespass; and
  • Obstruction of an Officer.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Cheer for A Cure!

Parks and Recreation

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, this year the 7u cheer squad for the Fannin County Recreation center is participating in cheer for a cure!  Supporting the fighters, admiring the survivors, honoring the taken and never giving up hope! Let’s tackle breast cancer!!

Coached by: Deidrea Lucas

Pictured top to bottom: Lacey Long, Second row: Kylah Imhoff, Cabella Hughes, Haley Lucas Bottom: Alaina Hughes and Braxtyn Green.

After School Program Receives Donation

Community, Parks and Recreation

Basketball Registration

Community, Parks and Recreation

Fannin County Rec Department After School Program Open House

Community

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