Where will the new Iron Bridge be? Citizens voice their opinion over placement.

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Citizens united to express concerns over the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) initial plans to replace the Shallowford Bridge or “Iron Bridge” located off of Aska Road, and now they unite once again to present solutions rather than complaints to GDOT about the future of the Aska Adventure Area.

Originally the fate of the Shallowford Bridge came into question when plans emerged for a replacement bridge in the area.

GDOT Proposal of replacement site for the Shallowford Bridge.

Constructed from a steel truss frame and having a wooden deck to allow for traffic, the 100 year old Shallowford Bridge spans 175 feet crossing the Toccoa River. The bridge also forms part of the Benton MacKaye Trail.

These concerns were relieved when GDOT announced that they would not be demolishing the Shallowford Bridge, but rather would be constructing a new bridge nearby. GDOT also expressed that they would be willing to “hand over” the bridge to become property of Fannin County leaving the county responsible for maintenance.

The new location of an upgraded bridge has many residents and business owners in the area concerned. Set almost directly beside the Shallowford Bridge, citizens feel that this could cause more congestion and more safety issues in the area.

“The majority of us, we’re not against the bridge,” Kimberly Wolfe co-owner of the Iron Bridge General Store and Cafe said explaining the purpose of the meeting. “We feel like we do need a new bridge. That’s not an issue. The placement of the new bridge is a huge issue.”

“This one (Shallowford Bridge) has been on the radar for a long time. Out of 100 it scores 13 on sufficiency,” Emil Dunn a member of the State Transportation Board elaborated on the need to build a replacement bridge.

Ron Grace, a resident of the Aska Adventure Area, proposed a different site for the replacement bridge. This site located beyond the Shallowford Bridge, traveling in the direction of Newport Road, would utilize a small portion of land currently owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

Design options shown by GDOT. One similar to these designs will be constructed for the replacement bridge.

Having spoke with the GDOT project manager for the Shallowford Bridge replacement, Grace said of the interaction, “They had not considered the US Forest Service property. They say they are going to look at it.”

According to Grace, GDOT had only considered the proposed site which they presented to the public and a site upstream closer to the Toccoa River Restaurant, but that the second site would have required the purchase of a home.

“Not knowing anything, they put it there because they thought it would look the best and have the least amount of impact,” Dunn spoke of GDOT’s reasoning for the placement saying that it came from an engineer’s perspective and that the proposed site would have the least environmental impact.

Another resident present at the meeting added, “When they (GDOT) picked that site it was because the bank was already high and you didn’t have to build up the bank.”

Area business owner Felton Stephens spoke of the group’s proposal to move the bridge further from the site recommended by GDOT: “It’s a win win situation, it takes most of the traffic off of the home owners, and they could also, if the county wanted to, put in a little more public parking out there. A little bit more access.”

Stephens spoke of adding additional parking near the bridge if it were to be moved to U.S. Forest Service land and an area where kayakers and tubers of the Toccoa would have a place to get in and out of the river.

While citizens seemed agreeable to approaching GDOT with the new proposal site up river, questions still came about regarding the upkeep of the original Shallowford Bridge.

Beyond Fannin County’s already budgeted roads and bridges line item, Dunn also pointed out that there is the possibility of extra funding from the state through the use of a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG).

Historical photo of the Shallowford Bridge courtesy of the Library of Congress.

If a typical LMIG is applied for by the county and accepted by the state, it allows for a certain amount of money to be designated toward a county project with the county being responsible for a percentage of the cost.

Another option for restoration and maintenance of the Shallowford Bridge was presented by a resident saying that it might be possible to have the bridge put on the Historic Register which would allow for extra funding to be received for its preservation and care.

According to the Library of Congress the “Iron Bridge” is one of 50 Pratt truss bridges recorded in the state of Georgia. Three of of the 50 bridges on record reside in Fannin County.

The fate of the new Shallowford Bridge is yet to be determined, but citizens hope that their voices will be heard before a final decision is made.

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Natalie Kissel


Boil advisory lifted in Copperhill, conservation advisory remains in McCaysville


COPPERHILL, Tenn. – A recent boil advisory from the city of Copperhill to its water customers has been lifted after tests confirmed the city system’s water is safe for consumption, according to Copperhill City Recorder Suzanne Hughes.

Hughes confirmed Friday, Dec. 29, water is pumping normally from the McCaysville water treatment plant, which supplies water for both cities, into the Copperhill system.

For McCaysville water customers, however, a water conservation advisory remains in effect as filters at the city’s water treatment plant continue to be replaced, Nancy Godfrey, McCaysville city clerk, stated.

According to Godfrey, the filter replacement at the McCaysville water plant stem from issues that took place at the plant in early October when heavy rains and a seasonal water turnover at Lake Blue Ridge forced an unusual amount of silt and sediment into the Toccoa River, causing filters to fail.

Though work at the plant is expected to continue at the McCaysville water plant into the new year, no specific completion date for the filter replacement could be given from the city of McCaysville at this time.


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


Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Trash Stats on the Toccoa


Trout Unlimited’s Beth Skillman (left) and Lynn Brincks (right) stand in front of the trash volunteers hauled out of the Toccoa.


In earlier years, the trash haul from the Toccoa included a partially submerged sofa, washing machine, toilet, buggy, tires so laden with silt that they had to be dug out of the river bed.  This year the strangest thing pulled out of the Toccoa was a microwave. Still there were hundreds of pounds of cans and broken bottles, paper plates and party trash, clothes and coffee mugs and at least seven tires.  Cub Scout Pack 432 pulled out fish hooks and fishing lures from a popular swimming site Dry Branch Creek.  Everyone brought back yards and yards of fishing line.

The annual Rivers Alive Toccoa River Cleanup is beginning to see some long-term change in how people treat the Toccoa as a dump site where river currents will miraculously move trash downstream without harming fish, plants and humans.

Beth Skillman, the local River’s Alive Coordinator, said that we are pulling out less trash each year.  Previous river clean-ups had to dig large trash items out of the river because the items had been there so long that they were sunk in the mud.  Now the items are more like everyday trash that can be wrestled from limbs.  Skillman also attributes less trash in the water to public education campaigns about river health at schools and among the general public.

Fannin County Girl Scouts added points towards their badges by helping with the Toccoa cleanup.

Fannin County Girl Scouts added points towards their badges by helping with the Toccoa cleanup.

Several Fannin Girl Scout Troops joined in the cleanup. This year, their area was Horseshoe Bend Park.  There they found lots of party and cigarette mess, fireworks and rotten food thrown down the banks said the Troop leader.  When asked why they came to the cleanup, one Girl Scout said, “It helps God’s beautiful creation.”  The girls did make a “pretty cool” find during the cleanup – a four-foot long snakeskin.

Faith Presbyterian was there as well.  Pastor Dr. John Simpson said that volunteering at events like Rivers Alive is part of Presbyterians’ public faith that cares about what happens in society and community.  “We care for creation.  We care for the environment,” said Simpson.

Cub Scout Pack 432 from Epworth brought along friends and family to help in the cleanup.

Cub Scout Pack 432 from Epworth brought along friends and family to help in the cleanup.



Cub Scout Pack 432 out of Epworth came with a host of siblings and parents to clean out the Dry Branck Creek Day Use Area.  There they found broken bottles, two four-inch PVC pipes and fishing lines, lures and hooks.

Ashya Brooks of Blue Ridge's Dairy Queen serves ice cream to the Saldana family at the cleanup.

Ashya Brooks of Blue Ridge’s Dairy Queen serves ice cream to the Saldana family at the cleanup.

Dairy Queen and Walmart were there to support cleanup by providing food and dessert for the volunteers.  Dairy Queen supports many events around Fannin County.  FetchYourNews asked Ashya Brooks, Community Support Manager for Blue Ridge’s Dairy Queen, why the franchise supported so many events.  Brooks said that Dairy Queen likes to support the community because it shows its employees and customers that Dairy Queen cares.  Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association and Trout Unlimited were also involved in organizing the cleanup.

Beth Skillman, the local organizer for Rivers Alive, can help organizations set up their own river cleanups throughout the year.  Organizations can contact her at skillmanba@yahoo.com.






Time to Take the Trash out of the Toccoa



The Toccoa River is the heart of nature in Fannin County.  On Oct. 1st , Fannin residents and Toccoa River enthusiasts will gather together to thank the Toccoa for the pleasure it gives by taking the trash out of the river and Lake Blue Ridge.

ra_logosmallOct. 1st is annual Rivers Alive cleanup beginning at Tammen Park.  There, between 8:45 and 9:00 am, volunteers will check in, get a t-shirt, gloves and garbage bags.  Ace Hardware is providing gloves and trash pick-up sticks.  Then the volunteers will break into groups and head off to Weaver Creak, Toccoa tailwaters, Deep Hole, Shallowford Bridge and other locations along the river and its feeder stream.  The largest group will walk the parts of Lake Blue Ridge shoreline.  TVA will not release water during the river cleanup event.

Volunteers should bring water and extra trash bags.  Rivers Alive also encourages boaters to bring their boats, kayaks and canoes to help with the trash within the river bed and lake.

At noon, volunteers will gather again at Tammen Park for lunch and the trash count.  Wal-mart is donating the food, Mercier  apples and Blue Ridge Dairy Queen sundaes. Faith Presbyterian and Trout Unlimited have donated the logistics of the whole event.

Rivers Alive has been holding its annual fall Toccoa cleanup for over 10 years.  The amount of participants has grown to 120 – 130 within the past few years.  In past cleanups, people gathered items like toasters, model airplanes and, one time, even a porcelain toilet.   If you or your organization would like more information about how to volunteer, call Beth Skillman, the Rivers Alive chair at 770-833-8637 or at skillmanba@yahoo.com.





New Projects Underway with Fannin County Recreation Department


In May, the Fannin County Recreation Department joined Fannin County Chamber of Commerce


“We’re not the one-dimensional rec department,” says John Scalera, Director of Fannin County Recreation Department when describing his vision for the Recreation Department.  Mr. Scalera took over leadership of the Recreation Department in October 2015.

Mr. Scalera has set up two new camps for Fannin youth this summer – Fishing Camp and Waterlogged  Camp.  This year, each camp is only offered one time.  If all goes well, Mr. Scalera hopes to have more than one session in the upcoming years.

Fishing Camp is for ages 8-14 and will take place June 13-17.  The cost is $75. At this camp, would-be fishermen will learn more than just putting bait on hooks.  They will learn about fishing in different Fannin county waterways, fishing techniques for different kinds of fish and how to treat fish from catching to eating. Campers will visit the fish hatchery in Suches, Horseshoe Bend and Tammen Parks as well as fishing in the pond and creek on the Recreation Complex Land.  Campers top off their fishing knowledge with a fish-fry.

Waterlogged Camp is the other new camp for this summer.  The camp is for 8-14 year olds and will take place June 27 to July 1.  The cost is $100 .  Campers will visit types of water recreation facilities like the Cherokee Aquatic Center, Lake Winey in Chattanooga, Toccoa Family Campground, and go to Helen for tubing.  Teaching swimming is not the purpose of the camp, learning new ways to enjoy water is the purpose.  Mr. Scalera says that campers should come with some knowledge of swimming, but don’t they don’t have to worry if they are beginner swimmers since the activities are not about learning to swim but about enjoying different types of water activities.

In addition to the new camps, the Recreation Department will also hold their traditional one-week sport specific camps.  This summer the camps are soccer, baseball and basketball. Parents can call the Rec Department at 706-946-1130 for more information. Neither Waterlogged Camp or Fishing Camp currently offers scholarships.  However, the Fannin County Recreation Department does offer scholarships for its youth athletic programs.

Another multi-dimensional project the Recreation Department is pursuing boat ramps for the Toccoa River.  The Recreation Department is working on along with Fannin County Land Development Authority and TVA.  The proposed boat ramps would be at Tammen Park, Curtis Switch and potentially Horseshoe Bend.  The ramps would be for kayaks and drift boats.  TVA would be installing the ramps and Fannin County would be responsible for their upkeep.  An encouraging sign for the future success of the ramps is that TVA is donating $15,000 worth of animal-proof trash cans to the Recreation Department to place in parks alongside the Toccoa.




Court Rules in County’s Favor in Aska Roads Dispute

Featured Stories, News

In an on-going civil case, Fannin County Superior Court has ruled the Aska Roads Rapids area is owned by the county. (more…)


Aska Rapids Case Gets Reprieve

Community, Featured Stories

The parties of the Aska Rapids Case won a reprieve this week, as Judge Brenda Weaver gave the parties involved another thirty days to negotiate and determine a disputed property line.



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