West Fannin Elementary School and the Lit’l Pond Hospitality Group

Rebel's Corner

West Fannin Elementary School and the Lit’l Pond Hospitality Group have developed a new and exciting partnership.  Lit’l Pond Hospitality Group, owned and led by Ms. Michelle Moran and Mr. Danny Mellman, is in charge of the following family of restaurants in Fannin County:  Harvest on Main, Masseria Kitchen, The Cook’s Farm, La Pizzeria, Cucina Rustica, and Blue Smoke Barbeque.  With the guidance of Mrs. Mary Jean Pace, the fourth grade students and Garden Club students at West Fannin have grown, are currently growing, and will continue to grow specialty crops that the Lit’l Pond Hospitality Group will use in its restaurants for certain menu items.  To begin this wonderful partnership, the students grew tomatoes and butternut squash that Melisa Gardner, the kitchen manager at Masseria Kitchen, used over the weekend of September 27th through September 29th to help create two specials called Autumn Pizza and Tomato-Pesto Pasta.  The students will be growing and harvesting many more specialty crops in the near and distant future in order to expand this partnership.  In addition, Michelle, Danny, kitchen managers, and chefs from the restaurants will be visiting West Fannin Elementary to work with the students on recipe development and the cooking process.  We are very thankful at West Fannin to have dedicated partners like the Lit’l Pond Hospitality Group that have a positive impact on our students and are willing to assist in providing our students with a well-rounded education.

 Front: Abigail Gardner (4th grade student at West Fannin) & Lila Roof (kindergarten student at West Fannin).    Back: Melisa Gardner (Kitchen Manager at Masseria), Krista Arrington (Front of House Manager at Masseria), Lucas Roof (Principal of West Fannin Elementary), Miranda Roof (FCSS teacher)
All 4th grade students at West Fannin.   Reed Chancey, Bea Painter, Abigail Gardner, Skylar Gazaway, Luke Sosebee 
 
All 4th grade students at West Fannin.   Reed Chancey, Bea Painter, Abigail Gardner, Skylar Gazaway, Luke Sosebee

Skylar Gazaway, Abigail Gardner, Bea Painter
Reed Chancey, Luke Sosebee

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Youth Art Month being held at Art Center

Downtown Blue Ridge, Lifestyle

Many talented Fannin County and Copper Basin young artists had their pieces displayed recently at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Center to kick off Youth Art Month.

Blue Ridge Elementary School, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Fannin Middle School, Fannin County High School, and Copper Basin High School were well represented with various arts from rock painting to canvas.

The following Art teachers/mentors were on hand as well:

  • Nancy Watkins

    Nancy Watkins – Blue Ridge Elementary School.

  • Kimberly Huffman

  • Kimberly Huffman- East Fannin Elementary School.

  • Ben Sexton

    Ben Sexton- West Fannin Elementary School.

  • Dana Stone

    Dana Stone- Fannin Middle School.

  • Holly Viccaro

    Holly Vicarro- Fannin County High School.

  • Jennifer Danner

    Jennifer Danner- Copper Basin High School.

Bethany Musselman, Fannin County High School reads the Youth Art Month Proclamation

Bethany Musselman, a Fannin County High School Art student, helped dedicate the month of March as Youth Art Month by reading the 2019 Proclamation.

Each First Place winner from the various schools represented received a Gift Certificate to The Art Center’s store.

  • Hudson York- Blue Ridge Elementary School.

  • Presley Daves- East Fannin Elementary School.

  • Ava Acker- West Fannin Elementary School.

  • Vanessa Medrono- Fannin County Middle School.

  • Bethany Musselman- 2D- Fannin County High School.

  • Alyssa Anderson- 3D- Fannin County High School.

  • Aidan Garcia- Copper Basin High School.

Watkins, Huffman, Sexton, and Stone accepted the First Place prize awards for the students in their respective schools who were not able to attend.

Executive Director Nicole Potzauf commented the Youth Art Month event was one of her favorites at the Art Center which showcases and honors students to help develop creativity in the community.

One young artist, Ireland Wilson, a freshman at Copper Basin High School, sold her first acrylic painting.

Ireland Wilson

She said in a candid interview the inspiration behind her painting was, “I love space. I gave Ms. Danner the idea of a ‘night sky’. We just went with it.”

To view all the wonderful pieces of art from our local youth, please visit the Blue Ridge Mountains Art Center at 402 West Main Street in beautiful downtown Blue Ridge, GA. Call (706) 632- 2144 or email BlueRidgeArts@gmail.com for more information on March Youth Art Month.

Susie Delauriers, Carolyn Molder, and Brooke
Nations

 

 

 

 

2019 Upcoming   Youth Art Events

 

 

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WFES Character Education Winners for being Peaceful

Rebel's Corner, West Fannin Elem

The Character Ed word for the month of November was Peaceful.  The definition is “a person who avoids problems and is not violent; solves problems in a peaceable way”

These students were chosen for consistently displaying this character trait throughout the month.  Congratulations to all of you!

Pictured above from left to right- Front row: Dustyn Green, Mallory Dickey, Tinsley Plush, Jennifer Morales-Lozano, Silas McFarland, Daniel Carder, Ailyn Espinoza-Leal, and Haygen Mathis.  Middle row:  Lillie Potzauf, Mahlon Lunsford, Luke Strobel, Jillian Cramer, Kaylee Dyer, Karleigh Cruce, Gabe Salat, and Allie Potts .   Back row: Aiden Jones, Francisco Saldana, Evan Thurman, Christopher Correa, Harley Stanley, Castle Barnett, and Lauryn Sherbert.  Not pictured:  Kalyn Martin.

West Fannin Character Ed Recognition for September – Respect!

Rebel's Corner, West Fannin Elem

The Character Ed word for the month of September was Respect.  The definition is “treating others the way that you would like to be treated; being considerate of others’ feelings.”

These students were chosen for consistently displaying this character trait throughout the month.  Congratulations to all of you!

Pictured from left to right- Front row: Olivia O’Neal, Landon Millsaps, Eliza Carroll, Trent Taylor, Jeremiah Woolsey, Arianna Riendeau, Rylan Gilmore, and Ella White.  Middle row:  Brody Ingle, Carson Callihan, Emma Dills, Ava Curtis, Keats Miller, Christian Vazquez-Rosales, and Lyla Strange.   Back row: Moriah Carter, Benjamin Holsonback, Lucas Jarrett, Brayden Barker, Casi Mealer, Kierce Trammell, Vince Foster, and Abbie Dillard.  Not pictured:  Chasity Teague

Gov. Deal signs 2019 budget enabling new North Georgia campus in Blue Ridge

News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Gov. Nathan Deal made a stop in Blue Ridge Wednesday, May 2, to sign the state budget – House Bill 684 – for the 2019 fiscal year in Georgia and also bring good news for the University of North Georgia (UNG) Blue Ridge campus.

The $26.2 billion budget, which Deal stated was the largest in the history of the state, will include $5.5 million for a permanent relocation project for the UNG Blue Ridge campus.

Also, during the budget signing, Georgia Speaker of the House and Fannin County resident David Ralston announced the location of the forthcoming facility to be just off of state Route 515 and east of Industrial Park Road.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, seated, signs House Bill 684, the state budget for fiscal year 2019, into effect Wednesday, May 2, at the Art Center. Seen here with Deal are, from left, Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of the University of North Georgia, David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, Deal, and Terry England, state representative from District 116 and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. (Photo: Amanda Anthros, FetchYourNews)

Of the size of the budget itself, Gov. Deal said, “It reflects the growth of our economy.”

“When I came into office in January 2011, it was a bleak time in our state,” Deal explained of the state’s economy.

As a result of the Recession of 2008, Deal went on to say, by the time he took office, the state revenue had dropped by 18 percent and the “rainy-day fund,” or reserves, was essentially depleted with only enough funds to keep the state government open for approximately two days.

Since then, a dramatic increase in state revenue not only allows for a higher state budget in 2019 but also has allowed for a state income tax rate cut for the first time since the tax was instituted in Georgia in 1934, according to Deal. Deal also noted he expects another income tax cut to come again in 2019.

Regarding the state’s “rainy-day fund,” Deal explained conservative spending has enabled the state to increase reserves to the current amount of $2.3 billion.

“So, we are doing exceptionally well on many fronts,” Deal said.

In his Blue Ridge stop, which was one of five locations across the state of Georgia the governor visited Wednesday to sign the budget, Deal focused his address on spending with regard to higher education.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. (Photo: Amanda Anthros, FetchYourNews)

“We have to meet the needs of today and anticipate the needs of tomorrow,” Deal stated. “(Businesses) need an educated and trained workforce. Without that, we’re not going to be able to see companies expand in our state nor are we going to be in a position to recruit new companies to come here.”

Deal explained the Recession of 2008 also affected state lottery proceeds for the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Scholarship but announced the 2019 budget will add $68 million more to the HOPE program for higher education opportunities. The governor also stated the state currently has $1.1 billion in reserves for the HOPE Scholarship.

Also, Deal told of the success of dual enrollment, which allows high school juniors and seniors to take college, university, or technical college courses at no cost to serve as credits toward both their high school diploma and a higher education degree or certificate. The 2019 budget provides $26.2 million for dual enrollment programs, Deal stated.

The REACH Scholarship is another opportunity for students seeking higher education. According to Deal, the REACH Scholarship, which was launched in 2012, is needs-based and provides selected eighth-graders with a $10,000 trust account for future higher education. Promising students who come from families with limited financial resources are selected by teachers and school administrators, and once designated as REACH scholars, the students sign a contract agreeing to maintain a good grade point average, to meet with their mentors regularly and also not to partake in crime or drug use.

In addition to the REACH Scholarship, Deal said every institution in the University System of Georgia, which includes 26 public institutions, has agreed to match the $10,000 trust account for REACH scholars.

Since 2012, Deal explained, the state has invested over $689 million in the University System. In the 2019 budget, one of those University System institutions, the University of North Georgia, will not only receive $5.5 million for the Blue Ridge campus, but also $3 million in bonds to renovate its Oakwood campus in Hall County and $4.7 million in bonds to purchase property to expand its main campus in Dahlonega.

“We know that there are many students who will take advantage of these opportunities, and when they do, it will help us to retain them in the state of Georgia. It will help them to have the credentials that will be necessary to get the higher paying jobs that are here today and be able to attract those jobs for the future. For a personal standpoint of a family, when your child gets those kind of credentials, the likelihood that they can stay in Georgia and not have to leave to find a good job is greatly enhanced,” Deal concluded.

Georgia Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston. (Photo: Amanda Anthros, FetchYourNews)

Introducing Gov. Deal at the engagement held at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center, Speaker Ralston called the event “historic in many respects,” being the first time in the history of Fannin County that a state budget bill has been signed within the county.

Of Georgia’s 82nd governor, Ralston said, “Governor Deal has led this state to become the best in all the 50 in which to do business in this country. He has truly been a great governor, and frankly, I want to say this state is going to miss his leadership.”

For Fannin County, Ralston explained the 2019 budget will provide over $273,000 to the Fannin County Board of Education. Statewide, Ralston stated, over $360 million will go toward the state’s teacher retirement system. Also, statewide public school campus funding will account for $16 million, over $44,000 of which will go to Fannin County, according to Ralston.

Additionally, the budget will provide $25,000 in bonds to renovate the community center in Epworth and $277,000 for a new roof at West Fannin Elementary School.

“And today, I guess the highlight of the event is, (the budget) contains $5.5 million for the new, permanent campus for the University of North Georgia at Blue Ridge,” Ralston announced.

Georgia House Speaker and Fannin County resident David Ralston, left, welcomes Governor Nathan Deal to Blue Ridge Wednesday, May 2. (Photo: Amanda Anthros, FetchYourNews)

Ralston then explained when the campus first opened in the fall of 2015, only 18 students were enrolled at the campus. After three years, Ralston said, “That number is more than 150 students. UNG Blue Ridge’s growth rate has far exceeded our expectations and that’s something I think we can all be proud of.”

According to Ralston, the new facility, which will be 13,000 square feet, will more than triple the campus’s available space and will accommodate 500 students. “That’s 500 futures,” Ralston added, “that will be made brighter, right here in our community.”

After announcing the aforementioned location, Ralston explained the contract is pending final approval from the Board of Regents, which is expected to occur within the next 30 to 45 days.

Speaking of the day’s proceedings with regard to the UNG Blue Ridge campus, Campus Director Sandy Ott stated, “This is a wonderful opportunity for growth and expansion for the University of North Georgia to increase programs, course offerings and educational opportunities in the region. The campus has experienced significant growth since opening in the fall 2015. The opportunities that will be available are endless.”

[Featured image: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, center, prepares to sign into effect the state’s 2019 fiscal year budget Wednesday, May 2, at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center in downtown Blue Ridge. Joining Governor Deal for the signing are, from left, Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of the University of North Georgia, David Ralston, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, Deal, Terry England, state representative from District 116 and chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, and Jason Ridley, state representative from District 6.]

 

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

 

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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.

West Fannin Elementary School becomes STEM certified

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A vision led to a goal, and diligent work led to accomplishment as West Fannin Elementary School (WFES) officially became STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) certified by the Georgia Department of Education.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, West Fannin Elementary School, WFES, Georgia Department of Education, Board of Education, Principal, Lucas Roof, Assistant Principal, Alison Danner, Cirriculum Director, Robert Ensley, STEM, Certification, Project 1954

Students from all grade levels meet with a STEM certification team.

Out of thousands of elementary schools in the state of Georgia, WFES is only the 36th school to have this recognition, and only the fourth in the north Georgia area.

Assistant Principal Alison Danner spoke about how this vision came about: “Five or six years ago there were several of us at the STEM conference at Athens at the University of Georgia, and we all said this is what we want.”

Danner spoke of Fannin County Curriculum Director and previous WFES Principal Robert Ensley: “He was the one that was kind of the forefront, that saw this as a part of the vision for West Fannin in years to come.”

Seeing this vision become a reality took years of hard work from WFES. After initiating a school STEM program and integrating its teachings into day-to-day classroom activities, the school then had to apply for certification.

WFES went through a series of pre-visits in which a team consisting of representatives from math, science, CTAE (career, technical and agricultural education), technology, and business would come to West Fannin and give feedback on how to reach certification level.

“When they do these pre-visits they give you tons of feedback on anything and everything,” Principal Lucas Roof said, describing the process, “and so we received all the feedback that we could possibly receive from them, and the cool thing about it is that we didn’t just sit on that feedback.

“We used that feedback. Our teachers used that feedback, and we got better and better.” Roof added. “We took that constructive criticism, and we put it to use.”

Nov. 3, 2017, was the third and final pre-visit to WFES, and the team at that time felt that the school was ready for a final visit.

“When the team comes in, they don’t talk to us. They don’t talk to the teachers. They talk to the kids. It’s all about what the kids can articulate to them,” Roof added, explaining the final visit, “and kids are going to tell the truth.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, West Fannin Elementary School, WFES, Georgia Department of Education, Board of Education, Principal, Lucas Roof, Assistant Principal, Alison Danner, Cirriculum Director, Robert Ensley, STEM, Certification, Project 1954

Students at WFES show a STEM certification team how they use skills used at school to solve real world problems.

What this means for WFES is that they are teaching children these fields in ways in which the children become critical thinkers and can apply the skills they are learning to real-world problems.

“It means you are doing what’s right for the kids in terms of hands on learning, in terms of math and science integration, involving the community,” Roof explained of what the Georgia Department of Education looks for in the certifying process.

The students at WFES have applied the skills taught and integrated them into improving their own school environment through Project 1954.

According to Danner, this project involves each grade level to focus on a particular area and come up with ways to improve these areas. An example can be scene in the nature trail created by fourth-grade students.

Roof says that none of this would be possible without the effort of an entire team: “I would like to thank our entire faculty and staff for working so hard and so diligently. I also want to thank our parents, community business partners, our Fannin County School System county office directors, and our Board of Education members for always supporting us throughout this lengthy process. Most of all, I want to thank our students.”

Danner pointed out that while Roof would not acknowledge it himself, a huge thank you is due to him as well: “He was the integral part that took us to the final phases. Mr. Roof just came in and filled that piece that solidified that this was what was going to happen.”

Ensley, the educator credited with the vision of STEM certification, commented on the news that WFES had finally reached its goal. “It has been a dream of mine. I cannot be more excited for West Fannin. They put a lot of time, a lot of effort into making this a success. They did a phenomenal job,” Ensley said.

“Hands down, so proud of them,” Ensley added with a beaming smile.

 

 

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

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Administration addresses athletics at Board of Education meeting

Community, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After hearing concerns expressed at the Jan. 11 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney, as well as other members of the board, added a new agenda item covering extracurricular activities within the school system.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Rebels, Georgia High School Association, GHSA

Fannin County High School Principal Erik Cioffi discussed athletics at the Feeb. BOE meeting.

At the Feb. 8 BOE meeting the board unveiled this new item. Dr. Gwatney explained that updates of Fannin County extracirruclar activities will be a recurring item.

While these updates will encompass all of Fannin County’s extracurriculars, the focus of the Feb. updates centered around the state of the Fannin County Athletics Department.

Fannin County High School Principal Erik Cioffi presented this information to the public.

“There were some questions about accountability,” Cioffi spoke of concerns presented at the previous BOE meeting. “You don’t have to look any further than right here. I am the one who has hired people and put them in positions. So if there is a concern it should come to my department.”

Cioffi spoke of the staff of Fannin County School System and added that the pool of educators in which coaches can be pulled from is currently 59 certified teachers.

“They are teachers first and they have responsibilities that make up a bulk of their time,” Cioffi added.

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey clarified that there are 62 coaching positions that have to be covered, and for this reason coaches have to work or coach in multiple departments. Ramsey backed up Cioffi stating that a coach’s first priority is to be an educator.

“As they should be,” Ramsey stated. “Because that is the ultimate thing, they (students) leave with a high school diploma.”

Cioffi discussed the current Georgia High School Association (GHSA) policy and why Fannin County continues to be placed a AAA region school. In the past GHSA reevaluated schools on a two year cycle. Recent changes, however, has left evaluations happening every four years.

“We have no control over the region we’re placed,” Cioffi explained.

A meeting is scheduled on Feb. 21 where representatives from Fannin County Athletics along with representative from other AAA schools will meet with GHSA officials to examine the new policy.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Rebels, Georgia High School Association, GHSA

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey was also present to talk with parents.

“It’s ridiculous. If they (GHSA) get it wrong, that’s impacted a child’s entire four years,” Cioffi told the crowd about plans to hopefully bring about change on the state level when it comes to athletics.

The possibility of dropping to AA classification could pose a different set of difficulties for the student athletes of Fannin County, as travel is cited to be a large consideration in the possibility of changing regions.

A new AA classification could mean that students would have to travel as far as three hours away to play other AA teams.

Cioffi also proposed what all parties (parents, coaches and administration) want a “Winning Culture”, and explained how to take steps in this direction: “Before we even get to a winning culture, we need a positive culture. That’s going to take everyone in this room and everyone outside this room to get there.”

“Stay positive. Our kids see when there’s negativity going around,” Cioffi spoke of the recent discussions taking place via social media. “One thing I can promise you is that coaches aren’t posting things on social media about kids and parents.”

“Communicate with each other and figure out how can we best meet the needs of all the programs,” Cioffi went on,”Ultimately we want all programs to be successful.”

The parents coming forward was a big step in addressing the issues that Fannin County Athletics faces, and administration wants to keep lines of communication open and figure out how to “get over the hump and move forward.”

Athletic Director Dr. Scott Ramsey concluded the presentation: “We’re working together, because we don’t ever want to be an us versus you mentality. There never needs to be adversary. We all need to be working for the good of the kids.”

 

 

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

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Parents question the finances of Fannin County Athletics

News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Feb. 8 Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) meeting was packed, with many left at standing room only, as parents and supporters of Fannin County Athletics gathered once again to voice concerns over the direction of the program.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

The Board of Education listens as public commentary focuses on athletics.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney addressed the crowd before the meeting got underway saying, “Safety is always the top priority. With that in mind, ladies and gentlemen, we have received a maximum number that’s allowed in this room from the state fire marshal, and we must adhere to that number.”

School principals were present to help usher the crowd and school resource officers were stationed at all emergency exits.

“Our room is at capacity,” Gwatney continued. Gwatney announced that the BOE had set up accommodations in expectations of the large turnout. The meeting would be streaming online and alternate locations had been set up at the high school as an overflow where supporters could watch the live-stream.

Ten community members signed up prior to the meeting to ensure that their voices would be heard during public commentary.

Donnie Kendall, who spoke at the January BOE meeting, led the way again and spoke first during the public’s allotted time.

“The last four weeks the administration has not only been helpful, but they have also made theirselves available in hearing all of my concerns, ” Kendall began. “The problem is our administration is reactive instead of proactive.”

Kendall voiced that the same accountability that is placed on educators in the school system should also be placed on coaches, citing the boys basketball team finishing with just three wins and 21 losses.

In comparing this with an academic classroom where only three students were passing with 21 failing, Kendall stated that that educators job would come into question, and the likelihood of their position being renewed would be slim.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

Donnie Kendall addresses the board first during public commentary at the BOE meeting.

“If you choose coaching as career path, you will ultimately be judged by your wins and losses,” Kendall added.

A point of concern among many of the public commentators and mentioned first by Kendall is a need for the BOE to produce total financial transparency of the athletic departments. Kendall, like many others, would like to know what formulas are in place for the funding and who is responsible for the financial decisions.

Speaking of the numerous booster clubs throughout the different athletic departments, who are responsible for raising tens of thousands of dollars every year, Kendall stated, “What we can do and what we are prepared to do is refuse to support that program financially.”

Another commentator, Cliff Shirah spoke from experience on the financial transparency that is desired by parents. Shirah has been treasurer of the Dugout Club for four years.

In those four years, Shirah cited that approximately $192,000 had been raised by the community for this club and the money directly supports Fannin County Athletics.

“We want to know how programs are funded and from what budget, and what is the process or guidelines that those decisions are made?” Shirah questioned the BOE.

Shirah pointed out that the Dugout Club had spent $34,000 in field maintenance and asked, “Why are parents forced to pay for these facilities and field expenses?”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

Brian Johnson counters reasons given by administration about the state of Fannin County Athletics.

Brian Johnson, former president of the Basketball Booster Club, also touched on finances, stating the Tip Off Club had raised upwards of $200,000 in four years, and asked the board, “What will the school board’s actions be if financial support is taken away from these programs?”

Johnson also addressed what many parents felt were excuses being given by administration for the current state of Fannin County Athletics: “excuses have been given from, ‘we don’t have talent’ to ‘we’re rural and secluded’ to ‘other teams should be playing in higher classifications.'”

Johnson countered these arguments by stating, “What in your minds makes us more secluded than Union County, Murphy, North Carolina, Hayesville, Towns County, or Hiawassee, Georgia? We have struggled against these very schools that are as small or much, much smaller than we are.”

Ryan Walton, who also spoke alongside Donnie Kendall at the January BOE meeting, did not agree with the explanations that the administration has offered. “All I’ve heard is excuses on why we don’t compete. I haven’t heard any answers,” Walton said.

Walton added, “I will say that the coaches at Fannin County right now are doing a great job of teaching our kids that life is not fair and that the best person does not always get the job, but the athletic director and board are doing a terrible job by showing these kids that you can be terrible at your job and not get fired.”

Other parents were present giving testimonials on how success in athletics directly correlates with success in a child’s personal life and their academics. These parents expressed concern over what they saw as the coaches’ lack of involvement with or enthusiasm displayed for their athletes.

Ultimately, the parents and supporters united under a common theme of change. They wish to see a winning culture come back to Fannin County and want the full chain of command, from the BOE down to the coaches, to take responsibility for this turn around.

Follow FetchYourNews as we look into obtaining full financial transparency for the Fannin County Athletics Department.

 

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

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

FetchYourNews.com - Dedicated to serve the needs of the community. Provide a source of real news-Dependable Information-Central to the growth and success of our Communities. Strive to encourage, uplift, warn, entertain, & enlighten our readers/viewers- Honest-Reliable-Informative.

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FetchYourNews.com - Citizen Journalists - A place to share “Your” work. Send us “Your” information or tips - 706.276.NEWs (6397) 706.889.9700 chief@FetchYourNews.com

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