BOC motions to raise speed limit on Old Hwy. 76

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Residents may have noticed a change to the speed limit on Old Hwy. 76 this week. The Board of Commissioners (BOC) discussed an increase in the limit at the Nov. 28 meeting.

“It’s kind of convoluted, but going east on 76, from downtown to Marina Drive, that’s the city of Blue Ridge, and then it becomes the county’s responsibility from Marina Drive out to the Lakewood intersection where Hwy. 60 comes in,” Fannin County BOC Chairman Stan Helton clarified as to which entities are accountable for maintenance and regulations along Old Hwy. 76.

Board of Commissioners, County Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, TVA, dam, Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Public Works Director, Zach Ratcliff, Lakewood, Marina, Old Hwy 76, speed limit, Union County, Hwy 60

L-R : Marina Drive on Old Hwy. 76; Lakewood and Old Hwy. 76 intersection

Helton went on to say, “And then that’s state responsibility from Lakewood intersection all the way out to where 60 (state Route 60) turns south on Morganton headed towards Suches. And then from that point going on east towards Union County, that’s the county’s responsibility again.”

From Union County to the Lakewood intersection, the highway has a constant speed limit of 45 mph. From the Lakewood intersection to Marina Drive, the speed limit drops to 35 mph.

The change in speed limit will not affect the current speed limit at Blue Ridge Dam and along Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) property. The speed limit will still remain at 35 mph in that area.

After receiving calls from various citizens wanting to raise the speed limit in this area, Helton brought the issue to the attention of the board. Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson and Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee agreed that bringing uniformity to the speed limit would be a positive.

Board of Commissioners, County Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, TVA, dam, Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Public Works Director, Zach Ratcliff, Lakewood, Marina, Old Hwy 76, speed limit, Union County, Hwy 60

Area along TVA property, including Blue Ridge Dam, will remain at 35 mph.

Johnson deferred to Fannin County Public Works Director Zack Ratcliff to get his opinion on the proposed change.

Ratcliff pointed out that the current speed limit causes a bottleneck on that section of road and added, “I recommend that we at least do something to improve that area. I think it would help. That’s pretty slow going across there if you abide by that speed limit.”

Johnson agreed, “It does kind of bottleneck down there. There are still some law-abiding citizens left and that is too slow.”

Sosebee asked Ratcliff if the change would alleviate that issue, to which Ratcliff replied, “It used to be that (45 mph). It actually used to be that. TVA did work on the dam, and they reduced all the speed through there because they were doing the work, and it never got bumped back up.”

BOC Chairman Helton made a motion to raise the speed limit from Marina Drive to the Lakewood intersection (excluding the dam and the area along TVA property) to 45 mph. Johnson seconded the motion, and it was passed unanimously by all three commissioners.

 

 

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Fannin County Water Authority Opts to Sell Old Quarry Property

News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – The Fannin County Water Authority (FCWA) opted to sell land and equipment to fund future projects in our area.

At their regularly scheduled meeting held on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, discussions continued about the Blue Bird Road addition and Dry Branch Expansion.

The Blue Bird Road project is currently underway. Plans are being finalized and permits are being obtained to begin construction. The project is estimated to begin in late February or early March of 2018.

Carter & Sloope Consulting Engineers were present to discuss possible money saving options with this project. One suggestion that was presented was the possibility of connecting to the Hidden Valley Drive water system. This would eliminate the need for a new Operating Permit.

Board members also voted to move forward with expansion in the Dry Branch area. This project is estimated to cost $200,000 and the funds are currently available through SPLOST.

In an executive session the Board voted on the sale of equipment to the county, with the option of leasing it back from the county on an as needed basis. Board member Zach Ratcliff abstained from voting on this matter.

Fannin County, Georgia, Fannin County Water Authority, FCWA, Zach Ratcliff, Kay Kendall, Old Quarry Property, Development Authority, TVA Economic Development, Anita Weaver, Blue Bird Road, Dry Branch

The property located on Old Quarry Road includes an 8 acre pond.

The county is expected to purchase a 2015 work truck for a price of $20,000 and a Kubota Excavator for $42,000.

Ratcliff noted that the excavator was purchased to complete the Riverwalk project and is no longer needed.

Board member Kay Kendall explained that, “FCWA is moving away from doing our own construction.”

It was also unanimously decided in the executive session that FCWA will sell their land known as “The Old Quarry Property.”

This property, located on Old Quarry Road, is posted for sale on both the Fannin County Development Authority website, and the TVA Economic Development website.

The minimum bid is set at $160,000 with bid increments of $1,000.

FCWA asks that the following instruction be followed in order for successful bids to be considered:

All bids are to be received no later than 4:30 PM on November 14, 2017. Bids are to be submitted to the Fannin County Water Authority, 400 West Main, Suite 101 B, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513 and are to be clearly marked as “Property bid” so the same will not be opened with general mail. Bids will be opened in the “old business” section of the regularly scheduled meeting of the Fannin County Water Authority on Wednesday November 15, 2017, which meeting is held in the Fannin County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Conference Room, located at 400 West Main Street, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513, commencing at 2:00 PM. The successful bidder should be prepared to provide proof of funds within ten business days of being notified as to being the successful bid; and to close no later than noon on December 29, 2017. All closing costs to be paid by the successful bidder. Any questions, should be directed to Anita Weaver, Fannin County Water Authority Chairman at 706-632-4503.

 

 

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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Public Workshop For 2018 Proposed Budget

News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – In what is being heralded as the first of its kind in the county, Fannin County Board of Commissioners held an all day budget workshop on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, in preparation for the 2018 budget.

The workshop was scheduled from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. and was open to the public. Department Heads from each department came in to discuss their area’s proposed budget.

Commissioners scrutinized each line item while the department’s representatives were present. They questioned what each department planned to do with the money that they were asking for.

Most departments stayed right in line with the previous year’s budget having small increases or decreases to account for different needs in staffing or cost of goods to operate. All offices saw a slight raise in their salary budget as an overall 2% raise was given to government employees.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, 2018 Budget, workshop, Zach Ratcliff, Roads Department, Ken Petty

Commissioners discuss proposed budgets.

A few departments requested significant increases, but most were explained away with the need for additional personnel. Building Maintenance Supervisor Ken Petty was one of those who faced heavy scrutiny as his budget request was broken down and analysed.

County Chairman Stan Helton questioned Petty, “You have maintenance repair of the old courthouse building. Are you anticipating something there? 2017 there’s nothing in there, but you have requested it for 2018.”

Post Two Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee further questioned Petty, “We got a request here for $2,000-$3,000 for maintenance and repair on vehicle. You got a new vehicle, what do you anticipate tearing up on it?”

To both of these questions Petty replied, “We just put it in there in case there is something.”
Petty’s budget request was approximately $748,000, showing over a 17% increase from last year’s request of $620,000.

Helton concluded with, “Go through and look at these items…if we can’t justify with something we have a known expenditure coming, then we are going to have to look at reducing that.”

On the opposite end of the budget spectrum, some departments made dramatic cuts, with the largest cut going to the Roads Department by Public Works Director Zach Ratcliff.

Ratcliff proposed approximately $300,000 in cuts to his department. These cuts came mainly from fuel purchases, tire allowance, and payroll. This $300,000 decrease comes on top of an 11% decrease in the department’s budget last year.

Helton remarked, “You were able to cut the tire budget way down. That’s on track to be about 1/4 of what you’ve spent out there before.”

Ratcliff confirmed that he was able to decrease the tire budget from $50,000 to roughly $8,000.

Another significant decrease came in salaries, as the Roads Department has reduced the number of employees from 54 to 39. Helton pointed out that we still have “50% more employees than surrounding counties.”

Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson stated that looking at the Road Department’s budget shows that what the county is doing is working. He said, “I’m proud of what we are doing with your budget. I’m glad to hear these amounts are coming down the way they have.”

This workshop gave insight into the county’s 2018 budget,but the Commissioners will meet and continue to amend the budget proposals. The final budget will be discussed and approved at a regularly scheduled meeting later this year.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

County to Purchase New Equipment

News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Fannin County is set to receive new equipment after the Board of Commissioner meeting that was held on Tuesday, September, 12, 2017. Commissioners voted unanimously to purchase a new fire truck and spreader for the county.

Public Works Director Zach Ratcliff addressed the Board about the purchase of a new spreader that would salt the roads during inclement weather. Ratcliff found a used spreader for $7,000 that he describes as in “like new” condition.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Public Works Director, Zach Ratcliff, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas

Public Works Director Zach Ratcliff addresses the Commissioners.

Ratcliff was unable to get a quote on a new spreader of this size, but noted that one that is new in a smaller size would cost $21,000. With the used spreader only being a third of that price, Ratcliff stated, “That’s just a good deal anyway you look at it.”

County Chairman Stan Helton questioned, “And we need this, correct?”

To which Post Two Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee confirmed, “Everything we’ve got out there now is rusted.”

After approval for the purchase of the new spreader, Fire Chief Larry Thomas discussed with the Board a used fire engine he had found. The fire engine, located in Alabama, had been inspected by Thomas and he stated, “It appears to be in very, very good condition. With low mileage.”

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Public Works Director, Zach Ratcliff, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas

Fire Chief Larry Thomas asks county for a new vehicle.

The original asking price of the vehicle was $59,000, but Thomas had managed to negotiate this price. The sellers came down on price to $45,000 with an agreement to deliver the vehicle to Fannin County.

Thomas stated, “These commercial chassis are very hard to come by.”

Thomas confirmed that he had received $30,000 in insurance reimbursement after an accident involving one of the county’s fire engines in December 2016. This money would be put toward the purchase of the new vehicle.

The new fire engine will be placed at Station 9 to take the place of the vehicle damaged in the December 2016 accident.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

A Solution to the 2016 Fannin County Audit

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Public Works Director, Zach Ratcliff proposed a solution to a recommendation found in the Fannin County 2016 Audit Report.

At the Board of Commissioners meeting held August 22, 2017, Ratcliff proposed the county enter into a contract with Wright Enterprises, which would provide county employees with a WEX card.

These cards would track information such as vehicle mileage and money spent on fuel. This information would be broken down into individual departments. Ratcliff stated that “under the contract we are not charged anything.”

County Chairman Stan Helton liked the idea and took the time to explain to the public that in the recommendations of the 2016 Audit, “This was the first item on our audit, that we have lack of fiscal control on our fuel inventory, and this would immediately correct our deficiencies in that area.”

Commissioners also unanimously approved a second mower to be purchased. After approval and discussion of purchasing the first mower last month, Commissioner Earl Johnson wanted Ratcliff to look into pricing for a second mower since the counties’ two mowers are equal in usage and need of repair.

Ratcliff was able to secure a second mower for the same price as quoted on the first, $118,225.

Bids were received at this regular meeting for the resurfacing of Loving Road and Salem Road, and were tabled until commissioners had time to review each bid. At a special called meeting held on August 28, 2017, commissioners met and unanimously approved the lowest bid, at $796,825.

Of this amount, the state will be funding approximately 30% of the bid price with the remaining balance coming out of SPLOST.

The special called meeting allowed the county to expedite the beginning of this project by two weeks.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

It’s Not Just The Public Being Left Out

Community, News

The annual summary of the 2016 County Audit was the main focus of the Fannin County Board of Commissioners meeting held on August 8, 2017.
It became apparent during the review that the public were not the only ones who have received limited information in the past. As discussion came to a management report within the audit, Post Commissioner Earl Johnson was surprised that he had not been made aware of this document and was even further surprised that he had never received a copy of this annual document since 2012.

Fannin County Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Zach Ratcliff, Ken Petty, Audit, EMA, Robert Graham

Commissioners review 2016 audit summary.

Commission Chairman Stan Helton made it clear that “anything that is available to me, is available to both of them.” In keeping with his promise of transparency within the county, Helton went on to say, “We are putting up everything and not leaving anything out”, stating that the entire audit is available on the County website for the public to view.

Post Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee wanted to clear up misinformation that had been put out in the form of editorials. Over the past two weeks, concerns have been expressed about the county being short of emergency vehicles.

While the county was down three ambulances, EMA Director Robert Graham clarified that only one front line vehicle was down, while the other two were back up vehicles. He expressed that this is a rarity and that there is always a backup plan. When questioned about the public’s safety, Graham responded, “At no time were any of our citizens in any danger of not having emergency services.”

Fannin County Board of Commissioners, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Zach Ratcliff, Ken Petty, Audit, EMA, Robert Graham

Commissioner Earl Johnson questions why he has never received a Management Report.

Fannin County Maintenance Department Head, Ken Petty, brought three bids to the board regarding renovations at Animal Control. These renovations include the installation of guillotine doors that would allow the dogs to go outside directly from their kennels. The addition of these doors would also allow FCAC staff to safely enter the dog runs for daily cleaning and feeding. The lowest bid was $18,932, coming in approximately $500 under the singular bid placed last meeting. The board, however, chose to still table the vote for another two weeks to give Petty time to gather a start and completion date from the bidders.

Zach Ratcliff, Fannin County Public Works Director, was added to the agenda as his department was in need of new equipment. The county’s two mowers have seen over 6000 hours and are in “limp mode” as Ratcliff stated. These being the most used equipment in the department that provide safety on our roadways, Ratcliff presented the board with a bid for $118,225 to replace one of the existing mowers.

Ratcliff went through an existing government contract and was able to save the county $24,864 by doing so. Commissioners unanimously agreed that this purchase was necessary and would be able to use funds from SPLOST to cover this necessity.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Ratcliff Opts Out of Pay

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, GA – The Fannin County Water Authority convened on Thursday, August 3, 2017, at the Fannin County Courthouse.

Following the call to order, Chairwoman of the Water Authority Anita Weaver took the opportunity to clarify last month’s vote on compensation for board members and chairpersons. She stated that they “talked to several different surrounding counties and communities to see how they do it,” and, ultimately, the decision was made to pay a flat rate each month versus reimbursement for expenses turned in.

Fannin County Water Authority, Anita Weaver, Larry Chapman, Ed Hawkins, Zach Ratcliff, service area

Fannin County Water Authority holds meeting to discuss service area.

This flat rate would be $100.00 per month to each board member and $150.00 to the chair. Out of town expenses are the exception to this new payment plan and would be reimbursed after verification of expenses.

Board member Zach Ratcliff, Fannin County Public Works Director, opted out of receiving payments stating that he “is already on the payroll of the County” and felt it would be in conflict.

FCWA has been working with cities throughout the county to update and define service areas.  A map was presented of the final outlines for review. Members of the FCWA unanimously voted on approval of the new outlines.

Clearly defining the service area will allow different entities to have first right of refusal in new developments. This map will also allow for standards voted on by FCWA to be in place before offering service to any particular area.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

North Georgia Winter Storm Update from Fannin Command Center

GMFTO

January 6, 2017 – North Georgia is bracing for a possible major winter storm. Robert Graham, EMA Director, and Zach Ratcliff, Fannin County Public Works Director, deliver updates concerning possible accumulations, temperatures, warming centers, and road conditions.

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