What does it cost to clean a courthouse?

Featured, Featured Stories, News
courthouse

BLUE RIDGE, Ga – In the past week, two county courthouses closed due to confirmed COVID-19 cases. This week county commissioners revealed two vastly different bills for sanitization services. However, neither expenditure is feasible as a regular expense for counties if more virus cases arise within government offices.

Gilmer County paid Restoration 1 out of Dawsonville $6,007.81 for cleaning a 106,000 square foot courthouse and road department building. Fannin County Commissioners to pay a maximum of $70,059 to American Property Restoration out of Atlanta for cleaning its 69,752 square foot courthouse.

Since Tuesday, American Property Restoration dropped the price by five percent to $66,500.

Cutout from the American Property Restoration invoice.

Each county received disinfectant fog and surface wipe downs, but Fannin’s sanitization process included a negative air machine. It circulated the fog throughout the ventilation system to ensure the removal of COVID-19 throughout the building. Other additional charges in the Fannin bill include HEPA filters, labor for wiping down equipment, and PPE for workers. The 30 counts/charges for HEPA filters and labor for equipment wipe down was listed at $30 each.  

The 24-person team required heavy-duty disposable PPE, and the company charged $48 per person. 

As for disinfectant fog, Fannin paid $1.39 per square foot for the first 30,000 square feet and 50 percent off that price for the remaining 39,752 square feet. Gilmer paid six cents for 80,000 square feet at the courthouse.

View the American Property Restoration invoice and the Restoration 1 invoice.

Given the emergency nature of the COVID-19 situation, neither county had time to bid out the process. Both operated within a short window to quickly clean and reopen the courthouses. 

Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton told Fetch Your News that this was a “true emergency;” he didn’t have time to shop around. Also, American Property Restoration specialized in COVID-19 cleaning.

“Not a matter to see who could do it the cheapest,” said Helton. It was about protecting the citizens of Fannin County from an unknown element. The advice about preventing COVID-19 continues to change almost daily.

The fans placed within the Fannin Courthouse to disperse the fog.

Restoration 1 that cleaned Gilmer’s courthouse also had a professional COVID-19 virus disinfection team.

However, Fannin can apply for CARES Act funding from the State and receive reimbursement for virus-related expenses. Helton added that the knowledge of the funds made him slightly more comfortable with the price. 

“If we prevented one citizen from going to ICU that cost would be comparable to $66,500 and would not be eligible for CARES funds,” added Helton.

Fannin hasn’t yet applied for the reimbursement because the state hasn’t made the portal available to smaller counties at this time.

In June, Gov. Kemp issued a letter explaining CARES Act funding policies to state counties. Previously, only the top five counties with the highest percentage of cases had access to the funds.

According to the letter of guidance from Gov. Kemp, local governments must apply to receive their 30 percent share of $1.23 billion. Once processed, the allocation will be available for “immediate advancement.”

How to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in courthouses

Turning to the future, Helton agreed that it’s not feasible for Fannin to spend $66,500 again, and the county probably won’t perform another cleaning to this extent at the courthouse. Possible future options include cleaning the office with the confirmed case was located, but they haven’t made a final decision.

The commissioners started requiring employees under their authority to wear masks while at work and strongly encouraged the practice among everyone in the courthouse, including the public. Temperature checks also began this week for those visiting the facility.

American Property Restoration crew in front of the courthouse

According to the CDC, the virus spreads “mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.” By wearing a mask in public areas, employees limit the spread of those droplets.

Helton wanted people to feel safe to visit the courthouse once it reopened.

 

 

Dr. William Whaley and Dr. Raymond Tidman discussed the effectiveness of closing to perform extensive cleanings on courthouses. Both agreed that cases will occur, but spending exorbitant amounts of money isn’t necessary.

“You can teach your own housekeeping staff what they need to know if there has been this virus [case],” explained Dr. Whaley. “If you just shut your doors for 24-hours, the virus is going to die because it doesn’t stick around on surfaces for terribly long.”

Afterward, if someone cleaned the surfaces and highly handled areas, the virus should be removed for that day. However, the practice must occur every day at the end of the day. The county and schools can go over cleaning protocols with their janitorial staff to begin COVID-19 recommended sanitization measures.

CDC guidance about disinfecting cites that coronaviruses die on surfaces in a matter of hours or days. To safely remove COVID-19 from a surface, first clean the area with soap and water, then an EPA-approved spray on the surface. If an EPA-approved disinfectant is unavailable, 1/3 cup of bleach added to one gallon of water, or a 70% alcohol solution will disinfect a surface. Bleach can’t be mixed with other cleaning and disinfection products together. The effectiveness of bleach solutions lasts for up to 24 hours.

Janitorial staff must wear the proper PPE to protect them from harmful chemicals and the virus.

Disinfection plans can adapt as more information becomes available about the spread of COVID-19.

“A COVID virus here or there is going to happen, and you do your cleaning, and that person goes home for a day or two and gets over it,” added Dr. Tidman. “The hair on fire stuff needs to quit.”

Gilmer and Fannin Extend Judicial Emergency under order of Chief Judge

Featured, Featured Stories, News
order

NORTH GEORGIA – Both Gilmer and Fannin have received a new order entitled “Amended Third Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency” closing and requiring deep cleaning for offices in the courthouses of both counties.

The order, sign by Superior Court Chief Judge Brenda Weaver of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, states that a number of courthouse employees are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and are awaiting testing results. Due to this the Chief Judge conferred with Board of Commissioner (BOC) Chairmen from each county and has declared the situation beyond the ability to continue with regular work.

The court has ordered that the counties deep clean and keep closed the following offices:

  • Fannin County Superior Court Judge
  • Fannin County Juvenile Court Judge
  • Fannin County Clerk of Superior and Juvenile Courts
  • Fannin County Probate Court
  • Fannin County Magistrate Court
  • Fannin County District Attorney
  • Fannin County CASA
  • Gilmer County Superior Court Judge
  • Gilmer County Juvenile Court Judge
  • Gilmer County Clerk of Superior and Juvenile Courts
  • Gilmer County Probate Court
  • Gilmer County Magistrate Court
  • Gilmer County District Attorney
  • Gilmer County Misdemeanor Probation
  • Gilmer County CASA

Additionally, Gilmer County has also closed the offices of the Gilmer County Tax Assessor and the Gilmer County Tax Commissioner. These offices are also ordered to perform a deep cleaning and remain closed until further orders are given.

Just as with the previous Judicial Emergency Orders, Remote Videoconference hearings are being utilized and scheduled. The order states that all other provisions of the previous order are still in effect.

This all comes after the announcements of some of Gilmer and Fannin Elected Officials and Courts closing earlier today due to COVID-19 exposures.

order order

18 GA Sheriffs Endorse Doug Collins for Senate

Press Release, State & National

GAINESVILLE, GA – 18 Georgia Sheriffs today became the charter members of the “Law Enforcement for Doug Collins” leadership team. The team is being led by former GA Department of Public Safety Commissioner and State Patrol head Mark W. McDonough.

“Public safety professionals stand in the gap every day protecting their communities,” McDonough said. “There is no better example of this than your Sheriff.  They know what their communities need and the things that concern their citizens.  One of those concerns is strong, demonstrated leadership in Washington, D.C.  Doug Collins supports the law enforcement community and we strongly endorse him as our next U.S. Senator.”

The 18 Sheriffs who endorsed are:

  • Gerald Couch – Hall County
  • Chad Nichols – Rabun County
  • Dane Kirby – Fannin County
  • Carlton Speed – Banks County
  • Craig Nobles – Long County
  • Gene Scarbrough – Tift County
  • Frank Reynolds – Cherokee County
  • Doyle Wooten – Coffee County
  • Steve Thomas – Franklin County
  • Stacey Nichols – Gilmer County
  • Mitch Ralston – Gordon County
  • Billy Hancock – Crisp County
  • Joey Terrell – Habersham County
  • Janis Mangum – Jackson County
  • Carlton Powell – Thomas County
  • Don Whitaker – Worth County
  • Darren Mitchum – Twiggs County
  • Stacy Jarrard – Lumpkin County

“Growing up as the son of a Georgia State Trooper, our law enforcement officers were always my biggest heroes and a part of my family,” Doug said. “These men and women put their lives on the line to serve and protect each and every day, and now they’re putting their names and reputations on the line for me. To say I’m humbled is an understatement.”

North Georgia Chairmen urge Kemp to close State Parks

Community, News
Georgia, North Georgia, Governor, Brian Kemp, State Parks, Close, Shut Down, Letter, Chairmen, Habersham, Rabun, Franklin, Towns, White, Gilmer, Dade, Fannin, Union, Lumpkin, Stephens, Banks, Travis Turner, Tim Stamey, Greg James

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Twelve Commission Chairmen from North Georgia counties have joined together and signed a letter asking Governor Brian Kemp to shut down the State Parks.

“It appears that these nonresidents believe our area is a safe haven because of its rural nature. To the contrary, the influx of people into our communities has had a staggering detrimental effect on our resources,” the letter to Kemp read in part.

Georgia, North Georgia, Governor, Brian Kemp, State Parks, Close, Shut Down, Letter, Chairmen, Habersham, Rabun, Franklin, Towns, White, Gilmer, Dade, Fannin, Union, Lumpkin, Stephens, Banks, Travis Turner, Tim Stamey, Greg James

Habersham County Commissioner District 5 Tim Stamey

The letter goes on to outline the resources in our area that have been affected by the out-of-towners looking to seclude themselves, including in these resources are food, dry goods and fuel.

It goes on to inform Kemp that our area is not equipped medically: “Our communities simply do not have enough hospital beds or medical personnel to care for the inflated population.”

Though only serving as a commissioner for a little over three months, Habersham County Commissioner District 5 Tim Stamey felt he needed to be proactive in bringing a solution to this problem: “I am a retired special operator and we don’t sit around talking about things, we get it done.”

Stamey who sits on the County Health Board said, “I’m on the County Health Board and talk to Healthcare workers in my county on a daily basis. They are the heros/heroines in all this. This virus does not spread itself on the wind.”

Moccasin Creek State Park, situated just North of Unicoi State park has been “crazy, 4th of July crazy” for the past three weekends according to Stamey, who has witnessed the impact on his county first hand.

Stamey initially contacted Rabun County Chairman Greg James and White County Chairman Travis Turner.

“I started this by just trying to get border counties on board,” Stamey said and added, “Then Chairmen were like well, did you call such and such, I know they feel the same way. It just kept getting bigger and bigger.”

Stamey said that all Commission Chairmen were helpful, on board, and taking the matter seriously: “I talked to most of them several times and for up to an hour each time.”

Stamey, along with the 12 county chairmen and many residents, is hoping that this letter will get the attention of Kemp. The letter in closing states: “On behalf of the many citizens that live in North Georgia who entrust us as County Commissioners to represent their interests, we respectfully ask you to close all of the state parks located in our area immediately.”

Georgia, North Georgia, Governor, Brian Kemp, State Parks, Close, Shut Down, Letter, Chairmen, Habersham, Rabun, Franklin, Towns, White, Gilmer, Dade, Fannin, Union, Lumpkin, Stephens, Banks, Travis Turner, Tim Stamey, Greg James

Georgia, North Georgia, Governor, Brian Kemp, State Parks, Close, Shut Down, Letter, Chairmen, Habersham, Rabun, Franklin, Towns, White, Gilmer, Dade, Fannin, Union, Lumpkin, Stephens, Banks, Travis Turner, Tim Stamey, Greg James

 

Click Here to read about National Park Closures in our area

Pet of the Week! Featuring Sienna

FYNTV, Lifestyle
pet of the week

Sienna is the star of the show this week! Come by the Humane Society of Blue Ridge to meet her and other wonderful cats and dogs that you can adopt!

CORE receives grant and state office at ribbon-cutting

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – “This is the kind of project that will spread prosperity throughout our entire region. It is the kind of skin-in-the-game project that deserves support…” Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston praised the CORE Facility in Ellijay who hosted their official ribbon-cutting today.

Nestled just off Maddox Drive on the banks of the Coosawattee River in Ellijay, Georgia, the CORE Facility hosts business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment.

Left to right, Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, and Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones celebrate with Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford at the CORE Facility ribbon-cutting in Ellijay, Georgia, on July 24, 2019.

However, the facility’s impact reaches so much farther than the city limits or the county’s borders. Today marked a celebration for the region and for the state. Representatives statewide joined together for this ribbon cutting including Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Gilmer Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, State Senator Steve Gooch, State Representative of District 11 Rick Jasperse, Ellijay City Mayor Al Hoyle, Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, and many representatives from the Ellijay and East Ellijay City Councils and Gilmer Board of Education. Efforts from many organizations have led into combined organizations such as the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.

That Foundation was the birthplace of the initiative to build CORE. According to Kent Sanford, Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA and part of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, a 14-month birth cycle has finally come to full fruition.

While the celebration was a culmination of efforts so far, it is only the beginning. It is a project that holds great impact on the future, according to Ralston who said, “It will create jobs in our area. The jobs of tomorrow will be possible because of the work that goes on in this building.”

Speaker of the House, David Ralston announces a $420,000 state grant for the CORE facility to applause from attendees at the ribbon-cutting on July 24, 2019.

Ralston also dedicated support to the facility as he announced, “Because of the local commitment to the CORE building the State of Georgia, through our OneGeorgia Authority, is awarding $420,000 to this project to be used for Facility purchase and improvement costs. This $420,000 grant is historic. both in terms of its dollar amount and the impact it will have on this project and community.”

Ralston continued speaking about the economic development and job creation in the county before offering the second announcement of the day regarding the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center.

Ralston stated at the ribbon-cutting, “I am proud to announce that the new North Georgia of the Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation will be housed right here in Ellijay in this facility. The office will be led by Janet Cochran.”

Ralston’s office later offered a full Press Release on the announcement stating the center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.

The Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, was officially announced to open a North Georgia Office at Gilmer’s CORE facility during a ribbon-cutitng on July 24, 2019.

These announcements were applauded by those present and praised by the Chairman of the Gilmer Chamber, John Marshall, who said, “Mr. Speaker, once again you have proven yourself to be the very epitome of a stalwart and faithful advocate not only to your hometown and all the other communities in these beautiful North Georgia Mountains, but to each and every corner of the state of Georgia.”

President of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Green also praised the facility as the realization of a dream for the community that has spread to benefit not only one county but something larger that now spans the region.

Today was a celebration of completing the first steps of a larger plan for the facility. Though it is now open, it is only the first phase of that dream. Director Sanford noted last year that the hopes for the facility include two more phases.

In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger area for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.

In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to be finalized.

Ultimately, the CORE wants to continue spreading and growing this larger community where possible. Opportunities that may come have yet to be revealed, but one ribbon-cutting today, one celebration, can lead to something bigger than imagining tomorrow.

Missing Beloved Pet Reward Offered

Announcements, Featured Stories

Family needs help locating pet.  Missing Rottweiler with tail,  they live off of Barnes Chapel Rd. Her name is Maddie, if you see her or have any information on her, please call 682-554-0555!!! Reward of $250 if found!!! Please, please share!!!

The NEW FYN Classifieds

Community, Featured Stories

The NEW FYN Classifieds

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The NEW FYN Classifieds making it easy to buy, sell, and trade 24/7. You can place an ad online in just a few clicks. Place an ad and find what you’re looking for.

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The NEW FYN Classifieds

Community, Featured Stories

The NEW FYN Classifieds

www.Classifieds.FetchYourNews.com

The NEW FYN Classifieds making it easy to buy, sell, and trade 24/7. You can place an ad online in just a few clicks. Place an ad and find what you’re looking for.

Garage sales, services, realestate, cars, boats, clothes……….

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2019 Night to Shine – A night unlike any other

Community

Shine Like the Stars in the Universe

There is one night a year when stars above look down in awe. Friday, February 8, 2019, was that special night.

Excitement filled the air as paparazzi and crowds gathered for the red carpet event hosted by First United Methodist Church of Union County (FUMC) in Blairsville. Honored guests from Fannin, Gilmer, and Union counties in Georgia and Cherokee County, SC, would soon arrive.

On this “Night to Shine”, 108 Kings and Queens in their finest attire were escorted through the cheering crowd by students from Young Harris College, volunteers from FUMC, and from the community. Just the beginning of a very special evening for memories to last a lifetime.

The royal guests were delighted to be pampered by hairdressers or to have their shoes shined before heading off on a thrilling ride in a stretch limousine. Then it was time for dancing, what many attendees had been looking forward to and so they danced the night away.

As the evening came to a close each King and Queen received a gift bag along with a t-shirt commemorating the event.

Former NFL quarterback, Heisman winner, and current New York Mets outfielder, Tim Tebows’ Night to Shine is now in its 5th year. According to the Tim Tebow Foundation website, this special night’s history began in 2014 with a simple vision, “work with churches around the country to provide an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love for people with special needs, ages 14 and older.”

In 2015, the first Night to Shine was held with help from 15,000 volunteers among 44 participating churches in 26 states and 3 countries to make 7,000 honored guests feel like royalty. In 2019 the event now has over 600 churches from around the world to make a memorable event for an estimated 100,000 Kings and Queens with the help of 200,000 volunteers!

This is the second year First United Methodist Church of Union County hosted the event.

Information about sponsoring a 2020 attendee, volunteering or the mission of Tim Tebow foundation can be found online: www.timtebowfoundation.org

Churches wishing to join in the “worldwide movement celebrating God’s love for people with special needs and the value of life” can find more information about hosting, fundraising and financial grants on the website.

Giggles, laughter and smiling faces beaming with pure joy were, without question no match for the heavenly stars on this “Night to Shine”.

Shine Like the Stars in the Universe
Linda Strickland on the Red Carpet
Jonathan Waters and Michelle Queen
Annette Freer on the Red Carpet
Rick Cruse and escort on the Red Carpet
Party Room
The stage is all set!
Kristell Hannah
Sonny Thomas and Shelby Bittenbinder
Amanda King wears her tiara proudly
Kari Castlen with her tiara
Rena Nelson
Eric Morris and Bailey Whitener
At 9 p.m., balloons fell on the Kings and Queens of Night To Shine ending the evenings festivities.
Gini Bell, Fannin County Special Olympics Co-ordinator

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Weather Summary for 2018

Community, Outdoors

Weather Summary for 2018

By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

Back in December and already this year there’s been a lot of talk about how wet it’s been in the last year and while I agree with the comments I’ve been getting, I thought I’d do a little investigating and use facts to report on the weather of 2018. My data is coming from the UGA AEMN area weather stations.

The Automated Environmental Monitoring Network (AEMN) in Georgia was established in 1991 by the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The objective of the AEMN is to collect reliable weather information for agricultural and environmental applications. Each station monitors air temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, solar radiation, wind speed, wind direction, soil temperature at 2, 4, and 8 inch depths, atmospheric pressure, and soil moisture every 1 second. Data are summarized at 15 minute intervals and at midnight a daily summary is calculated. A microcomputer at the Georgia Experiment Station initiates telephone calls to each station periodically and downloads the recorded data. The data are processed immediately and disseminated via the internet at www.weather.uga.edu.

We are fortunate to have three reporting stations in our area. They are Hillcrest Orchards in Ellijay, Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge and the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center in Blairsville. For the purpose of this article, data has been averaged, but you can visit the web site and get more details and up to the minute weather.

Since rain has been the topic of conversation lately, let’s look at that first. In Blairsville, the total rainfall for 2018 was 76.01 inches and there were 164 rainy days. In Blue Ridge, the rainfall was 74.89 inches and 185 rainy days. In Ellijay there was 79.12 inches of rain and 168 rainy days. The average for our area is around 62 inches, but the statistic that stands out is the number of rainy days. During rainy days the plants did not receive good sunlight and that affects plant growth.

In looking at the month of December in 2018 Blairsville received 10.96 inches of rain and 17 rainy days. Blue Ridge received 11.21 inches of rain and 17 rainy days. Ellijay received 10.92 inches of rain and 17 rainy days. This may seem like a lot of rain, but back in 2015 Blairsville got 13.35 inches of rain with 13 rainy days. Blue Ridge got 16.57 inches of rain with 16 rainy days. Ellijay got 16.04 inches of rain with 17 rainy days. 2015 was not that long ago, but it seems we have gotten more rain lately. It might be the number of rainy days that is making us think we are getting more rain that we actually are getting.

As for temperatures the average maximum temperature in Blairsville was 68.53 and the minimum was 47.26. The overall average was 57.23 which is about normal, but the number of days below 32 was 761 which is up from before, but below 2015. In Blue Ridge the average maximum temperature was 68.12 and the minimum was 48.46 and the overall average was 57.59, which is also about normal. The number of days below 32 was 699 which is up from before, but also below 2015. In Ellijay the average maximum temperature was 69.17 and the minimum was 48.81 with an overall average of 58.48 which is about normal. The number of days below 32 was 625 which is above earlier years except for 2015.

In conclusion the UGA weather stations are a great resource for information that provide facts about our weather conditions and now when people ask if it’s ever been this wet, you have the facts to say yes. If you need more information or different facts, visit the website and explore, or contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

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Community

Latest Update for Public Health Delayed Opening in North GA on Tuesday

Health

Due to the latest weather warning that Georgia counties north of I-20 may form black ice on roads due to overnight freezing Monday night, all North Georgia Health District offices in Dalton and Public Health Departments, Programs and Services in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will DELAY Opening until 10 AM on Tuesday, December 11th. Any further updates will be posted to the North Georgia Health District website at www.nghd.org and on district social media pages at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Georgia Election Run-Off Results

Election 2018

 2018 Georgia Election Run-Off Results

Tonight marks the run-offs for election races in Georgia, these results are unofficial until approved by the Secretary of State.

 

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 756,016 votes   51.97%

John Barrow (D) – 698,770 votes   48.03%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 749,805 votes   51.83%

Lindy Miller (D) – 696,957 votes   48.17%

 

 

Check for local results by county here:

 

Gilmer

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,337 votes   83.13%

John Barrow (D) – 880 votes   16.87%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,250 votes   81.79%

Lindy Miller (D) – 946 votes   18.21%

 

Pickens

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,408 votes   84.01%

John Barrow (D) – 839 votes   15.99%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,325 votes   82.70%

Lindy Miller (D) – 905   17.30%

 

Fannin

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,522 votes   81.89%

John Barrow (D) – 779 votes   18.11%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,454 votes   80.57%

Lindy Miller (D) – 833 votes   19.43%

 

Dawson

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,985 votes   85.83%

John Barrow (D) – 658 votes   14.17%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,939 votes   85.02%

Lindy Miller (D) – 694 votes   14.98%

 

White

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,063 votes   82.78%

John Barrow (D) – 845 votes   17.22%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,960 votes   80.82%

Lindy Miller (D) – 940 votes   19.18%

 

Union

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,246 votes   80.92%

John Barrow (D) – 1,001 votes   19.08%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,108 votes   78.65%

Lindy Miller (D) – 1,115 votes   21.35%

 

Towns

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,161 votes   79.95%

John Barrow (D) – 542 votes   20.05%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,105 votes   78.22%

Lindy Miller (D) – 586 votes   21.78%

 

Murray

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,699 votes   88.99%

John Barrow (D) – 334 votes   11.01%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,691 votes   88.84%

Lindy Miller (D) – 338 votes   11.16%

 

Lumpkin

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,378 votes   78.47%

John Barrow (D) – 927 votes   21.53%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,337 votes   77.89%

Lindy Miller (D) – 947 votes   22.11%

Become A Sponsor For The Christmas Clash Presented By Team FYN Sports

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Team FYN Sports will be broadcasting live the Blue Ridge Christmas Clash. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Support your local youth and sports and market your company at the same time. Contact us now @ [email protected] or 706.276.6397

Fetching Features: a look at former Superintendent Mark Henson

Community, Lifestyle

Have you ever had a goal that you wished to achieve? Something became a driving force in your life as it took a point of focus. It may have been that you wanted to become something, maybe a firefighter, an astronaut, or a soldier. You strove to follow that dream, to grow closer to that goal. The achievement was your motivation.

For some, at least.

Many people will recall the nearly 30 years Mark Henson spent as the Superintendent of Fannin County Schools teaching and influencing the kids of Fannin County. Many may think of this as a life well spent. Henson himself would agree, but it was not always so.

Growing up among a family of educators, Henson knew the life well before he even graduated high school. It was part of the reason he struggled so hard against it. While it may seem like 30 years in the career isn’t the best evasion strategy, Henson says it came down to logic as to why he finally gave in.

After high school graduation, he took his goal of avoidance instead of achievement to heart. “If you go back and look at my high school annual, my ambition was to do anything but teach school because everybody in my family at that time, were teachers,” says Henson as he explains attending the University of Georgia shortly before moving back to Blue ridge to work for the Blue Ridge Telephone Company.

Spending about a year at the job after college didn’t work out. Henson doesn’t speak much on the topic as he says his father knew someone working for Canada Dry in Athens. With a job opening available and good pay to entice him, Henson made the switch to working for the soda company.

Moving to Athens, Henson became an RC/Canada Dry Salesperson over the surrounding five counties in Athens. A hard job that required many hours, Henson said he’d be at work at 6 a.m. and got back home at 8:30 p.m. Though well-paying, the job fell flat for Henson as he came to terms with the long hours and little time for himself. With two years under his belt at the company, he began thinking about Blue Ridge again and his options. As he says, “Teaching didn’t look so bad then.”

Despite the years in opposition, the effort spent running away from the ‘family business,’ Henson began thinking ahead at the rest of his life. Already considering retirement at the time, it was this that ultimately turned his attention back to teaching. It wasn’t family, it wasn’t friends, but rather, it was logic that drew him to the career his life’s ambition avoided.

“I made pretty good money, there just wasn’t any retirement,” says Henson about his time at Canada Dry. As he looked harder at teaching and began seriously considering the career path, he says, “When you look at teachers, you’re never going to get rich being a teacher, but there’s a lot of benefits like retirement and health insurance that these other jobs just didn’t have.” He also notes he proved what he wanted as he retired at 54-years-old.

After much thought, it began with a call to his father, Frank Henson. He told his father he wanted to come home and pursue teaching. Though his father told him to come home and stay with them again, Henson says it was the money he had saved from his position at Canada Dry that allowed him to attend school for a year before being hired as a para-pro, a paraprofessional educator. It was a very busy time in his life as Henson states, “I would go up there and work until 11:30, and then I would work 12 to 4 at what used to be the A&P in McCaysville. I went to school at night…”

The next few years proved to be hectic as he graduated and started teaching professionally “with a job I wasn’t even certified for.” It was January of 1989 and the new school superintendent had been elected in November and as he took office in January he left a gap in the school. To fill the Assistant Principal position the, then, Superintendent had left, they promoted the teacher of the career skills class. With the vacancy in the classroom, Henson was appointed to step in to teach the class. Half a year was spent teaching a career path and skill class to 9th graders in what Henson refers to as a “foreign world.”

The first full-time teaching position he holds was perhaps the one he was least qualified for. Henson noted his nervousness taking the state-funded program. The previous teacher had gone to the University of Georgia to receive training to fill the position. Talking with the previous teacher about the class, Henson shared his reservations about the lack of training and certification. Receiving note cards and guidance on how to handle it helped, but only so far.

Henson recalled looking at the cards and seeing tips like, “Talk about work ethic for 20 minutes.” He was stuck in a position without a firm foundation. He spent the next semester “winging it” and juggling the class with student placement in businesses. Struggling through the day to day at the time, he now looks back and says, “Apparently, I did pretty good at it.”

The interesting part was that the promotions that led him into this position similarly mirrored Henson’s own path to Superintendent one day. An omen easily looked over at the time, but glaringly obvious in hindsight. Though he wouldn’t take the direct path from Teaching to Assistant Principal to Superintendent, they did set the milestones that he would hit on his way.

He also saw plenty of doubt on his way, too. He never looked at the Superintendent position as a goal, but even maintaining a teaching position seemed bleak as he was called into the office one day and told his career class position was no longer being funded.

Thinking he was losing his job, he began considering other opportunities as well as missed options, he had just turned down a position in Cartersville where Stacy, his wife, was teaching. Worrying for no reason, Henson says he was racing through these thoughts until they finally told him they were moving him to Morganton Elementary.

Taking up a Math and Social Studies teaching at Morganton Elementary, Henson found more familiar territory in these subjects. Yet, having gotten used to the career skills, he says he still felt like he was starting over again. The years proved later to be quite fortuitous as Henson says he still has people to this day stop him and talk about their time learning from him as students. Relating back to his own school years, he admits he wasn’t the best student and he made his own bad decisions.

From situations in band and class alike, he notes that he worked hard, usually sitting in first and second chair as he played the trombone, but he still found plenty of things to get into as he, by his own confession, “made the drum major’s lives and stuff miserable.” Enjoying every opportunity he could get to goof off, it became a trend throughout his school career.

Yet, in teaching, he brought those experiences and understanding to the kids as he tailored his classes each year. He shared one story of a girl that stopped him to speak for a while. Eventually, she asked, “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Admitting that he didn’t, she replied, “Well, you really helped me a lot. I was ADD and you would let me sit at your desk.” He says she went on talking about the way he changed her life.

It seems almost common now to associate teachers with stories like these, changing people’s lives, yet, it’s not often you may think a student causing trouble would become that kind of teacher.

The effort returned in a major way as Henson was elected Teach of the Year at Morganton Elementary in only his second year. The award was a testament to his efforts and success, but also evidence of how much he had changed in his life.

“You get out of school and you work a couple of real hard jobs, you see there might be more to life than goofing off. That got me redirected and helped me get through college and get my teaching degree,” says Henson.

It was more than just awards, though. Morganton Elementary created several relationships for Henson that followed him throughout his career and his life. spending four years at Morganton made it the longest position at the point, but it led to so much more. It led to three more years of teaching at East Fannin Elementary before receiving a promotion to Assistant Principal at West Fannin Middle School.

Moving from a position as a teacher to Assistant Principal isn’t just a promotion, it is a major change into school administration. No longer dealing with individual classes of students, Henson says it becomes far more political as you get pressed between teachers and parents. You walk a tightrope as you want to support your teachers in what they do, and you want to listen to concerned parents and find that middle ground. “You have got to kind of be a buffer between them… You’re always walking a tightrope,” he said.

He served as Assistant Principal to Principal David Crawford who served as Assistant Principal to his father, Frank Henson. Mentoring him in administration, he says David was a “laid back guy” that would still “let you have it” some days. It set him on a steep learning curve. Despite the jokes and stories, he led Henson on a quick path to his own education. In a sort of ‘sink or swim’ mentality, Henson said he was given a lot more authority than he expected, but he enjoyed the job.

How much he enjoyed it was a different point. Though Henson says he has never had a job in education he hated, he did say that his year as Assistant Principal was his “least-favorite job.” Though stressing he has enjoyed his entire career, he noted that the stress and shock of transitioning from Teaching to the Administration as a more big picture job factors into the thought.

Even that wasn’t meant to last long as he moved from Assistant Principal to Principal after just one year.

Nearing the end of his first, and only, year as Assistant Principal, he was called into the office again. This time it was the school systems office as his Superintendent at the time, Morgan Arp, wanted to speak with him. As he tells the story, “He said, ‘I’m looking at restructuring the system a little bit on principals and administrators. I’m not saying this is gonna happen, but if I made you Principal at East Fannin, would that be okay?’

I said, ‘Sure, I’ve been there and I know the people fine.’

He said, ‘What about West Fannin?’

I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there a year, I can deal with that.’

He said, ‘What about Blue Ridge Elementary?’

I said, ‘Well, that’s the school I know the least. I’m sure if you put me in there, I could. But the other two make me feel a little more comfortable.’

So the next day I got a call, and I was principal for Blue Ridge Elementary.”

Though comical, Henson said it actually worked out great as he met two of his best colleagues there. Cynthia Panter later became an Associate Superintendent and Karen Walton later became his Assistant Superintendent. Both were teachers he met at Blue Ridge Elementary.

“Blue Ridge was really where I made a lot of later career relationships,” says Henson.

His time as Principal was also a lot easier for him as he says after the year at West Fannin he knew what he was doing and had more confidence in the position. Having ‘matured’ into the job, he says the Principal position has more latitude in decisions. Having a great staff at both schools made the job easier, but the transition was simpler also because he felt he was always second-guessing himself as an assistant principal. His maturity also gave him new outlooks on the choices and decisions made.

“I think a good administrator serves as a shield between the public and teachers who need someone in there to mediate,” he says. Molding things into a larger plan for the schools and taking views from all those who take a stake in their education, “Everybody wants what’s best for the child.”

Surrounding himself with assistant principals and administrators that were detail oriented to allow him to deal with people and focus on the ‘big picture,’ two of his favorite parts of his career as he says.

After three years at Blue Ridge Elementary, the Curriculum Director at the county office resigned. Applying on a fluke instinct, he later got a call saying he got the position. He joined the staff as K-6 Director of Curriculum alongside Sandra Mercier as 7-12 Director of Curriculum.

However, his time in the office saw much more work as he spent time covering as Transportation Director and other fill-in duties. It wasn’t until 2003 when Sandra Mercier took the office of Superintendent, according to Henson, that she named him as Assistant Superintendent and really began his time in the Superintendent position.

He had never thought about going for the position, applying, or even thinking of it. Henson said he did want to be a Principal, but the county offices were beyond his aspirations.

Largely different from transitioning from Teacher to Administrator, the transition into the Superintendent position was far easier says Henson. You’re already dealing with a lot of the same things on a single school scale, but moving to the Superintendent position crosses schools and districts. He did not there is a lot more PR involved, but nothing to the extreme change as he experienced his first year in administration.

Becoming Superintendent in 2007, he says he focused on opening the school system up and growing more transparent than it already was. Sharing information and speaking straight about his feelings allowed a certain connection with people. It seems, in truth, that he never quite outgrew some of the goofiness of his childhood as he recalls joking with colleagues and staff.

Henson says he wanted to have a good time in the office despite everything they dealt with. He pushed the staff, but they also played pranks on each other and shared moments like a school secretary embarrassing her daughter with a funny picture.

Noting one particular instance, Stacy recalls a story with finance running checks in the office. With one office member in particular who would always try to jump scare people running the check machine. Henson quickly opened the door and threw a handful of gummy bears at her. Unfortunately, a few were sucked into the machine and ruined the check run. It wasn’t a good day considering, yet the staff laughed about it and shared in the comedy.

A necessary part of the job is what Henson calls it. The lightheartedness was key to maintaining his staff. “If you stay serious a hundred percent of the time, it’s going to kill you,” he says.

The position wasn’t just laughter and jokes though, tough times came plenty enough. Not all of them were the expected issues that you might expect. Aside from the general politics that face schools daily in these times, Henson even dealt with death threats in his position. Having let people go and dealt with others careers, he admits he had that one employee’s spouse threated his life after a firing.

As he speaks about some of the hardest moments like this, it’s hard to find out how harrowing the event really was. Henson says now that it’s not a big deal, it wasn’t the only threat he had. His wife speaks a little more plainly as she confesses some days, she couldn’t tell if it was worth it for him to be the Superintendent. Yet, even she says in hindsight that she is proud of the honesty, integrity, and openness that permeated his ten years.

Additionally, dealing with things like the shootings and issues that have plagued schools in the last decade, he adds, “It’s a more stressful job than when I started 30 years ago. It’s much more stressful. There are so many things that the state expects, that locals expect, that parents expect… I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in another 30 years.”

Henson agreed that schools have lost a lot of the innocence they used to have within the teachers and staff. As these people continue to rack their brains on following the mission to educate and keep kids safe, they take a lot of the stress off the kids as they are at school. He said, “I don’t know if it’s spelled out, but I think if you’re a good teacher, you feel that inherently.”

It also branched over into policies, with increased focus on testing and numbers, Henson said the position got a lot more into the realm of politics as you deal with the state legislature and handling the constant changes that came from the state adds another item to juggle.

As a superintendent, you don’t need state tests, as Henson says, to tell you how well a teacher teaches. “I can sit in a class for five minutes and tell you if a teacher can teach.”

In the face of everything, Henson said he wouldn’t burn any bridges about returning to education, but he’s enjoying his retirement.

Henson has already reached the “what’s next” point in his career as he retired last year. One year into retirement, he says he is just as busy as ever with his position on the Board of Tax Assessors and putting a daughter through college at the University of Georgia. On top of maintaining his own projects, he says he’s focusing on being a parent and husband and making up for time lost in his position as Superintendent.

Once he hit ten years in the office, Henson said he felt like he had done what he wanted, it was time to hand it over to someone else for their impressions and interpretations. Though retiring from his career, he didn’t fade into obscurity. With Stan Helton asking him to sit on the Board of Tax Assessors and others still seeking advice and counsel, he simply transitioned once more.

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