Voter Security Reform Legislation – Non-citizen ID Should Not Be “Proper ID” at Georgia polls

Politics

Written And Submitted By: State Representative Charlice Byrd

 

The right to vote in a free and fair election is fundamental to our civil society.  This sacred right, upon which our democracy rests, cannot be taken for granted, nor can we afford for it to be eroded away by a lack of confidence in our elections.  I, like so many other Georgians, believe that we have an obligation to do everything possible to ensure election security and integrity.   

 

There are many policy solutions being discussed to make Georgia’s elections the most secure in the country. I offer a simple, commonsense solution to add another degree of security to the actual voting process.  A simple clarification to Georgia’s voter ID code and clearly marking “NOT VOTER ID” on driver’s licenses issued to non-citizens.  This will help alleviate the pressure and confusion of poll workers and election volunteers.   

 

Many Georgians may be surprised to learn Georgia issues a driving and official ID credential to non-citizens that are nearly identical to what many voters use as their official ID to vote.  The only difference in appearance from mine are the words “LIMITED TERM” across the top in capital letters.

 

Furthermore, there is nothing in state law that prohibits these non-citizen driver’s licenses or ID cards to be used as “proper identification/photo ID” for voting purposes.  This may have been an oversight, but many are convinced this loophole in voter ID security should be closed without delay. 

 

Currently, the law says that “proper identification” for presentation to a poll worker when voting consist of a Georgia driver’s license, a valid Georgia voter identification card “or other valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the State of Georgia, any other state, or the United States authorized by law to issue personal identification, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector.” 

 

The law also allows for acceptance of valid U.S. passports, government employee photo ID, a valid tribal identification card containing a photograph of the elector and military identification.  The law does not explicitly exclude the driver’s licenses or ID cards the Department of Drivers Services (DDS) issues to non-citizens of any description.  

 

The Motor Voter Registration system in use in Georgia has proven to be less than perfect in other states.  To be clear, Motor Voter has allowed non-citizens to register to vote around the nation according to reports in the Associated Press and NPR and the Pew Center.  This obvious and needless loophole in Georgia law needs to be fixed.  

 

I have introduced HB 228 to fix this loophole, (OCGA 21-2-417 ) which deals with “Presentation of identification to poll workers; form of proper identification;…”  to add language to specifically exclude from acceptance the driver’s licenses and ID cards issued to non-citizens.  The legislation will also change current law to require DDS to add the phrase “BEARER NOT U.S. CITIZEN – NOT VOTER ID” to all driver’s licenses and ID cards issued to non-citizens. This will help remove the possibility of confusion or accidental acceptance in the voting process in future elections.

 

Rep Charlice Byrd represents District 20 in the Georgia House of Representatives. 

[email protected]

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Criminal threats precede discussion of proposed Code of Civility

City Council, Featured News, Featured Stories, News
Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Criminal Threat, Censure, Conduct, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, David Syfan, Code of Civility, David Ralston, Speaker, House of Representatives

Blue Ridge, Ga. – As the Blue Ridge City Council discussed revising the Rules and Procedures of its meetings, conflict erupted over the newly proposed Code of Civility presented by Council Member Mike Panter.

During a very heated discussion, it was also revealed by Council Member Nathan Fitts that Panter had allegedly made criminal threats against him.

Panter read from a letter sent to council regarding the review of the City’s Charter and the recommendations that were being made based on a committee that had been formed for the review.

Along with the committee Panter said input had been taken from several sources including Donna Thompson, who runs a local governmental accountability group, current and previous council members, a local attorney, business owners and residents.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Criminal Threat, Censure, Conduct, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, David Syfan, Code of Civility, David Ralston, Speaker, House of Representatives

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Criminal Threat, Censure, Conduct, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, David Syfan, Code of Civility, David Ralston, Speaker, House of Representatives

City of Blue Ridge proposed Code of Civility Policy

Panter did point out that prior to reading his letter to the council, the letter itself had already been leaked to the public.

Later Council Member Rhonda Haight would question this remark asking Panter, “Do you have a problem with the public knowing what we are doing?”

Panter pointed out that as far as the Rules and Procedures of council meetings, previous City Attorney David Syfan had drafted an ordinance that would still be in compliance with the City Charter. 

In an effort to save tax dollars Panter suggested that the city vote on the adoption of this particular ordinance instead of paying more attorney fees to have new ordinances written: “I think we should readopt this ordinance which was done away with by previous council.” 

“It (vote to adopt ordinance) was moved a few months later because evidently the council didn’t like what he came up with and they just threw it away,” Panter explained of the ordinance drafted by Syfan and why it was not already put in place.

“I’m totally great with that ordinance that David wrote,” Haight said, adding, “I thought it was wonderful. He did a great job.”

Haight did have concerns over the Code of Civility section Panter was presenting and expressed these concerns.

According to the Code of Civility section, a council member would be asked to resign or a vote could take place for the elected official’s removal after receiving two censures.

This section of the Code of Civility came directly on the heels of a censure of Council Member Nathan Fitts. Earlier in the same meeting, Panter had brought forth a censure against Fitts for “continuous inappropriate conduct”.

Haight felt this particular item in the Code of Civility would be in violation of the City’s Charter since evidentiary hearings would need to take place for a censure vote and no evidentiary hearing was given to Fitts previously that night.

Panter replied to Haight,  “Our charter says that we have the right to remove an elected official.”

“For wrongdoing,” Fitts retorted to Panter’s comment.  “The only person that has violated state and local law is you and Ms. Whitener.”

Incivility ensued as Mayor Donna Whitener questioned Fitts over his accusations against her. After a brief period of numerous calls to and points of order, discussion continued over the proposed code.

Haight pointed out that the Code of Civility was also attempting to limit the council’s transparency. 

The Code states of council that:

“There should be no public statements, letters to the editor or on social media or with an organization, advertisements, emails, texts or announcements regarding official city business without Council approval.”

“As a public official I have every right to tell the public what we are doing. I have every right to post on social media what we are doing,” Haight spoke to Panter, “I will never vote on this as it is.” 

Council Member Fitts agreed with Haight that the Code of Civility needs attempts to limit the transparency of local government and needs further review.

Fitts also pointed out the hypocrisy of Panter in not only introducing the Code of Civility but also for the censure that Panter brought forth earlier in the evening. 

“You made a criminal threat to me and Ms. Haight this week and said that you were going to drag me out of the council meeting by the hair and beat me up,” Fitts made public the alleged threat by fellow Council Member Panter. “You need to practice what you preach.”

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Criminal Threat, Censure, Conduct, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, David Syfan, Code of Civility, David Ralston, Speaker, House of Representatives

Former Blue Ridge City Attorney R David Syfan

Fitts and Haight have both personally sought legal advice from former Blue Ridge City Attorney David Syfan regarding any proposed new ordinances. Both Fitts and Haight are personally paying Syfan for his help.

“This will not be charged to the city,” Haight made clear her and Fitts personal financial responsibility to Syfan.

Current City Attorney James Balli, according to Haight is not trained in municipal law, where Syfan is.

Panter, who is the newest elected official to the council, questioned why Syfan was let go in the first place.

Leading both Haight and Fitts to agree that Balli was hired solely on the recommendation of Mayor Whitener.

Fitts went into further detail with Haight backing up his recollection of events. 

Fitts stated of the reason for Balli’s hire, “She (Whitener) said that because Speaker Ralston was from Blue Ridge and that Mr. Balli was his pick. She said that Blue Ridge would get stuff that we would not get otherwise and that’s why she asked us to choose Mr. Balli.”

Whitener replied that Fitts and Haight’s claims were “more misinformation” and that council had a chance to vote no.

The Rules and Procedures Ordinance along with the Code of Civility will be discussed and reworked before vote will be taken on its adoption.

Fitts censured for creating hostile work environment

City Council, Featured News, Featured Stories, News
Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Censure, Conduct, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, David Syfan, Hostile Work Environment

Blue Ridge, Ga. – In a split vote ultimately decided by the Mayor, Blue Ridge City Council went on record with a censure of Council Member Nathan Fitts for continuous inappropriate conduct leading to council’s inability to perform their duties.

While not on the agenda, Fitts asked at the beginning of the meeting to be heard before Council Member Mike Panter presented his case for the censure. Panter agreed to Fitts speaking.

Fitts read a letter from his personal attorney, also former Blue Ridge City Attorney, David Syfan. This letter laid out that beyond the censure not being handled in a proper legal manner, it is also a violation of Fitts constitutional rights since it attempts to void Fitts of his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The letter stated in part : “Just because Fitts is an elected official does not mean that he has lost his First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Mr. Fitts would have full and complete right to express his opinion as to whether the Mayor has followed the City Charter and also express his opinion as to whether the Mayor has violated the conflict of interest provisions of the City Charter.”

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Censure, Conduct, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, David Syfan, Hostile Work Environment

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Censure, Conduct, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, David Syfan, Hostile Work Environment

Full letter from attorney David Syfan

“By bringing violations out in public meetings it compromises his (Panter) and the Mayor’s re-election plans,” Fitts said of the proposed censure and added, “I am very disappointed in every council member that sits back and covers up these violations.”

Fitts accused Panter of caring more about alliances and personal gain than doing his elected duty to the citizens of Blue Ridge and specifically pointed to the recent sale of private property by Mayor Donna Whitener calling the censure a “blatant attempt to cover up for the mayor”.

“I will be first to admit that I have been a part of the meetings becoming unprofessional but every other council member sitting in them has been equally guilty,” Fitts said of his own actions, adding,  “I will continue to do my job as an elected official and I will continue to call out any violation. I was elected by the citizens in Blue Ridge and I will continue to do my duty until they decide to replace me.”

When Fitts concluded, Council Member Mike Panter read a letter from current City Attorney James Balli. Balli stated that if the censure “does not impose any punishment or attempt to take any official action to reduce one’s elected authority” then it could be voted upon without an evidentiary hearing.

“I would prefer executive session if that were possible, however, with multiple conversations with legal counsel the only way to approach this matter is that censure of Nathan Fitts be included on the agenda and presented publicly,” Panter spoke of his decision to bring the item forward.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Censure, Conduct, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, David Syfan, Hostile Work Environment

Council Member Mike Panter reads motion to censure Council Member Nathan Fitts.

Panter stated that throughout his life and career he has sat on numerous boards and has worked with various organizations and had never experienced behavior like that demonstrated by fellow Council Member Fitts.

Panter added that he had witnessed and had been told of multiple situations regarding Fitts’s conduct toward City employees and the general public. According to Panter there have been “outbursts, personal attacks and unprofessional behavior” all of which is unacceptable and makes doing daily jobs impossible.

Council Member Rhonda Haight pointed out that Panter is also pushing a policy that states any Council Member who receives two censures may be removed, effectively meaning that the current censure could in fact hold punishment against Fitts.

Haight stated that according to the City Charter and the proposed policy by Panter, this censure should have an evidentiary hearing.

Panter interrupted Haight several times as she questioned his process. Finally Haight pointed out to Panter, “You are being rude right now and that is what you are trying to say that Nathan is doing but you’re being rude to me.”

Haight also said that she spoke to several City employees regarding the accusations made against Fitts and there was an overwhelming consensus among them that they wanted no part in the process.

Panter made the motion to censure Fitts on the grounds of “continuous inappropriate conduct, unfounded accusations and the creation of a hostile work environment for the employees, council members and the mayor of the City of Blue Ridge”, with Council Member Robbie Cornelius giving a second to move forward with a vote.

Council Members Harold Herndon and Haight voted against the censure, while Panter and Cornelius voted in favor.

With Fitts being unable to vote, this left the tie breaking decision up to Mayor Whitener, to which she voted in favor of the censure.

After Whitener’s vote, Fitts immediately stated of her vote: “which is a conflict of interest”.

Whitener questioned what conflict of interest Fitts felt she had. He simply replied, “because you put him (Panter) up to it.”

Zoning request for Hastings Development tabled

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge, Featured News, Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A development that has drawn the attention of many in Fannin County has once again come to a temporary halt as the developer seeks to have land rezoned in the City of Blue Ridge to accommodate the plans.

What has become known locally as the Hastings Development is a residential development set in the City of Blue Ridge with access points to Highway 515 and College Street. The 14 acre property sits adjacent to Overlook Subdivision.

The proposed development itself has seen a number of changes based on community feedback and most recently the city zoning board gave approval for an 83 town-home high density site. The Blue Ridge City Council has final say on whether zoning of the land will be changed for the development to take place.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Zoning, Hastings, Development, College Street, Highway 515, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, James Balli, Utility Director, Rebecca Harkins, Integrity Development Group LLC

Developer Johnnie Hastings addresses concerns of the citizens and presents a revitalized plan for the development.

The Hastings Development has been met with concerns ranging from the possibility of high volume traffic on narrow College Street to whether the city’s infrastructure can handle the additional stress of the new units.

A vote was expected to take place at the Jan. 12 Blue Ridge City Council meeting but with last minute changes to the proposed plans, a motion was made to table the decision until next month’s meeting.

“We listened,” Johnnie Hastings, the developer of the property, spoke to the council and citizens, “What is the need in the community? What is it that you guys need in terms of housing?”

Hastings explained that the original concept for the development dating back to Jan. 2020 was for affordable housing in the $250,000 range, but after gathering further community input the design was changed to upscale town-homes in the $450-500,000 range.

“I want to do something…that’s good for the community, that we can all get around,” Hastings said as he revealed the revised plan based on community push back to the suggested 83 town-homes, “Believe it or not but that’s my heart.”

Hastings’ new plan consists of 56 freestanding family homes at 4 homes per acre. The price will still be in the range $500,000 per home.

“We’re here to compromise and bring a little unity to this project,” Hastings said, adding, “At the end of the day you’ll be very pleased with what I did up there.”

Citizens who had come to the meeting to speak in opposition or at least express concerns over the development were taken off guard with the proposed changes to the site.

The main concerns echoed by the citizens present was the need for the new changes to be approved by the planning commission or flow through proper channels, whether the city’s infrastructure could handle the added usage and traffic coming onto College Street.

“It concerns me that you would vote on this when the planning commission has not,” one citizen spoke.

“The sewer system won’t handle it. The water system won’t handle it,” another citizen voiced.

Utility Director Rebecca Harkins addressed the concerns of city infrastructure stating that the city has more than enough capacity remaining in their system to handle the proposed development.

“I don’t have a position on this development,” Harkins stated adding that she simply wanted to present the public with the facts.

Harkins confirmed that the city did have capacity to handle the additional units to the system and that there are issues that need to be fixed and updated throughout the city’s infrastructure, but that those issues would have to be addressed regardless of the development adding on.

“I agree that it needs to be worked on and it needs to be worked on diligently,” Harkins said of the city’s current infrastructure and reassured residents that the development would cost nothing to the city: “The city does not fund any portion of the water and sewer system for a new development.” 

Harkins also pointed out that the developer would be financially responsible for any impacts on the system from the development to the plant caused directly by their connection.

Mayor Donna Whitener confirmed that City Attorney James Balli had sent in writing that council could vote on the rezoning if Hastings had lowered density but that it would need to go through proper channels before coming to council if the density had increased.

Council member Mike Panter made a motion to table the vote until the next regular meeting in Feb. giving the council more time to look over the proposed changes. 

All council members voted in favor of tabling the vote with the exception of Council member Rhonda Haight who stated her reason as “I think we’ve kept people waiting long enough”.

Scearce released from CHI Memorial Hospital

Community, Featured News, Featured Stories, News, Police & Government
Blue Ridge, Police, City, Johnny Scearce, Chief of Police, Covid19, Fannin County, Georgia, Post One, Commissioner, CHI Memorial Hospital, Chattanooga, Fannin Regional Hospital

Blue Ridge, Ga. – After a long battle with Covid-19, Blue Ridge Chief of Police and recently elected Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Johnny Scearce has been released from the hospital.

CHI Memorial Hospital released a video of Scearce being cheered on as he made his Honor Walk out of the hospital.

“Thank you all, God bless and what a great hospital and staff,” Scearce said as he made his way through a hall of staff cheering on his recovery.

Scearce had been in the hospital for 94 days according to CHI Memorial, but his battle with Covid-19 began in Sept. of 2020.

Blue Ridge, Police, City, Johnny Scearce, Chief of Police, Covid19, Fannin County, Georgia, Post One, Commissioner, CHI Memorial Hospital, Chattanooga, Fannin Regional Hospital

Scearce being released after 94 days at CHI Memorial. Image courtesy of CHI Memorial.

News of Scearce contracting the virus quickly spread via social media on Sept. 17 as his wife Brenda posted a personal post on Facebook asking for prayers for her husband.

At the time of the original post Scearce was in a regular room at Fannin Regional Hospital but struggling with maintaining healthy oxygen levels. 

A prayer vigil was held outside the hospital for Scearce on Sept. 19 and Brenda posted a heartfelt thank you from both her and her husband.

During his stay at Fannin Regional Hospital, Scearce was sedated and put on a ventilator for several days, but was able to overcome this hurdle and made significant improvements. Scearce was released from Fannin Regional Hospital and returned home at the end of Sept.

While Scearce continued to make steady improvements at home, he was still experiencing low oxygen levels. News broke on Oct. 12 that he was being transferred via ambulance to CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga. 

The City of Blue Ridge along with Scearce’s brothers in blue gathered for a prayer vigil at the City Park on Oct. 13 and it was there that information was given as to the critical level of Scearce’s condition.

The community continued to rally behind their Chief of Police over the next several months with fundraisers and prayers. 

The news of Scearce’s release from CHI Memorial is a major milestone that was celebrated by many via social media. Scearce still faces a long road of rehabilitation but the community remains confident that he will overcome any hurdles that he may face.

Towns tenth in the nation for new COVID-19 cases

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LIz Ordiales Towns Covid-19

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales attended a Georgia Municipal Association conference call where Emory doctors and CDC officials warned Towns County and Georgia COVID-19 numbers were trending in the wrong direction.

“Georgia’s below the national average in testing. They’re higher than the national average in positive cases – 120 percent higher than we were in April,” Ordiales explained. “The rural counties are the worst hit.”

Towns County was ranked number 10 in the nation for increases and bad results and number one in new COVID-19 hospitalizations. In the last week, Towns confirmed 62 new cases with a positivity rate of 17.8 percent. The target rate for COVID-19 is five percent.

Chatuge Regional Hospital is currently full. Ordiales asked everyone to be careful because there’s no room at the hospital. The ICU and regular rooms are booked at Union General Hospital. Georgia hospitals are facing three issues: space, stuff, and staff. All three are running low.

“Their biggest concern now is they’re going to have to place less care on folks, “Somebody who is 90 who is sick do they really transport them because they have nowhere to take them.”

Emory and CDC condemned the vaccine rollout, stating that some vaccines in the state were wasted due to the lack of people available to receive the vaccine. As of Tuesday, 95,706 Georgians had taken their first COVID-19 shot. Both Pfizer and Moderna are a two-shot vaccine.

Follow the guidelines of gatherings of no more than 50 people and six feet of separation urged the local hospitals.

Election and qualifying fees were approved for the 2021 elections.

Hiawassee also paid off the remaining balance for a $1.2 million loan with a 4.375 interest rate. The city had paid $850,000 in interest with 18 years left on the loan. Hiawassee saved approximately $500,000 in interest.

March 2 Update: 821,482 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia and 863,409 in NC

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confirmed cases

NORTH GEORGIA & WESTERN N.C. – In an effort to keep our readers, up to date with the latest number of cases confirmed in Georgia and N.C., Fetch Your News will continually be updating this article with the most recent updates from the Georgia Department of Health (DPH) and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS)3

Updated March 2 at 8:15 p.m.

Georgia Data

On March 2, DPH reported 67 new deaths, 162 new hospitalizations, and 1,793 new confirmed cases. 

DPH confirmed 821,482 cases, 56,251 hospitalized, 9,158 patients in ICU, and 15,209 deaths. The 3 p.m. reported 7,234,444 tests have been completed. Total tests included 477,580 serology (antibody) tests. DPH added a column to the county-by-county tally to include the location of deceased patients from COVID-19. On March 28, the health department also included a breakdown of deaths by county, age, and sex, new deaths.

On April 12, the report started including non-residents receiving treatment as a separate line item. It made a significant dent into the “Unknown” category.

DPH told Fetch Your News that the “Unknown” number is a result of “clerical errors on the part of the reporting agency – nothing more. We have many new labs reporting, and they are not all as familiar with the system.” The department is working to resolve this issue when the staff has time. A few of the unknowns are also homeless.

On April 8, DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey affirmed that the department has the most accurate data, but it’s not real-time data due to backlogs. DPH can’t keep up with press releases from hospitals about new cases because of the delay in processing. Cases confirmed one week might not appear in the reports until the next. Fetch Your News will only report on local cases once, they are confirmed by the DPH or CDC.

In his March 23 press conference, Gov. Kemp mentioned the casualties from the virus, “I am saddened to announce that we have lost twenty-five Georgians to COVID-19. As we mourn, I ask my fellow Georgians to lift up their loved ones in prayer. Please keep them in your hearts and minds.”

DPH released details on the two March 18 deaths, stating the individuals were 42-year-old and 68-year-old women both in an Albany Hospital. They also had underlying conditions along with COVID-19. Please keep all these individuals and families in your thoughts and prayers.

Case location is “based on patient county of residence when known.”

“A confirmed case is defined as a person who has tested positive for 2019 novel coronavirus.” – DPH.

Georgia County – Number of Confirmed Cases and Deaths

County Confirmed Cases Confirmed Cases per 100K Antigen Positive Cases Confirmed Deaths Probable Deaths Hospitalizations
To see a breakdown of the COVID-19 deaths in Georgia, click here.

NC Confirmed Cases Data

As of March 2, 2021, NCDHHS reported 863,409 cases statewide, 819,839 presumed recovered, 11,288 deaths, and 1,353 hospitalized. The highest concentration is now in Mecklenburg with 97,203 cases and 864 deaths. Robeson County had the highest 14-day case increase per 100,000 residents. NCDHHS reported 10,311,881 tests have been completed in the state. The confirmed cases report is released each day at 12 a.m.

NC Statistics

NCDHHS has an interactive map for those who want to see the spread of the virus. 

DPH, NCDHHS, and the CDC are urging people to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. If our readers are looking for more information on health practices, please visit the CDC website.

President Trump also released guidelines for the next 15 days, which can be read about here.

Georgian’s wondering about Gov. Brian Kemp’s actions and the state’s public health emergency, find out more here.

North Carolinian’s can find updates for Gov. Roy Cooper, here.

BKP speaks with Republican Senator David Perdue

Election, Featured News, Featured Stories, News
David Perdue 2022 Senate

Mere days before the run-off election deciding the Georgia’s Senate seats for this term, David Perdue (R), current Senator and incumbent candidate, is preparing for the final push up to election day. Counties across the state have reported record turn-outs for voting during 2020 and it looks like this election will see more voters than usual as well.

Voters are also turning out to rallies and campaign events as well. With debates still going over the Presidential Election and voters asking for continuing support, Perdue notes that he was among the few Senators who supported Trump before he was initially elected. Perdue said he fought with Trump as he turned the nations economy to it’s “best economic turnaround in history.”

Going through options and ideas in fighting what they are calling corruption in the recent election.

It is constantly a struggle against the Democrats according to Perdue who said that he is continuing to do everything that Trump asks him to do for that support.

Perdue noted, though, that people who are angry need to support Trump and the Republicans, but they also need to get out to vote. With numerous registered voters in every district still not voting on election day, Perdue calls to citizens saying that they are trying to fight the corruption and make the vote fair. He said they are working hard but it is very frustrating that people are still not voting.

Part of the efforts he has been working towards, Perdue has spoken with President Trump on Christmas Day. Perdue noted the stimulus and support for small businesses, people, and those in need from the pandemic fallout.

Perdue went on to speak on the omnibus bill at the federal level and looking at the efforts of the president fighting for people.

Perdue

Senator David Perdue

This was a great focus of Perdue in his time with BKP as he pointed to national security and what is at stake in the January election.

Perdue said that Jon Ossoff has been paid for two years by the Chinese Communist Party. Perdue said, “This is another example of how the Chinese Communist Party is trying to influence American Politics. They got in Hunter Biden’s pocket, they got into Congressman Swalwell’s bedroom, and they got into Jon Ossoff’s ego and his ambition to be an elected official. For two years after he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and lost against Karen Handel in 2017. The very next year they hire him and pay him for two years. He hid it from the people of Georgia during his Primary this year. He lied about it. When he got caught, he came clean and then lied about it again.”

Perdue said that Ossoff is not good for Georgia because he is being controlled and influenced by China just like Biden and Swalwell. He noted that if the Republicans lose these two seats, then Biden will absolutely ruin everything in America that we have fought for.

Perdue called on voters again and said, “Don’t do it for me, don’t do it for Kelly, don’t do it for yourselves. Look at the children and think about their children. This is what’s at stake right now, the form of America. What America will look like in 50 to 100 years is determined by these two Senate races.”

LIVE: watch the Georgia Governmental Affairs Hearing

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Georgia capitol election hearing

ATLANTA, Ga – At 9 a.m., The Georgia House of Representatives Governmental Affairs Committee convened to discuss election irregularities.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee report on the June 2020 primary election may be found here:   http://www.house.ga.gov/Documents/CommitteeDocuments/2020/GovernmentalAffairs/Elections_Investigation_Report.pdf.

Chairman Blackmon’s committee has established an email for Georgians to report voting irregularities at [email protected].

Don’t Vote and harass Kemp: Pro-Trump attorney instructs Georgia voters

Feature News, Featured, Featured News, Featured Stories, News, State & National
Lin Wood

ALPHARETTA, Ga: L. Lin Wood didn’t heed the calls from the Secretary of State’s Office to stop the rhetoric during today’s “Stop the Steal” press conference/rally with attorney Sydney Powell.

Stalking the stage like a Southern Baptist preacher who caught the spirit, Wood said, “We will not allow ourselves to go back into the polling booth.”

Wood denounced Governor Brian Kemp (R), Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan (R), and Voter Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling for their actions following the November 3 election. On December 2, Sterling declared, “It has to stop,” blasting President Trump, Senators David Perdue, and Kelly Loeffler for not condemning incendiary and violent language. 

Following the Wood/Powell press conference, Sterling pointed out the Wood has a Democrat voting record since 2004. “We encourage all voters to vote in an election. Democrat, Republican, Green, Socialist, Libertarian,” he added.

Read more about Georgia Election Lawsuits, here.

Wood’s fiery preaching took aim at almost every prominent Republican in Georgia, including Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. He urged voters to stay home if Perdue and Loeffler don’t campaign for a special session. 

“They have not earned your vote,” Wood said. “Don’t you give it to them. Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election for god’s sake! Fix it! You gotta fix it!”

Lin Wood urged the crowd to not vote in January.

The January 5 runoffs will decide who controls the Senate.

Powell advised all Georgians not to vote until they knew their votes were secure, suggesting a return to paper ballots and voter IDs. The only speaker telling people to vote was Democrat Georgia House Representative Vernon Jones, who endorsed David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

BKP polled attendees, and out of 30 people, 75 percent saw no reason to vote in the January 5 runoff election. President Trump is visiting the state on Saturday to campaign for the Senators and hopefully subvert a depressed turnout in January.

Continuing with his calls for a special session, Woods instructed the raucous crowd to circle the governor’s mansion and honk their horns until Kemp gave in to their pleas. Afterward, he suggested that Kemp resign.

“Lock him up” chants rang out for Kemp, started by Wood. Later, he accused Kemp and Raffensperger of taking money from China without offering any proof.

The rally antics weren’t what the crowd came to see. BKP from BKP Politics attended the rally and spoke with several attendees. 75 percent surveyed expected a more informative presentation and not a miniature Trump rally. The remaining 25 percent expected the show they witnessed.

A more subdued Sydney Powell called the audience “the heart and soul and spirit that make this country the exceptional place that it is.” She reminded that all elected officials work for the people.

Sydney Powell

Sydney Powell speaking at the press conference.

Alleging widespread voter fraud, Powell extended the conspiracy from Dominion Voting Machines to practically every system. An individual explained to Powell that the fraud permeated the software’s “DNA,” so “all are at risk of being manipulated.” She believed the algorithm flipped votes across the country. Powell promised to turn all their evidence over to the Department of Justice.

Sterling countered these claims in his afternoon press conference.

 

“We did a hand audit. Human beings did. No machines were used. In fact, somebody asked Lin Wood and Sydney Powell, the hand audit said this, how could the algorithm thing of worked? They said no-no it wasn’t the hand audit they used machines to count those. They lied to the people who are believing them’s face. It’s this kind of lying and this kind of rhetoric that is continuing to inflame passions on the ground unnecessarily, and it’s wrong. ” Sterling stated.

Earlier this week, a judge scheduled a hearing for Friday. The first case is in appeals after being thrown out.

Georgia recounts continue to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win of the state. The race will be certified after the final recount is completed.     

Arguing erupts over City Park playground

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge, Featured, Featured Stories, News
Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

Blue Ridge, Ga. – It was clear from the onset of the Blue Ridge City Council meeting that tensions were high between fellow council members Rhonda Haight and Mike Panter.

During approval of the minutes from a Special Called Oct. 20, 2020 council meeting Haight made the motion to accept the minutes but with it being noted that Panter had brought forth non agenda items at this meeting and that this was illegal according to the Open Meetings Act.

During this meeting Panter asked to speak and used this time to point out the history of dysfunction within the city council.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

View of playground in City Park showing height of slide.

Mayor Donna Whitener pointed out that it was a council member who had made the request for this for the time to speak.

“It doesn’t matter if it was a council person,” Haight responded to the Mayor’s comments, “I’ve never been allowed to do that.” 

The motion to accept the minutes with the added note passed 3-2 with council members Robbie Cornelius and Panter opposing.

Contention didn’t stop there, as Haight then moved to have the agenda amended, moving Panter’s line item (Presentation of playground and Purchase) from Action Agenda Items to Purchasing Approvals.

Haight stated that according to the city charter and for clarification in minutes that the item should be moved: “Are we going to be purchasing?”

Council member Nathan Fitts backed Haight stating, “If we’re going to go by procedures, let’s do it correctly.” Fitts added that everyone needs to get on the same page.

“An action item can be an action item where you are taking action on something and a purchasing approval,” City Attorney James Balli clarified whether the item had to be moved. “Legally you can do it under either one.” 

The motion to move the item passed with only Panter in opposition and council member Harold Herndon expressing his opinion that it didn’t really matter.

Panter had previously presented to the public his research and opinion on the route that should be taken when considering reopening the City Park’s playground area.

During his presentation at the current meeting Panter reiterated that his concern is with safety and the lack of upkeep the city has done in maintaining the playground area. 

Panter advocated for using rubber padding in lieu of mulch and stated that while the initial cost would be over $60,000, the benefits of not having the upkeep of mulch would save the city money in the years to come.

“We had two grants of over $150,000 offered to the city,” Panter stated of the park’s history, “We got zero because we couldn’t make a decision.” 

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

Panter presenting his research and findings into reopening the City Park playground.

Arguing among council and mayor erupted over who had been previously responsible for the decisions made about the park and playground.

“Ms. Whitener went down to the park yanked all the equipment out and left it totally blank,” Haight said of the park’s two year saga of renovation between 2015 – 2017.

Haight acknowledged that there was a grant for $120,000 to be used in the park but that the grant was for a botanical garden and not for the playground. 

Mayor Whitener retorted to Haight, defending the landscaping that began but was later removed, “You were moving the park to the other side.” 

“And yes I did want it to go at the other end but it was too late at that point,” Haight responded to Whitener’s remark.

One thing that the two did agree on was that $12,000 was spent during this time on sod that was later removed and a sprinkler system.

Conversation became more heated when Whitener pointed out that council member Haight’s husband had been involved with the park at that time. Haight acknowledged that her husband had volunteered some of his time but was not involved in the ultimate decisions that were made.

“I think you’ve told so many lies over the years, you don’t even know what the truth is,” Haight spoke directly to Whitener.

Fitts tried to steer the conversation back to addressing the playground as it is today instead of discussing the history: “We need to do what is best for the citizens right now. What would it take to get the park open to code?”

Cornelius finally made a motion to purchase the turf option presented by Panter, stating that the problem should just be fixed rather than “putting a band-aid on it”. The motion, however, failed to pass with only Panter and Cornelius voting in favor.

“I’m not interested in taking the liability and doing that,” Panter said when suggested that the city use mulch for now.

Haight responded to Panter,  “Just because we voted you down, you don’t want to participate even though you’re over the park?”

“I’ve done my job,” Panter responded “You do your job. I’ve done mine.”

Haight motioned for $10,000 to be spent in bringing the playground up to code with the use of mulch and to address drainage issues in the area. This motion passed 3-2 with Cornelius and Panter in opposition.

Planning, Zoning and Project Manager Jeff Stewart agreed to take on the project of the City Park playground and will oversee the steps necessary to reopen the playground to the public.

Arguing erupts over City Park playground

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge, News
Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

Blue Ridge, Ga. – It was clear from the onset of the Blue Ridge City Council meeting that tensions were high between fellow council members Rhonda Haight and Mike Panter.

During approval of the minutes from a Special Called Oct. 20, 2020 council meeting Haight made the motion to accept the minutes but with it being noted that Panter had brought forth non agenda items at this meeting and that this was illegal according to the Open Meetings Act.

During this meeting Panter asked to speak and used this time to point out the history of dysfunction within the city council.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

View of playground in City Park showing height of slide.

Mayor Donna Whitener pointed out that it was a council member who had made the request for this for the time to speak.

“It doesn’t matter if it was a council person,” Haight responded to the Mayor’s comments, “I’ve never been allowed to do that.” 

The motion to accept the minutes with the added note passed 3-2 with council members Robbie Cornelius and Panter opposing.

Contention didn’t stop there, as Haight then moved to have the agenda amended, moving Panter’s line item (Presentation of playground and Purchase) from Action Agenda Items to Purchasing Approvals.

Haight stated that according to the city charter and for clarification in minutes that the item should be moved: “Are we going to be purchasing?”

Council member Nathan Fitts backed Haight stating, “If we’re going to go by procedures, let’s do it correctly.” Fitts added that everyone needs to get on the same page.

“An action item can be an action item where you are taking action on something and a purchasing approval,” City Attorney James Balli clarified whether the item had to be moved. “Legally you can do it under either one.” 

The motion to move the item passed with only Panter in opposition and council member Harold Herndon expressing his opinion that it didn’t really matter.

Panter had previously presented to the public his research and opinion on the route that should be taken when considering reopening the City Park’s playground area.

During his presentation at the current meeting Panter reiterated that his concern is with safety and the lack of upkeep the city has done in maintaining the playground area. 

Panter advocated for using rubber padding in lieu of mulch and stated that while the initial cost would be over $60,000, the benefits of not having the upkeep of mulch would save the city money in the years to come.

“We had two grants of over $150,000 offered to the city,” Panter stated of the park’s history, “We got zero because we couldn’t make a decision.” 

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

Panter presenting his research and findings into reopening the City Park playground.

Arguing among council and mayor erupted over who had been previously responsible for the decisions made about the park and playground.

“Ms. Whitener went down to the park yanked all the equipment out and left it totally blank,” Haight said of the park’s two year saga of renovation between 2015 – 2017.

Haight acknowledged that there was a grant for $120,000 to be used in the park but that the grant was for a botanical garden and not for the playground. 

Mayor Whitener retorted to Haight, defending the landscaping that began but was later removed, “You were moving the park to the other side.” 

“And yes I did want it to go at the other end but it was too late at that point,” Haight responded to Whitener’s remark.

One thing that the two did agree on was that $12,000 was spent during this time on sod that was later removed and a sprinkler system.

Conversation became more heated when Whitener pointed out that council member Haight’s husband had been involved with the park at that time. Haight acknowledged that her husband had volunteered some of his time but was not involved in the ultimate decisions that were made.

“I think you’ve told so many lies over the years, you don’t even know what the truth is,” Haight spoke directly to Whitener.

Fitts tried to steer the conversation back to addressing the playground as it is today instead of discussing the history: “We need to do what is best for the citizens right now. What would it take to get the park open to code?”

Cornelius finally made a motion to purchase the turf option presented by Panter, stating that the problem should just be fixed rather than “putting a band-aid on it”. The motion, however, failed to pass with only Panter and Cornelius voting in favor.

“I’m not interested in taking the liability and doing that,” Panter said when suggested that the city use mulch for now.

Haight responded to Panter,  “Just because we voted you down, you don’t want to participate even though you’re over the park?”

“I’ve done my job,” Panter responded “You do your job. I’ve done mine.”

Haight motioned for $10,000 to be spent in bringing the playground up to code with the use of mulch and to address drainage issues in the area. This motion passed 3-2 with Cornelius and Panter in opposition.

Planning, Zoning and Project Manager Jeff Stewart agreed to take on the project of the City Park playground and will oversee the steps necessary to reopen the playground to the public.

Panter doesn’t back down from decision to close park

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge, Featured, Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Blue Ridge City Council held a special called meeting last week, but due to a lack of a quorum no votes could be taken and business for the city remains at a halt. While lack of a quorum seemed to be a contentious issue, it did not stop the remaining members of the council along with the mayor from presenting information to the public.

Council member Mike Panter has recently come under fire for his decision to close the playground area of the city park. With citizens and even other council members questioning his decision and authority, Panter did not back down from his stance and took the time to explain his reasoning.

“I did not want the liability. I did not want the city to have the liability, and I felt like it was my responsibility to close the park,” Panter said of recent events, adding, “I know I did the right thing.” 

For Panter, the issue of public safety came to his attention during the state mandated shut down of the city park during the onset of Covid-19.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, Safety, Mayor, City Council, Donna Whitener, Mike Panter, Children

Plans for Blue Ridge City Park Playground area showing where the height of the slide stands at 12 feet.

Panter had examined the 12 inch bumper placed around the park and realized the mulch had not been properly maintained.

Municipal playgrounds are required to maintain a certain depth of “padding” around equipment for safety purposes, and for the City of Blue Ridge that depth should be maintained at 12 inches considering the height of the slide, standing at 12 feet tall.

“How much mulch do you think we have underneath that slide,” Panter questioned and then answered, “three inches.”

According to Panter, the mulch in the city park should be maintained every six months and that the park itself should be inspected once a year.

“We haven’t had any additional mulch added in three and a half years. We have not had an inspection in three and half years since it was put in,” Panter remarked of the current state of the playground area.

Panter discussed a number of options for remedying the situation that included mulching, rubber mulch, and his preferred option of padding and synthetic grass. 

While the synthetic grass option would be more costly upfront, it would allow for proper drainage to be installed and would also come with a 15 year warranty.

Panter stated that “the cost is half (compared to the mulching option) over that 15 year period”.

Mayor Donna Whitener also commented that using the synthetic grass would make the park more accessible for those with mobility issues and for very small children.

“Everything that you look at has positives and negatives,” Panter said of the possibilities to get the park back up and running.

There is expected to be a more in depth discussion on the matter along with costs of the project at the Special Called Blue Ridge City Council meeting to be held on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Collins comes to Blue Ridge to set the record straight

Election 2020, Featured, Featured Stories, News, Politics

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Congressman Doug Collins stopped in Blue Ridge on his campaign tour in the race for U.S. Senate. With him were special guests Georgia State Speaker of the House David Ralston and former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump, George Papadopoulos. 

Collins spoke briefly on his record as U.S. Congressman, highlighting his conservative values and his reputation for representing the people of the 9th District. 

Collins has stood up to multiple government agencies and individuals during his career, most notably holding the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and James Comey accountable.

Collins was also a visible ally to President Donald Trump during the U.S. House of Representatives Impeachment Hearings. 

Now, Collins wants to take this same momentum and move it to the U.S. Senate.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Congressman, Doug Collins, Speaker of the House, David Ralston, foreign policy advisory panel, Donald Trump, George Papadopoulos, Senator, Kelly Loeffler, New York Stock Exchange, Intercontinental Exchange, Jeffrey Sprecher, election, 2020

Georgia State Speaker of the House David Ralston and Congressman Doug Collins in Blue Ridge.

With the U.S. Senate seat open to a Jungle Primary on the Nov. 3 ballot, Collins wants to set the record straight on what is and isn’t true about himself and his biggest Republican rival, Senator Kelly Loeffler.

According to Collins, Loeffler’s attacks on him are unfounded and in many cases an attempt at deflection about her true nature and intent.

Collins specifically sited Loeffler’s pro-life stance that seems to not have been her view a mere two years ago when she worked with Planned Parenthood to have a booth set up at a basketball game where monies raised would be split with the organization.

“I am the one who is actually concerned about life,” Collins said pointing to decisions his family has made in their personal life that reflect these values.

Loeffler also made claims that Collins was not Pro-Second Amendment and that as a lawyer Collins represented criminals.

Collins assured the crowd, having grown up the son of a trooper neither of these claims could be further from the truth. 

“She doesn’t want you to know that she worked with Michael Bloomberg,” Collins said of Loeffler’s Second Amendment claims and her own personal work on a gun control agenda.

In his career as a lawyer, Collins took indigent clients, none of which were pictured in Loeffler’s ad. Collins stated, “Doug Collins defender of criminals? No, Doug Collins did his constitutional duty taking indigent clients.”

Loeffeler has also released ads containing a picture of Collins with former Georgia House Representative Stacey Abrams.

Abrams made waves as the Democratic nominee for Georgia Governor in 2018, known for her liberal stances.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Congressman, Doug Collins, Speaker of the House, David Ralston, foreign policy advisory panel, Donald Trump, George Papadopoulos, Senator, Kelly Loeffler, New York Stock Exchange, Intercontinental Exchange, Jeffrey Sprecher, election, 2020

George Papadopoulos gives his endorsement of Collins for Senate.

Collins explained the photo, “This was after we saved the HOPE scholarship. Stacey joined us on a conservative idea and voted for it because she understood that people needed that money.”

According to Collins, Loeffler actually employed Abrams as an attorney for a basketball team and in 2018 Loeffler honored Abrams as a woman of distinction while “Abrams for Governor” signs were in the background of the photo-op.

Lastly, Collins pointed out that Loeffler makes her decisions based on her own self-interest and money. 

“She claims to be tough on China,” Collins said and added, “Take the ten state owned companies that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, owned by the Chinese Communist Party, and delist them.” 

Jeffrey Sprecher, Leoffler’s husband, is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, and the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.

Collins said of his suggestion to delist the Chinese companies, that it will never happen because Loeffler will choose her pocketbook and their pocketbook over policy everyday.

“I may not have $35 million, but I’ve got all I need because I’ve got you and I’ve got the voters of Georgia and they understand who the real conservative is in this race,” Collins said referencing the amount the Loeffler has spent on her Senate campaign, “Georgia can’t be bought.”

All Special Events Canceled for City of Blue Ridge

City Council, Community, Downtown Blue Ridge, Featured, Featured Stories, Festivals, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – In an unanimous vote the Blue Ridge City Council decided that any special events within the city limits will be canceled until further notice. This includes the cancelation of Blue Ridge’s Halloween SafeZone and Light Up Blue Ridge.

Discussion of canceling future events for the remainder of the year had previously taken place among council but no official vote had been made on the matter.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Blue Ridge Business Association, United Methodist Church, Halloween, Christmas, SafeZone, Light Up Blue Ridge, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Cesar Martinez, Cancel, Special Events, Covid-19

Blue Ridge Halloween SafeZone 2019

“We need to make it official,” Council member Rhonda Haight spoke, referencing that since their previous discussion special events had been permitted to take place: “I felt like we should have voted last time.”

Mayor Donna Whitener expressed that she didn’t fully agree with the idea of canceling all events with no exceptions and pointed out that the recent prayer vigil held for Blue Ridge Chief of Police Johnny Scearce would technically fall under the special event category.

Haight made the motion of  “no more events allowed until further notice”, which carried without opposition.

Although the Halloween SafeZone has been canceled an alternative has been set up according to Cesar Martinez, President of the Blue Ridge Business Association (BRBA).

“We get 5,000 or 6,000 people downtown and we just can’t do it this year,” Martinez said and noted that state guidelines would just not make it feasible for the city to accommodate.

The BRBA will be partnering with Blue Ridge United Methodist Church to offer a drive thru option for families to enjoy. Booths will be set up along this route, where participants can hand out candy.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, City Council, Mayor, Blue Ridge Business Association, United Methodist Church, Halloween, Christmas, SafeZone, Light Up Blue Ridge, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Cesar Martinez, Cancel, Special Events, Covid-19

Lighting of the Tree – Photo courtesy of Light Up Blue Ridge Facebook Page

Other locations that are offering Halloween festivities include Dairy Queen, Home Depot, and Kevin Panter Insurance Agency.

Light Up Blue Ridge will also not take place in an official manner. Festivities of the weekend that draw a large crowd in close proximity have been called off. This includes the annual parade and the lighting of the tree.

Even with these changes, Blue Ridge plans to make the city Christmas ready for those visiting the weekend following Thanksgiving. 

The tree will be lit in the park but without the lighting ceremony and Santa can still be found at the park’s gazebo but with safety precautions made due to the ongoing Covid-19 risk.

“We are suggesting that the city close East Main Street for the two days after Thanksgiving,” Martinez recommended to the council stating that this would give more room for the large crowds to social distance that weekend.

No official plans were made on how to handle the influx of visitors for the weekend following Thanksgiving, but discussions are expected to continue in future meetings.

Man charged with attempted murder

Feature News, Featured, Featured News, Featured Stories, News, Police & Government

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Timothy Charles Stiles is being charged with attempted murder after Fannin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) responded to a call of a stabbing in Mineral Bluff.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, Stabbing, Attempted Murder, Mineral Bluff, Timothy Stiles, Kenneth Arnold

Timothy Stiles has been charged with 3 felonies after stabbing incident in Mineral Bluff, Ga.

The incident occurred on the evening of Sept. 28. FCSO was dispatched to a call in Mineral Bluff around 7:00 p.m. The caller indicated that a person had been stabbed and was in need of medical attention.

Upon arriving at the scene, it became apparent that the victim, Kenneth Arnold, was in need of immediate emergency medical attention. Arnold was life-flighted to Gainesville for treatment. 

Warrants for Stiles arrest describe the wounds as “seriously disfiguring” to Arnold’s upper torso and abdomen. 

Stiles had already fled the scene upon officer arrival but was apprehended a few hours later. When found Stiles was inflicting stabbing wounds on himself and was transported for medical attention.

Friends of Stiles say that he suffered from mental illness but did not specify which illness(es). They also did not speculate on whether Stiles’s mental health issues played a part in the incident.

Stiles is being charged with 1 count felony aggravated assault, 1 count felony aggravated battery and 1 count felony criminal attempt “to commit the offense of murder”.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, Stabbing, Attempted Murder, Mineral Bluff, Timothy Stiles, Kenneth Arnold

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, Stabbing, Attempted Murder, Mineral Bluff, Timothy Stiles, Kenneth Arnold

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Sheriff’s Office, Stabbing, Attempted Murder, Mineral Bluff, Timothy Stiles, Kenneth Arnold

Click here to see Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report for the Week of 9/20/20 – 9/27/20

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