Ellijay City Council Meeting – Monday, March 18, 2019.

Business, News

ELLIJAY, Ga.- The Ellijay City Council met on Monday, March 18, 2019, to discuss a number of action items, including a Setback Variance for 171 Skyline Drive, a Resolution and Ordinance to Amend Chapter 6, Articles I through III of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Ellijay, as well as an Urban Redevelopment Plan.

Pictured right to left, Council Member Lynelle Stewart. Council Member Al Fuller, Council Member Ruth Caudell, and Mayor Al Hoyle.

At 5:30 p.m., before the start of the regular meeting, the council introduced Gilmer County’s latest Public Safety Director, Keith Kucera. Kucera stated that his job was to work with all of the entities within the county to try and provide services that we can obtain through grants or other means to assist the county. Coming from a military background (United States Coastguard for 25 years), Kucera states that he’s here to do whatever he can to make things better for this community.

The other order of business that was discussed prior to the regular meeting involved Jodie Beauregard from the Master Gardener Volunteers of the Gilmer County Extension Office, regarding the placement of of a community garden at Harrison Park. The proposed garden is awaiting land clearing, and access to electricity to recharge equipment used throughout the garden. A spigot installation would also be required. Beauregard states that they would need a way to get water into a rain barrel, and so a building with gutters would be preferred if at all possible. Education space is also a request, as Beauregard states they plan on offering education on gardening. The Harrison Park Advisory Board, as well as Mayor Al Hoyle both agree that a Master Plan is an absolute must prior to the installation of the community garden, and so there has been no further action taken at this time.

Pictures from right to left, Council member Katie Lancey and Mayor Pro-Tem David Westmoreland.

At 6 p.m., the Setback Variance for 171 Skyline Drive passed with none opposed. This Setback Variance was a request made by the property owner to encroach 12 feet into the required front residential setback and 10 feet into the side setback.

The Resolution and Ordinance to Amend Chapter 6, Articles I through III of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Ellijay also passed with none opposed. According to Hoyle, this Resolution and Ordinance serves the purpose of removing the 60-day waiting period for the home premise consumption license, as well as changes the Farm winery tasting license, stating that anything the state allows, it puts the licensing under the city instead of under state guidance. It also clarifies the application process for Farm winery tasting rooms, making it the same as an on premise consumption license.

Finally, the Urban Redevelopment plan also passed without any opposition.

Amendment to Code of Ordinances 1/3

 

Amendment to the Code of Ordinances 2/3

Amendment to Code of Ordinances 3/3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Urban Redevelopment Plan Part 1/2

Urban Redevelopment Plan Part 2/2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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City Council to condemn two properties

News

Ellijay, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council held a first of two readings of the condemnation of two properties this month, at 47 Boardtown Rd and 292 Cox Creek Rd.

Councilman David Westmoreland noted that some of the issues have “been in disrepair for years.” With the first reading done, the process is underway and action will be taken in February.

The condemnation, according to the ordinances read, will require the property owners to demolish and remove the structures on the properties with sixty days if passed. If not adhered to, the city will remove the structures at the property owners expense.

The two ordinances for reading are below for both properties.

292 Cox Creek Rd

292 Cox Creek Rd

47 Boardtown Rd

47 Boardtown Rd

 

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Harrison Park highlights improvement plans

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Friends of Harrison Park are already moving forward with plans to improve the park after council approval came this week.

Director Linda Lancaster shared a handful of these plans with the public at Ellijay’s City Council. The group has 16 total plans, but is focusing on 4 in the near future. These plans include Project Bluebird, Project Doggie Poop, Project Park Info, and a Master Plan.

A map of Harrison Park with blue 'X' marks for nesting box locations and yellow squares for feeders.

A map of Harrison Park with blue ‘X’ marks for nesting box locations and yellow squares for feeders.

Project Bluebird looks to install bluebird nesting boxes and feeders in Harrison Park to promote a growth in population, community interest, and possible tour programs. Noting a decline in the Eastern Bluebird population since the 1950’s, the Friends of Harrison Park are looking to counter this issue with the creation of Bluebird Trails by strategically location these nesting boxes throughout the park.

Funding for the project comes from donations and yearly sponsorships. While the current planned locations for these nests are tentative at this time, the group has already contacted experts and put plans into motion to install 6 boxes in February and expand to a total of 10 nesting boxes and 3 feeders in the park.

Project Doggie Poop looks to install “dog waste stations” over the course of this Spring. With the creek running along the edge of Harrison Park,concerns over water quality and public health were raised as people are noted to swim and fish there.

For convenience and public concern, they will be installing two stations. Their presentation stated, “One would be attached to or located near the existing park kiosk. The other would be installed further into the park to be easily accessible to those who forgot to get one at the kiosk or who enter the park from a different area.” Each station will be all metal, costing between $200 and $300.

Project Park Info looks to install a glass protected display case in Harrison Park this Spring for info of events, programs, and activities in the park. Seeking permission to modify and use the glass display case mounted on the back side of the Harrison Park Kiosk for this use, the group noted they will have to provide two hinged, locking front panels.

Some examples of items that would be posted include general information about the Friends of Harrison Park, Inc. and its mission, information about special attractions in the park such as the Bluebird trail or special exhibits, History of the Park (including old photographs and items), poster for upcoming events and programs sponsored by Friends of Harrison Park (and other groups approved by the city), and a calendar of events for the park including information about date changes or cancellations.

Funding for the modifications or replacements is planned to come from donations. The group also plans to have one or two members with keys to the case, responsible for posting and removing materials.

Project Master Plan is a request for proposal of a Master Plan for the park. The group is seeking firms to bid on a Master Plan for the park to include preliminary locations of proposed physical structures, detailed landscape architecture designs, infrastructure by municipal electrical and water services, grant proposals, and capital fundraising programs as they look for a 10 year planning horizon.

While the council eagerly approved of three of the projects, no official motion was taken. Additionally, the council did note they wanted further work sessions on the Master Plan and seek to dive deeper into the project in coming months. As the Friends of Harrison Park, Inc. move forward with these projects and others, citizens will notice the changes coming as soon as February with the Bluebird trails and initial work on their other projects.

 

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Editorial: Are we still remembering 9/11?

Opinion

Seventeen years ago, I’m certain you were inundated with people saying “Never forget” and newscasts saying “We will always remember.”

Indeed, the entire nation, and even the world, poured out its heart for America and the major wound we were struck with. It is the kind of thing that people everywhere will remember. The kind of thing that I will tell my children about. It is indeed something one cannot easily forget.

Even the numbers dredge up memories of all kinds. And honestly, not all of them are bad. I have fond memories of that day. Shock, gasp. I know you may have anger at hearing that but think of yourself on that day. Did you have people with you? Were you amongst friends? Do you remember people all over the world start saying ‘we.’

Today, we find anything we can to show how different we are from one another. We are a divided country. I don’t want to take a side and tell you that you are wrong, whatever you think. It is honestly probably why we have issues. We can’t disagree without getting angry.

But think back to that day…

I sat among fellow students in a freshman orientation class in high school. It is scarred into the wall of my brain that our desks were placed in a circle and I had only one or two of my “friends” in the class. There was even a guy in that class that I really did not like. We did not get along and we did not like each other at all. My how quickly and easily that melted away in the glow of a tv screen as I, first hand, watched a second plane fly into the building.

I feel its impact even today, and I was nowhere near New York. I couldn’t feel it at the time, but today I can remember my body shook when it hit, as if it hit me just as hard as it hit the building.

I remember hearing the report about another one hitting the Pentagon. I remember not doing anything in any class except one, Algebra. I remember the rage that permeated every person in that school that day. Not just anger, a burning rage threatening to engulf your soul. A rage that broke chains and welled up from somewhere incredibly dark near the bottom of my stomach. It was more powerful because it sensed itself in every other person.

Seventeen years, do you remember?

Do you remember the songs written and speeches made? Do you remember being an American? Forget the conspiracies about it, forget the doubt about what really happened. Do you remember that specific moment of impact?

It’s not a special anniversary, it’s not the ten or twenty year anniversary. This long since something and we as people tend to only really recall things on nice, round-numbered years.

Are we remembering? Have we forgotten even though we said we wouldn’t?

I don’t think so. I think seventeen years later, people still hurt. I know the people you don’t speak to on this day and the people who need you to speak on this day.

I know the guy who plans a trip every September. I know he doesn’t actually go anywhere except into the woods to be alone. We don’t talk about his trips, I just understand his Dad was in New York that day on business. Isolated near a stream maybe, maybe he’s up a tree. I don’t know where he is, but inside I hear him screaming at the top of his lungs in his isolation.

I know the woman who holds her son up like a banner for his service because she never had the chance to see him grow into anything else after he died fighting for us.

I see counties and cities holding memorials on this day, but I see something else. I see the separation. I see the people forgetting something along the way.

I can’t forget that pain. I can’t forget that day. I can’t forget that tv. I can’t forget the faces. I didn’t lose anyone close to me. I had friends who served, but I didn’t lose anyone so close as a brother, sister, father, mother, cousin. I have been so lucky, so why is this day forever seared into my soul?

Maybe I’m being emotional? Maybe I’m thinking too much? Will you judge me for that? Will you think less if I can’t let go? Or would it be worse if I didn’t care?

What if I didn’t write this and you never read it? You’d go about your day and maybe you would think about what today is or maybe it’d slip by as you try to finish that project just get through a tough day. What if we let this day fade into history as a footnote and we never look back to think about the feelings of that day, the pain, the rage, the hurt, the solace, the people?

What if we forgot?

Author

Is Ellijay the “Nicest Place?”

Community, News

ELLIJAY, GA. – A recent listing as a finalist in the Nicest Places in America, Ellijay is garnering extra attention from the nation as a whole.

Hosted on the USA Today 10Best.com website, the poll actually encompasses a cooperation including Reader’s Digest Magazine as well as Good Morning America. Even further, the poll draws in judges from other well-known shows and publications like hidden-camera show Random Acts, the Washington Post, and Project Happiness.

Among 450 nominations nationwide, the pool has at last been narrowed to the top 10 finalists. Ellijay, Ga is one of the cities next to Bothell, Wa, Kalamazoo, Mi, North Riverside, Il, and Katy, Tx. The list also has one county, Mower County, Mn, and four specific spots, Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Md, Yassin’s Falafel House in Knoxville, Tn, Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, Tx, and North Evergreen Street in Burbank, Ca.

According to Reader’s Digest Magazine, the nomination for Ellijay came from Marie and Steve Cortes who related the story of their first visit to Ellijay one January morning as they stopped into the Cornerstone Cafe. With every table in the restaurant taken, the Cortes’ were invited to sit with strangers as diners “scooched over” to make room.

As someone who has lived here in Ellijay most of my life, I, too, have felt the indescribable pull of the people. Something about the area encourages me to grab a bite at the Cantaberry Restaurant while people watching and inevitably speaking to the people who walk by because we recognize each other.

In fact, one of the recurring themes I hear about the city, and the county as a whole for that matter, is a story about a wave. Whether its Abby’s Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt owner and Downtown Development Authority member, Mark Luchauer, who describes the city’s feel as “small-town USA at its finest, where you can walk down the street and wave at everybody and they’ll wave back,” or the owner/operator of the Cartecay River Experience, Woody Janssen, who said in an interview earlier this year, “It feels like The Andy Griffith Show in a way, everybody waves still. You go down to Atlanta and you wave at somebody, it’s not like that … It brings that down-home feeling,” the same them shows up repeatedly.

There is something so special about a gesture so simple. Why do I hear it as the special memory from visitors and citizens alike? Just a wave back, it is something that transcends language, but it is so meaningful that everyone notices if it happens or not. Maybe we don’t realize it at the time, but a city where I can sit on the side of River Street and wave at people generates that community. It creates that connection. You may not know it, but just waving at someone says so much. It says, “I see you.” It says, “I noticed you.”

While the voting on the poll continues, people who visit the site are encouraged to vote once a day until July 7. As of June 27, Ellijay is in second place of the voting and is continuing to rise in numbers.

The winner of the poll will be named “Nicest Place in America” and featured on Good Morning America and as a cover story in the November issue of Reader’s Digest.

People from all over are encouraging you to vote, everyone from locals to businesses to the Gilmer Chamber have been posting on social media sites about voting and why they love the town. You can join in by voting on the website as well as sharing your vote and story on social media. While you’re sharing the story, make sure to continue sharing the love through everything you do, even with a small wave at a stranger on the street.

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New Theater Officially Open in East Ellijay

News

East Ellijay, Ga. – Though expected for almost a year now, the Georgia Theater Company (GTC) has officially opened its doors on its newest addition, Mountain Cinemas in East Ellijay.

The theater boasts eight screens of digital projection film, an in-house bar and grill called Outtakes, and usual concessions like popcorn and candy. Each theater is filled with reclining seats operated automatically with arm-rest buttons.

While all food and drinks from the concession stand or the Outtakes grill are allowed inside the theaters, they also host a few small tables in the lobby for those who wish to sit there.

The movie theater hosted a “film-cutting” this week to celebrate their opening with corporate guests like Chairman of the Board of GTC, William Stembler, and GTC President Bo Chambliss.

Chambliss specifically thanked Mac Wood, City Manager of East Ellijay, as the key to making the construction of Mountain Cinemas “a whole lot smoother than most of the construction projects that we’ve been a part of.”

Stembler joked with those present about the theater’s seats saying, “We have these recliner seats that are really comfortable. If you go in the theater and you fall asleep, we’re not gonna give you a refund.”

However, one thing to note about the new theater is that the seats are numbered. Marketing Manager Kate Sabbe did say you could buy your seats online, meaning that you don’t have to show up early for seats as the ticket will save those seats. However, the flip side would suggest that if you have any sort of sizeable group, it may be wise to purchase tickets well in advance for popular movies if you want to sit together.

Georgia Theater Company President Bo Chambliss, left, and Chairman William Stembler, right, say a few words of thanks before cutting the film ribbon to open Mountain Cinemas.

Georgia Theater Company President Bo Chambliss, left, and Chairman William Stembler, right, say a few words of thanks before cutting the film ribbon to open Mountain Cinemas.

The larger main screens, headliners, hold 145 people while the smaller screens hold between 70 and 80 people for a grand total of 836 seats.  Mountain Cinemas Manager Lauren Chastain said the building will move some major movies, like the upcoming Jurassic World, into multiple screens meaning it will at times hold less than 8 movies. Currently, it’s showing six films on its opening weekend.

Established as the leading form of GTC theaters, Mountain Cinemas represents everything the company could bring to bear as a cutting-edge representation. Though they declined to include 3D movies, this branch is what GTC is currently in renovations mode at several of their other locations to meet. Mountain Cinemas also hosts an open kitchen for Outtakes, something Chastain said is not done at any other location. The new building has brought, including management, a current total of 53 jobs to East Ellijay.

A part of Outtakes, the bar inside of the theater already hosts local favorites like those from Blue Ridge Brewery “Grumpy Old Men” and a hard cider from Mercier’s Orchards in Blue Ridge. With eight total beers on tap, Chastain said the bar is trying to stay with local Georgia and Tennessee breweries over a few general ones like Budweiser.

Mountain Cinemas larger theaters hold 145 people at max capacity.

Mountain Cinemas larger theaters hold 145 people at max capacity.

One program the company holds already saw a special day of afternoon tickets for the Gilmer High School Film Program. Sabbe told FYN that the company as a whole has a program every fall where general manager’s of the theater locations get to choose a charity to donate one day’s entire proceeds to. This, however, was a part of the Grand Opening Celebrations to say thank you for welcoming Mountain Cinemas to the community.

While the building is completed, Chastain and Sabbe both indicated that the theater is not running every program the company has yet.

The fully reclining seats are operated electronically for back a foot rests.

The fully reclining seats are operated electronically for back a foot rests.

The theater company also hosts a program at 14 locations called Flashback cinema where they play hit movies from older periods like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Big Trouble in Little China. With only 14 current locations operating this program, Sabbe was unable to say when or even if the program would travel to East Ellijay’s new location.

One program Sabbe did say East Ellijay will likely see next summer is a program for reduced-price kids movies. The program would provide $1.50 tickets, $1.50 drinks, and $1.50 popcorns for children.

With these to look forward to, the Georgia Theater Company officially cut the film tape to christen its newest cinema and open its doors to the public.

The “Film-cutting” kicked off the two-day celebration leading into this weekend as Mountain Cinema’s first weekend of operation. After much hype, debate, and waiting, the theater is officially open.

 

General Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for kids and seniors. Matinee showings are $7 for everyone.

 

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Gilmer Prepares for Severe Storms

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued warning for most of Georgia involving the coming severe storms.

Gilmer is included as the eastern half is set for severe storms, wind, and possibly hail. However, the western half of Gilmer is included in the NWS “Enhanced Risk” warnings, meaning citizens should be prepared for massive rainfall, large hail, potential tornadoes, and damaging wind reaching up to 60 mph.

While citizens are preparing for all the potential dangers, most are afraid of the possibility of flooding in their area. One citizen reported pea sized hail already falling outside at the East Ellijay Walmart.

The Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett spoke with FYN about the coming storms saying, “Hopefully, it  will move through the county without incident. Nevertheless, our people are geared up and ready to go.”

Being aware of the warnings, Pritchett says the Public Safety Department is ready, but waiting to gauge the intensity of the storms. He suggested extra preparations for all citizens living near creeks and other waterways saying that in Gilmer county, “Small creeks and other waterways could rise quickly. We just ask everyone to be prepared.”

As Public Safety continues preparations and monitoring of the potential risks, the National Weather Service is continuing updates to the storm, “At 1243 PM EDT…a strong thunderstorm was near Roy, or 11 miles east of Ellijay…moving east at 40 mph.”

Some locationsthe NWS indicated in the path of this storm include “Dahlonega, Suches, Amicalola Falls State Park, Camp Merrill, Springer
Mountain Shelter, Len Foote Hike Inn, Black Gap Shelter, Stover Creek Shelter, Hawk Mountain Shelter, Nimblewill, Roy, Gaddistown, Gooch, and Mountain Shelter.”

Gilmer Schools have even cancelled all afternoon activities for today, March 19, due to the storms, although they are planning to move ahead with their scheduled Board Meeting at 6 pm.

Stay with FetchYourNews as update continue on the storm’s severity and potential damage in the county. Again, if you begin to see water rising near your homes, seek shelter elsewhere to avoid being trapped. This became a real issue to citizens with flooding over recent years.

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East Ellijay looking at roads in November

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga – The East Ellijay City Council met for what became a road-focused meeting on Nov. 14. Three major issues saw progress in the meeting.

East Ellijay tied up the end of their Highland Parkway project. Resolution 17-04 to repave sections of Highland Parkway came with a finished cost close to $9,000 below the expected $131,000. East Ellijay Mayor Mack West reported in their November meeting that the city spent $42,639 from Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) funds for the project. The remaining $79,318 was remitted to the 2004 SPLOST fund, meaning that balance is still just over $100,000. According to West, the city has yet to use the 2014 SPLOST funds.

The City Council also approved their re-striping expenditures with the addition of the thermoplastics. Pro-Stripe, out of Blairsville, finished striping with costs at $8,920. The project included 24 feet of the thermoplastic striping bars, 14 arrows on Highland Parkway, and six arrows at the Highland Crossing intersection. East Ellijay City Manager Mack Wood reported in the meeting that the extra cost for thermoplastics would increase the life span as they are now “interstate quality.”

An additional purchase for roads came with the city’s approval for purchasing speed bumps. The city will be placing these bumps on Greenfield Road. Consistent notes of high speeds past the S-curves were the reason given. Residents close to the city limits, and even some who live past the city limits, have complained for the need of the additions. Purchasing four total bumps, Wood stated the city would be purchasing six-foot long “humps” to be placed on both sides of the roads. The humps are wider than bumps meaning cars should not have the usual issue of the immediate bounce of a smaller bump.

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