City Council Holds Monthly Meeting

The Ellijay City Council held their monthly scheduled meeting on Monday.  In a short session the council Chairman Al Hoyle called the meeting to order and opened with prayer followed by the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance.

First order of business on the night was to approve the agenda for this May 21st meeting with on amendment added to new business and to be brought forth in the last vote before the Executive Session began.  With all unanimous votes on the night, April 2018’s minutes, the financial statement and all new business including the reappointment of current Ellijay-Gilmer Water and Sewer head Mike Gibbs to continue in his present role.  Applications submitted to the council were also approved by all members.  Bharat Kumar A. Patel’s application for off premises beer and wine sales passed with zero nay votes.  Mr. Patel is doing business as Green’s Country Store located at 2028 Old Hwy 5 South. The request came as a name change and not for a new application.

Page Green with the Gilmer Chamber submitted an application for a special request permit.  This permit asked that in that the Taste of Ellijay being a city sponsored event, that the $100 application fee be waived and that insurance currently in affect be accepted in lieu of providing additional for services. All members voted in favor of this request.

The construction codes are now up to date with current international standards of building for the City of Ellijay.  All members voted to accept this amendment.  Lastly, in an amended vote in new business,  Chairman Hoyle read an application for alcohol sales in the city parking lot on the 4th of July of 2018.  A motion and a 2nd followed with a vote of the council, saw approval allowing this action.

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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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SPLOST ready for city approvals

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – In a Special Called Meeting on June 15, a final Resolution was put for consideration of the cities of Ellijay and East Ellijay for an upcoming SPLOST Referendum.

Having received input from each city’s mayor and gone through previous negotiations on percentages, the resolution has now reached the time to be put forth in these city’s council meetings for consideration and approval before the county can officially put it on the ballot as a joint SPLOST between the municipalities.

While the meeting was a formality to provide the final form of the resolution, it did provide the actual document to be put forth to the cities and, if approved, ultimately put to a public vote for the next SPLOST cycle.

The SPLOST referendum is set to continue the current 1% sales tax that is currently in place. Even though the municipalities are preparing early, it will not overlap the current SPLOST cycle.

Below are the six pages of the referendum as it currently exists:

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Gilmer Chamber: Father’s Day & Namaste Weekend in Ellijay

Bobcat's Corner, Business, Community

It’s time for Karla’s Korner, sponsored by Gilmer Chamber of Ellijay Georgia – You never know what #BKP and Karla are going to say next!

Join us on #GMFTO every weekday starting at 8AM! We will be featuring Fetch Your News FYNTV.com TV personality #BKP and his political opinion, and #AnythingGoes !

Have a question, comment, or want to be on the show? Call or text 706-889-9700 !

Nationally wanted jewelry thief eludes capture in Gilmer County

Featured Stories, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A nationally known jewelry thief narrowly escaped capture in Gilmer County after trying to sell stolen goods to North Georgia Diamond located in East Ellijay.

Jewelry Theft, National, Georgia, Fannin County, Gilmer County, Ellijay, Blue Ridge, East Ellijay Police Department, Officer Tommy Long, FBI, North Georgia Diamond, The Blue Ridge Diamond Center, Four Carat Tennis Bracelet, Bill Craig, Robert James Allen, Richard Laracuente, Oregon, Kentucky, Crime Spree

Digitally enhanced footage of the suspect.

Earlier in the day of Saturday, June 2, a man entered The Blue Ridge Diamond Center in Blue Ridge, Georgia. It was there that the master thief was able to pocket a four-carat diamond tennis bracelet.

The owners of The Blue Ridge Diamond Center immediately notified police of the theft, and they also made it known to several area jewelry stores to be on the lookout for the male suspect.

Bill Craig, owner of North Georgia Diamond, described how the thief is able to steal these precious stones despite the added precaution taken by jewelers: “He confuses people and builds their trust and gets them to show him a bunch of different things.”

The suspect then goes on to become comfortable in the stores even sitting down to discuss custom jewelry options. Through sleight of hand, the suspect usually pockets a single valuable item and makes a casual exit from the building.

Jewelry Theft, National, Georgia, Fannin County, Gilmer County, Ellijay, Blue Ridge, East Ellijay Police Department, Officer Tommy Long, FBI, North Georgia Diamond, The Blue Ridge Diamond Center, Four Carat Tennis Bracelet, Bill Craig, Robert James Allen, Richard Laracuente, Oregon, Kentucky, Crime Spree

The suspect interacting with employees and looking at jewelry.

After stealing the four-carat diamond tennis bracelet, the suspect made his way to North Georgia Diamond in hopes of unloading his prize.

The suspect came into the store asking to sell the tennis bracelet, but staff quickly realized this was the thief from earlier in the day and notified law enforcement.

The staff stalled while police arrived. In the meantime, however, other customers entered the store.

Officer Tommy Long with the East Ellijay Police Department described the events upon arriving at North Georgia Diamond shortly after 2 p.m.: “When I arrived on the scene, I entered the business and observed two males talking with a sales clerk. Another male was to my right.”

While trying to silently verify which male was the suspect, the male to Officer Long’s right received a phone call and stepped out the door.

Craig, owner of North Georgia Diamond, immediately notified Long that the suspect was the male walking out the door.

Like the suspect had vanished into thin air, Long described exiting almost immediately after him: “As I exited the store, the male was nowhere to be found. I looked around all other businesses and beside and under porches but was unable to locate the subject.”

The suspect, having to make an unexpected exit, did leave behind the stolen tennis bracelet and a driver’s license.

Jewelry Theft, National, Georgia, Fannin County, Gilmer County, Ellijay, Blue Ridge, East Ellijay Police Department, Officer Tommy Long, FBI, North Georgia Diamond, The Blue Ridge Diamond Center, Four Carat Tennis Bracelet, Bill Craig, Robert James Allen, Richard Laracuente, Oregon, Kentucky, Crime Spree

Possible vehicle that the suspect is traveling in taken from security cameras.

The Oregon driver’s license identified him as Richard Laracuente. This name traces back to a number of warrants for theft across the United States. The suspect has also been known to use the name Robert James Allen, which too traces to numerous warrants for theft.

“It’s a pretty serious thing,” Craig said of the thief. “He’s a pro.”

Craig belongs to a group of jewelers who contact each other regularly via social media. It was on this site that Craig found out after leaving his store in Georgia, the suspect robbed a store a couple of states away in the following days.

“He hit a store in Kentucky,” Craig explained, “and those people had seen all the posts about this. They had seen what I posted.”

In Kentucky, the suspect was able to get away with a three-stone diamond ring.

Despite Craig’s warnings, the thief is able to continue his crime spree because, according to Craig, “he’s a very good master of disguise.”

“I warned everybody on the Facebook group,” Craig stated of his actions to try to warn fellow jewelers. “I said he’s going to hit. He’s going to hit again, and sure enough.”

Jewelry stores across the nation are asked to be on the lookout for the suspect and to contact local law enforcement immediately if the suspect enters their premises.

 

[Featured image: ID left behind by suspect when making his exit from North Georgia Diamond.]

 

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Natalie Kissel

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Gilmer County talks SPLOST with Ellijay and East Ellijay

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A unique meeting saw the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners sitting with Ellijay Mayor Al Hoyle and East Ellijay Mayor Mack West to speak about the possibility of a new SPLOST cycle for the county as a whole.

While the Board of Commissioners could move forward with the SPLOST without the cities, joining together provides many benefits to each municipality including a more expansive list of projects without a state-regulated list of prioritization and a one-year-extension on the SPLOST cycle to make it a six-year program instead of just five years.

One of the major items needed in the meeting was an agreed amount that could be expected from the tax. According to regulations on the program, if a government puts forth a SPLOST and sets its expected return above what it actually receives, there is no penalty. However, if that SPLOST achieves the expected return early, no more collections could be made, causing a gap in collections and revenue from the sales tax.

With that in mind, the meeting came to a conclusion to estimate $31 million in revenue from the tax.

Both Mayors in the meeting looked to increase their city’s portions of the SPLOST in favor of rising costs of major projects, Hoyle spoke on Ellijay’s behalf saying that increase paving costs and projects that the city is in need of accomplishing could greatly benefit from an increase in their percentage.

Likewise, West echoed these concerns siting a specific project as they have repaved the area of Eller Road and the intersection at Highland Crossing before reaching Highway 515.

On the other hand, the county discussed the county’s continued financial pains attempting to pay back their bond debt, looking at the vast majority of their SPLOST collection dedicated to paying back that debt at close to $4 million a year.

Ultimately, the decisions came down very similar to how the SPLOST has been divided currently. With the County currently taking 92.35% of the SPLOST, they backed off the extra part of a percent making the division at an easy round number of the percentage.

The County will receive 92%.

Ellijay will receive 6%.

East Ellijay will receive 2%.

Still, this negotiation is preliminary. Each Mayor will now take the proposal back to their cities for approval before the county can approve the final agreement and move forward with offering the SPLOST option to a vote for citizens. If all goes according to plan and no major obstacles are met, It could mean citizens could see the vote for this on the ballot this November.

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Ellijay City Council holds monthly meeting

Community

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council held its monthly scheduled meeting Monday, May 21.  In a short session, the council Chairman Al Hoyle called the meeting to order and opened with prayer followed by the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The first order of business on the night was to approve the agenda for this May 21 meeting with an amendment added to new business and to be brought forth in the last vote before the executive session began.  With all unanimous votes on the night, the April 2018’s minutes, the financial statement and all new business, including the reappointment of current Ellijay-Gilmer Water and Sewer head Mike Gibbs to continue in his present role, was approved.  Applications submitted to the council were also approved by all members.  Bharat Kumar A. Patel’s application for off-premises beer and wine sales passed with zero nay votes.  Patel is doing business as Green’s Country Store located at 2028 Old Hwy 5 South. The request came as a name change and not for a new application.

Page Green with the Gilmer Chamber submitted an application for a special request permit.  This permit asked that the Taste of Ellijay being a city-sponsored event, that the $100 application fee be waived and that insurance currently in effect be accepted in lieu of providing additional for services. All members voted in favor of this request.

The construction codes are now up-to-date with current international standards of building for the city of Ellijay.  All members voted to accept this amendment.  Lastly, in an amended vote in new business,  Chairman Hoyle read an application for alcohol sales in the city parking lot on the Fourth of July of 2018.  A motion and a second followed with a vote of the council, which saw approval allowing this action.

Author

Cantaberry officially opens new location

Community

ELLIJAY, GA. – After years on River Street, citizens are waking up today to see the Cantaberry Restaraunt in a new location.

Though not that far from the old location, the restaurant’s new spot boasts many upgrades for the business include almost doubling their seating and expanding the outdoor tables onto a shaded deck. The new location is on the southern corner of the downtown roundabout next door to the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company.

According to Manager Jessica Bruner, the site can hold just under 100 people and are already planning on live music events and similar activities for the outdoor area. Bruner did say the Cantaberry will be looking to expand their staff as they gauge the community response to the new site.

The staff is taking the “new” brand to extremes as Bruner said they bought all new equipment, barely bringing anything from the old location. Additionally, they will be adding a dinner and brunch menu in the coming weeks as well as beverages from local brewers Grumpy Old Men and local winery Chateau Meichtry as well as Merciers Orchard’s Hard Cider and Georgia’s SweetWater Brewing Co.

Though Bruner said they could be looking into other options including other local wineries, she didn’t detail any other plans in store for the upgrade.

The special day kicked off with their opening at 11:00 a.m. today hosting the first two tables. Ann and Bob visited from Young Harris as the first seated guests in the new location. The second set of guests through the door were Katrina and Jesse, the first official Ellijay residents to visit.

 

Katrina and Jesse, l to r, were the second table, but the first local citizens from Ellijay visiting the new Cantaberry location.

Katrina and Jesse, l to r, were the second table, but the first local citizens from Ellijay visiting the new Cantaberry location.

Ann and Bob, l to r, were the first seated table of Ellijay's new location for the Cantaberry Restaurant, visiting from Young Harris.

Ann and Bob, l to r, were the first seated table of Ellijay’s new location for the Cantaberry Restaurant, visiting from Young Harris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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