ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer ARTS program has weighed in on an ongoing survey from the Gilmer County Charter School System.
The survey is for options on an upcoming Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) cycle starting in 2020. As FetchYourNews previously reported in “BOE asks for citizen input on 2020 ESPLOST,” the options include a performing/fine arts center (on the Gilmer High School campus), a multi-use sports facility (gym, weight rooms, wrestling center, batting cages, track), or an indoor swimming pool. There is also an option for citizens to forego these options and write in their own suggestion in an “other” box.
Now, Gilmer ARTS has endorsed the option for a Performing Arts Center noting, “The options included a much overdue and badly needed performing arts center. Gilmer is far behind our neighbors in Fannin to the north and Pickens to the south. Both counties have wonderful performing arts facilities that enhance the performances of not only school system student programs but also community use for concerts and events.”
Gilmer ARTS also noted their partnership agreement with the school system and the hard work that the students have put in for some of the most successful programs in the high school. In their official release, Gilmer ARTS stated, “We have competition-winning programs in our schools with art, instrumental and choral music and have had for many years (Champions if you will).”
With little time left for the survey, the release asks for all citizens to either follow the Survey link or log on to the Gilmer Schools website and click the survey link at the top of the page, so they can offer their voice and vote on the possible options.
ELLIJAY, GA – October became very unusual for the Board of Commissioners. A shorter order of business saw few things on the agenda for the Board as they move into the final quarter of the year.
However, fewer items presented no less importance as the commissioners discussed a serious change to their ordinance that is exempting fuel purchaes from the bid process for the year. Commission Chairman Charlie Paris told FYN that environmental issues preventing the use of previous underground tanks to stock fuel for the year has actually caused the Commissioners an inability to open and receive bids for gas.
Currently, the Commissioners approved the ordinance change as it was the second reading and no citizens spoke at the public hearing. However, Paris also indicated in the meeting a desire to return to bidding fuel once the county is able to construct new above ground storage tanks. Though he stated a desire to move towards construction with the 2019 budget, he did not see a possibility of it fitting into the 2018 budget.
With approval of the change, the county is now compliant with its ordinances again having not bid for fuel.
Budget discussion continued as the Commissioners turned their attention to the continuing story of the Tabor and Watkins houses. Recent inspections have revealed termites in both buildings. However, the damage has not reached an extreme yet according to reports. As the Board nears the later part of October, they will begin detailed discussions of the 2018 budget. At this time, the Board has officially tabled any action on treatment for the termites as they are attempting to fit it into the 2018 budget instead of the current 2017.
This could mean that treatment may begin as early as January for the infestation, but citizens will not know the definitive time tables until October 26 after the budget work sessions.
As for the Watkins house, the County has begun moving Planning and Zoning Offices into their new building. While discussion has gone on for two months now as to three different requests for space at the Watkins house, Paris stated in the County’s Work Session that one option could include simply leasing the property to the Gilmer Chamber and allowing them to sub-lease space to the other two as they see fit.
Those other two requests include a request to hold and display some of the museum pieces from the Tabor House and a request to display art and other things from Gilmer ARTS.
Additionally, the October Meetings saw the Board approve Mark Troxell to the Airport Advisory Board, and approval for an Alcoholic Beverage License to Park’s Place Convinient Store & More LLC.
As always Karla and I pick on BKP on Tuesday mornings. There is SO much going on this week and weekend in Gilmer County. Karla and her team are officially picking the name Mr. Bigfoot today! There will be live music all over the county this weekend from restaurants to vineyards and even pick’n on the porch. Gilmer Arts and Plein Art will be doing their “Art in the Mountains” around the county this weekend. If you love local art then you definitely want to check this event out. Also, the Annual Charles Sumner Racking Horse Show will be going on at the Saddle Club arena on Saturday. All of this and even more going on in the great Gilmer County this weekend. To get times, locations, and more info on all these fun events check out the Gilmer Chamber’s event calendar. Thank you to the Gilmer County Chamber for sponsoring this segment.
ELLIJAY, GA – Celebrating over two years of work, Gilmer ARTS held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, August 10, to officially open the doors of the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.
Congressman Doug Collins, right, speaks with a local citizen soon after cutting the ribbon on the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.
Hosting local community members at the Gilmer Chamber Luncheon, the playhouse also saw Congressman Doug Collins and Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston speak before the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
The project of building the playhouse began under then-President of Gilmer ARTS John Rathbone who has followed the project through under new President Sharon Watkins. Rathbone says Watkins has done a wonderful job continuing the dream of the playhouse saying, “There isn’t really anyone who could have succeeded me in that position that I would have felt better about.”
Now the Executive Director of the Project, Rathbone has listed several issues the playhouse still faces such as sponsors and funding, but he feels the greater accomplishment for Gilmer ARTS is the support for the playhouse finding volunteers for positions like Artistic Director, Facility Manager, Production Manager, and Marketing Manager among others.
Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, David Ralston
Community Support was echoed by Speaker Ralston when FYN caught up with him after the ceremony. Ralston told FYN, “I think it says a lot about the community, it says they are looking forward, not back. This is the result of community interest, so I think this community can take a lot of pride in what they’ve done.”
Rathbone and Watkins both mentioned the new opportunities the facility will open for both events downtown and access to community. A wide variety of events have already been booked for the venue including musical theater, comedy, magic mind reading, and country music to name a few for the fall alone. More than that the community itself can contact Gilmer ARTS to discuss renting the facility for their own needs. The opportunities also spill over into the Gilmer ARTS original building as renovations will begin on that to increase space for classes, art gallery, and exhibitions. The new renovations are set to begin Monday morning, August 13, according to Watkins.
Prior to renovations, a lot of preparation was needed to make the George Link, Jr. Playhouse ready for its transformation.
Congressman Collins commented on the restoration process saying, “Just think about the character of old places that become new again. Think about the regeneration of communities and people, I think what it does to me is it makes everyone from our young and old know that there is hope and change and usefulness. We are a society that is, many times, too concerned with the now. We forget that where we are standing right now is a result of people who dreamed and hoped and payed the price years ago. We are standing on their shoulders. I think buildings like this that are re-purposed for this tells us that their is a new adventurous spirit. It’s a reminder of the old that gets us to the new.”
Friday afternoon, March 10, the Gilmer Arts Association filled the art center with students and their families as they received acknowledgment for their outstanding works of art during the Gilmer Student Art Exhibit.
Students from our local elementary and middle schools had pieces nominated from their art teachers while high school students submitted their own pieces.
Members of the Gilmer Arts Association judged the artwork and selected the winners for each school. Andrea Handley, Art Teacher at Gilmer High School, described the selection process as “very difficult due to all the great pieces.”
Each of the schools had their art teacher present their winners beginning with honorable mentions, and followed by first, second, and third place winners.
The night ended with attendees admiring the showcase of student art. The event was filled with praise towards the students’ art and considered an overall successful night for the talented artists who once again got to prove their skills.
Winners were as follows:
First place winners were Kelie Jesinzcki for Mountain View Elementary School (MVE), Dawson Richard for Ellijay Elementary School (EES), Madeline Watts for Gilmer Middle School (GMS), Brianna Tierney for Clear Creek Middle School (CCMS), and Asiria Vicente for Gilmer High School (GHS).
Second place was awarded to Lexie Peacock (MVE), Mackenzie Reale (EES), Frinsley Ambrocio (GMS), Morgan White (CCMS), and Danyelle O’neal(GHS).
Third place winners were Micah Dates (MVE), Isabel Gonzales (EES), Sanoah Hensley (GMS), Lexi Goforth (CCMS), and Ebony Scherbarth (GHS). As the students received their certificate they had a sense of gratification in their accomplishment.
Students who received honorable mentions were, Addy Poole (MVE), Landyn Rodas Lopez (EES), Larz Fowler (GMS), and Samantha Evans(CCMS). Five of the students from GHS were selected honorable mentions Autumn Durham, Abby Dotson, Addie Parker, and Samantha Button.
The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners debated new proposals during their meetings on Wednesday the 10th and Thursday the 11th.
One major proposal would change the county’s EMS services. Though no formal approval has been made, consideration is underway for the Gilmer County Emergency Medical Services Division to begin charging a fee for repeated EMS calls to locations. EMA Director Tony Pritchett stated the need for fees were due to some citizens of the county continually calling 911 to receive certain medications without going to a doctor’s office.
The structure of these fees were discussed for several different possibilities, but the more probable structure may look somewhat like the following when citizens are calling 911 repeatedly for the same issue every time:
1st Call: No charge
2nd Call: a $75 Fee
3rd Call: a $100 Fee
Further Occurrences would also generate $100 fees and could be investigated for 911 Abuse
While citizens questioned the fees, Director Pritchett assured the citizens that they would not be liable as a 3rd party caller, or “Good Samaritan” situations, where they call 911 because they witness or come upon someone in need. The fees also seem to only be charged on repeat calls that do not result in Ambulance transportation as the effort is to recoup financial expenditures for the medications used.
In addition to the EMS Proposal, the Commissioners also heard a proposal from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Gilmer County. Requesting a lease property, Bill Slaughter, Treasurer, and Michelle Bracken, Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Georgia, represented the organization and its effort to expand the Gilmer County branch due to a lack of space to support the increasing number of enrollments.
Currently, they have 125 children enrolled with an average daily attendance of 83. Bracken also stated the Club has had to turn away prospective students due to the limited space. The proposed solution is the construction of a new 4,000 square foot building across from the clubs current location. They would then remodel the current facility to house the enrolled teens. The building would be constructed by the Boys & Girls Club Board and only needs the County to lease the space for them.
When asked about the continued growth for the club, Bracken assured the citizens the proposal is set to cover the current needs under a two-year-plan. However, “We won’t abandon the building.” Bracken did not speak to a specific future plan, but did say that consideration to add on to the new facility later could be a possibility.
Another proposal before the Board on Wednesday came from Gilmer ARTS. President of Gilmer ARTS, Sharon Watkins came before the Board speaking of security in the their future. Many will recall that former President John Rathbone, also in attendance, has spoken with the Commissioners before about establishing a formal agreement with the County to include support in both public and financial forms. Watkins said the agreement would provide sought after security and “a better platform” as they requested Grants and Donations by allowing others to see the County officially in support of the arts in the community.
While Gilmer ARTS has been included in the County’s budget before, there has been no formal agreement between the two for the support. Watkins’ proposal did include financial support in the form of a proceed from the hotel-motel taxes, though discussion was raised if the county could allocate those funds to the Association.
Currently, the Board of Commissioners indicated they would support some form of agreement and are consulting with Gilmer ARTS and the County Attorney David Clark to formalize the agreement before officially voting on it.
Two final proposals were approved by the Commissioners to abandon a portion of River Hill Road where the bridge washed away and to close a 100 ft section of Kells Ridge Drive due to the December 2015 flood. Director of Public Works and the Road Department for Gilmer County, Jim Smith suggested closing the road instead of repairing due to estimations for repairs ranging into several hundreds of thousands.
To watch the two meetings click on the videos below for the Commissioner’s Work Session and Regular Meeting.
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