Karla and BKP discuss their resolutions and the local events coming up as 2018 winds down.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – What’s better than sitting in a comfy warm chair with a beautifully theme-decorated Christmas tree, some Christmas music playing in the background, a warm drink in your hands, and some friends gathered to enjoy it with you? Well, 34 trees of course.
That is 34 different trees and wreaths gathered from the community to decorate the Gilmer County Library in celebration for the season. Being the 25th consecutive year of the annual Festival of Trees, the library has become experts at celebrating the season as they opened their doors late into the evening on December 3 for people of the community to pack inside for the event. Packing in is exactly what they did to see the first official day of the December-long celebration.
With entities like the Gilmer Chamber, Stay Active Ellijay, THRIFT, Gilmer County Master Gardeners, Kids Ferst, Safe Choice Pregnancy Care Center, Walnut Mtn, Garden, American Legion Auxiliary, Operation Christmas Child, Optimist Club, Dept of Juvenile Justice, Chattahoochee Technical College, Friends of Harrison Park, Southern Flare Antiques, Mountain Education Center, Keep Gilmer Beautiful, Girl Scouts, Re-Max, ABG, Small Batch Garden, North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, Gilmer County Parks & Rec Department, Marine Toys for Tots, Boys and Girls Club, Apple Contry Quilters Guild, Cub Scout Pack 404, Coosawattee Shrine Club, Friends of the Gilmer County Library, Garden Club of Ellijay, 4-H, Gilmer Genealogical Society, Faith,Hope, and Charity, and more, the Festival grows each year to the massive events it has become with crowds looking to meet Santa for pictures, listen to live music, and enjoy the trees.
This years event saw the Ellijay Elementary Chorus and Mountain Spirit Dulcimer Group playing through the evening while activities continued.
Yet, more than just a one-night event, the Festival of Trees really kicks off the Sequoyah Regional Library’s Christmas Season. Gilmer alone is hosting the Grinch to visit on December 11, a Holiday Card Making event on December 6, and a continuing Winter Literacy Challenge going on until January. Check out more events for Gilmer on their Facebook Calender and the Region and the Regional Library Calendar.
That doesn’t meant you missed your chance to see the trees. Make sure to swing by the Gilmer County Library to enjoy the ongoing Festival of Trees before Christmas to fully enjoy the decorations made possible by the county and community.
Make sure to see photos of the trees by visiting the FYN Facebook Photo Album.
Karla and BKP have a look at great and unique gift ideas that your family and friends will be sure to love. The best part? All have a little local flair to them!
Karla joins BKP on a snowy set to discuss upcoming events in Gilmer County.
Karla’s Korner – Karla and BKP discuss the upcoming holiday events!
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Splitting the board in two, the final vote after months of work came down 2-1 for approving the advertisement of the Gilmer County Budget.
The $21,711,407 budget is in the advertisement phase right now and available for public comment and perusal. Officially, there will be a Public Hearing the first week in December alongside the Commissioner’s regular meetings.
The county has already waded through several rising issues including a questioned raise for Post Commissioners, questions about elections in the Probate Judge’s Office, and issues with the Hotel/Motel split. They spent another hours-long meeting this month going over one of the two biggest issues, it seems, for this year. Requests in the Capital Budget are being strained and cut. Though these issues have occurred every budget session in recent years, an easier balanced Maintenance & Operations Budget (M&O) has drawn the extra attention to these needs.
Some of the more extreme cuts focused on the larger budget departments and offices like the Sheriff, Road Department, and Fire/EMA.
The road department saw cuts removing the chance for an Asphalt Spreader, a reduction in funding for a new lift station, and two trucks put on lease instead of outright purchases.
Most of the county’s vehicle purchases across departments in the capital budget were either put on lease or straight cut from the budget.
Fire/EMA lost funding for a replacement Rescue truck, EMA Headquarters, and mobile command centers as well as funding for turnout gear for employees. Amid discussions. Post Commissioner Travis Crouch said he had a hard time eliminating funding completely for the gear and was searching for a way to partially fund it over something else.
Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris noted to the other board members that it was done on the basis of a verbal priority list that Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett gave to the board during individual sessions.
The M&O portion of the budget saw an increase in ammunition for the Sheriff’s Office, decreases in detention center salary raises (still receiving a slight increase overall), an increase to Road Striping for the Road Department, and an increase in Park & Recreation staffing among other things.
The other of the two major issues the county saw in this budget session was a split in the board on a potential change to Gilmer Chamber funding from the Hotel/Motel Tax. As the county has seen increases to this revenue over the years, a rift began forming as Crouch began questioning the return-on-investment the county is seeing from the ‘Chamber-favorable split.’
In opposition, Paris said he felt the split is justified as it is. Several notes were made by Chamber President Paige Green as well as to the increases of the funding and increases in tourism the county has seen. Though she admitted fault in not living up to agreements made to details and information reported in her quarterly attendance to the commissioner meetings, she felt strongly that decreasing the Chamber’s funding from the Hotel/Motel tax would not only adversely affect the Chamber, but the county as a whole.
Crouch stated in a previous meeting as reported in FYN’s Board Splits on Hotel/Motel article;
Ultimately, Crouch noted that he has enjoyed and appreciated the Chamber’s work. Instead, he noted that as a business owner he agrees, but as a Commissioner, he sees the constant people talking about road conditions and similar needs. He went on to say that the change wasn’t by any means a reflection of a poor job by the Chamber, but rather he felt at a certain point, he was seeing diminishing returns alongside greater needs elsewhere.
As the third member of the board, Post Commissioner Dallas Miller seemed conflicted on the issue at first, agreeing with Crouch’s statements as to the struggling needs in other areas. Miller did state earlier in the meeting, separate from this issue, that he was pleased with what he saw as increased attention to the Road Department in the budget, a cause he has championed in recent years.
Ultimately, considering the Hotel/Motel split and the numerous other portions of the county’s budget. Miller sided with Paris in a 2-1 vote to approve the budget for advertising. However, we do not know for sure if it was the Hotel/Motel split that pushed Crouch to the “no” vote as he declined to comment at this time.
As the budget moves forward, it is now the citizens’ turn to question and comment on the budget in the coming month before the new year. Be sure to check out the full budget before these meetings.
Karla joins BKP for her weekly Karla’s Korner segment. Tune in every Thursday at 8:30am
Karla talks about Gilmer Chamber’s Operation Thank You and surprises BKP with a gift.