Finance decisions dominate BOE’s July Meeting

News

ELLIJAY, GA. – Casting the final vote for the coming ESPLOST, alongside votes on bids and lunch prices, set the theme for the Board of Education’s last regular meeting before school starts back.

As previously reported in last week’s BOE to call for an ESPLOST Election, the survey results were provided to board member along with the choices for the final item on the list of projects. While Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs reiterated that the priorities of the new ESPLOST will remain with the continuing technology, security, safety, and bus purchases, this sets two major projects into Gilmer County’s Educational future.

Those projects take up two of the five items as set on the official ballot question which reads as:

(a) upgrading the technology used to support teaching and learning at all facilities, including the purchase and
installation of computers, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, servers, wiring, wireless antennas, and other technology upgrades with necessary hardware, software, and programs; (b) the acquisition, construction, equipping, and installation of safety and security equipment to improve security in all facilities located within the School District (c) the purchase of new school buses; (d) the acquisition, construction, and equipping of a new elementaryschool to replace the current Ellijay Primary School; and (e) the acquisition, construction, and equipping of a new performing/fine arts center, all in accordance with the facilities plans of the School District…

The official resolution was approved in a 4-1 vote with board member Nick Weaver as the dissenting vote. With earlier disagreements on which final project was to be implemented and the polled decision leaning towards the Performing Arts Center, this vote count was not entirely unexpected as the board’s poll on the project inclusion was a mirror outcome.

Moving forward with the ESPLOST at this point will see the Board of Education formally submitting their Notice of Sales and Use Tax For Educational Purposes Election to Gilmer County Probate Judge Scott Chastain, as Election Superintendent, to have the referendum voted on by the public in the November 2018 elections. Citizens will take this opportunity to voice their opinions on the ESPLOST and decide on the continuing the already in place ESPLOST for another cycle with its new projects.

Financially, the board is estimating $28 million in collections but is aiming high so as not to have an interruption in collections during the cycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finance discussions continued through the meeting during the board’s nutrition and financial reports. The board voted unanimously to support a recommendation by Director of Nutrition Services Linda Waters to increase staff lunch prices from $3.50 to $3.75 and visitor lunches from $4.00 to $4.25. The quarter increases on each of these follow federal regulations which Waters’ recent changes to menus. She stated in the work session, “By Federal Regulations, we have to charge what it costs us to produce a meal.”

Additionally, the July meeting saw the board vote to approve fuel bids for the year. They awarded Petroleum Traders Corp the bid for diesel and gasoline at $0.0315 over costs of diesel and $0.0196 over costs of gasoline. They also awarded Thomas Oil for Propane at $0.95 per gallon.

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ESPLOST Survey results in clear winner

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With almost 2,000 people responding to their ESPLOST Survey, the Gilmer County Board of Education released the results at their June Meeting.

The choices include a Performing/Fine Arts Center (on GHS Campus), a Multi-use Sports Facility (Gym, Weight Rooms, wrestling center, batting cages, track), or an Indoor Swimming Pool.

Collecting more votes than the other two options combined, the Performing/Fine Arts Center (on GHS Campus) reached 1,069 votes.

Multi-use Sports Facility collected 684 votes and the Indoor Swimming Pool collected 282 votes.

Though seen as a somewhat surprising result according to Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, she encouraged the Board to bear the survey’s results in mind as the moved forward with preparations for the ESPLOST referendum. While it is likely this vote will be seen as early as this November on the ballot, the ESPLOST cycle would not take effect until 2020. With the five-year cycles, the Board is attempting to plan several years ahead as they or only now at the midpoint of the current cycle.

While this may seem far off, officials say it is imperative to begin preparations now so that the voting, investigations, and preparations are in place when the 2020 cycle begins to move forward with the work as quickly as possible.

This does mean, however, that as the Board contemplates their survey, if they move forward with the Performing Arts center included as it seems they will, there are currently no plans setting when they will begin the project within the five-year cycle.

The project would stand next to others like the construction of a new Elementary School at the Board’s Clear Creek Property to replace the aging Ellijay Primary School currently in town on McCutchen Street.

Check out the Survey Results for the full tally and comments.

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Gilmer ARTS endorses Arts Center in ESPLOST survey

Bobcat's Corner, News

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.

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BOE asks for citizen input on 2020 ESPLOST

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education is almost halfway through its current ESPLOST plan completing projects like the renovations on Huff Mosley Stadium, building a new Agriculture Education center, and the current renovations to Gilmer High School.

However, anticipating the process needed to prepare for continuing the ESPLOST after this one ends in 2020, the board is already moving into discussions for that next cycle. As a part of that process for ESPLOST, the board must have planned projects they intend to use the money for.

In that discussion, Gilmer County Charter Schools System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs has turned to the citizens by placing a survey on their website. The board already has certain plans for projects to continue to upgrade technology, improve safety measures, purchase buses, and build an elementary school to replace Ellijay Primary.

However, the survey itself is intended to add more to the list with citizen input on three additional suggestions for the ESPLOST cycle. The choices include a Performing/Fine Arts Center (on GHS 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 otpions and write in their own suggestion in an “other” box.

Citizens can either follow the Survey link or log on to the Gilmer Schools website and click the survey link at the top of the page to offer their opinion as well as speaking at the next meeting of the Board of Education.

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Cartecay Bike Team preparing for second season

Community

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Entering its second season as an official team, the Cartecay Youth Bike Team has already achieved greatness by producing a state champion in its inaugural season.

Even though the actual race season runs through September, October, and November, the team is already preparing for early training and meetings. Involving parents of the students on the team is part of the process through the next three months of April, May, and June as Coach Larry Alonso prepares for practice season and eventually the races.

Preparing the team in its first season, Alonso said he and his wife expected only a handful of members with their own children making at least half of the team. Today, Alonso celebrates 10 state finishers last season with Hannah Calabretta being a state champion in her first season of competition.

Alonso points to his Mountain Bike Team and the sports as more youth development focused than competitive. Separating the competition from other sports, Alonso said the constant focus on self alleviates much of the back biting and negativity of many other sports. Additionally, Alonso commented on how competitive mountain biking builds on active lifestyles and growth through training like many other sports. Competitors must be fully sufficient on the course for any repairs and on-the-spot fixes needed as accepting outside help carries a penalty in the competition.

Alonso said teaching these skills is so much more than just a sport. He teaches the mechanics of the bikes, skills for sufficiency, and the physical conditioning itself.

Moving into his second season now, Alonso is beginning to build on his successes as he hopes to increase the size of his team, but also to increase the team’s connection and involvement in the county. The team appeared at the Board of Commissioner’s March meeting for Alonso to speak to the commissioners about the county’s trails system.

Part of his presentation to the commissioners focused on the benefits his team and sport could provide for the county. Alonso has already begun work on an “Ellijay Invitational” event to bring teams all over Georgia to Gilmer County as the Mountain Biking Capital of Georgia. Alonso admitted he has already hit a wall in the event for parking and access for the major crowds seeking to attend and view the event with family.

Dreaming bigger, Coach Alonso noted ideas of partnerships for trails through or around local apple orchards and more adaptations for major competitions to point to Gilmer as the Mountain Biking Capital and hold events as such. These events, on average, see upwards of 800 racers and potentially 5,000 people attending the race. A major event like this also exposes people to the county for tourism in addition to the immediate economic in town.

The growth continues across the state, according to Alonso, who stated, “There’s no better place for the state championship race than at the mountain biking capital.” Gilmer provides everything needed for the events with varying difficulties across the county, but an event like this could show the mountain views across harder trails to make it a peak destination for the sport.

The races these students on Cartecay Youth Mountain Bike Team face changes across the minimum sixth-grade riders to do one lap around a five to six mile course and finish. Junior varsity riders do two or three laps to finish, and varsity hit four to five laps totaling around 20 miles before the race ends.

Cartecay continues building on its success and is inviting students and parents interested in the team to attend their team meeting on April 10. The event is one of six preseason events the team is allowed to hold before the end of June.

 

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Bobcats Come up Short In Nine

Sports

The Dragons of Pickens High School hosted the Bobcats of Gilmer High School on Friday night at Dragon Field. The Bobcats came trying to get a win in a three game series of which the Dragons had taken the first two.  With few base runners through the first three innings, the Bobcats mustard a run in the fourth with a base hit from Will Barnes and a double from the bat of Tyler Woody that plated Barnes.

The Cats would remain at one on the board through the fifth and sixth innings before adding three more in the top of the seventh and taking a 4-3 lead into the bottom half of the inning. The Dragons would knot it up at 4 a piece in the seventh with a long ball and sending the game in to free baseball.  Gilmer would put Bobcats on the base pads in the eigth and ninth innings and were able to get one run across in the ninth.  Having a one run advantage going into the bottom of the ninth had the Bobcats excited and hoping for a shut down of the Dragon and escape with hard earned win. The Dragons would fight back and score two in their half and steal a victory and the three game region series win.

Stand outs for the Bobcats were Will Barnes 4-5, Evan Frady 2-3,HBP,  Tyler Woody 1-2 with 2 walks and McKinley Chadwick with his first hit on the season after coming back from Tommy John surgery.  The Bobcats will travel on Monday for a region match up at the home of the Ridgeland Panthers.  Game time is set for 5:30 pm.

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Last Inning Loss For Bobcats

Sports

The Gilmer Bobcats hosted the Murray Co. Indians(1-5 overall) on Monday looking to right the ship after 2 tough losses in the Diamond Day Tournament over the weekend.   It would prove to be pretty smooth sailing through 5 with error filled play by the Indians.

In the bottom of 2nd inning with runners on 1st and 3rd, Avery Bertolini reached on a swinging bunt to the Indian 3rd baseman.  As the baseball sailed past the bag at first, 2 runs crossed the Bobcats a 3-2 lead heading into the 3rd inning of play. Both teams would plate 1 run a piece in the fourth and it would stay 4-3 through the next two innings.  Austin Daman Through 5 and 1/3 strong innings for the Bobcats and took a no decision.

In the top of the seventh the Indians of Murray would find the bases loaded after a fielding error and two walks. With Will Barnes on the mound in relief, the Murray Co. batter took a well placed fastball just off the plate and hit a single into right Center field. Two runs crossed the dish giving the indians a 5-4 lead.  The bottom of the seventh looked promising for the Bobcats as they loaded the bases with 2 outs.  Last hope for the team was Avery Bertolini as he worked the count to 3 and 2.  A high and tight fastball was the final demise as the game ended on a check swing grounder to the pitcher.

 

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Lady Cats: Teammates-Friends-Sisters

GHS Basketball

As the 2017-2018 season comes to a close for the Lady Cats of Gilmer High School, two this are guaranteed. First is that the ladies on this team put their heart into every game and left everything they had on the court.  Second is that Emma Callihan and Mary Lee Callihan will still be balling it up after the High School season is complete.

Mary Lee Callihan-Jr Center Photo courtesy of Luther Kinsey, Team FYN Sports

Not only do Emma and Mary Lee bond and work together on the court as teammates, they have the honor of this at home as sisters.  Emma and Mary Lee agree that being sisters on the court together for the High School and their Spring AAU team(North Georgia Titans) has given them a edge.  Mary Lee stated “We are always together at practices and games that I can read how Emma is going to cut the coverage by the opposing defense.  This allows Emma to better anticipate the pass,”  and “I am definitely harder on Emma as a sister than I am on my other teammates.”

Freshman Guard Emma Callihan Photo Courtesy of Luther Kinsey, Team FYN Sports

These sisters say that their time spent on the hardwoods has brought them closer together not only as sisters but as friends.  This bond also comes with respect. Emma callihan says that without a doubt Her sister, Mary Lee is the best player she has ever played with.

With the 2018-2019 season, the Lady Cats will welcome in the 3rd Muskateer.  In coming  6’0″ freshman Ellie Callihan will bring the sisterhood to the next level allowing Coach Nunn the blessings of having the depth needed to sustain a full season.

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