(The following is a Press Release from the Office of David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.)
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced that the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation has opened a North Georgia Office in Ellijay. The office is located in the Collaboration on River’s Edge (CORE) Building, a workplace innovation space and initiative of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
“I am proud to welcome the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation to Ellijay and look forward to the good work that will be done to further economic opportunity throughout rural Georgia,” said Speaker David Ralston. “This center is a direct result of the work of the House Rural Development Council and our continuing efforts to ensure prosperity is accessible to all Georgians – regardless of zip code.”
The center, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, has named Janet Cochran to lead the North Georgia Office. Cochran comes to the center with more than a decade of experience as a project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“Finding ways to not only maintain but to multiply the economic and cultural vitality present in so many of north Georgia’s small towns and rural communities relies heavily on relationships,” said Dr. David Bridges, Georgia’s Rural Center interim director, “and we know that our presence and personnel there will only improve our ability to facilitate positive outcomes. Janet brings a wealth of experience in managing economic development projects in this region of the state, and we’re excited to have her join our team in this role at the North Georgia Office.”
Headquartered at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
“Promoting a strong business environment that enhances the quality of our community is not just the chamber’s mission in words, it is behind everything we do. The opening of CORE and the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation is a cornerstone moment in that mission and one that we have worked tirelessly to support and create for many years. I join with our 650 members in celebrating,” remarked John Marshall, Gilmer Chamber Chairman of the Board.
“As chairman of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation it has been our goal as a private, citizen funded organization to help spur economic growth for our community and region. CORE being the home to the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office brings our vision to reality. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities for years to come,” said Kent Sanford, Chairman of the Board.
“Working with Speaker of the House David Ralston and the House leadership to bring the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office to our community will have economic impact to the entire region. We look forward to continuing to work to insure the success of the center and all of our partners within CORE,” remarked Lex Rainey, Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority Chairman of the Board.
Located in Gilmer County, Ellijay is a thriving rural community in the North Georgia mountains, offering a unique blend of southern hospitality and natural beauty. The area leads Georgia in apple production and is a center for agribusiness and agritourism.
For more information about the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, visit http://www.ruralga.org/.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Council approved a new patrol car for the city police as they trade in two older cars. The 2019 Dodge has a base price of $28,900, but East Ellijay City Police Chief Larry Callihan said they are continuing to negotiate the trade in value of their two cars and is unsure yet how the exact amount of the trade in.
The council has already budgeted for the new car in the amount of $30,000 for the vehicle and $8,000 for equipment, a total of $38,000. With the trade-ins negotiations, Callihan is hopeful to make the final price closer to $32,000.
The council also approved a resolution to amend their payments for their citizen representatives on the Gilmer County Library Board, lowering the pay by $200 because they “misconstrued” the number of meetings the Library Board had in a year according to Mayor Mack West. The reduction goes from $600 to $400.
The Council also approved the expenditures for their yearly Christmas dinner program. Delivering a total of 34 hams and 5 turkeys, the expense for the city reached $648.60 at program end.
Also, two major additions could be coming to Highland Crossing near Walmart in East Ellijay. The Buffalo Luke’s in Jasper is looking to expand in Ellijay. City Manager Mack Wood also noted he had received site plans for a Moe’s Southwest Grill looking to build in the area between Longhorn and Mountain Cinemas.
The City Council is also seeking suggestions of roads in need of restriping. West said he will keep the item on the agenda in coming meetings and is asking for people to add to the list of needs.
ELLIJAY, Ga – Despite numerous weather and climate hurdles including a cold evening sharpened by winds and rain at times, the Downtown Ellijay Business and Community Association (DEBACA) is reporting a very successful year.
With some changes like the absence of the town of Bethlehem that First Baptist Church hosted at last year’s event and added security measures, this year’s event was noticeably different than 2017. Changes that both DEBACA Chairman Steve Cortes and Ellijay Police Chief Edward Lacey praise as improvements to the event.
One major safety improvement that both parties noted separately was barricades set up to block the parking spaces on the roundabout, allowing pedestrians to safely view both the tree lighting and parade apart from traffic and parade vehicles. While these barricades have been used for the majority of 2018, this is the first Light-Up Ellijay event they have been used. The major difference being that this parade is largely held in the dark with lights on the float and the town decorations illuminating the area.
Chief Lacey noted this year’s event went “very smooth” as they conducted safety and traffic control with six on-duty officers. He also reported no traffic issues during the event and the after-event surge.
The parade hosted around 35 different groups, according to Cortes, and just under 20 vendors in the temporary market throughout the day. Though he says DEBACA did scale back on certain things, the event still pulled in one of the best business days for downtown merchants despite the tree-lighting ceremony being interrupted with a 5-minute rain shower and a continuing sprinkling of rain until the parade.
Lacey referred to the event as a “more traditional Light-Up Ellijay event.” With Santa Claus appearing on the city steps just before 2:00 p.m. and the market on Broad Street quickly following, citizens and merchants in downtown seem to agree saying, “no question its safer and more efficient.”
Along the lines of balancing Light-Up Ellijay between a tourism event and a local event, Cortes told FYN that despite cancelling the Whoville earlier in November, there are still plans to return to it in coming years. However, he did add that DEBACA has been considering multiple options including hosting Whoville in partnership with another organization with available manpower to host the event on a separate day from Light-Up Ellijay and more cosplay actors to enlarge it on its own.
With possibilities for the future of Light-Up Ellijay being discussed, Cortes also noted the he, personally, thinks that the events success could continue into next year by adding to the parade size and seeking opportunities for the marching band or live-music of some sort.
Citizens, law-enforcement, and business owners all seem to agree that Light-Up Ellijay was indicative of continuing a bright future for Ellijay’s Downtown Events.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – New life is springing from an older foundation in Gilmer County this week with the CORE Facility on River Terrace, just off of Maddox Drive.
Called the CORE (Collaboration on River’s Edge), the facility will host business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment. Created by the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, Kent Sanford Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA (Joint Development Authority) and member of the Greater Gilmer Foundation, tells FYN the idea began with a visit to Carrollton, Georgia. Inspecting a business incubation center there, he began dwelling on the idea.
However, concerns about the project’s feasibility in Ellijay stalled the idea and the plans never saw action. Seven years have passed since the idea began at Carrollton and the Greater Gilmer Foundation was created. Now, as Sanford noticed the building for sale on River Terrace, the owner, Edgar Land, originally wanted to sell the place. Kent says negotiations allowed them to lease-purchase the building and begin renovations to revolutionize the early life of small businesses in our area. Sanford went on to say the just like in fitness when they say strength comes from your core, “CORE will be where the future strength of Gilmer County comes from.”
While the facility will host 13 offices and 2 conference rooms during its launch by the end of the first quarter in 2019, Sanford says the facility will be both an incubator for new businesses and a co-working space for small businesses.
As an incubator, CORE stands to be a resource center for new businesses. As they take up residence in an office, they will grow and learn through cooperation with the foundation and educational sessions the CORE facility puts on. Additionally, the future plans of the CORE facility would also provide for business mentors to advise these start-ups on everything from day-to-day operations to faculty to financial decisions.
Sanford went on to say, “Not only are incubated businesses about twice as successful as ones that don’t have that mentoring help, but you also have about 80% of all businesses that start in a community stay in that community.”
As a co-working space, CORE will provide an office to a small business that may not need much space, but does need something like access to better internet than they may have at home. With utilities and furnishings provided by the CORE facility, this could give small businesses access to larger benefits to better present themselves to clients. With conference rooms and special areas available for scheduling, it also provides the amenities of a large office to be shared among those in office.
The amenities would not just be for those residing in the office spaces, though. Sanford says they are looking at a membership idea for other businesses with their own small offices that may still be in need of space temporarily for training seminars or business conferences. Looking past the businesses, Sanford said that other things like civic clubs and organizations could also find a use for the spaces.
The idea flows that as new and old businesses alike start to grow in the CORE facility, they would reach a point and need for larger space, as the move to other larger locations, the offices open up to other new businesses.
Additionally, Sanford says he hopes to see a variety of businesses utilizing the space to grow so that they benefit each other. For example, one Accountant next to a web designer could share services providing financial services o the web designer and a website for the accountant. In this way, the community feeds itself and strengthens each while maintaining close proximity for convenience.
Sanford also noted that the resource center was not just for Gilmer County businesses. He wants CORE to become a Regional Resource for Fannin, Pickens, and Gilmer for those who need only to drive a short time to take advantage of the CORE facility.
Working on their fundraiser right now, the Foundation hopes to see three phases of the CORE facility.
In Phase I, the renovations will complete with the fundraising and open to the public by the end of the first quarter in 2019.
In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger open space for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.
In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to finalized, but Sanford said the general idea is to grow into partners in education in the county.
As a part of the connection for education and incubation for new businesses, Sanford says he hopes the facility will ultimately have a real impact on the growing trend of educated students leaving the community for careers elsewhere.
As it is still in the fundraising stage, plans for the facility could shift, but Sanford states he already has people looking to rent space in the building.
For more information on the campaign and growing the CORE Facility, contact the Greater Gilmer Foundation at 706-635-2673 or check out the Greater Gilmer website.
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.
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.
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 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.
Heath Lee – Library Manager
During Mondays in March and April, certified AARP Tax Preparers will be available to
prepare your taxes. Appointments are encouraged. Call the library for more details.
Sequoyah-Con: Mythical Creatures
Saturday, March 24: All Day
Experience the fun with a special program from Expedition Bigfoot Museum, play Beastly Bingo
to win cool prizes, and discover dragons, unicorns, and trolls in our virtual scavenger hunt!
Carnival games, an interactive art gallery, and awesome photo-booths will provide entertainment
for the whole family. Save the date and come join us for this free event!
11:00 AM – Expedition Bigfoot
1:00 PM – Beastly Bingo
2:00 PM – Mythical Creature Scavenger Hunt
Family Story Time
Wednesday, March 21 @ 10:30AM & 4:00 PM
Wednesday, March 28 @ 10:30AM & 4:00 PM
Family story times are designed for families with children of all ages. Story time is followed by a
craft activity. Children must be accompanied by a participating adult.
Young Adult Program
Tuesday, March 27 @ 4:00 PM
Do you crochet? Come join other tweens & teens who crochet. It’s a time to share your projects
and learn new things. Ages 10-18.
Access to Science Book Club: Equipment Night
Thursday, March 22 @ 6:00 PM
Our third installment of a new Informal Science Book Club. We are discussing The Killer Angels
by Michael Shaara. Presented by Gary Hyde. Themed meal provided.
TechBytes: Basic Computing
Wednesday, March 28 @ 3:00 PM
Learn the parts of a computer, the basics of how to use a computer and how to access the internet.
The Friends of the Library Bookshelf
Remember that the library welcomes donations of gently read books and magazines. Those that the
library does not need come to the Bookshelf, with all the proceeds benefiting the library. Do not
forget to visit the “back room” of the Bookshelf for newly stocked non-fiction and magazines.
Bookshelf hours are from 10:30-5:30 on weekdays and from 12:00-2:00 on Saturdays
Library Location & Contact Information
Address: 268 Calvin Jackson Drive, Ellijay, GA 30540.
Phone: 706-635- 4528. Fax: 706-635- 3528.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9AM-8PM, Friday and Saturday 9AM-6PM.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Ingles Markets has become the latest in a line of businesses offering a little extra to their employees after recent changes in taxes.
According to a letter to their employees, a one-time, seniority-based bonus will be offered to qualifying associates as a result of the recent tax reform.
FetchYourNews contacted Chief Financial Officer Ron Freeman of Ingles Markets to inquire further about the bonus. Freeman offered one comment saying, “We are happy any time we can pay our associates a bonus.” Freeman did not offer any further details on the bonus or its delivery.
The letter, sent on Feb. 23, confirmed the news with signatures from Chief Executive Officer/President James Lanning and Chairman Robert Ingle Jr.
Senate Gets Down to Business
By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)
Although the Senate was in session for only two days this week, my colleagues and I were very busy under the Gold Dome addressing budget proposals and a key piece of legislation on the Senate Floor.
The week started with Joint Senate and House Appropriations hearings on the Amended FY18 and General FY19 budgets. Governor Deal kicked off the hearings which included several different agencies presenting their budget proposals. I am happy to say that the state’s budget continues to be in good shape, with the General FY19 budget topping $26 billion for the first time. The General FY19 budget proposals were drafted with an estimated 2.9 percent state fund growth and around 3.8 percent tax revenue growth over the Amended FY18 revenue estimates. Included in the General FY19 budget are increases in funding for education and transportation.
The General FY19 budget addresses the needs for the state to meet determined employer contributions within the Teachers Retirement System with a proposed increase of around $364 million. Additionally, around $120 million would be appropriated for enrollment growth and training. Along with these positive changes in the General FY19 budget, an important proposal in the Amended FY18 budget is adding $15 million to purchase 194 school buses statewide. This will positively impact our students by ensuring that buses are not overcrowded.
The state’s growing need to address transportation infrastructure is also addressed in the General FY19 budget. An additional $31.6 million in projected revenues resulting from House Bill 170 – passed during the 2015 Legislation Session – will be added to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) budget. I am very happy to see that a piece of legislation we passed a couple of years ago is still making positive impacts for GDOT.
Along with attending the budget hearings and carefully reviewing the proposals for the Amended FY18 and General FY19 budgets, my colleagues and I took up a very important piece of legislation in Senate Chamber. On Thursday, the Senate passed the Supporting and Strengthening Families Act, also known as the Adoption Bill, or HB 159. This bill passed with bipartisan support and is now headed over to the House of Representatives for their review. Final passage of this legislation and a signature into law by the Governor would allow our state to update our adoption system which has been the same for nearly 30 years.
The Senate’s version of HB 159 clarifies many of the laws regarding who can adopt, who can act as a legal guardian and the rights held by the biological parents before and after giving their child up for adoption. Additionally, the version the Senate passed on Thursday states that if an agency is not involved in a private adoptive process, living expenses cannot be paid. The only expenses that can be paid in a private adoption are medical and counseling. These are just some of the highlights of the Senate version of HB 159. As this legislation moves through the legislative process, my colleagues and I will work with the Governor and House of Representatives to ensure there is cooperation to address concerns anyone may have. It is imperative that we pass this legislation so that we can assist the large number of children who are in foster care and need a loving and stable home.
The pace of the session is going to pick up quickly with standing committees beginning to hold meetings next week to vet legislation pending from last year along with new bills introduced this year. As we move forward in the session, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns and feedback. It is always great to hear from my constituents and our door is always open.