Local Winery Celebrates Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Announcements, Business, Community, Featured, Festivals, Gilmer County Chamber, Neighborhood Merchants, News

One of just many new and upcoming local wineries in Gilmer County celebrated their grand opening on Thursday July 29.

The Gilmer Chamber of Commerce welcomed the new Buckley Vineyards and wished them success. Chamber Director Bobby McNeil opened the ceremony and gave the floor to owners Kevin and Gay Buckley. After a short speech, the couple, surrounded by chamber ambassadors, cut the ribbon to officially debut their new winery. Approximately a hundred people attended the event which included music from sixteen-year-old Adrian Lyles who was a hit with the crowd.

Kevin Buckley, owner, addresses the crowd .

Each year, local Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors welcome new businesses with a special Ribbon Cutting ceremony. Ambassador Lee Johnson explained they have been very busy lately catching up with some of the new previous business owners after the pandemic.  Ambassador Kimberly Adamson was in attendance along with several others as well.

Also, celebrating a grand opening was a new limo service that will transport patrons to local wineries. Owner Tim Grimmer cut his own business ribbon too.

Sage Food Truck held its grand opening too. The vendor will serve some great cuban sandwiches and set up shop every weekend at Buckley Winery.

Buckley Vineyards opened earlier this year after acquiring the old Henry Evans homestead property.  The property is surrounded by  Turkey Creek and has a beautiful scenic view.  Kevin and Gay, owners of the property, have turned it into a beautiful winery and produce many of their own wines. They also sell some micro-brewery beer. The winery is just one of the local wineries.

Kevin explained that he loves gardening and has always wanted to open his own vineyard.  With some help learning the ropes from Mike Ott, owner of Ott Vineyard and Farms, in the field of growing grapes he has achieved his dream. The Buckley Winery is located at 708 Henry Evans Rd., Ellijay, Georgia, and is open seven days a week.

 

Tim Grimmer is pictured here cutting the ribbon.

New food truck owner ‘Sage’ also cuts a ribbon at the event for his grand opening.

Author

Pam Guenther

I am a native of N.H but more recently lived in Florida for most of my life recently moving to Georgia. I am a graduate of Concord, N.H. High School and also the N.H. tech Institute. I raised three children, my youngest being a Florida Highway Patrolman in Gainesville Fl. I love the mountain life and enjoy writing, walking, motorcycles and most outdoorsy activities. I love meeting new people and making new frineds because everyone has a story!

Governor Brian Kemp visits CORE Facility in Ellijay

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Partnerships and people coming together, these are the ideas stressed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp as he visited the CORE (Collaboration on River’s Edge) Facility this week along with Great Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, left, speaking with Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford, right, before entering the CORE Facility in Ellijay on September 29, 2020.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, left, speaking with Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford, right, before entering the CORE Facility in Ellijay on September 29, 2020.

Speaking to local officials, citizens, and media about business and thriving past the COVID-19 virus, Kemp began his remarks by commenting on Georgia’s status as the top state in the nation for doing business for the seventh consecutive year. A point that Kemp said isn’t something the state has done, but he said, “We only win that title because of so many people that are working on that every day at the local level.”

He made note of the Chambers, the economic development, university system, the technical college system, k-12 education, and small business owners as just a few of those people coming together to make Georgia such a powerhouse.

Kemp said he has been in the small business/entrepreneur position and he understands that people are looking for answers with concerns about their jobs and their businesses. He lauded these businesses and the connection that the CORE Facility holds in their future. Speaking on success and the outbreak, Kemp said the most successful projects that his office has been a part of have had good local support and community partners. “It makes us much more competitive.”

Ga Governor Brian Kemp visits CORE Ellijay

Posted by Fetch Your News on Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Rural Georgia was another focus during his remarks, bringing opportunity and innovation can bring better opportunities with people working hard towards providing the tools needed. Kemp pointed out projects like rural broadband as part of the push to provide the opportunities necessary to fuel that innovation.

Kemp called the CORE Facility an asset to the county as it has provided a great service in its collaborations with a small footprint. He said it is “pretty remarkable and very efficient.”

With four new projects yet unannounced, Kemp’s push for an economic pipeline in Georgia is seeing progress. He noted Papa John’s moving their headquarters to the state alongside a 30 percent increase in projects outside the metro area.

This is the evidence, Kemp says, that the efforts of the Georgia Legislature is paying off. He also included all Georgians in the level of growth as the state has set records in July and August amid the pandemic.

Kemp said, “I think it says a lot about who we are as a state and who we are as a people. We are resilient. We knew that we couldn’t continue to shelter in place forever. We had to figure out how to fight the virus and work on saving lives. But we also had to fight the virus and work on saving livelihoods.”

State Senator Steve Gooch, right, also attended the event alongside local officials like Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, left, and Chamber President/CEO Paige Hutto, middle, as Governor Brian Kemp visited Ellijay, Georgia, to tour the CORE Facility.

State Senator Steve Gooch, right, also attended the event alongside local officials like Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, left, and Chamber President/CEO Paige Hutto, middle, as Governor Brian Kemp visited Ellijay, Georgia, to tour the CORE Facility.

Just as devastating as the virus, Kemp said losing those is why he is looking at suicide rates, child abuse, mental illness, and so much other outlying effects.

Kemp said the state still has a long way to go in the future, but we cannot “take our foot off the gas.” He said the state is going to keep moving forward through the virus and through growing business.

Part of that business is tourism. He pointed that the best way to support that is to keep the virus numbers going down, but he was also glad to hear successes in rural areas of Georgia like the CORE Facility.

Kemp is pushing for continued reopening as he later said that we all need to continue following guidance in order to “methodically reopen the economy.” With lower numbers, he said we need to keep going on with what we are doing. It will take time for some businesses to recover.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, left, speaking with Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford, right, before entering the CORE Facility in Ellijay on September 29, 2020.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, left, speaking with Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford, right, before entering the CORE Facility in Ellijay on September 29, 2020.

Keeping those numbers down will include rapid-tests as Kemp said they are looking for places to deliver hundreds of thousands of those tests a week. He noted long-term care facilities, hospitals, and schools. He noted the citizens support and efforts to avoid a spike on Labor Day. Though not “declaring victory” yet, he is optimistic as Georgia moves forward through the virus.

Pleased with what he has been seeing in Gilmer County despite closing larger events like the Apple Festival, Kemp said certain industries are doing better than others, but he said its public confidence that can change and needs to be able to change to support industries like tourism.

Will Gilmer feel an economic impact from cancelling the Apple Festival?

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Festival

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With the recent announcement of the cancellation of the 2020 Apple Festival, many are still wondering about the impact, the decisions, and the virus’ toll on the festival season.

Earlier this year, Chamber officials were planning on make-up days for the Apple Blossom Festival left over from May. At one point, discussions were set to host the Apple Blossom Festival in August and then the Apple Festival in October as normal. Now, neither of these festivals will see make-up days as the boards over each have fully cancelled the events.

Most of the citizens concerns voice through comments and social media revolve more around the virus than any economic impact. Some are applauding the choice, like Dylan Slade who called it a good decision stating, “Public Health Foremost.”

Still others are discounting the choice. Courtney Graham didn’t state whether she thought the cancellation was good or bad, but did state, “The apple houses are open, the rental cabins are open, they will still come.”

A Report of the Hotel/Motel Tax Collections for Gilmer County.

This statement does hold some merit as FYN gathered reports from the county and cities. According to Gilmer County’s Financial Officer, Sandi Holden, the collections of Hotel/Motel Tax in June alone reached $113,870. According to county records, their Hotel/Motel Tax has never been over $100,000 in the last three years. Comparing June to the same month in previous years, 2019 totaled $78,044. In 2018, June totaled $75, 108. In 2017, June totaled only $52,838.

Additionally, there has been only one month that reached $90,000. That was October 2019.

Ellijay is not that different, either. Their year-to-date report shows them already reaching $8,196 by July. Just under half of last year’s total collection of $16,882 and just over two-thirds of 2018’s $11,399 total.

However, October is consistently among the highest months for the county, showing that the Festival season does have a major impact on local economy. October was the highest month of the year for Hotel/Motel Tax in both 2018 and 2019. In 2017, it was third highest behind November and July, the highest month.

Digging deeper than just Hotel/Motel Tax, SPLOST collections on sales tax in the County paint a very similar story with one notable difference.

SPLOST Collections for the last six years show certain trends, but nothing is set to predict the coming three months.

Just like the Hotel/Motel, SPLOST shows the months of June and July of 2020 setting records for collections in the county. According to Holden, June 2020 saw a SPLOST revenue of $440,176. July 2020 saw a SPLOST Revenue of $453,981.

SPLOST Revenue has only gone above $400,000 three times in the last six years. December 2019 reached $406,020. November 2018 reached $400,655. In those years, October has never gone above $400,000. The final also came in 2020, January reached $401,243.

Therein lies the difference. Whereas the Hotel/Motel Tax saw major increases in October, SPLOST collections saw less so, with October usually falling behind November and December in collections.

Comparatively, April of 2020, which worried local county and city governments and saw halts to projects and capital spending as they awaited the numbers to see how bad the economy would get, saw a collection of $374,630. Higher than any previous year’s October except 2019.

Locals are split with some saying they are happy with the decision and others questioning different signals from different entities. Some online have commented saying that one entity is cancelling the festival while another entity is pushing forward with opening schools, a hot topic in August with news stories from all over Georgia highlighting the issue.

However, one downtown business owner is optimistic despite the cancelled festival.

Festival

Craftsmen, Food Vendors, artists, musicians, and many others are a part of the annual festival that stretches far beyond just the fairgrounds and ecmpossaes Apple Arts, a parade, musical shows, a beauty pageant, car shows, and more across two weekends.

Steve Cortes, owner of WhimZ Boutique and Heart and Vine and a former head of the merchant’s association, said, “It’s certainly going to have an impact.”

Cortes explained, however, that his hope is that a lot of people will still come. Even in recent years, he notes that his business has had many vacationers, leaf-lookers, and others who either didn’t know of the Festival or weren’t planning to attend.

Cortes admitted there would be an impact, but added on saying, “I don’t think it’s going to have as big of an impact as everybody fears.”

He said that he believes many of the counties visitors have already made plans and probably won’t cancel them. And so he is preparing for an increase as he notes he has continued following guidelines with masks and other ways to combat the virus in his store.

One major note he added, is that August is looking better than his recent months in the business. Comparing sales and business with previous years, August has been optimistically close.

Comparisons of finances are suggesting just as many people could be heading our way in October. It seems an impact is coming, but no clear picture is available yet on what kind of increase or decrease could be seen. Cancelling the festival could mean that business is more spread out across the county, or it could mean overcrowded Apple Houses and Vineyards. It could either mean a more spread out October instead of focused into two weekends, or it could mean a dip from the record setting two months that the county has seen in June and July.

Re-opening business amid COVID-19

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – With business reopening and some coming earlier than others, many are only doing so amid modified schedules, rules, and procedures during this time.

While Kemp’s order has allowed a few early returns from the shutdown, others are not joining the movement at this time, instead waiting to see more details and results. Lucky Nails inside the shopping are next to Ingles in East Ellijay still has not changed their same sign they’ve had the entire shutdown saying they will remain closed until further notice. On the other hand the nail salon at Highland Crossing said the salon will be taking all the necessary steps to ensure your safety and health as they  reopen. As a part of that, they are limitng the amount of people that they service, asking for patience in this time.

Further, they added a few details, asking customers to please cancel your appointment if you are not feeling well. They are also requesting that you bring a mask with you to your appointment if you have one and to come to your appointment alone. “This will help us limit our people in the salon & spa,” they said. They are continuing on reduced hours, opening Wednesday to Saturday for now, saying they would resume normal hours later.

Gyms are another business taking the opportunity to return. Anytime Fitness is opening only during a modified schedule including staffed hours. They said the schedule will last until at least May 13. As members enter, they will have their temperature scanned for entry. Monday through Thursday they will open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

Club Manager Heidi George said they are already seeing a number of people return to the gym, thankful that business is resuming. George said that the shutdown did, of course, have a financial effect, but that they are excited to see people respecting the adjustments as they obey Kemp’s orders and guidelines.

George went on to add that some of those restrictions are also having them mark of certain equipment to help aid in the social distancing requirements. Staff are maintaining the facilities, disinfecting every couple of hours, scanning temperatures, and also providing services when possible as large classes are not yet able to resume.

Despite everything, George said she has been encouraged by the return because of how kind and polite everyone has been in the gym.

Similarly, another normally 24-hour gym, Workout Anytime posted to social media about extended staff hours to accommodate more members. Monday- Thursday 5am – 8pm, Friday 5am – 7pm, Saturday 9am – 3pm, and Sunday 10am – 3pm. With restrictions and closed equipment like tanning beds, these facilities are opening up as much as they can right now.

“We’ve purchased all recommended cleaning solutions and have put in place stringent cleaning guidelines to promote sanitation,” they said.

However, restrictions to appointments, procedures, and new rules are also reaching across to other businesses like hair salons.

Spectra Hair Designs on North Main Street in Ellijay is another business asking for patience amid the reopening. They have even started a slogan saying, “Show Your Roots!”

Opening Friday, the owners said they were grateful for the opportunity. There are state safety precautions that they, too, must follow to be open. For those with appointments, You will need to bring your own mask and wear it, You’ll have your temperature taken before service, and they will not allow any extra people with you in the building.

“We will be taking all necessary precautions and sanitation procedures to ensure your safety while at Spectra,” they said. Many businesses are following suit with heightened cleaning regimens and restrictive procedures.

Another hair stylist and business doing make-up and hair, Madison Kiser posted to social media saying they were excited be back. The post also said that the business is attempting to ensure safety and health in the environment, asking a few extras of those seeking to make appointments.

Just like other companies they asked that you bring only yourself to your appointment time and to wear a mask if you have one or they could provide one. Additionally, they are also scanning people’s temperatures as they enter and logging it into a sign in sheet. However, they are also asking that if you are early, then wait in your vehicle until you are waved to come in.

In the post they said, “The last thing that we ask of you is to be patient with us. Coming back from this pandemic we are aware that you, as well as everyone else needs beauty needs met. We are scheduling everyone appropriately to keep plenty of time in between to clean and sanitize…”

Barbara’s Hair Designs is also asking citizens to sign in for appointments and then wait in vehicles for their turn for hair appointments. Many of the same rules repeat for wearing masks and maintaining the social distancing. Most businesses are following the lines.

Even those that didn’t fully close during the shutdown are starting to see business ramp up again as citizens begin venturing back out. Kemp is continuing to ease restrictions and plans to end the shutdown soon. Yet, while some are willing, others are planning on continuing to shelter in place despite his suggestions.

Speaker Ralston Announces North Georgia Office of the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation in Ellijay

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(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/.

Financial expenses on focus in East Ellijay

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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.

Light-Up Ellijay shines through clouds and rain

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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.

 

 

Make sure to check out FYN’s Facebook Photo Album for more pictures from the event as well as the Facebook page for videos that we streamed live from Light-Up Ellijay.

 

Gilmer Foundation’s new CORE in business

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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.

New Theater Officially Open in East Ellijay

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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.

Georgia Theater Company President Bo Chambliss, left, and Chairman William Stembler, right, say a few words of thanks before cutting the film ribbon to open Mountain Cinemas.

Georgia Theater Company President Bo Chambliss, left, and Chairman William Stembler, right, say a few words of thanks before cutting the film ribbon to open Mountain Cinemas.

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.

Mountain Cinemas larger theaters hold 145 people at max capacity.

Mountain Cinemas larger theaters hold 145 people at max capacity.

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 fully reclining seats are operated electronically for back a foot rests.

The fully reclining seats are operated electronically for back a foot rests.

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.

 

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This Week At Gilmer County Library: March 21, 2018 – March 28, 2018

Community

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

Youth Programs
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
Youth Crochet
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.
Adult Programs
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.

Gilmer Library


https://www.facebook.com/GilmerLibrary
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9AM-8PM, Friday and Saturday 9AM-6PM.

Ingles offers employees one-time bonus

Business, News

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.

Gooch: Senate Gets Down to Business

State & National

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.

Senator David Perdue Recaps This Year’s Results, Previews 2018 on Fox News

State & National

Senator David Perdue Recaps This Year’s Results, Previews 2018 on Fox News

 

ATLANTA, GA – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) spoke with Mike Emanuel on Fox News’ Special Report about President Trump’s significant accomplishments during his first year in office and the priorities heading into 2018.

Delivering Results: “President Trump laid out four agenda items this year. We accomplished most of them. President Trump wants to continue to get results. The economy is going to move now that we started regulatory work and with the tax bill we just passed.”

Early Success: “The President is working diligently to get ready for 2018, but he is very happy with the results of 2017. His first year in office we saw 2 million new jobs created, 860 rules and regulations being reversed, illegal crossings down 60%, 500 people have been fired at the Veterans Administration for non-performance. The President is very excited about the future of our country now that we’re moving to get the economy going again.”

Business Focus: “We have a business guy in the White House for a change. He is moving at a business place, not a bureaucratic pace. Look, 2018 is an election year, but we have different leadership in the White House. He is not going to waive off his priorities for an election process.”

Immigration Solution: “President Trump, Senator Tom Cotton, and I have been consistently saying that any solution for DACA has to include an end to this archaic chain migration and money for border security and the wall at our southern border.”

Helping American Workers: “That’s what’s wrong with Washington, career politicians don’t understand how the free enterprise system works. The best thing we can do for the American worker, the American consumer, for anyone who works in America is to help our businesses, large and small, become competitive again with the rest of the world.”

Breaking The Gridlock: “The problem in Washington is gridlock. The minority party is causing that right now, but there are signs of encouragement. Frankly, the immigration issue is one that should have a bipartisan solution. We believe we can do that early in the new year. The President is going to keep focused on that as we get back to work next week.”

Senator David Perdue Addresses Local Elected Officials At White House

State & National

Senator David Perdue Addresses Local Elected Officials At White House

“Georgia is leading the way”

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), Vice President Mike Pence, and senior Trump Administration officials joined Georgia county commissioners and state legislators at a White House event this week highlighting how Georgia is leading at the national level to help influence and shape major policy decisions impacting the people of Georgia and our country.

Highlights:

Best State For Business: “This is the fifth year in a row that Georgia has been named the best state in the country in which to do business. That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because we’re business friendly. We have great people and great workers, and we have state legislators that are from the real world – people who come for 40 or 45 days and then go home to their businesses or professions to make a living for their family. I believe that keeps you in direct contact with what’s important.”

Leading The Way: “I want to highlight a few Georgians who are serving in this Administration: our former governor, Sonny Perdue, is doing a great job as Secretary of Agriculture; Nick Ayers is the Vice President’s Chief of Staff; Billy Kirkland is Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the White House. Tom Graves and Doug Collins are in different forms of leadership in the House. Johnny Isakson is leading the charge for our veterans. Zippy Duvall is President of the Farm Bureau and making a big difference. Chris Wray is our FBI Director. Ashley Bell is Director of External Affairs for the Peace Corps. Major General Bob McMahon from Warner Robins is an Assistant Secretary of Defense, and we’ve nominated and confirmed several U.S. attorneys and federal judges from Georgia.”

Making A Serious Impact: “Many of the people you’ve heard from today have Georgia roots. It’s clear that the state of Georgia is hitting way above our weight class. We’re the eighth largest state in the country population wise and we’re making a serious impact up here.”

Senator Perdue and Vice President Pence were joined by several Georgia natives serving in the Trump administration, including Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue; Vice President Pence’s Chief of Staff, Nick Ayers; and White House Intergovernmental Affairs Deputy Director, Billy Kirkland. Representatives from the Small Business Administration, Departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Energy and Education, and Housing and Urban Development also addressed the group.

Rezoning and Repaving Take Focus in November for BOC

News, Police & Government

ELLIJAY, GA – Rezonings and LMIG took a large portion of the Board of Commissioners November Meetings as opposition and details came in abundance for both.

A request to rezone for Lalit Devgan, Tax Map 3150 Parcel 007a, wanted to add a conditional use to the R-1 Residential Zoning. The conditional use would allow for a bed and breakfast home. Though Devgan and the Realtor spoke on behalf of the Bed and Breakfast, numerous others spoke against it. Bill Craig spoke at the meeting about a petition with over 20 names set against the rezone.

Craig also noted the county definition of a bed and breakfast home states the owner must live in the building while maintaining short overnight stays for no more than four guests. Craig and others noted that Devgan openly admitted he would not continually occupy the house as his family lives in Atlanta.

While the idea of “owner occupied” could be overcome by giving a share of the business to a manager. Still more citizens spoke about the business and their opposition to it. Aiden Stuart spoke on the concept of wanting to maintain his area outside of the city to be non-commercial. Saying he moved to Gilmer for the mountain home, he opposed the rezoning as it would be changing the concept of his neighborhood.

As the Commissioners debated the rezoning request, Chairman Charlie Paris stated he would vote to protect what the citizens believe to keep the rural parts of the county in a rural setting. Opposing the rezoning, Paris stated that citizens who move to the county and “do their homework,” to see that the entire surrounding area is marked R1 for a residential zone, want to avoid something commercial coming in later, “I think we have an obligation to protect that for them.”

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller noted he believed the ordinance should be changed to avoid the commercialization of residential zones, but as the ordinance currently stands, he could not vote against it as it is allowed by the ordinance. The application being “pretty cut and dry,” he would have to allow it as a Commissioner. While he noted he really did not want to vote either way, he was not allowed to abstain, therefore voting in favor of the rezoning.

Post Commissioner Travis Crouch also noted the land use ordinance, stating a bed and breakfast home was in the ordinance as an allowed conditional use. He stated he felt conflicted over the issue, but weighing in the ordinance and the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board as a unanimous decision to approve, Crouch voted in favor of the rezoning.

With the vote, Chairman Paris actually first moved to deny the request, but had no second. Therefore, his motion died. Crouch then motioned to approve with a second from Miller. The final vote came 2-1 with Paris being the dissenting vote.

Another major issue discussed over the month’s meetings came through next year’s LMIG. The County received estimates for the LMIG funds, along with the currently awarded bids for materials next year. Public Works Director Jim Smith originally gave a list of roads he recommended to pave next year. However, seeing the bids in the work session, Smith recalculated and returned to the Regular Session to estimate the county will be able to re-pave 7.63 miles of road in the unincorporated areas. Especially citing stone increasing by a dollar per ton, Asphault increasing on the 12.5 milmeter super pave by $3.76 per ton, and Emulsion expected to increase even after rebidding, Smith recommended the following roads for LMIG next year: Tower Road, Johnson Mill Road, Blackberry Mountain Road, Pisgah Road, and Cherokee Drive in addition to the second half of the Mountaintown Road as Phase 2 from this years paving.

The 2018 LMIG will also return to County Personnel laying and paving the roads as opposed to bidding the projects this year to free up resources and people to continue working on the Cherry Log Fire Station.

The Board also approved an offer for Duplicating Processes for a new copier contract as seen below. The Commissioners noted that several private entities in the county use this company as well as certain offices in the county who already use them.

Additionally in the meeting, the Commissioners appointed Max Holstein to the Whitepath Golf Course Advisory Board. Though the Commissioners originally had another candidate, Chairman Paris noted he would like to not fill the Board with locals around the Golf Course, but instead maintain a variety of people from across the county.

New Executive Director Officially Takes Office Today

Business, News

EAST ELLIJAY, GA – The Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) has gone months through its process of looking to replace its executive director after its previous director resigned.

Today marks the end of that search. While we have known for a while now that Kent Sanford, formerly of Park Sterling Bank, would be taking the position, it is today that the transition has been completed and he officially takes office.

With the job ahead, Sanford told FYN, “As I watched the sun come up from my new office this morning, I was reminded of the bright future Gilmer County has before us.  We have a great deal of work to do, but I am excited to get started and humbled to be part of the process and working with an excellent team of professionals.”

As he begins moving around town, introducing himself to the businesses and beginning to attract more growth to the county, the JDA will hold their fourth quarter meeting this Monday, November 6, at 8 a.m. Also, stay with FYN as we continue updates and sit down with Sanford later this month.

Also, be sure to check out more with our previous article, “JDA Announces New Executive Director.”

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