BOE Sets Millage Rate

News

Ellijay, Ga. – Holding their special meeting on July 31 after final consolidated numbers became available, the Gilmer County Board of Education presented their 5-year-tax-history and voted on their millage rate.

The 2018 Consolidated Tax Digest showed a 13% increase in real and personal property values and a 20.8% decrease in motor vehicle values. Alongside an increase in exemptions of 14.24%, the overall net increase settled at 11.48%.

Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs informed the board that, through these changes, their calculated rollback rate is 14.458 mill, decreasing from 2017’s 16.12 mill.

Approving the 14.458 mill rollback rate and 5-year-history during their called meeting, the Board is not done with this as they will return for final approval of the 1.662 decrease as the rollback millage rate at their August 23 meeting according to Downs.

Citizens wishing to speak to the board about this topic should contact Dr. Shanna Downs at the Board of Educations Administration and Technology Building (706-276-5000) to sign up to speak at the Regular Meeting or speak at the August 20 Work Session.

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BOE to call for an ESPLOST election

Election, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education has debated their plans for the future of Gilmer’s ESPLOST. Debating about the final item in plans for construction as well as bonding projects for the coming cycle.

While no official motion could be heard for the item as it was only the Board’s work session, the did take time to debate the issue with one member having to conference call in to join the discussion. Three major points of the plans to continue the county’s ESPLOST into another cycle were agreed to during the meeting.

With the results from the survey put forth by Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, the clear winner within the community became a Performing Arts Center.

Collecting more votes than the other two options combined, the Performing/Fine Arts Center (on GHS Campus) reached 1,069 votes. The multi-use Sports Facility collected 684 votes and the Indoor Swimming Pool collected 282 votes.

Downs presented this information to the Board on Monday, July 17, along with the three options for a final decision by the Board as a whole on which item to add to the ESPLOST referendum.

As the members considered the option, most agreed that they wanted to follow the survey.  Board member Jim Parmer said, “People have had a choice in making a decision and voting. I think we need to be open and transparent if that’s what they want.”

The only member who didn’t agree on the Performing Arts Center was Nick Weaver who said, “There was a lot of money spent the wrong ways before I got here, on the football stadium and everything else, and I think there’s a sports program out there that deserves and earned things and they’ve not gotten anything.”

An informal poll of the board went for the Arts Center with on Weaver as a dissenting vote. However, the final motion and decision will be made on Thursday, July 19, at 6 p.m. during their Regular Session meeting. The final vote will come on a final resolution drafted by the board’s attorney to include this as well as bonding and collection caps.

Those other items were also discussed during the work session as the board will be looking to bond the project for a new Elementary School on the board’s Clear Creek property. The board indicated this project would be bonded while all of the other projects will be done as collections reach the necessary point for them. A maximum bonding of $15 million was placed, but Downs noted they could lower this later if the entire amount was not needed.

The collection cap is an indication of the maximum amount collected by the ESPLOST during its cycle. Downs noted for the board that if they do not meet the maximum collection, there is no penalty, but if they do meet the maximum collection before the end of the cycle, they will be forced to stop collections early. Originally planning on a maximum of $25 million, the board discussion looked at the county’s growth and decided to stretch the maximum collection to $28 million to cover the potential for high growth in the county over the ESPLOST cycle.

As the board put these notes to its lawyer, Attorney Herman Clark, they will be officially looking at their official “Call for Election” on Thursday night to meet an early August deadline to be put on the November ballot for citizens.

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Gilmer Schools set to increase meal prices for 2019

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – During their May work session, the Gilmer County Board of Education heard a proposal from Director of Nutrition Services Linda Waters to increase meal prices in our schools.

Citing a March 2011 USDA Equity in School Lunch Pricing Fact Sheet and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 in the proposal, Waters said at the meeting that a Federal Regulation is forcing the increase from the 2010 act as a ten cent increase for Pre-K through 8th Grade. Instead, Waters proposed an alternative plan for the regulation to increase meals for all schools by five cents instead.

The proposal offered the new numbers as to a per meal and per week cost:

Approved by the board in their regular session, the meal prices will go into effect for the 2018-2019 school year.

During the meeting, Waters also informed the board that she would be moving towards more “scratch-made” meals in her efforts to increase student participation and response to the school’s meal plans.

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Georgia grant sees high scores for Gilmer

Bobcat's Corner

ELLIJAY, Ga. – May 3 saw exciting news for Gilmer county as State School Superintendent Richard Woods made the announcement of Gilmer County Charter School System as the second highest score in the Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading in Georgia (L4GA) grant by the Georgia Department of Education.

Over sixty districts applied for funding and a panel of trained reviewers scored the applications.  The districts with the highest scores received the grant.

Chief Academic Officer of the Gilmer County Charter School System Lottie Mitchell said, “We are so very proud of the hard work and dedication of our site facilitators, district, community and school literacy teams.”

According to Mitchell, Georgia was awarded a total of $61,579,800 over three years through the federal Striving Readers grant competition. Ninety-five percent of the funds are sub-granted to 38 districts.  The funds are distributed on per-pupil allocations to achieve the goal of the L4GA initiative, to improve student literacy learning.

With this grant in our county, Gilmer will receive approximately $1.46 million dollars over the next three years. These funds are allocated for students in schools within a feeder system (including birth-age 5 childcare providers and elementary, middle, and high schools).

Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes expanded on the excitement saying,  “As your superintendent, I could not be any prouder of this team! The dedication and commitment to the students and teachers in our district is overwhelmingly outstanding!  I am so proud to work alongside of all of you every day!”

Though the school system does not have specific details yet on exactly how the money will be spent, Mitchell states it is to be dedicated specifically to the improvement of literacy in the schools.

“It’s a great day for literacy in Georgia,” said Woods. “I am confident the $61 million Georgia is now able to invest in local schools and communities to support literacy will impact the lives of thousands of students. I commend each L4GA grant recipient – the competition was fierce as we received an unprecedented number of applications. Making sure Georgia students are reading on grade level remains mission-critical, top-priority work for us and I have no doubt these districts – who submitted clear, focused, student-centered plans to improve literacy outcomes – are going to use these funds to make a tremendous difference for kids.”

Additionally, the $61,579,800 Georgia received through the federal Striving Readers grant competition, the “parent grant” Georgia received from the federal government and is subgranting to 38 of its districts, was the highest award received by any state. Georgia was one of three states to receive the funding a second time after the initial grant cycle (2011-2016).

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Gilmer High School signs future teachers to college commitment

Bobcat's Corner

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer High School (GHS) saw a new celebration this year as they held a signing day for students committing to a college in order to become teachers themselves.

The inaugural event, held April 27 this year, showcased 11 students dedicating to three different colleges. Eight will be attending the University of North Georgia. Two will attend Dalton State College. One will attend Chattahoochee Technical College.

William Barnes, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Brittani Ballew, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Mckayla Chambers, a junior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Callie Kerr, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Jenny McCurdy, a senior, committed to Dalton State College.

 

 

Andrea Pantoja, a senior, committed to Dalton State College.

 

 

Erica Sharp, a junior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Kameron Stone, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Allison Strickler, a senior, committed to Chattahoochee Technical College.

 

 

Sarina Tran, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

 

Rachel Waddell, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.

 

These students have all been a part of the high school’s “Teaching as a Profession” pathway in the school as well as Work Based Learning so that each student will be heading into college with experience in his or her field. As a part of the day, students met with representatives from their colleges and receive a certificate recognizing their dedication and hard work.

A state event “signing day” will be held May 8. However, due to testing at that time, GHS held their signing day early.

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David Cooper feels he can reach across party lines and defeat Doug Collins

Election 2018, News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – David Cooper will face off against Josh McCall for Georgia’s 9th congressional district seat Democratic nomination. The winner of the May General Primary will then run against Republican incumbent Congressman Doug Collins in the November General Election.

Collins has held the Georgia 9th Congressional District seat since 2013.

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David Cooper seeks Democratic nomination in May General Primary.

Cooper stopped by the Fannin County Democratic meeting to share with Fannin County residents why he feels that he is the best man for the job.

“I am soldier. I have served in the forces that have guarded this country and our way of life, and I am prepared to serve again,” Cooper introduced himself.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration, Cooper has also had a career working various levels of government and is currently retired from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During his employment with the EPA, Cooper worked in hazardous waste clean up and also worked in commercializing green options, such as solar, wind, and geothermal.

Because of his background, Cooper feels that he can reach a wide audience: “I speak the language of patriotism and sacrifice. I speak the language of compassion and selfless service. I speak the language of public participation, cost effective regulation and legislation.”

“It is not about giving a speech. It’s not about making a list of here’s my issues, and wouldn’t it be cool if we could do these things. That is what every politician is taught to do,” Cooper said, explaining he wants to see real accomplishments.

“I am an unconventional candidate, and I will be running an unconventional campaign,” Cooper noted, adding that unlike his opponent, McCall, he would in fact seek to sway Republican voters. “I have the skills and experience to have those conversations.”

Cooper is convinced that there is no such thing as a single-issue voter and is confident that he can find common ground and common values among all residents of Georgia’s 9th District.

Cooper summarized his beliefs and his platform into three key elements, with the first being a need to “save democracy”. He feels this can be accomplished by stopping fake news, ensuring clean elections, and implementing term limits.

His second stance is to “protect what we hold dear.” Cooper cited a few areas that deserve our attention and care, with these being social security, medicare, women’s rights, the environment, veterans, and small businesses.

Cooper labeled his final stance as “progress for the future.” He would like to see steps made toward universal health care, common sense gun control, clean energy, fair taxes and affordable education.

“Not free education,” Cooper pointed out, “until we can get healthcare for everybody, don’t talk to me about free education.”

Locally, Cooper would like to work to support small businesses, citing that they are uniquely numerous in our area due to the tourism industry. He feels that one way to promote this would be to “energize the Small Business Administration to do more to support and provide more outreach.”

“That’s how we keep the Georgia 9th vibrant, keep these small businesses going,” Cooper added.

“Collins should not be making rules for anyone,” Cooper spoke of his Republican opponent. “His loyalties are not with the people.”

In the General Primary, Cooper said the focus should not be about himself running against McCall, but instead he advised the crowd, “You need to pick the person who can beat Doug Collins and who has a plan.”

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Josh McCall prepares to face Doug Collins in upcoming election

Election 2018, News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Josh McCall hopes to receive the Democratic nomination in the race for Georgia’s 9th congressional district seat.

This seat is currently held by incumbent Congressman Doug Collins. Collins has been Georgia’s 9th District representative since 2013.

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Josh McCall seeks Democratic nomination in May General Primary.

McCall has been traveling the district during his campaign, and made a stop at the Fannin County Democratic meeting to discuss with residents why he should represent our district.

Tired of hearing negativity in politics and disagreeing with many of today’s political moves, McCall stated that it had gotten to the point where he dreaded looking at his phone to get the latest news.

“Inevitably, as though it is some kind of force of fate, I do open my phone because I do care about my country and I want to know what’s happening,” McCall added.

Criticizing the Republicans, McCall referred to the party’s Debt Clock: “because everything that goes into feeding the poor people, those Republicans are putting it on the clock.”

“They just passed a bill handing over the fortunes of our children that was supposed to go into green infrastructure and the educational facilities of tomorrow,” McCall spoke of the party’s hypocrisy, “and it went into the pockets of billionaires.”

McCall added, “Let me tell you the red letters of our (Democrats) debt clock. They are written in the blood of students who died at Parkland. They’re written in the blood of the children who died daily from gun violence in this nation, which is breaking out like an epidemic.”

According to McCall Republicans used to care about urgent matters such as the National Debt and what is being left to the nation’s children, but their concerns have since shifted.

McCall wants to see focus put on healthcare and the costs related to this field, stating, “Those are the threats that are really facing us. You deserve life and you deserve health.”

“It is my fundamental belief that nobody should die because they are poor, and that nobody should be poor because they are dying,” McCall reiterated his passion to see meaningful change.

On national matters, McCall would like to see corporations “put on check” for environmental damage, and for lobbyists and organizations to have less of a hold on our government, citing that NRA (National Rifle Association) money is what stops real change to gun control.

“We are in too many nations right,” McCall said stating that we should pull forces out and invest at home,”There is not a single nation with a possible exception of Korea, that is any better off than it was before we invaded it.”

McCall would like to form a Public Service Coalition to serve at home and focus on social needs. The Civil Conservation Corp. could provide services such as taking care of the elderly in their homes and aid in environmental protection and clean up in exchange for scholarships to colleges.

For a two year term, McCall suggests, participants could receive a two-year technical degree scholarship, and for a four-year term, participants could receive a scholarship for a four year Bachelor’s Degree.

McCall switched gears to speak of his stance on the Second Amendment, “I firmly believe in the Second Amendment. The problem is the NRA does not. They only believe in that second part that makes them money.”

Citing that no one is safe in any public space in today’s climate, McCall emphasized that there is need for a well regulated militia.

“If they are law abiding citizens of sound mind, I want them to have that bolt action rifle. Their hunting rifle,” McCall stated, but also explained that there needs to be meaningful change.

One simple solution that he felt could have a lasting impact would be to have a 10 bullet limit on magazines, and outlaw removable clips. Other solutions would be to have gun owners secure weapons in their homes to keep them away from children. McCall stated that Georgia was number one in the nation for toddlers to die of gun related deaths.

“I don’t believe in confiscation,” McCall made very clear if new reform were to pass.

Locally McCall would like to focus on infrastructure in the 9th District, and have improvements to infrastructure done by people trained in our area.
If McCall were to receive the Democratic nomination, he spoke of where he differs from his Republican opponent Doug Collins.

“I believe that Doug Collins is most vulnerable in his complacency,” McCall stated and added that this election year Collins cannot ignore the Democratic party.

“Compassion and cooperation are the center pieces of my campaign,” McCall said and then added, “That is where he is vulnerable, he has not a compassionate or cooperative bone in his body, and that is our strength.”

McCall concluded by saying, “Am I my brother’s keeper? My answer to that is a resounding yes. This race is truly not about me. I have faith in the people of the 9th District.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Facilities plan discussed at board retreat

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education has detailed the plans for their buildings over the next five years at a board retreat in March.

The plan incorporates the use of Instructional Units (IUs) in relation to state and federal programs utilized to spread funding to counties based on their “need.” By better planning facility use and more details on those facilities, the Gilmer County Charter School System (GCCSS) hopes to maximize their IUs to secure as much funding as possible from these state programs.

The funding itself, however, comes in the form of reimbursements instead of pre-project funds. Most citizens should recall this is the same process the board is currently using a part of its coming renovations at Gilmer High School (GHS). The applications will allow for partial reimbursement of a few parts of the project including items like roofing and HVAC work.

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes

Additionally, the board retreat allowed members to discuss and see the current plan on what they will be seeking in terms of facility changes and movements to come. Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes asserted that the plan is the board’s current intentions for the future, but that it was also not set in stone. Parts of the plan rely on approval of the next Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) for example. She also told FetchYourNews that the plan could change with major unforeseen circumstances.

Allowing the flexibility to change gives the school board a cushion for contingencies and alterations while also giving the guide for the next five years.

The plan described will see the board finishing up the GHS renovations before adding onto Mountain View Elementary school. The board is planning to have Ellijay Primary School (EPS), Ellijay Elementary School (EES), and Mountain View Elementary School converted into full, preschool through fifth grade (P-5) elementary schools. Looking even further ahead, the board is also discussing moving what is now EPS to a new building on the board’s property near Yukon, near Clear Creek Middle School.

As a part of this conversion, the three P-5 elementary Schools would serve their local districts where they are located. Students would then move to Clear Creek Middle School as the county’s sole middle school for grades six through eight. Moving up from there, students would attend Gilmer High School’s campus with the current Gilmer Middle School serving on campus as a ninth-grade academy and the current GHS building serving grades 10 through 12.

One possibility could see EPS becoming a preschool to second grade with EES as third grade to fifth grade until the new building can be completed, but regardless the plan will ultimately end in the three P-5 schools.

That new facility would have the board moving away from Ellijay Primary School, avoiding the damages from its location in the flood plain and moving out of a nearly 50-year-old building, as well as having the new building in a better location for its district.

Once the new building for EPS is completed, the board wants to look at EES for needed renovations at that time. According to Gilmer Schools Assistant Superintendent, Administrative Services, Stuart Sheriff, completing EES renovations should see a potential 10-year period where the board’s facilities would only need normal maintenance, requiring no major renovations.

With people still asking why the board does not utilize their old location for Oakland Elementary, Dr. Wilkes noted that Oakland can only house 247 students making it too small to be utilized. She also noted other issues the board has faced with the location, including sewage leasing and relative location to other schools and district possibilities.

With the plan set, the board has already been moving on GHS renovations and will begin phase one of the two-phase project this summer.

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