Gilmer ARTS endorses Arts Center in ESPLOST survey

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer ARTS program has weighed in on an ongoing survey from the Gilmer County Charter School System.

The survey is for options on an upcoming Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) cycle starting in 2020. As FetchYourNews previously reported in “BOE asks for citizen input on 2020 ESPLOST,” the options include a performing/fine arts center (on the Gilmer High School campus), a multi-use sports facility (gym, weight rooms, wrestling center, batting cages, track), or an indoor swimming pool. There is also an option for citizens to forego these options and write in their own suggestion in an “other” box.

Now, Gilmer ARTS has endorsed the option for a Performing Arts Center noting, “The options included a much overdue and badly needed performing arts center. Gilmer is far behind our neighbors in Fannin to the north and Pickens to the south. Both counties have wonderful performing arts facilities that enhance the performances of not only school system student programs but also community use for concerts and events.”

Gilmer ARTS also noted their partnership agreement with the school system and the hard work that the students have put in for some of the most successful programs in the high school. In their official release, Gilmer ARTS stated, “We have competition-winning programs in our schools with art, instrumental and choral music and have had for many years (Champions if you will).”

With little time left for the survey, the release asks for all citizens to either follow the Survey link or log on to the Gilmer Schools website and click the survey link at the top of the page, so they can offer their voice and vote on the possible options.

BOC Changes Fuel Bid Ordinance and More at October Meeting


ELLIJAY, GA – October became very unusual for the Board of Commissioners. A shorter order of business saw few things on the agenda for the Board as they move into the final quarter of the year.

However, fewer items presented no less importance as the commissioners discussed a serious change to their ordinance that is exempting fuel purchaes from the bid process for the year. Commission Chairman Charlie Paris told FYN that environmental issues preventing the use of previous underground tanks to stock fuel for the year has actually caused the Commissioners an inability to open and receive bids for gas.

Currently, the Commissioners approved the ordinance change as it was the second reading and no citizens spoke at the public hearing. However, Paris also indicated in the meeting a desire to return to bidding fuel once the county is able to construct new above ground storage tanks. Though he stated a desire to move towards construction with the 2019 budget, he did not see a possibility of it fitting into the 2018 budget.

With approval of the change, the county is now compliant with its ordinances again having not bid for fuel.

Budget discussion continued as the Commissioners turned their attention to the continuing story of the Tabor and Watkins houses. Recent inspections have revealed termites in both buildings. However, the damage has not reached an extreme yet according to reports. As the Board nears the later part of October, they will begin detailed discussions of the 2018 budget. At this time, the Board has officially tabled any action on treatment for the termites as they are attempting to fit it into the 2018 budget instead of the current 2017.

This could mean that treatment may begin as early as January for the infestation, but citizens will not know the definitive time tables until October 26 after the budget work sessions.

As for the Watkins house, the County has begun moving Planning and Zoning Offices into their new building. While discussion has gone on for two months now as to three different requests for space at the Watkins house, Paris stated in the County’s Work Session that one option could include simply leasing the property to the Gilmer Chamber and allowing them to sub-lease space to the other two as they see fit.

Those other two requests include a request to hold and display some of the museum pieces from the Tabor House and a request to display art and other things from Gilmer ARTS.

Additionally, the October Meetings saw the Board approve Mark Troxell to the Airport Advisory Board, and approval for an Alcoholic Beverage License to Park’s Place Convinient Store & More LLC.

Karla’s Korner – Summer Time = Fun Time!


As always Karla and I pick on BKP on Tuesday mornings. There is SO much going on this week and weekend in Gilmer County. Karla and her team are officially picking the name Mr. Bigfoot today! There will be live music all over the county this weekend from restaurants to vineyards and even pick’n on the porch. Gilmer Arts and Plein Art will be doing their “Art in the Mountains” around the county this weekend. If you love local art then you definitely want to check this event out. Also, the Annual Charles Sumner Racking Horse Show will be going on at the Saddle Club arena on Saturday. All of this and even more going on in the great Gilmer County this weekend. To get times, locations, and more info on all these fun events check out the Gilmer Chamber’s event calendar. Thank you to the Gilmer County Chamber for sponsoring this segment.

Writer’s Workshop with Rona Simmons at Gilmer ARTS


Gilmer ARTS Rona Simmons Writer's Workshop

Gilmer ARTS Celebrates New Playhouse

George Link Jr Playhouse Ribbon Cutting

ELLIJAY, GA – Celebrating over two years of work, Gilmer ARTS held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, August 10, to officially open the doors of the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.

Congressman Doug Collins, right, speaks with a local citizen soon after cutting the ribbon on the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.

Congressman Doug Collins, right, speaks with a local citizen soon after cutting the ribbon on the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.

Hosting local community members at the Gilmer Chamber Luncheon, the playhouse also saw Congressman Doug Collins and Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston speak before the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

The project of building the playhouse began under then-President of Gilmer ARTS John Rathbone who has followed the project through under new President Sharon Watkins. Rathbone says Watkins has done a wonderful job continuing the dream of the playhouse saying, “There isn’t really anyone who could have succeeded me in that position that I would have felt better about.”

Now the Executive Director of the Project, Rathbone has listed several issues the playhouse still faces such as sponsors and funding, but he feels the greater accomplishment for Gilmer ARTS is the support for the playhouse finding volunteers for positions like Artistic Director, Facility Manager, Production Manager, and Marketing Manager among others.

Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, David Ralston

Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, David Ralston

Community Support was echoed by Speaker Ralston when FYN caught up with him after the ceremony. Ralston told FYN, “I think it says a lot about the community, it says they are looking forward, not back. This is the result of community interest, so I think this community can take a lot of pride in what they’ve done.”

Rathbone and Watkins both mentioned the new opportunities the facility will open for both events downtown and access to community. A wide variety of events have already been booked for the venue including musical theater, comedy, magic mind reading,  and country music to name a few for the fall alone. More than that the community itself can contact Gilmer ARTS to discuss renting the facility for their own needs. The opportunities also spill over into the Gilmer ARTS original building as renovations will begin on that to increase space for classes, art gallery, and   exhibitions. The new renovations are set to begin Monday morning, August 13, according to Watkins.

Prior to renovations, a lot of preparation was needed to make the George Link, Jr. Playhouse ready for its transformation.

Prior to renovations, a lot of preparation was needed to make the George Link, Jr. Playhouse ready for its transformation.

Congressman Collins commented on the restoration process saying, “Just think about the character of old places that become new again. Think about the regeneration of communities and people, I think what it does to me is it makes everyone from our young and old know that there is hope and change and usefulness.  We are a society that is, many times, too concerned with the now. We forget that where we are standing right now is a result of people who dreamed and hoped and payed the price years ago. We are standing on their shoulders. I think buildings like this that are re-purposed for this tells us that their is a new adventurous spirit. It’s a reminder of the old that gets us to the new.”



Gilmer Student Art Exhibition


Gilmer Student Art Exhibition

 By: Mariela Aguillon


Friday afternoon, March 10, the Gilmer Arts Association filled the art center with students and their families as they received acknowledgment for their outstanding works of art during the Gilmer Student Art Exhibit.


Students from our local elementary and middle schools had pieces nominated from their art teachers while high school students submitted their own pieces.


Members of the Gilmer Arts Association judged the artwork and selected the winners for each school. Andrea Handley, Art Teacher at Gilmer High School, described the selection process as “very difficult due to all the great pieces.”


Each of the schools had their art teacher present their winners beginning with honorable mentions, and followed by first, second, and third place winners.


The night ended with attendees admiring  the showcase of student art. The event was filled with praise towards the students’ art and considered an overall successful night for the talented artists who once again got to prove their skills.


Winners were as follows:

First place winners were Kelie Jesinzcki for Mountain View Elementary School (MVE), Dawson Richard for Ellijay Elementary School (EES), Madeline Watts for Gilmer Middle School (GMS), Brianna Tierney for Clear Creek Middle School (CCMS), and Asiria Vicente for Gilmer High School (GHS).


Second place was awarded to Lexie Peacock (MVE), Mackenzie Reale (EES), Frinsley Ambrocio (GMS), Morgan White (CCMS), and Danyelle O’neal(GHS).


Third place winners were Micah Dates (MVE), Isabel Gonzales (EES), Sanoah Hensley (GMS), Lexi Goforth (CCMS), and Ebony Scherbarth (GHS). As the students received their certificate they had a sense of gratification in their accomplishment.


Students who received honorable mentions were, Addy Poole (MVE), Landyn Rodas Lopez  (EES), Larz Fowler (GMS), and Samantha Evans(CCMS). Five of the students from GHS were selected honorable mentions Autumn Durham, Abby Dotson, Addie Parker, and Samantha Button.


Agreements, Proposals, and Approvals in the Gilmer BOC


The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners debated new proposals during their meetings on Wednesday the 10th and Thursday the 11th.

One major proposal would change the county’s EMS services. Though no formal approval has been made, consideration is underway for the Gilmer County Emergency Medical Services Division to begin charging a fee for repeated EMS calls to locations. EMA Director Tony Pritchett stated the need for fees were due to some citizens of the county continually calling 911 to receive certain medications without going to a doctor’s office.

The structure of these fees were discussed for several different possibilities, but the more probable structure may look somewhat like the following when citizens are calling 911 repeatedly for the same issue every time:

1st Call: No charge
2nd Call: a $75 Fee
3rd Call: a $100 Fee
Further Occurrences would also generate $100 fees and could be investigated for 911 Abuse

While citizens questioned the fees, Director Pritchett assured the citizens that they would not be liable as a 3rd party caller, or “Good Samaritan” situations, where they call 911 because they witness or come upon someone in need. The fees also seem to only be charged on repeat calls that do not result in Ambulance transportation as the effort is to recoup financial expenditures for the medications used.

In addition to the EMS Proposal, the Commissioners also heard a proposal from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Gilmer County. Requesting a lease property, Bill Slaughter, Treasurer, and Michelle Bracken, Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Georgia, represented the organization and its effort to expand the Gilmer County branch due to a lack of space to support the increasing number of enrollments.

Currently, they have 125 children enrolled with an average daily attendance of 83. Bracken also stated the Club has had to turn away prospective students due to the limited space. The proposed solution is the construction of a new 4,000 square foot building across from the clubs current location. They would then remodel the current facility to house the enrolled teens. The building would be constructed by the Boys & Girls Club Board and only needs the County to lease the space for them.

When asked about the continued growth for the club, Bracken assured the citizens the proposal is set to cover the current needs under a two-year-plan. However, “We won’t abandon the building.” Bracken did not speak to a specific future plan, but did say that consideration to add on to the new facility later could be a possibility.

Another proposal before the Board on Wednesday came from Gilmer ARTS. President of Gilmer ARTS, Sharon Watkins came before the Board speaking of security in the their future. Many will recall that former President John Rathbone, also in attendance, has spoken with the Commissioners before about establishing a formal agreement with the County to include support in both public and financial forms. Watkins said the agreement would provide sought after security and “a better platform” as they requested Grants and Donations by allowing others to see the County officially in support of the arts in the community.

While Gilmer ARTS has been included in the County’s budget before, there has been no formal agreement between the two for the support. Watkins’ proposal did include financial support in the form of a proceed from the hotel-motel taxes, though discussion was raised if the county could allocate those funds to the Association.

Currently, the Board of Commissioners indicated they would support some form of agreement and are consulting with Gilmer ARTS and the County Attorney David Clark to formalize the agreement before officially voting on it.

Two final proposals were approved by the Commissioners to abandon a portion of River Hill Road where the bridge washed away and to close a 100 ft section of Kells Ridge Drive due to the December 2015 flood. Director of Public Works and the Road Department for Gilmer County, Jim Smith suggested closing the road instead of repairing due to estimations for repairs ranging into several hundreds of thousands.

To watch the two meetings click on the videos below for the Commissioner’s Work Session and Regular Meeting.

Tea Party of Gilmer County announces meeting to discuss Hospital & ER services



Grace & Glorie benefits FOGAS



A Meaningful Comedy Draws More Than Laughs


I have been attending a lot of comedies lately. This thought set in promptly as I sat down 15 minutes before the curtain went up on The Savannah Disputation.

This isn’t a bad thing, though. Quite contrary, I think everyone needs as much laughter as they can get in life. What I didn’t expect, however, was such a deep emotional and meaningful undertone in such a stark comedy as this show.

DSC08674The Savannah Disputation opens quite comically, and the first act proceeds as such until intermission, which arrives rather early in the show. Yet, as you retake your seat for the second part, you’ll find yourself sitting down to a depth digging commentary on modern religious denomination and thought. The show never leaves the comedy behind, but it will close with you thinking much more about the lines between than the comedy itself.

The story progresses as two sisters who live together come into contact with an evangelical christian who attempts to “convert” the catholic siblings to a different faith. The ensuing banter between a very shy and passive sister, Margaret, the evangelical christian, Melissa, and the very aggressive and forward sister, Mary, plants a great triangle of chaos and anarchy that made me burst out laughing on more than one occasion.

While most of the comedy comes from the aggressive sister, Mary, it was actually the small remarks that drew me to her over the others. A comedy mostly understated, but still I found myself quoting some of her one-liners even after only viewing the show once.

The production will continue on September 11th and 12th at 7:30p and the 13th at 2:00p. With only one more weekend to catch this show, I highly suggest a trip downtown to Gilmer Arts to view this wonderful production of the North Georgia Acting Company.

Tickets on Sale for Savannah Disputation


Gilmer Arts has announced ticket sales for their upcoming show, The Savannah Disputation, as they continue their 2015 season.

Make plans today to attend the wonderful southern comedy “The Savannah Disputation,” being performed on a fabulous set at Gilmer Arts the first two weekends in September. We have teamed up with the North Georgia Acting Company to bring you this quality play and tickets are very reasonable at $15 ($13.50 with member discount). Seating is limited and recent shows have sold out, so don’t wait!

Buy tickets by calling Gilmer Arts at (706) 635-5605 or stop by 207 Dalton St. to get them in person (and see the amazing set while you’re there. We accept cash, checks, credit and debit cards.  Come out and support this wonderful live theatre production!

Showtimes: 7pm on Fridays & Saturdays, 2pm on Sundays  

Gilmer Arts Sets the Stage for the Future


There is something very special and beautiful about a lit marquee on a dark night as you stroll down the sidewalk arm in arm with a special someone on your way to the theater. It’s a movie-dream finally come true to Ellijay.

Gilmer Arts is currently in the process of renovating a new space on Dalton Street to become the George Link, Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse.John Rathbone, President of the Gilmer Arts Board of Directors, knew as early as 2012 of a need for more space, saying without it,

“We’d just be running into one another all the time.”

Idea-RenderingAccording to Rathbone, this playhouse will likely seat 150-160 people, provide concessions, and host a gallery gathering area. They plan to host a myriad of events which could include music, drama, cinema, cabaret, and dinner theaters among others yet to come. Rathbone says,

“Our goal is to have probably 80 nights a year that we produce, and then it’ll be available maybe another 80 nights a year for other events… So, I would say there’ll be something going on, once we get everything rolling, most every week.”

The building, located next door to Dalton State College, also takes advantage of the large parking lot behind the building for these events as the playhouse will be accessible from both sides of the building.

They are also planning to provide this area for the community use for needs of larger spots for anything from office events and meetings to Classes for Dalton State to Seminars and Conventions. Possibilities are unknown as the project is still in the very early stages.

It’s quite heartening to see organizations still pursuing the Arts in all its forms. Ideas like this bring the city to life, breathing in and out as the marquee lights flicker on and off. Music and Drama flows out into the street like a cool breeze, drawing people in to shake off the rain, relax, and lose themselves in the atmosphere of whatever event proceeds the night.

However, a dream like this does not just happen. The hard work has already begun and the George Link, Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse is on its way to lighting up Dalton Street, but the project cannot be completed without help.

The project was made possible and jump started by a charitable donation from the George Link, Jr. Charitable Trust. This Trust also host a scholarship fund. According to Gilmer Arts, this was “created to allow us to give out three scholarships each year to graduating High School seniors in Gilmer County (including home school, private school, charter school, virtual and public school) who are going on to college to pursue degrees in the performing arts, visual arts and literary arts.”

DSC05530Though the initial donation got it started, the George Link, Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse is still in need. Like the support posts in the building, it’s the people of the community who hold this project up.

Gilmer Arts has set up their Capital Campaign, offering donor recognition on several levels. The highest of honors will name the theater and the gallery for donors of $100,000.

Memorial Name Plaques will be placed in the Playhouse Gallery Donors who will also receive season tickets for a number of years; 6 years for $60,000, 5 years for $40,000, 4 years for $30,000, and 3 years for $20,000.

For other donations, Gilmer Arts will still provide honors including: a smaller plaque in the Playhouse Gallery with two seats named and two season tickets for two years for $10,000, two seats named and two season tickets for one year for $8,000, and one seat named and two tickets to two events for two years for $4,000.

Finally, Gilmer Arts will offer the honors of your names listed in the playbills and programs as Playhouse Donors for donations of $2,000 and $1,000 with the $2,000 donors also receiving two tickets to one event.

DSC05576Gilmer Arts will not wait for the building, however, as they continue to bring Ellijay arts programs, performances, and classes in their main office and gallery. They will continue presenting shows like The Savannah Disputation in September, a Halloween family-friendly production of The Canterville Ghost, another of the Sam Club Mystery Dinner Theatres in January, and Grace and Glory in late May and early June.

Gilmer Arts will also be introducing a Community Chorus with Auditions on August 25th and bringing back the B.E.S.T. Series beginning in November.


These are just a couple of events that would move to the new playhouse as it is completed.

As the construction and renovation moves forward, FYN will continue to offer updates as progress continues. Ultimately, we hope to present the grand opening of George Link, Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse in Ellijay as a home for the future of live entertainment and performing arts in our community.

Gilmer Arts Presents Banks and Shane

Community, Non Profit

Get your tickets NOW! Call 706-635-5605 to order tickets! (more…)

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