Financial expenses on focus in East Ellijay


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.


Calendars approved in Board of Education’s March meetings


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Final tallies have been made and the Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) have officially approved their calendar for the 2018-2019 school year.

The 2018-2019 Calendar Poll Results (click to enlarge).

A stark change this year showed one calendar was far above the others. Calendar 2 collected 859 votes, accounting for 48.18 percent of the vote. Approved by the board, this calendar is set as the plan for the next school year and will be utilized to plan everything for the coming year.

The votes were collected over the last month online on the BOE’s website through polling from public citizens, but the candidate calendars were created by teams within each school before being submitted for consideration.

Be sure to look below to find the Draft 2 Calendar approved in the board’s March meeting.

Also set for next year, schedules were set for salaries and supplements. The workforce continues to see rises in insurance as well as minor changes for positions in transitions as well as the step up raises for staff and teachers hitting milestones in their careers.

Financial reports were presented at the meeting setting the board’s status as of the end of January with revenue coming in over expenditures by $5,168,037. Just past the fiscal year’s midpoint, the finances still reflect expectations to see that number drop under expenditures to -$1,298,797. Though no one showed for the board’s first scheduled budget session for next year, there will be another meeting set for citizens to speak closer to June as the budget gets set into detail for the next fiscal year.

Along with finances, the board ratified a purchase approved by poll for equipment purchases for the elementary and primary schools. Mountain View’s approved expense equaled $85,179 from Southeast Outdoor Solutions. Ellijay Elementary’s approved expense equaled $71,88o from Superior Play Systems. Ellijay Primary’s approved expense equaled $76,493 from Hasley Recreation Inc. All three purchase funding comes from the Local Capital Projects budget.


GHS Band Request to Replace Instruments

Pflueger Shows the BOE a Snare Drum and the issues they are having with them.

ELLIJAY, GA – Gilmer High School Band Director Joe Pflueger presented a request to the Board of Education in August for the purchase of new band instruments.

Specifically, Pflueger mentioned percussion instruments, such as base drums and snare drums, and tubas.

Instead of buying new tubas, the request was for sousaphones. As opposed to a tuba, the sousaphone wraps around the player and distributes the weight better allowing more people and smaller people to be able to play the instrument.

The current tubas,  Pflueger stated, had been in use when he came to Gilmer in 1993.

A body mount drummers use to carry their instruments as they march.

A body mount drummers use to carry their instruments as they march.

Director Pflueger told the board they have already gotten extra years of use, 12 years total, for their drums due to excellent care by the students. However, the expense of continuing to repair the drums is rising as it becomes harder to find older parts for the older drums.

With the extreme age, many of the drums are utilizing improvised repairs as well. With concern of the rising repair cost, Pflueger requested the board purchase new equipment to replace them instead of continuing repairs.

Pflueger came to the meeting with 4 different quotes for the needed equipment and included both a cash price as well as lease-purchase plans. He went on to say that the age and issues with the equipment is beginning to affect the sound of the band as a whole.

During the regular session, the Board of Education motioned to approve the purchase of band instruments not to exceed $85,000, which was the highest quote. This motion, and the following unanimous approval, will allow Director Pflueger to go back and begin purchasing the equipment needed.


Council Approvals Will Mean New Apartments and Patrol Cars


The City of Ellijay may be seeing new apartments off of Highway 282. According to a presentation and approval for rezoning request at 179 Courier Street. The plans, labeled Southside Loft Apartments,  shown during a presentation at the City Council indicated a much larger available space than what is planned to be used for the 50 units expected to be constructed.

Roger DuBois delivers the presentation for Rezoning 179 Courier Street (formerly Courier Dye Plant) from I-2 to R-3.

Roger delivers the presentation for Rezoning 179 Courier Street (formerly Courier Dye Plant) from I-2 to R-3.

Each unit will be a three bedroom apartment with two floors and an estimated 1,600 total square footage. The site is already prepared for city utilities as the lot was previously used for a plant, and will fully include the utilities in the rent price. It is also reported the units will be handicap accessible on the first floor.

The preliminary estimated price could range between $1,000 – $1,100 per month with all utilities included. The owners also wish to dress up the surrounding area and want to add additional amenities. While they did mention a laundry room, ball courts, a recreational pond, and a jogging track, not definite plans were confirmed for these.

In addition to the rezoning request, the City also approved a new Off Premise Consumption License Beer and Wine for Evergreen Corner Inc. doing business as Citgo Food Mart. The Mayor’s Report offered more details saying the Citgo Food Mart, located at 59 South Main, has changed ownership. The new application for the new owners was approved as all requirements had been met.

Finally, after last month’s approval by the council for the lease-purchase of two new patrol cars, the Ellijay City Council did another approval for the lease-purchase agreement as an authorizing resolution, effectively the next step in the process.

The Council also heard citizens comment during their input section, one asking if something can be done about large trucks utilizing compression engine release brakes, “Jake Brakes,” in the city limits. Though Mayor Hoyle mentioned a ban on their usage in certain areas could require an ordinance, he said he had noticed that other cities had similar ordinances.


Budget and Purchases to Prep BOE for Changes


On the same night as their first Budget Hearing, the Gilmer County Board of Education seemed to deal a lot with purchases and finances throughout its meeting. Items in equipment as well as educational materials took focus as the Board moves closer to the end of the school year.

Although already approved twice, the Board brought up their bus purchase again according to policy for public information. This annual bus purchase was approved as a part of the Budget, as well as a part of the ESPLOST plan. Coming in at $333,828, these buses will arrive at the school fully equipped with their usual specifications as well as Air Conditioning, something the Board began working into all their buses last year.

After receiving the OSDA Grant, Gilmer will also be purchasing a new additional freezer for Mountain View Elementary School. The larger walk in freezer received $29,174 in Grant funds. However, the lowest quote Gilmer received for a freezer came in at $37,000. Although approved to purchase, the difference between the Grant funds and actual cost will come from the School Nutrition Budget instead of additional draw off of the General Fund.

Maintenance is looking for two new lifts to aid them in their job. Two lifts are being purchased for $26,000 according to the Board. One lift will be a scissor lift providing 26 feet working height for indoor usage to provide maintenance on lights, but also for painting, pressure washing, or anything that might usually require the team to put up scaffolding to accomplish. The other lift purchase is a tow-able aerial lift providing 36 feet working height for outdoor usage for jobs like parking lot lighting.

Also approved by the Board is a purchase for new lighting at the school system’s Administrative and Technology Offices for LED lighting. However, this item wasn’t under Purchasing Policy in the agenda. This is because, from the School Board’s point of view, it’s not a purchase as Georgia Power is offering to change the lighting at no initial costs. The Board will remain responsible for the lighting bill, but is estimated to actually save roughly $1200 a year in energy savings due to the new lighting.

After a presentation Monday, the Board of Education has approved purchases for a new education system for Math. Origo Math has been in pilot program status within the schools, but will now be purchased for use in Kindergarten through 5th grade. This system received rave reviews from the teachers testing it (Kathy Cobb – Kindergarten at Ellijay Primary / Jessica Gearheart – 3rd Grade at Ellijay Elementary / Hope Henson – 4th Grade at Mountain View)  as well as students who our teachers are reporting, “love Origo.”Hope Henson went on to say she has taught for 14 years with 12 years teaching math and has never had a class as advanced and intuitively learning as her current 28 student class, providing an example involving fractions where she only had to teach 8 of the 28 students steps to simplifying fractions.

The math system also received an endorsement from Board Member Thomas Ocobock who said his own son’s math skills have drastically improved. Saying its amazing how his son has caught on to math this year, Ocobock has been astounded at the advanced level his own son has achieved.

The program is supported by PLC videos, Professional Learning Communities for Teachers, and a newer tool called One-Minute Math Models providing videos providing “light-bulb moments” for students to see how concepts work. The presentation also highlighted a easy way to provide differentiation and extension in classes. This provides opportunities for students who need to go back to an early grade level to reinforce older lessons as well as students who are advancing quicker and are ready to begin a higher grade level study.

Origo also has fundamental games for use to “engage students in learning and problem solving” as they “reinforce and practice computation strategies.” Teachers have utilized these games to continue practice of lesson and keep their students engaged as they say, “From bell to bell.”

Thursday’s Meeting also held the Board’s first required Public Meeting for the Annual Operating Budget for FY18. Only one person was present to speak.

Travis Crouch, Post Commissioner for Gilmer County, was present to renew the Commissioners request that the Board of Education increase its financial support for School Resource Officers from roughly one-third to one-half. Estimating the total costs of the officers at $300,000, Crouch informed the Board this would increase their financial responsibility from $105,000 to $150,000.

This was the first Public Meeting, meaning the Budget is still in very early stages. Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes stated 85% of the Budget is Personnel. While they are looking at mandatory increases from State Legislation, such as a possibly a 2% increase to salary for teachers from the Governor, Gilmer is pursuing a “Net 0” change in its personnel. This means that before the mandatory state items. Gilmer is seeking to not change its budgeted personnel costs as it shuffles staff and faces teacher retirements, new staff hiring, and other regular changes.

For more financial information from the Board of Education, check out the January Financial Report, the 2010 ESPLOST Report, and the 2015 ESPLOST Report as well as the Purchasing Policy Expenditures previously mentioned in this article.

Stay up to date on Policies through the proposed changes in March’s Meetings for First Reading and final approval for those in Second Reading.


Planning and Zoning to have new location


The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners held its regular meeting February 11th.  The meeting’s end saw the commissioners head into executive session.  They came out of executive session and announced they had entered a contract on a property located at 220 South Gilmer, near the courthouse.  The purchase price is eighty thousand dollars.  

The Board intends to move the Planning and Zoning into the new property.  The current location of the planning and zoning will become a welcome center.  The museum which is currently housed at the Tabor House will be moved into the new welcome center.  The Tabor House has had a great deal of investment however its current condition led to the decision to move the museum.  There is no time frame of when this will occur yet however FYN will update as the plan proceeds. 


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