Hiawassee Council repeals BRMEMC Franchise Ordinance 3-1

News, Politics
Hiawassee City Council

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – What began as a decree unanimously adopted in early August ended on the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 5, during a regularly scheduled session of Hiawassee City Council.

A 3-1 vote in favor of the eradication of the controversial Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC) Franchise Ordinance, adopted by the Board during special called meetings Aug. 8-11, 2017, took place before a full room of residents.

Outgoing Council members Jay Chastain Jr. and Rayette Ross repealed the mandate, followed by a veto from newly elected Councilwoman Nancy Noblet. Councilman Kris Berrong maintained his support of the ordinance, outnumbered by the majority. Mayor Pro-Tem Anne Mitchell, also a proponent of the bill which was initially brought to the table by former Councilwoman and soon-to-take-office Mayor-Elect Liz Ordiales, was not included in the vote per charter regulation.

The three opponents of the ordinance raised their concerns on past occasions regarding the effect the decree would impose on the taxpayers of Hiawassee. Although the city has the legal right to require a fee from BRMEMC for the usage of city land for power pole placement, council members Chastain and Ross retracted their approval once the realization of an additional line item, passed along on the bills of consumers, was confirmed by the electric company. Newcomer Noblet followed suit, rejecting the mandate.

Also on the December agenda was a recap of Light Up Hiawassee, a Christmas lighting event held on the Square on Dec. 2. A video presentation created by Chris Harvey, set to the tune of Winter Wonderland, was displayed and acting Mayor Mitchell expressed gratitude toward those who helped make the opening celebration possible. Nine golf carts participated in the first annual parade with first place for decor awarded to the shopkeepers of Always Christmas. The Red Cross provided cookies and hot chocolate, Ingles offered a cookie decorating booth, and Santa arrived via fire engine.

The discovery of a 1993 Tree City USA ordinance was brought to the public’s attention, dissolving the need for subsequent adoption.

Acting Mayor Mitchell recently attended a Small Cities Financial Conference in Cornelia, Georgia. Mitchell says the seminar provided “very, very good news” and hopes the Council takes advantage of future opportunities for learning.

Mitchell says she is happy to turn the reins back to Mayor-Elect Liz Ordiales in January, comparing the experience of leading the Council to “falling into a vat of boiling oil.”

Motions to approve the September financials, the 2018 holiday and meeting schedule, and the ratification of the Towns County Water and Sewer Authority contract were unanimously agreed upon by the Council.

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith announced warrants have been issued for two individuals suspected in the armed robbery of Save-A-Lot on Thanksgiving Eve. A press release is expected once the arrests are secured.

The meeting adjourned without advancing to an executive session.

Hiawassee City Council meets for work sessions on the last Monday of each month with regular meetings held the following Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

 

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Robin H. Webb

Robin@FetchYourNews.com

Hiawassee City Hall Meeting and Closing Schedule for 2018

News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Hall will be closed the following dates in observance of holidays. Also listed are the dates for the 2018 work sessions and regular meetings. Both are open to the public and convene at 6 p.m.

 

2018 City Hall Closings:

New Years Day – Monday, January 1

Martin Luther King Day – Monday, January 15

Good Friday – Friday, March 30

Memorial Day – Monday, May 28

Independence Day – Wednesday, July 4

Labor Day – Monday, September 3

Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23

Christmas – Monday, December 24 and Tuesday, December 25

 

Hiawassee City Hall 2018 Regular Meetings:

January 2

February 6

March 6

April 3

May 1

June 5

July 10

August 7

September 4

October 2

November 6

December 4

 

Work sessions are held on Mondays one week prior to the regular meetings at 6 p.m.

 

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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Robin H. Webb

Robin@FetchYourNews.com

Election 2017: Hiawassee City Council Candidate Forum

News, Politics
Hiawassee election

Hiawassee, GA – Monday night’s Forum for Hiawassee City Council posts consisted of opening and closing statements, prepared questions asked of each of the seven candidates, followed by inquiries from City residents. Professor John Van Vliet of Young Harris College moderated the panel at the Towns County Civic Center on October 2, 2017.

Following an Invocation, the National Anthem, and the Pledge of Allegiance, the forum began.

First addressed were Mayoral Candidates, Liz Ordiales and Barry Dearing.

Hiawassee City Council

(L-R) Amy Barrett, Jay “Junior” Chastain, Barry Dearing

Former Mayor Pro-Tem of 4-months, Ms. Ordiales, opened with her qualifications and achievements – retirement from managing an estimated $12 million dollar budget while employed in Miami with AT&T, extensive local community service involvement during her 18-years of full-time residency in Towns County, and a list of improvements the City has experienced since Ordiales was elected to Post 5 in 2015.

 

Barry Dearing, Founder of Van Keith Insurance, an 18-year local business with an estimated $8 million dollar budget, spoke of his professional expertise, his affection for his fourth generation hometown, adding he looks forward to serving the community.

 

When asked to cite main goals within a five-to-ten year span, Mr. Dearing conveyed he plans to keep both resident’s and business owner’s interests in mind and will treat citizens equally while respecting the past, and presenting new ideas for the future. “I want to leave Hiawassee better than I found it,” Dearing expressed.

 

Ms. Ordiales strives for “self-sufficiency” and would like to implement a program with WorkForce Georgia to teach subsequent generations the skills necessary to match area business demands, such as tourism and nursing. Ms. Ordiales also noted a need for improved infrastructure, specifically the sewage system. “Growth is coming. We need to be ready,” Ordiales warned.

 

Barry Dearing agrees infrastructure expansion is necessary for future growth and plans to work with the Towns County Chamber of Commerce to promote Hiawassee and Lake Chatuge’s beauty. Mr. Dearing intends to encourage business growth geared toward the region, keeping the workforce local with a 5% incentive.

 

Liz Ordiales hopes to compete with other cities by carefully planning economic development through connections with outside agencies, attracting companies to fill empty storefronts, and advancing the travel and tourism industry.

Hiawassee City Council Forum

(L-R) Nancy Noblet, Liz Ordiales, Patsy Owens, Anne Wedgewood

Confliction between the two Mayoral candidates arose regarding the Franchise Tax. Liz Ordiales referenced Hiawassee as one of only 11 Georgia cities lacking the 4-7% taxation necessary to cover expenses, citing storm damage cleanup as an example, after Barry Dearing said he considered the tax an “unclear thing that’s been untold.”

 

The candidates vying for Post 2 seats on the Council are 12-year incumbent, Jay (“Junior”) Chastain, and retired Postmaster, Patsy Owens.

 

Patsy Owens grew up in Towns County, retired from 31 years of employment management with the Post Office, and says her goals are to “make the City better and make it safe.” Patsy Owens vows to listen to the citizens concerning their needs and prevent the financial losses seen in the past. Owens says she is “willing to learn to help any and all of you.”

 

Incumbent Jay Chastain, Jr. has served as a Paramedic for the past 31 years and while he “doesn’t want to see the City change what the Forefathers brought in,” he foresees a need for increased public safety alongside steady advancement. Chastain favors cooperation between city and county agencies and confirms increased revenue from tourism will result in lower taxation. Jay Chastain encouraged residents to “vote their hearts.”

 

The final candidates to speak were those hoping to fill Post 5, the seat left vacant by Mayoral candidate, Liz Ordiales.

 

Nancy Noblet “spent 17 years in business, has experience making hard decisions, and has worked with budgets” in the past. Ms. Noblet says she wants to hear the people’s visions for Hiawassee’s future. Nancy Noblet assured voters she is “rooted and grounded” and has a desire to serve, while doing what’s best for the City. Noblet hopes to increase family oriented events on the Square and aims for a shift of focus directed toward the community’s youth.

 

Anne Wedgewood, a candidate with a history in real estate, says she is a “watchdog,” a “what if” brainstormer. Ms. Wedgewood describes herself as an analyst, valuing fiscal responsibility. A volunteer with the Chamber of Commerce, Wedgewood expressed interest in attracting more visitors from the Atlanta suburbs by supporting “Mom and Pop” businesses, and specialty enterprises, such as craft breweries.

 

Last to address the voters was unopposed candidate for Post 1, Amy Barrett. Although guaranteed a seat on the Council, Ms. Barrett hopes to receive votes of confidence. Barrett portrayed Hiawassee as “the best place on earth, a slice of heaven.” Ms. Barrett is active in an array of community services – from volunteering with the Friends of the Library, assisting the school system, and providing veteran support. Once a waitress who worked to advance her husband’s legal studies, Barrett promises to “accomplish great things” and says she looks forward to serving the City.

 

Questions permitted from Hiawassee voters, directed toward the Mayoral candidates, ended the forum.

 

Liz Ordiales was asked about growing traffic concerns. Ordiales revealed the Department of Transportation has authority over Highway 76 and the City is “confined in what they can do.”

 

A resident asked Barry Dearing how he plans to run both his business and the City if elected. Dearing explained he has been sequentially retired for the past two years, with his wife handling the operations. Mr. Dearing conveyed he grasps the obligation of serving as Mayor is “more than a full-time job.”

 

Early voting for Hiawassee City Council begins on October 16, 2017.

 

The election will take place on November 7, 2017.

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin@FetchYourNews.com

Hiawassee City Council: Special Called Meeting, 7/18/17

News, Politics

Hiawassee, GA –  Council members assembled at City Hall on Tuesday evening, July 18, to announce the millage rate for 2018, review the budget, and provide an update on moratorium work.

Liz Ordiales, Hiawassee Mayor Pro-Tem, reported the millage rate will remain at 2.258% which will amount to $165,157.00 if everyone within the city’s limits pays their taxes. Ordiales stated the percentage is “dirt bottom” in comparison to other regions with the exception of Blairsville. Blairsville receives additional revenue from their airport.

The most notable change to the moratorium was the adoption of regulation requiring owners of property under an acre to follow the same rules as those with larger parcels. The height restriction remains at 35 feet and a 10 foot easement is necessary to ensure adequate space for neighboring property lines. The updated moratorium in its entirety will be posted on the City’s website.

The General Fund is estimated to generate $714,950.00 in 2017-2018. Total General expenses are proposed at $462,750.00 minus the funding for the Hiawassee Police Department (HPD). HPD’s total revenue was $113,213.29 between July of 2016 and March of 2017 while expenses amounted to $321,419.69. 

The cost of funding Hiawassee Police Department is greater than the revenue acquired through the sale of maps and calendars, provision of accident reports, municipal court fines and private contributions.

The 2017-2018 General Fund has been adjusted to avoid a future deficit.

The 2017-2018 budget is itemized in detail on the City’s worksheets and proposed as follows:

Hotel/Motel Fund – $60,000.00
SPLOST Fund – $349,000.00
Water Fund – $1,611,300.00
Sewer Fund – $785,120.00
Water Treatment Fund – $810,220.00

Hiawassee City Council meets on the last Monday of each month for work sessions and assembles for regular sessions on the following Tuesday.

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin@FetchYourNews.com

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