Santa Claus was back in town for second annual “Light Up Hiawassee”

Community, News
HIawassee Police DEpartment

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Jolly old Saint Nick took time out of his busy holiday schedule to make an appearance at “Light Up Hiawassee” on Thursday, Dec. 6, arriving on town square in style by fire engine, escorted by Towns County Fire and Rescue, and Hiawassee Police Department.

The festivities began at 4 p.m. with cookie decorating and rock painting activities for the children, followed by a golf cart parade, as merry music set the mood of the season. Towns County Red Cross volunteers served coffee and hot chocolate, and VFW Post 7807 offered hot dogs, refreshments, and select merchandise.

Nancy Noblet

Hiawassee Councilwoman and event organizer Nancy Noblet poses with Santa

Luminary candles bordered the sidewalks in honor of the local children assisted by the Enotah CASA program throughout the year, with CASA Chair Liz Ruf briefly addressing the crowd.

A mailbox for letters to Santa sat center on Hiawassee Square, at the ready to accept requests from wishful children. Hamilton Gardens extended a host of pointsettia plants for purchase.

Light Up Hiawassee

A young boy decorates a cookie during the event

Shortly before Santa’s arrival at dusk, Mayor Liz Ordiales counted down the illumination of the square, and the heart of Hiawassee magically transformed into a winter wonderland at the flick of the switch.

The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, postponed due to unfavorable weather.

 

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Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

Hiawassee extends sign moratorium; 3-2 split on ethics board designation

News, Politics
Hiawassee City Hall

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Council conducted their monthly regular session on the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 4, approving several items discussed during the workshop meeting held the previous week. Several motions were unequivocally favored by the five council members with the exception of an ethics board committee member assignment.

Council members Anne Mitchell and Patsy Owens preferred retainment of Susan Phillips, with Amy Barrett, Kris Berrong, and Nancy Noblet overriding the decision with a 3-2 vote in favor of Sue Scott. The joint ethics appointee, upon agreement of both city council and mayor, was granted to LaJean Turner.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales solely selected Leslie McPeak to remain on the ethics board committee. The three members were subsequently sworn-in at City Hall.

Hiawassee Patsy Owens

(L-R) Hiawassee Council Patsy Owens and Mayor Liz Ordiales at a Town Hall meeting in June

Furthermore, the council agreed to extend the city’s sign permit moratorium for an additional 60-days, affording the elected officials ample time to review changes, if any, that should be made to the existing ordinance.

Mayor Liz Ordiales listed a proposal on last week’s work agenda, petitioning council members to consider allowing a Main Street billboard owner to transform a dual-directional, double-tiered, static billboard into a digital, multi-message variant. Terry Poteete, the owner of the billboard in question, addressed the council upon referral of the mayor Nov. 26. Ordiales previously stated that her office was forced to deny the renovation request in February due to the current ordinance restrictions. Discussion on the particular billboard did not resume at Tuesday’s meeting, and it is unknown at the time of publication whether the seemingly council-contested topic will reoccur.

The city unanimously approved several additional matters, including an updated version of the city’s employee insurance plan with Blue Cross-Blue Shield, a contract related to the Watershed Protection Plan, eleven alcohol license renewals, and the second reading of the alcohol ordinance which accommodates the newly-passed “brunch bill”

In addition, Mayor Ordiales relayed that the City of Hiawassee ordinance listings are now available online through the city’s website.. “Every single ordinance we have is there,” Ordiales said. According to the mayor, the process of transferring the extensive data took approximately two years to complete.

Follow FYN for upcoming information regarding the University of Georgia-Carl Vinson Institute’s five-year plan for Hiawassee’s future, revealed in a town hall meeting following the adjournment of last night’s council session.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet, attracting more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Towns, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, and Murray counties, as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week, reaching 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

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

Hiawassee Mayor proposes digital billboard on Main Street

News, Politics
Mayor Liz Ordiales

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Weeks after a 45-day sign permit moratorium was enacted in Hiawassee, Mayor Liz Ordiales proposed the notion of allowing a digital LED billboard to be erected within the city limits. The multi-message sign would flash advertising promotions at eight-second intervals, intended for installation near the intersection of Main Street and Bell Creek Road.

The early November decision to temporarily halt permits within the city followed an amended ordinance by Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, banning additional billboards from entering the area. On Oct. 29, Mayor Ordiales stated during the city’s work session, “It doesn’t make sense for the county to do one thing and (the city) to do another,” suggesting that Hiawassee would review the current sign mandate, inferring potential revision of the ordinance to coincide with county regulations.

The mayor’s proposal to permit a multi-message, digital billboard, however, is in direct contrast with the county’s mandate. Towns County strictly prohibits the signage in question, as does the City of Hiawassee ordinance, which is currently in effect.

Upon invitation by Ordiales, Terry Poteete – a Gwinnett County resident with Affordable Outdoor Advertising Solutions, and the owner of 85 billboards strewn throughout seven counties, including the 55-foot tall, four-faced billboard located across from McDonalds in Hiawassee – addressed the full council during Monday’s work session. Ordiales divulged that Poteete had broached replacement of the static billboard with a digital version in February, though due to the current ordinance restriction, the request was denied. Poteete purchased the existing billboards in 2012.

Hiawassee mayor Liz Ordiales

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales

The overwhelming consenus from the numerous citizens in attendance at City Hall revealed blunt opposition to the concept. Residents expressed strong distaste by describing digital billboards with adjectives ranging from “annoying” to “hideous.”

The possibility of removing exisiting billboards to allow for the digital version was mentioned by Hiawassee City Attorney Thomas Mitchell. According to Mitchell,  the Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines list that digital billboards must be spaced further than 5000-feet apart in distance. State law allows for a second digital sign to be installed on the opposite side of the street, however.

Hiawassee City Council expressed conflicting opinions on the matter, with Nancy Noblet clearly favoring the idea from the councilwoman’s subjective standpoint. Anne Mitchell and Amy Barrett voiced sturdy opposition, with Barrett stating that digital billboards “degrade the integrity of the mountains.” True to form, council members Kris Berrong and Patsy Owens remained relatively silent on the issue.

A Town Hall meeting was suggested by Hiawassee City Council, aimed to gain additional resident input prior to taking the matter to vote, with no known date scheduled at the time of publication.

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

Ethics Committee Assignments listed on Hiawassee Council agenda

News, Politics
Hiawassee City Hall

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Five months following Hiawassee’s official designation as a “City of Ethics” by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), Hiawassee Council plans to begin the process of properly assigning committee members to serve as the city’s moral monitors.

Three Hiawassee residents will be selected to volunteer as ethics board members – The first appointed by Mayor Liz Ordiales, a second chosen by Hiawassee City Council, and the third in agreed conjunction of both mayor and council.

The ethics ordinance itself states that elected and appointed city officials must abide by high ethical standards of conduct, with a requirement of disclosure of private financial or other conflicting interest matters. The mandate serves as a basis for disciplinary action for violations.

Hiawassee City Council

Hiawassee City Council agenda – click to enlarge

Listed among expectations are selfless servitude toward others, responsible use of public resources, fair treatment of all persons, proper application of power for the well-being of constituents, and maintenance of an environment which encourages honesty, openness, and integrity.

According to the decree, complaints of violations must be signed under oath, and filed with Hiawassee City Clerk Bonnie Kendrick at City Hall. Copies of the complaint will then be submitted to Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, Hiawassee City Council, and the Board of Ethics within seven days. In addition, a copy will be delivered to the alleged offender. The Board of Ethics is authorized to investigate the complaint, gather evidence, and hold hearings on the matter. The Board of Ethics will determine whether the complaint is justified or unsubstantiated. Should the process proceed, Hiawassee City Council, along with the ethics board, will conduct a hearing within 60 days of the validated complaint.

Public reprimand or a request for resignation may be issued. An appeal may be filed for judicial review with Towns County Superior Court within 30 days after the ruling by the Board of Ethics.

The decision to list the item on the agenda followed community concerns that the previous appointment of ethics committee members were invalid due to the council not having a choice as to whom served.

Hiawassee City Council convenes for their monthly work session on Monday, Nov. 26, at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Meetings are open to the public.

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

City of Hiawassee receives $600,000 grant for WasteWater Improvement

News, Press Release
Mayor Liz Ordiales

Press Release

HIAWASSEE, Ga.  –  The City of Hiawassee has received an Appalachian Regional Commission Grant in the amount of $600,000 from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which administers the program on behalf of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a partnership of 13 states.

“Strong and prosperous communities help attract businesses and jobs,” said DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn, “Projects like the one in Hiawassee help stimulate economic development and enhance the quality of life for the whole community.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission provides financial investment and technical assistance to eligible applicants in support of community and economic development in Georgia’s 37 county Appalachian region.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president.

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

City of Hiawassee follows county’s lead, approves 45-day sign moratorium

News, Politics
City of Hiawassee

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Council met for their regular session on Tuesday, Nov. 6, reaching a decision to instill a 45-day sign permit moratorium. The unopposed council vote was reached eight days after Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw finalized the county’s “billboard ban” which imposes regulations on advertising signage within the county’s border.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales announced that the moratorium would appear on the city’s agenda during the council’s work session held the week prior. Ordiales explained that the city should consider similar measures in order to potentially follow the county revision. The moratorium will allow time for the council to review and discuss the county mandate.

The 45-day moratorium temporarily freezes the issuance of sign permits within Hiawassee.

The final reading of the Municode Digital Listing ordinance was unanimously adopted by HIawassee City Council. Municode Digital Listing is a process which will transfer the city’s mandates from printed documents to an online venue. The ordinances were housed in a series of binders prior.

The annual Halloween in Hiawassee event was discussed and deemed a success by the elected officials.

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

Haunted Jail a huge hit at Hiawassee Halloween

Community, News
Hiawassee Haunted Jail

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hundreds of trick-or-treaters arrived at the Towns County Courthouse on Halloween evening to join in the fun-filled celebration. Candy booths sponsored by local businesses and government agencies lined the courthouse porch as children of all ages wrapped their way around the building, collecting sweets.

Towns County Historical Society

A ghostly “inmate” at the Old Rock Jail

This year’s event featured a “haunted jail” attraction at the Old Rock Jail Museum, and the line to tour the 1939 historic site stretched beneath the maple tree on the courthouse grounds. Towns County Historical Society accomplished a spooktacular feat by supplying themed props, adding startling strobe and sound effects, and casting a set of skilled actors to play the part of tour guides, inmates, and other creepy characters.

Towns County Historical Society President Sandra Green estimated that over a hundred visitors toured the spooky site on Halloween night.

Mayor Liz Ordiales

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales visits with a tiny trick-or-treater in front of the courthouse (Photo by City of Hiawassee)

Halloween in Hiawassee included a street performance by North Georgia Dance Studio, a “Thriller” flash mob, and a children’s costume contest.  The first place winner in the birth-to-age-two category was awarded to Kylyn Keyes. Romina Solorio was chosen for first prize in the 3-to-7 year range, and Anna Hamby was judged the winner in the 8-and-older category.

Hiawassee Halloween

A little ladybug took first prize in the birth-to-2 year old costume contest

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

City of Hiawassee 2018-2019 Budget Approved

News, Politics
Hiawassee budget

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The 2018-2019 Hiawassee budget was unanimously approved by city council members during the Oct. 29 monthly work session. The motion was raised by Councilwoman Anne Mitchell, and seconded by Councilwoman Patsy Owens. Councilwoman Nancy Noblest asked for the names of staff employed within the city’s sewer, water, and water treatment departments, in quest of a better understanding of the breakdown in employee pay, prior to the budget vote.

Ebony Simpson, a coordinator with the PlanFirst program, addressed the council and citizens, following the adjournment of the brief budget segment. Simpson commended Hiawassee on becoming a designated PlanFirst city, explaining the incentives offered as a result, one of which will result in a half-percent interest rate reduction on the $1.8 million GEFA loan extended to the City of Hiawassee.

Hiawassee City Council

(L-R) Hiawassee Council members Nancy Noblet, Amy Barrett, and Kris Berrong
(Not pictured: Patsy Owens and Anne Mitchell)

According to Simpson, Hiawassee will receive official PlanFirst recognition during a state ceremony in either January or February, 2019, once Georgia’s soon-to-be-elected governor takes office.

In other news, a 45-day sign permit moratorium is scheduled to appear on next week’s regular council agenda, coinciding with the county’s recent decision to amend the sign ordinance, which will allow the city to consider similar measures.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales announced that the December council work session, and the January regular meeting, will not be held due to the former falling on Christmas Eve, and the latter scheduled for New Year’s Day.

The upcoming Halloween event and the “Light Up Hiawassee” Christmas celebration were discussed, with interest as to whether a lighted “Merry Christmas” sign would be displayed on Hiawassee Town Square, in addition to the “Happy Holidays” sign planned to be installed. In response, Mayor Ordiales revealed a photograph of an eight foot wooden cut-out, spelling the sentiment “JOY”, with a compact nativity scene cast between the second letter. A lighted “Merry Christmas” greeting was purchased by the former City of Hiawassee administration, with two current council members vocalizing support of its future use. Ordiales stated that a printed banner, rather, with the words “Merry Christmas” will be hung on the town square.

The work session ended with Councilwoman Amy Barrett questioning the necessary process for applicants whom are interested in serving on the Hiawassee Ethics Board. Mayor Ordiales replied that while citizens can submit an application to City Hall, only one candidate has expressed interest to date. Councilman Kris Berrong interjected that he had knowledge of interested individuals. Mayor Ordiales asserted that applicants whom do not regularly attend city meetings will not be approved by the joint vote needed from both council and mayor, a requirement for one-of-the-three appointed board members.

Background information on the above highlighted texts is available by clicking the supplied links.

Hiawassee City Council is scheduled to convene for a regular monthly session at 6 pm, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Meetings are open to the public.

 

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-970-8491 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com

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