Towns County to require fee from non-residential pickleball players

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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FetchYourNews (FYN) was notified by a citizen that Towns County soon intends to begin collecting a fee from out-of-county pickleball players for use of the newly refurbished “old” recreation center’s indoor court.

FYN met with Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw Feb. 15 to learn the details. Although the fee has yet to be determined, Bradshaw speculated that $5 per day or $30 per month may be required for pickleball players that reside outside of Towns County. The commissioner stated that he intends to contemplate the decision over the weekend.

“It isn’t fair to the Towns County taxpayers to allow non-residents to play without paying,” Bradshaw explained. “I go to great lengths to make sure decisions are fair for all. I support the pickleball players. Absolutely. It’s a great sport. But at the same time, it isn’t fair for Towns County residents to foot the bill for a facility that they funded.”

Surrounding counties with pickleball facilities charge fees with the exception of Rabun County, Bradshaw said, based on research conducted by the Towns County Recreation Department.

Bradshaw included that 20 percent of the annual pickleball tournament proceeds are received by the county. Last year, Towns County gained just over $1300 from the sport.

The commissioner met with soon-to-resign local Pickleball Ambassidor John Hall this afternoon, with FYN speaking with Hall as he exited the courthouse. Hall said that his decision to resign was based solely on the great amount of time that the position requires, and that the pending fee for use of the indoor court had no bearing on his resignation. Hall stated that the implementation of a fee for non-resident use of the facility is a choice that the county can justly make.

In addition to pickleball, the state-of-the-art gymnasium is available for basketball games and provides a venue for baseball batting cages in inclement weather.

FYN will provide an update on the settled non-residential pickleball fee once the decision becomes finalized.

Feature Image Credit: Georgia Mountain Pickleball via Facebook

 

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 Clay and 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.

 

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Robin H. Webb

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

Towns County Chamber of Commerce: “This county is booming”

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Towns County tourism

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The 2017 tourism figures have been calculated, and Towns County’s direct tourism spending increased by nearly $3 million dollars in a single year. Data revealed that $51.71 million dollars were the result of local tourism in 2017, relieving individual taxpayers of an annual $840 average.

Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee stated that although Towns is one of the smallest counties in Georgia, the chamber has reached an impressive 417 members. Lee shared data, confirming the high level of interest in the area through the chamber’s website.

Candace Lee - Chamber of Commerce
Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee

“Last year we had 320,000 member views,” Lee said. “That means 320,000 people went to members’ websites. Out of that, we also had 1,869 people that clicked on the job tab on our website, 60,000 people looked the calendar, and then from our social media, which is probably Facebook because Crystal (Fairless Wagner) does a fantastic job with our Facebook page, we had 157,000 people who went from our Facebook page directly to our website. We are proud about that. We are a small chamber. We compete with a lot of the bigger guys.”

Lee informed that out of 17 counties in northeast Georgia, Towns County ranked the eighth highest in tourism. “We’re busy,” Lee said, “This county is booming

Last year, Towns County Chamber of Commerce fulfilled leads by delivering 1,549 informational packets, 187 packets on area relocation, and 667 visitor packets during the month of December alone.

Lee listed exciting, upcoming events, including a Bass Nation tour which will lure 120 boats to Lake Chatuge in late September, following an invitational fishing tournament that will coincide with the final days of Georgia Mountain Fair in July – both positive effects of the wildly popular Bassmaster Tournament hosted last fall – as well as the second annual Made in Georgia expo, scheduled for the weekend before the Fourth of July, and a new event, Rust and Roses, which will feature an array of antique and vintage clothing vendors in early September.

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw praised the dedication of Chamber President Lee, General Manager Hilda Thomason of the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, and Chair of Hamilton Gardens, Grace Howard, for their hard work in increasing the county’s economy through tourism.

“The more people we bring here, the easier. It lightens the load on us who live here every day. They spend their money. The more people who come here, my belief is, the more people who’s going to come back, buy a lot, build a house, hopefully maybe buy a commercial lot and build a business or start a business,” Commissioner Bradshaw explained. “I have many goals, but this is one of the bigger ones.”

Author

Robin H. Webb

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

Towns County adopts GEMA-FEMA approved hazard mitigation plan

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Towns County EMA

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Earlier this week, Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw adopted a multi-jurisdiction hazard mitigation plan as approved by state and federal emergency management agencies.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), hazard mitigation is any action taken to reduce or eliminate long term risk to people and property from natural disasters.  Hazard mitigation planning is a process used by state, tribal, and local governments to identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and develop mitigation strategies to reduce or eliminate long term risks.

Towns County was awarded a $21,000 federal grant to fund the project. Additional grants were stated as available.

Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Rickey Mathis was on hand to explain the program. Mathis imparted that the strategy is not a cookie-cutter template, rather the local emergency operation plan is designed specifically for Towns County, and focuses on the hazards most likely to occur within the immediate area.

Mathis stressed that personal preparation is of utmost importance. “Prepare your own self. Prepare your family,” the EMA director advised, explaining that while emergency crews are trained to identify and respond to widespread disaster, resources could become exhausted in the event of a catastrophe.

Information on emergency preparedness can be found at ready.gov

 

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 Clay and 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

Towns County’s litter control initiative increases

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Towns County litter

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Liza Strub, a concerned citizen of Towns County, petitioned Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw to re-address the issue of roadway litter during last year’s July county meeting. In the months that followed, Bradshaw met with Stroub on several occassions to form a heightened approach, with the commissioner following through by adding Strub to the Jan. 15, 2019 session agenda.

Clean Sweep Week, once an annual event, will become a twice-yearly initiative, with education focused on litter prevention, introduced to the public over a period of time. Strub explained that it often takes repeated attempts before messages sink in, and the course of action will include litter education through various sources such as print, social media, public service announcements, radio, in person, and what Strub deems most important, through positive example.Hiawassee litter

During Tuesday’s public meeting, Commissioner Bradshaw affirmed that the “Secure Your Load” project enacted last October is proving to be effective. Following the distribution of information, the Towns County Transfer Station tallied 497 unsecured loads delivered in November of 2018. In December, the total decreased to 189. Thus far in January, 73 were listed as uncovered, suggesting an additional month of sharp decline in illicit transport.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales attended the county meeting, revealing that city employees are making a weekly effort to remove litter from area roads. Citizens in attendance expressed appreciation for the mayor’s approach in combating the problem.

Strub plans to promote an Adopt-a-Spot program, working with a host of organizations including the civic association, area groups, and local schools to advance the goal of keeping the area litter-free.

 

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 Clay and 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. 

Author

Robin H. Webb

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

Bassmaster AOY yields high economic return for Towns County

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AOY Lake chatuge

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Lake Chatuge was the site of the 2018 Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) point series tournament, and Towns County’s decision to host the sporting event yielded a high economic return.

Towns County Chamber of Commerce

Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw and Chamber President Candace Lee

According to Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee, over 10,800 visitors traveled to the area for the September event, generating approximately $2.1 million dollars in revenue. The expected return, cited by Bassmaster, was slightly underestimated at $1.5 to $2 million dollars.

Towns County extended a host fee of $60,000 to secure the Bassmaster series finale, a commitment both Lee and Towns County Commisioner Cliff Bradshaw said did not come without much consideration and contemplation. In addition to the revenue obtained from the event, a total of 5,434 local jobs were supported by the wise investment.

Lee and Bradshaw explained that the tournament will reap long-lasting results as familiarity with the Towns County area is better known due to exposure from the popular bass fishing event.  During the week of the tournament, coverage of the AOY drove over 798,000 visitors to the bassmaster website, with more than 336,000 unique visitors, and 6.8 million page views. Video coverage delivered more than 269,000 views.

 

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 Clay and 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. 

Author

Robin H. Webb

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

Commissioner, mayors, economic developer meet to discuss joint plan

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Towns County economy

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FetchYourNews (FYN) met with Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, and Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby, along with newly-hired Economic Development Director Denise McKay, on the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 8, for an inquiry session pertaining to goals, and information on how sharing a single developer will work.

Towns County, the city of Hiawassee, and the city of Young Harris entered into a joint contract to share the expense and the fruits of McKay’s labor in expectation of bolstering area commerce. Funding will be divided equally between the county and dual municipalities, estimated at $20,000 per governmental entity, for a total amount of approximately $60,000.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales explained that implementing the UGA-Carl Vinson Institute of Government strategic plan is Hiawassee’s top priority.

“We’ve been talking about this for several years, and we feel that since we’re so small, all three of us, the county is not that big, the city of Hiawassee and Young Harris are about the same size, and it’s all small so there’s no need to have three different efforts going on at the same time,” Mayor Ordiales said, “So if we combine our efforts, and you know, go toward the same goal, and I think we all have the same goal. My plan to to take the strategic plan that you’ve all seen and go, execute. Check, check, check. (Young Harris) of course has different needs, the county has different needs, and I realize that this is a big strategic plan, that we’re not going to be able to do it all in a year. I get it. But the ones that we can do, we’ll do, and whatever (McKay) can do for my partners (Towns County, Young Harris) here, that’s the way we’ll rock on with that.”

FYN questioned whether the endeavor is associated with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Due to stipulations set forth by the state, Ordiales confirmed that a current affiliation does not exist.

“We’re going to try to pursue Main Street designation, and you know, do the easy stuff first,” Ordiales explained, “If we grow into a DDA, great. If we never get to a DDA, okay.

Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby offered input from her mutual standpoint.

“I don’t see (McKay) as the economic development person just for the county, (or) just for us” Mayor Gibby imparted, “So I see her as one person that we are all funding, right? For different needs. It was tossed around at one point, like, (Mayor Ordiales) and I tried, we wanted to have a joint development authority. Because of the way the rules are written in the state – and you all can get all of the rules – we couldn’t do that. Because we wanted to share, we wanted it to be informal sharing, but we can’t do that. So then in asking a lot more questions of people in the state, we just decided along with some advice, that because we are small, because none of us can’t afford one person per city-county, right? Then we can share the cost of one person who can help us achieve goals, right? So while we all have similar things that we need done, we can share.”

Gibby went on to explain that while McKay’s efforts will be divided, there will be times when concentration is focused specifically on the development of Hiawassee or Young Harris, relaying that due to updated infrastructure, the time is right for her city to set plans into action. “We’re at the place where we’re ready to bring people back together, bring the town back together, and we’re going to do that in the next couple of months, and kind of dust this off, update it, and get some priorities in place, and (McKay) is going to kind of help us with that piece, and what are our priorities, and what do we need to do.”

Economic Developer McKay voiced optimism in taking on the work necessary to serve the lofty mission.

In turn, Commissioner Bradshaw shared approval in the stated goals of the project.

“What is so neat about this, as (Mayor Gibby and Mayor Ordiales) said, is that it is a joint effort. It’s a partnership, and I’m so glad that we have the relationships that we can do that,” Commissioner Bradshaw added, “So if (McKay) lands a business to come into the city of Young Harris, I’m as excited as if it were coming outside of the city limits of Hiawassee and Young Harris. It doesn’t matter to me. It all benefits Towns County.” Bradshaw explained that he is looking at the big picture, leading to the decision to partner with the cities.

 

Feature Photo: (L-R) Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, Economic Development Director Denise McKay, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby

 

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 Clay and 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. 

Author

Robin H. Webb

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

Commissioner extends cable television franchise fee

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Towns County news

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw signed a resolution on Dec. 31, 2018, to extend existing state cable television and video service franchise fees for unincorporated areas of Towns County.

Towns County will continue to collect a franchise fee at the rate of five percent of annual gross revenues generated by cable and video service providers, pursuant to the existing franchise agreements. The extension of the franchise tax will not increase the cost for cable television consumers.

A cable franchise fee is an annual charge by a local government to a private cable television company as compensation for using public property it owns as right-of-way for its cable.

Act No. 368, otherwise known as the Consumer Choice for Television Act, was passed by the Georgia General Assembly in its 2007 Session, and codified at Chapter 76 of Title 36 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.

Author

Robin H. Webb

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

Completion of Young Harris Fire Station Projected for Summer

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Towns County Fire Department

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commisioner Cliff Bradshaw announced this week that $130,000 derived from the 2018 Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) fund will be applied to the construction of a fire station for Towns County Fire and Rescue in Young Harris. The commissioner said that the project is expected to begin this spring, with completion possible by mid-summer, 2019.

The fire station will be built on state Route 66, approximately 1.25 miles from U.S. Highway 76. The current station is located in the former Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) building, a few blocks west of Young Harris College.

Bradshaw told FetchYourNews that the project was temporarily delayed due to sight plan issues that the Department of Transportation (DOT) had with the road entrance placement. Additionally, wet, winter weather is responsible for the inability to properly grate the land.

“We’re also taking our time with it so that we stay in budget,” the commissioner confirmed.

The “left over” $130,000 SPLOST is expected to cover the cost of the foundation slab and the shell of the building. True to form, Bradshaw plans to incorporate inmate labor into the project as much as possible in order to conserve the county taxpayers’ dollars.

“We will use detainee labor to go in and frame the walls for the bathroom, the front office, and then we are going to have like a day-room,” Bradshaw said in May, 2018, when the project was announced, “We are going to build the building with the future in mind that if we ever had a full-time fire department that there would be a shower there with a bathroom, and then a room with a bed, and stuff like that. It’s a lot cheaper to try and do it now than add on later.”

Six fire stations are strategically located within Towns County, with Station 1 in Hiawassee and Station 2 in Young Harris manned Monday through Friday during county business hours. Dedicated volunteer firefighters respond to “after hour” emergencies as they arise.

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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