Young Harris fire station nears completion

Young Harris Fire Station

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw announced the near-completion of the Young Harris fire station, a project that has been in the works for many months. Bradshaw expects the facility to be operational by November. According to the commissioner, the station will feature an additional landing pad for medical helicopters to transport critical patients for trauma care. Towns County currently has four designated landing sites for air transports, strategically located throughout the area.

The Young Harris fire station is located on State Route 66, approximately 1.25 miles from U.S. Highway 76. The current station is situated in the former Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC) building, a few blocks west of Young Harris College.

“We’re very excited about it,” Bradshaw told FYN last week. “The new station’s location will also help the fire department’s ISO rating and homeowners’ insurance rates.” An ISO insurance rating, also referred to as a fire score or Public Protection Classification, is a score from 1 to 10 that indicates how well-protected a community is by the local fire department.

Commisioner Bradshaw announced in late December that $130,000 derived from the 2018 Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) fund would be applied to the construction of the Young Harris fire station. Detainee labor, which did not cost the taxpayers, contributed to a large portion of the labor involved

The project was originally expected to be completed this summer. It was temporarily delayed, however, due to sight plan issues that the Department of Transportation had with road entry placement. Additionally, wet, winter weather was responsible for an inability to properly grade the land.


GDOT to reevaluate U.S. 76 turning lane

turning lane

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The addition of a turning lane on U.S. 76 was discussed between Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw and Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT)  Engineer Russell McMurry in Atlanta Aug. 28. Georgia State Senator John Wilkinson accompanied Bradshaw to the meeting. Bradshaw told FetchYourNews that McMurry was highly receptive to the community’s safety concerns, connecting the commissioner with DOT District One Engineer Brandon Kirby.

turning lane

DOT District One Engineer Brandon Kirby

Kirby is expected to conduct additional studies on Towns County’s main highway in order to begin constructing a blueprint to install a turning lane on the dangerous roadway. Kirby recently replaced now-retired District One Engineer Brent Cook. The district engineer oversees the DOT’s programs in 21 counties in northeast Georgia, aiming to build partnerships with local and state lawmakers, chambers of commerce, business leaders, and the public in the region.

“I feel good about our conversation,” Bradshaw said. “I made it clear that studies should not be done during the winter months when our population drops. It was explained, however, that it will likely take many years for DOT to complete the project.”

The vicinity of Papa’s Pizza, west of Hiawassee, has been the site of community concern for many years, and Bradshaw has diligently pursued the matter since his election to office in 2017. Bradshaw was additionally scheduled to meet with Governor Brain Kemp while visiting Atlanta, a meeting that was postponed until Sept. 25 due to Governor Kemp’s attendance at a funeral.

Commissioner Bradshaw to take highway safety concerns to Governor Kemp

Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw plans to take the fight for a center-turning lane on U.S. 76, west of Hiawassee, to Atlanta next week where the commissioner will meet with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and State Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Russell McMurry to discuss the pertinent topic. Bradshaw has persistently pushed for the lane addition since taking office, campaigning on a promise to make Towns County’s main highway safer for motorists.

Bradshaw’s decision to press the issue at the State Capitol came prior to the recent death of Randy Barnes Sr., a Hiawassee motorcyclist who lost his life following an Aug. 13 accident in the area of highest safety concern, the stretch of roadway in the vicinity of Papa’s Pizza.

Commissioner Bradshaw

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw

“I’m going to plead our case,” Commissioner Bradshaw told FYN on Tuesday. “It’s a life or death situation. It causes great concern and getting something done is a promise that I plan to keep. We’re going to the top and we’re going to push hard.”

According to district research conducted by the Department of Transportation, the task of widening the highway could prove to be a difficult feat. With Lake Chatuge bordering U.S. 76 to the north, and steep embankments on the southern slope, issues with construction logistics were cited by the department in April 2018. While it may be possible to install turning lanes in critical areas, a continuous stretch of center roadway may not be feasible. “We’ll be happy with that, but that’s not what we want,” Bradshaw said.

Citizens continued to speak out on the danger surrounding the portion of highway in question, following the recent fatality, taking to social media to make their concerns known.

UPDATED, Aug. 26: Tomorrow’s meeting between Commissioner Bradshaw and Governor Kemp has been postponed due to a funeral that the governor will attend. Bradshaw reported that the meeting will soon be rescheduled.

Related Archive:

Community demands turning lane on Highway 76

Towns County to begin replacing road signs, result of grant

Towns County DOT

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw held a meeting Thursday, April 4, with City of Hiawassee staff and Towns County Road Department to discuss the process of replacing road signs throughout the county. Chris Dolvin of Browns Asphalt and Maintenance, a contruction firm from Winterville, GA, was present to share details on the project. The sign replacement is the result of a $160,727 state grant awarded to Towns County to improve area roadways.

The project is expected to begin in late April, with completion calculated for late June. The plan will replace or include additional safety road signs, and will not effect street signs. A total of 532 posts are in the process of placement, with over 700 signs expected. The difference in the ratio between posts and signs is due to some posts displaying more than a single sign.

Pink stakes will be placed where signage will be erected, and roads crews ask residents to leave the stakes undisturbed while the project is underway.  “Ninety percent of stop signs are going to go where they are sitting,” Dolvin explained to city and county crews, tasked with identifying water lines and underground cable, adding that additional sign placement locations have been marked.

“This is all about safety,” Commissioner Bradshaw told FYN. “That’s what’s behind it.”


Georgia DOT In Northwest Georgia Is Hiring, Holds Job Fair In Carrollton


CARROLLTON–  GDOT moves Georgia! It can help set your career in motion too! If you are looking for an exciting, challenging, and professional transportation career, join Georgia DOT job fair in Carrollton Georgia.

The Georgia DOT Northwest Georgia (District 6) Office will host a job fair from 9 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, February 20 at the Carrollton Goodwill Career Center, located at 1301-D South Park Street, Carrollton, Georgia 30117. The District Office plans to hire entry-level maintenance professionals.

All applicants must be at least 18 years old, with a high school diploma or a GED, and a have a valid Class C driver’s license.

“The Georgia DOT District Office in Cartersville serves 17 counties in northwest Georgia. We maintain five major interstates and many state routes. We are seeking eager and dedicated applicants to maintain the roadways,” said Terry Lee, regional recruiter at the Georgia DOT Office of Human Resources. “New hires will receive on the job training in various maintenance duties.

Applicants are encouraged to wear business casual attire and bring several copies of their resumes. Contingent job offers will be presented to the most qualified applicants the same day. New hires must obtain a Georgia Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) within six months of employment.

For more information about the job fair, please (404) 290-7344. Job seekers can also apply online at, or complete an application at the Georgia Department of Transportation – Buchanan Office, located at 4323 US HWY 27, Buchanan, GA 30113. 

DOT approves traffic turn signal at Main Street and Bell Creek

Bell Creek RD Hiawassee

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw received notification from the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) confirming that the state agency plans to install a turn signal at the intersection of Highway 76 and Highway 75 North.

The three-way intersection is situated adjacent to McDonalds in Hiawassee. Traffic traveling east on Main Street, attempting to make a left turn onto Bell Creek Road, must do so while the light is green, and vehicles often sit for lengthy intervals due to oncoming, westbound traffic.

“I am very excited that the DOT has decided to do this,” Bradshaw said, “It is something we’ve needed, and something I’ve been onto them about.”

District Traffic Engineer for the Northeast Region, SueAnne Decker, states that the DOT is working on signal plans to install the left-turn light, and that it will take a few months to implement.

FetchYourNews  (FYN) reported in April that Commissioner Bradshaw was actively pursuing the matter with the Georgia DOT, as well as insisting that a much-needed center turning lane on Highway 76 should be created in the vicinity of Papa’s Pizza.

In the email approving the turn signal, Bradshaw’s request for a center turning lane was denied. The DOT says the department is unable to stripe the center turn lane as there is not enough pavement in place for proper lane widths.

While Bradshaw says he is pleased that the DOT has approved the turn signal, the commissioner plans to persist in pressing for the turning lane. “I’m not going to let the issue go,” Bradshaw tells FYN, “It is too dangerous of an area on the highway to let it slide. I’m going to keep onto them about it.”

In addition, the DOT approved a Towns County Cross-Country Championship sign. The DOT says the agency is finalizing the sign design, and hopes to have it in place soon.

Towns County Board of Education holds first session of 2018, lists meeting dates

Dr. Darren Berrong

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education met for their first work session of the year on Jan. 2, 2018.

Listed on the agenda was discussion of goals for system improvements. Board member-at-large Dr. Kilee Smith raised concern that “dead time” in classrooms is not efficiently utilized. “There shouldn’t be days where things aren’t being taught,” Smith expressed, stating an estimated average of up to three weeks per school year is spent idle. Vice Chairman Stan Chastain agreed, adding, “As long as (students) are in class, they should be learning something.” Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong mentioned many of the high school teachers have begun collecting cell phones from students as they enter class, and while he disagrees a vast period of time is being wasted, Berrong notes “everybody can improve.”

Also of interest was an update on the Department of Transportation (DOT) decision to include semi-synthetic opioid testing through random drug screening for bus drivers. The program will require testing for hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone. The change became effective on Jan. 1, 2018.

A three-month public fundraising campaign was approved for the high school varsity academic team, beginning Jan. 3. The academic team will be traveling to the National Championship Tournament April 26, 2018.

Field trip approval was granted for the middle and high school robotics teams at North Forsyth Middle School on Jan. 13, 2018.

As of Nov. 30, 2017, the Board of Education had received 14 percent of its 2018 local fiscal year revenue,  a total of 33 percent when combined with state funding. The local revenue is expected to drastically increase once property taxes are filed.  Of the 2018 fiscal year, 41.66 percent has been completed thus far. Also, $35,000 has been budgeted from federal revenue, none of which has been received at press time.

Towns County Board of Education 2018 meeting dates are as follows:


 2018 Meeting Schedule


Towns County Board of Education

67 Lakeview Circle, Suite C

Hiawassee, GA  30546



Pre-Board “Work Session” Meetings   

(First Monday of each month, except for January, April and September)


To be held at the Towns County Board of Education Office at 7 p.m.:


Jan. 2, 2018  (Tuesday)

Feb. 5, 2018

March 5, 2018

April 9, 2018  (2nd Monday)

May 7, 2018

June 4, 2018

July 2, 2018

August 6, 2018

Sept. 4, 2018  (Tuesday)

Oct. 1, 2018

Nov. 5, 2018

Dec. 3, 2018


“Regular” Board Meeting

(Second Monday of each month, except for April and October)


To be held at the Towns County School Auditorium at 7 p.m.:


Jan. 8, 2018

Feb. 12, 2018

March 12, 2018

April 16, 2018  (3rd Monday)

May 14, 2018

June 11, 2018


August 13, 2018

Sept. 10, 2018

Oct. 11, 2018  (Thursday)

Nov. 12, 2018

Dec. 10, 2018

All meetings are open to the public.

Parents, students, faculty and staff are always welcome.


(Featured Image: Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong)


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Georgia State Patrol sends warning on placing homemade/advertising signs – It is illegal and will be enforced!

Featured, News recently spoke with the Georgia State Patrol regarding individuals who are placing illegal signage on State Roadways and on State Road Signs.

It is illegal and dangerous.  Road signs are engineered to breakaway in a safe manner if a motorist loses control of a vehicle and hits a sign.  If someone places another sign, such as a homemade sign,  on the structure, it changes the engineering and becomes a hazard.  If you put up a sign on the roadway or in the median and someone wrecks it could put you in a position of liability to be sued for their injuries and damages.

Georgia State Patrol wants to send the warning – if anyone is caught placing any signage on road signs or otherwise on the road illegally the law will be enforced with no exceptions.  The idea is to keep the roads as safe as possible for travelers.  Just because you have done so in the past doesn’t make it okay and violators will find themselves in trouble.  If people have been warned and cited it may end up with an individual going to jail.

No one may place, maintain, or display on, or in view from any highway an unauthorized sign, signal, marking, or device that purports to be or is an imitation of or resembles any official traffic control device (such as a stop or slow sign) that attempts to direct traffic movement or that hides from view or interferes with the effectiveness of any official traffic control device or sign. No one may place or maintain, nor may any public authority permit, commercial advertising on any highway traffic sign or signal. The state or local traffic authority with jurisdiction over the highway may cause any prohibited sign, signal, or marking to be removed without notice as a public nuisance (CGS § 14-310).

See this link for additional info: Road Sign Laws

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