Kendrick recognized as part of Municipal Clerks Week

Municipal Clerks Week

HIAWASSEE, GA – Hiawassee City Council recognized City Clerk Bonnie Kendrick and all her hard work as part of Professional Municipal Clerks Week.

Mayor Liz Ordiales presented a proclamation to Kendrick and thanked her for everything she does for the city. A clerk serves as the professional link between the citizens, the local governing bodies and agencies of government at other levels.

Professional Municipal Clerks Week runs from May 2 to May 8. 2021 is its 52nd anniversary. It began in 1969 by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks and endorsed across the United States, Canada, and 15 other countries.

President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation in 1984 declaring the first week of May as Municipal Clerks Week. President Bill Clinton continued the practice.

“There are many responsibilities of the Municipal and Deputy Clerk that the public takes for granted, such as keeping the council advised of legislation that affects them,” said IIMC President Mary Johnston, MMC, and Clerk of Council for the City of Westerville, Ohio. “Yet, if Clerks are inattentive in their duties, then the efficient operation of our local government is greatly affected.

“The functions of the Clerk necessitate a thorough knowledge of law procedure, administration, and interpersonal relations. To keep up with the consistent transformation in local government, many Clerks participate in continuing education and seminars and attending Clerk Institutes,” said Johnston.

Ordiales announced that Kendrick would also be serving as the court clerk for the time being. The city’s in search of the right person for the role.

Towns tenth in the nation for new COVID-19 cases

LIz Ordiales Towns Covid-19

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales attended a Georgia Municipal Association conference call where Emory doctors and CDC officials warned Towns County and Georgia COVID-19 numbers were trending in the wrong direction.

“Georgia’s below the national average in testing. They’re higher than the national average in positive cases – 120 percent higher than we were in April,” Ordiales explained. “The rural counties are the worst hit.”

Towns County was ranked number 10 in the nation for increases and bad results and number one in new COVID-19 hospitalizations. In the last week, Towns confirmed 62 new cases with a positivity rate of 17.8 percent. The target rate for COVID-19 is five percent.

Chatuge Regional Hospital is currently full. Ordiales asked everyone to be careful because there’s no room at the hospital. The ICU and regular rooms are booked at Union General Hospital. Georgia hospitals are facing three issues: space, stuff, and staff. All three are running low.

“Their biggest concern now is they’re going to have to place less care on folks, “Somebody who is 90 who is sick do they really transport them because they have nowhere to take them.”

Emory and CDC condemned the vaccine rollout, stating that some vaccines in the state were wasted due to the lack of people available to receive the vaccine. As of Tuesday, 95,706 Georgians had taken their first COVID-19 shot. Both Pfizer and Moderna are a two-shot vaccine.

Follow the guidelines of gatherings of no more than 50 people and six feet of separation urged the local hospitals.

Election and qualifying fees were approved for the 2021 elections.

Hiawassee also paid off the remaining balance for a $1.2 million loan with a 4.375 interest rate. The city had paid $850,000 in interest with 18 years left on the loan. Hiawassee saved approximately $500,000 in interest.

Towns County honors Senator John Wilkinson

John Wilkinson

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, and Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales honored retiring District 50 State Senator John Wilkinson at the October County Commission meeting.

Wilkinson served as a state senator for nine years. District 50 includes Towns, Rabun, Habersham, Stephens, Banks, Franklin, and Jackson counties. He was the Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and served on Appropriations, Education and Youth, Natural Resources and the Environment, and Rules Committees. Before being elected to the state senate, Wilkinson was a teacher and farmer.

The senator was instrumental in guaranteeing $1 million in funding for the renovation of the Towns County Library and another $1 million for the Young Harris Library.

“You go through a lifetime…and there are just some people that stand out and you connect with and you click with. They have the same heart, same personality,” Bradshaw said of the senator.

The two had a strong working and personal relationship. Wilkinson would always strive to help Towns County in any way. For instance, he aided in making the COVID-19 drive-thru testing facility a possibility.

Once Bradshaw wanted a grant that met the needs of Towns County, it was $267,000. Wilkinson helped to get the grant approved for the county.

Left to Right: State Senator John Wilkinson and Towns Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw

“His heart has always been with helping me and our citizens in this county,” Bradshaw stated, “He is definitely going to be missed.”

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales added, “I called him one time when we were having water issues and he was on vacation. He didn’t answer right away, but within half-an-hour, he called me back. He didn’t say this is what you need to do. He guided me through the many ways to do things, and he said, ‘you make the right call.’”

Wilkinson was given a chance to speak and said leaving politics, “it’s probably about as close as being at your own funeral as you’ll ever be.” He was referring to hearing people speak about how much he helped them over the years.

Originally from Stephens County, Wilkinson’s agriculture teacher was from Towns County, and he would share stories about Hiawassee.

“Cliff and Liz, I have not had two better friends during my service in the state senate than the two of you,” Wilkinson stated about the commissioner and mayor.

“I’ve done the best I could to work for everybody in this district…Towns County is a special place,” he added.

Wilkinson also quoted Romans 8:22 to cite his belief that all things happen for a reason.

He decided not to run again for the state senate district 50 seat to run for U.S. House of Representatives District 9 but lost in the primary to Matt Gurtler and Andrew Clyde. Later, Clyde won the runoff election. He faces Devin Pandy in the 2020 General Election on November 3.

Water intake repairs to cost city over $200,000


HIAWASSEE, Ga – Hiawassee City Council approved $239,274 to fix the water intake process after one of the floatation devices broke.

The city of Hiawassee uses Lake Chatuge as its water source and processes it through the Rowe Canupp treatment plant. The floatation devices used to aid in the intake of lake water have broken. The city needed to rent a barge to restore the intake properly. The entire repair process will cost the city $239,274. $229,500 will go to the barge and crane rentals as well as lifting the intake out of the water. The equipment and replacement cost is $3,800 and $5,900.

“What they have to do is bring in a barge big enough to put a crane on to, then left up the whole intake 12 feet and replace and fix the bottom of it,” Mayor Liz Ordiales explained.

The water intake is supposed to sit 12 inches above the water, but right now, it’s just 6 inches.

“Unfortunately, we tried looking around. We’ve been working on this for a month,” added Ordiales. “We can’t find anybody who does this type of work.”

The city even investigated airbags to lift the intake out of the water, but it would provide enough height for the restoration process.

The only reason the city could secure the repairs was because of a similar structure under construction in Gainesville. The company can move the equipment up to Hiawassee and fix the intake. However, transportation of the barge requires for it to be disassembled and reassembled upon arrival in Hiawassee. 

The current water intake has two styrofoam floatation devices sitting on top of each other. Those styrofoam devices separated, and the bottom piece broke.

“They should have never put two of those things together, number one, and that is like a boat dock. Well, it’s a water intake. It’s got all these hoists and pumps and all that kind of stuff,” said Ordiales.

The crane and barge could look similar to this example, but smaller.

The mayor conceded it’s a lot of money for repairs, but the city’s operating funds can handle the expense.

“We’re okay,” confirmed Ordiales, “Of course, it will make a gigantic debt, but that’s okay.”

Since Ordiales received the total cost of the project just before the city council meeting, she will work to bring the price down if possible.

The council also extended the sewer moratorium for another three months.

New City of Ethics Board Member appointed 

Ordiales selected Alan Fickle to serve on the city of Hiawassee’s Ethics board as a replacement for Susan Phillips.

Alan Fickle taking the oath of office for the city board of ethics.

Fickle moved to South Georgia with his wife in the 70s from Indiana before retiring in Hiawassee.

“My wife took note of this beautiful location… and said this is where [she] wanted to retire, and thankfully we did,” Fickle added.

A member of Christ the King Church, Fickle is active in religious activities. He previously was involved with the National Day of Prayer.

“We’re really happy and really fortunate to have Mr. Fickle. He’s a really nice guy. He comes to all of our meetings. We’re sorry to see Susan go, but she wanted to be closer to her family,” said Ordiales.

Susan Phillips moved to Pennsylvania with her husband.

Feature image courtesy of City of Hiawassee website.

Mayor Liz Ordiales elected President of GMA District 2

LIz Ordiales Towns Covid-19

ATLANTA – Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales was elected President of the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) District 2 during the association’s virtual annual meeting on July 2.

In this role, Ordiales will serve as a liaison between GMA and municipal officials in GMA’s District 2.  She will also attend GMA-sponsored events, including the association’s annual convention; promote engagement in GMA activities and programs with other cities in the district; advocate for GMA’s legislative priorities, and share with GMA staff any needs and concerns of member cities in their district. As the District 2 President, Ordiales will also serve on GMA Board of Directors.

Created in 1933, GMA is the only state organization that represents municipal governments in Georgia. Based in Atlanta, GMA is a voluntary, non-profit organization that provides legislative advocacy, educational, employee benefit and technical consulting services to its members. GMA currently represents 537 cities in Georgia.

City of Hiawassee solicits business ideas for purchased buildings

Downtown Hiawassee

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The City of Hiawassee asked for the public’s “positive, serious” thoughts on the types of business they would like to see set up shop on Main Street, west of Hiawassee Town Square. Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales announced the tentative purchase of Hiawassee’s two oldest buildings in late November, with Hiawassee City Council approving the purchase the following week.

The buildings’ appraisal was set at $135,000, Mayor Ordiales said on Nov. 25, although $36,000 was “donated to the city” by Dan Paris, reducing the city’s cost to $99,000. Ordiales expressed gratitude toward Paris, a local businessman who is assisting in the restoration of downtown Hiawassee.

Hiawassee business

One of two vacant buildings recently purchased by the City of Hiawassee.

Ideas ranged from a book shop to a pool hall and everything in between.

After many months of detailed research, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government revealed a five-year strategic plan for Hiawassee’s potential future on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, during a Town Hall meeting. The procedure of envisioned development was the result of numerous studies conducted between the institute and local leaders, business owners, and residents.

During the course of the study, community stakeholders listed what they felt was working well in Hiawassee, and what they believed could benefit from improvement. Positive aspects included the strong sense of community with a “small-town feel,” the city’s town square, and the location itself, brimming with natural amenities. Feedback on areas that could prosper from improvement consisted of advanced beautification efforts, occupation of vacant buildings and lots, improved traffic and transportation, and the promotion of business options.

What do you think would be a nice addition to Downtown Hiawassee? Let us know in the comment section below or on our Facebook page. attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach. Approximately 15,000 viewers visit

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EPD launches investigation into Hiawassee’s sewer shutdown

Hiawassee sewer, Shooting

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources – Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has launched an investigation into the City of Hiawassee’s controversial “Roadrunner” sewer station shutdown. FetchYourNews (FYN) broke the story on the repercussions of Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales’ decision to disconnect numerous Towns County businesses from wastewater disposal earlier this week.

Hiawassee sewer disconnected from businesses

Merritt’s lift station, located near Sand Bar and Grille on State Route 76.

Click to read: Hiawassee Disconnects Multiple Businesses from Sewer System

Georgia EPD Director of Communications Kevin Chambers confirmed this morning, Nov. 15, that the state department has opened an investigation into the matter. A field agent from the environmental division visited the city-owned Roadrunner site Nov. 14, along with the privately-owned lift station maintained by Ken and Dana Merritt, stakeholders connected to several impacted businesses in Towns County’s entertainment district.

Sodbusters, a Hayesville-based septic service hired by the Merritts to dispose of the quickly-accumulating waste, reported Nov. 15 that the sewage vault has required 70 pumpings – which amounts to approximately 91,000 gallons of total waste removal – at a rate of eight truckloads hauled for disposal per day since the ordeal began.

“(Disconnecting the Roadrunner lift station) addresses several issues that have been long-standing,” Mayor Ordiales said in part earlier this week. “The odor from that area has been an issue for over 13 years, the need for weekly maintenance to that lift station, the need to have utilities present, both water and electricity, the maintenance and repairs of two large pumps valued at over $15,000 each, and the maintenance of a large electric panel to operate that lift station.” Mayor Ordiales stated that the initial decision to shut down the facility was reached in December 2018.

Lift stations require a source of electric power, and the Merritts claim that discontinuation of the city sewage site is not only a threat to the environment but caused damage to their privately-owned lift pump. According to the EPA, when the power supply is interrupted, flow conveyance is discontinued and can result in flooding upstream of the lift station. It can also interrupt the normal operation of the downstream wastewater conveyance and facilities.

Hiawassee sewer system

Diagram of lift pump operations.

“The City was unaware of the (EPD) inspection but always welcomes input to make our system work more efficiently and effectively,” Mayor Ordiales told FYN on Nov. 15. “During their inspection, they did find that there was trash around the area that was not picked up in a timely manner. EPD contacted the City this morning, and The City addressed their concerns and reported back this afternoon.” Ordiales added that fines were not imposed as a result of yesterday’s inspection.

EPD stated that a timetable is not affixed to the pump station investigation. Merritt, who spoke with the field agent on Thursday, indicated to FYN that the EPD’s preliminary findings suggested that the private pump appears to be “in compliance” with state regulations.

Continue to follow FYN for updated information on Hiawassee’s sewage situation as developments occur.



Hiawassee to purchase city’s oldest buildings

City of Hiawassee

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales recently shared what she enthusiastically deemed “the biggest news ever” with members of the city council and citizens.

“The City has just completed a close to purchase the two buildings between Anderson’s (Financial Service) and Victoria’s Attic. The two oldest buildings in the city. (City of Hiawassee attorney) Mr. Mitchell was here today and we finished all of the closing documents. Of course, that will be up for a vote on Tuesday,” Mayor Ordiales announced as a tentative deal at Hiawassee City Hall, Nov. 25.

The historic, vacant buildings are located on Main Street, east of Hiawassee Town Square, A component of Hiawassee’s five-year strategy includes revitalization of Hiawassee’s downtown district, and Mayor Ordiales promised that the dual structures will transition up to par.

Hiawassee Mayor - 2019

Mayor Liz Ordiales at the November work session.

The buildings’ appraisal was set at $135,000, the mayor stated, although $36,000 was “donated to the city” by Dan Paris, reducing the city’s cost to $99,000. Ordiales expressed gratitude toward Paris, a local businessman who is assisting in the restoration of downtown Hiawassee. “So that’s the price we will be approving on Tuesday,” the mayor told the council.

Mayor Ordiales additionally announced that Hiawassee’s strategic plan was selected for national recognition in March of 2020 at the Downtown Development Authority’s national convention in Washington D.C.

After many months of detailed research, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government revealed the five-year strategic plan for Hiawassee’s potential future on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, during a Town Hall meeting. The procedure of envisioned development was the result of numerous studies conducted between the institute and local leaders, business owners, and residents.

During the course of the study, community stakeholders listed what they felt was working well in Hiawassee, and what they believed could benefit from improvement. Positive aspects included the strong sense of community with a “small-town feel,” the city’s town square, and the location itself, brimming with natural amenities. Feedback into areas that could prosper from improvement consisted of advanced beautification efforts, occupation of vacant buildings and lots, improved traffic and transportation, and the promotion of business options.

The City of Hiawassee worked with the Carl Vinson Institute, a unit of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, which assists state and local governments in achieving their goals. Hiawassee received a $21,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant in 2017 to assist in the funding of the study. Steering committees were formed for the endeavor, and interviews and focus groups were held to sculpt the formation of the project.

Click to view the City of Hiawassee’s strategic plan


Hiawassee designated an Appalachian Gateway Community

Appalachian Gateway

Sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the 3-day workshop provides participants with skills to capitalize on opportunities related to sustainable drivers for local economic development, cultural heritage, natural resource tourism, public arts promotion, and preservation with stewardship of community character. In addition to enhancing a community’s natural and historic assets, the role of the arts–particularly in revitalizing downtowns–is explored by community teams to assist in developing strategies to safeguard community character and drive local economic development.

Hiawassee mayor Liz Ordiales

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales

“For decades, local industry has relied on extracting Appalachia’s rich natural resources such as coal, timber, and gas,” the organization states. “Although these industries have historically provided a local job base, poverty has been a pervasive challenge in many Appalachian communities. In recent years the Appalachian region’s economy has become more diversified; yet, even with infusions of new types of industry, the region still does not reflect the economic status of the rest of the nation.

“With programming that has included targeted technical assistance, community tourism assessments, tourism planning workshops, and small grants for project implementation, the AGCI (Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative) focuses on communities that are entry points to some of Appalachia’s most important natural assets: national and state parks and forests. In addition to enhancing a community’s natural assets, the AGCI also emphasizes the role of the arts –particularly in revitalizing downtowns – in a comprehensive natural and cultural heritage tourism development strategy.”

Since 2007, The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network, with ample support from the ARC and NEA, has led the Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative to expand tourism, the arts, and other economic development opportunities for Appalachia’s gateway communities.

Towns County Lions Club donates patrol vehicle to Hiawassee Police Department

Towns County LIons Club

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Towns County Lions Club has been serving the community since their inception in 1940. Lions Club International is known for their yellow vests and their generosity in serving the blind and visually impaired. Locally, they are also known for their involvement in the Georgia Mountain Fair as well as their funnel cake booth. With nearly 80 years of community service in Towns County, their latest service project may be a first.

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith was contacted by the Towns County Lions Club last month with the offer to help locate a vehicle for the department. “I explained that while we were in need of a newer vehicle, the department’s budget did not allow for the purchase of one this year. However, we began looking at what was available in the area,” said Chief Smith. Several used Dodge Chargers were available at Jacky Jones in Hayesville. The vehicles had been traded in by a North Carolina police agency, and still had most of the necessary equipment installed, including the prisoner partition, siren, and emergency blue lights.

Hiawassee Police Department

Hiawassee Police Department’s new addition

After inspecting and test driving the vehicles with Chief Smith, the Lions Club met and voted to purchase one of the vehicles for the Hiawassee Police Department. Ronnie Whelchel, the Towns County Lions Club second vice president, was instrumental in the acquisition of the patrol car. “The Lions’ motto is, ‘We Serve,’” said Whelchel. “What better way to uphold this motto, than to assist those who serve and protect our community.”

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales and Chief Smith were overjoyed upon hearing of the donation of the vehicle. “We are so fortunate to live in a community that thrives on supporting our area,” said Mayor Ordiales. “The Lions Club has a long-standing tradition of doing just that. We appreciate this service project so much as it enhances our fleet and allows us to provide better service to our community.” “I am incredibly thankful for the generosity shown by the Towns County Lions Club,” said Chief Smith. “The vehicle that I have been driving was the oldest in the fleet and was well past the recommended mileage for a patrol car. I will be proudly driving the new vehicle which displays the Lions Club logo along with ‘Towns County Lions Club Service Project’ behind the rear passenger windows.”

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.4 million
members in approximately 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around
the world.

Fluoride may soon be added to Hiawassee water supply


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Fluoride may soon be added to the local water supply. Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales announced the news during the March city council work session. The City of Hiawassee received notice from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) that fluoride has not been an additive in the water supply in over 20 years.

“During the routine inspection, it was discovered that the Hiawassee Water System did not add fluoride as a treatment process,” EPD Environmental Compliance Specialist Alisha Bailey wrote in an email obtained by FYN. “According to the current ORC, Mr. Randall Thomas, Hiawassee WTP has not treated the water with fluoride in over 20 years. All potable water sources must be fluoridated, according to the Rules for Safe Drinking Water 391-3-5-.16 Fluoridation. Amended. In certain cases, some water systems had received a waiver from the state or there was a vote within the board of the water system as to not add fluoride to the drinking water.”

Mayor Ordiales responded to EPD via email, including a copy of city council minutes from 1983, informing that a vote to reject local fluoridation had taken place 36 years prior. The mayor relayed during the council meeting, however, that the addition of fluoride to the water supply is a state mandate.

Upon objection from a citizen in attendance, Mayor Ordiales said the city would prefer not to fluoridate as to avoid the incurred expense.

Water fluoridation began in some parts of the United States in 1945, after scientists noted that people living in areas with higher water fluoride levels had fewer cavities. Starting in 1962, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) recommended that public water supplies contain fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.

Fluoride is now used in the public drinking water supplied to about 3 out of 4 Americans. The decision to add fluoride to drinking water is made at the state or local level. The types of fluoride added to different water systems include fluorosilicic acid, sodium fluorosilicate, and sodium fluoride.

Fluoride is not required in all drinking water sources in the United States, but the levels of fluoride in water are regulated by several government agencies.

Starting in 1962, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) recommended that public water supplies contain between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter (mg/L) of drinking water to help prevent tooth decay. This recommendation was updated in 2015 to a fluoride level of 0.7 mg/L, The change was made in part to account for the fact that people now get more fluoride from other sources (such as toothpaste) than in the past. Natural drinking water sources in the US have an average fluoride level of about 0.2 mg/L, although in some places it can be much higher.

Hiawassee identifies 209 properties as potential commercial development sites

City of Hiawassee

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Joint Economic Developer Denise McKay announced before Hiawassee City Council Monday, July 29, that the City of Hiawassee, in cooperation with Towns County 911 Mapping, has identified 209 properties within the city limits to potentially develop as commercial enterprises. Defining a geographical area is a key component in advancing the city’s ‘Rural Zone Designation’ project. McKay described the border as located near Hiawassee Brew, situated east of city hall on State Route 76, and extending west to State Route 75 North, to additionally include “side roads.” Should the plan proceed, state approval of Rural Zone Designation is anticipated in October.

FetchYourNews (FYN) spoke with Towns County 911 Mapping Director Marty Roberts the following day, with Roberts informing that his department was requested to pinpoint the properties proposed by the City of Hiawassee, later referring McKay to the regional commission for further direction.

At the time of publication, FYN is awaiting open records from the City of Hiawassee to identify the precise locations of the parcels in question. FYN will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Mayor Ordiales added that the project will allow the city to “chase big entites” while providing “tax break” incentives to investment developers. “It opens a door to a lot of things,” the mayor said.

“Recognizing that many small, rural downtown areas have experienced varying levels of economic distress, DCA worked with the Georgia General Assembly to secure passage of a bill calling for the development of ‘Rural Zones,'” Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) website explains. “The establishment of up to 10 zones per year will enable businesses and investors to obtain tax credits for qualified activities occurring within designated Rural Zones. DCA, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, will receive applications and designate zones each year to provide an incentive for job creation and private investment in the designated locations.

“The program includes three tax credit incentives: a Job Tax Credit, Investment Credit, and Rehabilitation Credit. The basic criteria required for communities seeking the designation include: having a population less than 15,000, having a core downtown area with structures older than fifty years, demonstrating blight or disinvestment in the downtown area, having implemented a strategic plan for the downtown area, and completing market analysis indicating gaps within the local business makeup.”

Economic Developer Denise McKay was selected by Mayor Ordiales, and jointly hired by the City of Hiawassee, the City of Young Harris, and Towns County as a whole in December, 2018.

Click here for related archives

Feature Photo: Economic Developer Denise McKay (Seated: Hiawassee Councilwoman Anne Mitchell)

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales receives GMA certificate of achievement


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales received the Certificate of Achievement from the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute during the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Annual Convention in Savannah. The Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute, a cooperative effort of GMA and the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, provides a nationally recognized series of training opportunities for city officials. To receive a Certificate of Achievement, a city official must complete a minimum of 72 units of credit, including at least 36 hours from a list of required classes. The training program consists of a series of more than 60 courses.

“This is an outstanding achievement,” GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson said. “We commend Mayor Ordiales for this accomplishment and for the dedication she’s shown in using this valuable resource to become a more effective city official.”

Based in Atlanta, GMA is a voluntary, non-profit organization that provides legislative advocacy, research, training, employee benefit and technical consulting services to its 538 member cities. The mission of GMA is to anticipate and influence the forces shaping Georgia’s cities, and to provide leadership, tools and services that assist municipal governments in becoming more innovative, effective, and responsive. Created in 1933, GMA is the only state organization that represents municipal governments in Georgia. GMA is a voluntary, non-profit organization that provides legislative advocacy, educational, employee benefit and technical consulting services to its members.

Hiawassee water rate increase passes city council

News, Politics

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee residents should expect to see a rate increase on their June water bills, following full city council approval May 7.

As previously reported, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales proposed before the council in late March for water rates to more than double over a five-year span. Mayor Ordiales reminded that a rate increase has not occurred in the past six years, adding that water and sewer has been running at a deficit of $159,000, excluding over $3 million in city debt.

Rates are set to increase from $19.27 per month to $24.67 next month. Should the plan proceed, rates are scheduled to rise to $30.09 in 2020, climb to $34.61 in 2021, spike to $38.76 in 2022, and level at $42.25 by 2023. In addition, a monthly, 1,200 gallon consumption allowance will go into effect next month. The proposal will not effect businesses, sewer rates, or North Carolina residents, Ordiales said last week.

Mayor Ordiales previously stated that the City of Hiawassee sought counsel from the University of North Carolina, in conjunction with GEFA, in determining the rate hike, opting to spread the increase over a half decade rather than impact residents in an immediate, full-scale fashion. The mayor added at last week’s work session that the plan may be re-evaluated in 2020, and potentially adjusted according to the lowering of the deficit.

UPDATED: A city council member contacted FYN to notify that the original, five-year plan proposed by Mayor Ordiales is not in effect in the current mandate, and will be reviewed on an annual basis.


Feature Image: Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales at the May 7 session


Information on the water rate study is available below:


Movies and Music set to return to Hiawassee Town Square

News, Upcoming Events

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Town Square will feature another season of free concerts Saturday evenings at 7 pm, beginning April 25. This year’s line-up will include a mix of genres, ranging from southern rock, oldies, steel band, saxophone, big band, and gospel.

Set to kick-off the season is Holman Autry Band. The Georgia natives take a fresh approach to southern rock, often described as “Black Label Country.”

“As all our albums from the first, all the way to the fourth, you will hear our diversity in genre,” Holman Autry Band explained. “Everything from rock to country rock. People have said ‘Holman Autry Band is a little bit of Hank, a little bit Metallica, and a healthy dose of southern rock and country;’ that is all a part of the Holman Autry Band sound. If you like Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band, and Govt Mule, you are sure to love the Holman Autry Band.”

Music Hiawassee Square

2019 Music on the Square schedule

The City of Hiawassee began hosting movie nights for families in 2018. This year will be no exception. Movies will be shown every other Friday at 8:30 pm throughout the season, beginning May 24. In the event of rain, the show will go on at the Towns County Civic Center. There is no charge to attend. Popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales encouraged residents to choose their top six flicks from 10 choices at a recent City Hall meeting. Although not yet determined, the options included Dragon, Dragon 2, I Can Only Imagine, The Secret Life of Pets, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Trolls, The Blind Side, Spiderman into the Spider Verse, The Incredibles, and The Incredibles 2.

Towns County Library leases licensing rights for the movies, loaning them to the City of Hiawassee. Once selected, the schedule will be posted behind the Appalachian Trail kiosk on Hiawassee Town Square.

Hiawassee City Council adopts broadband ready ordinance

News, Politics

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Council held its second reading of a broadband ready ordinance Tuesday, July 9, unanimously adopting the decree. All political subdivisions in Georgia pursuing improved broadband access are eligible for the Broadband Ready Community Certification if the following criteria is met. A unit may be certified as a Broadband Ready Community by completing an online application form, demonstrating compliance with the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan inclusive of the promotion of the deployment broadband services, and demonstrating compliance with the adoption of a Broadband Model Ordinance.

Hiawassee City Council

Hiawassee City Council (L-R) Councilmembers Patsy Owens, Nancy Noblet, Amy Barret, Kris Berrong – Not Pictured: Anne Mitchell

Additionally, the council voted in favor of moving personnel ordinances to resolutions, adopting the measure. Councilwoman Ann Mitchell said that the mandate will make future processes “more flexible.” Mitchell stood in for Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, who is scheduled to return to city hall Monday, July 15, following a Spain excursion.

Ordinances differ from resolutions. “They are two significantly distinct government actions,” the website USLegal explained. “The term ordinance means something more than a mere verbal motion or resolution. It must be carried out with the formalities, solemnities, and characteristics of an ordinance, as distinguished from a simple motion or resolution. Whereas, a resolution encompasses all actions of the municipal body other than ordinances. A resolution deals with matters of a special or temporary character and an ordinance prescribes some permanent rule of conduct or government to continue in force until the ordinance is repealed. An ordinance is a legislative act and a resolution is an expression of opinion or mind or policy concerning some particular item of business coming within the legislative body’s official cognizance. It is to be noted that an ordinance can be repealed only by another ordinance and not by resolution.”

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