Council sworn-in at Hiawassee City Hall

News, Politics
Hiawassee City Council

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – City of Hiawassee Councilmembers Jay Chastain Jr., Anne Mitchell, and Nancy Noblet were sworn into office by Hiawassee Clerk Bonnie Kendrick during a ceremony at Hiawassee City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.

Chastain, Mitchell, and Noblet each swore to the following oath in unison:

“I will well and truly perform the duties of City Councilmember of the City of Hiawassee, Georgia, that I will faithfully enforce the law of this City, that I will support and defend the Charter thereof as well as the Constitution and laws of the State of Georgia and the United States of America, and that I will do all in my power to promote the general welfare of the inhabitants of the City of Hiawassee, and the common interest thereof.

“I do further solemnly swear and affirm that I am not the holder of any unaccounted for public money due this State or any political subdivision or authority thereof; that I am not the holder of any office of trust under the government of the United States, any other state, or any foreign state which, by the laws of the State of Georgia I am prohibited from holding; that I am otherwise qualified to hold said office, according to the Constitution and Laws of Georgia.
So help me God.”

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales indicated at the ceremony that she had met with returning Councilman Jay Chastain Jr. earlier in the day to discuss subjects that have “been lingering for a while that (Chastain) has history for.” Chastain nodded in agreement with the mayor’s announcement.

Mayor Ordiales additionally announced that the Department of Transportation has agreed to install a crosswalk on State Route 76, leading across from Chatuge Regional Hospital. The mayor said that the hospital will fund their side of the roadway, with the city funding the southern side to ensure that the curb is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ordiales estimated the cost to the city at approximately $3,000.

Hiawassee City Council will meet for its work session on Monday, Jan. 27, at 6 pm in the upstairs training room at city hall. Mayor Ordiales is expected to present the City of Hiawassee’s 2019 “Year-in-Review” at that time.

Meetings are open to the public.

Featured Image: Hiawassee City Clerk Bonnie Kendrick swearing-in Councilmembers (L-R) Anne Mitchell, Nancy Noblet, and Jay Chastain Jr.

Related Archive:

Outspoken councilman returns to Hiawassee City Hall

 

Outspoken councilman returns to Hiawassee City Hall

News
Jay Chastain Jr

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Hall is prepared to swear-in three council members next week; unchallenged incumbents Anne Mitchell and Nancy Noblet, along with returning councilman Jay “Junior” Chastain. Chastain served 12 years on Hiawassee City Council prior to being unseated by current Councilwoman Patsy Owens in 2017. Chastain, who secured an unchallenged seat on the council earlier this year, will replace Councilman Kris Berrong, who did not seek an additional term.

FYN asked Chastain what prompted his decision to regain his seat on the city government. “I want to help the local population, the landowners, and give the citizens a voice on the issues that matter,” Chastain said. “I’m a big supporter of property rights, of the rights of the people in general, and I want to preserve that.” Chastain, who was often at odds with now-Mayor Liz Ordiales on issues, stressed that he is not returning with a “vendetta” and plans to keep an open mind.

Chastain, an area paramedic, drew media attention in 2017 due in part to his feisty repeal of the later re-enacted, controversial BRMEMC franchise tax. Chastain shared an interview conducted during his 2005 campaign, stating that his words continue to hold true. “I feel that the mayor and the council have to work together for the benefit of our community. Too much growth, as well as too little growth, will not be of benefit,” the Hiawassee native said, adding that he fulfilled his original campaign promises while in office. “The council has an obligation to keep the best interest of this community at heart.”

The self-proclaimed Republican councilman did not mince words, however, and stated that he would continue to oppose proposals that he believes are not favorable for the citizens that he vows to represent.

Chastain listed the problems that the City of Hiawassee has encountered with the sewer system as a top concern, stating that cooperation is necessary between the city and county departments. “There needs to be some agreement between Hiawassee and Towns County Water Authority,” the returning councilman said. “The sewer situation needs to be fixed.”

Chastain will reclaim his seat on Hiawassee City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 6 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.

 

FetchYourNews.com attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach, and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Barrett rejects Mitchell’s term limit proposal for Hiawassee City Council

News, Politics

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A proposal to pursue a maximum of two term limits, amounting to eight years, for elected council members was raised Monday, Aug. 26, by Councilwoman Anne Mitchell at Hiawassee City Hall. The agenda item was quickly rejected by Councilwoman Amy Barrett, preventing the measure from advancing to state legislature.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales explained during the work session that in order for the proposal to proceed, the council must be in unanimous agreement on the issue. The matter was broached in previous years, Ordiales reminded, with term limits solely rejected by returning-former Councilman Jay Chastain Jr.

“I like term limits,” Mitchell said. “I really do. It’s kind of like draining the lake every year or flushing your toilet. You get something new, and people don’t get stale, and they do get stale in this job. We know that from the last 20 years.”

Barrett objected to Mitchell’s position, “Just because there’s change doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. I think the people should have a choice…I understand there have been bad experiences, but we as a public who vote, we as the voters are responsible for electing these people, and we could have voted them out. They did have people run against them. It is what it is.” Barrett countered, later including, “If you don’t like the job we’re doing, people can stand up and run against us or vote us out. Or if they like the job we’re doing, hey, vote us in.”

Mitchell interjected during the forum that voter apathy is a problem in the area, and that increased voter activity, along with a greater amount of council candidates, is needed.

Anne Mitchell - City Council

Hiawassee Councilwoman Anne Mitchell

Councilwoman Nancy Noblet entered the discussion. “The big question is why. Why will the people not run for office? If you want to see your city do good things, if you want to see the county do good things, why do you not run? There were three seats up,” Noblet asked, later adding, “We’ve got a lot people that have a lot of opinions, ‘Well, I would do this or I would do that or I would do this,’ but guess what, when it comes time to step your foot down, to do it or not to do it, where are they at?” Noblet ended by stating that her stance on eight year term limits was “up in the air.”

Councilwoman Patsy Owens briefly weighed in, favoring term limits, stating that long-term incumbents discourage candidates from entering the race, based on a presumption that the effort is a losing battle. Councilman Kris Berrong remained silent on the issue.

Citizens in attendance voiced a desire to see a younger generation become involved in city politics.

“The term limit situation, unless it is unanimous it won’t pass, so let’s drop that, and we can certainly talk about it again in a couple of months if you guys want, and when the new council member is in, we can discuss it again,” Mayor Ordiales concluded. “(Jay Chastain Jr.) was the only one who did not vote last time for it so I doubt seriously that he will vote this time for it.”

Chastain automatically secured Councilman Berrong’s seat last Friday, Aug. 23, due to uncontested candidate qualification for Post 3. Chastain will return to city office January 2020.

Feature Image: Hiawassee Councilwoman Amy Barrett

Legacy of the Law: Memories of Towns County Sheriff Jay Chastain Sr.

Featured
Sheriff Jay Chastain

2017 ARCHIVE

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Forty-three years ago, during the early morning hours of Dec. 8, 1974, Towns County suffered the traumatic loss of one of its finest. Sheriff Jay Vernon Chastain Sr. was slain in the line of duty, shot in the chest, during a traffic stop near the intersection of Highway 2 and Highway 288 in Hiawassee, Georgia. Sheriff Chastain served six years in office prior to his untimely death at the age of 47. He left behind a wife, a 5-year-old son, and a community devastated by his senseless death.

A retired Towns County deputy, who once served under Sheriff Chastain, reached out to FetchYourNews (FYN) in late September 2017. “No one has ever told a true remembrance of the sheriff that was killed, and I think that you can,” Danny Garland wrote. “Please help me to help others see the values he served.”

Sheriff Chastain’s now-grown son, Jay Chastain Jr, offered his blessing. and many intriguing interviews took place between Garland and FYN’s reporter over the course of several months.

Jay Chastain

Sheriff Jay Chastain Sr.

“I met Jay when I was 16 or 17 years old. Dad knew him, they were friends,” Garland explained. “Jay was working at Lockheed with him at the time. He was always talking to everyone, especially the youth and seniors. Jay began mentioning running for sheriff, as Towns County needed a real sheriff, and he felt a call to serve his community. After much prayer and thought, he decided to do just that. Dad supported him until Jay ran on the Republican ticket. My dad was a diehard Democrat.

“I begged dad to support Jay. It became a pretty hot and heated race, and when my dad did at last support him, dad was nearly fired from a state law enforcement job because the state was held by Democrats. Jay was elected though and devoted much time, spending long hours with the county’s youth, positive time at the high school, going above and beyond in helping others with their needs,” the retired captain recalled.

“Just before I turned 18, I enrolled in a new college program which gave me a jump start on my criminal justice degree. An internship had to be completed so I asked Jay if he could help me. The next week, I was riding in a patrol car, soon in uniform, toting a gun with a badge. The sheriff bought the badge out of his own pocket. I still have it.”

Sheriff Jay Chastain

Garland’s treasured badge, a gift from Sheriff Chastain.

Dorothy Puett, the widow of Edwin Puett who also served as one of Chastain’s first deputies, remembered the late sheriff fondly as well.  “When he was elected, they handed him the keys to the jail and a cigar box full of warrants. That’s it. He was offered bribes but never would take them. The first person he ever arrested, in fact, was his daddy-in-law,” Puett laughed.

“Jay would stop by the house each night for milk and cornbread,” Puett continued in a somber tone. “He was a good friend of ours. He dropped by at midnight on the night he was killed, just a couple of hours before it happened. He told us on that very night that they had done everything they could to get him out of office, that the only thing left was to kill him. He was a fine man who was trying to clean up Towns County.”

FYN inquired into who “they” were, but Puett understandably declined to go on record.

In a separate interview, retired Captain Garland also spoke of the late sheriff’s ominous premonitions: “When Jay was killed, there was much in action to help needy families with food or money. There were only two of us who knew the plan. Jay told me once while we were riding, ‘If something happens to me, you know where the list is and who gets what.’ Today, it is eerie when I think about it. Even after his death, he gave many gifts and helped dreams come true. His goal was compliance without arrest, if possible. Many times he’d mediate issues between people, leaving all satisfied. Sheriff Chastain was the mark of a dedicated servant of God and the people.”

Lynn Garland, the younger sibling of Danny Garland, reminisced on the sheriff’s legacy.

“I remember when some people wanted to have a recall and another election,” Lynn Garland began, “but the sheriff had more support than those who wanted him out. I don’t remember all of the details about the incident that started that ball rolling, but it was resolved in his favor. I was at the courthouse with my family, playing on the steps while they were in a meeting. Sheriff Jay came walking out, and I was so excited to see him. He said, ‘I don’t think I’ve got to hug you since everything turned out alright.’ He picked me up, hugged and kissed me, said, ‘Always remember how much I love you!’ That was the last time I saw him alive. I loved that man so much. I would get so excited to see him. I would jump up and down and run to him. The night I was told that he had died, that he had been shot and killed, there was a part of me that died too. He was killed 6 days before my 10th birthday. I went to his funeral and there were so many people from the community, law enforcement from all over. I think some were from out of state. I had never seen so many people or flowers in my life. Everyone was crying or looked like they were still in shock. It’s been 43 years, but it might as well be today. The hurt is so deep still. That’s how much I still love and miss him.”

Sheriff Jay Chastain

Sheriff Chastain’s final resting place at Burch Cemetery.

At a later date, Danny Garland shared more memories.

“Many times, and not even with law enforcement issues, he was a true friend. Sheriff Chastain proved that so many times. He gave me money to take to people and told me not to tell them where it came from – family deaths, homes that burned, and especially at Christmas time,” Danny Garland said.

“The sheriff inherited a department that had one worn out patrol car, one mobile radio and an office with a base radio,” Garland continued. “There was such disarray. As I remember, he bought a second patrol car and equipped it, along with a base radio for his home. His wife answered the emergency phone and dispatched from their home at night while raising their young son. Jay recruited some great men as deputies, many of them part-time and most never paid, strictly volunteers. They were as regular as clockwork though.  He had leadership ability and community devotion that made people happy to help him meet his goals for the county he loved.

“Jay and I once took food upstairs in the old jail to a man required to serve time or to pay a $200 fine. I remember it was cold up there that day. The man offered to sell Jay a .357 revolver for two hundred dollars. Jay told the inmate he couldn’t go to his house and get it. The man said you don’t have to.  I’ve got it here in my coat and handed it to Jay through the bars. Good ole weak-kneed Jay agreed to buy the gun. Jay was the only real-life sheriff  I’ve ever known that had regulars waiting in their cars or on the porch of the Old Rock Jail, waiting for Jay to lock them up and so they could get sober. If there were no prisoners and the door was unlocked, we’d find them upstairs laying on a cot.

“Jay built a respectful department from nothing. He was always happy. He did like to argue in a fun way though. Most of all he loved God. He was a very giving person. In the spring, summer, and fall we would hoe gardens, string beans, and shuck corn to help the older folks in the community.

“If I remember correctly, on the night Jay was killed, his wife was dispatching and there was a power failure, lightning struck, and it kept the news from being heard at home. I think God honored Jay and his family that night. The call was picked up by Union County and help was dispatched from there. At the hospital, I saw a heartbroken mother and child being walked in by officers. My thoughts were that the shooter got justice, fair and swiftly,” Garland recalled.

(The man who shot Chastain was killed on the scene by a deputy.)

“Jay instilled a prayer of service, and I still pray this prayer, even retired, every day. ‘Ask God to direct you to help another, if it ain’t in God’s plans for helping one at least, let me bring a laugh or smile to at least one person, that might change a person forever,'” Garland expressed. “He’d say never miss a chance to bring a smile. Jay walked the Thin Blue Line before it was ever painted.”

There is no doubt that the sheriff was what legends are made of, throughout his life and thereafter.

Eternal respect and gratitude for your service, Sir.

 

(Featured Photo provided by Jay Chastain Jr.)

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper-local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

Councilman Motions to Repeal Franchise Ordinance on Election Night

News, Politics
Hiawassee City Council

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Council held their Regular Session shortly before the 2017 election polls closed on the evening of Nov. 7. A first reading to rescind the Franchise Ordinance, confirmed by Blue Ridge Mountain EMC to result in an additional line item on the future bills of Hiawassee citizens and businesses, was added to the agenda by Councilman Jay Chastain Jr.

The motion to repeal the controversial mandate was seconded by Councilwoman Rayette Ross.

Councilman Kris Berrong opposed the motion and declined a request for comment.

The motion passed 2-to-1.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ann Mitchell said in hindsight that she wishes the Council would have had more time to consider it.

The ordinance was adopted during Special Called Meetings held Aug. 8 to 11, 2017, less than a week after former Pro-Tem Liz Ordiales stepped down to run for Mayor.

“I’m really sorry this has become a community football,” Mayor Pro-Tem Mitchell told the community-packed room, “but it is a source of revenue that almost everyone in the state takes advantage of.” Mitchell suggested a public meeting to discuss the issue further, stating a second reading date is undetermined.

The crowd migrated to the Board of Elections building, located adjacent to City Hall, after the Council meeting adjourned to await the highly anticipated election results..

Liz Ordiales won the Mayoral post with a 70 percent lead over her opponent, Barry Keith Dearing. Ordiales’s crowd of supporters were overjoyed with the results, offering hugs of congratulations to Hiawassee’s newly elected Mayor.

Incumbent Councilman Jay Chastain Jr. lost his seat to Patsy Owens who garnered 62 percent of the votes.

“It is obvious the voters of the city of Hiawassee wanted a change,” Chastain said. “I wish the newly elected Council members the best. I want to thank the citizens for their 12 years of support.”

Nancy Noblet was elected to Post 5, securing her seat with a 55 percent lead over Anne Wedgewood.

Amy Barrett, the sole unopposed candidate in the race, will replace Post 1 Councilwoman Rayette Ross who chose to not seek re-election.

Liz Ordiales responded to FYN’s request for comment on her victory:

“Thank you for your support throughout this campaign,” Ordiales wrote. “It is a privilege and an honor to be a representative of our great city. I will not let you down and will always put Hiawassee first! Let’s get to work!”

Hiawassee City Council will be sworn into office on January 1, 2018.

Hiawassee City Council Campaign Ethics Raised

News, Politics
Liz Ordiales

HIAWASSEE, GA – In a live interview conducted by Fetch Your News (FYN) CEO Brian Pritchard with Hiawassee Mayoral candidate Liz Ordiales on the morning of Nov. 3, 2017, Mr. Pritchard questioned Ms. Ordiales’s decision to place her campaign sign on a Towns County Fire and Rescue truck during the City’s annual Halloween on the Square festivities on Oct. 31.

“Why did you put your campaign banner on the side of that firetruck? That is a violation of State,” Pritchard asked as the interview concluded. “Why did you do that?”

The campaign sign was placed on the rear of Engine 1 after being removed from the side

Candidate Ordiales responded she did not realize it was an ethics violation, stating she is connected to the Fire Corps and has raised $250,000 for the nonprofit organization, while making mention of Councilman Jay Chastain Jr.’s photographed endorsement of Liz Ordiales’s opponent, Barry Keith Dearing, while wearing an EMS uniform.

Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, who tended to a booth for trick-or-treaters at the popular Halloween event, promptly asked Candidate Ordiales to remove the sign after it was brought to his attention.

“Towns County does not endorse candidates,” Commissioner Bradshaw said. “I’ve made that clear to the heads of all departments.”

Fetch Your News headquarters received a photo complaint of the campaign banner from an attendee soon after it was affixed to the firetruck.

“The minute I was called and told there might be a problem, did I take it down? Immediately it was taken down,” Ms. Ordiales said in the interview.

Candidate Ordiales removed the banner from the side of Engine 1, placing it on the bumper of the county emergency vehicle, out of the Commissioner’s line of sight, for a short period of time before being asked to place it in her vehicle by current Towns County Fire Corps President Colleen Gibson.

FYN CEO Brian Pritchard also questioned Candidate Ordiales’ usage of the City Of Hiawassee logo on campaign correspondence. Ordiales replied it is legal, that the City logo is not trademarked.

Incumbent Councilman Chastain has since responded to Candidate Ordiales comments on the endorsement photograph published by Fetch Your News.

Prayer Breakfast“I didn’t think anything about it,” Councilman Chastain said. “I was invited to the Sheriff’s prayer breakfast, as were all first responders, and I stopped by before heading to work in North Carolina. Barry was there, [FYN’s reporter] was there, and the picture was snapped. I personally supported Barry before the endorsement was publicized.”

Councilman Chastain did not address the group during his visit nor was his endorsement announced at the event.

The image in question has since been replaced on the original article by request from the Councilman.

Concerns related to Councilman Chastain’s uniform were not brought to FYN’s attention prior to community complaints of campaign ethic violations committed by Candidate Ordiales.

Ms. Ordiales was asked to remove a line of campaign signs from sidewalk flower pots located in front of The Mall on Main Thursday, Oct. 2, via a business owner who wishes to remain anonymous in the event Ordiales is elected.

An article related to the Halloween campaign controversy was recently published by FYN prior to the journalist’s decision to retract it in order to allow the list of allegations raised by former Towns County Fire Corps Vice President Ken Bryant while Liz Ordiales served as the nonprofit’s president to stand alone.

Mr. Bryant, a former federal agent and current fraud investigator, was offered an opportunity by FYN CEO Brian Pritchard to submit a rebuttal for publication as an opinion piece. Reference to the allegations are addressed in the FYNTV.com interview with Ms. Ordiales.

Continue to follow Fetch Your News for additional coverage of the Hiawassee City Council election.

Election Day is Nov. 7, 2017.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

Liz Ordiales Defends City Ordinance, Jay Chastain Jr. Questions Decision

News, Politics
Hiawassee Mayor

HIAWASSEE, GA – In an appearance on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, at the Movers and Shakers, EMC Director Roy Perren confirmed BRMEMC is required by state law to accept the Franchise Ordinance approved by Hiawassee City Council during Special Called Meetings on Aug. 8 to 11, 2017.

Director Perren explained the controversial “tax versus fee” will be passed along to Hiawassee citizens in the form of an additional line item on future bills. Based on an average of 897 kilowatt-hours per residence, BRMEMC members can expect to see an increase of $55.00 per year in charges. Businesses within the city limits will also see their rates rise.

“[The estimate] is skewed low because of part-time residents,” Roy Perren said. The EMC Director referenced the City’s ordinance as a fee, not a tax enacted by the Council. BRMEMC will hold their first Open Meeting on Nov. 16 at 6:00 p.m. at their facility in Young Harris. A two-day notice of public attendance was stipulated by Mr. Perren.

Liz Ordiales Hiawassee

Liz Ordiales at October 2 Candidate Forum

“This ordinance was to impose a Franchise FEE to the BRMEMC for the use of our City Right of Ways. It is state law that municipalities can imposed this FEE.  Of the 535 cities in Georgia, 98 percent collect these fees,” Mayoral candidate Liz Ordiales maintains.

“This ordinance was passed by the entire City Council and was completed while I was not a part of the leadership of the city. Councilman Chastain DID vote for this ordinance to move forward,” Ordiales emphasized in an email sent to Fetch Your News on October 31.

The controversial ordinance was adopted less than a week after Ordiales stepped down as Hiawassee Mayor Pro-Tem, a decision made in order to seek election as the “City’s CEO.” Although no longer officially in office, Ordiales continued to volunteer her time steering the Council’s course.

Councilman Jay Chastain Jr. expressed regret toward approving the decree in numerous interviews conducted by Fetch Your News.

“The ordinance moved too fast during Special Called Meetings. I was under the impression it wouldn’t affect the citizens or business owners,” Chastain explained. “All I heard was how great this would be for Hiawassee, how the City would rake in fees from [BRMEMC] and it seemed like a good thing. Once I understood it would affect the people, I wished I had been given the time to look into the details beforehand. I voted yes, but knowing what I know now makes a world of difference.”

Jay Chastain Jr

Jay Chastain Jr. at October 2 Candidate Forum

Councilman Chastain says the ordinance played a role in his decision to endorse Ordiales’s opponent, Barry Keith Dearing.

“Barry wants to do the right thing. He wants to repeal it. Tax or fee, whatever you want to call it, at the end of the day it will cost the taxpayers,” Chastain says.

Fetch Your News was not notified, per law, of the Special Called Meetings in which the Franchise or Planning-Expansion Ordinances were adopted. Chastain voted no to the latter, but was outvoted by the Council.

Invitations to discuss the approaching Hiawassee City Council election were extended to all candidates by Fetch Your News.

Follow FYN for continued coverage of the 2017 election. Count on us to broadcast results on November 7.

 

 

Hiawassee Mayoral Candidate, Liz Ordiales, Rebukes Allegations

News, Politics
Liz Ordiales

HIAWASSEE, GA – In a fiery email sent to Fetch Your News (FYN), Hiawassee Mayoral candidate Liz Ordiales repudiated allegations published October 27, 2017, by the said news outlet which cited several different concerns from fellow candidates, alongside the endorsement of her Mayoral opponent, Barry Keith Dearing, by Incumbent Councilman Jay Chastain Jr.

‘”I have never, I repeat NEVER been accused of any wrong-doing during my presidency at the Towns County Fire Corps. This article I believe has been altered since it originally appeared. It originally stated I was the Vice-President, which is a position I have never held. These accusations are unacceptable lies and are a direct attack on my character,” Ordiales wrote. The Mayoral candidate went on to claim libel and defamation of character.

Fetch Your News caught the error referencing Ordiales as Vice-President, rather than the former President of the Towns County Fire Corps, soon after publishing and accepts responsibility for the slight inaccuracy. The mistake was promptly corrected once discovered.

Cindi Daves, a proponent of Ms. Ordiales, began in an email to FYN, “What happened to the day and age when news reporters were required to vet their stories BEFORE they print them?”

Two additional supporters responded in a similar fashion, adamantly defending Ordiales.

In an email entitled “Retract the Jr. Chastain Allegation,” Liz Ruf wrote, “Mr. Chastain is totally out of line, has no evidence and is attempting to negatively sway this election at the last minute and found easy prey through your news service. You should make this right immediately.”

LaJean Turner wrote in part, “Homework was obviously not done on this article before publication.”

Homework was, in fact, conducted. Fetch Your News does not allude to accusations without extensive research and substantial discovery.

In a 2013 letter written by former Vice President of the Towns County Fire Corps, Ken Bryant, the following allegations were cited as reasons Mr. Bryant chose to vacate his position under President Ordiales’s leadership:

  • No or Improper Board voting – for example, failing to hold a formal vote on the resignation of Dewaine Olson (Secretary/Treasurer);
  • Failure to appoint a financial controller or Treasurer with sufficient accounting background in a reasonable amount of time;
  • Board meeting minutes were inaccurate, incomplete, altered and manipulated to change the record not reflective of the truth;
  • Board member expenditures were approved arbitrarily and with no impartiality, in accordance with no clear and consistent policy.   In one case, retroactive policies were applied to a selected case and expenditures over prior authorization were not enforced in another;
  • Negative comments were made about the dual control board member signature required on fund raising account checks, which is as a matter of best practice with entrusted funds;
  • I was asked by President Ordiales to pre-sign several blank fund raising account checks;
  • No vendor selection process for several significant external relationships and/or expenditures;
  • Lack of planning – for example, a membership drive was planned on a date with a significant community conflict with another public service organization;
  • Requests for significant budget expenditures (more than 25% of total budget) for non-existent needs and for non-existent members;
  • Unilateral decision making – a decision to drop the annual calendar as a fundraising tool without board discussion or a vote (eventually over ruled by Chief Floyd);
  • Mismanagement of the historical web domain address that caused the loss of ownership and resulted in several months without a web presence;
  • Mismanagement of the previous website that resulted in the impounding and loss of use of the archived history of the Fire Department including events, activities, photos, member accomplishments, etc.;

Former Vice President Bryant also referred to “a comment, reflective of attitude, by President Ordiales on the record in a meeting stating, ‘I know we are here to help the Fire Department, but we have to take care of ourselves first.’”

The general media, as well as local officials, are listed as recipients on the resignation. A decision was made to publish the allegations in full based on the elected position the candidate hopes to fill.

Fetch Your News sent a copy of the 2013 letter to candidate Ordiales for review and provided an opportunity to respond in full.

“I would like to address the accusations made in the article published 10-27-17.  Those allegations were made by a disgruntled Towns County Fire Corps officer in 2013, who clearly demonstrated that he had joined this group for financial gain. That became evident upon his refusal to release the www.townscountyfirecorps.org website, which he is still in control of after 5 years. This prompted the Towns County Fire Corps to create a new website www.tcfirecorps.org When his invoice for website management was declined, he resigned from this position and wrote the letter of accusations,” Liz Ordiales stated.

“I suggest that interviews be conducted with Fire Department personnel to further identify the facts on this situation.  During my time with the Fire Corps, we have generated well over $250,000 of which 100% of those funds were spent at the discretion of the Town County Fire Chief.”

Fetch Your News contacted Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland on the evening of October 30, 2017, requesting a response. “Liz has done a great job raising funds for us. We truly appreciated it,” the Fire Chief said in a phone conversation, “but I’m unwilling to endorse anyone. I’m here to serve the municipalities, to protect from a life-and-property standpoint. I’m happy to serve everyone. I wish both candidates the best of luck.”

*UPDATED* Former Vice President of the Towns County Fire Corps, Ken Bryant, responded to FYN’s request for comment. Mr. Bryant stands by his decision to resign due the reasons listed in his letter addressed to board members, local officials, and the media. Mr. Bryant, a former federal agent and current fraud investigator, has submitted numerous additional documents related to his claims.

Mr. Bryant has since written a Letter to the Editor.

Follow Fetch Your News for additional coverage of the 2017 Hiawassee City Council election.

Election Day is November 7.

 

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Follow Fetch Your News for additional coverage of the 2017 Hiawassee City Council election. Election Day is November 7.

 

Councilman Jay Chastain Jr. Endorses Barry Keith Dearing in Hiawassee Election

News, Politics
Jay Chastain Jr

HIAWASSEE, GA – Hiawassee Councilman Jay Chastain, Jr. has publicly stepped forth to announce his endorsement of Hiawassee Mayoral candidate Barry Keith Dearing less than two weeks prior to election day.

The 12-year incumbent tells Fetch Your News that Mr. Dearing has his full support.

“I’ve known Barry for ages. He’s a fine man. There’s no doubt he entered the race because he wants what’s best for the City’s future,” the Councilman says.

Councilman Chastain, a lifelong resident and Paramedic of 31-years, met with candidate Dearing on the morning of Thursday, October 26, at McConnell Baptist Church during a newly initiated prayer breakfast to offer his blessing.

Barry Keith Dearing, a fourth generation local and the longtime CEO of VanKeith Insurance, says he appreciates Jay Chastain Jr.’s approval.

“He’s a good man and he’s committed to not only the Council, but to the community as a First Responder. I’m honored,” Dearing confided.

When pressed, both conservative candidates affirmed it’s neither the mayoral opposition’s lifestyle nor the fact she isn’t a “local” – the admitted concern Liz Ordiales raised at the Council forum – but the core issues that matter.

Of concern is the controversial imposition of the newly adopted BRMEMC Franchise Tax, confirmed to adversely affect the future budgets of Hiawassee citizens.

The recently passed planning-expansion ordinance, opposed by Councilman Chastain during a Special Called Meeting shortly after Pro-Tem Liz Ordiales announced her candidacy, is also an issue of debate.

Questionable decisions the former council member made while serving as President of the Towns County Fire Corps, including allegations of the alteration of Meeting minutes and the mismanagement of funds, and an initial attempt to reject the now-popular Mayors’ Park, have also put Ordiales in the hot seat.

Chastain’s decision to outwardly support mayoral candidate Dearing emerged unexpectedly during a community prayer meeting hosted at McConnell Church. The breakfast, sponsored in partnership with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, is an initiative of Sheriff Chris Clinton to unite residents with local law enforcement and first responders.

Councilman Jay Chastain, Jr., the son of a slain Towns County Sheriff whose life ended while serving the community in 1974, expressed his heartfelt approval of Barry Dearing as Hiawassee’s next Mayor.

“I want to see Hiawassee thrive economically and I believe it will. I want the residents to know where I stand, local or move-in. It’s beside them,” Chastain parted before rushing off to arrive on-time for his role as a veteran Medic.

Fetch Your News has followed the 2017 Hiawassee City Council race since its inception.

Follow Fetch Your News for additional coverage of the November 7 election.

*UPDATE* Feature Image has been replaced.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

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