16 Towns County candidates qualify for 2020 election

Election, News
Towns County 2020 qualifying

HIAWASSEE, Ga.- The qualifying period for multiple Towns County offices began Monday, March 2, with seven candidates filing the first day. Qualifying ended at noon, Friday, March 6, with a total of 16 candidates officially entering the county races.

The voter registration deadline to cast a ballot in the General Primary is April 20, 2020.

Click here to register to vote

The earliest date for voters to submit an absentee ballot in the General Primary is March 31, 2020.

Advanced-in-Person Early Voting begins on April 27, 2020.

The General Primary Election will take place on May 19, 2020.

A countywide SPLOST referendum and Hiawassee fluoride referendum for voters to decide will appear on the ballot.

Towns County Candidates:

COUNTY Qualifying

Towns County Office of Commissioner

Cliff Bradshaw (Incumbent – Republican)


Daren Osborn (Republican)

Kenneth Henderson (Republican)

Jim Couch (Republican)

Lisa Joseph (Republican)

Linda Curtis (Republican)

Towns County Office of Tax Commissioner

Bruce Rogers (Incumbent – Democrat)

J.C. Berrong (Republican)

Towns County Office of Coroner

Harold Copeland (Incumbent – Republican)

Tamela Cooper (Republican)

Towns County Clerk of Superior Court

Cecil Dye (Incumbent – Republican)

Towns County Magistrate/Probate Judge

David Rogers (Incumbent – Republican)

Towns County Board of Education

Post 1 – Macedonia

Brandon Grimsley (Non-Partisan)

Post 4 – At Large

Stephanie McConnell (Non-Partisan)

Post 5 – At Large

Stephen Green (Non-Partisan)

Caroleen Woods (Non-Partisan)

STATE Qualifying

District 8 State Representative

Stan Gunter (Republican)

Steve Townsend (Republican)

Dave Cooper (Democrat)

State Senate District 50

Andy Garrison (Republican)

Stacy Hall (Republican)

Bo Hatchett (Republican)

Tricia Lyne Hise (Republican)

Dee Daley (Democrat)

Dan Gasaway (Republican)

Public Service Commission District 4

Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr. (Incumbent – Republican)

Nathan Wilson (Libertarian)

Daniel Blackman (Democrat)

John Noel (Democrat)

Judge of Superior Court Enotah Circuit

Joy R. Parks (Incumbent – Non-partisan)

FEDERAL Qualifying

Ninth District U.S. Congress

Michael Boggus (Republican)

Andrew Clyde (Republican)

Matt Gurtler (Republican)

Maria Strickland (Republican)

Kevin Tanner (Republican)

Ethan Underwood (Republican)

Devin Pandy (Democrat)

Paul Broun (Republican)

John Wilkinson (Republican)

Dan Wilson (Democrat)

Kellie Weeks (Republican)

Siskin (Democrat)

United States Senate – Perdue Seat

James Knox (Democrat)

Jon Ossoff (Democrat)

Teresa Pike Tomlinson (Democrat)

Tricia Carpenter McCracken (Democrat)

Sarah Riggs Amico (Democrat)

Shane Hazel (Libertarian)

Marc Keith DeJesus (Democrat)

Maya Dillard Smith (Democrat)

David Perdue (Incumbent – Republican)

United States Senate – Loeffler Seat (Special Election in November) 

Kelly Loeffler (Incumbent – Republican)

Doug Collins (Republican)

A. Wayne Johnson (Republican)

Kandiss Taylor (Republican)

Tamara Johnson-Shealey (Democrat)

Matt Lieberman (Democrat)

Joy Felicia Shade (Democrat)

Ed Tarver (Democrat)

Richard Dien Winfield (Democrat)

Al Bartell (Independent)

Allen Buckley (Independent)

Brian Slowinski (Libertarian)

Derrick E. Grayson (Republican)

Rod Mack (Write-In)

Annette Jackson (Republican)

Deborah Jackson (Democrat)

Jamesia James (Democrat)

Raphael Warnock (Democrat)

Michael Todd Green (Independent)

Valencia Stovall (Independent)

John “Green” Fortuin (Green)

The Presidential Preference Primary takes place on March 24, 2020, and early voting opened on March 2. The mandatory Saturday voting will be held on March 14.

Here’s a list of all the federal and state races that are qualifying in 2020. If needed, a General Primary run-off will take place on July 21, 2020.

Fetch Your News will keep updating this article as more candidates qualify.


Continue to follow FYN for up-to-date campaign coverage as the 2020 election cycle advances.


Towns County voters to use new equipment in 2020

Towns County Board of Elections

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Elections Chair Janet Olivia advised the community Dec. 22 that Towns County voters should expect to use updated voting machines to cast their ballots in the 2020 election. “Georgia voters will be using a new method of voting in 2020, utilizing Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs),” Olivia said. “These devices will be comprised of two parts: an electronic tablet (touchscreen) that will allow the voter to make his or candidate selections, and an attached printer, which will then print the voter’s selections on a paper ballot. The voter then has an opportunity to review his/her selections prior to casting the ballot.

“Once the voter is satisfied with the ballot, he or she will then enter the paper ballot into an ImageCast Precinct (ICP) Scanning Device to cast the ballot. The touchscreen tablets do not record any data, only the scanners. Each voting station in a precinct will include the two-component working station with privacy accommodations. The stations are equipped for persons who are visually or hearing impaired. For persons who are disabled and voting in person, please contact any poll worker onsite so that you avoid standing in line.”

Janet Olivia

Towns County Board of Elections Chair Janet Olivia

Olivia explained that the paper ballot that is printed is not a receipt. Instead, it is a potential ballot that has yet to be cast. Once the voter places the ballot into the ICP scanner. Towns County will have one per precinct and one at the Advanced Voting location, then the ballot will be recorded and the voter’s selections will then be counted.

“Poll workers will be onsite to assist voters with any issues that arise with the BMDs and the ICP Scanning Devices.,” Olivia added. “We also will be using new ‘check-in’ devices that should expedite voter lines. New poll pads are equipped to scan driver licenses and allow the voter to electronically sign his or her name in lieu of signing a written form on election days.”

Olivia stated that the Towns County Board of Elections is in the process of launching a Facebook page to inform voters of election-related updates.

Towns County Schools to hold open house for renovation reveal

Towns County Schools
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Schools is planning a community open house Wednesday, August 7, from 5 to 7 pm, for anyone who would like to tour the upgraded campus. The Towns County Board of Education applied for a $3.3 million modernization grant in 2017, based on an estimate from Robertson Loia Roof, an architectural firm located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Due to the true cost of the renovation amounting to $4.3 million, the school board opted to delay the wiring process, which included LED lighting, until this year when additional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds became available.

Towns County Schools

New seating in the school’s gymnasium

“Our summer projects have gone smoother and faster than expected,” Towns County Schools Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong told FetchYourNews. “We successfully renovated all our classrooms with new LVT flooring and new paint. All our restrooms were upgraded to be ADA compliant in both the school building and high school gym. We installed a new fire alarm system and have completely replaced all the 40 year old wiring in the building. The high school-middle school library received a complete renovation with a new modern look and coffee shop feel. We replaced all the lighting in the school with LED lights with motion sensors to turn off when there is no movement in the building for energy management. The high school gym received all new paint as well as well as new gym seats. All exterior doors were replaced for security purposes to make it more difficult to enter our buildings. The newly installed turf on the soccer/football field is simply beautiful.  We also renovated the softball field with a new backstop, new windscreen, a new batting cage, and locker room. With the completion of all the projects from this summer and last summer, our school building and sports facilities rival any schools systems in the state of Georgia. I couldn’t be happier with the results or more proud that we are able to provide the students of Towns County and our community with state of the art facilities that they can use and be proud of many years to come.”
Towns County football

Towns County Schools football field received new turf

Dr. Berrong plans to provide a personal tour of the renovated campus to Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, and Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby on the mornng of Aug. 1.

Parents, students say bullying, discrimination accepted at local school

Towns County Schools
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Shortly before Christmas, 2018, the distraught mother of a Towns County Schools’ 8th grade student took to social media, following her teen daughter’s suicide attempt, to share what she considered a serious, unaddressed issue in the local education system: school bullying. Alli Hurley’s post quickly went viral, gaining over 1,500 shares, and amassing comments from parents and students who let Hurley know that she was far from alone in her concerns.
Following what Hurley considered failed efforts to remedy the situation through the school administrative system, Hurley contacted FetchYourNews (FYN) with a heartfelt plea to share her daughter’s predicament with the public.
“Over the winter break, my 13-year-old daughter tried to commit suicide by taking a bottle of pills,” Alli Hurley said. “By the grace of God, she was unsuccessful in her attempt, but through this experience we learned that much of the reason for her attempt was due to being bullied at school. You see, since moving to Towns County, my daughter has been teased. Whether it be for her clothes, her hair, her socioeconomic class, or her geographical origins, the kids would always find a reason to pick on her. At the beginning of 8th grade, (my daughter) came out as a lesbian, and sadly, it gave them another reason to bully her. This was a devastating time for her, as she had exposed the most vulnerable part of herself, only for her spirit to be utterly crushed by her peers…(My daughter) went to the SRO (school resource officer) and the middle school counselor, Ms. Berrong. Also, during my meeting with (Mr.) Melton, I mentioned several names to him. Then during my meeting with Ms. Berrong,  I mentioned the names to her as well.”
According to StopBullying.gov, young people who are perceived as different from their peers are often at risk for being bullied. Bullying is not usually a simple interaction between a student who bullies and a student who is bullied. Instead, it often involves groups of students who support each other in bullying other students.
Over a series of months, additional parents of students at Towns County Schools contacted FYN with similiar stories of bullying, based on alleged discrimination.
“If a kid is not an athletic superstar, doesn’t come from a well known family, or doesn’t fit into the mold of what they think kids should be, then they don’t understand them. It is the most judgmental school, and for that matter, town, that I have ever been in,” Sharon Roach, the mother of three students who attended Towns County Schools, said. “There is so much diversity in the world that these educators need to learn how to accept and be role models for these kids in a positive way. Right now, they don’t stick up for the kids that don’t fall into what they think is acceptable, and the other students know they can pick on someone for being different, and nothing will happen to them. I think it’s just a matter of time before tragedy strikes that school if they don’t get it together.”
FYN contacted Towns County Schools Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong to provide an opportunity to address the issue.

“All three school counselors were recently certified Mental Health First Aiders,” Superintendent Berrong initially stated. “They have also completed the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). All Towns County staff attended the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) training which was held in the school auditorium this year. Towns County Schools is working with a team of Trainers from the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program which is customized for faculty, staff, adults, student peer leaders, and all other youth. Towns County Middle School also started the Sandy Hook Promise program this year. Counselors use small-group counseling, individual counseling, classroom guidance, mentoring programs, and Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) that encourages teaching positive behavior. Towns County Schools is partnered with AVITA to offer mental health counseling and support on campus. Towns County Schools also incorporated this winter the program called Teen Safety Matters, a comprehensive, evidence-informed prevention education program for middle school students in grades 6-8. The program educates and empowers teens and all relevant adults with information and strategies to prevent, recognize, and respond appropriately to bullying, cyberbullying, all types of abuse, relationship abuse, sex trafficking, and digital dangers. Towns County Schools also met with the PFLAG organization this winter and have their brochures and information readily available for students and parents.”


A photo from Alli Hurley’s viral post

PFLAG  is an acronym for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – a support, education, and advocacy organization. Hurley, the mother of suicidal teen, told FYN that PFLAG took interest in her daughter’s plight, and contacted Towns County School administrators. Hurley has since removed her child from Towns County Schools in favor of home schooling.
A recurring theme from interviews and research conducted by FYN was harsh disapproval of a particular staff member: Towns County Schools Assistant  Principle Jim Melton. “We told the Vice Principal, Mr. Jim Melton, what happened and we left the meeting shaking our heads, furious, and completely understanding why (our daughter) felt compelled to keep things to herself,” Hurley wrote on social media  . “His response to a wonderful, sweet student that is making all A’s in advanced placement classes, one that never gets into trouble – a beautiful, gay girl that was simply trying to be proud of who she was — trying to kill herself due to relentless bullying, made comments to us (still in shock!) like, ‘I don’t like the word bullying – it’s such an overused word,’ and ‘You have to understand that this is a small town and gay people are relatively new to them,’ and ‘you know middle school is always tough on kids.'” Hurley went on to say that Melton’s response was inappropiate for an authority figure. FYN reviewed an audio recording of the conversation between Hurley and Melton to verify the paraphrased interaction.
Dozens of parents and students named Melton as problematic in the battle against bullying. On a counter note, several members of the community spoke in support of Melton. In contrast, however, those that advocated for the school administrator were from what one might consider influential, established families. FYN offered Melton an opportunity, through the Towns County Board of Education, to add personal input, and did not receive a direct response from the assistant principle. School Superintendent Berrong told FYN that his office had not received any complaints related to Melton and bullying in Berrong’s four years as an official.
“In (a) letter received from the Hurley’s written in March, they had two requests,” Superintendent Berrong responded in turn. “The first request was for the school to add additional programs and policies to help prevent bullying in our schools. From my previous email showing the programs and curriculums we use and have added since December, I believe we were already taking those steps. The second request was the termination of Mr. Melton. I feel it is important for the readers of this article to know that that Mr. Melton nor anyone else at the school had been given any names of students to investigate for this bullying. The parents validate this in their original Facebook post when they stated that their daughter would not give any specific names to the school as to who was bullying her. The school can’t consider terminating someone for a violation of ethics or breaking a law when they had zero prior knowledge to a situation until after the fact. What the school would like parents to know is that if their child feels they are being bullied or mistreated in any form, please let a teacher, counselor, or administrator know and something will be done. We can not help combat bullying if we are not informed.”
Hurley’s social media post, with hundreds of community comments, is available by clicking this link.

Renovation to begin at Towns County School

Towns County Schools

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Renovation to Towns County School is scheduled to begin after graduation May 18, says Towns County Superintendent Darren Berrong. The 40-year-old school buildings are in desperate need of roof replacement, upgraded wiring, and HVAC systems.

The Towns County Board of Education applied for a $3.3 million modernization grant in 2017, based on an estimate from Robertson Loia Roof, an architectural firm located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Due to the true cost of the renovation, amounting to $4.3 million, the school board has since decided to delay the wiring process, which includes LED lighting, until next year, when additional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds become available.

During the summer, a heating unit will be installed in the elementary school gym, drop celings will be added to support the addition of larger HVAC units – along with the HVAC system themselves – and the roof will be replaced. The cost associated with the planned construction amounts to $3.6 million. Towns County School will pay the contractors, then submit the bills to the state for reimbursement. The timetable for reimbursement is unclear at this time.

In the event of a budget overage, Berrong says SPLOST funds will be used to avoid a shortage to school operating costs and payroll while awaiting reimbursement.

Renovation is expected to commence shortly after graduation in order for construction to be completed before the 2018-2019 school year begins. The final phase of renovation is expected to conclude by the end of July, with time to reorganize classrooms before the next school year takes effect.

Towns County School qualified for the state modernization grant due to the age of the buildings, and the Board of Education believes the renovations are well-warranted.

Towns County BOE budget amended

Towns County Board of Education

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education recently amended their 2018 budget due to receipt of federal and state funding, resulting in a $2,501,917 increase. According to the Board, the change will not affect local taxpayers.

“After the budget was completed, the Board was approved for a modernization grant,” Financial Director Myra Underwood explained. “Because we received such a large amount, we went ahead and amended all of the changes. This is all federal or state money and has nothing to do with raising local taxes.”

The changes are listed as follows:

Modernization Grant  

Original Budget: $1,000,000

Amendment #1: $3,262,301

Change: $2,262,301


21st Century

Original Budget: $0

Amendment #1: $310,255

Change: $310,255


Title I

Original Budget: $324,546

Amendment #1: $280,690

Change: ($43,856)


Title II

Original Budget: $45,332

Amendment #1: $33,893

Change: ($11,439)


Flow Through

Original Budget: $217,435

Amendment #1: $209,017

Change: ($8,418)


Rural Grant

Original Budget: $25,132

Amendmaent #1: $18,206

Change: ($6,926)



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



Board of Education proposes annual millage rate

Towns county Board of Education

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education proposed a rollback millage rate of 7.671 percent during a special-called meeting on the morning of Tuesday, July 31. An additional meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 23, for Board’s final approval. The session will take place at 7:30 a.m. at the Board of Education office at 67 Lakeview circle in Hiawassee.

Towns County Superintendent Darren Berrong credits a steady increase in real estate values for the rollback, which was set at 7.956 percent in 2017. Real and Personal Property values in Towns County rose from over $731 million in 2013 to nearly $806 million in 2018.

“(The millage rate) is not a reduction in revenue for us, however,” Berrong stated, “It’s actually an increase of revenue of $40,000 which isn’t a significant increase for an individual taxpayer.” Berrong recommended acceptance to advertise the rollback rate, with the Board unanimously approving the motion.

View: 2018 Tax Digest – 5 year History

In addition, Towns County Board of Education approved the recommendation of Substitute Teacher Patricia “Trish” Cook, and Community Coach Tyler Crawford during Tuesday’s meeting.

Dr. Berrong stated that campus renovation is proceeding on schedule, with classes resuming on Aug. 16. Berrong said he has not received negative feedback from the community on the Board’s recent discussion on arming school personsell. Berrong says he plans to seek additional input from the community at an upcoming Lions Club meeting. The superindendent made mention of the third table-top emergency responder forum on school safety, scheduled for Aug. 6, disclosing that the school safety plan implemented must first be “approved by all emergency personell.” Detailed information concerning the plan will not be made available to the general public due to the safety-sensitive nature of the issue. As previously reported, the Board approved the hiring of a second school resourse officer to increase the safety level at Towns County Schools.

Towns County Board of Education will meet for their monthly work session at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6, at the administrative office. Meetings are open to the public.

(Feature Image: Superintendent Darren Berrong (left) with Board member Robert Williams at Tuesday’s meeting)

Towns County students return to renovated campus, second resource officer

Towns County Board of Education

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County students are scheduled to return for the 2018-2019 school year tomorrow, Aug. 16.

First-stage renovations to the school campus have been completed on time, and a second school resource officer is signing on to provide additional safety measures for students and staff.

Towns County Board of Education decided at their regular monthly meeting on Aug. 13, to hire Towns County Sheriff’s Deputy Sally Tanner to fill the role. Tanner, a former Union County school resource officer, has served with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office since 2017. Tanner will be assigned to the elementary school, with veteran Resource Officer Donnie Jarrard manning the middle- and high school areas.

Towns County School Superintendent Darren Berrong

Towns County Board of Education voted unanimously at a special-called meeting on July 19 that a second school resource officer was in the best interest of student safety, as Officer Jarrard has been assigned to traffic duty in the past, when classes begin and end each day, and often travels with students out-of-town for field trips and to sporting events.

Towns County Board of Education will be responsible for funding 75 percent of the cost of the additional officer, with the remaining 25 percent taken from the Towns County Sheriff’s Office budget.

As for the renovations, the second phase is expected to begin next summer, and will include an updated fire alarm system, electrical rewiring, painting, and new flooring and doors. The construction that occurred this summer consisted of  roof replacement and an overhaul to the HVAC system.

Board of Education candidate advocates for mental health

Election 2018
Brandi Rutan

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education Post 2 candidate, Bradi Rutan, introduced herself to the community at the weekly meeting of Mountain Movers & Shakers April 27, 2018.

Rutan, a mother of two students, said she will bring her experience as a mental health professional to the school board if elected. The licensed clinical social worker’s merits include 14 years of history working in the adolescent and geriatric psychiatric fields.

Bentley Floyd

Bentley Floyd opened the meeting with an engaging speech on robotics.

“My background is in mental health. Not that I want to impose mental health in the school system, but I think that having someone inclined and trained in the mental health area can be beneficial in Towns County Schools,” Rutan stated.

The social worker spoke in favor of Avita Community Partners, a public agency formed in 1993 by the Georgia Legislature to address the mental health needs of both children and adults in 13 northeast Georgia counties.

“Mental health is a huge area of need that I think needs to be more established in the schools,” Rutan continued. “I feel the most important role (for board members) is being the ears of the entire community and advocating for the needs to the members of the school board.”

The candidate also noted the economic struggles many families and students in the area face, saying she feels that schools should be a “safety zone” for children.

The primary election takes place May 22, 2018.

Tamie Bradley, of Young Harris, will appear on the ballot, vying for Post 2 as well.


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

BOE: Towns County Schools Closed for Eclipse

Towns County Board of Education

Hiawassee, GA – At Monday’s Board of Education work session, Superintendent Dr.Darren Berrong announced Towns County schools will close on Monday, August 21, due to the highly anticipated Great American Eclipse.

There was prior discussion to release students at noon, but the Board agreed a full day is in the best interest of students and staff. It will be treated as a weather event.

The school’s parking lot will be available for parking to compensate for anticipated overflow at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds. A nominal parking fee will be implemented although the amount has yet to be determined.

The possibility of allowing camping on school grounds was previously considered. However, the liability was determined high risk. Concerns of alcohol, potential illicit activity, and damage to school grounds were cited.

In other news, Dr. Berrong said the first day of school, which began on August 3, ran “unbelievably smooth…The smoothest first day I can remember.”  

Dr. Berrong also noted Towns County’s milestone test scores are currently 76% while the state average is 59% and 12 out of 17 objectives have been met. Dr. Berrong included high school scores are a “vast improvement” in comparison to the previous year.

21st Century Director, Jenny Stowers, presented an evaluation report on the after school program which shed light on a 96% satisfaction rate among parents of the students involved.

A 21st Century Grant Award in the amount of $310,255 was accepted by Board members for funding.

The 21st Century program is in its tenth year of operation and offered to students at no charge. This year’s program begins on August 14 and 220 students applied for the 200 available spots which has resulted in a waiting list for acceptance.

Recommendations on the following positions were unanimously approved by the Board:

Assistant Middle School Softball Coach — Madison Landers
Head Middle School Wrestling Coach — Clay Worley
Middle School Cheerleading Coach — Lesley Kelly
Special Education Paraprofessional — Victoria Figg
Elementary Physical  Education Teacher — Chase Phillips

The contract between Towns County School District and Towns County Sheriff’s Office will continue for sporting events at an agreed rate of $75.00 per game.

The Board’s session closed with discussion of a meeting which took place between Board of Education members and former Hiawassee Mayor Pro Tem, Liz Ordiales. Ordiales suggested a work based plan which would encourage students to learn skills relevant to the county’s business needs.

The Board voiced concern most students likely strive for higher aspirations than local employment opportunities provide, but also noted the potential for advancement through entry level positions. It wasn’t clear whether a program of this nature will be adopted.

Liz Ordiales, who was not present at the meeting, stepped down from the City Council on August 4 in order to run for Mayor in the November election.

The Board of Education will meet for their regular monthly session on Monday, August 14, at Towns County Middle School.

Towns County Board of Education approves 2018-2019 budget

Myra Underwood

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education approved the final adoption of the 2018-2019 budget June 11, 2018. FetchYourNews (FYN) spoke with Financial Director Myra Underwood on the afternoon of Thursday, June 22, regarding the capital project fund applied to campus renovation. The state of Georgia is expected to reimburse the Board of Education between 50 to 80 percent of the associated costs. The renovation is in the first phase which includes replacing the roof and an upgrading the air conditioning system.

Towns county Board of Education

2018-2019 Revenues – Click to enlarge

“The biggest change from last year’s budget to this year is the capital project budget,” Underwood explained, “The grant started this year, but we’re going to roll over into next year. This project is three million dollars, and we’ll be reimbursed as we go along, but we’re doing it two different years. We had to add that three million dollars into next year’s budget too because we don’t know how far along we’ll be.”

The 2018-2019 budget balances at $25,049,643, with $13,776,728 in the general fund, $5,272,915 in special revenues, and $6,000,000 for capital project funding.

“There’s not a big increase in the general fund budget where you get your property taxes from, other than just the benefits and things like that,” Underwood continued. When teaching staff receive an upgrade, for reasons such as advanced certification, retirement benefits expand from 16 to 20 percent.

Underwood said that the campus renovation is advancing on schedule, and although previously delayed due to the construction, the 2018-2019 school year is projected to commence August 16.

Towns county BOE budget

2018-2019 Expenditures – Click to enlarge

Towns County Board of Education is scheduled to meet for their monthly work session at 67 Lakeview Circle in Hiawassee on Monday, July 2, at 7:00 p.m.

Meetings are open to the public.

Feature Photo: TCS Financial Director Myra Underwood



Five candidates qualify for Towns County Board of Education

Election 2018

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The qualification period for three seats on the  Towns County Board of Education came to a close at noon Friday, March 9, 2018.


Post 1 – Macedonia

Robert C. Williams  (incumbent)

Steve Green


Post 2 – Young Harris

Brandi Rutan

Tamie Bradley


Post 3 – Hiawassee

Stan Chastain  (incumbent)


The General and  Nonpartisan Primaries will be held May 22, 2018.

The General Election will take place Nov. 6, 2018.


Follow FetchYourNews for continued coverage as Election 2018 advances.



Towns County Board of Education approves FY 2018 Budget; resignation of TCHS Spanish teacher still an issue


Hiawassee, GA – Towns County Board of Education (TCBOE) convened on Monday, June 12 at 7 p.m. at the TC Middle School Auditorium for their June Meeting. Towns County Schools (TCS) Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong and all Board Members were present.

Dr. Berrong and TCBOE

The TCS FY 2018 Budget, after the prescribed waiting period, was unanimously approved by the Board. Along with that, the Salary/Supplement Schedules were also unanimously approved.

In his Superintendent Report, Dr. Berrong reiterated from the last Work Session the serious concern raised by the resignation of Jennifer Hogsed, the sole HS Spanish teacher. Dr. Berrong said that a communication had been sent out to all surrounding School Districts requesting information on possible Spanish teachers. He pledged to keep the Board and the General Public informed on this issue.

The Board approved the disposition of the following cafeteria equipment, which has long been in need of replacement:
• Two Hobart Convection Stack Ovens purchased in 1998
• Four Dell CPU-Line Machine Computers not compatible with Cafeteria software purchased in May 2002

The Board approved the School Nutrition Program Vendor List for FY 2018:
• Bread Bid – Bimbo Bakeries
• Milk Bid – Mayfield
• Paper and Disposable Goods – American Paper and Twine
• Chemical Bid – SFSPac
• Produce Bid – Foster’s Produce (in conjunction with Union county)
• Fresh Delivered Pizza – Domino’s Smart Slice (in conjunction with Union county)
• Processing of USDA items:
• Chicken – Gold Kist
• Cheese – JTM, Nardones
• Ground Beef – JTM
• Pork – Brookwood Barbeque

New Band Director Allison Arnold

The Board also approved the following:
• Towns County Family Connection FY 2018 Contract
• Resignations of:
o MS Science teacher Emily Hamilton
o HS Spanish teacher Jennifer Hogsed
o HS English teacher Amanda Housley
o HS Special Education Paraprofessional Carol Ramsak
• Recommendations of/for:
o Pat Coleman for Maintenance/Custodian Supervisor as of July 1, 2017
o Alan Rogers for Maintenance/Custodian Manager as of July 1, 2017
o Trena Silvey, Chelsi George, Cheryl Peebles and Jennie Cook as Paraprofessionals
o Stephanie Youngblood for Elementary School Teacher
o Allison Arnold as Band Director
o Alexia Chandler as Elementary School Art Teacher
o Royce Nicholson as Transportation Assistant
o Rachel Surles as High School English Teacher

With no further business to conduct and no Closed Session called for, the Meeting adjourned.


Towns County and State Election Results 2018

Election 2018

TCBOE conducts second Budget Hearing; approves RLR Contract for SPLOST Projects; approves creating Construction Manager Position


The Towns County Board of Education met for their Workshop Session on May Day, Monday, May 1, 2017 at 7 p.m. TCS Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong and all Board Members were present. Finance Director Myra Underwood and Secretary to Dr. Berrong Paula Whitehead were also present.

The Board conducted the second Budget Hearing at 6:30 p.m., just prior to the Work Session. As was the case for the first Budget Hearing, no one addressed the Board.
Dr. Berrong recommended that the Board approve the RLR Architectural Contract for upcoming SPLOST Projects. The Contract stipulates a fee of six per cent of SPLOST Project cost. The Board approved the Contract with Dr. Smith abstaining because she had not been able to review the contract.

TCS Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong

Dr. Berrong recommended that the Board approve the creation of a Construction Manager Position for FY 2018 – FY 2023. Given the Board’s approval last month of moving forward with the Modernization Program for TCS, this would seem to be a prudent move. The Position would report to both Dr. Berrong and Director of Facilities Roy Perrin. The Board approved Dr. Berrong’s recommendation unanimously.

Dr. Berrong reported to the Board that TCS and Towns County are trying to get legislation passed that would allow them to share SPLOST. Dr. Berrong also announced that the National Day of Prayer would be observed at the Recreation Center on May 4, 2017 at 8 a.m.

Dr. Berrong recommended that the Board approve the creation of Transportation Assistant Position, a HS Paraprofessional Position, and, after Executive Session, a Maintenance Manager Position. All were approved by the Board.

Dr. Berrong recommended that the Board approve the resignation of ES Paraprofessional Melissa Kimsey. Kimsey was injured in an automobile accident in 2016 and has had physical difficulty ever since. The Board approved her resignation.

Underwood reported to the Board on the Financial Statement, Activity Quarterly Report and FY 2018 Budget. She said all was going according to predicted outcomes, nothing stood out as a concern.

The Board approved the following Fund Raisers:
• TC 4-H – Rabies Clinic on May 13, 2017
• HS Girls Soccer – Youth Soccer Camp: May 29 – June 1, June 4,11, 18, & 25, 2017
• HS Boys Basketball – Indian Basketball Camp: June 5 -7, 2017

The Board approved the following Field Trips:
• HS Boys Basketball – Andrews HS: June 6, 8, 22, & 27, 2017
• HS Boys Basketball – UGA on June 17, 2017
• HS Football – Fannin County HS on June 27, 2017
• MS & HS Football – Pickens County HS on June 29, 2017
• MS & HS Football – Paint Ball Atlanta on June 30, 2017
• MS Football – Fannin County HS on July 19, 2017

Following a short Executive Session, the Meeting adjourned.

BOE approves multiple Towns County Schools’ staff additions


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Board of Education (BOE) approved multiple staff additions for Towns County Schools at their regular work session on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

The individuals were accepted as follows:

Middle School Basketball Cheerleading Coach – Sara Ewing


Middle School Baseball Assistant Community Coach – Zeke Gribble

Afterschool Program:
Hannah David – Young Harris College Volunteer
Kurt Mueller – Young Harris College Volunteer
Haley Patel – High School Work – Based Learning Assistant
Amanda Solle – Substitute
Kaylea Parker – Substitute
School Nutrition Substitute – Tracy Miles-Hill
Substitute Teacher – Dr. Randy Hale

Custodian – Windy Thompson

Towns County BOE

Towns County Board of Education

Fundraisers for the Elementary School Council, Middle and High School Basketball teams, and a Middle School trip to New York were approved by the Board. In addition, a third grade field trip to the smokey Mountain Theatre in Franklin, NC, was authorized for Oct. 18, and a High School Journalism class trip to the University of Georgia Tate Center was accepted.

Financial Director Myra Underwood delivered the financial statement, including an increase of $120,000 in the General Fund, according to the Department of Education’s final report which ended in June, 2018. The figure amounts to six percent under budget for the previous fiscal year.

 The Board of Education continues to await state reimbursement from summer renovation to the school campus, stating the initial funds to be received is unknown. The first stage of the renovation was projected at a cost of $3.6 million, although stage one of the construction was completed approximately $200,000 under budget. Towns County School Superintendent Dr. Darren Berrong stated an amount ranging between $1.5 – $2.5 million is expected in the near future. Additional renovations to the school campus are expected to continue next summer.
The meeting concluded with the Board entering a closed, executive session to discuss an amendment regarding coaching supplements.
The regular Towns County Board of Education session date was rescheduled for Monday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. at Towns County Schools.

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