HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County’s Lake Chatuge Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for”Reelin’ it in for Vets,” Saturday, Nov. 2. Anglers, who are encouraged to team with a veteran, will compete for a portion of $7,500 in prize money for the top-5 heftiest catches of the day.
“The Towns County Chamber of Commerce is encouraging anglers to take a veteran fishing to thank them for their years of service protecting our country and allowing us all the freedoms we have,” Lake Chatuge Chamber President Candace Lee explained. “The event will kick-off on Friday evening, Nov. 1, with a pre-fish feast sponsored by local VFW Post 7807. On Saturday, the tournament blast-off will take place from Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds boat ramp at ‘safe light’ and weigh-in will be conducted at 2 pm from this same boat ramp.”
The entry fee is $150 for a two-man team if a veteran is onboard. A fee of $200 is required to participate if the team does not include a veteran. Veterans without a boat or teammate who wish to participate will be matched with an angler. “Do not let this stop you from fishing in this tournament,” Lee urged. “All veterans participating will be honored at the weigh-in and receive a special gift from the Towns County Chamber of Commerce.”
Pre-registration is available with on-site registration accepted on Nov. 2 until 6:30 a.m.
“When we started our Fishing Tournaments Committee about 18 months ago, we were just getting ready for the big Bassmasters Tournament,” Lee told FYN. “After that big tournament, a lot of smaller tournaments followed. Groups started contacting us for help – both money and manual labor – to bring in large groups of anglers. As we continued to discuss helping these other groups, a couple of the committee members suggested that we start hosting our own tournaments – not only to bring attention to Towns County and Lake Chatuge but to raise money for the Chamber and for a local charity.”
Lee explained that the chamber learned of different tournaments that honored veterans, adding that there were several non-profits whose goals were to work solely with veterans in the outdoors. “Modeling our tournament after some of the others was easy – just on a much smaller scale,” Lee said. “We knew that our local VFW was busy raising money for a new building and that this tournament could possibly help.
“Many area businesses are sponsors of this event including the main sponsor, Nelson Tractor Company, Inc. from Blairsville, GA. Other sponsors are Lake Chatuge Lodge, Northeast Georgia Board of Realtors, Mountain Realty, Towns County CVB, Hiawassee Hardware, Blue Ridge Moutain EMC, and VFW-American Legion of Towns County.”
A portion of the proceeds will be returned to VFW Post 7807.
For additional information, contact Towns County’s Lake Chatuge Chamber of Commerce at 706-896-4966.
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YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – The Towns County & Lake Chatuge Chamber of Commerce has officially rebranded as the Lake Chatuge Chamber of Commerce. The news broke during a surprise celebration held at the chamber’s office on Jack Dayton Circle in Young Harris, Oct. 24.
“About five years ago we did some rebranding,” Lee said of the Lake Chatuge logo which was designed by community members who sought to understand what drew visitors to the area. “Top answer was the lake, second type answer was the mountains. So our board got together, the committee on the board got together, and said, ‘we’re going to go with the lake.’ The lake is what brings the people here, brings the groups here, it’s what attracts more of the visitors here to the county. Since we’ve done the rebranding, you have seen the results. We’ve had Bassmasters here. We’ve had people calling for tournaments. We’ve had five tournaments this year. I’ve got one already scheduled for next year. It has exploded just because we use the words Lake Chatuge.”
A ribbon-cutting took place at the event, cake and champagne were served to celebrate the occasion, and door prizes were raffled to announcement attendees.
“You are getting a trickle-down effect in all your businesses,” Lee told the guests, many of whom were chamber members. “No matter what you do, you are getting a trickle-down somehow in your business from tourism. Towns County, last year, got a report for 2017 tourism that saif we are 8th in the region as far as the dollars we bring in tourism. That’s huge for a 16 county region, we are 8th in our region. We are #1 in the dollars saved per person in taxes per year because of tourism.”
Lee said that the tax savings annually amount to roughly $800 per resident.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Independence Day is quickly approaching, and Towns County will feature several events to celebrate America’s freedom. The Lake Chatuge Boat Parade is scheduled to launch the festivities, Thursday, July 4. “Boaters line up in the Sunset Bay Cove behind Aqua Tiki, the Grand Marshal, for the parade beginning at 10:30 am,” Towns County Chamber of Commerce said. “No wake, and boats must fly a U.S. flag. Additional patriotic decorations are encouraged. Boats must have a number issued to be considered for judging. A $50 prize will be awarded for most creatively decorated boat, and also for the most red, white and blue. Boats will parade past the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, under Anderson Bridge, and past the Hiawassee Beach area before disbanding. Judges will be positioned at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.” Winners will be announced July 4 at 2 pm on the “Towns County and Lake Chatuge Chamber of Commerce” Facebook page.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Chamber of Commerce hosted an annual “Eggs and Issues” breakfast, Wednesday, May 29, at Daniel’s Steakhouse in Hiawassee. A crowd of approximately 50 signed up to dine, buffet style, while listening to public leaders address community matters. Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton, and Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith were invited to meet with the citizens.
Commissioner Bradshaw opened the event by sharing that the county budget is in good health, with a $3.1 million reserve fixed in place. Due to past, excessive rainfall, construction efforts were needed in an area that caused a storage building to buckle at Foster Park in Young Hsrris, the commissioner reported, although taxpayers’ funds were minimal due to a generous contractor who offered assistance to lower costs. An insurance check in the amount of $23,000 was issued in response to the damage of the building. Bradshaw shared that sales taxes have increased by $28,000 from this time last year, a testimony to the booming business of local tourism. The commission said that he believes the city governments are in line with the county’s goals. “We don’t want to lose small town values, and small town feel,” Bradshaw stressed.
Next to speak was Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales who, in part, addressed the city’s strategic plan, calling it a “driving force.” Ordiales said that the next project on the list is to make Lloyd’s Landing, where the boat ramp was located prior to Mayors’ Park, a “kid-friendly, fun, family area.” The mayor filled the diners in on the Friday movies and Saturday evening music summer series on Hiawassee Town Square, announcing that 250 music lovers attended opening night, Memorial Day weekend. “We all came here because we wanted a small town…” Mayor Ordiales reminded. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have every, single storefront filled? That’s my target.”
Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby promoted the city’s North Georgia Highlands Seafood Festival, scheduled for this weekend. Gibby addressed the anticipated road construction which will soon begin in western Towns County. “The construction process will be awful, but in the end I think it’s going to be very good for us,” the mayor assured. Gibby said that the citizens of Young Harris are in agreement as to how the development of the city unfolds, saying the residents strive for a “community and sense of belonging,” adding that “eveyone seems to want a village.”
Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton spoke on the security at the courthouse, detention center procedures, and the recently completed mass “Operation Trial Run” drug round-ups, which landed 53 arrests and over $300,000 in monetary and property seizures. The sheriff noted the local C.H.A.M.P.S. program, the importance of accountabilty in reference to drug court, and praised the volunteer efforts of the Citizen Law Enforcement Academy (CLEA) graduates. Clinton divulged that the inmates currently housed at the Towns County Detention Center are all repeat offenders. “I think we need less laws, and put the teeth back in the laws.” Sheriff Clinton said, referring to himself as “compassionate” and “a results, goal-orientated, type person.”
“We haven’t had the best history of sheriff’s in the past,” Clinton said, calling the statement an “historical fact.” The county’s chief officer informed that he does not see his detractors in attendance at community events, such as the sheriff’s office fundraisers, while adding, “I don’t think any of us are claiming to be perfect. I’m certainly not.” Sheriff Clinton concluded with praise for the department’s deputies and their retention record. “We haven’t had a single patrol officer in over two years go anywhere.”
Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith wrapped up the forum, relaying that he is one of five officers on the city department. “I still work the roads. I still answer calls,”Smith said, noting that having a recently-added fifth officer allows time to tend to administrative duties. Smith stressed the importance of justice and service to the community, and expressed gratitude for two patrol vehicles which were donated by the local Lions Club and a Florida poice division. The chief touched on the annual “Shop with a Hero” program which provides holiday gifts for financially challenged children in Towns County.
In attendance was Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland who warned of wildfire dangers, and asked the community to kindly pull to the shoulder of the roadway when emergency vehicles approach, with lights flashing and sirens sounding. Copeland additionally serves as the county coroner, and mentioned the importance of carrying identification with information on next of kin, along with predetermining a preference of funeral homes.
Overall, the theme of the event was overwhelming positive from the public officials involved, and in terms of attendance, the Towns County Chamber of Commerce deemed the breakfast discussion a success.
Feature Image: Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, speaking to the citizens of Towns County
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Lake Chatuge was the site of the 2018 Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) point series tournament, and Towns County’s decision to host the sporting event yielded a high economic return.
According to Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee, over 10,800 visitors traveled to the area for the September event, generating approximately $2.1 million dollars in revenue. The expected return, cited by Bassmaster, was slightly underestimated at $1.5 to $2 million dollars.
Towns County extended a host fee of $60,000 to secure the Bassmaster series finale, a commitment both Lee and Towns County Commisioner Cliff Bradshaw said did not come without much consideration and contemplation. In addition to the revenue obtained from the event, a total of 5,434 local jobs were supported by the wise investment.
Lee and Bradshaw explained that the tournament will reap long-lasting results as familiarity with the Towns County area is better known due to exposure from the popular bass fishing event. During the week of the tournament, coverage of the AOY drove over 798,000 visitors to the bassmaster website, with more than 336,000 unique visitors, and 6.8 million page views. Video coverage delivered more than 269,000 views.
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Keep Money Local: Sales taxes fund our communities, providing vital services such as police and fire protection, street repairs, and trash collection.
Local Investment: Local businesses are less susceptible to national downturns and more likely to work harder to stay open.
Locally-Made Products: Local business owners often sell local products which helps preserve the community’s distinction and creates more jobs locally.
Support for Non-Profit Organizations: Local businesses support good work in the community.
Discover Interesting Things and People: One-of-a-kind shops and restaurants are part of what makes a community a great place to live.
Personal Connection: You know the store owners and the store owners know you!
Product Knowledge: Local business owners are well-informed about the products that they are selling.
Diverse Products: Local store scarry unique items often not found in larger retail chains.
Cost Effective: Prices at local businesses are often better because of lower overhead.
Better Experience: Local shopping can translate into more convenient retail experiences.
Less “Leakage”: Local businesses tend to buy and sell with other local businesses.
Better Service: Local business owner are typically passionate about the products that they are selling, and are more apt to share that passion with local consumers.
According to the Towns County Chamber of Commerce, for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $73 remains in the local economy, and $27 leaves the area. When compared to $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, only $43 remains local, and $57 leaves the area. Recent research shows that local restaurants return nearly 79 percent of revenue to the community, compared to just over 30 percent for chain restaurants.
In Georgia alone, 99.6 percent of businesses are small businesses.
When profits stay local, it increases the community’s wealth, tax revenue, and quality of living.
Many area retail stores and restaurants will offer a “Shop Small Saturday” special or discount, and many businesses are giving away free “Shop Small Saturday” tote bags.
For additional information, contact the Towns County Chamber of Commerce at 706-896-4966.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County received the findings of the 2017 financial audit, and all is going according to plan. “As far as the financials of the county, we’re doing really well. I’m very excited things are going really good. Knock on wood that we don’t have any catastrophes,” Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw said, referencing the devastation to the eastern states caused by Hurricane Florence’s wrath, grateful that the county was spared damage, “But the financials are good. The reserve is in place. Everything is like it should be. We’re on track.”
Towns County maintains an impressive $3.1 million reserve.
Commissioner Bradshaw announced that year-to-date, the county has seen an approximate $30,000 increase in sales tax collection. “That means the economy is doing good, and we’re so thankful for that,” Bradshaw explained, adding appreciation for Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee’s dedication and contribution to the tourism boom. Bradshaw reminded that the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament begins this week on Lake Chatuge, and that events such as the fishing competition put the county on the map. “That’s folks spending money in Towns County. That’s what it’s all about.”
The 2017 audit is housed in the Commissioner’s office at the Towns County Courthouse, available for public review. By week’s end, the audit is expected to be posted on the Towns County Commissioner’s website
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Autumn is a magical time of year in the mountains of Appalachia, with hillsides hued in blazing glory, and seasonal activities and events for residents and visitors to enjoy. Towns County plans to host several events during the month of October.
Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee tells FYN that each year, phone calls begin to pour in from widespread locales, excited to learn when the peak leaf colors are expected occur. “The last week in October, into the first week of November, is typically the peak time,” Lee said, “We welcome phone calls, and there is a website that updates the forecast that we use as a guide.”
Scarecrows are planning to “invade” Hiawassee Town Square throughout the month of October, a new addition of seasonal sights to see. Individuals and businesses can stake their creations in the heart of Hiawassee in exchange for a $25 entry fee, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Towns County Food Pantry.
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds will host its annual Fall Festival from October 12 – 20, featuring concerts, arts & craft vendors, and educational demonstrations – such as moonshine making, corn milling, cider squeezing, quilting, black smithing, soap crafting. In addition, the Fall Festival will include the famed Georgia Official State Fiddlers’ Convention, and “Wolves of the World”, the world’s only traveling wolf exhibit. Admission to the fairgrounds is $12.00, with children under 12 admitted free. Three-day passes will be available for purchase at the gate for $33.00. Parking is free. Pets are not permitted.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds will feature the Appalachian Brew, Stew, and Que Festival, with 21 breweries participating in the event. Tickets are $40.00 at the gate or $35.00 online.
October will close with Halloween on Hiawassee Town Square, an ever-popular annual event. The festival will be held on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 31, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
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