HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Following feedback from the community concerning a recent project at the local high school by the Towns County Democratic Party, encouraging registration of students nearing the voting age, the Republican Party issued a copy of its mission statement and beliefs to FYN for release. Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young said that while members of the Republican Party did not attend the three-day outreach due to scheduling conflicts, the Towns County Democrats were provided a copy of the GOP’s mission statement and beliefs for interested students to view.
Highlighted at the top of the information was a famed quote by former President Ronald Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Young explained that the GOP has considered including quotes from Reagan in additional literature. “We are reviewing it and will present it at the next meeting,” Young said.
The mission statement of the Towns County Republican Party reads: “Promoting political participation through education, loyalty, respect for each other’s opinions, and unified support of the Party’s objectives and policies”
According to the political group’s charter, the Republican Party of Towns County believes:
• Each person is responsible for their own place within society.
• Government’s role is to enable the people to secure the benefits for themselves and their families if they are unable to do so for themselves.
• In a limited role for Government intervention into individuals’ work for prosperity.
• States’ Rights
• US Constitution 2nd Amendment
• The Right to Life
• The Voter ID Law
• One Vote for one legal voter
• Every Legal American citizen has a right to vote and their vote to count
• English as a primary language, spoken and written
• Against Human Trafficking
• Against Sharia Law
• Support of ICE
• Support our Military and Law Enforcement
The Towns County Republican Party meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Towns County Civic Center. 8th District State House Representative Matt Gurtler will be the Feb. 20 keynote speaker. Meetings are open to the public.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Five Towns County residents joined thousands of women across the country in participating in the 4th annual Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 18, in Washington D.C. and Sylva, N.C.
“Women, femmes, and allies will join together in the streets to show our collective power and make 2020 the year we finish what we started and defeat Donald Trump,” the call to action read. “The march will be led by the Chilean protest group, Lastesis. When the march reaches the front of the White House (16th and H St. NW), they will commence the global feminists protest anthem, Un Violador en tu Camino (A Rapist in Your Path). After the anthem is done, the marchers will head back to Freedom Plaza.”
The Women’s March included Denise and David Phillips of Young Harris who marched in Sylva, NC, along with David Best of Hiawassee (not pictured); Charlotte Sleczkowski, Towns County Democratic Committee chair (featured image), and Elaine Roberts, both of Hiawassee, who took part in the main march in Washington, D.C.
Marches were simultaneously held in over 200 cities throughout the world.
“The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change,” the national organization’s mission statement reads. “Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists & organizers to engage in their local communities through training, outreach programs, and events. Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity, and respect.”
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HIAWASSEE, Ga – Training will begin Jan. 21 for the 12th annual Top of Georgia Student Public Speaking Contest at the Towns County Senior Center. The competition is scheduled for March 10, following 10 weeks of training.
The Top of Georgia Student Development Organization is sponsoring the 2020 contest. The program welcomes all students in grades 6 through 12, including Towns County public- and private-school students, as well as local students who are homeschooled. Samantha Church, last year’s winner who is homeschooled and dual-enrolled at Young Harris College and North Georgia Technical College, is the lead organizer for this year’s contest.
“I remember the first time I went to the public speaking training program. My knees were shaking and I was very nervous to simply introduce myself in front of everyone, Miss Church said. “Being involved with the program for the past three years has given me confidence in my public speaking skills and has positively impacted my life and the way I communicate with others.”
Application forms are available in local stores as well as the Towns County Public Library in Hiawassee and the Mountain Regional Library in Young Harris. Interested students may also obtain applications from their teachers. The completed form must be returned to one of the contacts listed on the form.
“The contest committee and trainers have been diligently working for several weeks to make this year’s contest the best yet,” Vickie Plunkett of the Towns County Democrats said. “They are developing and simplifying the judging criteria. Trainers represent local businessmen and women and educators and leaders in the community who have experience in public speaking and a passion for investing the younger generation, including trainers from both the Towns County Republican and Democratic committees, who are working with the contest in a joint venture.”
Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw attended some of the organizing meetings and is very supportive of the program, Plunkett said, adding that he is enthusiastic about what this endeavor will promote within the next generation and within the community.
Student speakers may choose their own topic and must present a speech of at least three minutes and no longer than six minutes. Prizes are $400 for first place, $300 for second place, $200 for third place, and $100 for fourth place. Prize amounts are the same for the high-school and middle-school divisions. Contest winners are subsequently invited to present their speeches to local civic and governmental organizations in order to give the speakers and the program visibility in the community as well as to educate more people on their chosen topic.
“This county-wide event is extremely powerful and invests in the lives of students in the community every year,” Miss Church stated.. “This is an opportunity that no one should pass up as it could change their lives and give them opportunities they would not have had otherwise.”
Speeches will be presented judged at a public event on March 10, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee. Admission is free. The contest could continue on additional nights if student participation warrants multiple judging events.
For further information, contact Sam Fullerton at 706-994-4658.
Feature Image: Organizers and trainers for the 12th annual Top of Georgia Student Public Speaking Contest are, from left, front row, Charlotte Sleczkowski, Towns County Democratic Committee chair; Frances Peacock; Terrylynne Marshall; Samantha Church (seated), 2020 contest lead organizer; Betsy Young, Towns County Republican Committee chair; Crissy Figg, and Sam Fullerton, a contest founder and 2020 point of contact.
Back row from left are William Albert Jones, Gene Moss, Dr. Gerry Chotiner, Ken Edwards, and Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw. Not pictured are John Alger, Ronald Emerich, and Gary Meir.
HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Towns County’s Republican and Democratic parties have joined forces in an effort to promote leadership skills among area youth. Initiated in 2009 by members of the Towns County GOP, the annual “Top of Georgia Student Development Speech Contest” was created to bolster the confidence and encourage achievement for local students. Specialized preparation is offered by members of the speech contest committee, and this year’s event will be chaired by 2019 winner Samantha Church. Church was the first student selected in the history of the program to chair the committee.
“Prior to the contest, participants receive concentrated training and practice in the various nuances of preparing and presenting speeches,” Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young explained.
Speech contest participants will compete for a $400 prize, awarded to the top winners in the middle school and high school divisions. Organizers expect over 60 student speakers to take part in the upcoming event. Six preliminary sessions will be held, and the winners will compete on Feb. 25, 2020, at the Towns County Senior Center in Hiawassee.
Adam Penland, the contest’s sole two-time winner, went on to take top place in the state’s Future Business Leaders of America speech contest and placed runner-up in the national event. “Communication skills are the number one skills most employers look for when hiring employees, so the information you gain from this program can expand your options for employment more than you ever thought you could,” Penland said in support of the leadership training.
Past winners have proceeded to be selected to introduce state elected leaders at public events.
“Being competent in public speaking automatically instills confidence in a person as they navigate the roadways of life,” Towns County Democrats’ Chair Charlene Sleczkowski said. ” That’s why offering such an opportunity, beginning at the middle school level – 6th through 8th grades – and continuing through high school – 9th through 12th grades – gives our students a leg up in life over others.”
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Democrats from across seven north Georgia counties gathered Saturday, Oct. 26, at Meeks Park in Blairsville to hear candidates for federal offices, share a meal, listen to local musicians, and learn how they can help the planet. Hosted by the Towns and Union counties Democratic committees, Blue Fest featured U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff of Atlanta and Dan Wilson of Rabun County, prospective candidate for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Ossoff, who is seeking to replace incumbent Sen. David Perdue, is running an anti-corruption campaign in his effort to claim the party’s nomination in the March 24 Georgia primary.” Vickie Plunkett, a member of the Towns County Democratic Party said. “Ossoff set campaign fundraising records in the 2017 special election to fill Georgia’s 6th Congressional District House seat. He has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. Wilson spoke of finding common ground between Democrats and Republicans as the means of ending today’s current political polarization, which he said is harming the country. An ordained United Methodist Church minister, Wilson is expected to make an announcement about his candidacy for the House seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins once Gov. Brian Kemp appoints the person who will serve out the remainder of Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. Isakson is resigning from the Senate effective Dec. 31. Collins is counted among the front-runners for the appointment.”
Local Democrats additionally heard from a spokesman for Matt Lieberman of Atlanta, who was the first Georgia Democrat to make public his intention to run for Isakson’s seat.
Blue Fest drew Democrats from Towns, Union, Fannin, Rabun, Hall, Dawson, and White counties to Meeks Park. In addition to the candidates, they heard music by guitarist and singer Nelson Thomas, who is also chair of the Union County Democratic Committee, and keyboardist Mike Davis. Towns County Democratic Committee Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski also welcomed June Krise, 9th District Democratic chair, who emphasized ongoing voter-registration efforts throughout the state and who encouraged Democrats to identify candidates for state legislative seats and county positions.
Betty Holland, chair of the Dawson County Democratic Committee and founder of the North Georgia Conservation Coalition presented measures Georgians can take to reduce their plastic footprint and to reduce energy costs and thereby lower carbon emissions which are contributing to global climate change.
Towns County Democrats meet the second Thursday of the month at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee. A pot-luck meal begins at 6 p.m. and the meeting starts at 6:30. The next meeting is Nov. 14.
More information about Towns County Democrats is available at their recently launched website: http://www.townsdemocrats.com..
Feature Image: U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff of Atlanta, second from left, is welcomed by (L-R) Nelson Thomas, Union County Democratic chair; Charlotte Slezckowski, Towns County Democratic chair; and June Krise, 9th District Democratic chair.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Six local residents represented Towns County at the Rabun County Democrats’ Big Blue Barbeque in Clayton, Georgia, on Saturday, June 29.
Towns County Democratic Party Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski and husband Bob, Towns County Party Treasurer Karen Powell and husband Jim, all of Hiawassee, and David and Vickie Plunkett of Young Harris joined some 175 Democrats from seven north Georgia counties at the second annual event held at Moonrise Distillery.
“Featured speakers were Daniel Blackman, the first black person elected to office in Forsyth County, who announced at the event that he will be running for a seat in 2020 on the Georgia Public Service Commission, and Sarah Riggs Amico, who said she is ‘giving serious consideration’ to challenging Georgia’s junior senator, David Perdue, whose U.S. Senate seat is up for election in 2020,” Vickie Plunkett said. “Riggs Amico was the Democratic nominee for Georgia lieutenant governor in 2018.
“Both Blackman and Amico stressed to their fellow Democrats the importance of ensuring ‘nothing goes unchallenged’ by fielding candidates for every state, local, and congressional office (Georgia’s 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one seat in the U.S. Senate) on the ballot in 2020. Blackman urged voters not to get comfortable or complacent or to settle for mediocrity or simplicity from candidates. Amico also cautioned to leave nothing unsaid, urging north Georgia activists to stress values and voice the conscience of the country.”
Towns County Democrats meet on the second Thursday of each month at the Towns County Civic Center, 67 Lakeview Circle, in Hiawassee. The meeting is open to the public.
The next meeting on Aug. 8 will feature Cliff Bradshaw, Towns County Sole Commissioner, as the guest speaker, and will begin with a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. followed by the business meeting at 6:30 p.m. Drinks and dinnerware will be provided.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw told local Democrats last week that one of the biggest challenges facing him as commissioner is managing the county’s expected growth. “We are going to expand, and we need to be involved with that growth because we want it to be controlled growth,” Bradshaw told the Democratic Party Aug. 8 at the Towns County Civic Center. The commissioner cited an increase in tourism tax dollars from $37 million to $41 million in the past three years as evidence of a growing local economy. “The only way we are going to grow the economy here is more population, but we also have to consider how much do we want to grow and how,” Bradshaw added.
Bradshaw responded to questions and spoke to the Democrats for almost an hour about accomplishments during his first three years in office as well as future goals. Clearly enthusiastic about his time in office, Bradshaw told the Democrats, “I love doing this job. I work every day for the people, and I don’t know how they vote and I don’t care. My job is to be the very best commissioner I can be for Towns County. My job is to protect our mountaintops, to keep the county clean, and to keep our water clean.”
Towns County Democratic Party Chairwoman Charlotte Sleczkowski said that she appreciated Bradshaw taking the time to share his vision for the county with the group. “We want to work alongside Commissioner Bradshaw as he strives to make Towns County a great place to live and work,” Sleczkowski said. “Our mutual goals for the county have no political distinction.”
A challenge related to growth is providing a skilled labor force to supply the needs of businesses, beyond the restaurant and service industry, that want to locate here, Bradshaw explained. Additional traffic comes with growth, and Bradshaw stated he will be meeting with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the state transportation director later this month regarding installing a left-turn lane on State Route 76 West, near Papa’s Pizza.
Among the accomplishments of his first term Bradshaw listed:
- Remodeling the old county recreation center gym with new lighting, roofing, painting, and flooring, making it pickleball friendly.
- Building a new fire station on Highway 66 in Young Harris and the addition of a helicopter landing pad there to provide a second site for medical evacuations. He also noted the fire station will contribute to lower home insurance rates for people in that part of the county.
- Replacing county road equipment, particularly old dump trucks with high repair bills.
- Adding a recycling station for electronics (cell phones, TVs, printers, computers, etc.) at the county dump.
- Maintaining the $3.1 million financial reserve which he inherited from the previous commissioner. Any funding above that amount will be used to improve the county, Bradshaw said.
- The county’s 2018 audit report revealed general revenue increases of more than $600,000 as a result of efficiency changes Bradshaw said that he has instituted, with no increase in taxes since 2007.
- Instituting a veterans’ program that formally recognizes any veteran who has grown up in Towns County, graduated from the county high school, or who has moved into the county. The program is carried out in cooperation with the local VFW chapter and includes a suicide hotline.
Bradshaw cited as a primary goal reclaiming for the county the one percent special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) which expires for county schools in 2020. “We want to get it for the county to remodel the courthouse. It’s time,” the commissioner said. Another fire station near the Emergency Management Services building is an additional future goal.
Bradshaw also plans to renegotiate the county medical air flightcontract, which he emphasized covers every full-time homeowner in Towns County, with the county covering the fee. Bradshaw said the current contract has a cap on the price so the county doesn’t pay more if the airlift service flies out more people than in the previous year. The commissioner wants the new contract to provide a lower cost if the service flies out fewer people than in the previous year.
Towns County Democrats will meet again on Sept. 20 at the Towns County Civic Center. A potluck dinner will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the business meeting at 6:30. Meetings are open to the public.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Democratic Party held its July 11 meeting at the Towns County Civic Center to discuss several topics of interest, including plans for an upcoming “Blue Fest” fundraiser to be held in October at Meeks Park in Young Harris. “Our goal should be to register new voters, get shy Democrats active again, and help with fundraising for 2020,” Towns County Democratic Party Secretary Terrylynne Marshall said. A tentative date of Oct. 26 was noted.
The group discussed creating a Facebook presence, and possibly a website to feature content related to the Party. The Democrats voted (feature image) on a logo for representation, and discussed participating in future high school speech contests by mentoring students and raising prize money alongside the Towns County Republican Party who has exclusively hosted the event in past years.
Towns County Democratic Party recently began hosting “Taco Tuesday” and deemed the initial gathering a success, with 14 guests in attendance. “This is a social event, not a business meeting,” Marshall reminded. Towns County Democratic Chairwoman Charlotte Sleczkowski spoke on scheduling a time to meet with Towns County Republican Chairwoman Betsy Young to publicize the objectives and values of each Party.
Towns County Democratic Party meets on the second Thursday of each month at 6 pm. Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw is scheduled to attend the August session, and the group hopes to learn more about the veterans recognition program that the county, in cooperation with the local VFW, recently initiated.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Democratic candidates from across the state will gather at Meeks Park in Blairsville on Saturday, May 5, from noon to 3 p.m.
All statewide Democratic candidates and the two 9th Congressional District candidates have been invited.
To date, 11 statewide candidates and the 9th Congressional District candidates have confirmed they will personally participate.
The forum will take place at Pavilion 3 at 490 Meeks Park Road, Blairsville, Georgia.
For more information, contact Mary Mahoney at 706-487-9300 or email [email protected]
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Democratic Party met Feb. 14 to discuss their political by-laws and brainstorm ideas to raise college scholarship funds for graduating Towns County students. Last year, the group awarded two graduating seniors $500 each to apply toward tuition at Young Harris College. The group plans to add North Georgia Technical College as an option this year.
New officers were recently elected, including Democratic Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski, Secretary Terrylynne Marshall, and Treasurer Karen Powell. Past Chair Mary Mahoney attended the meeting along with three other members, two of whom were first-time attendees, recently relocating to the area from Colorado.
The Democrats discussed ways to grow the local party by encouraging a younger generation to participate, and the group plans to motivate Democratic candidates to run for county offices in the upcoming election.
A “cover-to-cover” reading of the by-laws is scheduled to take place at the April meeting, held at the Towns County Civic Center. Next month’s meeting is set for March 14 in Union County at the Unity Church of Blairsville. A potluck dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. followed by the session at 6 p.m.
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Hiawassee, GA – The hot topics of Confederate monuments reached a local level on Friday, September 15, during the Movers and Shakers weekly meeting at Sundance Grill.
Sam Fullerton, a co-founder of the community discussion group, invited Sheriff Chris Clinton to address the crowd before the forum adjourned.
Although it was a impromptu request, Sheriff Clinton took the podium and began to tell the sentimental story of how his grandparents met and married in Towns County after World War II. The tale formed the foundation for what was to follow:
The sheriff’s views on the eradication of history.
Sheriff Clinton didn’t mince words and spoke with passion about his beliefs.
“Monuments are being torn down. Books are being burned. We cannot destroy history,” the sheriff said, “There’s a vacuum in the media and the pulpits. The only way we can move forward and heal this nation is by teaching our children the truth about about the past.”
“Many people don’t realize that George Washington wasn’t our first President because it isn’t taught in schools. George Washington was actually our ninth President. There were eight before him under the Articles of Confederation.”
Sheriff Clinton went on to say that while slavery was a “horrible thing” and acknowledged the role it played, he explained the Civil War was fought by Confederate citizens in defense of state sovereignty , in opposition of Union taxation.
“That’s the part the media fails to mention,” the Sheriff said, “Robert E. Lee, he hated slavery. Abraham Lincoln was originally willing to keep the Union intact by either preservation or abolishment of slavery. How can we teach our children, our children’s children, if we erase history?”
“I believe I’m responsible for telling the truth,” Sheriff Clinton concluded, “What’s done with it isn’t up to me.”
Fetch Your News reached out to the Towns County Democratic Party for their general take on the controversial issue.
Although a reply as to whether the comment was “on record” wasn’t returned, a member of the Party, who identifies as a Progressive, wrote in an email, “History is important to remember. But when it offends an entire group like Jews, ethnic minority tribes in Asia, and maybe African Americans, a non-combative conversation should take place by officials in charge with input from the community.”
Due to in explicit permission to publish the quotee’s name, Fetch Your News respects the privacy of the individual.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – An echoing theme from Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young, along with Party members in recent months, has been dire concern that voter apathy could shock local Republicans this coming November. “If this is all we’ve got, we’re in trouble,” Young said on Thursday night, referencing the slight attendance at the monthly Towns County GOP meetings, “People seem to think that because (Stacey Abrams) is black and a woman, that she could never become the Governor of Georgia. I fear Republicans will stay home in November. The voters in Atlanta alone can determine who wins this race. We cannot become complacent.”
Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams is facing Republican candidate Brian Kemp for the Governor’s seat in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Tauted as a “progressive champion” by supporters, Abrams is on a mission to win, battling conservative Kemp each step of the way.
Young may harbor a valid point if the lack of voting trend continues. The May Primary Election beckoned a mere 21.6 percent of Towns County’s registered voters to the polls. While the county is composed of roughly 80 percent Republican voters – and if Towns is an indicator of statewide placidity – widespread Republican disregard could potentially swing the election in Abrams’ favor, turning Georgia from red to blue in November.
Towns County GOP meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee.
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YOUNG HARRIS, GA – While there is no denying differences in opinion exist between Republicans and Democrats, 9th District Democratic Chair and the Georgia Mountains Progressive Democrats of America Leader David Robinson made his position crystal clear in a letter circulated among members of his Party on October 12, 2017.
Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young extended an invitation to the Democratic Party to attend the “United We Stand” event held on Sunday, October 15, at the war memorial at Foster Park in Young Harris. “It is not a Republican thing,” Betsy Young explained, “It is an everyone celebration of our flag.”
The ceremony included the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem.
In an email sent to Democratic members and obtained by Fetch Your News, David Robinson wrote:
Republican Chair Betsy Young says although she realizes her offers of inclusion won’t likely be accepted, it won’t prevent her from attempting to unite the Parties in the future.