Blairsville City Council ratifies 2018 intergovernmental agreements, makes intragovernmental appointments


BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – The Blairsville City Council convened on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, at 6 p.m. at Blairsville City Hall. All council members were present, as was Mayor Jim Conley, City Attorney David Barrett and City Clerk Kaye McCann. Al Harper, interim president of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce was in attendance.

Blairsville City Attorney David Barrett swears in City Council Member Tony Dyer, Mayor Jim Conley and City Council Member Buddy Moore.

Immediately following the invocation and pledge, Barrett conducted the swearing-in of newly re-elected Mayor Conley and City Council Members Tony Dyer and Buddy Moore.

Mayor Conley recommended that the council reappoint Barrett as city attorney and McCann as city clerk. Both appointments were unanimously approved.

With the retirement of Larry Stephens, former superintendent of the Blairsville Water Treatment Plant, in December 2017, Danny Dillard, a 30-year city of Blairsville employee, was promoted and approved by the city council to replace Stephens as superintendent.

Council Member Mary Ruth Cook

Mary Ruth Cook will replace Betty Easter this year as the Blairsville City Council  liaison to the Union County Historical Society. Easter will continue as liaison to the Blairsville Airport. Tony Dyer will remain liaison to the Streets & Sidewalks Department. Rhonda Mahan will remain Blairsville City Council  liaison to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and liaison to the Blairsville Police Department. Buddy Moore will continue as mayor pro tempore and liaison to the Water/Sewer Dept.

City Clerk Kaye McCann

The 2018 Intergovernmental Agreements with Blairsville DDA, Union County Historical Society and Blairsville/Union County Chamber of Commerce for Hotel/Motel Tax distribution was unanimously approved as follows: DDA allowed 25 percent, Historical Society allowed 25 percent, the Chamber allowed 40 percent and the city taking 10 percent for administrative costs.

A resolution to renew existing annual contracts (mostly service contracts) was unanimously approved.

L to R – City Council Members Rhonda Mahon, Betty Easter, Tony Dyer

The annual donation of $5,000 to the Blairsville Public Library was unanimously approved. Cook asked that the donation be reviewed for increase prior to the 2019 budget process. The mayor and city council agreed.

The city council unanimously rejected any change in the language of Alcohol Ordinance #2017-04 regarding taxes. Union County Tax Commissioner Lee Knight asked that the council make the renewal of Blairsville alcohol licenses dependent on county taxes being current. The city council in its entirety felt that it is not the responsibility of the city of Blairsville to collect Union County taxes.

Blairsville Airport Manager John Hamler reported that the new Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) equipment will be installed by David Brown Technology on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 8 and 9 and that the grounding issues had been addressed and new wiring was installed. He said Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors would be there on Wednesday, Jan. 10, to certify the new installation. Hamler said having an operational AWOS will be a big boost for airport safety and that the Atlanta flight center will be much more likely to route air traffic to Blairsville in less-than-optimal weather conditions, which will drive airport income. Hamler also said the $119,000 of AWOS equipment was completely paid for by the state of Georgia, and it did not cost the city of Blairsville a dime. And last, he said the new airport security cameras are operational and working very well.

Blairsville Airport Manager John Hamler

The mayor broached the agenda item of airport fuel storage tanks. Conley informed the council that the Jet-A fuel storage tank, which was originally going to be placed on the north side of the airport where the new terminal is located, would have to be placed on the south side. He said, because Air Methods medical air transport helicopters use Jet-A fuel and self-serve at all hours of the day and night, he and Hamler felt that everyone would be better served by placing the Jet-A tank away from the terminal side. The plan now is to place the Jet-A tank where the AvGas tank now rests and relocate the AvGas tank over to the north side of the airport. Conley said he is working with Hamler on a plan to move the AvGas tank at no cost to the city of Blairsville (see video). The council unanimously approved a resolution to allow Conley to proceed with the plan.

In other department head reports, DDA Program Manager Darren Harper reported the next DDA Meeting would be Jan. 9, 2018, and that the events for 2018 were in the works. Ottis Franklin, superintendent of Water and Sewer Maintenance, reported a few residential water supply lines had frozen but had been resolved. Blairsville Police Chief Johnny Carroll reported nothing out of the ordinary. Conley asked for a vote on the acquisition of a new vehicle for the Blairsville Police Department. The council unanimously approved a bid from King Ford for a 2018 model at a price of $26,180.
The city council discussed the question of whether to allow only Blairsville residents to be interred at the Blairsville Cemetery. Cook requested the issue be tabled until February so council members could give the issue some consideration.

An Occupational Tax Certificate was unanimously approved for Blairsville Internal Medicine, Inc., 374-A Pat Haralson Drive, Mary E. Wiles, president.

Sign Permit Applications were approved for:
• Kenya L. Patton PC/North Georgia Law Group, 44B Blue Ridge Street, Kenya Patton, applicant; and
• Made by Mamz, 294 W. Hwy 515, Suite L, Anna Burbage, applicant.

Occupational Tax Certificate and Sign Permit Applications were approved for:
• Chelsea Stephens Photography, 370C Cleveland Street, Chelsea Stephens, owner; and
• Custom Cakes by Stacy, 307C Cleveland Street, Stacy Moot, owner.

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


City Council votes to allow alcohol sales on New Year’s Eve, a Sunday, Mary Ruth Cook sworn in, 2018 budget approved


BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – The Blairsville City Council convened on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, for their December meeting at City Hall. Mayor Jim Conley, City Attorney David Barrett, City Clerk Kaye McCann and Council Members Rhonda Mahan, Betty Easter, Tony Dyer and Mary Ruth Cook were present. Buddy Moore was absent due to illness.

City Attorney David Barrett (L), Mayor Jim Conley (R)

Councilwoman Mary Ruth Cook

The Council voted unanimously to allow Blairsville restaurant establishments that hold alcohol licenses to sell alcohol on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, New Year’s Eve. The one-time relaxation of the Sunday restriction on alcohol sales at restaurants in the city of Blairsville will run from 11 a.m. Sunday until 2 a.m. Monday. This only applies to licensees who sell alcoholic beverages to be consumed on their premises. It does not apply to grocery stores, convenience stores and the like.

Barrett presided as Cook was sworn into office beginning her first term as a Blairsville City Council member. Cook is the sister of Martha Cone, who passed away last April, leaving the vacant seat that Cook won in November.

The Council unanimously approved the 2018 Blairsville city budget (Budget Summary). Dyer questioned whether the three percent cost-of-living salary increase was in the budget, to which he was answered in the positive. Comment was made by Dyer that the blossoming of the budget during his time in office is due to progress in Blairsville. Conley added that growth was a big factor as well.

Councilman Tony Dyer

The Council voted unanimously to grant all full-time employees a three percent pay increase based on current employee evaluations, as designated by the Mayor, to be effective as of Dec. 15, 2017.

Council members unanimously approved the annexation of 83 Conley Road, Blairsville, Georgia, Tract 070 028 Union County Records (13.15 acres). Approximately five acres of that tract will be purchased by Fellowship of the Hills Church for their new facility. The remaining acreage will accommodate an apartment project similar to the new Overlook Apartments completed this year behind the Butternut Creek Shopping Center.

Conley convened a public hearing and second reading of Alcohol Ordinance #2017-04. There were no public comments and no questions or comments from the Council. The new ordinance was unanimously approved by the Council.

Department head reports were as follows:

• Larry Stephens, superintendent of the water treatment plant, reported: the actuators are in place and working properly; meters are calibrated for this year; air compressor is fixed; the water storage tanks have been cleaned and inspected; and William Young, an employee, passed his Class II licensing exam. The Council unanimously approved a $1/hour increase in pay for Young.

• John Hamler, Blairsville Airport manager, reported: a new 32-inch flat screen had been installed at the new airport building, which now displays aviation fuel and oil prices and loops an informational video of the airport; the fire marshall will be on site on Dec. 21 to mark out the location of the new Jet-A fuel tank; the security cameras have been installed and will be operational in a day or two; the grounding crew for the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) completed their work; the Blairsville Civil Air Patrol (CAP) held the swearing-in ceremony for their new commandant in the conference room of the new terminal building; the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will have their Christmas Party at the new terminal building; and last, but not least, The Beach Boys flew into Blairsville Airport on Friday, Dec. 1, in a chartered jet for their performance at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Georgia. Hamler said the airport is staying busy (65 landings and takeoffs in one day about two weeks prior), and that he is now keeping a record of all air traffic, which will be turned into McCann monthly.

• Jody Cook, superintendent of the wastewater treatment plant, said, since his last report, everything was going well.

• Darren Harper, program manager for the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), reported that the next DDA meeting would be Tuesday, Dec. 12, from noon to 1 p.m. at City Hall. He said the Light Up the Square event, which included the Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 2, was a great success. He said the after-dark venue seemed to be a winner. He said the Light up the Square decorating contest is ongoing between eight merchants in the immediate vicinity of the Square. Harper said this is bringing people into the downtown area which, ultimately, brings in revenue for the merchants and the city alike. He named off the upcoming events planned for 2018: the Spring Arts & Crafts Music Festival on Memorial Day Weekend; Corner Concerts on the Square running from May through October; downtown Blairsville Outdoor Movie Nights, also May through October; Heritage Festival on Labor Day weekend; Hometown Halloween on the Square in October; and Light Up the Square in December. Harper asked the Mayor and Council if they might have some interest in hosting a Taste of Blairsville event in mid to late August in which all the restaurants would participate plus some from our region. Conley and the Council agreed that they would take it under consideration.

Tobie Chandler

Tobie Chandler, of the Blairsville/Union County Chamber of Commerce, addressed the Council regarding the instillation of a 12-by-25 digital billboard on the north side of Hwy. 515 between the Pat Haralson Drive overpass and United Community Bank. She said the sign could be used for a variety of things besides advertising, like time and temperature, driver alerts, weather alerts and such. She said that the Chamber would allow the city of Blairsville permanent space for the life of the billboard. The Council voted unanimously to allow the signage contingent upon approval by Barrett of the license or contract with Allison Outdoors.

Daniel Liberatore, owner/operator of the Blairsville Chick-fil-A, addressed the Council regarding the recent city-wide boil-water alert that lasted several days and caused his restaurant to be shut down from Monday until Thursday of the previous week. Liberatore urged the Council to institute a more timely system of notification of such alerts. Dyer said that the city did “drop the ball” by not following protocol and apologized to Liberatore, but, he said, there is a protocol in place. Conley said there will be some changes to streamline the protocol. He also said that the city of Blairsville has offered to reimburse Blairsville businesses for the cost of water, ice and sodas that were purchased for their continuity of operations during the alert.

There was lengthly discussion concerning various ways of alerting Blairsville and Union County citizens of emergencies like the recent boil-water alert. Barrett suggested that Notla Water send out a request in billing statements that customers provide their phone numbers for emergency notification purposes. It was agreed that the City would announce via newspaper, radio and Internet that citizens can sign up for alerts from Blairsville by providing their phone numbers. This would be voluntary and not infringe on anyone’s privacy.

Blairsville Alcohol License renewals for 2018 were unanimously approved by the Council contingent upon their state of Georgia license renewals being issued.

Conley recited a resolution for the award of a contract to the low bidder, Townley Construction Co. Inc., 24 Laina Bennett Road, Dawsonville, GA 30534, for the Cook Street Water Project for the base amount of $142,660.25. The Council unanimously approved.

The mayor reviewed a letter from Union County Fire Chief and EMA Director David Dyer to the city of Blairsville inviting the city to participate in updating the multi-jurisdictional mitigation plan by providing available staff to assist with local fund requirements. Conley summed up the letter by saying that Dyer is requesting the city provide personnel to attend their planning meetings. The Council voted unanimously to approve city participation.

The Truck Ordinance was mentioned but is still a work in progress.

An Occupational Tax Certificate Application was approved for KTP Insurance, dba Bill Potts Insurance, 281 E. Young Harris St., Cheli Collins, owner.

A sign permit application was approved for Rustic Mountain Décor, 38 Merchants Walk, Suite D, James C. McEldowney, owner.

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


Alcohol Ordinance Violation Resolved; City Council Talks Annexation, De-annexation


BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – The Blairsville City Council convened on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, for their monthly meeting, one day early this month in anticipation of the Nov. 7 local election. Mayor Jim Conley and all council members were present as were City Attorney David Barrett and City Clerk Kaye McCann.

The Georgia ATF Agency, during the latter part of October 2017, sent an underage person into The Wine Shoppe in Blairsville to buy alcohol. The clerk made the sale to the minor in violation of Georgia State Law and the Blairsville Alcohol Ordinance. The Wine Shoppe was closed down, and local and state licenses to operate the business were confiscated. William McGlamery, owner and license holder of The Wine Shoppe, addressed Mayor Conley and the Council following a statement by Blairsville Police Lieutenant Rusty Walker that all restitution had been made in connection with the Alcohol Ordinance violation. McGlamery expressed deep regret and took full responsibility as the owner of the establishment for the violation, even though he was not present at The Wine Shoppe when the violation occurred. McGlamery was fined $150 (first time violation), his licenses were returned and The Wine Shoppe was allowed to reopen the following day. (See video for McGlamery’s full statement.)

Paul Thompson and Bo Conley requested that an approximate 13-acre tract of land adjacent to the Butternut Golf Course on the south side of Pat Haralson Road near the Sawmill Restaurant be annexed into the city of Blairsville. Thompson and Conley never stated why they were making this request, but speculation is that they want access to Blairsville Water and Sewer services. City Attorney Barrett informed Thompson and Conley that they would need to make their request in writing and to include plat maps with their request. (See video  for discussion.)

City Attorney David Barrett (L), Mayor Jim Conley (R)

A motion was made by Councilman Buddy Moore, seconded by Councilwoman Rhonda Mahan with Moore, Mahan and Councilwoman Betty Easter voting yea and Councilman Tony Dyer voting nay to approve a resolution urging the Georgia General Assembly to oppose De-annexation Legislation to Create New Municipalities. Developers of Eagles Landing want to de-annex a large part of the city of Stockbridge, Georgia, (Henry County) for their development. Neither the governing body  nor the voters of the existing municipality, Stockbridge, Georgia, have consented to this legislation. This resolution supports the governing body and voters of Stockbridge and opposes forced de-annexation of Stockbridge or any other municipality in the state of Georgia. (See video for discussion.)

The Blairsville Airport will be getting a new 5 MP security camera surveillance system. Mahan stated that she had observed both the 3 MP (megapixel) and the 5 MP systems and the 5 MP system had significantly better resolution. Kristian Burks, installer of the system, said the 5 MP system comes with 4 terabytes of memory, which would cover about two months. The cost of the system is $8,195. Motion to approve was unanimous. (See video for discussion.)

The Blairsville Airport will also be getting a new 12,000 gallon Jet-A fuel tank. Airport Manager John Hamler described an elevated need for another Jet-A fuel tank, citing increased jet traffic which is driving higher fuel sales sufficient to warrant the tank’s purchase and installation. Motion was made by Easter, seconded by Mahan, to accept a bid from Charles Nobles in the amount of $151,000 for the tank and a proposal from Laney Construction in the amount of $7,600 to construct a concrete pad for the tank to rest on. The motion was unanimously approved. (See video for discussion.)

W. C. Nelson, co-owner of a building (rental property) in downtown Blairsville at 126 Blue Ridge Street, requested that the Council grandfather the building in prior to the September 1988 Water Sewer Ordinance requiring each unit of a building to have separate meters. Nelson said the building was built prior to the passage of the ordinance. He said the sale of the building hinges on this because of the cost to comply. Motion was made by Dyer, seconded by Mahan and Easter with Moore voting nay to approve Nelson’s request. (See video for discussion.)

Conley opened a public hearing for the First Reading of Alcohol Ordinance 2017-04 to amend Ordinance 2017-03. Mitch Griggs asked what the changes were and Conley read the proposed changes to the ordinance. There were no other public comments. Conley then declared the First Reading done and closed the hearing. When queried for questions from the Council, Dyer asked for clarification of the Special Event License change. Copies of the proposed Ordinance may be requested from Blairsville City Hall.

Motion to approve a new sign for the Old Blairsville Cemetery in the amount of $2,700 was unanimously approved.

Motion to approve the hiring of part-time airport employee Justin Alexander at the rate of $12 per hour was unanimously approved.

The 2018 Occupational Tax Certificate Renewals were unanimously approved as a whole.

Truck Ordinance is still a work in progress.

Department Head Reports were as follows:
• Police Chief Johnny Carroll distributed the October Blairsville PD report and commented that there was an increase in fender-bender type accidents, mainly in parking lots.
• Waste Water Treatment Plant Manager Jody Cook reported that the North Georgia (NGTC) Lift Station repairs are completed and the SBR pump is operational.
• Downtown Development Authority Manager Darren Harper distributed the DDA report and reported that the Fall Festival on the Square was a big success. No activities are planned for November, he said, but December is right around the corner.
• Airport Manager John Hamler reported significantly increased Jet-A fuel sales along with a significant increase in jet traffic. He said the new terminal building is working out well. Hamler then introduced Storman Glass, the new Assistant Airport Manager who took Chris Dyer’s place.

The following Sign Permit Applications were unanimously approved:
• South State Bank, 458 Hwy. 515 East, Josh Intoppa/Signart, Applicant
• Seasons Inn Motel & Plaza, 94 Town Square, Unit N, Chris and Colleen Urbaniuk
• Hayes Appliance, 94L Town Square, Michael Hayes, Owner
• Made with Love Marketplace, 94L Town Square, Angela Hayes, Owner

The following Occupational Tax Certificate and Sign Permit Applications were approved:
• Paci’s Brooklyn Pizza, 417H Blue Ridge Street, Salvatore Paci, Owner
• Dovetail Historic Restorations LLC/Dovetail Roofing, 160 Rogers Street, Scott Glosson, Owner


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


Blairsville Airport has new Terminal Building

Community, News

(L to R) W. C. Nelson, Mayor Jim Conley, GA Senator Steve Gooch, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris and wife Dinah

Blairsville, GA – Blairsville Mayor Jim Conley and Blairsville icon W. C. Nelson, whom the terminal was named for, officially cut the ribbon for the new W. C. Nelson Airport Terminal building on Saturday, August 19, 2017.

A host of long-time and native Blairsville/Union County residents joined Conley, Nelson, Georgia State Senator Steve Gooch, Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris, Members of the Blairsville City Council, and a host of others for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.








Following the ceremony, Conley acted as master of ceremonies for an address to the attendees where he thanked everyone involved in the planning, design, construction, and completion of the new terminal building.

Newly acquired airport Jet A fuel truck








GA Senator Steve Gooch


W. C. Nelson




Blairsville KDZJ fixed base operator (FBO) now has a beautiful new building that reflects the essence of Blairsville, Union County, and the North Georgia Mountains and will draw pilots and visitors from across America to our handsome community.



Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at



Finalizing Georgia’s Budget

Featured, Politics

Georgia Senate


Contact:          Ines Owens, Acting Director

Finalizing Georgia’s Budget

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

As the General Assembly marches closer to Sine Die, our constitutional duty of passing a balanced budget for Georgia’s government has become our biggest priority for the last few legislative days. The Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) general budget, House Bill 44, is near completion. The Senate and House both have their own versions and each is standing steadfast, so the $25 billion budget will now head to a Conference Committee that will work to come up with a compromise on a budget that is fiscally responsible.

There are a few allocations in HB 44 that I would be glad to see make it out of the Conference Committee. Among them are appropriations for our education system. Under the Senate version of HB 44, teachers across Georgia would get a two percent increase in their base salary and the Teachers Retirement System would receive an additional $223.5 million so it can be fully funded. Additionally, the Senate’s version would provide nearly $17 million to buy new school buses.

Currently, Georgia Public Broadcasting provides video streams of both the House of Representative and Senate chambers. Since the Senate wants to be as transparent as possible to all of Georgia’s citizens, there’s a $485,000 appropriation for the Senate Transparency Project, which would include video streaming of Senate proceedings and committee meetings.

There are also some line items that will directly benefit Senate District 51. The proposed budget would allocate $150,000 to the Young Farmers programs in Fannin County. Also, $1.1 million would be allocated to purchase equipment for a new convocation center and the renovation of Memorial Hall for the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. The Senate FY18 budget recommendation also includes $100,000 in airport aid for the Blairsville Airport.

I’m proud that we are appropriating funds through conservative fiscal policies. If you have any questions about the budget or any legislation that is pending, please reach out to my office. As the pace picks up during our final two weeks, I will keep your input and interests in mind to ensure that legislation we pass will benefit you, your families and Georgia.

For the full version of HB 44 and details related to the Senate version, follow the link below:

# # # #

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at

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