Blairsville, Ga – Union County went $2.2M over budget in 2018 due to unexpected health care costs and rises in service expenses.
Auditors advised the amending of the 2018 budget after expenditures exceeded expectations for the year. The total operating budget for 2018 amounted to $18,908,000.
Several areas of the operating budget experienced higher costs than anticipated, but the biggest expense was health insurance.
“Our medical insurance went up $569,000 last year, completely out of the blue,” stated Commissioner Lamar Paris, “we’re working hard this year to get that cut back, working with our employees, try to work on healthy habits, where they go to the doctor, when they do to the doctor, and increasing employee costs.”
The county also hired a new online doctor, where they can talk to a doctor at any time.
“It’s a benefit to our employees and hopefully our bottom line too,” said Paris.
Aside from health insurance, other departments/offices that went over were general administration by $167,391, sheriff’s office by $563,356, jail by $143,668, and fire department at $172,950.
General Administration included repair and maintenance, and SPLOST can’t provide funds.
“We redid a whole section of the courthouse roof,” explained Commissioner Paris, “We try to use SPLOST wherever we can for any capital improvements, but on a repair, we can’t do that. The roof was $37,000 over budget. Contract labor was $20,000 over budget.”
The Sheriff’s office experienced a host of costs increases just like other county offices.
“Salaries were up $173,000 and that’s happening because sheriff’s deputies and all other counties, everybody’s going up and when one goes up, they all go up. So their deputies want more money or they’ll go to that county. It’s a real tough thing how you balance what the pay is and what the pressure is coming from other places,” stated Paris.
The county and Sheriff Mack Mason came together to find a number that satisfied deputies, but the expense didn’t factor into the initial budget. Uniforms, vehicle repairs, vehicles, and supplies also caused the overages. Capital assets and some SPLOST covered part, but not all of the costs.
Jail also raised salaries, which accounted for $82,000, and paid $10,000 in overtime.
Fire department went over due to salaries and buying a new ladder truck for the county.
“Had a couple of guys that drove all over the Southeast looking at fire trucks,” said Paris, “finally, found one that we bought for $93,000. It’s eight years old with 30,000 miles on it. The company that sold it to us completely went over it and redid it. We never had a ladder truck, and we needed one a long time.”
Typically, ladder trucks cost around $1M-plus for brand new trucks. Also, the fire department started new training procedures and developed new facilities to teach firemen how to carry people out of a fire.
County also hired a public defender to speed up the trial process for inmates to lessen jail expenses from 2017. Last year, inmate cost was $118,000, and this year, it’s $19,000 due to the new public defender.
Revenues and property tax collection exceeded the budget by $150,000, charges for services exceed by $277,000, sale of capital assets exceeded by $400,023, and $1.5M of fund balance was used.
The fund balance equalizes expenses over revenues, and the $1.5M is less than last year. Hopefully, by next year,
everything will equal out, and the fund balance won’t be needed.
The hospital’s helicopter service, provided by Air budgeMethods Corporation, was renewed in a contract that runs through May 31, 2019. The county agreed to pay half of $76,765.00 to continue the service. It’s an increase from last year because initially, the company wanted to pull out of the area. It will not exceed that amount, and Union General will pay the other half.
“When you go over there and look at the helipad and think that in little Union County,” Paris marveled, “that no matter what happens you can be flown to wherever the emergency room is that you need to go to, just to have that available, we never ever had that available until ten years ago.”
Legacy Link, the service that helps run the senior center, and the county renewed its contract for the fiscal year 2020 for $95,000 as well as a commitment letter for $11,450.00.
Weather Summary for 2018
By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
Back in December and already this year there’s been a lot of talk about how wet it’s been in the last year and while I agree with the comments I’ve been getting, I thought I’d do a little investigating and use facts to report on the weather of 2018. My data is coming from the UGA AEMN area weather stations.
The Automated Environmental Monitoring Network (AEMN) in Georgia was established in 1991 by the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The objective of the AEMN is to collect reliable weather information for agricultural and environmental applications. Each station monitors air temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, solar radiation, wind speed, wind direction, soil temperature at 2, 4, and 8 inch depths, atmospheric pressure, and soil moisture every 1 second. Data are summarized at 15 minute intervals and at midnight a daily summary is calculated. A microcomputer at the Georgia Experiment Station initiates telephone calls to each station periodically and downloads the recorded data. The data are processed immediately and disseminated via the internet at www.weather.uga.edu.
We are fortunate to have three reporting stations in our area. They are Hillcrest Orchards in Ellijay, Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge and the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center in Blairsville. For the purpose of this article, data has been averaged, but you can visit the web site and get more details and up to the minute weather.
Since rain has been the topic of conversation lately, let’s look at that first. In Blairsville, the total rainfall for 2018 was 76.01 inches and there were 164 rainy days. In Blue Ridge, the rainfall was 74.89 inches and 185 rainy days. In Ellijay there was 79.12 inches of rain and 168 rainy days. The average for our area is around 62 inches, but the statistic that stands out is the number of rainy days. During rainy days the plants did not receive good sunlight and that affects plant growth.
In looking at the month of December in 2018 Blairsville received 10.96 inches of rain and 17 rainy days. Blue Ridge received 11.21 inches of rain and 17 rainy days. Ellijay received 10.92 inches of rain and 17 rainy days. This may seem like a lot of rain, but back in 2015 Blairsville got 13.35 inches of rain with 13 rainy days. Blue Ridge got 16.57 inches of rain with 16 rainy days. Ellijay got 16.04 inches of rain with 17 rainy days. 2015 was not that long ago, but it seems we have gotten more rain lately. It might be the number of rainy days that is making us think we are getting more rain that we actually are getting.
As for temperatures the average maximum temperature in Blairsville was 68.53 and the minimum was 47.26. The overall average was 57.23 which is about normal, but the number of days below 32 was 761 which is up from before, but below 2015. In Blue Ridge the average maximum temperature was 68.12 and the minimum was 48.46 and the overall average was 57.59, which is also about normal. The number of days below 32 was 699 which is up from before, but also below 2015. In Ellijay the average maximum temperature was 69.17 and the minimum was 48.81 with an overall average of 58.48 which is about normal. The number of days below 32 was 625 which is above earlier years except for 2015.
In conclusion the UGA weather stations are a great resource for information that provide facts about our weather conditions and now when people ask if it’s ever been this wet, you have the facts to say yes. If you need more information or different facts, visit the website and explore, or contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.
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Thanksgiving 2018 has come and gone and about all we really know about it comes from
commercial sources. Through the constant drumming of the media we are basically told all we
need to know about Thanksgiving, when to start, when to stop and, by the way, ‘don’t forget
those great deals on Black Friday’ because, well, Christmas is just around the corner and after
all, America’s economy depends on commercialism. Their point is, It’s okay to go into debt but
don’t eat the Romaine lettuce. Is it who we really are? Apparently!
But this year I sense a distinct change in the atmosphere. I’ve heard more detailed explanations
of the real Pilgrims story at Plymouth, Mass. in attempts to correct the re-written history some
elements in our society want us to accept. I feel a perceptible shifting of moral values going on
and I sense a not so subtle shift back to religious faith especially as the destructive tenants of
Islam are flooding our country. The leadership of our churches, long beaten into compliance to
accept the dictates of a secular society, must return to their mission of spreading the gospel and
abandon the demand that we must accept the perverted deviancy of 1% of our population that
demands acceptance, without consequence.
What Americans know about Christmas is mostly suggested to us by the years of Macy’s Day
parades, Hollywood movies and Coca-Cola. TV quickly changed our values. Decades ago,
Coca-Cola embraced Clement Moore’s poem, A Christmas Carol, “Twas the Night Before
Christmas” and lo, we now have an indisputably accepted short, fat, happy ol’ elf who enters
homes down chimney pipes, never gets dirty and enjoys their product while winking at us.
When I was a little boy, a world war was underway yet the traditions of Christmas, and even
then they were commercial, were anticipated and observed. We decorated Christmas trees, had
special seasonal attractions and attended Church programs singing hymns while we little
children read or recited memorized snippets of scripture to the audience. I recall my surprise
upon learning that even Germans soldiers observed Christmas, indeed was responsible for
introducing the Christmas tree as a tradition. And, they sang “Silent Night.” What a revelation.
Among the big traditions were Christmas cards. My mother saved Christmas cards for years
and she gave them out in profuse qualities herself. Those that came to me, mostly from mothers
friends and sisters, were scenes depicted as cartoons. Family cards were actually incredible
works of art depicting scenes of happy home fires or snow, doubtless of a Victorian England, the
country where greeting cards and Santa Clause were introduced as a tradition.
Until Coca Cola’s depiction, St. Nick was tall and skinny, a poor emaciated figure, hungry
looking with a limp bag hanging over his shoulder. None of that has changed except Santa’s
size, but I am sensing once again, with Christmas day still weeks away, a change in the public
attitude, a realization that a prosperous America is returning even with all its social problems of
drug addictions, homelessness and hunger. I feel a sincere longing to return to our old traditions
where good cheer and happiness are not feigned but heartfelt; where charity is freely given
without conditions and people actually enjoy helping other people.
But, we must be careful and not allow the Left to peculate our good thing and introduce social
changes we know to be destructive to a free peoples. Government in the hands of Progressives,
will sweep all that away and the once shining city on the hill idea, as Ronald Reagan coined it,
will be but a footnote in history. We must strive to preserve all of our God given liberties.
Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (29Nov18)
Blue Ridge, Ga. – After a heated runoff race, the results are in and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp has beat out opponent Lt. Governor Casey Cagle for the Republican nomination.
What was polled as a tight race between the two candidates ended up being what some would consider a landslide victory for Kemp. Kemp received 69.46 percent of the vote statewide with Cagle pulling in 30.54 percent.
Kemp will now face the Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams for the seat of Georgia Governor.
Abrams and Kemp are not strangers, as they have gone head to head over election issues while Kemp has served as Secretary of State.
“All of these liberal groups that are going to be in play in Georgia supporting her (Abrams), I’ve fought,” Kemp said about his past experiences with Abrams.
Citing that he has already faced George Soros, Eric Holder, Thomas Perez, Common Cause Georgia and New Georgia Project, Kemp is confident that he can beat them again.
Kemp explained where some of these groups came into conflict with the Secretary of State office, “They sued us and several counties saying that we weren’t registering voters, 10 different counts. Then they wanted us to settle. I wouldn’t do it. I made them go to court and we won all 10 cases.”
“I know what’s coming,” Kemp said about his preparation for proceeding in the gubernatorial race. “I know how to fight.”
Reposted with permission from the Dustin Inman Society blog
While the liberal media ignores the fact, both candidates in the bruising two-month Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary race have avoided immigration issues where the eventual governor can make the biggest difference.
With run-off day looming tomorrow, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp have mostly kept their immigration focus away from topics that may offend the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and narrowed to “sanctuary cities” and on illegal aliens who have already committed additional crimes in the United States – or “criminal illegal aliens.”
The main driver of illegal immigration is illegal employment, which was not mentioned in either campaign.
In addition to black market labor, they are also both dodging obvious and voter-popular immigration issues where a governor can play a central role, including drivers licenses to illegal aliens and official English for government.
No mention of protecting jobs for American workers
When asked in a statewide December 2015 poll, “Who should get the future jobs in Georgia? – Americans, including legal immigrants already here, illegal immigrants already here, newly arrived legal immigrants and guest workers or it doesn’t matter, workers who will work for the lowest wage.” A whopping 90% of Republicans said Americans, including legal immigrants already here should get priority.
Silence on allowing voters to decide on constitutional official English
Nearly 86% of Republicans – and 76% of all voters polled – answered “yes” when asked “would you support an amendment to the Georgia constitution that makes English the official language of government?” in the same poll conducted by Atlanta-based Rosetta Stone Communications
Despite the objections of the business lobby and with a unanimous party-line vote, in 2016, the Republican-controlled Georgia state senate passed a Resolution that would have allowed all Georgia voters to answer a ballot question that year on English as the state’s constitutional official government language.
But the legislation quietly died with Democrat “no” votes when Republican House leadership instructed Republicans to stay away from a sub-committee hearing which killed the bill.
Official English is not a voluntary campaign topic for either of the Republican candidates for Georgia governor. This despite one metro-Atlanta school district boast that 140 foreign languages are spoken by its students.
While it is not widely understood by voters, currently, the state of ten million offers the written road rules portion of the drivers license exam in eleven foreign languages.
Drivers licenses for illegal aliens – not a campaign issue
The same statewide poll that asked about official constitutional official English showed that 80% of Republicans and 63% of all Georgians also want to end the practice of giving any drivers license to any illegal aliens.
Many voters are unaware of the fact that Republican Georgia has issued more than 20,000 drivers licenses and official state photo ID Cards to individuals who the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services classifies as lacking lawful immigration status – but who have been given work permits by both the Obama and Trump administrations.
This group of aliens includes recipients of the Obama DACA deferred action on deportation amnesty, aliens who have been granted deferred action outside of the DACA amnesty and aliens who have already been ordered to be deported by federal officials.
Work permits, officially known as Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) are issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services which is an agency in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The 2005 REAL ID Act implemented after the horror of 9/11 says that illegal aliens who have been granted deferred action on deportation or who have been ordered deported but then apply for permanent residence use that temporary condition as “evidence of lawful status” for the purpose of obtaining a federally approved drivers license or state ID card.
⦁ In a direct contradiction, USCIS says “Current law does not grant any legal status for the class of individuals who are current recipients of DACA. Recipients of DACA are currently unlawfully present in the U.S. with their removal deferred.”
⦁ Through an official spokesperson, USCIS has provided a breakdown of the classification codes contained on the work permits that illustrate the immigration status of the bearer.
⦁ USCIS also operates the SAVE verification system for official agencies to determine immigration status of applicants for public benefits. Drivers licenses and ID cards are public benefits in Georgia.
⦁ Appointed by current governor, Nathan Deal, Georgia’s Attorney General, Chris Carr, has told an Atlanta NPR affiliate that “We have continuously and clearly taken the position in ongoing legal cases that DACA does not confer legal status.” (July 17, 2017 WABE News).
Georgia is among the states that issues the identical drivers license to legal immigrants with ‘green cards’ and foreigners who entered the US lawfully on temporary visas – including Mercedes Benz executives – as are issued to the aliens the state Attorney General and USCIS says lack legal status. The defacto national ID, these credentials are used as valid ID to enter military bases, federal buildings and board airliners in America’s airports.
Drivers license issued to all non-citizens in Georgia, legal status or illegal status. Photo: DDS
Sponsored by conservative state Senator Josh McKoon, in 2016, legislation passed the Georgia Senate by a two-thirds majority – with every Republican vote except one – that would have clearly marked driving and ID credentials to note the illegal immigration status of the bearer. That measure was allowed to expire without a hearing in the GOP House, controlled by business-oriented Speaker David Ralston. McKoon also sponsored the official English Resolution.
Most Georgians do not realize that under state law the same aliens USCIS says have no lawful status but have been issued a work permit are eligible for state unemployment benefits.
The jobs-for Americans, drivers license/illegal alien/unemployment benefits issue is not a topic in either Republican candidate’s campaign for the Republican nomination for Georgia governor.
Georgians deserve to now where the candidates stand.
The powerful Georgia business lobby has long worked against protecting jobs and wages for legal workers, use of E-Verify, immigration enforcement and official English. Georgia ranks ahead of Arizona in its population of illegal aliens, according to estimates from DHS and the Pew Research Center. One estimate is that the crime of illegal immigration costs Georgia taxpayers $2.4 billion annually.
The current governor, two-term, business-first Republican Nathan Deal, has avoided the illegal immigration issue since his first year in office. But, Deal boasts that Georgia is named number one state in which to do business by Site Selection magazine.
The influx of migrants and the anti-enforcement power of the business lobby will eventually result in a Democrat in the Georgia governor’s office. This year’s far-left, anti-enforcement candidate for the office, Stacey Abrams, has a real chance of winning and has recently received a one million-dollar donation from Georgia Soros.
On July 24th – it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for a strong leader who is prepared to be our state’s next CEO. As your state Senator, I want you to know that I’m 100% behind Casey Cagle for governor. I have served with him for 8 years in the Senate now and I am confident that he is the best choice on the ballot.
Casey is a proven, consistent leader who has always delivered for our state – as well as our community and North Georgia. Due to his leadership as Lt. Governor, Georgia has been named the number one state to do business for five straight years, and we’ve added nearly 700,000 jobs and 40,000 new businesses. This year, Casey was the leader who fought to deliver the largest tax cut in Georgia history.
Casey has also led to advance nationally renowned education reform measures – including the Charter Systems Act, College and Career Academy Network, and GA CATT apprenticeship program – which have been integral in transforming Georgia’s one-size-fits-all education system into a revolutionary model that puts students first. Not every student needs to get a four year liberal arts degree to be successful, and Casey is leading to prioritize workforce development so that all Georgia’s students graduate from high school with post-secondary experience or technical training that gives them the skills to attain rewarding careers.
Casey has stood up for our conservative principles his entire career. He has led to outlaw and defund sanctuary cities in Georgia, expand gun rights (earning him an A+ rating from the NRA), protect innocent life (earning him the Champion for Life award from the Georgia Life Alliance), and reform our adoption/foster care system to give faith-based organizations more opportunities to help children find loving homes.
Please join me in supporting Casey Cagle and voting to elect him as our next Governor on July 24th. I have been honored to serve as your Senator and I look forward to working with the next Governor to continue the progress we have made.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – What has come down to a battle of endorsements over the last two weeks has played out with some big name backers. Secretary of State Brian Kemp landed perhaps the largest endorsement of all as President Donald Trump tweeted out his support of the Georgia gubernatorial hopeful.
Kemp’s campaign announced recently the backing of several Republican opponents from the May Primary. Among those to officially announce their support were Michael Williams, Clay Tippins, and Hunter Hill.
Opponent in the gubernatorial runoff, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, was unable to receive any backing from Republican challengers that were faced earlier this year.
Cagle did however land some big name endorsements recently as he continues his campaign. While holding the title of the only Georgia candidate in the governor’s race to be backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), Cagle drove this message home as the President Elect of the NRA, retired Lt. Colonel Oliver North, hit the trail with Cagle to show his personal support of the candidate.
Cagle’s big name endorsements didn’t stop there. Earlier this week current Georgia Governor Nathan Deal also personally endorsed Cagle to be his replacement.
Although it seemed that the cards had become stacked in Cagle’s favor, Kemp showed his final hand and delivered a fourth ace by officially getting an endorsement from the President of the United States Donald Trump.
Follow FetchYourNews for the latest election information and Cagle’s thoughts on Kemp’s latest round of endorsements.
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