BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris adopted a resolution in support of the Second Amendment during January’s commission meeting.
The resolution cited that it’s a Constitutional right for people to “keep and bear arms” as well as the Georgia Constitution which prohibits the state from infringing on that right.
Paris and Sheriff Mack Mason expressed their support for the Second Amendment and for the rights of citizens. They asked the governor and General Assembly to “take no action which would violate the freedoms guaranteed in both Constitutions.”
The measure doesn’t address the federal government. It also doesn’t explicitly use the term “sanctuary,” which is a term included in several pro-Second Amendment resolutions or laws.
“I think every resolution you see is a little different, but they all amount to the same thing. They all have the same opportunity, same weight to work,” Paris stated.
Those in the crowd asked if Paris could look into amending the resolution to include “sanctuary county” because they believed it carried more weight with the federal government. He confirmed that someone will look into the matter and review the document.
“We’re trying to make it, so we’re protected, but if the federal government for some reason were to do something that’s through the federal government, but the fact that we’ve got a resolution still gives our sheriff the right to…meet them at the county line and say ‘you guys leave you aren’t coming in here, Paris explained.
The commissioner viewed mass gun confiscation unlikely from the federal or state government, but this measure grants the sheriff’s ability to question new stricter laws.
41 other counties in Georgia have adopted sanctuary city measures. Fannin, Dawson, Banks, Gilmer, White, Habersham, Pickens, and Rabun are some of those counties.
As for the new gun range, the DNR is crossing every T to try and appease everyone before proceeding. Also, the DNR will undergo office changes and possibly new regulations now that the Biden Administration has taken office.
In January 2021, the county entered into several agreements, contracts, and resolutions. For the jail, they renewed the contract agreement for food services at no additional costs and agreed to a contract with Roof Management, Inc to replace the jail and sheriff’s office roof for $215,500.00.
Rushton and Company will complete the 2020 audit with the agreed-upon cost, not to exceed, $59,000.
For the senior center, Union County provided $95,000 as the local share with Legacy Link overseeing the other costs.
Union County 911 Center generator’s planned maintenance cost $1,151.02 from Cummins, Inc.
The statewide mutual aid and assistance agreement between Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) and Union County was renewed. This agreement provided the framework to support mutual assistance in managing an emergency or disaster.
A contract with Winkler and Winkler was agreed upon for the expansion of the View Grill at the Union County Community Center for the amount of $330,370.00. Once completed, some of the outdoor seating at the View will be enclosed.
The second resolution passed dealt with the Alcohol License Fee Schedule. The cost of the full background check for applicants increased to $72.50. The alcohol beverage permits for employees will be $37.00 and renewal will cost $16.00.
Farmers Market Way and Market View Connecter were accepted into the county road maintenance.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – The Blue Ridge Mountain Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution paid homage to local firefighters, law enforcement, EMT, and EMS workers during the December Commission meeting.
Sid Turner presented three awards. The first the law enforcement commendation went to Lt. Leon James who serves the Union County Sheriff’s Office and primarily stationed at the courthouse. In 2017, he became the commanding officer of the courthouse law enforcement operation, assisted in implementing the security checkpoints, and wrote the safety plan. Later, Sheriff Mason chose James slow down traffic in Union County.
Lt. Brent Long received the firefighter safety commendation. Long’s served the fire department for 21 years, initially as a volunteer. In 2002, he became a full-time firefighter. He’s responsible for training the entire department and emergency medical services. He’s also the deputy director of emergency management.
Frank Lowery accepted the emergency services commendation. Lowery’s been with the Union County EMS since 2012 and “consistently delivers care to his patients at a high level.” In 2016, he was promoted to shift supervisor and performs training coordinator and quality assurance coordinator responsibilities. Lowery also received the Murray King award for outstanding service and dedication to the citizens of Union County.
Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris issued three proclamations during the December meeting, Retired Teacher’s Day on November 1, Arbor Day on February 9, and Radon Action Month in January.
Contracts and Grants
SPLOST funds were used to purchase a $478,873 fire engine/pumper for the fire department. Also, the county entered into two no cost contracts with debris removal services as required by FEMA.
Winkler and Winkler were awarded a $330,370.00 contract to upgrade the View Grill. SPLOST funds were used for this project.
To repair the roof at the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Jail to Roof Management were awarded $215,500.00 in SPLOST funds.
Two accountability court grants for the Enotah Family Treatment Court and health court were accepted.
The emergency moratorium on multi-family housing units was extended for another 190 days from October 8, 2020.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – During the December 2020 meeting, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris approved the meeting schedule for 2021.
The meetings will continue to take place on the third Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Union County Courthouse in Courtroom A.
The dates are as follows
- January 21
- February 18
- March 18
- April 15
- May 20
- June 17
- July 15
- August 19
- September 16
- October 21
- November 18
- December 16
All meetings are open to the public. Individuals with disabilities can contact the County Clerk to allow Union County to make accommodations for those people.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – In the Union County Commission meeting, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris signed two proclamations for World Polio Day on October 24 and Wilonell Dyer Day on October 11.
Members of the Rotary Club were in attendance to accept the World Polio Day proclamation. Over 1.2 million professionals and business leaders make up Rotary International, which specializes in providing humanitarian service and promoting goodwill and peace in the world.
In 1985, Rotary began the PolioPlus and headed up the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to immunize children against polio. Today the effort includes the World Health Organization, CDC, UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Since 1988, polio cases in children have dropped 99 percent, and the world is close to eradicating the disease. Rotary club volunteers have protected more than two billion children in 122 countries from the disease. Currently, the club is working to raise an additional $100 million, which will be doubled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to $300 million.
Wilonell Dyer Day
Commissioner Paris visited Wilonell Dyer in the Union County Nursing Home just before her 101st birthday on October 11 to present her proclamation. Born Wilonell Collins in 1919 in the Choestoe area, she married Ervin Dyer, and they had four children Jerry, Larry, Judy, and Janie.
Wilonell taught school for over 30 years, with 29 of those years spent teaching Algebra and Math to Union County youths. She retired on June 30, 1982.
A life-long member of Choestoe Baptist Church, she served as the treasurer for several years. Also, with nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, she regularly earned Mother’s Day honors for having the most grandchildren present on the holiday. She’s currently the oldest living member of the church.
Currently, the Union County Nursing Home is allowing window visits for its residents to protect them against COVID-19.
In other business, Paris accepted two accountability courts grants for the Enotah Mental Health Court, in the amounts of $12,582.00 and $29,640.00. He also closed two old bank accounts that are no longer in use: the Capital Improvements bank account at Bank OZK and the 2015 Bond Project Fund maintained by the Treasury Office.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County had the third-highest suicide rate per capita in Georgia in 2018, according to the CDC.
Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris proclaimed September 2020 as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in Union County with Change in Our World Director Rebecca Brendle.
Beginning in 2015, Change in Our World had brought awareness and ministered to countless young people in the community about the value of life.
Exert from the proclamation: “Young people are key to Union County, Georgia’s future success, prosperity, and quality of life, our young people are our most valuable resource; they deserve opportunities to discover themselves and their purpose in secure environments that allow them to create relationships, find wholeness, and strengthen others.”
Change in Our World tirelessly works to provide opportunity and gathering places for the youth of Union County. The organization has a regular meeting space, hosts local events, and recently purchased the Blairsville Ice Cream and Mini-Golf stand. Change in Our World participants and the community are always invited to stop by the ice cream shop. In October, the organization will be participating in the Georgia Mountain Fairground Arts and Crafts Festival, and then in November, it will be attending the Mountain Country Christmas in Lights Festival.
Hopefully, its efforts will help to empower local young people, letting them find their voices and becoming contributing members of the community.
By raising awareness and placing value on the lives of the individual, suicide can be prevented. Those dedicated to creating safe and guided environments for Union County’s youths that are free of judgment, alcohol, and drugs will give teenagers and children an opportunity to reach their full potential and become the next generation of leaders.
The county’s goal is to let young people know that they’re valued. No one will be forgotten.
Feature image courtesy of Change in Our World. Recently, the non-profit received a $5,000 grant from the county.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Constitution Day will be observed on September 17th with Constitution Week to last until September 23rd.
“On this day in 1787, the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution of the United States of America. With this proclamation, we’re giving official recognition to this document and the anniversary of its signing,” read Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris from the proclamation. “I ask the citizens of Union County to reaffirm the ideas the framers of the Constitution had in 1787 by vigilantly protecting the freedoms guaranteed to us through this guardian
of our liberties.”
Two members of the Sons of the American Revolution, Jared Ogden and James Cook, dressed in full regalia, received the proclamation from Commissioner Paris.
The Blue Ridge Mountain Chapter of the Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution President Jared Ogden expressed his appreciation, especially during these times.
“With the backlash against authority, against peace, against prosperity basically, we feel that reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Constitution are so critical, especially now,” said Ogden.
A school in Iowa first recognized Constitution Day in 1911, and in 1917, the Sons of the American Revolution began a committee to promote the holiday. The committee included President Calvin Coolidge, John D. Rockefeller, and General John Pershing as members.
In 1940, Congress created “I am American” Day, which was held on the third Sunday in May to celebrate citizenship. In 1952, Congress moved “I am American” Day to September 17th and renamed it Citizenship Day.
The present holiday came into being in 2004 as an amendment to a spending bill. It renamed Citizenship Day as Constitution and Citizenship Day. The law also mandates that all public schools and federal agencies offer programming on Constitutional history on that day.
UNION COUNTY, Ga – Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris gave a brief update on how Union County is faring while many residents try to find a sense of normalcy.
Over the course of approximately one month, Union County’s cases grew by 20. Out of the 43, only eleven of those patients needed hospitalization and one death. Union General Hospital had one active patient as of May 22. Previously, multiple beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients.
“We’re very fortunate up here,” stated Paris. “The fact that we’ve only got one in the hospital is a great sign. Does that mean we’re only going to have one? No. Does it mean we’re out of the woods yet? No. But we feel that what we have done in the county is very preventative.”
The commissioner added that those over 65 and with preexisting conditions are still under the Gov. Kemp’s stay at home order until June 13.
“We just have to remember that this thing still is serious. My concern going forward is people are going to – like me, like all of us – are just tired of it. Just like wearing [masks] or not wearing [it],” expressed Paris.
He wanted everyone to continue to be cautious and follow social distancing. He did encourage masks wearing in public areas and to use common sense to try and flatten the curve.
“Employees at those stores are the ones who really notice it. They feel like if you don’t wear one, then you’re not concerned about protecting them,” said Paris.
Whether or not to open the Meeks Park pool is currently being debated because current COVID-19 protocols limit use to 50 people at one time. Also, all chairs must be disinfected each time the person using one leaves the facility. If the county decides to open, it might have to hire someone to sanitize all surfaces in and around the pool.
“It’s not only what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, but it’s what’s the governor’s going to do. Is he going to loosen the guidelines or tighten the guidelines?” Paris commented on the rapidly evolving situation.
On a positive note, county sales tax revenue for April is slightly up from the same time last year. However, this isn’t expected to last. Also, the state still must unveil its 14 percent budget cuts, which will affect some areas of the county.
The city of Blairsville reported tax revenue numbers similar to last year as well. Currently, COVID-19 hasn’t significantly impacted the city’s budget, but again these numbers could change as the year progresses.
Across the board, it’s too early to determine the financial impact of COVID-19.