Union High School hosts second annual FCA Tournament

Featured Stories, Sports

High school basketball teams from all over North Georgia gathered together for the second annual Union County FCA tournament this week.

Schools represented included Lumpkin, Murphy, Union, Towns, Pickens, Gilmer and Hayesville. Each school brought their Junior Varsity and Varsity teams, along with both men’s and women’s teams.

High school basketball teams from the North Georgia area got the chance to scrimmage one another at the Union County FCA Tournament.

Teams had the opportunity to scrimmage one another beginning on Monday and lasting until Tuesday evening. Junior Varsity teams played primarily on Monday, leading into the Varsity teams on Tuesday. On Tuesday, the Varsity women’s teams played in the morning before men’s teams in the afternoon.

The tournament was split into two locations: Union County High School and the middle school. This division gave teams the opportunity to play more than once, and games could occur simultaneously.

Scrimmages were timed at 40 minutes each with 20 minutes halves and ten minutes between each game.



FYN met with Union County School officials on Sexting issue

Union County High School

FETCHYOURNEWS was able to sit down with Union County Schools Superintendent John Hill, Assistant Superintendent Paula Davenport, and Assistant Superintendent David Murphy.

At the conclusion of the School’s investigation, Hill advised there were 46 students involved in the sexting issue.

The investigation is ongoing, according to Hill. “You still have to follow-up on some information.

Davenport stated on the subject of counseling for students who were affected and not affected, “We have advised them to reach out to school counselors. We have met with the pastors in the area and they offered to pass the word there would be some Christian counseling available. Of course, there a few paid counselors in the area.”

According to School officials, the names of parents and students involved cannot be released due to The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA): “a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.”

The students involved are aged 14-18, freshman to seniors. All indicators has been isolated to Union County High School students, Hill said.

More information will be updated right here on FETCHYOURNEWS.com

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7-AAA All Region Teams Announced


Congratulations to all athletes chosen for All Region Honors in 7-AAA baseball for the 2018 season.  Union Co. Panthers are represented with 1 first team and 7 second team All Region athletes.



Congratulations UCHS Class of 2018

Community, Panthers Corner

FetchYourNews.com and FYNTV.com would like to send out a special congratulations to the graduating seniors! In honor of your big day, we have created a tribute video to the entire class of 2018! Check out our Facebook page the day after graduation for photos from the entire day.

Congratulations Class of 2018!

School sales tax debate heating up in Union as May 22 primary approaches

Election 2018, News

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – With the May 22 primary election just weeks away in Union County, the debate over the one-cent Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) referendum is growing.

ESPLOST is a 1 percent countywide sales tax collected to help fund school improvements. Money generated from ESPLOST can be used for capital projects or to retire debt but cannot be used to pay operating expenses and salaries. A new five-year ESPLOST would take effect July 1, 2018, after the current ESPLOST expires June 30.

Two groups with two very different viewpoints on the issue have been busy recently in their attempts to persuade voters. Citizens Against Runaway Education Spending (CARES) opposes the ESPLOST referendum while Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE) supports the referendum.

According to information provided by CARES, “There is no evidence that the ESPLOST has kept property taxes low, and there is evidence that property taxes and revenue have increased dramatically in the years since the tax has been in place.”

A yard sign, provided by CARES (Citizens Against Runaway Education Spending), urges voters to vote no to the ESPLOST referendum.

CARES cites that since the first ESPLOST in Union County was instituted in 1998, the school millage rate has continued to rise, from 8.5 in 1999 to the current rate of 11.78, which accounts for an increase of 38.6 percent. Regarding enrollment in Union County Schools, CARES states Union has seen a 5.3 percent increase while the nearby counties of Lumpkin, White, Gilmer and Towns have all seen double-digit percentage gains.

Comparing the 1998 school property tax revenue of $5,037,469 to the 2016 revenue of $16,050,563, Union County experienced an increase of 319 percent, according to CARES, which is a substantially higher increase than that of Lumpkin, White, Gilmer and Towns counties.

“This increase in revenue versus school enrollment is excessive when compared to our neighboring counties,” CARES states.

Supporting the new ESPLOST, CEE argues that the tax will bring in a projected $21 million over the next five years to fund a number of proposed school system upgrades and replacements, such as:

  • Safety and security upgrades at schools;
  • Roof replacements and repairs;
  • System-wide kitchen equipment replacement;
  • Technology innovation and upgrades;
  • Cafeteria renovations and expansion;
  • Transportation and maintenance equipment;
  • Parking lot and road improvements;
  • Athletic facilities renovation; and
  • Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) building and shop renovations;

Union County High School Fine Arts Center was constructed debt-free with funds generated from ESPLOST.

According to CEE, a number of projects have been completed without incurring debt using funds from past ESPLOST revenue, including construction of the Fine Arts Center at Union County High School and the Agriscience Center located on U.S. 129 south, safety and security enhancements throughout the school system, the purchase of cameras for all school buses, the purchase of 10 new school buses, classroom and HVAC upgrades at all schools, and technology upgrades throughout the system.

“The Union County Board of Education (BOE) is firmly committed to take on projects that can be fully funded during the five-year collection period,” CEE says. “The BOE did not sell bonds or incur any debt during the current ESPLOST. All projects are done on a ‘pay-as-we-go’ basis.”

However, CARES argues against the need for continued expansion, questions the transparency of educational spending and states that the county itself is not seeing a direct benefit of its investment in the school system.

CARES states, according to its sources, Union County is projected to see only a 4.69 percent increase in school-age (ages 5 to 19) population by 2050 while the 65 and older population is expected to increase by 29.09 percent.

Regarding transparency, CARES states, “The school board is in no way transparent about spending. Specific dollar amounts are very rarely mentioned in meetings. The financial reports are visible only to the board members, numbers are rarely mentioned, hardly any questions, and the vote to approve is always unanimous. Financial reports are only available to the public via Open Records Request.”

Also, CARES claims students suffering from the lack of job opportunities within the county are forced to “either take low-paying, local jobs or move,” and because of this, county taxpayers are not reaping the benefits of educational spending.

To this, CEE says, “The ESPLOST helps keep ad valorem taxes stable. Additionally, the children are not the only ones who benefit from good schools. The social and economic strength of a community are greatly influenced by the school system. High-performing schools mean well-prepared citizens, a strong labor market, and an inviting atmosphere for both living and working. One of the key questions asked by industrial/commercial or residential prospects looking to move into a community is ‘What is the quality of the school system?'”

CEE also states ESPLOST collects from not just property owners but everyone doing business in Union County. “Everyone who shops or stays in Union County pays the sales tax,” CEE states.

According to CEE, it is projected that 36 percent of the ESPLOST will be collected from visitors to the county.

CARES refutes this number saying, “This is an argument used all over the country in order to get these ballot initiatives passed … This is a number impossible to substantiate.”

However, CARES states, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Impact, ESPLOST generated $3,809,047 total in 2015 in Union County and tourists were responsible for 6.7 percent of those total collections.

Of the overall need of the ESPLOST, CEE says, “The school system needs to continue to move forward with facility improvements and equipment replacement. Our older facilities are in need of extensive renovations and upgrades. We have a tremendous need to fund transportation and technology upgrades that are no longer funded in the state allotment. Our citizens have supported education for years and the passage of the ESPLOST extension would be a strong demonstration of continued school support by our community.”

For more information on CARES and the argument against the ESPLOST referendum, visit the organization’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Union-County-CARES-244353912714137/?ref=br_rs.

For more information on CEE and the argument supporting the ESPLOST referendum, visit the link on the Union County Schools website at http://www.ucschools.org/news/what_s_new/ESPLOST_V


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 advertise@FetchYourNews.com





Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Panthers get another win in the last game of the season


Friday, April 20th the Union County Panther baseball team faced off against the East Hall Vikings in the season finale.

Harkins took the mound for the Panthers.

The Vikings got off to a quick start as L. Cooper led the game off with a single and would later be driven in by T. Rider as the Vikings grab a quick 1-0 lead on the Panthers.

The Panther offense found their rhythm in the bottom of the second as they would grab the lead 5-1.

Baggett leads things off for UC as he reached on a 4 pitch walk. Davis followed reaching by way of a single and Colwell reached on a 5 pitch walk. Kelley and Scott both drove in runs as they got walked. A 2 RBI double by Harkins and a SAC fly by Dyer would put the Panthers in the lead.

Harkins pitched 3 innings allowing 3 hits, 1 earned run, and striking out 2 batters.

Daniel relieved Harkins pitching 1 inning allowing only 1 hit.

J. Colwell would relieve Daniel to open the 4th inning. Colwell allowed 1 hit, 1 walk, and 0 runs.

Dyer reached base for the Panthers with 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th inning. Banton followed with a single. J. Colwell hit a double to left field to drive in Dyer before Banton would be thrown out at home. The Panthers extended their lead 6-1.

Rich relieved J. Colwell as he pitched 1 inning allowing 0 baserunners.

The Panthers entered the 6th inning with a 6-1 lead as freshman K. Hemphill entered the game for Rich. Hemphill pitched 1 inning allowing 2 runs, 1 of which was earned, and walked 1 batter.

Senior Banton took the mound for his last time as a Panther to close the game. Banton pitched 1 inning allowing 1 earned run, 3 hits, and 1 walk.


The Panthers beat the Vikings 6-4 and finish 10-16 on the season. The Panthers were led offensively by Harkins, he went 1-1 with 2 RBI’s.

Panthers slay the Vikings in a close battle during game 2 of series


Wednesday, April 18th the Union County Panther baseball team faced off against the East Hall Vikings. This would be the second of three meetings on the season.

Pierson Allison took the mound for the Panthers.

UC played steady defense early as a Viking run would not score until the 4th inning.

The Panther offense sparked in the 3rd inning as Rich reached with a leadoff single. Scott followed reaching base with a 6 pitch walk. Dyer loaded the bases for the Panthers as he reached on an infield single. Banton singled to center driving in Rich for a score. However, Scott was thrown out at the plate for the second out. Daniel doubled to drive in a pair of runs and extend the Panther lead 3-0 after 3 innings.

C. Colwell and Rich led off the 4th inning with a pair of singles. Scott singled to drive a run in and advance Rich to 3rd. Dyer and Banton would also drive in runs to extend the Panther lead 7-0.

The East Hall Offense found stride in the bottom of the 4th as they would score a run in every inning to finish the game.

Allison pitched 6 innings for the Panthers allowing 4 runs, 3 of which were earned, 2 walks, and striking out 3 batters.

Ruff relieved Allison in the 7th with hoped to close the game as he allowed 2 hits and a walk to open the inning. Despite the “rough’ start for Ruff he finished allowing only one run as the Panthers claim the win over the Vikings 7-5.

Banton led the Panthers offensive going 2-4 with 3 RBI’s.

The Panthers improve to 9-19. The final game of the season will be Friday, April 20th as the Panthers host the East Hall Vikings.

Union Board of Education discusses strategic planning, hears audit report

News, Panthers Corner

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Superintendent Dr. John Hill presented a proposal for strategic planning and the Union County Board of Education heard the results of a communication audit at the board’s Tuesday, April 17, meeting.

Last month, the board voted to accept the Georgia Vision Project as a guideline of recommendations and suggestions for school boards to follow in updating strategic plans. During Tuesday’s work session, Hill explained that although some programs within the school district are updated annually, the school system’s charter renewal and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation are updated every five years and both are slated to be renewed in the 2018-19 school year.

Hill proposed to the board to hire the Georgia School Board Association (GSBA) as a third party entity to assist the school system with updating its strategic plan. Hill also stated the use of a third party to help develop a strategic plan will promote increased honest input from the community and the school system’s stakeholders.

After BOE Chairwoman Cynthia Odom asked about future needs inherent of the strategic plan, Hill answered saying, “It will basically provide us a clear five-year road map as to where the (school) system’s going.”

Later, in the regular meeting, the BOE unanimously approved the hiring of GSBA to assist with developing an updated strategic plan for the school system. Neither the terms of the hiring nor the cost were disclosed during the meeting.

Dr. Paula Davenport, federal programs director and student and staff director, presented the board the results of a communication audit recently conducted by the GSBA.

“It’s very important that our school system communicates effectively and that we’re transparent in all that we do,” Davenport stated to the board.

Davenport explained a representative from GSBA recently visited the school system and spoke with parents, students, teachers, school leaders, and focus groups while also examining the school system’s website, social media sites, and various paperwork to determine what the school system is “doing well and maybe some things that (it is) not doing well” in its approach to communication.

Regarding the reasoning for the communication audit, Davenport stated there were four main goals: to better educate the general public, to improve parent engagement, to build morale internally, and to praise achievements within the school system.

The audit, according to Davenport, reported the school system is utilizing social media quite well and especially noted Union County High School’s utilization of social media.

As far as improvements suggested to the school system, the audit stated communication in family engagement could be better incorporated into the school system’s mission statement. The audit also stated the school system’s branding is dated and pointed out inconsistencies in fonts and logos on the school system’s website. Also, the results of the audit suggested providing professional training to teachers and school leaders on communicating with parents of students.

Later in the meeting, several awards and recognitions were made. Millie Owenby, principal of Union County Primary School, presented Librarian Casey Potts with a Going the Extra Mile recognition. Owenby read a list of several responsibilities and tasks Potts has willingly performed and added, “But most importantly, Ms. Casey knows every student’s name in our building and she also knows what their interests are.”

Gwen Stafford, principal of Union County Middle School, recognized the school’s boys soccer team for going undefeated and winning the region championship this past season. Of the team’s accomplishments, Coach Chris Robbins stated, “I couldn’t be more proud of this team right here. Thank you for letting me coach them.”

Josh Davis, Career, Technical and Agriculture Education (CTAE) director of Union County High School (UCHS), recognized welding instructor Derrick Dillinger and four welding students for finishing as runner-up in this year’s Skills USA welding competition.

Gerald Bavero, assistant principal and testing coordinator of UCHS, presented eight advanced placement (AP) educators – April Krieger, Deborah Nichols, Teena Atkins, Greg Chambers, Lynn Deweese, Mark Donahue, Alecia Frizzell, and Katie Scott – with certificates of recognition for the state naming UCHS as a 2018 AP Challenge School.

“The reason our school performs so well is right here,” Superintendent Hill said of the AP instructors.

For this month’s Partners in Education award, Davenport presented three nearby colleges with plaques in appreciation of those institutions’ participation in the dual enrollment program in Union County Schools. According to Davenport, during the 2017-18 school year, 161 Union County high school students participated in at least one dual enrollment course. All told, 529 different courses were taken by Union County students at eight different institutions. Davenport also stated that all tuition fees and costs for textbooks are all waived for dual enrollment students, accounting for a savings of $760,400 to students for this school year alone.

Davenport presented the Partners in Education awards to Dr. Mark Ivester, president of North Georgia Technical College, Dr. Drew Van Horn, president of Young Harris College, and Sandy Ott, campus administrator of University of North Georgia at Blue Ridge.

“We’re so appreciative. I don’t believe that everybody realizes what we have here and the value that Dr. Davenport highlighted – three-quarters of $1,000,000 this year,” Hill stated. “These folks are so helpful, and we appreciate everything you do for our kids.”

Tiffany Setzer, assistant special education director, presented special education instructors Carla Drake and Alicia Meng as the first recipients of the Extra Mile and Service Above Self awards, respectively.


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 advertise@FetchYourNews.com


Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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