UCHS Receives STEM Certification

News, Panthers Corner

Blairsville, Ga – Union County High School (UCHS) named the fourth STEM certified public school in the state.

State Superintendent Richard Woods visited UCHS a few weeks ago and recognized the school as the 14th STEM certified program in the state and fourth public school to earn the honor.

STEM teaches students computational thinking and using scientific methods to solve real-world problems. It helps children to develop technological skills that they can use to one day find highly-sought after jobs.

At the May Board of Education, Superintendent John Hill presented the STEM certification award to Ms. Alecia Frizzell.

“Ms. Frizzell was extremely dedicated and instrumental in the high school receiving the certification, and it’s going to have a lasting impact on students of our county,” said Hill.

Ms. Frizzell also received the Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year 2019.

“I have not met a teacher more dedicated to her students and her profession,” said Hill, “we’re very proud of her.”

“I had no idea I was getting the award. I think I was nominated by Mr. Hussion,” explained Frizzell, “I had a student write a recommendation letter that is framed and on a wall in my house.”

Three Partners in Education were recognized for their significant efforts to improve the schools’ facilities and life of the students.

Woody Gap

Gene Sprayberry donated his greenhouse to Woody Gap in memory of his wife, Louise.

Gene Sprayberry donated a large greenhouse to Woody Gap Schools in memory of his wife, Louise.

“I’m thankful that the school system accepted the schoolhouse in memory of Louise,” said Sprayberry, “She would be so thrilled to see that it was doing some good, and students might take up her passion. She loved it.”

This year the Chamber of Commerce had an entire night dedicated to recognizing Union County Schools’(UCS) students and set up two committees devoted to finding ways to help students.

“Our local chamber has always supported our school system, but this past year they have truly been a partner in education,” said Assistant Superintendent David Murphy.

“We appreciate the opportunity for the chamber to participate in the program,” said Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rowe, “These students are the future of Union County.”

RC&D Council sponsored a number of learning opportunities for the students of UCS and Woody Gap, including sponsoring a steer for middle school agriculture day, a pig for the cafeterias, fire-wise programs, a high-wind tunnel, drone software, wick-whacking device, and a number of the members.

Jason Moore’s recognized for his outstanding service on the middle school governance team.

UCMS, Board of Education

UCMS Principal Gwen Stafford recognized student Jason Moore for his commitment to the School Governance Team.

“Jason Moore has been our representative at the middle school for the past two years, and he has done an outstanding job, said Principal Gwen Stafford, “If he doesn’t know what the students would like, he goes out and sees them. He gets there opinion and comes back and reports to us.”

UCHS FFA Students also received recognition for winning first place in state competitions.

Isaac Hunter placed first at the state level for the ocular estimation event at the junior foresters’ field day.

“Ocular estimation is where I have to stand five feet away from the tree and guess the diameter of it,” said Hunter.  He can’t use any tools to assist with the process, just his best sight guestimation.

UCHS, Board of Education, FFA Awards

Isaac Hunter and Timothy Dye both won first place in the state FFA competition.

Next, Timothy Dye won first place at the state competition for timber cruising for board volume.

“You have to stand 66 feet away from the tree using logger tape, diameter tape, and clinometer. The diameter get the actual diameter of it, and with the clinometer, you get the height of it,” explained Dye.

The Union County Primary School recognized two teachers who achieved perfect attendance for the 2018-2019 school year. Kelsey Miller teaches Pre-K, and Tina Payne is an RTI specialist who teaches Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade students.

UCPS, Board of Education

UCPS Principal Millie Owenby recognized the two primary school teachers Kelsey Miller and Tina Payne for their perfect attendance.

“We all know that as teachers that the more we are there, the better the students perform,” said Principal Millie Owenby, “Sometimes at the primary school that is quite an accomplishment.”

The board also presented Superintendent with an award to commemorate his 15 years of service.

Union County Schools hold “No Empty Chair” Campaign

News

Blairsville, Ga – M.A.D.D., the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, and the Georgia State Patrol are having a campaign to ensure there are no empty seats for Union County’s upcoming graduation.

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Union County Schools will be CLOSED on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

News, Panthers Corner

Union County Schools will be closed on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019. This will be an Alternative Academic School Day so please make sure to complete your snow assignments that teachers have sent home with students. Stay safe and stay warm!

Panther Playback 2018

Business

BKP sits down every Monday night with Union Panther’s head Coach Brian Allison to discuss the previous week’s game and look forward to the next game.

11/5/18 – Senior Night

10/29/18

10/22/18

10/15/18

Special 1-on-1

9/24/18

9/17/18

9/10/18

8/27/18

Union County Schools 2018-2019 Calendar

Education

UPDATED: Suicide at Union County Courthouse

News
appraisers

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Lt. Russell Walker with the Blairsville Police Department confirmed a suicide occurred outside of the Union County Courthouse sometime before 11:00 a.m. Monday, May 21.

Criminal Investigator Lt. Tom Mangifesta, of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, stated the victim was 59-year-old Elmore Martin Putney III, a Blairsville attorney who had been practicing law locally for over three years. Mangifesta reported Putney died from a single gunshot wound to the head. The lieutenant added the incident occurred sometime between when Putney was last seen on security cameras outside the courthouse at 8:55 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. when a call was received by the sheriff’s office from a passerby who reported seeing Putney lying on the ground outside the north lower parking lot entrance of the courthouse.  Mangifesta also stated Putney was scheduled to be at the courthouse for a court hearing later that day.

Following the revelation that a shooting had occurred, the courthouse was put into a state of lockdown. Mangifesta also said sounds of gunfire were never reported and stated a nearby berm and large transformers outside the courthouse entrance may have contributed to the inability of anyone in the near vicinity hearing the gunshot.

According to the Mangifesta, Putney had finalized his will Friday, May 18, and several other documents including notes were later discovered in the ensuing investigation that led investigators to believe the incident was premeditated by Putney. Mangifesta speculated Putney had been “suffering from mental health issues for a long time.”

Union County School Superintendent John Hill confirmed reports that all schools were also put on lockdown following the incident. Hill stated the school system received word at 10:54 a.m. from the Union County Sheriff’s Office of a shooting at the courthouse and the schools were immediately locked down as part of standard protocol for the schools. Hill added the lockdown was lifted at 11:15 a.m. after the school system received details as to the nature of the incident and it was determined there was no threat at the schools.

The incident is being investigated by the Union County Sheriff’s Office. FetchYourNews will have further details on this as they become available.

 

 

Author

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.

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

Election 2018, News
early voting

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

 

 

 

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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.

Union Board of Education discusses strategic planning, hears audit report

News, Panthers Corner
conferences

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

Author

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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