Audit for 2017 presented to Blairsville City Council

News

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – At their Tuesday, June 5, meeting, the Blairsville City Council heard from Clay Pilgrim, of the accounting firm Rushton & Company, who presented the city’s financial audit for fiscal year 2017.

Pilgrim explained this was the first year that Rushton & Company conducted an audit for the city of Blairsville.

“Things did go well during the auditing process, especially for a first-year audit,” Pilgrim stated. “Sometimes the first year of an audit does not go as smooth as the second, third, fourth and fifth … (I am) very pleased with all your department heads, all your finance staff.”

According to Pilgrim, the audit produced an “unmodified opinion” for fiscal year 2017. Essentially, this means the financial statements of the city “ended in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the (U.S.)”

Pilgrim went on to state the city’s total net position for 2017 was $23,429,812.

“That’s going to be your capital assets – buildings, equipment, land – less the depreciation on those assets, less any debt that’s outstanding that was used to acquire those assets,” Pilgrim explained.

Concerning the city’s general fund, Pilgrim stated revenues decreased in 2017 by 8.8 percent for a total of $152,615.

“A couple of causes there – fines and forfeitures decreased about $29,000 and intergovernmental revenues decreased $139,685 largely due to LMIG (Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant) and timing there on when those are spent,” Pilgrim said.

Expenditures, however, also decreased $214,354.00, approximately 14.7 percent than that of 2016, and the ending unassigned fund balance, or reserves, for the city stood at $2,489,042 as of Dec. 31, 2017, according to Pilgrim.

Regarding the reserves balance, Pilgrim described this as “extremely healthy.”

Highlighting the statement on economic condition and growth for the city, the audit stated, “The city will continue to face challenges as a result of past slow economic growth, but (Rushton & Company is) encouraged at the very positive direction of the current economy along with strong fiscal city policies … (the) average unemployment rate is the lowest in many years and continues to be among the lowest in our region … (Rushton & Company remains) cautiously optimistic that the growth in revenues and businesses in the city of Blairsville will continue.”

Following Pilgrim’s presentation, Councilwoman Mary Ruth Cook commended City Clerk Kaye McCann and Acccounting Clerk Joan Manheim for their assistance to the auditors. To this, Manheim also thanked all of the city department heads for their participation in the audit.

“I’m very appreciative of the trust you put in us, our firm, to do your audit,” Pilgrim stated.

“Well, we appreciate you and your team, Clay,” Mayor Jim Conley told Pilgrim.

The council also approved a reimbursement amount to Union County for an accounting error going back to 2009. Since that time, Manheim explained, a utility bill from Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC) for a sewer lift station at the airport has continued to be sent to the county. Manheim explained the error was discovered after BRMEMC refused to provide the city information about the meter at the lift station, since the meter number was not registered to the city.

Upon investigation, BRMEMC determined the meter was erroneously registered to the county’s Recreation Department.

Manheim further explained the city has made a request to BRMEMC to update all of the city’s meter numbers.

In addition, Mayor Conley said the total amount the county has paid to BRMEMC since the error originated has amounted to $10,784.20.

“Lamar (Paris, sole commissioner of Union County), when I met with him, he said, ‘If you all pay us half of it, we’ll be satisfied,’” Mayor Conley explained.

The council unanimously agreed to pay $5,392.10 to Union County as reimbursement.

In department head reports, Darren Harper, of the Downtown Development Authority, reminded the council that this Thursday, June 7, is Shop Late Thursday for the month, during which downtown businesses will stay open later in the evening to allow potential patrons who cannot come downtown during the day a chance to visit and shop at downtown businesses. Harper also gave a report on a forthcoming property off of Pat Haralson Drive. Harper said the three-story building would consist of two floors, at 4,000 square feet each, of retail space and a third 4,000 square-foot for residential space.

Blairsville Airport Manager John Hamler reported that despite the rainy weather seen across the region in the past few weeks, business has continued to rise at the airport. Hamler also stated over 50 people or entities are currently on the waiting list for hangar space at the airport. “I think with the new fuel system, the new Jet A tank, additional people coming in, I think we are going to see those sales come up,” Hamler stated. “I can envision us hitting $1 million a year there in sales in the next two to three years.”

Police Chief Johnny Carroll reminded the council and those present the new hands-free driving law for the state of Georgia will go into effect on July 1. This law prohibits drivers from holding their cell phones in their hands while driving. Drivers will now be required to use a hands-free device or system to access their phones.

In other business, the council approved the purchase of a Kubota zero-turn mower from Nelson Tractor in the amount of $12,157.28 for the Blairsville Airport. Funds from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) will be used to finance the purchase.

The council approved a new work detail agreement for fiscal year 2018-19 with the Georgia Department of Corrections in the amount of $39,500 for the year.

Councilwoman Cook mentioned the need for a crosswalk and/or pedestrian crossing signage on Pat Haralson Drive near the Downtown Develoment Authority property and Millie’s Corner Plaza. The council agreed that signage would be the best and most expedient option, and Mayor Conley told Cook pedestrian crossing signs could be installed as early next week.

 

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.

Paris declares National Trails Day, county enters opiod litigation

News
appraisers

Hiking enthusiast Joe Boone, right, watches as Commissioner Lamar Paris issues a proclamation declaring June 2, 2018, to be National Trails Day in Union County.

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – In his monthly meeting Thursday, May 17, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris declared June 2, 2018, to be National Trails Day in Union County.

According to the proclamation read by Paris, the purpose of the day is “to increase public awareness of Union County’s trail opportunities and diverse outdoor recreation activities, and promote the importance of a local and national network of trails and greenways.”

Paris invited hiking enthusiast Joe Boone to speak to the audience during the proclamation ceremony. According to Boone, the city of Blairsville is one of five towns –Blairsville, Dahlonega, Ellijay, Helen and Hiawassee – in north Georgia that are designated Appalachian Trail Communities.

This year’s National Trails Day is significant, Boone pointed out, because this is the 50th anniversary of both the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic Rivers acts signed in 1968.

In Georgia, Boone stated, the Appalachian Trail, which spans nearly 2,200 miles along the spine of the Appalachians from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine, traverses approximately 79 miles.

Boone said Vogel State Park will host a number of hikes on June 2 to celebrate the day’s event.

“There’s hiking trails all over the place (in Union County),” Boone said, “so get out and enjoy it on June 2.”

Also at the meeting, Paris approved an engagement to represent between the law firm of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor and Union County for legal representation to pursue litigation against pharmaceutical distributors believed to be partially responsible for the opiod epidemic plaguing the nation.

Paris explained the legal representation is at no cost to the county unless the suit is won and also stated several counties in Georgia have already entered into litigation with various other law firms.

“Even if the counties, which I doubt we ever will, ever receive any funds as a result of these suits, it should serve as a wake-up call to all the drug companies that have produced these market drugs for pain and other conditions that are so highly addictive without warning doctors and patients ahead of time,” Paris said of the litigation.

On the local level, Paris added, “We should all know that Union County has been drastically (and) negatively impacted by this epidemic of addiction; that it’s touched individuals, families and our institutions in our community.”

Paris also approved an agreement with the accounting firm Rushton and Company to perform the county’s 2017 fiscal year audit of financial statements. According to Paris, the agreement will not exceed $46,000.

A 50/50 match grant from Volunteer Fire Assistance through the Georgia Forestry Commission was accepted by Paris in the amount of $5,000. The grant will be used to purchase 50 helmets, 40 jumpsuits, and 40 pairs of gloves for wildfire fighting for the Union County Fire Department.

“Wildfire fighting is a lot different than fire fighting in that you still have fireproof gear but it’s a lot lighter duty equipment and it wears out sooner,” Paris explained.

Fire Chief David Dyer told Paris the new equipment was in the process of being ordered.

Paris also approved a commitment letter with Legacy Link for the required local share for fiscal year 2019 in the amount of $10,450.

“Legacy Link is the private non-profit that all the senior center’s funds from the feds come through,” Paris explained. “Then (Legacy Link) distribute those (funds) back to the counties through the process of grant applications and matching funds.”

In his commissioner’s comments, Paris he was thankful for the break in the weather since the last meeting. “Because of this weather change, the county has been working wide-open on many fronts. Now that the weather has broken, we are already preparing gravel roads for paving and patching; others in anticipation of resurfacing several county roads this year,” Paris stated.

The commissioner also gave a brief update on the project to add an additional access entrance to the farmer’s market at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 76 and Glenn Gooch Bypass. Paris said the county has already received a $100,000 state grant and he hopes project will be complete before the end of the year.

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.

Commissioner Paris talks trash at meeting

News
appraisers

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – In his commentary at the monthly Union County Commissioner meeting Thursday, Feb. 15, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris expressed concern over a growing trash and debris problem at homes and on residential properties across the the county.

Paris stated the problem in the past had been only sporadic; however the commissioner said the issue has increased greatly recently.

“I’ve always been a proponent of property rights and trying not to tell folks what they can and cannot do with their property,” Paris said. “However, we all of a sudden have a problem countywide that people are not caring for their property or homes.”

Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris

Paris continued to say this problem is negatively impacting neighborhoods around the homes and properties in question. The commissioner also explained that during his administration, his office typically would field a complaint from a concerned neighbor about once every four to six months.

During the last six to nine months, Paris said, “Every day someone is calling me or texting me or sending me an email about another house somewhere.”

To address the situation, Paris said he has spoken with surrounding counties and cities that have faced similar issues and he intends to form a “fair and reasonable” guideline to address the problem. Paris also discussed the possibility of coordinating with local churches that might be able to assist residents who need help cleaning and improving their properties but are unable to do so themselves.

As for those who do not want help, Paris stated he would institute regulations “to get their attention.”

“I’ve avoided this for all the time I’ve been in office, but I can’t do it anymore,” Paris added.

Also, Commissioner Paris reported a recent meeting with Dr. Drew Van Horn, president of Young Harris College, at which Horn met with government and civic leaders from Towns and Union counties in a round-table forum to discuss improvements over the next 10 years for the two counties as well as how the college could play a role in the counties’ growth. Paris said one idea that was mentioned was the possibility of starting a small business incubator for local entrepreneurs at the college. The commissioner also stated Van Horn plans to meet with educators and community leaders from Towns and Union in separate meetings and hopes to begin holding such joint meetings every three months.

“I was really impressed with (Van Horn) and the fact that he wanted to seek out advice and help the community and maybe give us all advice and ideas that we may not have thought of,” Paris said.

Paris also announced the county had recently received a $100,000 Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to install a new entrance to the Union County Farmer’s Market from the intersection of the Glenn Gooch Bypass (U.S. 19/129) and state Route 515. Paris stated that work would begin soon on the project and credited state Senator Steve Gooch for assisting with Union County’s award of the LMIG money.

In public commentary, Linda Beaver spoke of the success of the Stepping Up Initiative in Union County and thanked the commissioner for signing a resolution in support of the initiative. The Stepping Up Initiative is a program that assists law enforcement officers in recognizing types of mental illnesses and disabilities in effort to reduce the number of people battling mental illnesses in jails. Union County is one of only eight counties in Georgia and 420 counties nationwide that has passed a resolution in support of the program.

In other business, Paris adopted a revised Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy and a revised Vehicle Preventive Maintenance Policy and Procedures for the Union County Transit System. Paris also signed an agreement with CSRA Probation Services, Inc. for probation services to the Union County Magistrate, Probate and Superior courts. The agreement offers services at no cost to the county. The commissioner accepted Cedar Creek Drive into the county-maintained road system and issued a business licence to Rent-A-Holic ENT, LLC in Suches.

 

 

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.

Commissioner Paris proud of coordinated efforts during storm

News

Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris posted a word of thanks on Facebook late Sunday evening, Dec. 10, to all who helped across the county during the fallout from Winter Storm Benji:

The Road Dept, as usual, has done an exceptional job. Forecast Temps tomorrow will be between 45° and 50° by early afternoon. This should clear up most if not all the roads. I want to thank GDOT for doing a good job on the state highways. We often forget their vital role.

While some may be frustrated that it took so long to get power back on, and some still waiting, the EMC has been doing all they can with 20 crews covering 4 counties. I am sure they will also want to improve their call wait times.

When this is all over, we will all be meeting to see what improvements can and will be made on response times for future weather events.

Thanks to all Union County and City of Blairsville Public Safety personnel including Police, Sheriff’s Dept, Fire and EMS, Ambulance, Union General Hospital, City and County Rd crews. Private contractors with motorgraders, (Colditz, Ricky Rich Grading, Junior Bridges Const, David Miller Trucking, Derek Stepp) and Gene Nelson and Georgia Forestry, who helped with tree removal, Larry Garrett, Mgr and my office staff who worked Saturday and Sunday to assist. Verizon, AT&T, Windstream for keeping our communication going. To those who I have forgotten to mention, I will add when reminded. It has been a good team effort.

In addition to scraping, salting and graveling hundreds of miles of roads, we removed nearly 100 trees from county roads. Just imagine all the trees and limbs on the thousands of miles of EMC power line r/w.

A broken power line and pole near state Route 60.

As for those still without power, Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) announced this morning crews will be working to restore power in the following areas Monday: Sunnyside, Hwy. 175, Hayesville, Gumlog, Ivylog, Choestoe, Suches, Aska, Dial, Morganton, My Mountain, Spur 60 and Loving Road.

 

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.

Sole Commissioner Paris Recognizes Outstanding Citizens, Secures Hwy 515 Access to Farmers Market

News

Lamar Paris congratulating Allison McGraw

Blairsville, GA – Union County Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris convened his September Meeting at the Union County Court House on Sept. 21, 2017 at 6 p.m.

Allison McGraw, known locally as “The 4-H Lady”, was recognized for her outstanding service to the community through 12 years of work with the UGA Extension as a family and consumer science agent and for her “unselfish dedication and unending compassion” in all the volunteer endeavors she has been involved with since her retirement in 1996. Paris said she was responsible for getting 2000 balloons aloft at the Hwy 515 opening. He declared Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 as Allison McGraw Appreciation Day in Union County.

Lamar Paris with UCSO Deputy David McGregor

David McGregor was recognized for his service to our country and in law enforcement. McGregor served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam years, was an Atlanta Police Officer and a Dekalb County Police Officer. In 1998, McGregor moved to Blairsville and, with another Dekalb County Police Officer, started the Blairsville Police Department and was “instrumental in setting up the Municipal Court and introducing a complete set of Ordinances”. In 2011, McGregor retired from the Blairsville Police Department and became a Union County Deputy Sheriff where he continues to serve our community. In all, McGregor has served over 50 years in public service. Paris declared Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 as David McGregor Appreciation Day in Union County. Sheriff Mack Mason, Chief Deputy John George and over a dozen UCSO Deputies and Blairsville Police Officers were on hand for the recognition.

Tract 4 not designated; intersection of Gooch Bypass and Hwy 515 at bottom left.

Paris announced an exchange and purchase agreement between Charles Jenkins, Edgar Jenkins, Marilyn Thomasson, Kenneth Jenkins and Patricia Chambers, and, Union County for Real Property located in Land Lot 269 9th District, 1st Section of Union County. The Jenkins agreed to transfer to Union County Tract 3 and Tract 4 totaling 1.13 acres and Union County agreed to transfer Tract 2 to the Jenkins which totals 1.02 acres plus $35,000 in additional compensation. This exchange and purchase allows Union County unobstructed access from Hwy. 515 to the Farmers Market and the adjoining Davenport property that Union County acquired in May 2017.

Paris also announced that the parcel of land acquired for the Union County 4-H Clay/Trap Shooting Range is no longer a viable location for that purpose due to recent residential developments being constructed in close proximity. As a result of this development, two Lease Agreements, at no cost to Union County, have been signed for access to a temporary location where clay shooters can practice. The first Lease Agreement is between William Lee Wood and Carol L. Wood, and, Union County for the use of a 5-acre tract of land located in Land Lot 251, 9th District, 1st Section of Union County to be used for a shooting range. The second Lease Agreement is between Joel Miller, Trustee of the Colwell Children’s Trust, and, Union County for ingress and egress along or about that road from Hwy 325 to the shooting range located on Hwy 325. Said access will cross that tract or parcel of land being described in Deed Book 864, Page 300-301.

A Second Reading and Acceptance of the Revised Union County Alcohol Ordinance was made by Paris. Copies of the Revised Ordinance may be obtained at the Union County Commissioner’s Office.

Paris declared Sept. 17 – Sept. 23, 2017 as Constitution Week in Union County and Constitution Day was declared as Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.

Paris declared Sept. 22, 2017 as Surgical Technologists Day.

Resolution R-2017-13 adopting the Records Retention Schedules for Local Government Records established by the (Georgia) Secretary of State’s Office was accepted by Paris.

Pawnee Cherokee Daniel Horsechief next to statue of Native American stick ball player.

Paris accepted Lee Harkins Road into the county maintained road system.

In his Commissioner’s Comments, after the business of the Meeting was concluded, Paris praised the most recent class of Leadership Union for their hard work over a two year period to bring about the “We Are Still Here” event at Meeks Park, where a 10-foot tall bronze statue of a Native American stick ball player was unveiled on Thursday, Sept. 21st. A Pawnee Cherokee, Daniel Horsechief, of Oklahoma, cast the statue. It will serve as a reminder of the Native American roots of our community.

 

 

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

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 www.FetchYourNews.com

 

Author

FetchYourNews.com - Dedicated to serve the needs of the community. Provide a source of real news-Dependable Information-Central to the growth and success of our Communities. Strive to encourage, uplift, warn, entertain, & enlighten our readers/viewers- Honest-Reliable-Informative.

News - Videos - TV - Marketing - Website Design - Commercial Production - Consultation

Search

FetchYourNews.com - Citizen Journalists - A place to share “Your” work. Send us “Your” information or tips - 706.276.NEWs (6397) 706.889.9700 chief@FetchYourNews.com

Back to Top