Fannin BOC talks on shelter-in-place

  • The News Observer
    The News Observer

The Fannin County Board of Commissioners received public requests to both extend the county’s shelter-in-place order and end it during a meeting Tuesday, April 28.

Chairman Stan Helton explained that the county could not take action above what the state has done.

“Essentially at this point anything that we try to do, less than, more than what the state has or anything that countermands is essentially null and void,” Helton said.

County Attorney Lynn Doss discussed confusion surrounding Governor Brian Kemp’s executive orders and actions during the pandemic and the effect it has had on the county.

She said, “We got something at 10 minutes until 3 p.m. this afternoon from the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, and it basically says, ‘At this point in time there are so many orders that have been issued by the Office of the Governor, that it is not feasible for countys to truly understand what the governor is saying can and cannot be done.’”

According to Doss, anyone with questions regarding what their businesses can and cannot do at this time should call the Office of the Governor for answers.

Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson said he strongly disagreed with the way the situation has been handled by the Governor and addressed the effect the pandemic has had on county residents.

“I think we all realize how this is affecting everyone in the tourism industry,” Johnson said. “It’s not just here in Blue Ridge, it’s Pigeon Forge, it’s every town like ours that thrives on tourists. The economy just seems to revolve around it. ... There’s not a one size fits all fix for any of this.

“I sincerely hope that opening vacation rentals up right back a couple of weeks later doesn’t make a huge spike in Fannin County. That’s my hope.”

Post Two Commissioner Glenn Patterson urged citizens to continue being cautious and follow state and national guidelines.

“I have concerns that we could have a spike or a surge of the COVID-19 virus, and that would not be good for anyone, our economy or our people,” Patterson said. “We must remember that safety has to be predominant when businesses open up. I realize it’s a two-edged sword. I think someone said one time that we need to balance it out, but safety has to predominate. We need to move forward with measured steps.”

Helton suggested suspending non-critical capital improvement projects.

“I would recommend that we suspend those until we have a better idea for the next two or three months when we start getting better information about our revenue and how that’s going to impact on our budget,” he said.

Both Patterson and Johnson agreed, and the board will address this in the future following input from department heads.

“I don’t believe we should spend a single dollar that isn’t necessary at this point,” Johnson said.