Tanner, Gooch discuss bills passed in 2019 General Assembly


DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Sen. Steve Gooch of Dahlonega and State Rep. Kevin Tanner of Dawsonville were the featured speakers at last night’s Dawson County Republican Party Meeting at the Bowen Arts Center.

Gooch represents 200,000 north Georgia residents, including those in Dawson, White, Lumpkin, Union and Forsyth counties. The district is made up of about 75 percent Trump voters.

“It’s the most conservative district in the state senate and the third most conservative in the country,” he said. “So, it’s pretty easy for us to go down there and vote a conservative agenda cause that’s who we are and who we try to represent back home.”

Sen. Steve Gooch

He said he had took some heat from liberals for his vote in favor of the fetal heartbeat bill – the bill that bans abortions as soon as a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat — but added, “I was proud of my vote on that heartbeat bill, saving hundreds of thousands of unborn children. It was probably the best vote I had taken in my nine years in the senate.”

Gooch also talked about passing enabling legislation to create business courts in the state. The legislation will allow businessmen and women to take a case directly to a business court rather than the Superior Court. “A lot of business issues are highly specialized and not many Superior Court judges have business experience,” he said. “In a business court, they would be able to bring in experts that know a lot about the subject matter.”

Another issue he has spearheaded for several years is the expansion of high-speed internet access to rural communities. He and other legislators who understand that high-speed broadband internet service is essential to schools, businesses and hospitals made it a priority this year. They passed legislation that allows power companies and phone companies to begin selling internet service in rural areas.

Rep. Kevin Tanner

Tanner also weighed in on the fetal heartbeat bill, saying, “I have several in Lumpkin County who are very much opposed to that legislation. There is no way I could ever change their mind and I’m very much pro-life and there is no way you could ever change my mind. It’s a moral fiber issue for me.”

Tanner worked hard on getting new voting machines for the state. The bill passed in the House along party lines with Democrats opposed. The new machines, which will cost between $150 million and $200 million, will allow voters to cast a ballot electronically, print out a copy for their approval then scan it to have it recorded.

“I have yet to be able to get my democrat colleagues to give me a reason they would be opposed to that particular machine,” Tanner said. “The reality is (opposition) is coming from the national party that they should oppose the legislation. I will say this, it is proven statistically that the best way to rig or cheat in an election is paper ballots. If you want to stuff ballot boxes and rig an election, paper ballots are the best way to do that. These machines make it very difficult if not impossible for that to happen because if there is an audit, there is a trail we can follow.”

Tanner has been a champion of mental health reform in Georgia which has led to the creation of a behavioral health reform and innovation commission made up of 23 members. Four will be legislators but the majority will be experts in the field of mental health.”

“The problem is once you graduate from a mental health court, there is no follow up,” he said. “If you have schizophrenia, or you have bipolar, or acute depression, you have to be followed your entire life to make sure medication is being taken and you’re not having an episode.”

Last night’s meeting was the first since the election of a new slate of officers at the County Convention. The new officers include Seanie Zappendorf (chairperson), Mike Berg (first vice chair) Pepper Pettit (second vice chair), Dale Smart (secretary) Katie Hulsebus (treasurer) and Norman Samples (committee member at-large).

Among the elected officials who attended the event were Mayor Mike Eason, Commissioners Julie Hughes-Nix, Sharon Fausett, City Councilman Stephen Tolson and former Commission Chairman Mike Berg.


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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com







Gooch, Tanner will be featured speakers at GOP meeting


Sen. Steve Gooch

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — State Senator Steve Gooch and State Rep. Kevin Tanner will be the featured speakers when the Dawson County Republican Party meets Monday (April 8) at 7 p.m. in the Bowen Arts Center.

This will be the first meeting since the election of a new slate of officers at the County Convention. The new officers include Seanie Zappendorf (chairperson), Mike Berg (first vice chair) Pepper Pettit (second vice chair), Dale Smart (secretary) Katie Hulsebus (treasurer) and Norman Samples (committee member at-large).

Light snacks and refreshments will be available at the reception with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.

Sen. Gooch and Rep. Tanner are expected to bring those who attend up to date on the recently concluded General Assembly.

Major bills that passed and are on the way to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk, include:

Rep. Kevin Tanner

A ban on almost all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected;

The addition of new touchscreen voting machines that print a paper ballot;

Licensing of six private companies to produce and sell low-grade cannabis oil.

The Ninth Congressional District Convention will take place April 13 at the Dillard House in Rabun County where district level delegates and alternate delegates will be elected along with a  Ninth District chair, first vice chair, second vice chair, third vice chair, treasurer, assistant treasurer, secretary and assistant secretary.

The state convention is set for May 16-18 in Savannah.

For information about the Dawson County Republican Party, call Dale Smart at (404) 456-8258 or Seanie Zappendorf at (678) 643-9019.


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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com




State lawmakers Gooch, Williams and Raffensperger are featured speakers at Dawson Co. GOP meeting


Sen. Steve Gooch

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) was the featured speaker at the Dawson County Republican Party meeting Tuesday at The Bowen Center for the Arts.

The event drew many office holders and political candidates like gubernatorial candidate Sen. Mike Williams (R-Cumming), State Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek), chairwoman of the Dawson County Board of Education and candidate for Secretary of State Karen Armstrong, , and her opponent Joe Stapp.

Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason, former County Commission Chairman Mike Berg, County Commissioner Sharon Fausett and Tim Satterfield, who will replace Jimmy Hamby on the Board of Commissioners in January, were also in attendance.

Gooch said, “This was one of the most successful sessions in the eight years I’ve been in the General Assembly. We passed the first income tax cut in Georgia history.” The tax was cut by one-quarter of a percent this year and will be cut by one-half percent next year.

Sen. Mike Williams

He cited fully funding Quality Based Education (QBE) for the first time since it was passed in 1985, the distracted driving bill that makes it illegal for a driver to touch their cell phone and increased funding for school safety as accomplishments during the recent session of the General Assembly.

Williams was the first elected official in Georgia to publicly endorse Donald Trump for president. Like Trump, Williams is primarily self-funding his campaign. “We’re relying on the people who know me best to donate five, 10 or 20 dollars to help carry us across the finish line,” he said. “That is important because when I reach the governor’s office, who am I going to be beholden to? It’s not the big lobbyists. It’s the people of Georgia.”

Raffensperger is a structural engineer and licensed general contractor. “I own two manufacturing plants in Georgia, and I have worked on construction projects all over the United States,” he said. “I have seen first hand how some states make it easy to do business and some states make it hard. As your next secretary of state, my job is to make it easy to do business in the state of Georgia.”

State Rep. Brad Raffensperger

Raffensperger, a former Johns Creek city councilman, said he is the only person running for secretary of state who has a 100 percent voting record from the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

“Look back on my legislative and city council voting record and you will find I’ve always tried to protect the small business owner, taxpayers, life and the second amendment,” Raffensperger stated.



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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach.If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

From left, Tim Satterfield, Mike Berg, Sen. Mike Williams and Sen. Steve Gooch.


Lt. Governor Casey Cagle Visits Dawsonville


From left Sen. Steve Gooch, Bill Elliott and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Former NASCAR great Bill Elliott — better known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville —  and a large contingent of community leaders welcomed Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to Dawsonville Wednesday morning.  Cagle is in the midst of a 17-stop bus tour of north Georgia to promote his campaign for governor.

You have to wonder if Elliott gave the Hall County Republican some inside tips on how to make a quick pit stop because after spending a little quality time with Dawson County community leaders and a quick stump speech, Cagle sped off to Pickens, Gilmer, Gordon, and Whitfield counties.

Before getting back on the road, Cagle visited with Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond, Commissioners Jimmy Hamby and Chris Gaines, Mayor James Grogan, County Manager David Headley, Sherriff Jeff Johnson and Chamber President Christie Hayes.

Former Commission Chairman Mike Berg introduced the lieutenant governor who didn’t need much of an introduction since he once represented the county as State Senator and has been lieutenant governor for eight years.

Cagle’s said he would focus on transportation, jobs, education and providing broadband to rural areas of Georgia

Cagle said, Georgia needs a transportation plan to accommodate a population growth of about 4.5 million people in the next 15 years.

“We have to get busy with a two-year strategic plan built around transportation that is able to go under, go over, go around, whatever is required to prepared ourselves for the kind of growth that is coming.”

On jobs, Cagle said he wants to build a world-class workforce second to none. “As I woke up this morning there were 150,000 jobs available today and out of that 150,000, 25 percent need four-year degrees but 75 percent need industry certification or a two-year degree. So, I want to make sure we are aligning education with what industry needs.”

On education he said, “The college and career education network I created reshapes the way we deliver education, giving our kids more options.”

Cagle also repeated his pledge of 500,000 new jobs during his first term in office and $100 million in tax cuts in the first 100 days.

Cagle said he understands how important broadband access is to education and to attracting business to Georgia and he fired a salvo over the heads of broadband internet providers.

“We’re going to have best in class as it pertains to rural broadband,” he said. “I’m going to set a standard that I expect every single provider in this state to reach. I know we have a problem with last mile so we’ll be looking at technology that will allow us to provide that. But I’m not going to accept any excuses. The providers are going to get in gear to make this a reality or we’re going to find someone that can. It’s just that simple.

Asked if the state school board members should be elected or appointed, he said, “Many people believe that the superintendent should be appointed almost like a cabinet position. I don’t believe that having an elected state school board is going to fundamentally improve education.”

On what has been a highly controversial religious freedom bill, Cagle said, “I and the other candidates have signed a pledge that if there is a federal mirror Xerox copy of what is already federal law that comes to my desk, I will sign it. There are a lot of social issues out there that are very divisive. As a born-again Christian, with a strong belief in religious freedom, I don’t want anyone trampling on that. As governor, I am also not for discrimination. So we’re not using this in a way that will cloak ourselves in a way that allows us to discriminate. So, these are balancing acts. We’ll do it in a way that doesn’t cost us business.”


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 FetchYourNews.com


Fire Station 8: A Public/Private Partnership That Save Lives


DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — In the rugged mountain terrain near the Dawson and Pickens county lines, the roads are steep, narrow and winding. Prior to 2009 it took first responders 30 minutes to reach emergencies. But thanks to a vision, strong fundraising effort, community dedication and the cooperation of elected officials and fire departments Dawson County Fire Station 8 opened and reduced response time to just eight minutes —a life-saving difference!

County resources were stretched thin back then, but residents of an isolated area known as the Wildcat community recognized the need for a fire station and they took it upon themselves to acquire the property, raise the funds to build it, equip it and train volunteer firefighters.

“We started to explore the idea with John Edwards and talked to Lanier Swafford and Billy Thurmond along with Pickens County Commissioner Rob Jones,” said Clayton Preble, one of the originators of the idea. “I give them credit for recognizing how important this was.”

The first step was to find a location and since Dawson County already had a 45,000-gallon water tank on property leased from a landowner in Texas, that seemed to be the right spot. Preble contacted him and explained what they wanted to do.

“After about five minutes, I felt like I was talking to an old friend,” he said. “He thought it was a great idea and leased it to us for $1 a year. In exchange, we promised to keep the grass cut and provide security.”

Next came raising the $90,000 it would cost to build the fire station. Jones told them he could come up with about half that amount and the group set out to raise the rest through community donations. The key selling points, Preble said, were improved fire service and a lower Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating, which would in turn reduce insurance costs for homeowners.

“Raising money was the easiest part,” Preble said. “People really recognized the value of it and were willing to invest. They have already gotten their investment back since the ISO rating dropped from 9 to 5.”

Thurmond and Swafford said they could provide the equipment that would be needed.

From concept to build out took about three years. “So now we had the station and the equipment but no firefighters,” Preble said.

Wildcat is made up of several communities, including Tate, Sassafras Estates and Burnt Mountain. John Tarantini began canvassing the communities in search of volunteers and quickly identified 14 volunteer firefighters.

“They all went through a volunteer firefighter training conducted by Dawson County,” said Tarantini, who has also made sure volunteers stay current on their qualifications. “We’ve gone from being a volunteer firefighting support group to a medical first responder,” Tarantini said.

Since the station was completed, they have responded to about 140 calls with an average response time of 5-10 minutes, a major improvement.

Preble said it could not have been accomplished without the help of area residents, county commissioners like Rob Jones and Dawson County’s Mike Berg or Thurmond and Swafford and Pickens County EMA Director Bob Howard.

There are many rural communities like Wildcat in north Georgia without immediate access to emergency services. Fire Station 8 is just one example how a vision, community involvement and support from local officials can save lives.








Dawson Elections Chief Pleased with Early Turnout

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE — With the May 24th General Primary election day fast approaching, Director of Elections and Registration Glenda Ferguson and her staff have been kept busy during the advanced voting period.

“So far, as of 9 a.m. Friday, 990 ballots have been cast for an average of about 100 per day,” Ferguson said. “I always want to see more, but I’ve been very pleased with the turnout so far. ”

Ferguson said in 2012, about 40 percent of the county’s 15,800 voters waited until election day to cast a ballot. If that percentage holds true this year, total turnout could approach 8,000.

Among the key races to be decided are Dawson County Sheriff where Tony Wooten, Jeff Johnson, Jeff Perry and Frank Sosebee are the candidates.

Voters must also decide who will fill the Ninth District Congressional seat currently held by Doug Collins. Collins is facing a serious challenge from former 10th District Congressman Paul Broun, Lanier Tea Party Patriots founder Mike Scupin, White County educator Roger Fitzpatrick and retired Army and National Guard Brigadier General Bernie Fontaine.

At the state level, District 51 State Senator Steve Gooch of Dahlonega is being challenged by John Williamson, co-founder of the Gilmer County Tea Party.

Locally, voters must fill two vacant seats on the Board of Commissioners after Chairman Mike Berg and District 2 Commissioner James Swafford decided not to run again.

Bill Thurmond and Peter J. Hill will compete for the Chairman’s seat and Chris Gaines and Tim Davis are the candidates in District 2. In District 4, incumbent Julie Nix has drawn a challenge from Heather Hulsebus, former Chairwoman of the Dawson County Republican Party.

The Tax Commissioner race features four candidates, Andi Henson Juliette, Karin McKee, Johnny Glass and Nicole Stewart.

No Democrats have qualified in any of the races, so the winner of the General Primary will take office in January.



Hill Will be a Strong Advocate for Business if Elected

News, Politics

To provide voters the information they need to make an informed choice in the May 24 General Primary election, Fetch Your News will work hard to present a profile of each candidate running for public office. All candidates will be contacted and offered an opportunity to respond to questions.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Architect Peter Hill, who has served on the Dawson County Development Authority and Georgia Mountains Regional Commission for many years, will be a strong voice for the county’s business community if he’s successful in his bid to become county commission chairman.

Hill notes that two of the strongest business-centric representatives on the Board of Commissioners, Chairman Mike Berg and James Swafford, will resign this year. “I’ve worked in the private sector for 35 years,” he said. “My depth of experience as well as my concern about the burdens placed on private industry make me a superior candidate.”

Hill believes the growth steamrolling down the 400 corridor from Atlanta through Forsyth County and now taking aim on Dawson County presents great opportunity and great challenge.

The opportunity: “Strong economic development acts as the vital engine for our entire community,” Hill said. “It relieves the burden of taxes on homeowners and provides the opportunity for our citizens to live, work and play here.”

At the core of that development is the fiber optic cable network that now runs throughout the county.

“That gives us the opportunity to bring in high tech jobs like data centers and medical industry professionals that will help balance the tax digest,” Hill said.
He sees retail development as “low hanging fruit” and wants to attract tourism, a technical park, conference center and a major hotel like Marriott.”

I want to attract jobs where our kids can graduate and then stay here and work.

The challenge: Hill said the biggest challenge is managing the growth in such a way as to preserve the county’s natural beauty and resources.

“As chairman, I would put our environment at the very pinnacle of what we are going to protect,” he said. “We have to maintain the beauty and increase our appreciation and awareness of our affect on the natural resources we have here.”


Candidate Qualifying Begins Monday in Dawsonville

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. –It’s qualifying week for political hopefuls in Dawson County and all across Georgia.

Election Superintendent Glenda Ferguson said incumbents and newcomers seeking public office must officially declare their candidacy between Monday, March 7 and Friday, March 11. Qualifying will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Friday when qualifying ends at noon.

Dist. 4 County Commissioner Julie Nix will seek a fifth term in office but two familiar faces will be leaving the Board of Commissioners. After 12 years in office, Commission Chairman Mike Berg said he will not seek reelection. and Dist. 2 Commissioner James Swafford, who served two terms, has announced he is stepping down also.

The county will also lose a veteran law enforcement officer in Billy Carlisle, who is retiring after 18-years of service as Sheriff. Jeff Johnson, Tony Wooten, Frank Sosebee and Jeff Perry have announced they will campaign for the open position.

Other county offices up for election this year include: Clerk of Court, Coroner, Surveyor, Magistrate Judge and Probate Judge. Both State Senator Steve Gooch, who represents the 51st District, and State Rep. Kevin Tanner who represents Dist. 9 are also up for reelection.


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