Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 16

OUR BLUE RIDGE TOWNS

THE BEAUTIFUL BALANCE OF

Blairsville

The remote, tiny city of Blairsville, Georgia has found middle ground in the mountains.
Yes, it's a tourist mecca...but it's also drawing new residents and businesses.
By JOAN VANNORSDALL

Y

ou win some, you lose some.
I'd planned my Blairsville
visit to coincide with the annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games, which draws thousands to 160-acre Meeks Park.
This year, a record-breaking
40 clans had registered; Scottish music,
games, food, falconry, sheepdogs and a
lot of tartan plaids awaited.
But it rained. And it rained. For the
first time in 16 years, the Festival was
canceled.
Driving in from the north, you could
see the rain coming, the sky a low gray
and the mountains blue with mist. But
once in a while, the clouds would rise,
and you could think that maybe there'd
be a way to get out and see Union County the way it deserves to be seen:
* Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in Georgia

16

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

* Vogel State Park, CCC-constructed
and home to Trahlyta Falls
* The 4,000-acre TVA Lake Nottely
* The 79-mile North Georgia stretch
of the Appalachian Trail
* The Byron Herbert "Hub" Reece (the
Farmer Poet) Farm and Heritage Center
And more.
But the rain came and stayed, and I
was destined to learn Blairsville from inside a car and under an umbrella, listening to those who are passionate about
this place and its future, as well as its agricultural, Scottish-heritage past.
Georgia is the only state in the country that allows sole county commissioners, charged with decision-making without elected supervisors to whom they
answer-and Union County is fortunate
to have Lamar Paris at the helm. Other
than his four years at the University of
Georgia, Paris has lived his whole life in

Blairsville.
"Obviously, I'm very prejudiced-I
was born and raised here. This is home."
According to Paris, when you pick
a community, you're looking at four
things: health care, schools, recreation
and government services. From what I
saw on our driving tour, Union County
stands tall in all four.
Forty-bed Union General Hospital has
round-the-clock emergency care with local air transport available. Cancer, dialysis, and cardiac rehab centers. A sprawling wellness center providing extensive
workout machines and a pool, as well as
occupational, speech, and physical therapy. You can even give birth at Union
General-a rarity in rural America.
Union County Schools are renowned
for creative curricula and a high (97% last
year) graduation rate. All four schools
(primary through high school) are adja-


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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019

Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 11
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 21
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 31
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 37
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 40
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 42
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Cover4
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