Page 6 - 2019 Union County Community Guide
P. 6

 4 | Meet the Commissioner
   Vogel State Park beach area
 Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games
 Jim’s Smokin’ Que
  The first county courthouse was constructed in the center of town in 1835, but it burned down in 1859. It was replaced by a new structure, but that burned again in 1898. Another courthouse was built in 1899, and it still stands in the center of the Town Square.
It served the county until 1976, when a new structure was built nearby. The old courthouse was donated to the Union County His- torical Society for preservation.
The county’s first paved road was completed in 1922. Also during that time, the United States pur- chased large amounts of land and consolidated it into the Georgia National Forest. In 1937, the hold- ings were renamed the Chatta- hoochee National Forest. Today, tourism is a major industry in the county (tourists spent more than $27 million here in 2017), primar- ily due to the national forest and also the creation of Lake Nottely when the Nottely River was dammed in the late 1940s.
• Blairsville (county seat) • Suches (unincorporated)
Total Area
322.55 square miles of land and 6.47 square miles of water (329.02 square miles total), situated completely within the Chattahoochee National Forest
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SBlairsville Proud
Meet the Commissioner
So, exactly how do you become
the Sole Commissioner of Union County? Some would chuckle and say the job Lamar Paris has held for 18 years now is “payback” for being such a community booster. There were the years of coach- ing youth football and chairing the Quarterback Club. There were 10 years on the County Recreation Board, help- ing to find more fields and more room for people to play. And always, a deep pride in the mountain community where he was born and raised.
After taking a well-deserved break, Commissioner Paris reluctantly threw his name in the hat when asked to serve yet again — this time as
the county’s Sole Com-
missioner (Union is one
of only eight counties in
Georgia with this unique
form of government).
Now, 18 years later,
Commissioner Paris is as
excited to serve as the first
day he took office. “I get
to work with great people
who are working hard to
make this a great place to
live,” he says. “When new-
comers move here, they love what they find and want to be part of it — they don’t want to make it exactly like the place they just came from.”
Of course, the challenge with any area
 “Newcomers to
our community
love what they
find here — and
they want to be
part of it.”
is balancing
the need to
grow without
“paving over
Union County
enjoys a steady
and manage-
able population growth of approxi- mately 1.5 percent a year. At that pace, municipal services are not overwhelmed — nor is the treasured way of life.
“Our saving grace is that more than half of our county is held by
the Forest Service and TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority),” the Commis- sioner explains. Yet the growth is strong enough to provide good employment opportunities throughout the community. “When
I grew up here, you had to leave the mountains to find work. Now, business
owners are bringing their companies here or starting new ones because of the lifestyle and amenities.”
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