Monthly Archives: May 2013

Top 5 Job Interviewing Pet Peeves

As many of you may know, Robin Story, our Membership Coordinator recently announced her resignation to pursue a management opportunity.  During her tenure, Robin excelled as a member of our Chamber team, and she will be greatly missed.  As we undergo the hiring process, I felt compelled to share my top 5 interviewing pet peeves.  I feel certain that most interviewers would agree to some extent.  Therefore, if you are currently looking for a job, here is a bit of advice for what it’s worth.

Pet Peeve # 5 – Being a Know-It-All.  Humility goes a long way in a job interview.  While you definitely want to appear bright and capable, don’t let your confidence (or lack thereof) push you into being a know-it-all.  You do not have to pretend be an expert in all things and you do not have to recite long essays to each interview questions.  Point out your strengths and embrace your weaknesses.  Ultimately, the job should be a good fit for both parties.

Pet Peeve # 4 – Seeming Desperate.  As an employer, we realize when the job market is tough.  We know by the number of resumes on our desk and the quality of candidates applying for a job.  Still, we are looking for the best candidate to represent our organization.  We want to hire someone who not only wants a job, but wants the job we have to offer.  Never seem desperate or mention how hard it is to find work.

Pet Peeve # 3 – Not Having Done Your Homework.  No reasonable employer would ever expect you to know everything possible about a company you are interviewing with, but you should be somewhat familiar with their product or service, their leadership/employees, and their mission statement.  Interjecting a comment that assures an interviewer that you have done your research is a big plus!

Pet Peeve # 2 – Having Someone Else Do All The Work.  If YOU want the job, YOU have to seek the job.  Do not rely on a parent or spouse to apply for you.  An employer will want to meet you personally and know that you are a serious candidate, not that your mother or spouse simply wants you out of the house!

Pet Peeve # 1 – Not Dressing The Part.  This is a huge no-no!  Always, always, always dress professionally if you are seeking a professional job.  Whether you are dropping off a resume or showing up for an interview, you must always dress the part to be taken seriously.

To all those looking for employment, I wish you nothing but the best.  The job search process is not an easy one, but your diligence will pay off.  Once you convince yourself that you are a worthy and capable employee, you will portray that confidence to your potential employer.  Chamber members are encouraged to post job openings on our Chamber website at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.  If I can be of assistance to you, please contact me directly at president@blairsvillechamber.com.

Popular Weekend Getaways in Union County North Georgia

A weekend in Union County means an opportunity to know the place even better. Walk down the lanes of history and be a part of the fun celebrations that take place almost throughout the year. A nice place to begin exploring the past is the red brick courthouse, a nineteenth century Romanesque building that stands proudly on the center of the town square in Blairsville. It has a white clock tower on its top and is visible from any part of the city. It is also home to the Union County Historical Society and Museum and offers a glimpse into some of the important events of the past.

The history of Union County is incomplete without the Pulitzer Prize nominated poet Byron Herbert Reece who lived and died in this beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains county. His achievements were many and his poetry inspired a number of things including the State of Georgia’s official drama ‘The Reach of Song’. His birthplace homestead, now listed as a registered historical site, and the Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Park located near Neel’s Gap, shed light on the life of the poet.

The Blairsville downtown adds a dash of lively entertainment to the region. Many events that can be enjoyed by the entire family take place here. During the annual Blairsville Scottish Festival, which celebrates Scottish tradition with great food, live music, and workshops, the Meeks Park transforms into a fun zone.

Bagpipes and drums hold the main essence of the festival. Kids enjoy it with a lot of activities including miniature golf and train rides. People love to watch Scottish history being brought to life by live demos and re-enactments and those who are interested in knowing about their family heritage can do so at the free genealogy tents.

The connoisseurs of art and culture can have a nice time watching some of the finest exhibitions and art events that take place throughout the year in Union County, North Georgia. The Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association and Art Center organizes many such events in keeping with their mission of transforming the place into an ‘art town’. The lovers of golf can take a break from every day routine and tee off some exciting time at the 18-hole Butternut Creek Golf Course.

The Union County Farmers Market is a nice place to buy not only fresh farm products but also to enjoy some ‘green’ time. Events such as the Green Bean Festival, beauty pageant, and more are organized by the association throughout the year and provide a good source of family fun.

It is difficult to point out one best thing about Union County, in North Georgia. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the fascinating festivals and the warm hospitality, everything comes together to create an experience that have won the hearts of so many people and will continue doing so in years to come.

Visiting the Smoky Mountains in the North Georgia Region

Located in Union County in North Georgia is not only the Blue Ridge Mountains, but the Smoky Mountains are also in the vicinity. These mountains in the Blairsville area are thought to be some of the oldest mountains in the United States and regardless of whether or not you are an adventuresome person that likes to take the hardest hikes or subject yourself to white water rafting in the area, it is unmistakable that the beauty of nature exists among these mountain ranges.

There are many legends of the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as mystery and mystique. A vacation getaway to the North Georgia region to visit the Smoky Mountains will enlighten you on the luck of the stone covered grave that offers good fortune on Witch of Cedar Mountain. The real mystery is behind how nature created such a beautiful area and how Union County in North Georgia has been so lucky to be able to share its wonders with many visitors.

Whether it is for a weekend getaway, vacation, a trip to solitude, an adventure, recreational activities in the area or even a honeymoon, the Smoky Mountains have so much to offer for people of all ages. Plus, there is something to do during all seasons. While many guests to the Union County area are looking for something to do, one way to take advantage of the gorgeous scenery in the area is by car. A leisurely drive on the roadways will allow visitors to bask in the glory of these majestic towering panoramas.

Throughout the landscape of the Smoky Mountains are numerous recreational activities for all people to embark upon. The state and federal parks dot the areas and many of them offer amenities such as cabins for people to stay, awaking to the glorious fresh air within the Smoky Mountains.

After sitting on the front porch of a rental cabin to start the morning, you might find that hiking on one of the many nature trails is a wonderful and exhilarating. There are also watersports such as fishing, canoeing and rafting. For other recreational activities, saddle up and enjoy a trail via horseback or even mountain biking to get the adrenaline surging. It is also a great place just to enjoy the nearby dining, shopping or even to spend the afternoon picnicking.

When visiting Union County in North Georgia to see the Smoky Mountains, it will be a memory in the making. Never forget to pack a camera so that you can capture these memories. Though they will not quite be as breathtaking as the area is in real life, you will still have a keepsake to remember the vacation by. Every time you break out a picture of those memorable moments spent in Blairsville, it is a good idea to remember that it may just always be the perfect travel destination. With so much to do in the area, a trip to the Smoky Mountains will never disappoint.

Shop Local, Save Big

On the heels of our recent overwhelmingly successful Buy Local Extravaganza, the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for our next big opportunity to support local businesses and save big.  The Buy Local Weekend is a three day event coordinated by the Chamber which offers residents and visitors an opportunity to explore various local businesses and save a minimum of 50% on hot selling, featured items.  Local shoppers can expect great deals at restaurants, gift shops, attractions, gyms, apparel boutiques, service companies, and more. The 2013 Buy Local Weekend is slated for Thursday, June 13 through Saturday June 15 during normal, individual store hours.

Residents and guests who are interested in receiving the list of participating businesses and the half priced featured items should notify the Chamber and ask to be added to our distribution list.  This can be done by calling 706-745-5789, emailing admin@blairsvillechamber.com,  or logging on to www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com and either live chatting with a Chamber employee or clicking on “Request a Newsletter” and signing up for “Buy Local Coupons & Events.”  There is no excuse for ever missing another great deal in Union County!

Local businesses who are interested in participating in this year’s event can do so by contacting the Chamber.  Participation eligibility is open to all Chamber members who have enrolled in the upgraded Buy Local program.  Upgrading is a one-time $25 enrollment fee that provides your business with a Buy Local poster, window decal, and shirt.  It also entities you to a 40% discount on additional shirts for your team and Chamber Matters e-Newsletter recognition of your business.  Once enrolled, you are asked to choose one featured product or service to offer at half price or as a buy one get one free.  The Chamber handles all event logistics and publicity.  Businesses who are not already a member of the Chamber should contact us to find out how you too can get involved.

Finally, all members of the community are invited to join the Buy Local campaign by taking The Pledge to purchase local products and services whenever practical.  By doing so, you show your support for your friends, neighbors, and Blairsville-Union County community, and strengthen the viability of local businesses and stores in Blairsville-Union County who  maintain the unique community character of our County, attract tourism, and build economic strength.  Pledge cards can be obtained at the Chamber office and at various local events.

Visiting Union County, North Georgia

Nature, adventure, and the spirit of celebrating life come together in North Georgia to create one of the most beautiful places on earth, in Union County, Georgia. On one hand, several lakes, rivers, creeks, trout streams, and waterfalls dot this mountain landscape. On the other hand, campgrounds, hiking trails, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, lodging, dining, and shopping destinations add a unique appeal to the place.

A rich historical past blends with a lively present to make this region an absolute delight for everyone. Known especially for the Blue Ridge Mountains, Union County has something for everyone. From kids to adults, Union County gives enough reasons to fall for the place and make memories that will stay with one forever.

Every season of the year brings with it new reasons to visit Union County, North Georgia. Its county seat, Blairsville, is the perfect example of a place where life means celebration. Each October Blairsville celebrates the famous Sorghum Festival. It is the time when the local farmers of Union County share the delicious golden brown syrup known as sorghum with the visitors who flock to the place to watch the fall colors. The festival takes place at the Meeks Park, which is situated right off Highway 55 as one enters the town.

It begins with a heritage parade around the red brick courthouse and has several attractions and challenges such as the “Biskit-Eatin’ and Syrup Soppin’ Contests”, arts and crafts inspired by folk culture of the mountains, and many other things that is reminiscent of the early mountain culture.

Although with the Sorghum Festival, which is one of the most important festivals of the place, Union County has several such happy events and occasions throughout the year. The list is pretty long including the Indian Summer Festival, the occasional Cool Mountain Festival, Blairsville Scottish Festival, and others. Although each festival has its own charm, music, dance, arts and crafts, contests, several kids’ activities, and sometimes bagpipes are what add an extra life to all.

The prospect of fun and adventure is something that draws many visitors to the beautiful and majestic Union County. A whole lot of options in shopping and dining make one feel at home. Just outside that ‘comfort zone’ waits the irresistible beckoning of the Appalachian Trail, which passes through this portion of North Georgia, the Benton MacKaye Trail, scenic drives, hiking, biking, and more.

The Nottely River is awesome for fishing and tubing, and the world famous Ocoee River located just forty-five minutes away from Union County, is the best place for the lovers of white water rafting. For golf lovers, there stands the 18-hole public golf course known as the Butternut Creek Municipal Golf Course just a quarter mile east of the Meeks Park.

The reason why anybody would want to visit Union County, North Georgia is countless. This is one unique place that has a bit of everything. From the relaxed vacationers to the adventurous hikers or the fun-loving tourists, the county waits with all its beauty to be explored, lived, and remembered.

4 Great Warm Weather Activities

The leaves are finally back on the trees, and the sun is starting to shine over Blairsville-Union County.  For those of us who live here, we often need to be reminded of the many fun activities that surround us during the Spring and Summer seasons.  Here are just a few of the reasons visitors flock to Union County this time of year.

  1. Water, Water Everywhere:  Spend some time on of our three lakes – Nottely, Winfield Scott, or Trahlyta – and choose your activity.  Boating, fishing, skiing, kayaking or pedal boats make great lake activities.  Don’t have the right equipment or need a guide to show you the ropes?  The Chamber has a variety of members that can help.  If waterfalls are more your speed, we have plenty of those too.  A waterfalls guide can be obtained in the Chamber’s Welcome Center or requested online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.
  2. See The Sites – If you feel like you are always seeing the same parts of Union County from the same perspective, venture out a bit.  Have you seen the view atop Brasstown Bald?  How about the lovely countryside while horseback riding?  Many of the hiking trails that wind throughout the county offer incredible views that might literally take your breath away.
  3. Step Back In History – Have you ever toured the Historic Union County Courthouse or the Mountain Life Museum?  Have you seen the Trackrock Petroglyphs up close?  How about the new Byron Herbert Reece Farm & Heritage Center or the CCC Museum at Vogel State Park?  Here is one you might not have thought of – the historic cannery and interpretive displays at the Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center.   While you are there, you can browse the ethnobotanical and native plant gardens.  If history is your cup of tea, Union County has a lot to offer.
  4. Attend a Festival – There is definitely no shortage of festivals and events to attend this time of year!  Weather you prefer arts and crafts, green beans, or bagpipes, you need not look any further than right here at home in Union County.  And if large crowds scare you, consider one of a host of other local events that offer music, dining, gift items, and educational activities.  Those can be found on our online Chamber event calendar or by signing up for our weekly or quarterly events newsletter.

What’s your favorite Blairsville-Union County activity?  Chat with us on facebook at www.facebook.com/blairsvillechamber.   The Chamber is always ready to assist with planning your next weekday or weekend escape right here in Union County.   We can be reached by calling 706-745-5789 or online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.  You can contact me directly at President@BlairsvilleChamber.com.

Weekend Getaway to Blairsville, Georgia

Life is a peach when visiting Blairsville, Georgia. A weekend getaway is affordable and there are many activities to do in the area. Located in Union County, this is a great place to visit if on a honeymoon, a family vacation, or even just to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

This is a getaway that has something different to do every single day and just a weekend in North Georgia and the Blue Ridge Mountains will be a short stay to get everything done that people would like to do.

The landscaping in the area is absolutely stunning. The views are breathtaking and the Blairsville views change throughout the seasons making a weekend getaway to the area a must. The fall foliage is astonishing and the winter is cozy and a great time to spend by the fire. The summer is a great time to take in some water activities such as rafting or the springtime offers an opportune time to go for a hike to enjoy the nature and other recreational activities.

For someone that is looking for a place that there is an option to relax or to partake in several activities, Blairsville, Georgia is tucked away and is one of Georgia’s best kept secrets that needs to be told. There are many activities to do on a weekend getaway such as fishing, hiking, golf, rafting, swimming, canoeing, horseback riding and so much more. With two lakes in the area, there are many water sports that people can enjoy on their weekend getaway.

Another exciting draw to the North Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains and Blairsville area is the waterfalls. Several waterfalls are tucked into the Blairsville area. The DeSoto Falls located in Union County has a series of five fantastic and awe striking waterfalls and three of them are accessible right off the nature trail.

Falls on Waters Creek and Blood Mountain Falls are on the Blood Mountain Stream. Other waterfalls in the surrounding area include Helton Creek Falls and Trahlyta. The wonders of nature are captivating and miraculous as each waterfall site differs from the others.

There are several resorts in the area of Blairsville, Georgia in Union County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia. Many are secret hot spots and offer top notch services. Some of the resorts in this area offer upscale amenities such as vineyards, wineries, hot tub cabins and a view of the gorgeous mountain region. This makes for a perfect romantic weekend getaway where a couple can relax and just enjoy each other’s company.

For a little bit more country weekend getaway, there are also cabins in the area. There are also area campgrounds in the Blairsville area where visitors on their weekend getaway can enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains. The campgrounds are all owned and operated by the state of Georgia.

When in need of a vacation to check out of reality for a weekend getaway, Blairsville has it all. Whether it is to relax or to take in the scenery or to even go on a little adventure, the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia has it all. It is a vacation unlike any other.

Lessons from China

Just a few weeks ago, I boarded a plane in New York City and set out on a fourteen hour flight halfway around the world to China.  What once seemed like only a possibility in my dreams was now becoming a reality.  Thanks to the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and Citslinc, 48 travelers representing 26 Chambers were offered a chance to experience the wonders of China.

My China trip lasted only eight days, but the number of locations we were able to visit was impressive.  Our stops included the cities of Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.  I saw an outside view of the Bird’s Nest and National Aquatic Center where the 2008 Olympics were held, hiked hundreds of stairs to the top of the Great Wall, and witnessed the arts of jade carving, silk rug manufacturing, and pearl harvesting.  I toured one of the Ming Emperors’ Tombs, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, Tiger Hill, the National Embroidery Institute, and the Longjing Green Tea Planation.  I took a rickshaw ride to lunch at a local family’s house, took a boat ride down the Suzhou canal, visited a centuries old Buddhist temple, and saw an amazing acrobatic show.

As one could imagine, it is almost impossible to be immersed in a new culture and not leave changed in some way.  For me, I brought home a lifetime of memories, a stronger bond with many of fellow Chamber Executives, and several valuable lessons.  First, I developed a deeper allegiance to the United States and a greater love for our country as I felt proud to be an American.  I too, however, realized that American’s have a tendency to be ethnocentric and unaccepting of many culture differences.  Granted, it was hard to stomach the thought of webbed goose feet as a delicacy, but “When in China…”.  I am more grateful for everyday luxuries that we enjoy in the United States but are not available to many in China.  These include the right to drive my car every day of the week, own my own land, use an unlimited about of electricity, and have more than one child without penalty.  I should point out though that these limitations on the Chinese people did not seem to make them unhappy, therefore reaffirming my belief that money, wealth, and luxury, are not the secrets to happiness.  I realized that Americans quite frankly could learn a lesson or two from the Chinese in customer service.  There was not one place that we stopped that we did not encounter smiling faces, warm receptions, helpful attendants, and genuinely nice people.  Finally, I learned that one actually can survive on a diet of rice and vegetables and feel amazing very healthy doing it.

When I left China, I left with a realization that the world, though large in mass, is smaller than we think. We are all just a plane ride away from any part of the world we want to explore, and for many, it’s simply a matter moving from dreaming to doing.  The Chamber will be offering a leisure travel tip to Ireland in November of this year for anyone interested in group travel at unbelievable prices.  If you are ready for an experience of a lifetime, contact the Chamber for details at 706-745-5789 or me directly at president@blairsvillechamber.com. If you would like to see pictures from my China excursions, please visit the Chamber’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/blairsvillechamber.

Downtown Blairsville Streetscape Project

The following article was written by Chamber Board Member, Janet Hartman who is the Program Manager for the Blairsville Downtown Development Authority.

We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”  I’d like all of us to keep this in mind as the Downtown Streetscape project begins!  Yes, it will be an inconvenience, yes, traffic will have to slow down, yes, it will be dusty and noisy and messy.  But it will all be worth it!

This fall Downtown Blairsville will showcase a much more pedestrian friendly, visibly appealing and safer environment.  Eight-foot wide, brick paved sidewalks will surround the exterior of the square, along with landscaped islands and additional lighting.  New benches and trash receptacles will be the finishing touches; just waiting for residents and visitors to take a seat and enjoy the beauty of the area!

It all started in June of 2007.  The Blairsville Downtown Development Authority and the City of Blairsville applied for a Transportation Enhancement (TE) Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation as part of their revitalization efforts in the Downtown.  Conceptual plans were designed to enhance pedestrian safety, better define the traffic lanes, delineate the parking areas and add some landscaping islands to the mass of asphalt currently surrounding the Historic Courthouse.

Over the course of the last five years, numerous drafts, revisions and conversations have taken place with the design consultant, various local groups, and the DOT.   A number of public meetings were held to present the plans and ask for feedback.  The final plans were approved by the DOT and a contractor, Johnson Landscapes, Inc, has been awarded the project.

Construction began the second week of April with saw cutting of the areas that will be enhanced with this project.  The crew will then start with demolition of the existing sidewalks and replacement of stamped concrete and brick pavers.  The project will be completed in phases so the entire square is not affected all at once.  Expected completion of the project is late September.

Traffic through the square will remain open and all businesses will be OPEN for business during this time!  We ask that everyone coming to the square be mindful that traffic will be slower and to please be considerate of the construction workers.  Their hope is to complete the project as quickly and efficiently as possible!

Detailed plans of the project can be viewed at the Downtown Development Authority’s office at the Blairsville City Hall.

The Downtown Streetscape will be Blairsville’s “rainbow after the storm”!

If you are interested in learning more about Blairsville-Union County or about becoming a member of the Chamber of Commerce, you can contact me directly at president@blairsvillechamber.com or by calling 706-745-5789.  You may also interact with us online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.