ELLIJAY, Ga. – With a few changes in details sparked from a recent state committee wanting state control over calendars, the Gilmer BOE is moving forward with its annual community vote.
Citizens are encouraged to visit the Gilmer County Charter School System website in order to participate in a vote over six possible calendars created by the schools in our county.
As educators and administrators have spent the last few months considering and creating the calendars up for the vote, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said they have actually identified which school created the calendar this year.
She said in February’s work session that she hopes this furthers peoples’ understanding that these options are not just thrown together, but planned and meticulously built by the schools for the school’s and student’s needs.
Downs is asking citizens to “Please review each of the calendars carefully, vote for the calendar of your choice, and remind others to vote as well.” The survey will be posted until March 8. After that, the results will be presented at the March 18 work session.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – “It’s easy to stand up and be the leader of an agency that is doing so much positive every day,” said Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson on February 7, 2019, as he honored members of his staff.
Emphasizing how much his staff and employees help to make his position easier, Nicholson offered thanks for people who have “turned a job into a profession.”
The awards night saw several GCSO employees and even some officers from Ellijay Police Department honored from recent events.
Nicholson went on to note that discussions and debates among the Command Staff for these awards is one of the hardest discussions he has. He said that so much has changed since he started his time as Sheriff. With increasing issues and dangers in the profession, he took extra effort to express how much he cares and concerns himself over protecting the safety of officers as they perform their duties.
The first award came with from Sid Turner and Jared Ogden of the Sons of the American Revolution who presented their Sons of the American Revolution Commendation Medal to Sergeant Jason Reed.
Turner said, “Sergeant Reed started his career with Gilmer County
Sheriff Nicholson presented the remaining awards for the Sheriff’s Office.
Sarah Raynes received the Communications Officer of the Year award.
Nicholson commented on how upbeat and energetic she has been in 2018 including a jarring move from day shift to night shift to fill a need in the department. He went on to note that her attitude throughout all of the positions hardships and trials makes her a pleasant dispatcher and great worker.
Detective Jeffrey Shelton received the Detective of the Year award.
Nicholson shared the words he received about Shelton saying it was his tenaciousness and his attitude as he was assigned several cases that blew up into much larger ordeals than originally expected. Through these cases, he continued his efforts, “sticking with it” as Nicholson stated.
In a position like Detective, Nicholson said certain cases can be very easy. But, in one day, they can become an investigation spanning several generations.
Corporal Tommy Humphries received the Deputy of the Year award.
Nicholson spoke about Humphries’ specialized talents as Deputy able to go to neighbors dispute, mediate the process, settle the issue, and be invited back for coffee later.
The effort and the nature of a person required to see that kind of success in the role of Deputy is an indispensable member of the office.
Nicholson said that dealing with tense situations is part of the job that Deputies must deal with, but handling those issues so well that you’re invited back, “That’s a good Deputy Sheriff.”
Lieutenant James Knight received the Court Services Deputy of the Year award.
Nicholson stated that most people don’t understand all the work that goes
Kim Rogers received the Civilian Employee of the Year award.
Nicholson admitted the excessive work that gets put on the civilian employees that the office has saying, “They do a lot of work, they give above and beyond. They keep the agency running straight. They keep the agency in good graces with the District Attorney’s Office by providing reports. They keep the jail records straight. They keep bonds straight. They keep the money we take in. They keep everything going in the right direction.”
Nicholson went on to note the Rogers came to the Sheriff’s Office to fill the gap of a big role. She took the spot to a new level in everything she keeps track of. He noted the extra work she has taken in since joining the office and rolling with everything asked of her.
The final award of the night actually hosted several officers and deputies as Nicholson presented Combat Citations along with a ribbon, to be worn on their uniforms, for those involved in the November 6, 2018, incident.
Those receiving the Combat Citation included Ellijay Police Officer Trevor McClure and Sergeant Aaron Mashburn and Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office’s Deputy First Class Lesse Sippel, Corporal Gene Hefner, Sergeant Daniel King, and Lieutenant Joshua Chancey.
These men and women served honorably in the face of danger and threat to their lives this night. Nicholson delivered the award saying, “On November 6, 2018… Members of the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office and the Ellijay Police Department responded to Corals Lane in reference to a man with a gun call. As officers approached the location, a known violent felon, armed with a pistol, attempted to ambush them. When the subject refused to drop the weapon and pointed it at officers while shouting his intent to shoot them, deadly force was employed to protect themselves and the citizens, who were in the residence, from death or harm. The officers’ actions during this life-threatening incident are to be commended.”
There were also two awards not delivered as the recipients were not available at the time of the awards ceremony.
Kurtis Parks received the Detention Officer of the Year award.
Deputy Joshua Easley received the Student Resource Officer of the Year award.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Yesterday’s events saw two arrests at Rose Court when Michael Kevin Pro and Sean Robert Joannides were taken into custody.
Through a joint effort from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office and Cherokee SWAT team, the two men were arrested after barricading themselves inside the house.
Joseph David Cain is a third suspect still being sought by authorities as well.
Pro and Joannides are currently in custody and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has released the booking reports for each.
Michael Kevin Pro faces felony charges of Probation Violation, as well as a Misdemeanor Willful Obstruction of Law Enforcement Officers, according to the arrest records.
Sean Robert Joannides faces charges of Burglary and felony charges of Probation Violation, as well as a Misdemeanor Willful Obstruction of Law Enforcement Officers, according to the arrest records.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett has tendered a resignation from his position as Public Safety Director.
Though his letter of resignation is tendered, it is notice of his resignation at March 15, 2019, meaning he will remain in the position until then to prepare and possibly train his replacement. He has served 16 years in Gilmer County, with 12 of those as Chief and Director. He was Fire Chief until 2015 when the position of Public Safety Director was created and he has served in since.
According to his resignation letter, Pritchett cited that he is pursuing other opportunities. Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris said that the County will begin advertising for the position in the next 10 days and will look both internally and externally for candidates.
Paris confirmed that he tendered his letter today, February 6, 2019. He also told FYN that he has appreciated Pritchett’s service over the years and has wished him well in his pursuits.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Schools have already posted to their home website and made public that they will be canceling school tomorrow, Tuesday, January 29, 2019, in anticipation of the coming winter weather event.
The School System noted that Governor Brian Kemp announced that all state offices will be closed Tuesday due to the approaching winter storm. They stated, “For the safety of our staff and students, Gilmer County Schools will follow suit and be closed for all staff and students on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.”
The County is marshaling against the storm as well as the Sheriff’s Office has also put out notices on social media anticipating the storm. Public Safety and Emergency Response officials are asking citizens to be safe in the coming weather event. Due to the extreme low temperatures and possible precipitation, ice is a very real responsibility on the roads.
Gilmer County Public Safety has also issued warnings to citizens about black ice and hazardous traveling conditions, sharing four major concern alerts through social media.
* Snow: Some accumulating snow is looking more likely across the higher elevations of north GA, along with some light accumulations extending generally along and north of the I-85 corridor, including the Atlanta Metro area.
* Black Ice: Regardless of what snowfall occurs, what is more certain is the temperatures quickly falling on the heels of the precipitation as the arctic airmass sets in, bringing the potential of black ice to any areas receiving rain or snow across both north and central GA.
* Gusty Winds: Winds will rapidly increase behind the cold front during the day Tuesday and persisting into Tuesday night. Expect northwest winds around 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.
* Wind Chills: The bitter cold temps and increased winds will result in wind chills dropping into the low to mid teens for most areas with single digits in the mountains.
Though most of the concern is focused now on Tuesday, officials are waiting to see just how bad the storm gets before making additional plans or closings for Wednesday on.
Make sure to follow FYN for updates from the county and school system as to any changes or additions to their official response.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners opted for a refunding savings option from the Series 2014 Bond this month.
Taking ‘Option A’ that was presented by Andrew Tritt, Managing Director at Stifel Financial Corp, will allow approximately $168,000 split between the remaining years. The savings would come to about $15,000 a year until the bonds are paid off.
While Option B ultimately realizes only $128,000, according to Tritt’s presentation, it would defer 2019’s payment in an opportunity to see nearly an extra million dollars in 2019.
However, County Chairman Charlie Paris pointed out that Option B would only defer that payment, meaning it takes that money from next year’s SPLOST. That million dollars is not extra and would put 2020’s SPLOST down a million dollars. Paris noted in the regular meeting that he didn’t think that moving the payment back was worth it. He said that even though the extra million would be great for 2019, it would hurt too much to lose those funds from 2020.
Ultimately, the other Board members agreed with Paris as the vote came unanimously for ‘Option A’ to advertise the movement forward.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – After last month’s arguments of legislative versus home rule as the way to go forward with Post Commissioner salaries, this month saw the continuation of that debate.
The next step, a question brought forward from the budget sessions into last months meeting and now into the new year, is the percentage of the raise. Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris originally had offered a number of 20%. Though not arbitrarily thrown out, Paris has since said he was offering the number as a consideration.
Since that time, articles and discussion have focused on 20% as the proposed amount for the Post Commissioner salary increase. Even FYN offered analysis based upon that 20% suggestion.
This percentage is a percentage of the Commission Chairman’s salary. Post Commissioners are currently paid 10% of the chairman’s salary.
This month saw the discussion shift after some pushback from the community over “doubling” the salary.
Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson wasted no time in researching the issue and offering the board her own analysis, one of surrounding counties and their boards’ salaries.
Reaching through 2016, 2017, and 2018, these documents from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs showcased salaries of both the Chairperson and the Post Commissioners, organized into population size groups. Ferguson highlighted the Gilmer and its immediate neighbors like Lumpkin, Fannin, and Pickens.
A new percentage offered in the BOC’s January meetings sits fell to 18% with Ferguson saying, “We talked about 18%, I think going any lower than 18%… I’m in favor of at least 18%.”
Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller stated in the meeting that though he thought the raise was deserved, he would be satisfied with not changing the salary at this time saying, “I, personally, think it’s not a good time to be doing this.” Miller did ultimately vote against the motion to advertise the salary increase in a 2-1 vote.
In 2018, Lumpkin County was at $12,005 annually according to this report. Pickens was at $11,205.
Currently, Gilmer County Post Commissioners are paid $7,125.38 as reported in “Commissioners pushing for ‘Fast Answer’ in pay raises.” With an 18% instead of a 20% increase, effectively not quite doubling the salary, the new base pay of a Post Commissioner would become $12,825.68.
Ferguson also noted in the board’s work session that this change would not take effect for two years, when the next elected Post Commissioner will take office.
Approved, 2-1, for advertising, it is now up to the citizens to speak with the Board of Commissioners and attend February’s meetings to voice the county’s opinion on the matter whether in support or opposition of the change.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Despite being ready to go forward with the first reader of changes to the Land Ordinance in Gilmer County, Commissioners listened to a speaker in the Public Hearing who requested they push the ordinance back a month.
Devell Frady stood in Public Comments to ask for the extension as he said he hadn’t heard about it until two days before the public comments.
Agreeing to stall the decision, the board will be re-advertising the ordinance in the next month and holding a new public comments session as well. Having completely restarted the process, Frady said it will give the Builders Association and surveyors more time to read through the changes.
Frady thanked the Commissioners for listening to him and others as they asked for a change to R3 zonings. He also thanked them for listening again as they agreed to allow another 30 days for the public.
The changes will instate new R-4 zoning that all current R-3 could be moved into, and allowing a new R-3 Zoning.
The changes also deal with adding in capabilities for Duplexes and similar structures.
Make sure to see the changes and updates in the Land Use Ordinance before next month’s return to the issue.
The county has already advertised a new Public Hearing for February 14, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.