East Ellijay Council continues millage and SPLOST

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Finances became a main focus in a late June meeting of the East Ellijay City Council as they addressed the city’s tax exemption and the new intergovernmental SPLOST referendum.

While simply continuing what has been in effect for East Ellijay for years, the city still needed an official motion for continuing the 3.5 mills on the rate as well as the longtime waiving of personal property tax of citizens as well as the commercial tax for all entities and individuals owning or operating businesses in the city limits.

Approved by the council, the city continues this practice throughout its coming fiscal year.

The Council also approved the new SPLOST split presented by the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners. Moving East Ellijay’s percentage from 1.93% to 2.0%. Noted in the meeting for the council members. East Ellijay Mack West spoke with the council about the meetings he attended and the slight change in percentage.

The Council summarily motioned and approved the agreement. As reported when the referendum was made ready for city approvals, citizens could be looking to see this vote in this year’s election cycles.

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Man Arrested for Sexual Battery at Food Lion

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callihan has confirmed an arrest during last night’s incident at the Food Lion in East Ellijay.

According to the police report, Officer Harold Crowder responded to a call at 7:21 p.m. on July 1 involving a female subject being attacked in the restroom.

David James Gravley

David James Gravley

Upon arriving on the scene, the officer was escorted into the building by the store’s manager who pointed out the suspect. The report identifies the suspect as David James Gravley. Crowder’s report states that when he put his cuffs on Gravley and asked him what happened, “he stated she mumbled something that pissed him off so he hit her.”

The report also reveals that the victim stated she was in the bathroom when “she heard someone else come in behind her and as she walked out of the stall, a man grabbed her from behind…”

The victim reported that the person attacking her forcefully held her, kept grabbing her, groped her, and punched her in the face. The report also notes several injuries including blood from her nose, swelling in her face, and several scratches on her neck, throat, arms, and back.

Later, at the Gilmer County Detention Center, Gravley stated that all he would say without his lawyer was, “All I have to say is all I wanted was her money.” The report goes on to say that he later said he was broke and needed the money to buy some Marijuana.

According to the Detention Center Booking Report, Gravley is facing charges of Robbery, Disorderly Conduct, Sexual Battery, False Imprisonment, and Simple Battery.

 

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Charlie’s Christmas Wish filming in Gilmer

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Charlie plays a newly adopted shelter dog who is about to get far more than he expected from his new family for Christmas.

Charlie plays a newly adopted shelter dog who is about to get far more than he expected from his new family for Christmas.

East Ellijay, Ga. – Meet Charlie, a little white dog with a big story to tell. His story is about a family with a Veteran suffering from PTSD and a wife and son trying to make sense of it.

That story has brought filming to the North Georgia area, and specifically to East Ellijay at Highland Crossing. The lot of tiny homes next to Walmart was scouted and now used for an on-location shoot as the construction site for veteran John Frost, played by Aiden Turner. The film has actually moved across North Georgia with locations in Canton, Marietta, Ball Ground, and East Ellijay to just name a few.

According to Producer Toni Hudson, the story follows the Frost family when Jill Frost, played by Hudson, takes on a large number of Christmas parties to make extra money at her store, “Jill’s Cakes and Bakes.” As she overworks herself waiting for her husband to return home from the war in Afghanistan after the new year. She is surprised when he arrives home five weeks early due to severe PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Aiden Turner plays John Frost, a veteran with PTSD who faces a lot of issues coming home to his family from war.

Aiden Turner plays John Frost, a veteran with PTSD who faces a lot of issues coming home to his family from war.

John comes home to his busy family and their newly adopted shelter dog, Charlie. However, John has never liked small dogs or seen them as “real dogs.” Coming home early throws a wrench into everyone’s plans and John and Charlie can’t seem to get along. As he tries to acclimate to civilian life, a particular night sees a bad episode of John’s PTSD in town and Charlie is severely injured from the event.

As John copes with the disorder, Charlie is constantly trying to find his place in John’s life as this new person in the home. John gets a construction job while growing closer with Hank, a veteran friend and constant presence at the local Moose Lodge where his therapy group meets. One day, when Hank is nowhere to be found at the meeting, Charlie leads John out back of the lodge to find Hank face down in the snow with a heart attack. John also notices the homeless “tent village” where Hank lives.

As John struggles with his own disorder, fitting into society, dealing with Charlie, helping Hank in recovery, and thinking of the other homeless veterans situation, he realizes that everything connects and he takes action to tackle the numerous problems ahead.

Producer and actress, Toni Hudson stops for a moment before a scene to pose with her dog Charlie who plays himself in Charlie's Christmas Wish.

Producer and actress, Toni Hudson stops for a moment before a scene to pose with her dog Charlie who plays himself in Charlie’s Christmas Wish.

Filming in the Gilmer area only in the recent weeks, Charlie’s Christmas Wish was created last November 2017. Just like John, Hudson said the filming has had to overcome its own troubles fighting the rain and the heat in the area with the characters dressed for winter as well as a much smaller schedule as they are looking to release the movie to theaters this November 2018. The one-year schedule is highly unusual as most films look for at least two years in production before release.

Hudson said that Charlie’s Christmas Wish was born from Sue Ann Taylor, Executive Producer, and Hudson in Los Angeles at the American Film Market. Having lost one of the movies they were planning, Hudson says that they were at her house with her dog Charlie when Taylor just looked at him and said, “Charlie! Do you want to make a movie?”

Now, the film has grown into a something more as topics like PTSD and homeless veterans have become major themes in the movie. Hudson admitted a certain balance had to maintained to bring these heavy themes into a family and kid-friendly film. The film hosts a number of aspects to “lighten” the feel such as two bumbling dog catchers attempt to chase Charlie and the construction company owner who doesn’t know how to build anything. Other soft moments come through as Hudson mentions Charlie is the smartest person in the movie and talks with God at points.

Walker Mintz, left, plays Jimmy Frost, the son of John Frost, right, and Charlie's best friend in the Frost family.

Walker Mintz, left, plays Jimmy Frost, the son of John Frost, right, and Charlie’s best friend in the Frost family.

The idea of Charlie and the Frost family showcases a family look at some very real issues today, a theme that is easier to explore with the independent status of the movie. But digging deeper, Hudson says what makes this movie special is the “heart” behind it, whether it’s healing John’s heart as he comes home, Charlie becoming the heart of the family to grow closer together, or one town showing what we can do to be the heart of change in major issues like homeless veterans.

Hudson took that one step further in one last comment. While she doesn’t have a solid plan yet, she is pushing for another step in film-making. As the focus on homeless veterans becomes more apparent in the later part of the story, it has become more apparent to her. She suggested that she wants Charlie’s Christmas Wish to be more than just a movie. Moving past just mentioning it in the film she began toying with ideas like adding a donation to ticket prices and sales. She said she wants people to “be open” to the subject and to support the movie, support the issue at hand, and support those who defend our freedoms.

 

 

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New Theater Officially Open in East Ellijay

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East Ellijay, Ga. – Though expected for almost a year now, the Georgia Theater Company (GTC) has officially opened its doors on its newest addition, Mountain Cinemas in East Ellijay.

The theater boasts eight screens of digital projection film, an in-house bar and grill called Outtakes, and usual concessions like popcorn and candy. Each theater is filled with reclining seats operated automatically with arm-rest buttons.

While all food and drinks from the concession stand or the Outtakes grill are allowed inside the theaters, they also host a few small tables in the lobby for those who wish to sit there.

The movie theater hosted a “film-cutting” this week to celebrate their opening with corporate guests like Chairman of the Board of GTC, William Stembler, and GTC President Bo Chambliss.

Chambliss specifically thanked Mac Wood, City Manager of East Ellijay, as the key to making the construction of Mountain Cinemas “a whole lot smoother than most of the construction projects that we’ve been a part of.”

Stembler joked with those present about the theater’s seats saying, “We have these recliner seats that are really comfortable. If you go in the theater and you fall asleep, we’re not gonna give you a refund.”

However, one thing to note about the new theater is that the seats are numbered. Marketing Manager Kate Sabbe did say you could buy your seats online, meaning that you don’t have to show up early for seats as the ticket will save those seats. However, the flip side would suggest that if you have any sort of sizeable group, it may be wise to purchase tickets well in advance for popular movies if you want to sit together.

Georgia Theater Company President Bo Chambliss, left, and Chairman William Stembler, right, say a few words of thanks before cutting the film ribbon to open Mountain Cinemas.

Georgia Theater Company President Bo Chambliss, left, and Chairman William Stembler, right, say a few words of thanks before cutting the film ribbon to open Mountain Cinemas.

The larger main screens, headliners, hold 145 people while the smaller screens hold between 70 and 80 people for a grand total of 836 seats.  Mountain Cinemas Manager Lauren Chastain said the building will move some major movies, like the upcoming Jurassic World, into multiple screens meaning it will at times hold less than 8 movies. Currently, it’s showing six films on its opening weekend.

Established as the leading form of GTC theaters, Mountain Cinemas represents everything the company could bring to bear as a cutting-edge representation. Though they declined to include 3D movies, this branch is what GTC is currently in renovations mode at several of their other locations to meet. Mountain Cinemas also hosts an open kitchen for Outtakes, something Chastain said is not done at any other location. The new building has brought, including management, a current total of 53 jobs to East Ellijay.

A part of Outtakes, the bar inside of the theater already hosts local favorites like those from Blue Ridge Brewery “Grumpy Old Men” and a hard cider from Mercier’s Orchards in Blue Ridge. With eight total beers on tap, Chastain said the bar is trying to stay with local Georgia and Tennessee breweries over a few general ones like Budweiser.

Mountain Cinemas larger theaters hold 145 people at max capacity.

Mountain Cinemas larger theaters hold 145 people at max capacity.

One program the company holds already saw a special day of afternoon tickets for the Gilmer High School Film Program. Sabbe told FYN that the company as a whole has a program every fall where general manager’s of the theater locations get to choose a charity to donate one day’s entire proceeds to. This, however, was a part of the Grand Opening Celebrations to say thank you for welcoming Mountain Cinemas to the community.

While the building is completed, Chastain and Sabbe both indicated that the theater is not running every program the company has yet.

The fully reclining seats are operated electronically for back a foot rests.

The fully reclining seats are operated electronically for back a foot rests.

The theater company also hosts a program at 14 locations called Flashback cinema where they play hit movies from older periods like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Big Trouble in Little China. With only 14 current locations operating this program, Sabbe was unable to say when or even if the program would travel to East Ellijay’s new location.

One program Sabbe did say East Ellijay will likely see next summer is a program for reduced-price kids movies. The program would provide $1.50 tickets, $1.50 drinks, and $1.50 popcorns for children.

With these to look forward to, the Georgia Theater Company officially cut the film tape to christen its newest cinema and open its doors to the public.

The “Film-cutting” kicked off the two-day celebration leading into this weekend as Mountain Cinema’s first weekend of operation. After much hype, debate, and waiting, the theater is officially open.

 

General Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for kids and seniors. Matinee showings are $7 for everyone.

 

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SPLOST ready for city approvals

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – In a Special Called Meeting on June 15, a final Resolution was put for consideration of the cities of Ellijay and East Ellijay for an upcoming SPLOST Referendum.

Having received input from each city’s mayor and gone through previous negotiations on percentages, the resolution has now reached the time to be put forth in these city’s council meetings for consideration and approval before the county can officially put it on the ballot as a joint SPLOST between the municipalities.

While the meeting was a formality to provide the final form of the resolution, it did provide the actual document to be put forth to the cities and, if approved, ultimately put to a public vote for the next SPLOST cycle.

The SPLOST referendum is set to continue the current 1% sales tax that is currently in place. Even though the municipalities are preparing early, it will not overlap the current SPLOST cycle.

Below are the six pages of the referendum as it currently exists:

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 3

Page 3

Page 4

Page 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 5

Page 5

Page 6

Page 6

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Gilmer County talks SPLOST with Ellijay and East Ellijay

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – A unique meeting saw the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners sitting with Ellijay Mayor Al Hoyle and East Ellijay Mayor Mack West to speak about the possibility of a new SPLOST cycle for the county as a whole.

While the Board of Commissioners could move forward with the SPLOST without the cities, joining together provides many benefits to each municipality including a more expansive list of projects without a state-regulated list of prioritization and a one-year-extension on the SPLOST cycle to make it a six-year program instead of just five years.

One of the major items needed in the meeting was an agreed amount that could be expected from the tax. According to regulations on the program, if a government puts forth a SPLOST and sets its expected return above what it actually receives, there is no penalty. However, if that SPLOST achieves the expected return early, no more collections could be made, causing a gap in collections and revenue from the sales tax.

With that in mind, the meeting came to a conclusion to estimate $31 million in revenue from the tax.

Both Mayors in the meeting looked to increase their city’s portions of the SPLOST in favor of rising costs of major projects, Hoyle spoke on Ellijay’s behalf saying that increase paving costs and projects that the city is in need of accomplishing could greatly benefit from an increase in their percentage.

Likewise, West echoed these concerns siting a specific project as they have repaved the area of Eller Road and the intersection at Highland Crossing before reaching Highway 515.

On the other hand, the county discussed the county’s continued financial pains attempting to pay back their bond debt, looking at the vast majority of their SPLOST collection dedicated to paying back that debt at close to $4 million a year.

Ultimately, the decisions came down very similar to how the SPLOST has been divided currently. With the County currently taking 92.35% of the SPLOST, they backed off the extra part of a percent making the division at an easy round number of the percentage.

The County will receive 92%.

Ellijay will receive 6%.

East Ellijay will receive 2%.

Still, this negotiation is preliminary. Each Mayor will now take the proposal back to their cities for approval before the county can approve the final agreement and move forward with offering the SPLOST option to a vote for citizens. If all goes according to plan and no major obstacles are met, It could mean citizens could see the vote for this on the ballot this November.

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East Ellijay responds to major leak near 515

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – East Ellijay Mayor Mack West has confirmed a leak as the cause of the work seen this week on state Route 515 in East Ellijay.

The Ellijay-Gilmer County Water and Sewerage Authority responded to a leak in the area near Hardee’s and under the highway. The leak, located on Industrial Boulevard in front of Hardee’s, was losing around 130 gallons of water per minute.

Responding to the leak, West said that certain areas of East Ellijay have been without water nearly three days in the process of redirecting the water flow away from the older pipes during the process. That included boring under state Route 515 as well as including new cutoffs and valves reaching up to and along Laurel Street.

Ellijay-Gilmer County Water and Sewerage Authority Director Gary McVey also confirmed that the work is implanting new piping in the area. Instead of attempting to repair or refurbish the existing cast iron piping in the region, the Authority bored under 515 for new piping in order to avoid and abandon the existing cast iron pipes with the leak.

The final tie-in should be placed tonight, according to McVey, completing the new path. However, with the main work finished, citizens will continue to see workers in the area for a few days next week while they clean up the work and fill in the excavated sites.

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East Ellijay City Council discusses litter and police

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Having hired a contract employee for picking up litter on city streets, the East Ellijay City Council approved the spending for the contract. The employee is working alongside the street department and services the area for litter control. Along with the item of the employee, East Ellijay Mayor Mack West spoke to the council saying, “I, personally, feel like we need to assess different penalties for litter violations applicable to repeat offenders.”

The Gilmer county commissioners have already been discussing the item after an increase of community requests to deal with the issue. Continuing the discussion, East Ellijay is now also on board increasing response and control of the litter.

Though no official action set a specific number increasing from the current $236 public littering fine, Mayor West did ask the members of council if they would be okay with increasing the fines with none speaking out in opposition. Additionally, East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan discussed speaking with officers to pay more attention to the issue and those who they see littering. This discussion came on top of officially approving the policy for litter control and having the extra employee.

Also, in the Police Department, the council approved purchasing three patrol car cameras for the department. Callahan said that with the vast majority of other law enforcement agencies already having cameras, courts are beginning to throw out cases without the video evidence supporting traffic violations. With the estimate Callahan has received, the $10,650 cost of purchasing and installing the cameras will be split. Two of the cameras will be paid out of the city’s hotel-motel fund, and the third camera will be paid for out of the police confiscation fund.

With the change in courts handling of their cases, Callahan spoke with the council about the camera purchases saying, “It’s a ‘have-to’ essentially.” Callahan is also looking to purchase another three cameras next budget year.

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