Public Health Release Confirms Rabies in Gilmer County

News
Georgia Department of Public Health

ELLIJAY, Ga – An official release from the Georgia Depart of Public Health and its District 1- 2 office has confirmed a case of rabies in Gilmer County.

Specifically, a stray beagle, tested by health officials, tested positive for the virus. Although the beagle was found in the area of Flat Branch and Weeks Road, officials are warning everyone in the county to be wary of stray animals.

Additionally, they are encouraging any in the area who think they or their family have been exposed to the beagle, to call either the Gilmer County Environmental Health office at (706) 635-6050 or the Georgia Poison Control Center at 1 (800) 222-1222 for a free rabies exposure consultation.

The full release given by the department is as follows:

A Gilmer County couple learned today that a stray beagle that had been near their home tested positive for rabies; however, county environmental health officials determined neither the couple nor their pets had been exposed to the virus the dog carried.

“We’re constantly reminding the public to avoid contact with both stray and wild animals,” said Andrea Martin, Gilmer County Environmental Health Manager. “If you don’t know the rabies vaccination status of an animal, you’re putting yourself at risk just by handling it. But in this case, we ascertained that the couple and their pets had not been licked, scratched or bitten by the dog.”

The couple, who lives alone in a residence near the intersection of Flat Branch and Weeks Roads in Ellijay, noticed the beagle on their property on November 25and saw that it exhibited signs of illness, including lethargy and the inability to walk. They tried to tend to the animal but were concerned it could be rabies-infected, so they contacted the local veterinarian hospital.

The dog was prepared for rabies testing and the specimen was sent to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory on November 29. The positive test result was reported to local officials on December 1.

Martin urges anyone living near the intersection of Flat Branch and Weeks Roads, who think it is possible that they or their children could have been exposed to the beagle at any time since November 11, to call either the Gilmer County Environmental Health office at (706) 635-6050 or the Georgia Poison Control Center at 1 (800) 222-1222 for a free rabies exposure consultation.

Anyone who may have lost the beagle should contact officials immediately to be evaluated for possible rabies exposure.

If there are pets in the area that have never been vaccinated or are not currently vaccinated against rabies, they should be vaccinated or given a booster vaccination right away.

“Rabies is nearly 100% fatal in humans,” warned Martin. “Once rabies symptoms are present, it is too late to treat the human victim for rabies. If, however, exposure is known, then rabies post-exposure vaccinations are given to prevent the onset of rabies, saving the person’s life.”

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East Ellijay looking at roads in November

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga – The East Ellijay City Council met for what became a road-focused meeting on Nov. 14. Three major issues saw progress in the meeting.

East Ellijay tied up the end of their Highland Parkway project. Resolution 17-04 to repave sections of Highland Parkway came with a finished cost close to $9,000 below the expected $131,000. East Ellijay Mayor Mack West reported in their November meeting that the city spent $42,639 from Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) funds for the project. The remaining $79,318 was remitted to the 2004 SPLOST fund, meaning that balance is still just over $100,000. According to West, the city has yet to use the 2014 SPLOST funds.

The City Council also approved their re-striping expenditures with the addition of the thermoplastics. Pro-Stripe, out of Blairsville, finished striping with costs at $8,920. The project included 24 feet of the thermoplastic striping bars, 14 arrows on Highland Parkway, and six arrows at the Highland Crossing intersection. East Ellijay City Manager Mack Wood reported in the meeting that the extra cost for thermoplastics would increase the life span as they are now “interstate quality.”

An additional purchase for roads came with the city’s approval for purchasing speed bumps. The city will be placing these bumps on Greenfield Road. Consistent notes of high speeds past the S-curves were the reason given. Residents close to the city limits, and even some who live past the city limits, have complained for the need of the additions. Purchasing four total bumps, Wood stated the city would be purchasing six-foot long “humps” to be placed on both sides of the roads. The humps are wider than bumps meaning cars should not have the usual issue of the immediate bounce of a smaller bump.

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New Executive Director Officially Takes Office Today

Business, News

EAST ELLIJAY, GA – The Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) has gone months through its process of looking to replace its executive director after its previous director resigned.

Today marks the end of that search. While we have known for a while now that Kent Sanford, formerly of Park Sterling Bank, would be taking the position, it is today that the transition has been completed and he officially takes office.

With the job ahead, Sanford told FYN, “As I watched the sun come up from my new office this morning, I was reminded of the bright future Gilmer County has before us.  We have a great deal of work to do, but I am excited to get started and humbled to be part of the process and working with an excellent team of professionals.”

As he begins moving around town, introducing himself to the businesses and beginning to attract more growth to the county, the JDA will hold their fourth quarter meeting this Monday, November 6, at 8 a.m. Also, stay with FYN as we continue updates and sit down with Sanford later this month.

Also, be sure to check out more with our previous article, “JDA Announces New Executive Director.”

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Gilmer County Livestock Show

Community

EAST, ELLIJAY-  Gilmer County FFA (Future Farmers of America) hosted the 36 annual  livestock show in the new  Agricultural Complex.

On September 29 and 30, the Gilmer FFA Alumni and Young Farmers hosted a livestock show that included a pig show on Friday evening, and a dairy and beef heifer show and market goat show on Saturday.

We talked with Young Farmer teacher Mike Bushey about he felt the show went, he said “I am very pleased with how the show went. We have a lot of support from our community, the students present and past and their parents. Without them this wouldn’t be possible.” He also stated, “We are planning to have two more livestock shows in January and would like to invite everyone out to see the hard work these students put into their projects.”

With each type of animal, kids are judged in a showmanship class, which is how well the animal performs with its showman.

In goat showmanship the exhibitor leads the goat around the ring and places there front and back legs to where it looks like the goat is standing in a rectangle.

Cattle are also led around the ring with front legs shoulder width apart but the back legs are set with one farther up than the other.

In weight class beef cattle, market hogs and goats are judged on how they would look as a dressed out carcass. The judge looks for how much meat they would get from each animal and how much muscle the animal has.

Pigs used for breeding ,breeding gilts, are judged on trimness, large body capacity, and superior mammary systems. Dairy heifers are judged on how feminine they are, how their frame is put together, how well they will be able to reproduce, and produce milk.

These kids will be traveling to the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Ga over the next two weeks to compete against exhibitors from all over the state.

GDOT Work on 515 Slows Traffic

News
Officers direct traffic during the replacement of traffic lights at East Ellijay's 1st Avenue and 515 intersection.

ELLIJAY, GA – For those traveling on Highway 515, you may have been noticing trucks at the intersection of 1st Avenue near Hardee’s.

GDOT workers prepare the 1st Avenue intersection of 515 for new traffic lights.

GDOT workers prepare the 1st Avenue intersection of 515 for new traffic lights.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has changed out the traffic lights with newer models including a flashing yellow turn signal for left turns at the intersection.

Many citizens who have been to Pickens county will recognize the same style of traffic lights as are in use on 515 there. According to Mack Wood, City Planner of East Ellijay, the lights were originally a test in Jasper as a cost alternative to completely remodeling the intersections.

A welcome change to many citizens as they get stuck in those turning lanes on the way to and from work, the new lights have overcome several hurdles to installation. Requiring the removal of trees along the median near the intersection was just the first hurdle as the city has had to have wire repairs in the lighting system and further work to prepare for the change.

This is the only intersection on 515 in Gilmer that will receive the update after Wood originally contacted GDOT for the updates. Stating a sight distance issue, this means the intersection of Maddox Drive and 515 at the BP and McDonald’s and the intersection in front of Wal-Mart will not be seeing their light change anytime soon.

 

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Purchases and Donations at East Ellijay’s Council

News

EAST ELLIJAY, GA – The East Ellijay City Council’s September Meeting saw the purchase of a new Vehicle, Replacing a Copy Machine on Lease, and accepted a lot donation to the city.

The city has been having continued issues with the man copier at the office. Looking into replacements, the council’s options ranged from $5369 to $1800. That lowest price came from Duplicating Products, Inc. out of Gainesville, Georgia. With a 36-month lease, the the copier would come with 3-hour turn around maintenance.

The council was informed that Duplicating Products is already being used by our local schools, the Gilmer Chamber, and local churches. With the extra references, the council unanimously approved the 36-month lease with Duplicating Products at $50 a month. However, the city will be paying the lease annually instead of monthly.

Another purchase came with a retroactive approval of purchasing a 2017 Explorer for the Police Department. Within the last month, the city hit an issue with three vehicles being out of service at one time. According to Mayor Mack West, the city traded in an older 2007 Ford F150 for a $5,000 credit at Jacky Jones Ford in Cleveland, Georgia. Previously approved to spend $27,000 in the budget on a vehicle, the trade in credit brought the original $27,500 down to $21,700 final cost.

Mayor West also stated that the police are installing much of the needed equipment into the vehicle as well, which is driving down additional costs for the vehicle as well. Utilizing old surplus equipment and doing much of the work in house, Mayor West stated that Police Chief Larry Callahan reduced an expected cost of $6,700 down to an estimated $3,200 for equipping the vehicle.

Moving past the purchases, East Ellijay is being offered a lot donation on First Avenue. While discussions began on what the city could possibly do with the property including a commercial building or a park area, no real discussion could begin before officially accepting the property into the city.

The lot officially measures at 0.84 acres and is being donated after it was originally declared not “buildable” due to setbacks and other issues the land presents against a residential building. The city is expecting to perform a quick claim deed in the coming days to finalize the transaction.

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Vehicle Accident at Wal-Mart Leads to Death

News

ELLIJAY, GA – Just after noon, a driver in a black Jeep struck another vehicle on the right side of the Wal-Mart parking lot, nearest the Comfort Inn Suites.

Authorities gave no details on how the Jeep came to rest on the post, but did confirm the driver had to be taken to Kennestone Medical Center.

Authorities gave no details on how the Jeep came to rest on the post, but did confirm the driver had to be taken to Kennestone Medical Center.

According to East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan, after striking the vehicle, the driver put his vehicle in reverse and struck another vehicle and a pedestrian. The pedestrian was killed in the incident.

The driver has since been transferred to Kennestone Medical Center by the Gilmer EMS. While authorities believe the pedestrian to be a local resident, no details are being released to the public.

However, Chief Callahan told FYN that the Georgia State Patrol is conducting the investigation. Stay with FYN as we await more details on the situation.

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Gilmer Sees Eclipse Without Incident

News
Ellijay during the Eclipse on August 21, 2017, as seen from atop the city cemetery.

ELLIJAY, GA – While locals flocked out across the county to view the eclipse, the city itself seemed to slow to a crawl as the sky darkened.

Locals set up at Walmart to view the Eclipse in Ellijay, Ga.

Locals set up at Walmart to view the Eclipse in Ellijay, Ga.

Indeed the downtown streets were all but bare. Though citizens were crowding the River Street Tavern’s porch and other places, the roads were silent of traffic in the minutes leading up to the eclipse’s peak.

While most of those traveling continued further North, East Ellijay, and the County as a whole, did notice an uptick in traffic in the days prior to the eclipse and again Monday night as sightseers traveled home again.

While the Georgia Department of Transportation reported massive congestion on the roadways, much of that cleared before 1:00 p.m.

Locals, from L to R, Stephanie Watkins, Jessica Cochran, Jennifer Burton, and Rob Burton prepare to watch the eclipse Monday August 21, 2017.

Locals, from L to R, Stephanie Watkins, Jessica Cochran, Jennifer Burton, and Rob Burton prepare to watch the eclipse Monday August 21, 2017.

Still, locals such as the Burtons found friends to join with as they found their way onto Yukon to set up specially to see the event. Others moved to higher ground such as the area behind Wal-Mart and on top of the hill in the city cemetery.

Thankfully, another good report comes from Tony Pritchett, Director of Public Safety, who stated, “We are very pleased to say that Gilmer County as a whole, did not have any events relating to the eclipse other than heavy south bound traffic at the end of the event and into the late evening hours. We are very fortunate that this turned out to be a non impacting event on our public safety resources.”

While Gilmer moves past the eclipse, county officials all agree that they are thankful for a relatively quiet day.

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