Post 2 Commissioner Candidate Woody Janssen

Election 2018

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Local citizen, and owner/operator of the Cartecay River Experience, Woody Janssen has qualified for Post 2 Commissioner in Gilmer County.

Running for the position, Janssen says he hopes to utilize his business and logistics background to move Gilmer forward in its economic process.

Janssen graduated in 1996 from Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) and moved through logistics management for several years before moving to Texas. Returning to Gilmer County, he has run the Cartecay River Experience since 2009. Janssen tells FYN he has seen Gilmer County after the recession slowly progressing on its path to recovery and economic stability.

Noting the current commissioners progress in expanding the activities of Gilmer, Janssen pointed to an abundance of natural resources in the county to facilitate growth for “family activities” to attract a larger variety of people to the county. However, he tempered his statement on growth saying Gilmer needs to stay rural. He went to say, “It feels like the Andy Griffith show in a way, everybody waves still. You go down to Atlanta and you wave at somebody, it’s not like that… It brings that down home feeling. That’s how I grew up in Utah when I was a kid. It was a small area, we were all farmers. I was on a farm since I was five-years-old.”

Janssen pointed to other local communities prospering in the rural parts of the state like Blue Ridge in Fannin County and Helen in White County. The common thing Janssen noted that he wants to see in Gilmer is the variety of activities to see and do.

Accomplishing this is not something one man does alone, Janssen noted the community’s work and great people working alongside other entities. He praised the current commissioner’s work on the Golf Course specifically saying it is the greatest he has ever seen it, “The way Mike Brumby has done this, what he has done with the golf course, it is going to slowly progress.” With definitive and continued progress, it becomes an matter of continuing the hard work to get Gilmer financially into the black.

Janssen continued, “There is a lot of work to be done, but with what Charlie has done, and Dallas and Travis have helped, they are bringing it more into the black.” Janssen said continuing the work of bringing in more commerce would be his focus in taking the position of Post 2 Commissioner.

In a final word towards voters, Janssen took a moment to say, “The progression is awesome with what’s going on. Do I think we can do a little bit better as a community, yeah. Everybody can. You can always progress. You can always get better. Something my coach always said, ‘You have to get better every day. If you don’t, then your competition is.’ There are little things we can always progress on. We can create more.”



Priest announces candidacy for Superior Court

Election, Election 2018, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Mary Elizabeth Priest announced her recent qualification for and intent to run for the Superior Court bench in the May 2018 non-partisan General Election. Ellijay has been her home for 30 years.

The Superior Courts handle civil matters, including family and domestic litigation, criminal cases, ranging from traffic violations to felonies, as well as transfers and appeals from Magistrate Court and Probate Court. In our Appalachian Circuit, Superior Court judges are responsible for dockets and jury trials in Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens counties.

Mary Beth is a graduate of Gilmer High School and North Georgia College and State University. Before
attending law school, she served as a case manager and investigator for the Pickens County Department
of Family and Children Services. She later received her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Georgia State
University. She began her legal career as an associate attorney at Downey & Cleveland, in Marietta, in
2006. In 2010, she joined the law firm Clark & Clark, in Ellijay, where she practiced complex civil litigation.

Priest said, “It has been a great honor to serve on the bench for the past two years. One of my goals has
been to build a bridge between our community and our court system. I am proud of the progress we have
made in that regard. Being a judge is an enormous responsibility that I take very seriously. I ask the
people of the Appalachian Circuit to trust me with their vote. If they do, I will continue to work hard for
our community with the same commitment to efficiency, impartiality, fairness, and responsibility that I
have had since my first day on the bench.”

Judge Priest was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal in 2016 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Roger Bradley. In addition to being involved with and frequently speaking at local civil organizations, she initiated and helped coach the Gilmer High School Mock Trial team’s inaugural season this year. As an adopted child born into foster care, she has also done outreach for adoption agencies as a strong advocate for foster and adopted children.

Her husband, Jeremy, owns and operates a scrap metal recycling company as well as a plumbing company, and they live in Ellijay with their two children. Her father, Mike Williams, and mother, Lorie Stanley Williams, originally of Stanley Creek in Fannin County, also live in Ellijay.


Gilmer election candidates qualify (FINAL)

Election 2018

ELLIJAY, Ga. – This week marks qualifying for the coming 2018 elections in Gilmer County.

This year’s elections include the county Commission Chairman, Post 2 Commissioner, and Post 4 and Post 5 of the Board of Education.

Each day, FetchYourNews will be taking note of those qualifying for the election and the position for which they will be running.

As of Thursday, March 8, those who have qualified are as follows:

Commission Chairman

Charlie Paris has qualified to run again for Gilmer County Commission Chairman under the Republican Party. He is the current incumbent in this position. According to Paris, this is the first time since leaving the sole commissioner government that a chairman has run unopposed and could possibly be the first time a chairman will fulfill two full terms.

When asked if it was better to run against an opponent and win or to have the county think your doing a good job and have no opposition, Chairman Paris stated it was definitely better to have the county believe in him for another term.

Charlie Paris – Incumbent

Post 2 Commissioner

Post 2 Commissioner will not see the incumbent Travis Crouch running for the position but instead will see four candidates running for the open seat.

Danny Hall has qualified for Post 2 Commissioner under the Republican Party.

Danny Hall

Jerry Tuso  has qualified for Post 2 Commissioner under the Republican Party. Since Tuso has been chairman of Republican Party, a member of the party told FetchYourNews that his qualification requires resignation from his party office.

Jerry Tuso

Karleen Ferguson has qualified for Post 2 Commissioner under the Republican Party.

Karleen Ferguson

Woody Janssen has qualified for Post 2 Commissioner under the Republican Party.

Woody Janssen

Board of Education

Post 4 and Post 5 seats on the Board of Education are non-partisan positions according to our Probate Court.

Ronald Watkins has qualified for the Post 5 seat on the Board of Education. He is the current incumbent in this position.

Ronald Watkins – Post 5 Incumbent

Michael Bramlett has qualified for the Post 4 seat on the Board of Education. He is the current incumbent in this position.

Michael Bramlett


Brian Kemp visits Ellijay Tea Party

Election, Politics

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Georgia Secretary of State, and now candidate for governor, Brian Kemp visited Gilmer County today, Feb. 20, to speak with the Ellijay Tea Party about his campaign.

Coming from Athens-Clarke County, Kemp says he got frustrated with the local government’s regulations and taxes. He went on to say, “I wanted to make government smaller. I wanted to make it more efficient. I wanted to streamline it. I was tired of liberal, big Democratic policies going on in state government.”

Moving ahead to his current campaign, Kemp told those present to look at the candidates and ask, “Who do you actually trust to do what they say?”

Kemp noted his use of technology to advance Georgia saying, “I do have that record of using technology to change our corporate filing system where now, the last two years in a row, we have literally set records for the number of annual registrations we’re doing in the first quarter … We also implemented a state-wide voter registration system, a new system because our old one was failing and it was on the state’s old mainframe computer. This is literally a state-wide IT project where we had to go through year-long procurement and then implement this new system in all 159 counties, retraining all the county registrars and election workers on how to use it. But we did that because we now have a better system that does more for the local election folks.”

Elections became a closer focus in Kemp’s meeting as he spoke about supporting the photo ID law for securing elections. Kemp stated he has been attacked by several politicians calling him a voter suppressor. Adamantly denying the claim, he noted 800,000 more people on voter rolls now than when he took office. Though accused of suppressing voting, Kemp noted record turnouts for voting in Georgia for the last elections we have had including the 2016 Presidential Election, the SEC Regional Primary, and even the Karen Handel versus Jon Ossoff special election.

Focusing on his four-point-plan, Kemp took his time to explain his ideas for the governor’s office and his next steps if he gets elected. Noting his first point of making Georgia the number one state in the country for small business, Kemp said that he is a small business guy who spent and still spends time with his construction company. Saying 95 percent of corporations in Georgia’s 700,000 companies employ less than 50 people, he added that Ellijay itself is built on the backs of small businesses.

As his second point, Kemp claimed he wants to fundamentally reform state government through its budget, operations, and taxes. This brought up points of the spending cap and tax reform. Kemp said the only tax breaks he has seen is for those who have lobbyists before adding, “I’m wanting to be your lobbyist as governor, your lobbyist to give you tax breaks.”

Accomplishing this, according to Kemp, would require implementing the spending cap and budgeting conservatively in order to have money left over at the end of the year. Having money left over would lead to the real tax reform. Kemp added he did not care who it was, he would work with anyone on tax reform as long as it is broad based.

“The third point is making sure all of Georgia has the same opportunity; we’re moving all of Georgia forward. It’s not healthy for our state when we only have certain communities that are growing and thriving,” said Kemp, who added that he was the first candidate to make a plan to strengthen rural Georgia including protecting our military bases, taking the Georgia Grown program internationally, and creating economic strike teams to focus investments and job opportunities for projects of real regional significance.

Resting on his fourth point, Kemp said it was something that is easy to say, but not for politicians to follow through on. “Putting Georgians First” has become a campaign slogan for Kemp in addition to a trending hashtag #gafirst. Kemp delved deeper into the topic saying he wanted citizens ahead of special interest groups. He also wants to enforce the ban on sanctuary cities saying, “It’s ridiculous that we have states like California that are now wanting to become sanctuary states when we’re not even taking care of our people and our own veterans. Illegals can go into hospital rooms and get free healthcare and our own people are getting priced out of the market.”

Closing his speech, Kemp told those present that he could not do it alone saying, “I cannot win this race without your help.” Stating he was not a special interest candidate, Kemp claimed he has the resources to win and the “best ground game in the state” with locals and citizens who endorse his message and his campaign. He called it a grassroots army that he was raising through people who would support him.

After delivering his message, Kemp took a few moments to answer questions. Generally focusing on elections, voter IDs, and ballots, Kemp noted there is not a verifiable paper audit trail in current systems. With an aging system that has been near collapse, Kemp says they have been looking at options for the next system to use. Considering electronic systems versus paper ballots, the discussion of what system should be used has caused debate.

Kemp spoke about a test last November in Conyers as a pilot: “You vote on a marking device like we have now. Then, once you hit submit, it prints the ballot out. You can hold it in your hand. You can look at your selections … Let’s say it’s not like you want it, you take it to a poll worker, they spoil the ballot, and you go back. If it is like you want to vote, you go to a scanner. It scans that ballot, counts it electronically, so you have the electronic count. Then it drops it into a locked ballot box, so you have the paper receipt. So, you actually have two ways to audit after the election.”

FetchYourNews also got a chance to ask Kemp about his opinions on Senate Bill 375, “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act.” Though Kemp said he had not fully read 375, he said he signed the pledge to support religious liberty legislation that was vetoed in recent years. A topic that has divided lawmakers and legislators, the religious liberty pledge could set the future of reviving that legislation. While supporters point to the protection legislation like 375 could afford businesses and departments, opponents fire back with allegations of “legalized discrimination.”

Kemp said in today’s Tea Party meeting, “The sky is not falling if we protect religious freedom and religious liberty by signing a bill in Georgia that references what is in federal law.” Calling it a common sense thing, he says he is supportive of the issue. However, signing the religious freedom bill may make Bill 375 a “non-issue.”


Georgia gubernatorial candidate visits FYNTV

Election, Politics

BKP interviews Georgia candidate for governor and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Among many topics, Kemp discusses immigration, Georgia voting machines, paper ballots, pay for law enforcement, and Kemp’s opinion of the negotiations to bring Amazon HQ2 for Georgia.


BKP Interviews Georgia House Speaker David Ralston

State & National

On FYN TV, BKP interviews Georgia’s Speaker of the House for District-7 Representative David Ralston, as they discuss Georgia’s aggressive plan for a large infrastructure investment that was presented and highlighted at a meeting for Republican leaders including Ralston, over the weekend at The White House. Speaker David Ralston comments on what that means for Georgia.

Pictured below: Speaker of the House for Georgia District 7 David Ralston at this past weekends Infrastructure Meeting at the White House with Republican leaders and President Donald Trump.

Board of Education begins 2018 by looking to next school year


ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) began 2018 already considering changes coming for the 2018-19 school year.

The board is moving ahead with Administrative Renewals for the coming school year as they are already facing nine retirements and two resignations approved in January alone. Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes stated the board wanted to approve the administrative renewals now so they could move forward with their own recommendations for teachers to fill the empty spots.

The approved staff recommendations for January show those changes for January, but more are sure to come as the teacher hiring season begins with schools everywhere looking to fill positions for next year.

Even board personnel adjusted positions as new officers were elected. The position of BOE chairman came with a nomination for Michael Bramlett and appointed by acclamation. Vice chairman, however, saw more action with two nominations, one for Jim Parmer and one for Ronald Watkins.

The vote for Parmer came down to two for and three against (2-3). Nick Weaver, Tom Ocobock, and Ronald Watkins were the dissenting votes.

Watkins saw three for, none against, and two abstentions (3-0-2). Parmer and Watkins abstained on their votes.

In addition to the administrative and personnel approvals, the board set their meetings dates officially for 2018 as well as January 2019. The meetings will continue being held at 6 p.m. on these meeting dates:

Feb. 12 and 15
March 19 and 22
April 23 and 26
May 21 and 24
June 18 and 21
July 16 and 19
Aug. 20 and 23
Sept. 17 and 20
Oct. 15 and 18
Nov. 12 and 15
Dec. 10 and 13
Jan. 14 and 17, 2019


Qualifying Fees set for local elections

Election, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners have officially set the qualifying fees for the upcoming 2018 county elections.

The set fees were approved during the January meeting and are available below for the open positions.

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