Commissioners pushing for “Fast Answer” in pay raises

News, Opinion

What’s the rush in Gilmer County for Post Commissioner pay raises? As the issue is moving forward in the Board of Commissioners revolves around three post commissioners, new information has drastically changed how the Board as a whole is attempting to achieve the goal of a raise.

Looking back into recent years, the Administrative Wages stood at $20,685 in 2017. It was then raised in 2018 to $21,083, not an uncommon increase as post commissioner positions gain “Cost of Living” adjustments, certification supplements, or longevity increases.

The current Post Commissioners’ base salary is $7,125.38. If the Post Commissioner has completed the Carl Vinson Institute of Government classes, they gain $1,200 in supplement pay. There is also Cost of Living Increases that have been added in recent years as well as a “Longevity Payment” if the Post Commissioner is re-elected. Additionally, health insurance is included.

However, this raise will only increase the Base Pay, everything else is added on after. So it will take what is considered a part-time position as Post Commissioner from $7,125.38 to $14,250.76.

It has been well documented that Post 2 Commissioner Travis Crouch is the one who initiated the conversation about a raise for Post Commissioners. He has said that as he looks at the position on his way out, he did not run for re-election, it is something that he feels should be changed. The final agreed amount seemed to fall at doubling the base pay of the position, from 10% of the chairman’s salary to 20%.

When it was originally brought up, the idea was to handle the change by “home rule.” This means that the Board would change its own charter, and it would hold meetings where citizens could speak and comment on their thoughts about the change. Then the board would approve or not approve the change. If approved, the change would take effect at the next election cycle.

The catch came when County Attorney David Clark informed the Board at a later meeting that such a change would have had to be done before qualifying. This was a time when Crouch said he was unsure if he would run again or not.

This is because if the positions pay changes, it will affect qualifying fees for running in the election for that position. A post commissioner candidate pays 3% of the position’s annual salary as a qualifying fee.

However, since this revelation, the county has not decided to move forward with the change to take effect for the next election cycle. They have instead pushed straight for a local legislation answer to the issue by sending it to Atlanta to be approved by the state in their earl 2019 legislative session.

However, if this happens, it will not only push away the opportunity for a public hearing and opinions by locals on the issue as the county’s charter demands, it will also take immediate effect as soon as the Governor signs the bill. It will also take effect for BOTH post commissioner positions instead of just one.

This means the current Board of Commissioners is attempting to rush ahead with an idea that was only raised a little over a month ago through the fastest option possible instead of following their own charter and their own rules to let the home rule change take effect on the next cycle. Why?

The argument was also made that these people aren’t paying attention to what they make annually, instead running for the benefit of the county. Yet, in their public meetings, Attorney David Clark openly said the pay increase would entice more people and more qualified people to the position as he likened it to that of management of a $20 million company.

Additionally, this raise further seems to be only fueled by the idea that it makes the position more attractive and “worth it” as their is no apparent changes in the responsibilities or duties of the Post Commissioner.

Is that a good reason to raise the position’s pay? That is for citizens to decide instead of state legislators.

If this is sent to the state legislation instead of handled at the county level, it also introduces a fault in the law of the county. As it is stated that a candidate should pay 3% of the Post Commissioner annual salary as a qualifying fee. Changing through state legislation puts these people outside of the county’s law as they did not pay the expected 3%.

Yes the Post 1 Commissioner (Dallas Miller) has spent close to two years in the position being paid what he qualified for with the 3%, but the Post 2 Commissioner Elect (Karleen Ferguson) will likely only spend 6 months in office before her salary doubles. The “6 months” comes from estimations from county officials that the Governor may not even sign the bill, if approved, until June or July. Regardless, that is a Post 2 Commissioner spending the vast majority of her term at double the salary that she “qualified” for.

Put aside the people, put aside the question of if the raise should happen or not. The real question is why the Board is so bent on pushing this change through as fast as possible.

Breaking down the options is easy.

Home Rule requires a time frame before qualifying, requires all advertisements and public hearings necessary for changing the county’s charter, and doesn’t take effect until the position is up for election again.

Local Legislation is done in the next three months, is only required to spread the information of the change through state level requirements, and takes effects for all parties immediately.

The moral question at hand is not whether the Post Commissioners deserve a raise, many past Post Commissioners have openly stated that the job is not worth the pay. The question is simple, “WHY THE RUSH?”

Why does the Board not move forward with a suggested change to its charter or ordinances as it should, and as it has with many of its other changes including the River Regulations, Land Ordinance changes, and even its annual budgets.

Why the rush?

Gilmer Fire and Rescue Weekly Report 11-4/11-10

Police & Government
Dates Structure Fires Brush Fires Fire Alarms Emergency Med Calls (EMS)
11/4/18-11/10/18 1 1 2 85
MVC (Vehicle Accidents Haz. Conditions Air Transports Search/Tech. Rescue Total Calls
6 8 1 1 104

Author

McCoy Captured

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Details are surfacing of the arrest of Willie Lee McCoy who escaped custody over the weekend.

According to Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, new information came into the office effecting an armed response by Sheriff’s Deputies and K-9 units with assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and U.S. Marshall’s Service. As units approached the area, Nicholson did not release the location, they were able to take McCoy back into custody “without incident.”

Officials are also reporting that another female was arrested as well. Nicholson confirmed the arrest was related to the McCoy case.

According to Nicholson, units arrived at the location this morning where they followed up on the tip and gathered further information leading to his whereabouts. Stay with FYN as we provide further information on the arrest as both suspects are processed in the detention center.

As of this time, McCoy is in custody in the Gilmer County Detention Center.

Author

Gilmer County Sheriffs Office Arrest Report 11/07 to 11/12

Arrest Reports

FYN publishes the arrest reports provided by the GCSO.  The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 50-18-70) allows for www.fetchyournews.com to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Gilmer County. Those arrests are posted on www.fetchyournews.com for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.

Suspect involved in shooting now missing

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The suspect of a home invasion last week, Willie Lee McCoy, was shot by law enforcement during the incident, but has now escaped custody at the hospital where he was being cared for.

According to Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, McCoy was incapacitated and under heavy medication as he was life-flighted to the hospital for his injuries. Nicholson states he was kept under guard by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office for 18 hours.

During that time, Nicholson says he was assured multiple times by the hospital security that they would monitor and guard McCoy and would inform the Sheriff’s Office when he was being released. However, over the weekend, he got out of his bed and walked out the front door of the hospital. At this time, his whereabouts are unknown.

The Sheriff’s has notified those involved in last weeks incident about the escape and is currently looking for him. They are also looking for Loren Danielle Denson. Nicholson said that the Sheriff’s Office is only seeking Denson for questioning at this time as they believe she may have information about McCoy. He asserted that the office was only seeking Denson as a possible connection at this time.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking citizens to be aware of the situation and is asking anyone who spots or has information on McCoy to contact law enforcement immediately. They are asking citizens not to approach these two, but instead call 911 if you spot them.

McCoy is expected to still be affected by injuries to his hip and arm and that one of his injuries would be in need of follow up treatment.

According to the Sheriff’s BOLO McCoy is wanted for charges of aggravated assault on Peace Officer, Armed Robbery, and Home Invasion.

Author

Bernard Matthew Walsh: Obituary

Obituaries

Bernard Matthew Walsh

1935 – 2018

Bernard M. “Bernie” Walsh whose career in the Packaging Department (Mailroom) at the Baltimore Sun newspapers spanned 48 years, died of respiratory failure on November 12, 2018 at the Northside Cherokee Hospital in Canton, Georgia. He was 83.

Mr. Walsh was born in 1935 in Detroit and raised in South Bend, Indiana. After moving to Baltimore, he attended parochial schools before being hired in 1951 by the A.S. Abell Co., then publisher of The Baltimore Sun Newspapers as a “wartime temporary substitute” apprentice. He was later advanced to a regular apprentice and the graduated to Journeyman status.

In 1957 he began a 13-year career as a labor union official rising through the ranks from shop steward to Vice President of the International Mailers Union with jurisdiction over more than 90 local unions throughout the country in the newspaper and printing industry. In 1970 he retired from all union offices to devote his time to his family and career at The Sun while working toward eventually earning his college degree.

In the mid 1970’s, he was promoted to operations supervision and later promoted to management status at The Sun where he held many responsible positions including Assistant Superintendent of the Packaging Department. He retired in 1999.

He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Knights of Columbus, and was a volunteer Patient Representative for years at The Good Samaritan Hospital. He and his wife moved to Canton, Georgia in 2011.

His wife, the former Margaret E. Akehurst, died in 2012 and sister Betty Ann Hall predeceased him in death. He is survived by his daughter, Regina Walsh Davis of Canton, Georgia; son, Bernard “Matt” Walsh III of Bethlehem, PA.; and two grandsons, Thomas Matthew Davis and Michael Patrick Davis of Canton, Georgia; sister, Ernestine Willinghan of Millersville, MD, and many nieces and nephews.

No services are planned.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church, 1908 Waleska Highway 108, Jasper, GA 30143 in memory of Mr. Walsh.

GySgt. Edward Don Palmer: Obituary

Obituaries

Edward Don Palmer

1958 – 2018

GySgt. Edward Don Palmer, USMC, Ret. age 60 of Ellijay, GA passed on Monday, November 5th, 2018 at his residence.

GySgt. Palmer was born on September 16th, 1958 to his late parents, Felix and Juanita Palmer. Edward served his country honorably for over 17 years in the United States Marine Corps. During part of his military career, he served as the radio communicator aboard the HMX1, the Marine helicopter for President Ronald Reagan.  He was a loving father, grandfather, and was of the Baptist faith.

He is survived by his sons and daughter-in-law, John Wesley Palmer, III of North Richland Hills, TX, and Joseph Andrew and Haylee Dee Palmer of Haltom, TX; grandchildren, Jace Michael Palmer and Dash Andrew Palmer; sister, Rose Marie Palmer of West Palm Beach, FL also survives.

A military memorial service will be held at 11am on Saturday, December 1st, 2018 from the Logan Funeral Home Pavilion, with graveside military rites performed by the United States Marine Corps.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Disabled American Veterans, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301 or to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123 in memory of Mr. Palmer.

Logan Funeral Home & Chapel in charge of arrangements

Mabel Davenport: Obituary

Obituaries

Mabel Davenport

October 2, 1943 – November 14, 2018

Mrs. Mabel Davenport age 75 of Cherry Log, GA died Wednesday November 14, 2018.

Mrs. Davenport was born October 2, 1943 in Gilmer County to the late Elijah and Nellie Callahan Ledford. She was a member of the Oakhill Independent Church. Mrs. Davenport is preceded in death by her parents, husband, Edward Davenport, brother, Charles Ledford.

Survivors Include: son and daughter in-law: Gary and Debra Davenport, of Loganville, GA; daughter, Tracey Davenport, of Spring Place, GA; 3 grandchildren, Kandi Davenport Lyon, Brandi Davenport Stephens and Noah Davenport; 5 great grandchildren, Timmy Wallace, Tara Wallace, Tyler Wallace, Bo Stephens and Maverick Stephens.

Funeral Services will be held Sunday November 18th at 3pm from the Oak Hill Independent Church with Rev. Edward Ledford and Rev. Phillip Davenport, Jr. officiating. Interment will follow in the Underwood Cemetery.

The family will receive friends Sunday November 18th from 11:30am until 2:30pm at the funeral home.

Bernhardt Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.

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