BOE Member Nick Weaver Resigns

News

Nick Weaver was sworn into Office on December 19, 2016.

ELLIJAY, Ga – Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs has confirmed that Board Member Nicholas Weaver has tendered his resignation from the Board today, September 11, 2018.

According to the Board’s Official Statement, the resignation comes as he has moved out of the Post 3 area of Gilmer County, he can no longer hold his Post 3 position on the Board.

His resignation becomes effective immediately leaving the board down one member for the work session in two weeks on September 17. It is possible that they will move through this month without a fifth member, but plans are already in motion as an election will be needed to replace Weaver. However, the deadline has already passed to place anything new on November’s ballot.

Until the Board can officially hold an election for the seat next year, they will be looking to appoint someone to fill the space until then. Citizens will recall that current Board Member Ronald Watkins filled his position from a vacancy in 2016 before later running in the election.

As more details become available and the Board selects a replacement, stay with FYN as we continue to update you on this story.

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Apple Ridge Woodturners donate saw to Gilmer High School

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – More than just a saw, Gilmer High School students in Dennis Wilson Jr.’s class are enjoying the perks of a new table saw utilizing a SawStop.

According to Gordon Brewer, of the Apple Ridge Woodturners, the club was in need of a new place to meet as the fire station at which they normally met was a bit too far for some members. As they searched, Brewer stated that the school was kind enough to allow them to meet at the school. Strengthening the relationship, the Woodturners began discussing classes and mentorships for students who wished to take advantage of them.

However, discussion continued as the Woodturners began looking at the high school’s construction class equipment. Wilson spoke of the class’ table saw and issues with safety devices on the saw.

Noticing the need, the Apple Ridge Woodturners Club donated money from within the club, as well as one donation from an outside citizen Mac Logan, to provide a new table saw with several additions for the students utilizing the equipment. The entire package included the SawStop Contractor Saw with the cartridge that drops the blade below the table with any moisture, according to Wilson, who says the system works by grabbing the blade with a cartridge under the table that drops the blade under to prevent serious injury to the operator. While this does ruin both the blade and the cartridge, it holds injury to the operator to between a slight cut to a deep cut instead of possibly losing the entire finger.

The new saw also comes with a new plastic blade guard and a “writhing knife” behind the blade to separate the cut wood from pinching the blade and getting caught which could launch a piece of wood back at the operator.

Apple Ridge Woodturners President Richard Byers told FetchYourNews (FYN) that the club’s 45 members joined together for the $1,799 purchase for the construction class. Typically meeting once a month, the club has been planning since August and moving toward this week as when to officially donate the device. Byers told FYN, should the SawStop device ever be used, it would be, roughly, $200 to replace, which is comparatively cheap in relation to major injury and medical costs.

Moving into the new semester, teacher Dennis Wilson told FYN the main thing he was excited for was the safety upgrade. Stating the most common injury on such a tool is running one’s hand into the blade. Having the state-of-the-art saw helps every one of the 100 students in the shop daily.

“It’s huge,” said Wilson, who commented about constantly being asked by community members who are seeking students who are trained and ready to join construction jobs. Noting the help he gets from the community, Wilson hinted at future projects to return to the community. The constant cycle not only strengthens the relationship, but Wilson said, it is a huge success for the students who are completely responsible for projects from communicating with a client requesting the project to a final in the class that requires them to fully build two sheds like they would a house.

As students move further into the new semester, Wilson told FYN that the saw will be constantly used in his class. Reiterating what the donation means, Wilson noted the age of some of his equipment.

Having the community invest into its own future through the training of students not only shows the course importance but also shows that the community recognizes that importance and cares to improve the quality.

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Joint Development Authority preps for 2018

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) held a special meeting Dec. 12 to finalize items before the new year.

The Authority is filling a gap made last year as the seventh, at-large, member was needed to be appointed. While Penelope Marshall has served in the position, it turns out that no official resolution was ever made. While the JDA reappointed Marshall to the position, it must now go before the other entities of the two cities and the county to be approved by them as well before finalization.

The approval to the position officially lists Marshall as finishing the rest of the term for the next three years.

The JDA also approved their 2018 budget with the major changes of having the executive director employed by the JDA itself now. The smaller budget of the Authority reportedly will allow $15,109  for marketing and $7,500 for travel and entertainment, according to Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford. These main two items are what the JDA uses to grow and expand business.

Sanford mentioned at the meeting that the Authority’s immediate plan with the budget compared to “ground game” in football. He spoke about the restriction from finances meant taking every step one at a time and working on smaller gains in the near future to build into more growth.

The JDA also approved their regular meeting dates for 2018. Those approved meetings will be held on Feb. 5, May 7, Aug. 6, and Nov. 5. Each meeting is to be held at 8 a.m. at the Gilmer Chamber Office, 696 1st Ave in East Ellijay.

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BOE considers 2018 issues in November

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) is moving forward for a change on one front while maybe avoiding change on another for next year.

First, the BOE has approved a motion to begin the process to change the board members compensation from $50 per meeting to $400 per month. Initial response from citizens have been conflicted with such a drastic increase. However, with this approval, the item will be sent to the General Assembly to be considered in the next session in early 2018. Then, if approved, Gilmer County Board of Education Member Michael Bramlett tells FYN that the change will not take effect for board members until the next time their seat is elected.

This means that the current Board of Education members will have to be re-elected before they, or the newly elected member, could take advantage of the compensation change, and that is if it is approved at the General Assembly.

Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FYN the Board has never set anything about compensation previously, which means it was automatically set at $50 per meeting. But a feeling now that the $50 was insufficient for the work put in ushered forth the motion for a change.

Wilkes also stated that this is already being done by neighboring Fannin County. The switch means going from some months with only the work session and regular session and some with at least five or more meetings. Wilkes stated it was likely, more when the Board was searching for a Superintendent before she was hired, to a set rate for the month regardless of the number of meetings.

As for avoiding a change, the BOE listened to one citizen who signed up to speak at their regular meeting. Brian Pritchard spoke to the board to ask them not to change the leadership of their football program. The Gilmer Bobcats football team has seen a lot of change over the last three years with continuing shifts in coaches across two 0-10 seasons. While Pritchard never mentioned names, he stated the current leadership was what the kids needed. It was a leadership “they would play for.”

The point to note came later in the meeting when the Board approved its November personnel changes. No resignations, terminations or retirements were shown on the list. While personnel was discussed earlier in the week during executive session, before Pritchard’s comments, it will be something they say they consider moving forward.

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BOE Bids Farewell to Two Members

News

During its final meeting of the year, December 15, the Gilmer County Board of Education honored its two members that were attending their final meeting.

James Waters and Angela Thomas are both stepping down this month as the newly elected Board Members will be taking office in January. Both Members recieved plaques in honor of their years of service as the Board held a reception preceding their meeting. Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes spoke during the meeting to say how much she would miss them and appreciated what they did for her as she came to the Board saying, “You both bring such insight to the Board. I have depended on both of you during my time here. Angie as a Mother’s perspective on our Board, always concerned with the students and James, also concerned with students, but also helping me through construction projects and knowing the community.”

James Waters has served as a Board Member since 2012, when asked about his time, Waters stated, “I think a lot of people who want to should step up and do it. It’s fun and you learn a lot of stuff… People just need to support this system.” He also left a piece of advice for those coming onto the Board stating, “Listen. Be the last one to speak and if you don’t have anything to say. Don’t say it.”

Angela Thomas has served as a Board Member since 2013. With her time in service, Thomas stated, “It’s just an honor to serve the people of Gilmer County and mainly the students. I have a passion for the kids, and I honestly feel like we are in a lot better place than when I came on the Board. It takes a lot of hard work that all these people have put in to get our academics where the need to be.” FYN also asked Thomas for a piece of advice for the new members. She offered, “Don’t take everything so personal. With controversial issues and a lot of negative comments from people, you have to remember its the seat they get mad at, and not you.”

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