Planning and Zoning shows off staff at open house

Community, Police & Government
Picture above, from left to right, the Planning and Zoning staff includes Matt Green, James Holloway, Yvette Feliberty, Karen Henson, Loy Jarrett, and Andrew Mathis. Not pictured is Suzanne Mullinax.

Pictured above, from left to right, the Planning and Zoning staff includes Matt Green, James Holloway, Yvette Feliberty, Karen Henson, Loy Jarrett, and Andrew Mathis. Not pictured is Suzanne Mullinax.

 

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Settling in after losing a director in December and going through the interim as well as a move to a new building, Gilmer County’s Planning and Zoning office hosted an open house today, May 23, to showcase its current staff and building.

Welcoming citizens with refreshments and raffles, the entire staff was on hand to answer questions, introduce themselves and host the day between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Director Karen Henson, who was confirmed as the new director from her interim position in April, told FetchYourNews she is grateful for the new location as it is better oriented to operate as an office for the department’s needs.

The new office is also continuing the Planning and Zoning department’s increase in construction as the economy continues its growth. The month of May alone has already seen 18 new houses permitted with a week still to go in the month.

While the day celebrates the staff and their hard work, it also serves to remind citizens of the new location on the roundabout across the street from the courthouse, located at 9 Southside Square.

 

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Hunter Hill visits Ellijay

Election 2018

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Continuing his campaign for governor, Hunter Hill made a stop in Ellijay May 2 to speak with local citizens about his plans for the office if elected.

Hill spoke to local citizens over breakfast at Mike’s Ellijay Restaurant on state Route 282.

Arriving at 8 a.m., Governor Candidate Hunter Hill steps off his bus to meet citizens at Mike's Ellijay Restaurant.

Arriving at 8 a.m., Gubernatorial candidate Hunter Hill steps off his bus to meet citizens at Mike’s Ellijay Restaurant.

Hill is a former Army Ranger who has been in the State Senate for five years now. After resigning his seat in August to run for governor, Hill has been focusing on his vision for Georgia and spreading that message to rally voters. Today, he spoke with citizens in Ellijay about the ideals for “less government, less taxes, and more freedom.”

With “career politicians,” as Hill noted, in office, it is an undermining of our values as a nation. He called out those politicians saying they were not even willing to risk their next election to uphold their oath.

Focusing more specifically on the recent issue of sanctuary cities, Hill adamantly against the topic, stated, “If a city or county in this state were to claim itself a sanctuary city, they would not receive a nickel of state funding.”

After his speech, Hunter Hill paused to answer questions from citizens attending his breakfast meet and greet.

After his speech, Hunter Hill paused to answer questions from citizens attending his breakfast meet and greet.

His second point on his vision for the office reiterated his opinions and intention to eliminate the state income tax. With bordering states already without an income tax, the competitive disadvantage is hurting our state, according to Hill. He went on to say replacing the income tax with a consumption tax setup would alleviate the tax burden from honest Georgians and redistribute that to everyone including visitors to the state and even those making money in illegal ways. Hill stated, “A broad-based consumption tax allows us to have more people that we’re bringing money in from, which allows us to do so at lower rates.”

On a personal note, Hill mentioned his faith pushed him to focus not only on the points of pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and also religious liberty. FetchYourNews asked Hill if he would be seeking a “Faith Restoration Act” in his first year to which he replied, “Very good chance of that, yeah.”

Hill did confirm that he wanted to pursue faith-based adoption as a part of it saying, “We’ve got to protect our faith-based adoption agencies. We’ve just got to do it. A lot of the reasons that faith-based adoption agencies get involved is to be helpful in congruence with their faith. If you don’t protect their ability to do it in congruence with their faith, then they will just stop doing it altogether.”

 

Meeting with Gilmer residents for breakfast allowed Hunter Hill a chance to meet and speak with local citizens about issues and his vision for the Governor's Office.

Meeting with Gilmer residents for breakfast allowed Hunter Hill a chance to meet and speak with local citizens about issues and his vision for the governor’s office.

Protecting people of faith and their ability to live and work based on that faith was a focus of Hill’s speech about the governor’s office, but also on his words about his future view of the state. He noted after winning on key policy issues aligned with our values and principals, he wanted to remind senators and house members of the values and principles for which they were elected, providing a singular vision to move forward under.

 

“Fighting for the people of Georgia” is what he says his focus is as Hill says he sees polls with him ahead of Kemp and closing in on Cagle. Separating himself, Hill says he’s not the career politician like Cagle and is very different than Kemp on issues like the income tax and limited government. However, when comparing, Hill said he wanted to focus on his campaign and his vision to protect liberties and endorsements like the Georgia Right to Life to be a different candidate.

Most of those present were already Hill supporters like retired Gilmer County citizen, George Winn, who said he’s been a Hill supporter “all the way,” based upon his stances of the military and being a Christian conservative who is a believable and trustworthy conservative.

Others like Ken Bailey find themselves supporting Hill as the best candidate. Bailey stated he is following the campaign because “Hunter is not a politician. He is a fresh, young face and not a part of the established system, which needs to be broken up, I think. I think he’s got good ideas. We don’t need to have a state income tax that puts a handicap on us.” Bailey went on to say that he liked some of the other candidates and even knew some personally, but felt Hill was the best choice.

He also commented on his appreciation of the choice in the election. With fine candidates available, Bailey said its great to not have to pick the best of a bad selection.

Hill continues his bus tour across Georgia with his final stop at the Cobb GOP Headquarters in Marietta Saturday afternoon, May 5.

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UPDATE: Drusilla Patrick autopsy confirms homicide

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A new update has come from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in the case of the murder of Drusilla Patrick.

Completing the autopsy, GBI has confirmed a gunshot wound leading to homicide. Though believed to be Drusilla Patrick, the release states they are still awaiting a formal forensic identification of the body. Though officials are continuing the investigation into her death, another new development came with news of Charles Michael Patrick’s death in custody at the Gilmer County Detention Center.

As reported in the original press release, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, the GBI and Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) executed a search warrant at the Patrick home on Ridgemont Drive in Ellijay, Georgia, which extended into Thursday. On Thursday, human remains believed to be those of Drusilla Patrick were located on the property.

The official release for the completion of the autopsy states:

The autopsy for Drusilla Patrick was completed at the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office on Friday, April 27, 2018. The cause of death was determined to be gunshot wound and the manner of death was determined to be homicide. A formal forensic identification of Drusilla Patrick is pending.

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Murder Arrest in Gilmer

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A joint operation between the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO), the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), and United States Probation Officers culminated in an arrest yesterday of Charles Michael Patrick, 72, of Ridgemont subdivision in Ellijay, GA.

Federal Probation officers were supervising Patrick, according to a GBI press release, when they became concerned about the whereabouts of his wife, Drusilla Patrick. During the ensuing investigation by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, a request was made for assistance from GBI.

Charles Michael Patrick, 72, was arrested Thursday, April 26, on murder charges for his wife, Drusilla Patrick.

Charles Michael Patrick, 72, was arrested Thursday, April 26, on murder charges for his wife, Drusilla Patrick.

Their press release states, “When the probation officer received information that Charles Patrick re-married unexpectedly, he questioned Patrick about Drusilla Patrick and received conflicting statements.”

The Gilmer Sheriff’s Office states that in addition to Federal Probation, Patrick was being monitored as a registered sex offender by GCSO.

A cooperative investigation by the GBI and GCSO revealed: “Drusilla Patrick was last seen alive between December 2016 and January 2017.” GBI also reports that Patrick had told different people different reasons for Drusilla’s absence and that they were not actually married, having been legally divorced in 1970.

Additionally, Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson noted it was excellent “head’s up police work” by federal probation officers and Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office Sex Offender Registry Compliance Officer is what led to the solving of a murder and missing person that had never been reported.

According to the GBI:

“On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, the GBI and GCSO executed a search warrant at the Patrick home on Ridgemont Drive in Ellijay, Georgia which extended into Thursday. On Thursday, human remains believed to be those of Drusilla Patrick were located on the property. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday, April 27th at the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in Decatur, Georgia.”

The Sheriff’s office reports that Patrick was taken into custody at a local motel without incident on Thursday, April 26, by Sheriff Nicholson, Gilmer County Deputy Sheriffs, GBI Agents, and a Federal Probation Officer.

Nicholson stated, “I can not begin to give adequate praise to Corporal Jason Reed and the federal probation officers.”

Patrick is currently housed in the Gilmer County Detention Center charged with Murder and held without bond at this time. With the investigation continuing and the GBI claiming additional charges could still be forthcoming, officials are not revealing anything further at this time.

Sheriff Nicholson did make one final comment to commend the work of his Detectives and the GBI Region 8 agents for their excellent investigation into a crime that could have very easily never been discovered, much less solved.

Read the official press releases from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for further information.

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Details surface on Officer Impersonation

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Releasing information about this weekend’s incident, the County’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is continuing their investigation into an officer impersonation.

Occurring on April 21, a local student from Gilmer High School told officers she was heading home late from a Senior Trip to Zoo Atlanta and a Braves game. Getting off the bus about 1:50 am and leaving the school ten minutes later, the student directly home.

While officials are not releasing the name of the student, they did say they are trying to get as much information as they can out to the public as they need the community’s help being on the lookout for this man or for any details helping the investigation.

The student was driving home in her Nissan Maxima when she saw emergency lights activated behind her. The strange part of the traffic stop was noted by the student as she had not noticed the car behind her previously because it did not have headlights on before activating emergency lights. The “fake officer” did not introduce himself when approaching the car but instead asked the student if she knew why he had stopped her?

She told him she didn’t know, to which he responded she was running 50 miles per hour with the speed limit at 55 and her low beam headlights were on. According to the incident report, the man stated “Obviously, you are not drunk,” before returning to his vehicle. Then, he returned and commented, “Obviously I was wrong, I made a mistake.”

Ending the traffic stop, the man returned to his vehicle and u-turned onto the road heading back towards Ellijay. Lasting eight to ten minutes total, the incident had several issues that cause the student to question. Officials have also issued a public release offering advice on how to handle traffic stops with unmarked cars. Captain Brian Shepard of Gilmer County’s Criminal Investigations Division confirmed, especially with this incident, that officers in unmarked cars understand that a vehicle may continue safely to a well-lit business or public spot before stopping for the traffic stop.

While some citizens have expressed concerns about this being viewed as refusing to stop, Shepard tells FYN that these citizens need not worry. Following their advice by traveling a little further to protect yourself or contacting 911 to confirm a traffic stop of an unmarked car is part of the job of protecting citizens.

With the incident over the weekend, Gilmer’s CID is continuing investigations into the details the student was able to notice past a flashlight the man was shining on her. The report states this man could be a pale white male with blue eyes, a “five o’clock shadow” resembling growing a goatee, and sideburns covering his ears. He appeared short and stout with a flat top haircut.

The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone possessing information regarding the unmarked car over the weekend to please contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 706-635-4646 or the non-emergency number to Dispatch at 706-635-8911.

 

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Possible person impersonating an officer

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has reported an incident in which a female was stopped by an unmarked vehicle over the weekend. However, the Sheriff’s office has no record of the stop.

Though they report the female involved was not harmed and they are investigating the situation, the Sheriff’s office offered a few tips on their social media for citizens of the county to avoid risky situations. In their release, they noted these tips for use when being pulled over by an unmarked vehicle.

“If at any time you are being stopped by an unmarked vehicle, turn on your hazard lights and proceed to an area that is well lit, preferably a gas station or business with a camera. If you are in a remote area, turn on your hazard lights and call 911 to verify it is an officer making a legitimate stop.

If you are pulled over and think the person is impersonating an officer: ask for their identification or badge, ask the officer to have another person dispatched to the scene or if you’re still uneasy, just call 911.

If anyone has any information regarding the unmarked car over the weekend, please contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 706-635-4646 or the non-emergency number to Dispatch at 706-635-8911.”

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Inmate trash pickup returns

News

(Photo by Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office)

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners (BOC) has been considering litter in the county for over three months now.

As FetchYourNews originally reported in February, “Roadside trash concerns rising in Gilmer” and further discussed in a Special Called Meeting, the BOC was set to hire seasonal employees to cover trash pickup ahead of the county’s mowing team. With a cost close to $45,000, the board was all approved and ready to move forward with the hiring when Chairman Paris returned with another option that was approved in the March Regular Meeting. For a similar cost, the county could hire one extra sheriff’s deputy to supervise prison inmates to travel the roads instead.

This option would serve the county year-round instead of a specified summer season. Additionally, the program enlists inmates of the prison system to provide service to the county during incarceration.

According to the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, “Despite a very cool and wet last two weeks, Sheriff’s Office inmate work detail has performed litter pick up on Big Creek Road and as of April 9, 2018, has moved on to Roy Road. The inmate workers have picked up 117 bags of litter and have delivered 2,300 pounds of garbage to the Gilmer Landfill.”

The project was approved in the March meeting of the BOC with set expectations to analyze and monitor the progress so that the commissioners could keep track of the project.

The Sheriff’s Office has utilized an inmate workforce to pick up litter on the county’s roadways in the past. However, according to the Sheriff’s Office, “Budget cuts beginning in 2009 caused the program to come to an end.”

With the new funding allocation covering salary and benefits of a deputy sheriff, the office is utilizing equipment it already possessed to operate the transportation and needs of the job.

Originally, the BOC stated that with the mowing season upon us, these crews would travel ahead of the mowing teams. Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson confirmed the immediate goal for the inmate work detail will be to go ahead of the county’s Road Department mowing crews, so the litter can be picked up before the mowers shred and scatter it.

He went on to add that on inclement weather days, the inmates will be utilized to accomplish “inside” jobs. As the work detail gets caught up ahead of the mowing schedule, it will be bounced around to address problem areas when possible.

With an ongoing concern by citizens and businesses about the issue of litter in the county, Chairman Paris has stated that this is not the end answer, but a step towards a solution.

Sheriff Nicholson would like to remind everyone that there are pretty costly fines for anyone convicted of littering and that “intent” is not a requirement of the offense, meaning trash blowing out of the bed of a pickup truck is just as much “littering” as someone purposely throwing it out the window of his or her car. Fines for someone caught littering can reach $1,000.

 

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Community development on agenda in commissioners’ March meetings

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners addressed community development this month with a possible final solution to roadside trash pick-up as well as applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Trash pick-up has been a developing issue over the last two months now as the board originally planned on hiring five seasonal employees for trash pick-up to work through the summer preceding the county’s mowing teams. However, a special called meeting in February saw new ideas as the commissioners began considering a new deputy in the Sheriff’s Department, similar in costs, to put inmates on the roads picking up trash.

During that meeting, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stated this crew would consist of four or five non-risk inmates under the supervision of one deputy. He described this option as a better long-term solution and one that is typically more favorably viewed in the public perception.

At their regular March meeting, the idea was restated for the public saying the Sheriff’s Department would not need a new vehicle for the added deputy. The county will receive reports of the progress of the program to monitor and are still expected to have the teams move ahead of mowers in the summer months. This item was officially approved this month, so citizens should be seeing these teams on county roads, not state-owned roads, in the coming months. They will also be skipping over roads already cleaned and maintained by the Keep Gilmer Beautiful organization.

March also saw the commissioners approve a CDBG for the area of Sunlight Road and Roundtop Road. Proposed by the Ellijay-Gilmer Water Sewage Authority, the approval by the board is the first step in the grant application process, meaning this is still early stages of a competitive grant process that the county will be entering into application for.

If accepted, it would allow expansion of the water/sewer system closer to the southwest corner of Gilmer County, closer to the county line, according to Ellijay-Gilmer Water Sewage Authority Director Gary McVey. He estimated 200 residents of the area could be affected by the expansion. With the application due April 1, late fall could see the beginning of construction if approved with an expected one-year construction time.

In addition to these items, the Board of Commissioners approved applications for 2018 River Outfitter’s licenses for Cartecay River Experience and Coosawattee River Resort and an Alcoholic Beverage license for Mohammad Nizar Tharani at Ellijay Mini Mart.

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