Having lived in Gilmer County for nearly 40 years I consider it home. My husband John and I raised our 4 children here and now enjoy our reward – having 11 of our 15 grandchildren who live in the county.
I am a naturalized citizen who has embraced everything America – the Constitution, our natural God-given Rights, the Rule of Law, and our Flag.
I have had a full life; I studied Engineering, worked as a Health Care professional, studied Marketing & Business Administration, took time off to raise our children, and owned my own business.
We are retired now giving us time to volunteer in our community, do some traveling, and do our best to help safeguard the future of our State and Country.
First Baptist Church Ellijay has been our church home for 37 years. I am a member of the Gilmer Chamber of Commerce, Optimist Club, Gilmer County Republicans, Gilmer County Republican Women, and Georgia Federation of Republican Women.
I’m also a Master Gardener Volunteer putting in many hours at the Ellijay Farmers Market, because how best to use the freedom than to make things beautiful.
My Pro Life position is not one of political expedience like many politicians.
I helped found a crisis pregnancy center in Ellijay which has served young women for over 25 years, was on the board, supported it financially, and was a counselor. On Sanctity of Life Sunday I was on the sidewalk praying and waving signs.
It’s simple for me; you can’t have liberty without life.
My first involvement in politics goes back to 1994 as a volunteer in a congressional race and since that time I have worked on several campaigns. Most recent was as county campaign manager for Donald Trump.
As a regular visitor to the Georgia Capitol I keep informed on current legislation especially those that affect the taxpayers of our State House District 7.
It has been distressing to see bills passed that fail to meet our needs but only help big business or special interest groups, bills that increase our taxes, and bills that burden us with unfunded mandates, regulations, and growing number of fees that hurt our economy.
In retirement I have the luxury of being involved but the average North Georgian is busy with both spouses working, raising a family, taking care of elderly parents, or just trying to make time to spend time with their kids. – All with less money in their pocket.
We should be able to trust that our Representative is watching out for us, and that is something that we are currently lacking. I will be your watchman.
Under our current leadership, over the last 10 years, our annual state budget has grown from $15B to $26B.
In 2015 the largest tax increase in the history of Georgia was passed under HB 170. That’s $1 billion more dollars that is taken out of the private sector every year.
52% of our 2017-18 budget goes to Education – that’s $13B and yet we rank #34 in the nation in education. College tuition has gone up over 75% while state contributions have decreased.
Tuition for Technical Colleges has gone up 100%. Teacher pension plan (TRS) is severely in jeopardy with over $2B in unfunded liabilities and now a change in the pension plan is discouraging prospective teachers from entering into education – the result is less teachers and larger classroom size. How is this good for teachers and the kids??
Leadership tells us that Georgia is the #1 place to do business but professional assessments give Georgia a ranking of #17 in Economic Performance and #19 in Economic Outlook.
Key factors contributing to this ranking; a State Income Tax that we should abolish, Property Tax Burden, and the recent legislative Tax changes – excise tax hike on fuel, and increased burden on counties that did not vote for T-SPLOST.
In the 7th District almost 35% of our residents live at or below the poverty level, our annual household income is around $40,000, and our per capita salary in $11,000. All well below state and national averages.
High property taxes, increasing school taxes, fees, penalties, regulations, fuel taxes, and the increase in sales tax on used cars that was just passed – all reduce spendable income.
We need new leadership who isn’t out of touch with the everyday working men and women of Georgia, and really, who aren’t out of touch with reality.
It seems that big government only sees us as a way to get more money so they can give handouts to their buddies. We pay more taxes for gas while politicians wan tto exempt Delta from paying sales tax on jet fuel! Who do you think needs the tax break?
I’ve had enough of the good old boy system. We are already taxed and regulated more than enough.
We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the US. Outdoor recreation attracts mountain bikers, hikers, boaters, fishing enthusiasts, and more. Other attractions include all the new locally owned wineries in their beautiful settings in all three counties in the District, cabin rentals, and most recentlyfabulous wedding venues.
Local Chambers of Commerce work hard to bring in businesses with higher paying jobs and to attract tourists, as this industry is now the biggest contributor to our economy.
We can all work together to make our counties attractive to tourists, business, and families – without compromising our Conservative North GA values.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, limited government principles and a culture of hard work and what made the American economy great. Let’s just go back to that instead of subsidies and big government.
Significant tax cuts, getting rid of penalties imposed by recent legislation, lowering the corporate income tax rate, and reducing the cost that each wage earner pays for benefits received by illegal immigrants, an annual cost to the state of $2.4B for education, health care, justice and law enforcement, public assistance, and government services.
I also support a restructuring of the welfare system. Stronger requirements have worked in other States, why not here in Georgia.
I will work with the many like-minded members of the House and Senate to make changes that reflect our principles of Conservatism.
For years we have been promised “Conservative leadership”, “protection for our North Georgia values”, “Constitutional freedoms”, “protection for our Religious Freedom”, “support for our public schools and teachers”, “gun rights”, “good paying jobs”, a “crack down on illegal immigration”, a “stronger economy”, “fiscally conservative policies – less spending – lower taxes”, and the “end of state government benefits for those here illegally”.
These are all promises taken right off the campaign mailers sent out by my big government opponent. What has he delivered on?
Campaign promises are soon forgotten, our Constitution trampled on and despite overwhelming Republican control we still haven’t passed Constitutional Carry, meaningful tax reform, and the fight for Religious Freedom for all continues.
Billions of dollars are paid in benefits to illegals, and government keeps growing despite the promise to “downsize government”.
Out of control spending does not reflect “fiscally conservative principles” and the promise to “keep taxes low” turned into the biggest tax increase in the history of Georgia.
As I visit around the district I am struck by all the needs and concerns expressed to me – teen suicides and deaths from opioid overdose, the injustice of finding criminals have more rights than the victim, a shortage of affordable nursing homes, and the frustration of dealing with mental illness.
I have said from the very beginning of my campaign that I am not running AGAINST the establishment – I am running FOR the People of District 7, Fannin, Gilmer, and Dawson County.
I will work diligently to meet their needs and not those of a minority of special interest groups.
With our bloated budget and increased revenue thanks to a windfall as a result of President Trump’s federal tax cuts –surely we can do more to help the people of North Georgia instead of subsidizing Atlanta and their agenda.
The Primary election is May 22nd, and you can start early voting April 30th. I ask you for your vote so that, together, we can restore principled Conservative leadership to Georgia.
Margaret Williamson VoteWilliamson2018.com
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education has detailed the plans for their buildings over the next five years at a board retreat in March.
The plan incorporates the use of Instructional Units (IUs) in relation to state and federal programs utilized to spread funding to counties based on their “need.” By better planning facility use and more details on those facilities, the Gilmer County Charter School System (GCCSS) hopes to maximize their IUs to secure as much funding as possible from these state programs.
The funding itself, however, comes in the form of reimbursements instead of pre-project funds. Most citizens should recall this is the same process the board is currently using a part of its coming renovations at Gilmer High School (GHS). The applications will allow for partial reimbursement of a few parts of the project including items like roofing and HVAC work.
Additionally, the board retreat allowed members to discuss and see the current plan on what they will be seeking in terms of facility changes and movements to come. Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes asserted that the plan is the board’s current intentions for the future, but that it was also not set in stone. Parts of the plan rely on approval of the next Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) for example. She also told FetchYourNews that the plan could change with major unforeseen circumstances.
Allowing the flexibility to change gives the school board a cushion for contingencies and alterations while also giving the guide for the next five years.
The plan described will see the board finishing up the GHS renovations before adding onto Mountain View Elementary school. The board is planning to have Ellijay Primary School (EPS), Ellijay Elementary School (EES), and Mountain View Elementary School converted into full, preschool through fifth grade (P-5) elementary schools. Looking even further ahead, the board is also discussing moving what is now EPS to a new building on the board’s property near Yukon, near Clear Creek Middle School.
As a part of this conversion, the three P-5 elementary Schools would serve their local districts where they are located. Students would then move to Clear Creek Middle School as the county’s sole middle school for grades six through eight. Moving up from there, students would attend Gilmer High School’s campus with the current Gilmer Middle School serving on campus as a ninth-grade academy and the current GHS building serving grades 10 through 12.
One possibility could see EPS becoming a preschool to second grade with EES as third grade to fifth grade until the new building can be completed, but regardless the plan will ultimately end in the three P-5 schools.
That new facility would have the board moving away from Ellijay Primary School, avoiding the damages from its location in the flood plain and moving out of a nearly 50-year-old building, as well as having the new building in a better location for its district.
Once the new building for EPS is completed, the board wants to look at EES for needed renovations at that time. According to Gilmer Schools Assistant Superintendent, Administrative Services, Stuart Sheriff, completing EES renovations should see a potential 10-year period where the board’s facilities would only need normal maintenance, requiring no major renovations.
With people still asking why the board does not utilize their old location for Oakland Elementary, Dr. Wilkes noted that Oakland can only house 247 students making it too small to be utilized. She also noted other issues the board has faced with the location, including sewage leasing and relative location to other schools and district possibilities.
With the plan set, the board has already been moving on GHS renovations and will begin phase one of the two-phase project this summer.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Final tallies have been made and the Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) have officially approved their calendar for the 2018-2019 school year.
A stark change this year showed one calendar was far above the others. Calendar 2 collected 859 votes, accounting for 48.18 percent of the vote. Approved by the board, this calendar is set as the plan for the next school year and will be utilized to plan everything for the coming year.
The votes were collected over the last month online on the BOE’s website through polling from public citizens, but the candidate calendars were created by teams within each school before being submitted for consideration.
Be sure to look below to find the Draft 2 Calendar approved in the board’s March meeting.
Also set for next year, schedules were set for salaries and supplements. The workforce continues to see rises in insurance as well as minor changes for positions in transitions as well as the step up raises for staff and teachers hitting milestones in their careers.
Financial reports were presented at the meeting setting the board’s status as of the end of January with revenue coming in over expenditures by $5,168,037. Just past the fiscal year’s midpoint, the finances still reflect expectations to see that number drop under expenditures to -$1,298,797. Though no one showed for the board’s first scheduled budget session for next year, there will be another meeting set for citizens to speak closer to June as the budget gets set into detail for the next fiscal year.
Along with finances, the board ratified a purchase approved by poll for equipment purchases for the elementary and primary schools. Mountain View’s approved expense equaled $85,179 from Southeast Outdoor Solutions. Ellijay Elementary’s approved expense equaled $71,88o from Superior Play Systems. Ellijay Primary’s approved expense equaled $76,493 from Hasley Recreation Inc. All three purchase funding comes from the Local Capital Projects budget.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Charter School System has received results for 2017’s CCRPI. Releasing the following information, the schools have shown marked improvement in testing since last year.
The schools utilize this information when creating plans for next year as they see what areas need help and what areas have succeeded with current teaching methods.
These scores also indicate an above average scoring for most of the county’s schools, as well as an above average score overall for the district, which is an obvious improvement over years passed.
The following is a release from Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes:
The Georgia Department of Education released the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) 2016-2017 school year data on November 2nd.
The CCRPI is Georgia’s statewide accountability system, implemented in 2012 to replace No Child Left Behind’s Adequate Yearly Progress measurement (AYP). It measures schools and districts on a 100-point scale based on multiple indicators of performance.
Five of Gilmer County Charter Schools six schools saw an increase in their CCRPI scores compared to their 2016 scores.
Ellijay Elementary School (EES) made an impressive gain of 13.6 points with a 2017 CCRPI score of 81.1, compared with a 2016 CCRPI score of 67.5. Lauree Pierce, principal at Ellijay Elementary School, stated, “The data indicates that EES is heading in the right direction. To add to the excitement, changes implemented in the 2017-18 school year are sure to have a positive effect on these numbers next year.”
On Nov. 3, Pierce and her administrative staff cooked a steak lunch with homemade desserts for all EES staff to show appreciation for all their hard work.
Gilmer Middle School is comprised of fifth and sixth grades and each grade receives a CCRPI score. The fifth grade receives an elementary CCRPI score and the sixth grade receives a middle school CCRPI score.
According to the scores released, the state’s 2017 CCRPI average was 72.9 for elementary schools, 73 for middle schools and 77.00 for high schools. The state CCRPI average was 75.
For Gilmer County Charter School System, the averages for elementary, middle and high school were 74.3, 79.1 and 71. The district average is 75.2, which exceeded the state average.
The numbers are based on data from the 2016-2017 academic year. The CCRPI incorporates 50 points for achievement, 40 points for progress and 10 points for achievement gap. The score can also include additional Challenge Points.
Ellijay Elementary, Gilmer Middle and Clear Creek Middle are well above the state CCRPI average; however, there is still continued work to be done.
Gilmer High Schools’ graduation rate is well above the state average and we are working to close the gap on CCRPI performance at the high school level.
Our teachers, leaders, and staff have worked diligently to focus their efforts on student achievement and success. The hard work and dedication of each school’s team led to the improved CCRPI scores and they should definitely be commended.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Approximately 8 a.m. this morning, Nov. 6, Gilmer County Sheriff’s Deputies reportedly spotted a vehicle on North Main Street matching description of a stolen vehicle report from Nov. 2.
As deputies began to initiate a traffic stop, Sheriff Stacy Nicholson reports, the vehicle pulled into a residence and three suspects fled the vehicle on foot. These three moved in the direction of the Ellijay Primary and Elementary schools.
Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FYN that the two schools SROs (School Resource Officer), Officer Josh Ensley for EPS and Officer Zach Weaver for EES, heard another officer reporting a spotting of a stolen vehicle and calling for back-up. “At the call for back-up, our SRO team recognized the area as being in close proximity to our schools and notified school administration who placed the schools on lockdown,” Dr. Wilkes said.
As the suspects fled into the vicinity, the SROs joined the pursuit after locking down the schools. Wilkes goes on to say those same two officers were also a part of the apprehension of the suspects.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Heather Raquel Pisony, Kristin Charlene Nunez, and Phillip Wayne Morris Jr. were apprehended without incident in the area behind Ellijay Primary School.
They are currently in custody and the Sheriff’s Office states, “There is no further cause for alarm.” All three currently face charges on Obstruction of an Officer (Misdemeanor), Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer (Felony), Theft by Receiving Stolen Property (Felony), and Possession of Tools for the Commission of a Crime (Felony).
Dr. Wilkes also informed FYN that the schools response was “a textbook lockdown” with no incidents in either school.
Lasting 15 minutes, the schools proceeded with the lockdown according to plans. The system practices drills for lockdowns like this several times a year with more for other reasons on individual needs.
When asked about the incident, Dr. Wilkes replied, “We are truly blessed to have such outstanding law enforcement officers from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office serving to keep our students and staff safe.”
Ellijay, GA – Gilmer County saw recognition during October’s Board of Education (BOE) meetings for teachers selected as Teacher of the Year for each school in the system. Within 24 hours of their official recognition at the board meeting, one of these teachers would be named the Gilmer Teacher of the Year.
Recognized for Ellijay Primary School, Casey Whitley is a 14-year veteran teacher who has a Masters Degree in Special Education as well as a certification for Special Education for Pre-K to 12th grade. She has taught at Ellijay Primary School for three years. Prior to EPS, Whitley was the preschool specialist at Gilmer Head Start. She and her husband have three daughters of their own.
She says the best part of teaching is watching students progress. She has been called an advocate for her students as her Principal reports she builds engagement resources and strategies for student success.
Recognized for Ellijay Elementary School, Connie Dean is an ESOL teacher and Secretary of the School Governance Team. She works to support students as a leader of several student service projects.
Dean also was a part of a Grant allowing students access to the EES Media Center one day a week for most of the Summer.
Recognized for Mountain View Elementary, Arlene Bryan is a 30-year veteran of special education. Her administration nominated her due to a continuous impact on children through high expectations and her efforts as a role model for fellow teachers.
Bryan will be retiring this year from Mountain View. Administration continued to praise her humility throughout her years of service.
Recognized for Clear Creek Middle School, Adam Palmer serves as the Chorus Teacher and the Cross Country Coach. Palmer was praised for a unique ability in the school to work with all students to improve character building in daily lessons.
His administration’s nomination praised the lasting effects of his teacher-student relationships that they say have improved the school’s quality.
Recognized for Gilmer High School, Mary-Melissa May is in her sixth year of teaching at the high school where she teaches Honor Biology and coaches the Swim Team. She also serves on the GHS Leadership Team as the Science Department Chair. Constant hard work sees May researching best practices for teaching Biology and sharing in Professional Learning Communities (PLC).
Not only does she coach the GHS Swim Team, but May was reported by her administration as instrumental in starting the varsity team four years ago. She also took 10 swimmers from Gilmer to state competition last season.
As for the teacher who received prestige as the Gilmer County Teacher of the Year, recognized from Gilmer Middle School, Shannon Goble was treated to a surprise announcement early in the morning of October 17.
As she was “pulled from her classroom” for a quick word with one of the faculty, her students and fellow teachers prepared the hallway where she teaches for a warm reception for the announcement. Returning, Goble rounded the corner on her hall to a flood of cheers as students and teachers alike waved a banner of congratulations and offered flowers for her.
Shannon Goble is called always positive and helpful by her peers who also say she shows she cares through a friendly and kind nature. Even her students note she always smiles and is funny as she helps them with their daily lessons.
Administration says it is her servitude that shows them she is all about the people she interacts with daily.
Goble herself says she never really thought about achieving Teacher of the Year for her school, much less for the entire system. She told FYN, “There is nothing better. It let’s you know that what you are doing truly matters.”
Goble said she never doubted her students appreciated her as they share their happiness with her, but it is something more to also know her colleagues think so highly of her.
With over 20 years of educational experience, Goble worked in the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) prior to teaching. She has been teaching 5th grade for most of her years at GMS.
Speaking of the award, Goble said she wants to continue her efforts as she has been for all of her years. Saying that just like the kids she has to continue learning new things and improving every day, Goble commented, “I think of myself as a big kid.”
A word to the voters from Scott Chastain (paid for by Campaign to Elect Scott Chastain)
I keep hearing “experience matters” and I agree with that. I have the experience and education necessary and will be ready on day one to do my job as your next Probate Judge. Contrary to what you have heard or been told, due to our population here in Gilmer County the state of Georgia does not require you to be an attorney in order to perform the duties of the Probate Judge. To my knowledge, Gilmer County has never had an attorney serve in this position. The Probate Judge does need to have common sense, common courtesy, respect, fairness, compassion and the ability to research. I believe my years in business dealing with the public, managing employees and preparing budgets combined with the attributes I have listed above, make me the best choice for Gilmer County’s next Probate Judge.
The definition of integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. If you haven’t watched the debate from April 11th, click here to watch it. Listen very closely to the questions and the answers given. I was shocked and disappointed in a few of the answers given during that debate. The Probate Judge is required by law to do several things but performing a marriage ceremony is not one of them. Those of you that know me, know that I have always tried my best to be honest even when I knew it wasn’t going to be what some wanted to hear. I have a very good friend that told me one time that “plain talk is easily understood”. I am not saying things to get your vote, I am saying them because it’s the truth. I hope that my life has been a testimony to this and that you know that when I am elected, I will treat all of you with fairness, compassion and respect. Please vote for me on May 24th and allow me to serve you as the next Gilmer County Probate Judge.
Candidate Dr. Paul Broun talks 9th District Congressional Elections and Voting.