Schools Close due to Snow

Featured, News

Several counties are currently under a winter storm warning until 7am Saturday. Periods of snow (1-4 inches) are expected making difficult travel conditions. Road conditions are expected to deteriorate through the day and into the evening. The safety of  students and staff is always a primary concern and for that reason the following Schools will be closed today December 8, 2017.

Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns, Lumpkin, White, Dawson, Murray, & Cherokee County North Carolina.

Please use caution as you travel.  FetchYourNews will update on conditions as the winter weather continues to effect our area.

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.

Author

Gilmer Receives CCRPI Scores

Bobcat's Corner, News

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.

EES staff are treated to a steak lunch in celebration of the hard work to get the school to a 13.6 point increase on the 2017 CCRPI.

EES staff are treated to a steak lunch in celebration of the hard work to get the school to a 13.6 point increase on the 2017 CCRPI.

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.

Author

JDA Meeting Sees Sanford’s Start as Executive Director

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) met for the first time with their new executive director, Kent Sanford, Nov. 6.

Along with the new director, the JDA is moving forward with swapping employment of the executive director from a listed Gilmer Chamber employee to a direct employment with the JDA. Since the move has already been approved by the Board, the process is simply awaiting the time needed to complete the paperwork and finalize the logistics of the transition.

Sanford updated the Board about his first days saying he has spent a lot of time speaking with counterparts in surrounding counties, local project meetings for progress, and potential project meetings for future growth.

Sanford also met with local mayors as well as Pickens County officials as the new Gilmer-Pickens JDA begins coming together. While plans for training and classes are being made, Sanford is already integrating himself into the projects of the Greater Gilmer JDA.

Those projects continue with the JDA as well, involving one that Chairman Travis Crouch called Project X. While allusions were made to involvement with the school system, no definitive confirmation was made.

Another project underway is involving the Georgia Department of Transportation regarding a traffic light in the county. The JDA did mention the state is requiring a “warrant study” of the intersection in question. Avoiding winter and holiday traffic, the study may wait until February to be undertaken.

Again, with projects like these, the Board declines to add details to their projects as there are sensitive topics, financial deals, and non-disclosure agreements that could be negatively affected if details were given.

Author

Stolen Vehicle Report Leads to Three Arrests

Bobcat's Corner, News
Phillip Wayne Morris, Jr.

Phillip Wayne Morris Jr.

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.

Kristin Charlene Nunez

Kristin Charlene Nunez

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.

Heather Raquel Pisony

Heather Raquel Pisony

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.”

 

Author

GHS Renovations Ready for ECAC Committee

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Board of Education spoke in there September meetings about the coming renovations to the local high school.

Still in the very early stages, the renovation project is currently in its application stage for state funding. According to Assistant Superintendent Administrative Services Stuart Sheriff, the application has been approved. However, the approval included a project to replace the standing seam metal roof. However, Sheriff states they are not planning on replacing the roof as it is “basically a 40-year roof, and we’re at 20 years.”

Instead of replacing the roof, the plan is to replace the flat roofing in the high school such as the front office where issues have arisen. The resolution of the Board is to go back to the state officially stating they don’t want to replace the standing seam roofing, but the flat roofing instead.

Next month will see the final application from this issue according to Sheriff, and the RFQ (Request For Qualifications) for Construction Managers has been released. October could see great steps into the project as Sheriff says he expects the RFQ to return, the ECAC (E-SPLOST Construction Advisory Committee) to meet, and they expect to be back in October’s meeting for the Board to look at the Construction Manager.

As the project continues, Sheriff tells FYN that actual construction is expected to begin before students leave for the summer. The early stages could included work on the roof and other projects that will not distract or interrupt classes and students studies. However, these preliminary ideas are subject to change as the Manager, Architect, and  ECAC continues to meet monthly and details are ironed out.

 

Author

*UPDATED* School Closings Due to Severe Weather Conditions

News
  • Union County Schools will be CLOSED Monday, September 11th and Tuesday, September 12th due to Gov. Nathan Deal declaring a state of emergency for all 159 counties in Georgia. Please continue to monitor here for further updates.
  •  Fannin County Schools will be closed for students and all personnel on Monday, September 11 and Tuesday, September 12, for students, as well as all faculty and staff, except for 12-month personnel, district directors, and principals. As long as it is safe to do so, all 12-month personnel, as well as district directors and principals, should anticipate reporting by 9:00 a.m. on September 12.  These personnel should note, though, that this expectation may be revised, depending on the weather conditions overnight; nonetheless, if you ever believe it is unsafe to report, please notify your immediate supervisor. In addition, the Board of Education work session meeting that was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 12, has been cancelled.  Please continue to stay safe!
  • Pickens County Schools closed Monday, September 11th – TWELVE MONTH EMPLOYEES REPORT AT NORMAL TIME. Schools will also be closed on Tuesday, September 12.  Twelve month employees will be contacted late Monday as to whether they will be required to come to work on Tuesday. All school activities, including athletic events and after-school programs, will be canceled.
  • Gilmer County Schools  will be closed Monday, September 11th and Sepember 12th due to Hurricane Irma. We have made this decision after consultation with local emergency management authorities and careful consideration of safety factors, such as the probability of severe winds especially at higher elevations, debris, dangerous road conditions and downed power lines left in its wake. Only 12 month staff should report if safe to do so.
  • Dawson County Schools  will be closed on Monday, September 11, and Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Twelve month employees will operate on a 2 hour delay.
  • Lumpkin County Schools closed due to the weather forecast for our area, Lumpkin County Schools will be closed on Monday, September 11, and Tuesday, September 12, 2017. The anticipated high winds pose a significant threat to our students and staff. We understand that weather predictions are not always accurate, but we cannot ignore the potentially dangerous situation that this storm poses. Our number one priority is to keep our students and staff safe! Wednesday will still be a early release day as planned so that teachers will be available for parent conferences. 12 month employees should report if it is safe to do so. 
  • Towns County Schools closed Monday, September 11th and Tuesday, September 12th for all students. All employees should report at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, September 12th if safe to do so.
  • White County Schools due to the severe weather forecast, White County Schools are closed for students and staff Monday, September 11, and Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Please be safe!
  • Murray County Schools closed Monday September 11 and Tuesday September 12, due to the possible impact of Hurricane Irma.   We have made this decision after consultation with local emergency management authorities and careful consideration of safety factors, such as the probability of severe winds, debris, dangerous road conditions, and downed power lines.  We understand that weather predictions are often incorrect, but the size of this storm cannot be ignored. It is our hope that Murray County is spared from any of this storm’s impact, but we will always choose to error on the side of caution.  All events planned for Monday and Tuesday evenings are also cancelled.  This includes the September 11 MCPS Board meeting.  This meeting will be rescheduled for Thursday, September 14 at 6:15 p.m.  All maintenance, grounds crew, and transportation employees will meet at the transportation office.

Closures Coming in Preparation of Irma Storms

News

Although experts at the National Weather Service are still tracking Hurricane Irma, the storm has currently changed course again a little further west.

For North Georgia, this could mean the Irma stays stronger longer, affecting our counties even more. In preparation, FYN has received confirmation from Judge Brenda Weaver that Superior and Juvenile Courts have been cancelled for Gilmer, Pickens, and Fannin counties.

This comes in addition to school closure in Gilmer County for tomorrow, September 11. People are flocking to social media requesting and offering shelter to those in need including both people and animals. One post even offered an acre of land for anyone needing a spot for horses.

Further effects on the county have already been seen as restaurants are overfull and hotels are overbooked. However, Gilmer could see its own problems as Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett tells FYN that we are not just preparing for flash floods, but increasing wind speeds and high gusts bring threats of downed trees, road blockages, and power loss throughout the county.

Pritchett suggested previously with FYN that citizens prepare themselves to be without power for 48 to 72 hours in case such a situation arises.

The National Weather Service is also warning citizens that the hurricane could spawn further problems with small tornadoes touching down for small periods in certain locations.

FYN’s understanding suggests that counties in northern Georgia could see up to seven inches of rain in the next few days. Stay with FYN as Emergency Services wait to see if shelters need to be opened and further closures are announced and check out more information on the Gilmer’s preparations for the storms with “Gilmer Prepares for Irma Fallout.”

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