Snow in Gilmer could cause further issues with refreezing

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Authorities continue to monitor and patrol the area, but citizens are even beginning to venture back out into town today.

While officials have reported the main roads to be clearing, others are still fighting the slush and ice that is following the melt seen across the county today. The Sheriff’s office is still encouraging those traveling on the roads today to “use common sense and take extra time that may be needed if you drive today.”

Additionally, as the sun sets tonight, the dangers will return according to the Sheriff’s office: “The temperatures are expected to drop into the teens tonight, so be cautious of black ice that may form as a result of any moisture remaining on any roadways.”

While the snow is melting, citizens and county and city workers are proceeding with clean up and repairs from last night. People are finding situations like this photo on Holden Road showing a tree across the power lines. Many citizens still do not have power. One report from the Amicalola Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) early this morning reported Gilmer County alone is seeing 4,695 members without power.

Crews are out working on these issues as quickly as possible in the current conditions.

Other reports are coming in as to how people prepared for the snowfall. One report from the Volunteers Helping the Gilmer County Animal Shelter said the shelter’s director took matters upon himself saying, “Well, we have a wonderful director, who spent the night and will be taking care of the shelter today.”

Others are venturing into town for warmer places and taking the day to enjoy the winter weather amidst the issues.

Make sure to stay with FYN as we continue to monitor for updates and changes to the storm. Officials are suggesting that citizens once again avoid the roads tonight due to the possibility of black ice.

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Missing person in Gilmer

News

ELLIJAY, Ga – Reports from family have confirmed a man missing from Gilmer County.

Jerry Mead

Jerry Mead

Missing since Tuesday, Jerry Mead was on the way to work in Canton when he went missing. The family reports no one has been in contact with him since.

Mead is 40 years old, stands 6 feet 3 inches and weighs roughly 220 pounds. He has dark brown hair and hazel eyes.

He was last seen driving a white 2015 Toyota Corolla with tag TKQ229.

According to the family, Mead had a stroke two years ago but has not had any problems since then.

Unfortunately, when he went missing, his wife’s dialysis supplies were in the car as well. There has been a missing person report filed, and the family is encouraging anyone with information to contact the Sheriff’s office at 706-635-4162 or the family at 706-276-3115 or 706-889-9164.

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Addressing disconnects following Light Up Ellijay

News
Crowds flood Downtown Ellijay for Light Up event

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The downtown area of Ellijay was rocked by an historic crowd for its Light Up Ellijay festivities, which echoed throughout the county.

Citizens have responded in various ways and have voiced opinions as to the success or detriment of the Return to Whoville themed event. However, they are not the only ones responding to what some merchants called “Who-mageddon,” a jovial moniker made possible by a lack of major incidents during the event. Indeed, with additional responses from not just Ellijay’s police force, but county fire and rescue personnel as well, the event had only one reported incident, which involved a missing child. According to officials, the child was found within 15 minutes of searching.

This was an outcome Ellijay City Police Chief Edward Lacey said the town was very lucky to have accomplished. While acknowledging the unanticipated crowd, Lacey said his officers performed “admirably,” going so far as to say they gave “150 percent.” Lacey also confirmed with FYN that despite their efforts, the event would have been a lot worse had they not received backup from firefighters helping out with crowd control.

According to the permit issued by the city of Ellijay to the Downtown Ellijay Business and Community Association (DEBACA), the organization expected a maximum of 5,000 people at the event. While no one could confirm details, reports have varied as to the cause of the dramatic increase.

From a few viral videos to a radio station picking up the story in Florida, rumors continue to swirl with no real specific answers. However, DEBACA reported they noticed over 70,000 clicks for Light Up Ellijay in the week leading to the event. After the night was done, license plates were seen from over nine states, according to officials on scene.

Ellijay Mayor Al Hoyle declined to comment about the meetings and processes involved since Light Up Ellijay, but he did speak about the people who attended saying, “That paints a very positive picture of Ellijay. The name ‘Ellijay’ is known, obviously, and it drew that big of a crowd, and that’s great.” He went on to comment that with the quality, he sees future events growing as well.

People already began spilling into the street as earlier as 4:30 p.m. an hour before the tree lighting.

People already began spilling into the street as earlier as 4:30 p.m. an hour before the tree lighting.

Speaking with DEBACA Chairman Steve Cortes, he echoed the sentiment that attracting the crowd was a success on its own. This is the first time the association has hosted the event after transferring the event from the Downtown Development Authority.

Stepping beyond the event itself to identifying the effects a week later, Lacey stated about back-up received, “I think it showed that we were able to admit that we were overwhelmed … A lot of times, agencies that are not willing to ask for help are the ones that get in a lot of trouble … We were able to admit that we needed help and actually request it.”

In fact, not only did the Ellijay Police receive help during the event but also invited members from the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office, Gilmer Fire and Rescue, the Gilmer Chamber, DEBACA, East Ellijay Police, Ellijay Fire, and others to an after action meeting that is usually only held with Public Safety. Lasting more than three hours, the meeting saw members from each entity delving into the event separating out things that did happen versus things that should have happened during the event. Specifying the disconnection between those two ideas led to discussion and thoughts on future events.

A few specific issues came to light in the meeting regarding logistics for things like the addition of vendors for the event, the opening of bathrooms for the event and parking and traffic due to the crowd. Chief Lacey told FYN that the meeting and input from all involved will be considered as he creates his report and in moving towards future events.

Cortes also commented with FYN saying another issue with the crowd comes with future events. Not knowing if they should prepare for a similar crowd to this year or preparing for something lower is part of the stresses of planning. Cortes suggested they would be looking at the upcoming events throughout the year, such as St. PETrick’s Day and Independence Day, to gauge the response they might see at Light Up Ellijay.

One of the bigger points in the meeting  addressed a lack of communication and response from parties involved. Addressing understandings of the permit process and amending it paired with controlling and coordinating the multiple entities became a larger focus. Suggestions on dealing with these issues led towards future events seeing use of Instant Command Structures (ICS) and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

EOC is a fusion center of resources that officials say are used to manage and communicate across the different entities of public safety. Fully activated EOC’s could also include members from all sorts of other entities; in Ellijay, this could include mayors, council members, DEBACA members, or more. As explained in the meeting, this would allow instant access to cross-force resources.

The EOC concept also answered issues with traffic. A crowd of the size seen downtown not only gridlocked traffic after 5 p.m., but also clogged emergency access through the area. One hypothetical example of the EOC given at the meeting suggested an issue arising on Hwy. 282. The EOC could coordinate a nearby sheriff’s deputy to the location faster than any other. A more immediate response from a sheriff’s deputy in the area means far lower response times in the face of gridlocked traffic for citizens.

Somebody tracking and directing all requests would streamline services and resources in that instance to better control and guide arising issues, whether they be safety-focused or logistically focused through those involved.

In addition to the EOC, pre-made ICS would be available to handle situations where pre-planned events escalate to any sort of emergency, for example if a driver had grown so frustrated with the crowd that he or she ran people down.

Crowd size sends one child up the clock downtown in an attempt to see the nights events.

Crowd size sends one child up the clock downtown in an attempt to see the nights events.

While this may seem extreme, Lacey told FYN  these are the issues that police deal with everyday. They must prepare for the potential issues that could grow out of events with crowds like we witnessed this year. An approach that imitates an old saying, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst,” is one that the city police face daily in protecting and preparing for situations despite a common thought that such instances would not happen in our town.

In fact, part of Lacey’s research into parades garnered 56 total headlines in newspapers, with 55 of those occurring since July 2001, involving parade incidents and injuries. Crowds like the one at this year’s Light Up Ellijay further intensify the possibility of incidents.

While the entire week was spent identifying issues and areas for improvement, Chief Lacey declined to comment further on the entities involved saying, “It’s enough to say that there was a disconnect, and that we’re going to fix that.”

Cortes echoed approval of the cooperation and coordination found through the meetings held in the week after the event. Noting an increase in involvement as DEBACA continues to grow, Cortes tells FYN that he would love to see representatives from the Chamber, the cities and police forces at their meetings and events. He went on to comment on the meeting saying it answered questions: “What can we do if a big event comes to Ellijay? How can we handle that?” He went on to say, “There’s no finger pointing, everybody knows that a lot could have been done better, and a lot needs to be done if we’re going to work together in the future.”

Though Light Up Ellijay is firmly in the city’s rear view, progress and meetings continue as the response and preparation for next year continue. Continuing in growth and popularity, citizens and officials alike will be closely watching downtown over the coming year in anticipation of another night like Nov. 24.

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Accident on 382 claims one fatality

News

ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed a two-vehicle accident on Highway 382 just past Airport Grocery.

Occurring on Sunday, Nov. 19, the accident did shut down the area of 382 temporarily. Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett told FYN that when emergency services arrived on scene, they did confirm the one fatality.

Sheriff Stacy Nicholson spoke with FYN, confirming injuries of two others who were both in the second vehicle. However, Nicholson went on to say that much of the details are not available currently as the Georgia State Patrol is handling investigation of the incident.

The other two injuries were transported to an emergency room. Check for more details as FYN continues following the investigation.

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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.”

 

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Gilmer Budget Sessions for 2018

News, Police & Government

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners held the budget review sessions in preparation for the 2018 Budget.

The videos below document the departments with which the Commissioners spoke. Citizens can attend the Budget Finalization Meeting on Monday, Nov. 6, at 10 a.m. or stay with Fetch Your News for updates after the meeting.

 

Voter Registrar

 

Health Department

 

Probate Court, Elections

 

Magistrate Court

 

District Attorney

 

Library

 

Code & Regulatory Compliance

 

Whitepath Golf Course

 

Tax Assessor, Board of Assessors

 

Public Defender

 

Road Department, Solid Waste, Maintenance Shop, Airport

 

Planning & Zoning

 

Clerk of Superior Court, Board of Equalization

 

Park & Recreation

 

Hotel/Motel

 

Sheriff, Detention Cener, E-911

 

Fire & EMS, EMA

 

Courthouse & Facilities

 

Animal Control

 

Tax Commissioner

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Incident Report Releases Details on Dog Attack

News

CHERRY LOG, GA – New details have arisen from the dog attack on Goose Island Road that resulted in the death of 61-year-old Kathy Sue Nichelson.

FYN has received the official incident report for both the response to the original dog attack and the arrest of Dante Holloway.

According to Sergeant Jason Newman, he arrived on scene at roughly 1:10 P.M. In his report, he states Nichelson was still breathing shallow and coherent. After Emergency Personnel arrived, Newman reports it was as he was watching out for the dog that they decided to contact the Coroner.

Later in the report, Newman states that Sergeant Blue Patterson was the officer forced to fire upon the dog as he came out from under the porch and began moving towards the him. Witness interviews confirmed in the report the dog had attacked a second victim, Morgan Fountain, who was bitten on the face.

When Dante Holloway was arrested during the investigations, an incident report from Deputy Austin McArthur stated he and another deputy, J. Holcombe, initiated a traffic stop with Holloway to issue warrants for his arrest. However, the report also states they found a bag with white residue which tested positive for methamphetamine.

Check more information in the official report:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dog Owner Arrested in Investigation

News

ELLIJAY, GA – According to official releases from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, an arrest was made earlier today regarding the dog attack and death of 61-year-old Kathy Sue Nichelson in Cherry Log, Georgia.

During their continuing investigation, the Sheriff’s office arrested Dante Holloway, who is now in custody.

He is currently facing two charges, Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Conduct, and has a $50,000 bond for both charges. The charges stem from his responsibility as owner of the pit bull that attacked and killed Nichelson.

According to Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, there is no information at this time to indicate Holloway has any other dogs that citizens need be concerned about. As for the pit bull who attacked Nichelson, as reported in “Details Reveal Victims of Dog Attack,” officers were forced to fire upon the dog at the scene.

Comments on Facebook and FetchYourNews allege other previous victims from the dogs, but no solid evidence has been found at this time.

The official release from the Sheriff’s Office stated:

Today, Detectives with the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office have taken Dante Holloway into custody. He has been booked into the Gilmer County jail and is charged with Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Conduct. The arrest is a result of the investigation into the death of Ms. Kathy Nichelson by a Pit Bull owned by Mr. Holloway. His bond is $50,000 for both charges.

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