Gilmer Schools asks for opinion on exempting Georgia from Testing and CCRPI

News
2020-201 Calendar, graduation, Renovations, Financial Distinction, return, testing

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Schools is reaching out to parents, students, educators, and citizens to offer their opinions on Milestones testing and the College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) through a survey.

Although linked on Gilmer Schools’ social media, the Georgia Department of Education is marked atop the survey as they seek a response about their request for waivers of these annual tests and reports

According to a joint statement from Governor Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods of the Georgia Department of Education:

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we have urged common sense regarding compliance in Georgia’s public schools, and a focus before anything else on the health, safety, and well-being of students, families, and school staff.

“On March 16, Georgia became one of the first states in the nation to suspend standardized testing requirements in the wake of the COVID-19 school closures, and later received approval from the U.S. Department of Education for the cancelation of all remaining standardized tests in the 2019-2020 school year.

“Given the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the resulting state budget reductions, it would be counterproductive to continue with high-stakes testing for the 2020-2021 school year. In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools’ focus should be on remediation, growth, and the safety of students. Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.

“Georgia will submit a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education for the suspension of the 2020-21 Georgia Milestones assessment and CCRPI school and district rating. To our knowledge, Georgia is the first state in the nation to make this announcement for the upcoming school year. Additionally, effective immediately, the Georgia Department of Education is suspending the teacher evaluation (TKES) summative rating for 2020-21.

“These efforts are in line with our longstanding shared belief that assessment has a place and a purpose in education, but the current high-stakes testing regime is excessive. Though the legislative session was shortened due to COVID-19, we are continuing to pursue Senate Bill 367, which aims to get Georgia’s state testing requirements in line with the federal minimum and maximize time for instruction.

“We are hopeful the federal government will recognize that the upcoming school year will not be ‘business as usual’ and will accept our request for a standardized testing waiver.”

The posted survey asks which county you live in and if you agree or disagree with this request, but also leaves ares for comments and written opinions on the topics as well.

FYN reached out today to Gilmer Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs for comment on the waiver and the survey and is currently awaiting response.

BOE enters July without Budget as they await State information

News
instructions, budget

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Despite a back and forth with state and Georgia Board of Education officials, Gilmer is still awaiting details to approve its budget for  2020-2021 school year. A now officially-approved spending resolution is allowing them to move forward despite that obstacle alongside other financial approvals for past budget and purchases.

The resolution came with itemized reports for extra expenses for academic supplies and subscriptions as reported in BOE to seek spending resolution tomorrow. utilizing one-twelfth, equivalent to one month, of the final amended budget from the previous year.

In their monthly purchasing policy report, the schools are continuing to expand the chromebook ratio to students as previous discussions show that the board is preparing for possibilities to return or not return to school in the fall. These discussions could see a final decision in July. The purchasing policy showed $49,140 for Chromebooks across Clear Creek Elementary School, Ellijay Elementary School, and Mountainview Elementary this month.

The board also approved their academic supplements for FY 21 including instructors and coaches for several extracurricular “academic” teams. Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs explained that some changes from last year and inclusion of Winterguard and Band in the Academic Teams as it is not recognized as a sport yet by GHSA.

A GHS Furniture purchase also saw approval as Downs explained that the “not to exceed $125,000” recommendation was to ensure any surprises as outfitting a number of rooms and spaces including mostly science classrooms.

Moving forward with their meetings into the year, the board is changing on date in September now that they have found the approved school calendar will coincide their September meetings with Fall break. Therefore, they approved a change moving the meeting dates from September 21 and 24 to its new date of September 14 and 17.

BOE to seek spending resolution tomorrow

News
Gilmer BOE 2019, school closed, Graduation, Board, Education, Spending Resolution

ELLIJAY, Ga. – “Because the State has not yet passed a budget for FY 21 it has been recommended across the state that districts pass a spending resolution for July until we receive final numbers,” said Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs at this week’s work session of the Board of Education.

A Spending Resolution, Downs explained, will allow use of one-twelfth, equivalent to one month, of the final amended budget from the previous year. Allowing for debt service and capital expenditures, Downs said that Gilmer has a number of items that are mostly curriculum related subscriptions. The entire Itemized List is included in the Spending Resolution posted by the BOE on their website. This list is set to be voted on tomorrow. These items must be approved above the one-twelfth allowed spending resolution.

The resolution will move the board into its new fiscal year without a fully approved budget as they await those numbers of the state budget and what that will allow for the county in state money.

Additionally, the board will be voting to approve their Financial Summary. Comparing with April of last year as the board begins looking at what financial impact the outbreak of COVID-19 has had, Board Member Tom Ocobock made note that, financially, it wasn’t as bad as some expected. According to the summary, April of 2019 saw revenues at $35,804,009, and April of 2020 saw revenues at $37,638,750. The difference totals a $1,834,741 increase.

Another financial vote to be held will be for Budget amendments. Downs noted that this could  include shortfalls, carry over, and even additions from state funding. This budget amendment for approval is the “Budget Amendment for Grants” and will also be up for vote at tomorrow’s 5:30 p.m. Regular Meeting for the Gilmer Board of Education alongside the Spending Resolution and Financial Summary.

BOE discussing return to school at July’s end

News
2020-201 Calendar, graduation, Renovations, Financial Distinction, return, testing

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Though no exact details are available yet, the Gilmer Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs is meeting with the board, with faculty administrators, and with citizens and parents about details and options of the school to return along with its calendar schedule at the end of July.

Dr. Downs said, “Our district, along with the world, is grappling with an issue of enormous scale and human impact, and our hearts go out to all of those that have been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. We believe it is our role and responsibility during this time to prioritize two things: the health and well-being of our students and staff while continuing to provide a quality education for our students.”

Downs added that the school is continuing to make its plans according to these priorities and according to the information given by both the state and our local community. The board is looking at survey results from questions about the school’s return sent only to parents of students along with meetings with security, Health Professionals, and others as they consider the details on the possible return. However, Dr. Downs said that the information coming in for them is still changing almost daily.

Gilmer Schools 2020-2021 Calendar

The process will continue, however, and plans are expected to reach a final decision by July’s meeting of the BOE in preparation of the calendar’s start date. If the calendar is followed, teachers will return for pre-planning and professional learning the last week of July, July 27 – July 31, and students will see their first day of school on August 3.

During this month, Downs said they will be reviewing all of their options and guidance from authorities like the Department of Public Health and state officials. She said they will make the decision “that makes the most sense for the students and families of Gilmer County. What works in California or what works in Fulton County doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of Gilmer County Students, so we will be looking at that through that lens.”

Downs did say they have a foundation of plans in place to keep both the children and staff safe when they return. She also noted plans in progress to expand digital learning through virtual school with the curriculum team. A relatively new program only rolled out in January, this could be expanded to a full K-12 program as an option for families in any grade that may not be comfortable to returning to face-to-face instruction in the near future.

With options available and plans set to explore several paths, Downs said exact details will be made available later so that nothing is said that might be different or changed soon.

County seeks to help farms to support recovery

News
farms, farm winery, BOC,

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer’s Board of Commissioners made two approvals this week for farms to, as Chairman Charlie Paris said, “try to recover as quickly as possible.”

While Paris said they are looking at several areas of the county’s economy, two of the approvals in June focused solely on farms and agriculture including the first steps of a change and easing of the ordinance for Farm Wineries and a Resolution supporting the “Right to Farm Act” in legislation.

With local farm wineries, Paris said the only way the county can really help with this is through lessening regulations. To that end, the Commissioners voted to approve moving forward with advertising to change the ordinance to allow local wineries in the unincorporated parts of the county “to serve local Georgia craft beer in their tasting rooms. They would not be allowed to sell the beer packaged and there will be no Sunday sales.”

Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson said, “I know that the winery owners have requested this for some time and we were waiting to bring it up and to see when the right time was. I do think it is a great time to put that gesture in… I also love the fact that we are restricting it to Georgia Craft beers, so it is not any of the name brand national or international brands.”

Gary Engel speaks to Commissioners in June of 2020 about easing the ordinance restrictions for local Farm Wineries and allowing craft beer sales of Georgia Craft Beers.

Gary Engel speaks to Commissioners in June of 2020 about easing the ordinance restrictions for local Farm Wineries and allowing craft beer sales of Georgia Craft Beers.

Gary Engel spoke to the Commissioners in the work session noting that a few wineries were represented in the audience. He said that other counties in the state are already selling beers. He also noted that it would not equate to a great surge in sales, but rather it allows a service to different tastes. Engel said that sometimes a couple will come up to listen to music, one doesn’t like wine but would enjoy a cold beer. He did say that the small increase in sales could aid in the wineries business as well.

He also said they are wanting to increase and pursue the business as Gilmer is increasing in popularity with these as well. Engel said, “From a perspective of the state, with the number of wineries that are going into Gilmer County, this county will soon be the most populated county, south of Virginia, with wineries.”

Additionally, the other approval for farms came in support of a legislative Act in Georgia, the “Right to Farm” Act. Paris said that lawsuits come often against farms as people move in nearby and then sue over the smells or noise. Paris explained that through discussions with farmers, he found that these are not often won, but are often filed and can be expensive to fight against in courts.

In support of local farmers and through discussions with them, Paris said that they asked for support for this Act in protection of some of what he called “nuisance lawsuits.”

The Act increases requirements to file lawsuits against farms according to Paris, in attempt to protect them from some of these filings.

The approval came for Resolution to support the Act at the state level in efforts to help it pass.

Bids, Budgeting, and Personnel in May’s Board of Education

News
Gilmer BOE 2019, school closed, Graduation, Board, Education, Spending Resolution

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – New bids for fuel and disposal were approved this month by the Gilmer Board of Education in preparation of the coming school year.

Presented during the work-session, the bids sheet shown each bid with the low bids highlighted, which were later approved as the awarded bids for the year. This saw Cherry Log Petroleum awarded with the bid of $9.95/gallon on Motor Oil and $9.96 for antifreeze. Petroleum Traders Corp won the bid for fuel at 0.0174 for Diesel and 0.0314 for ethanol free gasoline. Appalachian Propane won the propane bid at 0.774 per gallon. Scanna Energy won the Natural Gas bid for 12 months at 0.291 per therm. Advanced Disposal won dumpster service at $4,520.56 per month.

The Personnel approvals saw a minor dissent with Board Member Ronald Watkins abstaining from a couple of votes, he said he he didn’t want to vote against these people, but he wanted to see more priority and preference to local people over searching outside the county. He said, “I feel like we have got to take care of our own.” Watkins made special note on the current economy and the difficulty some may find in getting a job. Watkins said that while some may not interview as well, but if they have worked for us, and people vouch for them, then we know what we’re getting.

Pushing for more local preference, Watkins did vote yes on most of the personnel, it was only 2 people that he abstained from. He made sure to say that he wanted it known that he wasn’t against them and, therefore, would not vote no.

A final note, Gilmer may be looking for a spending resolution next month. Though progressing on schedule with the budgeting process during the last few months, the change comes from certain uncertainties in the county and warnings from the state about funding shortages. A comment was made during the meeting that the board may not get full details until July along with the funding. Because of these issues, the budgeting is taking a hit and the board could see major differences in the available funds. It was suggested outside of the meeting that the board may supplement some needs with fund balance, but the school system’s actual response will have to wait for final say from the state before they can make any real plans to cover or cut things.

River Ordinance exception and TAN note approved for 2020

News
Gilmer County BOC, Intergovernmental Agreement

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A short but important meeting, the Board of Commissioners held their May Meeting officially approving the 2020 Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) and a change to the river ordinance for the year among others.

The TAN saw only one bid this year according to the board, United Community Bank’s bid for tax exempt rate at 1.9 percent. The board unanimously approved the new TAN after Financial Officer Sandi Holden said they could get the tax exempt rate this year because they don’t have any larger property funds or similar needs this year.

The next approval just for this year came with a change to River Outfitters. Chairman Charlie Paris said that the idea is to still collect the tax and continue as normal in the coming years. However, due to shutdowns and quarantining, the board is looking to help these businesses recover. The motion came to change the collection from a dollar per person to one cent per person just for the year of 2020.

The commissioners discussed the businesses with Post Commissioner Ferguson bringing up the topic of social distancing and the transportation needs. Paris said he had discussed it with one outfitter who said he planned to just make more trips, transporting families and small groups together without other strangers packed into the same vehicles.

Additionally, another outfitter spoke in the meeting saying they would only be putting different groups on one vehicle with their longer buses to allow social distancing during transport.

Also in the meeting, the board re-appointed Don VanLandingham to the Kids Kottage Commission and approved the naming of a bridge on Highway 15 in Honor of Billy Burnette, an action done by the general assembly but requiring a motion from the county.

Gilmer updates Graduation plans with tentative dates

Bobcat's Corner, News
Gilmer BOE 2019, school closed, Graduation, Board, Education, Spending Resolution

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Students are getting more updates as the administrative staff of both Gilmer High School and the Gilmer County School System continue working towards tentative dates for graduation ceremonies for seniors this year.

Throughout April, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs has constantly updated parents and students of their work to offer recognition and honor for these students despite the viral outbreak and shutdown. That continued with their Special Called Meeting this week as Downs revealed specific dates for their plans.

Dr. Downs did say “tentative” dates for these events as the school system is still planning and looking at the changing environment.

The current plan does include other grades as those schools wish to hold a celebration for their students to collect some items they may have left, to see friends and teachers, and to provide a little closure to the school year.

Ellijay Elementary School will hold theirs on July 6, 2020. Clear Creek Elementary School and Mountain View Elementary School will hold theirs on July 8, 2020. Clear Creek Middle School will be held on July 9, 2020. Specific times or a time range have not been set yet as plans and events continue to formulate.

Answering the most asked question of recent weeks, Gilmer is attempting to address both Graduation and Prom this year. Dr. Downs announced during the meeting that they are looking to hold their actual graduation ceremony on July 17, 2020, with prom the Friday before, July 10, 2020. Again, the specific time has not been finalized yet, though some time slots are already being considered.

Gilmer is, currently, still planning on a televised recognition video on May 22, 2020, in recognition of students and their honors and achievements, but also wants to give students the actual chance to hold their real graduation in July. Filming will be going on in early May as students, staff, and the school board plan to be a part of the video.

 

Seamless feeding set to transition to Seamless Summer in May

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs took a few moments to correct some confusion among the community this week addressing the Seamless Feeding program.

The current bus routes and Seamless Feeding Program will continue through May 22, originally scheduled as the last day of school, according to Downs.

She went on to say, “After May 22, normally, post-planning, we do not do meals. However, given to the current situation, I’ve asked Ms. Waters to just immediately transition into the Summer Feeding Program.”

Also due to the current situation, this year’s summer program will be drastically different. Maintaining the social distancing orders, there will not be the same level of engagement possible as usual. Dr. Downs said that this year, volunteers will not be staying for hours as they have normally done activities like reading, coloring, or playing games among others.

This year, the program will only have four sites with the food coming from the Mountain View cafeteria. Those deliveries will occur very similar to how the feeding program is going now, bringing the meals and passing them out while maintaining distancing orders. They will then leave the sites shortly after. Downs said that while the program may have lasted from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. most days, these sites will likely be closer to 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

These sites will include Tower Road, Mulberry Street, the Gilmer Health Department, and Ellijay First United Methodist Church.

The school system is still concerned with finding volunteers to help and trying to fill gaps with some administrative staff where possible.

The program will see a gap on Memorial Day, but will continue on May 26 as normal.

GMP approved for GHS Renovations Phase 3

News
2020-201 Calendar, graduation, Renovations, Financial Distinction, return, testing

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer High School is set to move ahead with Phase 3 of renovations after unanimous approval came for a GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price) from the Board of Education during a special called meeting.

That GMP from Charles Black Construction totals $816,306 for the project. Through Charles Black, at least one subcontractor is already set and the Board is set to go forward with the project this summer.

Phase 3 is the Classroom phase of the multi-year renovations project for the school. It will include replacements for ceiling tiles, painting, and flooring updates. However, a few extra details are also included as they remove most of the floor outlets in science labs and dealing with an expansion joint in one area that they will look closer at during the process.

Their previous phases were Phase 1 for the cafeteria, common area, front offices, and Phase 2 for hallways upstairs and downstairs and media center.

This process has been underway for months as the school system has continually progressed on these projects throughout the year.

Previous phases, reaching back to 2018 in construction and earlier in meetings and discussions, were mostly completed over the summer. The only points left being finished during school years reached only a week or two into class time and were isolated to areas that would not affect students.

As students are not going to be back in the building for the rest of this year, we have not yet received a specific date on when these renovations will start this year.

Superintendent releases email to parents and seniors about graduation

News
Gilmer BOE 2019, school closed, Graduation, Board, Education, Spending Resolution

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Seniors received good news about Graduation during the Board of Education’s April Regular Meeting as Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs read an email that was sent from Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley.

The email noted details about the plans for graduation as well as a recognition on May 22, 2020. While some of these are similar to plans discussed earlier in the week at the work session, final details came through the email.

Foley said, “While we must wait to hold a large gathering, we do not want to let May 22nd pass without celebration.”

The school will give each senior an opportunity to walk across the field and receive their diploma with their parents and family members close by. They will video each senior having their name announced and receiving their diploma. Then, after having the videos = edited together, the plan is to air the Class of 2020 commencement proceedings on ETC 3 at 7 p.m. on May 22nd.

While these are the current plans as Gilmer will not be returning to class this year, the plans are in effort, according to Downs, to provide some closure to the year for these students through a graduation as well as a recognition day.

Downs did provide the specific details from the email later: 

  • Seniors will be able to pick up their caps and gowns at GHS on Thursday, April 23rd, between 12-3pm. Please enter the GHS campus via Old 5 and Bobcat Trail, and follow the signs and directions.

  • At that time, each senior will be given a paper with a number (1-265), date (May 6th-8th), and time (9am-3pm) to arrive at Huff-Mosely Stadium, via Bobcat Trail, behind the Larry Walker Education Center. You will not be allowed to enter the stadium via Old 5 or Legion Road.

  • Seniors and their family members (1 carload – maximum 6 occupants, including the senior) will arrive at LWEC no earlier than 15 minutes before your assigned time.

  • We will be working in groups of 5 seniors at a time. The first 5 cars, in numeric order, will be lined up and directed around the LWEC toward the visitor entrance of the stadium.

  • The first senior and his/her family will enter the stadium and check in at the table, and proceed to the podium. In order for seniors to participate in the walking ceremony/taping, all fines and fees must be paid in full. Look for an email indicating if your child owes any money for fees or fines.

  • Once that senior leaves the check in table, the next senior and their family will get out of their car, enter the stadium, and check in, and so on. Please do not leave your car until directed to do so by a Gilmer County Sheriff’s officer.

  • At the podium, the senior’s name will be announced, along with any academic awards and scholarships from the Gilmer Education Foundation they have received. (Applications for Gilmer Education Foundation scholarships are due by noon, on Monday, April 20th, to your child’s counselor)

  • The senior will then proceed to the middle of the field to receive their diploma cover and a folder with additional awards and scholarship information from me, and Superintendent, Dr. Downs. Actual diplomas will be mailed to students after May 22nd. Students need to complete the following Google Form to indicate where their diploma should be mailed: https://forms.gle/RFVfJEVViSNpRwsZA

  • Next, the senior will go to a table to pick up their yearbook. If you haven’t ordered your child’s yearbook yet, it is not too late. You can order online at: https://tinyurl.com/y8rz5q8y , or you can order and pay in person when your child comes to pick up their cap and gown on April 23rd.

  • Finally, there will be a place on the field where parents and family members can take pictures with your senior.

  • Each senior will be given 15-minutes on the field from check-in to picture taking. Please honor this time in order to keep the number of people on the field to a safe capacity for all involved.

  • If you cannot make the date/time you have been assigned, please let me know ASAP. A few time slots will be available on Saturday, May 9th, from 10:30-12:00.

  • If your child will not be participating in this ceremony, please have your child notify their counselor ASAP.

 

Foley also said that the school will plan a graduation event in which all seniors and their families can meet on the field and celebrate their accomplishments should current circumstances change over the summer. “We just don’t want to miss the opportunity to provide something at this time.”

Gilmer offers hope for citizens and students with considerations for Graduation

News
2020-201 Calendar, graduation, Renovations, Financial Distinction, return, testing

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Doing more than just a consideration for Gilmer High School students, the Gilmer county Board of Education is looking at plans and options to make sure something for graduation happens for seniors this year.

Not to be held back by the Coronavirus outbreak and shelter orders, the board looked at several options and discussed choices among themselves at this months work session. While Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said that much of the comments from the public that she has spoken to say they want a real graduation planned for whenever the shelter-at-home ends, she did mention possibly looking at a video of sorts or livestream on May 22 when Graduation was supposed to be held.

She offered the option saying, “This is a May 22 commemoration of that date.” However, she asserted that Gilmer is not going to simply do a virtual graduation only if the public does not want it. They would still work towards the actual graduation later. She went on to note that these seniors are not just missing graduation, but honors night, scholarship night, and similar additional ceremonies recognizing these students and their hard work.

A video or livestream would fill in with families, individually visiting the field at different times and having there honors and scholarships announced to be pieced together in an overall video. However, this is still ideas. The BOE will continue planning and working with GHS and Principal Carla Foley to find the best plans and to involve students and parents in the plan.

An added note, some of the Board considered possibly holding prom later as well, but did not discuss it further as they wanted to focus on Graduation at this time. New information may come with tomorrow’s May 16 Regular Session or possibly next month.

Commissioners update pool and code enforcement in April

News
BOC, Commissioners

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Nearing the end of demolition at the old pool site, the Board of Commissioners is moving forward with replacement of the foundation in preparation of the currently “on hold” project to construct the new pool.

Reports indicate, according to Chairman Paris, that there is a total of eight feet of “bad soil” under the old pool’s footprint that needs replacing before it can support any structure there. Paris said that the county needs to dig out the older soil and replace it with a combination of new soil and, mostly, stone.

The county has estimated $52,000 to replace the soil and is set to move forward without before they come to a full stop on constructing the new pool. Paris said a major note of their investigations, however, is that they have confirmed the site as a viable location. A determination they have been anticipating for months since deciding to demolish the old pool site for use as the new pool.

Another major note of change came from the final approval of an amendment to Chapter 1 “General Provisions” of the Gilmer County Code.

This item has run the three-month process and has reached final approval with the change allowing Code Enforcement to leave citations on people’s doors when unable to make contact with those people directly.

The change will be placed into effect now, and when code enforcement attempts to deliver citations to people for code violations, they no longer have to physically deliver that citation into people’s hands. Instead, the new change will allow them to place the citations on the door and have them enforced as such.

Also in the meeting, the commissioners continued a resolution to grant authority to the Tax Commissioner to waive Interest and Penalties as they have in recent years past. Approved for another three-year term, the resolution does not require waiving but just grants the authority to the Tax Commissioner.

They continued with a renewal of the contract for the ETC Service Agreement providing broadband at the courthouse. Worked out two or three years ago to support cloud back-ups and the traffic needed at the courthouse, the Commissioners approved a continuation of the contract.

 

Gilmer BOC will hold April Regular meeting in person

News
Meeting

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Both cities and counties carry on amid the shutdown, and Gilmer is also moving forward in this time with their April meeting, but with a few changes.

Gilmer has already made changes over March as meetings saw a distancing line in the meeting room, and all meetings have been held in the Jury Assembly Room in the Gilmer County Courthouse. However, this month will see another change as the Board is only sending one agenda. Gilmer’s BOC will still meet is person, as of now, but will not be holding their usual work session.

Gilmer is continuing monitor situations during the shutdown and two agenda items stick out among the agenda as potential ramifications of the nations current situation.

Among the items is listed “Discussion and possible action to grant authority to the Tax Commissioner to waive Interest and Penalties” and “Discussion and possible action regarding the upcoming May General and Presidential Primaries.”

Elections have been a growing topic as we draw closer to May during a Presidential Election year which has, historically, been one of the highest turnout years for elections.

Not holding a work session, the public will be hearing discussion and votes in the same day for April. The rest of the meeting is set to proceed as normal with usual items like Citizens wishing to speak and the financial statement. The meeting will be held on Thursday, April 9, 2020, at 6 p.m., in the Jury Assembly Room of the Courthouse.

Meeting

Meeting

 

 

Gilmer Officials delve deeper into the shutdown

News
Second Amendment, Officials

ELLIJAY, GA. – Yesterday’s Declaration of Emergency from the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners and the response from officials has been hotly debated and concerns are still high over what it means for Gilmer County.

Today, Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson and Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris are speaking out to explain a little more on the shutdown and what the next steps are for citizens and businesses in the county.

Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said this does not mean Gilmer is becoming a “police state.” While he said most of the shutdown is focused on businesses, he did add that the focus is to slow large interactions of people to slow the spread of the virus. He reiterated this again stressing that people can go out if the have to saying, “You can go to the grocery store. You can still go to the gas station and get gas. If you work for or own a business that is deemed essential, you can still go to work.”

Focusing instead on strongly encouraging people to follow suit with the Shelter-In-Place order, this entire effort is to promote the issue of awareness and support for isolation to kill the virus.

Nicholson also noted that the order for businesses is being enforced through the Officials of the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) as they continue spreading the information. Nicholson spoke about the county taking a stance of asking for compliance right now to encourage businesses and citizens to comply. Only in extreme circumstances, he said, would they resort to anything like citations or licensing revocations.

This was also noted in the meeting as the Board said they could eventually reach a level of revoking business licenses for all businesses not following the order’s closures or restrictions on those still open.

The last major point he stressed today was to say that this isn’t like snow days. It hasn’t taken a full hold yet. But it very well could. Nicholson said he does not intend to operate as an occupying force. Instead he wants the Sheriff’s Office to run like a county police force and support the community in these hard times.

It was a sentiment echoed by Chairman Charlie Paris who said the reason he felt the need for the Declaration of Emergency and the order to Shelter-In-Place is to separate the people as much as possible. The order is in place for two weeks to “not necessarily break the cycle of infection, but slow it down.”

Paris also acknowledge that the order is a drastic measure and not something he really wanted to do. However, the need for action was clear. This was also pointed out in the meeting when public safety authorities spoke saying that they understand no one wants to be the person to incorporate such measures, but serious action has to be taken to address the issue.

Paris also noted that hospitals, EMA Officials, and medical teams in Gilmer are considering all possible answers to the health needs. Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp has already instituted allowances for specific people with previous medical licenses and some recent graduates to practice medicine during this time as well as some Certificate of Need restrictions. Locally, these steps include talks about using rooms from Gilmer’s old hospital facility and possibly bedding patients there should a need arise.

Paris said that this is a hard time, but called it a time of sacrifice for the county in an effort to slow this infection down to get a handle on it. He also said that the neighboring counties need to join the effort to really make the shutdown effective and expedite a return to normal life much faster.

Two major March events cancelled for Gilmer Schools

News
cancelled

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Announced in their March work session, the Board of Education is canceling this week’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Clear Creek Elementary School while Gilmer High School has also had its Reality Day cancelled.

During the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs announced publicly that the ceremony will be cancelled saying, “Due to the current health crisis, we will cancel the groundbreaking.”

However, instead of postponing and rescheduling the event, they will simply move forward without it.

Downs said that they did not want to delay the construction project, possibly pushing out the completion date. Downs said, “I did say we would postpone it, but we do not want to postpone starting the new elementary school. So, we are going to have to break ground with no ceremony.”

Reality Day for the High School has also been cancelled, originally planned for March 31.

However, this event, run by Gilmer Family Connection, is run in partnership with the schools for the students. The event cancellation comes during the first week of school closures for Gilmer as Gilmer Family Connection Director, Merle Howell Naylor sent out the statement today.

Naylor said, “It truly is with great sadness that I am canceling Reality Day that was scheduled for March 31st.  The Gilmer County School system is closed this week and I’m sure it’s uncertain about next week with all the concerns about COVID19.”

Despite the cancelation, Naylor had only positive things to say for the large number of community members who were set to be at the event. Naylor said, “I truly thank you all for your willingness to volunteer for Reality Day and assure you that you will have an opportunity to volunteer next year.”

Back to Top

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!