ELLIJAY, Ga. – What’s better than sitting in a comfy warm chair with a beautifully theme-decorated Christmas tree, some Christmas music playing in the background, a warm drink in your hands, and some friends gathered to enjoy it with you? Well, 34 trees of course.
That is 34 different trees and wreaths gathered from the community to decorate the Gilmer County Library in celebration for the season. Being the 25th consecutive year of the annual Festival of Trees, the library has become experts at celebrating the season as they opened their doors late into the evening on December 3 for people of the community to pack inside for the event. Packing in is exactly what they did to see the first official day of the December-long celebration.
With entities like the Gilmer Chamber, Stay Active Ellijay, THRIFT, Gilmer County Master Gardeners, Kids Ferst, Safe Choice Pregnancy Care Center, Walnut Mtn, Garden, American Legion Auxiliary, Operation Christmas Child, Optimist Club, Dept of Juvenile Justice, Chattahoochee Technical College, Friends of Harrison Park, Southern Flare Antiques, Mountain Education Center, Keep Gilmer Beautiful, Girl Scouts, Re-Max, ABG, Small Batch Garden, North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, Gilmer County Parks & Rec Department, Marine Toys for Tots, Boys and Girls Club, Apple Contry Quilters Guild, Cub Scout Pack 404, Coosawattee Shrine Club, Friends of the Gilmer County Library, Garden Club of Ellijay, 4-H, Gilmer Genealogical Society, Faith,Hope, and Charity, and more, the Festival grows each year to the massive events it has become with crowds looking to meet Santa for pictures, listen to live music, and enjoy the trees.
This years event saw the Ellijay Elementary Chorus and Mountain Spirit Dulcimer Group playing through the evening while activities continued.
Yet, more than just a one-night event, the Festival of Trees really kicks off the Sequoyah Regional Library’s Christmas Season. Gilmer alone is hosting the Grinch to visit on December 11, a Holiday Card Making event on December 6, and a continuing Winter Literacy Challenge going on until January. Check out more events for Gilmer on their Facebook Calender and the Region and the Regional Library Calendar.
That doesn’t meant you missed your chance to see the trees. Make sure to swing by the Gilmer County Library to enjoy the ongoing Festival of Trees before Christmas to fully enjoy the decorations made possible by the county and community.
Make sure to see photos of the trees by visiting the FYN Facebook Photo Album.
Ellijay, Ga. – At the Lion’s Club Fairgrounds, the High School’s annual Teen Maze saw students traversing their mock future through both good and bad decisions by random chance.
Spreading the thoughts across the students, they flip cards and take chance spins of wheels to see how one bad decision spirals into catastrophe for their lives. Though some make it to “graduation,” many fall short as their mock decisions lead to probation, early parenthood, STDs, Jail, or even death.
The event continues to grow over recent years, though it still retains much of the highlights from the past including the ever popular, yet all too realistic, crash involving a drunk teen. The crash kills one and sends two into critical condition, with a third still needing hospitalization. It seems the only one to make it through the wreck without major injury is the drunk teen himself. As the mother of one of the critical students screams at him for what he’s done, she yells out that he should be the one on the ground. Through the continued abuse, emergency responders try to redirect her into an ambulance as the teen is led to the back seat of a police car, and inevitably on to a string of events that many of the students themselves will soon walk through in the maze.
The wreck includes critical care life-flight, firefighters, police, and actual response procedures for the student’s injuries. Around a hundred students watch from each group through the day as the sheet is pulled over the one dead, and the others are placed in neck restraints and emergency response wades through the blood and carnage.
Past the grisly scene, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office put the students themselves behind the wheel as they attempt to navigate a small driving course in a golf cart while wearing “drunk goggles” to simulate the disorientation. One of the newer additions to the maze, the response to this course went so far as to ask for another course requiring the students to write a text while driving, catering to both the rising concern over texting and driving and Georgia’s new law against it. Having begun the project this year, it is a continuing part of the overall project.
These are the kinds of comments and suggestions that Director Merle Naylor, of Gilmer Family Connections, asks for each year from those involved. Naylor confirmed this year saw 325 students attend the event throughout the day hosted by over 125 different volunteers dedicating time to the event. Most were all day volunteers.
A great chunk of the volunteers, this year saw 47 senior nursing students come from Chattahoochee Technical College, according to Naylor. Some of these volunteers man the hospital zone where Gilmer Students look closer at a medical dummy simulating many of the injuries they saw in the crash outside.
Even with the volunteers and Lion’s Club members aiding in set up, the process begins for Naylor months in advance as she begins writing scripts and conceptualizing the program. Finally, the Friday before the event, she and other Lion’s club members set up everything for the event and spend the next three days decorating and preparing the zones with their displays and the needed supplies.
Over 30 stations are constructed, not including the outside zones like the party scene, the wreck, and the drunk driving course, for the one-day event.
It has become so large that Naylor voices concerns over the size and how she can fit everything in every year. Added stations and courses require more time for students to navigate the entire day, and some don’t even make it through the whole maze before their allotted time is completed. Add in unexpected events and a slight delay in arrival could mean cutting half the program for a group.
On top of that Naylor says one of her biggest desires would be to allow students to navigate the maze a second time to see things or experience stations they may have missed the first time.
As the program’s popularity continues to rise, those involved have been spreading the message, too. Naylor confirms that Pickens County School System has been observing the program over the last few years and are even considering hosting their own day next spring.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer High School (GHS) saw a new celebration this year as they held a signing day for students committing to a college in order to become teachers themselves.
The inaugural event, held April 27 this year, showcased 11 students dedicating to three different colleges. Eight will be attending the University of North Georgia. Two will attend Dalton State College. One will attend Chattahoochee Technical College.
William Barnes, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Brittani Ballew, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Mckayla Chambers, a junior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Callie Kerr, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Jenny McCurdy, a senior, committed to Dalton State College.
Andrea Pantoja, a senior, committed to Dalton State College.
Erica Sharp, a junior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Kameron Stone, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Allison Strickler, a senior, committed to Chattahoochee Technical College.
Sarina Tran, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Rachel Waddell, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
These students have all been a part of the high school’s “Teaching as a Profession” pathway in the school as well as Work Based Learning so that each student will be heading into college with experience in his or her field. As a part of the day, students met with representatives from their colleges and receive a certificate recognizing their dedication and hard work.
A state event “signing day” will be held May 8. However, due to testing at that time, GHS held their signing day early.
All five ninth district candidates converged at Chattahoochee Technical College in Jasper Tuesday night for a town-hall meeting. (more…)