Update given for fireworks details in Ellijay

Community, News
Fireworks

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The City of Ellijay is offering a few updates to its Fourth of July Celebration this year with an official start time and clarification on viewing.

According to Gilmer Chamber President/CEO Paige Hutto, the fireworks for this year’s celebration are starting at 8:45 p.m. As previously reported, they will be launched from the area behind Ellijay Elementary School. These details are very similar to previous years for the celebration.

However, other details are coming brand new this year. The city is trying to take steps forward this year as they attempt to improve awareness and marketing for the celebration in addition to providing options for citizens wishing to continue social distancing.

The Chamber has been updating citizens in that area. like their post last week about the fireworks display saying, “the awesome folks at the City of Ellijay are working out specifics on how to keep our citizens safe during the fireworks show.”

Hutto clarified that while meetings are being held over details for safety and viewing zones, they are not currently closing off areas. Hutto explained that the city is not trying to set places where you can or cannot watch from, but rather finding options for viewing to help the crowds spread out, and seeking ideas so that everyone can enjoy the show safely.

She confirmed that city officials have been talking about this event for some time and making decisions to provide for citizens and that the Chamber is dedicated to spreading any new details the city has as soon as they come available just as they did with the aforementioned post.

National Guard deploying to Ellijay facility

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infection, National Guard

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer will host the Georgia National Guard tomorrow morning, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in order to perform sanitation on Parkside Ellijay and assist staff with training measures on sanitation and cleaning methods..

Days ago, the National Guard posted an article on their website by Maj. William Carraway. The article stated, “The Georgia National Guard is sending infection-control teams to nursing homes around the state to help limit the spread of COVID-19.”

“Our mission is to assist in disinfecting nursing homes,” said Col. John Till, safety officer for the Georgia Department of Defense, who is training the teams. “We are going to help decontaminate and disinfect rooms in which these citizens are quarantined to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

As for why they are coming, the Gilmer Public Safety Director Keith Kucera gave a prepared statement today saying, “Gilmer County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) was in contact with GEMA and GA National Guard in reference to a scheduled visit by the National Guard to Gilmer County on Tuesday, 07 April 2020.  The GA National Guard, by request from Parkside Ellijay Nursing Care Center, will be at their site to assist and train staff in the proper techniques of cleaning and disinfecting.  This visit by the National Guard is for preventative measures and training purposes only.  The soldiers on site will demonstrate the proper wearing of decontamination suits and N-95 respirators to the nursing care center staff along with CDC guidance on cleaning specific to nursing homes.  These services have been provided to numerous nursing care centers across the state by the National Guard.  Gilmer County EMA welcomes this visit as these soldiers are here providing a requested humanitarian service to the Parkside Ellijay Nursing Care Center.  We thank them for their service to the State of Georgia and to our Country.”

As they come to Ellijay tomorrow, local authorities are now making comments on the visit as well. The Ellijay Police Department posted to social media today saying, “Knowing our community, especially our online community, we wanted to preemptively get this information out so no one will be alarmed.”

Before the guard appears and citizens begin questioning authorities, County Commission Chairman Paris noted that Gilmer is now under the State’s order for sheltering at this time. Many also recall that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s order overtook local orders by cities and counties.

Working alongside the facility, Carraway’s article stated, “The infection control teams are the latest example of innovation by Georgia National Guard leaders and planners. These teams did not exist a week ago. They follow in the footsteps of the Georgia National Guard’s medical assistance teams (MATS), which are embedded at hospitals across Georgia. The MATs, composed of Georgia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen with backgrounds in medicine and health, were created and employed the past two weeks.”

Parkside Ellijay shares an actual building connection to the Piedmont Emergency Room in Ellijay. Ellijay Police assured citizens during the coming action saying, “All is well. There is no curfew. No one is taking over. No martial law. Just citizen warriors coming to assist local folks with training and information.” Similarly, the City of Woodstock made a public statement of the same activity in there city on social media this morning.

Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, the adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard, said in Carraway’s article, “The Georgia National Guard stands ready to assist any long-term care facility in this time of need through staff training and implementation of infectious disease control measures. Our training has prepared us to fight this virus, and we are eager to lend a hand in this battle.”

UPDATED: East Ellijay follows county for emergency and shutdown

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emergency

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – An emergency special called meeting came today from the East Ellijay City Council as they declared a state of emergency similar to that of the county yesterday.

According to Mayor Mack West, the ordinance passed with only a few council members, the mayor, and the clerk in the meeting as the emergency meeting was called after last nights declaration from the county. County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris confirmed yesterday that he had discussed the issue with the mayors and his plan for the declaration.

Now, both cities are following suit, passing their own declarations and shutdowns for their own jurisdictions. Mayor West said that East Ellijay’s shutdown is virtually the same as the county’s with only a few modifications that they felt were needed within the city limits.

The city of East Ellijay has provided the following copy of their ordinance for the public:

 

AN ORDER FOR THE DECLARATION OF A LOCAL STATE OF EMERGENCY RELATED TO COVID-19; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

WHEREAS, The City of East Ellijay, Georgia has experienced an event of critical significance as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease (“COVID-19”); and

WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (the “CDC”) indicates that COVID-19 is a new and contagious respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 100 locations around the world, including in the United States; and

WHEREAS, as reported by the World Health Organization (“WHO”) effective as of March 23, 2020, the world has experienced a deep humanitarian crisis with more than 334,981 cases and more than 14,652 deaths due to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, COVID-19 is officially a global pandemic according to the WHO; and

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency for the United States of America in response to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, on March 14, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp declared a public health Emergency due to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, as reported by the CDC effective as of March 23, 2020, Georgia now has 800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 26 COVID-19 related deaths; and

WHEREAS, the CDC has issued guidance on the emerging and rapidly evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to protect oneself from illness; and

WHEREAS, social distancing is recommended by the CDC to prevent the continued spreading of the illness in the community; and

WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, President Donald Trump issued his Coronavirus Guidelines for America which instructs people to listen to their local authorities and to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people; and

WHEREAS, cities, states, and counties, including but not limited to, Athens-Clarke County,
Georgia, Sumter County, Georgia, Dougherty County, Georgia, the City of Atlanta, Georgia,
Alameda County, California, the City of Los Angeles, California, the City of Seattle,
Washington, and the states of New York, New Jersey, California, Delaware, Kentucky,
Louisiana, and Connecticut have imposed temporary restrictions related to public and private
gatherings to stop large numbers of people from gathering and staying in close proximity during
the COVID-19 pandemic; and

WHEREAS, the CDC expects that additional cases of COVID-19 will be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States, and that person-to-person spread is likely to continue to occur; and

WHEREAS, local emergency hospital personnel have reported that they are treating patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and that there is shortage of personal protective equipment which places the health, safety, and welfare of emergency medical personnel at risk and the general public; and

WHEREAS, medical professionals have advised that if COVID-19 spreads in Gilmer County and the cities therein at a rate comparable to the rate of spread in other affected areas, it may greatly strain the resources and capabilities of county and municipal governments, including public health agencies, that provide essential services for containing and mitigating the spread of contagious diseases, such as COVID-19, and the situation may become too large in scope to be handled in its entirety by the normal county and municipal operating services in some parts of this State, and this situation may spread to other parts of the State; and

WHEREAS, in the judgment of the East Ellijay City Council, as of the date of this Order, there exists emergency circumstances as a result of COVID-19 within the geographical boundaries of Gilmer County, Georgia requiring extraordinary and immediate corrective actions for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Gilmer County, Georgia and the two cities therein; and

WHEREAS, to prevent or minimize injury to people resulting from this pandemic, the East Ellijay City Council hereby finds that certain actions are required, including but not limited to, the social distancing measures set forth herein; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to Article II, Section 2-102 thru 2-107 entitled Legislation of the City in the City Charter, the East Ellijay City Council is authorized to enact Orders, rules, resolutions and regulations implementing the powers granted by the Constitution and laws of the State of Georgia to the governing authorities of the various cities in the State of Georgia; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to O.C.G.A. Sec. 38-3-28, the City Council is authorized to make, amend, and rescind orders, rules, and regulations as necessary for emergency purposes and to supplement carrying out the emergency management laws; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to O.C.G.A. Sec. 38-3-51, the Governor’s declared public health emergency authorizes City of East Ellijay to use emergencies powers in O.C.G.A. Sections 38-3-1 through 38-3-64; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to O.C.G.A. Sec. 38-3-6, during an emergency, O.C.G.A. Sections 38-3-1 through 38-3-64 are supposed to be liberally construed to effectuate their purposes.

NOW, THEREFORE, the East Ellijay City Council hereby orders that a Local State of Emergency be declared within City boundaries and said State of Emergency shall continue until the conditions requiring this declaration are abated.

THEREFORE, BE IT ORDERED:

Article 1

That Social Distancing and Closed or Restricted Areas during Emergency as Ordered below:
1. The intent of this Order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible. When people need to leave their places of residence, whether to obtain or perform vital services, or to otherwise facilitate authorized activities necessary for continuity of social and commercial life, they should at all times reasonably possible comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in Section 10 below. All provisions of this Order should be interpreted to effectuate this intent. Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this Order constitutes an imminent threat to public health.
2. All individuals currently living within the unincorporated areas of City of East Ellijay, Georgia shall shelter at their place of residence. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they must at all times as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence. All persons may leave their residences only for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses, all as defined in Section 10. Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this Section, but are strongly urged to obtain shelter, and governmental and other entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable (and to utilize Social Distancing Requirements in their operation).
3. All businesses with a facility in the City, except Essential Businesses as defined below in Section 10, are required to cease all activities at facilities located within the County except Minimum Basic Operations, as defined in Section 10. For clarity, businesses may also continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home). All Essential Businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open. To the greatest extent feasible, Essential Businesses shall comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in Section 10 below, including, but not limited to, when any customers are standing in line.
4. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or living unit are prohibited, except for the limited purposes as expressly permitted in Section 10. Nothing in this Order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or living unit.
5. All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit, except Essential Travel and Essential Activities as defined below in Section 10, is prohibited. This Order allows travel into or out of the County to perform Essential Activities, operate Essential Businesses, or maintain Essential Governmental Functions.
6. This Order is issued based on evidence of increasing occurrence of COVID-19 throughout the State of Georgia, scientific evidence and best practices regarding the most effective approaches to slow the transmission of communicable diseases generally and COVID-19 specifically, and evidence that the age, condition, and health of a significant portion of the population of the County places it at risk for serious health complications, including death, from COVID-19. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the general public, which is now a pandemic according to the World Health Organization, there is a public health emergency throughout the County. Making the problem worse, some individuals who contract the COVID-19 virus have no symptoms or have mild symptoms, which means they may not be aware they carry the virus. Because even people without symptoms can transmit the disease, and because evidence shows the disease is easily spread, gatherings can result in preventable transmission of the virus. The scientific evidence shows that at this stage of the emergency, it is essential to slow virus transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent practicable. By reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this Order helps preserve critical and limited healthcare capacity in the County.
7. This Order also is issued in light of a high probability of COVID-19 cases occurring within the City of East Ellijay, Georgia and likely subsequent further significant increases in transmission after the initial occurrence of COVID-19. Widespread testing for COVID-19 is not yet available but is expected to increase in the coming days. This Order is necessary to slow the rate of spread and the City Council will re-evaluate it as further data becomes available.
8. This Order is issued in accordance with, and incorporates by reference, the March 16, 2020, Proclamation of a State of Emergency issued by Governor Brian Kemp as well as the two Orders issued by the Governor on March 23, 2020.
9. This Order comes after the release of substantial guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and other public health officials throughout the United States and around the world, including a variety of prior orders to combat the spread and harms of COVID19. The City of East Ellijay will continue to assess the quickly evolving situation and may modify or extend this Order, or issue additional Orders, related to COVID-19.
10. Definitions and Exemptions.
a. For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following “Essential Activities.” But people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are urged to stay in their residence to the extent possible except as necessary to seek medical care.
i. To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members or partners or significant others (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, by way of example only and without limitation, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home.
ii. To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
iii. To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or bicycling.
iv. To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order, including Minimum Basic Operations.
v. To care for a family member or pet in another household.
b. For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence to work for or obtain services at any “Healthcare Operations” including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services. “Healthcare Operations” also includes veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals. This exemption shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of healthcare, broadly defined. “Healthcare Operations” does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.
c. For purposes of this Order, individuals may leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of “Essential Infrastructure,” including, but not limited to, public works construction, construction and all related activities (in particular affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness), airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services), provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible.
d. For purposes of this Order, all first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, and law enforcement personnel, and others who need to perform essential services are categorically exempt from this Order. Further, nothing in this Order shall prohibit any individual from performing or accessing “Essential Governmental Functions,” as determined by the governmental entity performing those functions. Each governmental entity shall identify and designate appropriate employees or contractors to continue providing and carrying out any Essential Governmental Functions. All Essential Governmental Functions shall be performed in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section, to the extent possible.
e. For the purposes of this Order, covered businesses include any for-profit, nonprofit, or private educational entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure.
f. For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” means:
i. Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
ii. Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other nongrocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
iii. Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
iv. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
v. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
vi. Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
vii. Banks and related financial institutions;
viii. Hardware stores;
ix. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
x. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
xi. Educational institutions—including private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
xii. Laundromats, drycleaners, and laundry service providers;
xiii. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Farm Wineries shall be allowed to sale packaged wine at curbside. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
xiv. Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
xv. Businesses or manufacturers that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
xvi. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences;
xvii. Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
xviii. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
xix. Residential facilities including hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children, except for short-term cabin rentals (provided that current guests may complete their stay);
xx. Professional services, such as legal, accounting services, real estate services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;
xxi. Unless otherwise preempted by state law, childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as permitted. To the extent possible, childcare facilities must operate under the following mandatory conditions:
1. Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (“stable” means that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day).
2. Children shall not change from one group to another.
3. If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.
4. Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children. For the purposes of this Order, “Minimum Basic Operations” include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:
xxii. All businesses not identified above but are listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s website as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.
g. For the purposes of this Order, “Minimum Basic Operations” include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Order to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations.
i. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
ii. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
h. For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Travel” includes travel for any of the following purposes. Individuals engaged in any Essential Travel must comply with all Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section below.
i. Any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, Essential Businesses, or Minimum Basic Operations.
ii. Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
iii. Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.
iv. Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction.
v. Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
vi. Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the County remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel.
i. For purposes of this Order, residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities.
j. For purposes of this Order, “Social Distancing Requirements” includes maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.
11. Enforcement and Remedies.
a. Individuals: In recognition that City of East Ellijay, Georgia does not have the personnel or resources to monitor and police distancing or gathering limitations or shelter in place requirements for all individuals currently living within the territorial limits of the City of East Ellijay Georgia, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office is authorized to support compliance with this Order through information delivery and education of individuals regarding the imminent threat to public health posed by COVID-19.
b. Covered Businesses: Any violations of this Order by covered businesses shall be considered Order violations subject to the general penalty provisions outlined in the City Charter.
c. Guidance Contact: The City Council directs the Mayor to provide guidance to any business within the City Limits of East Ellijay, Georgia, as to whether said business meets the definition of Essential Business, or is exempted from this Order.
d. The City of East Ellijay, Georgia shall seek reimbursement from the State of Georgia and from Federal Emergency funds for all eligible expenditures.
12. Copies of this Order shall promptly be available at East Ellijay City Hall.
13. If any provision of this Order to the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held to be invalid, the reminder of the Order, including the application of such part or provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, the provisions of this Order are severable.

Article 2

1. It is hereby declared to be the intention of the City of East Ellijay that all sections, paragraphs, sentences, clauses, and phrases of this Order are and were, upon their enactment, believed by the City Council be fully valid, enforceable, and constitutional.
2. It is hereby declared to be the intention of the City Council that, to the greatest extent allowed by law, each and every section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Order is severable from every other section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Order. It is hereby further declared to be the intention of the City Council that, to the greatest extent allowed by law, no section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Order is mutually dependent upon any other section, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Order.
3. In the event that any phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this Order shall, for any reason whatsoever, be declared invalid, unconstitutional or otherwise unenforceable by the valid judgment or decree of any court of competent jurisdiction, it is the express intent of the City Council that such invalidity, unconstitutionality or unenforceability shall, to the greatest extent allowed by law, not render invalid, unconstitutional or otherwise unenforceable any of the remaining phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs or sections of the Order and that, to the greatest extent allowed by law, all remaining phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, and sections of the Order shall remain valid, constitutional, enforceable, and of full force and effect.

Article 3

All Orders or parts of Orders in conflict with this Order are, to the extent of such conflict, are hereby repealed or set aside.

Article 4

This Order shall become effective at 12:01 a.m. on March 26, 2020 and will continue to be in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 7, 2020, or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the East Ellijay City Council.

SO ORDERED this _25_ day of March, 2020.

East Ellijay Walmart modifying hours and Georgia cases rise

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EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Citizens are waking up and some are skipping church today as new reports from the statewide media are increasing the reported number of cases to 99 in the Georgia and businesses like Walmarts modifying hours for stocking and cleaning.

modifying hours

Delilah Arnold stands in front of a completely empty shelf in East Ellijay’s Food Lion store after citizens prepare to stay home to avoid the Coronavirus. (Photo by Robie Arnold)

Other businesses are doing the same, closing down or modifying hours in the face of both businesses and government entities shutting down. Grocery stores like Walmart have had bare shelves all weekend as people stock up for a week at home to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus.

Authorities are telling citizens not to panic, but are encouraging anyone feeling sick to self-quarantine in efforts to avoid possible spread.

Just over the last two days, Walmart has repeatedly run out of items and some citizens are even going to employees stocking shelves, asking them if there is more stock ready to be put out.

However, in Ellijay and nearby counties, all the grocery stores including Ingles and Food Lion are being effected by the shortages as well.

modifying hoursIn response, East Ellijay’s own Walmart has modifying hours with signs posted saying they will only be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. A major change from a national business known for its 24-hour operations.

According to news reports and public releases, Dacona Smith, Walmart Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said in a release, “This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing.”

Citizens in Ellijay should take note of this change as it is currently in effect, but has no published or stated end date to these new hours.

 

modifying hours

Ingles shelves are bare, running out of much more than just toilet paper and sanitizers over the weekend, as citizens respond to concerns and reports of the Coronavirus in East Ellijay, Georgoa. (Photo by Christopher Scott)

 

East Ellijay approves TSPLOST

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East Ellijay TSPLOST

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The final steps are being prepared for the coming vote for a TSPLOST in May as East Ellijay City Council approves their resolution for an intergovernmental agreement.

This intergovernmental agreement is set to support the TSPLOST if approved on the May voting ballot. This agreement approves of the TSPLOST and the city’s percentage of the tax collection.

In January, a special called meeting between all three entities set the split for the TSPLOST as such, Gilmer County receives 92 percent, Ellijay receives 5.72 percent, and East Ellijay receives 1.93 percent.

The item now goes back to the Commissioners to approve the intergovernmental agreement on their end before officially moving forward to the next steps.

TSPLOST negotiations highlight cities’ split

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Paving roads and the amount of spending came into debate as the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners met with Mayors and members of City Hall from both Ellijay and East Ellijay today to discuss TSPLOST negotiations.

The discussion centered on the split that each entity wanted to see with the upcoming possible TSPLOST tax. Each entity vied for an increase to their portion over and above what they got for the previous SPLOST split. Debate arose around the idea of the cities increasing to a flat 2 percent for East Ellijay and 6 percent for Ellijay. This would be up from the 1.93 percent that East Ellijay has with the SPLOST split and up from 5.72 percent that Ellijay has.

However, as the discussion progressed, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris said he also wanted the county’s percentage to go up considering the 500 miles of road in the unincorporated parts of the county, roads maintained by the county.

The two mayors countered with arguments of their own. Mayor of Ellijay, Al Hoyle noted that many of the roads they maintain in the city are used more than those in the outer parts as people travel out of town on city-maintained roads to reach the county roads.

East Ellijay Mayor Mack West added to the notion saying that East Ellijay has a constant need for Eller Road as an example. Due to the high traffic and usage, the road is already showing cracks after only three years since paving.

However, the topic ultimately came to rest at proceeding with the same split that each entity sees on the normal SPLOST, Gilmer County receives 92 percent, Ellijay receives 5.72 percent, and East Ellijay receives 1.93 percent.

However, the negotiations of percentage were not the only discussion held in the meeting as citizens debated the TSPLOST in the Citizens Wishing to Speak section.

Bill Craig, of North Georgia Diamond, voiced his opinion that the retail business community may have been left out of the discussion on the topic. Saying that the county hasn’t considered the impact to businesses that more sales tax might have. He offered scenarios to consider that people visiting might go elsewhere or stop early to buy groceries or similar necessities if they visit Ellijay, or that someone might visit another county to buy larger items like his store provides, being jewelry and diamonds.

While Paris did say he met with one retailer privately to discuss the topic, Craig repeated that he felt the county had not done enough to understand the business impact.

Mayor West commented on possible impact saying if he was going to buy something like a diamond, he would shop with North Georgia Diamond over driving to Atlanta for only a $100 difference, coming from the 1 percent sales tax increase.

Craig went on to say that adding TSPLOST would make Gilmer one of the highest sales tax percentages in the state.

Georgia Sales and Use Tax Rate Chart - Gilmer TSPLOST Negotiations

Georgia Sales and Use Tax Rate Chart

In fact, according to the Georgia Sales and Use Tax Rate Chart (pictured to the right) published, for January 2020, by the Georgia Department of Revenue, of the 159 counties in Georgia, just over half of them have an 8 percent sales tax.

Actually, 83 counties have an 8 percent sales tax, while 69 counties (including Gilmer) have a 7 percent sales tax, 4 counties have a 6 percent sales tax, and only one county, Ware County, has a 9 percent sales tax. This does exclude Fulton and DeKalb counties with split sales tax in parts of the county according to this document.

Also, there are 87 counties that currently have some form of a TSPLOST, whether it is the original state TSPLOST or a locally added TSPLOST after that statewide vote.

Looking more specifically to the Highway 515 corridor, as some have called it, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, and Union Counties all, currently, have a sales tax rate of 7 including LOST (Local Option Sales Tax), SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), and ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).

One more comment of major note came from Chairman Paris who said, “I’m fine with it either way,” when discussing if the TSPLOST will pass on the ballots. Paris admitted a large amount of pressure on him from the public. He has stated in previous meetings that he feels the road department and the county’s roads are progressing. He ultimately simplified the discussion and the TSPLOST vote as he summed it up by saying its a decision on if we want our roads fixed over the next 25 years or the next 5 years. The TSPLOST, as he described, is simply a way to achieve the same results faster.

 

TSPLOST debate moves to include cities

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners is advertising a meeting early in the new year with the city governments of Ellijay and East Ellijay.

This Special Called Meeting, set for January 7, 2020, at 10 a.m., has only one agenda item, “Discussion and possible action of Intergovernmental Agreement for a proposed T-SPLOST with the Cities of Ellijay and East Ellijay.”

Recent months have seen the TSPLOST progress from an idea in the Roads and Bridges Town Hall to approval to be on the ballot in less than two months.

The meeting is actually set the day before the county is set to hold its January Workshop, scheduled for January 8, 2019, at 9 a.m.

While not fully confirmed, the county has held similar meetings in the past when discussing their SPLOST renewal in 2018 where they negotiated each of the cities’ percentage that they would take from the tax. At that time, it was confirmed that the county could have moved forward without the cities, but noted several benefits to cooperating and negotiating their involvement.

With the TSPLOST, there has been no specific discussion on the need, benefits, or reason for involving the cities since the Board already approved the TSPLOST to go for a vote on the ballots without them. However, County Attorney David Clark did say at that meeting that the county needed to finalize details and work on a few more items before they would be ready to put it on the ballot.

In any scenario, at this time, it appears the county will be reaching out to the cities for their support of or involvement in the TSPLOST in the coming week.

Economic Development Director Hiring Committee Meets at ACC

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Economic Development Director Hiring Committee

Public Release by Becky Denney and Sonny Proctor

 

JASPER, Ga. – On Thursday December 5th the Economic Development Director Hiring Committee had a called meeting to see a presentation from one of the candidates who is being considered for this exciting new position. The purpose of this position will be to add industrial recruitment and development to our community, and to support existing business in their growth needs. Georgia leads our nation in economic development, and 70-80% of economic development in our state is in growing existing businesses. The meeting, held at the Atlantic Coast Conservancy, included special guests Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Jones and Jasper Mayor Elect Steve Lawrence. The committee, which is made up of three county and three city members, has been working with The Chason Group of Georgia to find a new executive level economic development director. Once the selection is made, they will begin an economic development strategic plan, also facilitated by The Chason Group. The group hopes to have a decision and an announcement made soon. This position will be a true partnership between the county, the Pickens County Development Authority, the City of Jasper and the Chamber of Commerce and will bring experience and expertise to this critical role. As a demonstration of this partnership, Jasper City Manager Brandon Douglas was recently elected to the Development Authority. The cost of the program will be a combination of city and county funds, resolved by an intergovernmental agreement, as well as private sector funds, including in kind contributions from the chamber of commerce. Pictured (L-R): Amicalola Electric CEO Todd Payne, consultant Mark Lytle of The Chason Group, Jasper City Councilman and Committee Co-Chair Sonny Proctor, County Commissioner and committee Co-Chair Becky Denney, Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Jones, Chairman of the Development Authority Don Boggus, Chamber of Commerce President and C.E.O. Amberle Godfrey, Jasper City Councilman Kirk Raffield, Mayor Elect Steve Lawrence and Jasper City Manager Brandon Douglas.

Gilmer County’s 2019 Election Results

Election, News
Election Results

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County’s 2019 Election Results are rolling in tonight, November 5, 2019, as citizens elect a replacement Post 1 Commissioner for the vacancy left by Dallas Miller’s Resignation last month as well as a new Ellijay City Council.

This article will continued to be updated throughout the night until final results come in.

With 13 of the 13 voting precincts in Gilmer County reported and early votes counted, the results follow:

Post 1 Commissioner 2019 Election Results:

Jason Biggs: 227 votes

Al Cash: 249 votes

Hubert Parker: 1360 votes

Ed Stover: 206 votes

Jerry Tuso: 91 votes

 

Having received 63.70%, Probate Judge Scott Chastain has stated there will not be a runoff.

Hubert Parker offered a comment on the victory saying, “I’m elated at the confidence the voters expressed in me. I’ll do my best to serve all the citizens of Gilmer County.”

When asked if he was happy to not be going to a runoff. Parker said he was obviously happy to have it done now and to the county can move on with their business.

 

Ellijay City Council: 2019 Election Results

Charles Barclay: 71 votes

Jerry Baxter: 64 votes

Tom Crawford: 82 votes

Jerry Davis: 54 votes

Brent Defoor: 78 votes

Al Fuller (incumbent) : 110 votes

Katie Lancey (incumbent) : 81 votes

Sandy Ott: 126 votes

Kevin Pritchett: 109 votes

Brad Simmons: 74 votes

Ellijay City Council Candidate Forum heralds coming election day

Election, News
Ellijay City Council Candidate Forum

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer Chamber hosted their 2019 Ellijay City Council Candidate Forum this week, and with only five days to election day, the final stretch of the race is still seeing the candidates working hard for votes in the city.

However, its not just the voters watching this election as local business owners and even some of the county’s Commissioner Candidates were on hand to listen to these speeches. Though not all live in the city limits to be eligible to vote, business owners said they were present as they wanted to know what the city’s future, and therefore their businesses, hold.

The City Council Candidate Forum lasted from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Each candidate was given 3 minutes to speak to citizens about their campaign. Afterwards, these candidates took time to speak personally with attendees in a “Mix & Mingle” format.

With one candidate absent, those present for the forum included incumbents Al Fuller and Katie Lancey and new candidates Jerry Baxter, Tom Crawford, Jerry Davis, Brent Defoor, Sandy Ott, Kevin Pritchett, and Brad Simmons. Charles Barclay was not present.

However, this forum isn’t the only stop this week on the campaign trail as FYN spotted candidates at the 2019 Chili Challenge speaking to citizens and enjoying the event. And with five days left until Election day, the candidates are working harder than ever trying to get last minute moments with voters. This year’s election format could see five completely new candidates on the council. With the previous withdrawal of candidate Lynelle Reece Stewart, there will definitely be, at least, three new faces to the council next year.

For citizens of Ellijay, Tuesday will be very busy as they not only vote for the newest Ellijay City Council but, as citizens of the county as well, also for their new Post 1 Commissioner to fill in the remainder of Dallas Miller’s term on the Board of Commissioners.

East Ellijay to Annex 18 acres

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emergency

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – With the Public Hearing and first reading in August, the city of East Ellijay is set to annex new property into the city.

Totaling 18.66 acres, Mayor Mack West said the land is “part of the old Reece property.” It will convert from an Agricultural property to R1 – Residential as it becomes part of East Ellijay.

However, as only the first reading, citizens still have a chance to comment or discuss the annexation at the final reading and adoption during the council’s September meeting.

Additionally, in the meeting, the council is moving forward with purchasing a used Ford truck for the street department. The city is looking to purchase the vehicle owned and being used for city work by one of its employees.

City Manager Mack Wood told the council that this truck would save some money in gas usage as the current truck utilizes diesel fuel. The city will use the truck for trash pick-up, putting out signs when needed, and other needed city uses as they arise.

The city also approved an engagement letter from Welch Walker and Associates for the city’s audit. Mayor West called the $9,500 “a bargain” as he told the council the company has not changed the prices in six years. With this approval, Welch Walker and Associates will move forward with the audit of the fiscal year having ended on June 30, 2019.

West also said this would be the tenth year that the city has used this company.

11 Qualify for Ellijay City Council

Election, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Qualifying ended this week in Ellijay with 11 candidates on the ballot for the coming City Council Elections.

While the position of Mayor saw no competition against incumbent Al Hoyle, the positions for council members have become highly contested for the three positions up for election.

According to the official release from the City of Ellijay, those who have qualified include:

AL FULLER (INCUMBENT)
291 Westwood Dr., Ellijay, GA 30540

KATIE LANCEY (INCUMBENT)
86 Oakland Ct., Ellijay, GA 30540

LYNELLE REECE STEWART (INCUMBENT)
85 River St., Ellijay, GA 30540

CHARLES BARCLAY
62 Pine Street, Ellijay, GA 30540

KEVIN DOUGLAS PRITCHETT
342 The Oaks Dr., Ellijay, GA 30540

TOM CRAWFORD
205 Kell St., Ellijay, GA 30540

SANDY D. OTT
387 Old Tails Creek Rd., Ellijay, GA 30540

WILLIAM JERRY BAXTER
260 Gartrell St., Ellijay, GA 30540

JERRY DAVIS
118 North Ave., Ellijay, GA 30540

BRAD SIMMONS
40 River St., Ste. C, Ellijay, GA 30540

BRENT DEFOOR
95 Lucille Ave., Ellijay, GA 30540

City elections hold no partisanship and will be set for November 5, 2019, as election day. According to a recent release from the city, “If there is a need for a runoff election, the date of this election will be December 3, 2019.”

Qualifying shows no election in East Ellijay

Election, News

EAST ELLIJAY – With Qualifying finished and the names gathered, East Ellijay will officially skip the elections process once again this year.

Each member of the current council has requalified with no one running against them. With no contest, City Manager Mack Wood tells FYN that the city will not be moving forward with any of the remaining processes for voting booths, early voting,  or campaigning.

The current council will remain with the following incumbents having qualified:

Mayor –
Mack West

Councilmembers –
Don Callihan
Ed Forrester
Harold Crump
Linda Smith

East Ellijay advertises qualifying for election

Election, News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Next week, the City of East Ellijay will hold qualifying for the coming November elections.

Qualifying will be available from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., from Monday, August 19, 2019, until Wednesday, August, 21, 2019. Those wishing to qualify for the office of Mayor or one of the four City Council Members positions can do so at City Hall, 107 Oak Street, East Ellijay, Georgia.

According to East Ellijay’s official release, “The qualifying fee shall be $100.00 for the office of City Council and $1,000.00 for the office of Mayor.”

With qualifying set, candidates who qualify by end of day on August 21, 2019, will be placed on the November 5, 2019, Election day.

Ellijay advertises qualifying for election

Election, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The city of Ellijay is officially announcing next week, Monday, August 19, 2019, through Wednesday, August 21, 2019, as Qualifying week for the coming November Elections.

Available from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day, citizens wishing to run for position of Mayor of Ellijay or one of the five City Council positions can qualify at this time at City Hall, 197 North Main Street, Ellijay, Georgia.

According to Ellijay’s official release, “The qualifying fee for said office(s) will be $716.37 for the office of Mayor and $91.50 for a City Council Member.”

With qualifying set, candidates who qualify by end of day on August 21, 2019, will be placed on the November 5, 2019, Election day. The city states that if a runoff is needed in the election, they have already set December 3, 2019, as the runoff date.

Budget continues perks for citizens and employees

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – East Ellijay is continuing more than just property tax waivers for the ‘19-’20 fiscal year as they presented and approved their budget in June’s meeting.

Introducing the new budget, East Ellijay Mayor Mack West noted in his discussion that the ‘18-’19 budget did not need to take money from reserves to balance the budget as projected. The final financial reporting shows approximate revenues at $1,590,000 and actual expenditures at $1,380,000, leaving a $210,000 excess of revenue over expenditures.

Continuing into the next fiscal year, the council approved the waiver of solid waste, semi-weekly, residential curb-side pick-up fees city residents. According to a letter the West provided the council, “business and commercial entities use area contractors for waste disposal” and are not a part of the waiver.

Another item the city is continuing comes as a finish to last year’s budget. The council approved an $800 bonus to city employees, coming in July. Mayor West stated during the meeting that due to the diligence of employees and efforts to keep expenditures low, all employees would receive the bonus.

The bonus has been done for years, so many in fact, that council members could not remember exactly when the tradition began. Continuing the bonus still required the council’s approval,however, as is done every year.

West applauded the city’s staff in the letter saying, “All City Employees, including our many contract employees, are well trained, dedicated individuals with performance levels above and beyond expectations. As long as we have a good team and work together, we can provide the required services to our citizens without any property tax assessements.”

The letter also gave a statement on the city’s current financial status at the end of May 2019. With eight General Fund CD’s, the city holds $2,127,879.51. They also hold two SPLOST CD’s totaling $330,548.54.

Read the Mayor’s letter to the council with Page 1, Page 2, and Page 3.

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