Speaker Ralston Announces North Georgia Office of the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation in Ellijay

News
(The following is a Press Release from the Office of David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.)

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced that the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation has opened a North Georgia Office in Ellijay. The office is located in the Collaboration on River’s Edge (CORE) Building, a workplace innovation space and initiative of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.

“I am proud to welcome the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation to Ellijay and look forward to the good work that will be done to further economic opportunity throughout rural Georgia,” said Speaker David Ralston. “This center is a direct result of the work of the House Rural Development Council and our continuing efforts to ensure prosperity is accessible to all Georgians – regardless of zip code.”

The center, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, has named Janet Cochran to lead the North Georgia Office. Cochran comes to the center with more than a decade of experience as a project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“Finding ways to not only maintain but to multiply the economic and cultural vitality present in so many of north Georgia’s small towns and rural communities relies heavily on relationships,” said Dr. David Bridges, Georgia’s Rural Center interim director, “and we know that our presence and personnel there will only improve our ability to facilitate positive outcomes. Janet brings a wealth of experience in managing economic development projects in this region of the state, and we’re excited to have her join our team in this role at the North Georgia Office.”

Headquartered at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.

“Promoting a strong business environment that enhances the quality of our community is not just the chamber’s mission in words, it is behind everything we do. The opening of CORE and the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation is a cornerstone moment in that mission and one that we have worked tirelessly to support and create for many years. I join with our 650 members in celebrating,” remarked John Marshall, Gilmer Chamber Chairman of the Board.

“As chairman of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation it has been our goal as a private, citizen funded organization to help spur economic growth for our community and region. CORE being the home to the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office brings our vision to reality. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities for years to come,” said Kent Sanford, Chairman of the Board.

“Working with Speaker of the House David Ralston and the House leadership to bring the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office to our community will have economic impact to the entire region. We look forward to continuing to work to insure the success of the center and all of our partners within CORE,” remarked Lex Rainey, Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority Chairman of the Board.

Located in Gilmer County, Ellijay is a thriving rural community in the North Georgia mountains, offering a unique blend of southern hospitality and natural beauty. The area leads Georgia in apple production and is a center for agribusiness and agritourism.

For more information about the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, visit http://www.ruralga.org/.

Author

Ethics and Security questioned in Gilmer Administration

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Citizens are questioning the Gilmer County Board of Education this week after reports have surfaced of the involvement of and connections between the school systems Superintendent, Dr. Shanna Downs, and her husband’s, Jeff Downs, career in a company that the school is now engaging to install a security system in the schools.

Jeff Downs

Jeff Downs,  Senior Vice President of Sales

While allegations pointed that Shanna Downs financially benefited from this contract between the school and the company known as Centegix, where sources say Jeff Downs serves and Senior Vice President of Sales.

FYN looked deeper into the contract and Request for Proposals (RFP) process that was headed up by Gilmer Schools Director of Technology John Call. According to hid RFP listed, the criteria of the RFP included:

1. Bidder’s total proposed price
2. Product quality/appropriateness/compatibility/performance
3. Bidder’s qualifications/experience
4. Bidder’s ability to provide support/service
5. Bidder’s warranty/maintenance
6. Proposed product meeting the district’s present needs as well as future needs through
enhancements and upgrades.

Call headed the reviews and RFP process, according to Downs, who said, “When I realized that my husband would likely accept a position with Centegix in November,  I notified the board and I placed our technology director, John Call, in charge of the competitive bidding process for the security system.  I asked that I be left completely out of the process.”

Downs further stated that Call and Stuart Sheriff, Assistant Superintendent, contacted Harbin, Hartley and Hawkins Attorneys at Law on November 12 for legal advice. As they saw no problem after Downs recusal, Downs says she informed the Board of her husband’s potential future employment with Centegix.  She says, “Mr. Call assembled a committee of building level administrators to review and score the responses to the Request for Proposals (RFPs).   Details of that process can be found in our board minutes from December 13, 2018.  Until that process was complete, I stayed unaware of the selection of the product.”

Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs

Downs made one further note on her husband’s involvement saying, “My husband began work with Centegix on December 3rd and will not make any commission off of the purchase.”

The RFP continued under Call and received two proposals, one from Centegix and one from ETC in Ellijay. When questioned as to why only two proposals were received, Call noted that other companies did inquire about the RFP, but never submitted a proposal. Without an official submittal, there is no record of these inquiries and their company’s interests in the request.
The RFP advertisement did reach statewide as Call publicized the request in not only the school’s website, but on the state procurement website as well. According to the Georgia Procurement Registry, they directly emailed 231 contacts over 122 companies about the RFP while also being searchable to any vendors accessing the website.
Call further stated that the full product and network that Centegix offered isn’t easily found in other places. He indicated that Centegix, LLC, together with its parent, 34ED, LLC, and affiliates Kloud-12 and Dooley Education Solutions, has done something that many companies are just beginning to get into.
It isn’t so much any individual technology they have that others don’t, according to Call, but rather the way they “marry the technology together.”
Centegix’s proposal offered an alert button system alongside classroom camera systems that operates on a singular network incorporating a campus-wide CrisisAlert System, classroom cameras, and classroom educational video capabilities. It also provides exact location information through ID Badges that hold the alert button system with configurable presses to notify emergencies on two levels, campus-wide emergencies and local individualized incidents.
ETC’s proposal offered Camera system integration and wearable IneractWear control buttons to initiate camera recording and notifications to administrators for incidents or sever emergencies requiring 911 intervention.
According to Call’s recorded scoresheets filed with Gilmer Schools, the difference between the two proposals came down to only $10,698. However, with a full 1.742 points difference, the scoring was based on the six criteria of the RFP noted earlier.
FYN has also received the individual scorecards of each of the six people on the committee to judge the RFP responses, including Ashley CoatesTiffany Boyette,  Stephanie BurnetteNicole Pike John Call, and  James Jones.
With the final vote having been taken for the security proposals in December, Call presented these results to the Board who accepted Centegix’s proposal and are already well into the installation process in every school except Gilmer Middle School and a partial install in Ellijay Primary.
The school system has decided to move forward with installing the CrisisAlert system buttons as they attach easliy to the drop ceilings and operate on battery. With the ease of removal and moving the system, they intend to transfer this system to the Clear Creek Elementary School when constructed.

Centegix Proposal:

ETC Proposal:

ETC – Alert System – RFP – Additional InformationETC – Alert System – RFP – Additional Information

Author

House Judiciary Leaders Announce Committee Roster

Politics, State & National

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | House Judiciary Committee Republicans
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2019
Permalink
CONTACT: 
Jessica Andrews
(202) 225 9893

House Judiciary Leaders Announce Committee Roster

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee held its first full committee meeting to introduce new members, adopt committee rules, appoint subcommittee chairs and ranking members, and approve subcommittee assignments. Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) released the following statements after the Judiciary Committee’s first meeting of the 116th Congress:

“It’s a great pleasure to join Chairman Nadler in welcoming our colleagues to the House Judiciary Committee. The opportunities our committee has to serve Americans and strengthen our democratic institutions are almost limitless. Together, we’ve built a legacy of passionate debate and bipartisan success. I look forward to hearing from every lawmaker on this committee and to deepening our collaboration throughout this Congress,” said Collins.

“I’m proud to welcome all of our Members to the House Judiciary Committee this Congress. The Committee has remained one of the most active committees in the House through lively debates, bipartisan partnerships, and advancing critical legislation. I expect this to continue and look forward to hearing from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we prepare to take on some of the most pressing issues of our time. I have worked closely with Ranking Member Collins on many issues in the past and hope that we will find more common ground over the next two years,” said Nadler.

Democratic Members

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Chair
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)
  • Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)
  • Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)
  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.)
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)
  • Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.)
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)
  • Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.)
  • Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Vice Chair
  • Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas)
  • Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.)
  • Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.)
  • Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.)
  • Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.)
  • Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.)
  • Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas)
Republican Members

  • Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member
  • Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)
  • Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)
  • Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
  • Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.)
  • Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas)
  • Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.)
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
  • Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.)
  • Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
  • Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.)
  • Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.)
  • Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.)
  • Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.)
  • Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.)
  • Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.)
Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee Assignments:

Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law

Democrats

  • Rep. Cicilline, Chair
  • Rep. Johnson
  • Rep. Raskin
  • Rep. Jayapal
  • Rep. Demings
  • Rep. Scanlon
  • Rep. Neguse, Vice Chair
  • Rep. McBath
Republicans

  • Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Ranking Member
  • Rep. Gaetz
  • Rep. Buck
  • Rep. Armstrong
  • Rep. Steube
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Democrats

  • Rep. Cohen, Chair
  • Rep. Raskin, Vice Chair
  • Rep. Swalwell
  • Rep. Scanlon
  • Rep. Dean
  • Rep. Garcia
  • Rep. Escobar
  • Rep. Jackson Lee
Republicans

  • Rep. Johnson, Ranking Member
  • Rep. Gohmert
  • Rep. Jordan
  • Rep. Reschenthaler
  • Rep. Cline
  • Rep. Armstrong
Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet
Democrats

  • Rep. Johnson, Chair
  • Rep. Deutch
  • Rep. Richmond
  • Rep. Jeffries
  • Rep. Lieu
  • Rep. Stanton
  • Rep. Lofgren
  • Rep. Cohen
  • Rep. Bass
  • Rep. Swalwell
  • Rep. Correa, Vice Chair
Republicans

  • Rep. Roby, Ranking Member
  • Rep. Chabot
  • Rep. Jordan
  • Rep. Ratcliffe
  • Rep. Gaetz
  • Rep. Johnson
  • Rep. Biggs
  • Rep. Reschenthaler
  • Rep. Cline
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
Democrats

  • Rep. Bass, Chair
  • Rep. Jackson Lee
  • Rep. Demings, Vice Chair
  • Rep. McBath
  • Rep. Deutch
  • Rep. Richmond
  • Rep. Jeffries
  • Rep. Cicilline
  • Rep. Lieu
  • Rep. Dean
  • Rep. Mucarsel-Powell
  • Rep. Cohen
Republicans

  • Rep. Ratcliffe, Ranking Member
  • Rep. Sensenbrenner
  • Rep. Chabot
  • Rep. Gohmert
  • Rep. McClintock
  • Rep. Lesko
  • Rep. Reschenthaler
  • Rep. Cline
  • Rep. Steube
Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship
Democrats

  • Rep. Lofgren, Chair
  • Rep. Jayapal, Vice Chair
  • Rep. Correa
  • Rep. Garcia
  • Rep. Neguse
  • Rep. Mucarsel-Powell
  • Rep. Escobar
  • Rep. Jackson Lee
  • Rep. Scanlon
Republicans

  • Rep. Buck, Ranking Member
  • Rep. Biggs
  • Rep. McClintock
  • Rep. Lesko
  • Rep. Armstrong
  • Rep. Steube
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Our mailing address:
2142 Rayburn House Office Building

Amnesty Tires return for one week

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Reviving its previous program from last year, Gilmer County has applied, and been approved, for its grant to run the Amnesty Tire Program from April 16 through April 21.

The program allows residents and citizens to bring old tires to the county’s landfill in order to dispose of the tires free of charge to the citizen. The program will only run one week this year leading up to Earth Day.

Keep Gilmer Beautiful Committee, in cooperation with the Gilmer County Solid Waste Department, is hosting “Amnesty Tire Week” for our residents as the program is in conjunction with the Keep Gilmer Beautiful Committee’s EARTH DAY EVENT, scheduled for Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Used tires can be taken to the Gilmer County Landfill at 456 Tower Road and dropped off free of charge during normal operating hours.

The following are the rules for Gilmer County residents only to take advantage of this free program:

  • Program is for non-commercial only;
  • Tires must be off the rim and free of water; and
  • Each household will be limited to 20 tires.

The county is also asking that if citizens have any questions, please call 706-635-7696 or 706-635-4589.

Author

Ellijay Presents Proposed Budget for 2018

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The City of Ellijay is moving forward in its budgeting process with the presentation of its budget for 2018.

This Proposed budget is still awaiting public comments in the the hearing tomorrow morning, September 29, at 9:00 A.M. After that, the budget can move to October’s regular meeting for approval by the city.

The budget as it currently shows, is not completed numbers for the current fiscal year. However, changes are already being seen as budget hearings and the council prepare for future costs.

Citizens wishing to follow up and speak during comments at the City’s meetings are encouraged to dig deeper into the Proposed 2018 Budget.

Author

GHS Renovations Ready for ECAC Committee

News

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

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

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

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

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

 

Author

Sen. David Lucas to Host Second Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting

State & National

MEDIA ADVISORY

Contact: Ines Owens, Director
Elisabeth Fletcher, Communications Specialist
Elisabeth.fletcher@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028

Sen. David Lucas to Host Second Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting

ATLANTA (August 7, 2017) | Sen. David Lucas (D – Macon) will hold a two-day Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting to discuss broadband, healthcare, telecommunications and developing tourism TOMORROW from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and WEDNESDAY from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. The meeting will be held at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega.

WHO: Sen. David Lucas and Rural Georgia Study Committee Members

WHAT: Two-day Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting

WHEN: Tuesday, August 8, 2017
               9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
               Wednesday, August 9, 2017
               9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

WHERE: University of North Georgia
Continuing Education Center in Dahlonega
25 Schultz Avenue
Dahlonega, GA 30597

 

Sen. David Lucas, Sr. represents the 26th Senate District, which includes portions of Bibb, Houston and Jones Counties and all of Hancock, Twiggs, Washington and Wilkinson Counties. He may be reached at 404.656.5035 or by email atDavid.Lucas@senate.ga.gov.

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