ELLIJAY, Ga. – Soldiers and Reservists from the National Guard met in Ellijay today as part of a running program from the state to help clean, sanitize, and train staff at Parkside Ellijay.
The facility is only one of many that Lieutenant Jacob Mizell of Bravo Company said his team has and will visit during the Coronavirus outbreak. Receiving the call only last week, these reservists were in action in a day.
Today, they went into Parkside Ellijay spraying down, disinfecting, and sanitizing hallways, railings, counters, and other high touch areas. But they also visited each of the 100 rooms to disinfect areas of the residents’ rooms as well. Lt. Mizell said they were working with the owner of Parkside to accomplish whatever the need dictates.
Lt. Mizell said, “Their staff can’t really stay at home in isolation because these facilities need their staff here to make sure that their residents get medication and food and any sort of care that they need. So, we’re doing our part to help the state, to help the community, and to help the citizens of Georgia.”
Lieutenant Nathan Ballew said the operations is a little bit of both cleaning and education at the facility. The guard is doing the actual cleaning, but they are also educating the staff on procedures, cleaning, decontamination suits, and mask usage. A process that owner Michael Feist says is more than welcome as the facility wants to take all the help for its residents as possible.
The teams come through the facility with minimal impact on residents but slight impact to staff, who may have to avoid certain areas or hallways for several minutes during the process.
Depending on the facility size, the process could take two to three hours, and this team that came to Ellijay is based in Canton, reaching out and visiting facilities in a radius around their station. They hit two facilities each day, but currently have no plans or orders to return to facilities after completion.
Lt. Mizell said his unit has already visited eight facilities in their current tour. But their unit has two teams operating from Canton. Each team has 15 total soldiers.
Lt. Ballew said they are just a small part of the National Guard that is mobilized right now.
Lt. Ballew went on to add that he has personally been a part of responses for hurricanes and other disasters, but “It’s very similar because it’s just maintaining that flexibility to do whatever the state needs for us to help. That’s one of the most important parts of maintaining a National Guard.”
“We’re proud to admit that we have no cases. Nobody has tested positive and nobody is showing symptoms in the entire building. Nor have they shown since the beginning of this epidemic.” says Feist.
More than just the National Guard’s efforts, Parkside has made major changes in recent months including an outside chair and window visits for family as no visitors are allowed inside the building. Though they have cancelled some events, social interactions are still continuing through events like hallway long bingo nights and turn-based visits to the courtyard and bird feeders.
Parkside has halted renovations since the beginning of the epidemic and has even worked alongside public safety for potential plans for unused medical space should a need arise. They also maintain a rolling updated training regimen for staff on infection control and just completed a new update in recent months before the outbreak. Education and training are also continuing with the Guard during today’s visit as time permits.
The mission isn’t just to sanitize and clean, but to educate, according to the two Lieutenants who reiterated that they wanted citizens to know that the process is about “flattening the curve.” A phrase many have heard in the media. Providing a service is what guardsmen sign up for as Lt. Ballew and Lt. Mizell said they are here to help.
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Many have taken time in the recent weeks to say a special thank you to law-enforcement and emergency workers who are still at risk and cannot always maintain a “social distance” during their work.
This week saw another highlight in the community as two business owners stepped up to not only say thank you to those in service, but to provide a real need for them.
Laura Thomas is the owner and founder of Green Willow Soap in Ellijay. Her and her staff have been working hard this week to provide hand sanitizer to the public safety agencies in Gilmer. In fact, Gilmer Fire & Rescue, Ellijay Police, Ellijay Fire, East Ellijay Police, and the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office have all received hand sanitizer for their agents.
Thomas said, “All of the First Responders have received hand sanitizer to help them through their difficult jobs. GOD Bless them and protect them as they serve the people of Gilmer County.”
Heads of these agencies told FYN that the donation has answered a need as they have had difficulties purchasing and providing enough sanitizer during shortages. Creating and supplying the donation, Thomas said “My ladies have been working so hard to make this happen for our community.”
Gilmer County Fire & Rescue has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our private citizens, as well as our local business leaders. On Wednesday 4/1/2020 Green Willow Soap generously donated around 100 bottles of individual hand sanitizers for each of our fire and rescue crew members. This donation of hand sanitizer will greatly assist with our mission of keeping our hands clean when soap and water may not be readily available at the conclusion of a 911 call. We greatly appreciate them thinking of us during a time when anti-bacterial supplies are in short demand and hard to obtain.”
But Green Willow Soap is not the only business answering this need. Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said that earlier this month, around March 20, Danny Postell and Huff’s Drugs donated handmade hand sanitizer as well.
Sheriff Nicholson stated, “These generous donations of hand sanitizer have been huge in respect to our deputies’ safety. We have had a hard time buying it because of the high demand. But Huffs and Green Willow came through not only with the “product” but provided it in a manner that we could give individual bottles to deputies to keep with them. The donation from both was very much appreciated.”
Kauffman noted another donation for Gilmer Fire & Rescue saying, “We would also like to thank The Majestic Bee Bakery for dropping off boxes of individually wrapped cookies. While it is a small gesture of kindness, the smiles from the crews are huge and show how much they appreciate these care packages.”
In addition to local businesses donating, Kauffman said they have had private citizens show their support in many ways. Some of the items that have been donated to Gilmer County Fire Rescue include; N-95 face masks, surgical face masks, homemade face mask, gift cards, and baked goods. Nicholson also pointed to several donations, the Sheriff’s office have added thank you notes to their social media for donations from Pizza King and Mindy K’s Bakery.
Gilmer’s public safety professionals have said they are very appreciative of our local citizens and businesses thinking of them and supporting them during this crisis.
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.
UPDATE – April 8, 2020 – Fourth Case in Gilmer Confirmed
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – With three new cases in as many days, this fourth case in Gilmer has citizens’ concerns on the rise.
However, experts, doctors, and even the President said they expected this week to be much worse.
Fetch Your News has chosen to report on cases confirmed by the Georgia Department of Health (DPH) only. These reports may not reflect real-time spread as the laboratories processing COVID-19 tests are reportedly backlogged by several days. Fetch Your News is also reaching out to local sources to confirm positive cases before writing articles on the subject.
UPDATE – April 7, 2020 – Third Case in Gilmer Confirmed
GILMER COUNTY, Ga – Less than 24-hours after confirmation came in about a second case, Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported Gilmer’s third COVID-19 case.
No additional details are known about the cases at this time.
The news comes on the same day that the Georgia National Guard has chosen to clean and sanitize the nursing home. The National Guard is assisting long-term care facilities across the state in order to ensure the safety of the state’s elderly and high-risk patients.
UPDATE – April 6, 2020 – Second Case in Gilmer confirmed
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – As Georgia as reach a saturation point where only five counties in the state remain without a confirmed case, according to the Department of Public Health, Gilmer has reported a second case in the county.
Authorities are continuing services in the county and plans to sanitize and clean facilities have grown to include the National Guard in the coming days. However, Gilmer did not have a reported case until March 30, and only now, on April 6, has had a second case. Experts are continuing to speculate and expect more cases in the state to come before the numbers begin decreasing.
According to the DPH, Gilmer still has not reported any deaths from complications or involvement of COVID-19 at this time.
UPDATE – March 31, 2020 – Gilmer Fire and Rescue responds
Gilmer Fire Chief Daniel Kauffman offered a few words to address the new confirmed case and the county’s already-in-use plans for virus response saying:
Gilmer County Fire Rescue is actively taking every precaution to help prevent the contraction and spread of COVID-19 virus. The department is currently following the CDC recommendations on the use of personal protective equipment in regards to patient contact. We are also working with the Metro- Atlanta Hospital Coalition to put into place best practices regarding the care and treatment of potential COVID-19 patients. The daily operations of our department and our crews will continue to change as updates come forth from local, state, and federal leaders. Currently, the department has closed down the fire stations to both the public and family visitors. We have stopped all organized training where multiple stations would gather in groups. Our current fire and EMS training platforms are being conducted via a web-based training programs and completed on an individual basis. Our senior staff continue to meet in small groups to stay abreast of changing conditions, while observing social distancing as recommended by the CDC. As we make our way through these unchartered waters, Gilmer County Fire Rescue will continue to meet every 911 call with the urgency it deserves and delivering first class care and compassion to our community.
Original Story – March 30, 2020
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – With daily reports updating from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), today marks the first officially recorded confirmed case appearing in Gilmer County.
It has taken Gilmer County nearly a month for a confirmed case as reports began coming in at the beginning of March. The DPH now reports that 2809 cases have been reported in Georgia total with 707 hospitalized as of today.
According to their Public Information Officer, Gilmer County Department of Public Safety said, “The EMA has worked for the previous 2 – 3 weeks as if we already had cases here in the county. We have been, and will remain vigilant and thorough with our responsibilities to the citizens of Gilmer County. We are successfully protecting our patients, our First Responders, and our County employees with every means possible with the PPE we have on hand. We will continue to monitor the virus’s progress here and in surrounding counties, and make any necessary adjustments in public safety protocol as the situation warrants.
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.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – A state of emergency has been declared for Gilmer County by the Board of Commissioners, immediately followed by a “shelter-in-place” order and businesses shut down.
Through discussions and deliberations on Tuesday, March 24, the order for citizens to shelter-in-place will proceed from 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning, March 25, through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday night, April 7, due to the Coronavirus.
The most important details of this order come through the ordered shutdown of non-essential businesses. The order covers all “unincorporated parts of the county.” However, Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris did state in Tuesday’s meeting that he had spoken with the mayors of Ellijay and East Ellijay and felt that they were supportive of this action.
While citizens are ordered to take shelter at their own places of residence, the resolution clearly states, “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, the should at all times reasonably possible comply with Social Distancing Requirements.”
Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson confirmed that deputies will be informing citizens about the order who are loitering in places unreasonably or blatantly disregarding the order. The order urges people at high risk of severe illness or people who are sick to not leave their residences except to seek medical care.
The other half of the shutdown comes through non-essential businesses. All businesses with a facility in the county, except essential businesses, are required to cease all activities at facilities located within the unincorporated areas of GIlmer except “Minimum Basic Operations.” The board listed in the order’s definitions, “Essential businesses means:
- Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
- 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, 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 maintining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
- Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
- Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
- Newspapers, televisions, radio, and other media services;
- Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
- Banks and related financial institutions;
- Hardware stores;
- 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;
- Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
- 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;
- Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
- 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;
- Businesses that supply products need for people to work from home;
- Businesses or manufacturers that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences;
- Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
- Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
- 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);
- Professional services, such as legal, accounting services, real estate services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;”
The board also added to the shutdown conditions for childcare facilities (stated in the order) and added all businesses not identified but are listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s website as Essential Critical Infrastructure workforce.
The Commissioners were asked by citizen Larry Lykins to understand “the magnitude” of what they were proposing in shutting down these small businesses. He said that some of those businesses are “just not going to come back from this.
Additionally, both Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson and Public Safety Director Keith Kucera offered their opinions saying that these hard decisions need to be made.
Despite the closure of businesses and activities, Paris did answer a question about the courthouse saying, “The courthouse cannot be closed.”
The commissioners worked over details including wineries and cabins, going back and forth on these issues and including advice from citizens and county agents. Ultimately, approving and signing the order as it stands. However, should conditions change, this order could be revisited and revised as needed.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Official approval has come for the Gilmer Board of Education and the Gilmer County Schools’ 2020-2021 Calendar for the school year.
From late July for teachers, the approved calendar will have students returning to class on August 3, 2020, and going all the way to the final day, a 2 hour early release for students, on May 28, 2021. Teachers would have have Professional Learning Days on June 1 and 2 of 2021.
The 2020-2021 calendar also hosts five long breaks encompassing 6 full weeks.
The board presented a survey they undertook returning 1,538 responses. Those results showed 60.60% of the vote supporting this calendar over 28.74% for Calendar 2 and 10.66% for Calendar 3. The board also changed this year as they specifically emailed parents, students, and staff of the School System with a one-time use link to the survey. Their release stated that
Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs stated that Calendar 1 incorporated more frequent breaks, Calendar 2 was more similar to previous Gilmer Calendars, and Calendar 3 was more similar to Fannin County’s school calendar.
Board member Ronald Watkins questioned some of the changes about the 2020-2021 calendar’s dates and relation to summer. They also discussed Murray County’s calendar. Going with the majority, the board officially approved Calendar 1 during their regular meeting with the vote 4-1 with Ronald Watkins in opposition.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Building, coordinating, and energizing a social function can be quite difficult, but doing one amid widespread quarantines and self imposed isolation is a completely different order, such as “Chalk Ellijay.”
We are here to support our community and lift the spirits of those around us. Please tune in until the end of this video for a fun way to stay positive and brighten someone’s day. We have always said that the Gilmer Chamber is a family and now it is time to show our community what this family is all about! #ThisIsEllijay
Posted by Gilmer Chamber on Friday, March 20, 2020
Gilmer County’s Chamber of Commerce has taken on exactly that task as they began a new event over the weekend. After an earlier video post from President/CEO Paige Green promising to help coordinate resources and business in the time of need. But, the video ended on a very different note.
Green said the Chamber’s two locations, the Downtown Welcome Center on the Square in Ellijay and the main office just off 515 in East Ellijay, now have baskets of chalk. What they are pushing to do with this chalk is building community and a neighborhood feeling by using the chalk to “Chalk Ellijay.”
A later post offered more details stating,
“(We get by with a little help from our friends.) In an effort to help lift our community’s spirit, we invite you to chalk your sidewalk or driveway with an encouraging message, snap a picture, and post it using #ThisIsEllijay so the community can see! Need chalk? Visit the downtown welcome center or Chamber office! We have chalk inside buckets for you. (Please only take one or two and leave some for your neighbor!) want to go the extra mile? Leave an encouraging message in the driveway of an at-risk/elderly/immune compromised friend and give them a call afterwards to let them know you’ve been by. (Let’s maintain social distancing 💪🏻) We will get through this together in heart.”
The idea of the chalk use is simple, but social media has been flooded over the last week from across the country with stories and videos of people do small things to build greater feeling and community.
From a man playing music in the common garden of an apartment complex for people to list to from their balconies to signs and gifts of people visiting elderly relatives outside the windows of their homes and apartments.
The local step is incorporating far more than just a few select groups though. The Chamber said, “We are here to support our community and lift the spirits of those around us… We have always said that the Gilmer Chamber is a family and now it is time to show our community what this family is all about!”
People are starting to take to social media, posting their own chalk art and messages, with even a few local businesses and restaurants joining in, too.
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Gilmer’s new Public Safety Coalition has offered information for citizens to be informed and not worry even if they do show signs of infection that have been noted for the Coronavirus.
Offering a statement yesterday, the Coalition said that any who develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 infection should get medical attention immediately. Those Emergency warning signs include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse from sleep
- Bluish lips or face
However, as FYN followed up on how to seek medical attention without further spreading, the Coaliton offered a Center for Disease Control (CDC) document explaining more in-depth about actions to be taken if you are or think you have the infection.
That document, pictured to the right, draws specific attention that Gilmer’s Coalition also wanted to point out.
Keith Kucera, Director of Gilmer County Public Safety, said, “One particular thing the document speaks to is calling ahead to your Primary Care Manager (Doctor). During this call, most offices will ask a series of screening questions specific to your sickness. At that point they will make further recommendations for treatment and/or possible testing.”
Much of the community has already heard about or seen others wearing face masks, even if they aren’t infected. The CDC recommends such for those who believe they are infected along with a high focus on isolation and extreme sanitization of self, surfaces, and items.
Check out more information on the CDC’s COVID-19 Page.
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – A coalition of public safety, government entities, and service agencies in Gilmer County has been meeting to respond to the threat and concerns of COVID -19 (Coronavirus) and is reaching out to citizens for information, response, prevention, and overall health during this time.
The coalition consists of Gilmer County Emergency Management Agency, Gilmer County Fire and Rescue, Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, City of Ellijay Police Department, City of Ellijay Fire Department, City of East Ellijay Police Department, and the Gilmer County School Board.
After a meeting on March 13 to address the community’s current concerns over the corona virus outbreak, many business, government entities, and agencies have either closed down or closed public access.
According to a recent release from this coalition, “Some of those concerns called for tough decisions that, in an abundance of caution, resulted in the temporary closing of our schools and the cancellation of some local events. These are temporary in nature and will be evaluated on a daily or weekly basis as the virus runs its natural course.”
They have also reiterated that no COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Gilmer, Fannin, or Pickens county at this time and urged citizens to “remain calm, keep our wits about us and make reasonable purchases at our markets to allow other family members and neighbors to make similar purchases.”
The Coalition will meet every two weeks, and more frequently if necessary.
They have also made a release with helpful information to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your neighbors:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse from sleep
- Bluish lips or face
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.”
ELLIJAY, Ga. – During the Board of Commissioners’ work session today, Chairman Charlie Paris spoke in the citizens wishing to speak section addressing concerns and a specific email from the weekend including Capital spending.
During his time speaking, Paris announced that he will be “putting the brakes” on capital spending in the near future. While he did say he wasn’t pointing to anything specific being cut yet, Paris noted that he wanted to look closely at the budget with the understanding that much of the Capital spending is based on estimates from the SPLOST.
Paris said, “I am really concerned with all of this social distancing, all of these shutdowns that are going on, as to what that might translate into in terms of our SPLOST revenue.”
Pointing to the emptiness that Gilmer County has seen recently and people staying home after urgings from health agencies and government.
While some things are already underway, Paris said he will complete these projects. Some things that could be pushed back include the lift stations project from public works. Paris said he doesn’t know when or how far he might look at pushing these items, but the major note from his explanation came when he said that the county will complete the project of demolishing the old pool and will stop there.
Paris said, “Most of you know that I’ve been in a big hurry to get this thing bid out and get it going. I just can’t, in good conscience, continue that without knowing what’s coming.”
Paris said that the pool project is funded through a separate account, but he is concerned that revenue may drop so much that those funds would be temporarily needed somewhere else.
While these projects are major notes, Paris is looking at all budgets with an eye towards the future, not to cut directly, but, according to Paris, to hold off for a little while until they know more.
One citizen, Joene DePlancke, has been a large voice on the issue in recent months, especially on the financial status of the county and their disbursements. DePlancke said she had sent the commissioners and email over the weekend and was prepared to speak further in the meeting on fiscal responsibility. Instead, she thanked Paris on his stance and willingness to listen and respond to the economy and to the needs of citizens.
The county is still taking care of debt service, and DePlancke warned commissioners that the market will have effects on Gilmer and has already has.
Stay up to date with closings in Gilmer County and keep visiting this article daily to find out the latest closings and cancellations as they are announced.
UPDATED March 18, 2020 – Mountain Cinemas Close
In an email from Mountain Cinemas parent company, Georgia Theatre Company, the announcement was made for closings of theatres owned by the company. This includes Ellijay’s own Mountain Cinemas.
The company said, “Georgia Theatre Company puts the health and safety of our employees and customers above everything we do. It is with great regret that we have decided to close all of our theatres temporarily due to the suggestion of the President, the WHO and the CDC. We will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation very closely and will post the latest company news on our website. We will open to the public as soon as we can and will provide a safe and clean environment for you to enjoy all of your favorite movies in a communal setting.”
Additionally, they addressed concerns for those who may have already puchased advanced tickets. For those who have purchased tickets:
Purchases made on our website can be refunded at GTCmovies.com/refunds
For purchases made in person or on the GTC app, please contact your local theatre or send us an email at CustomerService@GTCmovies.com prior to the showtime on your ticket.
Calling the movie theater in Ellijay provides a similar response as they say they are temporarily closed and hope to be open again soon.
UPDATED March 18, 2020 – Gilmer Chamber closes for sanitization
Paige Green, President & CEO will also be available at 706-889-2889 for emergency purposes. Otherwise, please call the office between 10a and 3p Monday through Friday.Paige Green, President & CEO- email@example.comEllen Grant, Membership Manager- firstname.lastname@example.orgLisa Salman, Tourism Manager- email@example.comCaitlin Neal, Communications Manager- firstname.lastname@example.orgThanna Chadwick, Administrative Assistant- email@example.com
UPDATED March 18, 2020 – Gilmer ARTS adjusts cancellations
As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop at a rapid pace, Gilmer Arts is following the advice of the CDC guidelines that have been issued to ensure the safety and health of our staff, volunteers, members and our patrons. As of Sunday, 15 March, the CDC has revised their recommendation to cancel all gatherings from 250+, to 50+ for the next 8 weeks. The Federal Government has suggested cancelling groupings of 10+. This will impact several events in the next few weeks at Gilmer Arts and at the George Link Jr, Gilmer Arts Playhouse. Here is list of events:Spring Chorus Rehearsals/ Performance – Cancelled. (Check back for Fall schedule)Storytelling (3rd Thursday of month) – Cancelled for March and April 2020Acoustic Blends (3rd Friday of month) – Cancelled for March and April 2020Volunteer Brunch (28 March) – Cancelled (will be rescheduled for a May date)Exit Laughing (27 March – 5 April) – Postponed. Opening will be June 26th and will run 3 weeksAuditions for Arsenic & Old Lace (14-16 April) – Cancelled (play in June will be replaced with Exit Laughing)BEST Visual Art Opening and Show (17 April-20 May) – Cancelled. New date TBDMeet the Author (18 April) – Postponed. New date TBDConcert, Connor Lorrie (25 April) – Cancelled. New date TBD.The above schedule takes us out for the next 8 weeks. As the advice from the CDC changes or as new State/Federal mandates come out, so may our future scheduling. Please check the website and social media sites frequently for any further changes or call the Gallery at 706.635.5605.As you can imagine, these changes are happening at a very fast pace. As soon as we have all the information, you’ll need for each show cancellation or change, we will provide updates and details to ticket holders directly through emails and/or phone calls. We will also continue to post the most up-to-date information on our website and social media pages. The Gallery will remain open for you to come see the latest art; however the hours will temporarily change.The new Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday 12-6PM and Saturday’s 12-5PM. Please stop by and see the current Youth Exhibit through April. We rarely have more than 2-3 people in there at a time. We assure you we are doing are part to sanitize and keep things clean and sanitized for you. Also, some classes may still be available. We will update schedules as they change.
UPDATED March 17, 2020 – East Ellijay closes public access
Facing the concerns of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), East Ellijay has released information today about closings in the offices in the coming weeks.
East Ellijay has closed public access and is putting signage up to inform citizens. They are outlining a new process for contacting City Staff.
Additionally, Municipal Court, originally to be held on March 25, has also been canceled.
UPDATED March 17, 2020 – BOC Closes and BOE Extends Closing
An email was sent out saying, “Due to the Coronavirus and for the safety of our employees the Board of Commissioners Office will be closed to public access until April 6, 2020. For assistance please call 706-635-4361. Thank you.”
Despite the closure, the BOC will continue on with tonight’s, March 17, 2020, Public Hearing and Regular Meeting.
Additionally, Gilmer Schools, which have already been closed, is extending the closings
Many of you have seen Georgia Governor Kemp’s Executive Order mandating school closure March 18 – March 31, 2020. The Gilmer County School System will plan to remain closed until April 3, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Online learning opportunities for grades 6-12 and take home packets of student work for grades K-5 will continue at home during this time. Teachers will remain available by email and online learning regularly throughout the school day from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday-Friday. Teachers will hold designated office hours from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Seamless meals will continue to be provided during this time and will be coordinated through School Nutrition and Transportation.
The Administrative and Technology Offices (ATO) will be closed with staff working from home from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday – Friday and visiting the office daily only for short periods on a limited basis.
Schools will remain closed to all instructional staff. School level administrators will be working from home from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday – Friday to answer emails and make phone calls when needed. School level administrators will be visiting the schools only when necessary for short periods of time.
The Gilmer County School District will remain closed for our regularly scheduled Spring Break from April 4 – April 12,2020 with students returning on Monday April 13th.
This situation is constantly evolving as evident in how quickly things have changed in the last 7 days. We will continue to remain in contact with the Governor’s Office, Georgia Department of Education, and the Georgia Department of Health. As soon as we receive any relevant information, we will share it with you.
UPDATED March 17, 2020 – MESSAGE FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF GILMER ARTS
UPDATED March 16, 2020 – Wine Highway Week Cancelled
North Georgia Winegrowers are disappointed to announce that the 2020 Wine Highway Week has been postponed due to recent guidelines announced by the CDC yesterday, “… large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals. Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.”
Our members are working together to reschedule this event to a later date.
While this sanctioned event is postponed, the following wineries will be open for the dates and times the event was scheduled:
March 20 – April 5, 2020
Monday – Fridays 1-5pm
Saturdays 11am -5pm
12 Spies Vineyards and Farms
Big Door Vineyards
Cavender Creek Vineyards and Winery
CeNita Winery and Tasting Room
Crane Creek Vineyards
Twisted Wine Garden at Dahlonega Resort and Vineyard
Hightower Creek Vineyards
Kaya Vineyard & Winery
Odom Springs Vineyards
Paradise Hills, Cabins-Spa-Winery
Sharp Mountain Vineyards
Stonewall Creek Vineyards
Sweet Acre Farms Winery
The Cottage Vineyard & Winery Inc.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards
We encourage you to support and visit these wineries.
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – A new round of closings came today with several announcements in response to the Coronavirus and the increase in Georgia Cases over the weekend.
The Gilmer Sheriff’s Office posted to social media saying:
In order to keep all inmates, our staff, as well as all visitors’ health in mind and in compliance with ‘social distancing’ due to corona virus concerns, the detention center is suspending all inmate visitations TEMPORARILY until further notice.
If you have any questions or concerns, you may call Captain Daves, Lt. Couch, or Lt. Smith at 706-635-4625.
Additionally, the new closings extend to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Carters Lake who posted yesterday saying:
With an abundance of caution and considering the concerns related to COVID-19 the Carters Lake Visitor Center will be closed March 16th-30th in a preemptive attempt to slow the spread of the virus. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Later, FYN confirmed that this closure is only the visitor center. The recreation areas are open, including camping. As of now, they will also stay open. But to avoid closed space and confining crowds, the visitor center has closed.
The Gilmer Chamber has closed its downtown welcome center in Ellijay to undergo a deep cleaning and to avoid exposure of the worker at the location who could be at risk. However, the main branch and welcome center will remain open.
Also, the City of Ellijay has canceled its March meeting for Monday, March 16, 2020.
Stay tuned to FYN as we continue to update you and post new closings from the community as they are announced.
UPDATED – March 14, 2020
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – More closings and announcements are continuing this weekend as another two county services close in response to concerns and State Government urgings to shut down to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Gilmer County Animal Shelter announced around noon today that they would be closing “until further notice.”
The shelter is closing to both public access and volunteer workers. However, there will still be staff members taking care of the animals.
They stated, “We are only allowing staff to come in and care for our animals at this time. Animal Control will be running as normal. Calls will be returned as often as possible. Please be patient as we work through this.”
The shelter apologized for the inconvienice, but stated they are trying to both care for the animals at the shelter while also making sure the community is safe.
The statement also added, “Please know that we would never allow the animals to go without care.”
As county services close, it is not just in the animal shelter as the Gilmer’s Sequoyah Regional Library is also announcing a closure.
The general social media page for the the Sequoyah Regional Library System stated:
Out of an abundance of caution, all branches of the Sequoyah Regional Library System will close on Monday, March 16 until further notice. e-Library services will continue as normal. Advance voting will continue as scheduled at Ball Ground Public Library, Hickory Flat Public Library, and Rose Creek Public Library. Materials should be kept at home. Fines will not accrue while the library is closed. Please check this page for updates and additional information.
The post was also shared and copied onto the Gilmer Library page as well.
This closure is not just a building closing however as the announcement is spreading to several events, services, and public access opportunities along with it. The Library has already announced the cancellation of the events “Journey into the Amazing Body!” and “Letters from a Confederate Soldier.”
However, a new post today came saying, “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sequoyah Regional Library System is suspending all programming, outreach, conference room use, and community room use beginning Monday, March 16 through the end of March. We will not be accepting community room applications at this time. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
ORIGINAL POST – March 12, 2020 – Closings and Cancellations due to COVID-19/Coronavirus
GILMER, Ga. – According to a release from Gilmer County Schools, the system will shut down with all school closings next week in the fallout from information and concerns over the Coronavirus in the county.
According to a public release from Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, the closure will last from Monday, March 16, 2020, through Friday, March 20, 2020.
The release states, “Our school district is committed to keeping our community informed about issues relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are no cases of COVID-19 at any Gilmer County school and currently there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Gilmer County. Our schools are not closing Friday, March 13, 2020, as we need to allow time for students and staff to retrieve needed materials and technology to be prepared for this closure. We will use Digital Learning Days during this closure for 6th-12th grade and paper learning packets for Kindergarten-5th grade to continue teaching and learning.”
Students will be retrieving these materials tomorrow, March 13, in order to follow these instructions next week. The release acknowledges that some hardships will come from this closure but said the plans are being finalized at this time.
While the current announcement is just for the week listed, Downs confirmed that future closings could be possible based on the need saying, “The district will continually review conditions and publish updates. Should additional closures be necessary we will notify you as soon as possible.”
The closings will not just be for students, however. All Gilmer schools and offices will be closed during the week along with all activities including athletics and extracurriculars including GHSA (Georgia High Schools Association) events being cancelled, and additional closures could continue for these as well.
One point of note for testing, however, Downs said that, currently, SAT testing will still occur this Saturday, March 14, 2020.
With school closed, plans are being made to deep clean the schools and to provide meals in a similar manner to the Seamless Summer Program.
See the full release below:
GILMER, Ga. – Amid concerns from a positive case of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canton, Georgia, and responses of a possible exposure in Pickens, Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs answered concerns today with a statement about Gilmer’s preparations.
The school system has established health safety protocols already in place but Downs addressed the issue saying, “The Gilmer County School district has not received any reports of COVID-19 cases or contact potential at this time; however, the landscape of this issue has been changing each day. In light of the rapidly changing nature of this issue, our safety team has been working with information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) to plan for possible scenarios.”
As the situation changes and new stories on the Coronavirus develop, Downs assured families that while there is no issue with the virus in Gilmer Schools, they are preparing in precaution at this time.
Downs said, “The district is diligently following the guidance of the CDC and DPH in our response to COVID-19 and will continue to be proactive in keeping our schools, buses, and other facilities clean by utilizing our protocols for health-related conditions. We are also modifying those protocols, when necessary, to include any updated guidance received from the CDC and/or DPH.”
As they do move forward with precautionary measures, Gilmer has one option that Downs pointed out through technology to answer such a need. Downs said “While we are hoping we will not face any closures in the near future, our curriculum and technology departments are working diligently to expedite our 1:1 computer program for 6-12th grade to facilitate online instructional opportunities and building take-home lessons for our elementary students should we face any closures in the future.”
The Board of Education does have their monthly meetings scheduled for next week and we could be hearing more on the Coronavirus as early as Monday’s, March 16, Work Session at 5:30 p.m.
My name is Sharla Davis and I am campaigning for position of Tax Commissioner for Gilmer County.
I have lived in Georgia for 45 of my 48 years. Five of those years have been here in Gilmer County. My husband and I consider our move here to be one of the best decisions we’ve made….besides marrying each other, of course. (haha) The area is beautiful and the people are exactly what we were looking for when we moved here…..friendly, giving, courteous, welcoming, just all-around wonderful people and neighbors. We’ve made some great friends and look forward to many more years here and more friendships made.
I have 30 years experience of Accounting, Management and Customer Service in the Automotive Industry working for 4 of the top 10 Automotive Groups in the Nation. Receiving, processing, balancing and reporting millions of dollars. I also have experience working in the Tax Commissioner’s office when I was employed, here in Gilmer County, as the accountant for your current Tax Commissioner. I am confident that my experience will facilitate a smooth transition into the Public Service position as your next Tax Commissioner.
Please vote Sharla Davis for Gilmer County Tax Commissioner!!