Pool construction bid could come by August


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Among several bid and contract agenda items in July, the BOC heard an update that the engineering is completed and they could call for bids on the county pool by August.

As the county is ready to bid, they currently have the documentation with County Attorney David Clark who said that he has some final touches to do but the county should be able to move forward in the bid process on or close to Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

Clark also informed the Board of Commissioners that the bids will go out in several different sites both locally and statewide including the state procurement website and utilizing the architect to help solicit contractors in addition to the county’s efforts.

The commissioners have previously made statements aiming for Memorial Day 2023 as opening day for the new pool. Also, the BOC’s October Budget Sessions will reveal more about the pool’s future as the board discusses additional upgrades, buildings, the future rec-center, and funding or savings for those potential projects and if they will happen in the coming year.

In addition to the pool, the county also dealt with bids on HVAC and facilities in the July session. The county approved to collect quotes for the Jail air system and the Learning Center but then bid out other systems that needed repair. With changes since the last bid process, the bids came in higher than expected as the county is incorporating them into a computer control system. The county avoided a bid do to requests for pre-payment and went with a slightly higher base price bid. The approved bid was for QT Contracting for $785,777.

The Jail system is still looking for a second quote and the Learning Center was approved for a quote just under $20,000.

Downtown Ellijay loses power with downed tree

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – For citizens with appointments or looking to conduct business in the downtown area this afternoon, a downed tree has put a major hurdle into that effort.

With the heavy rainfall and wind in the last two days, the stress finally took down a tree on Logan Street according to the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office who posted the notification saying that Gilmer’s Courthouse was included in that outage. No injuries have been reported.

The National Weather Service did issue a warning for severe weather lasting through Wednesday night. No major damage has been reported and the incident seems to be isolated. However, due to the location of the incident, many shops and businesses in the downtown area could be without power for until the line is restored.

The county courthouse does operate a backup generator to support critical functions and allow offices to save work and shut down, but the generator does not maintain full power to the facility. Until crews can restore power, many functions are left down or limited. Due to this, the commissioners office has ceased its public operations for the last hour and half of the day. Many others still operate such as the Sheriff’s Office and specific elected officials.

Reports indicate that strong to damaging winds could reach up to 40 – 60 mph as the storm continues.

Gilmer prepares for winter storm


GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Citizens and authorities are preparing for a potential winter storm beginning tonight. The most recent statement from the National Weather Service (NWS) is expecting the storm later tonight around 10 p.m.

StormAs the threat has lingered all week, several changes have come including a move to virtual learning for Gilmer Schools next week. But other preparations have roads being monitored and official statements strongly discouraging travel. The National Weather Service stated, ” If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. Slow down and drive with caution.”

Both Gilmer Sheriff’s Office and Gilmer Public Safety have put warnings and updates for the storm on social media as well. Public Safety confirmed that the civic center warming center will be open Sunday night and Monday night for those in need. Both days will have the center open at 5:30 p.m. and close at 7:00 a.m. Visitors are asked to bring a bedroll if possible.

NWS has reported a possibility of 4 inches of accumulation. Up to 8 inches could be possible at higher elevations. In addition to the storm, NWS has also issued a wind advisory over the same time period with east winds up to 20 to 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph expected. If the wind near your residence reaches the higher levels of this, the NWS is suggesting that citizens take shelter in the lower levels of your home and windows.

They also noted that power outages and tree damage are likely due to the strong winds, heavy snow and ice. Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Ice buildup is another projected issue that could reach up to half an inch in some areas. Authorities are strongly encouraging citizens to avoid prolonged time outdoors throughout the next two days due to both the freezing temperatures and the possibility of falling trees and other objects due to the snow and ice buildup in the high winds.

No roads have been closed at this time, but the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office has put out notices of reports of some black ice patches on back roads around the county in recent mornings with more possible due to the storm. With wind chill, temperatures in the county could reach single digits in the coming days.

Both the county’s schools and the county courthouse were already to be closed on Monday with the holiday.

Weather has delays and the warming center open for Friday morning


GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – A new statement from the National Weather Service has authorities in Gilmer County returning to caution and delaying schedules tomorrow in addition to early closures today.

Statements from the Gilmer County Courthouse and Gilmer County Schools have reported early closures for today. Both ended the day two hours early, roughly 3 p.m. for the county and 1 p.m. for schools. However, in addition to early closures both have issued statements for tomorrow, Friday, January 7, 2022. This is the second time this week that winter weather has caused a delay for the county.

The statement from the courthouse said, “The Gilmer County Courthouse will be closing at 3:00PM today and will delay opening tomorrow until 10:00AM due to incoming winter weather events that we anticipate will make driving difficult and perhaps dangerous.”

The statement from Gilmer Schools said, “Tonight’s weather forecast is predicting some severe Winter weather in the Northern end of Georgia, including parts of Gilmer. Therefore, the Gilmer County Schools will operate on a 2-hour delay on Friday January 7th, 2022.”

The National Weather service stated, “A strong cold front will bring cold and windy conditions to much of north Georgia tonight into Friday morning. Northwest winds of 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph this evening will gradually decrease overnight. However, with the very cold, sub-freezing temperatures, wind chill values will fall into the teens across north Georgia with readings in the single digits in the mountains.”

Closures and delays are not the only response coming through as Gilmer Public Safety is also responding to the extremely low temperatures by opening the Civic Center Warming Center. They said, “The Warming Shelter at the Civic Center – 1561 S. Main St. – will be open today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) from 5:00 PM to 7:00 AM for all those in need of protection from freezing temperatures. Visitors are asked to bring a bedroll if available. Pets are welcome.”

With slight rain today in areas of the county, some estimation totals have reached between a quarter and half of an inch possible. Lows are estimated between 17 and 20 degrees just before dawn. Some forecasts have even set the wind chill down to single digits in the area.

Gilmer is along the southernmost reach of the Winter Weather Advisories reach across the entire northern tip of Georgia coming from the front of “arctic air.”

Ingram may have threatened more than courthouse

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Earlier this week, a threat was reported and dealt with regarding the Gilmer County Courthouse on the night of January 5, 2021.

The reported threat allegedly came from Travis Webb Ingram, 44. Ingram was arrested by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office the same day. Facing a felony charge of Terroristic Threats and Actions according to the Sheriff’s Booking Report, Ingram allegedly made threats on social media about going to the courthouse with a bomb. The report indicates as much, stating the offense location as cyberspace.

Travis Webb Ingram

Travis Webb Ingram

However, according to the Sheriff’s report, the courthouse may not have been the only threat issued or the only charge possibly brought against Ingram.

The report indicates possible drug involvement in the incident. Reports indicate a suspicion of use or involvement of methamphetamines. While the investigation continues, new charges could be brought up, but for now, the only noted charge remains Terroristic threats.

In addition to the threat of a bomb against the courthouse, there was alleged reports noted in the incident report that Ingram was “extremely angry” and posed threats “against law enforcement and his ex-girlfriend’s life.”

The Sheriff’s Office dispatched several units to locations in response to the threat including the courthouse and to Ingram’s address. After arrest, Ingram was taken to the Gilmer County Detention Center for processing.

All of these new details including the allegations of drug use with methamphetamines, threats against the additional female, and threats against police are coming from the Sheriff’s Office on incident report. Yet, no additional charges were noted on the arrest record. FYN will continue to add new updates to this story as Sheriff Stacy Nicholson releases additional details.

Gilmer Courthouse suffers bomb threat on election night

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County may not have had issues at the poll precincts, but the courthouse saw issue on election night as a bomb threat was called in on the facility.

According to the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, “An anonymous caller notified the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office of Facebook posts made by a Travis Ingram regarding his anger against law enforcement about a prior arrest, as well as a specific threat that he had a bomb and was headed to the courthouse.”

Staff at the courthouse was put on high alert, and while the statement from the Sheriff’s Office did not directly connect with election night, other counties are receiving specific threats related to political ideals and the elections specifically.

Pickens County posted officers at precincts in a pre-emptive effort based on the threats in other counties as well.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the staff inside the courthouse was put on alert, and election staff had to follow special response considering election ballots being on premises.

According to Chief Registrar Tammy Watkins, as they prepared ballots and discussed what to do as they are not normally allowed to leave ballots unattended, the threat was dealt with before they were forced to move or do anything with the ballots due to the threat.

The statement read, “Based on the severity of the threats and actions he stated he intended to carry out, the courthouse staff was put on a high alert status and deputies began looking for Ingram.”

The statement continues on saying that Ingram was found and arrested. Ingram is facing charges of Terroristic Threats & Acts and is currently being held in the Gilmer County Detention Center.

Despite the threat, proceedings continued at the courthouse throughout the night. Elections were still allowed to continue as planned with ballot counting during the night.

Gilmer and Fannin Courthouses reopening today


UPDATE – Gilmer Traffic Courts cancelled as office operates without Judge

While Gilmer’s Probate Office has reopened without its Judge, many operations are continuing as normal through the clerks and under guidance of the Chief Clerk Tracey Teague. Almost every operation in the courthouse is continuing back on track according to Teague who stated that the office is cancelling this week’s traffic court.

As Chief Clerk, Teague is trained and able to fill in on many operations that would normally require Judge Chastain this week, however, this time as she “fills in” for the Judge does not extend to the court system. Despite that, she did affirm that any permits or applications that citizens may need from the office can be done as usual in this time.


Original Post

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer and Fannin Counties will both have their courthouses reopening today after an order from Chief Judge Brenda Weaver.

Judicial Order, Brenda Weaver, Chief Judge, Judge, reopening

Superior Court Chief Judge Brenda Weaver

The order came over the weekend acknowledging the cleanings and steps taken against the virus spread. With those cleanings done and employees continuing to remain quarantined, the offices are set to resume normal functions today, July 13, 2020.

The order states, “Having found that the deep cleanings have occurred and that the employees have been tested and are quarantining according to Department of Health Guidelines, it is hereby ordered that the Fannin Courthouse and the Gilmer Courthouse will re-open all offices and proceed with regular business hours beginning Monday, July 13, 2020.”

In addition, the Probate Office of Gilmer County has also confirmed that it, too, will be reopening to resume normal operations. Probate Judge Scott Chastain was one of those in the courthouse with exposures and he also followed guidelines reporting a positive test.

The county has been taking steps to increase safety and social distancing in the offices as some are asking people to only allow a certain number of citizens in offices at a time. Restrictions like these are likely to continue as they return to operations.

Despite the return to operations, however, there are continuing cancellations and reschedulings going on. Just as last week in Gilmer County, while the courthouse is open, some offices may stay closed. Additionally, these individual offices are releasing notices such as the District Attorney’s office. The Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office released a statement notifying citizens of cancellations of Superior Court this week.

They said, “Due to the potential infection and continued transmission of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, court cancellations are as follows:

1. Gilmer Superior Court on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 – Civil and Criminal NJ; and

2. Fannin Superior Court on Thursday, July 16, 2020 – Civil and Criminal NJ.

Fannin County is also confirming the reopening of the courthouse, but is urging citizens to contact individual offices and departments for “access protocols.”

As both entities attempt to return to operations, Public Health officials are also paying closer attention to the area. Spikes and increases are causing for many to urge testing for citizens who may think they have been exposed.

Health Department Responds to positive test in Courthouse

GIlmer Health Department, Public Health

ELLIJAY, Ga – Gilmer’s Health Department and Courthouse are working closely together this week after a confirmed positive test was reported by the county Probate Judge, Scott Chastain.

FYN reached out to the Health Department and spoke with Gilmer Commissioner Chairman Charlie Paris about the Health Department’s involvement. Both entities noted that the Georgia Department of Public Health already has guidelines and directions in the case of positive exposure and the Courthouse is already taking measures in its own way.

Public Information Officer and Risk Communicator for the North Georgia Health District of the Georgia Department of Public Health, Jennifer King said, “COVID-19 is still transmitting in Gilmer County… and while we don’t refer to any specific cases or locations unless we have reason to believe the public is at a higher level of risk, we do share the latest Governor’s Executive Orders relating to COVID-19 protocols with the public, businesses, organizations, and agencies to follow, including information that helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and how to respond if cases occur.”

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Gilmer County Courthouse

King asserted that Gilmer’s local Health Department is working closely with the community in every way possible. Paris also noted that he had been in contact with the Health Department as the courthouse was responding to the exposure.

Continuing communication reaches far beyond just the courthouse, though, as King said, “Our local health department and environmental health office work very closely with community partners, including EMA, Family Connections, government agencies, businesses, churches and schools to remind residents of measures they can take to prevent the spread of the virus and protect against COVID-19.”

King said that public health is urging people to get tested for COVID-19. She went on to note that the department is also attempting to provide that opportunity to do so for free. She said, “We are attempting to prevent further spread of the transmission through contact tracing and repeatedly reminding residents of the critical need to always wear a mask in public, wash their hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer, avoid large crowds, social distance away from others by at least 6 feet, avoid physical contact with others by not shaking hands or giving hugs, and stay home and call their doctor if they feel they may have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive over the past 14 days.”

Public Health is urging people to get tested for COVID-19 through options like Drive-Thru Testing sites providing free testing for citizens.

The Health Department is reaching out across all platforms of media to spread the information of options like the drive-thru testing sites and schedule postings

Citizens who feel they have been in contact or may have been in the courthouse recently are also encouraged to visit the Testings Website. Gilmer has their own testing site times, on Mondays and Fridays, but there are other sites in our nearby counties in case some residents find it more convenient to register for an appointment at one of those.

King also stated, “Because the number of cases in our Hispanic/Latino population in Gilmer County is disproportionally high, local public health works with community leaders, partners, churches and schools to increase outreach to this community by sharing translated information, encouraging free COVID-19 testing, and providing education about the need to prevent the spread of the virus and how to protect against it.”

The Public Health website offers information in both English and Spanish as well as several flyers in both English and Spanish.

County responds as Probate Judge tests positive for COVID-19 after revival


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Probate Judge Scott Chastain has confirmed that he has tested positive for COVID-19, commonly called the Coronavirus.

While sources have spoken recently about employees in the Gilmer County Courthouse having been exposed, Chastain himself has reached out to inform the public that he has tested positive. There are still indications of others in the courthouse having been exposed, but with an official confirmation, responses will be increased and sanitization orders are already in effect from yesterday’s Judicial Emergency Order.

Offices are shut down, however, FYN’s understanding is that the general courthouse is still open and the Sheriff’s Office is continuing to remain open in service to the public in the face of the positive test.


Gilmer County Courthouse

Speaking with Gilmer County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris, the Gilmer Courthouse is continuing as ordered under the Judicial Order to close offices and courts. He stated that certain employees are still in offices in an isolated area answering phone calls and doing work that cannot be performed from home, but the offices are closed to physical access by the public.

Paris stated that he has notified employees within the Board of Commissioners office and has also notified department heads who are notifying their employees about exposures within the courthouse. Utilizing a rotation style operation in some departments, employees are still able to access their offices for filings or needs and operate phones and services while minimizing contact and risk in the building.

Other Elected Officials are operating and notifying employees in their areas as they see fit under their own jurisdictions.

While this operation is continuing for this week, Paris said that the entire courthouse building will shut down this Friday, July 10, 2020, in order for Restoration 1, a company out of Dawsonville certified for this type of cleaning, to operate, clean, and release a sanitizing mist within the building. Shutting down Friday will allow the mist to settle over the weekend before anyone returns to the courthouse.

Additionally, Monday, July 13, 2020, officials will reconvene after the cleaning and time has allowed additional testing to return on certain employees. Paris said that they will have to make a decision at that time about the continued operations or closures as needed with the information available then.

Paris did say that the Board of Commissioners are making every attempt to spread awareness of the possibility of exposure through news outlets, their websites, and phone calls. He stated that he has already received calls from citizens inquiring about the courthouse and a positive test. Paris suggested that citizens who may have visited the courthouse in recent days speak with their doctors about their situation and possible exposure and to follow testing as they order. He stated that as he is not a medical professional, he can only suggest this course of action for people.

Paris did say he has been in contact with the Health Department, informing them of the situation and the current steps being taken. Working in conjunction with them as well as local and state guidelines, he gave thanks and commended Judge Weaver on her quick response and action to the situation saying that he believes they have mitigated as much of the risk and exposure as they possibly could.

He went on to add that his hope is for people to take the situation and the virus seriously and be considerate of others and their capability to spread the virus even if they are not at risk from it.

Currently, sources say that Chastain’s contraction of the virus came from a Revival meeting at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Cartecay last week. FYN has reached out to the church for more information and is currently awaiting responses from church leaders. The church did cancel remaining services on July 4, 2020, as soon as first notice of someone running a fever and exhibiting symptoms was brought to them.

Our current understanding is church members are being contacted via the church line and suggestions to be tested have been issued in conjunction with guidelines from Health Departments. As with Revival Services of this type, it can be hard to keep up with numbers, but reports indicate that church officials are working diligently to contact and spread information so that any who may have attended services might be made aware.

FYN is attempting to contact Pastor Jamie Smith, but with large groups, it may not be possible to tell exactly who could have been the initial case or where it was contracted from before.

Additionally, FYN is now reaching out to officials in the and the Gilmer County Health Department about the positive test and their plans on sanitizing, quarantining, and contact tracing those who may have come into or worked in the courthouse. Jennifer King, North Georgia Health District Public Information Officer and Risk Communicator, said she is in contact with the Gilmer Branch and FYN is currently awaiting information from her as it becomes available.

Stay with us as more details become available on this story.

Gilmer and Fannin Extend Judicial Emergency under order of Chief Judge

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UPDATE: New State Order extends public health guidelines in courts

The state level executive order from Judge Harold D. Melton, as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, is extending health guidelines and requirements for in person hearings and allowing remote proceedings.

The order extending the declaration of a judicial emergency states:

Courts in Georgia have continued to perform essential functions despite the pandemic. The May 11 extension order also encouraged courts to work diligently to address the backlog of pending cases on a case-bycase basis, and the June 12 extension order announced a plan to reimpose as of July 14 many of the deadlines imposed by law on litigants in civil and criminal cases that have been suspended, tolled, or extended since the initial March 14 Order.


As has been the direction since the original Order, all Georgia courts must continue to conduct proceedings, remotely or in-person, in compliance with public health guidance, applicable statutes and court rules, and the requirements of the United States and Georgia Constitutions, including the public’s right of access to judicial proceedings and a criminal defendant’s rights to confrontation and an open courtroom. All courts should continue to use and increase the use of technology to conduct remote judicial proceedings as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings, unless required by law to be in person or unless it is not practicable for technical or other reasons for persons participating in the proceeding to participate remotely. This order further delineates the health precautions required for all in-person judicial proceedings and specifies that courts must adopt operating guidelines consistent with the Georgia Court Reopening Guide and any more specific local public health guidance.

While Gilmer is currently in lock-down for cleaning and sanitizing today, Officials are reportedly set to decide the status of Gilmer’s Courthouse and proceedings for the near future on Monday, July 13, 2020, as they seek more information and potential testing until then.


Original Post:

NORTH GEORGIA – Both Gilmer and Fannin have received a new order entitled “Amended Third Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency” closing and requiring deep cleaning for offices in the courthouses of both counties.

The order, sign by Superior Court Chief Judge Brenda Weaver of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, states that a number of courthouse employees are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and are awaiting testing results. Due to this the Chief Judge conferred with Board of Commissioner (BOC) Chairmen from each county and has declared the situation beyond the ability to continue with regular work.

The court has ordered that the counties deep clean and keep closed the following offices:

  • Fannin County Superior Court Judge
  • Fannin County Juvenile Court Judge
  • Fannin County Clerk of Superior and Juvenile Courts
  • Fannin County Probate Court
  • Fannin County Magistrate Court
  • Fannin County District Attorney
  • Fannin County CASA
  • Gilmer County Superior Court Judge
  • Gilmer County Juvenile Court Judge
  • Gilmer County Clerk of Superior and Juvenile Courts
  • Gilmer County Probate Court
  • Gilmer County Magistrate Court
  • Gilmer County District Attorney
  • Gilmer County Misdemeanor Probation
  • Gilmer County CASA

Additionally, Gilmer County has also closed the offices of the Gilmer County Tax Assessor and the Gilmer County Tax Commissioner. These offices are also ordered to perform a deep cleaning and remain closed until further orders are given.

Just as with the previous Judicial Emergency Orders, Remote Videoconference hearings are being utilized and scheduled. The order states that all other provisions of the previous order are still in effect.

This all comes after the announcements of some of Gilmer and Fannin Elected Officials and Courts closing earlier today due to COVID-19 exposures.

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