ELLIJAY, Ga. – An arrest has been made in Ellijay this week on five counts of felony charges. Confirmed to have worked for the Fire Department, Michael Paul Chester was taken into custody by the Ellijay Police Department.
Chester is facing charges of False Imprisonment, Criminal Trespass, Harassing Phone Calls, Terroristic Threats and Acts – Felony, and Criminal Damage to Property – 2nd Degree. Bond was set at $4,500 according to the Booking Report. As of late Thursday night, Chester was still in custody.
As the investigation continues with the Ellijay Police Department, some sources say this is not the first time he has been in trouble and has even received warnings for behavior before, however, authorities have not confirmed these reports or released additional information on the investigation. FYN is currently reaching out to authorities for further details.
(All photos provided by the Gilmer County Public Safety Department.)
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Authorities are still finding damage and reports from the last two days of storms, meanwhile volunteers and citizens are banning together to clear roadways, driveways, and yards from debris.
According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, “60 mph wind gusts and penny size hail” were the main concerns from the storms. Authorities also fought with heavy rains and visibility on roads.
Coosawattee River Resort dealt with numerous downed power lines and both Pike Electric and Amicalola EMC workers were seen across the county yesterday before the second round of storms came through.
While FYN has not received reports from citizens or county authorities on any casualties and no public releases have been made, there has been on major note of damage inside the city limits. The clock tower, of Clocktower Crossing, was destroyed.
Authorities are saying that the damage was caused by the storms in the early morning on Saturday. Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office reports that Holden Road and Wood Ridge Drive are impassable at this time.
In addition to clean up efforts for the tower, business and county personnel, specifically Road and Power crews, have been working the damage for nearly 35 hours today. As of 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Amicalola Electric Membership Corporation is still reporting 703 homes without power in Gilmer alone, plus an additional 610 in surrounding counties.
They have also issued the following statement,
Severe storms with high winds blew through last night, leaving downed power lines across our service area. Outages are down from around 10,000 members at the peak, to currently around 4100, primarily in Gilmer County. Amicalola EMC crews have been working through the night and additional crews, from other companies, have been called in to assist restoration efforts. Use extreme caution if you are near a downed power line. Never go near a downed line, always assume lines are still energized. To report an outage please call one of the following: 706-253-0359, 706-276-0359 or 706-864-0359. All power will be restored as soon as is safely possible.
While no definitive statement has been made, public statements and statistics indicate that Gilmer may have been hit the worse of the 515 corridor at least.
Gilmer County Public Safety has also offered citizens a reminder list of Damage Control Contacts:
Emergency – City and County: Dial 911
Non-Emergency: Dial 706-635-8911
Road Department – County: 706-635-4589
Street Department – City:
Business Hours: 706-635-4711
After Business Hours: 706-635-8911
Georgia Power: 888-891-0938
Amicalola EMC: 706-253-0359 or 706-276-0359
Tri-County EMC: 866-254-8100 or 478-986-8100
ELLIJAY, Ga. – As Gilmer continues to clean up and recover from Saturday mornings storm, officials are beginning to assess damage and costs for the county.
According to Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett, around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning emergency services began receiving calls for aid around the county.
As one of the hardest hit counties in North Georgia, the damage with downed trees and powerlines alone could have weeklong effects according to reports as power outages continue and line-men continue working around the clock to repair both downed line and downed poles. There have also been reports of mudslides causing damage to areas, but no roads have been blocked or destroyed.
Pritchett reports that the emergency services only had one reported injury as a tree fell on a local woman’s camper in the Coosawattee area. As paramedics reached the woman, she was taken to an area hospital. However, no reports of any fatalities have come in as authorities are still, days later, responding to calls for aid.
As the intensity of the storm increase through the early hours, an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 homes lost power in the county between Amicalola Electric Company and Georgia Power. Public Safety has counted 20 homes with trees on top of them as they continue the survey process. These were just a few of the different situations that Pritchett says they have continued responding to in the days since the storm.
County services are in full swing with the Gilmer County Road Department and Public Safety department both attempting to clear trees from the roads as they find them.
Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris told FYN that the county is still collecting estimates for exact amounts of costs of the damage. However, their biggest disaster came in the Buckhorn area and the county golf course which lost part of its most recent paving of the cart path, has numerous trees down on the greens, and is still looking at water damage to the course. Early predictions say the course will not re-open to the public until Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest.
Despite the highest damage to county facilities and equipment being there, the hardest hit part of Gilmer County is actually inside Coosawattee, according to Pritchett. While the county continues the clean up in the outer areas of the county and the cities deal with the damage inside their limits, Coosawattee’s Public Works department is dealing with the mass of downed trees and road damage inside the resorts gated community.
Gilmer has also experienced flooding in low-level areas. However, River Park, which has become notorious for flooding and flood damage in recent years, made it through the storm, according to Paris, with minimal damage and little to no flooding through the buildings.
The major damage from the rainfall came with 5 damaged culvert pipes. Director of Public Works, Jim Smith told FYN that four of those pipes had part of their base wash away as water overtook the pipe and began flowing over the road. The fifth pipe, however, was located on Tyler Road, just off of Highway 282, and was completely washed out and carried away. This pipe had to be replaced and reset. However, the Road Department has all five locations repaired and passable for vehicles at this time.
Alongside the continuing official response of the county, citizens are also still out in droves continuing to help neighbors chainsaw trees in driveways and across roads that authorities haven’t reached yet. Citizens across the county are calling it a major storm, the likes of which they have not seen before.
Citizens are also reporting damage tolls in the hundreds of thousands between damage to homes and vehicles being damaged or crushed by falling branches, trees, hail, power poles, and other debris. Reports of damage continue through local farms including at least one chicken house struck by lightning and burnt down.
Continuing reports of high wind, continuous lightning, and heavy rain have locals calling it a “tornado-like storm without the tornado.”
Officials agree as the Public Safety Department is currently sharing all their information collected with the National Weather Service in attempts to classify the storm. Pritchett confirmed that they are collecting damage reports and assessing weather data to assess the possibility of microbursts, straight-line winds, or actual tornadic activity.
Gilmer is not alone in its time of recovery, though. As is common practice with power companies, Gilmer is receiving aid from counties all over Georgia. Crews are in town this week from Volt Power, Amicalola Electic, Pike Electric, Sumter Electric, and Georgia Power among others. Two visiting workers confirmed they were from Columbus, Ga. and Atlanta, Ga. With others coming in from across the state, work is continuing for those parts of Gilmer and North Georgia that are still without power.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – A fire broke out at the Shell Gas Station located on the corner of Yukon Road and First Ave., across the street from Ingles, late Nov. 23.
The Thanksgiving night was cut short for two young males as Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett reported they had stopped for gas, and while fueling, one of the men reportedly began fidgeting and playing with his flip lighter. Unfortunately, the flame caught fumes and ignited a “flash fire.”
According to Pritchett, the blaze significantly injured one of the men, damaged the fuel pump and caused minimal damage to the vehicle they were driving. However, no details were available as to the identities of the two men as an investigation was undertaken for the incident. It was confirmed the pump shut off before the blaze could spread to other pumps and the station. However, when asked if the pump shut off automatically or if the attendant shut it off, Pritchett replied that officials would be answering details like that in the investigation.
FYN confirmed with officials that no other vehicle was on the other side of the pump or close enough to sustain damage from the fire. Though no official update is currently available as to the current status of the injured male, FYN’s understanding was that injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.