ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Ellijay City Council voted unanimously to approve their COVID-19 State of Emergency Ordinance during the virtual meeting held on Wednesday, March 25, 2019, following the rest of the local governments in taking action against the spread of the virus.
The ordinance will be in effect for 14 days following the passing, though it also gives the mayor and the city council ability to extend the ordinance if need be, for a period not to exceed an additional 14 days.
Among other measures, no gathering of 10 or more people shall take place on city property while the ordinance is in effect, and restaurants may only service food via delivery, drive-thru or takeout.
Additionally, certain business’ such as gyms, fitness centers, pools, social clubs, amusement facilities, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail salons, etc. will be forced to close during this time.
The entirety of the ordinance may be viewed below:
A DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY ARISING BECAUSE OF COVID-19; AN ORDINANCE TAKING IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY MEASURES
WHEREAS, the President of the United States declared a National Public Health Emergency on March 13, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of Georgia declared a State Public Health Emergency on March 14, 2020 and urged”local officials to do what’s in the best interests of their communities to keep people safe and stop the spread of coronavirus’ on March 19, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the World Health Organization has declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a world health emergency and a pandemic; and
WHEREAS, the number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 is escalating rapidly, internationally, nationally, and within our Public Health District; and
WHEREAS, based upon the experience of other local governments in Georgia, a growing number of other cases are likely to occur; and
WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the President of the United States stated that any gathering of over 10 people should be discontinued or prohibited, and
WHEREAS, on March 23, 2020, Governor Kemp announced that “certain individuals with an increased risk of complications from COVID-19 to isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place,” covering those who “live in long-term care facilities, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms or exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has СOVID-19”, and that the Department of Public Health would institute rules and regulations to implement such measures;
WHEREAS, on March 23, 2020, Governor Kemp additionally announced measures to “close all bars and nightclubs and …ban all gatherings of ten or more people” unless they can assure spacing for at least six (6) feet apart between people at all times beginning at noon on March 24, 2020 and lasting until noon on April 6, 2020; and
WHEREAS, public health experts, including those at the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH),have advised that individuals infected with COVID-19 are contagious even while experiencing minor or no symptoms and implored leaders to take immediate action to prevent further community spread of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, preventing and slowing community spread of COVID-19 provides health systems additional time to obtain personal protective equipment necessary to protect health care workers and medical equipment necessary to treat COVID-19, and is therefore vital to the health of the nation;
WHEREAS, in the judgment of the Mayor and Council of the City of Ellijay, there exist emergency circumstances located within its jurisdiction requiring extraordinary and immediate response for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the community, the state, and the nation; and
WHEREAS, it is essential for the governing authority of the City to act immediately in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent or minimize sickness, injury, or death, to people and damage to property resulting from this public health crisis; and
WHEREAS, O.C.G.A. $38-3-28 provides the political subdivisions of this state with the authority to make, amend, and rescind such orders, rules, and regulations as may be necessary for emergency management purposes to supplement rules and regulations promulgated by the Governor during a State of Emergency; and
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has previously held that “[u]pon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members”; and
WHEREAS, the Charter of the City of Ellijay provides the governing authority of the city with the authority to take actions deemed necessary to deal with such an emergency for the protection of the safety, health, and well-being of the citizens of the city; and
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY DECLARED that a local state of emergency exists within the City and shall continue until the conditions requiring this declaration are abated.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED AND ORDAINED BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ELLIJAY AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. Findings of Fact
For purposes of describing the circumstances which warrant the adoption of an emergency ordinance, the governing authority of the city hereby adopts and make the findings included in the “WHEREAS” clauses as findings of fact,
Section 2. Declaration of Public Health State of Emergency
The City Council hereby declares a public health state of emergency within the city because of the proliferation of COVID-19 in the United States and the State of Georgia, which will remain in force and effect for fourteen (14) days from the date hereof. In the event it becomes necessary to extend the public health state of emergency with the city due to the continued proliferation of COVID-19, the City Council hereby declares that the Mayor, upon obtaining advice and consent of the majority of the City Council, may unilaterally extend this emergency ordinance for an additional period not to exceed fourteen (14) days.
Section 3. Public Gatherings on City Property
For the duration of the declared emergency, there shall be no public gatherings on any property owned or controlled by the City. To avoid confusion, the following definitions shall apply under this Section: a “public gathering” shall mean the organized gathering or assembly of ten (10) or morepersons at a specific location; “property owned or controlled by the City” shall include any park, public square, public space, playground, recreational area, or similar place of public gathering, but nothing herein shall prohibit individuals or families from using sidewalks or designated pedestrian areas of parks for walking or other exercise if they are not participating in an organized gathering.
Section 4. Utility Services
Section 5. Classification of City Services
For the duration of the declared emergency, the Mayor shall be vested with the following discretion and authority, to wit:
(a) To categorize City services as either “required” or “discretionary,” and to
periodically review and modify such categories.
(b) To assign specific employees to required or discretionary services, and to
periodically review and modify such assignments. (c) To use his or her discretion to permit employees to telework.
(c) To temporarily suspend the provision of discretionary services and to direct
employees who provide discretionary services not to report to work until such time as the service suspension is lifted or until such time as the Mayor redirects
the employee to other services.
(d) To contract for and expend non-budgeted sums and services, as may in his or her
discretion be required to meet the demands upon government and services of the
City for the duration of the declared emergency, including therein authority to spend such sums from the reserves of the City. Any such non-budgeted
expenditures shall be reported to the governing authority of the City.
(e) To maintain, to the best of the ability of the resources of the City, the provision
of essential services, which shall include, but not be limited to, public safety,
public works, healthcare, and building permits.
Section 6. Tolling of Deadlines
Any deadlines for the purchasing or obtaining by persons or businesses of occupation tax certificates, permits or similar civil approvals mandated by the City Code shall be tolled for the duration of the emergency as established herein, and for 15 days thereafter. Such persons or businesses shall obtain necessary permissions required by law but deadlines set by the City Code are toiled for the duration of the emergency as established herein, and for 15 days thereafter.
Section 7. Eating Establishments
Restaurants and other eating and dining establishments where food is served must cease offering dine-in services but may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery, drive-through or take-out services. Patrons, employees and contractors of the establishments must maintain at least six (6) feet of personal distance between themselves and others. If a restaurant is licensed to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, such restaurant, during the effective dates of this ordinance only, shall be authorized to sell unopened bottles or cans of beer or wine for take-out consumption off-premises;
Section 8. Closure of Certain Businesses
Gyms, fitness centers, pools, social clubs, amusement facilities, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, massage parlors, nail salons, and any other similar facility, any facility used for an activity that involves prolonged physical proximity ofindividuals, and any facility usedfor entertainment, social, grooming, or general health and wellbeing purposes,must close and remain closed for the duration of this emergency.
Section 9. Personal Distance
All other establishments not covered in Section 7 of this Ordinance such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other businesses which remain open during the emergency inust post signage on entrance doors informing consumers to maintain at least six (6) feet of personal distance between themselves and others and shall not allow more than ten (10) people into such establishment at any one time if such social distancing cannot be maintained.
Section 10. Gatherings
All public and private gatherings of more than ten (10) people occurring outside of a household or living unit are prohibited. Nothing in this ordinance, however, prohibits the gathering of individuals for the purposes of carrying on business certified as “essential” by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency pursuant to O.C.G.A. $ 38-3-58 or designated by the Governor as “critical infrastructure” or the provision of medical or health services.
Section 11. Emergency Interim Successor to Mayor
The governing authority desires to make certain that the chain of authority within city management is clear. If the Mayor is unable to perform his or her duties, then the individual designated by the Mayor as the emergency interim successor pursuant to O.C.G.A. $ 38-3-50 shall assume the duties of the Mayor. This is the Mayor Pro Tem. Should the Mayor Pro Tem be unable to perform those duties, the longest serving council member shall then assume the duties of the Mayor.
Section 12. Curfew
Section 13. Procurement
The governing authority hereby suspends the bid and competitive portions of the City’s Procurement Policy or ordinances and authorize the Mayor to utilize the single-source policy and to require departments to provide a written justification for the procurement during the effective dates of this Resolution and/or utilize any emergency procurement provisions contained. City officials shall continue to seek the best prices during the state of emergency.
All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with the provisions of this Declaration are hereby suspended during the effective dates of this Declaration (or any extension thereof) and the terms and provisions of this Declaration shall prevail.
This Ordinance after adoption by the Council and upon approval by the Mayor shall become effective immediately.
ORDAINED AND RESOLVED, this 25th day of March, 2020.
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
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Authorities from Gilmer County Public Safety, East Ellijay Police, and Ellijay Fire are currently responding to what witnesses are calling a major accident at the intersection of First Avenue and Highwy 515 near Hardee’s.
Authorities have shut down the Northbound lane of Hwy 515 at this time as they assist with those involved and attempt to clear the road.
East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan has confirmed one person is in critical condition. There are also at least two others classified as injured, but are well enough to be walking.5
Citizens should use Highway 52 to travel past the accident before returning to Highway 515 Northbound via Greenfield Road. FYN has reached out to authorities for comment on the clean-up and condition of the accident and is awaiting a response as they continue to respond to the incident.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Authorities have shut down the intersection of Industrial Boulevard and 1st Avenue in East Ellijay after a semi-truck lost its gas tank and spilled the contents on the road.
Authorities on-scene confirmed no injuries as the truck lost one of its gas tanks after turning off of Highway 515. After dragging the tank several feet, the driver pulled into the parking lot by the river. But authorities say the tank dumped nearly 40 gallons of diesel fuel across the pavement before he could pull off.
The quick response from emergency services was able to keep the diesel fuel from reaching the river and causing environmental damage. As of now, units from both East Ellijay and Ellijay are working in conjunction to aid and redirect traffic around the site by sending people to the on-ramp further north, Greenfield Road, where Highway 52 travels under Highway 515.
Authorities have already begun the clean-up process, but are not sure exactly how long it could take. Citizens can still access the area via the detour, but may also wish to seek alternative routes when traveling today.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Repairs on Bobcat Trail came to a halt Monday evening, March 4, as the contractor on the project struck a gas line hidden under the pavement.
It appears that a backhoe struck the line when digging under the roadway and began leaking the gas as a section was torn out. According to an on-site Supervisor for DRS Contracting, an emergency locate had been called in. He further stated that an unnamed subcontractor for Atlanta Gas Light gave the “all-clear” for DRS to go ahead with the project.
He asserted that Atlanta Gas Light’s report didn’t show any line in the area.
The line that was struck was four feet below the damaged roadway that was shut down by Gilmer County Charter School System last week. Work had just begun on repairing the damage today before hitting the line.
Emergency Servcies were immediately contacted as well as Atlanta Gas Light. The Ellijay Fire Department responded to the scene to monitor threats during repairs.
According to Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, Atlanta Gas Light has arrived on scene tonight and estimates that the line repair should be completed “fairly quickly.”
Downs further stated that the lines must be cleared and all pilot lights re-lit in the kitchens of both Gilmer Middle School and Gilmer High School. She said, “At this point we are thinking that everything will be fixed and ready for school in the morning.”
Stay with FYN for updates on Bobcat Trail and the continuing repairs near Gilmer High School.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County is still amid disorder this week as Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris confirmed with FYN that the current Gilmer County Interim Fire Chief, Brian Scudder, has left the office.
“We just weren’t on the same page about some things,” said Paris on Thursday as he reiterated the changes he is hoping to see come in the Fire Department of Gilmer County. Scudder is still in the Fire Department but is no longer serving as Interim Chief.
These changes began when former Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett resigned from office in early February. Though originally resigning effective on March 15, Paris said he later had decided that Pritchett’s presence was not coordinating with his plans for the future and made an agreement with Pritchett to pay his original agreement out to March 15, but to remove Pritchett from the county immediately.
Chairman Paris originally wanted to separate the position into three positions including Fire Chief, EMA Director, and Public Safety Director. In Paris’ eyes, the Public Safety Director would have been the Department’s head with managerial responsibilities with EMA Director and Fire Chief serving under him in their areas of expertise with the requirements, technicalities, and skills required in those positions.
However, he settled for two positions instead of three and named Brian Scudder to Interim Fire Chief and Keith Kucera to the Interim Public Safety/EMA Director.
However, in the progressing weeks, conflict and turmoil have arisen in the Fire Department resulting in two internal investigations and several changes in the systems make-up.
Paris states he has had enough with the way things have been in the Fire Department. “There is s a significant amount of turmoil in the Fire Department right now,” says Paris.
Soon after naming the two to the position, an incident at Fire Station 1 occurred with one firefighter finding his bed saturated in water. An investigation ensued immediately into the occurrence. Paris openly admitted that while they did not discover exactly who was behind the act, he felt he did send a message to the department about the changes he wants.
However, the Fire Department’s other investigation went much further as Paris states that on a Friday morning he offered Scudder the position of Fire Chief, Kucera was out of town, so Paris waited until Monday morning to offer the Public Safety Director Position. Paris states that at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, he held a meeting with Tony Pritchett to share his appointments with him.
Then, Tuesday morning, Paris received a complaint about Kucera trying to get people to protest the appointment of Scudder to Fire Chief. After meeting with Kucera and interrogating him on the allegations, Paris called in several firefighters that were set to protest the Fire Chief position. Questioning each individually about how and when they found out about Brian Scudder’s appointment which had not been announced yet. The overwhelming response indicated that all but one had learned about the appointments early Monday morning from Tony Pritchett, having found out about the appointments prior to his meeting with Charlie.
Paris tells FYN that the investigation cleared Kucera of any allegations of protest or antagonism in Department. He continued saying that most of the response he has had is positive about Kucera’s appointment.
Moving past the investigations, Paris says he is confident moving forward with his appointment of Keith Kucera to interim Public Safety Director and his new appointment he is announcing of Mike Dempsey to Interim Fire Chief.
At this point, there is still no indication as to who or what is causing instigations in the Fire and EMS, but Paris seemed to indicate that he doesn’t care. He says he is focused on moving forward and buckling down on the departments’ disciplinary actions.
Naming Mike Dempsey as the new interim Fire Chief, Paris says that he has gone about the appointment slightly different as this time, he has taken recommendations from Kucera and references to consider. Part of the consideration Paris had for Dempsey in the interim position is that Dempsey has no consideration or desire for the permanent position.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – With only one night into what is expected to become a week long surge of rain and storms, Gilmer County has seen debris and trees down on several roads.
While authorities are urging care and caution in citizens, the Publis Safety Department and Sheriff’s Offices are both continuing warnings about flash floods, high winds, and dangerous conditions that could last until Saturday.
A Flood Watch remains effect through Saturday morning for portions of north and northwest Georgia. As a result of multiple periods with heavy rainfall, some localized flooding of creeks and streams may be possible across portions of northern Georgia.
Additionally, even Gilmer County Schools representatives have reported delays in bus routes and travel because of the debris and trees the county is already dealing with on their roads.
They are asking parents for patience today as drivers are navigating these roads and conditions. Parents should not be concerned if students on buses arrive home a few minutes later than normal.
Please be patient as some bus routes may run slightly later than normal as our drivers exercise extreme caution in transporting our students this morning.
Amicalola Electric company is also reporting major outages in the area as they continue dealing with the storm. With 107 outages, they have reported close to 4,000 homes without power today. While much of these outages came in the area of Talking Rock and Highway 52, there are others affected all over the county. Crews are currently attending to these and working to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.
The National Weather Service is continuing its Flood Warnings for the area through Saturday Morning and has added a sever weather statement saying,
Wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph will be possible through the rest of the day for portions of northern Georgia. These enhanced wind speeds combined with extremely saturated soils from the persistent rain have resulted in conditions very susceptible for trees to become uprooted and blown over. Trees may be blown onto structures, roadways or powerlines causing further power outages across the area.
Fire and Rescue Weekly Status Report
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Jasper, Ga – Authorities have met a major incident as they executed a search warrant at the local A1 Smoke Shop in Jasper, Georgia.
During the execution of the search warrant today, September 14, members of the Drug Task Force, Pickens Sheriff’s Office, and Jasper City Police were exposed to an unidentified substance that immediately brought down one detective. Others also became exposed in attempts to help treat the detective. According to an official release by Sgt. Jody Weaver, Administrative Services Division of the Pickens Sheriff’s Office, “As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.”
Unconfirmed reports indicate the substance may have been made airborne during the search, but reports at this time indicate the exposure is not life-threatening.
According to their official release, “The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire.”
Additionally, authorities have closed businesses in close proximity to the location and evacuated citizens from the area for safety.
With Haz-Mat teams investigating the substances, authorities are declining to release certain details of the active investigation, but indicate that they will be releasing more information about the incident later.
With the recent rise of vaping devices being used to inhale drugs ranging from Methamphetamines to THC Oil to Synthetic Marijuana, it is likely this warrant could be part of an official response to the trend in our schools, though no official statement identifies why they were executing a search warrant. The District Attorney’s office is currently undertaking a series of assemblies at the middle and high schools of Pickens, Fannin, and Gilmer.
At this point, it is actually quite common to find controlled substances in vape devices across America, especially in schools as reports continue to flood the media about students falling unconscious or having severe reactions, even seizures because of what they may or may not know they are inhaling.
See the full media release below:
“Pickens County law enforcement have encountered a suspected unknown powder substance during execution of a search warrant – Deputies and other public safety adversely affected.”
On the morning of Friday, September 14, 2018, the Drug Task Force, along with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office and the City of Jasper Police Department executed a search warrant at the A-1 Smoke Shop located at 684 West Church Street in Jasper, Georgia. During the search of the premises, a Detective with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office came in contact with an unknown substance which immediately resulted in the Detective experiencing adverse health conditions and symptoms. The affected Detective was transported to the local hospital for immediate treatment. Public safety personnel who were exposed while treating the affected Detective also began experiencing similar reactions. As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.
The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire. Businesses in close proximity to the location have been evacuated as a safety precaution, and Haz-Mat teams are preparing to enter the premises to thoroughly investigate and identify the cause of the health issues with our public safety personnel.
As this is an active investigation, more information will be provided as it becomes available.
ELLIJAY, Ga – Not even two months have passed since Gilmer suffered through one of the worst storms it has seen in decades near the end of July, yet Hurricane Florence threatens to be just as bad, if not worse, according to reports from the National Weather Service and State Governments along the East Coast.
Both South and North Carolina have seen mandatory evacuation orders for residents in certain areas. With the residents continuing to travel west away from the storm, Georgia’s State Government has spoken about accepting those fleeing the path of the hurricane. The National Guard and the Coast Guard have already been mobilized for support as well as forces from Maryland and even New York preparing to help.
With a recent change in direction, the National Weather Service now indicates that North Georgia could see much more impact now. Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett said we are on the “dirtier” side of the storm today in a scheduled Commissioner’s meeting where he warned of potential dangers and damage that Gilmer could see from the southern turn of Hurricane Florence.
The expected impact is so large that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for the state.
Based on the latest 11 a.m. forecast for Hurricane Florence and acting on a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security officials, today I issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in Georgia.
The Gilmer Public Safety Department took to social media today as well to warn citizens of “an enhanced chance of impacts for our area. Potential impacts could include heavy rain and sustained winds. This could very well cause serious flooding impacts and a large amount of downed trees. Roadways washed out and damaged and widespread power outages are all a result of these impacts.”
Officials are asking citizens to prepare for the oncoming storm and for an influx of people attempting to flee the storm, even as we are still recovering from the July storm. Public Works Director Jim Smith told the Commissioners today that his people were also prepared to mobilize in recovery and recuperation efforts.
Public Safety also noted, “Everyone should keep in mind that systems such as this in the past have caused SEVERE damage for our county. Although we hope this is not the case. PLEASE PREPARE NOW! Preparedness includes adequate food and water for a minimum of 72 hours, flashlights and batteries, a full charge on all wireless devices and portable charging options for these devices, generators and fuel if you have them and know the PROPER use and placement.”
Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stated that the county is preparing its resources including Pritchett preparing the Emergency Management Program as the county readies itself to open shelters if needed. He also confirmed that while Gilmer is not currently in talks with the State about housing evacuees, it is prepared for the call with those shelters made ready.
Emergency preparedness goes far deeper than just resources and shelters, however. Threats like this are prepared for months and years in advance. Pritchett made special note of the departments swift water training and equipment in a case of an extreme event saying, “We have very advanced, skilled swift-water-trained individuals that are trained to get to most anybody that is trapped or is in a rescue situation.”
Preparing for the worst-case scenario, Pritchett said the Department already has response plans throughout the county, but cautioned citizens against “sounding the alarm” for something that may not be as bad as they are preparing for. Despite the declaration of a State of Emergency, he noted that at this time, preparedness is the best course of action as they have previously stated.
These are the reasons that he encourages citizens to have cell phones charged and to prepare other means of charging in case of a need. Having these devices available to contact emergency response is also a part of survival.
As you continue watching for news and updates regarding Hurricane Florence, it may be wise to go ahead and program the non-emergency response numbers into your phone in case a need arises. If you have questions, concerns, or a need contact Headquarters at 706-635-1333 or the non-emergency dispatch number 706-635-8911. Pritchett also encouraged citizens to keep an eye on the Gilmer County Public Safety Facebook Page for updates on the storm, shelters, and impact on Gilmer County.
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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Over the past two months, the Gilmer County Board of Education has listened to proposals from Kloud-12 on possible changes to their school system’s security.
Stretching back further than that, even when planning the renovations of Gilmer High School, security increases have grown more accustomed to their spot in the forefront of discussion. The renovations saw the High School go from an open glass lobby with multiple ways into the school, to a single point, secured entrance.
Not uncommon in today’s world where school shootings and threats are on the rise, this style of an entrance is already in Gilmer County at Clear Creek Middle School where visitors and parents are guided into the front office before gaining entrance to the school as a whole.
Now, the Board of Education is moving again on the security front. A tentative approval came this week for the board to move forward with proposals from Kloud-12 to implement two new features into the school system. In her phrasing of recommending the motion, Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs and the board indicated a 2-phase implementation.
The first phase garnered the most support with changing the id badges of employees in the schools to incorporate an electronic button that they can use for instant communication. The button is flexibly programmed to the board’s desires for levels of alert and levels of notifications. For example a single press could immediately notify the school’s principal and key staff in case of a medical issue, fight, or some simple call for help, holding the button could signal could signal a real medical emergency notifying 911, and rapidly and repeatedly pressing the button would notify police and authorities for an active threat such as a shooter. This is just an example as Brent Coleman with Dooley Education Solutions representing the Kloud-12 service said the Board could set up the program however they wanted.
The badges are not coded or restricted in any way, meaning that there is a possibility of accidental presses or “false alarms,” but Coleman said continuing changes to the system are combating that likelihood with the button recessed and set on an id badge instead of somewhere open. I was later noted that this could help if a teacher had a medical emergency and a student needed to push the button to call for help.
Coleman has shared with the board over these two months his pitch for the service noting that in several of the recent shootings across America, an expedited response would have helped with response time and saved lives. The badge button not only notifies administration, but a proper input would immediately set alarms off across the school initiating an instant lockdown. The process takes seconds instead of the common way of finding a way to notify the office and then spreading the message to initiate the lockdown.
The system also operates on a “mesh network” allowing the system to operate on its own network outside of the wi-fi system and also to allow the system to work around outages. This means if one receiver should fail, others would be ready and able to pick up the signal and operate normally without interruption.
This system for crisis management is designed to work alongside another system that the board saw hesitation on from staff members. Video integration is the Phase 2 of the motion. Separating the item, Downs said they were awaiting clarification for the board’s Tech Department on technical specifications, data storage, recurring licensing, support fees, and other areas.
If clarification indicates what the board wants out of the project, it could increase video footage of the schools. Each school already has cameras watching the hallways and common areas, but this change would see cameras moving into the classrooms as well. With pushback from teachers over being “watched” during the day, Coleman indicated that they could set the cameras to where only administration and select staff could access the feeds and could even give the teachers control over whether the cameras are recording or not.
Meant to work on three levels, the cameras were presented to be used for instruction, safety, and protection. Over the discussions, it was presented that these cameras can be set to record only certain “quadrants of the feed to leave students out if a teacher wanted to make his or her lessons available for replay. This could also be used for snow days or other situations to make the feeds available to students at home. This instructional use could be set for availability by administration or by the teachers.
On the safety and security aspect, the live feeds of the cameras are instantly turned on and set to record if the id badge button is pushed. Coleman noted this feed could be sent live to authorities in threat situations to give a look inside of the school and to aid in locating threats as the id badge system has a built-in location system. In other situations, the button press for a fight could instantly set the live feed to the School Resource Officer and principle for an immediate response without involving police or emergency responders. Aiding in discipline and averting disciplinary situations was a major point of the cameras safety aspect.
Finally, the protection of teachers was presented by Coleman as a tool to aid in allegations against teachers as they could set their cameras to record their class time and student interactions. Providing video documentation to combat false allegations would allow many situations, according to Coleman to be prevented before they escalate.
Throughout discussions, Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley noted she had several teachers questioning why the need for additional cameras as they haven’t had a high amount of discipline issues.
With the board moving forward on these proposals, they are looking at $132,347 for Phase 1 to begin as soon as the board receives its bidding or sole source documentation implementing the id badge system, and $451,224 for the camera system contingent upon satisfactory answers to the outstanding technical questions as well as the bidding or sole source documentation.
With teachers potentially seeing these upgrades as early as Jan 2, they will only see them in Ellijay Elementary School, Mountain View Elementary, Clear Creek Middle School, and Gilmer High School. Downs stated the would not be putting the systems into Ellijay Primary School as they are planning to replace it in the near future, nor in Gilmer Middle School until they are certain of which classrooms will be utilized by the High School in the coming years.
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