Gilmer High School cancels prom in face of resurgent Coronavirus


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County is still finding new information from news of exposures in the Courthouse and offices shutting down, but now, Gilmer High School is responding to the general resurgance of the Coronavirus in Georgia as they officially announce cancelling this year’s prom.

Originally cancelled during the school year as responses and shutdowns were widespread in the spring and the schools were closed, opting for “distance learning” alternatives, the prom was rescheduled in April as Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs announced in a meeting that they would be attempting to hold prom in July to make up for the cancellation.

That date was set for this Friday, July 10, 2020.

Today, the high school released a statement on social media stating that they would be cancelling the make-up day as well. They stated, “We have been in constant communication with local authorities regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and after much discussion and deliberation, we have decided to cancel prom this Friday, July 10. This decision was made with a great amount of information pertaining to potential and confirmed cases in Gilmer County. The cases are on a continual rise due to recent events within the county, and our first, and utmost, concern is, and will always be, the safety of our students and staff.”

In response to being forced to cancel the event, the high school is offering refunds through a linked form that parents and students can use for the school.

The school asks for patience moving forward.

They also commented saying a final decision has not been made at this time regarding graduation. However, they did affirm that a decision would be made in the coming days.

Ellijay prepares as protesters and police work towards rally tomorrow

Break-In closings, rally

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Many rumors and concerns have begun spreading today as citizens have seen social media posts about a rally in Downtown Ellijay tomorrow.

As police and public safety prepare for the event, Captain Grace of the Ellijay Police Department spoke with FYN explaining that the protesters have applied for a permit for the event and that they are working alongside the participants to “provide a safe area” that they can exercise their constitutional right to rally.

Further, the Ellijay Police Department posted today on social media saying, “We are working with a group of local young men and women, many of them students and former students of Gilmer High, who desire to rally in the downtown area. Their stated purpose is to voice their concerns about perceived social injustices. As of this afternoon, they have applied for a permit to rally and it appears at this time that there is no reason to deny them permission to peacefully assemble.”

Police said in their post that they fully expect a peaceful rally. Capt. Grace also shared that he spoke with some of the students involved and that the police have plans to make an area available and to have an increase in police presence to protect citizens and to protect the protesters. Grace even said that should the event participants grow in number past what is expected, the police already have plans to relocate the event to a more open and conducive space so as to provide for those present.

As of now, the Ellijay Police Department and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office are both coordinating on the event, along with outside agencies, to “ensure that this is a peaceful rally.”

The Ellijay Police stated, “We have two objectives, to ensure that the right to peacefully voice grievances are heard and to ensure life safety and property preservation.”

A few shop owners downtown declined to comment about the rally but many others are voicing concerns on social media after the recent news from Atlanta and other major cities.

Police stated, “We want to provide assurances to all those we serve; the organizers of this event have asked us to help them ensure that no one hijacks their rally by using violence or any other form of disruption. It is our full intent to ensure that this happens.”

Capt. Grace also confirmed that the application request is for the roundabout itself. Currently, it is believe that those involved will be located in the central area by the fountain.

Additionally, the Ellijay Police Department made another post recently on similar issues about the current protests in larger cities. This earlier post was a longer one, in which Chief Edward Lacey, named at the bottom of the post, stated that he wanted to support the people and provide safety in these situations. The post stated, “We understand we serve groups which vary in background, ideology, race, religion, national origin and more. We are committed to holding ourselves to a high standard which ensures justice and equality for all. We also understand that there are many groups who, through a collective voice, stand up against oppression and injustice. We also stand for justice and equality and stand against any type of oppression.”

It continued on to explain how many demonstrations are started legitimately and for one purpose, but others would usurp that purpose through violence and fear for their own reasons and purposes. But they also spoke about the process of permitting and legally gathering to demonstrate upon City Property. It stated, “We represent and serve all citizens regardless of ideology. We ask that everyone know about this process  and please allow us to work with you to help you maintain legitimacy for your message.”

The rally is set to begin at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow, June 4, 2020.

Chamber creates new “Chalk Ellijay” event amid isolations

Community, News

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.”

Chalk EllijayThe 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.

Chalk Ellijay

Two major March events cancelled for Gilmer Schools


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.”

St. Petrick’s Day event cancelled due to concerns over health


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Posted to their social media site, those in charge of this weekend’s St. Petrick’s Day Celebration have opted to cancel the event in the face of rising concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Their statement said, “At the advice of local authorities and due to concerns over the CORVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) the 2020 St. Petrick’s Celebration and Pet Parade has decided to err on the side of caution and cancel the event.”

Other authorities in the county have already made statements on the virus, but no cases or reports have been seen in Gilmer.

The statement also noted that vendors and sponsors will be contacted individually for further details on St. Petrick’s Day and the financial side. However, they have already confirmed the event will return next year saying, “We thank you for your understanding and hope to see everyone at the 2021 St. Petrick’s Celebration and Pet Parade.”

“I Heart Ga Milk” day at EES

Bobcat's Corner
I Heart Ga Milk
Misty Friedman, Farm to School Nutrition Coordination for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, plays with Georgie's, Georgia Grown's mascot, ear at the I Heart Ga Milk Day at EES on February 14, 2020.

Misty Friedman, Farm to School Nutrition Coordination for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, plays with Georgie’s, Georgia Grown’s mascot, ear at the I Heart Ga Milk Day at EES on February 14, 2020.

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Schools saw a special Friday as they celebrated the I Heart Ga Milk Day at Ellijay Elementary School with guests from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

The event was hosted in Gilmer County as part of the state’s Georgia Grown “Feed My School” program from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Gilmer Schools’ Nutrition Director Linda Waters helped make the program possible along with staff and faculty of Ellijay Elementary and also hosted Misty Friedman, Farm to School/Nutrition Coordination for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Friedman commented on the event saying, “My job is to bring more Georgia foods to our Georgia students. And events like this just puts us on the front lines of all the great work that’s being done to support our Georgia Farmers and to really teach our kids where their food comes from.”

The celebration lasted through breakfast, serving hot chocolate milk with marshmallows early that morning and saw the staff wearing their I Heart Ga Milk t-shirts while Georgie the Georgia Grown mascot and the Chick-fil-A Cow mascot hung out with the kids. Staff handed out pencils and educational materials about “the benefits of milk.”

Friedman went on to say, “I love coming out and visiting with the schools and seeing the kids enjoy, literally, the fruits of the labor of our Georgia Farmers.”



See more photos at FYN’s Facebook Page.

I Heart Ga Milk I Heart Ga Milk

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