Voter Security Reform Legislation – Non-citizen ID Should Not Be “Proper ID” at Georgia polls

Politics

Written And Submitted By: State Representative Charlice Byrd

 

The right to vote in a free and fair election is fundamental to our civil society.  This sacred right, upon which our democracy rests, cannot be taken for granted, nor can we afford for it to be eroded away by a lack of confidence in our elections.  I, like so many other Georgians, believe that we have an obligation to do everything possible to ensure election security and integrity.   

 

There are many policy solutions being discussed to make Georgia’s elections the most secure in the country. I offer a simple, commonsense solution to add another degree of security to the actual voting process.  A simple clarification to Georgia’s voter ID code and clearly marking “NOT VOTER ID” on driver’s licenses issued to non-citizens.  This will help alleviate the pressure and confusion of poll workers and election volunteers.   

 

Many Georgians may be surprised to learn Georgia issues a driving and official ID credential to non-citizens that are nearly identical to what many voters use as their official ID to vote.  The only difference in appearance from mine are the words “LIMITED TERM” across the top in capital letters.

 

Furthermore, there is nothing in state law that prohibits these non-citizen driver’s licenses or ID cards to be used as “proper identification/photo ID” for voting purposes.  This may have been an oversight, but many are convinced this loophole in voter ID security should be closed without delay. 

 

Currently, the law says that “proper identification” for presentation to a poll worker when voting consist of a Georgia driver’s license, a valid Georgia voter identification card “or other valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the State of Georgia, any other state, or the United States authorized by law to issue personal identification, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector.” 

 

The law also allows for acceptance of valid U.S. passports, government employee photo ID, a valid tribal identification card containing a photograph of the elector and military identification.  The law does not explicitly exclude the driver’s licenses or ID cards the Department of Drivers Services (DDS) issues to non-citizens of any description.  

 

The Motor Voter Registration system in use in Georgia has proven to be less than perfect in other states.  To be clear, Motor Voter has allowed non-citizens to register to vote around the nation according to reports in the Associated Press and NPR and the Pew Center.  This obvious and needless loophole in Georgia law needs to be fixed.  

 

I have introduced HB 228 to fix this loophole, (OCGA 21-2-417 ) which deals with “Presentation of identification to poll workers; form of proper identification;…”  to add language to specifically exclude from acceptance the driver’s licenses and ID cards issued to non-citizens.  The legislation will also change current law to require DDS to add the phrase “BEARER NOT U.S. CITIZEN – NOT VOTER ID” to all driver’s licenses and ID cards issued to non-citizens. This will help remove the possibility of confusion or accidental acceptance in the voting process in future elections.

 

Rep Charlice Byrd represents District 20 in the Georgia House of Representatives. 

[email protected]

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UPS Store hiring in E. Ellijay Georgia

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BKP speaks with Republican Senator David Perdue

Election, Featured News, Featured Stories, News

Mere days before the run-off election deciding the Georgia’s Senate seats for this term, David Perdue (R), current Senator and incumbent candidate, is preparing for the final push up to election day. Counties across the state have reported record turn-outs for voting during 2020 and it looks like this election will see more voters than usual as well.

Voters are also turning out to rallies and campaign events as well. With debates still going over the Presidential Election and voters asking for continuing support, Perdue notes that he was among the few Senators who supported Trump before he was initially elected. Perdue said he fought with Trump as he turned the nations economy to it’s “best economic turnaround in history.”

Going through options and ideas in fighting what they are calling corruption in the recent election.

It is constantly a struggle against the Democrats according to Perdue who said that he is continuing to do everything that Trump asks him to do for that support.

Perdue noted, though, that people who are angry need to support Trump and the Republicans, but they also need to get out to vote. With numerous registered voters in every district still not voting on election day, Perdue calls to citizens saying that they are trying to fight the corruption and make the vote fair. He said they are working hard but it is very frustrating that people are still not voting.

Part of the efforts he has been working towards, Perdue has spoken with President Trump on Christmas Day. Perdue noted the stimulus and support for small businesses, people, and those in need from the pandemic fallout.

Perdue went on to speak on the omnibus bill at the federal level and looking at the efforts of the president fighting for people.

Perdue

Senator David Perdue

This was a great focus of Perdue in his time with BKP as he pointed to national security and what is at stake in the January election.

Perdue said that Jon Ossoff has been paid for two years by the Chinese Communist Party. Perdue said, “This is another example of how the Chinese Communist Party is trying to influence American Politics. They got in Hunter Biden’s pocket, they got into Congressman Swalwell’s bedroom, and they got into Jon Ossoff’s ego and his ambition to be an elected official. For two years after he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and lost against Karen Handel in 2017. The very next year they hire him and pay him for two years. He hid it from the people of Georgia during his Primary this year. He lied about it. When he got caught, he came clean and then lied about it again.”

Perdue said that Ossoff is not good for Georgia because he is being controlled and influenced by China just like Biden and Swalwell. He noted that if the Republicans lose these two seats, then Biden will absolutely ruin everything in America that we have fought for.

Perdue called on voters again and said, “Don’t do it for me, don’t do it for Kelly, don’t do it for yourselves. Look at the children and think about their children. This is what’s at stake right now, the form of America. What America will look like in 50 to 100 years is determined by these two Senate races.”

Don’t Vote and harass Kemp: Pro-Trump attorney instructs Georgia voters

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Lin Wood

ALPHARETTA, Ga: L. Lin Wood didn’t heed the calls from the Secretary of State’s Office to stop the rhetoric during today’s “Stop the Steal” press conference/rally with attorney Sydney Powell.

Stalking the stage like a Southern Baptist preacher who caught the spirit, Wood said, “We will not allow ourselves to go back into the polling booth.”

Wood denounced Governor Brian Kemp (R), Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan (R), and Voter Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling for their actions following the November 3 election. On December 2, Sterling declared, “It has to stop,” blasting President Trump, Senators David Perdue, and Kelly Loeffler for not condemning incendiary and violent language. 

Following the Wood/Powell press conference, Sterling pointed out the Wood has a Democrat voting record since 2004. “We encourage all voters to vote in an election. Democrat, Republican, Green, Socialist, Libertarian,” he added.

Read more about Georgia Election Lawsuits, here.

Wood’s fiery preaching took aim at almost every prominent Republican in Georgia, including Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. He urged Perdue and Loeffler to demand a special session of the Georgia General Assembly.

“They have not earned your vote,” Wood said. “Don’t you give it to them. Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election for god’s sake! Fix it! You gotta fix it!”

Lin Wood urged the crowd to not vote in January.

The January 5 runoffs will decide who controls the Senate.

Powell advised all Georgians not to vote until they knew their votes were secure, suggesting a return to paper ballots and voter IDs. The only speaker telling people to vote was Democrat Georgia House Representative Vernon Jones, who endorsed David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

BKP polled attendees, and out of 30 people, 75 percent saw no reason to vote in the January 5 runoff election. President Trump is visiting the state on Saturday to campaign for the Senators and hopefully subvert a depressed turnout in January.

Continuing with his calls for a special session, Woods instructed the raucous crowd to circle the governor’s mansion and honk their horns until Kemp gave in to their pleas. Afterward, he suggested that Kemp resign.

“Lock him up” chants rang out for Kemp, started by Wood. Later, he accused Kemp and Raffensperger of taking money from China without offering any proof.

The rally antics weren’t what the crowd came to see. BKP from BKP Politics attended the rally and spoke with several attendees. 75 percent surveyed expected a more informative presentation and not a miniature Trump rally. The remaining 25 percent expected the show they witnessed.

A more subdued Sydney Powell called the audience “the heart and soul and spirit that make this country the exceptional place that it is.” She reminded that all elected officials work for the people.

Sydney Powell

Sydney Powell speaking at the press conference.

Alleging widespread voter fraud, Powell extended the conspiracy from Dominion Voting Machines to practically every system. An individual explained to Powell that the fraud permeated the software’s “DNA,” so “all are at risk of being manipulated.” She believed the algorithm flipped votes across the country. Powell promised to turn all their evidence over to the Department of Justice.

Sterling countered these claims in his afternoon press conference.

 

“We did a hand audit. Human beings did. No machines were used. In fact, somebody asked Lin Wood and Sydney Powell, the hand audit said this, how could the algorithm thing of worked? They said no-no it wasn’t the hand audit they used machines to count those. They lied to the people who are believing them’s face. It’s this kind of lying and this kind of rhetoric that is continuing to inflame passions on the ground unnecessarily, and it’s wrong. ” Sterling stated.

Earlier this week, a judge scheduled a hearing for Friday. The first case is in appeals after being thrown out.

Georgia recounts continue to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win of the state. The race will be certified after the final recount is completed.     

BOC supports citizens in opposition to new transmission lines location

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Transmission

ELLIJAY, Ga. – “It’s going to look like a runway,” said Leon Watkins in the Commissioners August Regular Session. He was speaking about Boardtown Road in Gilmer County and the project for massive poles and a transmission line along the road.

A letter went out last week gathering support and other citizens to speak with locals asking to relocate a project that they say would destroy Boardtown Road. A

Answering that call, numerous citizens appeared before the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners at the August meeting to speak about the Georgia Transmission Corporation (GTC) and the major project they are undertaking. All of those that spoke at the meeting did so in opposition of the project’s current location.

Some asserted later in the meeting that they didn’t want to publicly oppose the project of improving electrical reliability in Gilmer. However, the common theme that every single speaker of the night on this subject shared was the concept that putting these large poles in the middle of people’s yards and farms would be a detriment to the area. It is the path down Boardtown that is being opposed.

They said that the project would not only individually detriment their own properties in both property value and natural beauty, but spill over into the entire road and surrounding area.

The Citizen’s wishing to speak section started with a question, “Why can’t the county deny permission for the line and right of way?”

The question spilled over into other speakers saying the preferred route should go down Highway 515 as a major road.

As Commission Chairman Charlie Paris explained that he has already looked into the issue trying to see how the county could help, County Attorney David Clark explained that his understanding was that the GTC could use imminent domain on the area to force the project through, leaving both the county and local citizens with no voice in the matter.

The GTC did hold three public meetings encouraging social distancing and an extended format for people to come and go during the hours of those three meetings. Citizens speaking in the Commissioners meeting told the board that the GTC already had their plans and surveys set before the meetings ever started. The meetings, they said, were there providing information to citizens on what is going to happen and not solicit input on a project before planning.

Clark told citizens they should also be speaking with local EMC board members to see if they could also be helping people with the issue in addition to the work they had already done.

Transmission

Robert Armour speaks to the BOC asking for support at their August Regular Meeting

Yet, Melanie Johnson said that she has already spoken with representatives of both Amicalola EMC and GTC. She alleged that many of the Georgia Transmission representatives gave different, misleading, or wrong information as they have pushed into the project. She said that in the beginning they collected signatures for surveys saying alluding that they would simply be replacing and upgrading current poles.

As conversation continued with citizens offering similar complaints against destroying the native beauty or having massive steel and concrete poles put into their properties.

Johnson asked for a public show of support from Commissioners as she hoped to push the issue to state representatives such as Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston and State Senator Steve Gooch. A letter of support was one of three actions citizens asked for during the meeting.

Echoed by several citizens including Robert Armour and Develle Frady, the show of support through a letter that citizens could use to have the extra authority was a great step that citizens said they appreciated. Yet, Armour asked the commissioners to take it step further. The second action that he asked for was to not just write a letter, but to have the commissioners physically call them for support.

He later returned to the podium and expanded his request asking the commissioners to initiate a meeting for residents in the area to speak directly with these state representatives to implore them for their support and to assert the importance they hold for the issue.

Frady said he has already seen the issues that road has suffered from the gas line put in. His main concern is the heavy weight traffic this would put on the road with bridges already in poor state and some with maximum 5 ton weight limits. “The bridges and culverts will not hold the 60 ton frames they will need to erect those poles,” he said.

Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson voices support for residents opposed to the large transmission lines to be built on Boardtown Road.

Paris himself said that the Georgia Transmission Corporation is a state level agency. He added, “I have felt frustrated because I am not aware of anything the county can actually do.” Yet, he said that he would have no problem at all supporting citizens in this way that they have requested for the letter. He also told citizens he would work towards a meeting if poss

The third option and request citizens asked for came in several citizens asking for the commissioners to pass an ordinance for some sort of protection against the transmission line in the area. One said they should enforce right of ways against the poles. Frady mentioned county documents claiming 80 feet of right of way, but the GTC told him they had 100 foot right of ways from the road.

Kevin Kell spoke in the meeting saying that he owned 20 acres on the road and is second guessing plans for building a home. He said that people come to Ellijay for the “beautiful, unspoiled views.” He said his experience as a banker leads him to believe that this is not the only option for GTC, but is the cheapest option. Kell also echoed the issue of the effect on property values.

It was suggested by Gilmer Historian that the road be declared a scenic route as she spoke about the Trail of Tears in Ellijay and the historic and archaeological importance of several finds that the county has had on Boardtown Road. She later noted that the road in Fannin County is already declared a scenic route.

Transmission

Boardtown area resident and member of the Board of Education, Ronald Watkins speaks alongside citizens who are asking for help in relocating a project for high voltage transmission lines and poles on Boardtown Road.

Stressing the importance of the issue, Ronald Watkins, current member of the Board of Education and resident in the area, said he wouldn’t be getting a pole on his property, but would be getting one right across the street from him. He repeated the major issue of the utter destruction of the natural scenery and scenic views along the road as one of the major points of living and being in the area. He said he was told it was an issue of money and being more expensive to go elsewhere.

The commissioner discussed several options for the issue and passed a resolution to draft the requested letter, showing their support for those in opposition. Paris began discussing attempting to set up a meeting for citizens, but the board settled to draft the letter first and move into other options one at a time. In fact, both Paris and Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson voiced support for the citizens after just a couple of citizens spoke. While the public continued voicing concerns and requesting certain solutions, the board as a whole was already discussing at several points throughout the comments on what steps they could take and what they could do in support.

In addition to this, another person stepped up to speak during the comments section. Travis Crouch, a resident of an area past Boardtown Road. He said he doesn’t live on Boardtown and would, in fact, be one of the people that would benefit greatly from the project. He noted that his home has had 28 outages already in this year alone.

Crouch stated, “I do not want to see those power lines.”

Crouch referenced both the scenic beauty and the bridge conditions on the road saying that the area is a beautiful drove and needs this protection

He said that his power is an issue that needs to be addressed, but added that if the only solution required doing what the project is calling for on Boardtown Road, then “I would rather deal with the power outages, seriously.”

State Superintendent Richard Woods visits Ellijay Elementary

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Group at Ellijay Elementary

ELLIJAY, Ga. – On a tour through several schools in North Georgia, the State Superintendent Richard Woods visited Ellijay Elementary School last week to tour the school and speak with administrators on the beginning of the new school term considering much of the changes and challenges this year.

State Superintendent Richard Woods speaks with administrators at Ellijay Elementary during a tour of schools as they return to class.

State Superintendent Richard Woods speaks with administrators at Ellijay Elementary during a tour of schools as they return to class.

Woods arrived at Ellijay Elementary late in the day to see how the school handles transportation, social distancing, and cleanliness and prevention practices during that process.

Met by school administrators and Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, Woods toured part of the school and spoke about the challenges that schools are seeing as they return to class. Through the line-up, car window tags, and computer system for parents picking up students, Woods saw the stream-lined system the Ellijay Elementary uses to identify parents, call for the student, and allow students into cars one at a time with space between.

In addition to this, Woods viewed several classes lining up for buses. Through the redistricting that Gilmer did last year, less buses come through the elementary school and reach homes far faster. This means less time on the bus, and less time spent with students from other schools.

As a part of the loading process, school personnel and the bus drivers spray sanitizer on students hands before the enter the buses and use assigned seating for students on the bus. Administrators also told Woods that, when possible, family members are kept together on the bus as well.

Personnel and Bus Drivers spray hand sanitizer on students hands as they line up to get on buses at the end of the school day.

Personnel and Bus Drivers spray hand sanitizer on students hands as they line up to get on buses at the end of the school day.

Woods also asked about the sports program at stadiums with schools returning to football. Dr. Downs replied saying they would be requesting those displaying symptoms stay home, and would be encouraging social distancing with fans. Yet, they did not want to distribute limited tickets to families as they had dealt with similar issues in previous years at graduation.

Continuing along, Woods has been asking the schools he visits how he and the state could help.

Dr. Downs noted that teachers in the state are not considered essential employees by the governor. That moniker means something as teachers who may have a possible exposure through detailed contact tracing or similar means are being sent home to quarantine for 14 days. Gilmer has had issue here as people who aren’t sick are being forced to go home. Some flexibility in the area could mean a world of difference.

Dr. Downs said that someone who may have had a possible contact could come to work with an N95 mask and fall under daily monitoring and observation. This way, at the first sign of any issue, they could be sent home then, but many teachers have been identified as a possible contact and gone through quarantine without ever getting sick or showing any signs. Downs added that those who feel the need to quarantine could still follow that procedure.

Dr. Shanna Downs, Lauree Pierce, Richard Woods, and Melinda Fonteboa pose for a photo during Woods visit to Ellijay Elementary School.

Dr. Shanna Downs, Lauree Pierce, Richard Woods, and Melinda Fonteboa pose for a photo during Woods visit to Ellijay Elementary School.

Downs clarified that they don’t want to put sick people in school, but rather avoid stigma and over-reactions to extended contact tracing that is sending a large number of people home and putting a strain on the school system which is struggling to provide substitute teachers. This comes from a dwindling pool of substitutes as those “at-risk” have decided not to substitute for the schools this year.

As the visit neared its end, Woods said he understands that every county is adjusting to their own needs and a “one-size-fits-all approach” would never have worked. But he made the visits to see the schools and hear their needs.

Woods is set to return to the state department and share all that he saw and learned from his tour. He has said that he wants the state to continue supporting the counties in their individual responses.

Woods said, “Please let us know how we can help and things that we can do to support what you all are doing… Success happens her.”

New Boardtown Power line to be discussed at BOC meeting

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Georgia Transmission Corporation, the transmission service provider Georgia’s Electric Membership Corporations, including Amicalola EMC, is deep into plans for construction of large power poles and lines for the “Whitepath 46kV sub transmission line” along with the “46 kV/25 kV 20 MVA Whitepath substation.”

line

A part of the documentation delivered to citizens at the public meetings, this diagram shows what the new power poles could look like in relation to the road.

Documents provided to citizens during public information meetings say the new line and substation will improve service in the area as another station will provide a second ‘source’ near Whitepath and connecting to the existing #2 Ellijay substation.

Some citizens opposed to the lines are planning to bring the item before the Board of Commissioners next week according to an email sent out. Looking for a large group to join in for discussion, these citizens are hoping to bring concerns to the commissioners. However, it is not clear yet if they will be asking the Commissioners for help in opposing the lines.

According to representatives at the public meetings, the Georgia Transmission Corporation does not need to bring the construction project before the local county commissioners for approval before beginning construction. In fact, their provided documentation states they already have a planned schedule and are currently moving forward with acquisitions for the project. The schedule says that they will start clearing land for the line in 3rd quarter 2021 and construction will begin in 1st quarter 2022. The Corporation hopes to have service on the new lines beginning in the 3rd quarter of 2022.

Additionally, this is not an item on the commissioners’ agenda, but rather a plan by citizens to bring up discussions during the “Citizens Wishing to Speak” item of the meeting.

line

The map was provided by the Georgia Transmission Corporation for the planned path of the Boardtown Road Power Line project.

The project calls for 10 miles of line with “steel and/or concrete poles” that will reach an average of 95 feet high (poles will be between 60 to 112 feet tall. They also require between 25 and 125 feet wide easements.

The $18 million project will begin at Ellijay #2 substation just south of Tabor Street and proceed North and then West before intersecting North Main Street. According to documentation, it will cross the Ellijay River at least two times along its path, following Boardtown Road most of the way.

Some of the concerns already voiced in opposition speak on clear cutting trees and extreme proximity to people’s homes.

Representatives at the meetings said that the Corporation has spoken with railway owners about following the rails, looked at traveling along Highway 515 as alternative path, and even considered burying the cable underground, but were not given permission to use the railway and found Boardtown Road to be the best current option.

According to their statement, “This approach was chosen because it meets the engineering, construction, operational, environmental, schedule, cost, electrical, and reliability requirements of the project.”

Health Department Responds to positive test in Courthouse

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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.”

Second Amendment, Officials

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.

Ellijay man arrested in North Carolina on drug charges, wanted by GBI

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Tracy Shirley, arrest

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Cherokee County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the arrest of a man from the Ellijay area in relation to drug charges. Shirley was wanted in connection to the massive drug bust with gang ties that took place last week in Pickens County.

According to the incident report, Cherokee County Deputies arrested Tracy Shirley, 47,  after finding narcotics in his possession. He was arrested Monday, June 29, 2020, at 9:41 p.m. near the city of Murphy, North Carolina.

The incident report stated that authorities began surveillance on a vehicle operated by Shirley on June 27, 2020, two days earlier. A later press release from the Sheriff’s Office stated that they conducted an investigation into Shirley, determining that he was returning to Cherokee County with an additional amount of methamphetamine to sell. From surveillance of Shirley, they caught up with him in the Wolf Creek area. At the time of the stop, Shirley collided with a Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office vehicle and a residence. Reports indicate that no one was hurt in the collision.

Also noted as seized property with the arrest was a Red Lexus vehicle. The arrest came after charges indicate they found Shirley in possession of methamphetamine.

Currently being held at the Cherokee Detention Center according to the reports, Shirley faces charges of Conspiring to Traffic Methamphetamine,  Possession of Methamphetamine, Resisting Public Officers, and Injury to Real Property among others.

He is also facing a probation violation in Fannin County as the report says, “Probation violation, second-degree burglary, theft by taking out of Fannin.”

His first court date is set for July 9, 2020, in Cherokee, North Carolina. According to Cherokee’s website, Shirley has bond set for the charges totaling $275,000.

A press release from Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the June 28, 2020 arrest of Tracy Ev Shirley, a 47-year-old male from Ellijay Georgia, Miranda Kathaleen Gibson, a 29-year-old female from White County, Georgia, and the June 29, 2020 arrest of 41-year-old, Travis Bateman of Andrews, North Carolina for violations of the North Carolina Controlled Substance laws.

The releases stated, “During the month of June 2020 Investigators with the Cherokee County North Carolina Sheriff’s Office received information from Investigators in North Georgia Counties that Tracy Shirley was involved in a large scale distribution operation of illegal drugs and was presently distributing the drugs in Cherokee County North Carolina. Additionally, information supplied was that Shirley was wanted and was presently a fugitive from justice.”

Travis Bateman

From additional information obtained in the investigation, Travis Bateman was identified as a co-conspirator in the distribution operation in Cherokee County. In a search of a residence that Bateman had been occupying in the Ranger Community to distribute methamphetamine, several marijuana plants were found growing as well as other illegal controlled substances.

Tracy Ev Shirley was charged with CONSPIRE TO TRAFFIC METHAMPHETAMINE X 2, POSSESS METHAMPHETAMINE, MAINTAIN PLACE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, RESISTING PUBLIC OFFICER, INJURY TO REAL PROPERTY, EXTRADITION/FUGITIVE OTHER STATE, The North Carolina Magistrate set a $275,000.00 secure bond. Shirley is currently in the Cherokee County Detention Center awaiting a Cherokee County District Court date on July 09, 2020 for his initial hearing.

Miranda Kathaleen Gibson was charged with CONSPIRE TO TRAFFIC METHAMPHETAMINE, POSSESS METHAMPHETAMINE, POSSESS MARIJUANA UP TO 1/2 OZ. The North Carolina Magistrate set a $150,000.00 secure bond. Gibson is currently in the Cherokee County Detention Center awaiting a Cherokee County District Court date on July 09, 2020 for her initial hearing.

Travis Bateman was charged with POSSESS SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, SIMPLE POSSESSION SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, SIMPLE POSSESSION SCHEDULE V CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, CONSPIRE TRAFFIC METHAMPHETAMINE, POSSESSION OF FIREARM BY FELON, MAINTAIN PLACE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, POSSESS METHAMPHETAMINE, MANUFACTURE MARIJUANA, FELONY POSSESSION MARIJUANA. The North Carolina Magistrate set a $75,000.00 secure bond. Bateman is currently in the Cherokee County Detention Center awaiting a Cherokee County District Court date on July 09, 2020 for his initial hearing.

Miranda Gibson

This is not the only arrests seen recently from what authorities are calling “Operation the Real McCoy.” Pickens County has also seen new arrests and drug seizures as a part of this operation.

Gilmer Schools asks for opinion on exempting Georgia from Testing and CCRPI

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2020-201 Calendar, graduation, Renovations, Financial Distinction, return, testing, resignation, Virtual, inspections

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Schools is reaching out to parents, students, educators, and citizens to offer their opinions on Milestones testing and the College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) through a survey.

Although linked on Gilmer Schools’ social media, the Georgia Department of Education is marked atop the survey as they seek a response about their request for waivers of these annual tests and reports

According to a joint statement from Governor Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods of the Georgia Department of Education:

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we have urged common sense regarding compliance in Georgia’s public schools, and a focus before anything else on the health, safety, and well-being of students, families, and school staff.

“On March 16, Georgia became one of the first states in the nation to suspend standardized testing requirements in the wake of the COVID-19 school closures, and later received approval from the U.S. Department of Education for the cancelation of all remaining standardized tests in the 2019-2020 school year.

“Given the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the resulting state budget reductions, it would be counterproductive to continue with high-stakes testing for the 2020-2021 school year. In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools’ focus should be on remediation, growth, and the safety of students. Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.

“Georgia will submit a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education for the suspension of the 2020-21 Georgia Milestones assessment and CCRPI school and district rating. To our knowledge, Georgia is the first state in the nation to make this announcement for the upcoming school year. Additionally, effective immediately, the Georgia Department of Education is suspending the teacher evaluation (TKES) summative rating for 2020-21.

“These efforts are in line with our longstanding shared belief that assessment has a place and a purpose in education, but the current high-stakes testing regime is excessive. Though the legislative session was shortened due to COVID-19, we are continuing to pursue Senate Bill 367, which aims to get Georgia’s state testing requirements in line with the federal minimum and maximize time for instruction.

“We are hopeful the federal government will recognize that the upcoming school year will not be ‘business as usual’ and will accept our request for a standardized testing waiver.”

The posted survey asks which county you live in and if you agree or disagree with this request, but also leaves ares for comments and written opinions on the topics as well.

FYN reached out today to Gilmer Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs for comment on the waiver and the survey and is currently awaiting response.

County seeks to help farms to support recovery

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farms, farm winery, BOC,

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer’s Board of Commissioners made two approvals this week for farms to, as Chairman Charlie Paris said, “try to recover as quickly as possible.”

While Paris said they are looking at several areas of the county’s economy, two of the approvals in June focused solely on farms and agriculture including the first steps of a change and easing of the ordinance for Farm Wineries and a Resolution supporting the “Right to Farm Act” in legislation.

With local farm wineries, Paris said the only way the county can really help with this is through lessening regulations. To that end, the Commissioners voted to approve moving forward with advertising to change the ordinance to allow local wineries in the unincorporated parts of the county “to serve local Georgia craft beer in their tasting rooms. They would not be allowed to sell the beer packaged and there will be no Sunday sales.”

Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson said, “I know that the winery owners have requested this for some time and we were waiting to bring it up and to see when the right time was. I do think it is a great time to put that gesture in… I also love the fact that we are restricting it to Georgia Craft beers, so it is not any of the name brand national or international brands.”

Gary Engel speaks to Commissioners in June of 2020 about easing the ordinance restrictions for local Farm Wineries and allowing craft beer sales of Georgia Craft Beers.

Gary Engel speaks to Commissioners in June of 2020 about easing the ordinance restrictions for local Farm Wineries and allowing craft beer sales of Georgia Craft Beers.

Gary Engel spoke to the Commissioners in the work session noting that a few wineries were represented in the audience. He said that other counties in the state are already selling beers. He also noted that it would not equate to a great surge in sales, but rather it allows a service to different tastes. Engel said that sometimes a couple will come up to listen to music, one doesn’t like wine but would enjoy a cold beer. He did say that the small increase in sales could aid in the wineries business as well.

He also said they are wanting to increase and pursue the business as Gilmer is increasing in popularity with these as well. Engel said, “From a perspective of the state, with the number of wineries that are going into Gilmer County, this county will soon be the most populated county, south of Virginia, with wineries.”

Additionally, the other approval for farms came in support of a legislative Act in Georgia, the “Right to Farm” Act. Paris said that lawsuits come often against farms as people move in nearby and then sue over the smells or noise. Paris explained that through discussions with farmers, he found that these are not often won, but are often filed and can be expensive to fight against in courts.

In support of local farmers and through discussions with them, Paris said that they asked for support for this Act in protection of some of what he called “nuisance lawsuits.”

The Act increases requirements to file lawsuits against farms according to Paris, in attempt to protect them from some of these filings.

The approval came for Resolution to support the Act at the state level in efforts to help it pass.

UPDATED: 553 cases and a fourth confirmed death with COVID-19

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UPDATE – August 5, 2020 – 553 cases

Another death has been recorded in Gilmer County as the total number of cases rises to 553 with 51 hospitalizations.

 

UPDATE – July 26, 2020 – 426 cases

As of today, the Department of Public Health has confirmed there have been 426 positive cases, 3 deaths, and 42 hospitalizations

 

UPDATE – July 23, 2020 – 405 cases within the county

According to the Department of Public Health, Gilmer County has totaled 405 cases of COVID-19.

We have had 3 deaths at this point and currently have totaled 38 hospitalizations.

 

UPDATE – July 22, 2020 – 392 cases and a third death

Gilmer County has reported a third fatality today after reaching 392 total confirmed cases. Additionally, 36 people have been hospitalized.

 

UPDATE – July 21, 2020 – 367 cases

Gilmer has reached 367 total cases today with 33 hospitalizations.

 

UPDATE – July 20, 2020 – 347 cases

Gilmer County is at 347 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Two deaths have been confirmed by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

 

UPDATE – July 17, 2020 – 326 cases

Gilmer has moved to 326 total cases with 2 deaths and is currently hosting 26 hospitalizations from COVID-19.

 

UPDATE – July 16, 2020 – 322 cases

A major spike hit Gilmer today with a 60 case leap from yesterday. Total cases in the county are at 322 according tot he Department of Public Health with 27 hospitalizations and two deaths.

 

UPDATE – July 15, 2020 – 262 cases

Today, Gilmer has 262 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 26 hospitalizations.

 

UPDATE – July 13, 2020 – 257 cases

Another jump overnight takes Gilmer to 257 total confirmed cases of COVID-19.

We have also moved up with 26 hospitalizations with two confirmed deaths.

 

UPDATE – July 12, 2020 – 241 cases

Gilmer County is at 241 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 25 hospitalizations. Two deaths have been confirmed by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

 

UPDATE – July 9, 2020 – 216 cases

Gilmer has confirmed 216 cases today, increasing by 14 since yesterday. We are still at 2 deaths and 23 hospitalizations.

 

UPDATE – July 8, 2020 – 202 cases

As of today, the Department of Public Health has confirmed there have been 202 positive cases, 2 deaths, and 23 hospitalizations

 

UPDATE – July 6, 2020 – 196 cases

Gilmer County is at 196 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 23 hospitalization. Two deaths have been confirmed by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

 

UPDATE – June 30, 2020 – 185 cases

Gilmer increases again this week as we move to 185 total cases, still with 23 hospitalizations. Two deaths have been confirmed by the Department of Public Health.

 

UPDATE – June 25, 2020 – 180 Cases

Gilmer is moved to 180 total cases with 2 deaths and is currently hosting 23 hospitalizations from COVID-19.

 

UPDATE – June 3, 2020 – 157 Cases

Gilmer has reached 157 total cases today with 21 hospitalizations.

 

UPDATE – May 25, 2020 – 137 Cases

Gilmer is still finding new cases in the county as the total has reached 137 total while remaining at 19 hospitalizations.

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 – May 23, 2020 – 134 confirmed cases in Gilmer County

A major bump tonight, Gilmer County has reached 134 cases confirmed, up by eight since yesterday.

While the hospitalizations remain at 19, new reports are coming in daily.

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 – May 22, 2020 – 126 cases

Another major jump tonight, Gilmer has hit 126 total confirmed cases of COVID-19.

We have also moved up with 19 hospitalizations.

 

UPDATE – May 20, 2020 – 117 confirmed cases

A new hospitalization arises tonight for a total of 16 hospitalized cases alongside the 117 total.

 

UPDATE – May 19, 2020 – 112 cases

Gilmer confirmed another case today, totaling 112 in all with still only 15 hospitalizations according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

 

UPDATE – May 18, 2020 – 111 confirmed cases in Gilmer County

Gilmer County has risen again tonight. Though the increases have started coming with smaller rises and less frequent, the 111 total cases show that the positive tests are still coming in.

However, with still only 15 hospitalizations, the medical need seems to have stalled for the time being at least.

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 – May 17, 2020 – 109 cases in the county

Gilmer reaches higher with a total 109 cases in the county tonight.

There are still 15 hospitalizations from the virus.

 

UPDATE – May 16, 2020 – 107 Cases confirmed

Gilmer reaches 107 cases today with 15 hospitalizations.

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 – May 13, 2020 – Cases reach back over a hundred

Gilmer has recrossed the hundred cases mark today with a total of 102 confirmed. After yesterday’s confirmed death, the hospitalizations remain at 15 total.

Continuing in the face of the tragedy, officials are still working towards detection and prevention with the inclusion of all Georgians to be tested upon request, regardless of symptoms. Programs like this and continued quarantining and social distancing are helping to slow the virus, officials say. Even amid the re-opening by Kemp, many are continuing with regulations and restrictions today.

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 – May 12, 2020 – Officials confirm first death

According to the Department of Public Health of Georgia, Gilmer has officially confirmed its first death of a patient who tested positive for COVID-19.

This death is confirmed, putting Gilmer back at 99 total cases currently, but the information only confirms that a patient testing positive has died.

Reports indicate all patient deaths with positive tests, no reports state whether these cases also had other health issues, diseases, or complicating factors.

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 – May 12, 2020 – 100 cases

Gilmer cases of confirmed COVID-19 have officially reached 100.

Also increasing, we have gotten a new hospitalization putting the county at 15.

 

UPDATE – May 11, 2020 – Ninety-Eight cases in Gilmer

Another case was confirmed today, bringin the total to 98.

Just short of a hundred cases, Gilmer still only has 14 hospitalizations.

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 – May 10, 2020 – Ninety-Seven confirmed cases in Gilmer

Gilmer rises again tonight, ending the weekend with 97 total cases.

Hospitalizations remain at 14.

 

UPDATE – May 9, 2020 – Ninety-Five confirmed cases

Four more cases have arisen today, bringing Gilmer County to a total of 95 cases.

With hospitalization remaining at 14 and 0 deaths, Gilmer is reaching closer to a full two months since the outbreak mid-March.

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 – May 9, 2020 – Ninety-One cases

Gilmer has hit 91 cases today. Gilmer continues to maintain its hospitalizations at 14.

 

UPDATE – May 7, 2020 – Eighty-Nine Cases in Gilmer County

Gilmer draws higher and higher in cases as it rises again tonight. A total of 89 cases have been confirmed.

Hospitalizations have risen as well as they now sit at 14.

 

UPDATE – May 6, 2020 – Eighty-Three confirmed cases within the county

Gilmer continues its steady rise, reaching 83 total cases today.

Hospitalizations still continue to remain at 13 cases, but increasing numbers still have citizens concerned.

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 – May 5, 2020 – Seventy-Eight Cases

Gilmer has risen another case in the county today. Tuesday makes 78 cases total for Gilmer.

Hospitalizations are still at 13 cases.

 

UPDATE – May 4, 2020 – Seventy-Seven cases  confirmed in Gilmer

After a couple days without change, Gilmer County saw another rise in confirmed cases of the Coronavirus to 77 total cases.

With hospitalizations still at 13, some are still pushing forward with reopening businesses amid the increases case numbers.

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 – May 2, 2020 – Seventy-Three cases

Gilmer rises again today with 73 total confirmed cases within the county.

Hospitalizations remain at 13.

 

UPDATE – May 1, 2020 – Sixty-Nine Confirmed cases

Another rise in confirmed cases sees Gilmer reach 69 cases today.

Hospitalizations currently remain at 13 people.

 

UPDATE – April 30, 2020 – Sixty- Seven Confirmed cases

A minor rise overnight has seen three new cases as Gilmer reaches 67 total cases.

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 29, 2020 – Sixty-Four Confirmed COVID-19 cases

Another major bump put Gilmer into the sixties with a total of 64 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus within the county.

Another hospitalization has come as well with 13 total now.

 

UPDATE – April 28, 2020 – Fifty-Seven Cases confirmed in the county

A smaller increase comes today as opposed to what Gilmer has gotten used to this week. Only a few new cases puts Gilmer at 57 confirmed cases.

The Georgia Department of Public Health has continued updating their reports  and now has also confirmed that their are 12 hospitalizations from Gilmer due to the virus.

 

UPDATE – April 27, 2020 – Fifty-Four Cases in Gilmer County

The DPH has released a new report identifying 54 cases of COVID-19 in Gilmer County.

Another major jump from this mornings report, Gilmer’s cases have been running rampant for over a week now.

 

UPDATE – April 27, 2020 – Forty-Seven Cases in Gilmer

A new case confirmed by the DPH brings Gilmer to 47 confirmed cases as it begins the last week of April.

I was a harsh weekend as Gilmer officially hit double the cases in Fannin and Pickens, its neighboring counties on the Highway 515 corridor. With more cases continuing to rise here specifically, it is still unclear how progression will continue with some businesses opening again to test the waters of a allegedly “post-curve” pandemic.

 

UPDATE -April 26, 2020 – Forty-Six cases confirmed in Gilmer

Another massive jump in cases has hit Gilmer County, bringing the total up to 46 cases.

The largest jump yet for the County, the 10 cases increase came in just 17 hours since yesterday’s 7 p.m. report.

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 25, 2020 – Thirty-Six cases in Gilmer

A new high as Gilmer is soaring past neighboring counties, it has reached 36 total cases confirmed by the Department of Health.

With rising concerns of the state reopening some businesses, many are still staying closed in Gilmer as certain salons and barbers are ignoring the Governor and keeping their doors shut amidst the rising activity.

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 24, 2020 – Thrity-One cases confirmed in Gilmer

Another update tonight has put Gilmer all the way up to 31 total cases. Moving far ahead of neighboring Fannin at 21 and Pickens at 20.

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 23, 2020 – Twenty-Eight cases in Gilmer

Another jump tonight has taken Gilmer from 25 to its current 28 total cases confirmed in the county.

Today has officially pushed Gilmer past both Pickens, at 19, and Fannin, at 20, in confirmed cases.

 

UPDATE – April 23, 2020 – Twenty-Five cases confirmed in Gilmer County

A rough week with several increases sees another jump today. In fact, it is the first time during this outbreak the Gilmer County has jumped by 5 cases overnight.

Gilmer County, according to the DPH reports, has hit 25 confirmed cases as of the noon report today. Such rapid increases are coming only days before Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is planning to ease shutdown measures and begin reopening businesses.

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 22, 2020 – Twenty cases in Gilmer

Counties across Georgia are continuing to rise each day with new reported cases of COVID-19. The inclusion of new testing sites could further bring up the case number  more in line with the real count. For now, Gilmer sits at 20 confirmed cases tonight.

Sharing this increase to 20 with Fannin County to the north, Gilmer has risen rapidly in its worst week since the virus began.

 

UPDATE – April 21, 2020 – Nineteen Confirmed Cases in Gilmer

New cases are continuing to arise. This week has seen faster numbers coming in as Gilmer is now at 19 total cases.

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 21, 2020 – Eighteen Cases in Gilmer

Today saw a larger jump than Gilmer has become used to over the weeks. Three new cases have been reported in the county according to the Department of Public Health.

This matches Gilmer to its southern neighbor, Pickens County, with 18 total cases. Northern neighbor, Fannin has 19 cases. However, both neighbors now have at least one death reported while Gilmer still has none.

 

UPDATE – April 20, 2020 – Fifteen Cases Confirmed in Gilmer

Increasing by three in one day, including this morning’s update, Gilmer has reached 15 cases today, April 20.

For the first time since the start of the virus Gilmer has seen two increases in one day with this night report from the DPH of Georgia.

 

UPDATE – April 20, 2020 – Fourteen Cases Confirmed in Gilmer

Another two case jump today as Georgia’s Department of Public Health issued their report with Gilmer County at a total of 14 cases.

This puts Gilmer closer to and more in line with neighboring Fannin, with 16 cases, and Pickens, with 18 cases.

 

UPDATE – April 19, 2020 – Twelve Cases confirmed in Gilmer

Another case has been reported in Gilmer County, bringing the total count to 12 cases.

Later Sunday night, DPH reports indicated a new case in Gilmer County.

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 18, 2020 – Eleven Cases Confirmed

According to DPH reports, Gilmer has reached 11 confirmed cases tonight.

Although the day began without change, the 7 p.m. update is when the total stepped up by one more case.

 

UPDATE – April 17, 2020 – Ten cases confirmed in Gilmer County

casesToday marks a milestone as Gilmer’s cases has officially reached double digits with a total of 10 cases in the county.

Thankfully, despite reaching ten cases, Gilmer still takes solace that we have not had a death from the virus yet. Climbing higher in numbers, Georgia only has twelve counties left with less than five cases and still has two counties with no cases according to the Department of Public Health.

 

UPDATE – April 16, 2020 – Gilmer Reaches Eight total cases

Reaching just past the midpoint of April, Gilmer has confirmed another case in the county, reaching a total of eight cases.

Just on the heels of announcements of expanded testing collection sites and one opening in Ellijay, Gilmer’s Public Safety Director, Keith Kucera, said, “The actual testing takes about 10 minutes and results will be available in 24-48 hours. Specific instructions will be given for post tested people to follow until their test results are available.” This could see numbers continue to increase in days to come as testing becomes more widely available and quicker results come in.

 

UPDATE – April 12, 2020 – Seven Cases in Gilmer on Easter

As people attend church digitally this Easter Sunday, the DPH have released their noon report on county cases.

Gilmer rose another one to a total of 7 cases today. But with only two counties left in Georgia without a case and predictions that we are still on the early side of the “curve.” Experts say that precautions are needed even more as we continue to face this threat.

 

UPDATE – April 10, 2020 – Six Cases confirmed in Gilmer

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Today saw a skip in cases for Gilmer as two more were confirmed by the Department of Health’s 7:00 p.m. report.

According to the report, a total of six cases have been identified in Gilmer now, with no reported deaths. As the DPH continues contact tracing and the both the county and state urge the social distancing and stay at home plans, isolation and treatment for these cases continue in hopes of recovery.

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 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.

 

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.

Confirmed CaseWhile rumors and presumptions have circled over the last week, Georgia DPG released there report at noon today, March 30, 2020,with one confirmed case in the 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.

Gilmer has been a metaphorical island on the 515 corridor after Fannin reported a case on March 24, and Pickens as early as March 20.

Practices and shelter-in-place orders have already been in place for Gilmer, Ellijay, and East Ellijay since last week.

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.

New Guidelines and Resources for High Risk Citizens

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Blue Ridge Medical Group, Raymond Tidman, Dillon Miller, High Risk, Guidelines, Phone Number, Fannin County, Georgia, Covid-19, Coronavirus

Raymond Tidman, MD

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Raymond Tidman, MD and Dillon Miller, MD of Blue Ridge Medical Group are releasing new guidelines to help protect those at greatest risk in our community from contracting Covid-19.

Members of the community that are in the high risk category are those that are 65 years or older, or those with COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), diabetes, severe obesity, heart disease, receiving treatment for cancer or have a condition that causes immune suppression.

Tidman and Miller are saying to those in this category, “We want you to build protection around you now and until there is a vaccine.”

They are recommending following the directions in place by Health Officials of self isolation, but to also be super aware of those that you allow in your presence. They are recommending that individuals in the high risk category identify a limited number of people you depend on to be around.

Make sure that the people who you do have to have contact with are aware of your situation and take the proper steps to protect you from the virus.

“This is to encourage you to build a virus free fortress around you, and yet allow you the personal contacts that you feel you need and trust,” Tidman and Miller say of the precautions.

Tidman and Miller want all of those who have symptoms or have had known contact to someone positive with the Covid-19 virus to move to the front of the line to be tested.

If you are in this high risk category and have been around someone with symptoms have them contact Blue Ridge Medical Group at this number: 706-946-4240. This is a dedicated line for this purpose and will be frequently monitored. 

“If they have symptoms have them contact the number and we will be available to test them quickly,” Tidman and Miller sate in a release. “We will be a resource to them on the latest developments in defeating this virus.”

Lieutenants offer details on National Guard visit to Parkside

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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.

Parkside Ellijay Skille Nursing Care is one of the facilities being cleaned and sanitized by Georgia’s stations of the National Guard.

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.”

Lt. Nathan Ballew, left, and Lt. Jacob Mizell, right, of the National Guard, prepare for cleaning and sanitization of the Parkside Ellijay facility on April 7, 2020.

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.

The National Guard is working with local facilities like Parkside Ellijay and with Public Safety agencies to clean and support community efforts during the Coronavirus outbreak.

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.

Lt. Nathan Ballew, left, and Lt. Jacob Mizell, right, of the National Guard, speak with members of the press about their presence in Ellijay and their orders to help in the facility.

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.

North Georgia Chairmen urge Kemp to close State Parks

Community, News
Georgia, North Georgia, Governor, Brian Kemp, State Parks, Close, Shut Down, Letter, Chairmen, Habersham, Rabun, Franklin, Towns, White, Gilmer, Dade, Fannin, Union, Lumpkin, Stephens, Banks, Travis Turner, Tim Stamey, Greg James

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Twelve Commission Chairmen from North Georgia counties have joined together and signed a letter asking Governor Brian Kemp to shut down the State Parks.

“It appears that these nonresidents believe our area is a safe haven because of its rural nature. To the contrary, the influx of people into our communities has had a staggering detrimental effect on our resources,” the letter to Kemp read in part.

Georgia, North Georgia, Governor, Brian Kemp, State Parks, Close, Shut Down, Letter, Chairmen, Habersham, Rabun, Franklin, Towns, White, Gilmer, Dade, Fannin, Union, Lumpkin, Stephens, Banks, Travis Turner, Tim Stamey, Greg James

Habersham County Commissioner District 5 Tim Stamey

The letter goes on to outline the resources in our area that have been affected by the out-of-towners looking to seclude themselves, including in these resources are food, dry goods and fuel.

It goes on to inform Kemp that our area is not equipped medically: “Our communities simply do not have enough hospital beds or medical personnel to care for the inflated population.”

Though only serving as a commissioner for a little over three months, Habersham County Commissioner District 5 Tim Stamey felt he needed to be proactive in bringing a solution to this problem: “I am a retired special operator and we don’t sit around talking about things, we get it done.”

Stamey who sits on the County Health Board said, “I’m on the County Health Board and talk to Healthcare workers in my county on a daily basis. They are the heros/heroines in all this. This virus does not spread itself on the wind.”

Moccasin Creek State Park, situated just North of Unicoi State park has been “crazy, 4th of July crazy” for the past three weekends according to Stamey, who has witnessed the impact on his county first hand.

Stamey initially contacted Rabun County Chairman Greg James and White County Chairman Travis Turner.

“I started this by just trying to get border counties on board,” Stamey said and added, “Then Chairmen were like well, did you call such and such, I know they feel the same way. It just kept getting bigger and bigger.”

Stamey said that all Commission Chairmen were helpful, on board, and taking the matter seriously: “I talked to most of them several times and for up to an hour each time.”

Stamey, along with the 12 county chairmen and many residents, is hoping that this letter will get the attention of Kemp. The letter in closing states: “On behalf of the many citizens that live in North Georgia who entrust us as County Commissioners to represent their interests, we respectfully ask you to close all of the state parks located in our area immediately.”

Georgia, North Georgia, Governor, Brian Kemp, State Parks, Close, Shut Down, Letter, Chairmen, Habersham, Rabun, Franklin, Towns, White, Gilmer, Dade, Fannin, Union, Lumpkin, Stephens, Banks, Travis Turner, Tim Stamey, Greg James

Georgia, North Georgia, Governor, Brian Kemp, State Parks, Close, Shut Down, Letter, Chairmen, Habersham, Rabun, Franklin, Towns, White, Gilmer, Dade, Fannin, Union, Lumpkin, Stephens, Banks, Travis Turner, Tim Stamey, Greg James

 

Click Here to read about National Park Closures in our area

East Ellijay Walmart modifying hours and Georgia cases rise

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Citizens are waking up and some are skipping church today as new reports from the statewide media are increasing the reported number of cases to 99 in the Georgia and businesses like Walmarts modifying hours for stocking and cleaning.

modifying hours

Delilah Arnold stands in front of a completely empty shelf in East Ellijay’s Food Lion store after citizens prepare to stay home to avoid the Coronavirus. (Photo by Robie Arnold)

Other businesses are doing the same, closing down or modifying hours in the face of both businesses and government entities shutting down. Grocery stores like Walmart have had bare shelves all weekend as people stock up for a week at home to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus.

Authorities are telling citizens not to panic, but are encouraging anyone feeling sick to self-quarantine in efforts to avoid possible spread.

Just over the last two days, Walmart has repeatedly run out of items and some citizens are even going to employees stocking shelves, asking them if there is more stock ready to be put out.

However, in Ellijay and nearby counties, all the grocery stores including Ingles and Food Lion are being effected by the shortages as well.

modifying hoursIn response, East Ellijay’s own Walmart has modifying hours with signs posted saying they will only be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. A major change from a national business known for its 24-hour operations.

According to news reports and public releases, Dacona Smith, Walmart Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said in a release, “This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing.”

Citizens in Ellijay should take note of this change as it is currently in effect, but has no published or stated end date to these new hours.

 

modifying hours

Ingles shelves are bare, running out of much more than just toilet paper and sanitizers over the weekend, as citizens respond to concerns and reports of the Coronavirus in East Ellijay, Georgoa. (Photo by Christopher Scott)

 

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