Storms in North Georgia caused many power outages and tornado watches & warnings were issued. Below is a video from downtown Ellijay, GA which was recorded Wednesday May 24th. See Weather info under video for conditions in our coverage areas.
Video courtesy of Brett Cantrell
Hazardous Weather Outlook
Hazardous Weather Outlook National Weather Service Peachtree City GA 630 AM EDT Wed May 24 2017 Baldwin-Banks-Barrow-Bartow-Bibb-Bleckley-Butts-Carroll-Catoosa- Chattahoochee-Chattooga-Cherokee-Clarke-Clayton-Cobb-Coweta- Crawford-Crisp-Dade-Dawson-DeKalb-Dodge-Dooly-Douglas-Emanuel- Fannin-Fayette-Floyd-Forsyth-Gilmer-Glascock-Gordon-Greene- Gwinnett-Hall-Hancock-Haralson-Harris-Heard-Henry-Houston-Jackson- Jasper-Jefferson-Johnson-Jones-Lamar-Laurens-Lumpkin-Macon- Madison-Marion-Meriwether-Monroe-Montgomery-Morgan-Murray- Muscogee-Newton-North Fulton-Oconee-Oglethorpe-Paulding-Peach- Pickens-Pike-Polk-Pulaski-Putnam-Rockdale-Schley-South Fulton- Spalding-Stewart-Sumter-Talbot-Taliaferro-Taylor-Telfair-Toombs- Towns-Treutlen-Troup-Twiggs-Union-Upson-Walker-Walton-Warren- Washington-Webster-Wheeler-White-Whitfield-Wilcox-Wilkes- Wilkinson- 630 AM EDT Wed May 24 2017 This Hazardous Weather Outlook is for portions of North and Central Georgia. .DAY ONE...Today and Tonight... ...FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FOR PORTIONS OF NORTH AND ALL OF CENTRAL GEORGIA THROUGH THIS EVENING... Showers and thunderstorms will increase across north and central Georgia this morning and continue through the afternoon. Some storms could be strong to severe, capable of damaging winds, large hail and even a few tornadoes. In addition, locally heavy rain could result in localized flash flooding. The severe threat will diminish from west to east across the area, this afternoon with widespread showers and thunderstorms across far southeast counties, ending this evening. .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...Thursday through Tuesday... There is a chance for thunderstorms late Saturday into Sunday. Otherwise, no hazardous weather is expected at this time.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”
Joined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”
Governor Nathan Deal, who originally vetoed last year’s Bill 216 called the new House Bill 146 an “innovative and great solution to the situation.” Deal said the Bill provides relief for firefighters by providing a different method for compensation and money for treatment and care for firefighters who contract cancers during their work. Gravley thanked the Governor for his support of, as he called it, a “better bill.”
The sentiment was echoed by Speaker Ralston who said, “We have arrived at a better solution. By requiring a local government to provide insurance to our firefighters for certain types of cancer, the firefighter can skip the process of litigating a worker’s comp claim. This will allow the firefighter to focus on getting better and recovery rather than having to worry about legal bills and depositions and hearings.”
FYN caught up with Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal to ask them to elaborate on why the bill is better, comparative to last years Bill 216. The Speaker replied saying, “This uses a Health Insurance Model as opposed to a Workman’s Comp model which means instead of having to make a claim and perhaps go through a court type process to get benefits and income, Firefighters in this case will file a claim just like health insurance.”
Governor Deal also spoke on the insurance versus workman’s comp comparison saying it was an awkward and “adversarial way of deciding whether or not compensation is owed.” Deal went on to say the newer Bill is a much better solution “to provide insurance coverage that will define benefits and give some flexibility as to deciding the compensation that will be given to firefighters.”
More than Senators and Congressman came to see Deal sign the Bill, though. Several representatives from neighboring and local emergency services attended the event including Gilmer’s own Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett who said the Bill “gives you a sense of protection… You can lay your head down and sleep better at night knowing that if you contract cancer because of the job, there’s some protection that will take care of you and your family.”
For more on the Signing of House Bill 146 watch the full ceremony below or find more Photos in our Album:
For the second time in 3 years, Gilmer County Schools and its Chief Financial Officer and Director of Finance, Trina Penland, have been awarded for Distinction for Excellent Financial Reporting by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts.
According to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, the award was established to “recognize excellence in financial reporting and controls. It encourages governmental organizations to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and recognizes individual organizations that are successful in achieving this goal.”
This award comes alongside the School Systems Audit Report with no findings and no questions on accounts, a feat lauded as extremely difficult by Board Chairman Jim Parmer. In fact, of the 150 counties that this state department reports on, only 27 have received this distinction this year. Some of the qualifications for the award require the annual financial report “must also be free of any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, comply with all Transparency in Government requirements, and be given an unmodified audit opinion.”
Although the award is for Gilmer County Schools as a whole, both Chairman Parmer and Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes applauded their CFO Trina Penland and her hard work as the foundation of the school system’s success on this report.
According to a recent release by South State Bank, a definitive agreement has been signed with Park Sterling Corporation, holding company for Park Sterling Bank.
The release also states, “Combining the two companies will create a $14.5 billion in assets franchise operating throughout the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia.”
While both boards have reportedly approved the merger unanimously, the merger will actually begin transitioning in the fourth quarter of 2017 and continue with systems conversions into the first quarter of 2018 after approvals by regulatory boards and shareholders. At that time, Park Sterling Corporation will be merged into South State Corporation, and Park Sterling’s bank subsidiary, Park Sterling Bank, will be merged into South State’s bank subsidiary, South State Bank.
James C. Cherry, CEO of Park Sterling Corporation, commented on the merger stating, “Our team is proud to be partnering with South State to create what we believe will come to be recognized as the preeminent regional community banking franchise in the Southeast. This combination will substantially fulfill our vision of truly becoming big enough to have the talent and services necessary to help customers achieve their financial aspirations while still remaining small enough and passionate enough to care that they do.”
After the companies merge, Cherry will be appointed to the combined company’s board of directors in addition to another individual to be mutually agreed upon and named at a later date.
As of now, Park Sterling Bank has over 50 branches across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia. According to South State’s release, “under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of Park Sterling Corporation will receive 0.14 shares of South State common stock for each share of Park Sterling common stock. The aggregate consideration is valued at approximately $690.8 million in the aggregate, based on 53,112,726 shares of Park Sterling common stock outstanding as of March 31, 2017 and on South State’s April 26, 2017 closing stock price of $91.90.”
This past Friday we continued our discussion about rural Georgia with 51st district (R) State Senator and Lumpkin County’s economic development director, Steve Gooch. Our three areas of focus: rural Georgia economy, broadband access, and health care. Although the district doesn’t want to see something in the line of the KIA plant they most certainly would be open to small companies offering high paying, high tech jobs. In order to attract these types of companies; the area must provide good schools, fast internet, and quality health care. We discussed Piedmont Mountainside new stand alone emergency health care center in Gilmer County; a model for quality health care in rural areas. When our discussion turned to high speed internet for the area, Gooch was unable to say they “moved the ball” concerning Senate Bill 232, Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) Act.
Gilmer County is currently undertaking a large re-striping project both on their own and with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) in addition to this summers LMIG.
Originally, Gilmer applied every year for its Local Maintenance and Imporvements Grant (LMIG) for paving. The $629,234.66 grant, along with the counnty’s $270,025 match, will pave Burnt Mountain Road (6.5 miles), Mountaintown Road (4.65 miles), and Sunlight Road (3.1 miles). This grant will also cover fresh new striping and new signs on all three roads.
In addition to that original project, Gilmer also applied for an “Off-System Safety Program Grant” of $250,000 to add nine more roads as a separate project for striping and small additions such as guard rails and signage according to Commission Chairman Charlie Paris. Those roads include Boardtown Road, Big Creek Road, Double Head Gap Road, Turniptown Road, Knight Road, Tails Creek Church Road, and Progress Road with Clear Creek Road and Yukon Road to also be done after the Atlanta Gas Light construction on those two roads is completed.
This project will be fully managed by GDOT through it’s own contracts. However, citizens may not see the work being done on these roads as the striping work is being conducted at night. According to Paris, the night work for this striping is set to help avoid any traffic congestion for citizens as they go about their regular days for work and around town.
Finally, a third application for up to $100,000 has been made by Gilmer that was not included in either project. The project was put forth to Gilmer’s Road Department by Chairman Paris.
According to Public Works Director Jim Smith, this “Supplemental LMIG” currently includes Homer Wright Road and Whitepath Road and is being undertaken by the County itself. Now, while Smith assured citizens in a recent meeting that these two roads will see completion by April 26th, he also told FYN that further projects could be added to the grant later. This project, like the original LMIG, requires a 30% match from the County that Paris stated would be covered in the Road Department’s budget.
With one project almost complete and more underway, citizens should be noticing improvements to our roads lines in the coming months.
Will (R) Karen Handel embrace or distance herself from President Donald Trump? Will Trump voters come out and vote for Karen Handel? How hard will Dan Moody, Judson Hill, and Bob Gray work to convince their voters to vote for Karen Handel? If Fulton County is the Republican stronghold of the district then why did Ossoff get 41,269 votes? Ossoff received almost as many votes in Fulton County as Gray, Handel and Moody combined. Donald Trump is President of the United States because he did not used the “Republican Playbook.” By using the playbook the Republicans almost lost the 6th district. When will Republicans learn to throw the playbook out the window – Trump style?
Our interview Friday with Speaker of The House David Ralston focused on rural Georgia. Ralston went into detail about the new Rural Georgia Economic Council. This council will be co-chaired by (R) Terry England from Auburn, (R) Jay Powell from Camilla and Vice Chair (R) Sam Watson from Moultry. The council will be holding meetings across Georgia to hear from elected officials, local businesses and citizens about how they feel rural Georgia economy can best be improved. Ralston said jokingly that he better not find out that one meeting took place in Atlanta.
Health care is a major concern in rural Georgia. Several hospitals have closed in rural Georgia areas including one in Ralston’s district in North Georgia. We spoke to Ralston abut one possible solution to meet rural Georgia health care needs. Ralston used the example of the first stand alone emergency room, opened by Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Gilmer county. In this interview we asked Ralston if Gilmer county still had the possibility of having a full hospital.
Ralston told us that sometime within the next month Governor Nathan Deal would be visiting Gilmer county’s Fire Station 1 to sign the fire fighter’s workmen’s compensation bill. We asked Ralston the difference in this years campus carry bill opposed to last year’s bill which Governor Deal vetoed. Not being able to speak for the Governor, Ralston said he felt they made the changes necessary to get Deal to sign the bill. We also discussed the pay raises agreed upon in the 2017 legislative session for teachers, state law enforcement, and D.F.C.S workers.
Our final question in our interview friday: Speaker Ralston do you see the governor’s mansion in your future?