A specially decorated cross in honor of Johnny Morris Savage.
Fighting the storms and constant rain, volunteers have once again taken to the streets of Downtown Ellijay to erect their twice-annual cross memorial to veterans from Gilmer County.
With Memorial Day less than a week away, the crosses represent past veterans who are no longer with us, though not all lost in battle. The American Legion Women’s Auxiliary place over 800 crosses on the roundabout and down Main Street respecting and honoring the sacrifice of service from soldiers of Gilmer County.
Though the crosses will be back in November for Veteran’s day, you can go downtown this weekend to pay respects and enjoy the memorial as part of this special weekend and holiday.
The crosses still hold the American Flag atop them, a tradition started in November of 2015.
ELLIJAY,GA – At their May meeting, the Gilmer Board of Education approved an agreement with the Gilmer County EMS to provide two older buses from their fleet.
Gilmer EMS provided an example picture of similar Mass Casualty Buses.
The buses are to be outfitted as Mass Casualty transport vehicles according to Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett. The process will involve taking out all of the seating and replacing them with medical beds as seen in this photo. Pritchett stated they have already begun talks to receive a grant to retrofit the buses.
Each bus will house 12 beds. The capability to transport numerous patients at once will allow the service to respond to events such as the bus crash on Highway 515 where ambulances are not enough. The process is accomplished by ready made conversion kits which they are currently preparing to install. Pritchett did not state a specific time frame for the process, but has already begun discussions on where to house the buses in a central location.
However, it is not only Gilmer County that will benefit from this agreement. Until now, the closest county with a similar buses is Floyd County. Now, Gilmer may be called upon in neighboring counties, something that is common for emergency services in need, as we will soon house the two mass casualty buses with the mass casualty truck and equipment.
Beginning the process to gain a new resource for Gilmer’s emergency services, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes and Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett formally signed the agreement during the meeting.
The Ellijay Mountain Bike Association (EMBA) attended the Gilmer County Commissioner’s May meeting to officially request a letter of support for adding and extending trails at Carter’s Lake.
According to their proposal, as a part of the Southern Off-Road Biking Association (SORBA) and the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) this project is looking to construct multi-use trails at the sight which will not only support mountain bikers, but hikers, dog walkers, hunters, runners, and bird watchers as well.
While still very early in the planning process, those involved have already completed a preliminary feasibility study along with Preston York of FlowMotion Trailbuilders, a professional trail builder. Terry Palmieri of EMBA spoke with the Commissioners saying that while Gilmer has been claimed as the Mountain Bike Capital of Georgia, we still lack beginner to intermediate trails for families and groups who may want to mountain bike but can’t quite make the miles of advanced and expert tracks we currently have. Part of the conceptual plan they currently have would add over 15 miles of additional trails that would range in difficulty for those needs.
Part of the addition would also add other types of trails such as what is called a flow trail. York described this type of trail as wider and easier than average mountain trails. Providing a minimal amount of pedaling and braking, this type of trail allows riders to “surf” the trail as you can coast through large portions of the trails. York says flow trails has more “rollers” in the trail to provide varying G-forces to the riders body as well as sloped turns that bikers will take with almost no need for braking or slowing.
There was opposition present at both the Commissioner’s Work Session and Regular Meeting. However, in the work session when the EMBA and FlowMotion representatives said their plan abandoned an idea to add a connector between the Ridgeway and Woodring Branch areas the lawyer representing those in opposition stated “without the connector trail being there, my clients really don’t have a particular issue.” The reasons they gave for abandoning the connector included proximity to homeowners, needed construction for bridges, and a great stress to emergency services attempting to reach the area.
These additions will not only add more trails to attract more bikers through the County’s efforts, but Palmieri also suggested that IMBA is changing their requirements for a special title, “Ride Center Designation.” This designation would have the international organization advertise Gilmer County as one of its best locations for biking. She also stated in the regular meeting that Gilmer could be the only place in Georgia to get this title under the new requirements she had seen.
Mike Palmieri also spoke at both meetings. Speaking of the biking community, Mike stated that through EMBA’s surveys over the years, they have discover that mountain bikers have invested $911,257.68 into this county over 30 years. Through volunteers and work hours donated, locals have upheld this industry, but now they are requesting the county’s support of the project so they can use it for grant writing and other goals they are attempting to achieve. Mike attended the Commissioner’s regular meeting in his fireman’s Class A Uniform. He stated wore the uniform to recognize the sacrifice of locals in the form of volunteer service and countless hours building and upkeep for the trail systems.
Considering the withdrawal of the homeowners opposition, the Commissioners did approve their letter of support. This will allow those involved to take their support and add it to grant requests and applications for the trails. Providing just a letter of support, the County has not committed to any amount of financial support at this time.
The path now, according to Palmieri, will have EMBA turn their conceptual plan over to the Corps of Engineers who will go through their own process to inspect the areas and the plans before any construction can begin. According to Corps of Engineers representative and Operations Manager for Carter’s Lake, Miriam Fleming, who attended the Commissioners regular meeting, since they are just getting the plan, this process could take around two years.
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:
There really is something very special about music. Many times I only find myself listening to music while accomplishing something else. I listen while I work, sometimes even as I write. A night like that of May 2 allows people to stop and enjoy music for the joy and expression it offers.
Some people attended for their children or family, others to support a friend. All were treated to a very special display of musical talent as both the 8th Grade CCMS Band and the Gilmer High School Symphonic Band took the stage for their 2017 Spring Concert.
The night actually began before either band took the stage as the pre-show entertainment showcased the Gilmer Jazz Cats drawing people in to their seats with songs like Elvis Presley’s Why Do Fools Fall in Love, a crowd favorite.
Directed by Jessica Nohner, the 8th Grade Band set the rhythm for the night with Forward March, Ash Lawn, and Old Time Rock & Roll before joining with the GHS Symphonic Band to provide one song together. Honoring those in military service, the Marches of the Armed Forces not only allowed the audience to see the combined talents of both bands, but also showcased the service of veterans in the audience as they stood for their branch of service.
Closing out the night, the GHS Symphonic Band presented some recognizable songs alongside classical songs with Farandole, GREASE!, On a Hymnsong with Phillip Bliss, The Lion King, and Stars and Stripes Forever.
At their May 1 meeting, the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority took to executive session to discuss options for the newly opened Executive Director Position.
Since the resignation of previous Executive Director Debbie Sadler last month, the Greater Gilmer JDA had one Special Meeting to begin the process of searching for a replacement.
It was at this regular meeting, after the executive session, that the board formally made a motion to spend up to $750 to advertise the position of Executive Director and to take advantage of all free advertisement as well.
FYN also spoke with JDA Chairman Travis Crouch who said he would be taking point on a joint effort to maintain the Executive Director responsibilities until a replacement can be found.
While that was the only major item for the agenda, the authority did also approve their financial statement during their meeting as well.
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.
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