Jerry Tuso, Post 1 Commissioner Candidate

Jerry Tuso

“I feel I bring maturity and experience to the board.” In his own words, Post 1 Commissioner Candidate Jerry Tuso explains why he qualified and is running for the position.

An Air Force Veteran operating in Air Traffic Control, Jerry Tuso has also served for 21 years as an FAA Air Traffic Controller with another 20 years as a government contractor for FAA Controllers, FAA Weather Observer, and Naval Weather.

The experience he brings also comes from when he was Chairman of Planning and Zoning in Hurst, Texas for three years, a town of 50,000 population, Labor Relations Manager for Crown Cork and Seal for three years, and Senior Agent for the State of Georgia DFCS (Division of Family and Children Services) for three years.

Tuso said he wants to bring this experience forward to the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners and its recent growth over the years. He explained that while growth is inevitable, it should inevitably be done correctly. Through continued oversight in the county, the citizens’ money should be protected and guarded. Tuso said, “We have to be very responsible with our debt, with the additional possible liabilities that we take over.”

Tuso said he wanted to continue to focus on roads in the county. As the more pending situation alongside the debt, these responsibilities have to be addressed before taking on extras. With proper assistance, Tuso said the county has responsible builders and the growth we see could be a win-win situation.

Addressing the specific issue of Carters Lake, Tuso said he doesn’t see additional benefit with the county paying the cost without improving recreation for the county. He said, “I think we have to be very cautious every time the federal government wants to bequeath something to you.” Tuso wants more details to find the “strings attached.”

Additionally, Tuso spoke on the pool as he said its necessary to have different types of athletics situations for the youth. The pool is such an instance, but also serves for the older population who could use it for exercise and aerobics class possibilities. He did state that he wants to look further into funding sources saying, “I would have to be convinced first that we have exhausted all the grants at the same time.” He went on to say that he is comfortable with the county continuing to set aside money each year as long as they continue exhausting the grant opportunities.

Speaking on the more day-to-day operations, he was more focused on a support role saying, “There should be more emphasis in assisting the Chairman, supporting the Chairman, than attempting to lead.” Tuso wants to focus on the most widely productive and widely used options in the county’s future. He said you can’t exclude any portion of the county, but we have to focus on projects and operations with the greatest and most widespread benefits.

Stepping into the position if elected, Jerry Tuso pointed to the community  and its attitude as his biggest excitement for the job, saying, “That’s indicative that we are doing things right, and I want to continue to do things correctly and right. I think I have a good eye for the proper growth in the county. That’s where I would like to concentrate.”

Tuso celebrated the recent expansion of the water system to more parts of the county. He wants to continue these types of expansions even further to more residential areas as well. Achieving goals like this is not something any entity can do alone. We need each other and should continue to increase our cooperation. He said he wants to consider joint meetings.  With relationships growing through the Joint Comprehensive Plan, Tuso said they should open the door to ideas like this. Continuing to improve those relationships even further in new ways that have never been done before. Connecting in these ways can only further support other needs like jobs and housing.

Growth requires insight, balance, and a tempering to the type of county you want to be. As a candidate, Jerry Tuso said he believes he has that insight. He has the experience and maturity to temper that growth and to provide the support and guidance into Gilmer County’s future. Tuso said, “People have asked me why I am running again. I am running again because I think there is more to be done.”


Jason Biggs, Post 1 Commissioner Candidate

Jason Biggs

Priorities. Post 1 Commissioner Candidate Jason Biggs says he realizes that certain things need prioritization over others. Balancing those priorities and being successful in the position requires details and research, two points that he says are a large part of his life and skills.

Though visiting family and the county for 20 years, Jason Biggs has lived in Gilmer County with his wife for the last five-and-a-half years. With two sons and one daughter, he says his family has been a family of farmers and ranchers. Today, he proudly states his grandson is a native of Gilmer County.

Currently working as a Regional Security Manager, Biggs oversees properties to maintain security and safety on a daily basis. Also retired law enforcement, he is no stranger to analysis, research, risk, and budgeting as he says he operates daily on a number of properties within his given budget. He notes that as he continues studying the changing landscape of his business to continue new initiatives that he must research and implement in his business.

However, he also states he is no stranger to staying busy and working hard in his life. When he was a full-time police officer, he also worked full-time at a store-front business for screen-printing and embroidery for over three years.

Living in Gilmer County now, it has been astonishing, Biggs said, at how easily and readily he has been accepted into the county. It is the community that has welcomed him and his family and made this place a home.

Now, as the position of Post 1 Commissioner has opened and his current job schedule has become more flexible, Biggs has become concerned with what he sees in the county that is his home. He said, “The thing that concerns me the most is that we have a debt in excess of $4,000,000 that we have to service annually for a courthouse. That was supposed to paid by sales tax… It’s very hard for me to look 20 years into the future and say, ‘Sales Tax will be able to pay for this.’ At some point, you have to realize that there is a risk of that debt coming back on the taxpayer. And I am afraid that that might happen again if we’re not careful.”

Biggs said he wants to support the recreational sides of the county, but he also knows that to enjoy these projects, people have to be able to get to the pool. he said specifically that he is for constructing a new pool, but he wants to dig deeper to find “real costs” in the project including maintenance and operations for the larger size and a second pool.

Similarly, he addressed concern over Carters Lake as the county moves into a reactionary stance to this need. Touching on the possibilities at the lake, he questioned how the county would respond if they did create a new department. What would the staff costs including benefits and salary? What would the legal fees be for contracts be? What would operations include?

Biggs said, “As a taxpayer, I want to know, it is going to cost ‘X’ amount of dollars, to the penny…If I am elected to this position, that is something I want to start doing.”

Also looking at the roads in the county, continuing the improvements and continuing to “grow intelligently” requires the priority on this infrastructure to continue its prioritization. Biggs said the infrastructure has to be top priority.

He went on to say, “Tax payer dollars should be treated as sacred. You are getting money from the sweat off of people’s backs. I think there is a lot to be said for those people paying their taxes. I think politicians need to be very, very careful how that is spent.”

As he went through these situations, he noted that he has concerns over these issues, but he felt running for the position was his way to do something. Though he is currently a concerned citizen, he didn’t want to be someone who complained about an issue but didn’t do anything about it. Finding issues is the first step, researching solutions is another.

Sometimes these issues require strange answers. Biggs recalled how he came in for tag renewal one day to find the tag office closed at lunch. He spoke about citizens who work daily and take their lunch hour to try and comply with something the government said they have to do. Whether its opening over different hours or opening Saturdays instead of another day, the compromise between the county and citizens is the key to operating the county in favor of the citizens who fund and own it.

Communication, honesty, and transparency, these three keys to any relationship are what Candidate Jason Biggs says he can bring to the Post 1 Commissioner position. When the open conversation stops, that is when the problems begins. It’s the point of involving the people of the county to include new ideas from every walk of life. This allows the board to prioritize and maximize their spending.

However, learning more about the county is more than just listening to citizens in the board room. He wants to go further in learning the ins and outs of the county. He pointed to opportunities such as possible ride-alongs with Sheriff’s Deputies to becoming more involved with Team Cartecay, the mountain biking team that his son rides with.

“Being able to look back and say, ‘Hey, I made a positive impact on something that I was involved with would be the reward, Biggs said as he spoke about the county that has welcomed him. Fostering the growth and cooperation continues through partnerships. He pointed to the work the Gilmer Chamber and their work with local business. Small business in the county is a key part of the county. Being pro-business also helps to alleviate some of the tax burden to the citizens.

Just like speaking with citizens, local business is a relationship to work alongside in pursuit of an agreed upon goal. But maintaining Gilmer’s identity, especially in areas like agricultural success, has to be protected in the growth that continues. Looking at the county as a whole has to be part of the commissioners’ jobs as they move forward with the different entities within the county, including the cities and the Chamber.

He noted the recent budget sessions the county has gone through. Watching the videos on those sessions gave some insight into the county’s needs and what each department wants. It returns to the same process as the Sheriff asks for support in their retirement plans or Public Safety in their capital requests. He said, “When you start looking at the safety and security of taxpayers, that should be paramount.” But he fell back to the details of these requests and looking at the “to the penny” costs and how they fit into the limited funds of the county.

Hearing the opinions of the people, and balancing the costs of the county, Jason Biggs said this is the job he wants to take on. Running for Post 1 Commissioner is his way to step up and face the concerns he has seen. But, he said, “If you’re looking for somebody to go along to get along, I’m not the guy. I am going to do what I feel is the best for the taxpayer’s dollars and I am going to be the voice of the people of this county because I don’t think everyone has an equal voice, and I feel like they should.”


Soccer Field Road will NOT be county pool location


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Due to the months of preparation and study given to the county’s formerly favored location, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Paris stated today that Soccer Field Road, just off of Progress Road, has been declared an unviable location for the future pool of Gilmer County.

The location was originally offered as part of an agreement with East Ellijay to purchase and provide the land. Paris said that one of the reasons for this came with the several analyses performed and the realization that the county would need to move and bring in an extra 86,000 cubic yards of dirt for grading and leveling.

This of course seems like it would revert back to the Clear Creek location previously looked at. However, Paris went on to say, “That put us in the position of either putting it out at Clear Creek or trying to find another location. Nobody wants it at Clear Creek. I think everybody has been pretty clear about that.” He went on to note that finding another location could become a costly endeavor.

Considering that, he noted that if the county would have to begin looking at the costs of purchasing land anyway, considerations for the old pool’s location arose. Paris stated, “One of the reasons that we decided to put it somewhere other than where the current pool is is because of the expense that would be incurred in tearing out the old pool and putting the new pool there. But, if we’re going to have to be looking at buying property somewhere for the new pool, we might as well just spend the money tearing out the old pool, and just put the new pool back where the old pool currently is.”

Later, Paris told FYN that if the county moves forward with that pool location, they would likely be expanding into the parking lot for the secondary “wading” pool. Additionally, the concept of someday adding a splash pad might have to be considered in a different location. Many plans that were being considered for the Soccer Field Road location are still being considered, such as utilizing dirt from the 382 project if found to be usable.

Paris said that considerations for fitting both pools at the location is already being looked for feasibility. Paris also noted that Recreation and Parks Director Kevan White assured him that the tennis courts currently under construction next to the civic center will not interfere with construction as they will be completed by year’s end.

Paris indicated he is still looking for ways to seek ways to handle the costs of the pool when he said there is considerations that the county might use some of its employees for clearing and preparatory work if the county does move forward with that location.

The remaining question is balancing how much of the parking lot will be lost to the secondary pool and the effect on attendance. Paris said he doesn’t foresee a major problem in that area, but was unsure of exactly how much of the parking would be changed. Additionally, he noted that the county will be transitioning the older tennis courts into additional parking for River Park as well.

While this was just announced as a possibility today, it already seems to be a front runner of options with the considerations and statements made in today’s Commissioners’ Meeting. However, neither Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson or Chairman Charlie Paris declared the old pool location as the final decision for the new pool’s location.


Margaret A. (Rhodes) Ledford: Obituary


Mrs. Margaret A. (Rhodes) Ledford, age 74 of Cherry Log, GA passed on Saturday evening October 12th, 2019 at the Piedmont Mountainside Hospital of Ellijay.

Mrs. Ledford was born on July 21st, 1945 in Blue Ridge, GA to her late parents, Charlie and Helen Rhodes. Margaret worked as a homemaker for most of her life and loved gardening, cake decorating, and sewing, but loved spending time with her grandchildren most of all. She is preceded in death by her husband, James Stanley Ledford; brothers, Claude, James, and Jerry Rhodes; and sister, Mary Ruth Rhodes.

Funeral Services will be held at 2:00pm on Wednesday October 16th, 2019 from the Logan Funeral Home Chapel with Min. Butch Jones, Mr. Bryan Mason, and Min. Tommy Kyle officiating and speaking. Singing will be led by Ralph Grice and the Bethlehem Baptist Church Choir. Graveside interment will follow in the Boardtown Church of Christ Cemetery with, Blake Ledford, Troy Ledford, Eugene Rymer, Bradley Head, J.R. Ramsey and Cody Dills all serving as pallbearers. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be serving as honorary pallbearers.

She is survived by her children and in-laws; Shirley Voyles, Tina Ledford & Eugene Rymer, Richard Ledford, and Brian Ledford all of Cherry Log, GA, and Vicki & Troy Ledford of Blairsville, Ga Felicia Moreno of Cherry Log, GA; grandchildren, Brittany and J.R. Ramsey, Blake Ledford, and Bradley Head; great-grandchildren, Christian, Cody, Brielle, and Corbin Moreno, Reagan, James, Marla, and Lila Ramsey; siblings and in-laws, Johnny Alan & Trish Rhodes, Charlotte & Elbie Cole, and Fred Rhodes all of Blue Ridge, GA; several nieces and nephews also survive.

The family will receive friends from 4:00pm until 9:00pm on Monday October 14th and again from 9:00am until 9:00pm on Tuesday October 15th at the Logan Funeral Home.

Online condolences can be left to the family at

Logan Funeral Home and Chapel in charge of arrangements.


To send flowers to the family of Margaret Ledford, please visit Tribute Store


Barbara Ann Williams: Obituary


Mrs. Barbara Ann Williams, age 87 of Talking Rock, GA passed on Monday October 14th, 2019.

Mrs. Williams was born on August 7th, 1932 in Atlanta, GA to her late parents, Willie Ernest and Willie Mae Gregory. She was a graduate of Roosevelt High School, class of 1949 and worked as a Christian Missionary in Jamaica for 20 years. She is preceded in death by her husband, Rev. David Lee Williams and daughter, Linda Jo Davis.

Funeral Services will be held at 11:00am on Thursday October 17th, 2019 from the Logan Funeral Home Chapel with Speaker Greg Williams and Speaker David Williams officiating. Music and vocals will be by Irene Wofford. Graveside service will follow at 2:00pm on Thursday October 17th in the Mars Hill Cemetery with Hunter Williams, Alex Williams, Anthony Williams, and Brandon DeLong all serving as Pallbearers.

Survivors include her children and in-laws; LeeAnn (Mark) Adams, David (Beth) Williams, and Greg (Paula) Williams all of Talking Rock, GA; 9 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and 12 great-great grandchildren also survive.

The family will receive friends from 4:00pm until 8:00pm on Wednesday October 16th at the Logan Funeral Home.

Online condolences can be left to the family at

Logan Funeral Home & Chapel in charge of arrangements.

To send flowers to the family of Barbara Williams, please visit Tribute Store


Lynn M. Vassar: Obituary


Lynn M. Vassar, age 65, of Ellijay, Georgia, passed away Monday, October 14, 2019, in Ellijay, Georgia.

She was born June 23, 1954, in Iron Mountain, Mich., daughter of Gerald and Arla (Murray) Piatti. Lynn grew up in Iron Mountain and graduated from Iron Mountain High School. On June 2, 1973, she was united in marriage to Brian Vassar at St. Mary Catholic Church in Florence, Wis. Lynn was self-employed as a computer programmer for years before retiring.

Lynn enjoyed water skiing, snow skiing, gardening, and animals. Most of all she loved spending time with family and friends.

Survivors include her loving husband of 46 years, Brian Vassar, Ellijay, Georgia; one son, Andrew (Michelle) Vassar, Dawsonville, Georgia; one brother, Randy (Keri) Piatti, Iron Mountain, Mich.; her parents, Gerald and Arla Piatti, Iron Mountain; one grandson, Jackson; father-in-law, Russell Vassar, Menominee, WI; sister-in-law, Cindy and brothers-in-law, Chuck, Bruce and Greg, all from Minneapolis, Minn.

Cremation will be handled by Bernhardt Funeral Home in Ellijay, Ga.

Visitation will be Friday, October 25, 2019, from 12:00 noon until 1:30 p.m. at the Jacobs Funeral Home, Iron Mountain, Mich. A Celebration of Life Service will be Friday, 1:30 p.m. at the funeral home. Pastor Jim Danielson will officiate.

You may leave a condolence or tribute for Lynn’s family online at <> .


Rethia Sanford Dotson: Obituary


Mrs. Rethia Sanford Dotson, age 93, of Ellijay, died Friday October 11, 2019.

Mrs. Dotson was born June 22, 1926, in Gilmer County, the daughter of the late, Benjamin and Viola Crawford Sanford. She was a homemaker and member of the Crossroads Baptist Church.  Her parents, husband, Jessie Dotson, son, Winford Dotson, daughter-in-law, Deborah Dotson and 11 siblings preceded her in death.

Survivors include: sons and daughters-in-law; Jackie and Deborah Dotson, Sonny and Elizabeth Dotson and Jim Dotson all of Ellijay, daughters and son-in-law’s; Annette and Rev. Randy McClure, Barbara Westmoreland, Betty Sue and Dortis Newton, Louise and Rev. Roy Griggs all of Ellijay, Sissy and Clint Jackson, Chatsworth, brother; Harold Sanford, Ellijay, sisters; Juanita Long and Josephine Creger, both of Dalton, 17 grandchildren, 35 great grandchildren, 2 great great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Monday at 11:00 am from the Crossroads Baptist Church with Rev. Joey Patterson, Rev. Randy McClure, Rev. Sammy Adams, Rev. Jeff Hollifield and Rev. Jamie Dotson officiating. Interment will be in the church cemetery.

The family will meet with friends Sunday from 12 noon until 9:00 pm at the funeral home.
Flowers are accepted or donations may be made to the Crossroads Baptist Church in memory of Mrs. Dotson, and the family request no food be brought to the funeral home.

Bernhardt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


Gilmer Public Safety offers comment on arrest


ELLIJAY, Ga. – After this week’s arrest of Michael Paul Chester, FYN has reached out to local authorities for comments on the incident. Gilmer County Public Safety Department has made the following press release on the situation:

A male employee of Gilmer County Fire & Rescue was taken into custody by Ellijay Police yesterday for an incident that occurred off duty and away from fire station property. The incident involves the male employee and a female employee of Gilmer County Fire & Rescue. We have and continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials investigating this matter. We reiterate that the incident being investigated did not take place on or near Gilmer County property, nor did it take place while either employee was actively working in the capacity of a Gilmer County Firefighter. Gilmer County is working with the female employee involved to ensure her needs are met as necessary. The male employee is currently suspended without pay while an internal investigation is started.

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