Confirmed case of COVID-19 in Gilmer County

News
Confirmed Case

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.

FYN has reached out to Gilmer’s Public Safety Coalition and is currently awaiting a comment. Practices and shelter-in-place orders have already been in place for Gilmer, Ellijay, and East Ellijay since last week.

Superintendent addresses schools after closure extension

Community

East Ellijay, Ga. – After the recent release from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announcing an extension of school closures, Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs offered an email for staff about the extension.

Downs said, “As you are aware, our schools will remain closed until at least April 26, 2020. This is an incredibly stressful time for everyone.”

Gilmer Schools originally closed until March 20, but mere days later, after an executive order from Kemp extended closures to March 31, Gilmer’s BOE went a step further extending it to April 3, 2020, butting up against their Spring Break, April 4 -12. Now, another order is extending it again.

Addressing concerns from students, parents, and citizens about upcoming events. Downs said that the board does not have answers for everything yet, but is working towards those answers while maintaining the current education cycle and Seamless Feeding Program for families.

Downs said, “I have received messages from students who miss their friends, have anxiety about their grades and graduation, and are worried about their own loved ones getting sick – all while still dealing with many non-coronavirus challenges in their lives. I have spoken to parents and caregivers who are worried about losing their jobs, paying rent, and providing 24/7 childcare for their children. I have heard from teachers and staff who have expressed how hard it has been to cope with the abrupt separation from their students while also dealing with their own family struggles. Sadly, things are likely to get even more challenging over the next several weeks. There are many questions about how extended school closures will affect school life like grades, promotion, prom, graduation, and so much more. We are working to develop the best answers possible to those questions.”

However, Downs went on to add a message of hope for staff. She thanked the educations staff, from teachers and administrators to office and support staff saying, “There is no doubt that we are in uncharted territory and an unprecedented time; however, fear will not take us anywhere. We need to be proactive and kind to one another as we stay as safe as possible. We are resilient people. We are all extremely proud of your commitment to our vision and mission during this most trying time.”

As the Superintendent, Downs said she was very proud of the teamwork and commitment being displayed not just to our school system, but to the community at large. She made special note of transportation and nutrition staff working in the Seamless Feeding Program.

Downs final note in the email came as a focus for the future:

Let us keep our current mission at the forefront of our minds:

1)      Teach our students to the best of our ability—We will face challenges and things will not be perfect. As long as we are teaching to the best of our ability and circumstances, we will be successful.

2)     Feed our students—Any hungry children that we might reach.

3)     Do our part to “Flatten the Curve”—Work from home, social distance, and for those still reporting limit contact as much as possible.

Homeward Bound Pet Rescue’s Pet of the week – Kanga

Community

Homeward Bound Pet Rescue, Inc’s mission is to find safe, loving homes for unwanted pets in
the North Georgia area. Homeward Bound has re-homed over 7000 pets since 2000. We are a
100% non-profit, no kill organization that is completely run by volunteers and depend on
donations, grants, Paws and Claws Thrift Store and fund raising events during the year.

Homeward Bound Pet Rescue, Inc.

P.O. Box 792
Ellijay, GA 30540
706-698-HOME (4663)
Apply on line: www.hbpr.org
LIKE us on FaceBook

Meet Kanga, a one year old, 14# Chiweenie. If you’re looking for a fun boy personality, this may
be the pooch you’re looking for. He loves to ride in a car, absolutely struts when he’s walking
on a leash and will stick by you very closely; if not on your lap, he’ll be right next to you.

We’d also love to tell you about volunteering, fostering and adoption opportunities.
Homeward Bound pets are up to date on vaccinations, treated month for fleas, ticks and heart
worms, spayed or neutered and are ready for adoption unless specified otherwise.

We are available for a “meet and greet” by appointment. The address is: 215 Wishon Drive,
Blue Ridge, GA (off Maxwell Road). We do recommend bringing everyone who will be involved
with the new pet; especially your dog(s).

Thank you for your support! We couldn’t survive without the help from our friends!

Gilmer Officials delve deeper into the shutdown

News
Second Amendment, Officials

ELLIJAY, GA. – Yesterday’s Declaration of Emergency from the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners and the response from officials has been hotly debated and concerns are still high over what it means for Gilmer County.

Today, Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson and Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris are speaking out to explain a little more on the shutdown and what the next steps are for citizens and businesses in the county.

Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said this does not mean Gilmer is becoming a “police state.” While he said most of the shutdown is focused on businesses, he did add that the focus is to slow large interactions of people to slow the spread of the virus. He reiterated this again stressing that people can go out if the have to saying, “You can go to the grocery store. You can still go to the gas station and get gas. If you work for or own a business that is deemed essential, you can still go to work.”

Focusing instead on strongly encouraging people to follow suit with the Shelter-In-Place order, this entire effort is to promote the issue of awareness and support for isolation to kill the virus.

Nicholson also noted that the order for businesses is being enforced through the Officials of the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) as they continue spreading the information. Nicholson spoke about the county taking a stance of asking for compliance right now to encourage businesses and citizens to comply. Only in extreme circumstances, he said, would they resort to anything like citations or licensing revocations.

This was also noted in the meeting as the Board said they could eventually reach a level of revoking business licenses for all businesses not following the order’s closures or restrictions on those still open.

The last major point he stressed today was to say that this isn’t like snow days. It hasn’t taken a full hold yet. But it very well could. Nicholson said he does not intend to operate as an occupying force. Instead he wants the Sheriff’s Office to run like a county police force and support the community in these hard times.

It was a sentiment echoed by Chairman Charlie Paris who said the reason he felt the need for the Declaration of Emergency and the order to Shelter-In-Place is to separate the people as much as possible. The order is in place for two weeks to “not necessarily break the cycle of infection, but slow it down.”

Paris also acknowledge that the order is a drastic measure and not something he really wanted to do. However, the need for action was clear. This was also pointed out in the meeting when public safety authorities spoke saying that they understand no one wants to be the person to incorporate such measures, but serious action has to be taken to address the issue.

Paris also noted that hospitals, EMA Officials, and medical teams in Gilmer are considering all possible answers to the health needs. Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp has already instituted allowances for specific people with previous medical licenses and some recent graduates to practice medicine during this time as well as some Certificate of Need restrictions. Locally, these steps include talks about using rooms from Gilmer’s old hospital facility and possibly bedding patients there should a need arise.

Paris said that this is a hard time, but called it a time of sacrifice for the county in an effort to slow this infection down to get a handle on it. He also said that the neighboring counties need to join the effort to really make the shutdown effective and expedite a return to normal life much faster.

Commissioner declare emergency and order shutdown

News
shutdown

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A state of emergency has been declared for Gilmer County by the Board of Commissioners, immediately followed by a “shelter-in-place” order and businesses shut down.

Through discussions and deliberations on Tuesday, March 24, the order for citizens to shelter-in-place will proceed from 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning, March 25, through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday night, April 7, due to the Coronavirus.

The most important details of this order come through the ordered shutdown of non-essential businesses. The order covers all “unincorporated parts of the county.” However, Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris did state in Tuesday’s meeting that he had spoken with the mayors of Ellijay and East Ellijay and felt that they were supportive of this action.

While citizens are ordered to take shelter at their own places of residence, the resolution clearly states, “When people need to leave their places of residence, whether to obtain or perform vital services, or to otherwise facilitate authorized activities necessary for continuity of social and commercial life, the should at all times reasonably possible comply with Social Distancing Requirements.”

Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson confirmed that deputies will be informing citizens about the order who are loitering in places unreasonably or blatantly disregarding the order. The order urges people at high risk of severe illness or people who are sick to not leave their residences except to seek medical care.

The other half of the shutdown comes through non-essential businesses. All businesses with a facility in the county, except essential businesses, are required to cease all activities at facilities located within the unincorporated areas of GIlmer except “Minimum Basic Operations.” The board listed in the order’s definitions, “Essential businesses means:

  • Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
  • Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other nongrocery products, and products necessary to maintining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  • Newspapers, televisions, radio, and other media services;
  • Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
  • Banks and related financial institutions;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
  • Educational Institutions – including private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities – for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Farm wineries shall be allowed to sale packaged wine at curbside. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
  • Businesses that supply products need for people to work from home;
  • Businesses or manufacturers that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
    Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences;
  • Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
  • Residential Facilities including hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children, except for short-term cabin rentals (provided that current guests may complete their stay);
  • Professional services, such as legal, accounting services, real estate services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;”

The board also added to the shutdown conditions for childcare facilities (stated in the order) and added all businesses not identified but are listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s website as Essential Critical Infrastructure workforce.

The Commissioners were asked by citizen Larry Lykins to understand “the magnitude” of what they were proposing in shutting down these small businesses. He said that some of those businesses are “just not going to come back from this.

Still, others supported the decision, saying the decision was necessary and that a shut down now would be better than worse conditions and widespread sickness later.

Additionally, both Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson and Public Safety Director Keith Kucera offered their opinions saying that these hard decisions need to be made.

Despite the closure of businesses and activities, Paris did answer a question about the courthouse saying, “The courthouse cannot be closed.”

The commissioners worked over details including wineries and cabins, going back and forth on these issues and including advice from citizens and county agents. Ultimately, approving and signing the order as it stands. However, should conditions change, this order could be revisited and revised as needed.

Changing instructions generates new response from BOE

News
instructions

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer is continuing to change daily amid responses, suggestions, and instructions from state and national levels. The Board of Education is no different as they are developing several changes in their departments like transportation and nutrition as they prepare for the extended shutdown.

A few of those changes have come from established instructions since the beginning of the shutdown. Now, principals and schools administrators are expanding efforts to keep employees working and being paid despite the absence of students. The school system has already publicized efforts to keep teaching students during this time through paper packets in the lower grades and tablets and online learning for the upper grades.

Now, attention has fallen to the less publicized areas as the school attempts to expand its efforts to hourly employees. While the original response sent many hourly employees home, instead asking for volunteers to help support the initiatives like the school feeding program similar to Seamless Summer, now these instructions have changed. Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said that legal questions have been raised about allocating public tax funds to employees not working. As such, and upon further consultations with attorneys upon the subject, the schools are expanding efforts and using hourly stuff to reinforce these initiatives to support students outside of the classroom.

In a letter from Superintendent Downs to the staff of Gilmer Schools, she said, “We have received additional legal guidance from Harbin, Hartley and Hawkins in the last couple of days that impacts all of our staff as we look toward more long term closures. Legally, we must document hours to be able to pay hourly employees even during a closure of schools mandated by our Governor. Every staff member will be required to document hours worked. We are asking you for a little grace, patience and understanding as we make decisions throughout the next several days and weeks.”

However, this is not just one area as paraprofessionals, office staff, some nutrition staff, transportation staff, and other hourly workers employees that do not directly interact and teach students will be attending to new work and tasks no usually in their daily routine.

Downs also addressed concerned employees, families, or those that wish to stay home during the Coronavirus shutdown. Downs said that there will be work to be done from home, in isolated offices, or in other forms as assigned by each school’s administrators. Downs said, “There is stuff for people to do, but they are going to do it from home.”

Even those who are coming into the buildings will be working individually in areas that have been cleaned. Additionally, those who need to stay at home will take days of leave through a recent Georgia Act concerning these issues.

With the extra workers supporting the Seamless Feeding program, the schools have altered instructions on how they will be distributing the meals to students in the coming days. In an email released about the changes, Downs said, “The situation seems to be changing daily and we are striving to make the best decisions possible in the interest of student, staff, and community safety. We have no previous experience in this area and will most assuredly make some mistakes in the process.  We will learn and grow together and be stronger as a result.  All of our staff who are physically able, are working either teaching remotely or working to support our students. Our goal is to have only staff critical to serving and transporting meals, building maintenance, and limited technology staff to support student learning entering any of our buildings.”

She also relayed exactly how the schools will be changing and expanding the distribution to incorporate meals and paper assignment packets to students.

Beginning on Wednesday March 25th, buses depart schools at 11:00AM and run standard routes distributing food.  This will allow meals to be distributed directly to the students; however, we will continue to keep our four busiest Seamless Feeding sites open from 11:30-1:00 in addition to these routes.

1)      Tower Road
2)      Mulberry Street Apartments
3)      Ellijay United Methodist Church
4)      Civic Center

Students in grades pre-K through 5 are working on paper assignments that were distributed on the last day of attendance for the first two weeks of closure. New updated packets will be distributed weekly through email, the meal distribution program, and designated pick up locations at the schools. Teachers of students in the elementary grades are also using online means to supplement the instruction. Students in grades 6-12 are assigned Chromebooks so that they can participate in virtual classes and interact with their teachers on a daily basis. For students in these upper grades without internet access, print resources will be distributed in the same manner as the curriculum packets for the lower grades.

Jerry Hensley seeks re-election as Gilmer County Coroner

Election, News
Jerry Hensley

Jerry Hensley, Gilmer County’s Coroner since 1991, announces his intent to seek
re-election in the May 19th Republican Primary.

Hensley is a 1973 graduate of Gilmer High School and a 1974 graduate of Gupton-
Jones College of Mortuary Science (now Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service).
He has been married to Debbie Morrow Hensley for 44 years. They have two
grown sons, Bryan and Nathan, and four grandchildren. Hensley is a member of
Mount Vernon Baptist Church.

Hensley states he continues to operate the Coroner’s Office efficiently while
maintaining the county’s 2 nd lowest budget. Hensley and his two certified deputy
coroners, Melissa Waddell and Brian Nealey, have a combined 49 years of death
investigation experience. Nealey is also a 2001 graduate of Gupton-Jones College
of Mortuary Science. All three coroners maintain their certification by receiving
the state-mandated 24 hours of continuing education annually.

Hensley says, “I pledge to continue serving the citizens of Gilmer County in a
professional and efficient manner all while staying within budget and maintaining
the same level of service. My staff and I will continue to provide prompt service as
well as handling families compassionately in their time of grief. Your vote and
continued support would be greatly appreciated on May 19th .”

Chamber creates new “Chalk Ellijay” event amid isolations

Community, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Building, coordinating, and energizing a social function can be quite difficult, but doing one amid widespread quarantines and self imposed isolation is a completely different order, such as “Chalk Ellijay.”

We are here to support our community and lift the spirits of those around us. Please tune in until the end of this video for a fun way to stay positive and brighten someone’s day. We have always said that the Gilmer Chamber is a family and now it is time to show our community what this family is all about! #ThisIsEllijay

Posted by Gilmer Chamber on Friday, March 20, 2020

Gilmer County’s Chamber of Commerce has taken on exactly that task as they began a new event over the weekend. After an earlier video post from President/CEO Paige Green promising to help coordinate resources and business in the time of need. But, the video ended on a very different note.

Green said the Chamber’s two locations, the Downtown Welcome Center on the Square in Ellijay and the main office just off 515 in East Ellijay, now have baskets of chalk. What they are pushing to do with this chalk is building community and a neighborhood feeling by using the chalk to “Chalk Ellijay.”

A later post offered more details stating,

“(We get by with a little help from our friends.) In an effort to help lift our community’s spirit, we invite you to chalk your sidewalk or driveway with an encouraging message, snap a picture, and post it using #ThisIsEllijay so the community can see! Need chalk? Visit the downtown welcome center or Chamber office! We have chalk inside buckets for you. (Please only take one or two and leave some for your neighbor!) want to go the extra mile? Leave an encouraging message in the driveway of an at-risk/elderly/immune compromised friend and give them a call afterwards to let them know you’ve been by. (Let’s maintain social distancing 💪🏻) We will get through this together in heart.”

Chalk EllijayThe idea of the chalk use is simple, but social media has been flooded over the last week from across the country with stories and videos of people do small things to build greater feeling and community.

From a man playing music in the common garden of an apartment complex for people to list to from their balconies to signs and gifts of people visiting elderly relatives outside the windows of their homes and apartments.

The local step is incorporating far more than just a few select groups though. The Chamber said, “We are here to support our community and lift the spirits of those around us… We have always said that the Gilmer Chamber is a family and now it is time to show our community what this family is all about!”

People are starting to take to social media, posting their own chalk art and messages, with even a few local businesses and restaurants joining in, too.

Chalk Ellijay

What to do if you show signs of infection from COVID-19

Health, News
infection

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Gilmer’s new Public Safety Coalition has offered information for citizens to be informed and not worry even if they do show signs of infection that have been noted for the Coronavirus.

Offering a statement yesterday, the Coalition said that any who develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 infection should get medical attention immediately. Those Emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse from sleep
  • Bluish lips or face

However, as FYN followed up on how to seek medical attention without further spreading, the Coaliton offered a Center for Disease Control (CDC) document explaining more in-depth about actions to be taken if you are or think you have the infection.

infection

The CDC document for What to do if you are sick with COVID-19.

That document, pictured to the right, draws specific attention that Gilmer’s Coalition also wanted to point out.

Keith Kucera, Director of Gilmer County Public Safety, said, “One particular thing the document speaks to is calling ahead to your Primary Care Manager (Doctor).  During this call, most offices will ask a series of screening questions specific to your sickness.  At that point they will make further recommendations for treatment and/or possible testing.”

Much of the community has already heard about or seen others wearing face masks, even if they aren’t infected. The CDC recommends such for those who believe they are infected along with a high focus on isolation and extreme sanitization of self, surfaces, and items.

Check out more information on the CDC’s COVID-19 Page.

Public Safety Coalition offers advice on how to stay healthy and signs to watch fo

Community, News

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – A coalition of public safety, government entities, and service agencies in Gilmer County has been meeting to respond to the threat and concerns of COVID -19 (Coronavirus) and is reaching out to citizens for information, response, prevention, and overall health during this time.

The coalition consists of Gilmer County Emergency Management Agency, Gilmer County Fire and Rescue, Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, City of Ellijay Police Department, City of Ellijay Fire Department, City of East Ellijay Police Department, and the Gilmer County School Board.

After a meeting on March 13 to address the community’s current concerns over the corona virus outbreak, many business, government entities, and agencies have either closed down or closed public access.

According to a recent release from this coalition, “Some of those concerns called for tough decisions that, in an abundance of caution, resulted in the temporary closing of our schools and the cancellation of some local events. These are temporary in nature and will be evaluated on a daily or weekly basis as the virus runs its natural course.”

They have also reiterated that no COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Gilmer, Fannin, or Pickens county at this time and urged citizens to “remain calm, keep our wits about us and make reasonable purchases at our markets to allow other family members and neighbors to make similar purchases.”

The Coalition will meet every two weeks, and more frequently if necessary.

They have also made a release with helpful information to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your neighbors:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

 

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse from sleep
  • Bluish lips or face

Two major March events cancelled for Gilmer Schools

News
cancelled

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Announced in their March work session, the Board of Education is canceling this week’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Clear Creek Elementary School while Gilmer High School has also had its Reality Day cancelled.

During the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs announced publicly that the ceremony will be cancelled saying, “Due to the current health crisis, we will cancel the groundbreaking.”

However, instead of postponing and rescheduling the event, they will simply move forward without it.

Downs said that they did not want to delay the construction project, possibly pushing out the completion date. Downs said, “I did say we would postpone it, but we do not want to postpone starting the new elementary school. So, we are going to have to break ground with no ceremony.”

Reality Day for the High School has also been cancelled, originally planned for March 31.

However, this event, run by Gilmer Family Connection, is run in partnership with the schools for the students. The event cancellation comes during the first week of school closures for Gilmer as Gilmer Family Connection Director, Merle Howell Naylor sent out the statement today.

Naylor said, “It truly is with great sadness that I am canceling Reality Day that was scheduled for March 31st.  The Gilmer County School system is closed this week and I’m sure it’s uncertain about next week with all the concerns about COVID19.”

Despite the cancelation, Naylor had only positive things to say for the large number of community members who were set to be at the event. Naylor said, “I truly thank you all for your willingness to volunteer for Reality Day and assure you that you will have an opportunity to volunteer next year.”

Capital spending halted amid shutdowns including pool project

News
Public Works BOC Capital Spending

ELLIJAY, Ga. – During the Board of Commissioners’ work session today, Chairman Charlie Paris spoke in the citizens wishing to speak section addressing concerns and a specific email from the weekend including Capital spending.

During his time speaking, Paris announced that he will be “putting the brakes” on capital spending in the near future. While he did say he wasn’t pointing to anything specific being cut yet, Paris noted that he wanted to look closely at the budget with the understanding that much of the Capital spending is based on estimates from the SPLOST.

Paris said, “I am really concerned with all of this social distancing, all of these shutdowns that are going on, as to what that might translate into in terms of our SPLOST revenue.”

Pointing to the emptiness that Gilmer County has seen recently and people staying home after urgings from health agencies and government.

While some things are already underway, Paris said he will complete these projects. Some things that could be pushed back include the lift stations project from public works. Paris said he doesn’t know when or how far he might look at pushing these items, but the major note from his explanation came when he said that the county will complete the project of demolishing the old pool and will stop there.

Paris said, “Most of you know that I’ve been in a big hurry to get this thing bid out and get it going. I just can’t, in good conscience, continue that without knowing what’s coming.”

Paris said that the pool project is funded through a separate account, but he is concerned that revenue may drop so much that those funds would be temporarily needed somewhere else.

While these projects are major notes, Paris is looking at all budgets with an eye towards the future, not to cut directly, but, according to Paris, to hold off for a little while until they know more.

One citizen, Joene DePlancke, has been a large voice on the issue in recent months, especially on the financial status of the county and their disbursements. DePlancke said she had sent the commissioners and email over the weekend and was prepared to speak further in the meeting on fiscal responsibility. Instead, she thanked Paris on his stance and willingness to listen and respond to the economy and to the needs of citizens.

The county is still taking care of debt service, and DePlancke warned commissioners that the market will have effects on Gilmer and has already has.

 

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)

 

UPDATED: Closings and Cancellations due to COVID-19/Coronavirus

News
Break-In closings

Stay up to date with closings in Gilmer County and keep visiting this article daily to find out the latest closings and cancellations as they are announced.

 

UPDATED March 18, 2020 – Mountain Cinemas Close

In an email from Mountain Cinemas parent company, Georgia Theatre Company, the announcement was made for closings of theatres owned by the company. This includes Ellijay’s own Mountain Cinemas.

The company said, “Georgia Theatre Company puts the health and safety of our employees and customers above everything we do. It is with great regret that we have decided to close all of our theatres temporarily due to the suggestion of the President, the WHO and the CDC. We will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation very closely and will post the latest company news on our website. We will open to the public as soon as we can and will provide a safe and clean environment for you to enjoy all of your favorite movies in a communal setting.”

Additionally, they addressed concerns for those who may have already puchased advanced tickets. For those who have purchased tickets:

Purchases made on our website can be refunded at GTCmovies.com/refunds
For purchases made in person or on the GTC app, please contact your local theatre or send us an email at CustomerService@GTCmovies.com prior to the showtime on your ticket.

Calling the movie theater in Ellijay provides a similar response as they say they are temporarily closed and hope to be open again soon.

 

UPDATED March 18, 2020 – Gilmer Chamber closes for sanitization

President and CEO of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Green offered a letter today explaining closings for the Chamber at both locations beginning today.
She said, “In an effort to protect our staff and to provide an opportunity for the cleaning and sanitizing of both of our facilities, the Gilmer Chamber and Downtown Welcome Center will be closed Wednesday, March 18 through Sunday, March 22.”
The Downtown Welcome Center will remain closed through at least March 31. The Gilmer Chamber will be closed to the public (except by appointment only) beginning Monday, March 24. Staff will be working in the building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to answer calls and provide necessary services and respond to email.
Paige Green, President & CEO will also be available at 706-889-2889 for emergency purposes. Otherwise, please call the office between 10a and 3p Monday through Friday.
Paige Green, President & CEO- president@gilmerchamber.com
Ellen Grant, Membership Manager- membership@gilmerchamber.com
Lisa Salman, Tourism Manager- tourism@gilmerchamber.com
Caitlin Neal, Communications Manager- communications@gilmerchamber.com
Thanna Chadwick, Administrative Assistant- info@gilmerchamber.com
Additionally, the SBA is working with Governor’s across the country to provide federal assistance during this time to qualifying businesses and nonprofits.
You can learn more and register to receive updates at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance. Green said, “I strongly encourage all businesses experiencing economic injury to visit the site and register.  You will also find attached more information about the SBA disaster assistance funding.”
Green went on to offer the Chamber’s aid in these times to help spread updates, hours of operations, and garner information. She said, “We will continue to support our local businesses as best we can through this time.”

UPDATED March 18, 2020 – Gilmer ARTS adjusts cancellations

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop at a rapid pace, Gilmer Arts is following the advice of the CDC guidelines that have been issued to ensure the safety and health of our staff, volunteers, members and our patrons. As of Sunday, 15 March, the CDC has revised their recommendation to cancel all gatherings from 250+, to 50+ for the next 8 weeks. The Federal Government has suggested cancelling groupings of 10+. This will impact several events in the next few weeks at Gilmer Arts and at the George Link Jr, Gilmer Arts Playhouse. Here is list of events:
Spring Chorus Rehearsals/ Performance – Cancelled. (Check back for Fall schedule)
Storytelling (3rd Thursday of month) – Cancelled for March and April 2020
Acoustic Blends (3rd Friday of month) – Cancelled for March and April 2020
Volunteer Brunch (28 March) – Cancelled (will be rescheduled for a May date)
Exit Laughing (27 March – 5 April) – Postponed. Opening will be June 26th and will run 3 weeks
Auditions for Arsenic & Old Lace (14-16 April) – Cancelled (play in June will be replaced with Exit Laughing)
BEST Visual Art Opening and Show (17 April-20 May) – Cancelled. New date TBD
Meet the Author (18 April) – Postponed. New date TBD
Concert, Connor Lorrie (25 April) – Cancelled. New date TBD.
 
The above schedule takes us out for the next 8 weeks. As the advice from the CDC changes or as new State/Federal mandates come out, so may our future scheduling. Please check the website and social media sites frequently for any further changes or call the Gallery at 706.635.5605.
 As you can imagine, these changes are happening at a very fast pace. As soon as we have all the information, you’ll need for each show cancellation or change, we will provide updates and details to ticket holders directly through emails and/or phone calls. We will also continue to post the most up-to-date information on our website and social media pages. The Gallery will remain open for you to come see the latest art; however the hours will temporarily change.
The new Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday 12-6PM and Saturday’s 12-5PM. Please stop by and see the current Youth Exhibit through April. We rarely have more than 2-3 people in there at a time. We assure you we are doing are part to sanitize and keep things clean and sanitized for you. Also, some classes may still be available. We will update schedules as they change.

 

 

UPDATED March 17, 2020 – East Ellijay closes public access

Facing the concerns of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), East Ellijay has released information today about closings in the offices in the coming weeks.

East Ellijay has closed public access and is putting signage up to inform citizens. They are outlining a new process for contacting City Staff.

Additionally, Municipal Court, originally to be held on March 25, has also been canceled.

 

UPDATED March 17, 2020 – BOC Closes and BOE Extends Closing

closingsThe Gilmer County Board of Commissioners are joining the list of closings in Gilmer County this week as they officially announced today.

An email was sent out saying, “Due to the Coronavirus and for the safety of our employees the Board of Commissioners Office will be closed to public access until April 6, 2020.  For assistance please call 706-635-4361. Thank you.”

Despite the closure, the BOC will continue on with tonight’s, March 17, 2020, Public Hearing and Regular Meeting.

Additionally, Gilmer Schools, which have already been closed, is extending the closings

Many of you have seen Georgia Governor Kemp’s Executive Order mandating school closure March 18 – March 31, 2020. The Gilmer County School System will plan to remain closed until April 3, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Online learning opportunities for grades 6-12 and take home packets of student work for grades K-5 will continue at home during this time. Teachers will remain available by email and online learning regularly throughout the school day from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday-Friday. Teachers will hold designated office hours from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Seamless meals will continue to be provided during this time and will be coordinated through School Nutrition and Transportation.

The Administrative and Technology Offices (ATO) will be closed with staff working from home from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday – Friday and visiting the office daily only for short periods on a limited basis.

Schools will remain closed to all instructional staff. School level administrators will be working from home from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday – Friday to answer emails and make phone calls when needed.  School level administrators will be visiting the schools only when necessary for short periods of time.

The Gilmer County School District will remain closed for our regularly scheduled Spring Break from April 4 – April 12,2020 with students returning on Monday April 13th.  

This situation is constantly evolving as evident in how quickly things have changed in the last 7 days. We will continue to remain in contact with the Governor’s Office, Georgia Department of Education, and the Georgia Department of Health. As soon as we receive any relevant information, we will share it with you.

 

 

UPDATED March 17, 2020 – MESSAGE FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF GILMER ARTS

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop at a rapid pace, Gilmer Arts is following the advice of the CDC guidelines that have been issued to ensure the safety and health of our staff, volunteers, members and our patrons. As of Sunday, 15 March, the CDC has revised their recommendation to cancel all gatherings from 250+, to 50+ for the next 8 weeks. The Federal Government has suggested cancelling groupings of 10+. This will impact several events in the next few weeks at Gilmer Arts and at the George Link Jr, Gilmer Arts Playhouse. Here is list of events:
Spring Chorus Rehearsals/ Performance – Cancelled. (Check back for Fall schedule)
Storytelling (3rd Thursday of month) – Cancelled for March and April 2020
Acoustic Blends (3rd Friday of month) – Cancelled for March and April 2020
Volunteer Brunch (28 March) – Cancelled (will be rescheduled for a May date)
Exit Laughing (27 March – 5 April) – Postponed. Opening will be June 26th and will run 3 weeks
Auditions for Arsenic & Old Lace (14-16 April) – Cancelled (play in June will be replaced with Exit Laughing)
BEST Visual Art Opening and Show (17 April-20 May) – Cancelled. New date TBD
Meet the Author (18 April) – Postponed. New date TBD
Concert, Connor Lorrie (25 April) – Cancelled. New date TBD.
 
The above schedule takes us out for the next 8 weeks. As the advice from the CDC changes or as new State/Federal mandates come out, so may our future scheduling. Please check the website and social media sites frequently for any further changes or call the Gallery at 706.635.5605.
 As you can imagine, these changes are happening at a very fast pace. As soon as we have all the information, you’ll need for each show cancellation or change, we will provide updates and details to ticket holders directly through emails and/or phone calls. We will also continue to post the most up-to-date information on our website and social media pages. The Gallery will remain open for you to come see the latest art; however the hours will temporarily change.
The new Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday 12-6PM and Saturday’s 12-5PM. Please stop by and see the current Youth Exhibit through April. We rarely have more than 2-3 people in there at a time. We assure you we are doing are part to sanitize and keep things clean and sanitized for you. Also, some classes may still be available. We will update schedules as they change.
For Tickets you have purchased:
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Gilmer Arts relies heavily on donations and ticket sales for events. It is our hope that for all purchased tickets of a cancelled event or in the event that you are sick and cannot attend an event that you have purchased a ticket for, you will select one of the two options:
1.      Accept a gift certificate for the face value of your ticket(s) which can be used for any future event, performance or class at Gilmer Arts.
2.      Convert the ticket amount to a charitable donation.
We sincerely thank you in advance for your patience as we work through this challenging and unprecedented situation. Gilmer Arts is so grateful for the ongoing support of all our patrons, and we look forward to seeing you back in our venues when this crisis has passed.

 

 

UPDATED March 16, 2020 – Wine Highway Week Cancelled

North Georgia Winegrowers are disappointed to announce that the 2020 Wine Highway Week has been postponed due to recent guidelines announced by the CDC yesterday, “… large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals. Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.”
Our members are working together to reschedule this event to a later date.

While this sanctioned event is postponed, the following wineries will be open for the dates and times the event was scheduled:
March 20 – April 5, 2020
Monday – Fridays 1-5pm
Saturdays 11am -5pm
Sundays 12:30-5pm

12 Spies Vineyards and Farms
Big Door Vineyards
Cartecay Vineyards
Cavender Creek Vineyards and Winery
CeNita Winery and Tasting Room
Chateau Meichtry
Crane Creek Vineyards
Creekstone Winery
Currahee Vineyards
Twisted Wine Garden at Dahlonega Resort and Vineyard
Engelheim Vineyards
Etowah Meadery
Habersham Winery
Hightower Creek Vineyards
Kaya Vineyard & Winery
Odom Springs Vineyards
Paradise Hills, Cabins-Spa-Winery
Serenity Cellars
Sharp Mountain Vineyards
Stonewall Creek Vineyards
Sweet Acre Farms Winery
The Cottage Vineyard & Winery Inc.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards

We encourage you to support and visit these wineries.

 

 

UPDATED March 16, 2020 – Carter’s Lake and Gilmer Jail close

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – A new round of closings came today with several announcements in response to the Coronavirus and the increase in Georgia Cases over the weekend.

Along with closures over the weekend of county services and schools, new closings are continuing this week for the Gilmer Detention Center and Carters Lake.

The Gilmer Sheriff’s Office posted to social media saying:

In order to keep all inmates, our staff, as well as all visitors’ health in mind and in compliance with ‘social distancing’ due to corona virus concerns, the detention center is suspending all inmate visitations TEMPORARILY until further notice.

If you have any questions or concerns, you may call Captain Daves, Lt. Couch, or Lt. Smith at 706-635-4625.

Additionally, the new closings extend to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Carters Lake who posted yesterday saying:

With an abundance of caution and considering the concerns related to COVID-19 the Carters Lake Visitor Center will be closed March 16th-30th in a preemptive attempt to slow the spread of the virus. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Later, FYN confirmed that this closure is only the visitor center. The recreation areas are open, including camping. As of now, they will also stay open. But to avoid closed space and confining crowds, the visitor center has closed.

The Gilmer Chamber has closed its downtown welcome center in Ellijay to undergo a deep cleaning and to avoid exposure of the worker at the location who could be at risk. However, the main branch and welcome center will remain open.

Also, the City of Ellijay has canceled its March meeting for Monday, March 16, 2020.

Stay tuned to FYN as we continue to update you and post new closings from the community as they are announced.

 

 

UPDATED – March 14, 2020

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – More closings and announcements are continuing this weekend as another two county services close in response to concerns and State Government urgings to shut down to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

county services close closings

A statement from the Gilmer Animal Shelter announces closing next week.

The Gilmer County Animal Shelter announced around noon today that they would be closing “until further notice.”

The shelter is closing to both public access and volunteer workers. However, there will still be staff members taking care of the animals.

They stated, “We are only allowing staff to come in and care for our animals at this time. Animal Control will be running as normal. Calls will be returned as often as possible. Please be patient as we work through this.”

The shelter apologized for the inconvienice, but stated they are trying to both care for the animals at the shelter while also making sure the community is safe.

The statement also added, “Please know that we would never allow the animals to go without care.”

As county services close, it is not just in the animal shelter as the Gilmer’s Sequoyah Regional Library is also announcing a closure.

The general social media page for the the Sequoyah Regional Library System stated:

Out of an abundance of caution, all branches of the Sequoyah Regional Library System will close on Monday, March 16 until further notice. e-Library services will continue as normal. Advance voting will continue as scheduled at Ball Ground Public LibraryHickory Flat Public Library, and Rose Creek Public Library. Materials should be kept at home. Fines will not accrue while the library is closed. Please check this page for updates and additional information.

The post was also shared and copied onto the Gilmer Library page as well.

county services close

The Gilmer Library is not only closing, but cancelling events and programs next week for the Coronavirus.

This closure is not just a building closing however as the announcement is spreading to several events, services, and public access opportunities along with it. The Library has already announced the cancellation of the events “Journey into the Amazing Body!” and “Letters from a Confederate Soldier.”

However, a new post today came saying, “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sequoyah Regional Library System is suspending all programming, outreach, conference room use, and community room use beginning Monday, March 16 through the end of March. We will not be accepting community room applications at this time. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

 

 

 

ORIGINAL POST – March 12, 2020 – Closings and Cancellations due to COVID-19/Coronavirus

GILMER, Ga. – According to a release from Gilmer County Schools, the system will shut down with all school closings next week in the fallout from information and concerns over the Coronavirus in the county.

According to a public release from Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, the closure will last from Monday, March 16, 2020, through Friday, March 20, 2020.

The release states, “Our school district is committed to keeping our community informed about issues relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are no cases of COVID-19 at any Gilmer County school and currently there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Gilmer County. Our schools are not closing Friday, March 13, 2020, as we need to allow time for students and staff to retrieve needed materials and technology to be prepared for this closure. We will use Digital Learning Days during this closure for 6th-12th grade and paper learning packets for Kindergarten-5th grade to continue teaching and learning.”

Students will be retrieving these materials tomorrow, March 13, in order to follow these instructions next week. The release acknowledges that some hardships will come from this closure but said the plans are being finalized at this time.

While the current announcement is just for the week listed, Downs confirmed that future closings could be possible based on the need saying, “The district will continually review conditions and publish updates. Should additional closures be necessary we will notify you as soon as possible.”

The closings will not just be for students, however. All Gilmer schools and offices will be closed during the week along with all activities including athletics and extracurriculars including GHSA (Georgia High Schools Association) events  being cancelled, and additional closures could continue for these as well.

One point of note for testing, however, Downs said that, currently, SAT testing will still occur this Saturday, March 14, 2020.

With school closed, plans are being made to deep clean the schools and to provide meals in a similar manner to the Seamless Summer Program.

See the full release below:

closings

Chamber issues statement on Coronavirus

Community, News

School closed in Gilmer in face of Coronavirus

News
Gilmer BOE 2019, school closed

GILMER, Ga. – According to a release from Gilmer County Schools, the system will shut down with school closed next week in the fallout from information and concerns over the Coronavirus in the county.

According to a public release from Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, the closure will last from Monday, March 16, 2020, through Friday, March 20, 2020.

The release states, “Our school district is committed to keeping our community informed about issues relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are no cases of COVID-19 at any Gilmer County school and currently there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Gilmer County. Our schools are not closing Friday, March 13, 2020, as we need to allow time for students and staff to retrieve needed materials and technology to be prepared for this closure. We will use Digital Learning Days during this closure for 6th-12th grade and paper learning packets for Kindergarten-5th grade to continue teaching and learning.”

Students will be retrieving these materials tomorrow, March 13, in order to follow these instructions next week. The release acknowledges that some hardships will come from this closure but said the plans are being finalized at this time.

While the current announcement is just for the week listed, Downs confirmed that future closures could be possible based on the need saying, “The district will continually review conditions and publish updates. Should additional closures be necessary we will notify you as soon as possible.”

This closure will not just be for students, however. All Gilmer schools and offices will be closed during the week along with all activities including athletics and extracurriculars including GHSA (Georgia High Schools Association) events  being cancelled, and additional closures could continue for these as well.

One point of note for testing, however, Downs said that, currently, SAT testing will still occur this Saturday, March 14, 2020.

With school closed, plans are being made to deep clean the schools and to provide meals in a similar manner to the Seamless Summer Program.

See the full release below:

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