Mrs. Vanessa Cass announces the staff member of the month…Congrats to Mr. Joey Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan is the MECHS staff member of the month! Mr. Sullivan goes about and beyond for his students, long after they leave the math room. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to excellence!
Congrats to Kayla Alred! Kayla was the Overall student of the month for March! Also pictured is Vanessa Cass. Mrs. Cass is the senior room teacher/advisor.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County got its first look at its newest Board of Education member, Doug Pritchett, in January’s meetings, but now, FYN sits down for a few questions with the man selected to fill the vacant spot.
Pritchett is a life-long resident of Gilmer County, having graduated from its High School and only leaving for Reinhardt University and later graduating from University of Georgia. He has been a banker for much of his life as his wife taught in the Gilmer County School System for 34 years. He has had three children graduate from Gilmer as well.
On joining the Board, Pritchett said, “I’ve always worked in the community. I believe in giving back to the community, and I felt like this was a way I could continue to do that.” He went on to say that he wants to be a positive influence with his only goal to continue the quality that he has seen in the school system so far.
That quality, says Pritchett, is starting to gain momentum with the “stability” the school system has seen in recent years. With a number of Superintendents and changes now behind us, he wants to continue that momentum and stability that has led Gilmer to successes in testing and classes as well as programs like the FFA (Future Farmers of America).
He went on to explain that the county has seen more investment into the students in whatever path they choose through projects like the new Agricultural Center and the coming restructuring of Gilmer County School buildings with a new elementary school. These projects through each cycle reinvest more into the school and students as they study, practice, learn, and compete. With ESPLOST Bonds, Pritchett told FYN that the short term bonds and quick payoff through the life of the ESPLOST allows these projects to be available for the students quicker.
Pritchett has been through board orientation, but will be seeing more training in April and June as he gets deeper into the new position. He acknowledged the trials ahead as he begins looking deeper at items like the recently debated State-Controlled summers issue as well as the needs of the local community. Pritchett said he has received a lot of help from his fellow board members in getting up to speed and getting through his first meeting already.
Ultimately pointing to the students, Pritchett says he wants to focus on helping to prepare them for their futures. Highlighting Gilmer County’s focus on college and career readiness in addition to trade skills and work force preparedness, he touted Gilmer County as one of the best in the state as he said he is looking forward to the next two years and getting to be a part of steering that success.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – As the Gilmer County Board of Education went through usual approvals for administration in January for the coming school year, an unusual take on the votes came as Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said she was requested to go through approvals one at a time instead of all together.
Those individual votes came so a no vote could be given to Gilmer High School Principal Carla Foley. She was approved in a 3-2 decision with Tom Ocobock and Ronald Watkins as the dissenting votes. FYN later asked these two why they voted no. However, they simply commented that they had their reasons.
Watkins specifically said, “Hopefully, things will straighten up and next year will be a yes vote.” He did note simply that he wasn’t satisfied with the position, declining to explain further.
Ocobock did agree that he wanted next year to be a yes vote, but also declined further comment.
One other dissension came with the Central Administration positions. As Bob Sosebee was recommended for Director of Facilities and Transportation, Ocobock spoke in the meeting saying, “I’m giving him the yes vote, but I want to see marked improvement in maintenance on these schools in this year.”
Ocobock said he has seen trash and alluded to more as he repeated that he wanted a marked improvement.
With these approvals of administration, the Board will move forward next month with recommendations for staff and contracts for the coming school year.
ELLIJAY, Ga – Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs has confirmed that Board Member Nicholas Weaver has tendered his resignation from the Board today, September 11, 2018.
According to the Board’s Official Statement, the resignation comes as he has moved out of the Post 3 area of Gilmer County, he can no longer hold his Post 3 position on the Board.
His resignation becomes effective immediately leaving the board down one member for the work session in two weeks on September 17. It is possible that they will move through this month without a fifth member, but plans are already in motion as an election will be needed to replace Weaver. However, the deadline has already passed to place anything new on November’s ballot.
Until the Board can officially hold an election for the seat next year, they will be looking to appoint someone to fill the space until then. Citizens will recall that current Board Member Ronald Watkins filled his position from a vacancy in 2016 before later running in the election.
As more details become available and the Board selects a replacement, stay with FYN as we continue to update you on this story.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – More than just a saw, Gilmer High School students in Dennis Wilson Jr.’s class are enjoying the perks of a new table saw utilizing a SawStop.
According to Gordon Brewer, of the Apple Ridge Woodturners, the club was in need of a new place to meet as the fire station at which they normally met was a bit too far for some members. As they searched, Brewer stated that the school was kind enough to allow them to meet at the school. Strengthening the relationship, the Woodturners began discussing classes and mentorships for students who wished to take advantage of them.
However, discussion continued as the Woodturners began looking at the high school’s construction class equipment. Wilson spoke of the class’ table saw and issues with safety devices on the saw.
Noticing the need, the Apple Ridge Woodturners Club donated money from within the club, as well as one donation from an outside citizen Mac Logan, to provide a new table saw with several additions for the students utilizing the equipment. The entire package included the SawStop Contractor Saw with the cartridge that drops the blade below the table with any moisture, according to Wilson, who says the system works by grabbing the blade with a cartridge under the table that drops the blade under to prevent serious injury to the operator. While this does ruin both the blade and the cartridge, it holds injury to the operator to between a slight cut to a deep cut instead of possibly losing the entire finger.
The new saw also comes with a new plastic blade guard and a “writhing knife” behind the blade to separate the cut wood from pinching the blade and getting caught which could launch a piece of wood back at the operator.
Apple Ridge Woodturners President Richard Byers told FetchYourNews (FYN) that the club’s 45 members joined together for the $1,799 purchase for the construction class. Typically meeting once a month, the club has been planning since August and moving toward this week as when to officially donate the device. Byers told FYN, should the SawStop device ever be used, it would be, roughly, $200 to replace, which is comparatively cheap in relation to major injury and medical costs.
Moving into the new semester, teacher Dennis Wilson told FYN the main thing he was excited for was the safety upgrade. Stating the most common injury on such a tool is running one’s hand into the blade. Having the state-of-the-art saw helps every one of the 100 students in the shop daily.
“It’s huge,” said Wilson, who commented about constantly being asked by community members who are seeking students who are trained and ready to join construction jobs. Noting the help he gets from the community, Wilson hinted at future projects to return to the community. The constant cycle not only strengthens the relationship, but Wilson said, it is a huge success for the students who are completely responsible for projects from communicating with a client requesting the project to a final in the class that requires them to fully build two sheds like they would a house.
As students move further into the new semester, Wilson told FYN that the saw will be constantly used in his class. Reiterating what the donation means, Wilson noted the age of some of his equipment.
Having the community invest into its own future through the training of students not only shows the course importance but also shows that the community recognizes that importance and cares to improve the quality.
ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) is moving forward for a change on one front while maybe avoiding change on another for next year.
First, the BOE has approved a motion to begin the process to change the board members compensation from $50 per meeting to $400 per month. Initial response from citizens have been conflicted with such a drastic increase. However, with this approval, the item will be sent to the General Assembly to be considered in the next session in early 2018. Then, if approved, Gilmer County Board of Education Member Michael Bramlett tells FYN that the change will not take effect for board members until the next time their seat is elected.
This means that the current Board of Education members will have to be re-elected before they, or the newly elected member, could take advantage of the compensation change, and that is if it is approved at the General Assembly.
Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FYN the Board has never set anything about compensation previously, which means it was automatically set at $50 per meeting. But a feeling now that the $50 was insufficient for the work put in ushered forth the motion for a change.
Wilkes also stated that this is already being done by neighboring Fannin County. The switch means going from some months with only the work session and regular session and some with at least five or more meetings. Wilkes stated it was likely, more when the Board was searching for a Superintendent before she was hired, to a set rate for the month regardless of the number of meetings.
As for avoiding a change, the BOE listened to one citizen who signed up to speak at their regular meeting. Brian Pritchard spoke to the board to ask them not to change the leadership of their football program. The Gilmer Bobcats football team has seen a lot of change over the last three years with continuing shifts in coaches across two 0-10 seasons. While Pritchard never mentioned names, he stated the current leadership was what the kids needed. It was a leadership “they would play for.”
The point to note came later in the meeting when the Board approved its November personnel changes. No resignations, terminations or retirements were shown on the list. While personnel was discussed earlier in the week during executive session, before Pritchard’s comments, it will be something they say they consider moving forward.
During its final meeting of the year, December 15, the Gilmer County Board of Education honored its two members that were attending their final meeting.
James Waters and Angela Thomas are both stepping down this month as the newly elected Board Members will be taking office in January. Both Members recieved plaques in honor of their years of service as the Board held a reception preceding their meeting. Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes spoke during the meeting to say how much she would miss them and appreciated what they did for her as she came to the Board saying, “You both bring such insight to the Board. I have depended on both of you during my time here. Angie as a Mother’s perspective on our Board, always concerned with the students and James, also concerned with students, but also helping me through construction projects and knowing the community.”
James Waters has served as a Board Member since 2012, when asked about his time, Waters stated, “I think a lot of people who want to should step up and do it. It’s fun and you learn a lot of stuff… People just need to support this system.” He also left a piece of advice for those coming onto the Board stating, “Listen. Be the last one to speak and if you don’t have anything to say. Don’t say it.”
Angela Thomas has served as a Board Member since 2013. With her time in service, Thomas stated, “It’s just an honor to serve the people of Gilmer County and mainly the students. I have a passion for the kids, and I honestly feel like we are in a lot better place than when I came on the Board. It takes a lot of hard work that all these people have put in to get our academics where the need to be.” FYN also asked Thomas for a piece of advice for the new members. She offered, “Don’t take everything so personal. With controversial issues and a lot of negative comments from people, you have to remember its the seat they get mad at, and not you.”