ELLIJAY, Ga. – Under last Friday’s Judicial Order from Chief Judge Brenda Weaver over court processes and business, Probate Judge Scott Chastain clarified today that new gun permits and applications will not be accepted until the order ends on April 11, 2020, according to the order.
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and in an effort to “keep people from coming to the courthouse,” Chastain said that he originally was going to continue as normal on permits, but as the order halts non-essential duties. The process includes citizens going to other offices in the Sheriff’s Office for fingerprinting as well.
Chastain did further explain that those permits already in process will be sent through the mail, so those already in process should not worry about not getting theirs. Additionally, Chastain said that to help those who might expire under the freeze, they, too, should not worry as he will be including expirations in the freeze as well.
What this means is that if your permit expires while the freeze is in effect, it will still be considered valid until the freeze concludes and new permits and renewals are accepted again.
Chastain said, “We’re going to freeze that time frame so you’re not carrying around an invalid permit until this order has ended.”
He went on to say he has had discussions with other judges and sheriff’s associations about the Gun Permits and temporarily denying the new permits.
Additionally, the Probate Court offices are supposed to be putting out a list of the essential duties they will be maintaining such as marriage licenses, later today. FYN has requested a copy and will be posting these when available.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has released the arrest record including a felony charge for yesterdays incident near Clear Creek Middle School.
Mary Elaine Newberry, 59, was described as a disgruntled employee by Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs in a statement where she gave credit to a quick response from the School Resource Officer and the school’s security system for the quick response in locking down the school during the incident.
Newberry was taken into custody at the Transportation Facility next to Clear Creek Middle School by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office as is now facing felony charge on Aggravated Assault.
According to reports from Gilmer Schools late yesterday, a firearm was involved in the incident. However, Dr. Downs confirmed there were no injuries or damage to the facility during the incident.
Despite the resulting lockdown and the school, Downs was reported yesterday saying, “Please know that our students were not in danger. This was implemented as a precautionary measure toward ensuring their safety.”
ELLIJAY, Ga. – A somber day in Gilmer County began in the rain today for officers of the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office as they remember the anniversary of their fallen comrade, Deputy Sheriff Brett Dickey.
Today marked 24 years since Deputy Dickey, age 30, was shot and killed while serving a warrant on February 13, 1996.
The Sheriff’s Office held a memorial for Deputy Dickey today, as they do every year. The office stated, “We will never forget our fallen deputy, Brett Dickey, but we especially remember him today, 24 years since we lost him in the line of duty, Feb. 13, 1996.”
Listed on the Officer Down Memorial Page, Deputy Brett Dickey’s memorial offers the information on his service:
Deputy Sheriff Brett Dickey was shot and killed while serving a warrant.
Several officers, including Deputy Dickey’s father-in-law, Chief Deputy of Gilmer County, were accompanying Deputy Dickey during the stand-off and they were responsible for apprehending the suspect.
Deputy Dickey had served with Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office for four years. He was survived by his wife and 9-month-old son.
Deputy Brett Dickey, Badge 508, has been noted in the past by Sheriff Stacy Nicholson saying, “He was not just any old police officer, he was a true public servant, and he was good guy.”
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – In less than 24 hours, Gilmer County has gone from heavy rains and high winds under a Flash Flood Warning to Heavy Snow and Ice under a Winter Storm Warning.
The National Weather Service has issued the Winter Storm Warning until 7 p.m. tonight calling for up to 4 inches of accumulation. The NWS stated, “Accumulating snow on area roadways, and reduced visibility in snow, could make travel very difficult. Temperatures should drop below freezing again tonight…making black ice possible on Sunday morning.”
Gilmer Citizens are encouraged to stay off the roads not only tonight, but in the morning as well with ice from both the snowfall and the several inches of rain from the last two days.
While the Gilmer County Public Safety department had already prepared storm shelters and emergency preparations yesterday for the flood, they are continuing shelter operations through this change in the storm as it continues to hit Gilmer. The Public Safety Department issued a statement saying, “Many people are becoming stranded on the roads due to impossible driving conditions. We have opened a warming shelter at the Civic Center for those who cannot get home or to any other warm location. For information, please call our non-emergency number at 706-635-8911.”
The weather has already cause accidents on the roads including major accidents. The Gilmer Sheriff’s Office has reported a semi truck wrecked at Hwy. 515 at the 382 connector. While this accident is cleared at this time, more accidents could come from worsening road and ice conditions.
Gilmer County Public Safety released information this morning about closed and barricaded roads.
Maddox Dr. – Barricaded
Howard Simmons Rd. – Barriacaded
Main Gate Coosawattee – Closed
Ellenton Gate Coosawattee – Closed
Most streets inside Coosawattee are impassable
Vehicle accidents are occurring all over the county. Statements have been issued that the Georgia Department of Transportation and Gilmer County Road Department are working vigorously to keep up with the rapidly changing road conditions.
Authorities are asking citizens to “please stay home for a few hours. Conditions should improve by mid-afternoon.”
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County had plenty to celebrate this weekend during “Shop with a Hero” as volunteers from all over the county, and some outside the county, joined forces to provide a memorable and excited Saturday morning for local kids.
The First Annual “Shop with a Hero” event punctuated the Christmas season in Gilmer with a special note as not only a sign of continued cooperation between agencies but as a magical answer to families providing a special day to hang out with heroes from public service and to spend some time shopping for Christmas clothes and toys.
In years past, many will recall ‘0Shop with a Cop’ events that operated similarly to this. The major difference is that, now, every agency offers representatives and volunteers to come together and share time with the public apart from their daily capacities.
Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said on Saturday that this is what law enforcement is really about. Coming together to help the community and to be with the community. Days like this weekend’s Shop with a Hero are the key points of their service to the public as well as a way to be seen in uniform but outside of the common interactions like traffic stops, fighting fires, medical emergencies, and other duties they perform.
The day proceeded with a morning breakfast with the children and their families as Mr. P’s donated over 200 biscuits to feed everyone. As they ate, the heroes walked around introducing themselves and spoke with many of the families while Santa Claus also visited. With breakfast completed, a full procession paraded through Ellijay and East Ellijay with full lights and sirens as the children rode a bus through town, down Maddox Drive, then onto Highway 515 and on to Walmart where each volunteer was paired with a child to shop with. Some volunteers brought their family members as well to share in the experience.
But the focus of the day was on the children as they spent nearly two hours with their officer, deputy, firefighter, or official they were paired with. Each child received a gift card of $150. They had to spend at least $75 on clothes and $75 on whatever they wanted, be it more clothes, toys, snacks, or whatever else.
As the day progressed, each child and their hero spent their time shopping and talking along with their family before moving to two designated check out lanes only for use with the Shop with a Hero event. And that still wasn’t enough for the event and those involved. That morning, the children were given a “Shop with a Hero” t-shirt to wear throughout the day and keep. As the children finished their day of shopping, most of them just after noon, they turned in their event badges and were given a stocking to take home, already holding some small stocking stuffer toys and candy.
Going even further, certain volunteers including Sheriff Stacy Nicholson himself, manned donation tables for people who just happened to be in Walmart that day. The store pre-made 486 bags of food to be sold for donation. As citizens bought these bags, they were moved from the tables to a donation bin to be donated to the Gilmer High School food pantry. They sold every single bag and still had people donating more on top of that. The excess funds were put into holding accounts to be used for next year’s event.
The event was sponsored by the Ellijay Police Foundation as a 501c3, but the event was the brainchild of Cpt. Ray Grace of the Ellijay Police Department and GBI (Georgie Bureau of Investigation) Agent Renea Green. It sponsored 52 kids to go shopping with local heroes.
The event saw representatives from the Ellijay Police Department, the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office, East Ellijay Police Department, Ellijay Fire, Gilmer Fire & Rescue, Gilmer County Public Safety, the GBI, Georgia State Patrol, and the Department of Natural Resources as they came to spend time with these families.
But more than just these men and women, volunteers from the Gilmer Board of Education and the county’s elementary and middle school administations, along with donations and volunteers from local businesses donating time and money all came together to create the special day.
In just six weeks of preparation, Gilmer County raised $13,000 in locally sourced money that went right back into a local event helping local people.
These sponsors included Southern Customs, Parks Truck Center, United Contracting, Chateau Meichtry Vineyard, Bryant Physical Therapy, Aaron Family Orchards, Ott Farms and Vineyard, CMB Management Company, King Mechanical Services, Engelheim Vineyards, Ellijay Wood Fired Pizza, Artful Ellijay, Walmart, Ellijay Convenient, B.J. Reece Orchards, Nancy Cochran Maddox Attorney at Law, Pilgrim’s, David P. Garner DBA Garner Group Enterprises, United Community Bank, Cartecay Baptist Church, Winslow Real Estate Services, and many other anonymous business and private citizen donations including Sheriff’s Deputies who donated $100 to be allowed to grow beards during December while serving on duty.
With the major success that this event saw, talks are already working towards next year. Though nothing is set for next year yet, the event coordinators have said that many of the donations have already promised the same or more to the event. They did say they have had such an overwhelming response they could already have enough to at least duplicate the event next year.
See more photos from the event at FYN’s Facebook Photo Album.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Reports have been confirmed at this time that two suspects have been apprehended in the investigation into Wednesday night’s, December 4, 2019, break-in and theft at North Georgia Diamond in East Ellijay, Georgia.
Kimmone Alexander Stewart, 22, of Orlando, Florida, and Tyreke Marquise McCloud, 21, also of Orlando, Florida, were apprehended on December 5, 2019, just before 9 p.m. in Turner County in South Georgia.
According to a statement from Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, the Sheriff’s Department responded to a request from East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan to assist in the investigation of the theft. However, due to the extensiveness of the crime scene and the dollar amount in merchandise stolen, the Sheriff’s Office requested additional aid from the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation).
Nicholson went on to say that through the investigation, authorities were able to recover video footage of two African-American males entered the building by breaking through the front glass. They were also able to determine the suspects were driving a Dodge Charger. With this information, Nicholson said the Sheriff’s Office put out regional requests for “like crimes in other jurisdictions.”
With more evidence still being processed and analyzed, information came in today from the Turner County Sheriff’s Office who had arrested two African American males driving a Dodge Charger and matching the description of the suspects involved in the diamond theft.
Nicholson recounted that Turner County Deputies had attempted a traffic stop of the Charger, but the vehicle fled police. The chase ultimately resulted in the Charger crashing and the two suspects being apprehended by deputies. However, Nicholson said the deputies also found a large amount of jewelry in the vehicle during their processing of the scene. Turner County began reaching out for information on related crimes.
Currently, Sheriff Nicholson said they are processing more evidence tying these two to the North Georgia Diamond theft and break-in, and through further cooperation with Gilmer County Detectives, looking at the evidence in Turner County, detectives were able to connect these two men to the crime. However, the Sheriff’s Office is only releasing this preceding information at this time. He said they will be charging the two with one count of burglary each and are pursuing warrants drafted to bring the suspects back to Gilmer County to stand trial for the theft after Turner County finishes with its traffic charges for the two suspects.
Nicholson went on to say, “Although there was a lot of good police work that went in to the initial investigation of this case. It always helps to have a little luck on your side when you’re investigating a burglary. I personally give a lot of credit to the Turner County Sheriff’s Office for helping us solve this crime.”
Bill and Alison Craig, owners of North Georgia Diamond, were unable to be reached for comment directly. However, official statements from North Georgia Diamond said,”Thank you to Sheriff Stacy Nicholson, Captain Brian Shepard and his Investigation Team, GCSO, East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan, Shane Bowman, Tommy Long, The GBI, and all the other members of their departments. We also wish to thank the Turner County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance. We would also like to thank the team from DC Glass for putting our showcases back together in record time. Our wonderful community reached out in so many ways with prayer and offers to help and it worked. This is amazing news and well, We are having a DOOR BUSTER SALE with half off gold and diamond jewelry til close today and another special sale tomorrow. We are beyond excited about this development.”
In a surprise turn, information of the suspects apprehension came today on the same day that North Georgia Diamond has officially reopened after the incident, December 6, 2019. With quick repairs and replacements, a statement yesterday from North Georgia Diamond said, “There are still a few cases that need new glass (that will happen Saturday) and we may be a bit stressed but we will not let this senseless break in get us down.”
In fact, as if in opposition to the diamond theft, North Georgia Diamond has already announced two sales going on this weekend, quickly returning to not only normal business, but showing resilience against both the break-in and the loss of merchandise at the time.
Nicholson stated, “It would appear, at this time, that at least a large portion of the stolen merchandise from North Georgia Diamond was recovered by the good work of the Turner County Deputies.”
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Owners of North Georgia Diamond in Gilmer County have confirmed a break-in and theft occurred in their showroom last night, December 4, 2019.
According to a statement by North Georgia Diamond, the business is already beginning to recover and are looking to return to business this weekend.
So far, East Ellijay Police, Gilmer’s Sheriff’s Office, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) have all been reported to be involved in the investigation. FYN has reached out to these agencies for comment and is awaiting a response.
Additionally, North Georgia Diamond has confirmed that with the break-in happening overnight, no injuries came from the incident. However, there was damage to the building and equipment.
With the investigation ongoing, North Georgia Diamond released a statement saying, “Nobody got hurt and we will get through this. Thanks to all of the law enforcement personnel that have been on the seen this morning. East Ellijay PD, Gilmer County Sheriffs Office, GBI, and anyone else I am leaving out. They are the best. Stay tuned for more info as to when we can get back up and running. We have a wonderful community and we will have a Merry Christmas.”
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Colonel Gary Engel of Ellijay’s Engelheim Vineyards talked about his career as a high ranking officer during some of the biggest moments of US foreign policy from the last 25 years, as well as his unique insight on US foreign policy today and why it’s so important to keep Republicans in office, during the Republican Party of Gilmer County‘s meeting held on Thursday, November 21, 2019.
Colonel Engel went to the United States Naval War College, his master’s degree being in national security and strategic studies with a focus on the Middle East. He’s a retired vice president from General Dynamics Corporation, and a retired colonel of the US army. During his time in the army, he was a transportation officer for 28 years, and he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama.
Colonel Engel states that “Many of the politicians that you see today are quite frankly a disgrace, because they don’t understand the idea of strategic or operational or tactical operational levels. It’s critical that you understand that, because that drives the whole operation that we had to execute as soldiers.”
On leadership, he states that “Leadership is something that alot of people don’t get. If I look at the deep state in Washington D.C. today, they don’t get it. Because they don’t get what leadership is all about. […] It’s about being a servant leader. The greatest man who lived was Jesus Christ, not once did he think about himself, he thought about the people around him. It’s not about me. It’s about how many people’s lives I can touch with this short life that I’ve been given. So that when I lay down to die one day (or you do), who’s life did you touch? What kind of difference did you make in our country?”
On President Trump, he states that “Alot of people say he Tweets too much. He’s got to, that’s the only way he’s got to communicate. It’s effective, because they report it. Otherwise the news media isn’t going to report it, because it’s a propaganda media, it’s a disgrace. But he understands what success looks like. Why is he a servant? Why would that president go through the process to serve? And if you ask yourself, ‘well he doesn’t need the fame, he doesn’t need the fortune (he’s not even taking his paycheck; going for charity, last I checked), he doesn’t need the power.’ You look at alot of these guys in Washington D.C. and they’re upset because he’s messing up their gravy train deal.”
On education, he believes that “Our education system is failing us. We need to put the competition in their education system. The Victory Center down here, this Christian school… Give us an alternative. Why are we denying the children that can’t afford it’s parents the opportunity to send their kids to a different school, an alternative school, so they can get a decent education instead of some propaganda. Most of the teachers really want to do a good job, but their hands are tied.”
He mentions during his speech that he was a Democrat until the age of 13, but that he now considers himself more of a Libertarian on most issues, excluding national security.
The entire (26:23) video may be viewed below!
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Dakota Fendley, 16, has been reported missing and is currently being sought by the Sheriff’s Department today, October 30, 2019. Fendley is pictured to the right in a photo dispersed by authorities.
According to their social media, they are asking citizens to contact Gilmer County Dispatch at 706-635-8911 or Gilmer County CID at 706-635-4646 if you have information on the whereabouts of Fendley.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Confirmed by a representative inside the Gilmer County Charter School System, the campuses of Gilmer High School, Mountain View Elementary, and the Larry Walker Education Center, as well as the campus of North Georgia Christian Academy went into a soft lock down today, October 21, 2019.
FYN learned that the lock down was caused by an investigation in the area. Schools were advised to go on lock down for protection as it was said it was not directly involving the schools. This was later confirmed by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office who stated in a public release, “The investigation that caused schools to be put on “lock out” has been completed by Ellijay Police Department. The investigation was unfounded and everything is to go back to normal operations soon.”
Schools are currently returning to normal operation as the Police Department is wrapping up its operations. There is no available information about the investigation itself at this time, but authorities are contacting schools to resolve the issue. North Georgia Christian Academy said it had contacted parents about the incident but declined to comment publicly about the lock down.
ELLIJAY, Ga – Meetings have completed and the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners are preparing for the next steps of cuts and adjustments as they move towards a finalized budget in the coming months. With much still to come, the budget meetings now showcase each department and office’s initial proposed budget.
Each holds a meeting specifically for them to highlight requests and changes to their budgets alongside Financial Officer Sandi Holden and, this year, the two current members of the Board of Commissioners.
While the county is planning in the proposed budget for a potential eight percent increase in group insurance, they are still early in planning and may not see that large of an increase.
While much of the Sheriff’s Office budget remains similar to recent years, another increase is being proposed for a change in retirement benefits. This plan sees officers paying into the program over a minimum of 15 years of service, according to Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson. The POAB (Peace Officers Annuity and Benefits Fund) is a retirement for certified law enforcement officers. Any officer in Georgia can join. After the officer retires, a monthly payment created by the number of years your were a member multiplied by 24.
Sheriff Nicholson is asking in his budget to invoke an option for the county. As the Sheriff’s Office has been paying the $20 per month for its officers since 2014, Nicholson is requesting to budget for the option to “buy back” up to 5 years of service in the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office for officers who worked for the office before 2014. Nicholson estimates this could affect between 32 and 34 employees. Not all would be a full five years of service. It could cost an extra $175,000 or more. However, Nicholson also said the purchase could be done in increments, so as not to cost the full price at first.
If the office moves forward with this, Nicholson said that a contract with officers would be created so that should an officer leave the Sheriff’s Office to transfer to another law enforcement agency, they would pay back the money spent to buy back these years of service.
Additionally, there was a budget increase in salaries. However, Nicholson said this change comes from Administrative Salaries and includes zero pay raise. Instead, the change is to cover some oversights due to raises over recent years.
There are also capital expenditures requests including 10 vehicles and 11 portable radios including extra programming, this programming includes repeating frequencies and adaptations for multiple agency on scene situations.
Gilmer’s Fire Department is reporting that they will see some increase expected in their revenue lines. With Minor increase to line items such as contract services, vehicle repairs and maintenance, and supplies and materials, the majority of the changes in the capital budget.
Just like last year, a massive $467,809 was requested on the Capital Budget. Only Roads and Bridges compares in capital expenses at $365,000. Paris also repeated his same question from last year’s budget as he asked Fire Chief Daniel Kauffman to prioritize the items requested.
That priority came to
1. 2020 Dodge Ambulance – $236,000
2. Used Fire Engine to replace a 1976 American LaFrance – $75,000
3. Stryker Stretcher with Warranty and Maintenance – $10,844
4. Hurst Hydraulics Extrication Equipment – $32,000
5. 2 Lucas Devices for CPR compression assistance and training – $53,965
6. 2020 Ford F150 – $25,000
7. Target Solutions
8. 2020 Ford F250 – $35,000
Roads & Bridges
The county is looking at raising wages for employees who are still working at $9 per hour wages. Roads and Bridges saw a proposed increase in wages from $773,563 to $898,106. This has actually reached across multiple years and departments as the county is attempting to have increased all employees in the next few years. County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris has said before that the county sees part of its turnover rate due to low pay.
Another big increase came through striping. The Road Dept is catching up through all the current paving from 2019 alongside other projects. With the budget set to go back and stripe in 2020, the Road Department budget jump[ed on this line item. In the 2019 budget, striping was budgeted at $30,000, but in 2020, the current proposal is set at $120,000. Paris noted later in the meeting that striping costs are estimated per mile at $2,500 for double-yellow lines and two edge lines. Paris stated that Eller Road and Howard Simmons Road would cost more as they use center turn lanes and intersections. Their estimate is $5,000 per mile.
On the Capital Budget, the Road Department reached $365,000. However, the majority of this request comes from two items. A Motorgrader for $240,000 and a Dump Truck for $125,000.
Just like the Road Department, proposed budgets are showing increases in salary lines to bring up those making $9 per hour to a higher wage. The increase goes from 2019’s budgeted $268,576 to 2020’s proposed $335,525.
While they don’t have a specific number yet, the department is also reporting an expected increase from Advanced Disposal for the county’s solid waste disposal. They are also still looking at the leachate issue from the landfill’s lift stations. Additional funds could be required if the situation changes.
With the Board of Assessors requesting pay increases across the department for Tax Assessors, the budget requests could meet push back as the Tax Assessors have seen increases in recent years.
Another increase comes with Contract Services. The increase for a second flight for QPublic and Change Finder program to scan for changes to properties. This program can allow the Assessors to see properties that may be blocked off or gated to where assessors may not normally be able to see the whole property. This program also automatically scans properties within the county to find details and changes that would increase property values and, therefore, revenue in the department.
With major elections coming up, the Probate Court is almost tripling their elections budget, increasing from 2019’s budgeted $65,314 to a proposed $192,304 in 2020. As expected during an election year like this, the increases are reaching to areas like advertising. Supplies and materials is over six times its 2019 budget, from $7,400 to $47,000. Additionally, their proposed budget proposes $111,092 for election workers.
Probate Judge Scott Chastain is still looking for details on operating the elections side of the office, addressing issues like poll workers payments and ballot advertising alongside Chief Registrar Tammy Watkins. As the budget moves into later stages details will become more fine tuned in the elections.
One of the major issues that is still unclear as to how it could affect the budget is the new election machines. Training and security for election ballots for the new machines are not yet fully completed as they continue to await the machines.
This includes new equipment such as required printers for the voting machines including their ink and maintenance.
Also requesting salary increases, the Animal Shelter is looking at a proposed $124,500, opposed to 2019’s budgeted $108,040.
Director Daniel Laukka is also looking to begin accruing a type of contingency on the capital budget fund as he looks to needs for repairs and eventual replacement of the shelter’s transport van. Paris noted that he believes the shelter is going to eventually need to look at possibly hiring another animal control officer, but said that 2020 probably wouldn’t be that time.
Code and Regulatory Department
A major increase in group insurance saw this department go from 2019’s budgeted $613 to the 2020 proposal of $12,500. Another increase in advertising came from “blue cards” advertising.
Recreation and Parks Department
While much of the Recreation and Parks Department budget remains the same, a decrease in Civic Center utilities shows the drop in costs as the pool pumps will no longer run. However, certain items are still in place, such as gate revenue and concessions costs still indicate plans to move forward with the pool construction. However, now, even Chairman Paris said he is starting to doubt whether the county will meet the goal of Memorial Day.
The coroner’s office is requesting an increase in budget for an additional deputy coroner.
The Magistrate Court’s budget shows little change with only slight increases to line items like Insurance and Bonds and Group Insurance. Judge Kincaid is requesting a small increase for clerk training and education as well.
Clerk of Court
A decrease in administration salary was noted as the county switches Clerks of Court after the retirement of Glenda Sue Johnson. However, the nearly $16,000 decrease was offset by a $22,000 increase in group insurance.
Last year’s approval for a pre-trial and probation program shows under Superior Courts budget as $27,509. Though not originally budget for the 2019 budget, discussion is underway whether to keep this line item under Superior Court or move it to Probation department. Additionally, Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver is asking for $3,000 increase in Mental Health Court Program. With increasing numbers of help needed for those with mental issues, Judge Weaver said the money they are receiving is not enough to meet match numbers for state grants.
Planning and Zoning
Planning and Zoning is looking at a few increases in areas such as advertising and insurance, their overall budget is actually decreasing in proposal by just over $2,000.
Minor increases in communications and professional services, with a larger increase to supplies and materials.
Increases to Salary and Wages include and additional run-off election next year that the office is planning for. However, plans could change with coming changes to voting machines. Involving early voting and election night voting, an additional person may be needed to monitor the new machines printed ballots and to direct those who may need guidance on the process of submitting the paper ballots.
Maintenance Department is also looking to increase pay wages in the proposed budget.
The proposed budget for the Chamber highlighted requested features from the BOC including planned audits and reports. The Chamber is also planning to see a slight increase to collections based on years of growth. In the next year, President and CEO of the Chamber, Paige Green indicated they could be looking to improve some cycling capabilities to revisit the idea of becoming an IMBA Ride Center.
In other changes, they are looking for directional signage, maps, other downtown improvements.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest this week of a local resident on charges of embezzlement and theft.
The suspect, Tiffany Baker, turned herself in according to the Sheriff’s Office Booking Report. The official list of charges on the booking report states three felony charges of Theft by Taking and one felony charge for unauthorized of a financial transaction card.
The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office Incident Report states, “using a business credit card for personal use, changing deposit slips and keeping the rest of the cash before making the deposits at the bank, ordering items off of Amazon for personal use and turning in the receipts as office supplies.”
The report initially states that the total amount reached $187,000. However, in the same report, this number is later amended saying, “As of 8/29/2019, the initial amount has increased to over $301,000.”
The investigation is still continuing into this incident. According to a Sheriff’s Office representative, Baker has bonded out since her arrest. Sheriff’s files indicate Baker will face these allegations in Superior Court.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Probate Court honored three of its clerks for their state certifications this week.
A process that began with former Probate Judge Anita Mullins, these employees have served for years in the court system and have completed training programs within the system under Judge Scott Chastain.
The three ladies recognized are Jana Grno, Tracy Teague, and Lyndsay Hightower. Chastain says that recognition is given for 30 hours and 60 hours of training for the program, but he wanted to do something special as each of these women now have 90 hours, the final stage of the program and actual certification.
Jana Grno will have been with the Gilmer Probate for five years next week on April 21. Focusing on the vital records and weapons permits now, Chastain says there is very little she cannot do in the Probate Court as she also assists in traffic court. She is also the longest running employee in the Probate Office in Gilmer County.
Tracy Teague will reach her 5 years with the Probate Court this September. Chastain calls Teague a “lifesaver” as he transitioned in the office. He says she was and is constantly there every time he calls for anything the office needs.
Teague has recently been announced as Judge Chastain’s Chief Clerk. Teague had already served as Chief Clerk under Judge Mullins and continues this service now that Chastain has asked her as well. She handles much of the requirements in traffic court, and Chastain says he uses her as Chief Clerk for certain administration needs when he is out of the office.
Lyndsay Hightower was hired into the Probate Court on August 30, 2016. She serves in the front window of the Probate Office, she is the main probate clerk of the office according to Chastain. He noted that he has basically asked her to take on the work of two clerks and she continues to work hard under the stress. With previous experience in law enforcement, he says Hightower brings a different view to the office alongside her coworkers.
Mullins was also present at the celebration for her former employees. She offered a few words on the occasion as she stated, “They worked so hard for me. They were such a blessing because I was going through, at the end, a lot of family issues with my parents. If it hadn’t have been for these girls, I don’t know what I would have done. They are so smart, and they are so capable. I know that they are going to continue on and do great things.”
Both Mullins and Chastain made comments about how little the public gets to see just how much work goes on in the office behind the public sight. Accomplishing the vast amount of work necessary for the office to operate efficiently is next to impossible without the proper staff.
Chastain went on to say that with two other employees in the office, he hopes to become one of the few Probate Offices in the state of Georgia with every clerk state certified in the coming years.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Reports are coming in after school today as a student began threatening Gilmer High School.
According to confirmation from the Gilmer School System, a parent reported the threats to administrators who promptly contacted authorities.
The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office quickly investigated and arrested the individual. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office will also have extra staff monitoring the High School on Wednesday, March 27.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – With confirmation of roads in and around Ellijay and East Ellijay, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has issued a statement for drivers.
Gilmer Dispatch, deputies, and city police officers are reporting that several of the main roadways in town, as well as others throughout the county, are beginning to flood.
The Sheriff’s Office has suggested you stay in if possible, but if you have to drive, they ask that you please be on the lookout for standing water in the roadways.
DO NOT attempt to drive through roads that are under water!
This rain is in our forecast for at least the next 2-3 days, so we expect there is a possibility that the flooding on the roads may get a lot worse before it gets better.
At this time, Gilmer county remains under a Flash Flood watch until at least Thursday evening.