Gilmer Sheriff’s Office resolves barricade standoff without incident


UPDATE – July 25, 2020

The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Department has released the name and photo of the man involved in the incident and target of the warrant for rape.

According to the statement, the suspect arrested Thursday on the warrant for Rape from Gwinnett County was Christopher Lewis Wallace  Ellijay.


UPDATE – July 23, 2020

In a statement on social media, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that they were assisting Gwinnett County with serving a warrant for Rape to a subject on Appian Way.

The statment says that when units arrived, the subject barricaded himself inside the residence.

The Sheriff’s Office also confirmed that SWAT was involved saying, “While preparing for a tactical solution with assistance from the SWAT Unit from Cherokee Co. Sheriff’s Office, the subject surrendered and was taken into custody without incident.”


Original Post – July 23, 2020

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Several law enforcement vehicles were seen on Highway 52 West in Gilmer County today with citizens questioning the severity of the possible incident as some reports claim SWAT vehicles and Cherokee County Sheriff Deputy vehicles.

Sheriff's Office

GIlmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson

FYN has confirmed that Gilmer County Deputies were assisting in serving a Gwinnett County warrant earlier today when a suspect barricaded themself inside of the residence.

It has also been confirmed that Gilmer contacted the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office for assistance. However, Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson tells FYN that the situation has been resolved without any major incident as the suspect finally surrendered and was taken into custody.

Reports indicate the suspect will be taken to the Gwinnet County Jail, but official details will come from the Gilmer’s Sheriff’s Office soon. Stay with FYN as new details become available.

Gilmer calls Special Meeting for Millage Rate

Gilmer County BOC, Intergovernmental Agreement, session, Meeting

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Millage Rate is one of 5 items on the agenda this week during a special called meeting of the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners to be held on Friday, July 24, at 10 a.m.

The other items include the Swimming Pool, Vehicle Financing Documents, a Review of Roles and Responsibilities of the Board of Commissioners, and disposing of Surplus Real Property.


Agenda for Gilmer County’s July Special Called Meeting

Property taxes and the millage rate are set into the agenda discussing a “Resolution Authorizing the Advertisement of the Rollback Rate.” Set at 6.898 mills last year by adopting the rollback rate, the county went through discussions over both the Millage Rate and the 1.5 mills Bond Rate.

Last year discussion came from then-commissioner Dallas Miller and Citizens Joene DePlancke over the Bond Millage. After refinancing bonds in previous years, Holden said in August of 2019 that the 2020 payment is expected to total just over $4 million. Still, discussions were made about, specifically, about the .5 mill on that bond payment millage rate to cover the payments.

As discussions will move forward with the Millage Rates for County and the Board of Education, who each have their own rates, the county approve its rates and awaits the BOE to set their rate, before final approval of both rates together  can come in August, if the county follows the same schedule as previous years.

The swimming pool has been put on hiatus since near the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak as the Commissioners look to see what financial fallout would come from the shutdowns. However, discussions have started up again this month as the Board of Commissioners look for Bid specifications to begin the next step in the project.

The project got as far as the demolition of the old pool before stopping. The commissioners approved finishing that stage before coming to a full halt.

The bid process could start as early as next month with authorizing to advertise, however, to reach that point, obtaining the proper specifications is the current hurdle. Some discussion came during their regular July meeting voicing their disappointment that the designers of the pool came with estimates but are not going to deliver bid specifications. Paris said, “It surprised me that they couldn’t give us those specs…”

Disposing of Real Property is the other new business on the special meeting agenda. Agenda items like this sometimes do not specify a specific property in case multiple properties need to be discussed. However, an earlier copy of the agenda stated disposing of the former Planning and Zoning office as at least one of those properties.

Early voting sees record numbers in absentee ballots in Gilmer


GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – A massive turnout has come for the twin cities and surrounding area as Gilmer’s Voter Registration Office is reporting record numbers in absentee voting.

A total of 1,482 voters stopped by the office during the early voting for the primaries elections staking their votes on local, state, and national offices. Registrar Sherri Jones said that Friday, June 5, 2020, the final day of early voting,was their busiest day of the entire cycle with 161 voters casting their ballots on that day. Yet, that number pales in comparison to another.

Jones said that the state mailed absentee applications to active voters this year in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Of those applications, a record-breaking 6,117 ballots were requested. Jones said the office has been checking and making signature comparisons and following verification processes. Returning absentee ballots have piled up as they work through the response before tomorrow’s election day.

In fact, they still have not fully processed them all, Jones did confirm, however, that as of 3:00 p.m. on Monday, June 8, 2020, over 4,141 absentee ballots had been received and processed. This does not count the ballots that are still coming in before the deadline and in processing.

As the final hours count down and tomorrow dawns on election day, absentee’s could make up the largest majority of votes counted against individual precincts.

For comparison, the registrar’s office confirmed that the November General Election in 2016, the presidential election, saw the office mailing 725 absentee ballots and receiving 660 ballots in.

In the November General Election of 2018, the office mailed 614 absentee ballots out and received 550 ballots in.

Gilmer has seen large swings in elections in recent years from early voting, but this could be the first time in years, if ever, that the largest swing comes from absentee ballots.

Election Results delayed as polls remain open in Gilmer

Election, Election 2020
qualifying, polls

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer’s Probate Office has issued an order for polls to remain open late tonight due to issues this morning.

According to Elections Manager and Chief Registrar Tammy Watkins shared that the order saying they will hold Big Creek open until 7:20 p.m., Boardtown open until 7:15 p.m., Cartecay open until 7:05 p.m., Cherry Log open until 7:15 p.m., Ellijay South open until 7:30 p.m., Tails Creek open until 7:30 p.m.

The order states that these polls are remaining open due to issues that prevented the polls from opening on time this morning. “Because of equipment issues that were not caused by Petitioners and which were beyond the control of Petitioners,” says the order.

Because Georgia law guarantees a twelve-hour window for citizens to cast their votes, the order states that all voters shall cast their votes in this extended time via provisional ballot only. These ballots will be kept separate from other provisional ballots. Probate Judge Scott Chastain commented saying the provisional ballots are required by law due to federal offices on the ballot.

The extension will cause a delay in election results for tonight, but results will be tallied after closings as normal.

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Beth Arnold, Candidate for Gilmer County Coroner

Election, Election 2020

New energy. Beth Arnold, candidate for Gilmer County Coroner, says she wants to bring new energy to the office in Gilmer County. An office that she holds 11 years of experience for from funeral service as she says she has worked in Bernhardt Funeral Home. She also studied funeral services in the program at Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, Georgia.

Arnold said that she decided to run for the Office of Coroner because she wants to serve the citizens of the county while taking the next step in education and public service through the career she has spent so much time in. A lifelong resident of Gilmer County except the time spent at college, Beth is the daughter of Lee and Buffy Rittenberry Holcombe. She graduated from Gilmer High School in 2010 and is married to Dusty Arnold with two daughters, Reagan and Farrah.

Relying on her family for support in her career is key as she says they have already gotten used to strange hours in her career. Continuing that support into the Coroner’s Office, she says it is her firm stance on the importance of family and her Christian beliefs that drive her.

Though not the first time she’s thought about the office, Arnold said that now, the timing is right to make that run. This is where that ‘new energy’ she talks about comes from. Arnold said she is excited to take these next steps receiving the education and training, but also to bring renewed growth and a new face to the office.

“[The Coroner’s Office] has always been there in a time of need, they’ve done well at gathering information to pass on to investigators… They have served the community well,” says Arnold who noted she wants to add new ideas to renew and revitalize the position. She pointed out she didn’t have major issues she wants to change, but rather just improve upon with a fresh face.

Arnold spoke about centralizing the office in the county to be more neutral ground with people who it serves. A professional yet compassionate environment for family members who come there.

The Coroner’s investigations and correspondence with those involved in the investigations are a key point in the office. Being a part of the community in service is another. But with separation from personal businesses, she wants to isolate the office in that area. She asserted this point saying that she wanted to separate the office from her own personal business included. Work at a funeral home is service to that business, but working in a public office is service to every citizen in the county.

Arnold said that she wanted to be “Beth Arnold, Gilmer Coroner” in those times. To be a coroner serving the community with dignity and respect is the goal she wants to achieve.

Arnold said that her career is a calling that isn’t for everybody. But setting to join funeral services in her career, she knew that. Being a blessing for people in a time of need, guiding them, and being a blessing for them as well. In funeral service, Arnold says that she wants to encourage people where she can.

The next step of running for Coroner, she says, is just an extension of that. Having that passion for helping people and the interest in funeral services, she wants to continue serving in a new role, a new capacity. Taking on the challenges of education and administrative responsibilities with that position, challenges like maintaining the budget and growing inside that budget, are all challenges to overcome in that service.

A fresh new role for her to fill, a fresh new face for the county. New energy to drive it into the future. Arnold says she will be there, any time of day, to provide in a time that people need to be treated with dignity and respect. There is no inconvenient time in this position and she wants that to be known saying, “It’s a position of service for those in the county and I want to serve you in that manner.”

Gilmer Sheriff searching for Padgett after fleeing on Penland

Judicial Emergency, Padgett

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Highway 52 and Boardtown Road in Ellijay, Georgia, saw a lot of activity from deputies yesterday as the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) began searching for Jason Padgett.

Jason Padgett

Jason Padgett

According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to Hilltop Apartments in reference to a report of someone, identified as Jason Padgett, making threats of harm to himself or possibly cause law enforcement to harm him during response.

Some information is still unclear as to the full extent of the report, however, the Sheriff’s Office spread their activity and search across areas surrounding Penland Street, Cox Creek, and Boardtown Road on Monday afternoon.

The public statement from GCSO said that reports came that Padgett was ‘possibly’ armed as deputies responded, but as soon as deputies arrived, he fled into the woods. According to the statement, “GCSO, along with EMA personnel, utilized a K-9 and other methods to search while setting up a perimeter. Padgett was not located, but based on the nature of the call, we do NOT feel he poses a threat to the general public.”

Thought he has misdemeanor warrants, the Sheriff’s Office said that the main purpose for the search was the report of him wanting to harm himself.

At this time, they are continuing to search, but GCSO is asking citizens to please call 911 if you know anything about Padgett or his location.

Jerry Hensley, Candidate for Gilmer County Coroner

Election, Election 2020

Twenty-nine years of service since 1991. Jerry Hensley, candidate and incumbent for Gilmer County Coroner has been serving the citizens in his position for nearly three decades.

Studying the mortuary science in Gupton-Jones College of Mortuary Science, now Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service, Hensley graduated and, later, began licensed embalming and funeral services since 1975.

Since becoming Coroner, Hensley has undergone over 700 hours of training and classes for death investigations, family services, and law. With such a long history, he says much of the job has become muscle memory, but while practices and procedures don’t often change, laws and jurisdiction do. Hensley has worked alongside Sheriffs, city police, and even the Georgia Bureau of Investigation during his time with the county as he said he gets calls in all hours to support these investigations.

He has been married to Debbie Morrow Hensley for 44 years. They have two sons, Bryan and Nathan, and four grandchildren. Hensley is a member of Mount Vernon Baptist Church. A 1973 graduate of Gilmer High School, Hensley has lived in Gilmer most of his life, save for attending school. He’s never felt a need or draw to leave the county saying, “I love the mountains, and I love Gilmer County and have always loved the people. I am comfortable here.”

So connected to several areas of the community, from the office to friends, family, and church, Hensley said he has never felt comfortable in other places the way he does with Gilmer.

Much the same way as setting roots in Gilmer, Hensley set roots into funeral service as he had in interest in it when younger. As things tend to go, one thing leads to another, and a student that studies that which interests him finds work in it. Hensley continued that study and work into services and a position at Logan’s Funeral Home.

HensleySince 1991 and taking the Office of Coroner, Hensley said he is most proud of reaching close to 95% of all his calls. He said, “The people of Gilmer County elected me as their Coroner and I try my best to do my job.”

Helping in that office though, Hensley said he could not ask for two better deputies. He and his two certified deputy coroners, Melissa Waddell and Brian Nealey, have a combined 49 years of death investigation experience. All three coroners maintain their certification by receiving the state-mandated 24 hours of continuing education annually.

He went on to note that multiple calls or busier periods that require multiple responses require a deputy coroner to fill in with full authority of the Coroner’s Office saying, “That’s why I am proud to have two good Deputy Coroners. Because I can comfortably send them out on a call knowing they have got full power of the Coroner, and they are the Coroner when they are there. Everything’s going to be run like it’s supposed to.”

Having those deputies helps, but doesn’t always make the job easier in the one area that Hensley says is the single hardest part of his position. Notifying families. “It is always sad,” he said about the necessity of this service.

That necessary part comes with great balance to maintain professionalism while also being compassionate to the families. Hensley said it is what he has always strived for, compassion and courtesy amidst a professional, efficient office.

He wants his record to speak for him in this election as he said he hopes to continue serving the county just as he has for so many years. Furthermore, he asserted a need for citizens and encouraged all to get out and vote in the coming primary as many of Gilmer’s offices will be decided at that stage.

Probate offers guidance to policies during COVID-19

Press Release
Probate Office



Gun Permits frozen under Judicial Order

Gun Permits

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.


Judicial Order p1, Gun Permits

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Judicial Order p5, Gun Permits

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Judicial Order p7, Gun Permits

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Incident near Clear Creek results in Felony Charge


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, felony charge

Mary Elaine Newberry

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.”


Arrest Report, Felony Charge, Mary Elaine Newberry

Gilmer Sheriff’s Office honors Deputy Brett Dickey

Brett Dickey

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.”

Flood to Ice Gilmer’s weather turns again with Winter Storm

Winter Storm Warning

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.

Winter Storm Warning Feb 2020 GilmerThe 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.

Winter Storm Warning Feb 2020 GilmerEmergency Responders are ready to respond to people in medical needs, emergency situations, and stranded families.

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.”

Kids ‘Shop with a Hero’ in preparation of Christmas

Bobcat's Corner, Community, News
Gilmer Shop with a Hero kids

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.

Kids were bused from Ellijay Elementary School to Walmart with police escorts in celebration of Gilmer's First Annual "Shop with a Hero" event on December 14, 2019.

Kids were bused from Ellijay Elementary School to Walmart with police escorts in celebration of Gilmer’s First Annual “Shop with a Hero” event on December 14, 2019.

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.

GBI Agent Renea Green, left, and Ellijay Police Department Cpt. Ray Grace, right, speak at the breakfast kickoff for Gilmer's First Annual Shop with a Hero event.

GBI Agent Renea Green, left, and Ellijay Police Department Cpt. Ray Grace, right, speak at the breakfast kickoff for Gilmer’s First Annual Shop with a Hero event.

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.

Diamond theft suspects arrested

Diamond Theft

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.

Tyreke Marquise McCloud

Tyreke Marquise McCloud

Kimmone Alexander Stewart

Kimmone Alexander Stewart

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.

Diamond TheftNicholson 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.”

Diamond TheftBill 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.”

Diamond Store Break-in occurs in East Ellijay

Break-In closings, rally

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.”

Colonel Gary Engel of Engelheim Vineyards discusses foreign policy, keeping Republicans in office

Community, Politics

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.

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