ELLIJAY, Ga. – A couple from the area of Woodland Acres spoke in August’s Commissioners’ meetings about an ongoing problem with dogs running loose in the area.
In the ensuing discussions, on August 8, 2019, Commission Chairman Charlie Paris promised citizens that changes would be coming to the Animal Control Ordinances of Gilmer County in efforts to address this and similar issues in the county.
The most vocal, Sto Goodwin and Debra Christian, live as neighbors in Woodland Acres and began discussing the issue on Wednesday, they tell FYN that several people in the area have had issues with dogs running free in the area. Christian named the breed Cane Corso as one that has specifically harassed her. She went on to say that the issue has not been handled properly as they have reported the issues, Animal Control has picked up the dogs on the loose, but the owner in question just get the dogs back. This owner, who was not named, has allegedly gone to court, promised to move, and made other promises that have not been kept.
Christian alleges that the owner refuses to enclose the dogs and actively trains them in “Predator Control.” She was supported in these allegations by both Goodwin and even Chairman Paris who said, “He has been very clear with us in the past that he expects his dogs to be able to run free, and that we’re welcome to fine him. He’ll pay the fine, but they will run free.”
Paris stated that the problem has existed for several years. Due to the increasing allegations and some citizens even saying they have video of the dogs killing cats and other animals as well as chasing after people in the area, responses are now increasing. While Paris said that they cannot just go and take the dogs by law, he did say that the county is already changing one thing right now. Animal Control’s policy for returning animals found off of owner’s property is going to step up plan.
Paris said, “Previously, if an animal was brought in that was found off the owner’s property, it was $150 fee to reclaim it. If it came in again, it was another $150. What we’ve done is we’ve lowered the first offense to $100, and if that person, who comes in, is willing to have us spay or neuter the particular animal, then we will lower it to $75. That’s the first time, and this is per owner, not per animal. The second time an animal from that owner comes in, it’s $300. And if they want to spay or neuter, we’ll back it up one level to $100. The third time it comes in, it’s going to be $600, then $900. And then it’ll be $1000.”
Paris went on to note that citations will also go along with that.
These new changes are just part of the major changes that could be coming to the ordinance. Paris promised those present that he would be looking into the ordinance to have something to present next month. Goodwin asked how many animals might die by the time this situation reaches those higher levels of fees.
Goodwin said that this issue has gone on for six years with nobody seeming to respond or even care as this one owner hides behind a law claiming exemption for dog attacks on other animals under certain circumstances. One of those exemptions involve Predator Control, being the training claimed for these animals. However, he also tells FYN that he has neighbors who have photos and even a video of one of the dogs with a mutilated cat in its mouth.
Additionally, with potential citations, court litigation, and other outcomes from additional issues arising, County Attorney David Clark warned those citizens that continued investigations would require continued support from citizens. He said they cannot back off from standing up for the issue as the county and court systems cannot pursue them through Animal Control without citizen support.
Goodwin stated that he did not want to harm the dogs as he blames the owner for their training and activities, but he warned that if they continued being aggressive and threatening others, someone was going to get hurt.
Paris also said he was worried about citizens attempting to protect themselves and potentially harming or killing the animals.
Moving into the the minimal 3-month process, changes are currently expected to be advertised in September, if approved the first reading will be in October, if approved there the second reading and final adoption will be in November.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Two coaches spoke during the Gilmer Board of Education’s (BOE) Public Comments this week on a policy change close to approval.
The item is in its second reading this month for the BOE and is set for the vote on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The contention on the policy comes with changes to Community Coaches. The policy, IDFC Community Coaches, is seeing changes in requirements, pay, and eligibility for those wishing to serve, as noticed by the strikes and bold print in the policy. Those who spoke had each had one issue in common, though. The pay limit on community coaches, “lay coaches” as they are also called.
First to speak, Softball Coach Kim Charles addressed the board saying that as a head coach, she had always wanted to make the major decisions for her team. She felt that the revision was restrictive to the teams who use lay coaches more. She advocated for these coaches calling them “great people” and “very involved in the community.” She went further saying she wanted to remain loyal to these lay coaches who have and will serve in sports programs to the benefit of the students involved.
Charles said she didn’t want this to be a cut to current coaches, turning into a force to drive off those who have volunteered loyally over the years. She said they are the ones who have tried so hard to build and improve the kids when the head coaches need help. These coaches, said Charles, have proven themselves in their areas. She also pointed out that several of the sports that have seen success over the years have had long years of the same lay coaches, providing the stability needed to foster that kind of success.
Second to speak, Track Coach Josh Snider echoed the feelings that restricting and limiting the community coaches of the county would only detriment the sports and those students involved. He noted that the track programs work with three lay coaches and go through certifications at their own costs to become certified for their positions. The revisions in this policy also require GHSA community coach training and a rules clinic and assessment to become certified to coach their desired sport.
Snider also commented that he wanted to add to the policy that community coaches might also have their past experience in the sport with Gilmer Schools under consideration when they apply. When this is considered, Snider noted you might have a coach who meets the requirements but didn’t “mesh well” with the coaching staff or students in that sport.
He further agreed with the sentiments spoken by Charles as he noted several sports who are seeing success and past lay coaches who have also been well received and went on to further and enhance their sports and areas.
The third speaker, District Athletic Director Rodney Walker, began his address quoting a statistic of Gilmer Schools utilizing 75 percent of its coaches as certified staff coaches and 25 percent of them as lay coaches. Walker urged the board to move forward with the revisions. Though he said he had no issue with lay coaches, he noted that having so many puts the county at risk. He said he was thankful that the county had many willing to serve and admitted that there has been success with community coaching. Walker pointed out that the intent isn’t to get rid of lay coaches, instead limiting them in favor of certified personnel.
Walker said, “There’s no way that a guy that goes to college, or a lady goes to college, and they train and they get paid to do this job. And then we’re bringing people off the streets, and they may be good people, they may be great people, great coaches. But they shouldn’t make the same thing as a certified personnel. That’s just not right.” Walker pushed for the limited pay saying that the county needs to hire the best qualified people to teach in the school and be a part of the programs.
Walker also noted accusations that the revisions was put in place to give the football coaches more money. He said they have one coach they hired. He also said they were fortunate enough last year to have hired three coaches that now coach a second sport. He noted that his biggest push was to get coaches who are also in the school teaching. Walker said that these coaches who teach and coach build better relationships saying, “If we can get these people in the building, that’s what I think helps. You can’t tell me it doesn’t help to be able to have them.”
Ultimately, Walker said he is trying to take care of the system, to protect it.
This issue is already in the second reading before the board, meaning that if citizens are wishing to speak at the meeting or weigh in on the subject they must sign up with the Superintendent before Thursday to be allowed to speak at the regular session. Additionally, citizens are encouraged to speak with board-members about how they want their district’s representative to vote.
The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners met for their May Workshop on Wednesday, May 12, 2016.
America’s Subtle Changes
The Board of Education presented several reports for their work session Monday, August 10, including several policies that are set to change soon.
The Policies can be found here for DJEAC Purchasing or Credit Card Use, GAD Professional Learning Opportunities, JCDAE Weapons, JCDAG Bullying, JGCD Medication, JGI Child Abuse or Neglect, and JGJA Suicide Prevention. This is the Second Reading for these policies.
The following policies were presented for their first reading: EE Food Services Management, GAAA Equal Opportunity Employment, GAK Personnel Records, and GAMA Drug-Free Workplace.
The General Obligations Sales Tax Bonds were also presented to be set before the Board at Thursday’s Meeting.
Another major presentation included the June 2015 Financial Report. This was the preliminary report for the 100% completion of the School Board’s Budget. This preliminary report shows the School Board collecting over 107% of it’s budgeted revenues which drastically aided the Board of Education’s Fiscal Year.
In the final moments of the meeting, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Superintendent, presented a possibility for the school to receive extra funding as it moves forward with the construction of the Agricultural Facility it has scheduled. A reimbursement is offered by the Georgia Department of Education for the construction of certain agricultural facilities such as ag mechanics or animal sciences.
It was Dr. Wilkes suggestion that the Board approve on Thursday an application for a Multi-Use Lab funds. If approved and accepted, the funds would be provided as reimbursement in 2017 after the lab’s construction. However, there is a deadline for this application of August 15, 2015. If the Board does approve this application and later decides it is not in our best interest, there is the possibility to rescind the application.
Coming out of executive session, the Board of Education has unanimously elected to extend the stay of Dr. Charles Webb.
He has already stepped down as Interim Superintendent and is currently consulting Dr. Shanna Wilkes, the new Superintendent, but the Board will now extend his stay in a position, not yet titled, on a part-time basis in order to oversee construction projects. Though, this is still subject to TRS approval.
The remainder of the meeting passed quickly with approvals of the May 2015 Financial Report, CTAE Local Plan FY 16, the Memorandum of Agreement with the Boys and Girls Club, and minor revisions for the Employee/System Handbook and K-12 Code of Student Conduct.
Also presented this week to the Board of Education are changes to Policy. However, these have not been voted on yet. They are set to be read again at a meeting on August 10, a second reading being required before the Board can be approved.