Nita Cagle speaks about life on the campaign trail

Election 2018

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Georgia’s current Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle continues to make his way across the state in his bid to become Georgia’s next governor. Recently, Cagle made stops through north Georgia as part of his campaign on a two-week venture dubbed the “Cagle Country Bus Tour.”

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Nita Cagle speaks to a group of youths in Blairsville, Georgia.

While supporters and undecided voters alike packed venues to hear the candidate speak in their hometown, many were surprised to see another Cagle family member emerge from the bus to give her take on why Casey Cagle, her husband, should be Georgia’s next governor.

Nita Cagle has been by Casey’s side for 32 years. In those 32 years, the Cagles have raised three sons and are currently enjoying the addition of three grandchildren to the family, but raising a family and having a life in politics has not always been easy.

Cagle holds the title of Second Lady of the State of Georgia, but she said what she is most proud of is her title as wife, mother and now grandmother of the Cagle household.

“I’m the inaugural member of team Cagle,” Georgia’s Second Lady joked as she spoke of the family’s early years in politics.

Casey Cagle first ran for Georgia Senate District 49 in 1994. At that time, both of the Cagles were in their late 20s and just beginning a family.

“Casey had helped a friend run a campaign,” Cagle spoke of how their life in public service began. “Over the next couple of years, I saw the spark start.”

Cagle admits that when she first noticed Casey was showing interest in this field, that she was “a little hesitant” to jump on board but says that her faith changed her attitude.

“I had many nights, many talks, and eventually a calmness just came over me, and I was okay with it. So when he came to me and said this is something that is on my heart, I already knew,” Cagle spoke candidly of her acceptance to stand by Casey as he joined the political arena.

When asked if she felt she had known of Casey’s intentions before he spoke openly of them, Cagle laughed and said, “Actually, he probably already knew. It was just ‘How am I going to tell Nita?'”

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Nita Cagle rallies the crowd for her husband at Glenda’s in Cleveland, Georgia.

This career move was not always smooth as Cagle had to adapt to managing her time: “The boys were young. You’re divided because you want to be with them both, be a mom and be a wife.”

Ultimately,, through family discussions, Cagle decided that she would become a strong foundation for her family at home.

“You only get one time at it,” Cagle explained of the decision and the importance of having an active role in a child’s life. “You don’t get a do-over.”

This decision did pose obstacles for the Cagles to overcome as the now Lt. Governor was often called away for his job and for campaigns, but Cagle explained these obstacles are no different than what many families face: “Whether it’s politics, any job is going to put stress. No marriage is going to be without stress.”

Cagle explained that she has been blessed in that despite the calling of Casey’s career, he has always put his family first: “He’s a homebody, and if it is humanly possible to come home, he is coming home.”

With their children grown, Cagle said being on the campaign trail this time has a much different feel: “It absolutely was harder as they were younger. It got a lot easier as they got older. I’m really energized. I’m really enjoying it.”

Having grown children poses a set of new and exciting challenges when it comes to time management, as Cagle announced that their youngest son recently proposed to his girlfriend and would like to wed in the fall shortly before the November General Election.

This announcement did not slow Cagle down as she smiled and enthusiastically explained, “What better thing to do in the middle of all this craziness, than to shut it all down and to celebrate family, remember why we do it to start with, and welcome a new daughter-in-law into our family.”

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Casey Cagle takes time to boast on his wife Nita via social media.

Cagle added that having been in a house of men for so long, and with her two older sons already married she is excited for the wedding and glad that the male to female ratio is evening out.

With the prospect of becoming Georgia’s First Lady, Cagle has given a lot of time to her platform and her mission if given this duty: “I have several things that I have thought about, and I may or may not narrow down.”

Having obtained a degree and having a background in early childhood education, Cagle taught preschool for a number of years.

“I specifically love the preschool age,” Cagle smiled as she discussed one of her goals if given the title of First Lady of Georgia.

Cagle would like to see preschool education expanded and offered throughout Georgia. She cited the importance of teaching children at a young age and how this early nurturing can carry over throughout their life.

Knowing that not every child is able to receive this kind of early start at home, Cagle would like to see this program offered in more areas, stating that the work put into a child at an early age will benefit society for generations to come.

Cagle would also like to put a focus on small businesses throughout Georgia. She and husband Casey got their start by establishing a small business, so she knows first-hand the struggles that entrepreneurs face.

“I would like to champion them, and spotlight them,” Cagle said, explaining her passion for this area. She noted that small businesses make up a large portion of the Georgia economy, and she would like to see “mom and pop shops” continue to set up and succeed in our state.

Finally, Cagle discussed an issue that has come up time and time again on the campaign trail and that is of the opioid epidemic that is not just facing the state of Georgia but affecting countless families nationwide.

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Nita Cagle is all smiles as she introduces her husband Casey Cagle to the crowd gathered in Habersham County.

From speaking with residents in Georgia, Cagle is left with one strong impression when it comes to the opioid epidemic: “It’s everywhere. It does not discriminate. We hear the same story over and over. It’s repeated everywhere.”

While Cagle admits that she is by no means an expert when it comes to this crisis, she says that she cannot deny the need to address the issue and “get the conversation going.” She stated that by hearing the heartbreaking stories from families affected by opioid addiction she understands the depth of the problem and that it will not be an easy one to combat.

Being a multifaceted issue with a number of areas that need to be addressed, Cagle said, “If we are blessed enough to be elected, the platform is going to put me in a position to do good and open doors for the people that know about it.”

Cagle would like to increase awareness of the opioid epidemic and at least on one front open the doors for mentoring programs where families struggling with this issue can speak with former addicts on how to help loved ones.

Cagle also acknowledged the successes being seen through Georgia’s Drug Courts and would like to study the impacts of possibly expanding these programs.

Nita Cagle beams a confidence and sincerity in all that she speaks of, but perhaps her biggest conviction is in that of her husband’s ability to make a great governor of Georgia.

“The best way to know the kind of leader or character a person is going to have is to look into the home, and that is what I bring to the table,” Cagle stated, smiling at her husband. “I’ve been married to a man that is consistent every single day.”

She spoke of his competitive drive and his ability to connect with people but said he is also a fair man and one she is proud to have spent the last 32 years by his side.

Cagle’s birthday is May 23, just one day after the General Primary, and she stated this year she doesn’t want any gifts from her husband but instead, “I just want a good clean win on the 22nd with no run-off.”

“He says it’s mathematically virtually impossible,” Cagle said, explaining her husband’s response to her wish, but she then added with her contagious smile, “I have seen him do the impossible before.”

 

 

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Natalie Kissel

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Facilities plan discussed at board retreat

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education has detailed the plans for their buildings over the next five years at a board retreat in March.

The plan incorporates the use of Instructional Units (IUs) in relation to state and federal programs utilized to spread funding to counties based on their “need.” By better planning facility use and more details on those facilities, the Gilmer County Charter School System (GCCSS) hopes to maximize their IUs to secure as much funding as possible from these state programs.

The funding itself, however, comes in the form of reimbursements instead of pre-project funds. Most citizens should recall this is the same process the board is currently using a part of its coming renovations at Gilmer High School (GHS). The applications will allow for partial reimbursement of a few parts of the project including items like roofing and HVAC work.

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes

Additionally, the board retreat allowed members to discuss and see the current plan on what they will be seeking in terms of facility changes and movements to come. Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes asserted that the plan is the board’s current intentions for the future, but that it was also not set in stone. Parts of the plan rely on approval of the next Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) for example. She also told FetchYourNews that the plan could change with major unforeseen circumstances.

Allowing the flexibility to change gives the school board a cushion for contingencies and alterations while also giving the guide for the next five years.

The plan described will see the board finishing up the GHS renovations before adding onto Mountain View Elementary school. The board is planning to have Ellijay Primary School (EPS), Ellijay Elementary School (EES), and Mountain View Elementary School converted into full, preschool through fifth grade (P-5) elementary schools. Looking even further ahead, the board is also discussing moving what is now EPS to a new building on the board’s property near Yukon, near Clear Creek Middle School.

As a part of this conversion, the three P-5 elementary Schools would serve their local districts where they are located. Students would then move to Clear Creek Middle School as the county’s sole middle school for grades six through eight. Moving up from there, students would attend Gilmer High School’s campus with the current Gilmer Middle School serving on campus as a ninth-grade academy and the current GHS building serving grades 10 through 12.

One possibility could see EPS becoming a preschool to second grade with EES as third grade to fifth grade until the new building can be completed, but regardless the plan will ultimately end in the three P-5 schools.

That new facility would have the board moving away from Ellijay Primary School, avoiding the damages from its location in the flood plain and moving out of a nearly 50-year-old building, as well as having the new building in a better location for its district.

Once the new building for EPS is completed, the board wants to look at EES for needed renovations at that time. According to Gilmer Schools Assistant Superintendent, Administrative Services, Stuart Sheriff, completing EES renovations should see a potential 10-year period where the board’s facilities would only need normal maintenance, requiring no major renovations.

With people still asking why the board does not utilize their old location for Oakland Elementary, Dr. Wilkes noted that Oakland can only house 247 students making it too small to be utilized. She also noted other issues the board has faced with the location, including sewage leasing and relative location to other schools and district possibilities.

With the plan set, the board has already been moving on GHS renovations and will begin phase one of the two-phase project this summer.

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