ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer Schools saw a special Friday as they celebrated the I Heart Ga Milk Day at Ellijay Elementary School with guests from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
The event was hosted in Gilmer County as part of the state’s Georgia Grown “Feed My School” program from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Gilmer Schools’ Nutrition Director Linda Waters helped make the program possible along with staff and faculty of Ellijay Elementary and also hosted Misty Friedman, Farm to School/Nutrition Coordination for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Friedman commented on the event saying, “My job is to bring more Georgia foods to our Georgia students. And events like this just puts us on the front lines of all the great work that’s being done to support our Georgia Farmers and to really teach our kids where their food comes from.”
The celebration lasted through breakfast, serving hot chocolate milk with marshmallows early that morning and saw the staff wearing their I Heart Ga Milk t-shirts while Georgie the Georgia Grown mascot and the Chick-fil-A Cow mascot hung out with the kids. Staff handed out pencils and educational materials about “the benefits of milk.”
Friedman went on to say, “I love coming out and visiting with the schools and seeing the kids enjoy, literally, the fruits of the labor of our Georgia Farmers.”
See more photos at FYN’s Facebook Page.
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – As the snow melt sits on top of Gilmer’s already saturated soil, the continuous storm moving across North Georgia is once again causing closures and emergency responses across the area, now with a Flood Watch.
Gilmer County Schools stated earlier tonight that they will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, February 11th for students. Staff will have a professional learning day starting at 9:00am.
Additionally, the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued yet another advisory for the county. This time, the official statement said, “The first round of heavy rain will be moving in this afternoon and continue through midday Tuesday. Two to four inches of rain is expected with local amounts approaching six inches. With saturated soil and very high streamflow, runoff from the heavy rain will be enhanced, leading to a greater threat of flash flooding.”
While, currently, the advisory is a Flood Watch, the NWS added that flash flooding and minor to moderate flooding of larger creeks and rivers is expected. This will close some roads and could flood homes and businesses in flood-prone areas. Along larger creeks and rivers, flooding could last for several days.
Reports are coming in that the Gilmer County Public Safety Department is still running through prepared emergency conditions during the Flood Watch. Should the main rivers through the county rise much more, a state of emergency could be declared.
Gilmer’s Public Safety also issued a statement saying,
The National Weather Service will be issuing a SIGNIFICANT FLOOD WARNING – by their own admission, a rare occurrence from their office.
The first of several waves of rain is underway across North GA this morning. Rain will shift southward across parts of Central GA this afternoon & evening. Isolated non-severe storms are possible. The highest rainfall totals thru early Tuesday AM will be across North GA.
Unfortunately, the most significant rainfall and danger will be during the overnight hours. Persons living on creeks and rivers should find a way to monitor their surroundings frequently, and be prepared to evacuate. Have a plan!
Remember – if you encounter water on streets and highways, do not attempt to cross unless you already know it is safe to do so. Don’t drown – Turn around!
While much of the county is still trying to recover from last weeks storms and the snow over the weekend, runoff is not going to stop soon. Citizens are urged to keep a close eye on nearby water sources including streams, creeks, rivers, and ponds.
According to the National Weather Service, “Flash Flood Warnings for… Towns County in northeastern Georgia… Northwestern Lumpkin County in north central Georgia… Gilmer County in north central Georgia… Union County in north central Georgia… Fannin County in north central Georgia… Until 145 PM EST.”
Amid the warnings, Gilmer County School System issued a statement saying they would be closing schools early today in light of current conditions.
They said, “GCSS is working with local emergency management authorities to assess the current road conditions in our area. The Coosawattee and Cartecay Rivers have risen to the “Action” stage, the level before “Flood” stage, and rising rapidly. Streams in the area are expected to continue to rise after the rain stops this afternoon potentially further affecting road conditions. In the interest of student safety, GCSS will release 3 hours early today 2/6/2020. Please subtract 3 hours from the normal time you pick up your child from the school or bus stop.”
Additionally, Gilmer County officially released a statement saying they would also close at noon stating, “Due to flooding and road closures, for the safety of all Gilmer County Government employees, the courthouse and other county offices will close at 12:00 noon today, Thursday, February 6, 2020.”
Unconfirmed reports are already coming in of road closures happening on Highway 52 and other roads already being submerged. The Gilmer County Public Safety Department has issued statements for the following roads,
“Conasaga Rd at Shake Rag Rd has washed away and is impassable… Teague Road is washing away at the creek. Please avoid this area if possible… Portions of Owltown Farm Road are covered with rushing water. Please avoid this area, if possible, until further notice… Johns Way at Lake Paul Dr has become impassable. Do not travel through this area until further notice… Northlake Dr. on Walnut Mountain has rushing water across the pavement. Please avoid traveling that route until further notice… ”
Citizens can stay up to date with more road information during the Flood Warning posted to the Gilmer County Public Safety Facebook Page.
Gilmer County confirmed earlier today that Public Safety Director Kieth Kucera has already initiated preparations to open storm shelters and is monitoring conditions and staying in contact with the National Weather Service to enact emergency plans should the need arise.
Additionally, Public Safety has also stated, “The Coosawattee River is expected to crest at 8.8 feet early this afternoon – (Minor Flooding stage.) However, some roads along the river inside Coosawatee are already under water. DO NOT drive through these areas.”
However, the river, as seen in photos above, has already breached its banks and is continuing to flood areas alongside it. Citizens should avoid any areas already underwater and should keep a close eye on creeks and rivers near their homes.
As always, Citizens should avoid driving through any section of road that is underwater as it is unsafe and drivers cannot fully see if parts of the road have washed away.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs has confirmed that they have been affected by a bus recall on Thomas Built Buses.
Downs stated that 17 of system’s 78 buses (21.79 percent) have been affected by the recall and are awaiting a field repair saying that the current understanding is “Thomas Bus Company plans to visit districts and fix the issue onsite, but dates and times are not available yet.”
According to documents sent to Gilmer County Schools, this voluntary recall is over the cushioning placed around the seats edges along the frame. The cushioning does not meet the knee impact requirements of NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 222.
The document stated “During testing for compliance to FMVSS 222; section S220.127.116.11 it had been determined that the resulting force at certain locations in the proximity of the seat frame exceeded the specified requirement. Following these performance requirements, this recall has been initiated to address and remedy the affected population of Syntec seats as specified in the standard.”
They do report that all other areas do meet the requirements. Additionally, Thomas Built Buses state in the document that the NHTSA has not made a “do not drive” warning with this recall.
According to an acknowledgment letter from the NHTSA, the affected products in the Bus Recall include:
THOMAS BUILT BUSES/MINOTOUR/2014-2020
THOMAS BUILT BUSES/SAF-T-LINER C2/2014-2020
THOMAS BUILT BUSES/SAF-T-LINER EFX/2014-2020
THOMAS BUILT BUSES/SAF-T-LINER HDX/2014-2020
Thomas Built Buses states, “No seats with 3 point seat belts or integrated child restraints are affected.”
The buses are moving forward with field repairs to correct this issue by adding “additional impact absorption material” to the back of these seats. According to the NHTSA, “The recall is expected to begin December 2, 2019.”
With the small area affected by the recall and considering the NHTSA not issuing a “do not drive” warning, Downs said that the school system has little choice but to continue to use the buses for now. Affecting 17 out of the 78 buses in the school system’s fleet, this represents over a fifth of the entire buses available in Gilmer County School System being listed under this recall.
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. – Georgia Milestones Assesment System (GMAS) scores were released this month after the state embargo was lifted at the end of July.
Presented to the board, these scores show results from the 2018-19 school year as well as recent years for comparisons. While grades 3-8 separate scores into Math, ELA, Reading, Science, and Social Studies, High School scores are presented as End Of Course test results.
Chief Academic Officer Lottie Mitchell presented these results to the board in August noting the trends the county has seen in the last five years in levels 2-4, whereas Milestones scores are ranked by levels (level 1 – Beginner / Level 2 – Developing / Level 3 – Proficient / Level 4 – Distinguished). Mitchell also told the board that while the schools did retest this year, they are going to participate in retesting in the 2019-20 school year. In 3rd Grade, they can retest in Language Arts. In 5th Grade and 8th Grade, they can retest in Reading and Math.
In Math, Grades 3-8, Mitchell highlighted the 2019 scores which saw seven of the eight groups scoring above the State’s average. While Mountain View’s 4th Grade did decrease, they are still above the average as well. Only Clear Creek Middle School’s 7th Grade group was below average in Math, but they only missed the average by one percent.
“We are very pleased in Math,” said Mitchell as she pointed out the county’s relation to the state.
In ELA (English Language Arts), Mitchell noted that while the county did generally perform close to the state’s average in most of the groups when comparing levels 2-4, the chart on the right shows four groups above average when looking only at the percentage of those who score at Level 3 – Proficient and Level 4 – Distinguished.
Mitchell addressed the charts differences saying, “We are moving more of our developing up to our proficient.”
In Reading and Vocabulary, Mitchell said, “For the past few years, we have not had anyone. When we first applied for the L4GA Grant, we didn’t have anyone who was above the state average… This year Clear Creek 7th Grade was above the average. We are showing improvement. Sometimes we have a little dip, but we are overall showing improvement.”
With six of the eight groups showing high scores than five years ago, Mitchell said they are happy for the improvements. While administration is excited for the math scores, much of their concern and focus have been on improving these scores. She noted several initiatives to achieve that goal such as a new phonics program, increasing student time in tech and balanced literacy, increases in training and guided reading, and reading rewards programs that have already shown success in GMS and CCMS among other initiatives.
Additionally, she credited the success that CCMS has seen to a new program, WIN, that alligns students in groups according to their MAP scores to allow those of similar skill levels to improve together.
In Science and Social Studies, Mitchell noted that in recent years, only 5th and 8th Grades take these tests. Both grades beat the state average in Science and 8th Grade beat it in Social Studies. While 5th Grade did not score above average in Social Studies, they did scores just below, by one percent, similar to Clear Creek’s 7th Math group. This did, however, show a dip in scores compared to last year.
In High School End of Course Tests, only two groups beat the state average. However, Mitchell instead pointed to the growth the county has seen in the last five years. From 2015 to 2019, 9th Grade Lit percentages have gone up 33.1 percent, from 52.99 to 85.88 percent. U.S. History percentages have gone up 36.58 percent, from 36.96 to 73.54percent. Economics percentages have gone up 35.49 percent, from 48.99 to 84.48 percent. In the past year alone, Physical Science scores went up 13.97 percent, from 70.72 to 84.69 percent.
Addressing the dip in Math scores, Mitchell pointed back to the higher math scores in lower grades saying, “We are sending students up to the high school with a stronger foundation and proficiency to do the rigorous math such as Algebra I and Geometry.”
Additonally, Principal Carla Foley is also arranging schedules to provide additional support in the fall for 9th grade lit and Algebra I to give the a year to master the content rather than one semester.
Mitchell said the Milestones scores not only showcase the successes of Gilmer County, but they are allowing answers and responses like these to address the issue areas in order to spread the success to all areas of the schools.
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – With tomorrow set as the final day of delivery and closing out the “Stuff the Bus” event hosted by the Gilmer County Optimist Club, success is the word on everyone’s mouth as final tallies are being collected.
Those tallies showed, according to Event Chairwoman Molly Landry, that more citizens donated actual supplies than financial donations in recent years. While this is the first time she chaired the “Stuff the Bus” in its seven consecutive years of running, she did note that she had done similar events in south Louisiana in a community similar in size to Ellijay, Landry said this year’s event, “has been the most successful event I have been a part of.”
Landry said the club has collected $2,654 in financial donations for supplies, but the real surprise came when she said the schoolbus driver told her he had never seen the bus so full. There were only five empty seats on the bus and every other seat had “boxes on top of boxes, ” Landry said.
That may seem like a “close-but-not-quite-stuffed” kind of situation. However, according to Gilmer Optimist Club President Lisa Salman, the event’s success is only just beginning as they still have one more day of box collecting and deliveries to the Gilmer County Charter School System’s Board of Education.
Alongside citizens and business owners, Wal-Mart also offered a discount on the supplies purchased with the $2,654. Landry said they purchased everything from backpacks and notebooks for the kids to items like calculators and paper supplies for the classrooms.
The accomplishments of these volunteers were felt throughout the county, but especially in the Board of Education, the go-between for this supply drive and the students who benefit from it.
Pritchett said, “It’s very encouraging. We’ve got a lot of groups in our community that are constantly reaching out and helping with the school system.”
Pritchett went on to call it a “real strength” of the community that so many care for students and children, having not only the Optimist Club hosting, but businesses supporting them, and citizens donating.
With the event completed, these supplies will travel to the Board of Education. The administration will begin distribution as they respond to schools calling out for what they need for their students.
Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said, “I am always amazed at the incredible generosity of those in our community who donate both school supplies and funds to “Stuff the Bus.” Our school social worker and counseling department use the supplies throughout the year to help our neediest children to be prepared with school supplies. Our teachers appreciate all of the extra disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and Kleenex they receive to use in their classrooms.”
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – While parents and students have been shopping back to school for a while in preparation of this week, this is the week that kids will return to classes on Wednesday, August 7, 2019, in Gilmer County across all six schools.
Today is the kickoff with open houses going all day starting with Pre-K through 5th Grade meeting from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., 6th Grade through 8th Grade meeting from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and 9th Grade through 12th Grade meeting from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Additionally, each school will adhere to these school day times according to the Gilmer County Charter School Systems website:
Clear Creek Elementary School
Start Time: 7:50 am
Dismissal Time: 2:50 pm
Ellijay Elementary School
Start Time: 8:05 am
Dismissal Time: 3:05 pm
Mountain View Elementary School
Start Time: 8:10 am
Dismissal Time: 3:10 pm
Clear Creek Middle School
Start Time: 7:45 am
Dismissal Time: 2:45 pm
Gilmer High School
Start Time: 7:45 am
Dismissal Time: 2:45 pm