BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – It may seem like a small gesture to some, but for those in Gilmer County, Georgia, a simple jersey is relating a lot more than meets the eye as they receive a memorial jersey to honor Gilmer’s middle school principal, the late Larry Walker.
With a special moment before the middle school football games between these two schools on September 19, Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney took to the field with Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs and Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee for a special ceremony in order to present the jersey hosting the emblems of both Gilmer and Fannin.
After a few words about Walker’s life and a moment of silence honoring him, Gwatney and Downs shared their own moment holding the jersey together. The announcers explained the meaning of the ceremony saying,
“The jersey being presented to the Gilmer Middle School football team bears the name of Walker with the #1. Also on the jersey is the Fannin County School insignia and the Gilmer County School insignia. The jersey being presented is in memory of Larry D. Walker, principal of Gilmer Middle School, and signifying Fannin County and Gilmer County are together as one, both in spirit and community.”
With the funeral today, many are still dealing with the loss as they prepare their final respects. Others are coping in their own ways. But as a community comes together and the true reach of one man comes into focus, they are responding to the show of support. Kayann Hayden West offered her thanks on social media saying, “Thankful for the support of our community and the Walker family up and down the 515 corridor. Rivals on the field but united in purpose and heart.”
(Photo by Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office)
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners (BOC) has been considering litter in the county for over three months now.
As FetchYourNews originally reported in February, “Roadside trash concerns rising in Gilmer” and further discussed in a Special Called Meeting, the BOC was set to hire seasonal employees to cover trash pickup ahead of the county’s mowing team. With a cost close to $45,000, the board was all approved and ready to move forward with the hiring when Chairman Paris returned with another option that was approved in the March Regular Meeting. For a similar cost, the county could hire one extra sheriff’s deputy to supervise prison inmates to travel the roads instead.
This option would serve the county year-round instead of a specified summer season. Additionally, the program enlists inmates of the prison system to provide service to the county during incarceration.
According to the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, “Despite a very cool and wet last two weeks, Sheriff’s Office inmate work detail has performed litter pick up on Big Creek Road and as of April 9, 2018, has moved on to Roy Road. The inmate workers have picked up 117 bags of litter and have delivered 2,300 pounds of garbage to the Gilmer Landfill.”
The project was approved in the March meeting of the BOC with set expectations to analyze and monitor the progress so that the commissioners could keep track of the project.
The Sheriff’s Office has utilized an inmate workforce to pick up litter on the county’s roadways in the past. However, according to the Sheriff’s Office, “Budget cuts beginning in 2009 caused the program to come to an end.”
With the new funding allocation covering salary and benefits of a deputy sheriff, the office is utilizing equipment it already possessed to operate the transportation and needs of the job.
Originally, the BOC stated that with the mowing season upon us, these crews would travel ahead of the mowing teams. Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson confirmed the immediate goal for the inmate work detail will be to go ahead of the county’s Road Department mowing crews, so the litter can be picked up before the mowers shred and scatter it.
He went on to add that on inclement weather days, the inmates will be utilized to accomplish “inside” jobs. As the work detail gets caught up ahead of the mowing schedule, it will be bounced around to address problem areas when possible.
With an ongoing concern by citizens and businesses about the issue of litter in the county, Chairman Paris has stated that this is not the end answer, but a step towards a solution.
Sheriff Nicholson would like to remind everyone that there are pretty costly fines for anyone convicted of littering and that “intent” is not a requirement of the offense, meaning trash blowing out of the bed of a pickup truck is just as much “littering” as someone purposely throwing it out the window of his or her car. Fines for someone caught littering can reach $1,000.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Entering its second season as an official team, the Cartecay Youth Bike Team has already achieved greatness by producing a state champion in its inaugural season.
Even though the actual race season runs through September, October, and November, the team is already preparing for early training and meetings. Involving parents of the students on the team is part of the process through the next three months of April, May, and June as Coach Larry Alonso prepares for practice season and eventually the races.
Preparing the team in its first season, Alonso said he and his wife expected only a handful of members with their own children making at least half of the team. Today, Alonso celebrates 10 state finishers last season with Hannah Calabretta being a state champion in her first season of competition.
Alonso points to his Mountain Bike Team and the sports as more youth development focused than competitive. Separating the competition from other sports, Alonso said the constant focus on self alleviates much of the back biting and negativity of many other sports. Additionally, Alonso commented on how competitive mountain biking builds on active lifestyles and growth through training like many other sports. Competitors must be fully sufficient on the course for any repairs and on-the-spot fixes needed as accepting outside help carries a penalty in the competition.
Alonso said teaching these skills is so much more than just a sport. He teaches the mechanics of the bikes, skills for sufficiency, and the physical conditioning itself.
Moving into his second season now, Alonso is beginning to build on his successes as he hopes to increase the size of his team, but also to increase the team’s connection and involvement in the county. The team appeared at the Board of Commissioner’s March meeting for Alonso to speak to the commissioners about the county’s trails system.
Part of his presentation to the commissioners focused on the benefits his team and sport could provide for the county. Alonso has already begun work on an “Ellijay Invitational” event to bring teams all over Georgia to Gilmer County as the Mountain Biking Capital of Georgia. Alonso admitted he has already hit a wall in the event for parking and access for the major crowds seeking to attend and view the event with family.
Dreaming bigger, Coach Alonso noted ideas of partnerships for trails through or around local apple orchards and more adaptations for major competitions to point to Gilmer as the Mountain Biking Capital and hold events as such. These events, on average, see upwards of 800 racers and potentially 5,000 people attending the race. A major event like this also exposes people to the county for tourism in addition to the immediate economic in town.
The growth continues across the state, according to Alonso, who stated, “There’s no better place for the state championship race than at the mountain biking capital.” Gilmer provides everything needed for the events with varying difficulties across the county, but an event like this could show the mountain views across harder trails to make it a peak destination for the sport.
The races these students on Cartecay Youth Mountain Bike Team face changes across the minimum sixth-grade riders to do one lap around a five to six mile course and finish. Junior varsity riders do two or three laps to finish, and varsity hit four to five laps totaling around 20 miles before the race ends.
Cartecay continues building on its success and is inviting students and parents interested in the team to attend their team meeting on April 10. The event is one of six preseason events the team is allowed to hold before the end of June.
We all have been talking about it. You know, wondering how the Bobcat football team would react to all the new changes. Riding home Friday night I was receiving texts, “How’d they look?”
Last year when the head football coach left (what’s thats guy name? Can’t remember) it seemed like all the air had come out of the ball. Bobcat fans felt cheated like Tom Brady and deflategate.
But never fear fans- here comes new Bobcat head coach Zach Grage, who? Grage spent the previous 6 years at Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, GA, most recently serving as the offensive coordinator of the undefeated 2014 6A Georgia State Champion.
Questions surrounding how would a coach from a 6A school adjust to a 4A school roster. Historically many players had to play both sides of the ball. Grage came from the luxury of having an offensive, defense and special teams where players could spend their time focusing on one position. Not the norm at Gilmer.
Grage knowing that this is key to championship football went to work recruiting players. Gilmer Bobcats football have seen postseason play for the past several years. The team wants to go to the next level “Beyond” and Grage knows how to get there. But this is going to take a team to buy into what coach is selling.
Friday night the Gilmer Bobcats traveled to Cobb County to scrimmage the 6A Pebblebrook Falcons. I watched to see some on field leadership. You gotta love the “Belly Gang” led by center Garrett Sellers and you don’t want to let Shane Bowman get his hands on you. You better keep one eye on Levi Seabolt and Nobel Zuchslag will clean your clock. When he hits you, you will be getting up asking what time it is. The Bobcats showed great on field discipline.
Watching the off the field discipline was just as impressive. Every time a “D” or “O” team came off the field they were immediately being coached. In the past most of the “O” team had to go back on the field for “D”. This allowed for very little time for a coach to make adjustments for what was happening on the field. Defense knew where they were to be on the sideline as well as the offense. A well organized team.
Both teams played its starters three quarters. The Falcons at the end of three showed fatigue while Bobcats conditioning paid off and they were ready to play the fourth quarter. With some nice sacks, Russell Cochran rushing touchdown, and a Josh White interception the Bobcats were on top 21-20 at the end of the 3rd. quarter.
Bobcats played team 2 and 3 in the fourth quarter while the Falcons continued to play several starters. I guess they could not let the word out that a 4A team from Gilmer rolled into Pebblebrook and took home a win. Falcons 34 Gilmer 21.
So some questions are answered. Bobcats coaching staff is ready, the players are ready, the question is are you ready for some Bobcat Football? Bobcats travel to take on the Fannin Rebels August 28th.