Replacement doesn’t mean resolution in Fire Department

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County is still amid disorder this week as Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris confirmed with FYN that the current Gilmer County Interim Fire Chief, Brian Scudder, has left the office.

“We just weren’t on the same page about some things,” said Paris on Thursday as he reiterated the changes he is hoping to see come in the Fire Department of Gilmer County. Scudder is still in the Fire Department but is no longer serving as Interim Chief.

Former Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett

Former Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett

These changes began when former Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett resigned from office in early February. Though originally resigning effective on March 15, Paris said he later had decided that Pritchett’s presence was not coordinating with his plans for the future and made an agreement with Pritchett to pay his original agreement out to March 15, but to remove Pritchett from the county immediately.

Chairman Paris originally wanted to separate the position into three positions including Fire Chief, EMA Director, and Public Safety Director. In Paris’ eyes, the Public Safety Director would have been the Department’s head with managerial responsibilities with EMA Director and Fire Chief serving under him in their areas of expertise with the requirements, technicalities, and skills required in those positions.

However, he settled for two positions instead of three and named Brian Scudder to Interim Fire Chief and Keith Kucera to the Interim Public Safety/EMA Director.

However, in the progressing weeks, conflict and turmoil have arisen in the Fire Department resulting in two internal investigations and several changes in the systems make-up.

Paris states he has had enough with the way things have been in the Fire Department. “There is s a significant amount of turmoil in the Fire Department right now,” says Paris.

Soon after naming the two to the position, an incident at Fire Station 1 occurred with one firefighter finding his bed saturated in water. An investigation ensued immediately into the occurrence. Paris openly admitted that while they did not discover exactly who was behind the act, he felt he did send a message to the department about the changes he wants.

However, the Fire Department’s other investigation went much further as Paris states that on a Friday morning he offered Scudder the position of Fire Chief, Kucera was out of town, so Paris waited until Monday morning to offer the Public Safety Director Position. Paris states that at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, he held a meeting with Tony Pritchett to share his appointments with him.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris

Then, Tuesday morning, Paris received a complaint about Kucera trying to get people to protest the appointment of Scudder to Fire Chief. After meeting with Kucera and interrogating him on the allegations, Paris called in several firefighters that were set to protest the Fire Chief position. Questioning each individually about how and when they found out about Brian Scudder’s appointment which had not been announced yet. The overwhelming response indicated that all but one had learned about the appointments early Monday morning from Tony Pritchett, having found out about the appointments prior to his meeting with Charlie.

Paris tells FYN that the investigation cleared Kucera of any allegations of protest or antagonism in Department. He continued saying that most of the response he has had is positive about Kucera’s appointment.

Moving past the investigations, Paris says he is confident moving forward with his appointment of Keith Kucera to interim Public Safety Director and his new appointment he is announcing of Mike Dempsey to Interim Fire Chief.

At this point, there is still no indication as to who or what is causing instigations in the Fire and EMS, but Paris seemed to indicate that he doesn’t care. He says he is focused on moving forward and buckling down on the departments’ disciplinary actions.

Naming Mike Dempsey as the new interim Fire Chief, Paris says that he has gone about the appointment slightly different as this time, he has taken recommendations from Kucera and references to consider. Part of the consideration Paris had for Dempsey in the interim position is that Dempsey has no consideration or desire for the permanent position.

Public Safety Interims named

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – According to news reports, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris has named two Directors as interim in the Public Safety Departments.

Readers will recall when FYN broke the story that Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett had resigned. Current information indicates, however, that instead of directly replacing Pritchett, Paris intends to separate the position of Fire Chief from the Public Safety position.

According to these reports, Brian Scudder will serve as the interim fire chief, and Keith Kucera as the interim public safety director/EMA director.

Stay with FYN as more information becomes available and we follow up on this development.

Pritchett resigns from Public Safety Director

News, Police & Government
Tony Pritchett

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett has tendered a resignation from his position as Public Safety Director.

Though his letter of resignation is tendered, it is notice of his resignation at March 15, 2019, meaning he will remain in the position until then to prepare and possibly train his replacement. He has served 16 years in Gilmer County, with 12 of those as Chief and Director. He was Fire Chief until 2015 when the position of Public Safety Director was created and he has served in since.

According to his resignation letter, Pritchett cited that he is pursuing other opportunities. Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris said that the County will begin advertising for the position in the next 10 days and will look both internally and externally for candidates.

Paris confirmed that he tendered his letter today, February 6, 2019. He also told FYN that he has appreciated Pritchett’s service over the years and has wished him well in his pursuits.

Gilmer Preps for Florence

News

ELLIJAY, Ga – Not even two months have passed since Gilmer suffered through one of the worst storms it has seen in decades near the end of July, yet Hurricane Florence threatens to be just as bad, if not worse, according to reports from the National Weather Service and State Governments along the East Coast.

Both South and North Carolina have seen mandatory evacuation orders for residents in certain areas. With the residents continuing to travel west away from the storm, Georgia’s State Government has spoken about accepting those fleeing the path of the hurricane. The National Guard and the Coast Guard have already been mobilized for support as well as forces from Maryland and even New York preparing to help.

With a recent change in direction, the National Weather Service now indicates that North Georgia could see much more impact now. Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett said we are on the “dirtier” side of the storm today in a scheduled Commissioner’s meeting where he warned of potential dangers and damage that Gilmer could see from the southern turn of Hurricane Florence.

The expected impact is so large that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for the state.

Based on the latest 11 a.m. forecast for Hurricane Florence and acting on a recommendation from Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security officials, today I issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in Georgia.

The Gilmer Public Safety Department took to social media today as well to warn citizens of “an enhanced chance of impacts for our area. Potential impacts could include heavy rain and sustained winds. This could very well cause serious flooding impacts and a large amount of downed trees. Roadways washed out and damaged and widespread power outages are all a result of these impacts.”

Officials are asking citizens to prepare for the oncoming storm and for an influx of people attempting to flee the storm, even as we are still recovering from the July storm. Public Works Director Jim Smith told the Commissioners today that his people were also prepared to mobilize in recovery and recuperation efforts.

Public Safety also noted, “Everyone should keep in mind that systems such as this in the past have caused SEVERE damage for our county. Although we hope this is not the case. PLEASE PREPARE NOW! Preparedness includes adequate food and water for a minimum of 72 hours, flashlights and batteries, a full charge on all wireless devices and portable charging options for these devices, generators and fuel if you have them and know the PROPER use and placement.”

Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stated that the county is preparing its resources including Pritchett preparing the Emergency Management Program as the county readies itself to open shelters if needed. He also confirmed that while Gilmer is not currently in talks with the State about housing evacuees, it is prepared for the call with those shelters made ready.

Emergency preparedness goes far deeper than just resources and shelters, however. Threats like this are prepared for months and years in advance. Pritchett made special note of the departments swift water training and equipment in a case of an extreme event saying, “We have very advanced, skilled swift-water-trained individuals that are trained to get to most anybody that is trapped or is in a rescue situation.”

Preparing for the worst-case scenario, Pritchett said the Department already has response plans throughout the county, but cautioned citizens against “sounding the alarm” for something that may not be as bad as they are preparing for. Despite the declaration of a State of Emergency, he noted that at this time, preparedness is the best course of action as they have previously stated.

These are the reasons that he encourages citizens to have cell phones charged and to prepare other means of charging in case of a need. Having these devices available to contact emergency response is also a part of survival.

As you continue watching for news and updates regarding Hurricane Florence, it may be wise to go ahead and program the non-emergency response numbers into your phone in case a need arises.  If you have questions, concerns, or a need contact Headquarters at 706-635-1333 or the non-emergency dispatch number 706-635-8911. Pritchett also encouraged citizens to keep an eye on the Gilmer County Public Safety Facebook Page for updates on the storm, shelters, and impact on Gilmer County.

Gilmer “survives” the storm

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – As Gilmer continues to clean up and recover from Saturday mornings storm, officials are beginning to assess damage and costs for the county.

According to Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett, around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning emergency services began receiving calls for aid around the county.

As one of the hardest hit counties in North Georgia, the damage with downed trees and powerlines alone could have weeklong effects according to reports as power outages continue and line-men continue working around the clock to repair both downed line and downed poles. There have also been reports of mudslides causing damage to areas, but no roads have been blocked or destroyed.

Pritchett reports that the emergency services only had one reported injury as a tree fell on a local woman’s camper in the Coosawattee area. As paramedics reached the woman, she was taken to an area hospital. However, no reports of any fatalities have come in as authorities are still, days later, responding to calls for aid.

As the intensity of the storm increase through the early hours, an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 homes lost power in the county between Amicalola Electric Company and Georgia Power. Public Safety has counted 20 homes with trees on top of them as they continue the survey process. These were just a few of the different situations that Pritchett says they have continued responding to in the days since the storm.

County services are in full swing with the Gilmer County Road Department and Public Safety department both attempting to clear trees from the roads as they find them.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris told FYN that the county is still collecting estimates for exact amounts of costs of the damage. However, their biggest disaster came in the Buckhorn area and the county golf course which lost part of its most recent paving of the cart path, has numerous trees down on the greens, and is still looking at water damage to the course. Early predictions say the course will not re-open to the public until Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest.

Despite the highest damage to county facilities and equipment being there, the hardest hit part of Gilmer County is actually inside Coosawattee, according to Pritchett. While the county continues the clean up in the outer areas of the county and the cities deal with the damage inside their limits, Coosawattee’s Public Works department is dealing with the mass of downed trees and road damage inside the resorts gated community.

Gilmer has also experienced flooding in low-level areas. However, River Park, which has become notorious for flooding and flood damage in recent years, made it through the storm, according to Paris, with minimal damage and little to no flooding through the buildings.

The major damage from the rainfall came with 5 damaged culvert pipes. Director of Public Works, Jim Smith told FYN that four of those pipes had part of their base wash away as water overtook the pipe and began flowing over the road. The fifth pipe, however, was located on Tyler Road, just off of Highway 282, and was completely washed out and carried away. This pipe had to be replaced and reset. However, the Road Department has all five locations repaired and passable for vehicles at this time.

Alongside the continuing official response of the county, citizens are also still out in droves continuing to help neighbors chainsaw trees in driveways and across roads that authorities haven’t reached yet. Citizens across the county are calling it a major storm, the likes of which they have not seen before.

Citizens are also reporting damage tolls in the hundreds of thousands between damage to homes and vehicles being damaged or crushed by falling branches, trees, hail, power poles, and other debris. Reports of damage continue through local farms including at least one chicken house struck by lightning and burnt down.

Continuing reports of high wind, continuous lightning, and heavy rain have locals calling it a “tornado-like storm without the tornado.”

Officials agree as the Public Safety Department is currently sharing all their information collected with the National Weather Service in attempts to classify the storm. Pritchett confirmed that they are collecting damage reports and assessing weather data to assess the possibility of microbursts, straight-line winds, or actual tornadic activity.

Gilmer is not alone in its time of recovery, though. As is common practice with power companies, Gilmer is receiving aid from counties all over Georgia. Crews are in town this week from Volt Power, Amicalola Electic, Pike Electric, Sumter Electric, and Georgia Power among others. Two visiting workers confirmed they were from Columbus, Ga. and Atlanta, Ga. With others coming in from across the state, work is continuing for those parts of Gilmer and North Georgia that are still without power.

Box truck shuts down Highway 515

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A box truck heading north on Highway 515 stopped traffic when it wrecked late Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 27.

Authorities on scene worked quickly to clear the right lane of northbound traffic as nobody was seriously injured in the accident. The truck went off the road and came to rest on the guard rail near Highway 515 Auto Auction.

According to Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett, two people were in the truck at the time of the crash. At this time, Highway 515 is open to traffic again while workers are clearing the road.

Gilmer Prepares for Severe Storms

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued warning for most of Georgia involving the coming severe storms.

Gilmer is included as the eastern half is set for severe storms, wind, and possibly hail. However, the western half of Gilmer is included in the NWS “Enhanced Risk” warnings, meaning citizens should be prepared for massive rainfall, large hail, potential tornadoes, and damaging wind reaching up to 60 mph.

While citizens are preparing for all the potential dangers, most are afraid of the possibility of flooding in their area. One citizen reported pea sized hail already falling outside at the East Ellijay Walmart.

The Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett spoke with FYN about the coming storms saying, “Hopefully, it  will move through the county without incident. Nevertheless, our people are geared up and ready to go.”

Being aware of the warnings, Pritchett says the Public Safety Department is ready, but waiting to gauge the intensity of the storms. He suggested extra preparations for all citizens living near creeks and other waterways saying that in Gilmer county, “Small creeks and other waterways could rise quickly. We just ask everyone to be prepared.”

As Public Safety continues preparations and monitoring of the potential risks, the National Weather Service is continuing updates to the storm, “At 1243 PM EDT…a strong thunderstorm was near Roy, or 11 miles east of Ellijay…moving east at 40 mph.”

Some locationsthe NWS indicated in the path of this storm include “Dahlonega, Suches, Amicalola Falls State Park, Camp Merrill, Springer
Mountain Shelter, Len Foote Hike Inn, Black Gap Shelter, Stover Creek Shelter, Hawk Mountain Shelter, Nimblewill, Roy, Gaddistown, Gooch, and Mountain Shelter.”

Gilmer Schools have even cancelled all afternoon activities for today, March 19, due to the storms, although they are planning to move ahead with their scheduled Board Meeting at 6 pm.

Stay with FetchYourNews as update continue on the storm’s severity and potential damage in the county. Again, if you begin to see water rising near your homes, seek shelter elsewhere to avoid being trapped. This became a real issue to citizens with flooding over recent years.

Pritchett responds to new position in Andrews

News, Police & Government

(Photo by Kelsey Richardson of the Andrews Journal)

ELLIJAY, Ga. – After a news story in the Andrews Journal today, one sentence has caused confusion among Gilmer County’s citizens and officials.

FetchYourNews (FYN) has confirmed with Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett that he is indeed taking a job in Andrews, North Carolina, as police chief for the department.

The Andrews Journal states, “Pritchett, who has family throughout Cherokee County, is from Gilmer County, Ga. He is transitioning from his role as the Gilmer County Public Safety director to Andrews police chief. Pritchett additionally has experience as chief of the Gilmer County Volunteer Fire Department.”

FYN reported the article to Gilmer County. Additionally, Pritchett has confirmed with FYN that he is transitioning away from the East Ellijay Police Department where Pritchett says he has worked shifts for eight years. Moving his police work to Andrews, Pritchett says he has taken the position for flexibility in his schedule. While he usually had night shifts in East Ellijay, Andrews will allow a less rigid schedule meaning less affect on his main position of public safety director in Gilmer, which he is not leaving.

Coming out of executive session, Pritchett was voted to be hired by the town’s Board of Aldermen. FYN has also checked with Gilmer County Chairman Charlie Paris who stated he confirmed with the town’s mayor that the new position will allow Pritchett to expand and support their police force as chief.

The Andrews Journal did report that Pritchett spoke about bringing a “good respectable and professional police force” to the city and later noted that when the new police force is hired, Pritchett would be focusing on the town’s drug crisis.

When FYN caught up with Pritchett about possibly transitioning away from Gilmer, he responded, “I love the county too much, and I ain’t going nowhere.”

The Andrews Police Department has diminished in the last year after the casino opened. Pritchett told FYN he would be adding his training and expertise to rebuild the department. While the new position will help to grow their department, Pritchett declined to say if there was a set period that he would be there saying, “As long as it is something that doesn’t take away from my responsibilities as public safety director, I don’t mind staying, helping out, and being a part of the department for a while. As long as it doesn’t place too much weight on me from here because Gilmer County, the citizens of Gilmer County, being public safety director and fire chief is my primary duty.”

Summarizing the entirety of the new position, Pritchett summed up his move as “swapping his extra job.”

Cherry Log Fire Station: a promise fulfilled?

Community, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Holding their groundbreaking ceremony over the weekend, Gilmer County has already spent months clearing land and preparing the lot on Pink Pig Lane for a new fire station.

With a contractor moving forward, officials gathered together to formally break ground on the building’s construction. Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston visited with Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Gilmer County Post Commissioner Dallas Miller, and Gilmer Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett as they joined with local citizens to celebrate the project.

Officials turn the first shovel of dirt in the groundbreaking ceremony for Cherry Log's Fire Station.

Officials turn the first shovel of dirt in the groundbreaking ceremony for Cherry Log’s Fire Station.

With the original fire station in the area closed several years ago, citizens have continually expressed the importance of replacing it. A fire station in the area was promised but proved to be slow going. According to local resident Ernest Watkins, many of those in the area lost faith and didn’t believe the station would ever be built. Watkins told FetchYourNews (FYN) the station means everything to him as he had two sons who became volunteer firefighters and having the new location represents the culmination of his community coming together and being heard in what they are wanting.

Opening the ceremony, Pritchett spoke on the importance of the project saying, “Community fire and emergency response capabilities for our citizens are the most vital and important services a local government can provide.” He went on to thank the current Board of Commissioners for making the project a priority and following through with the community through consistent hurdles and obstacles they encountered.

Chairman Charlie Paris thanks Cherry Log residents for their patience in building the Fire Station.

Chairman Charlie Paris thanks Cherry Log residents for their patience in building the fire station.

Chairman Paris echoed the sentiments on the community thanking the Sisson Family who donated the land for the fire station as well as the people of Cherry Log saying, “You’ve been promised for years and years now that there is going to be a fire station here. It has been my objective to make that happen … This groundbreaking today is actually a confirmation of our promise to you that this is going to get built. We are going forward on it.”

Paris thanked citizens for their patience in the project as he and the current board have worked through the trials and tougher points of completing it.

The contract sets the station to be completed within six months from now. This sets the station to be open before next winter and available for any needs such as warming centers or shelters like any other station. Paris confirmed the new building will be a volunteer station and that the county already has volunteer firefighters planned at the location. The new location, dubbed Fire Station No. 3, will be an unmanned station that utilizes the volunteers to man the position.

With the ceremony completed and construction underway, Paris said the next step will be preparing equipment and readying the transfer of that equipment to the facility.

Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett looks on as Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston offers a few words for the fire station groundbreaking.

Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett, right, looks on as Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston offers a few words for the fire station groundbreaking.

Ralston praised the community’s efforts throughout the project saying he wanted to show his support for them. The “community spirit and pride” were what Ralston said laid the foundation. The fire station represents a “capstone” on their efforts locally. He went on to say he was very proud of the community and all they had accomplished.

His sentiment was later echoed by Paris who told FYN in a one-on-one interview that it was the community who stayed with the project. Considering some citizens becoming demoralized after the years they had waited for the project, Paris said, “The fact that we have done this, this is hard to ignore … They just wanted it to happen, and now that it is, I think the folks here are pretty happy with it.”

Paris also praised his Post Commissioners Dallas Miller and Travis Crouch for their support in the project saying, “There has never been a question about whether Cherry Log needed to have a fire station.”

Moving forward, citizens will continue to watch the project progress through construction and paving, marching ever closer to finally completing a promise years in the making.

Bids and appointments prepare commissioners for 2018

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners entered the year’s end awarding last-minute bids for 2018 and appointing board members and positions for the county.

Awarding the 2018 Tax Anticipatory Note (TAN) produced four bids. The two lowest bids came from Southstate Bank with a variable rate currently at 1.696 percent and Regions Bank with a fixed rate at 1.93 percent. Though Southstate is currently lower, the commissioners noted the variable rate has already jumped from 1.53 percent in the first week of November.

Since the commissioners are not expecting to utilize the TAN until August or September of 2018, and noting upward pressure on rates, the motion came to approve Regions Bank’s fixed rate of 1.93 percent.

Along the same item, the banking services for 2018 was bid as well. Five banks offered bids with two bids being offered contingent on winning the TAN bid as well. The three left included United Community Bank with $50 monthly service charges and a 0.65 percent interest rate, Parks Sterling Bank with no monthly charges and a 0.15 percent interest rate, and Chase with its interest rate made to offset the service charges.

Currently, the county is using United Community Bank. As discussion went through their work session, the board began considering the costs of transferring accounts, including ordering new checks. Making the motion for approval, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stated, “Given the offer and also considering the expense of making a change, it would be my opinion that we should just continue with United Community Bank.” The motion was unanimously approved.

Another bid approved during December was the emulsion bids. Originally bid with other materials previously, Gilmer County Public Works Director Jim Smith stated the county only had one bid at the time and another vendor claimed it did not receive the notification for bid. Rebidding now, Ergon Asphault Emulsions, $2.30 per gallon for CRS2L and $1.85 per gallon for CRS2H, and Hudson Materials, $2.06 per gallon for CRS2L and $1.72 per gallon for CRS2H, made offerings.

As low bidder, Hudson Materials was approved for emulsion material beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

The county is moving forward with a lease agreement with the Gilmer Chamber to occupy the Watkins House located downtown. The agreement will allow for the Chamber to create a downtown welcome center and display space. Although other entities are interested in the space, such as Gilmer ARTS and the historical society, both looking to display items in the building, the county is set to main lease to the Chamber while allowing them to decide on sub-leasings for space and display.

The agreement is still in its early stages, but indications suggest the county will be maintaining the space while the Chamber pays for utilities. Rent would be negligible, one suggestion indicated a dollar per year. With the agreement beginning, Chairman Paris suggested the Chamber interest could see utilization of the space as early as spring.

As the agreement moves forward, citizens can expect to revisit the item in coming months for approvals by the board.

The other items for the meeting included several board and position appointments to new and open terms through the county:

Lex Rainey and Don Callihan were appointed to the Gilmer/Pickens Joint Development Authority;

Jim DuPont and Alan Davenport were reappointed to the Planning Commission Board;

Tony Pritchett was appointed as County Legislative Coordinator; and

Cathy Green was appointed to the Northwest Georgia Region 1 Emergency Medical Services Council.

Check out more on the commissioners’ December meeting with “December meetings continue commissioners’ budget conversation.”

House fire injures one and destroys home

News

ELLIJAY, Ga – A fire broke out at 1975 Old Flat Branch Road yesterday, Dec. 6.

According to Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett, the fire had reached advanced stages when 911 was contacted and response arrived on scene. While residents fled the fire, one female was transported for treatment of smoke inhalation and is still hospitalized.

Having already increased in size and threat, fire fighters immediately began containing the blaze in efforts to prevent further spread through the woods and into other homes. However, damage to the house was already spreading and the structure was consumed as well as part of the woods around the house.

At this time the area is completely extinguished, Pritchett stated the workers on scene have cleared any hot spots in the area so no flare ups will occur. However, an investigation is ongoing into the incident as he states they have not ascertained the cause at this time.

Clear Creek Vehicle Accident Claims One Fatality

News

ELLIJAY, GA – An accident on Clear Creek Road occurred Tuesday afternoon, October 17, that has claimed the life of one driver.

According to Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett, the accident was located around the area of Fendley Bridge. While Pritchett did confirm the death of one female, he tells FYN reports have not come back yet on the extent of injuries for others involved.

The one fatality was unable to be revived when emergency services arrived on scene. Specifics on her identity are currently being withheld for the family and an ongoing State Patrol Investigation.

However, FYN has confirmed one other vehicle was involved in the accident. We are also attempting to get more information at this time from the State Patrol Investigation.

Stay with us at FetchYourNews.com as new updates become available.

Accident on 382 claims one fatality

News

ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed a two-vehicle accident on Highway 382 just past Airport Grocery.

Occurring on Sunday, Nov. 19, the accident did shut down the area of 382 temporarily. Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett told FYN that when emergency services arrived on scene, they did confirm the one fatality.

Sheriff Stacy Nicholson spoke with FYN, confirming injuries of two others who were both in the second vehicle. However, Nicholson went on to say that much of the details are not available currently as the Georgia State Patrol is handling investigation of the incident.

The other two injuries were transported to an emergency room. Check for more details as FYN continues following the investigation.

Shell Station sees flash fire on Thanksgiving Day

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A fire broke out at the Shell Gas Station located on the corner of Yukon Road and First Ave., across the street from Ingles, late Nov. 23.

The Thanksgiving night was cut short for two young males as Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett reported they had stopped for gas, and while fueling, one of the men reportedly began fidgeting and playing with his flip lighter. Unfortunately, the flame caught fumes and ignited a “flash fire.”

According to Pritchett, the blaze significantly injured one of the men, damaged the fuel pump and caused minimal damage to the vehicle they were driving. However, no details were available as to the identities of the two men as an investigation was undertaken for the incident. It was confirmed the pump shut off before the blaze could spread to other pumps and the station. However, when asked if the pump shut off automatically or if the attendant shut it off, Pritchett replied that officials would be answering details like that in the investigation.

FYN confirmed with officials that no other vehicle was on the other side of the pump or close enough to sustain damage from the fire. Though no official update is currently available as to the current status of the injured male, FYN’s understanding was that injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

 

Gilmer Prepares for Irma Fallout

News

ELLIJAY, GA – Gilmer County Citizens are preparing for the coming storms from Hurricane Irma. Some are stocking up on food, others on gas.

Gilmer's Hotels, such as the Comfort Inn by Wal-Mart, are reporting near full capacity with the influx of evacuees.

Gilmer’s Hotels, such as the Comfort Inn by Wal-Mart, are reporting near full capacity with the influx of evacuees.

Gilmer County Public Safety is also following suit with preparedness checks on equipment and staff readiness, according to Director Tony Pritchett. Gilmer has already seen an influx of people from the southern parts of our state as hotels are currently filling to capacity. Pritchett tells FYN that emergency services have reserves agreements and the county’s fuel truck ready in case of shortages and all emergency responders are being put on stand-by should the storm take a turn towards our county.

In fact, it is the uncertainty of the storm’s path that is what is keeping everything in Gilmer on edge. Gilmer has certain resources we could send to other parts of the state if Gilmer was not under threat. However, Pritchett said he is waiting to send out resources until he is certain that Gilmer is safe and the resources are available.

The traffic in Gilmer has actually already increased from both Georgia and Florida Evacuees fleeing the path of Hurricane Irma.

The traffic in Gilmer has actually already increased from both Georgia and Florida Evacuees fleeing the path of Hurricane Irma.

In case of that possibility, Pritchett says he is staying in direct contact with Georgia’s State Emergency Management Teams for preparedness.

Pritchett went further with FYN saying, “Folks need to make preparations to be self-sufficient for a period of 48 to 72 hours in the way of power supply, in the way of food, water, and individual needs. Obviously, if you live somewhere near a water way or a flood prone area, you need to pay very close attention because floods can absolutely come with very little notice and can be into that residence very quickly… Pay very close attention to the warnings and the things that are told across the media from Emergency Services… If we are saying you need to evacuate from flood prone area, you need to do it right then and not wait until its too late.”

More preparations are being implemented for citizens including pre-chosen shelter areas at the Gilmer County Civic Center or one of the gyms at either the high school or the middle school. Depending on the situation any of these could be utilized and citizens are advised to stay with media notifications of which shelters to go to.

While supplies aren't gone, stores like the Ingles in East Ellijay are already showing signs of both citizens and evacuees preparing for the coming storms.

While supplies aren’t gone, stores like the Ingles in East Ellijay are already showing signs of both citizens and evacuees preparing for the coming storms.

Still, others continue to prepare in their own way, testing generators and stocking up on necessities from local supermarkets. Many companies in North Georgia have already sent extra linemen and utility workers to the devastation in Texas. So, it will remain to be seen if that makes an effect on the coming storms.

Pritchett confirmed with FYN that they do expect to see a slight uptick in standard emergency calls with the influx of more people to the county, but he expects no issues with the readiness checks and extra preparations in place.

Drowning Victim Found Near Cherry Log

News

ELLIJAY, GA – According to official reports, a visitor to Gilmer County was found near Cherry Log.

Found by the Public Safety Dive Team, the victim was unable to be resuscitated. Though no name has been released at this time, Gilmer Public Safety Director has informed FYN he was visiting from Orangeburg, South Carolina.

For the complete details of the Press Release:

On August 26, 2017 Gilmer County Fire & Rescue responded to a call at 190 Clear Lake Road, in the Boardtown Community, in reference to a report of a male possibly drowning. The male had been swinging on a rope swing out over a small lake at this location, and had went under water and did not immediately come back to the surface. Friends at the scene attempted to make contact with the male, but efforts were unsuccessful. 911 was called and rescue units arrived on scene in the remote area and immediately began search efforts on the shore to locate the male and he was not located. The Gilmer County Public Safety Dive Team then arrived on the scene and began a search of the deeper water and then located the male shortly after the dive operation began. Unfortunately he was unable to be resuscitated. The male was 29 years of age and from Orangeburg, South Carolina. He was vacationing in the area for the weekend with friends.

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