ELLIJAY, Ga. – Continuing his campaign for Governor, Hunter Hill made a stop in Ellijay on May 2 to speak with local citizens about his plans for the office if elected.
Hill spoke to local citizens over breakfast at Mike’s Ellijay Restaurant on Highway 282.
Hill is a former Army Ranger who has been in the State Senate for five years now. After resigning his seat in August to run for Governor, Hill has been focusing on his vision for Georgia and spreading that message to rally voters. Today, he spoke with citizens in Ellijay about the ideals for “less government, less taxes, and more freedom.”
With “career politicians,” as Hill noted, in office, it is an undermining of our values as a nation. He called out those politicians saying they were not even willing to risk their next election to uphold their oath.
Focusing more specifically on the recent issue of sanctuary cities. Adamantly against the topic, Hill said, “If a city or county in this state were to claim itself a sanctuary city, they would not receive a nickel of state funding.”
His second point on his vision for the office reiterated his opinions and intention to eliminate the state income tax. With bordering states already without an income tax, the competitive disadvantage is hurting our state, according to Hill. He went on to say replacing the income tax with a consumption tax setup would alleviate the tax burden from honest Georgians and redistribute that to everyone including visitors to the state and even those making money in illegal ways. Hill stated, “A broad-based consumption tax allows us to have more people that we’re bringing money in from, which allows us to do so at lower rates.”
On a personal note, Hill mentioned his faith pushed him to focus not only on the points of pro-life, pro-second amendment, and also religious liberty. FYN asked Hill if he would be seeking a “Faith Restoration Act” in his first year to which he replied, “Very good chance of that, yeah.”
Hill did confirm that he wanted to pursue faith-based adoption as a part of it saying, “We’ve got to protect our faith-based adoption agencies. We’ve just got to do it. A lot of the reasons that faith-based adoption agencies get involved is to be helpful in congruence with their faith. If you don’t protect their ability to do it in congruence with their faith, then they will just stop doing it altogether.”
Protecting people of faith and their ability to live and work based on that faith was a focus of Hill’s speech about the governor’s office, but also on his words about his future view of the state. He noted after winning on key policy issues aligned with our values and principals, he wanted to remind senators and house members of the values and principals that they were elected for, providing a singular vision to move forward under.
“Fighting for the people of Georgia” is what he says his focus is as Hill says he sees polls with him ahead of Kemp and closing in on Cagle. Separating himself, Hill says he’s not the career politician like Cagle and is very different than Kemp on issues like the income tax and limited government. But when comparing, Hill said he wanted to focus on his campaign and his vision to protect liberties and endorsements like the Georgia Right to Life to be a different candidate.
While most of those present were already Hill supporters like retired Gilmer county citizen, George Winn, who said he’s been a Hill supporter “all the way.” Based upon his stances as a military, Christian conservative who is a believable and trustworthy conservative.
Others like Ken Bailey find themselves supporting Hill as the best candidate. Following the campaign because “Hunter is not a politician. He is a fresh, young face and not a part of the established system, which needs to be broken up I think. I think he’s got good ideas. We don’t need to have a state income tax, that puts a handicap on us.” Bailey went on to say that he liked some of the other candidates and even knew some personally, but felt Hill was the best choice.
He also commented his appreciation of the choice in the election. With fine candidates available, Bailey said its great to not have to pick the best of a bad selection.
Hill continues his bus tour across Georgia with his final stop at the Cobb GOP Headquarters in Marietta on Saturday afternoon, May 2.
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, returned to class today, Feb. 28, just two short weeks after one of America’s deadliest mass shootings in modern history took place in their halls.
In the wake of this tragedy, which claimed 17 lives, discussion have opened up about school safety and what can be done to prevent situations like this from occurring in the future.
Brian K. Pritchard (BKP), chief executive officer of FetchYourNews and host of Good Morning From The Office morning show, invited local officials from Gilmer and Fannin counties to address the safety of our local school systems.
In opening the discussion, BKP directly asked both Gilmer and Fannin County School superintendents how safe do they feel the schools in our area are.
Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney answered from a personal perspective: “My child is in a Fannin County school this morning.”
“We are always vigilant in watching what’s going on with our students, watching what’s going on on social media,” Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, explaining why she too felt the schools in her county were safe, “and staying in constant contact with our law enforcement.”
“What I feel has come out of Parkland (shooting) is a breakdown in the system,” BKP pointed out to the guest panel and questioned how officials have addressed any recent incidents.
Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson replied that his department has had to respond to incidents almost daily for the past two weeks, but clarified that most complaints are not serious.
“The problem is law enforcement can no longer say that’s not serious. We have to take it serious,” Nicholson explained.
Modern times are different according to Nicholson and he stressed, “Pranks are no longer pranks. When it comes to school safety we will investigate and we will prosecute and arrest or send you to juvenile court.”
Many counties in Georgia do not have school resource officers (SRO) assigned to every school in their district. Fortunately, for both Fannin and Gilmer, this is not the case. All schools within each system has its own SRO, and all panel members feel that this is a major element in keeping our schools safe.
“Are all the SRO officers armed this morning?” BKP directly asked the panel. Both Nicholson and Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby replied that all officers on all campuses were armed.
Gilmer County School Resource Officer Sergeant Greg Dodson explained the duties of an SRO: “A very large part of the job is visual security. It’s patrolling the interior and exterior of the school, checking doors, making sure that they’re locked, trying to monitor who comes and goes.”
“If you see someone at the schools that you don’t recognize, make sure they have a visitor pass, that they’ve gone through the office properly,” Dodson added.
Other duties include checking parking lots, bathrooms, hallways, and interacting and developing relationships with the students.
In Gilmer County, to become an SRO, a deputy must submit a formal letter requesting that position. A panel of the officer’s peers then formally recommends who they feel should be placed in that position. Sheriff Nicholson makes a final decision based on the panel’s recommendations.
Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby confirmed that the process in Fannin County is very similar to Gilmer County and added, “That’s not a job (SRO) that you have just to draw a paycheck. That has to be something that the deputy wants to do.”
“From the very get go, it has to be what that person really wants to do,” Kirby said, explaining that the SROs in place are not only trained but also have a passion for that particular field.
Training for an SRO goes beyond that of a police academy. This training includes a School Resource Officer course, Crisis Intervention Training, Gun Safety, and in-service training such as active shooter scenarios.
Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee was present to discuss the legal aspects of threats against a school and what her department does in collaboration with law enforcement to combat any potential crimes.
“I just need one referral to start. I need one concerned student. I need one diligent parent. That’s what allows us to be able to initiate the investigation and to assess what we need to do next,” Sosebee described of the process of how her department can become involved.
Sosebee said we are fortunate to live in a smaller community where residents feel comfortable speaking up when there is an incident that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Confirming Sosebee’s thoughts on residents willing to tip off authorities, Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, “In my experience, when we’ve had a threat that we needed to investigate, I have not gotten it from one person. I get it from 50 people within about an hour.”
“No matter how good you are technologically, there is no substitution for a good tip,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney expressed in similar views.
Both Fannin and Gilmer County school systems continue to take steps to improve safety measures in their schools. Gwatney is looking into extra safety measures using technology. This would include a large network of monitoring devices.
Wilkes is working to renovate Gilmer High School. She would like to implement scan cards for access to doors and is working to restructure the building to create a single point of entry through the front office.
With large campuses and multiple buildings, BKP asked, “Would you look at letting teachers or putting that program into place at your schools to allow weapons in there and how would it work?”
Texas has legislation, School Marshal, to allow teachers to carry weapons on campus, and Florida recently passed similar legislation. Currently in Georgia, there is no statewide legislation on the issue, but rather Georgia allows local school districts to create their own policies regarding this matter.
Gilmer County has looked at sample legislation from other counties in the past, but never voted to enact a policy. Wilkes said that she would favor a policy that would require the individual to qualify with a firearm and that would obligate the individual to attend an annual firearm training course.
Wilkes also would like there to be anonymity in which teachers are armed within the school.
“It would have to be very regulated. It takes the right person, like it takes the right SRO,” Wilkes shared of her stance.
Gwatney was not opposed to the idea but does not want it to negatively affect an educator’s job: “The purpose of a teacher to care for the kids and teach for the kids. We don’t want to create a situation where we force the teacher to try to take on a law enforcement role.”
The panel also expressed frustrations on a system that sometimes works against them in their efforts to keep our children safe.
On a criminal level, Sheriff Nicholson expressed disappointment in a system that seems increasingly unwilling to keep a juvenile in detainment: “It’s getting harder and harder to get someone detained. That’s frustrating.”
Sosebee confirmed Nicholson’s frustration and explained, “Part of that, the court system with relation to that, is the restrictions that are put on the court system as to when these juveniles can be detained and when they cannot be detained and that is where a lot of the hands tying is coming from, from the court system.”
Just like law enforcement, the school systems feel that there is legislation and policy in place that ties their hands when they witness “red flags”.
BKP pointed out the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has grown since it was first enacted and states that schools being a government agency must accommodate individuals with diagnosed disabilities.
Wilkes acknowledged that the ADA does play a heavy role in how schools can handle disciplinary situations: “In many cases, you’re dealing with students who have a disability such as an emotional behavioral disorder, which falls under special education.”
In such cases, if a student makes a threat or acts in a way that requires disciplinary action, the school must first have a Manifestation Hearing.
In a Manifestation Hearing, a panel is made up of a licensed school psychologist, the student’s special education case manager, a teacher that works directly with the student, an administrator, and the parents or guardians of the child.
The panel determines if the threat or infraction is directly related to the student’s disability. If it is deemed that it is in relation to the disability, then disciplinary action cannot be taken.
If it is deemed that the issue is not related to the child’s disability, then a tribunal is formed to determine what disciplinary actions should be taken.
“If a student has any disability at all,” Wilkes clarified, “even if it’s a learning disability in reading, and let’s say they try to burn down the school, then we have to have a manifestation hearing to see if that learning disability led to them trying to burn down the school.”
Due to this process and the strict rules surrounding juvenile privacy, Wilkes stated if it is related to a disability “our hands are tied as to what we can do.”
The panel agreed that collaboration between departments along with a proactive stance on safety is the best route to take when it comes to the welfare of our counties’ children but felt that changes could be made in legislation that would make providing our schools with this security a much more efficient process.
You can watch BKP’s Good Morning From The Office #AnythingGoes School Safety Special in the video below.
(Martin, Georgia) – Monday, January 22nd, the statewide Georgia affiliate of Our Revolution, the organization created to continue pushing the policy goals of the Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign, endorsed Joshua McCall in his bid to unseat Congressman Doug Collins in the Georgia 9th Congressional District. His candidacy will now be passed up to the national organization for consideration.
“I’m running for congress for two reasons. First, Bernie Sanders’ grassroots organization inspired me to examine what forces were limiting political possibilities in our country. I realized, unfortunately, that many of those forces were in the party that I belonged to,” said Candidate Joshua McCall.
He continued, “I’m also running because parts of our government are dangerously close to fascism. Branches of it prey on racial fears and offer simple solutions through state violence. I am running not only to unseat Doug Collins, but in the process speak to the people of this district and unite them behind a Christian and humanist ethic.”
McCall joins Savannah based candidate Lisa Ring as the only currently endorsed congressional candidates in the state. The endorsement includes volunteer coordination and the possibility of national endorsement and fundraising.
Our Revolution Georgia State Committee Member, Vice President of the Young Democrats of Georgia, Hall County Board of Elections Member, and former candidate for State House Michelle Sanchez Jones said of the endorsement, “the Republican Party has purported to represent North Georgia for a generation now, and, outside of the Governor’s backyard, we deserve more from our government. Our hospitals need more money. Our classrooms need more teachers. We need the tools to help those struggling with opioid addiction. The burden of supporting our communities falls disproportionately on our churches and faith institutions. It’s time we got our money’s worth from Washington, and Joshua McCall is exactly the man to help make that happen.”
Background: Consideration of endorsement by the national organization requires prior endorsement from a local affiliate. Our Revolution has numerous affiliates throughout the state whose leadership jointly approve endorsements – with deference given to the chapter closest to the district in question. McCall’s endorsement represents the agreement of affiliates and leadership from Savannah to Atlanta, Athens to Henry County.
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The 2018 election is already starting to take shape as challengers emerge announcing bids for candidacy against well-known incumbents. The most recent of these announcements comes from Margaret Williamson who intends to face off against Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston.
Ralston was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002 and represents House District 7, which includes Fannin County, Gilmer County and a portion of Dawson County. Ralston is the 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, a position he has held since 2010.
Williamson, who resides in Ellijay, made a statement discussing her decision to run:
“For many years I have been involved in political campaigns, on local, state, and national levels. I have actively participated in legislative issues, in support of or in opposition to, learning all the way. Now I intend to use this experience and acquired knowledge to enter into the process as a candidate.”
Already having begun the process of running for the House District 7 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, Williamson acknowledged in her statement that she has mailed the “Declaration to Accept Campaign Contributions” form to the Georgia State Transparency & Campaign Finance Committee.
After approval of this form, Williamson’s next step will be to complete the qualifying process held in March of this year. The qualifying will officially make Williamson a candidate in the Republican Primary for Georgia State House Representative, District 7.
Williamson concluded her statement by announcing that she is in the process of creating a Facebook page which will contain her position on various issues.
“This decision is the culmination of months of debate and prayer. Please continue praying for both John and me,” Williamson said. “This is an exciting time for me.”
A General Primary Election for both Republicans and Democrats will take place on May 22, 2018. Voter registration deadline for the Primary Election is April 23.
Winners of the primaries will face off in the General Election to held on Nov. 6, 2018.
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This past Friday on day two of the Mountaintop Holiday Classic, the Lady Bobcats traveled to take on the Lady Rebels. The Lady Bobcats were coming from a win on day one of the tournament while the Lady Rebels were well rested from the bye game that was scheduled on the first day. Both teams came ready to play and were hungry for another win.
It appeared to be an even matchup from the start. Gilmer had the hustle on defense while Fannin had the determination on offense. The Lady Rebels seemed to score the majority of their points off plays. Lady Rebel, Maleah Stepp, led Fannin in scoring with thirteen points with her will to win. The Lady Bobcats made most of their points from driving the lane and playing in the moment. Lady Bobcat, Mallory Kiser, led her team in scoring with nine points due to her grit. Lady Rebel post, Mackenzie McClure, was on fire with her outside shots which put her right behind Stepp in scoring with ten points. Lady Bobcat guard, Taylor Boling, was behind Kiser in scoring with seven points overall. With the first quarter coming to an end, the Lady Rebels were just one point ahead of the Lady Bobcats with a score of 13-12.
The second quarter was back and forth. Neither team could keep a consistent lead for the eight minutes on the clock. The Lady Rebels started to play scrappy on defense and began rebounding. Lady Rebel, Bailey Whitener, got aggressive down low and contributed three points for her team. Another Lady Rebel, Maddie Johnson, got after it and scored five points after getting steals on defense. Gilmer started looking up the court to find Lady Bobcat, Marylee Callihan, who also put five points on the board for her team. Number twenty-four for the Lady Bobcats, Emma Callihan, put her all into the game and contributed four points for Gilmer. With Fannin in the lead halfway through the quarter, Lady cat Michaela Staley drew a foul and made two of her foul shots. Staley’s two points tied up the game. Gilmer continued to score and further their lead until the end of the second quarter. It was the Lady Rebels ball as the clock was winding down and Reagan Henderson happened to be wide open. Henderson received a beautiful pass down low which resulted in her making a buzzer beater shot and contributing two of her overall three points to tie the game 23-23.
With both teams having the same chances of winning, Fannin found their spunk. The Lady Rebels started to draw fouls from driving the lane. Lady Rebel, Hope Franklin, drew two fouls from the block and contributed two of her four points from the foul line. However, Fannin was not the only team to draw fouls. Lady Bobcat, Katie Kiker, drew a foul and put one point on the board for Gilmer. As Fannin’s lead extended, Gilmer came alive on the block. Lady Bobcat, Faith Ralston, scored two of her three points from down low. Another post for Gilmer, Jasmine Staley, contributed two points for the Lady Bobcats from under the basket. Gilmer’s lead strayed farther from Fannin’s which resulted in the score being 31-25 at the end of the third quarter.
With Gilmer down by only six points, they were determined to make a come back. Both teams wanted to win and it showed through their hustle and intensity. With Gilmer trying their best to catch up to Fannin, the Lady Rebels tried just as hard to keep their lead. Although both teams had the heart to win the game, one had to lose. The Lady Bobcats played an amazing game, but were five points away from victory. The Lady Rebels 38-33 win over the Lady Bobcats put Fannin in the championship game to be played the next day against the Lady Dragons.
The Lady Rebels win puts their overall record at 7-6 while the Lady Bobcats record also stands at 7-6. Catch the Lady Rebels next region game at Fannin County High School on January 5 against GAC starting at 7:00! Or catch the Lady Bobcats next region game on the same day and at the same time as they travel to take on Northwest Whitfield!
This week’s #TeamFYNSports Sportswriter Player of the Week for Fannin County is #36 Jonah Henry. Henry recorded 6 tackles in the Rebels’ Homecoming game against Lumpkin. He assisted on 4 additional tackles, he had one tackle for a loss and he had one pass broken up. Henry has been a consistent part of the defensive secondary this season, as well as an asset on special teams and occasionally from the tailback position when the offensive personnel needed a break. The Rebels travel to Union County this week for the Panthers’ senior night, kickoff scheduled for 7:30pm.
- Union County Schools will be CLOSED Monday, September 11th and Tuesday, September 12th due to Gov. Nathan Deal declaring a state of emergency for all 159 counties in Georgia. Please continue to monitor here for further updates.
- Fannin County Schools will be closed for students and all personnel on Monday, September 11 and Tuesday, September 12, for students, as well as all faculty and staff, except for 12-month personnel, district directors, and principals. As long as it is safe to do so, all 12-month personnel, as well as district directors and principals, should anticipate reporting by 9:00 a.m. on September 12. These personnel should note, though, that this expectation may be revised, depending on the weather conditions overnight; nonetheless, if you ever believe it is unsafe to report, please notify your immediate supervisor. In addition, the Board of Education work session meeting that was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 12, has been cancelled. Please continue to stay safe!
- Pickens County Schools closed Monday, September 11th – TWELVE MONTH EMPLOYEES REPORT AT NORMAL TIME. Schools will also be closed on Tuesday, September 12. Twelve month employees will be contacted late Monday as to whether they will be required to come to work on Tuesday. All school activities, including athletic events and after-school programs, will be canceled.
- Gilmer County Schools will be closed Monday, September 11th and Sepember 12th due to Hurricane Irma. We have made this decision after consultation with local emergency management authorities and careful consideration of safety factors, such as the probability of severe winds especially at higher elevations, debris, dangerous road conditions and downed power lines left in its wake. Only 12 month staff should report if safe to do so.
- Dawson County Schools will be closed on Monday, September 11, and Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Twelve month employees will operate on a 2 hour delay.
- Lumpkin County Schools closed due to the weather forecast for our area, Lumpkin County Schools will be closed on Monday, September 11, and Tuesday, September 12, 2017. The anticipated high winds pose a significant threat to our students and staff. We understand that weather predictions are not always accurate, but we cannot ignore the potentially dangerous situation that this storm poses. Our number one priority is to keep our students and staff safe! Wednesday will still be a early release day as planned so that teachers will be available for parent conferences. 12 month employees should report if it is safe to do so.
- Towns County Schools closed Monday, September 11th and Tuesday, September 12th for all students. All employees should report at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, September 12th if safe to do so.
- White County Schools due to the severe weather forecast, White County Schools are closed for students and staff Monday, September 11, and Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Please be safe!
- Murray County Schools closed Monday September 11 and Tuesday September 12, due to the possible impact of Hurricane Irma. We have made this decision after consultation with local emergency management authorities and careful consideration of safety factors, such as the probability of severe winds, debris, dangerous road conditions, and downed power lines. We understand that weather predictions are often incorrect, but the size of this storm cannot be ignored. It is our hope that Murray County is spared from any of this storm’s impact, but we will always choose to error on the side of caution. All events planned for Monday and Tuesday evenings are also cancelled. This includes the September 11 MCPS Board meeting. This meeting will be rescheduled for Thursday, September 14 at 6:15 p.m. All maintenance, grounds crew, and transportation employees will meet at the transportation office.