Four life-flighted after car accident on Scenic Drive

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A head on collision left four adults having to be emergency flighted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

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Scene of head on collision on Scenic Drive.

James Dickey of Blue Ridge, Ga., was traveling southbound on Scenic Drive shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 7. Dickey had with him passengers, Gary Patterson (Blue Ridge) and Kimberly Patterson (Blue Ridge).

Dickey’s Ford F-150 crossed the center lane while navigating one of Scenic Drive’s many curves and struck a Ford Escape head on. The Escape was driven by Heather Seigler who is also a resident of Blue Ridge, Ga.

After the impact Dickey’s truck overturned onto it’s right side. Gary Patterson, who was not wearing a seat belt, was completely ejected from the vehicle.

The Escape, driven by Seigler, spun several times before coming to a stop.

Emergency crews were on the scene within 10 minutes of receiving dispatch and determined that the car accident victims would need to be taken to Erlanger Hospital, the area’s nearest trauma facility, for treatment.

Four Life Force helicopters arrived to airlift the victims who were all suspected of having serious injuries.

As of Monday, June 11, Kimberly Patterson and Heather Seigler are still admitted at Erlanger Hospital for continued treatment. Passenger Gary Patterson has been discharged from the facility. The condition of driver James Dickey was unable to be confirmed.

Charges involving the accident are pending.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Domestic threat suspect apprehended in Fannin County

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Law enforcement from Fannin County and Cherokee County, Georgia, worked together to apprehend a suspect with outstanding warrants in the city of Woodstock.

Fannin County, Cherokee County, Georgia, Recreation Department, City of Woodstock, Woodstock Police Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, SWAT, Tactical Team, Kenneth Bethea, Satin Blakely, Domestic Threat, Day Camp, Warrants, Charges

The Fannin County Recreation Department kept the public updated as the situation unfolded.

The Fannin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) responded to a call early Tuesday morning of a domestic threat having been made at the Fannin County Recreation Department located on Tom Boyd Road.

According to witnesses, Satin Blakley dropped off her child for the Day Camp program at the Recreation Department, and informed staff members that her male passenger had made threats against her life. The passenger, Kenneth Bethea, was waiting in the car for her to return and, according to Blakley, had a gun.

Out of fear, Blakley refused to go back out to her vehicle, and staff members immediately notified the FCSO of the situation taking place.

Fannin County, Cherokee County, Georgia, Recreation Department, City of Woodstock, Woodstock Police Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, SWAT, Tactical Team, Kenneth Bethea, Satin Blakely, Domestic Threat, Day Camp, Warrants, Charges

Kenneth Bethea after being taken into custody by Cherokee County Law Enforcement.

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby stated when officers arrived on the scene, the suspect, Bethea, had already fled on foot. It is speculated that Bethea became nervous when Blakley did not return to the car.

Officers on the scene received a statement from Blakley and ran the suspect’s name. It was upon running Bethea’s name that it was revealed he was wanted by the city of Woodstock Police Department for outstanding warrants.

FCSO notified the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office of the situation, and according to Kirby, “Cherokee County sent up a SWAT Tactical Team to help with the search.”

Kirby said that the two agencies then worked together “to flush the suspect out of the woods.”

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office took command in detaining Bethea once he was located and transported him to that county where he will be held for the outstanding warrants as well as a number of new charges.

Bethea is being held without bond and faces the following charges for his actions in Cherokee County:

  • Aggravated Assault by Strangulation;
  • Simple Battery;
  • Theft by Taking;
  • Unlawful to Possess any False Fraudulent document;
  • Cruelty to Children 3rd Degree;
  • False Imprisonment;
  • Obstructing person to make 911 call;
  • Criminal Trespass;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Aggravated Assault w/a deadly weapon;
  • Hijacking by motor vehicle (Car-jacking);
  • Possession of a firearm during commission of a crime;
  • Carrying weapon w/o license;
  • Possession of Firearms by convicted felon;
  • Criminal damage to property 2nd degree;
  • Criminal Trespass; and
  • Obstruction of an Officer.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Lightning strike destroys home in Blue Ridge

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A lightning strike is responsible for a fire that ended with the total loss of a family home in Blue Ridge.

The Fannin County Fire Department was dispatched to a call of a reported lightning strike shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, May 31. After stepping out the door of Fire Station 1 in downtown Blue Ridge, Fire Chief Larry Thomas quickly realized that the reported lightning strike had resulted in a fire.

Smoke was seen from downtown Blue Ridge bellowing high into the air quickly turning from a light gray smoke to a deep black.

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Smoke was visible from the home fire in downtown Blue Ridge.

“Black smoke is what you get from house fires,” Thomas explained of the sight from downtown Blue Ridge. “The synthetic materials that make up a home and that are found in a home will account for this.”

Thomas described pulling up to the scene of the fire: “We arrived less than 10 minutes after dispatch and found the house 40 to 50 percent involved with flames that had already vented through the roof.”

When arriving on the scene, crews were able to move three vehicles near the structure. These vehicles are known as exposures.

Exposures are potentials for a fire resulting from another fire outside of the primary building, structure, or vehicle. In this case crews identified the vehicles as having a potential for resulting in a secondary hazard and were able to remove them safely.

Firefighters were also able to protect a nearby garage and two other vehicles from becoming part of the inferno.

The home located on Wild Iris Trail belongs to the Tankersley family, owners of Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard. While the family was not physically harmed during the fire, it has been confirmed that some of their beloved pets were unable to escape.

Despite time-saving tactics and added water supply, fire fighters were unable to save the home, and it was deemed a total loss.

While the weather of the evening aided in containing the fire to the structure, it also combated efforts to save the home itself.

Thomas stated the rains helped to keep the fire from spreading to the surrounding terrain, but the steady winds that accompanied the storms progressed the fire through the home.

“The wind would shift direction and that affected the high fire. It would actually force the fire back into and down through the attic space,” Thomas said, explaining how the fire spread, “and then the low fire was just eating its way in on the ground.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, House Fire, Lightning, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Community Emergency Response Team, Medic, Cohutta Wilderness, Wildfire, Fire Chief, Larry Thomas, Tankersley, Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard

A tree near the home received a direct hit by lightning and is the cause of the resulting house fire.

The fire began as a result of a lightning strike to a nearby tree. The electricity from the strike moved through the roots of the tree where it made contact with underground utilities, and moved into the home.

Fires resulting from lightning strikes are seen annually in our area. Most notably seen in recent times, the Cohutta Wilderness Wildfire destroyed thousands of acres and lasted several months in late 2016.

“Lightning doesn’t have to hit your house to start the fire,” Thomas explained of the nature of fires caused by lightning. “It can strike anything nearby, a tree or utilities. It can then travel through the tree roots or underground lines, anything that conducts electricity, and reach the home.”

Firefighters responded to a second call of a lightning strike-induced fire on the evening of May 31. This strike had moved through a gas line connecting to a home. The homeowner in this case was able to shut off the gas supply and extinguish the fire before major damage was done.

“The best thing people can do, is just stay vigilant during these storms,” Thomas said as he acknowledged the unpredictability of storms and lightning in general.

Crews were on the scene of the house fire on Wild Iris Trail for approximately seven hours. A total of 22 firefighters helped to combat the blaze. Medics, as well as members of the Fannin County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), were also present to provide emergency personnel with rehabilitation services such as oxygen and a dry area. Fannin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to direct traffic.

 

[Featured image: The home located on Wild Iris Trail as fire fighters worked to battle the blaze.]

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Fannin County Board of Education adopts GAMB policy

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County School System officially became the second county in the state of Georgia to adopt a policy giving the option of arming school personnel. In April, the Laurens County school board in Georgia adopted a similar policy.

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Standing room only as citizens gather to voice their opinion on GAMB.

The unanimous decision by the Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) is one that board members said they did not take lightly and that much thought and planning was involved in the policy of Possession of Weapons by Employees or GAMB.

“We have given careful consideration to as many aspects of this as we possibly can,” board member Terry Bramlett stated during closing thoughts.

This decision by the BOE was not met without opposition as the Fannin County Board of Education facility was filled to capacity Thursday night.

Board members listened to several speakers from the community. Ten citizens in all signed up to have their voices heard during public commentary.

“It’s madness. That the way you solve a problem is to kill somebody,” Brent Warberg, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) profiler and hostage negotiator, said, showing his passion for his stance. “If you arm a teacher and that teacher shoots somebody, you own it.”

Warberg’s feelings were shared by others during public commentary. Dr. Kyle Raque, a clinical psychologist, cited that there is no evidence that arming school personnel works to provide a safer environment.

Mother of two, Michele Bradley, shared her thoughts: “Are you prepared to be sued when one of these teachers innocently kills a child?”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School, Terry Bramlett, Benny Long, Laurens County, Brent Warberg, Kyle Raque, Michele Bradley, Sheila Gooch, Jack Taylor

Former FBI profiler Brent Warberg urges board members to not adopt the new policy.

Most who spoke in opposition of the newly adopted policy offered other solutions to the issue of safety on school campuses. Among the solutions discussed were those of addressing mental health of not just students, but of faculty as well, and trying to intervene at a young age when a child first shows signs of mental illness.

As many spoke in opposition, just as many spoke in favor of the GAMB policy. The public commentary portion of the meeting was split evenly between the two sides.

“As a former resource officer, I can tell you that evil is at the front door,” Jack Taylor, chairman of Blue Ridge Patriot Friends of the National Rifle Association (NRA) addressed the board, “and it’s knocking.”

“I commend you all for having the guts to do this,” Taylor added.

Retired educator and NRA certified pistol instructor Sheila Gooch also spoke in favor of GAMB: “We need options. We need to look at what we can do to protect our children.”

Before board members placed their vote, Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney reiterated his views that he had expressed during the April BOE meeting when the GAMB policy was first read.

“There is no higher purpose of our school system than to provide a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Gwatney said, explaining his position on adopting the policy.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School, Terry Bramlett, Benny Long, Laurens County, Brent Warberg, Kyle Raque, Michele Bradley, Sheila Gooch, Jack Taylor

Former resource officer Jack Taylor commends the board for taking steps to adopt the new policy.

“As a professional educator, I will be the first to say that simply increasing the number of weapons already legally on our campuses is not, at least in of itself, the answer,” Gwatney said, acknowledging that the issues faced when dealing with violence is multifaceted and other aspects such as mental health need also be addressed.

It was clear by Gwatney’s speech that his biggest concern when it comes to setting policy for the safety of Fannin County schools is the mistake of taking no action at all.

He concluded his thoughts by sharing a quote from John F. Kennedy: “There are risks and costs to action. But are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”

After fully reading the policy for a second time and with tension high in the room, the BOE unanimously passed GAMB. Many present in opposition of the policy stormed out of the building upon its passing.

The new Possession of Weapons by Employees policy (GAMB) states that “the Board of Education may authorize certain personnel to possess or carry weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the District.”

Those approved to carry weapons on school property must meet and adhere to certain criteria, the first of which being that proper training and review of skill must be approved in advance by the superintendent and the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School, Terry Bramlett, Benny Long, Laurens County, Brent Warberg, Kyle Raque, Michele Bradley, Sheila Gooch, Jack Taylor

Fannin County Board of Education unanimously votes to adopt new GAMB policy.

Continued evaluation will also be required upon approval: “To receive and subsequently maintain authorization, all approved personnel shall regularly qualify to the standard required by the Fannin County Sheriff for each type of weapon authorized.”

Types and quantities of weapons and ammunition each individual will be allowed to possess will be approved and monitored by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and the superintendent.

Personnel will not be required to carry arms, and the program will be carried out on a volunteer basis. Furthermore, the new legislation states, “The final appointment will be made by the Superintendent consistent with the requirements of this policy. Each employee appointed must be licensed under the laws of the state to carry a firearm and shall be subject to an annual criminal history background check. Approval will not be granted for any employee who has had an employment or other history indicating any type of mental or emotional instability as determined by the Board or Superintendent. The Superintendent shall be able at any time to remove or suspend the authority granted to any employee under this policy.”

Specific guidelines were also laid out in the new policy for proper carrying and storage of weapons.

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby expressed his opinion of the policy at the previous BOE meeting held in April: “I support it 100 percent. I think that drastic acts require drastic responses.”

Kirby went on to say, “I’m very thankful that the board and the superintendent were willing to step out into these waters. I think it was done right.”

Fannin County Assistant Superintendent Benny Long pointed out that this policy is a foundation from which the school system can build: “At this given time, it is still in the very formative stages. There are lots of questions, I think, that all of us have but we are working on developing this process.”

If the board chooses to put this policy into practice, the personnel approved would remain confidential. Gwatney previously explained, “By pursuing a policy, the Board of Education intends to reserve the option to take action that is permitted by state law; whether and/or how the Board chooses to implement the policy, if approved, is a confidential matter.”

“This is just one more option, one more tool, that we could use to keep our schools safe,” Gwatney said, explaining that by adopting the policy it simply just gives the school board that option to possibly take. “The policy in and of itself could act as a deterrent to someone wishing to do harm.”

Policy Possession of Weapons by Employees (Descriptor Code: GAMB):

The Board of Education is committed to maintaining a safe and secure working and learning environment. Unless authorized by the Board of Education or an administrator in accordance with this policy, or specifically authorized by state law, employees shall be prohibited from bringing weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at school functions, and on school buses or other transportation furnished by the School District. Employees in violation of this policy shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-11-130.1, the Board of Education may authorize certain personnel to possess or carry weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the District, subject to the following conditions:

1. Training of approved personnel shall occur prior to their authorization to carry weapons. The training shall be approved in advance by the Superintendent and Fannin County Sheriff and shall, at a minimum, include training on judgment pistol and long gun shooting, marksmanship, and a review of current laws relating to the use of force for the defense of self or others. The Superintendent, with the approval of the Fannin County Sheriff, may substitute for certain training requirements an individual’s prior military or law enforcement service if he or she has previously served as a certified law enforcement officer or has had military service which involved similar weapons training. To receive and subsequently maintain authorization, all approved personnel shall regularly qualify to the standard required by the Fannin County Sheriff for each type of weapon authorized.

2. An approved list of the types and quantity of weapons and ammunition each approved individual is authorized to possess or carry shall be prepared and maintained by the Superintendent and shall be approved by the Fannin County Sheriff;

3. Selection of personnel to possess or carry a weapon shall be done strictly on a voluntary basis.The final appointment will be made by the Superintendent consistent with the requirements of this policy. Each employee appointed must be licensed under the laws of the state to carry a firearm and shall be subject to an annual criminal history background check. Approval will not be granted for any employee who has had an employment or other history indicating any type of mental or emotional instability as determined by the Board or Superintendent. The Superintendent shall be able at any time to remove or suspend the authority granted to any employee under this policy; and

4. Weapons possessed or carried by personnel under this paragraph shall be secured as follows: Concealed weapons are permitted if they are carried in a holster and not in a purse, briefcase, bag, or similar other accessory which is not secured on the body. If maintained separate from the body, the weapon shall be maintained in a secured lock safe or similar lock box that cannot be easily accessed by students.

In addition to those employees appointed pursuant to this policy, the Board recognizes that other exceptions exist under O.C.G.A. §16-11-127.1. All records regarding the appointment of individual employees and the implementation of this program shall be exempt from production under the Open Records Act as specified in Georgia law.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Proclamations signed to mark April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention month

Community, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Board of Commissioners marked April as Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness month by signing two proclamations to help bring public consciousness to these very serious causes.

The first proclamation to be signed was presented by Fannin County’s Division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS).

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Proclamation, April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, North Georgia, Mountain Crisis Network, Elaine Cannon, Department of Family and Children's Services, NGMCN, DFCS

Representatives from DFCS had proclamation signed for Child Abuse Prevention month.

April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention month since 1984, when then President Ronald Reagan first nationally recognized the need to bring public awareness to this issue.

By signing Proclamation 5172, Reagan officially acknowledged the first Child Abuse Prevention month. Reagan’s Proclamation states “Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of April 1984, as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. We must find a way to leave our future generations a priceless legacy — the confidence and trust resulting from a secure childhood.”

DFCS Advocacy and Training Manager Gina Bennett spoke of the need of this awareness in our area, “Last year there were 63 children that entered foster care in Fannin County due to abuse.”

During the month of April communities are encouraged to provide education, support, and awareness through resources and strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect.

The second proclamation to be signed was presented by the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network (NGMCN) to make April Sexual Assualt Awareness Month.

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Representatives from NGMCN had proclamation signed for Sexual Assault Awareness month.

A movement that started in the 1970s with activists forming organizations to address the issue of sexual assault, the month of April was not nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness month until 2001.

NGMCN Interim Executive Director Elaine Cannon spoke of the hopes in having this proclamation signed: “To make individuals in the county and in all of our communities aware of what a problem sexual assault is. In not just our county, but all counties.”

Cannon spoke of the stigma that victims of sexual assault still face today, and that that stigma is often the cause of victims not coming forward.

“What we want to do is encourage education in the communities, and bring this to the forefront,” Cannon said explaining NGMCN’s mission, “that people can be aware that there is a place victims can go, and that we can provide them with services that would help their victimization be a little less traumatic.”

If you are a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence you are encouraged to reach out to North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network. You can reach them by phone at 706-632-8400.

Similarly, if you are a victim of child abuse or know of a child currently in an abusive situation, the Department of Family and Children’s Services asks you to please reach out. You can call Fannin County DFCS at 706-632-2296 or report incidents of abuse to the local Fannin County Sheriff’s Office 706-632-2044.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Arming Fannin County educators

News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – At the April 12 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, a new policy was introduced that would give Fannin County Schools the option of having armed educators on their campuses.

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Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney

“There is no higher purpose of our school system than to provide a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney began, addressing those in attendance about the proposed policy addition about to be publicly read.

“Your board and I have been unable to ignore the many tragic events across our nation that have resulted in the deaths of so many,” Gwatney continued.

Gwatney cited that schools have a number of precautions in place to protect students and faculty in the event of a crisis. He listed fire extinguishers, bleed response kits, and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) as examples.

Following these examples, Gwatney pointed to the fact that school resource officers (SROs) are present for much the same reason: “During the course of my career, I have seen the numbers of SROs progress from none in our district to one; then the number has grown over the years to our current ratio of one SRO for each school.”

“Emergencies do occur, though, and just like a defibrillator, a tourniquet, or a fire extinguisher, a firearm is – at its core – a tool,” Gwatney expounded on the board’s decision to present this legislative option.

“As a professional educator, I will be the first to say that simply increasing the number of weapons already legally on our campuses is not, at least in of itself, the answer,” Gwatney said, acknowledging that the issues faced when dealing with violence is multifaceted and other aspects such as mental health need also be addressed.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School

Dr. Gwatney’s full letter concerning the board’s decision to look into arming educators for added security on Fannin County school campuses.

Gwatney concluded his thoughts with a quote from John F. Kennedy: “There are risks and costs to action. But are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”

The new Possession of Weapons by Employees policy (GAMB) states that “the Board of Education may authorize certain personnel to possess or carry weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the District”.

Those approved to carry weapons on school property must meet and adhere to certain criteria, the first of which being that proper training and review of skill must be approved in advance by the superintendent and the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office.

Continued evaluation will also be required upon approval: “To receive and subsequently maintain authorization, all approved personnel shall regularly qualify to the standard required by the Fannin County Sheriff for each type of weapon authorized.”

Types and quantities of weapons and ammunition each individual will be allowed to possess will be approved and monitored by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and the superintendent.

Personnel will not be required to carry arms and the program will be carried out on a volunteer basis. Furthermore the new legislation states, “The final appointment will be made by the Superintendent consistent with the requirements of this policy. Each employee appointed must be licensed under the laws of the state to carry a firearm and shall be subject to an annual criminal history background check. Approval will not be granted for any employee who has had an employment or other history indicating any type of mental or emotional instability as determined by the Board or Superintendent. The Superintendent shall be able at any time to remove or suspend the authority granted to any employee under this policy.”

Specific guidelines were also laid out in the new policy for proper carrying and storage of weapons.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Education, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Dane Kirby, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Possession of Weapons by Employees, GAMB, Policy, Firearms, School

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby was present to share his thoughts: “I support it 100 percent. I think that drastic acts require drastic responses.”

Kirby cited the process of an active shooter scenario from the time that the first act of violence occurs until his officers could be on scene to respond.

He acknowledged that times may vary but stated, “By the time all of that is done, that could take up to 15 minutes, in all reality for someone to respond to one of our schools.”

“I’m very thankful that the board and the superintendent were willing to step out into these waters,” Kirby said, finalizing his opinion on the new policy. “I think it was done right.”

If implemented, the personnel approved would remain confidential. Gwatney explained, “By pursuing a policy, the Board of Education intends to reserve the option to take action that is permitted by state law; whether and/or how the board chooses to implement the policy, if approved, is a confidential matter.”

This new policy has been tabled and will be addressed at the Board of Education regular meeting held May 10.

Policy Possession of Weapons by Employees (Descriptor Code: GAMB):

The Board of Education is committed to maintaining a safe and secure working and learning environment. Unless authorized by the Board of Education or an administrator in accordance with this policy, or specifically authorized by state law, employees shall be prohibited from bringing weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at school functions, and on school buses or other transportation furnished by the School District. Employees in violation of this policy shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-11-130.1, the Board of Education may authorize certain personnel to possess or carry weapons on any property or in any building owned or leased by the District, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the District, subject to the following conditions:

1. Training of approved personnel shall occur prior to their authorization to carry weapons. The training shall be approved in advance by the Superintendent and Fannin County Sheriff and shall, at a minimum, include training on judgment pistol and long gun shooting, marksmanship, and a review of current laws relating to the use of force for the defense of self or others. The Superintendent, with the approval of the Fannin County Sheriff, may substitute for certain training requirements an individual’s prior military or law enforcement service if he or she has previously served as a certified law enforcement officer or has had military service which involved similar weapons training. To receive and subsequently maintain authorization, all approved personnel shall regularly qualify to the standard required by the Fannin County Sheriff for each type of weapon authorized.

2. An approved list of the types and quantity of weapons and ammunition each approved individual is authorized to possess or carry shall be prepared and maintained by the Superintendent and shall be approved by the Fannin County Sheriff;

3. Selection of personnel to possess or carry a weapon shall be done strictly on a voluntary basis.The final appointment will be made by the Superintendent consistent with the requirements of this policy. Each employee appointed must be licensed under the laws of the state to carry a firearm and shall be subject to an annual criminal history background check. Approval will not be granted for any employee who has had an employment or other history indicating any type of mental or emotional instability as determined by the Board or Superintendent. The Superintendent shall be able at any time to remove or suspend the authority granted to any employee under this policy; and

4. Weapons possessed or carried by personnel under this paragraph shall be secured as follows: Concealed weapons are permitted if they are carried in a holster and not in a purse, briefcase, bag, or similar other accessory which is not secured on the body. If maintained separate from the body, the weapon shall be maintained in a secured lock safe or similar lock box that cannot be easily accessed by students.

In addition to those employees appointed pursuant to this policy, the Board recognizes that other exceptions exist under O.C.G.A. §16-11-127.1. All records regarding the appointment of individual employees and the implementation of this program shall be exempt from production under the Open Records Act as specified in Georgia law.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Winter Storm Inga moves through Fannin County

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Winter Storm Inga is passing through Fannin County and with it is uncertainty as what to expect.

The latest winter weather advisory from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) remains in effect until 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, and a wind chill advisory is in effect for our area until 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM EST WEDNESDAY… …WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 9 PM THIS EVENING TO 8 AM EST THURSDAY…

* WHAT…Snow occurring. Very cold wind chills expected. Plan on difficult travel conditions. Snow accumulations of up to two inches are expected. Expect wind chills to range from zero to 10 below zero.

* WHERE…Fannin, Gilmer, Union, Towns and Pickens Counties.

* WHEN…For the Winter Weather Advisory, until 10 AM EST Wednesday. For the Wind Chill Advisory, from 9 PM this evening to 8 AM EST Thursday.

* WINDS…Winds will become strong and gusty Wednesday with northwest winds of 15 to 25 mph gusting to 25 to 30 mph. A Wind Advisory may be needed for Wednesday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Be prepared for reduced visibilities at times. The cold wind chills will cause frostbite in as little as 30 minutes to exposed skin. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving. A Wind Chill Advisory means that cold air and the wind will combine to create low wind chills. Frostbite and hypothermia can occur if precautions are not taken. Make sure you wear a hat and gloves.

* AFFECTED AREAS: FANNIN … GILMER … PICKENS … TOWNS … UNION

Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Robert Graham spoke about Inga’s potential impact on our area: “Right now, all that has fallen is melting. We are really concerned about icing overnight.”

Public Works Director Zack Ratcliff confirmed this thought, “Icing is going to be a big threat.”

Ratcliff did state that road crews are already out treating known problem areas of the county: “We are spread throughout the county right now treating hills, curves, and known shady spots.”

“We will work as late as we can, but when temperatures get down in the teens and freezing takes place, there isn’t much more we can do as far as pretreating,” Ratcliff spoke of the county’s plan to fight the effects of Winter Storm Inga.

Ratcliff added, “We will be back out in the morning to continue treatment, and my crews are ready.”

The county currently has approximately 300 tons of salt on hand for road treatment, as well as five salt trucks with plows and four pickup trucks with salt spreaders.

Graham explained that models with this system are constantly being updated, “Currently, it shows a possible two inches of snow in some areas.”

Graham urges drivers to use precaution while on the roadways, and as temperatures fall over night, to only travel if absolutely necessary.

There are currently no shelters open at this time in Fannin County. If you are in need of assistance and it is not a life- threatening emergency, you can call the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at 706-632-6022 or 706-632-2043. All life-threatening emergency calls should be placed to 911.

Follow FetchYourNews for the latest on Winter Storm Inga, including closings and delays in our area.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Fannin County Fire Department battles blazes in freezing temperatures

Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) has responded to numerous home and brush fires in the past week. The unusual uptake in reports of fire incidents is due in part to the frigid temperatures that have hit our area.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Community Emergency Response Team, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Fannin County Public Works, Ada Street, Curtis Switch Road, House Fire, Fire Safety, Fire Prevention, Cold Weather Firefighting

Crews work to extinguish home fire on Ada Street.

“Any time you have cold weather you have a potential for an increase in fire-related calls,” Fannin County Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas explained. “Most of these are because of the need to provide extra heat to homes.”

FCFD was called out to one such home fire on Monday, Jan. 1. A 911 call was made in the late morning hours, reporting a fire at 4430 Ada Street. Emergency crews were dispatched and arrived on the scene minutes later.

“They (the home owners) weren’t home at the time of the fire, but when they did return, they saw smoke and they called 911,” Thomas recalled the events of that day.

The home fire led to Ada Street being closed near the Curtis Switch Road intersection for approximately four hours. Fannin County Sheriff’s Office was on the scene to help with the road closure and to redirect traffic.

Fannin County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) set up on the property to render aid to the firemen battling the blaze.

“There really are a lot of people I would like to thank,” Thomas said of the effort put forth. “Everyone came together.”

Fannin County Emergency Management Agency made the following post on their Facebook page following the events of that day:

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Community Emergency Response Team, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Fannin County Public Works, Ada Street, Curtis Switch Road, House Fire, Fire Safety, Fire Prevention, Cold Weather Firefighting

Thomas also noted that family members of the home owners, as well as the home owners themselves, were mindful of the efforts being put forth by FCFD and displayed continued kindness throughout the ordeal, even offering to deliver meals to the response teams that were on the scene.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Thomas, Fannin County Fire Department, Fannin County Community Emergency Response Team, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Fannin County Public Works, Ada Street, Curtis Switch Road, House Fire, Fire Safety, Fire Prevention, Cold Weather Firefighting

CERT teams work along side firefighters to help combat conditions caused by the extreme cold.

Thomas commented on the conditions of the day and how it affects members of his department: “Fighting fires in cold weather is a lot different. It causes a whole new set of problems.”

Freezing temperatures do pose a new series of threats and difficulties beyond the dangers normally faced when emergency teams respond to calls of this nature. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is designed to protect the wearer from heat of a fire, but only has limited insulation for cold temperatures.

Firefighters face an increased risk of hypothermia and frostbite when battling flames in freezing conditions. Also, fluctuating from extreme heat to extreme cold increases fatigue and exhaustion.

CERT placed a tent on the property of the Ada Street fire to help combat these conditions. Firefighters were monitored by fellow emergency responders and took breaks in the CERT tent to warm up, get re-hydrated, and dry wet clothing.

“Beyond personal safety, we also have to closely monitor our equipment during this weather,” Thomas spoke of the obstacles faced during cold weather.

Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBA) worn by firefighters have a high risk of freezing and icing over when temperatures are below freezing. Water from hoses can also freeze causing ice patches on the ground and increasing the risk of structural collapse due to the added weight of the ice.

Fannin County Public Works department responded to the scene as well as to clear and salt Ada Street when ice began to form from the water run off.

“It really was a group effort, and I would like to give my guys some recognition. It is never an easy job, but in this weather, it is even more difficult, and they are working really hard,” Thomas said of crews working the scene of the Ada Street fire.

Thomas would like to remind everyone of some winter weather fire safety and prevention tips:

1. Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away as possible from your home;

2. Test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month;

3. Have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents every year;

4. Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container, and keep outside at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby buildings; and

5. Plug only one heat producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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