Fannin County EMA/EMS Weekly Report for 2/10 – 2/16

Fannin County EMA/EMS
Fannin County EMA/EMS

Fannin County EMA/EMS
Director Robert Graham
181 Church St.
Blue Ridge, Ga. 30513
706-632-1958
Fax 706-632-8003

February 10, 2019 thru February 16, 2019 Responses
M1: 31
M3: 6
M4: 20
M11: 29
Total: 86
Law: 350
Fire: 4
Rescue: 19
Total Emergency Calls: 441

Two adults have now been arrested in McKinney Murder Case

Featured, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Two more have been arrested in the McKinney murder case.


Twenty year old Michael Chase Havard and twenty year old Kevin Jack Chamaty. Both individuals are being charged with murder.


Attention was first drawn to Havard and Chamaty when Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Special Agent Jamie Abercrombie testified at an initial appearance and bond hearing for the juveniles also charged in the case.

(Left to Right) Kevin Jack Chamaty (Age :20) and Micheal Chase Havard (Age :20) have been charged in connection with the murder of Justin McKinney.


According to Abercrombie another individual came forward on night of Wednesday Dec. 5, 2018. Havard voluntarily arrived at the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and told staff that he had information regarding the McKinney murder.


Abercrombie said, “Havard provided a written statement.” The Special Agent also told about how Havard shed light onto the shooter of Franklin.


Havard was visiting a friend, Kevin Chamaty, who resided at Lakota Cloer’s residence on Dec. 3. Cloer who had been charged in the McKinney murder accepted a plea deal in which he will have to serve 15 years behind bars.


It was during this visit that Havard recalled Hunter Hill, Blake Dickey, both of which have been charged with the murder of Justin McKinney and assault of Anna Franklin, along with Cloer and another individual, 15 year old Levi Manuel, were discussing the plans to “pop and rob” McKinney.


According to the interview with Havard, Hill said that the four were “going to rob someone who had marijuana and pills” and asked Havard if he wanted in. Hill also told Havard that they were going to shoot everyone there and take whatever they have.


Havard declined and left with friend Chamaty to go to Walmart. Chamaty received a call later that night in the early morning hours of Dec. 4 from Cloer. Cloer stated that he was on Maple Grove Road and was in need of gas.


Havard and Chamaty drove to meet Cloer and gave him gas for his truck. Cloer was by himself and told Havard that he had dropped off Hill, Dickey and Manuel on Elrod Lane.


Having not heard from Manuel, Havard and Cloer went to look for the three. Chamaty parked at a church and waited for Havard to return.


As Havard walked down Elrod Lane, he says that he saw a light and heard “it’s me” in a voice that he recognized as Manuel.


Once back to Cloer’s truck the juveniles, along with Havard, met Chamaty and proceeded back to the Cloer residence.


“Mr. Hill had made statements that everyone was dead,” Abercrombie recalled Havard’s testimony. Havard also stated that Manuel made comments that he had unloaded a clip into the girl and that Hill, who was last out of the residence, stated that he had finished Franklin off and killed Donald Majors, a third resident who was present at the Franklin home where McKinney had been murdered.


The boys at this point believed that everyone in the home was deceased.
Havard stated that Manuel was the one who had the .25 caliber handgun, and admitted that he had advised Cloer to dispose of the weapon.


Cloer attempted to scratch off the serial numbers on the handgun before getting rid of the weapon. Chamaty then drove Havard and Cloer to the “cliffs at Nottely Lake” where Cloer threw the gun into the water.


Havard later took FCSO Investigator John Arp and GBI Special Agent Abercrombie to Nottely Lake and showed where the handgun had been thrown. With the help of divers the gun was recovered.


FetchYourNews will keep you up-to-date as further details emerge surrounding the McKinney Murder Case.

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

Advanced Disposal contract up for discussion

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Tony Sidebotham, Advanced Disposal Operations Manager for the North Georgia Area, met with the Board of Commissioners (BOC) recently to discuss the terms of the upcoming waste disposal contract renewal.


The current contract was signed and agreed upon 2016, and is up for renewal on Sept. 1 of this year. According to the current contract the county must give Advanced Disposal 180 day notice if there are requests for changes or negotiation discussions that need to take place.


Currently Fannin County pays $54.16 per ton for waste disposal, and in the current contract this price is subject to increase by three percent annually. Advanced Disposal has approximately 150 to 170 tons of waste that move through their facilities daily.


“So your company hasn’t gotten to a point to where you felt like it would be fair not to utilize the three percent increase?” Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson questioned and added that at the current rate the county will be paying close to $60.00 per ton by the end of another 3 year contract. “$60.00 per ton is quite a bit higher than surrounding areas.”


Sidebotham explained that the three percent increase covers his cost of operations. He told commissioners that not only does pricing go up for the services Advanced Disposal utilizes but he also has to consider his employees and their raise requests and benefits.


Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton questioned how Fannin County’s pricing compares to those of surrounding counties.


“It’s hard to compare contract to contract,” Sidebotham replied and explained that each county has different needs and different circumstances.


One of the circumstances affecting the pricing in Fannin County is that with the exception of the Aska Road facility, which is county owned property, Advanced Disposal owns its own properties in the county.


Helton further questioned, “Is it feasible to look, if we own one facility of having a different rate at the place we own?”


Sidebotham replied that anything is up for discussion, and acknowledged the Union County does have different pricing because the county owns its own facilities.


“It’s going to hard because they own their facilities and in other counties they (the counties) own their facilities, so in the years past these contracts, being as they own the only transfer station in the county, our rates are automatically going to be higher,” Johnson expressed his opinion on what drives the pricing higher for our area.


Johnson also pointed out that when the contract was last up for renewal Advanced Disposal was the only bidder: “We’re where we’re at because there’s one company. You can’t get a competing price when no one else will bid.”


Johnson pointed out that Fannin County only allows for one transfer company to be present. He feels that this also plays a role in being unable to obtaining competing pricing.


Glass recycling was also discussed as it has been a concern for numerous residents since the option of recycling glass was discontinued.


As for now it looks like the possibility of this recycling option will not return to Fannin County. Sidebotham explains, “The easiest way I can explain it is, there’s no easy way to recycle glass now a days. For companies that recycle glass the most profitable way to make a return on it is to sort it by color and so to do that you need a large area of space, a large area to heat the glass. And then the shipping of it, there’s no returns on it. Even recyclers that we use, they’ve all gone away. There’s no place for us to get rid of the glass.”

A glass recycling facility in Pa. shows the large property needed to accommodate this type of recycling.


Advanced Disposal and their employees have taken proactive steps to become a positive impact on the community during the current contract.
Recently the business agreed to extend holiday hours in an effort to help Fannin County with their unique circumstances that causes an influx of visitors during these time.


Previously the waste disposal facilities in Fannin County were closed six days a year in observance of different holidays. Advanced Disposal agreed to open half days for three of these major holidays (Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Memorial Day) and only remain closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year day.


Advanced Disposal has also donated dumpsters and containers for community clean up events, and have recently agreed to pick up certain colored garbage bags from sides of roadways where litter collection has taken place.


The Fannin County Fire Department also benefits from the collection of aluminum cans at the Advanced Disposal sites. 100 percent of proceeds from these collections go to fund the fire department’s educational outreach programs.


A full time litter personnel was recently hired and will soon be seen in Fannin County two days a week to help combat the ongoing litter issue.


Sidebotham expressed that he would continue efforts at the facilities to hold trash haulers responsible for securing their loads. He explained that aside from having clear signage posted pertaining to the law, with first time offenders he often will have them pull to the side and secure their load before being allowed to tip.


“I have found that sometimes the inconvenience of having to do that, you know taking an extra 10 – 15 minutes, the next time they come through they would know that it has to be secured,” Sidebotham said of the effect the effort has on those pulled aside.


A new scale house will be seen at the Hwy. 60 waste disposal facility. The scalehouse will be placed to allow direct and immediate contact between Advanced Disposal personnel and drivers. This move will help to combat the issue of unsecured loads as well, as it can be addressed immediately upon the vehicle entering the scales.


While negotiations are expected to take place concerning the current waste disposal contract, all three commissioners acknowledged the work being done by Advanced Disposal in Fannin County and showed appreciation for the company’s willingness to get involved.

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

40 years to serve 15: Cloer accepts plea deal in McKinney murder case

Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – There was a noticeable absence at the preliminary hearing that was held regarding the death of Justin McKinney and the deadly assault of Anna Franklin.

In the courtroom were Blake Dickey (also known as Blake Dye), Hunter Hill, and attorney Bruce Harvey who spoke on behalf of his client Levi Manuel. All three boys have been accused in the shooting death of McKinney that took place on Dec. 4, 2018.

Not in the courtroom during this initial phase was the fourth juvenile accused in the case, Lakota Cloer, and while his attorney Charles Fulcher was present, unlike Harvey, he did not speak to his client’s absence.

After bond was denied in the case of accused shooter Blake Dickey, the courtroom cleared, and Lakota Cloer was brought in. Cloer’s family, along with family members of Justin McKinney, watched as Cloer plead guilty to lesser charges. Emotions were high on both sides.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee spoke first, “We have reached a negotiated plea offer. This is a 3 count felony accusation.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, Bruce Harvey

16 year old Lakota Cloer was arrested in Dec. 2018 for his role in the McKinney murder.

Sosebee explained that family members of the victims had been notified of this deal, and that there had been extensive discussions with defense attorney Fulcher.

The new charges that were agreed upon as part of this arrangement are:

1 Count Aggravated Assault : This charge is in relation to victim Justin McKinney. Cloer is being charged in aiding and abetting in this crime, as well as having knowledge of the crime.

1 County Robbery by Intimidation: This charge is in relation to the motive that ultimately ended in the death of McKinney and the serious injury of Franklin. As with the other charges this applies to Cloer since he engaged in discussion and planning of the crime. Along with aiding and abetting Cloer also admits to providing a gun to co-defendant Levi Manuel.

1 Count Aggravated Assault: This charge is in relation to victim Anna Franklin. Cloer admits guilt to intentionally aiding and abetting in this crime that involved the use of a deadly weapon.

By reaching a plea bargain, Cloer waived several rights including that to have a trial by jury and for his case to be seen in front of a grand jury.

It was revealed during this hearing that Cloer had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been and is currently on medication to combat symptoms. Despite this diagnosis no competency or psychological testing was performed to evaluate Cloer’s state of mind.

Fulcher having spoke with his client, Cloer, on many occasions felt that he was competent to make decisions and said to the court: “I don’t have any concerns whatsoever about his competency. He understands the consequences of the decisions that he makes today.”

Appalachian Judicial District Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver asked Cloer a series of questions to satisfy the court of Cloer’s competency and to have a record of his replies.

Weaver also questioned Cloer’s mother, Amanda McGaha, about her feelings on her son’s mental state and if she felt Cloer understood what was happening in the courtroom. McGaha replied that she was confident that her son understood the proceedings now that he was on proper medication.

Cloer was able to reply clearly to each question asked by Judge Weaver which allowed the proceedings to move forward.

Weaver explained that sentencing for his plea would take place that day, but that a restitution hearing would be scheduled at a later date. A restitution hearing will determine what, if any, payments Cloer will have to pay to the victims for the harm caused by his wrongful acts.

After thoroughly explaining what a plea deal means and giving a detailed account of what rights Cloer would be waiving by pleading guilty and accepting the charges, Weaver asked Cloer, “Has anyone used any force, threat, pressure, or intimidation that caused you to enter this plea?”

Cloer replied, “No, you honor.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, Bruce Harvey

Cloer sets alongside accused Levi Manuel at a first appearance in Fannin County.

With that the sentence was handed down.

For the first Count of Aggravated Assault in relation to Justin McKinney, Cloer is sentence to 20 years having to serve 15 of those years in the Georgia State Prison System.

The second Count of Robbery by Intimidation will have Cloer serving 10 years in the Georgia Prison System. This sentence is to run concurrent with the sentencing from Count One.

Lastly, Cloer was sentenced to 20 years of probation for the Aggravated Assault of Anna Franklin. This sentence is to run consecutively with the sentencing from Count One.

Overall, Cloer received a 40 year sentence, 15 of those years to be served in prison with the remaining 25 years to be served on probation.

A victim impact statement prepared by McKinney’s mother, Debra McKinney Bignardi, was read by District Attorney Sosebee.

According to this statement, at the time of McKinney’s murder the family was also dealing with the impending loss of one of McKinney’s nephews “who spent his last days on Earth mourning the loss of his uncle”.

Bignardi was left wondering why. Why the death of her son, why if he had done something wrong that the boys did not feel that he too deserved a fair trial as they were getting.

She noted 6 families were victims of this crime, and that by taking the life of her son, Justin McKinney, that the boys had also in a sense taken their own lives, and that all the families are left to mourn the future.

Bignardi pleaded that the boys be able to find programs while in prison to provide some sort of rehabilitation: “Our hope is that when these young men are released from prison they are not worse off than when they went in.”

After the emotional victim impact statement was read, Judge Weaver spoke to the court, “It is never easy to sentence young people.”

“This is a tragedy in every sense of the word,” Weaver went on and expressed hope that others will learn from this. Weaver stated that she hopes for youth to recognize and stay away from activities that can lead to criminal behavior, and that parents will be more involved in their children’s lives, knowing who they are with and knowing where they are.

Weaver concluded the hearing by saying, “My heart goes out to all of the individuals involved in this case.”

As court was recessed Cloer was allowed to briefly speak to his family. The group shared a very emotional goodbye before Cloer was escorted out of the Fannin County courtroom to begin his sentence for his part in the McKinney murder case.

You can read more about the McKinney Murder Case by following the links below:

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County

Details Emerge Surrounding Murder Case in Fannin County

Two More Arrested in McKinney Murder Case

McKinney Murder. What Happened That Night. FYN Exclusive Interview With Survivor Anna Franklin

“Pop and Rob”: McKinney Murder Motive Revealed By Prosecution

Bond Denied for Accused McKinney Killer

 

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

Fannin County Governmental Departments recap 2018

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – At the most recent Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting, the public got to hear first hand the accomplishments of several departments within the Fannin County government.

Among the departments represented was the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Recreation Department, and Public Works.

BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS ARTS ASSOCIATION (BRMAA)

BRMAA saw over 38,000 visitors in 2018. The economic benefits of having this many visitors to the area are estimated to be $493,000 locally and $1.1 million for the region.

“These numbers are based on Georgia Council for the Arts as well as Americans for the Arts Economic Operations,” BRMAA Executive Director Nichole Potzauf said explaining how economic impact is decided.

The Art Center hosted 37 exhibits and events in 2018 and was awarded the 2018-19 Vibrant Communities Grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

Visitors to the Art Center for one of the many exhibits hosted throughout the year.

The Vibrant Communities Grants helps to support single art projects in Georgia. These projects could include an art exhibit, a theater production, a series of workshops for children, or an artist residency.

Potzauf said of the intentions for the grant’s use, “We’re utilizing that to begin a program call the Appalachian Initiative Grant Program and we are focusing on Appalachian craft and culture.” She listed some examples including weaving and bee keeping.

Along with the exhibits and events, the Art Center also hosted 4198 students that attended one of their 190 classes offered.

There was a notable success from the annual Cork and Canvas fundraiser as well.

“All the proceeds from this event benefit our youth programming. In 2018, based on just that fundraiser alone we were able to provide $2,000 in youth scholarships, some art classes as well as college advancement for any student that is advancing their career in the college arts,” Potzauf said of this event, and reminded everyone that the 2019 Cork and Canvas fundraiser is approaching and will be held on March 29.

Expect to see a one of a kind exhibit displayed between April and June of 2020 as it makes its way across the state of Georgia.

While no specific details were given Potzauf did say of the future exhibit, “We have been selected as one of six cities in the state of Georgia to represent the Smithsonian exhibit that will be coming here to celebrate rural communities throughout the United States.”

Currently the Art Center is displaying over 1,800 pieces of artwork and is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

FANNIN COUNTY LAND DEVELOPMENT

The Land Development department saw 270 building permits in 2018. This number is slightly down from 2017. Along with the building permits there were 16 Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plans, 5 new residential developments, 2 private commercial developments, 2 apartment applications, 2 church developments, 2 assisted living developments, 1 school development, and 1 tiny home/RV park development.

One of the largest issues facing the Land Development department is the ongoing matter of litter control.

“I get about one or two calls a week about garbage. Sometimes it’s easy and I find the name in it and sometimes I can run down those folks and sometimes I can’t,” Chief Land Development Officer Marie Woody addressed the complications in combating the littering problem in Fannin County.

According to Woody, while there are fines in place for Fannin County residents who dump trash on the side of roadways when it comes to residents from out of state, if found, little or nothing can be done.

Those that litter in Fannin County or dump garbage on the side of the roadways and are from Tennessee or North Carolina often get off with no consequences because Woody simply does not have the jurisdiction to fine them.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

(L-R) Steve Oakley, Marie Woody, Jane Oakley. The three have worked closely to propose a Fannin county clean up program.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson expressed his feelings that a majority of the trash he encounters along the roadways is bulk, and expressed holding the garbage haulers in the county more responsible.

“Is there something in our ordinance where someone has to identify themselves as a garbage hauler?” Johnson questioned Woody about possible solutions. “I know for four years it’s been a huge issue. It just seems like this last year, maybe two years, there’s just a lot more private haulers.”

After brief discussion the members of the Board of Commissioners and Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss, all agreed to review the county’s current ordinances and look into the possibility of having private haulers register.

Woody, along with Fannin County residents Steve and Jane Oakley presented the county with a vision to start an “Adopt the Mountains” program.

The program, still in its conceptual phase, will aim to curb littering through education, and will work to get citizens more involved in area clean-ups.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton praised the Oakleys for their willingness to get involved: “I’m personally very grateful for citizens that step up and are willing to get their hands in the soup, so to speak. It’s a never ending battle and it takes a lot of people to make that effort to see some results.”

When questioned by the Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner Glenn Patterson about an education program for high school age children, Woody replied that she thought it would be better to focus the educational programs on younger children.

“I think we need to teach the children, not the teenagers,” Woody said responding to Patterson’s question. “When you get into the teenage years, you’re kind of set in what you’re going to do, but if we start ingraining it into the children maybe kindergarten, first, second grade; if we can educate them I think that would be your best bet. Then they could educate mom and dad.”

Woody said that the educational program could go hand in hand with the proposed Spring Clean Up outlined in the Oakley’s program.

Along with the new programs hoped to be initiated in the county, Woody will be seeking another Tire Grant clean up.

In 2018, a tire removal project was implemented through use of this grant and was met with great success. Woody is hoping to continue this momentum in the county.

Finally Woody would like to see Fannin County’s Adopt a Road program revamped. Advanced Disposal has agreed to pick up specific colored bags along the roadways where citizens have collected litter.

FANNIN COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL

Fannin County Animal Control (FCAC), Animal Control Officer, John Drullinger updated the BOC with the work that his department had accomplished in 2018.

Last year, FCAC took in 405 dogs and puppies. Of the 405 that were taken in 118 were reclaimed by owners, 83 were adopted out of the facility, and 189 were pulled by various animal rescues.

Drullinger spoke of the improvements done to the FCAC facility in 2018: “Without a doubt one of the biggest ones was the completion of the 13 outside dog kennels. Which improved both the animals lives and ours as well.”

According to Drullinger this addition to the facility has made a vast improvement on the reduction of noise, and has added greatly to the safety of employees as they now can more easily get into kennels for disinfecting.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

A volunteer working one-on-one with a dog at FCAC helps to improve the odds of adoption.

“Our new volunteer program has been a huge success. We’ve got some days up to 10 or 12 volunteers down there walking our dogs, helping clean, do laundry, work with some of the shy dogs, some of the fearful ones, teaching them tricks,” Drullinger said of the recently implemented program. “Some of our volunteers are doing legs of transports helping move some of the dogs out, helping rescues.”

Johnson spoke of the volunteers at FCAC improving the cause, “The other people that have been getting involved here recently, I hope they keep it up , keep the interest.”

“We have a great group of people. Some come pretty regular, some come on certain days, some come everyday. They are very motivated and willing to help out,” Drullinger affirmed Johnson’s thoughts and added that the FCAC donor program has been a huge success as well with people donating items such as blankets, towels, toys and treats for the dogs.

The local area animal rescues were acknowledged for their help in moving dogs out of the facility and into permanent homes. A new group, Team Dahlonega, has also stepped up, helping to advertise the dogs held at FCAC and raise pledges for individual dogs to be pulled into rescues.

Drullinger said of Team Dahlonega’s efforts, “That’s been instrumental in helping us with our rescues, that have already been helping us move out a lot more dogs.”

The efforts of the volunteers, rescues and staff are noticeable. As of this update there were only six dogs in the facility. Drullinger said of this accomplishment, “That’s lowest number that has ever been there since I’ve been there.”

Drullinger closed his update with a reminder: “I would like to remind the public about ID-ing their dogs. If we had more people have ID’s on the collars and / or micro-chipped we could get dogs back to the owners a lot quicker and sooner.”

FANNIN COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY AND FANNIN COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT

Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Deputy Director Darrell Payne and Fannin County Fire Department (FCFD) Fire Chief Larry Thomas updated the BOC and residents on the busy year the departments had.

“Last year we had a busy call season,” said Payne before giving the statistics of 911 calls in Fannin County.

The EMA / EMS received 3,641 911 calls in 2018. There were an additional 1,115 non emergency calls that the department handled.

According to Thomas the FCFD responded to 416 fire calls, nine structure fires, three commercial fires, and one chimney fire.

“Several years ago we had several chimney fires. We were looking at anywhere from 12 to 15 on a given year,” Thomas spoke on the importance of having chimneys inspected, a step that can easily help to prevent a home fire. “Now these numbers have gotten down and I’m hoping that it’s our education that we are spreading throughout the county as far as cleaning chimneys. Right now is the most dangerous time of the year.”

Thomas explained that most chimneys are now prefabricated. Fires in these chimneys can easily spread to structures such as attics and rooftops.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

Fannin County rescuers working to bring an injured fisherman to safety.

EMA / EMS also received two new ambulances which were placed in the Dial section of Fannin County, and hope to obtain a new ambulance in 2019 to replace one currently located at Station 4 in McCaysville.

Both Thomas and Payne reported that emergency calls are on the rise in the county, and Thomas attributes many of these calls taking place from people exploring the outdoors in our area: “We’re having more and more trail calls.”

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson spoke of the importance of residents in Fannin County marking their homes and properties with signage that is easily visible to emergency crews: “A lot of people get black and black just blends in.”

Blue reflective number signs can be purchased at Kevin Panter Insurance. These signs, usually placed at the beginning of driveways, are clearly and highly visible which saves time for responders during an emergency situation.

A portion of the money received from the purchase of these signs goes directly back to the Fannin County EMS department.

“It does help. It really does. It reflects, it’s right at the end of the driveway,” Thomas said speaking of the blue signs available for purchase to the public.

“We have just recently moved into our new facility and we are very proud of it,” Payne spoke of the progress taking place at the new Fannin County Public Safety Complex, “and we want to thank the commissioners, you all for supporting us on that. It’s something we’ve needed for a long time. I think it’s something that the people, the county, can be proud of also.”

FANNIN COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION

The Fannin County Parks and Recreation Department had a successful year. Many new programs were added to benefit those living in Fannin County and those visiting.

In 2018, 820 children participated in some kind of youth activity offered by the department.

The third annual Basketball Christmas Tournament also brought in large numbers for the county. Sixty-six teams participated in the three day tournament which took place Dec. 26-28. A total of 116 games were played with an average of 2,000 in attendance throughout each day.

“We had a kid playing on the Forsyth team and FetchYourNews, they broadcast it live through Youtube and we had a dad who was a marine,” Fannin County Parks and Recreation Director Eddie O’Neal spoke of how the tournament had international attention in 2018, “He got in contact with us and said he appreciated it. It was the first time he saw his kid play basketball in two years. It was amazing to be able to provide that to someone.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

One of the many games hosted during the Parks and Recreation Christmas Basketball Tournament.

Events like this tournament have large economic impacts on the county as whole. Visitors stay in hotels, rent cabins, eat at local restaurants, shop in locally owned stores, and many times plan to come back to our area for a second visit.

Parks and Recreation brought in $57,078.43 in youth concession sales, $52,257.60 in admission fees, and $59,574 in registrations in 2018. Pavillion rentals at parks added an additional $7,775, along with nonresident gym use fees for $3,051, after school programs at $20,860, summer day camp an additional $20,556.25, and $30, 568 food grant for summer day camp was obtained. Major programs accounted for approximately $251, 721.23, bringing a grand revenue total to approximately $280,000.

“That comes from tons of volunteers in the county. People that volunteer to help with programs, volunteer to coach, or volunteer to tutor with our after school program. We really do appreciate all the help,” Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson spoke of the Parks and Recreation Department’s success.

Johnson added, “The complaints I’ve received have been very minimal and what that tells me is you’re running the programs the way the should be ran and handling problems the way they should be handled. I appreciate you doing that.”

“Being in sports myself and education, the job you do with the young kids is very commendable,” Post 2 Commissioner Glenn Patterson complimented the work being done by the department.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton added to this, “I think the public, I hope they understand, certainly the parents do, what a relationship our Recreation Department is. I mean it’s for everyone, young and old alike.”

O’Neal shared plans to to begin senior programs in 2019: “Starting in February we will start a Silver Sneakers program for active senior adults. We have an employee trained to handle that exercise program that will take place two times a week.”

This new Silver Sneakers program will be an exercise based program specially geared towards an older crowd. The class size, initially, will accommodate 10 to 15 people.

Next up for Parks and Recreation will be a restroom remodel at their main facility. Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with a bid from Wolfcreek Builders, LLC. in the amount of $50,075.

This remodel would include a metal roof, hardy plank siding, tiling the interior space, all new fixtures, and metal doors. The contract is for labor only. The county will supply materials.

Heating and air for the newly remodeled space will take place in a separate bid.

FANNIN COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS

Zack Ratcliff, Director of Public Works in Fannin County, has not only managed to cut the department’s expenses by close to $1,000,000 in just two years but his management has also led the Public Works department to more than double productivity in many areas.

In 2016 the Public Works department had 53 employees with a budget of $1,826,505 in payroll alone. The number of employees dramatically decreased by 2017 to 35. This brought payroll expenditures down to $1,308,744.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post One Commissioner, Post Two Comissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson, Departments, Department Heads, Update, Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, BRMAA, Land Development, Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Director, Animal Control Officer, Chief Officer, Fire Chief, Deputy Director, Fannin County Attorney, Nichole Potzauf, Marie Woody, John Drullinger, Darrell Payne, Larry Thomas, Eddie O'Neal, Zack Ratcliff

The Public Works crew taking care of the demo of Fire Station 1 in downtown Blue Ridge.

By 2018 employee total for the department sits at 36 with a payroll of $1,289,868. This alone has brought a little over $500,000 in savings to taxpayers each year.

In the last year, roughly 117 miles of road have been re-striped, 12 miles of road have been paved, 25 miles of road have been chip and sealed, the Aska Transfer Station also received chip and seal, as well as the Recreation Center parking area, 28 culverts have been installed, 600 road signs have been cleaned and straightened, and 649 new road signs were created for use throughout the county.

Johnson commented on how this kind of productivity saves money for residents: “The numbers that I see that aren’t reflected in these numbers, of other savings, is when you chip and seal a road, that is that many roads we’re not having to gravel, to grade or to maintain, other than clogged ditches and what have you. So really it’s hard to put a number on that (indirect savings).”

While the payroll is the most dramatic of the savings, other areas have improved in expenditures as well. The Fuel Master system was installed to track fuel use leading to greater accountability, through negotiations with various vendors the county is now receiving 2-10 percent discounts on its bills, and a new uniform provider was found that can provide uniforms at half the cost that the county was previously paying.

Ratcliff credits the success of the Public Works department to the employees in it and stated of the workers, “My crew is an efficient crew. Everybody’s professional.”

Johnson spoke of the dramatic affect one department can have on Fannin County as a whole, “These numbers right here is what keeps Fannin County’s millage rate the lowest in the state.”

“I think this is a great example of being able to professionally manage a department and do it effectively,” Helton added his thoughts on the accomplishments, “That’s real money. That’s big time money.”

The 2017 audit showed the initially savings of the now more efficient Public Works department as being $999,333.

 

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

Bond denied for accused McKinney killer

Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Only one of the four accused in the McKinney murder case sought bond after the preliminary hearing took place in a Fannin County Courtroom.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver presided over the case and as the preliminary hearing came to a close stated, “The Court does find that probable cause has been established.”

The State had met their burden of proof in establishing a case against the boys being charged with Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Aggravated Battery. Now the burden of proof fell upon the defense to satisfy reasoning for letting any of the boys out on bond.

Fifteen year old Blake Dickey (also known as Blake Dye) sat alongside his attorney David Farnham as the court began the bond hearing.

Farnham argued that his client, Dickey, should be considered for release, and did in fact satisfy all the factors required by state law in Georgia for this consideration.

According to Farnham, Dickey had no prior convictions and had never been involved in anything violent in his life. If released Dickey did not pose a threat to the community and was not a risk for intimidation of any witnesses.

Farnham went on that if the court granted bond, Dickey would return to school where he would be supervised by a panel of teachers and that Dickey would begin residing with his mother where he would be under constant supervision at home.

Lastly Farnham pointed out that both of Dickey’s parents reside in Fannin County and said, “”He’s not a flight risk, Judge. His entire family is here.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, Bruce Harvey

Accused Blake Dickey (left) sits next to accused Hunter Hill at a previous hearing.

The Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee stepped in and presented her thoughts regarding the bonding of Dickey.

Sosebee pointed out that prior to the arrest Dickey was residing with the Hill family and added of the boys, “They were in an unsupervised environment, that clearly allows them to travel at will.”

While Farnham had stated his case for release, Sosebee argued that he had failed to present sufficient evidence backing his claims, which is required by Georgia law for cases of this nature: “there has been no evidence presented on behalf of the defendant in this case.”

After hearing both sides, Judge Weaver denied bond for Dickey agreeing that the burden of proof on the defense’s behalf had not been satisfied. Weaver added to this, “The issue of supervision has been in the Court’s mind during most of this hearing.”

Attorney Karen Shelley opted to not file a motion for a bond hearing at the time, leaving her client, accused 15 year old Hunter Hill to remain in a juvenile detention facility for the time being.

A third party in the group of juveniles accused, Levi Manuel, will have a preliminary hearing and possible bond hearing at a later date. This comes from Manuel recently switching his legal representation.

Attorney Bruce Harvey of Atlanta, Ga. will now represent Manuel in the McKinney murder trial. This move came as a surprise to the court and to Manuel’s previous council attorney Andrew Wehunt.

Judge Weaver noted that while she had received Harvey’s appearance filing that she did not see a withdraw from Wehunt, and thought that Wehunt might have been taken off guard by this move.

Harvey, the high profile Atlanta based attorney, has represented his fair share of clients in Manuel’s position and was already making moves in the courtroom as he asked for a delay in Manuel’s first appearance / bond hearing.

According to Harvey, Manuel’s previous council had filed a motion for a psychological and competency evaluation to find out if the boy was capable of standing trial. This evaluation was never completed and Harvey felt that moving forward without this information would not be in his or his client’s best interest.

Judge Weaver along with District Attorney Sosebee agreed to have this testing done and postpone the first appearance hearing. Manuel’s hearing has tentatively been moved to take place on Feb. 18, 2019.

You can read more on the McKinney Murder Case by following the links below:

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County

Details Emerge Surrounding Murder Case in Fannin County

Two More Arrested in McKinney Murder Case

McKinney Murder. What Happened That Night. FYN Exclusive Interview With Survivor Anna Franklin

“Pop and Rob”: McKinney Murder Motive Revealed By Prosecution

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

“Pop and Rob”: McKinney murder motive revealed by prosecution

Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The prosecution painted a picture of what took place in the early morning hours of Dec. 4, 2018 that left one Fannin County resident, Justin McKinney, dead and another, Anna Franklin, seriously injured.

According to the state’s findings, the McKinney murder was not a case of revenge but rather a cold blooded, premeditated murder, in which the juveniles involved intended to “pop and rob” the victims.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Special Agent Jamie Abercrombie was assigned to the case when Captain Justin Turner of the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) contacted GBI for assistance with the murder.

Special Agent Abercrombie recalled listening to the 911 call placed by victim Anna Franklin the night of the murder.

“Hunter Hill and Blake Dickey were at her (Franklin’s) residence at the time of the shooting,” Abercrombie said recollecting Franklin’s initial call for help, “and that is how I first learned of Mr. Hill and Dickey.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel

Accused Hunter Hill (15) and Blake Dickey (15) set in a Fannin County Courtroom at a previous appearance.

Both Dickey and Hill knew the victim McKinney well and had been to his home on numerous occasions to buy marijuana.

The scene at 135 Elrod Lane in Morganton, Ga. was laid out, as Abercrombie described walking into the single-wide trailer. The kitchen and living room had an open floor plan and there was a bedroom located on either side of this main area.

After walking up the ramp that led to the front door, Abercrombie said of what she saw when she entered the home, “Mr. McKinney was deceased in the floor of the kitchen area and the wood-stove area.”

There was a single spent 410 shotgun shell located at the scene, and this was the weapon used on McKinney. According to Abercrombie, “He had been shot in the back of the head.”

Franklin who had already been taken to the hospital had been shot through the arm, which she had used to shield her face during the attack, and the bullet, unable to be removed, remains in her neck.

Two .25 caliber shell casings were found at the crime scene. These belonged to the weapon used to attack Anna Franklin.

Abercrombie later learned that a third resident of the home had been present the night of the shooting. Donald Majors was asleep in the second bedroom when the shooting occurred, but having drank heavily before retiring Majors did not even know a shooting had occurred.

“They (FCSO) woke him up. He was asleep in his room and law enforcement woke him up,” Abercrombie told the story of Majors being unable to provide any details of the night during her interview process.

Abercrombie, along with GBI Special Agent Dustin Hamby, located both Dickey and Hill at Fannin County High School the next day, and by coordinating with school staff were able to apprehend the two fifteen year olds in the principal’s office and take them in for questioning.

“He was not truthful with me in the beginning,” Abercrombie said of her interview with Dickey.

After a short time Dickey did tell his story of the night and admitted that he had been the one to kill McKinney with the shotgun. Dickey stated to Abercrombie that they had planned it out and that they had planned to shoot both McKinney and Franklin.

Dickey did claim that the killing was done out of revenge. According to Dickey, McKinney had been selling Hill’s older brother, Logan Hill, methamphetamine (meth) and that Logan had become severely addicted and was injecting the drug.

This addiction had left Logan hospitalized, and McKinney was the one who provided the meth. Dickey was the only juvenile involved that Abercrombie heard this motive from at that time.

Hill who was interviewed by Special Agent Hamby backed up Dickey’s recollection of events, and both boys were arrested on the spot.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel

District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee at a previous appearance with defendant Lakota Cloer (16) present.

When left alone with FCSO Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Hill is noted as claiming if given the chance, he would do it again.

Dickey also mentioned that 16 year old Lakota Cloer had driven them to the residence on Elrod Lane. This was the first mention of someone other than Dickey and Hill being involved, but more would come forward that would implicate Cloer as well.

Another individual came forward on night of Wednesday Dec. 5, 2018. Chase Havard voluntarily arrived at the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and told staff that he had information regarding the McKinney murder.

Abercrombie said, “Havard provided a written statement.” The Special Agent also told about how Havard shed light onto the shooter of Franklin.
Havard was visiting a friend, Kevin Shamaty, who resided at the Cloer residence on Dec. 3. It was during this visit that Havard recalled Hill, Dickey, Cloer and another individual, 15 year old Levi Manuel, were discussing the plans to “pop and rob” McKinney.

According to the interview with Havard, Hill said that the four were “going to rob someone who had marijuana and pills” and asked Havard if he wanted in. Hill also told Havard that they were going to shoot everyone there and take whatever they have.

Havard declined and left with friend Shamaty to go to Walmart. Shamaty received a call later that night in the early morning hours of Dec. 4 from Cloer. Cloer stated that he was on Maple Grove Road and was in need of gas.

Havard and Shamaty drove to meet Cloer and gave him gas for his truck. Cloer was by himself and told Havard that he had dropped off Hill, Dickey and Manuel on Elrod Lane.

Having not heard from Manuel, Havard and Cloer went to look for the three. Shamaty parked at a church and waited for Havard to return.

As Havard walked down Elrod Lane, he says that he saw a light and heard “it’s me” in a voice that he recognized as Manuel.

Once back to Cloer’s truck the juveniles, along with Havard, met Shamaty and proceeded back to the Cloer residence.

“Mr. Hill had made statements that everyone was dead,” Abercrombie recalled Havard’s testimony. Havard also stated that Manuel made comments that he had unloaded a clip into the girl and that Hill, who was last out of the residence, stated that he had finished Franklin off and killed Majors.
The boys at this point believed that everyone in the home was deceased.

Havard stated that Manuel was the one who had the .25 caliber handgun, and admitted that he had advised Cloer to dispose of the weapon.

Cloer attempted to scratch off the serial numbers on the handgun before getting rid of the weapon. Shamaty then drove Havard and Cloer to the “cliffs at Nottely Lake” where Cloer threw the gun into the water.

Havard later took FCSO Investigator John Arp and GBI Special Agent Abercrombie to Nottely Lake and showed where the handgun had been thrown. With the help of divers the gun was recovered.

The shotgun was also recovered. Manuel who was residing at the Cloer residence at the time of the murder, gave investigators the gun which had been hidden between the mattresses in his bedroom.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Murder, 15 Year Old, 16 Year Old, Blake Dickey, Hunter Hill, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, Public Defender, Clint Hooker, Attorney, David Farnham, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Justin McKinney, Anna Franklin, GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center, Fannin Regional Hospital, Drugs, Dalton Manuel, Lakota Cloer, Special Agent, Jamie Abercrombie, Dustin Hamby, Captain, Justin Turner, Investigator, John Arp, Chief Deputy, Major Keith Bosen, Elrod Lane, Maple Grove Road, Chase Havard, Kevin Shamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel

Accused Levi Manuel (15) and Lakota Cloer (16) at previous hearing regarding McKinney murder case.

Manuel was later interviewed and told his side of the events that night. He claimed to not know Justin McKinney.

Stepping outside briefly after the three boys entered the home, Manuel said that he heard a gunshot, and rushed back inside. Once inside he saw Dickey standing over McKinney’s body.

At this point Manuel says that he aimed his gun above Anna Franklin and shot. Manuel admits to having shot the gun more than once. According to Abercrombie, Manuel claims “they got scared and ran out and forgot to take anything”.

Much like the Manuel and Havard account, Cloer paints Hill as the mastermind behind the crime, saying that Hill presented the entire idea and said that he knew someone they could “pop and rob”.

According to Abercrombie, Cloer also stated that “Mr. Dickey follows whatever Mr. Hill does”.

“Mr. Cloer knew that pop meant to kill and Mr. Hill made statements they would kill him (McKinney) and take what he had,” Abercrombie told of Cloer’s testimony and added that the boys had intended to steal marijuana and pills.

Cloer says that Hill never mentioned his brother, Logan Hill, never mentioned revenge and did not show any anger about McKinney.

According to Abercrombie, “Mr. Cloer stated that Mr.Hill stated that his motive was specifically to rob McKinney and kill him.”

Cloer admitted to his involvement saying that he did give Manuel the handgun that he later tried to alter and dispose of, and that he was also the driver that dropped the boys off.

After the testimony of GBI Special Agent Abercrombie was complete, Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver made the ruling to move forward with the charges against Hill, Dickey, Cloer and Manuel: “The Court does find that probable cause has been established.”

The charges against the accused include Malice Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Aggravated Battery.

A search warrant was obtained for the 135 Elrod Lane where the crime took place. Marijuana was the only illegal substance found at the home. The juveniles remain in custody awaiting trial.

 

You can read more about the McKinney murder case by following the links below:

Fatal Shooting in Fannin County

Details Emerge Surrounding Murder Case in Fannin County

Two More Arrested in McKinney Murder Case

McKinney Murder. What Happened That Night. FYN Exclusive Interview With Survivor Anna Franklin

 

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

Where will the new Iron Bridge be? Citizens voice their opinion over placement.

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Citizens united to express concerns over the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) initial plans to replace the Shallowford Bridge or “Iron Bridge” located off of Aska Road, and now they unite once again to present solutions rather than complaints to GDOT about the future of the Aska Adventure Area.


Originally the fate of the Shallowford Bridge came into question when plans emerged for a replacement bridge in the area.

GDOT Proposal of replacement site for the Shallowford Bridge.


Constructed from a steel truss frame and having a wooden deck to allow for traffic, the 100 year old Shallowford Bridge spans 175 feet crossing the Toccoa River. The bridge also forms part of the Benton MacKaye Trail.


These concerns were relieved when GDOT announced that they would not be demolishing the Shallowford Bridge, but rather would be constructing a new bridge nearby. GDOT also expressed that they would be willing to “hand over” the bridge to become property of Fannin County leaving the county responsible for maintenance.


The new location of an upgraded bridge has many residents and business owners in the area concerned. Set almost directly beside the Shallowford Bridge, citizens feel that this could cause more congestion and more safety issues in the area.


“The majority of us, we’re not against the bridge,” Kimberly Wolfe co-owner of the Iron Bridge General Store and Cafe said explaining the purpose of the meeting. “We feel like we do need a new bridge. That’s not an issue. The placement of the new bridge is a huge issue.”


“This one (Shallowford Bridge) has been on the radar for a long time. Out of 100 it scores 13 on sufficiency,” Emil Dunn a member of the State Transportation Board elaborated on the need to build a replacement bridge.


Ron Grace, a resident of the Aska Adventure Area, proposed a different site for the replacement bridge. This site located beyond the Shallowford Bridge, traveling in the direction of Newport Road, would utilize a small portion of land currently owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

Design options shown by GDOT. One similar to these designs will be constructed for the replacement bridge.


Having spoke with the GDOT project manager for the Shallowford Bridge replacement, Grace said of the interaction, “They had not considered the US Forest Service property. They say they are going to look at it.”


According to Grace, GDOT had only considered the proposed site which they presented to the public and a site upstream closer to the Toccoa River Restaurant, but that the second site would have required the purchase of a home.


“Not knowing anything, they put it there because they thought it would look the best and have the least amount of impact,” Dunn spoke of GDOT’s reasoning for the placement saying that it came from an engineer’s perspective and that the proposed site would have the least environmental impact.


Another resident present at the meeting added, “When they (GDOT) picked that site it was because the bank was already high and you didn’t have to build up the bank.”


Area business owner Felton Stephens spoke of the group’s proposal to move the bridge further from the site recommended by GDOT: “It’s a win win situation, it takes most of the traffic off of the home owners, and they could also, if the county wanted to, put in a little more public parking out there. A little bit more access.”


Stephens spoke of adding additional parking near the bridge if it were to be moved to U.S. Forest Service land and an area where kayakers and tubers of the Toccoa would have a place to get in and out of the river.


While citizens seemed agreeable to approaching GDOT with the new proposal site up river, questions still came about regarding the upkeep of the original Shallowford Bridge.


Beyond Fannin County’s already budgeted roads and bridges line item, Dunn also pointed out that there is the possibility of extra funding from the state through the use of a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG).

Historical photo of the Shallowford Bridge courtesy of the Library of Congress.


If a typical LMIG is applied for by the county and accepted by the state, it allows for a certain amount of money to be designated toward a county project with the county being responsible for a percentage of the cost.


Another option for restoration and maintenance of the Shallowford Bridge was presented by a resident saying that it might be possible to have the bridge put on the Historic Register which would allow for extra funding to be received for its preservation and care.


According to the Library of Congress the “Iron Bridge” is one of 50 Pratt truss bridges recorded in the state of Georgia. Three of of the 50 bridges on record reside in Fannin County.


The fate of the new Shallowford Bridge is yet to be determined, but citizens hope that their voices will be heard before a final decision is made.

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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