The Fannin County Board of Commissioners held a special called meeting on February 7th 2017. First on the agenda and taking up most of the time of the entire meeting was discussion regarding the Appalachian Pretrial Probation Program.
The Fannin Commission Chair Stan Helton and Fannin County post commissioners Earl Johnson and Larry Joe Sosebee had questions regarding the Appalachian Pretrial Probation Program, hereinafter referred to as the APPP,
and were told by long time county attorney, Lynn Doss, “It is my understanding it is a private entity, it is not a unit of county or state government, and is therefore a private company.”
Further discussion continued and Commission Chair Helton said, “I signed this yesterday and then realized it was a contract and then thought it needs to be presented to you two gentlemen.”
Apparently the document had already received signatures from Fannin County Magistrate Judge Brian Jones and Fannin County Probate Judge Scott Kiker. It appeared a lack of understanding by the Board of Commissioners and County Attorney Lynn Doss of what exactly the APPP is, led to a decision for it to be tabled, which was eventually withdrawn. Discussion continued and then questions were directed to Fannin County Probate Judge Scott Kiker who stepped to the podium to address the Commissioners and answer the questions.
Helton directed his comments to Judge Kiker saying, “This is the first time I’ve seen this, I hate to put anyone on the spot but we are discussing the agreement with the Appalachian Pretrial Program, its the APPP and this contract was just presented to me yesterday and yourself and Judge Jones had already approved this, is this an annual contract?”
Judge Kiker responded to the board saying, “Since I took office, as far as I can recall this has been the probation company we have used. To be honest with you I have never questioned it, I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.” Kiker added, “Unless something is presented to me that shows an advantage to doing something else, I can say this, I’ve not had any issues with the APPP, they perform well.” “I’m certainly open, If someone were to come to me, and say, I don’t know John Doe Probation Service were to come to me and put a contract in front of me and say we can do this cheaper, better or whatever I would be remiss as an Elected Official not to look at that.”
Fannin County Post Commissioner Earl Johnson, “I just have no idea what it is.”
When a question arose about the APPP being a corporation or a non-profit in reference to a statement made by County Attorney Doss, Ms. Doss responded with, “Ok I used corporation as a euphemism for private entity because I don’t think its a branch of county government but I can find that out.”
It was obviously clear the Board of Commissioners were not familiar with the APPP and the longtime Fannin County attorney Lynn Doss nor the Fannin County Probate Judge, Scott Kiker had a clear understanding of it.
FYN received the following information about the program from Appalachian Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver,“APPP is not a private probation company but is designated a county government program monitored by the Georgia Department of Community Supervision. The program is a certified law enforcement program and the probation officers are certified police officers.I have included a list of the misdemeanor probation programs in Georgia which clearly shows that APPP is designated a “government” probation program.”