October Proclaimed Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Announcements, Community
Domestic Violence

BLUE RIDGE, GA – The Board of Commissioners urged citizens of Fannin County to educate themselves about domestic violence by recognizing the epidemic in the month of Oct.

“Domestic violence affects people of all races, ages, income levels, genders, and religious backgrounds. It is an intolerable violent crime that affects the public health for victims, survivors, as well as family members, partners, neighbors, or peers,” read Chairman Stan Helton from the proclamation.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year.

Approximately every nine seconds a woman in the United States is abused by her current or ex-significant other. One in four men are also victims of domestic violence.

“We serve Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens counties,” North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network Director Kim O’Neal stated, “We offer [people who need the services] shelter and coordinate with them when they are in crisis.”

Additionally, women are 70 times more likely to be killed during the first several weeks after leaving an abusive situation than any other time according to the Domestic Violence Intervention program.

Conversely, five percent of men are killed each year at the hands of a significant other.

The cycle of violence often includes isolation of the victim as well as an emotional assault to the victim’s self-esteem, so he or she believe that they have nowhere else to go. It includes the “honeymoon phase” when the abuser abstains from violence and expresses love and affection to keep the victim close. However, this period is short-lived before the violence begins again.

The event evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in Oct. 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  It soon became “Unity Week.” In 1989, Congress passed Public Law 101-112, officially designating Oct. as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Commissioners Proclaim April Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Community, Non Profit

Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin County Board of Commissioners presented a proclamation recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness month to the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network (NGMCN).

The proclamation, read by Chairman Stan Helton, “encourages all citizens to make [April] the beginning of the end of sexual violence.”

By naming April Sexual Assault Awareness month, the Commissioners helped to spotlight the efforts of NGMCN and spread its message to the community.

The organization serves survivors of domestic violence across Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens Counties and educates the community by focusing on four major areas.

  •  Sexual Assault. Through NGMCN victims of sexual assault are provided counseling and support services to help navigate them through a very difficult time.
  • Domestic Violence. While NGMCN offers the counseling and services to victims of domestic violence as it does to victims of sexual assault, it also offers shelter to house these victims and their children.
  • Legal Advocacy. NGMCN has a trained staff that will help victims navigate the sometimes daunting legal system.
  • Education Awareness. NGMCN helps to spread the word of domestic and sexual violence through community outreach. This includes working hand in hand with law enforcement, hospitals, and different organizations that provide services to these victims.

NGMCN Treasurer Howard Sloan had this to say about the work they do for the community,

“Unfortunately, we cannot publicize our works due to the fact that we take care of women, children, and men who are victims of domestic violence. We can’t send pictures to the press, when we relocate somebody to a new apartment or when we put somebody on a bus to go two or three states away to be with family.”

NGMCN thrift store in Blue Ridge.

NGMCN has two thrift stores in Blue Ridge and McCaysville.

In 2018, NGMCN housed 129 residents at their shelter. This accounted for 3,173 bed/nights (a measure of occupancy for one person assigned to one bed for one night). Residents of the shelter were also provided with well over 10,000 units of service. So far in 2019, the charity has already provided 380 bed/nights, 87 hotline calls, and 600 units of service. When speaking of individuals who help make NGMCN possible, Sloan said, “I want to really commend these ladies on the fine work they do.”

They hope by promoting education and awareness in these areas that eventually the cycle of abuse will come to an end.

Previous standoff foreshadows double murder in Morganton

Community, Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A community was shocked to hear the news of a double murder in the small town of Morganton, Ga. The victims Amber Jackson, a young mother, and her child, 3 year old Ethan Jackson were found deceased from gunshot wounds on the front steps of an apartment residence located off of Underwood Road.

Also at the scene was accused murderer Joshua Fults, ex boyfriend of Amber Jackson. Fults was found suffering from what the Georgia Bureau of Investigation deemed an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound”.

Fults was arrested at the scene by deputies with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and transported via flight to a medical facility where for days he remained in critical condition.

Little is known of the events that transpired on March 4, and with the news that accused killer Fults had succumbed to his injuries and passed away on March 12, it is likely that not many details of that evening will ever be revealed.

Fannin County, Georgia, Morganton, Underwood Road, Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, GBI, Double Murder, Suicide, Amber Jackson, Ethan Jackson, Joshua Fults, McCaysville Police Department, Deputy, Investigator, Patrolman, Bramlett, Brackett, Petty, Stanely, Arp, Dane Kirby, Michael Early, Peardon, Domestic Violence, North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Amber Jackson and son, Ethan Jackson, were the victims of a double murder that took place in Morganton, Ga.

Police reports obtained from the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and the McCaysville Police Department shed light into the psyche of Fults and the pattern of events that led up to that fatal evening in March.

A call was placed to 911 in the afternoon hours of June 30, 2018 and the subsequent events following that call may have been a foreshadowing of the tragedy that would later unfold.

According to 911 dispatch, Jackson placed a call fearing for her safety and that of her then 2 year old boy. Jackson told 911 operators that Fults had a violent past and had become violent with her on the Sunday prior to this event.

Fannin County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the scene and while in route Sgt. Bramlett was contacted by the McCaysville Police Department to see if assistance was needed.

Due to the McCaysville Police Department being in closer proximity to the incident, Bramlett told Patrolman Brackett and Sgt. Petty to proceed.
Brackett and Petty were first to arrive on the scene. The officers saw Fults sitting on the front porch of the residence, blocking the front door and holding a large hunting knife. As they approached, Fults looked at them and said, “Do not come any closer.”

Brackett and Petty chose at this point to stay back and Brackett began to speak with Fults in an attempt to deescalate the situation. While Brackett engaged Fults, Petty seeing the severity of the situation, radioed for additional law enforcement and an ambulance.

“I just want to die today,” Fults yelled to Brackett when questioned why he was doing this.

Brackett described Fults holding the knife to his wrist and his neck, threatening to kill himself: “Mr. Fults at times would calm down and then at times would become enraged and yell at me.”

Sgt. Bramlett and Lt. Stanley from the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office arrived next on the scene, and devised a plan with the McCaysville officers to get Jackson and her child out of the house.

“I continued to keep Mr. Fults’ attention,” Brackett described the actions taken while fellow officer Stanley was able to make his way to the back of the house and escort the two victims out of the residence and to safety.

The officers noted that Fults remained unaware during this time that his ex girlfriend and her child were no longer in the home.
Additional law enforcement arrived on the scene, including Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Arp.

With Fults becoming more agitated by the presence of the officers, a decision was made for the use of non-lethal weapons in hopes of bringing the standoff to an end.

“Upon Inv. Arp’s arrival, a plan was made to have Inv. Arp go around through the woods and get behind Josh,” Bramlett explained the decision and the plan that officers laid out, “Lt. Stanley was going to drive Amber’s mom’s vehicle to the residence and when Josh went to the vehicle, Inv. Arp would use the bean bag to distract Josh to get close enough to use a taser.”

Fannin County, Georgia, Morganton, Underwood Road, Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, GBI, Double Murder, Suicide, Amber Jackson, Ethan Jackson, Joshua Fults, McCaysville Police Department, Deputy, Investigator, Patrolman, Bramlett, Brackett, Petty, Stanely, Arp, Dane Kirby, Michael Early, Peardon, Domestic Violence, North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Mugshot of Joshua Fults from previous encounters with Fannin County Sheriff’s Office.

Arp was able to gain the tactical position he had hoped for, and Brackett convinced Fults to put the knife down and begin to approach the officers. As Fults approached, Arp shot 3 rounds of bean bags.

When seeing that the bean bag rounds had no effect on Fults, officers then employed the use of 4 tasers. The tasers also had no effect and despite being rushed by law enforcement Fults was able to make it back to his previous position and regain control of the large knife he had laid down.

Deputy Peardon with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office recalled that “the male subject stated that he drank a 12 pack of alcohol prior to this incident” and this could partially account for why the non-lethal weapons had no effect.

“Mr. Fults would scrape the knife across his neck and did superficially scrape his skin causing it to bleed,” Brackett said explaining Fults actions once the knife was back in his possession.

Officers spoke with Amber Jackson at this point to see if she would be willing to have a conversation with Fults “in an attempt to bring a peaceful end to the situation”. Jackson agreed.

Surrounded by law enforcement and a distance away from Fults, Jackson waited while Fults agreed to put down the knife and kick it toward the officers. Once the knife was secured, Fults approached Jackson and spoke with her.

According to multiple statements from law enforcement on the scene, Jackson agreed to let Fults hug her and urged him to go to the hospital to get help. Fults agreed to Jackson’s pleas and told law enforcement that he would cause no further chaos and would cooperate allowing them to transport him.

Fults voluntarily got in the back of a patrol car and law enforcement proceeded to take him to Fannin Regional Hospital for evaluation, but the ride became riddled with numerous stops as Fults once again became combative.

The first stop, while en-route, came about when Fults complained of getting sick. Officers pulled over and accommodated him by giving him a paper bag for his nausea.

Getting back on track, officers had to pull over a second time when Fults removed his belt in the back seat of the patrol car and attempted to hang himself.

“Mr. Fults was extremely strong and fought,” Brackett recalls having to forcibly remove the belt from Fults possession. It was at this time that Fults was handcuffed and put in leg restraints.

Law enforcement continued on from the second stop and made their way to Fannin Regional, but by the time they arrived Fults had become more agitated and had managed to remove himself from the “leg hobble” and was choking himself with the handcuffs.

“He was still resisting inside the ER,” Peardon said of Fults arrival to the hospital.

Once at the hospital, Fults laid on the ground and refused to stand up. A bed was wheeled outside and officers were able to get Fults restrained. Fults was then sedated and released to the hospital.

While this incident was the most detailed and involved, it was not isolated. Fannin County Sheriff’s Office has responded multiple times to complaints involving Fults, including another 911 call made by Jackson in Sep. 2018 where again Fults was threatening suicide.

According to the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network (NGMCN), a local charitable organization for survivors of domestic and sexual assault, “domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior or coercive control in any relationship that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another”.

​NGMCN states on their website : ***If you are currently in a domestic violence or sexual assault situation and require immediate attention, please call 911 for assistance. When the immediate crisis is over we will be here to support you in safety planning, counseling referrals, temporary shelter, and other individualized services.***​

You can reach North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network by calling 706-632-8400.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website states, “We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals”.

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

 

 

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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North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network continues to provide much needed services in our area

Community, News, Non Profit

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network (NGMCN) is not often highlighted among the nonprofit charities in our community. With the sensitive nature of the services they provide, it is a fine line that the charity must walk in order to financially continue operations and still protect the anonymity of the victims who seek their help.

Fannin County, North Georgia, North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Victims, Advocacy, Services, Awareness, Shelter, Board Member, Steven Miracle, Executive Director, Julie Welch, Fannin County Board of Commissioners, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Chairman, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson

NGMCN has two thrift stores, one located in Blue Ridge and one in McCaysville. Both stores help to provide financial assistance to the charity organization.

Started in 1986, the NGMCN is entering its 33 year of service.

“There are a lot of non profit organizations in our community providing care and support to residents of Fannin County,” NGMCN Board Member Steven Miracle said explaining where the charity’s services fall, “Our mission is to provide safety and support to survivors and their children of sexual abuse and domestic violence.”

Miracle went on to explain that there are four major areas in which the organization focuses:

  • Sexual Assault. Through NGMCN victims of sexual assault are provided counseling and support services to help navigate them through a very difficult time.
  • Domestic Violence. While NGMCN offers the counseling and services to victims of domestic violence as it does to victims of sexual assault, it also offers shelter to house these victims and their children.
  • Legal Advocacy. NGMCN has a trained staff that will help victims navigate the sometimes daunting legal system.
  • Education Awareness. NGMCN helps to spread the word of domestic and sexual violence through community outreach. This includes working hand in hand with law enforcement, hospitals, and different organizations that provide services to these victims.

In 2018, NGMCN housed 129 residents at their shelter. This accounted for 3,173 bed/nights (a measure of occupancy for one person assigned to one bed for one night). Residents of the shelter were also provided with well over 10,000 units of service.

“That’s actually sitting across from a survivor and their children within the shelter to be able to make phone calls, to be able to help them with any type of individual support,” NGMCN Executive Director Julie Welch explained the term “units of service”.

Outreach clients or those who did not require a shelter stay for last year totaled 158 clients and 8,700 units of service.

So far in 2019 the charity has already provided 380 bed/nights, 87 hotline calls, and 600 units of service.

Once a victim has stayed at the NGMCN shelter, the services continue even after that person has checked out. The charity works with community services in the area that the victim chooses to move to and helps provide a network of resources.

Welch said of this work, “That way we can provide a net of services so they don’t fall through the cracks.”

Over $60,000 were provided to those who reached out to NGMCN in 2018. This financial assistance is used when a client leaving a threatening situation has no source of income initially or is needed as short-term emergency funds.

Fannin County, North Georgia, North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Victims, Advocacy, Services, Awareness, Shelter, Board Member, Steven Miracle, Executive Director, Julie Welch, Fannin County Board of Commissioners, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Chairman, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Glenn Patterson

NGMCN will host a 5k run or 1 mile walk on April 13, 2019 in downtown Blue Ridge.

“The fact that we are part of the budget is very much appreciated,” Miracle spoke to the Fannin County Board of Commissioners about the role the county plays, “and the support that you provide in helping us provide services to survivors and victims of our community is very, very much appreciated.”

Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson shared his thoughts, “I admire what you do because quite simply, every situation you deal with is not a good situation, and you continually do it and your passion about what you do and everything that your organization does do, no one knows. I admire people who work behind the scenes. They do the things that they do. They don’t do it for any glamour or glory, they do it just for the reason you all do it because that’s what you feel like you should do.”

Welch acknowledged that it takes many volunteers, staff, and the community as a whole to provide these services: “It’s not just us. There’s a whole host of other people. It’s a team and working with law enforcement, the judicial system, hospitals…it’s completely a team and community effort.”

“I know some people that you literally saved their lives,” Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton thanked Miracle and Welch for the work they do. “Getting them out of situations that are horrendous. I’m not sure how many people in the county are aware of what a great thing you do. You do such a great thing for the community.”

There are currently 49 clients in their legal advocacy program and NGMCN is housing 14 people in their 12 bed shelter.

“Often times we will have moms that come in that will have small children,” Welch explained the high occupancy.

NGMCN serves both men and women who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. They hope by promoting education and awareness in these areas that eventually the cycle of abuse will come to an end.

 

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

National Stalking Awareness Month: Tips for Victims

News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – January is National Stalking Awareness month, a serious issue which effects countless men and women at any given time. In the days of digital technology and social media, stalking has become more prevalent in recent decades.Robin H. Webb

“It is difficult, but the best reaction is not to react, but collect evidence,” North Enotah Domestic Violence Task Force instructs, “Screen shots, copies of posts, texts, and other information should be preserved.”

Stalking protection orders exist in Georgia and may be an option for victims if a pattern of stalking occurs, along with fear for that of yourself or family.

Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet there are steps to increase your safety.

The National Center for Victims of Crime offers the following tips:

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
  • Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
  • Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, weigh options such as seeking a protection order, and refer you to other services.
  • Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you. Click here to learn more about safety plans.
  • Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
  • Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, text messages, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Click here to download a stalking incident and behavior log.
  • Contact the police. Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.
  • Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
  • Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support.
  • Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.

Author

Robin H. Webb

Robin can be reached by dialing 706-487-9027 or contacted via email at Robin@FetchYourNews.com --- News tips will be held in strict confidence upon request.

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