Tax Assessors are not working overtime without pay

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Comments made at a recent Fannin County Board of Assessors meeting led to misinformation being spread throughout the public about county employees having to work overtime without pay.

Fannin County Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran clarifies that none of her employees are working this overtime without pay and that her comments were misunderstood.

“No,” Cochran gave a simple answer when asked directly if the rumors were true and went on to explain where the misunderstanding of words had taken place.

Until recently, some employees of the office would arrive to work early and clock-in, but would focus on personal ventures rather than work related to the department.

These employees had never been paid for this time, according to Cochran, but it made for confusion in looking at time sheets.

“We made some changes. Lynn Doss gave us advisement and said what we would like for you to do is not let anybody clock in until 8 o’clock and don’t let anybody clock out until 5 o’clock” Cochran said of steps that have been taken to alleviate the confusion.

Cochran added, “If you’re here and you’re having your coffee, or your making your toast back there, do not clock in because it could be misconstrued.”

The Tax Assessor’s office has been able to move forward despite the reorganization of the department. The work of the department from Jan. 1 of this year to present has accounted for almost quarter of all site visits since 2018.

From 2018 to current the department has made 8,289 site visits, with 2,193 of these visits being completed in 2019.

The department has also handled 233 Conservation applications or inquiries and have processed 241 Homesteads.

Cochran updated the board on the changes made to job descriptions of each of the employees and the responsibilities that have been shuffled throughout the department, stating that there has been “a lot of give and take” and adding “everyone is working very good together”.

The department is on track to continue its appraisal process through a three year cycle, and Cochran noted that because of the hard work of her employees the process of building schedules is becoming easier.

“I’m very impressed with the staff and how they are doing under a stressful environment. They are doing fabulous,” Cochran said after informing the board that when she took over some schedule ratings were as low as 18 and through the work of her staff the ratings are now starting at 37.

Cochran updated that the transition in mapping has had some bumps in the road, with Georgia Mass Appraisal Solutions & Services (GMASS) now handling mapping and rural land schedules, but her department working with the company to smooth out the process.

While there is still concern over workload within the department, Cochran stated of her concerns and her staff, “Every time I say that, they make it work. They pull it off.”

The Tax Assessor’s Office is expected to mail notices on June 14 and will continue to update on work status at the regularly scheduled monthly meetings.

 

 

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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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

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Bizarre trial ends with 55 year sentence for armed robber

Uncategorized

Blue Ridge, Ga. – In what might be remembered as one of the most bizarre trials to be held in Fannin County in 2019, a jury has found 22 year old Hamond Mormon guilty and Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver handed down a 55 year sentence in the case.

Mormon, along with his mother Melisse Mormon (aka Melisse Marmon) and cousin Rashad Morman, were accused in the Labor Day 2017 armed robbery of the AT&T store located off of Scenic Drive.

Fannin County, Georgia, Armed Robbery, AT&T, Guilty, Trial, Melisse Mormon, Melisse, Rashad Morman, Hamond Mormon, Sovereign Citizen, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Sgt. Jacob Pless, Lt. Todd Pack, Blue Ridge City Police, Capt. Rob Staurt,  Appalachian Judicial Circuit, Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, High Speed Chase, 515, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Hamond Mormon was found guilty on 14 counts and sentenced to 55 years.

According to law enforcement statements, as well as surveillance footage from the store, Rashad and Hamond entered the store, both armed, and forced employees to hand over cash, personal belongings, and cell phones.

Melisse waited outside for the two to return and drove the getaway vehicle. The resulting chase between the trio and law enforcement involved speeds over 100 mph and only ended when Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jacob Pless disabled the suspects’ vehicle through use of a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver.

A jury made up of 6 men and 6 women, with a female alternate, listened the state’s argument presented by Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee and watched the antics of Defendant Hamond Mormon unfold for several days.

Mormon made his intentions known to the court that he would be defending himself and opted out of representation by a public defender.

Mormon also exercised his right to declare Sovereign Citizenship, a move that has repeatedly been struck down by higher courts and considered an invalid claim.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sovereign Citizens “believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement”.

One of papers filed by Mormon to Judge Weaver and District Attorney Sosebee states: “As a true flesh and blood American and sovereign citizen, I refuse to participate in any colorable law schemes or practices”.

The first several days of the trial were anything but normal for members of the jury to witness and court staff to accommodate. Mormon, representing himself, would often refuse to acknowledge Judge Weaver as she gave explanations of court proceedings to ensure that he was aware everything that was going on.

Mormon also refused to wear clothes to court and instead sat in the courtroom cloaked in a blanket. Despite his seemingly odd behavior, an extensive mental evaluation was performed by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and found Mormon to be of sound mind and competent to stand trial.

On the day of closing arguments, Mormon refused to come to the courtroom all together, and Judge Weaver was putting her foot down as well stating that if Mormon did show he would be required to wear clothing.

Sosebee presented her closing argument to the jury and reminded everyone: “The State of Georgia is not required to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all doubt or to a mathematical certainty. It has to be a reasonable doubt.” Sosebee added to this, “We have in fact carried that burden.”

With Judge Weaver reminding the jury that Mormon’s behavior in the courtroom is not indicative of guilt and that the jury should only consider the evidence presented in the case, the 12 member (plus an alternate) was dismissed for deliberations.

Deliberation only took 21 minutes before the jury informed the court that they had reached a verdict in the case. The foreman stood and read a verdict of guilty on all counts. Weaver polled each jury member individually to ensure that each member had in fact reached this unanimous decision.

“This has been a little bit of an unusual trial,” Judge Weaver spoke directly to the jury before their dismissal, “I appreciate your patience with us.”

After the jury left the courtroom, Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Todd Pack was once again tasked with inquiring as to whether Mormon would like to enter the courtroom. Mormon had previously declined Pack’s offer for closing arguments and then again for the reading of the verdict.

Declining for a third time to enter the courtroom for sentencing, according to Pack, Mormon stated, “You are sentencing an artificial being. My name is not Hamond Dontel Mormon. I am not who they say that I am.”

Before handing down the sentence Weaver addressed her feelings on the case involving Mormon, “I guess of the three defendants I have a little more sympathy for him because of his background…than I have for the others.”

Weaver went on to explain that after having read Mormon’s evaluation by the state and given the details of his past that she felt “he never really had a chance”.

Mormon received a total of 55 years to serve 50 of those years in prison. A breakdown of the sentencing is as follows:

  • Count 1 – Armed Robbery – 20 years to serve
  • Count 2 – Armed Robbery – 20 years to serve consecutive to Count 1
  • Count 3 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 4 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 5 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 6 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 7 – Kidnapping – 20 years to run concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 8 – Kidnapping – 20 years to run concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 9 – False Imprisonment – 10 years concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 10 – False Imprisonment – 10 years concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 11 – Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony – 5 years to serve consecutive to Count 2
  • Count 12 – Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony – 5 years to serve consecutive to Count 11
  • Count 13 – Possession of Tools for the Commission of a Crime – 5 years probation to run consecutive to Count 12
  • Count 14 – Theft by Taking – Merge with Count 1

 

 

 

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

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Fannin County School System aces SPLOST audit

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – An audit of the Fannin County School System’s SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) collection and spending has shown that the district is being good stewards of these funds.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney explained the purposes of the independent audit were a requirement by the state when SPLOST collections exceed $5 million within a county.

SPLOST collections for 2017 totaled approximately $5.1 million and collections for 2018 topped that number bringing in $5.6 million.

Finance Director Susan Holloway explained that the Fannin County School calendar year ran from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, and that collections during this period was the first fiscal school year that the system met the amount requiring an audit.

Georgia code section O.C.G.A.20-2-491 requires public school systems to maintain continuing performance audits for expenditures of sales tax.
Mauldin and Jenkins was selected to carry out the audit for the school system.

“They audit 40 school systems, including more schools in Georgia than any other firm. They also audit 53 counties including more counties in Georgia than any other firm, and they audit 112 cities including more cities in Georgia than any other firm,” Holloway said explaining the reason for choosing Mauldin and Jenkins and added, “We felt they were solid.”

The audit’s purpose was to find out if the Fannin County School System was meeting 3 requirements:

  • 1. Provide a goal that ensures tax funds are spent efficiently and economically, so that the school district receives the maximum benefit from dollars collected.
  • 2. Provide reports not less than once annually to ensure that the terms laid out in item 1 are being met.
  • 3. Provide for periodic public recommendations not less than once annually for improvements in meeting the goal specified in item 1.

Mauldin and Jenkins tested approximately 60 claims. These claims accounted for $1,027,970 or 15.3 percent of total disbursements for the year.
Holloway announced the findings of the audit saying that Mauldin and Jenkins “concluded that the Fannin County School District’s SPLOST is operating in compliance with all laws and regulations, the referendum approved by the county citizens and industry best practices.”

Special recognition was given to Director of Maintenance and Facilities Danny Shinpaugh by the auditing firm for his role in providing the BOE with continuous and thorough updates regarding construction projects relating to school properties.

Having looked into the bidding and decision making processes involved, focusing on the recently constructed Agricultural Center, along with negotiations that had been made, Mauldin and Jenkins also recognized Shinpaugh’s outstanding management in overseeing construction projects.

“It was a very fair process,” Holloway said of the manner in which the audit was performed and gave special credit to her team in the finance department for the hard work and many hours they put in all year: “There’s a lot of times they’re the first ones here and the last ones to leave and they’re willing to dig in.”

“With the Superintendent and the Board’s support I have been able to hand pick these awesome ladies. I appreciate you for that,” Holloway said expressing thanks for all her fellow coworkers.

Dr. Gwatney shared his thoughts on the findings of the SPLOST audit: “It’s comforting to have the reassurance of an external audit to show that these funds that are being collected are being utilized legally, properly, ethically and in the manner that matches the referendum.”

The Fannin County School System is now hoping that the residents of Fannin County will continue the district’s success and provide the school system with a continuation of collections for SPLOST.

With the SPLOST IV referendum allowing the school system to collect but not exceed $27.5 million by March 2021, projections are indicating that this goal will be met before the ability to collect SPLOST funds expires.

It is the hopes of the BOE and fellow faculty with in the Fannin County School System that the public will allow for a continuation of this collection with the increased cap amount to be $34.5 million.

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, March 19 for the approval of the SPLOST V referendum and Early Voting is taking place now. If passed the new referendum would allow FCSS to move the cap of SPLOST funds to $34.5 million.

 

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

Double murder in Morganton. Suspect in custody.

Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is now releasing the names of the victims of a double murder that took place on Monday, March 4 in Morganton, Ga.

Fannin County, Georgia, Morganton, Underwood Road, Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, GBI, Double Murder, Suicide

(Left) Victims Amber Jackson and son Ethan Jackson (Right) Alleged shooter Joshua Fults

The Fannin County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the GBI upon responding to a 911 call of shots fired on Underwood Road.

According to the press release, 31 year old Amber Jackson and her son, three year old Ethan Jackson, were found on the front steps of Underwood Apartments deceased from gun shot wounds.

Jackson’s boyfriend, Joshua Lee Fults, age 35 was also at the residence “suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound”.

Fults was arrested on the scene and transported via life flight to a medical facility where he remains in critical condition.

Fults is facing an arrest warrant for the murder of Amber Jackson which has already been taken to the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office. More charges are expected to follow.

FetchYourNews will bring you the latest updates in this developing case.

 

GBI and Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Investigate Double Murder Press Release

Morganton, GA (March 5, 2019) – On Monday, March 4, 2019, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested by the Fannin County Sheriff to assist in the investigation of a double murder occurring at 300 Underwood Road, Apartment 3A, Morganton, Fannin County, GA. The initial investigation revealed that Fannin County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call of shots fired at the Underwood Road address. Upon arrival, deputies discovered Amber Jackson, 31, and her son, Ethan Jackson, 3, deceased on the front steps of the residence from apparent gunshot wounds. Jackson’s boyfriend, Joshua Lee Fults, age 35, was located on the porch of the residence suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Deputies arrested Fults at the scene and he was transported to a medical facility where he remains in critical condition. At this time, an arrest warrant charging Fults with the murder of Amber Jackson has been taken by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office. Additional charges are expected.

 

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

Grand Jury indicts those accused in McKinney murder

Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A Grand Jury made up of 20 members convened on Feb. 20 and officially indicted those accused in the conspiracy to murder Justin McKinney.

Testimony regarding the findings of the investigation was presented to the Grand Jury. Among those to testify were special agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), law enforcement with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Department, members of Fannin County’s Emergency Services, and staff from the GBI Crime Lab.

The witness list also included personal testimony from victim Anna Franklin, roommate Donald Majors and co-defendant Lakota Cloer.
After hearing testimony, the Grand Jury found that enough evidence was presented to indict each individual that had previously been detained in connection with the murder with a number of charges.

Trials for the accused are expected to move forward with the following charges for each individual:

***In the case of all charges the accused are being charged “individually and as parties concerned in the commission of a crime”***

Stephan Blake Dickey a.k.a. Dye

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 Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Hunter Nicholas Hill

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 Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Dalton Levi Manuel

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 Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Kevin Jack Chamaty

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 Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Tampering with Evidence
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Michael Chase Havard

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 Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

1 count Malice Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
1 count Felony Murder
1 count Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
5 counts Aggravated Assault
1 count Aggravated Battery
2 counts Home Invasion in the First Degree
1 count Burglary in the First Degree
1 count Tampering with Evidence
1 count Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

 

Lakota Ricky Cloer

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 Chamaty, Lakota Cloer, Levi Manuel, 20 year old, bond, Grand Jury, Brian Steel, Indictment, Malice Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Felony Murder, Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Home Invasion in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Tampering with Evidence

Cloer has already pled guilty to the lesser charges of two counts Aggravated Assault and one count Robbery by Intimidation. As part of the plea deal Cloer faces a 40 year sentence, 15 of those years to be served in prison with the remaining 25 years to be served on probation.

Cloer recently turned 17 years old and according to Georgia law is no longer considered a minor. Sources tell FetchYourNews that Cloer was moved from the juvenile facility housing him to a state prison on his birthday.

 

 

 

The Charges Explained:

The charge of Malice Murder is in direct relation with the shooting death of Justin McKinney. In the state of Georgia malice murder means the intent to take a life without legal justification or mitigation. In this case the State does not need to prove a motive in order to obtain a conviction but instead will attempt to show that the person accused deliberately intended to take another person’s life.

Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony is in relation to the shooting of victim Anna Franklin. By discharging a firearm in her direction and ultimately wounding her, the accused are being charged with the intent to commit a specific crime. In this case the intent was to commit malice murder.

Felony Murder of Justin McKinney. Felony murder charges are brought about when the accused commit the offense of murder while in the process of engaging in other felony related offences. The State alleges in this case of felony murder that the following felony offences were taking place: Home Invasion, Burglary in the First Degree, Aggravated Assault, and Criminal Attempt to Commit Armed Robbery.

The State also brought charges of Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony. This charge is in relation to the intent of the accused specifically planning and attempting to carry out Armed Robbery. This charge is further laid out in the accused’s premeditation of the event and the steps taken to carry out the crime.

Each defendant has been charged with five counts of Aggravated Assault. Each count is in direct relation with the crimes committed against both Justin McKinney and Anna Franklin and focuses on the use of firearms.

The Aggravated Battery count pertains to Anna Franklin and how essentially her body was rendered “useless” due to the gun shot she received that went through her arm and lodged in her neck.

The two counts of Home Invasion in the First Degree charges the defendants with entering the Franklin home without authority and with intent of forcible felony. This count explains that the accused entered the home with deadly weapons with intent to commit Armed Robbery.

Burglary in the First Degree is a similar charge to the Home Invasion in the First Degree in that it claims the accused entered the dwelling with intent of Armed Robbery and in possession of deadly weapons.

By conspiring to commit Armed Robbery with the intent to also commit murder, all five defendants face a count of Violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The state shows that through the accused’s actions there was a pattern of conspiracy and criminal activity.

According to the federal law, The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

The three defendants charged with Possession of Firearm During Commission of a Felony are Dye, Hill, and Manuel. The counts claim Dye possessed a Rossi 410 shotgun, Hill was in possession of Grendel Inc. p-12 .380 handgun, and Manuel carried an Excam .25 caliber handgun.

Lastly Chamaty and Havard face charges of Tampering with Evidence by abetting Dye, Hill, and Manuel in the removal and concealing of the weapons used in the crime.

Follow FetchYourNews for the latest information involving the case. You can read more about the McKinney Murder Case by clicking 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
40 Years To Serve 15: Cloer Accepts Plea Deal in McKinney Murder Case
Two Adults Arrested in McKinney Murder Case
$50,000 Bond Set for Chamaty and Havard in Connection with the Murder of Justin McKinney

 

 

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

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Fannin County opens door for competition in waste removal pricing

Business, Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Commissioners (BOC) began the process of opening up the way for competition when it comes to waste removal in the county.

Recent commission meetings showed much discussion about the current contract with Advanced Disposal. The contract set to expire on Sept. 1 of this year, requires the BOC give at least 180 day notice if there is intent to amend or cease further business with the company.

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson expressed his disappoint with the company’s automatic 3 percent increase in price annually and said, “We’re where we’re at because there’s one company. You can’t get a competing price when no one else will bid.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johsnon, Glenn Patterson, Advanced Disposal, Tony Sidebotham, Operations Manager, Contract, Renewal, Glass Recycling, Competition, Attorney, Lynn Doss

Board of Commissioners speak with attorney Lynn Doss about opening the door to competition.

All board members did recognize the asset Advanced Disposal has become to Fannin County through their community partnerships and participation.
“The intent is not to get rid of ADS. We still need them as an operator in our county,” Chairman Stan Helton spoke of the intentions behind the contract discussions.

Helton added that the BOC intentions were “to introduce competition, someone that can do the job, that would have a transfer station, and see if we (BOC) could open the door up for them to at least quote, bid, or prove to us that they would be a viable alternative, another resource for the county.”

An individual has come forward and spoken with commissioners about the possibility to offering their services to the county. Helton had a meeting with the individual that he referred to as being “positive”.

“This is a gentleman that has an interest in serving the community and he’s got equipment and a transfer station that would be available,” Helton said explaining the meeting and pointed out that the services the individual could provide would be on a much smaller scale than Advanced Disposal.

Post 2 Commissioner Glenn Patterson shared his thoughts that “competition’s always good”.

Previously Fannin County was under consent and by court order could only allow for one solid waste transfer station to operate. This order has since expired.

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss told the BOC that she would review the consent order and work towards allowing for the county to have more than one solid waste transfer station and recommended that the BOC develop a pricing template for waste removal before seeking bids.

Johnson added to this that the county needs a set of requirements, above the already mandated state requirements, to ensure that companies operating in the county are permitted by the state and capable of delivering the results that are agreed upon.

Helton reiterated that he is not in favor of eliminating Advanced Disposal’s services as the county’s primary supplier and added that he didn’t feel that anyone at this time is in a position to take the place of Advanced Disposal.

“We felt if there was some way to open up a little bit of competition, perhaps that would be the favorable result for the county,” Helton explained that perhaps in years to come that a door would open to receive numerous bids.

Johnson spoke of Advance Disposal, “Advanced, as far as I know, they handle all of the garbage the county has right now. They do a good job of it,” but added that his goal is to stabilize costs: “I think we should look at every route to try to reduce our prices.”

No official vote was needed in the matter and with all three commissioners in agreement about saving the residents of Fannin County money, they gave the go ahead to Doss to notify Advanced Disposal of their intent to negotiate the upcoming contract.

 

 

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

Tourism brings big dollars to Fannin County

Community, Fannin County Chamber, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – There is no denying that our area is a hot spot for tourists and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce gave a 2018 update letting citizens know just how much money our thriving tourist industry is bringing to our area.

Last year alone, $39 million was collected in local lodging tax by both the City of Blue Ridge and Fannin County.

“That’s just the ones who pay the tax,” Jan Hackett, President of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce spoke of the significance of these numbers, “so anyone out there who is an Airbnb or a VRBO who is not paying the tax is not in that number.”

In recent years Georgia Tech teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce to do a study on our economic impact numbers. According to Hackett the purpose of this study was to determine the amount of dollars spent in our local economy based on the lodging taxes collected.

Georgia Tech was able to produce an equation that they felt would portray an accurate number based on percentages of sales in direct comparison with lodging taxes.

“Based on their percentages the amount of money that visitors spent directly was $170.5 million dollars,” Hackett said explaining the findings for calendar year 2018 and added that this number is based on overnight visitors alone and does not account for day trippers and our area’s population of second home owners.

According to these numbers and based on SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) collections last year, overnight visitors made up roughly a third of all retail sales in the county. SPLOST reported a record breaking $555 million is sales last year for Fannin County.

Hackett broke down the numbers into a daily average. On average per day lodging brings in $100,795 and visitors spend roughly $484,375. This equates to $39,347 of taxes collected locally.

While our county can become crowded due to the visitors, there is a definite positive impact these visitors bring with them. Roughly one-third of the jobs in Fannin County (excluding governmental) are supported by the tourist industry, and all the extra revenue saves residents approximately $865 in taxation per household.

Hackett pointed out that in 2001: “At that point in time we had less in retail sales than any county in the four around us.” These counties include Fannin, Glimer, Pickens, and Union.

Fast forward to recent years and Fannin County is now leading the way in retail sales and economic growth. A comparison shows that in 2001 retail sales were approximately $150 million and in 2018 retail sales were $555,697,658.

With the lodging tax now being split 50/50 between the chamber and the county, Hackett reported that the decrease from the 70 percent that the chamber previously received has not posed any negative effect on the ability to market our area.

Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton explains where the extra revenue the county is now getting from the split in lodging tax is being spent, “When we adjusted this ratio between the board of commissioners and the chamber, our intent was to take half of that increase and put it into safety.”

Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson is credited with the idea of investing the funds into public safety, and had pointed out in previous meetings that his reasoning is simply with more people visiting and more events being held in our area there becomes an increased demand for emergency services to be provided.

Up next for the Chamber of Commerce is to continue to promote growth and visitation in our area. Hackett said of moving forward, “Our mission is only to help make Fannin County a better place to live, work and play.”

The chamber has recently focused efforts into making the Copper Basin area a desirable place to visit and has teamed up with the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government Study to produce an in depth study of McCaysville, Copperhill, and Ducktown.

“The Carl Vinson Institute is doing a kind of strategic planning process for McCaysville, Copperhill, and Ducktown….the Copper Basin,” Hackett said of the partnership and added that she is expecting the study to be complete by the end of February.

The study and planning will work to make the Copper Basin area a more appealing place to work, live and visit. Its focus is to re-brand the area. Under the name the Copper Basin Renaissance, the partnership with UGA is focusing its campaign on the slogan “Copper Basin. Too Great for One State”.

Hackett said of the chamber’s focus, “As Blue Ridge has gotten more crowded, it only makes since to try to do more in McCaysville and Copper Hill and the Basin, so that when visitors are here we’ll have them spread out in the county.”

The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce debuted a new website that went live in March of last year. 617,905 users visited the site and of those users 82 percent were new.

The new design of the website landed the chamber a prestigious Silver Adrian Award from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.

“To give you an idea of what an honor that is, the Jackson Hole Wyoming website also won a silver,” Hackett said of the accomplishment.

The Fannin County Chamber of Commerce plans to continue efforts in 2019 to once again bring in record numbers to our area and help define Fannin County as a resilient place to visit or to make home.

Featured Image: A small sample of the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce new award winning website.

 

 

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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