Canceling the game : Rebels vs. Bobcats

Community, News, Rebel's Corner
Fannin County, Georgia, Rebels, Gilmer County, Bobcats, Football, Cancelled, Covid, Covid-19, Georgia Department of Public Health, DPH, North Georgia Health District

Blue Ridge, Ga. – A call was made to cancel a very anticipated game last week between football rivals the  Fannin County Rebels and the Gilmer County Bobcats.

The decision was made over an individual’s possible exposure to and contraction of Covid-19.

Questions arose among Rebel fans and some parents reached out to FYN not satisfied with the explanation they had been given. All wanted to know what the Fannin County School District’s protocol is to make this decision and who ultimately decides. 

Documentation provided by the Fannin County School System confirms that an individual with ties to the football team had come in contact with at least 2 persons who recently tested positive for Covid-19. This documentation goes on to say that the individual in question is “symptomatic”.

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Fannin County School System’s latest Covid-19 update on Friday, Sept. 11.

Sources tell FYN that while the individual was tested for Covid-19, no confirmation was ever received as to whether the person had tested positive.

Fannin County Director of Applied & Integrated Instruction, Lucas Roof, explained that due to medical privacy laws students are not required to produce any documentation to the school system that they have been tested and received a positive result for Covid-19.

When direct documentation is unavailable, Roof explained that verification comes in one of two ways. Either contact from the school system is made to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) for confirmation on cases, or if DPH receives a case that they determine to be a possible student of Fannin County, they will contact the school system.

“It really is a two way street as far as communication,” Roof said of DPH and the school system’s relationship.

DPH also will treat cases as “considered positive” when indications lead to a strong likelihood of an individual having contracted the virus.

Due to medical privacy, the Fannin County School System could not confirm whether the individual relating to the football game had received a positive test result.

Assistant Superintendent of Personnel & Administration, Robert Ensley, explained that the school system, upon learning of the possibility of a positive case, contacted the local branch of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to seek recommendations.

DPH and Roof discussed the situation facing the Fannin County Rebels and based on information received, DPH gave guidelines to the school district.

While Roof has been tasked with the Covid-19 coordination of the district, the cancellation of the game came down to a school level decision.

After receiving guidelines from DPH, Fannin County High School Principal, Assistant Principal, Athletic Director and Coach met to go over options and concluded that with DPH recommendations it was in the best interest to cancel.

Roof confirmed the DPH recommendations on Thursday, Sept. 10 after questions arose from parents concerning the decision.

Dr. Zachary Taylor, Director of the North Georgia Health District wrote an email to Roof stating:

“Lucas, this email is to let you know that we consider the young man who is symptomatic and is an epidemiological link to 2 cases to be a case of COVId-19 and that all of his contacts on the football team should be quarantined. Please contact me if you have any questions.”

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Confirmation received from DPH of guidelines relating to the athletics Covid-19 case.

The school system was also unable, due to privacy laws, to confirm with FYN if any players had to be quarantined after coming in contact with this particular case. Several parents of athletes, however, spoke with FYN and did confirm that their child had been sent home and would not be able to return to school until Thursday, Sept. 17.

Numbers on the school system’s website, updated every Friday morning, did show a significant rise in the number of students quarantined as of Sept. 11.

“These decisions are never made lightly,” Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney stated and added, “Our team is making the best possible decisions based on the information we have and the recommendations we receive.”

Gwatney confirmed that the protocol that was followed concerning the Fannin-Gilmer game would be the same for any future school related events, not just limited to athletics. The school system will seek the advice of medical professionals and follow the recommendations given at the time.

Gwatney explained that guidelines given to the district are fluid as more becomes known about the virus, “Covid-19 is information ever evolving and we have to work with the latest details when situations arise. The well being of our students and our community as a whole is always a top priority.”

 

Featured Image : Fannin Rebels and Gilmer Bobcats face-off  in 2019.

Missing person originally from Gilmer

News
MISSING PERSON:
Randy Pierce
D.O.B  05/04/76
Last seen in Knoxville TN.
0n 04/16/2019
He was employed by the Coca-Cola company in Knoxville.
The police departments have been contacted. If you know anything regarding this person please contact your local authorities.
He is originally from Ellijay Ga. and was living in Dalton with his brother Jammie Pierce.

David Ralston intends to send George Soros a letter

News, Politics
Georgia, Fannin County, Gilmer County, Dawson County, Georgia House of Representative, Governor, Gubernatorial, General Election, 2018, Hurrican Michael, President Donald Trump, Brian Kemp, Stacey Abrams, David Ralston, George Soros, Republican Party, Democratic Party

Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston

Blue Ridge, Ga. – In a media conference held on Friday Nov. 9, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston expressed his opinions on current politics as well as the recent General Election.

“We’ve had a lot of money spent in this state on the election and much of that money came from out of state,” Ralston said speaking of the General Election, “and a good bit of it came from some very, very well heeled individuals that I didn’t realize cared about Georgia. as much as they apparently do. I welcome their concern about the state.”

Ralston plans to send a letter to political activist and democratic supporter George Soros welcoming him to continue to support the state by pledging relief to those in Southwest Georgia who were devastated by Hurricane Michael.

Ralston expanded more on the letter and its intent, “I am dead serious about this. Let’s see if he would like to help out some farmers in Southwestern Georgia that are hurting.”

According to Ralston it “would be another way that he (Soros) could show his interest in Georgia.”

With the ongoing disputes of the gubernatorial election results, Ralston said that the business of the state is moving forward. He has already spoken with Governor Elect Brian Kemp about the upcoming legislative agenda.

In speaking with Kemp, Ralston also addressed the handling of the 2018 General Election: “He was much more kind than I would have been. I thought the election ended way before he called it. I thought he showed great class in delaying his claim of victory.”

As for Kemp’s opponent former minority leader in the Georgia State House of Representatives Stacey Abrams, Ralston shared his thoughts as well: “I really hope that Representative Abrams will do the right thing and acknowledge that this is mathematically over. I understand that if she concedes that probably the flow of money and publicity ends, but that’s kind of the way this thing works. I hope for the good of the state that she will reevaluate her thinking as it appears to be now. I don’t think that prolonging this with lawsuits and challenges and things of that sort is good for Georgia.”

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Governor Elect Brian Kemp (right) and opponent Stacey Abrams (left)

“We can’t wait on lawsuits and we can’t wait on people to continue to seek out publicity,” Ralston said concluding his thoughts on the gubernatorial race. “We’ve got a state to run and we’ve got a part of the state that is hurting, that we are going to start helping next week.”

When asked about the clear division in voting patterns in the state of Georgia (urban versus rural) and whether or not he felt President Donald Trump’s administration was a reason for this division, Ralston replied that he did not see it that way.

According to Ralston some republican members that lost seats would possibly blame President Trump and some seats that were reclaimed by republicans would also be credited to the president for the victories.

Regardless of the state and local election outcome Ralston says that Trump’s administration is doing much more in terms of listening to a state’s needs. He is seeing this administration allow decisions to come from “the bottom up rather than the top down”.

“I very much applaud this administration for its emphasis on rural areas here in the country,” Ralston stated of his own experience with the Trump administration.

Ralston also took the time to express his view of the Republican Party in the state of Georgia: “Our party was here before him (Trump). It will be here after him and we need to learn to message our pro-job, pro-education reform, pro-public safety message in a more effective way.”

Having been pleased with the outcome of the most recent Georgia Legislative Session, Ralston stated about spreading the word of the accomplishments, “We have to do a better job of communicating that.”

Ralston listed some of the achievements in the last legislative session “Cut the income tax, full funding for QBE, appropriating funds for school safety, adoption reform. So many good things that we accomplished, in my view at least.”

Georgia State will hold a Special Legislative Session beginning next Tuesday Nov. 13. The main focus of this session will be to provide hurricane relief to areas affected in Southwest Georgia.

 

 

 

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 [email protected]

Current Closings and Delays for Public Health in North GA for Dec. 10

Community, Health

 

Due to the potential for wintry hazardous road conditions tomorrow, Monday, December 10, Pickens County Health Department will be CLOSED all day, and Fannin County Health Department will delay opening until 10 AM. Gilmer County Health Department will delay opening until 9:30 AM. This applies to all public health services in these counties.  Further updates will be posted to the North Georgia Health District website at www.nghd.org and to our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

State to look into hurricane relief for Georgia

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Georgia State Assembly will convene on Tuesday Nov. 13 in a special called session.

Governor Nathan Deal called this session to address the state’s role and responsibility in aiding those affected in Southwest Georgia by Hurricane Michael.

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The agricultural sector of Georgia has lost billions due to Hurricane Michael.

Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston held a special press conference in Blue Ridge on Friday Nov. 9 to address this upcoming session.

“This is a very important session,” Ralston said of the reason for the called session. “I know that we have all been preoccupied with the elections that have been going on, but now that they are over, I think it’s important that we get around in a very concentrated way to helping Southwestern Georgia recover from the almost complete devastation resulting from Hurricane Michael.”

According to the most recent data, state agencies have reported $22 million in damages to state owned properties. These damage estimates have been reported as far north as Cobb County and as far east as Chatham County.

Ralston, who has himself been in person to visit some of the areas affected by Hurricane Michael said of the devastation, “I can tell you it will bring tears to your eyes to see all the houses that have been damaged and destroyed and the damage to our agriculture sector of our economy is just beyond belief.”

As of Oct. 31 it is estimated that $2.461 billion has been lost in the Georgia agricultural sector. This estimate includes crops such as pecans, cotton, and peanuts, as well as general loss in vegetables, poultry, dairy, and timber.

Ralston cited Seminole County, Georgia as having lost 100 percent of their pecan trees. Pecan trees take on average 10 years to fully mature for harvest upon being planted.

In the Seminole County case Ralston said that “generations of work have been set back”.

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The timber sector is another field that will face major setbacks.

“I want to commend Governor Deal for making this a priority sooner rather than later,” Ralston said of the urgency in aiding these areas.
Governor Nathan Deal has put out a figure of $270 million in relief efforts. Ralston stressed that this would just be a beginning and by no means a final number.

“It’s going to be way more than that,” Ralston addressed the overall cost. “The total damage is going to be multiple billions, more than any state can do. The federal government and us will partner on many of these programs.”

Currently local governments have been bearing the financial burden of debris removal and clean up. Ralston feels that the money being appropriated will go partially for reimbursement to these local agencies.

The state will focus mainly on fixing infrastructure in the area and help continue the debris removal. They will also look at repairing state assets.
“I’m not expecting that it would have an effect on the mid year budget,” Ralston said speaking of the financial impact on the state. “We’re doing well as a state so we don’t have to touch the rainy day fund.”

Ralston does expect some relief money to be worked into the 2020 Budget when the regualr General Session takes place.

Also being addressed at this special called session is Georgia’s Jet Fuel Tax break. This tax exemption was signed into executive order by Governor Deal after it caused much controversy in the house and senate.

“Under the law the suspension of the jet fuel tax has to be taken up because the suspension was reinstated by executive order,” Ralston explained why this matter would be discussed at the special session, “which means that it must be reviewed at the next regular or special session.”

As for whether this tax break will continue, it remains unknown. “Anytime that we do preferential tax treatment for any entity, then I think the burden is on that entity to make the case for why it is necessary, why it’s good for the overall economy in this state.”

Ralston added, “To be candid with you, I haven’t heard that case made yet.”

***All photos courtesy of www.house.ga.gov***

 

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 [email protected]

High Speed Chase 515 South

News
High Speed Chase 515 South. Fannin County identified a stolen Ford 350 White Pick-Up truck with Tennessee tag. The driver lead them on a high-speed chase into Gilmer. The truck lost control after GSP pulled a pit maneuver and the truck went off 515 on Bates road. A white male was driving along with a white female passenger. Both were taken into custody.

Both with possible outstanding warrants. FYN will update later. Fannin County Sheriff’s deputies, Georgia State Patrol and Gilmer County Sheriff’s deputies involved in the high-speed chase.

Habitat for Humanity Fannin/Gilmer Counties Hosts Orientation Meetings

Community

The local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity is pleased to announce it will be hosting orientation meetings to begin the process of selecting a partner family to purchase the next Habitat home, which will be built in Fannin County.

The first step in the search is to make sure everyone who might qualify for a home is aware of the opportunity.

We encourage interested families to attend one of our two orientation meetings. The first will be held on Thursday, July 12th, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at United Community Bank’s Community Room in Blue Ridge, and the second will be held on Saturday, July 14th, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the Fannin County Senior Center in downtown Blue Ridge.

The meetings are free and will last approximately two hours.

In the orientation meetings, interested families will view a presentation about Habitat and learn about the requirements for becoming a Habitat homeowner. Applications, along with a listing of required documents, will be distributed during the meeting.

Volunteers and partner families build Habitat houses along with contractors, often using donated supplies. Habitat then sells the homes to the partner family. As partner families repay Habitat over a 20-30-year period, their zero-interest mortgage payments go towards funding future builds.

To qualify for a Habitat house, a family must demonstrate three things: a need, ability to pay, and a willingness to partner with Habitat. No children at the meetings, please.

For additional information contact Habitat at 706-455-6603.

Rick Day says cannabis could be the future of North Georgia

Election 2018, Politics

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Many words were used to describe Rick Day as he exited the Fannin County Democratic meeting on July 2: enthusiastic, informed, entertaining, and passionate.

Day, a 62 year old veteran, is the first from the Democratic party to ever challenge the Speaker of the House, David Ralston, for the seat of Georgia House of Representatives District 7.

One key issue of Day’s platform and arguably one that he shows the most passion for is his pro-cannabis stance and the benefits it could bring to North Georgia.

“Somewhere in the 70’s I discovered cannabis, marijuana, and it has been a lifelong love affair with Mary Jane,” Day said about his position.

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Democratic candidate Rick Day hopes to unseat incumbent David Ralston in November.

According to Day, almost 700,000 people have been arrested for minor marijuana possession in Georgia since Ralston’s election to the seat of District 7 in 2002.

“This man is so powerful he could have changed this law,” Day said explaining his take on Ralston’s record. “He only cares about the for-profit prisons that lobby him.”

Day would like to see Georgia move beyond the limited laws passed recently in the state that increased medical marijuana use and see cannabis legalized for recreational use as well.

Stating statistics, Day said that approximately 85 percent of Georgians are in favor of medical marijuana, 70 percent of Republicans are in favor, and 65 percent of Georgians favor cannabis oil.

“If we wait another 10 years, the crops are not going to be worth anything near what it was because it’s going to be so common,” Day spoke of the economic impact of ending the war on marijuana.

Wanting to see both marijuana and hemp become major cash crops for the state of Georgia, Day spoke of the increased tax revenue that this legislation, if passed, would create; up to 1 billion in increased revenue. Day would like to see all citizens of North Georgia benefit from this wealth by using the new revenue to eliminate or dramatically decrease property taxes.

“Thousands of jobs, good, well paying jobs,” Day expanded on the benefits of this move. “Develop the area and work with it, so that it becomes part of our identity without overtaking us.”

“My vision is to turn this (North Georgia) into the Napa Valley of cannabis,” Day enthusiastically spoke of his hope.

Acknowledging other issues facing our area Day said, “There is a growing issue with lack of affordable housing in the district.”

With no shortage of half million dollar homes, Day says that it is very hard to find homes in the $150,000 range where there is an increasingly growing demand.

Offering grants and incentives for builders to construct these more affordable homes is a possible solution that Day sees on this issue.

When it comes to his Republican opponent, Day does not mince words: “Ralston is a con. A bought and paid for conservative. Conservatives are no longer the fiscal stewards they once were or ever represented themselves to be.”

Accusing Ralston of catering to the highest bidder, Day pointed out Ralston’s $400,000 yearly pension and using his position to get his son a lobbying job: “He’s their man. He’s not our man anymore.”

As for Ralston’s impact on his district, Day shared his thoughts on that as well. According to Day, Ralston is a man who holds a position of power in the state of Georgia: “Arguably the most powerful because he’s not tenured with term limits like the governor is, and he can’t even get us one manufacturing center up here. He’s done nothing for this district.”

“I can’t out spend David Ralston. He’s already got $1,000,000 in corporate money in the bank,” Day elaborated on his campaign plans. “I can’t make a lot of promises. I won’t have a lot of political power, but I ain’t David Ralston and I will never be that man.”

Day says that his political platform is simple. Having been shown a kindness when he was a young man, his philosophy is to pay it forward. His litmus test on every issue is “Is this going to be good for our kids? Is this going to be good for our grand-kids?”.

“I oppose the things that are not, and I embrace the things that are good,” Day said of this philosophy.

“I believe in myself and I want you to too,” Day spoke to those gathered to hear his message. “I’m done watching (politics). Now is the time for action. Now is the time to bring David Ralston home.”

 

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 [email protected]

Nationally wanted jewelry thief eludes capture in Gilmer County

Featured Stories, News

Ellijay, Ga. – A nationally known jewelry thief narrowly escaped capture in Gilmer County after trying to sell stolen goods to North Georgia Diamond located in East Ellijay.

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Digitally enhanced footage of the suspect.

Earlier in the day of Saturday, June 2, a man entered The Blue Ridge Diamond Center in Blue Ridge, Ga. It was there that the master thief was able to pocket a four carat diamond tennis bracelet.

The owners of The Blue Ridge Diamond Center immediately notified police of the theft, and they also made it known to several area jewelry stores to be on the lookout for the male suspect.

Bill Craig, owner of North Georgia Diamond, describes how the thief is able to steal these precious stones despite the added precaution taken by jewelers: “He confuses people and builds their trust and gets them to show him a bunch of different things.”

The suspect then goes on to become comfortable in the stores even sitting down to discuss custom jewelry options. Through sleight of hand the suspect pockets usually a single valuable item, and makes a casual exit from the building.

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The suspect interacting with employees and looking at jewelry.

After stealing the four carat diamond tennis bracelet, the suspect made his way to North Georgia Diamond in hopes of unloading his prize.

The suspect came into the store asking to sell the tennis bracelet, but staff quickly realized this was the thief from earlier in the day and notified law enforcement.

The staff stalled while police arrived. In the meantime, however, other customers entered the store.

Officer Tommy Long with the East Ellijay Police Department describes the events upon arriving at North Georgia Diamond shortly after 2:00 p.m. : “When I arrived on the scene I entered the business and observed two males talking with a sales clerk. Another male was to my right.”

While trying to silently verify which male was the suspect, the male to Officer Long’s right received a phone call and stepped out the door.

Craig, owner of North Georgia Diamond, immediately notified Long that the suspect was the male walking out the door.

Like the suspect had vanished into thin air, Long describes exiting almost immediately after him: “As I exited the store the male was nowhere to be found. I looked around all other businesses and beside and under porches but was unable to locate the subject.”

The suspect having to make an unexpected exit, did leave behind the stolen tennis bracelet and a driver’s license.

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Possible vehicle that the suspect is traveling in taken from security cameras.

The Oregon driver’s license identified him as Richard Laracuente. This name traces back to a number of warrants for theft across the United States. The suspect has also been known to use the name Robert James Allen which too traces to numerous warrants for theft.

“It’s a pretty serious thing,” Craig spoke of the thief, “He’s a pro.”

Craig belongs to a group of jewelers who contact each other regularly via social media. It was on this site that Craig found out after leaving his store in Georgia, the suspect robbed a store a couple of states away in the following days.

“He hit a store in Kentucky,” Craig explained, “and those people had seen all the posts about this. They had seen what I posted.”

In Kentucky, the suspect was able to get away with a three stone diamond ring.

Despite Craig’s warnings the thief is able to continue his crime spree because according to Craig “he’s a very good master of disguise.”

“I warned everybody on the Facebook group,” Craig spoke of his actions to try to warn fellow jewelers, “I said he’s going to hit. He’s going to hit again, and sure enough.”

Jewelry stores across the nation are asked to be on the lookout for the suspect and to contact local law enforcement immediately if the suspect enters their premises.

 

Featured Image: ID left behind by suspect when making his exit from North Goergia Diamond.

 

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 [email protected]

Get Ready for the Taste of Ellijay 2018! – May 24th at 6pm

Business, Community, Lifestyle

Brought to you by Gilmer Chamber: Today on Karla’s Korner – Get Ready for the Taste of Ellijay 2018! Starting tonight at 6pm!

Join us on #GMFTO every weekday starting at 8AM! We will be featuring Fetch Your News FYNTV.com TV personality #BKP and his political opinion, and #AnythingGoes !

Have a question, comment, or want to be on the show? Call or text 706-889-9700 !

Our Revolution Georgia Endorses Joshua McCall in Bid to Unseat Congressman Doug Collins

State & National

(Martin, Georgia) – Monday, January 22nd, the statewide Georgia affiliate of Our Revolution, the organization created to continue pushing the policy goals of the Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign, endorsed Joshua McCall in his bid to unseat Congressman Doug Collins in the Georgia 9th Congressional District. His candidacy will now be passed up to the national organization for consideration.

 

“I’m running for congress for two reasons. First, Bernie Sanders’ grassroots organization inspired me to examine what forces were limiting political possibilities in our country. I realized, unfortunately, that many of those forces were in the party that I belonged to,” said Candidate Joshua McCall.

 

He continued, “I’m also running because parts of our government are dangerously close to fascism. Branches of it prey on racial fears and offer simple solutions through state violence. I am running not only to unseat Doug Collins, but in the process speak to the people of this district and unite them behind a Christian and humanist ethic.”

 

McCall joins Savannah based candidate Lisa Ring as the only currently endorsed congressional candidates in the state. The endorsement includes volunteer coordination and the possibility of national endorsement and fundraising.

 

Our Revolution Georgia State Committee Member, Vice President of the Young Democrats of Georgia, Hall County Board of Elections Member, and former candidate for State House Michelle Sanchez Jones said of the endorsement, “the Republican Party has purported to represent North Georgia for a generation now, and, outside of the Governor’s backyard, we deserve more from our government. Our hospitals need more money. Our classrooms need more teachers. We need the tools to help those struggling with opioid addiction. The burden of supporting our communities falls disproportionately on our churches and faith institutions. It’s time we got our money’s worth from Washington, and Joshua McCall is exactly the man to help make that happen.”

 

###

Background: Consideration of endorsement by the national organization requires prior endorsement from a local affiliate. Our Revolution has numerous affiliates throughout the state whose leadership jointly approve endorsements – with deference given to the chapter closest to the district in question. McCall’s endorsement represents the agreement of affiliates and leadership from Savannah to Atlanta, Athens to Henry County.

 

Mysterious boom rattles Fannin County

Featured Stories, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Residents of Fannin and Gilmer counties took to social media late Friday night trying to find the source of what is being described as a loud explosion. The boom that took place had enough force that some residents were reporting their homes shaking from the blast.

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Residents took to social media to try to find the source of the noise.

Brenda Curry, a resident of Cherry Log, described what happened close to midnight on Dec. 29: “At first, I heard (and felt) one big explosion. I looked outside, because it sounded like a transformer had blown, or what I imagined a propane tank might sound like if it exploded.”

“I didn’t see anything,” Curry stated of looking outside directly after the noise,”no fire, flames, or smoke.”

The unexplained noises did not stop there. “Then I heard another boom. A minute later there was another one. Then there were about seven ‘booms’,” Curry added, “A few minutes later about five more.”

Residents in a large area of both Fannin and Gilmer counties described similar events. Reports came in via Facebook of having felt or heard the explosion in downtown Blue Ridge, near Fannin Regional Hospital on Hwy. 5, Morganton, and Cherry Log.

Gilmer County Public Safety, as well as the Fannin County Emergency Management Agency, had no reports of any incidents that would explain the source of the noise that was causing a stir on social media.

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The boom was heard in Blue Ridge, Morganton, and Cherry Log.

Fannin and Gilmer counties can now be added to the list of areas that have experienced similar events in previous weeks. Counties across northeast Georgia have reported booms so loud that homes have been shaken following the blast.

Reports have been filed in Jackson, Hall, Habersham and Madison counties. All reports are similar in description, and no source has been found as to the cause of these booms.

North Georgia is not the only area affected by these unexplained happenings. Reports of mysterious booms have come in from across the Southeast all week, which has led many to speculate on the origins.

One popular theory is the use of tannerite by local gun enthusiasts. Tannerite is the brand name of a patented exploding target used in the practice of firearms. When used for target practice, tannerite can create an explosion similar to a stick of dynamite.

“Realistically, a tannerite explosion can be set off that can be heard for 20 to 15 miles, but the volume you’d be setting off would cause so much localized noise that within a mile of where it was set off would be numerous reports to the police,” Chad Johnson, owner of Rock Ridge Training, a firearms training service provider in Blue Ridge, explained of the effects of tannerite.

Blue Ridge, Cherry Log, Morganton, Fannin County, Gilmer County, Georgia, Rock Ridge, Chad Johnson, USGS, United States Geological Servey, Mystery Boom, Boom, Earthquake, Tannerite, Sonic Boom, Jackson County, Hall County, Habersham County, Madison County, Robbinsville, North Carolina, Gilmer Public Safety, Fannin County Emergency Management Agency

Residents offered possible explanations of the mystery boom.

Johnson went on to say, “If you had a noise that propagated that large, at the fringes it would be nowhere near as loud as the center (localized explosion), but these people are reporting the same relative volume at the fringes – all the way across. So to me that says something is more generalized than localized.”

Believing that tannerite is a good first thought as to a possible explanation of the boom, Johnson says that the science behind tannerite does not fit the scenario that has taken place.

Others in Fannin and Gilmer counties speculated that the cause could have come from military training. Residents are used to military planes running aviation training missions over our mountains, but sonic booms are rare in our area.

“If the military or commercial aviation are flying over populated areas, they are prohibited to break the sound barrier because of sonic booms,” Johnson discussed the possibility of a military cause, “partially because of the annoyance, but secondarily because of the damage to homes that can occur.”

“There are rare times when the military is permitted to do it, when they must for some training activity,” Johnson stated. While it is possible for the military to have granted permission for such training, Johnson felt that it was unlikely due to the time of night.

Blue Ridge, Cherry Log, Morganton, Fannin County, Gilmer County, Georgia, Rock Ridge, Chad Johnson, USGS, United States Geological Servey, Mystery Boom, Boom, Earthquake, Tannerite, Sonic Boom, Jackson County, Hall County, Habersham County, Madison County, Robbinsville, North Carolina, Gilmer Public Safety, Fannin County Emergency Management Agency

The North American Craton is a layer of the North American plate, and has an edge that runs directly through North Georgia.

Lastly, some posed the possibility of an earthquake, and cited the 2.7 magnitude earthquake that took place in Robbinsville, North Carolina, Tuesday, Dec. 26. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website, which tracks earthquakes worldwide, no activity was reported in north Georgia or surrounding areas on the night of Dec. 29.

The USGS website does have a page dedicated to unexplained sounds. The website states, “Earthquake ‘booms’ have been reported for a long time, and they tend to occur more in the Northeastern US and along the East Coast.”

It goes on to say, “No one knows for sure, but scientists speculate that these ‘booms’ are probably small shallow earthquakes that are too small to be recorded, but large enough to be felt by people nearby.”

No one can say with certainty the cause of what residents experienced in our area, but booms, such as the one that took place in Fannin and Gilmer counties, have been reported throughout our country for years and are likely to continue for some time without explanation.

 

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County officials discuss the safety of our local schools

Community, GMFTO

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, returned to class today, Feb. 28, just two short weeks after one of America’s deadliest mass shootings in modern history took place in their halls.

In the wake of this tragedy, which claimed 17 lives, discussion have opened up about school safety and what can be done to prevent situations like this from occurring in the future.

Brian K. Pritchard (BKP), chief executive officer of FetchYourNews and host of Good Morning From The Office morning show, invited local officials from Gilmer and Fannin counties to address the safety of our local school systems.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

County officials from both Fannin and Gilmer counties met to discuss the safety of our schools.

In opening the discussion, BKP directly asked both Gilmer and Fannin County School superintendents how safe do they feel the schools in our area are.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney answered from a personal perspective: “My child is in a Fannin County school this morning.”

“We are always vigilant in watching what’s going on with our students, watching what’s going on on social media,” Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, explaining why she too felt the schools in her county were safe, “and staying in constant contact with our law enforcement.”

“What I feel has come out of Parkland (shooting) is a breakdown in the system,” BKP pointed out to the guest panel and questioned how officials have addressed any recent incidents.

Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson replied that his department has had to respond to incidents almost daily for the past two weeks, but clarified that most complaints are not serious.

“The problem is law enforcement can no longer say that’s not serious. We have to take it serious,” Nicholson explained.

Modern times are different according to Nicholson and he stressed, “Pranks are no longer pranks. When it comes to school safety we will investigate and we will prosecute and arrest or send you to juvenile court.”

Many counties in Georgia do not have school resource officers (SRO) assigned to every school in their district. Fortunately, for both Fannin and Gilmer, this is not the case. All schools within each system has its own SRO, and all panel members feel that this is a major element in keeping our schools safe.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Gilmer County SRO Sgt. Greg Dodson discussed SRO training and duties.

“Are all the SRO officers armed this morning?” BKP directly asked the panel. Both Nicholson and Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby replied that all officers on all campuses were armed.

Gilmer County School Resource Officer Sergeant Greg Dodson explained the duties of an SRO: “A very large part of the job is visual security. It’s patrolling the interior and exterior of the school, checking doors, making sure that they’re locked, trying to monitor who comes and goes.”

“If you see someone at the schools that you don’t recognize, make sure they have a visitor pass, that they’ve gone through the office properly,” Dodson added.

Other duties include checking parking lots, bathrooms, hallways, and interacting and developing relationships with the students.

In Gilmer County, to become an SRO, a deputy must submit a formal letter requesting that position. A panel of the officer’s peers then formally recommends who they feel should be placed in that position. Sheriff Nicholson makes a final decision based on the panel’s recommendations.

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby confirmed that the process in Fannin County is very similar to Gilmer County and added, “That’s not a job (SRO) that you have just to draw a paycheck. That has to be something that the deputy wants to do.”

“From the very get go, it has to be what that person really wants to do,” Kirby said, explaining that the SROs in place are not only trained but also have a passion for that particular field.

Training for an SRO goes beyond that of a police academy. This training includes a School Resource Officer course, Crisis Intervention Training, Gun Safety, and in-service training such as active shooter scenarios.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee was present to discuss the legal aspects of threats against a school and what her department does in collaboration with law enforcement to combat any potential crimes.

“I just need one referral to start. I need one concerned student. I need one diligent parent. That’s what allows us to be able to initiate the investigation and to assess what we need to do next,” Sosebee described of the process of how her department can become involved.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby and Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson address law enforcement’s role in providing safety for our schools.

Sosebee said we are fortunate to live in a smaller community where residents feel comfortable speaking up when there is an incident that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Confirming Sosebee’s thoughts on residents willing to tip off authorities, Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, “In my experience, when we’ve had a threat that we needed to investigate, I have not gotten it from one person. I get it from 50 people within about an hour.”

“No matter how good you are technologically, there is no substitution for a good tip,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney expressed in similar views.

Both Fannin and Gilmer County school systems continue to take steps to improve safety measures in their schools. Gwatney is looking into extra safety measures using technology. This would include a large network of monitoring devices.

Wilkes is working to renovate Gilmer High School. She would like to implement scan cards for access to doors and is working to restructure the building to create a single point of entry through the front office.

With large campuses and multiple buildings, BKP asked, “Would you look at letting teachers or putting that program into place at your schools to allow weapons in there and how would it work?”

Texas has legislation, School Marshal, to allow teachers to carry weapons on campus, and Florida recently passed similar legislation. Currently in Georgia, there is no statewide legislation on the issue, but rather Georgia allows local school districts to create their own policies regarding this matter.

Gilmer County has looked at sample legislation from other counties in the past, but never voted to enact a policy. Wilkes said that she would favor a policy that would require the individual to qualify with a firearm and that would obligate the individual to attend an annual firearm training course.

Wilkes also would like there to be anonymity in which teachers are armed within the school.

“It would have to be very regulated. It takes the right person, like it takes the right SRO,” Wilkes shared of her stance.

Gwatney was not opposed to the idea but does not want it to negatively affect an educator’s job: “The purpose of a teacher to care for the kids and teach for the kids. We don’t want to create a situation where we force the teacher to try to take on a law enforcement role.”

The panel also expressed frustrations on a system that sometimes works against them in their efforts to keep our children safe.

On a criminal level, Sheriff Nicholson expressed disappointment in a system that seems increasingly unwilling to keep a juvenile in detainment: “It’s getting harder and harder to get someone detained. That’s frustrating.”

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

BKP’s All Star Panel questions officials on a number of issues that the school systems face in regard to safety.

Sosebee confirmed Nicholson’s frustration and explained, “Part of that, the court system with relation to that, is the restrictions that are put on the court system as to when these juveniles can be detained and when they cannot be detained and that is where a lot of the hands tying is coming from, from the court system.”

Just like law enforcement, the school systems feel that there is legislation and policy in place that ties their hands when they witness “red flags”.

BKP pointed out the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has grown since it was first enacted and states that schools being a government agency must accommodate individuals with diagnosed disabilities.

Wilkes acknowledged that the ADA does play a heavy role in how schools can handle disciplinary situations: “In many cases, you’re dealing with students who have a disability such as an emotional behavioral disorder, which falls under special education.”

In such cases, if a student makes a threat or acts in a way that requires disciplinary action, the school must first have a Manifestation Hearing.

In a Manifestation Hearing, a panel is made up of a licensed school psychologist, the student’s special education case manager, a teacher that works directly with the student, an administrator, and the parents or guardians of the child.

The panel determines if the threat or infraction is directly related to the student’s disability. If it is deemed that it is in relation to the disability, then disciplinary action cannot be taken.

If it is deemed that the issue is not related to the child’s disability, then a tribunal is formed to determine what disciplinary actions should be taken.

“If a student has any disability at all,” Wilkes clarified, “even if it’s a learning disability in reading, and let’s say they try to burn down the school, then we have to have a manifestation hearing to see if that learning disability led to them trying to burn down the school.”

Due to this process and the strict rules surrounding juvenile privacy, Wilkes stated if it is related to a disability “our hands are tied as to what we can do.”

The panel agreed that collaboration between departments along with a proactive stance on safety is the best route to take when it comes to the welfare of our counties’ children but felt that changes could be made in legislation that would make providing our schools with this security a much more efficient process.

You can watch BKP’s Good Morning From The Office #AnythingGoes School Safety Special in the video below.

Flu shots available at county health departments

Press Release

DALTON, Ga. – Flu Shots are now available at NO COST to residents at public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties. Healthcare plans will be billed on behalf of clients who have coverage, and there is no charge to anyone who is not under a healthcare plan. No appointment is necessary – “Walk-ins” are welcome. Residents are urged to take advantage of these no-cost to client flu shots while supplies last.
It is not too late to get a flu shot. In fact, the time is crucial. Georgia, along with 48 other U.S. states, is experiencing widespread influenza activity, with 37 flu-related deaths currently reported in Georgia, including four in north Georgia – and those numbers are expected to increase since the flu season has not yet peaked.

The current flu vaccine effectively protects against three of the four influenza virus strains that are circulating.

Locations and phone numbers for the participating north Georgia county health departments are:

  • Cherokee County Health Department: 1219 Univeter Road, Canton, GA 30115, 770-345-7371 and 7545 North Main Street, Suite 100, Woodstock, GA 30188, 770-928-0133;
  • Fannin County Health Department: 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge, GA 30513, 706-632-3023;
  • Gilmer County Health Department: 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay, GA 30540, 706-635-4363;
  • Murray County Health Department: 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth, GA 30705, 706-695-4585;
  • Pickens County Health Department: 60 Health Way, Jasper, GA 30143, 706-253-2821; and
  • Whitfield County Health Department: 800 Professional Boulevard, Dalton, GA 30720, 706-226-2621.

Health officials also remind the public that flu is extremely contagious and can spread easily from person to person; therefore, anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms – such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue or nausea – is urged to stay home during the severest symptoms and for at least 24 hours after fever is gone. More information about preventing the spread of flu, such as frequent handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes, is on the North Georgia Health District website at http://nghd.org/pr/34-/938-widespread-flu-in-georgia.html.

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Ask the Doc! With Dr. Raymond Tidman

Health

Today on Ask the Doc! we are welcoming Dr. Raymond Tidman, who will be filling in for Doctor William Whaley while he is on vacation. This Morning #BKP and Dr. Tidman discuss health concern and answer: 1. After my last regular exam, my doctor said the results showed cervical dysplasia. What does that mean? Is it cancer? 2. My allergies have caused my throat to feel inflamed and caused sinus drainage. I have seen a doctor but I am still dealing with a cough a week or so later. Is there anything I can do to help get rid of this cough? 3. Can too little sleep be a cause of weight gain? This segment is brought to you by Georgia Cancer Specialists, affiliated with Northside Hospital.

Several north Georgians receive no-cost-to-client flu shots

Press Release

DALTON, Ga. – Since health departments in north Georgia began providing flu shots at no cost to clients this week, 640 residents have taken advantage of the offer and others are urged to do the same while supplies last. This number contrasts favorably to the total of 190 flu shots provided by the health departments during the previous week.

Flu activity continues to be widespread in the U.S., and last week, the number of flu-related deaths in Georgia sharply increased, prompting public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties to begin providing flu shots at no cost to residents who have not yet been vaccinated. Healthcare plans are billed for clients who have coverage, and there is no charge to anyone who is not insured. No appointment is necessary – “walk-ins” are welcome.

The current flu vaccine is highly effective against most influenza strains that are now circulating, and county health departments in north Georgia also have a high-dose flu vaccine for people ages 65 and older, providing them with increased protection.

It is not too late to get a flu shot. This flu season has not yet peaked, and it could last several more weeks. Once vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to reach its full protective potential. Therefore, it is important to receive a flu shot right away.

Locations and phone numbers for the no-cost-to-client flu shots at county health departments in
north Georgia are:

  • Cherokee County Health Department: 1219 Univeter Road, Canton, GA 30115, 770-345-7371
    and 7545 North Main Street, Suite 100, Woodstock, GA 30188, 770-928-0133;
  • Fannin County Health Department: 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge, GA 30513, 706-632-3023;
  • Gilmer County Health Department: 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay, GA 30540, 706-635-4363;
  • Murray County Health Department: 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth, GA 30705, 706-695-4585;
  • Pickens County Health Department: 60 Health Way, Jasper, GA 30143, 706-253-2821; and
  • Whitfield County Health Department: 800 Professional Boulevard, Dalton, GA 30720, 706-226-
    2621.

Health officials also remind the public that flu is extremely contagious and can spread easily from person to person; therefore, anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms – such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue or nausea – is urged to stay home during the severest symptoms and for at least 24 hours after fever is gone. Parents should keep children who are sick with the flu at home from school, and anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay away from places such as hospitals and long-term care facilities where people are more at risk for developing severe complications if sick with the flu.

More information about preventing the spread of flu, such as frequent handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes, is on the North Georgia Health District website at http://nghd.org/pr/34-/938-widespread-flu-in-georgia.html.

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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