BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County Sheriff’s Office could receive a new vehicle after Chief Deputy Major Keith Bosen was involved in an accident on state Route 5.
Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby addressed the Board of Commissioners (BOC) on Dec. 12 with an unforeseen item that was not on the meeting agenda. Kirby explained to the board about the county vehicle that had been involved in the accident, “We got it out at Car Crafters, and they’re thinking it’s going to cost about what the vehicle is worth to fix it, so it’s likely going to be totaled.”
Kirby added, “We don’t have that set in stone.”
The vehicle suffered damage to the back end and also sustained damage to the frame. Kirby and Bosen had searched for a used vehicle after finding out about the extent of the damage, but we’re unable to locate one.
A new vehicle, which was found at Jacky Jones Ford in Cleveland, Georgia, has a price tag of $26,700. Kirby explained that he still had funds in his current budget to purchase this vehicle but had not allocated funds in 2018 for such a purchase.
Kirby stated that an insurance settlement from the wrecked vehicle would be used to partially reimburse the expenditure of securing the new vehicle.
Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee questioned, “What if they don’t total the car out?”
“We have a lot of options there,” Kirby replied. “If another office needed that vehicle, we could turn it over to you all to issue out however you all saw fit.”
Board of Commissioners Chairman Stan Helton looked for additional clarification: “So even if it’s fixed, it’s not something you want out there?”
Kirby and Bosen had discussed this possibility previously, and Bosen had expressed reluctance in continued use of the vehicle. “I’m not so sure I would want it for an emergency vehicle after all that damage has been done to it,” Kirby explained.
After some discussion, the BOC voted unanimously to allow the purchase of the new vehicle for Fannin County Sheriff’s Department.
The purchase of the new vehicle was a main focus, but Sheriff Dane Kirby was also present to have the BOC renew two contracts. These annual contracts concern food and health services provided to Fannin County Jail.
The cost of the food service contract showed a 1 percent increase, and the contract concerning healthcare increased by 3 percent.
“I don’t think our food service or our health provider has asked us for a percent increase since I have been in office,” Kirby said of the price difference for the 2018 contracts. “We have not had anything but flawless performance out of both of those providers.”
The BOC collectively agreed that the increase in cost of these two contracts was not unreasonable and unanimously voted to re-enter into both of the agreements.
Deputy Director of Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Patrick Cooke was also on the agenda to discuss the purchase of a radio tower for the new 911 facility.
The county’s new 911 facility will be located at 930 Windy Ridge Road, and construction is already underway.
Cooke presented three bids to the board for the purchase of the new 911 radio tower. The lowest bid was $22,000, and the highest bid came in at $40,030. Cooke stated, “There’s no reason why we cannot go with the lowest bid on this one.”
Sosebee questioned, “Do you have it in your budget?”
Cooke explained that the purchase amount would be covered in the 2017 budget. A tower located on Bullen Gap Road had been damaged, and the majority of the cost of the new tower will come from an insurance reimbursement that the department had received.
The insurance settlement for $18,898.23 would offset the cost of the new tower to where only $3,101.77 would need to be pulled from the budget. The new tower would be able to communicate with the main repeater located on Brawley Mountain and would also act as a back up in the event that the main repeater went down.
The BOC voted unanimously for the purchase of the new radio tower, and construction of the new 911 facility is expected to move forward on schedule.
Fannin County Finance Director Robin Gazaway presented a monthly update of the county’s current budget prior to the BOC discussing and passing the county’s 2018 budget.
Through Nov. 30, the county is showing that it is under budget by approximately $500,000. Gazaway explained that as of the Nov. 30 date, the county was currently 92 percent into the budget for 2017.
Sosebee questioned specifically about the Tax Assessors budget, and Gazaway replied that they were $242,270 under budget for the year.
Gazaway did clarify, “I know they have a few more expenditures in December, but as of Nov. 30, they’re under budget.”
With information presented by Gazaway concerning the county’s spending and revenue, the BOC passed the 2018 Budget at the end of the meeting.
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Fannin County sheriff Dane Kirby has confirmed a Fannin County resident, William Christopher Gibbs, drove himself to the local hospital claiming he had come in contact with the lethal substance Ricin.
Sheriff Kirby said a field test of the car driven by Gibbs did test positive for Ricin. Ricin is a highly toxic, naturally occurring lectin (a carbohydrate-binding protein) produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant. A dose of purified ricin powder the size of a few grains of table salt can kill an adult human.
Gibbs, who is 27 years old and lives in Morganton, GA, was arrested on February 2nd on reckless conduct and probation violation charges. He is currently incarcerated at Fannin County.
Multiple agencies were at the man’s resident last Friday, February 3rd , including the 4th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team of the Army National Guard and the Cherokee County Fire Department. The mass response was to ensure the safety of the area.
Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated there is no evidence any toxic substances have been released and there is no belief the public is at risk. The FBI will be continuing its investigation. FYN will update should be information become available.
In light of a recent political ad by an opponent, voters have many questions Sheriff Dane Kirby.
Below are some of the most frequently asked. Please read his answers carefully.
1. Q. Is there a morale problem in the Sheriff’s Office that has led to the highest employee turnover rate in the history of the organization?
A. The morale of the Sheriff’s is actually very impressive. Everyone works together, communicates, and functions as one big family. One particular indicator of good morale is employees spending off time together, which occurs frequently among our employees. As far as the turnover rate is concerned, from 1992 until 2009, 104 employees left the Sheriff’s Office for various reasons. During the term of this administration only 31 employees have left. These numbers actually prove an approximate 33% decrease in employee turnover.
2. Q. Who are the part time drug agents from other counties that your opponent claims you have been paying?
A. Since elected as your Sheriff, illegal narcotics enforcement has been at the top of our agenda. One of the things we do is participate in and utilize a circuit wide program called the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force. Our participation in this program is only one small but important part of the overall effort to fight illegal drug activity. In addition, we frequently conduct narcotics investigations with other regional drug task forces, as well as the GBI and DEA. We also conduct independent investigations from our own criminal investigations division.
3. Q. Explain the accusation that you are misspending thousands of taxpayer dollars in your current program dealing with the fight against drugs and please include dollar amounts in your explanation.
A. Just as Sheriff’s across the state rely on support agencies such as the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist in specialized areas, Sheriffs Offices statewide participate in multi-agency Drug Task Forces such as our Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force to concentrate totally on narcotics investigations in their counties. Here in the Appalachian judicial Circuit, our program is funded partially by a federal grant award of $159,000 annually. These funds are matched by funds from Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens Counties in the amount of approximately $40,000 from each county annually. This task force alone is responsible for 469 narcotics arrests in Fannin County alone since 2009 that would have otherwise never been made.
4. Q. Do you feel that using the funds to finance your current Drug Task Force would be better spent on training for our local agents as alleged by this ad?
A. Absolutely not. I can guarantee everyone that our local investigators are already very well trained in the area of narcotics investigations and are very able and frequently do conduct successful narcotics investigations. Our office already has in place a very adequate training line item incorporated into our annual budget which allows all our officers to receive almost 3 times the state required training annually. I see absolutely no sensible logic to adding $40,000 in that area, making it 3 times the amount that it needs to be.
5. Q. Campaign promises are being made by several opponents to eradicate drugs and initiate drug programs. Can you give facts demonstrating that you have already delivered on these promises?
A. One of my top priorities after taking office in 2009 was to concentrate on the problem of illegal drugs coming into Fannin County, and the toll it takes on not only our children but on entire families. From day one, my deputies and I have worked diligently in pursuing drug offenders within our County and have been successful. I quickly saw the need for programs mentioned above and have began expanding the programs within our detention center. We now offer educational and faith based counseling six days a week in an effort to assist and encourage inmates to rise above their addiction and take advantage of the opportunity to live productive and fulfilling lives upon release. I am also constantly in touch with representatives of the Drug Court program making referrals and scheduling evaluations to assist in helping people into the programs offered there as well.
So while other candidates are making campaign promises to try to eradicate drugs and initiate programs, I as your Sheriff have already delivered on those promises and will continue to make sure that these programs are as effective as they can possibly be. One particular candidate has had the opportunity for the last 20 years to do the things he is promising you now, but I am yet to see any evidence that he has. If it hasn’t happened in 20 years, why should anyone believe that it ever will?
To put this into perspective, in 2015 the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office made 81 felony drug arrests. The Blue Ridge Police Department made six felony drug arrests. Of the 81 felony drug arrests made by the Sheriff’s Office, 17 of those were made INSIDE THE CITY LIMITS OF BLUE RIDGE. Numbers do not lie and these records prove that your Sheriffs Office has been almost 3 times more effective fighting the war on drugs inside the city limits of Blue Ridge than the Blue Ridge Police Department has.
6. Q.What is your opinion as to why this candidate chose these specific areas of the Sheriff’s Office to target since the facts given in your answers are all easily researched and publically available?
A. Candidates are printing ads without doing any research, which is resulting in information being provided that is completely false and inaccurate. Maybe they have adopted the current philosophy used in national campaigns where statements are “thrown out to see what will stick to the wall”, no matter whether they are true or not. We all hoped this kind of negative campaigning would not occur in Fannin County, but it seems to have already begun. Our citizens prefer positive campaigning here, and they deserve to get it instead of mud slinging. All candidates should work toward making the people proud of their campaigns.
I want to make sure that everyone has access to accurate information so feel free to contact me anytime. I can always be reached at 706-633-8269. I am available to talk to or meet with anyone.
I would like to take this opportunity to announce to the citizens of Fannin County that I will be seeking re-election as your Sheriff in the upcoming 2016 election. I began my first term as your Sheriff in January 2009 and from day 1 it has been my goal to satisfy the needs of Fannin County by providing accountability, quality and professionalism unsurpassed in the field of law enforcement with minimal financial burden to the taxpayers.
Early in my first term I started building a solid foundation to grow from and one of the first things I had to accomplish was to surround myself with dedicated individuals who have a true passion for making Fannin County a safer place to live. I am proud to say that I have met that goal and I am very fortunate to have highly qualified and dedicated officers that have my back on a daily basis. Today, almost 8 years later, I am very comfortable standing on the foundation that we’ve built, the state of our Sheriff’s office and the progress that we have made and continue to make.
As things continue to change, it will be even more important to have an experienced professional serving as your sheriff to deal appropriately with the challenges that we will face. I feel that my 25 years of experience in law enforcement with 7 of those years serving as your Sheriff make me even more capable to handle the tough situations and problems that will continue to surface. It is my privilege to serve the citizens of Fannin County and I can say without a doubt that working everyday as your Sheriff is the most gratifying and fulfilling experience I have ever had.
I am honored that you have placed your confidence in me and it is my hope that you will continue to support my efforts. Please feel free to contact me day or night with any questions or concerns you might have. My cell number is 706-633-8269. I would like to extend my appreciation to each one of you for your past support and ask for your continued support and vote in the General Primary Election to be held on May 24th 2016.
Sheriff Dane Kirby
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