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Shine Like the Stars in the Universe
There is one night a year when stars above look down in awe. Friday, February 8, 2019, was that special night.
Excitement filled the air as paparazzi and crowds gathered for the red carpet event hosted by First United Methodist Church of Union County (FUMC) in Blairsville. Honored guests from Fannin, Gilmer, and Union counties in Georgia and Cherokee County, SC, would soon arrive.
On this “Night to Shine”, 108 Kings and Queens in their finest attire were escorted through the cheering crowd by students from Young Harris College, volunteers from FUMC, and from the community. Just the beginning of a very special evening for memories to last a lifetime.
The royal guests were delighted to be pampered by hairdressers or to have their shoes shined before heading off on a thrilling ride in a stretch limousine. Then it was time for dancing, what many attendees had been looking forward to and so they danced the night away.
As the evening came to a close each King and Queen received a gift bag along with a t-shirt commemorating the event.
Former NFL quarterback, Heisman winner, and current New York Mets outfielder, Tim Tebows’ Night to Shine is now in its 5th year. According to the Tim Tebow Foundation website, this special night’s history began in 2014 with a simple vision, “work with churches around the country to provide an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love for people with special needs, ages 14 and older.”
In 2015, the first Night to Shine was held with help from 15,000 volunteers among 44 participating churches in 26 states and 3 countries to make 7,000 honored guests feel like royalty. In 2019 the event now has over 600 churches from around the world to make a memorable event for an estimated 100,000 Kings and Queens with the help of 200,000 volunteers!
This is the second year First United Methodist Church of Union County hosted the event.
Information about sponsoring a 2020 attendee, volunteering or the mission of Tim Tebow foundation can be found online: www.timtebowfoundation.org
Churches wishing to join in the “worldwide movement celebrating God’s love for people with special needs and the value of life” can find more information about hosting, fundraising and financial grants on the website.
Giggles, laughter and smiling faces beaming with pure joy were, without question no match for the heavenly stars on this “Night to Shine”.
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Out of 159 sheriffs in the Sheriff’s Association, nine serve as regional vice-presidents. Then, there is the executive board with a first vice president, second vice-president, secretary/treasurer, and the president of the Sheriff’s Association.
This year, the position of president is filled by Gilmer County’s own Sheriff Stacy Nicholson.
After serving for six years as a regional vice president, Nicholson ran for the position of secretary/treasurer in 2015. Having been elected to that position, the process continued as the elected person will serve in all positions until he reaches and concludes with the presidency. A process that Nicholson says helps to prepare that person for the presidency as he gains experience and service throughout each other position.
But this is more than just a presidency as it sets his future in the Association on the Board of Directors. While he has served on the board in previous years as a regional vice president, his election in 2015 placed him permanently on the board as long as he serves as sheriff. This is because the Board of Directors is made up of the four Executive Board members, the current regional vice presidents, and the past presidents of the association.
Our sheriff’s progress along this path was not always so clear, though. He began at 19-years-old when he took a job at the jail. Nicholson says he wasn’t running around as a kid playing “sheriff” or anything that would have preceded his life in law enforcement. He had never considered the career until his mother made a call one day and got him a position in the jail in March of 1991. In a process that only took one weekend, the young man went from needing a part-time job and searching for something to fill that need to an on-the-clock deputy working and training at the Detention Center on March 3.
There was no training seminars to attend, no special certifications to obtain. He simply spoke with Sheriff Bernhardt on the phone as the interview, showed up to collect his uniform, and began work the next day.
Even then, it was never a thought in Nicholson’s mind about the position of sheriff. Instead, he began immediately looking at the next level of law enforcement, a deputy. More specifically, he began striving to become a deputy-on-patrol. Serving daily at the jail led to a quick “training” as he dealt with situations and convicts, but it was also short-lived.
Six months after entering the detention center, he achieved his goal and secured his promotion.
To this day, Stacy Nicholson holds true to his thoughts, “Anybody who wants to be in local law enforcement, where they’re out patrolling the streets of a community, they ought to start out in the jail because you’re locked up in a building for 8-12 hours every day with inmates.”
The situation quickly teaches you, according to Nicholson, how to handle situations, criminal activity, and convicts. It is how he likes to hire deputies as he says it “makes or breaks them.” It allows the department to see if that person can handle the life the way they want it handled. More than just handling difficult situations, though, it is a position of power over others that will show if you abuse the power while in a more contained and observed environment.
Though his time in the detention center was “eye-opening” and an extreme change from his life to that point, Nicholson actually says the part of his career that hit the hardest was his time as a deputy.
The life became more physically demanding as he began dealing with arrests, chases, and the dangers of responding to emergencies and criminal activity. However, it also became more mentally taxing as Nicholson realized the best tool for most situations was his own calm demeanor. That calm sense could permeate most people to de-escalate situations.
Nicholson relates his promotion out of the jail as similar to the inmates he watched over. He says, “It was almost a feeling like an inmate just released from six months confinement. He feels free, I felt free. I’m in a car, I’m a deputy sheriff… I can go anywhere I want to in this county.”
Nicholson’s high point of the promotion was shattered quickly, though, with one of the first calls to which he responded. He notes that at that time in the county, at best, he had one other deputy patrolling somewhere in the county during a shift. A lot of times, he would be the only deputy patrolling on his shift. Still, even with another deputy on patrol, he could be twenty minutes away at any given time.
It became an isolating job, alone against the criminal element. Though we still live in a “good area,” and even in the early ’90s, a lower crime area relative to some in the country. Still, Nicholson says, there were those who would easily decide to harm you, or worse, to avoid going to jail.
Telling the story of one of his first calls on patrol, Nicholson recalled a mentally deranged man. The only deputy on duty that night, he responded to a call about this man who had “ripped his parent’s home apart.” Arriving on the scene and beginning to assess the situation, he discovered that this deranged man believed he was Satan. Not exaggerating, he repeated this part of the story adding weight to each word, “He thought that He. Was. Satan. He actually believed he was the devil.”
Scared to death, he continued talking to the man and convinced him to get into his vehicle without force.
It became quite real about the types of things he would see in this career. It sunk in deep as to exactly what the police academy and training could never prepare him to handle. Yet, Nicholson says it taught him more than anything else. It taught him he had to always be quick-thinking and maintain the calm air. It became a solemn lesson to “try to use my mouth more than muscle.”
The flip-side of the job, however, makes it worse. Though sharing the extreme stories like this one showcases the rarer moments of the position, he says it is actually a slow, boring job on patrol. It is because of this usual pace that sets such a disparity to the moments when he got a call to more serious situations. His job was never like the movies with gunfights every day and then you just walk away and grab a drink. The high-intensity points were harder to handle because you are calm and relaxed before the call. It causes an adrenaline spike and your body kicks over into a different gear so suddenly. An “adrenaline dump” like that made it hard for Nicholson to keep from shaking on some days.
Even in his years as a detective, it seemed it would always happen as he laid down to sleep when a call came in. The rebound from preparing to sleep and shut down for the day all the way back to being on high function and stress of working a crime scene could be extreme. With so much adrenaline, Nicholson can only refer to these moments as “containment, ” conquering the feeling and holding it down in order to function properly in the situation.
“It’s all in your brain and, I guess, in your gut,” Nicholson says that while he has known people who thrive on the adrenaline and actively seek it, they really become a minority in the big picture, only 1-2%. He notes, “If a cop tells you he has never been in a situation where he was scared, he’s probably lying.”
This is the point of courage, though. He references an old John Wayne quote, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” It is the point of the job that sets them apart from most people. You cannot do the job without courage, you cannot last in it.
Courage in the moment doesn’t mean you don’t feel the effects. Dealing with everything that an officer sees, feels, and hears through the line of duty is another trial all its own.
Handling it, he said, is to just put it away for a while. Still, he says he had to deal with it eventually. Nicholson says throughout his time in this career through deputy, detective, and sheriff, he deals with those emotions and dark points through camaraderie with friends and fellow officers, taking a night to talk with close friends and talking through the hard points.
Nicholson also says he finds relief in his faith in God after becoming a Christian in 1982. Turning to him in order to find comfort in letting go of the issues, “talking to God” is something that Nicholson says he falls on later. As you find yourself in certain situations and you put off the emotions to deal with, you have to turn back and face it with God’s help at some point. Stress is an enormously negative factor in his position and dealing with it productively in the key. Fighting against destructive processes that lead to heavy drinking and suicide is the reality of any serious law enforcement career.
One of the hardest points in his career is one well known in Gilmer County. It is hard to speak about the Sheriff’s Office in Gilmer without speaking of one of its biggest losses in Officer Brett Dickey. Even over 20 years later, Nicholson says it shapes and affects him to this day.
Directly involved in the shooting, Nicholson was one of the officers on location that night. He and Mark Sanford were on location attempting to get a man out of the house with other officers forming a perimeter around the residence.
Even speaking of it today, watching and listening to Sheriff Nicholson retell the story, you can see the change it puts into his face, into his voice. You watch his eyes fall to the floor as he mentions the details. You see him straighten in his chair slightly as if preparing to brace against an impact. You hear his voice soften, losing a little of the authoritative tone. In this moment, you hear the wound.
“That’s the only shot I’ve ever fired in the line of duty.” Firing the shot at the suspect as he was shooting, Nicholson says he fired into a very small area to try to shoot him to stop the gunfire. With 10 shots fired randomly, Nicholson says, “The entire situation, it seemed like it took thirty minutes to unfold, but it actually happened all in about three to four seconds… Two deputies were hit, it was definitely a dark night in the career.”
He swears it is an incident that he will never forget. It was a turning point that set the direction for his life in the coming years. After that, Nicholson began taking training personally to become something more. It became more than just a job that night.
It was a night that forced Nicholson deeper into the life that is law enforcement.
Even now, as Sheriff, he couldn’t quite answer the question if the lifestyle is something he can turn off after he leaves. It even defines his goals in the position as he says, “My number one goal is to never have to bury an officer. That’s my number one goal, and my second goal is that we don’t have to kill someone else.”
Accomplishing both of these goals is something Nicholson says he understands isn’t as likely as it used to be, but it is something he continually strives for in his career.
With his career and training advancing, Nicholson began thinking about running for office in 1998. Though he was thinking of it at that time. He didn’t run for the position until 2004. Now on his fourth term, Nicholson continues his efforts into the position of law enforcement. While he looks at it from more of the big picture standpoint than he did as a deputy, he says he has to remember he is first a law enforcement officer and must act accordingly. However, the position of sheriff is a political figure and has public responsibilities because of that.
He offers an example of his wife and kid being sick at one time. Heading to the store to get Gatorade to help them feel better, he says he may get caught for an hour in the Gatorade aisle talking to someone about a neighbor dispute going on. “The sheriff is the representative of the law enforcement community to the citizens. The citizens would much prefer to talk specifically to the sheriff than a deputy that’s actually going to take care of the problem.”
It becomes a balancing act of the law enforcement lifestyle and being a politician. Being in a smaller community only increases the access as everyone knows and commonly sees the sheriff.
On the enforcement side, taking the role in the big picture sense, he says he has had to pay more attention to national news and its effects on the local office and citizens. Going further, rather than worrying about what to do on patrol, he’s looked more at locations. Patrol zones and the need for visibility of officers in certain areas over others.
The position also separates you from others, “It’s tough to have to discipline someone who is one of your better friends… You learn to keep at least a small amount of distance between yourself and those you are managing.” As much as you want to be close friends with those you serve alongside, the position demands authority. Nicholson compares the Sheriff’s Office to more of a family, saying someone has to be the father. Someone has to be in that leadership role.
The depth of the role is one thing Nicholson says he has been surprised with after becoming sheriff. He explains that he didn’t expect just how much people, both citizens and employees, look to him to solve certain problems. He chuckles as he admits, “I can’t tell you the number of times that I pull into the parking lot and I might handle four situations in the parking lot before I get to the front doors of the courthouse.”
People often look to the sheriff for advice on situations or to be a mediator.
Despite the public attention, Nicholson says the hardest thing he deals with in his position is balancing the needs against the county’s resources. Speaking specifically to certain needs over others is a basic understood principle of leadership, it is one Nicholson says he knows too well when balancing budgets and funds versus the office’s and deputy’s needs. Whether it is equipment, training, salary, or maintenance, he says that trying to prioritize these needs and provide for them is the toughest task.
Despite the surprises and the difficulties, Nicholson states, “It’s me, it’s my command staff, all the way down to the boots on the ground troops. I think we have put together one of the best law enforcement agencies that Georgia has to offer.”
Gaining state certification in his first term was one proud moment for Nicholson as the office grew in discipline and achieved policy changes. Though it wasn’t easy, he says he had to ‘hold his own feet to the fire’ during the process as the office went down the long checklist to accomplish the feat. Setting the direction for the office at the time, the changes to policies and disciplines were only the start of keeping the office on track to the task.
It signaled a growth and change from the days of one or two deputies on patrol in the county into a more professional standardized agency, a growth that Nicholson holds close as one of his accomplishments that his deputies and command staff have helped him to achieve.
It is a point echoed by his one on his command staff, Major Mike Gobble, who said, “When he took office, one of his first goals was to bring the Sheriff’s Office up-to-date and modernize the sheriff’s office from salaries to equipment. Making sure we had the pull to do our job, that was one of his major priorities.”
Gobble says going from one to two deputies on shift to four or five deputies on shift improved their response time alongside managing patrol zones. Gobble went on to say its the struggle that he sees the sheriff fight for his deputies for salaries, benefits, and retirement that shows his leadership. It is that leadership that draws Gobble further into his position in the command staff.
Now, having Gilmer’s sheriff moving into the position as President of the Sheriff’s Association, it’s prideful to see that position held here in Gilmer County. As sheriff, Gobble says he handles the position with respect and class. He knows how to deal with the citizens of the county, but also with those outside the county and at the state level. “He’s a very approachable kind of person. Not just as a sheriff, but an approachable kind of person.”
It is a quality Gobble says serves the people well to be able to talk to people respectfully while having an “open ear” to help them with their problems. Its the point that not every employee sees, he’s working towards improving their positions and pay for what they give to service.
Improving these positions is something Nicholson himself says is very difficult, especially around budget times in the year. Noted repeatedly over the years for the struggles at budget times in the county, Nicholson says it is about the perspective of the county. “I’m not over those departments, I’ve got my own stuff to look after… but we are all a part of the same county government.”
It is always a difficult process for those involved. He continues his thoughts on the topic saying, “I always have a true respect for the need for the other county departments to have adequate funding… But when it comes down to it, I’ve got to put being a citizen aside and be the sheriff. My responsibility is to look after the sheriff’s office.”
While the financial portions of the sheriff’s position stand as Nicholson’s least-liked part of the job, he balances the other half seeing the community support for officers in our county. He says he gets disappointed at seeing the news from across the nation in communities that protest and fight law enforcement. Living in this community affords him his favorite part of the job in being around people so much.
From the employees he works alongside to the citizens that speak to him to the courthouse’s own community feel. Its the interaction with people that highlights the days for Nicholson as he says, “It ought to be illegal to be paid to have this much fun.”
Even the littlest things like one situation that he recalls, he was speaking with an officer at the security station of the courthouse, one man came in and began speaking with Nicholson as another man walks in. The two gentlemen eventually began conversing with each other, but it became apparent that neither could hear well. As the conversation progresses with one trying to sell a car and the other speaking on a completely different topic of a situation years earlier. Nicholson says it was the funniest conversation he has ever heard and a prime example of simply getting more interaction with the public as sheriff.
It is an honor that he says competes with and conflicts with his appointment to the Sheriff’s Association, conflict simply in the idea that it is just as big of an honor to be a part of the leadership of Gilmer’s community as it is to be a part of the leadership of the state organization.
The presidency will see Nicholson in the legislature’s sessions and a part of committee meetings in the process. Traveling to the capitol during legislative session and a winter, summer, and fall conference for the association make-up the major commitments of the positions.
Starting to look at the Executive Committee 2009 as something he wanted to achieve, he gained this desire from a now past president that still serves on the Board of Directors as an inspiration to the position. As one of a few people that Nicholson calls a mentor, this unnamed guide led Nicholson to the executive board through his own example in the position. Now achieving it himself, Nicholson says he hopes that he can, in turn, be that example for other younger sheriffs and build the same relationships with them that have inspired him.
Calling the presidency a great achievement, Nicholson didn’t agree that it is a capstone on his career saying, “I’m not done with being sheriff in Gilmer County.”
While focusing on his position on the Executive Board and his position as Gilmer Sheriff, Nicholson says he doesn’t have a set goal to accomplish past the coming presidency. Promoting the profession of law enforcement as president of the Sheriff’s Association and growing the Sheriff’s Office in Gilmer County, these are the focus that Nicholson uses to define the next stages of his career.
To continue his growth in the county office, he says he is reaching an age where he can’t plan several terms ahead anymore. He wants to look at the question of running for Sheriff again to each election period. That said, he did confirm that he definitely will run again in 2020.
COLLINS BILL TO HONOR FALLEN CLERMONT MARINE SENT TO PRESIDENT’S DESK
WASHINGTON—The Senate last night voted unanimously to pass H.R. 3821, legislation to rename Georgia’s Clermont Post Office in honor of Zack T. Addington. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced the bill this September, and it passed the House in November.
“Lance Corporal Zack Addington represents the selfless courage that’s cultivated in northeast Georgia, and I’m excited to see this bill leave Congress and head to the president’s desk for his signature,” said Collins.
Collins also honored Addington when he spoke about the bill on the House floor.
Known to his neighbors as Zack, Addington joined the United States Marine Corps in 1967. A native of Clermont, he became a rifleman in the 3rd Marine Division of the Fleet Marine Force and deployed to Vietnam that year. Addington was promoted to Lance Corporal and served his country honorably until he was killed in action in May 1968.
That June, Addington received the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon in recognition of his service there.
North Georgia – The North Georgia Health District office in Dalton and our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will close early to clients and visitors on Monday, August 21st in the interest of public safety during the solar eclipse. The health departments will close at 12:00 p.m. and the district office will close at 1:00 p.m. This closing applies to all public health services in the district, including Environmental Health, WIC and Children’s Health services.
If viewing the solar eclipse, residents are urged to follow these safety precautions:
- Do not look directly at the sun
- Sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection
- Only look at the sun through an approved solar filter
- For even safer viewing, observe indirectly by projecting the sun’s image onto a blank sheet of white paper with a pinhole camera or with binoculars
For more safety information, log onto NASA’s website.
Saturday, Jan 5, the Panthers headed to Andrews, NC to play a non-region matchup. The Lady Panthers tipped off at 5pm, and they got off to a hot start. The Lady Panthers outscored the lady wildcats 13-3 in the first quarter led by senior guard Bailey Daniel.
Daniel scored 7, she also reached her 1000th point during this quarter. When asked after the game how she felt about this accomplishment she said, “It’s honestly just such a blessing to have such great coaches and teammates I couldn’t ask for any other group of people.”
Sophmore forward Andelin Hill led all Union County scorers in the second quarter with five points to extend the lead to 26-16 at the half.
The Lady Panthers came out of the half and went on a 12-1 run to extend the 3Q lead to 38-21. Sophomore center Kait Mccarter led all UC scorers with 6 points.
The final score was 48-29, and junior forward Jordan Rogers led the 4th quarter in points with 5.
Kait Mccarter led the team with 16 points followed by Andelin Hill whom had 11.
The Lady Panthers improve to 11-4 which matches last years win total.
The Mountain Football League playoffs have finally reached their final destination for 2017: Super Bowl Saturday. This weekend, several of North Georgia’s finest young athletes will meet on the gridiron at Fannin County High School, battling to take home the league’s top honor of Super Bowl Champions.
Here are the results from last weekend’s final round of the playoffs:
6U: Fannin defeated Gilmer 22-0. Will play East Hall in the Super Bowl. East Hall defeated Chestatee 34-0.
7U: Fannin defeated Dawson 32-0. Will play Gilmer in Super Bowl. Gilmer defeated Pickens 46-0.
8U: Union defeated Fannin 20-0. Will play Chestatee in Super Bowl. Chestatee defeated Gilmer 25-19.
9U: Chestatee defeated West Hall 34-8. Will play Pickens in Super Bowl. Pickens defeated Dawson 26-0.
10U: Fannin defeated Gilmer 29-0. Will play Dawson in Super Bowl. Dawson defeated Union 12-0.
11U: Chestatee defeated Fannin 20-7. Will play Gilmer in Super Bowl. Gilmer defeated Dawson 7-6.
Follow us on Twitter @teamfynsports next weekend (or on Facebook) as we will have complete Super Bowl coverage from the sidelines on Saturday.
Updated Game Times:
6u Super Bowl
East Hall vs Fannin 10Am
7U Super Bowl
Fannin vs Gilmer 1145Am
8U Super Bowl
Union vs Chestatee 1:30pm
9U Super Bowl
Chestatee vs Pickens 3:15Pm
10U Super Bowl
Dawson vs Fannin 5pm
11U Super Bowl
Gilmer vs Chestatee 6:45 Pm
* Union County Schools will be CLOSED Monday, September 11th, 2017 due to Gov. Nathan Deal declaring a state of emergency for all 159 counties in Georgia. Please continue to monitor here for further updates.
- Fannin County Schools will be closed for students and all personnel on Monday, September 11.A great deal of consideration has been given to this decision. Governor Deal has us under a State of Emergency. Severe weather conditions, such as severe winds (especially at higher elevations), debris, dangerous road conditions, and downed power lines are all possible for our area beginning tomorrow(Monday) morning.Weather predictions are not always accurate, but this storm is massive and cannot be ignored. It is my hope that our community is spared from this, but it is better to err on the side of caution when safety is in question. Please stay safe!
- Pickens County Schools closed Jasper, Georgia — Due to inclement weather conditions,the Pickens County School District will be closed tomorrow, Monday, September 11th – TWELVE MONTH EMPLOYEES REPORT AT NORMAL TIME. Schools will also be closed on Tuesday, September 12. Twelve month employess will be contacted late Monday as to whether they will be required to come to work on Tuesday. All school activities, including athletic events and after-school programs, will be canceled. Information will be posted on the Pickens County School District website at www.pickenscountyschools.org, the Infinite Campus parent portal, district and school websites and social media sites, and sent to local media.
* Gilmer County Schools closed Release from Gilmer County School School Closed – Monday, September 11, 2017Gilmer County Schools will be closed Monday September 11 due to Hurricane Irma. We have made this decision after consultation with local emergency management authorities and careful consideration of safety factors, such as the probability of severe winds especially at higher elevations, debris, dangerous road conditions and downed power lines left in its wake. We understand that weather predictions are not always accurate, but this storm is massive and cannot be ignored. It is our hope that our community is spared from the force of this storm, but we will always choose to err on the side of caution when our students’ safety is in question.
* Dawson County Schools Closed Based on information from the NWS, Dawson County Schools will be closed on Monday, September 11, 2017. Twelve month employees report.
* Lumpkin County Schools Closed Due to the weather forecast for our area, Lumpkin County Schools will be closed on Monday, September 11, 2017. The anticipated high winds pose a significant threat to our students and staff. We understand that weather predictions are not always accurate, but we cannot ignore the potentially dangerous situation that this storm poses. Our number one priority is to keep our students and staff safe! Decisions for future closings will be made as more information becomes available. Thank you for supporting Lumpkin County Schools!
* Towns County Schools will be closed Monday for all students and staff. A decision about Tuesday will be made tomorrow afternoon.
* White County Schools Closed Due to the severe weather forecast, White County Schools are closed for students and staff Monday, September 11, 2017. Please be safe!
* Murray County Schools Closed Murray County Schools will be closed Monday September 11 and Tuesday September 12, due to the possible impact of Hurricane Irma. We have made this decision after consultation with local emergency management authorities and careful consideration of safety factors, such as the probability of severe winds, debris, dangerous road conditions, and downed power lines. We understand that weather predictions are often incorrect, but the size of this storm cannot be ignored. It is our hope that Murray County is spared from any of this storm’s impact, but we will always choose to error on the side of caution. All events planned for Monday and Tuesday evenings are also cancelled. This includes the September 11 MCPS Board meeting. This meeting will be rescheduled for Thursday, September 14 at 6:15 p.m. All maintenance, grounds crew, and transportation employees will meet at the transportation office.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”
Joined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”
Governor Nathan Deal, who originally vetoed last year’s Bill 216 called the new House Bill 146 an “innovative and great solution to the situation.” Deal said the Bill provides relief for firefighters by providing a different method for compensation and money for treatment and care for firefighters who contract cancers during their work. Gravley thanked the Governor for his support of, as he called it, a “better bill.”
The sentiment was echoed by Speaker Ralston who said, “We have arrived at a better solution. By requiring a local government to provide insurance to our firefighters for certain types of cancer, the firefighter can skip the process of litigating a worker’s comp claim. This will allow the firefighter to focus on getting better and recovery rather than having to worry about legal bills and depositions and hearings.”
FYN caught up with Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal to ask them to elaborate on why the bill is better, comparative to last years Bill 216. The Speaker replied saying, “This uses a Health Insurance Model as opposed to a Workman’s Comp model which means instead of having to make a claim and perhaps go through a court type process to get benefits and income, Firefighters in this case will file a claim just like health insurance.”
Governor Deal also spoke on the insurance versus workman’s comp comparison saying it was an awkward and “adversarial way of deciding whether or not compensation is owed.” Deal went on to say the newer Bill is a much better solution “to provide insurance coverage that will define benefits and give some flexibility as to deciding the compensation that will be given to firefighters.”
More than Senators and Congressman came to see Deal sign the Bill, though. Several representatives from neighboring and local emergency services attended the event including Gilmer’s own Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett who said the Bill “gives you a sense of protection… You can lay your head down and sleep better at night knowing that if you contract cancer because of the job, there’s some protection that will take care of you and your family.”
For more on the Signing of House Bill 146 watch the full ceremony below or find more Photos in our Album:
North Georgia – Ready to quit? You can do it for at least one day this Thursday, November 16th during the Great American Smokeout®! Every year on the third Thursday of November, many Georgians join tobacco users across the nation in giving up using tobacco and electronic cigarettes for the entire day during this Great American Smokeout® event, initiated by the American Cancer Society. Quitting for just one day is an important step toward a healthier you, especially if that one day can lead to many more.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and in Georgia. Over 11,500 Georgians die each year from tobacco-related diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Quitting tobacco and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke are two proven ways to decrease the risk of tobacco related death and disability.
The Georgia Smokefree Air Act, passed in 2005, has reduced exposure to secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking in all enclosed facilities, including buildings owned, leased, or operated by the State or local governing authorities.
Now, it’s your turn to reduce tobacco-related health hazards by quitting the use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes during the Great American Smokeout®.
Here in Georgia, we can help. The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line is a free resource that can help tobacco users reach their goal of quitting. The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (1-877-270-STOP; Spanish speakers call 1-877-2NO-FUME; TTY: 1-877-777-6534 for the hearing impaired) provides counseling for Georgia tobacco users ages 13 and older. Callers speak with tobacco cessation counselors who help to develop a unique quitting plan for each person.
North Georgia Health District 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counites, Drug Free Cherokee, Cherokee Focus, and the Cherokee Youth Council encourage Georgians to go tobacco-free during the Great American Smokeout®, and beyond!
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The 2018 General Election is already starting to take shape as challengers emerge announcing bids for candidacy against well known incumbents. The most recent of these announcements comes from Margaret Williamson who intends to face off against Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston.
Ralston was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002 and represents House District 7, which includes Fannin County, Gilmer County and a portion of Dawson County. Ralston is the 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, a position he has held since 2010.
Williamson, who resides in Ellijay, made a statement discussing her decision to run:
“For many years I have been involved in political campaigns, on local, state, and national levels. I have actively participated in legislative issues, in support of or in opposition to, learning all the way. Now I intend to use this experience and acquired knowledge to enter into the process as a candidate.”
Already having begun the process of running for the House District 7 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, Williamson acknowledged in her statement that she has mailed the “Declaration to Accept Campaign Contributions” form to the Georgia State Transparency & Campaign Finance Committee.
After approval of this form, Williamson’s next step will be to complete the qualifying process held in March of this year. The qualifying will officially make Williamson a candidate in the Republican Primary for Georgia State House Representative, District 7.
Williamson concluded her statement by announcing that she is in the process of creating a Facebook page which will contain her position on various issues.
“This decision is the culmination of months of debate and prayer. Please continue praying for both John and me,” Williamson said, “This is an exciting time for me.”
A General Primary Election for both Republicans and Democrats will take place on May 22, 2018. Voter registration deadline for the Primary Election is April 23.
Winners of the primaries will face off in the General Election to held on Nov. 6, 2018.
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TeamFYNSports director Jason Banks called in this morning for our Monday Morning Quarterback segment. He and BKP discussed Fannin’s tough loss to Lumpkin, Ridgeland’s win over Pickens, and East Hall’s loss at Dawson. Follow TeamFYNSports for all your up to date high school football coverage in our North Ga region. Every Friday night we have your complete sideline coverage.
H & R Block, Beth Bennett shares information about unexpected taxable income. 1) Unemployment Earnings 2) Lottery and Gambling Winnings 3) Credit Forgiveness 4) 401 K Plans. In this segment Beth addresses the unexpected taxable income that may occur throughout the year.
The GBI arrested East Ellijay Police Office Michael McClure at approximately noon today February 14th 2018. A copy of Booking report and warrant below. FYN has requested a statement from the GBI and East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan.
Below is a Press Release Statement from East Ellijay Chief of Police, Larry Callahan.